The Rise of Renew

According to several pundits, the Leave vote in 2016 would precipitate a realignment in UK Politics. Whilst Brexit has dominated the political discourse ever since, the main parties remain intact and the voters are faced with the same choices they faced before the referendum.

The first National Assembly of the Renew Party may herald the beginning of a challenge to that status quo. The event taking place in Westminster today welcomed around 200 activists who gathered to discuss ideas and plan the disruption of the status quo, with the primary goal of pushing a second referendum. Party co-leader Annabel Mullin revealed that the party already has around 120 candidates in place to fight the next election with that number expected to rise significantly. “We are planning for elections… local, regional and national,” Mullin confirmed.

Whilst the party is still small, the resounding applause for every single speaker, indicates that The Renew Party may well be the most unified party in the country.

The End of May?

The day after PM Theresa May forced her draft Brexit deal through the cabinet her proposal and possibly her premiership has unravelled.  A series of resignations from government and letters to Graham Brady the chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee will trigger a no-confidence motion that will take place in days possibly as soon as tomorrow.

The only way for May to avoid the vote, which she might well win, would be to resign.  All Conservative MPs can vote and if May wins, she remains as PM and cannot be challenged by her party for 12 months. Lose and she must resign and is not eligible to stand in the leadership election that will follow.

May’s replacement will become prime minister without a general election. The election is by secret ballot and the candidate with the fewest votes is removed. Dependent on the number there are several votes (on Tuesdays and Thursdays) until only there are just two candidates who face each other in a postal ballot of the whole Conservative Party membership.  The whole process could take several weeks.

Given that the Tories have no majority the combined opposition parties could pass a vote of No Confidence in the government and trigger a general election.

The End for Boris Johnson?

Few doubt that Boris Johnson’s resignation yesterday was less to do with Brexit and more to do with his continuing aspirations to be Prime Minister. Therein lies his problem.

Johnson has form for putting ambition ahead of service, a lot of form.  Johnson biographer Andrew Gimson describes him as “staggeringly inconsiderate of others” when focusing upon his own interests.  His popularity with a significant sector of the public, may well have tipped the balance in the Brexit referendum. Though despite his vigorous campaigning it’s not entirely clear he believed what he was saying.  In February 2016, it was reported that Boris had written two Daily Telegraph columns – one in favour of Brexit, the other for Remain – before deciding which would fill his weekly slot.  His decision to back Leave may well have been based on the belief that he would be narrowly on the losing side. He could then have fallen in line as a gallant loser, perfectly placed to succeed Cameron.

For months he has ignored the notion of collective cabinet responsibility to push himself onto the front pages. He seems to be sanguine about the Brexit shambles so long as it helps brand Boris. Yesterday, having agreed to May’s Brexit proposal on Friday, he did a 180 degree turn and resigned. He even produced a publicity shot, signing his resignation letter.  History shows that those who show their hand so clearly and so often, rarely reach the highest office.

The resignation couldn’t have been more stage-managed and a leadership bid yesterday seemed inevitable.  A few weeks ago when business leaders questioned the government’s indecision over Brexit, Boris allegedly said: “fuck business”. It seems now that more and more people are saying : “fuck Boris”.

 

 

Brexit Uncertainty is a Myth

You don’t need a crystal ball to foresee the result of today’s cabinet summit at Chequers. There has never been any doubt, we are on coure for no deal and that means a hard Brexit with hard borders all round.

Either A) there’s a compromise that will work and all the brilliant minds in government have spent two years looking but can’t find it or B) there’s no compromise that will work. It’s B) if you’re wondering.

The problem is twofold. Even if the cabinet agrees to a fudge today it won’t hold.

The second hurdle is even bigger.

Let’s say just for argument’s sake, two years after the referendum, we agree a plan. It normally takes a minimum of five years to agree and implement a trade deal and in some cases it can take more than twenty. That’s if both sides want a trade deal. The EU doesn’t want one because it would likely lead to the breakup of the EU. So we have one year but we need between five and twenty from the date at which the EU decides it wants a deal, which is likely to be never. You do the maths.

By 2024 we might have struck some deals outside of the EU but we won’t be in a customs union or a single market. It’s not uncertainty that’s the problem it’s that the reality is so shocking it’s difficult to accept.

Trump Russia Investigation Points to Europe

Paul Manafort, who is investigating Russian interference in the United States presidential election yesterday accused Trump’s former campaign chairman, of secretly paying former European officials to lobby for the pro-Russian Ukraine government.

In 2012 and 2013 Paul Manafort and his colleague Rick Gates used offshore accounts to pay more than two million Euros to the group of former politicians the indictment says.  The plan was to “assemble a small group of high-level European highly influential champions and politically credible friends who can act informally and without any visible relationship with the Government of Ukraine.”

In March 2014 in a TV debate with then Deputy PM Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage said that the European Union had “blood on its hands” over the armed coup that ousted pro-Russia Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich the previous month.  Just a few days later, he named Putin as the leader he most admired and said EU leaders were “weak and vain”, adding “If you poke the Russian bear with a stick he will respond.”

During that time Nigel Farage also made multiple appearances on Russia Today, the state sponsored news channel.

Last summer it was reported that Farage was as a “person of interest” in the FBI investigation into alleged links between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

In 2012-13 two million Euros is secretly paid to former European politicians to speak in favour of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. A few months later Nigel Farage does exactly that. At the very least that merits an investigation into the former UKIP leader’s tax affairs.

[Picture by Michael Vadon]

PM More Unpopular than Trump

Theresa May’s approval rating has fallen to -34 following the general election according to YouGov.  In April, the PM had a net favourability rating of +10.  The net score is a comparison between approvers 29% and disapprovers at 63%.

Jeremy Corbyn’s net score is 0 – meaning equal numbers of people approve and disapprove of him.

 

Chart from YouGov

Incredibly the Prime Minister has become more unpopular even than Donald Trump.  With 36% favourability versus a disapproval score of 59% according to Gallup who measure the president’s rating on a daily basis his net score is -23. The fact that May is scoring nine points lower is staggering given that Trump has the lowest average approval rating of any US president since records began.

 

 

Clegg: I Won’t Go to the Lords

In series of tweets this evening, former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg ruled out going to the House of Lords with the words “Ermine just isn’t my thing”.  He lost the Sheffield Hallam constituency in last Thursday’s election.  Nick Clegg was MP for Sheffield Hallam from 2005 to 2017 and was the Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2007 to 2015.

He didn’t rule out a return to The House of Commons but he did hint that he would he would make his voice heard as a journalist with a link to his article yesterday in the FT.

Of course I wish I was still MP for Sheffield Hallam – a wonderful place full of wonderful people – but that was not to be. 1/3

Still, there are big debates in UK politics where I will want to make my voice heard. My @FT column on Brexit: http://on.ft.com/2sQAsJl  2/3

Thanks for the kind petition to put me in the Lords, but I’m afraid an unelected chamber is not for me. Ermine just isn’t my thing… 3/3

 

Posts about elections and politics in general with a particular interest in how social media impacts on the political process.