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
She’s at odds with her chancellor
The working relationship between the occupants of Number 10 and Number 11 Downing Street is critical. Philip Hammond said on the Today programme on 17 May that he had “occasionally sworn” at TM’s Chief of Staff Nick Timothy. The were persuasive rumours of rows and it was an open secret that May planned to sack Hammond after the election, now she can’t and her Chief of Staff has gone. The relationship between May and Hammond is broken.
The DUP deal can’t hold
This as it turns out is the coalition of chaos. It is impossible to maintain the peace process in Northern Ireland if the government is in league with one of the parties. That alone is enough to break any deal. The DUP staunchly opposes same-sex marriage. There are 10 DUP MPs and 19 LGBTQ Tory MPs including the leader of the powerful Scottish Conservative group. As they say “you do the Math”.
She can’t manage the cabinet
She dropped plans for a major reshuffle of Cabinet because she can’t afford to alienate senior ministers. Without the power of patronage she’s not in charge.
The PM has no allies in Europe
Video that emerged from the EU summit last December showed the PM to be a lonely and isolated figure. That was before her humiliation at the polls. As we enter negotiations to leave the EU she has no influence and not a single ally.
What does Brexit mean now?
If Mrs May thought a Brexit deal was difficult before, now it may be impossible. She can’t satisfy the right of her party because she has to guarantee an open border in Ireland. That means doing a deal on the customs union and maybe even the single market. A hard Brexit would mean a Irish border deal that would eliminate backing from the DUP and potentially bring back conflict in Northern Ireland. She can’t deliver a hard Brexit and she can’t deliver a soft one either.
Minority governments don’t last
Even with a deal in place minority governments are very unstable. The Wilson government called an election just seven months after forming a minority government in February 1974. The 1977 Callaghan minority government lasted a little longer with the support of the Liberals, but that was gone in 16 months.
Her Chiefs of Staff are out
The PM’s joint Chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill resigned today. Unlike PMs who have alliances with senior elected cabinet colleagues May relied very heavily on her special advisers. They were the architects of her strategy and her advisers when things started to unravel. It led to a breakdown in her relationship with ministers and MPs. A senior Tory MP told Robert Peston: “We all f***ing hate her. …She has totally f***ed us”. At a time when she needs friends and supporters, there are none.
The Tories won’t let her fight another election
It was “my manifesto” and “me and my team”. The campaign was all about the person and not the party and the results aren’t pretty for the Conservatives. If she can’t defend a 20 point lead she won’t get another chance to fight. The party will want a new leader in place in plenty of time before the next election. Some pundits are saying there could be another election this year that doesn’t leave much time.
Theresa May is heading for the departure lounge. We know it and she knows it.
The former leader of the LibDems Nick Clegg lost his seat last night.
The ex-deputy Prime Minister was ousted from his Sheffield Hallam constituency by Labour. Jared O’Mara took the seat with 21,881 votes vs Clegg’s 19,756.
‘”I have always sought to stand by the liberal values I believe in but I have encountered this evening what many people have encountered before tonight and I suspect many people will encounter after tonight which is, in politics, you live by the sword and you die by the sword.” He said after his defeat.
“We saw that in the Brexit referendum last year and we see it here again tonight, polarised between left and right, between different regions and nations and areas of the country, but most gravely of all, this huge gulf now between young and old.
“My only plea would be to all MPs, including Jared, from all parties, is this, that we will not pick our way through the very difficult times that our country faces if in the next parliament MPs of all parties simply seek to amplify what divides them.”
We predict a Tory victory tonight but it will not be a good night for the Tory PM. She won’t get a resounding mandate and she will be seen by history to have wasted precious time for Brexit talks with a pointless election.
Survation was the polling firm that called it right in 2015 when most pollsters were way off. Here’s their final prediction:
We believe if the general election took place just three weeks later on 30 June instead of 9 June, Labour would win.
We’ve taken all of the polling data since the election was called. When you add the trend data for the two major parties you can clearly see Labour has built it’s support quickly while support for Theresa May’s Tories is sliding. Using only the data, shown with the straight linear trend lines on the chart above, Labour would overtake the Conservatives on the 30 June.
Using all of the polls irons out the fluctuations and the trend is clear. It looks like the Conservatives will hold onto their lead and still win next Thursday. The trend data predicts 44% for the Tories and 39% for Labour on election day. If that’s right it would be a major blow for Theresa May and a significantly worse result for the Conservatives than 2015 with a possibility of a hung parliament.
Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative MP for South Thanet, is facing charges for illegal election spending during the 2015 general election. We speculated at the start of the campaign that the election had been timed to avoid a number of such cases coming to light.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says there’s enough evidence to charge Mackinlay, Nathan Gray, his agent, and party organiser Marion Little. Mackinlay is still allowed to fight next week’s election.
PM Theresa May said: “The Conservative party continues to believe that these allegations are unfounded. Craig Mackinlay is innocent until proven guilty and he remains our candidate.”
In 2015, Mackinlay beat the then UKIP leader Nigel Farage by just 2800 votes.
Mackinlay faces two counts of having knowingly contravened the 1983 Representation of People Act over election expenses. He could be tried at a crown court. If found guilty the former MP could face a prison sentence.
The South Thanet constituency has a colourful past. Not only has former candidate Nigel Farage been named as a persion of interest in the Trump/Russia investigation a former MP for the constituency Jonathan Aitken was convicted of perjury in 1999 and received an 18-month prison sentence.
Labour has cut the Tory lead in the polls to just 5% according to the latest YouGov poll for The Times. The LibDems are back to 10% after a small recent drop but are still failing to make inroads with their anti-Brexit stance.
The survey suggests that the gap between the two main parties is down to single figures for the first time since Theresa May called the snap election on 18 April. Labour has made steady gains in recent weeks.
It’s unclear if the Manchester suicide bombing has been a factor but the trend was emerging prior to the terror attack.
It has been a strange few days in an already strange election campaign. The latest polls suggest that we still can’t be certain of the outcome and there is no way of guessing what will happen in the next two weeks.