Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

From Thatcher to Brexit: this Tory folly was 40 years in the making | Martin Kettle

Margaret Thatcher wrenched the party away from its pragmatic traditions. Brexit has turned it into a faith-based movement

“I’d like to have led the Conservative party. I’d like to have been prime minister,” confessed a disappointed Conservative politician on Monday. It is proving to be that kind of week for the Tory combatants. Today it was Rory Stewart’s turn to come to terms with the dying of his national leadership dream, as Boris Johnson consolidated his grip on the Tory election in advance of today’s next rounds.

But these words of regret did not come from Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock or any of the earlier fallers in this contest. Instead they were spoken this week by Michael Heseltine, in the final part of the BBC’s excellent five-part documentary, Thatcher: a Very British Revolution. It is what Heseltine said next that speaks most directly of all to the perhaps unsolvable problems facing today’s Tory party. If he had become prime minister, Heseltine said: “It would have been a different country.” He is right about that. But he didn’t. So it isn’t. And that is the Tory party’s problem.

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Corbyn statement on Brexit position fails to impress remainers

Backers of second referendum express disappointment as Labour leader reiterates his position

Labour backers of a second referendum who had hoped for a decisive shift in their party’s policy towards remain have expressed disappointment after Jeremy Corbyn issued a lengthy statement reiterating his position.

Related: Trying to unite the country over Brexit won’t win Labour a general election | Peter Kellner

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Vital medicine supplies at risk if UK crashes out of EU, MPs warned

Shortages could occur within weeks of no-deal Brexit, pharmaceutical industry says

Crashing out of the EU on 31 October would have serious implications for hospitals, patients and pharmacies, with shortages of some medicines within weeks, MPs have been told by the pharmaceutical industry.

Critical and short shelf-life medicines – some of which may need to be refrigerated until they are consumed – would be most vulnerable in a no-deal scenario, parliament’s Brexit select committee heard on Wednesday.

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Trying to unite the country over Brexit won’t win Labour a general election | Peter Kellner

The polls make it clear the party’s equivocal stand on Brexit is losing it supporters. Taking a decisive stand is the only way forward

Ahead of today’s meeting of Labour’s shadow cabinet, here is a thought experiment. In the latest YouGov poll, the party has lost half its vote at the last general election. Suppose three-quarters of those lost voters had switched to the Brexit parties or the Conservatives, while one-quarter had switched to strongly remain parties – the Liberal Democrats, Greens or SNP. Pro-leave MPs in Labour’s heartlands would say “told you”. The case for Labour pivoting to a strongly pro-leave stance would be overwhelming.

The laudable aim of healing divisions cannot succeed while the issue of Brexit remains unresolved

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May’s Brexit deal is not dead – and only Rory Stewart will admit it | Rafael Behr

Even Boris Johnson will soon have to realise it’s a toss-up between an early election, or something akin to Theresa May’s deal

After the dodo, the most iconically dead bird in popular culture is the Norwegian blue parrot whose stiffened corpse appeared in the famous Monty Python sketch. Theresa May’s Brexit deal was compared to that parrot many times in the first months of this year in parliament and newspaper commentary. (It was also likened to a dodo on one front page.)

The deal was rejected three times by MPs; bludgeoned by remainers and leavers alike. It was declared expired; an ex-deal. The ostensible purpose of the Tory leadership contest, the criterion on which most of the candidates compete, is the quest for someone who can get a new, better deal – or who has the confidence to pursue Brexit without one. Only Rory Stewart poops the party by suggesting that the efficient route out of the EU is through the door that was opened by negotiation (and not by leaping from a top-storey window).

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MPs seek judicial review into police delays investigating leave campaign

Legal bid driven by concerns that process had been halted by ‘political sensitivities’

A group including three MPs has begun a legal bid to challenge police over delays to the investigation into alleged offences by leave campaigners in the Brexit referendum.

The application for judicial review says that it is nearly a year since the Metropolitan police were given evidence connected to the Vote Leave and Leave.EU campaigns and the delays were “exceptional, unjustified and in breach of the proposed defendants’ respective duties”.

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5 takeaways from the Tory leadership debate

LONDON — The final five candidates in the race to be U.K. prime minister — including the elusive Boris Johnson — faced off in a televised leadership debate Tuesday night that touched on social care, tax, climate change, education and Brexit.

Straight answers were often in short supply in an hour-long blue-on-blue battle that for the first time pitted the frontrunner against his rivals in public. Presenter Emily Maitlis often struggled to be heard and to keep control as the candidates made their pitches to fellow Tory MPs and the 160,000 Conservative Party members who will take the final decision on who succeeds Theresa May in No.10 Downing Street.

Here are POLITICO’s top five takeaways.

Johnson survives

Leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson had his first outing in a TV hustings debate (he refused to take part in Channel 4’s program on Sunday) and emerged largely unscathed thanks to the crowded field and a reluctance on the part of three out of four of his rivals to go for the jugular.

On Brexit time-tabling, there is little in the way of clear blue water between Johnson, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid. All are willing to take the U.K. out of the EU with no deal if a breakthrough cannot be found — either on October 31 or thereabouts. Only Rory Stewart categorically promised he would not take the U.K. out of the European Union without a deal, but with only a fifth of the airtime, his voice was largely drowned out.

Stewart under siege

The international development secretary appears to be paying the price for torpedoing the campaigns of many of his rivals with his insurgent bid for the premiership. Rivals were keen to turn their fire on the contender who had made the most progress since the beginning of the contest, winning the backing of 37 MPs in Tuesday’s second round of voting. Stewart’s pitch to give Johnson a run for his money in the final debate paid off in getting him a seat in the studio, but he failed to land any serious blows.

Gove accused Stewart of not having a plan on public services, while Hunt questioned if Stewart would be “happy with no Brexit.”

But the biggest asset to the leadership rivals, and most awkward moment for Stewart, was when James from Oxford, one of the BBC’s questioners from across the regions, accused Stewart of being “completely out of touch,” when asked about tax cuts. “You just did not answer my question. It’s nothing to do with Brexit, it’s about tax cuts,” he chastised him.

“I know I’m making myself very unpopular,” Stewart conceded.

Not listening to Brussels

Viewers were left none the wiser about how any of the candidates would solve the Brexit backstop conundrum — the major hurdle which was May’s undoing.

All except Stewart refused to recognize the EU27 has made it clear that there will be no renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement backstop.

When asked why Brussels might move this time, when it hasn’t before, Johnson said he thought having Brexit Party MEPs might make a difference — also the fact that the EU does not want a no-deal divorce.

“There’s literally no reality,” said Stewart.

Pitch for Brexiteer votes

Javid, who scraped through to the third round by the skin of his teeth with the 33 votes required and no more, further boosted his Brexiteer credentials with a hardline stance.

In what looked like a pitch to the 30 backers of former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who was eliminated on Tuesday, Javid agreed with Johnson that Brexit could not drag on beyond October 31, warning against a “flexible deadline” because the government must “concentrate minds in Brussels.”

The home secretary also appeared to be pitching himself as a potential chancellor in a Johnson Cabinet. Following Johnson’s tax cut pledges, Javid pointed out that tax cuts can sometimes lead to more revenue by boosting the economy. He also suggested the country could afford to borrow more to fund public services or tax cuts. That would be music to a prime minister Johnson’s ears.

Gove, who finished in third place with 41 votes, also appeared to be pitching for Raab’s votes with an attempt to reclaim the Brexit true-believer ground. He pointed out that he was the first person among the candidates to advocate leaving the EU, adding “I started this, I will finish it.”

The sixth man

Gove, the environment secretary, was more interested in attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn than laying into his rivals for the Conservative crown. He launched several attacks on the opposition chief, including at one point addressing him directly: “You discredited Marxist. Get back into the dustbin of history where you belong.”

Gove may have read the YouGov poll of Tory members released Tuesday which showed that allowing Corbyn into Downing Street was the one thing they feared more than a failure to deliver Brexit. The poll found the Conservative grassroots were more willing to see the U.K. broken up and their party destroyed than lose Brexit — as long as Corbyn never gets the keys to No. 10.

Gove’s approach in the debate built on his call in the Times on Tuesday for Tory MPs to avoid “polarization” in the party. It also burnishes his campaign credentials as the candidate that gave the Labour leader both barrels in the Commons last January when May handed the environment secretary the task of defending her against a confidence vote among MPs.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.


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