TAING BACK CONTROL?
Dominic Raab, one of the contenders for the Tory leadership, has suggested one way of getting Brexit through would be to prorogue (suspend) parliament. So, it has come to this from those who told us leaving the EU would mean taking back control. We should have understood that what they meant was they would define the 2016 result as a mandate to tear up all our links with Europe and bypass parliament in doing this.
Actually, this is not a new approach. Remember Mrs May didn’t want to put the issue to parliament and had to be forced to by the Supreme Court.
It is quite likely that the Brexit Party will win tonight’s Peterborough by election. A significant number of industrial workers are deserting Labour to rally behind Nigel Farage. What are his jobs and industrial strategy? I fear people are being blinded by an irrational hatred of the EU which will lead to widespread joblessness. My evidence? Bridgend, Scunthorpe, Swindon and there will be more to come. There are multiple causes for the problems facing the steel and car industry but the fear of tariffs after a No Deal Brexit is a massive contributory factor.
D DAY REFLECTIONS.
The testimony of the surviving soldiers this week has been deeply moving. Our debt to them and the fallen can never be repaid. The coverage by the BBC reminds us what a great broadcaster it is and worth every penny of the licence fee.
Well done to the Queen for reminding Donald Trump that the institutions created after World War Two to prevent further bloody catastrophes need to be respected. NATO and the UN are two but so, in my opinion, is the European Union
We also need to remember the contribution of the Red Army. Although the Soviet Union did not represent the democratic values that were fought for in Normandy, they made the major contribution in grinding down the German army in the East and I think that should have been mentioned far more this week.
THE TORY GRAND NATIONAL.
I will end this week with brief comments on the 11 contenders for Prime Minister.By the way those candidates promising to renegotiate Mrs May’s deal overlook the fact that there will be no new Prime Minister until the end of July and the new European leadership won’t be in position until November. Added to which the EU says the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened.
They are not going to win but I like the reasoned approach of Rory Stewart and the pro EU stance of Sam Gyimah. Mark Harper has no chance, nor do I think Tatton MP Esther Mcvey will last very long in the contest. I have known Esther for many years and her Liverpool background would have made a refreshing change for a Tory leader. However, her No Deal stance and her support for Birmingham parents opposing relationship education rule her out for me.
Matt Hancock is possibly one for the future and I can’t forgive Sajid Javid for his indolence when Communities Secretary.
Andrea Leadsom’s standing has grown since her cack handed bid for the leadership last time, but along with Dominic Raab, their stance on the EU is not for me.
Jeremy Hunt comes over as very bland but might come through as many people’s second choice.
I think the final two will be Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. I have frequently given my views on Johnson before. He was an opportunist on Brexit, a disgrace as Foreign Secretary and is lazy with the detail. Gove has the ability to take the fight to Jeremy Corbyn and is a bit more sensible in relation to extending EU negotiations.
Not a great selection for those of us who want to stop Brexit, but there we are.
Follow me @JimHancockUK
LEAVING WITH SOMETHING……
As I write the Prime Minister is engaged in an unseemly race with Oliver Letwin to get her deal over the finishing line, before MPs potentially unite behind a customs union and confirmatory referendum on Monday.
I have forecast that her deal will prevail, and still think it might. If the government choose to put Mrs May’s proposal before MPs tomorrow in some form, and it passes the Speaker’s “sniff test”, then the stakes are the highest they have been in this high stakes drama.
If she wins, then the country will have until May 22 to pass the necessary legislation and Mrs May can retire as Prime Minister, partially vindicated. Her approach has been narrow but her task was immense dealing with Brexit fanatics on one side and a slippery Jeremy Corbyn on the other who wanted to leave whilst sharing no responsibility for the terms on which it was done. The Westminster commentators have had her gone almost every month since she took office, but she’s still there. Mrs May has shown extraordinary resilience and has a great deal of sympathy in the country, especially from women.
If she loses the April 12th deadline hoves into view with the choices being, revocation of Article 50 (too drastic for most MPs) leaving with no deal (MPs won’t allow it) or asking for a long extension which would involve electing Euro MEPs. I think the latter would be the last act of Mrs May.
The other slim possibility is that, if May’s deal is defeated, MPs unite around the two most popular proposals from the indicative votes on Wednesday night. They are to support a customs union and a referendum. It would be very surprising if the government were to adopt that policy and we might then see Oliver Letwin trying to legislate for it.
But would we really see the Dorset West MP taking his bill to the Queen for Royal Assent? “How nice to see you Mr Letwin, but I only deal with Mrs May” might be the royal reply. I am being humorous to show the constitutional contortions we’d then be in.
Many are suggesting there would be a General Election before that happened. It could produce another hung parliament. On the other hand, it could be very bad news for Labour struggling for any sort of opinion poll lead at the moment. The Tories could have a Brexiteer leader pledging a populist hard line on Europe. What would be in the Labour manifesto? Still support for the 2016 Referendum?
SECOND TERM TRUMP?
The smoke coming from Robert Mueller’s gun was hardly detectable when the Special Counsel’s report probing Russian interference in the US 2016 elections, was published.
Donald Trump had always called it a witch hunt, and although that was untrue, we live in an age of instant judgements. The Democrats may want the full report and want to investigate this and that, but the top line is Trump was not found to have committed anything approaching a high crime.
The Democrats have a tough enough job choosing between a moderate and socialist candidate for next year’s Presidential election. They should concentrate on the issues that matter for average Americans and not waste their time investigating Trump.
He is in many ways the worst American President ever, but he has the economy zinging and his base support in place. He will be difficult to dislodge.
Follow me @JimHancockUK
FROM BAD TO WORSE.
The year ends in rancour, with our political system debased and no solution to the Brexit torture.
It has been a black year indeed with Brexit paralysing the government and preventing action on major problems like elderly care, homelessness, food banks, skills and transport.
The Northern Powerhouse has stalled. Whatever good it is doing is being dwarfed by its failure to deliver on its central proposition….connectivity. Five years on from the founding analysis of NP that the great northern cities were close together but badly connected we have seen chaos on the trains and gridlock on the roads, particularly in Manchester. The NP promises another strategic planning document. We’ve had hundreds. We know what the problem is, underinvestment. The timetable crisis in the summer was followed by the December scandal where in the same week passengers were scrambling on overcrowded trains at Piccadilly whilst Crossrail in London was being lined up for a billion-pound bailout.
In a year when business has been treated disgracefully by the politicians with the Brexit uncertainty, we have had the full onset of the retail crisis. Bricks and mortar high street shops just cannot compete with the on-line offer.
Low unemployment and low inflation have been brighter features in the landscape but there remains a sense of uncertainty, not helped by a number of high-profile companies going to the wall. Carillion was one of the most spectacular with serious consequences for a number of construction projects in the North especially the major new hospital in Liverpool.
Another bright feature has been the growing awareness of the damage plastic waste is doing to the planet. Is there some hope that ordinary people have more sense that certain politicians about saving the planet?
Donald Trump’s continuing denial of the existence of climate change is just one of the many criticisms that can be made of this President. Although he lost the House of Representatives in the midterm elections and continues to be surrounded in a myriad of scandals, would you bet on him not getting re-elected in 2020. His supporters see all the media and congressional exposure as a huge plot to get their man. The US economy which is doing well at the moment, will hold the key to Trump’s future.
Finally, to UK politics in a week when we descended to examining the shape of Jeremy Corbyn’s lips in the Stupidgate scandal. Labour continue to trail the Tories in the opinion polls despite the Conservative meltdown. Their success in the local elections in taking Trafford was their only optimistic sign.
You might still have a bet on the Conservatives at least being the largest party at the next General Election, particularly now that we know they will have a new fresh leader. Meanwhile Theresa May has continued to show huge resilience.
For the centre ground it has been a year of further decline. The Lib Dems have continued to be irrelevant under the ageing Vince Cable. Meanwhile in France President Macron, the sole centrist victor in the world in the last few years, has stumbled badly.
So, we prepare to cross the threshold into 2019, in all likelihood the year when we leave/crash out of the EU. An even worse year beckons.