OWEN SMITH TO DEFY BREXIT?
It is very unfortunate that Angela Eagle has dropped out of the Labour leadership race. It is high time the party elected a woman leader. Every time is not quite the right time. Eagle defied intimidation in her Wallasey constituency to be first to challenge Jeremy Corbyn but as so often in politics the frontrunner rarely wins the crown. Ask Michael Heseltine or Boris Johnson. Also the North is losing its representation at the top of British politics with the sacking of Tatton’s George Osborne as Chancellor and now the prospect of a Welshman (Owen Smith) battling it out with an Islington socialist for the Labour leadership.
All that said Owen Smith now deserves support. He looks like someone who has what it takes to actually lead a parliamentary party. That is what this leadership election will be all about. In policy terms there doesn’t seem to be that much between Corbyn and Smith but hopefully the latter will realise that you have to work with your Shadow Cabinet and not surround yourself with a cabal. The complaints of those who resigned from the shadow team about calls unanswered, meetings not attended and a lack of coordination on Labour’s message are too numerous to ignore.
The other attraction of Smith is that he seems to favour consulting the British people on the terms of any Brexit deal. This is going to be the central issue in British politics running up to the next general Election. The Brexiteers still can’t tell us what Brexit would mean for business leave alone working people facing a possible self induced recession. It is vital that parliament votes on whether to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and whatever Brexit Secretary David Davis comes up with is put to the British people. We need a coherent alliance of Labour led by Owen Smith, the SNP, Lib Dems and peers to allow the British people a say in the consequences of the crude binary choice offered on June 23. We may be able to add some Tories to that grouping. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve has expressed his concern about us being taken out of the EU without further consultation with the voters.
The main problem is that the Tory government may have completed our exit in 2019, before the next General Election. I think an earlier poll is unlikely because the Prime Minister has ruled out seeking an immediate mandate from the people and a later move to overturn the fixed term legislation would look opportunistic. Also holding a General Election in the middle of the tortuous Brexit talks would pile on the uncertainty for business.
SCIENCE TO THE RESCUE FOR THE NORTH.
Brexit is creating all sorts of problems around funding and personnel in our science based northern universities. So it is timely that Europe’s largest interdisciplinary science meeting, EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) is coming to Manchester this weekend. 4500 leading researchers and policy makers will be discussing what business opportunities will be created by using innovative technology in smart cities.
The programme director of ESOF is one of the unsung heroes of public service in the North West. Vicky Rosin’s forty years in local government started in Liverpool. She moved to Manchester Council and until recently was Deputy Chief Executive to Sir Howard Bernstein. She had key roles in the Commonwealth Games and exciting refurbishment of the city’s Central Library. Now it is ESOF which will include 600 speakers from 50 countries.