It’s a shame that SAS (Strong and Stable) Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker can’t stop the trash talking ahead of their Brexit fight. They should learn from the dignified approach of boxers Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko who avoided throwing chairs or making lurid threats against each other but delivered a huge success.

The UK government and the EU officials are as bad as each other. Mrs May’s ministers are adopting an arrogant and ignorant approach to the Brexit talks. But talk of bills escalating now to £100 bn from the European side can only serve to turn public opinion in Britain from a 52/48 divide to 60/40 for Leave. Very depressing.

If we do eventually leave, many questions about the future of the North will need to be answered. Among them are what is going to happen when we lose EU regional development funding and agricultural subsidies?

Common Futures Network (CFN) has been peering into the post Brexit world. It is an independent forum of economists, planners, housing experts, engineers and development interests.

In a report out this weekend they note that while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have developed national frameworks, there is no equivalent for England. The report is right to say that the need to address the “English question” was demonstrated by the sharp divisions shown up last June between towns and big cities and the North and London. The destruction of the Regional Development Agencies and their replacement by hardly visible Local Enterprise Partnerships was exactly the wrong thing to do in my opinion.

The CFN report calls for a new regional development fund to replace the EU structural fund and for a comprehensive deal for England’s regions, in addition to its cities and city-regions. This is the right approach. This weekend newly elected city region mayors are starting their work in Merseyside and Greater Manchester. We must wait to see what they achieve and meanwhile turn our attention to the areas of the North outside these conurbations. The CFN report calls for a comprehensive rural programme, a need to identify new development areas to accommodate a population growth of 9 million by 2040 and a drive to manage the growth of the London megaregion.

Let’s hope the government has time to address these issues whilst it is arm wrestling Mr Juncker after the election.


Nominations close next week for the General Election and the parties have been rushing to choose candidates. Ironically it has been the Conservatives who’ve had most to do because their constituency chairs believed SAS Theresa May when she said there would be no election until 2020. Opposition parties feared she was fibbing and mostly selected candidates last autumn.

This week has seen Esther McVey become the candidate for Tatton. The constituency never fails to have a high-profile MP. Since Neil Hamilton was kicked out twenty years ago, he’s been followed by Martin Bell, George Osborne and now McVey. How her scouse vowels will go down in the leafy lanes of Knutsford remains to be seen.

 Wirral West has made an excellent choice in Knowsley businessman Tony Caldeira who will have no rest from the campaign trail after running for Liverpool City Region Mayor.

Follow me @JimHancockUK








Labour are stuck with Jeremy Corbyn but have little prospect of winning the 2020 General Election. That looks to be the situation with many results still to come in today, including the vital London mayor election.

The Labour leader did better in England and Wales than his critics thought he would, but coming third to the Tories in Scotland means the party will lack the ballast of 40 Scottish Labour seats it would need to win in 2020.

That is why the Shadow Home Secretary and Leigh MP Andy Burnham is considering running for elected Mayor of Greater Manchester. He clearly doesn’t see the prospect of holding one of the major offices of state as very likely in 2020 and may settle for running Greater Manchester. Its a big job but not as big as being Home Secretary. Andy Burnham knows it will be 2025 at least before Labour form a government. By then we may have the realignment of political parties that I have written about before, but for now we must get back to what happened overnight.

Some commentators and Jeremy Corbyn’s enemies were poised to write off the Labour leader overnight.

The truth is that Labour were at a high point going into these elections following years of progress since they lost the 2010 General Election. It is a mystery to me that Labour spokespeople (including Corbyn) didn’t make this point more forcefully. All the easy wards to win had been won in the last five years and further progress would be difficult.

The most interesting northern result so far is in Stockport where Labour look set to gain minority control, ending a long era of the Lib Dems being in charge. On a night when there were signs of a slight Lib Dem recovery, the party self destructed in the town. A botched consultation on the market was followed by a nightmare evening which saw the Lib Dem leader Sue Derbyshire lose her seat and a Lib Dem councillor defect to Labour.

Joe Anderson was comfortably re-elected as Mayor of Liverpool but shortly the city is expected to revert to a leader/cabinet model as Joe stands for election to be Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.

Labour fended off a Tory challenge in West Lancashire but the Conservative flagship council of Trafford remained blue.

So where do the parties stand this weekend as they return to campaigning on the momentous issue of our membership of the European Union?

Parties in government usually start a rapid decline in local support once they are in national office. This hasn’t happened to the Tories despite their splits over Europe, probably because of Labour’s weak leadership and disarray over anti-Semitism. The Conservatives will be encouraged by holding Trafford and the performance of Ruth Davidson, their leader in Scotland, who may have a wider national role one day.

Labour are in stalemate with the results not bad enough for an immediate coup against Corbyn but with no prospect of winning in 2020. The Shadow Chancellor John McDonald has had a good campaign. He appears more sure footed than his leader and if Labour is to have a hard left leader, perhaps it should be him.

Stockport is a further blow to the Lib Dems but partly due to local factors, elsewhere in the North there are signs of a modest recovery after five dreadful years.

UKIP have made a few gains in places like Bolton but their effectiveness in taking decisions on local government issues instead of just banging on about Europe, remains a big question.

Now the battle for our membership of the European Union resumes, let’s see some passion from the Remain camp.





Everybody thinks the E.U. referendum is going to be a close run thing. Why do they think that? Because the polls tell them so. These are the same polling organisations who got the General Election result wrong and arguably distorted the outcome as a consequence.

Apparently on line and phone polling is giving wildly different outcomes and it could be even more difficult to get accurate polling results on this E.U. Referendum than when you are asking people for their political party preference.

So on June 24th if the British people vote to withdraw by a decisive margin or (as I hope) decide to remain with a convincing majority, prepare for another round of hand ringing by pollsters as we find out that the British people had a clear view on their future destiny after all.

By the way, although I am convinced pro European I do think it is provocative for the government to send out anti Exit leaflets ahead of the official referendum campaign. It will just help supporters of Leave who are already preparing to cry foul if we vote to Remain.


I understand the importance of our trade relations with a nation that could overtake the United States and become the biggest economic power in the world. But it has never been without risks. The main ethical one is dealing with a country with a poor civil rights record but there are others including the issues that are arising over the future of the British steel industry.

With China now involved in financing major infrastructure projects in this country, it is not easy to aggressively oppose their steel dumping. A measure of the growing arrogance of the Chinese government was their decision to impose a 46% tariff on grain orientated electrical steel made in Wales at the very moment when the government was facing the hugely embarrassing possibility of seeing the Port Talbot plant close.

You can tell the members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party are not answerable to voters.

We need to save domestic steel making, and put a bit of distance from the Chinese. I also hope we will hear more at next week’s Downtown lunch in Liverpool about the progress of Chinese investment in Liverpool and Wirral following the latest MIPIM extravaganza. It is a long time since the city was at the Shanghai Expo and I don’t see many shovels in the ground.


Donald Trump continues his divisive campaign to win the Republican nomination for President of the United States. His Wisconsin set back this week means it is unlikely he will arrive at the Convention with a majority. But if the Republican establishment deny him the nomination by back room deals, there could be real trouble. I watched a Channel Four documentary recently which illustrated the ugly mood amongst his blue collar white working class supporters.

There has already been violence at Trump rallies. It could get worse.


I have been pro Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination but I was mightily impressed with her rival Bernie Sanders speech after winning in Wisconsin. His attack on the greed and corruption exposed by the Panama Papers leak shows the degree of anger by us P.A.Y.E. People at people who are salting away their wealth in tax havens.

Sanders has a lot in common with another insurgent politician, Jeremy Corbyn. Labour should watch the American socialist carefully.


Channel Four does not get the same audience for the big race that the BBC got. So to try and increase viewers they are putting it on at 5-15 on Saturday. It just doesn’t feel right to me. Most people are off on a Saturday, not getting home from work. You should be able to have a bit of lunch and enjoy the race in the middle of the afternoon.