UK Politics: Weekly News Round-up

In the news this week…

The European Election campaign we were never supposed to have kicked off in earnest this week, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats publishing their manifestos ahead of the vote next week. There was criticism from some over the crassness of the ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ slogan adopted by the Liberal Democrats, but Stephen Bush, writing in the New Statesman, argues that the move is a ‘stroke of genius’.

With polling showing a marked dip in support for the Conservative Party, and with little evident movement in the talks between the Conservatives and Labour, Theresa May is under increasing pressure from the Chairman of the 1922 committee, Graham Brady, to name her departure date. She will meet with him, and the rest of the 1922 executive, on Thursday in what promises to be a difficult meeting for the Prime Minister.

This is now officially the longest sitting of parliament since the English Civil War and yet there hasn’t been a division in the House of Commons for over a month, illustrating the extent to which the government is in office but not in power. As Theresa May clings to power, there are a whole host of figures queuing up to replace her. This week’s ‘Brexitcast‘ podcast takes a look at the Tory contenders to replace her.

In global politics…

  • As the trade war between the US and China continues the BBC analyses who is losing out as a result.

And…there are three excellent podcasts this week from the New York Times’ ‘The Daily’ podcast…

  • On the stand-off between the Trump Administration and Congress over the Attorney General’s refusal to publish the Mueller Report in full.
  • On $1 billion of losses revealed by Trump’s tax returns over a decade.
  • On the Trump administration’s stand-off with Iran over their nuclear programme.

Cartoon of the week

UK Politics: Weekly News Round-Up

From The Times (30/04/19)

Labour divisions over Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn won over the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) this week after they agreed the following order of priority when it comes to Brexit:

  • Firstly, get the government to agree to Labour’s alternative Brexit plan
  • Secondly, trigger a General Election
  • Thirdly, fight for a 2nd referendum

This row exposed deep divisions in the Labour Party, with many Labour MPs, led by the Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, calling for the party to come out clearly in favour of a second referendum in time to fight in the European elections on Thursday 23rd May. Times columnist, Rachel Sylvester, argues that, by refusing to listen to the overwhelming majority of Labour members, Corbyn has exposed himself as a hypocrite. As Theresa May sets a one week deadline for cross-party talks to reach a conclusion, this may lead things to come to a head early next week.

Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion gained some ground this week, with a declaration from the SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, that there is a ‘climate emergency’. The group also secured a meeting with Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, where they were able to discuss their demands. Writing in The Guardian this week, Ed Miliband, Caroline Lucas and Laura Sandys called for a green new deal, echoing voices in the US Democratic Primary, who are also calling for bold policy in this area.

A “constitutional outrage”?

Despite the fact that Theresa May’s legislative agenda has stalled, Number 10 signalled that the government will not be proroguing parliament In order to bring forward a Queen’s Speech. This typically happens yearly, but there hasn’t been one for almost two years as this session of parliament was designed to get all of the Brexit legislation through in one session. Labour MP Chris Bryant described this decision as a “constitutional outrage”, because the Queen’s Speech is designed to ensure that the government has a majority in the House to pass its programme – something Theresa May is keen to avoid! There have only been 5 years since 1900 where there hasn’t been a Queen’s speech, so this is certainly an unusual situation.

Political Podcasts

In Political Thinking this week, Nick Robinson talks to Tony Blair’s former Communications Director and prominent People’s Vote campaigner, Alastair Campbell. Meanwhile, the Times Red Box podcast previews Thursday’s local elections with leading pollsters.

UK Politics: Weekly News Round-up

From The Times (16/04/19)

As Parliament goes on a break, there is worrying news for the Conservative Party as recent polling shows that an early general election might hand the keys to Number 10 to Jeremy Corbyn, with support for the Tories in one poll falling to the lowest level in 16 years.

With local and European elections on the horizon, YouGov polling is already showing Nigel Farage’s recently launched Brexit Party on 27% of the vote, with the two major parties likely to have their vote squeezed under the proportional Party List voting system used in European Parliamentary elections.

Last Friday, there were climate change protests across the country, led by young people trying to draw attention to the seriousness of the issue. This was followed this week by Extinction Rebellion making the news for taking non-violent direct action by blockading roads in central London, leading to over 75o arrests. Columnist, George Mobiot argues the case for mass civil disobedience in The Guardian this week.

As YouGov polling shows leavers being slightly more likely to question their vote in 2016 than remainers, Peter Oborne, who voted leave in the referendum, argues that leave voters need to think again. There’s a very good Spectator podcast of him discussing his change of view with Frasor Nelson, which contains an interesting discussion of how a Burkean conservative ought to view Brexit. 

Finally, there is controversy over Shamima Begum being given legal aid to challenge the government’s right to strip of her citizenship due to her actions in Syria. Melanie Phillips defends her right to a day in court in the Times this week. Here’s a quote from the piece, which is behind a pay wall: 

Revulsion and fury — however justified — at someone’s depraved behaviour should never be used, though, to refuse that person a legal defence of something as fundamental as their citizenship. For that touches upon matters that don’t just affect them but all of us: the need to uphold fairness, justice and due process… Appalling as such people may be, they are entitled to challenge the home secretary’s decisions about them because the UK is a country under the rule of law that is applicable to everyone.