Because Parliament is in recess most political news has moved into two distinct categories: commentary on reports that were going to come out anyway or political gossip and speculation. One story that is gaining popularity in some parts of the press is the idea of outspoken Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg launching a leadership to replace Theresa May as Tory Party leader. If such a bid was successful Rees-Mogg would also become Prime Minister, the third of which in two years. People began to talk about how ‘funny’ the idea of a Rees-Mogg premiership would be but the notion of the MP for North East Somerset becoming Prime Minister should jolt the Left out of any complacency that they may have slipped into after May’s failure to form a majority government at the last election. A side note is that all references to Rees-Mogg’s voting record come from TheyWorkForYou.com.
Another day and another Brexit problem for the government. In order for Theresa May to begin legislating on Britain’s exit from the European Union, the government must receive a legislative consent motion (LCM) from the devolved administrations. Due to the breakdown of the power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland, this therefore means that the Scottish and Welsh governments need to consent to Brexit legislation. However Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones have said that unless they have a role in the Brexit talks, they wouldn’t pass an LCM. Whilst Westminster can, legally speaking, begin legislating on Brexit without LCMs from Holyrood and Cardiff, this would be politically problematic for the government to say the least.
Because of Theresa May’s general election own-goal, Labour are more influential and united in the House of Commons, and indeed the Tories and now descending into their latest Europe-based civil war. In an attempt to appear more Prime Ministerial, Theresa May gave a speech today in which she reached out to the Labour Party and other parties to work with the government on delivering Brexit. May said “I say to other parties in the House of Commons- come forward with your own views and ideas about how we can tackle these challenges as a country”. Labour needs to seize this opportunity in order to preserve the more positive aspects of EU membership whilst also exploiting the fissures currently opening up in the Conservative Party.
When Theresa May took over as Prime Minister she spent a great amount of time trying to convince people that the Conservatives were the party of working people. Naturally people like myself laughed in her face because all of her policies tell the complete opposite story, but for many the message was believable. However within a few days of the Queen’s Speech, this narrative has been undermined the Tories’ own actions. The Conservatives and the DUP voted in lockstep to maintain the public sector pay cap at a 1% annual rise which, in practice, is a pay cut.
The general election result caught many by surprise but when it became clear that the Tories would fall short of a majority all media attention turned to the prospect of the Tory-DUP agreement to keep the government going. This went into overdrive when Lib Dem leader Tim Farron ruled out any coalition or agreement with the Conservatives. With all other MPs in parties openly hostile to the Tories, with the exception of the DUP, the Conservatives found themselves backed into a corner but there remain problems with what they wish to achieve.
Theresa May is, to quote George Osborne, “a dead woman walking” and today’s Queen’s Speech perfectly exemplified this fact. May had initially intended that the announcement of a date for the speech would be a way of gaining leverage on the DUP but this did not happen and as a result there is not yet a formal arrangement in place to prop up a Tory minority government. Because of this political uncertainty the speech was devoid of serious proposals other than vague statements about Brexit that could be interpreted in different ways depending on one’s views of the EU, and a notable absence of proposals that were in the Conservative manifesto. Continue reading →
The Labour Party is in a strong position after this election but that must not be taken for granted. The party’s support is at its highest level for a number of years and this was in spite of an incredibly hostile print media response to senior Labour figures. Hopefully the influence of The Sun, The Mail and other papers of their ilk is one the decline but in the short-term they shall still be around. Let’s face facts, Labour lost the election because they didn’t win the most seats or get the most votes. But if Labour is to build on the successes that it did have at this election then it needs to understand what happened and think quickly about the future.