Philip Hammond, under any normal circumstances, would have been fired for going off-piste in Davos. But he knew he wasn’t going to be fired which explains why he said in his speech that there would only be “very modest” changes to relations between the EU and the UK after Brexit.
Boris Johnson’s public intervention on the NHS earlier this week should have got him into hot water, but it didn’t. We understand that some of his cabinet colleagues rebuked him as they were sitting around the cabinet table, but that was it. He was only saying what the rest of us were thinking – additional NHS funding plays well in marginal constituencies. It’s good politics and a few more billions of pounds should have a positive effect on outcomes, even in our dysfunctional healthcare system, desperately in need of reform, but which is never going to be reformed whilst May is in Number 10. It isn’t rocket science, but I am sure that there are many ministers sitting around the cabinet table who think it is.
When MPs vote against a Bill at third reading in the House of Commons, they are attempting to press the nuclear button. A vote at third reading is the final vote. A vote against it is a vote to destroy the Bill. Oppositions, of course, regularly vote to destroy Bills that they dislike at third reading, however, when it comes to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill which cleared its Commons stages yesterday, many of the Labour MPs who voted against were doing so in full opposition to the majority of their constituents wishes.
I am not saying that this Bill is perfect – I don’t think that any Bill that seeks to transfer powers back from the EU in such a short timescale ever could be. Many MPs are concerned that too much power will be transferred to the Government, however, those same MPs didn’t bat an eyelid when numerous powers were being transferred from the UK to Brussels. It is the worst type of hypocrisy.
We should just come out and say it: Theresa May is a dead woman walking. She is unsuited to the role of Prime Minister. She is a weak leader; she doesn’t possess any meaningful leadership skills. She also doesn’t have a political brain. She is leading a Government that limps from one crisis to another. It’s directionless and can’t get the job done. Every time you think she is about to take control and show “strong and stable” leadership, the wheels come off again.
I have said on a number of occasions that if she can make it to Christmas, she will make it to 29 March 2019 – the date we are supposed to be leaving the European Union. As the weeks and months have passed by, it has looked more likely that she will make it to Christmas, but after the events of this week, that is looking increasingly unlikely. Continue reading “Brexit is too important an issue to leave in the hands of May”→
I ask that question as I do not know the answer to it. David Jones has always struck me as a very able minister. He is a former Secretary of State for Wales. He is an experienced operator, and along with David Davis and colleagues, has managed to build-up a department from scratch in just under a year.
Jones is also a Leaver. He was very effective in Wales during last year’s EU Referendum. What is Theresa May up to? After performing so badly at the polls last week, the fears of many that she is preparing to water down Brexit will resurface. After Jones’ sacking, the optics are bad.
Has she learned anything from her humiliation last week?
In some ways, this is a difficult one to call. According to Paddy Power, the betting is going the Conservatives’ way.
In the 2010 general election, Victoria Ayling was the Conservative candidate, and she very nearly unseated Austin Mitchell. His majority was just 714, however, that result has to be viewed through the prism of the expenses scandal. Austin Mitchell announced he would stand down in 2015 and Melanie Onn was selected as the Labour candidate. She won the seat with a 4,540 majority, with Victoria Ayling this time standing for UKIP.
Although Melanie Onn had moved away from Grimsby, she was born and raised in the town. That should go in her favour, but this election has to be viewed through the prism of Brexit. A massive 69.9 per cent of voters in North East Lincolnshire voted Leave in last year’s referendum. Melanie Onn campaigned for Remain. Will this do her irreparable damage? If this had been Austin Mitchell standing again (a veteran Labour Eurosceptic who campaigned for Leave), I would have called this for Labour. All it will take for the Conservatives to win this seat is for them to grab a little over half of UKIP’s vote. This is not even factoring-in the swing from Labour to the Conservatives that is expected nationally. But don’t be surprised if many will stick with Labour because they always have done, and because the Labour candidate is a daughter of the town.