Tag Archives: Conservatives

Breaking down Brexit

Anyone with some sort of political acumen has an opinion on the primary issue dominating British politics, Brexit. It has hard to employ the word in any sort of discourse or context without feelings of dismay ascending, either because of the lies or connotations that come by implication to the word, these obviously include identity, nationalism and immigration. Whether or not one is a Brexiter, the issue has become heavily polluted, however the thing that I find most infuriating and most dangerous is that the EU debate, held over a year ago, was devoid of any holistic examination about the implications and consequences of the United Kingdom’s potential exit from the European Union. Only now are we seeing the consequences of this, as Prime Minister May struggles to gain any sort of traction in her quest to depart the institution.

Firstly, it needs to be acknowledged that the EU are a bureaucratic and aristocratic panel of unelected and undemocratic, sovereign representatives, existing purely to satisfy and satiate cooperate interests. They are largely responsible for the centralisation of capital and wealth in Europe and the West and have contributed to the dearth of progress in developing counties. Yet, despite this very sufficient ineptitude, the argument most heavily proliferated against the EU has been related to immigration. This may be a question for another debater article, but are there deeper structural powers at play here? Because, surely, if the EU’s politics was the problem, then the aforementioned reason would be a more prudent and politically legitimate issue to raise.

Moving on however, by implication of the EU’s political sovereignty, the EU are integral to every part of British infrastructure. As Britain continues to establishes it self as a champion of the single market, propositioned by the EU, essential facets of British society engrosses itself into the EU’s remit. This includes the foundations of society’s structures; trains, buildings, planning regulations all go through procurement processes laid down by the EU and this is essential to Britain’s economy in both a financial and functionality capacity. The importance of this is evidence, yet it begs the question, why was this not mentioned in the debate?

Furthermore, the EU is heavily engrossed in Britain’s research assembly. This is again by implication of having a political system that is so heavily engrossed into the EU’s productivity The UK is one of the largest recipients of research funding from the EU. Over the period 2007 to 2013 the UK received €8.8 billion out of a total of the €107 billion expenditure available to research, development and innovation in EU Member States, associated and third countries. This represents the fourth largest share in the EU. In terms of funding awarded on a competitive basis in the period 2007 – 2013, the UK was the second largest recipient after Germany, securing €6.9 billion out of a total of €55.4 billion. Why again, was this not mentioned in the debate?

 

Then finally, economics. Through access to the single market, London has been able to attract institutional and corporate investment from Europe and beyond these shores. Why again, was this not mentioned in the debate? Conversely, on a different dynamic, with an estimated population of 8,615,246 residents, London is the most populous region, urban zone and metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. London generates approximately 22% of the UK’s GDP, with 41,000 private sector businesses based in London (at the start of 2013). The lack of economic, political and opportunistic devolution in the UK is indicative of the EU’s operational structure. The single market is the most lucrative version of itself in a centralised system where money, labour and politics transpires in the same space, because investors would rather invest in one super-economy with extravagant returns (London), than invest in a split of many healthy economies around where the returns may be more stable but less spectacular. This surely, like my first elucidation, is a far more prudent argument to make against the EU, than a largely fabricated narrative about immigration (which I will clarify in another debater article).

Conclusively, the thing that I am most trying to infer here is that the current format of political destitution and reporting, from both the politicians and the media, needs renovation. In the context of Brexit; the state of political analysis was repugnant. The aforementioned issues, that both highlights the advantages and disadvantages of being an EU member state, was largely ignored and a narrative manifested itself that seemed to purely oppose the establishment or at least a perception of an establishment. Is politics not supposed to be about creating a better society? Well you could have fooled me!

Osborne is right over May leadership!

George Osborne, former Conservative MP and Chancellor of Exchequer, now editor of the Evening Standard, threw another grenade into the ongoing conversation about the leadership of Theresa May on Thursday evening. Speaking at an event hosted by The Spectator, Osborne firmly stated there were “very serious challenges” facing the Conservative Party under the leadership of Theresa May.

The political and personal differences between the two are well-known, but if we ignore them and just assess what Osborne said, does he have a point?

Expanding on his main hypothesis, Osborne argued that “closing your eyes and hoping leadership questions go away, or exalting people to unity doesn’t work in politics.” This is a fair assessment. Although, many Conservative MPs have not voiced their concerns about Theresa May in public, it does not mean these concerns don’t exist and aren’t bubbling away and waiting to burst out at an appropriate time. The latest polls indicate Corbyn has now drawn level with May in the best Prime Minister ratings. This will only exacerbate the debate in the Conservative Party.

Osborne also added that it was no good for the Conservative Party to say “oh, I wish we could all stop talking about it” and that you couldn’t talk to a member of the Cabinet without the issue being raised. This adds weight to claims made by Grant Shapps during his aborted coup that there were Cabinet Ministers who wanted Theresa May to call a leadership contest. The Sunday Times also reported that at least three Cabinet Ministers had discussed the need to replace Theresa May. This cannot be merely labelled a ‘Westminster bubble’ issue, this conversation is dominating the highest levels of Government.

Osborne also remains defiant about the belief that the Conservative Party are at their best when they are “positive about the country’s future”.  This is a clear critique of the direction he believes Theresa May is leading the Conservatives in. The performance of the Conservative Party at the General Election raised legitimate questions about the brand of the Conservative Party and what voters believed about them. The damage caused by that campaign and the need for the party to change their image again will only persist whilst Theresa May is leader.

Projecting false senses of unity, insisting conversations aren’t happening and lastly pretending all in the party are happy with its current direction will not close this debate down. Leadership conversations in politics are notoriously messy, but until the Conservative Party have this debate, most crucially about their future direction as a party (and that includes their leader) they will not progress. Surely that is not in anyone’s interest?

Why May survives for now!

Former Conservative leader and Foreign Secretary William Hague once referred to his party as “an absolute monarchy tempered by regicide.” Probably, pretty accurate!

Throughout their chequered history, the Conservative Party has developed a reputation for being ruthless with their leaders, neatly bringing us to the current incumbent and Prime Minister Theresa May.

After a calamitous conference speech, (yes, impacted by some factors outside of her control), a snap election which went badly wrong and a permanent loss of authority, the pressure has been mounting on the Prime Minister.  This pressure reached boiling point this week when a rebellion led by former minister Grant Shapps, with the alleged support of 30 fellow MPs and 5 former Cabinet Ministers publicly called on May to step down.

This number of MPs falls below the 48 threshold needed to force a leadership contest under current Conservative Party rules. Shapps move has been condemned by Tory colleagues who have advised him to “shut up.” Despite the apparent failure of this coup, most senior Tories accept that it is only a matter of time before May has to leave, so why has she survived on this occasion?

The one thing (most likely, the only thing), that the Conservative Party is united on is that they don’t want another General Election for the foreseeable future. This is an election, they would be likely to lose. There are fears that although there is no constitutional pressure to call an election when a Prime Minister is changed, the pressure could lead to exactly this occurrence if May is forced out. It is clear there is a consensus that removing May leads to a situation they cannot control.

Secondly, there is no obvious candidate to replace her. Boris remains popular with the membership, but not so with his colleagues who could block him. Amber Rudd, David Davis or Philip Hammond have also been mentioned but none can make an overwhelming case. The most obvious choice is Ruth Davidson, but she shows no signs of wanting to come to Westminster. Those, and there are many, who want the top job are willing to keep their powder dry until the climate is more favourable towards them.

Lastly, there is Brexit. Brexit impacts everything in our politics. There is a school of thought in the Conservative Party, that with negotiations at a fragile stage this is not the time for a leadership contest. Brexiteers are worried a new leader would seek to halt Brexit and Remainers are worried a new leader would desire a harder Brexit. Both these groups are unwilling to risk a change, with so many factors outside their control.

Theresa May will survive this coup, but is on very thin ice. A Prime Minister with no authority cannot continue indefinitely. The rebels will regroup and will strike again and next time calculations could well have changed for other MPs and potential leaders. It still remains a matter of time.

Can George Osborne still become Prime Minister?

George Osborne’s ambitions have long been common knowledge in Parliament. Furthermore the great political chess-player had seemed on course to achieve his aim and succeed his great friend and ally David Cameron into Downing Street, securing the front-runner status after the Conservative victory in 2015.

The Conservative victory in 2015 and the almost messianic status that Osborne received in the light of the win as a political strategist now seems a long time ago. Since then the former Chancellor has produced one questionable budget, played a leading role in ‘Project Fear’ and has lost his job with his reputation in tatters. Politically things have looked better for George Osborne!

So could this change in the future? George Osborne remains influential in the Conservative Party. Throughout his time as Chancellor he promoted many of his allies, some of whom now occupy powerful positions in the party. This gives Osborne a strong base for any future leadership contest. Added to this Osborne has begun to position himself as the champion of the modernising wing of the party. This gives him political room to exploit and allows him to maintain his influence and relevance in the new political landscape.

George Osborne remains young (he is only 45!). This gives him plenty of time. He has shown no desire to leave Parliament and has hinted he is yet to give up on his ambitions recently claiming he didn’t know ‘how this story ends’. Osborne can afford to be patient, even waiting for May to step down after a successful time in office. A vacancy does not have to occur immediately for Osborne to remain in the game.

The political situation in this country remains complex. Theresa May has enjoyed a solid start as Prime Minister but with Brexit negotiations to come things will become more tricky. Should May fail to take the party with her on Brexit, her position is far from insurmountable and a new vacancy may arise sooner than expected. In that climate Osborne’s experience could make him an attractive choice in what would be an open contest.

Much has to happen before this is even a possibility and we are largely talking about hypotheticals. However there does remain a plausible scenario where Osborne takes over from May as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister either after a successful May government or a failed May government. George Osborne has been written off before in politics and has bounced back, so when it comes to the former Chancellor, it is wise to never say never!

Beware the powerful back-benchers!

Over the course of the week new Prime Minister Theresa May completed her first Cabinet. There were several notable appointments, with Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary possibly the most eye-catching. A decision which caused consternation with in both this country and in Europe. Amber Rudd took over Theresa May’s old role as Home Secretary and Philip Hammond replaced George Osborne in the Treasury.

The other major story from the reshuffle was the brutal treatment of the modernising wing and those close to Cameron. There was no place for the likes of Nicky Morgan, George Osborne, Michael Gove, Oliver Letwin and Ed Vaizey, all of whom have had big roles in the Cameron project and will now sit on the back-benchers. Gove was allegedly told being on the back-benches would be a good opportunity to show loyalty and Ed Vaizey made it very clear that this was not a good time to be a ‘Cameroon’.

As the new Prime Minister it is Theresa May’s prerogative to choose her Cabinet and select the team she wants. It is also worth noting that in these situations, you cannot keep everyone happy. Politicians are very ambitious and all believe they warrant promotions and can do a job better than the current incumbents. There will always be those who feel badly treated. Tory MP James Cleverly summarises the mood of many back-benchers succinctly in this tweet.

May is in her honeymoon period as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives, but this will not last forever and ought to be careful not to make too many enemies, especially powerful ones. The Tory modernises are very proud of what they have achieved in government and will want to see the party continue to move in this direction and not swing back to the right.

In her opening few days and in her first speech as Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated she wants to follow this tradition praising the achievements of David Cameron. However in these instances, actions will speak louder than words. If May fails to back up her words with actions than these powerful figures could make life very difficult for her and with a small majority this could be very dangerous. There could be a new awkward squad on the back-benchers.