Conservative Leadership Campaign

The Next Prime Minister

david-cameron-resigningThe Conservative Party now has to find a new party leader and Prime Minister to replace poor David Cameron.  The decent man who has paid the price for losing the Brexit Referendum.  Nominations for candidates to succeed him as leader of the Conservative Party close at noon today and the winner will be the person Mr Cameron will propose to HM the Queen as her next Prime Minister.

The papers are full of the campaign process: The Daily Mirror (usually a pro-Labour Paper) has a quite helpful potted biography of each of the known and possible candidates together with the bookmaker odds:  “Who will be the next Tory leader? Odds and profiles for Conservative Party contenders after the EU referendum”.   The Daily Express (pro Conservative)  has a similar review of the known candidates declaring Boris Johnson as the clear favorite: “I want to be your PM: ‘Clear favourite’ Boris Johnson set to launch bid for Number 10

The Daily Telegraph (pro Conservative) does much the same but also has a story from Michael Gove’s wife, the journalist Sarah Vine: “Michael Gove’s wife Sarah Vine warned him about risks of backing Boris Johnson without ‘specific’ assurances on migration controls”.

The Times features a statement by Teresa May:  “I will unite Britain”.  The Guardian (a more left wing paper) has : “Boris Johnson and Theresa May set to announce Tory leadership bids”.

A You Gov poll of Conservative Party members for The Times has Teresa May at 36% and Clown Boris at 27% with all the other known candidates below 10%.  More importantly in a head to head:  May=55%  -v- Johnson=38%.

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“Poison Dwarf” Gove

At 9.25, the BBC announced: “Michael Gove to stand for Conservative Leadership”   He is reported as saying that he was standing because he had come  “to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead“.

He had been widely expected to support Boris Johnson.  But then this blog doesn’t call Gov the “Poison Dwarf” for nothing and we were sure the unholy pair would eventually come to grief.

The Conservative Home blog said the announcement was “sensational”.  That must be right.  And very shortly after that announcement came another.

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“Clown” Boris

Boris Johnson announced at 12.23 that he was withdrawing from the leadership race. It appears that Clown Boris had realised   that the Gove decision to stand and his “stab in the back” was fatal to his campaign.  So what had been billed as the opening of his official campaign ended up as his withdrawal statement.  Clown Boris looked rather peculiar, unsurprising given the events of the morning.  His address was rather disjointed,  He said the next Conservative leader would have to unify his party and ensure that Britain stood tall in the world and then he fell on his sword with these words:    “Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.”  A sort of “et tu Gove” farewell.

Perhaps poor Boris should have read the Telegraph more often and in particular an article on 30th June: “Michael Gove, brilliant but unloved, plays the game of thrones“.

The Other Candidates for the Leadership

The  candidates are now Stephen Crabb,  Teresa May,  Liam Fox,  Michael Gove,  and Andrea Leadsom.

There will now be a series of ballots of Members to narrow these candidates down to just two.  The first ballot will be on 5th July 2016.  The results will be announced and the bottom candidate drops out. The second Ballot will be on 7th July 2016 and the bottom candidate will drop out – and so forth on Tuesdays and Thursdays until there are just two candidates remaining.  The final decision is then reached by a postal ballot of party members.

The worry is that Poison Dwarf Gove might still pull off the leadership.  But one hopes he will be tarred with the same brush as his partner in deceit.  Alastair Campbell has a piece in the International Business Times:  “Boris Johnson and Michael Gove’s deceit led to this Brexit mess – we must be able to reconsider“.   There is certainly a need to find out just why Johnson and Gove opted to exploit the immigration issue and indeed to take it over from the Dark Lord Farage.

The Rt Hon Teresa May MP

Teresa May launched her campaign with a very good speech and fielding questions well.

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The Rt Hon Teresa May MP

The Home Secretary was born in 1956.  She is a C of E clergyman’s daughter with conventional schooling and an Oxford BSc (Hons) in 1977.  She was at the Bank of England 1977-83 and an adviser on international affairs with the Association for International Payment Clearing Services 1985-1987.

Teresa May was a Councillor of  the London Borough of Merton  1986-94 becoming Deputy Group Leader.  She was first elected to Parliament in 1997, and served in the William Hague shadow cabinet, She became Chairman of the Conservative Party in 2002, became a Privy Councillor in 2003 and a member of David Cameron’s Government in 2004 and eventually  Home Secretary in 2010.

There can be no doubt that Mrs May has the background, the experience and the determination necessary to lead the County and the Conservative Party in this difficult time.

We shall have to see how things develop, But it is to be hoped that this lady will prevail and consign the Poison Dwarf to the Outer Darkness, or if that be not possible, perhaps he and the Scottish Office could be relocated North of the Border.

 

 

Finding a New Tory Leader

Who might win the Conservative Election Stakes ?

Nominations for the Conservative leadership close tomorrow at mid-day. There then follow a series of ballots among Conservative MPs until just two candidates are left and then the paid up membership of the party votes on the two candidates by a postal ballot.

We should remember that the referendum was a manifesto commitment designed to resolve a split within the party about continued membership of the EU.  So there is still a split in the party between those who supported the concept of Brexit and those who supported  Remain.

The  MPs who supported Remain tended  to hold that view because it was the best solution in terms of the UK economy.  Very few of them have any ideological approach to the concept of a united Europe.   Mild  Euroscepticism is the party norm these days.

Among Conservative MPs,  some who supported Brexit did so out of conviction, others supported the idea only because they feared that  their constituents would otherwise vote UKIP.  This was primarily a problem in less prosperous areas where immigration was a primary concern for voters or where job losses had been blamed on EU policies – for example as a result of the EU Common Fisheries Policy.  How particular MP’s conducted themselves in the EU Referendum will be of importance in this race for the Tory Leadership.

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Go back home – Polish Vermin

Nobody  yet has sufficiently taken Clown Boris (and Poison Dwarf Gove)  to task for following the approach of the Dark Lord Farage and  conducting a campaign on an anti-immigration front in a manner which has revived among the profanum vulgus a huge amount of racist aggression and misbehavior.   For  example, laminated cards in English and Polish were left on doorsteps and near to schools in Cambridgeshire causing much distress to Members of the Polish community.

There has been quite a substantial increase in this kind of racist abuse.

Previous form in office is also material.  For example, Poison Dwarf Gove was quite widely seen as  unelectable,  particularly after  his “reforms” in the education field.

The  “quiet man”  Ian Duncan Smith was seen as the man who did his best to wreck the benefits system and put in place the “soak the poor” policies adversely affecting pensioners, the disabled and poorer families. In addition he is a former leader of the Conservative Party  who did not manage to win an election.

Clown Boris, however,  was a popular Mayor of London for two terms and he has been a popular TV show participant.  Additionally, as a columnist in the Telegraph, he is widely read by Conservatives.  So the initial favorites for the Cameron succession were:-

 

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Boris Johnson (the Clown), Michael Gove (the Poison Dwarf) and Teresa May, the Home Secretary.  Wisely, Mr Gove has elected not to put his name forward.  Clown Boris is the darling of the Brexit faction of the Party. Others may think that Boris is more interested in his own advancement than he is in the good of the Country.   Teresa May  has been a determined Home Secretary.  She was nominally a Remain supporter but she kept herself well away from the Brexit campaign.  She is widely regarded as the “Stop Boris” candidate.

Willian Hill’s Political Betting page has Boris Johnson at 8/11, Teresa May at 7/4 and Stephen Crabb at 6/1.

A You Gov survey puts Teresa May very marginally in front of Boris Johnson and other candidates at this stage are largely out of the race. But You Gov points out:-

  • Teresa May leads Johnson amongst Conservative voters by a margin of 31% to 24%. She also leads amongst Labour and Lib Dem voters by margins of 18% to 9% and 31% to 13% respectively. Boris does however have a clear 48% to 9% lead amongst UKIP voters.
  • Theresa May is supported by 26% of Remain voters compared to Johnson’s 4%. Whilst among  those who  supported Brexit,  Boris wins by a margin of 32% to 18%.

Other candidates are emerging.  Nominations close at noon tomorrow.  The result will be known on or before 2nd September 2016.

The Last Supper for Cameron

What did The Prime Minister expect from his visit to Brussels?

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David Cameron’s Last EU Supper

Obviously, the PM had to go there, if only to explain to his fellow EU leaders, that his bid to win the EU Referendum had failed and why. 

It seems that he also tried to find out whether there was any available option which would preserve the UK’s access to the single market without free movement and he was told that there was not.  

The Financial Times has this on the farewell dinner:  “Brexit blues at David Cameron’s last supper in Brussels“.   A good and balanced take on this rather sad event.

But the Tory press is trying to spin this as Cameron issuing an ultimatum to Brussels when in fact what happened was quite the reverse.

See this particularly misleading piece in The Times:  “Cameron issues migration ultimatum”.    The Daily Telegraph too: “David Cameron demands EU migrant deal: free movement must be reformed to maintain Britain’s economic ties, PM says at his final meeting in Europe”.  The Daily Mail  (a newspaper  written by schoolboys for schoolboys?)  also climbs on the spin doctors’ bandwaggon:  “Cameron tells the EU it was YOUR immigration policy that led to Brexit: PM warns Brussels that freedom of movement was key reason for Leave victory and says no trade deal without border crackdown”.

The EU leaders told the Prime Minister what we have always known:  Access to the single market requires the “Four Freedoms“: (1) Free Movement of Goods, (2) Freedom of Movement for Workers, (3) Right of Establishment and Freedom to Provide Services, (4)  Free Movement of Capital and that free access to the single market was only available on these terms.

These are EU core principles and they were never going to be negotiable.

The Guardian has this:  “UK voted for Brexit – but is there a way back?” – it raises some sensible questions but perhaps insufficiently thought through.

The starting point has to be Parliament and Parliament is impaired because both the major parties – Conservative and Labour – have leadership issues which must be resolved.  More on this in my next post.

A Botched Brexit Campaign

Football

Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Jermaine Jenas reflect on the  2-1 Euro 2016 defeat by Iceland, which Shearer says is “the worst performance I have seen from an England team“.

Well, the PM had to resign over the Referendum debacle, now the England Manager has had to do the same.

The Reality of Brexit

The reality of Brexit is starting to become apparent.  It is becoming increasingly clear that Clown Boris, Poison Dwarf Gove, the unspeakable Farage and his backer Aaron Banks, have mis-sold the supposed advantages of Brexit to the British public.

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Their promises on what they could do with the money paid to the EU, on how they would cut immigration – or the brave new world the UK would have on its own have all been discredited.

In effect, the referendum vote was procured by falsehood and it is now up to Parliament to put matters right.  Just how Parliament can do that is open to debate.

This morning’s session of the European Parliament was broadcast on the BBC Parliament channel and it was, to say the least, interesting.  Some considerations:-

  • pleas from Scotland, and Northern Ireland MEP’s (Remain) to protect Scottish and Irish interests were warmly supported – Scottish MEP Alan Smith got a standing ovation;
  • the Dark Lord Farage was roundly condemned;
  • There was fair amount of sympathy with the position in which the UK finds itself.

David Cameron is in  Brussels to explain to the Commission and the Leaders of the other EU Member states how we have got ourselves in the mess we are in.  It is to be hoped he is making the following points:-

  • The referendum result is technically advisory. A vote of the UK Parliament is required to validate it.
  • A 2nd referendum might be required once the proposed terms of any Brexit deal on offer are known;
  • The position of HM Government can only be determined by the next PM and Cabinet. David Cameron is now a “caretaker” and if that means the Commission has to wait, that’s too bad;
  • The insistence of Mr Junker as President of the Commission that there can be no discussions before delivery of the Article 50 notice is unhelpful and a bad start to the negotiation process;
  • Angela Merkel has made it perfectly clear to the German Bundestag that access to the single market will necessitate accepting freedom of movement – so much for Clown Boris’s ideas.

See the report in this morning’s Financial Times:  “Pound bounces as Cameron holds talks in Brussels on Brexit” which contains a report of what Mrs Merkel said – in effect no free market without freedom of movement.

Markets

As the FT report above makes clear, this morning there was what is often referred to as a “dead cat bounce”.  The FTSE  100 was  up by 2.9% and FTSE  250 also up 2.9%. Sterling rose by 0.8%.

The Bank of England has injected funds worth £3.1bn into UK banks, following a special auction for six-month finance showing that the Bank of England will support market stability.  Trading is likely to be rather volatile as long as the future of the UK relationship with Europe remains uncertain.

Tory Leadership Stakes

It is highly desirable that the Conservative process for electing the next leader does not result in the election of Clown Boris or anyone else who is tainted by association with the anti-immigrant campaigns of Vote Leave and UKIP.

BreakFar

The memory of that dreadful poster is not going to fade away and Vote Leave is as tainted as UKIP by the way the leave campaigns fuelled hatred of foreigners.

As this report in the Guardian makes clear: “After a campaign scarred by bigotry, it’s become OK to be racist in Britain“.    Baroness Warsi, who switched from backing Leave to Remain citing the Brexit camp’s “lies and hate”, called on leaders of the Leave campaign to “come out and say that the campaigning was divisive and was xenophobic”

newcastleShame

This photograph from my own birthplace, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, speaks for itself. It appears to be a National Front effort.   Baroness Warsi is right.  These people bring back to my mind some very dark days – those of the 1964 Smethwick election campaign

The  many Conservatives who campaigned for Vote Leave will want one of their own to be the next leader. Having condoned the language of the campaign they supported, no such person should ever become the leader of the Conservative Party.

It is encouraging that The Times front page proclaims: “May is Tory Favorite after surge in support” even as the Daily Express opts for Clown Boris.  The Guardian has this:  “Tories: general election could be avoided with Theresa May as leader” the thesis being that since Teresa May is a prominent member of the Cameron Government, there would be no need for an immediate General Election.  But under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act there is no imminent election so the thesis is flawed:-

(a)   The next election is not scheduled to take place on until 7th  May 2020.

(b)   An early election can only be held only if: (1)  a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole House or without division; or (2)  if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.

(c)   There are an awful lot of constituencies in the country where the Liberal Democrats were second to Conservatives in the last election.   The Liberal Democrats would campaign on a pro Europe platform – see “Liberal Democrats will fight election on halting Brexit, says Farron“.  That might not suit Conservatives in such constituencies.

 Labour Party

The Labour Party seems also to be in deep doodoo.   The Leader, Jeremy Corbyn has had to replace 20+   members of his Shadow Cabinet   (1 sacked and 19 resigned with more  to come) and the parliamentary party has today voted on a motion of no confidence in their leader which would lead to a leadership contest.  See this in the Guardian: “Jeremy Corbyn to face no-confidence vote as Labour rebellion builds“.  The result of the no confidence motion has just been announced.  It passed by 172 votes to 40 with 4 abstentions.

But the Leader’s job is in the gift  of the members of the party rather than the Labour Members of Parliament and Mr Corbyn has been saying that if there is a new election process he will stand again.    In effect, the Labour Party is now not an effective opposition and will not be until the leadership issue is resolved.  Some Labour MPs are are already talking about leaving the party  (much as the SDP people once did).

The Scottish National Party

Scotland voted Remain.  The SNP is not prepared to see Scotland taken out of the EU when the Scottish people voted to Remain.  Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP Leader has no intention of allowing the Scots she represents to be taken out  of the EU against their wishes.

See this in the Scotsman: “Nicola Sturgeon set for Brussels talks with Martin Schulz

The practical point is that the SNP has 54 Members in the Westminster Parliament and 75% of Members of  Parliament identified with the”Remain” campaign.

Summary

The plain fact is that the Referendum vote was advisory and was tainted by a dishonest Leave campaign.  It is now up to Parliament to decide on the best course of action.

 

Post Referendum Blues

 

karikatur für tribüne-ausgeschlagen

First published in Kleine Zeitung, Austria

Brexit and The City of London

If the Chancellor thought his words this morning would steady the market he was wrong.  The market fears Brexit.

FT£image

By noon this morning sterling had fallen by 3-4% dropping to the lowest value against the US dollar for 31 years.

In terms of holiday money, a traveller will get about £9 less in foreign currency when exchanging £100.

10 year UK gilts have fallen below 1% for the first time ever.  All the FTSE indexes were down.  The FTSE 100 was 1.9% down at noon (2.55% down at close of trading) and the FTSE 250 was 5.94% down at noon (6.96% at close of trading).

Banks are seen as vulnerable.  Barclays  has lost 30% of its value since the Referendum and RBS is 32% down.  Airline and Property shares are also out of favour. Easy Jet was down 18% today.  S&P has followed Moodys in downgrading the UK’s AAA credit rating to AA saying that  the referendum result could lead to “a deterioration of the UK’s economic performance, including its large financial services sector“.  Downgrades make government borrowing more expensive.

The FT published this on the day after the Referendum: “Leave vote a disaster for City and business“.  One comment was rather prophetic:  “Lord Hill, the Briton installed after lobbying as European Commissioner for financial services, looks set to lose his job. His project for capital markets union would be completed by a continental substitute. The City, where three-quarters of Europe’s securities business is transacted at present, would no longer be part of it.”  In fact, Lord Hill resigned the next day before he was pushed.

Brexit and Clown Boris

Boris2Boris Johnson still scribbles a column for the Telegraph and on Sunday he wrote   “I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe – and always will be“. Reuters picked this up and  Breitbart published this story:  “Boris floats associate membership with freedom of movement maintained“.  See also this BBC report:  Brexit: Boris Johnson – time to build bridges with Remain voters.  It contains a video of Boris  giving assurances on what he thinks will happen in the negotiations which sounds very much like a Norway style EFTA solution .which makes one wonder why Boris spent so much time in a campaign based on immigration which was hardly distinguishable from that of UKIP.   It seems some aspects of the Clown’s scribbles have upset the EU member states:  Brussels rejects Boris Johnson ‘pipe dream’ over single market access.   In effect confirming that access to the single market requires the acceptance of free movement.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Home blog is canvassing its followers on their preferences for the next leader of the Tories: “Who should be the next Conservative leader? And should there be a snap election? Take our monthly survey.

One comment from a reader included this:-

Boris for leader – are you all quite mad? He is a self serving clown. Having him sitting with serious world leaders, whilst the B role of a zip wire runs in the background or wiff waff quotes abound. We would be a laughing stock. He is a very clever man BUT he is also a buffoon. The court jester of politics. Like all politicians he lies, lies and lies again, the back-peddling from the EU referendum is deafening. If you want a philanderer leading the country I am sure we can find another who covers his tracks better.

The Brexiteers are seeking a fellow Brexiteer, with Clown Boris as their favorite, but hopefully, the Party will select someone more responsible and fit to be recommended by the PM to the Sovereign for appointment as his successor.  For example, Teresa May ?

Can Parliament decide to Remain?

In a previous post I expressed the view that Parliament could properly decide whether or not to implement the Referendum vote – Parliament must approve Brexit.

It is comforting to see that a very prominent barrister, Geoffrey Robertson QC,   has endorsed that view in The Independent: Brexit loophole? MPs must still vote in order for Britain to leave the EU, say top lawyers.  The report notes that Charles Flint QC has said the same thing in a letter to The Times.

But I would add that it would be prudent for the new Prime Minister to  obtain the approval of Parliament prior to the presentation of the Article 50 Notice.because in default of a withdrawal agreement Article 50.3  provides that the Article 50 Notice can lead to automatic withdrawal.

Conservative Party

The Cabinet met this morning and afterwards there were many expressions of unity, sweetness and light from those who had campaigned for Vote Leave.  The process for choosing a new leader for the Conservative Party is under way and should be completed by September.

The Prime Minister then made a Statement to a packed  House of Commons.on Referendum issues.  He made it clear that it will be the next Prime Minister who will decide whether and when notice will be given to the EU of an intention to leave.  That, of course, is not going to make the other Member States or the Commission all that happy.

The Prime Minister also informed the Commons that a special EU Unit was being set up  by the Civil Service to prepare the ground for the forthcoming negotiations.  Given that Lord Hill was a special adviser to Kenneth Clarke and head of John Major’s Political Office during the Maastricht Treaty negotiations, and then a Minister before being nominated to the Commission – he might be very useful now he is back.

Labour Party

The Labour Party is in difficulties with its leader. It looks as though the parliamentary party is going to say that it has lost confidence in the Leader. See this BBC Report: Who’s staying and who’s going in the shadow cabinet?   and this list in the Evening Standard:   Labour resignations: Latest list of departures as Jeremy Corbyn faces uprising from his MPs

But the Leader’s job is in the gift  of the members of the party and Mr Corbyn is saying that if there is a new election process he will stand again and,  given the support of Momentum, he might well win. As if to prove that, Momentum managed to produce a mass rally in support of Corbyn at very short notice.  See this Evening Standard video:  Keep Corbyn protest: Defiant leader addresses huge crowds after ‘catastrophic’ meeting with MPs.   Some Labour MPs are now talking about leaving the party. (much as the SDP once did.

The so-called Independence Day

Both Boris Johnson and that dreadful man, Nigel Farage,  spoke of the Referendum by claiming their referendum victory as “Independence Day”.  They seem to forget that this country is both independent and formerly an Imperial power.

Most countries that celebrate their independence actually got if from us .

 

 

 

Brexit equivalent to Suez

1st Sunday after Vote Leave

Two Parties in Turmoil  (1)  The Conservatives

This post on the Conservative Home blog:  “Boris,  Gove – and, above all, Cummings. The foundations of Vote Leave’s victory” says quite a lot about how the minority of Brexiteers operated within the Conservative Party to defeat the “One Nation” pro-European majority.   

USUKOne can see why “the Great and the Good” of the Tory party are worried.  A primary concern of all of Europe and of the UK  in particular is the need to preserve the “special relationship” with the United States of America .The  UK and Europe rely on the USA as a our NATO guarantor and successive Prime Ministers (irrespective of party) have worked closely together.  Successive Presidents have relied on UK Prime Ministers to maintain good relations between the USA and Europe.  Successive Prime Ministers have been able to influence US  Presidents to take account of European concerns.  But that partnership requires the UK to have a Prime Minister who is up to the job – and just as one doubts that the present leader of the Labour Party could fulfill that role –  the “great and the good” of the Conservative Party must be concerned to see that the Party selects a leader who is up to the job.  The thought of the “special relationship” being entrusted to Clown Boris and Donald Trump is something of a nightmare scenario.

If, as one devoutly hopes, Hilary Clinton becomes the next President of the United States rather than Trump, it is still the case that the UK will need a Prime Minister of the proper calibre – and that is most certainly not Clown Boris. Boris2Small wonder therefore that the “great and good” of the Conservative Party are looking to find another candidate who is up to the job.   Isabel Hardman who is Assistant Editor of the Spectator (where Clown Boris once lurked) has an article in The Observer which is worth reading: “The Anyone But Boris campaign is up and running” and her take is reflected in other Sunday papers:  The Sunday Telegraph front page headline is “Tories at War”, the Mail has “Tories Battle to Stop Boris” and the Sunday Times leads with “Top Tories rush to stop Boris bandwagon”.

SaveUKJ-screamOn this morning’s Andrew Marr show, Ian Duncan Smith (a fellow Brexiteer) refused to be drawn into the names of possible candidates to replace David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party, but he did suggest that the candidate should be from those who supported Brexit. Well, he would say that.

Fortunately, IDS  has ruled himself out of the Tory leadership stakes.  Rightly so.   As a failed former leader of the Party, and as the wrecker of the UK welfare benefits system, Ian Duncan Smith was personally responsible for much of the discontent which led people in depressed areas of the county to vote leave.

The Observer has a pretty damning piece on Gove & Johnson  written by Nick Cohen: “There are liars and then there’s Boris Johnson and Michael Gove” which is well worth reading.   As he says “The Brexit figureheads had no plan besides exploiting populist fears and dismissing experts who rubbished their thinking” and he concludes that they are journalists who have gone into politics and behave in politics like journalists.

Two parties in Turmoil (2) Labour

While the Tories agonize over the consequences for them of the Brexit vote and seek to identify a replacement for David Cameron as party leader, something very similar is also taking place in the Labour Party.   See this BBC Report:  “Brexit: ‘Half’ of Labour top team set to resign“.  Many Labour MP’s feel that Jeremy Corbyn was half-hearted in his campaigning in the Referendum campaign.  Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn MP told Corbyn that he had lost confidence in him – so Corbyn promptly sacked him.  Heidi Alexander MP, the Shadow Health Secretary,  then resigned and matters are now snowballing.  the latest, Ian Murray MP, Shadow Sottish Secretary did so live on air on Sunday Politics Scotland.

See this in the Observer: “Hilary Benn seeks shadow cabinet backing to oust Corbyn” for the background.  However there are two problems facing Labour:  (1) the party has no money to fight a general election and (2) Corbyn has grassroots support organised by  Momentum which will back Corbyn in any leadership campaign.

Scotland  and the Scottish National Party

Scotland has a very different issue to face. See this report in The Scotsman: “Sturgeon sets out strategy to keep Scotland in the EU“.  See also this in the Scottish Sunday Herald:  “Sturgeon: Scottish politicians could veto Brexit“.  

sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon is a very determined lady indeed and while the present government has a tiny majority over Labour in the Westminster Parliament, there are  54 SNP Members of the House of Commons and the Government Whips know full well what those votes can do to anything the Government wants to do which affects Scotland.

Implementation of the Brexit referendum decision over the heads of the Scottish people (who voted very substantially to Remain)  is not something the SNP is going to take lying down as Ms Sturgeon has made crystal clear – see the BBC Scotland Politics page.

Parliamentary Fightback

Yesterday, I pointed out that under the British Constitutional settlement a referendum is advisory and does not settle matters unless Parliament has put in place a mechanism for an automatic effect.  This Referendum does not have that effect.  Therefore it is possible for Parliament to disagree and not give full effect to the result of the consultation.

See this in the Observer: “Parliamentary fightback against Brexit on cards“.

The prospect of a parliamentary fightback against the result of the EU referendum gathered pace on Sunday…Some are urging a second referendum after Brexit negotiations have taken place.

Lord Heseltine has pointed to the practicalities of an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons against leaving the EU. “There is a majority of something like 350 in the House of Commons broadly in favour of the European relationship,” he said.

“There is no way you are going to get those people to say black is white and change their minds unless a) they know what the deal is and b) it has been supported either by an election or by another referendum,” Heseltine told Sky News. “So there’s a dramatic urgency to get on with the negotiations.”

Brexit like Suez

Jeremy Paxman writes in the Telegraph:-

“So, farewell then, David Cameron. No prime minister has made a bigger miscalculation since Anthony Eden thought he could get away with invading Egypt in 1956 to recapture the Suez Canal,” he writes. “Going for a referendum on the country’s geopolitical state as if it was a council regulation on dog-fouling was a very big mistake.”

Absolutely right.  But at least the referendum legislation was drafted to as to enable a rethink before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

 

Parliament must approve Brexit

The Result

The Referendum result was 17,410,742 votes to Leave (51.9%) and 16,141,241  votes to Remain (48.1%).

Many people, including some ill-advised European Union officials,  seem to have assumed that this is the end of the matter and that HM Government should now proceed directly to the procedure laid down in the EU Treaties to withdraw from the European Union.  See this BBC Report:  “Brexit referendum: EU ministers press UK for quick exit.”

In the constitutional arrangements of other countries, the result of a referendum may have automatic binding effect and ministers of the governments of other EU countries may not be wholly aware of the different constitutional arrangements in the United Kingdom.

But the Commission President, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker is in a different league. Since he presides over the Commission he ought to be aware of the constitutional settlements of the different member states, and if he is not aware, then he ought to have checked the position with the legal team which serves the Commission..  Herr Martin Schultz, who presides over the EU Parliament ought also to have obtained some assistance with the legal steps  the UK government needs to take before it can invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

 Referenda in the UK

In the constitutional arrangements of the UK, a referendum only has advisory effect unless the legislative act providing for the referendum expressly so provides.

David Allen Green, a City solicitor and a former Treasury Solicitor makes the point in an article in the Financial Times:  “Can the United Kingdom government legally disregard a vote for Brexit?

As Mr Green points out:  “The relevant legislation did not provide for the referendum result to have any formal trigger effect. The referendum is advisory rather than mandatory. The 2011 referendum on electoral reform did have an obligation on the government to legislate in the event of a “yes” vote (the vote was “no” so this did not matter). But no such provision was included in the EU referendum legislation.”

See also this article by Haroon Siddique in The Guardian: “ Is the EU referendum legally binding?

In simple terms, before invoking the procedure set out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty the UK Government needs to obtain authority to proceed from Parliament.

HM Government

Although Mr Cameron has signified his intention to resign his office and started the process for the election of a new leader for his party, he and the other Ministers of the Crown are still HM Government and all kinds of people , including the governments of the other Member States of the EU and the Commission, might reasonably expect to know when HM Government will seek from Parliament the authority to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Parliamentary Support for Brexit

There is a very good case for any vote in Parliament on this issue to be a “free” vote.

UKIP currently has only one MP to its name and therefore his vote for or against approving withdrawal from the EU is not going to matter too much.  Indeed, it might be exceedingly difficult for HM Government to obtain a majority for approval of the referendum outcome even on a free vote.

Brexiteers are a minority in both the Conservative and Labour parties.   Further, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and both the SNP and the English members who wish to encourage Scotland to remain in  the United Kingdom might prefer to remain in the EU rather than rekindle the need for another referendum on that issue just now.  Some Northern Ireland members have concerns about the border with the Republic of Ireland.

Some of the disadvantages of Brexit have already become apparent.  Parliament in its wisdom might properly conclude that those campaigning for a Leave vote did not make out a proper case and instead relied on an arguably improper case made on bogus sovereignty and immigration issues.

Parliamentary Petition

There is already in being a parliamentary petition:  EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum.   It has already had 1,363,761 signatures which is a greater number than the majority Leave has over Remain in the Referendum count.

Post Referendum – Gibraltar

As might have been expected, Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to Remain.  But when reports came in that the UK had voted Leave, Gibraltarians were worried.  See this Gibraltar Chronicle report:   “Worry and sadness on Main Street at Brexit news“.

The Gibraltarians were right to worry.  The Spaniards have once again seized an excuse to seek to take control of the Rock.  See this BBC report: “Brexit: Spain calls for joint control of Gibraltar”.

As the Gibraltar Chronicle reports:  “Britain reaffirms sovereignty commitment after vote”.

But there’s no doubt about it – The Brexit vote has let the Gibraltarians down.

Post Referendum – City of London

Many of the big banks are now preparing to move their operations to Paris or Frankfurt because UK “passporting” will go.   See this FT Report:  “Banks begin moving some operations out of Britain (£)

Boris2A substantial proportion of the 115,000 highly paid jobs in the banking sector may have to be moved across the channel.       Other financial services companies will be similarly affected.

Having been Mayor of London for two terms, Clown Boris must have been  fully aware of what he going to do to the City. Yet he went ahead just the same.

The Conservative Home Blog which seems to be well peopled with Brexiteers has this post: “The Conservative leadership contest. Cameron’s plan to stop Johnson“.

While I rather doubt the veracity of the story, if the Prime Minister were indeed trying to ensure that his successor were not Boris Johnson, that could only be because the Prime Minister is now only too well aware of the need to protect the nation from Clown Boris and those of his ilk.