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.
One 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. Small 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”.
On 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“.
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.
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.