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Westlake Legal Group > Dominic Raab MP

David Snoxell: The Government should seize opportunity to negotiate a Chagos settlement

David Snoxell is Co-ordinator of the Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group.

The Chagos Archipelago of 54 islands was excised from Mauritius in 1965, before independence, and its inhabitants deported to Mauritius and Seychelles between 1968-73 to make way for a US base on the largest island, Diego Garcia.

This complicated saga has reached a critical stage following the referral by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 2017 of the issues of decolonisation and resettlement to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an Advisory Opinion, which was delivered on 25 February.

The Court decided that the UK was in unlawful occupation of the Islands and must as rapidly as possible hand back the Territory to Mauritius and cooperate in facilitating the resettlement of Chagossians of Mauritian origin.

Boris Johnson’s new government will need the recess before it is ready to review policy on Chagos in the light of the ICJ Opinion and two crushing defeats in UNGA. Until now the UK has rejected the Courts findings and the UN’s endorsement of them. The Government is faced with two short deadlines – Brexit on 31 October, and ‘Chexit’ on 22 November.

As the Prime Minister has amply demonstrated it cannot be assumed that he will continue with the same policies as the previous government. Clearly Brexit will entirely dominate the political agenda, but this does not mean that progress cannot be made in other areas by the Foreign Office (FCO).

Indeed, with the limelight fixed on Brexit there is an opportunity for quiet diplomacy behind the scenes. The Government should seize this opportunity to win back international support at a time when the UK most needs it.

After two decades of the UK avoiding an agreement with Mauritius on the future of Chagos and the Chagossians, commentators have assumed the new government will carry on like its predecessor, in denial of the facts and realities of Chagos which the international community fully appreciates.

There is, however, a reasonable chance that the new government will accept that it cannot continue to ignore the Advisory Opinion and the demand of an overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly in its resolution of 22 May that the UK must implement the Opinion within a six-month deadline, i.e. by 22 November.

The departure of Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, and Sir Alan Duncan as a Foreign Office Minister of State, is an opportunity to ease the tensions with Mauritius and enable a constructive dialogue to take the place of the UK’s hitherto rather defensive and confrontational approach.

I believe Mauritius would act positively towards a genuine desire on the part of the UK Government to reach a resolution of the issues. I expect FCO officials and lawyers would welcome this opportunity to set aside dubious legal arguments advanced by the FCO, move forward, and enter into diplomatic discussions.

The three main players on the British side are Johnson, Dominic Raab and Lord Ahmad, the FCO Minister of State, who remains in place and was sympathetic to both the Chagossians and Mauritius.

The Prime Minister was involved with Chagos as Foreign Secretary 2016-18, and is said to have told the then Mauritian Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, at the UN in September 2016, that if Mauritius held off tabling a resolution at UNGA he would “fix” Chagos. There was no fix, and in June 2017 Mauritius lost patience and tabled its draft resolution,which it had first considered in 2004 and postponed pending diplomatic discussion.

It is quite possible that the new PM will see the damage that the policy of the previous government has done to the UK’s reputation for upholding international law and human rights and decide that it is just not worth continuing to oppose the ICJ and the UNGA any longer.

The appointment of Dominic Raab as Foreign Secretary could also make a difference. Raab is an international lawyer who from 200O-06 was an FCO legal adviser, dealing inter alia with prosecution of war criminals and maritime law. This is helpful background for understanding the many aspects of international law which affect Chagos and the Chagossians that previous governments have glossed over and ignored. His appointment should encourage FCO Legal Advisers to take a much stronger line on the need to uphold international law and respect the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law by implementing the ICJ Advisory Opinion and the UNGA resolution.

Although ICJ Opinions and General Assembly resolutions are technically non-binding, international law is. The ICJ found that the excision of Chagos from Mauritius was unlawful in international law.

On 17 July the Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group, which has members from seven political parties and now in its 11th year, held its 75th meeting and issued a statement which was aimed primarily at the next Government. Members welcomed UN Resolution 73/295 endorsing the ICJ Advisory Opinion, which the General Assembly adopted by 116 in favour, 6 against and 56 abstentions.

Recalling its statement of 21 December 2018 urging the Government to seek a resolution of the issues concerning the future of BIOT and of the Chagos Islanders the Group reaffirmed its wish to help bring about agreement between all parties on a way forward, in the light of the UNGA resolution setting a six months deadline. The Group noted that the General Assembly was guided by the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, including the inalienable right of self-determination of peoples, and the obligations arising from other instruments and rules of international law.

The Group urged the next British Government to respect the will of the United Nations, the ICJ Opinion, and the requirements of international law which from the signature of the United Nations Charter in 1945 remains the keystone of the UK’s foreign policy and commitment to international order based on the rule of law.

The APPG felt that these matters should now be addressed urgently in diplomatic discussions between the UK and Mauritius so that an outline agreement on the implementation of the resolution can be put before the General Assembly at it 74th session beginning on 17 September. To that end the Group recommended that the new government appoints an independent special envoy to negotiate an agreement.

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Javid pips Johnson and Rees-Mogg to the top of the podium in our first Cabinet League Table of the new Government

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Jul-19-1024x955 Javid pips Johnson and Rees-Mogg to the top of the podium in our first Cabinet League Table of the new Government ToryDiary Theresa Villiers MP The Cabinet Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Ruth Davidson MSP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Nicky Morgan MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP Jo Johnson MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Andrea Leadsom MP Amber Rudd MP Alun Cairns MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

When Mark predicted last month that it would be the last Cabinet League Table with that line-up, he was more right than he might have expected. Boris Johnson ushered in the new era with one of the more brutal reshuffles in modern political history.

A glance at last month’s table illustrates how the clean break has certainly restored the Cabinet’s standing in the eyes of the grassroots: every single member has a positive rating, nearly all of which would have put them comfortably in the top ten during the ancien régime.

But how much of that is due to unfamiliarity? This isn’t usually something we scrutinise, but no fewer than 16 of the politicians above-listed had ‘Don’t Know’ as their highest single response, with a couple more avoiding that fate by a bare handful of votes. A blow to the egos of a few, perhaps, but it does also mean that those ministers still have plenty of scope to make a positive impression.

Here are a few of the other takeaways:

  • Javid leads the pack. The Chancellor holds onto the position he took last month, and continues to enjoy the dividends of a good leadership election. Remarkable to think that two months ago this spot was held by Penny Mordaunt, now on the backbenches.
  • Johnson in his prime. Theresa May departed our table with a score of -61.2 (that’s lower than Chris Grayling), so Boris Johnson’s +77.2 is a happy contrast. However, he ought to recall that at one point his predecessor recorded record-breaking positive scores too. Fail to deliver and his standing will fall, fast.
  • Rees-Mogg makes the podium. Perhaps unsurprising, but the titular star of our Moggcast is a hit with the membership. Leader of the House is a good position for retaining their favour too, as Andrea Leadsom discovered, as it offers numerous opportunities for scoring points off John Bercow.
  • Brexiteers on top. Also unsurprisingly, Leave-backing MPs dominate the top of the table – it isn’t until Liz Truss, in seventh place, that we find a minister who backed Remain in 2016. Amber Rudd, one of the surprise survivals of the reshuffle, is at the bottom of the table. Except…
  • Davidson in the doldrums. The Scottish Conservative leader has previously been relatively shielded from the ups and downs of the Cabinet, often chalking up podium positions as she focused her fire on the SNP. She is currently the lowest-ranked politician in the entire table, most likely fallout from her highly-publicised split with the Prime Minister and hostility to No Deal.
  • Survivor spread. Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a particular position pattern for those ministers who did appear in our previous table (apart from the generally improved scores). Truss, Michael Gove, and Steve Barclay are at the upper end of the table, Rudd and Brandon Lewis near the bottom.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Javid pips Johnson and Rees-Mogg to the top of the podium in our first Cabinet League Table of the new Government

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Jul-19-1024x955 Javid pips Johnson and Rees-Mogg to the top of the podium in our first Cabinet League Table of the new Government ToryDiary Theresa Villiers MP The Cabinet Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Ruth Davidson MSP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Nicky Morgan MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP Jo Johnson MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Andrea Leadsom MP Amber Rudd MP Alun Cairns MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

When Mark predicted last month that it would be the last Cabinet League Table with that line-up, he was more right than he might have expected. Boris Johnson ushered in the new era with one of the more brutal reshuffles in modern political history.

A glance at last month’s table illustrates how the clean break has certainly restored the Cabinet’s standing in the eyes of the grassroots: every single member has a positive rating, nearly all of which would have put them comfortably in the top ten during the ancien régime.

But how much of that is due to unfamiliarity? This isn’t usually something we scrutinise, but no fewer than 16 of the politicians above-listed had ‘Don’t Know’ as their highest single response, with a couple more avoiding that fate by a bare handful of votes. A blow to the egos of a few, perhaps, but it does also mean that those ministers still have plenty of scope to make a positive impression.

Here are a few of the other takeaways:

  • Javid leads the pack. The Chancellor holds onto the position he took last month, and continues to enjoy the dividends of a good leadership election. Remarkable to think that two months ago this spot was held by Penny Mordaunt, now on the backbenches.
  • Johnson in his prime. Theresa May departed our table with a score of -61.2 (that’s lower than Chris Grayling), so Boris Johnson’s +77.2 is a happy contrast. However, he ought to recall that at one point his predecessor recorded record-breaking positive scores too. Fail to deliver and his standing will fall, fast.
  • Rees-Mogg makes the podium. Perhaps unsurprising, but the titular star of our Moggcast is a hit with the membership. Leader of the House is a good position for retaining their favour too, as Andrea Leadsom discovered, as it offers numerous opportunities for scoring points off John Bercow.
  • Brexiteers on top. Also unsurprisingly, Leave-backing MPs dominate the top of the table – it isn’t until Liz Truss, in seventh place, that we find a minister who backed Remain in 2016. Amber Rudd, one of the surprise survivals of the reshuffle, is at the bottom of the table. Except…
  • Davidson in the doldrums. The Scottish Conservative leader has previously been relatively shielded from the ups and downs of the Cabinet, often chalking up podium positions as she focused her fire on the SNP. She is currently the lowest-ranked politician in the entire table, most likely fallout from her highly-publicised split with the Prime Minister and hostility to No Deal.
  • Survivor spread. Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a particular position pattern for those ministers who did appear in our previous table (apart from the generally improved scores). Truss, Michael Gove, and Steve Barclay are at the upper end of the table, Rudd and Brandon Lewis near the bottom.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ben Rogers: Raab should stand up for Hong Kong’s endangered freedom

Benedict Rogers is East Asia Team Leader at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a former parliamentary candidate and a Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute.

Jeremy Hunt was the best Foreign Secretary of recent times, and his departure is regrettable. He brought gravitas, a global vision and deeply-held values to the role. He did more than any of his recent predecessors combined to champion human rights and freedoms around the world. Only William Hague, who developed in opposition the pledge to put “human rights at the heart of foreign policy” and introduced the campaign on preventing sexual violence in conflict, comes close.

In his year as Foreign Secretary, Hunt introduced an independent review of policy on the persecution of Christians around the world, led by the Bishop of Truro, which was published earlier this month, and a campaign on global media freedom which resulted in an excellent international conference in London earlier this month. For me as a human rights activist specialising in freedom of religion or belief and a former journalist who believes passionately in press freedom and freedom of expression, these were extremely welcome initiatives.

Hunt also made a point of defending individual cases and giving them profile — for example, on his first visit to Beijing as Foreign Secretary he met with the wives of jailed Chinese human rights lawyers, and he gave personal voice to the plight of Nazanin Zagari-Ratcliffe in a persistent and impressive way. If he had stayed in office longer, he would have developed these and other causes and built a robust foreign policy based on the defence of the values we Conservatives hold dear: freedom, human rights, the rule of law and democracy – recognising that these are not only Conservative values, but universal ones, for everyone, everywhere.

Dominic Raab’s background, however, gives me hope that he will build on the work of his predecessor. As the son of Czech Jewish refugees, as a lawyer who prosecuted war criminals, and as the Member of Parliament who led the introduction of the Magnitsky Act, legislation designed to sanction officials in tyrannies around the world who commit or are complicit with torture, he has the credentials to be a Foreign Secretary who defends and promotes freedom and human rights.

So as the new Foreign Secretary begins to consider his in-tray, I urge him firstly to continue and strengthen the campaign to promote and defend media freedom around the world; secondly, to implement the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s report on the persecution of Christians, which the new Prime Minister has already endorsed; and thirdly to prioritise some key parts of the world where Britain has a particular obligation, such as Hong Kong, the new frontline in the battle between freedom and repression, and Burma, where small fragile flickers of hope have been snuffed out by genocide and crimes against humanity by a military that continues to act with impunity.

I urge Raab to send a clear message that Britain will stand up for Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy promised under the “one country, two systems” principle. I urge him to consider ways to hold the perpetrators of mass atrocities in Burma accountable. And I urge him to be bold in reviewing Britain’s relationship with China, recognising that we want to continue to do business with such a major economy but not at the cost of our values. China must be challenged on the mass atrocities it is perpetrating against the Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang, the most severe crackdown on Christianity since the Cultural Revolution, the continuing persecution of Tibetans and Falun Gong, allegations of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience as concluded by the recent China Tribunal chaired by the lawyer who prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic, Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC, not to mention the threats China poses to our own freedoms and national security. I hope he will confer with the new Education Secretary over the dangers of Huawei investment in 5G technology.

Finally, while of course among the most immediate priorities are Iran, Syria, continuing challenges with Russia, North Korea must be given more attention. I urge the new Foreign Secretary to encourage the United States and South Korea to include the human rights question as part of the new engagement process with Kim Jong-Un’s brutal regime, and not to forget the findings and recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry report published five years ago, which concluded that North Korea is committing crimes against humanity “unparalleled” in the world.

As a human rights activist working for a Non-Governmental Organisation specialising in freedom of religion or belief, I urge the Foreign Secretary to champion this right for everyone, everywhere as a key part of foreign policy. As the founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch, I urge him to strengthen Britain’s support for the people of Hong Kong at this critical time in what has been one of Asia’s freest and most open cities, and a major international centre, but whose basic freedoms are threatened as never before. And as co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, I offer myself and our co-operation to him and his team, just as we have worked with his predecessors, in continuing and enhancing a foreign policy that promotes and defends freedom everywhere.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Johnson’s shuffle. If one asks for decisiveness – for an end to drift – don’t complain when it’s delivered.

ConservativeHome offered Boris Johnson advice on his coming reshuffle over a month ago.  Whatever you do, we said, shuffle with purpose.  Every single member of your new Cabinet must be signed up to leaving the EU on October 31 – without a deal if necessary.  Do or die.  All together now.  Band of brothers (and sisters).  No more Theresa May-era mass resignations over Brexit policy, totting up in the end to over 50, even without taking into account the very last ones.

A question this morning is whether or not the new Prime Minister has followed that train of thought to the point where it crashes into the buffers – and drives uncontrollably through them, leaving a trail of wreckage and corpses in its wake.  For he not only fired those Cabinet members who couldn’t support the policy (those that were left, anyway), but went on to sack many of those who surely could have done, or would at least have made their peace with it.

Jeremy Hunt, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt, Damian Hinds, David Mundell, James Brokenshire, Karen Bradley, Jeremy Wright – all of these would presumably have rallied round the new leader.  Two of them, Fox and Mordaunt, were 2016 Brexiteers.  The latter was prominent within Vote Leave.  One of them, Brokenshire, was a Johnson voter in the leadership election.  Yet the new Prime Minister deliberately chose to bundle them up in no fewer than nine full Cabinet sackings.  Greg Clark hung on until the end, while Chris Grayling went of his own volition. That brings the total to ten.

This was the bloodiest Cabinet Walpurgisnacht in modern history – making Macmillan’s night of the long knives look like a day trip to Balamory (although technically the changes marked the start of a new Government, not a shuffle within the old one).  Add the ten to the departure of Theresa May, Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Rory Stewart and David Lidington, and one reaches 15.  And that’s before getting into the dismissal of MPs entitled to attend, such as Mel Stride and Clare Perry.  That’s ten Conservative MPs alienated and in some cases added, perhaps, to the core of perhaps 25 ultra-rebellious Tory Soft Brexiteers and Remainers.  And the Government’s majority soon looks to dwindle to one.

There are many ways of assessing the replacements for the departed 15 or so.  For a start, there is ethnicity.  To Sajid Javid is added Rishi Sunak, now to be Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Alok Sharma at International Development plus, above all, Priti Patel at the Home Office (and of those entitled to attend there is James Cleverly, the new Party Chairman, plus Kwasi Kwarteng).  Then there are women: to Patel, we can add Liz Truss at Trade, Andrea Leadsom at Business, Theresa Villiers at Environment, Nicky Morgan at Culture, Amber Rudd at Work and Pensions.  This is Johnson’s briefed-in-advance “Cabinet for modern Britain”.  May had only three female members of her full Cabinet: Rudd, Mordaunt, Bradley and herself.  Javid was the only ethnic minority member.

As for the changes themselves, they seem to us to be a mixed bag.  Sunak, Cleverly, Leadsom, Robert Buckland at Justice, Ben Wallace at Defence: these are good appointments.  Julian Smith will know the Northern Ireland scene well from his work as Chief Whip.  Alister Jack is presumably in because Johnson wants a Leaver at the Scottish Office.  Nicky Morgan at Culture can take as her motto the saying of Leo X: “God has given us the papacy – let us enjoy it”.  Robert Jenrick, with Sunak one of three authors of a pro-Johnson leadership endorsement, has a big promotion to housing.  Their co-signatory, Oliver Dowden, will be a Cabinet Office Minister “entitled to attend”.

He will be among a swelling group of people: no fewer than ten, including Jacob Rees-Mogg as Leader of the House.  The new Prime Minister is doing nothing to make the Cabinet more compact.  The site would have preferred to see Theresa Villiers back at Northern Ireland rather than pitched in to Michael Gove’s shoes at Environment.  The big experiment will be exposing Gavin Williamson to the electorally-sensitive world of teachers and parents.

But if you want to locate the key to this reshuffle, it isn’t ethnicity, or gender, or finding horses for courses.  Rather, it is support for Johnson himself – and for Brexit. Rudd is the only declared Hunt voter to survive.  Morgan plumped for Gove.  Everyone else voted either for Johnson, right from the start of this contest, or at least after elimination themselves (if we know what they did at all).  Furthermore, 15 out of the 32 people eligible to gather round the Cabinet table voted Leave in 2016, compared to seven out of 29 in May’s last Cabinet.

Dom Raab at the Foreign Office – First Secretary of State, to boot – plus Patel, and Michael Gove at the Cabinet Office, working hand in glove with Dominic Cummings, while Steve Barclay hangs on at DexEU.  These are all general election-ready, Vote Leave veterans.  One has the spooky sensation, looking at this Cabinet and leadership, that the year is somehow 2016 – and that we now have the Government that we should have had then, ready at last to counter the charge that Vote Leave scurried away from Brexit, rather than manning up to deliver it.

Yes, the slaugher is spectacular.  And yes, the demotion of Hunt was unwise – though perhaps not as much so as his own refusal to take responsibility in government for our armed forces.  But look at it all another way.  Johnson stood accused of being a soft touch – indecisive; yielding; vacant.  So one can scarcely complain when he wields – not least before those who look on from abroad – the power that the premiership still has.  Brexiteers are accused of not taking responsibility.  After this shuffle, they can’t be: Johnson and Patel and Raab and company are unmistakably, unmissably in charge.

Remainers and Leavers alike can converge on a shared point.  Vote Leave helped to create Brexit.  Let their leaders now own it.  If one asks for decisiveness – for an end to drift – one can scarcely complain when it’s delivered.

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ConHome’s Ministerial recommendations: how did we do and what did we learn?

Here is our recommended Cabinet list from June 21.

  • On the credit side, Boris Johnson’s appointments and our recommendations coincided in four cases.  Sajid Javid became Chancellor of the Exchequer; Robert Buckland (pictured), Justice Secretary; Nicky Morgan, Culture Secretary and James Cleverly, Party Chairman.
  • He also kept Matt Hancock as Health, as we advised, plus Natalie Evans as Leader of the Lords, Alun Cairns as Wales Secretary and Geoffrey Cox as Attorney-General.
  • We recommended the following new or returned Cabinet members. Dominic Raab as Brexit Secretary (he was appointed Foreign Secretary).  Alok Sharma, as Work and Pensions Secretary (he was made International Development Secretary).  Theresa Villiers, as Northern Ireland Secretary (she was appointed Environment Secretary).  Gavin Williamson as Transport Secretary (he was made Education Secretary). Andrea Leadsom, as Commons Leader (she was appointed Business Secretary).
  • That’s four successes and nine part-successes.

– – – – – – – – – –

  • On the debit side, the following Ministers who we recommended for promotion or retention were dismissed: Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt, Damian Hinds and David Mundell.
  • And the following Ministers or backbenchers who we suggested be promoted to Cabinet were not: Steve Baker, Kit Malthouse, George Eustice and Greg Hands.
  • That’s eight failures.

– – – – – – – – – –

  • Of that final group, five of the eight were Leavers. But only one of them, Malthouse, voted for Johnson – and that after he himself expressed an interest in standing.  A reminder that the most reliable key to promotion in this shuffle wasn’t having backed Leave in the referendum – it was supporting Johnson in the leadership election.

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Full list of Johnson’s Cabinet appointments

Here is the list of members of the new Government, so far:

Prime Minister: Boris Johnson

Chancellor of the Exchequer: Sajid Javid

Foreign Secretary (and First Secretary of State): Dominic Raab

Home Secretary: Priti Patel

Defence Secretary: Ben Wallace

Brexit Secretary: Steve Barclay

Health Secretary: Matt Hancock

International Trade Secretary: Liz Truss

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Michael Gove

You can follow all the latest news on our live blog here.

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Patrick Spencer: Some advice for the new Conservative leader. Stick to these three ideas to boost productivity.

Patrick Spencer is Head of Work and Welfare at the Centre for Social Justice.

The Conservative leadership contest has proved to be the battle of ideas that the party wants, needs and should probably have had back in 2016. Yes, Brexit has dominated the discussion, but in amongst chat of proroguing, No Deals and backstops, we have heard interesting ideas about, for example, tax reform, a national citizens’ service and early years support for young mothers. During the Parliamentary stage of the contest, the Centre for Social Justice hosted the Social Justice Caucus of Tory MPs, holding their own hustings event for the Conservative leadership, and the candidates didn’t disappoint.

The litany of new ideas stem from the fact that most of the candidates felt it is time to reshape the Government’s fiscal strategy. The last nine years have been defined by successive Coalition and Conservative government’s support for fiscal rebalancing. David Cameron and George Osborne successfully formed governments after two general elections on a platform of fiscal prudence.

However, the political landscape has changed. Younger voters who weren’t around to vote in 2010 now make up a sizeable chunk of the electorate. Years of austerity, job growth and a much healthier national balance sheet has meant that ‘austerity’ is increasingly unpopular.  Combine this with the perceived economic harm that a No Deal Brexit may cause, and the case for loosening austerity is compelling.

In this vein, Boris Johnson has argued for lower taxes on higher earners as well as increased spending on education. Esther McVey wanted to cut the International Aid budget and spend savings on the police and education. Dominic Raab called to raise the National Insurance Threshold and cut the basic rate of income tax. Michael Gove hoped to reform VAT so that it becomes a Sales Tax. And Sajid Javid said he would slow the rate of debt reduction, which would free up £25 billion for new spending commitments.

Even outside of the leadership circle, Tory MPs and right-of-centre think tanks are advocating for a new spending strategy.  Neil O’Brien has coined the ‘O’Brien Rule’, which allows for budget deficits as long as debt as a percentage of GDP is falling. This sentiment was echoed by Philip Hammond, who called on every leadership candidate to commit to keeping the deficit under two per cent of GDP as long as the national debt was falling.

Considering the appetite to do something, the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister should be warned that spending for spending’s sake is not a good idea. If the decision is taken therefore to loosen the fiscal taps, it should be carefully targeted so that this increases growth and more importantly, productivity.

The Centre for Social Justice released a report in 2017 that highlighted a clear policy agenda that used tax and spend policies to boost productivity across the UK. It is roundly recognised that the productivity conundrum in the UK has not been the result of any one issue but, rather, is a confluence of factors that have taken hold of our economic and social machine.

First and foremost, British companies do not invest and innovate enough. Compared to other countries we have lower levels of capital investment, lower uptake of new-generation technologies such as robotics, and entrepreneurs sell out too early. Britain has a proud history of innovation and technology, and yes we do have several world beating unicorn companies, but in recent years we have lost ground in the innovation stakes to the US, Germany and the Asian economies.

The CSJ recommended a raft of policies that could help reverse this, starting with a ramp up in public funds available for research and development. Public cash for R+D has a crowding in (as opposed to crowding out) effect. We also called (counter-intuitively) for the scrapping of Entrepreneurs Tax Relief. It is expensive and does little to help real entrepreneurs, and only acts as a tax loophole for asset strippers (this policy has recently been advocated by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Resolution Foundation). We also called for simplification of the tax system. Look at the Annual Investment Allowance, for instance, that was decreased by 75 per cent in 2012, increased by a factor of 10 in 2013, doubled in 2015, only for it to then be almost cut in half in 2016.

Second, the CSJ called for a radical increase in support for vocational education in the UK. While businesses needed some help to innovate and compete, the labour market needs support in terms of skills and competencies. Recommendations included a new spending commitment for FE colleges and more support for adult learners who are in low skilled work. The Augar Review called for the Government to make £1 billion available for colleges, a good start but realistically the Government will have to go much further in the future. here is an example of where public money can make a big difference in public policy.

Last, if the next Prime Minister wants to support productivity growth, they can look at rebalancing growth outside of London across Britain’s regions. London is home to less than a quarter of the UK’s population but contributes to 37 per cent of our economic output. It attracts a disproportionate number of high skilled and high paying jobs. Public spending on infrastructure in London dwarfs that spent in the North and Midlands. Reversing this trend will of course take a generation, but by boosting transport spending on inter-city transport (most obviously Northern Rail), tax breaks for companies that set up in struggling cities such as Doncaster, Wigan or Bradford, as well as more money for towns and cities to spend on green spaces and cultural assets (such as museums, public art, restaurants and bars) that attract young people.

These three productivity-generating policy areas will allow any Government to loosen the fiscal taps without bankrupting the country. When the next Prime Minister appoints his Chancellor, he or she would be well advised to stick to the basics of cutting taxes, spending more on education and rebalancing growth outside of London.

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Tom Tugendhat: The last two men left standing in this contest must resist the temptation to slug it out

Tom Tugendhat is Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and is MP for Tonbridge and Malling.

In a contest which has been framed around personality, it is striking how many ideas have been generated by the Conservative leadership contest.  Each of the ten candidates original candidates had something to say. Each has championed a new vision of Britain, and each has given Conservatives plenty to think about.

It’s also showcased some good news about how the Conservative Party is changing. Which other party in any other country could boast a contest that included a television presenter, two newspaper columnists, an entrepreneur, an old-school adventurer, a second generation Muslim immigrant, or the son of a Jewish refugee? Not as tokens, but each arguing on merit their own cause as an advocate of an idea.

I backed Michael Gove’s determination to do everything he can to strengthen our United Kingdom and make this country a cleaner, greener place to live. But there are parts from other campaigns that were inspiring. I love Esther McVey’s promoting of Blue Collar Conservatism that has underpinned the Conservative movement for generations and Dominic Raab’s focus on home-ownership and cutting taxes for the lowest-paid.

Andrea Leadsom’s defence of EU citizens who live in the UK and the need to give them (my wife included) certainty about their future status is a proposal I completely back and Matt Hancock’s continued emphasis on mastering cutting-edge digital technologies as the key to our country’s future prosperity is one I have been pushing for since I discovered that parts of Kent are less well connected than Kabul or Khartoum.

At a time when faith in politicians is waning, Rory Stewart showed us just how we can rebuild trust not only through outreach but by talking about the real issues that change people’s lives.

And Boris Johnson? What isn’t there to say about him? He has picked up school places and tech infrastructure, taxes and the living wage and, closest to my heart in our in a time of educational separation – apprenticeships. That, along with his ability to animate the faithful make his contribution so powerful.

But he’s not alone. No one could be unmoved by Sajid Javid’s back story and determination. His pledge to recruit 20,000 more police is a welcome return to the values many expect of us – protecting those most in need. And as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ve long admired Jeremy Hunt’s ability to master the widest of briefs and understand the details that drive change in our world. His commitment to fund our armed forces and diplomacy properly is also hugely welcome.

The range of these ideas gives me great hope for the future. Partly because they confound the lazy allegation that we have run out of them. Partly because none of them need be mutually exclusive. And partly because Brexit is the biggest shift in UK policy in generations with massive implications for everything from the NHS to housing policy: there is a massive opportunity for creative thinking.

While there is no shortage of ideas, there has been a shortage of leadership. We need a Prime Minister now who will take us through Brexit and confront the challenges beyond. The 2016 referendum, and the three years since our vote to leave, have revealed many profound political problems – common to many other countries – that we now have both an opportunity and a duty to address.

The poorest have felt the impact of the financial crisis hardest, while the benefits of our economic growth have been imperceptible to too many: especially those who do not live or work in our big cities. We have to build beautiful new housing that reflects the way we live today. We need to ensure that our education system is focused on endowing our young people with the skills that translate into career security in a world which has already been transformed by internet connectivity and will be further by automation and AI. Finally, everything we do must be sustainable. The policies we pursue today must not imperil our children’s future.

The temptation for the last two men left standing in this contest will be to slug it out. There is a real danger that the race becomes acrimonious and divisive.  We are at our best as a country when we are unified. I know from my time chairing the committee that has scrutinised both Foreign Secretaries that each man is above this.

Let us spend the next week scrutinising these two potential leaders. Then let’s unite behind whoever wins to deliver Brexit and a compelling vision of the future for this great country.

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WATCH: A general election in the autumn is unlikely, says Raab

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