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Westlake Legal Group > Policy Exchange

Richard Ekins: What the most recent nominations mean for the future of the Supreme Court

Professor Richard Ekins is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Oxford, and Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project.

While all eyes have been on the formation of the new Government, some other important appointments have been made and are at risk of being overlooked.

From January through June next year, three new Justices will join the Supreme Court.  Two are serving Lord Justices of Appeal; the third, unusually, is a distinguished academic lawyer (with considerable part-time judicial experience).

All three are men, and so with Lady Hale’s retirement on 10 January, the number of women on the Court will drop from three (of twelve) to two. Lord Reed has been appointed President of the Supreme Court and will replace Lady Hale in this important role, with effect from 11 January.

Lord Reed’s appointment is no surprise: he is an experienced and very able judge. He has served on the Supreme Court since February 2012 and as Deputy President since June 2018. Only three of the current Justices have served for longer, two of whom, Lady Hale and Lord Wilson, retire early next year. The third, Lord Kerr, will continue in office until February 2023 (retiring at age 75, which was the retirement age when he was first appointed a judge).

Lord Reed will remain in office until September 2026 (retiring at age 70, which is now the mandatory retirement age).  He is thus likely to be the longest serving President the Supreme Court has yet had. This is a significant appointment.

It is also an excellent appointment. Lord Reed is a careful, impressive judge, keenly aware of his responsibility to do justice according to law and, conversely, to avoid the temptation to subvert law in an attempt to do justice. In a series of important judgments, Lord Reed has acted on a traditional understanding of the judicial function, recognising the limits of judicial power and hewing close to settled law, rather than taking himself to be free to remake it in the course of adjudication.

In Bank Mellat, the Supreme Court considered a challenge to the Treasury’s use of counter-terrorism powers to freeze the assets of an Iranian bank in order to hinder the pursuit of nuclear weapons by Iran. The majority, led by Lord Sumption, quashed the order as an irrational and disproportionate interference with the bank’s convention right to enjoyment of its possessions.

Lord Reed, in dissent, took a more restrained view of the Court’s competence, especially in this domain, to conclude that government action was irrational and disproportionate, and thus unlawful.

In Tigere, he joined Lord Sumption in a fierce dissent from the majority’s decision to go beyond Strasbourg – that is, to require more of UK authorities than the European Court of Human Rights would require – and effectively to introduce into UK law a novel right to taxpayer support for tertiary education for non-citizens. In Nicklinson, he strongly resisted those of his colleagues who were intent on cajoling Parliament to change the law on assisted suicide. (The next round of litigation is about to begin.)

And in June last year, he was, to his credit, in a minority of the Supreme Court that refused to depart from the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and to denounce Northern Ireland’s abortion law as incompatible with human rights law.

Lord Reed’s unwillingness to go beyond Strasbourg is a principled limitation on the authority of UK courts, a limitation which is required by the scheme of the Human Rights Act. It makes for a striking contrast with Lady Hale, who has always seemed willing to go beyond Strasbourg.

In Miller, the Article 50 litigation, Lord Reed was one of three of eleven judges in dissent. His dissenting judgment was masterful, navigating the questions of statutory interpretation and constitutional practice with painstaking care. Likewise, in the recent judgment of Privacy International, Lord Reed dissented from the majority’s misinterpretation, in my view, of the ouster clause protecting the jurisdiction of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

More importantly, he also rejected dicta by three judges – Lord Carnwath, Lady Hale and Lord Kerr – to the effect that parliamentary sovereignty is not fundamental and that in a future case it would be lawful for courts openly to defy Parliament and to quash a crystal clear ouster clause.

Lord Reed’s refusal to countenance judicial challenge to parliamentary sovereignty is good news. Less happily, in Evans v Attorney General, he joined Lord Neuberger’s judgment, misinterpreting the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and effectively quashing the ministerial override for which it made provision. Lord Reed seems to have wrongly taken the override to be an unconstitutional transgression on the jurisdiction of the courts. But even if this analysis had been sound, it would still have been wrong for the court to foist a clearly unintended meaning on the Act.

In another important case, UNISON, Lord Reed led a unanimous court in quashing the Lord Chancellor’s decision to raise tribunal fees. Lord Reed reasoned that the level at which the fees had been set limited access to justice and thus lay outside the power Parliament had conferred. This case has been widely hailed as a victory for the rule of law (contrast Evans).

But the problem, as Sir Stephen Laws has argued, is that the judgment is grounded on an implausible inference about Parliament’s intention and involves the courts in second-guessing policy choices, the merits of which should be for the minister, for which he or she is accountable to Parliament.

While I do not agree with all his judgments, and think in some types of case he may be more likely to go wrong, I welcome Lord Reed’s appointment as President of the Supreme Court, and admire his judicial record and philosophy. The future for the rule of law turns in part on how willing Justices of the Supreme Court – including the three incoming Justices – are to expand their jurisdiction, to challenge the authority of Parliament and to undercut the freedom that government otherwise has within legal bounds to make policy and to act for the common good.

Lord Reed’s appointment to succeed Lady Hale seems to me to be good news for the rule of law, reducing the risk that the Supreme Court will abuse its mighty jurisdiction.

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Richard Ekins and Stephen Laws: Grieve’s plan to prevent prorogation is too clever by half – and puts the courts in an awkward spot

Professor Richard Ekins is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Oxford, and Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project. Sir Stephen Laws KCB, QC (Hon) is Senior Research Fellow at Policy Exchange and formerly First Parliamentary Counsel.

The next Prime Minister is likely to be committed to the UK leaving the EU on 31st October with or without a deal, partly on the grounds that this commitment will help secure a (better) deal.  How, apart from by voting for a deal, might the House of Commons prevent a No Deal exit?

The new government may face a vote of no confidence, which, if lost, could lead to the formation of a different government or, more likely, to a general election.  But by the time an election is held the UK might have left the EU without a deal. A more appealing option, especially for many Conservative MPs, would be to legislate (against the wishes of the government) to require the Prime Minister to ask for another Article 50 extension from the EU.  

The concern that many MPs have, understandably enough, is that the new Prime Minister might at some point call time, proroguing Parliament, likely sometime in October.  This might prevent a vote of no confidence from being called (and lost), might prevent a vote of confidence in a new government from being moved or might prevent a bill requiring the Prime Minister to ask for an extension from being introduced or, having been introduced, from being enacted

Over the weekend, a new plan was reported for preventing prorogation, and thus preserving the opportunity of the Commons to attempt to prevent a no-deal exit.  The plan, said to be devised by Dominic Grieve, is to amend the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, which is before the Commons today, to require government to report back to the Commons in October on progress towards the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.  The hope seems to be that this would make it unlawful for the government to secure the prorogation of Parliament. 

This is an ingenious plan.  Will it work? It is intended to work by imposing a duty on the government which cannot be discharged if Parliament is not sitting when the report is due in. The argument runs that the Prime Minister cannot recommend the prorogation of  Parliament without undermining this statute, a legal limitation which, it is assumed, the courts would uphold in litigation if need be. It is not clear how the amendment would work if the Commons were not sitting because it had adjourned or been dissolved.  

The plan may be too clever by half.  If Parliament is prorogued at the relevant time the Secretary of State would be unable to meet her statutory reporting duty.  It does not follow that Parliament has impliedly curtailed the prerogative power to prorogue Parliament. Instead, one might simply say that one unintended side-effect of the use of the prerogative is that the Secretary of State is unable to report, for there would be no House in session to which to report.  

Various statutes impose duties on ministers to report or lay documents before a House of Parliament that cannot be performed while the House is not sitting.  In ordinary times, it would be very unlikely that those enactments would be construed as limiting the prerogative power to prorogue. But clearly these are not ordinary times and the question might be how far the current, somewhat fraught, political context informs how MPs and others understand today’s legislative proposal. 

This amendment is being proposed, it seems obvious, to prevent prorogation.  But it is important to note that the amendment will not attempt expressly to limit the prerogative power to prorogue.  Any such amendment might be outside the scope of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill. If the limitation is to be accomplished it will be indirectly, by a side-wind.  The risk for the sponsors of the amendment is that it fails to articulate, even by implication, an intention to limit prorogation. The so-called “principle of legality” is sometimes misused, but contains a kernel of good sense. The courts should be slow to conclude that Parliament intends to disrupt the existing constitution or to conclude that constitutional change to one of the higher prerogatives is implied.  

In a famous case, Lord Hoffmann reasoned that the rationale for the principle of legality was that while a sovereign Parliament could enact anything it pleased, including legislation restricting fundamental rights, it had to do so openly and had to face the political cost of its actions.  It is arguable that it is not for the courts to police Parliament’s political accountability, but there is force in the idea that Parliament should be direct in articulating its lawmaking intentions.

What this means is this: if MPs want to limit the prerogative power to prorogue Parliament, they should say so in terms, not indirectly with a nudge and a wink.  This, in turn, raises another important consideration. If MPs did attempt to change directly the prerogative power to prorogue, the bill in question would clearly need “Queen’s consent” under the rules that apply in both Houses. Procedurally, the government has an absolute veto on legislation that limits prerogative powers, including power to prorogue.  Queen’s consent is required in each House and is different from Royal Assent.

If, as seems possible, there is no Queen’s consent, the amendment in question should not be understood to limit the prerogative.  One cannot have it both ways: if the point of the amendment is to limit the prerogative then Queen’s consent is required, but if Queen’s consent is not given, then the amendment should not be understood to limit the prerogative by implication.  

It is unknown at the time of writing quite what form the amendment will take or whether it will have the numbers to pass in the House of Commons.  But if it is enacted, it will introduce the risk of litigation in October if there were a proposal to prorogue Parliament. This would place the courts, again, in the midst of political controversy.  They might misconstrue the amendment and would be exposed to political criticism. They should not be put in this position, and MPs today have a duty to insist that any legislation that attempts to limit the prerogative should say so clearly and should only be enacted in strict accordance with the rules.     

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Henry Newman: The Alternative Arrangements Commission offers the best route through the backstop problem

Henry Newman is Director of Open Europe.

It’s now three years and a day since the referendum was declared for Leave on the morning of 24th June 2016. And yet Brexit seems – if anything – further away than it has for some time. The Conservative leadership race will change the occupants of Downing Street, but will leave the three essential paths unchanged: Brexit with a version of the current deal, Brexit with No Deal, and no Brexit. With almost no Parliamentary majority, it’s hard at this point to see a way through to any one of those paths.

Over the next few weeks things may become clearer, unless Brexit day ends up being delayed again. A new Prime Minister will make no difference in of himself to the Parliamentary maths – although the stock of patronage in the Whips’ office may be reset. But various Conservative factions are already threatening to bring down the next government. One group would withdraw confidence if the Government pursues a No Deal Brexit; another has also threatened to do so if the Government fails to deliver Brexit on 31st October.

Opinion has polarised in Parliament and across the country. There’s little mood for compromise. The spoiled ballot paper in the final round of voting on the leadership last week was ominous. To make matters worse, the Conservatives will soon face a challenging by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire. The Tories face a simultaneous squeeze from both the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats.

The landing zone for a negotiated way through Brexit is slim but just discernible. At its core would be ensuring that the UK can avoid being permanently trapped in the backstop. The Alternative Arrangements Commission, chaired by Nicky Morgan and Greg Hands, and backed by Prosperity UK, is attempting to provide reassurance on that.  The Commission argues that the backstop is “at the heart of the UK Parliament’s objections to the existing Withdrawal Agreement”. Of course, the only time when a majority was found for a particular Brexit scenario was Graham Brady’s vague amendment on replacing the backstop with Alternative Arrangements – the Commission is attempting to clarify what that could entail.

I have previously argued that the Withdrawal Agreement (including the backstop) is more advantageous to the UK (and to Northern Ireland) than many critics accept. I have also outlined how the backstop itself poses various problems. But we are rather beyond that sort of analysis now – Parliament has refused to support the deal as is. That’s why it’s so crucially important that the Government gets behind the work of the Commission on Alternative Arrangements.

There’s plenty of cynicism about the Interim Report and the Commission overall. And certain pundits seemed keen to dismiss all the suggestions out of hand. But, although some of the ideas are ambitious, they deserve serious consideration. Radical ideas will be needed to find a way through. Brexit poses unique problems for Northern Ireland, and it’s overwhelmingly in the interests of the UK, Ireland and the EU to find a way of resolving these issues together.

The EU has somewhat legitimately complained that the UK had not put forward proposals to resolve the Irish border. (Although, of course, the entire Chequers policy was designed to do just that). But if Brussels and Dublin reject out of hand all innovative answers to address the border, then it will be hard to persuade Brexiteers that the UK will not end up trapped in the backstop.

Back in March at Strasbourg both the UK and EU agreed to fast track the search for alternative arrangements. The EU agreed that these alternatives could apply on a provisional basis to allow the UK to avoid the backstop altogether. The Strasbourg instrument also places obligations on Brussels to find alternative arrangements. A Policy Exchange report concluded that “it would be clearly incompatible with its obligations… for the EU to adopt a negotiating stance that boils down to the position that only ‘backstop 2.0’ can replace the current backstop”. So, the EU must accept workable alternatives to the backstop and these can’t simply be the same thing packaged up with a different name.

Yesterday’s interim report by the Alternative Arrangements Commission argues that working alternatives should be up and running within three years. They note that there is no single solution to the border, and that a combination of existing technology and best practice will be needed. Importantly, the report argues that “futuristic high-tech solutions are not required”.

Several of their interim recommendations tally with arguments that Open Europe has previously made, including an expanded trusted trader scheme in Northern Ireland with exemptions for smaller businesses. The most radical proposal amounts to an option to create a common area for Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary measures between the UK and Ireland. Irish sources have dismissed such a possibility out of hand. There are obvious problems with this sort of suggestion, but it’s also the sort of bold idea that both sides will need to consider if a way through is to be found that can provide a sustainable answer for region and meet the concerns of the UK, Ireland and the EU.

Unfortunately, trust is in short supply. That’s hardly surprising when European capitals watch British politicians promising to use Article 24 of the GATT treaty to provide for tariff free trade in the event of No Deal. Or when they hear senior figures suggesting we use a transition period to negotiate a trade deal, if we leave with No Deal. And they watch as some claim that we should “just” go back to the offer of an FTA which Donald Tusk made. (Unfortunately, Gatt 24 would only work if the EU also agrees to tango in the event of No Deal – so far they have refused; there will be no transition period without a deal; and the offer from Tusk (and indeed the EU as a whole) was always an FTA with a backstop for Northern Ireland.)

On the other hand, the EU will need to accept that the trust issue cuts both ways. The more that the Commission rubbishes alternatives to the backstop, the harder it will be to persuade people that a path out is possible. Equally, Brussels must now see that something will have to give. There is practically no chance that the exact same deal can pass the Commons, without further legally-binding changes. The EU’s preferred answer of a cross-party arrangement failed to bear fruit. And there is still little sign of a majority for a second referendum, nor indeed a clear swing in public opinion against leaving the EU.

Back in April, Tusk pompously warned the UK not to “waste” the extension to Article 50, while the Council decided to delay Brexit by the worst possible length of time – long enough to ensure that MPs felt no pressure to make decisions, but too short really to allow for a change in politics or a reset in negotiations. With Brussels out of action following European elections, and with August summer breaks looming, these months were always going to be largely fallow. When things do get back underway, there will be precious little time to get anything agreed before the first scheduled meeting of the European Council on 17th October – the biggest priority for both sides must be to rebuild trust.

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Andrew Green: Debating immigration has been marginal to this leadership election. That should change.

Lord Green is Chairman of MigrationWatch UK and a cross-bench peer.

The Conservative Party is clearly struggling after disastrous results in the European elections and the Peterborough by-election. So it is astonishing that we are now well into a leadership contest with barely a peep from the candidates on an issue that is crucial to our country’s future and therefore of real importance to the membership. I refer, of course, to immigration.

The political, economic and foreign policy crises that are encompassed by Brexit have rightly been at the top of the agenda. But there is a serious risk that a crucial long term problem will be ducked or, worse still, exacerbated. In ten years time, Brexit will be sorted one way or the other. But, if we are not careful we might find ourselves set on an immigration policy that will change the whole nature of our society against the wishes of a strong majority of our people.

In short, our country has reached a crossroads on immigration, and so has the Conservative Party. The current massive levels of immigration could be reduced without serious damage to our economy, were there sufficient political will. The forthcoming leadership election will therefore be the moment to decide whether to go for a leader who is prepared to tackle immigration or for one who has failed to heed the public’s repeated calls to reduce it.

The situation is certainly serious. Annual net migration into the UK has averaged nearly 300,000 over the past five years – that is roughly the population of Newcastle. Yet, until Labour came to power in 1997, net migration was never more than 50,000 a year and was sometimes negative. Since 2010, nine years of Conservative Government have failed to get a grip on it, as the graph below clearly indicates.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-06-10-at-22.39.02 Andrew Green: Debating immigration has been marginal to this leadership election. That should change. Tom Smail Prospect Population policy Policy Exchange Peterborough by-election Peterborough Louise Casey immigration European Elections 2019 David Goodhart Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment   The implications and consequences for our future are stark. A level of net migration continuing at present levels would take our population from about 66 million today to 100 million by the end of the century. Yet, as the graph below illustrates, achieving the Conservatives’ promise of reducing net migration to 100,000 a year would restrain the increase in our population to between 70 and 75 million.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-06-10-at-22.39.16 Andrew Green: Debating immigration has been marginal to this leadership election. That should change. Tom Smail Prospect Population policy Policy Exchange Peterborough by-election Peterborough Louise Casey immigration European Elections 2019 David Goodhart Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment   As I have already suggested, the character and nature of our society are already being changed without the consent of the majority of our population, three quarters of whom support the reduction of net migration levels to the ‘tens of thousands’.

It is not just about numbers. I was struck by a recent article in Prospect  by Tom Smail. He lives in Haringey in North London, and he wrote: “Immigration has become not, as I once thought, a welcome addition to the English way of life, but a source of disquiet.” He continued “I speak four languages …. but the multiplicity of languages outside my front door and the almost total absence of English leaves me feeling like a stranger in a once familiar land”.

He explained later that “it is not that I prefer English people to other people. Frequently I do not. It is that, in order to have a functioning, cohesive society, there needs to be some shared sense of what that society is.”

There is indeed evidence that mass immigration is damaging the bonds that bind our community together. Demos found in 2018 that 71 per cent of Britons believe that immigration has made communities more divided. This reached 78 per cent in areas that had experienced large-scale immigration in recent years.

Of course scale matters. In the words of Policy Exchange’s David Goodhart: “Too many people coming too quickly into a society makes it difficult to retain a sense of cohesion and stability.” In a similar vein the former integration czar, Louise Casey, has warned that we risk sleep-walking into an increasingly segregated country.

It would be absurd to blame individual migrants for these difficulties. The problem is one of scale. That is a problem for the government, and it has been ducked for too long.

Some of the loudest voices in favour of the status quo are those who have, since free movement applied to Eastern European countries in 2004, been able to acquire the skilled workers they need for lower wages and without paying the costs of training British workers. Their financial interest is clear, but it is by no means clear that there is overall benefit to our society as a whole.  There is no persuasive evidence for the UK that immigration has increased GDP per head. On the contrary, it has been roughly flat for the last ten years despite massive levels of immigration.

So the question for Conservatives comes down to this. Is there a leadership candidate who will have the courage and determination to tackle this matter which is so vital to the future of our country? I will explore this question further in a second article on Thursday.

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Dean Godson: There are plenty of ideas on the centre-right. Here’s how it can create a new, decent, patriotric consensus.

Dean Godson is Director of Policy Exchange.

Where next? For the last two years, British politics has been stuck in paralysis. There has been a lot of noise and clamour, but no side seems capable of creating consensus and winning broad support. That is not to say that this is a dull time in our national debate – a deep ideological contest is under way for the future of our country. It will reverberate long after Brexit, in whatever form, is complete.

It is often said today that all the intellectual energy is on the Left. But is this true? There are no leaders of the quality of Clement Attlee on the Labour benches. There are no economists or thinkers of the ilk of Anthony Crosland. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have people aspiring to power in this country who are proud to call themselves Marxists – including the Shadow Chancellor.

The problem is not that there is an absence of ideas on the centre-right. It is that they have yet to coalesce into a coherent vision of national renewal. Policy Exchange, for example, identified the plight of the “just about managing” classes in our country – the JAMs – in 2015. So many in the country would put themselves in this camp. But has enough really been done for them in the four years since? Do they think the state is on their side, or that the political class is fighting for them?

The election of a new Conservative Party leader is the moment – perhaps the last chance – to get this right. One of the greatest mistakes that the Tories could make is to play the only game that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is capable of – sectional, identity politics that sets different groups of voters against each other.

Last year, Policy Exchange organised a Conservative conference event with the title ‘Can the Conservatives win in Canterbury and in Middlesbrough at the same time?’ But you could ask the same question of Labour. As it stands, the UK risks being treated as if it exists in balkanised sub-electorates, each with niche interests and obsessions. The only way to electoral victory in this model is with temporarily cobbled together coalitions of rival groups.

Yet despite polarisation on Brexit and other issues, there is more agreement – and more consensus – among voters than often appears, and therefore more cause for optimism. This is not a jingoistic nation. Instead, there is a deep tissue of patriotism in the best sense of the word – a fidelity to constitution, citizenship and community – that has too often been dismissed out of hand. Policy Exchange’s polling on the Union revealed that a clear majority of people in the UK say their support for it has remained constant or has risen in recent years – 78 per cent in England, 60 per cent in Scotland, 69 per cent in Wales, 70 per cent in Northern Ireland.

There is also, among immigrant communities in the UK, a complete rejection of the gatekeeper politics that sees putatively “national” representative organisations claim to speak on behalf of millions without their consent, in the most damaging form of identity politics. Only 20 per cent of British Muslims, for example, saw themselves as represented by such organisations. Fifty-five per cent of British Muslims felt ‘very strongly’ that they belonged to Britain and 38 per cent ‘fairly strongly’ that they belonged to Britain; only seven per cent did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.

Consensus can be found elsewhere. Our work on lawfare – the unfair hounding of British troops through the courts – has had huge cut-through with the British public, whose outcry on the issue has forced our political and legal establishment to wake up.

The same goes for housing, where our research was based on the simple proposition that the way to overcome opposition to building more homes – so-called Nimbyism – is to make sure they are designed in a way that fits the tastes of local communities and makes our country more beautiful. This is a vision with massive support.  Traditional terraces with tree-lined streets, for instance, are by far the most popular option for the design and style of new homes. They may be unfashionable among “starchitects” but they are supported by 48 per cent of the public, with some of the strongest support among working-class Ds and Es. And how many want housing developments or estates in a modern style? Just 28 per cent.  Our polling shows a clear majority favour traditional design over modern developments. In housing and more, the first job of the new Prime Minister is to come up with a coherent national narrative that restores our sense of direction as a country.

There is the chance for a new Unionism, not just making sure that the individual countries of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland breathe comfortably within the shared home of the United Kingdom, but also that the Union itself is to an extent reconceptualised – so that we build a union between young and old and address the challenge of generational justice. A union between newer arrivals in Britain and long-established communities, so that suspicions and enmities can be overcome. A union between those whose faith means so much for them, and others for whom faith is vestigial and whose values increasingly shape the public space.  In short, we need a new social contract for post-Brexit Britain.

Social care is one concrete policy example. It is increasingly plain to those involved in the care sector that the state should cover almost all of the costs of long-term complex social care, which can involve ruinous costs for individuals and families, particularly for those suffering from dementia in old age. It can lead to the forced sales of family homes and wipe out a lifetime of saving and hard work. This idea – effectively the completion of the Welfare State – was proposed in a recent Policy Exchange research paper and embraced, perhaps surprisingly for someone on the right of the Conservative Party, by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who argued in the foreword that “It is far better to pool risk and for the taxpayer, where appropriate, to step in and help those who would face ruinous costs on their own, making social care largely free at the point of use.” He is surely right.

Where else could the next Prime Minister discover a quiet majority? On the environment, perhaps, where there are strong arguments to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 – with support especially high among the young. On investment in R & D and industry, especially in the North East, which could become a leader in the high-value, green economy. Certainly, on protecting British troops from pernicious forms of lawfare, which has high levels of support because of the obvious injustices involved. On education, too, where our polling revealed that poor pupil behaviour is driving teachers from the profession and undermining children’s education – 72 per cent of teachers know a colleague who has “left the teaching profession because of bad behaviour”. On countering extremism online, 74 per cent think that the big internet companies should be more proactive in locating and deleting extremist content, with 66 per cent of people believing that the internet should be a regulated space.

There is more thinking to be done across all policy areas – People, Prosperity, Place and Patriotism, as Policy Exchange’s work is organised – as a new Prime Minister is chosen. With that in mind, we will be publishing a series of proposals under these themes in the forthcoming weeks, which will seek to answer the question: what do we want from the next Prime Minister? We will also be hosting a series of events, including one in partnership with ConservativeHome, on electoral politics, housing, the economy, education, energy and the environment, lawfare and the rise of China. Only by hunting out areas of existing consensus will the next Prime Minister be able to start bringing the country together and healing the divides of last few years.

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Citizens of nowhere? Or citizens of somewhere? Who should the Conservatives be targetting? Our joint event with Policy Exchange.

“It is increasingly clear that the most significant social divisions in most Western societies today run along identity faultlines.” – Trevor Phillips, ConservativeHome, June 6 2019.

– – –

Perhaps the Conservatives are sometimes polling at under 20 per cent is because they didn’t know who their voters were in the first place.

Who can and should the next Tory leader appeal to? “Citizens of somewhere?”  “Citizens of nowhere?” Both?  Or doesn’t that work?  Or are these categories wrong in the first place?

Or to ask the question another way: where should the Conservatives campaign?

Are they best off pitching to voters in southern seats that they traditionally hold – like Canterbury, which was lost at the last election?

Or should they now push their case in other parts of the country, where they have usually been much weaker – in constituencies like North East Deryshire, gained by the Party against the electoral tide in 2017?

ConservativeHome and Policy Exchange will be exploring these questions at a joint event on Tuesday June 18.

Our panel of four will address the question: can the Conservatives win in Canterbury and Middlesbrough at the same time?

They will be: Lynton Crosby, formerly the Conservative Party’s campaign director. Andrew Feldman, the former Conservative Party Chairman.  Ben Houchen, Mayor of Teesside.  And Amber Rudd, Work and Pensions Secretary.

The event will be livestreamed via the Policy Exchange website and this one on Tuesday June 18 from 13.00 to 14.00.

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ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists”

Each week on Friday, ConservativeHome’s panel of John O’Sullivan, Rachel Wolf, Trevor Phillips, Tim Montgomerie and Marcus Roberts will be analysing and assessing what’s happening in the leadership election.

John O’Sullivan

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2018-07-27-at-08.30.25-298x300 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “The appropriate response to these candidates is Ray Clooney’s: “Sergeant, arrest some of these vicars.”

My main impression of the Conservative leadership race so far is of a repertory theatre that has advertised the wrong play: a small audience has turned up for a serious drama but a very large cast of actors is performing a light farce.

The sheer number of candidates, most of whom have not held high office, suggests irrelevance and frivolity. Many of them seem to be auditioning for the leading role some years hence, but the crisis of the Tories is so grave that any such calculation looks today like a forlorn hope. So why are they cluttering up the stage, bumping into the furniture, and stepping on each other’s lines? And who on earth wrote those lines?

“Not on my watch, President Trump!” – Matt Hancock. “We are the party of deals rather than no deals” –  Rory Stewart. Neither sounds exactly convincing. These and other boasts have a tinny fake-heroic sound. To which the appropriate response is Ray Cooney’s classic Whitehall farce line: “Sergeant, arrest some of these vicars.”

Arrests have now been made. The men in grey suits have changed the rules so that a candidate now needs eight – eight! – supporting MPs to mount a challenge. Messrs Hancock and Stewart can probably manage that. Others – not necessarily the worst – have taken the hint and withdrawn gracefully. Some seriousness has been injected.

But the survivors still have trouble finding the words.

That’s understandable on Brexit where, as the guardian of this site has painfully explained, the Tory party has to untangle its own Rubiks Cube: the Tories cannot win a general election without delivering Brexit but they cannot deliver Brexit without winning an election.

I’m not sure that the first half of that conundrum is correct. Last summer, the Tory Whips managed to cobble together a majority against all others, including the ultra-Remain Tories, when it mattered. That’s why, among other consequences, Anna Soubry is now a party leader. And since all parties fear an election, why should we think that even ultra-Remainer Tories will happily lose their seats rather than tolerate a No Deal Brexit?

If Boris Johnson must explain how he will be able to deliver Brexit against a hostile Commons majority, therefore, surely Michael Gove must explain how he will unify the Conservative party on a program of delivering an amended version of the May deal that most Tory MPs and three-quarters of the Party’s activists have already resoundingly rejected.

Not to mention the third dilemma that facing all Tories, candidates or not. If the Tories don’t deliver Brexit soon – and Michael Gove’s pragmatic postponement reeks of indefinite Micawberism – do they really believe that their former voters now streaming to the Brexit party will simply shrug and conclude “Oh well, it seemed like a good idea at the time”? Or will their hatred grow with every passing excuse?

Think of these different dilemmas as Rubik’s Cubed.

Brexit is not the only important issue, of course. When I hear Messrs Hancock and Stewart display their ideological wares, I think kindly: “These may well be the winning issues in the 2035 election.” To be fair, however, none of the candidates seem to be asking: “Are we doing anything for our people now? The self-employed? Home-owners? Small landlords? Small businessmen? The elderly?”

I fear that when we approach them today, they look at us apprehensively as their patients might have looked at Doctors Harold Shipman and Bodkins Adams as they bore down on them smiling a bedside smile and wielding a calming syringe.

John O’Sullivan is a former head of Margaret Thatcher’s Number 10 Policy Unit, and is New Republic’s Editor at Large

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Rachel Wolf

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-03-08-at-18.02.41-300x278 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “Pledging more money for education isn’t enough. What do the candidates want to do with it?”

In my recent column on this site putting 20 questions to the potential leaders, I listed common spending demands and asked which, if any, candidates would prioritise.

We have at least one answer – schools. Candidates have been falling over each other to pledge more money. Credit for this should go to the NUT, who have run an extremely effective campaign in the last few years.

What does their choice tell us? First, the incentive to appear fiscally prudent is largely gone. Candidates are increasing public spending, cutting taxes or both. (Although Esther McVey did say she’d pay for it with the aid budget: an intelligent dividing line!)

Second, that while candidates must win among MPs and Conservative members, they recognise they must persuade both groups that they can win with the public. School spending is welcomed to both former Brexit-supporting Tories and defectors to the Liberal Democrats. It allows candidates to say something positive without choosing the electoral coalition they are pursuing (at least for a little longer).

What does it not tell us? Anything about their approach to education or government.

Money is an input, not an outcome. It is easy to spend – doing something useful with it is much harder. And to achieve the latter, you need clear aims. After all real terms, schools spending has gone up enormously in the last few decades. Do we believe that quality has gone up at the same speed?

The vast majority of school spending goes into wages. Giving more money to teachers can help recruit and keep staff (and maybe increase the chances they’ll vote for you) but it doesn’t necessarily translate to children learning more in a classroom.

This, then, is a policy that conceals as much as it reveals. There are some questions that would say much more about what the candidates really believe. How about grammar schools (and, connected, are we most concerned with finding the brightest and doing the best by them, or reducing the gap between all rich and poor?) Do you think extra money in the education system should go into early years, the main school system, or to technical and higher education? If we want to listen to the teaching unions – which Esther McVey suggested – are we also going to listen to them on academies and move back towards council control?

In other words – what do you think should be done with the money and to what end?

Rachel Wolf is a partner in Public First. She was an education and innovation adviser at Number 10 during David Cameron’s premiership, and was founding director of the New Schools Network.

– – –

Trevor Phillips

Westlake Legal Group Trevor-Phillips-Panel-300x300 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “The task for the next Conservative leader is to fashion a party that provides a home for “decent populists”

If you are a Conservative MP, the questions that you might ask yourself about the contenders for the leadership of your party are: “do they have a vision, the skill to bring us together – and can they beat Jeremy Corbyn?”. Given that almost anyone should be able to accomplish the latter, Tories should be focusing on the first two. On this week’s evidence, they seem oddly preoccupied by the third and least important qualification. That’s perhaps why the only proven vote-winner, Boris Johnson, has emerged as the early front-runner.

By contrast, Dominic Raab, perhaps the man with the clearest “vision” – Britain as a sort of Singapore-on-Thames – ends the week looking like a busted flush. The safe pairs of hands, Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid, are puffing in Johnson’s wake. We have yet to see if the remodelled Michael Gove, now studiously hiding the light of his his megawatt brain under a bushel, can locate the charm button every leader needs.

As a longtime Labour party member, I’d prefer us to face a stone-cold loser – since we need the Tories to be led by people even less competent and, if this can be imagined, more dislikeable, than the group around Corbyn.

However, given that most of the British people are unlikely to want an anti-semite and his apologists in Downing Street, there must be a case for patriots of every political stamp wanting the winner of this contest to be capable of responding to the extraordinary political times. And that will require levels of political imagination unseen since Thatcher or Blair.

It is increasingly clear that the most significant social divisions in most Western societies today run along identity faultlines. I do not mean by this that the contest should be reduced to some absurd virtue-signalling “Be-Kind-To-Blacks-Women-and-LGBT” competition. The new politics of identity are more subtle. Research shows that our new divisions are more accurately gauged by attitudes to social liberalism – multiculturalism, feminism, for example – than voters’ stance on economic issues. A typical test of tribal affinity might be whether you want to tackle environmental change through muscular state action or through a combination of market incentives and subtle behavioural nudges.

In Donald Trump, the populists have found one template. He has refashioned the Republicans to be an unashamedly white nationalist outfit; to be precise, this is not the same as saying that the party is “racist”, merely that it consciously represents an ethnic interest. Other populists are steadily building tribes that overlap with elements of both the traditional Right and Left families. On the European continent, the absolutists in politics – Marxists, ultra nationalists, eco-warriors and separatists – thrive outside the framework of traditional heterodox national parties. In some they even find a place as junior partners in government – a fantasy entertained, for example, by the SNP.

Happily in the UK, the notion of an ethnic party is unthinkable; I am happy to have played a part in extinguishing the only such organisation of any significance, the BNP. Moreover our electoral system provides just one path to political power: through big major parties which are themselves coalitions.

So the task for the next Conservative leader is to fashion a party that provides a home for what my Policy Exchange colleague David Goodhart calls the “decent populists” – a coalition of people who, when faced by globalisation are more likely to see loss than opportunity. They include those who still see virtue in longstanding traditions and institutions, those who long to live lives anchored in places they recognise from their childhoods, and those who aspire to steady, unflashy professiona or craft occupations with decent rewards for hard work.

In Brexit terms, this looks to me like a coalition of reasoned leavers and lukewarm remainers who understand that other Conservatives may perfectly reasonably have made a different judgement from them about the EU. From where I stand just two candidates seem to be equipped to craft such a coalition: Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. As often happens in such situations one has the intellect and imagination, the other the guile and charisma. I am just grateful the Conservatives have not yet found a candidate with both sets of qualities.

Trevor Phillips is a writer, broadcaster and businessman. He is the Chair of Green Park Executive Recruitment and of Index On Censorship, and a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange. He was President of the John Lewis Partnership Council between 2015-18.

– – –

Tim Montgomerie

Westlake Legal Group Tim-Montgomerie-Panel-300x300 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “This race won’t be all ‘Brexit, Brexit, Brexit’ – and mustn’t be.”

“Boris Johnson couldn’t get past MPs’” was the prevailing wisdom in the Westminster village for a long time. It doesn’t look that wise or likely to prevail anymore. Johnspn now has more support than any other contender for Theresa May’s job. With the backing of 48 MPs, he has more parliamentary backing than Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart combined. Betfair reports that more than half of the money received from punters on the Conservative leadership race has been staked on The Blond One wearing the Tory crown rather than his trademark bicycle helmet by the July 22nd.

I predict that at least one other piece of conventional wisdom will also be overturned in the weeks ahead. This race won’t be all ‘Brexit, Brexit, Brexit’ – and mustn’t be. I predict we’ll also see fierce but healthy competition to be the One Nation candidate.

And I mean the Benjamin Disraeli unifying One Nationism rather than Ted Heath’s Made in Brussels version. The duty of the party to reach out to northern, working class and ethnic minority Britons – and all those other communities who have felt alienated from ‘the party of the south and the better off’ is true big tent conservatism.

Ideas of the kind launched this week – such as Rory Stewart’s housebuilding programme or Sajid Javid’s great infrastructure fund – aren’t just morally right but politically essential too. Donald Trump’s 2016 victories in American rust belt states and, much more recently, Scott Morrison’s triumph in less affluent corners of Queensland are proof that a great switcheroo is underway. Richer voters are moving left and poorer voters are moving right. Which candidate can build upon the inroads into once infertile northern, industrial and coastland territories that the EU referendum has begun to feed and water for a Conservative Party that delivers Brexit?

This question will be particularly relevant in the final round, when grassroots members will be in the decision seat. Unlike incumbent Tory MPs, I reckon that the party rank-and-file will be more open to the necessity of policy changes that may risk some Remain-dominated Tory-held seats being replaced by a much bigger number of Leave-majority Labour held seats entering the blue column.

It’s not, after all, just ideology or not wanting an IRA sympathiser for leader that differentiates Tory from Labour members. It’s a hunger for power. The same desire to win that led party members choose David Cameron over David Davis in 2005 will favour the candidate who can most successfully combine big Brexit and big tent Conservatism.

Tim Montgomerie is the founder of ConservativeHome

Marcus Roberts

Westlake Legal Group Marcus-Roberts-Panel-300x300 ConservativeHome’s leadership election panel. “The task next Tory leader’s task is to fashion a home for “decent populists” YouGov Tax and Spending State Spending State Schools schools Sam Gyimah MP Sajid Javid MP Rory Stewart MP Race and multiculturalism Public Spending populism Policy Exchange One Nation Conservatism Multiculturalism Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Feminism Esther McVey MP environment Edward Heath Education donald trump Dominic Raab MP David Goodhart Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Conservatism Comment Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP BNP Benjamin Disraeli Anna Soubry MP   “Voters also consider Johnson the most electable Conservative candidate with Javid trailing a full twenty points behind.”

Should the self-described “most sophisticated electorate in the world” wish to use data to help inform their decision – and what might they learn from it?

Boris Johnson is the clear member’s favourite on the key performance indicators of strong leader, likability and electability.

Johnson leads all comers on leadership (69 per cent say he would be a strong leader), likability (77 per cent say he is likeable) and electablity (70 per cent say he most likely to win a general election).

Furthermore, Conservative Party members say that Johnson shares their political outlook (69 per cent) and is up to the job (67 per cent).

By comparison, Dominic Raab is the member’s second choice on strong leader (47 per cent) and electability (42 per cent) whilst Sajid Javid is the runner up for likeability (53 per cent).

But amongst the general public, Johnson proves himself a marmite candidate – since, of the main Tory leadership hopefuls, he gets both the highest rating for good prime minister (26 per cent) and the highest rating for bad Prime Minister (55 per cent).

General election voters also consider Johnson the most electable Conservative candidate (37 per cent) with Javid trailing a full twenty points behind (17 per cent). Amongst Conservative 2017 voters this rises still higher, with 56 per cent viewing Johnson as the most electable with Michael Gove in second place on 22 per cent.

On handling Brexit, Johnson again polarises the public at large. If we discount the low name recognition candidates, Johnson is considered to likely do both the best and worst job handling Brexit with 23% thinking he would do a good job and 43% thinking he would do a bad job. Amongst Conservative 2017 voters there is no such doubt however with 44% thinking he would do a good job and 29% saying he would do a bad job.

On likability, the general public has a pretty negative view of the whole of the Conservative field with 58 per cent of voters saying Michael Gove does not have a likeable personality, with 46 per cent for Jeremy Hunt and 40 per cent for Boris Johnson.

Finally, in terms of who could unite or divide the country, Johnson once again achieves both. Eighteen per cent say Johnson could unite Britain whilst 48 per cent of the general public say he would divide Britain. Both these numbers are greater than any other candidate.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov’s –

Marcus Roberts is Director of International Projects at YouGov.

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

“A credible plan to deliver Brexit must be grounded in reality.” Hancock’s foreign policy speech. Full text

75 years ago this week, Allied Commanders launched Operation Overlord: unleashing by air, land and sea the forces of over twelve allied nations, united in one purpose: the defeat of Nazi Germany and liberation of Europe.

D-Day is woven into the personal history of millions of British families.

It is an enduring source of national pride, and a symbol of sacrifices made with our allies.

From the men on Sword beach and Gold, to the boys of Pointe du Hoc.

I think of the words of that great President, Ronald Reagan at the 40th anniversary:

“These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”

The debt we owe my grandparent’s generation becomes more awe-inspiring with the passage of time:

They secured our democracy against Nazism and Fascism.

They created the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, that has kept peace in Europe.

They built the United Nations, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”.

Above all, they gave us the sense of confidence, through their example, that when our backs are up against the wall as a country, we have the resilience and grit we need to prevail.

“Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.”

Our predecessors in World War Two knew that they and their allies were fighting for democracy and freedom.

It was an existential struggle.

Today we are confronted by no such singular threat.

We face the complex and shifting landscape of an increasingly multipolar world, with the pressures and strains introduced by globalisation, rapid technological change, mass migration and climate change.

But still, our starting point is the same. We have to ask and answer certain fundamental questions: what kind of country do we want to be? What matters most to our citizens? What would we be prepared to die for? What must we protect, defend and build upon in our generation? And how do we best achieve this?

This is not the easy course of action. National security considerations, economic links, the position of our allies – all these must be taken into account. But without values, foreign policy is a mere calculus of interests; it has no anchor.

I want to see a Britain that is the best place to live in the world:

At our best we are an open, tolerant, diverse and outward-looking society, in which our young people can benefit from the great opportunities of the 21st century, while being insulated against its worst risks and dangers.

I want our citizens to be safe from threats at home and abroad and our nation to be respected internationally; as a country that speaks up with confidence for what’s right, and can back those words with action.

I want a Britain in which we, the citizens, are optimistic about our place in the world, and confident and fearless in our dealings with other countries.

And so I believe we need a foreign policy that creates the conditions for trade and economic growth, that resists protectionism, that defuses threats before they can become dangers on our streets, that upholds our values and that contributes to a secure global environment.

In short, we need a foreign policy that is a source of security, opportunity and pride for our whole country.

There is no doubt that over the last three years, foreign policy has been overshadowed by the difficulties of implementing the EU referendum result.

The most urgent task of the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is to resolve this deadlock, so that we honour the outcome of the vote, in a way that brings people together.

As Prime Minister, I would seek to do this on the basis of an agreement with the European Union – not only because of Parliamentary arithmetic, but because I believe that is what is best for our country and the interests of all our citizens.

A credible plan to deliver Brexit must be grounded in reality. And the reality is this: there are hard truths.

The first hard truth: no deal is not a credible policy choice available to the next Prime Minister. As the Speaker has made clear, Parliament will block it, as it did in March.

That means the alternative is either a deal to the leave the EU, or a general election, a second referendum and potentially no Brexit at all.

Second hard truth: renegotiating the Political Declaration on the future long term relationship will be easier than re-opening the Withdrawal Agreement, and more important too. We must cast the whole debate forwards from the vehicle of exit to the ambitious future we want to see.

Third: we have to level with people about the trade off between sovereignty and market access.

Given these realities, my Brexit Delivery Plan is the only credible way to leave the EU by 31 October.

If I win the contest, I will treat my election as a mandate for the Conservative Party to vote for a deal to leave the EU.

I will then immediately enshrine EU citizens’ rights in UK law. Our European residents have faced uncertainty for far too long.

As the basis of our future relationship, I will propose a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. In addition, I strongly believe that we should secure a deep security partnership with the EU too. I will offer to make this a central pillar of our long term future alliance.

Crucially, we need an answer to the Irish border question to make Brexit work for the long term.

To establish the administrative, political and technological solutions to the challenge of how to make an independent UK trade policy compatible with avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, I will set up an Irish Border Council. The Council will involve the UK, the EU, the Irish Government and all the parties in Northern Ireland.

We must win the consent of the North-South border communities to make Brexit work.

And finally, as part of this package, we will seek a time limit on the backstop to ensure there is an endpoint to the whole process.

This plan is deliverable. My conversations with EU colleagues before and since I published it at the weekend give me confidence it can be negotiated, and I believe it will command a majority in the House of Commons so we can leave the EU by 31 October.

My approach to Brexit is principled, based on the values that we hold dear – peace, security, prosperity – clear about what we want to achieve, and based in reality.

But there is so much more to UK foreign policy than Brexit.

And for wider, long term foreign policy, my approach is the same.

I reject any choice between pragmatism and values.

We do good in the world when we understand it, and hold in our minds both the world as it is and as we want it to be.

Deal with the world only as it is, and we fail both to achieve clear goals or to uphold our values.

Deal with the world only as we would like it to be, and we may bask in the warm glow of appearing to stay true to our values, but in truth we betray them, by opting for magical thinking over the hard choices and trade-offs that reality requires.

The West’s foreign policy of recent years has all too many examples of this magical thinking.

In Syria, for example, where we wanted the forces of democratic opposition to succeed, we failed to follow through with promised support, and were repeatedly disappointed when they didn’t live up to our hopes. The West’s retreat over Syria has contributed to an advance by our adversaries they have sought for decades.

Or Libya, where we did a better job of getting rid of an evil dictator, we didn’t face the realities of the commitment needed to replace him with the stable, democratic regime that we had hoped would follow.

So we need to be clear as we face each foreign policy dilemma, and ask ourselves honestly and truthfully:

  • what are we trying to achieve?
  • is it the job of a year or twenty years?
  • do we have the means, the allies, the international coalition, the legal basis, the influence to succeed?
  • do we know not just how we are going to start, but how we are going to finish?
  • can we explain what we are trying to do convincingly to Parliament and the public?

I want to see Britain engaged in the world, forceful in defence of British interests, ambitious in promoting our democratic values, on the basis of the best foreign policy analysis, grounded in reality, and backed by the commitment and resources to see the job through.

Think of the assets we already have as a nation:

The fundamental strength of our economy, the fifth largest in the world;

The protection and assurance provided by our Armed Forces, diplomats and intelligence agencies, who are second to none;

The security we derive from our membership of the world’s most powerful military alliance, NATO, and our Five Eyes intelligence partnership with our closest allies;

Our influence as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council;

Our international development programmes, one of the largest of any country in the world bar the United States;

And the attractive power of our language, law, culture and history.

So we have every reason for confidence and optimism about our country’s place in the world.

A government I lead would pursue a foreign policy guided by five core principles:

First, we need a foreign policy that benefits all of our country, supporting jobs, investment and security in all parts of the United Kingdom.

We have a responsibility to preserve and defend the Union through which, together, our country is greater than the sum of its parts.

Building a new consensus about Britain’s place in the world should be a major focus of the next British government, starting with Brexit but going far beyond it.

In particular, as we leave the EU, our role within NATO becomes more important.

So second, the government that I lead would work to strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance and the transatlantic relationship, and our ability to think and act together on the major strategic questions of the 21st century.

NATO is an essential part of our response to the challenges posed by threats in cyberspace, international terrorism, and insecurity in Europe’s near neighbourhood and beyond.

None of our adversaries or competitors can draw on the kind of values-based alliance that we have in NATO.

And nothing would hearten them more than any weakening of the security of Europe or the Transatlantic Alliance.

Britain can exert influence in Europe and in America, and when Britain is strong both sides of the Atlantic look to us to build the common ground.

A key opportunity to do just that will come in December, when the UK will host the next NATO summit. As Prime Minister, I would focus on bringing together the United States and Europe to reinforce our alliance.

A government I lead would have no hesitation in expressing a distinctive viewpoint, and working with the US and our European allies to find agreement and grounds for a common approach to urgent issues. But we must remember that as allies we share far more in common than anything that may at times appear to divide us.

My third principle is that Britain should lead the West’s response to China’s strategy to win the fourth industrial revolution.

The second half of the 20th Century was dominated by an arms race. The first half of the 21st Century is already being dominated by the technology race.

China has a clear and determined strategy.

The West does not. And we need one fast.

The most effective response to long-term planning by our competitors or adversaries is to forge a long-term strategy of our own.

And when it comes to technology, communications is the defence industry.

In traditional defence industries, British companies are global leaders.

We need a communications British champion and the government should create the market conditions for one to develop.

This insight has very practical consequences.

We need our communications systems to be secure, and we have worked with Huawei to ensure that in the current, 4G, technology, they are.

Yet questions are being raised about Chinese equipment on the next generation of technology.

Simplistic answers abound that underplay – or ignore – the full extent Huawei are already embedded within current technology.

But we know that Huawei technology is not the best, and we would like more assurance over our systems.

But, we can’t just ban without a replacement. And we shouldn’t shirk from having that replacement – preferably British.

The question of whether we should have Chinese equipment on our 5G networks is asking the question the wrong way round. The question should be: why don’t we have a home-grown solution?

To put it another way, we should beat Huawei with a British champion of our own. A champion that can become a global leader.

As Digital Secretary I oversaw the decision to keep the Chinese state-owned communications provider ZTE off our systems.

And I know this: a British communications infrastructure champion would increase our economic potential, give important security assurances, and increase our soft power.

The same is true by the way of our response to China’s Belt and Road initiative. We should not complain about it, we should match it from the West with our own global strategic investment strategy. Let us finance the roads and the ports and the networks of the rapidly developing world.

This focus on communications also leads directly to cyber defence.

It’s not just that our adversaries are attacking us in cyberspace. Here we must be ready, and we are better placed than most nations, thanks to our National Cyber Security Centre which I set up as Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Those with a different view of the world are doing their best to bend the very rules of the internet towards state control and censorship.

The Russians, Iranians and North Koreans are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in our networks, whether to spy on us, steal our IP or position themselves so they can mount a cyber attack in the future.

The Chinese and Russians are building international support for a different vision of the internet, not global, and not free.

They want an internet in which states are sovereign. We have seen the implications for freedom just this week, with a crack down on messages around the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

And if we are not careful, we will wake up in a few years time and find they have succeeded, by winning the debates in international organisations like the UN and WTO, setting the technical standards, and building an international coalition behind them.

I believe we should defend freedom online as robustly as we stand up for it in the real world.

We must make sure that the freedom that is such an essential part of the internet, and an essential of ours, is preserved.

This does not mean unfettered freedom, just as Britain having free speech doesn’t mean you can incite violence or stir up racial hatred.

Democracies like ours need to have the confidence to set rules for freedom online just as we have offline.

We need the confidence as a free society to move the basis of the internet from libertarian to liberal.

Britain can lead this globally. And as Prime Minister, I would make sure that we do.

That leads me to my fourth principle. A government I lead would invest in Britain’s diplomatic influence and capability.

Our country’s ironclad commitment to spending 2% of GDP on defence is an essential part of our commitment to NATO, and as our economy grows we should have an ambition to increase it.

I also support and will uphold the longstanding principle of spending 0.7% of GDP on international development.

Entirely missing from this equation has been the question of the resources needed to give maximum strength to the diplomacy and trade policy of the United Kingdom.

Foreign policy exists to address conflict and insecurity at its root to reduce the need for either military intervention or open-ended humanitarian assistance.

The value of our Embassies, Residences, and High Commissions overseas cannot be measured on the Treasury spreadsheet. The same is true is of the resources of our soft power: our culture, our heritage, or indeed the BBC, with its unparalleled ability to project British values and objective fact worldwide.

All these must be woven in and inextricably linked to our values based, yet hard-headed assessment of foreign policy.

So we need the strongest possible diplomatic firepower alongside our military and intelligence capabilities, and a government I lead would urgently assess this as a matter of national urgency.

Some have suggested a new target, that security and defence spending together should reach 3% of GDP, and we should examine this idea seriously.

Because the future lies not in siloed services but in a full spectrum, first tier, day one capability: special forces, cyber, intelligence, working alongside the potential to project conventional hard power, combined with softer persuasive power, harnessed by a foreign policy steeped in the statecraft of diplomacy.

This investment in diplomacy includes strengthening our ties with our longstanding partners, such as Japan, and continuing to build our links with the emerging democratic powers of the 21st century like India.

After all, over the coming decade we will see an even greater contest of ideas between the western liberal democratic model and the authoritarian model of governance represented by the rise of China.

An estimated two-thirds of people living under democratic systems today are in non-western and developing countries.

Deepening our existing political and economic links with our fellow democracies outside NATO is a great strategic prize for which we should be aiming. Liberal democracy is a precious thing: those of us who are lucky to have live in freedom should come together to defend freedom.

We have to retain faith in our democracy and the rule of law, and not allow either to be eroded from within by the forces of narrow nationalism.

Of course, while we must do all we can to promote liberal democracy, we need to know that progress can often take time and calls for the strategic patience to see our commitments through, from the Western Balkans to Afghanistan.

Requiring results in time for the news cycle, or even the Parliamentary cycle, can often guarantee that the enterprise fails. Developing sustainable democracy is never just about making sure there is an election.  Security peace and overcoming the legacy of conflict is the work of decades. We need to show sustained commitment.

Had we simply walked about from Germany in the 1950s, only a few years after the end of the war, it would not be the prosperous, stable democracy it is today.

The fifth principle that would guide my foreign policy is that we must reject the false choice between our interests and our values, and maintain human rights and the protection of liberal democracy as part of the essential DNA of our foreign policy.

Our starting point is always our national interest. But our interests should not come at the expense of our values, whether in the area of trade, countering terrorism, addressing illegal migration or building alliances to tackle global warming.

If in order to deliver Brexit we were to change who we are as a country we would have failed.

Although we are leaving one union, we must double down on our membership of and commitment to other rules-based global institutions.

It’s in our interest to uphold a rule-based global order in trade, warfare as much as human rights. As Prime Minister, whether it’s the UN or the WTO, I would look to strengthen the fabric of institutions that make up this order.

A government I lead would also take a hard look at all our bilateral relationships to make sure that the balance is right on crucial decisions affecting human rights.

And at a time when we see concerted efforts to roll-back gains made in women’s rights and LGBTQ rights internationally, any British government must rally like-minded nations to protect and preserve the advances that have been made and go further.

And as Health Secretary, I have seen the critical importance of universal access to healthcare as part of the advancement of women’s rights, and this would be something I would continue to determinedly champion as Prime Minister.

We also know that younger people in our country see climate change and the protection of our environment as the central global challenge that they expect world leaders to solve.

They believe – and I believe – that we must build a world for future generations, not just for our short term needs.

That means concerted action to reduce our carbon emissions by bringing the United States back into the Paris Agreement, getting China and India to reduce not just air pollution, but their greenhouse gas emissions too.

Promoting our trade should sit alongside from urging all countries to do more to rid our air of pollution and our oceans of plastic.

Foreign policy is not a hobby for diplomats or a pastime for prime ministers. It is the strategy we pursue to achieve the very best for each of our citizens and for our country as a whole.

We need a foreign policy that focuses on security and opportunity for the whole of the United Kingdom and of which our whole country can be proud:

A foreign policy that delivers Brexit but is not consumed by it;

That secures new trade and jobs opportunities for Britain but not at the expense of human rights and democracy and the values that matter to our people;

That deepens the transatlantic alliance but also builds the new deep partnerships we need for our economy and our security;

We should be a country that doesn’t question whether we punch above our weight but simply pulls our weight, as we have always done, on international peace and security and the good of our own people.

Speaking before the Second World War and anticipating the inferno to come, Winston Churchill said of our country that:

“in all the great struggles in which we have been engaged we have survived and emerged victorious not only because of the prowess of great commanders or because of famous battles gained by land and sea, but also because the true interests of Britain have coincided with those of so many other States and nations, and that we have been able to march in a great company along the high road of progress and freedom for all”.

Seventy-five years since D-Day, we can see how far our country has come along that high road.

Let us have confidence in our values, in support of our interests, and let us travel that high road once more.

Thank you very much.

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Tom Wilson: How this Islamophobia definition would weaken the Government’s counter-terror strategy

Tom Wilson is a Senior Research Fellow in the Security and Extremism Unit at Policy Exchange.

Later this week, Parliament will hold a debate on Islamophobia and, specifically, on the APPG on British Muslims’ proposal for a formal definition of the term. While many may feel there are bigger questions on the national agenda, what is decided now will have significant ramifications for long to come. A definition of Islamophobia is being proposed that, if adopted, could tie government’s hands on a number of vital areas of future legislation—not least on counter-terrorism. The concern here is whether once accepted this definition might impact media freedom, and freedom of expression more widely still.

There is common agreement that where it occurs, prejudice and discrimination against minorities should be combatted in all its manifestations. If that were all that the term Islamophobia was concerned with—as many well intentioned people seem to believe—then there could be little objection to the term. Unfortunately, Islamophobia is a word that comes with a deeply problematic history. As our new report published for Policy Exchange explains, this is a term that was always intended to go far beyond simply protecting individuals from persecution.

The definition proposed by the APPG states that “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. If formally adopted by government, there is critical question of whether such a vague and expansive definition would undermine both existing and future legislation—particularly in the area of security and counter-extremism.

Conceivably, we could expect to see this definition used to challenge legislation in the courts and quite possibly there would be a further impact at the level of Judicial Review of how existing powers are used and implemented. As Richard Walton—the former head of Counter Terrorism Command at the Met—pointed out on ConservativeHome recently, under the terms of the Islamophobia definition, measures in the Human Rights Act 1998 regarding discrimination could well be used against the police in their efforts to pursue and prosecute terrorists.

Furthermore, there is the fear that definition might cause particular difficulties for local authorities, several of which have precipitously moved to adopt the APPG’s definition independent of national government. Opponents of the counter radicalisation Prevent programme have previously argued that local authorities face a conflict in being able to uphold both their Equalities duty and their obligations under Prevent. Notably, in the Runnymede Trust’s 2017 report on Islamophobia, the argument was made that Prevent effectively conflicts with the public sector equality duty on account of being discriminatory against Muslims. This claim is dubious. Yet the risk is that by endorsing the Islamophobia definition, we might see campaigners challenge local government on its implementation of Prevent by arguing that councils are conflict with their own Islamophobia definition.

Many of those minded to offer their backing for the definition without necessarily being aware of the ramifications for important areas of policy, do so out of a well-intentioned desire to show support for people who have been the victim of prejudice. But one of the great flaws in the definition concerns the groups that it leaves out.

Several prominent Muslim figures have been critical of the failure of the APPG to address intra-Muslim hatred. Commenting on our new study, Baroness Falkner noted that the APPG’s own Islamophobia report, “was as silent on the impact of Islamism as it was on the very real discrimination that Muslim minorities and secular Muslims face from within their own faith. The APPG’s definition does nothing to address this form of prejudice.” The targeting of minorities within Islam by extremists should be of considerable concern in the UK, and particularly in Scotland where Asad Shah—a member of the Ahmadiyya community—was murdered in Glasgow in 2016. Given that it is reported that the political parties there have now adopted the APPG’s definition, they must ask whether that definition is adequate given its neglect of intra-Muslim hatred.

Baroness Falkner spoke out about her own first hand experience of this form of prejudice during a Lords debate on Islamophobia in December. During that same debate, Lord Singh also noted the experience of other minorities when observing the particular attention that Islamophobia receives in public debates. As he explained, other minority groups look at this long running focus on Islamophobia and feel as if they are falling off of the government’s radar on account of lacking “a culture of complaint”.

This is something those considering adopting the definition of Islamophobia have to take into account. It has been reported that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and London City Hall have all adopted the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia. There were similar reports that the Scottish Conservatives may have accepted the definition, although the details here remain unclear.

What is notable is that so far the Conservative Government has resisted doing so. This after all is a maximalist definition, and as our report documents, highly problematic groups and individuals – of the type kept at arms length by the last Labour government as well as its Conservative successors – have played a prominent role in campaigning for an Islamophobia definition. Several appear to have fed into the definition now being proposed. A more reasonable definition—or perhaps simply a national strategy on combatting anti-Muslim hatred—might easily have won near universal backing. Instead, this definition has become a matter of contention and may yet be rejected altogether.

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Iain Dale: Something has changed this week. Since May announced talks with Corbyn. I can smell it.

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

Listening to Today earlier this week, I thought I must be living in a parallel universe.

First up was Ken Clarke, blithely wittering on about the Customs Unions without seemingly understanding how it works. Perhaps, as he admitted with the Maastricht Treaty, he hasn’t actually probed the damned thing. When Nick Robinson explained that if we were outside the EU, but inside the Customs Union, Lithuania would have more influence over UK trade policy than we would, he brushed it away saying that our views “would be taken into account”. Well that’s alright then.

This is what I do not understand. Why is it that politicians of all parties are willing to cede this sort of control to a body which they would have no influence over? Not just that – but, in theory, the EU could do trade deals which were inimical to British interests, and there is nothing we could do about it.

It’s all very well for Geoffrey Cox to go on TV, and witter on about how it wouldn’t be all that bad, and people should really get a sense of perspective. He was then followed by putative leadership contender, Matt Hancock, who made it clear that he, too, doesn’t see membership of the Customs Union as a real problem. He wasn’t exactly categoric in ruling out a second referendum, either. His bid to succeed Theresa May has already got stuck in the EU quicksand.

– – – – – – – – – –

On Tuesday, there were two Cabinet meetings, which lasted more than seven hours between them. And the great conclusion these massive brains came up with? To hold cross party talks with Jeremy Corbyn.

From what we now know, less than half the cabinet supported the idea, with Gavin Williamson telling the Prime Minister the idea was “ridiculous”. At least one of them had the bollocks to say it. The rest of them did their usual supine thing and sat on their hands.

It’s as clear as night follows day that if these talks amount to anything, membership of the Customs Union will be the result. The other consequence is that the Prime Minister has pushed some MPs who support her on last week’s third “meaningful vote” back in the other direction. Way to go.

Maybe it doesn’t matter so much to her if she can win by securing Labour votes. For a woman whose primary loyalty was supposed to be to the Conservative Party, it is a shameful road to go down. It is already riven by split after split, but this move opened up a chasm. She will never recover from it, and doesn’t deserve to.

– – – – – – – – – –

Why are the likes of Liam Fox, Chris Grayling, Penny Mordaunt and several others still in the Cabinet? You wonder what would have to happen for them to resign? They can argue until they are blue in the face that they have more influence inside than out. Really? Difficult to spot how that has manifested itself, isn’t it?

If they and at least six others don’t resign en bloc if there is a move by the Prime Minister actually to support membership of the Customs Union, they will become little more than clapping seals. Each of the possible leadership contenders in the Cabinet has masochistically damaged their chances by tacitly going along with the May’s talks with Corbyn.

Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and David Davis have clean hands, while Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, Andrea Leadsom and the rest have dipped their hands in blood. As Williamson argued, how on earth can Tories now stick to their policy of painting Corbyn as some sort of dangerous Marxist who is not fit to govern, when the Prime Minister has now effectively invited him to join the government?

– – – – – – – – – –

A day of reckoning will come for the Conservative Party. We can be sure of that. Something has changed in the last week. I can sense it.

People’s patience has run out. The trickle of people who phone my radio show to say they’ve torn up their party membership cards has become a torrent. Tales from the doorstep demonstrate there are large numbers of people who say they’ll never vote Tory again are legion.

Theresa May could be trying to ensure that the same happens to Labour by holding these talks with Corbyn, but as she has never said: “something has changed”. And not for the better.

– – – – – – – – – –

I was very sad to see Nick Boles cross the floor of the Commons on Tuesday. He’s been a friend ever since he invited me to join the board of Policy Exchange at its inception. A man of ideas and very good company, he’s clearly reached the end of his tether both with his local party and with the Prime Minister.

On Wednesday night he went full tonto on Twitter, and laid into Robbie Gibb, the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications. Now that’s a job no one would want at the moment, isn’t it?

Boles accused him of being committed first to a hard Brexit rather than to May. That’s quite an accusation to make. In the days when Gibb used to speak to me, I have to say he was never anything other than professional, and very protective of the Prime Minister’s interests.

Perhaps, given my regular criticism of May over the last few months, he regards me as someone beyond redemption. But if Boles’s accusations were true, you’d have thought that Gibb would have been encouraging me in my criticism of the ever-softer Brexit policy that the Government has pursued. But he hasn’t. It’s a funny old world.

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