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What proportion of Tory members will vote for the Brexit Party?

Yesterday’s launch of the Brexit Party has inevitably left many observers wondering if Nigel Farage can repeat the breakthrough he managed with UKIP.

That requires us to look at a bit of recent history.

What actually happened in the heyday of the ‘People’s Army’ is more complex than the popular shorthand. Yes, there were fully fledged recruits to the UKIP cause – including ex-Tories, former Labour voters, and not inconsiderable numbers of people who were previously non-voters – but that was only part of the picture.

In practice, a lot of people split their votes between parties at different types of election. This has always happened, and is particularly visible in some areas when different types of election happen on the same day.

UKIP and the European elections were uniquely well-suited to delivering such vote-splitting. They had other messages and policies, of varying quality, but leaving the EU was obviously their most famous, and most fundamental. The European elections offered the perfect chance to give Brussels and the other parties a blunt rebuke – crucially as a free hit, without it affecting your council tax or the composition of the Government.

So that’s what people did: when UKIP won the 2014 European elections, their vote share in the local election on the same day was almost ten percentage points lower.

Plenty of otherwise lifelong Conservative voters backed UKIP at European elections. So, for that matter, did quite a lot of Conservative Party members. (That was one reason why David Cameron’s ”fruitcakes” attack went down so badly – plenty in his party had ex-Tory who were now in UKIP, and/or had voted UKIP themselves at the Euros.) I wouldn’t be surprised if some Conservative MPs had strayed into the purple column at a European election in the privacy of the voting booth.

So Farage and his colleagues won’t only be out to find fully-signed-up recruits to the Brexit Party; they know from experience that they must try to mine a vein of vote-splitters, too.

I gather several Conservative associations have been surveying their members lately to gauge the level of dissatisfaction with the Brexit postponement. I’ve seen one set of findings, from a safe Conservative seat in the Home Counties, which do not make pretty reading for the Party leadership.

Asked how they intend to vote at the European election, fewer than a quarter answered Conservative. Almost half opted for the Brexit Party, making it the single most popular option among that group of Conservative Party members. A rump replied UKIP, but I suspect that just as in national polls that represents a lingering sympathy with Farage-era UKIP, which the man himself hopes to cannibalise by publicising his new organisation.

It’s just one association, and it’s therefore a small sample, but if it’s anywhere even slightly near representative then it underscores the severe problem facing the Conservatives even as this campaign begins. And the scale of the opportunity for Farage and co.

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

Polls, Brexit postponed – and the slump of the Conservative vote

The most recent opinion poll results that we can find are as follows:

BMG research – April 11

Conservatives: 27 per cent (- 8).

Labour: 31 per cent (no change).

Liberal Democrats: 8 per cent (- 2).

UKIP: 7 per cent (+ 1).

Change UK: 8 per cent (+ 3).

Brexit Party: 6 per cent.

Other: 10 per cent (- 1).

Hanbury Strategy – April 10. For European Parliamentary elections.

Conservatives: 23 per cent

Labour: 38 per cent.

Liberal Democrats: 8 per cent.

UKIP: 8 per cent.

Change UK: 4 per cent.

Brexit Party: 10 per cent.

Green Party: 4  per cent.

SNP: 4 per cent.

Deltapoll – March 31

Conservatives: 36 per cent.

Labour: 41 per cent.

Liberal Democrats: 7 per cent.

UKIP: 7 per cent.

Green Party: 3 per cent.

SNP: 3 per cent.

Plaid Cymru: 1 per cent.

Other: 3 per cent

Now these results don’t compare like with like.  In the last case, we’ve been unable to find results showing changing share.  In the middle one, the polling refers to European Parliamentary elections.  And there are bound to be other national polls that we’ve missed.

None the less, we have three results with the Conservative share at under 40 per cent.

The period immediately before the earliest one saw the run-up to the last “meaningful vote”, including a round of indicative votes (on March 27) and Theresa May’s original letter requesting extension (March 20).

Evidently, a significant slice of the Tory vote is being taken by UKIP/the Brexit Party, and a smaller share perhaps by Change UK.

We seem to be heading back towards where British politics was between 2005 and 2015: in other words, towards more of a three or four or perhaps more party system, with its effects perhaps constrained by first past the post in Parliamentary elections.

Two factors related to Brexit are central.

The first is reaction against it, of which Change UK is a beneficiary, and the other is for it, and against the failure to deliver it.  The future prospects of UKIP and the new parties will be constrained by how many candidates they can find for elections.

That will be less of a factor in a European Parliamentary poll, if one at all, though it will count a bit in the local elections next month.

Since the October extension is neither long nor short, it is most likely to offer the status quo – namely, a drift towards control by the legislature of the Commons timetable, if May’s deal isn’t passed (and whether or not she is forced out).

A new Tory leader would doubtless come with a new Brexit plan, but wouldn’t have the numbers in the Commons for change.

He or she would thus be pushed towards an autumn election, while pro-second referendum MPs agitated in Parliament for another vote.  The timetable is very tight for either.  We face Brexit stasis.

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

Iain Dale: Why I believe that the October deadline leaves no time for a second referendum

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

The word ‘deadline’ is being devalued. First it was 29 March. Then April 12. Then May 22. Now, it’s Halloween.

And who’s to say that deadline won’t be kicked down the road again. Just make it stop, say some people. This week, Peter Oborne jumped from the Brexit boat, landing on the ship of Remain. It’s not the first time he has flip-flopped, but he did it with some style, writing a 4,000 word essay on a website that few have ever heard of.

My LBC colleague Nick Ferrari was the next to be ground down, announcing on Wednesday: “Honestly, there’s so much else going on in this country that we’re not addressing, not least the people who are being stabbed and shot, and the schools that are under-performing, and the hospitals that aren’t working, and the NHS that’s creaking at the seams… I give up! Enough! Right. I’ve reached the bloody point. I cannot go on and on about Emmanual Macron any longer. Just bloody stay and we’ll move on to other things.”

It’s an understandable sentiment, but wrong. If you believe in something, you see it through, rather than crack out of boredom or frustration. None of us could have envisaged the shambolic way the Brexit process has been handled, but that’s no reason to give up on it.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

The extension of Article 50 is neither fish or foul. It gives everyone a bit of a breathing space but, despite claims to the contrary, I don’t see it giving enough time for campaigners to fulfil their dream of a second referendum. Sky’s Lewis Goodall was terribly excited about the prospect on Twitter on Wednesday night, and was trumpeting a conversation he had had with the head of the Electoral Commission, in which he had said that a poll would be possible to achieve within six months.

This ignores the fact that there is no majority for a second referendum in the Commons, so the passage of any legislation – even if the Government promoted it – would be tortuous to say the very least. Sir Bill Cash’s lips are probably already being licked.

In addition, the Electoral Commission has a statutory 14 week period to consider the question – and that would be hugely controversial, so I don’t see that period being cut short, and if it were, as I understand it, that would also need legislation.

And then there would be the campaign, which would surely have to be a minimum of two months. Given that we also have the August summer holidays to consider, I just don’t see how a referendum could be held before 31 October.

– – – – – – – – – –

On Tuesday I interviewed the leader of The Independent Group of MPs, Heidi Allen. Right at the end of the interview I asked her why they hadn’t been able to build on their number of 11 MPs since February. She said that they didn’t want to precipitate a general election, but were talking to a number of MPs on both sides of the House with the expectation that there would be further recruits soon.

Much to my astonishment she went on to name seven Tory MPs the TIGs are talking to – Justine Greening, Antoinette Sandbach, Sam Gyimah, Alberto Costa, Phillip Lee, Huw Merriman and Guto Bebb. I’m sure that information was lapped up by Julian Smith.

– – – – – – – – – –

It is a disgrace that we are having to spend public money on fighting the European Elections. This breaches yet another of the Prime Minister’s so-called red lines.  You’d have to be insane to be a Conservative candidate in these elections, but no doubt there will be enough people willing to put their heads on the block to fill the 70 places.

They will probably serve as an ersatz second referendum. It’s highly likely that Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party and UKIP will, between, them, achieve more votes than any other party. Whether Farage can sideline UKIP totally, I somewhat doubt. He will paint them – correctly – as the new BNP, but I suspect that won’t be enough to suppress their vote below ten per cent.

The Independent Group, which will fight the elections under the Change UK banner, are unlikely to make a massive breakthrough and will be fighting the Liberal Democrats for the Remain vote. If they get 20 per cent between them, I’d be astonished.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Conservatives score under 15 per cent. Judging from the current polling Labour will top the vote, although Nigel Farage’s aim will be eat into it. If both Labour and the Tories do badly on May 2 in the local elections, that could provide him with the springboard to do just that.

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

David Shiels: European Parliamentary elections would pose problems for the main parties. But especially for the Conservatives.

Dr David Shiels is a Policy Analyst at Open Europe and also works on contemporary political history.

The prospect of participating in European Parliamentary elections was never going to be an attractive one for the Conservative Party. Having repeatedly promised that the UK would leave the EU by March 29, the Prime Minister herself has said that participating in such elections would be suboptimal. Wherever the blame lies for the Brexit delay, it will be hard for the party to campaign for votes in an election they said should not happen. Leaving Brexit aside, voters have traditionally used the European elections as an opportunity to punish the incumbent Government. In 2014, the Tories came third and, though UKIP is no longer the force it was then, there are new challenger parties which might tempt voters this time around.

A new poll opinion for Open Europe conducted by Hanbury Strategy suggests the Conservative Party has reason to be wary about participating in the European Parliament (EP) elections. Of those questioned, 23 per cent said they would vote Conservative compared with 37.8 per cent for Labour and 8.1 per cent for the Liberal Democrats. UKIP and the Greens polled 7.5 per cent and four per cent respectively. The SNP were on 4.1 per cent. As for the two newcomer parties, the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage polled 10.3 per cent and Change UK / The Independent Group polled 4.1 per cent. The polling only gives vote share for Great Britain. (The elections in Northern Ireland will be significant given the prominence the border has assumed in the Brexit debates).

These figures come with some health warnings. It is not yet certain that the UK will participate in the European Parliamentary elections, so voters may not yet be focussing on the question. Both main parties could lose out in an election campaign, but Labour could have something to gain. There could be a tactical advantage for Labour in prolonging the cross-party talks and putting the Tories through the ordeal of more elections.

There are, however, several other points worth drawing out from Open Europe’s polling which are important from the Conservative Party’s point of view. First of all, Tory voters seem to be less loyal to the party when it comes to the European elections. This is perhaps not surprising, given that one Conservative MP hinted that she would not be campaigning for the party in the elections if they took place. Of those who say they would vote Conservative at a general election, only 76.5 per cent said they would vote for the party in the European elections. This compares to 91.5 per cent of Labour voters in a general election who say they would also vote for the party in the European Parliamentary elections. Labour also seemed to be more strongly supported by Remain voters than the Conservatives were by Leave voters, since 30 per cent of Leavers questioned said they would back the Conservatives in the European elections, while 47.7 per cent of Remainers said they would back Labour.

However, when the question was put slightly differently, 23 per cent of Conservative voters in a general election said they would be “very likely” to vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party at the EP elections, compared to 14.7 per cent of Labour voters who said they would be “very likely” to support Change UK / The Independent Group, which has taken a strongly pro-Remain position.

Another important point to note is that Labour has a strong lead over the Conservatives in all age groups apart from those over 55. Indeed, the voting intention for the European elections show that the Conservatives are only marginally ahead of Labour in the 55-64 age category (24.1 per cent compared to 23.3 per cent) and it is only in the 65+ category that the party is significantly ahead (33.6 per cent compared to 19.7 per cent). It is also in these age categories that support for the Brexit Party is strongest, though Change UK and UKIP have more varied levels of support. These findings are consistent with the trend found by Onward’s recent report into generational voting patterns, which suggests that the divide between older and younger voters is greater than ever.

The big factor in any European Parliament election is turnout, which has been traditionally much lower in the UK than for General Elections. Here again the Conservatives may be at a slight disadvantage, since Remain voters seem more motivated to vote in the European elections: 37.8 per cent of Leave voters said they were 10/10 likely to vote, compared to 46.9 per cent of Remain voters. Older voters showed stronger views on the turnout question, with the highest percentage saying they were most likely to vote and also the highest percentage of those least likely to vote.

Overall, the picture for the Conservative Party looks worse in the European elections than it does for the general election. If they go ahead, these elections will offer voters a chance to register a protest against the incumbent Government and also send a strong signal about Brexit, whichever way they are inclined on the matter. The proportional system with a regional closed list benefits the challenger parties and gives them an opportunity to establish an electoral foothold in British politics.

On the other hand, there could be confusion on both the Remain and Leave side as the new parties compete for attention and send conflicting messages, resulting in greater fragmentation – and the regional list system could produce some quirky results. Change UK has an opportunity to take some of Labour’s Remain support, but may struggle with brand identity, establishing that it is an anti-Brexit party. As for the two main parties, the Conservatives stand at an obvious disadvantage going into the elections, but there are risks for Labour too. Labour has more to lose by having its divisions forced into the open, and clearly risks losing support of Remainers unless it delivers another referendum. The Conservatives’ pro-Brexit credentials will be challenged, while they could also lose support from Remainers. Squeezed on both sides, the party will need to find a message that is about delivering Brexit in a pragmatic and sensible way.

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

The Cabinet must tell May to go

In Theresa May’s perfect world, the Withdrawal Agreement would have been carried through Parliament by Conservative votes.  It has failed to pass the Commons three times.  So she has turned to Jeremy Corbyn.

In her next best place to this ideal world, the Agreement would somehow be supported by the bulk of both the main parties.  Labour would settle for a customs union which isn’t called a customs union but really is a customs union – in addition to the customs union already written into the Withdrawal Agreement, at least as far as any future Unionist government is concened.

Meanwhile, Corbyn would stop pushing for what he can’t have – namely, guarantees that Labour-style future employment and environmental policies will be proofed against a fundamental of our unwritten constitution: that no Parliament can bind its successors.  Instead, the Prime Minister would offer vague assurances.  Meanwhile, Corbyn would block his party’s push for a second referendum.

May would thus be able to wangle a short extension from the EU at this week’s emergency summit – having persuaded Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron that she and Corbyn would shortly combine to drive the Withdrawal Agreement through the Commons.  This would then happen.  A Bill based on the Agreement would pass swiftly.  Plans for British participation in the European Parliamentary elections would be scrapped.  Britain would leave the EU before May 23.

Her Party would then forgive her for preparing for those elections; for whatever losses emerge from the local elections on May 5, and for all the trials, U-turns, humiliations, defeats and tribulations of the Brexit negotiation process.  She would thus have room to execute a swift reshuffle in which her most likely successors would be moved sideways, marooned or sacked.  There would be talk of bringing on a new generation of leadership candidates – to reinvent the Party for the future, along the lines which Onward and others are floating.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister would move on from the Withdrawal Agreement to the Political Declaration.  She would kick off the Brexit talks, Part Two, by reviving parts of her Chequers plan.  She would enjoy a last hurrah at the Conservative Party Conference, before December arrived with its prospect of a confidence ballot.  But by then she would have so befuddled her critics and confounded expectations that the ballot might not take place at all.  She would be able to stay on for just a little longer…

But it takes only a moment’s though to perceive all this as the fantasy that it is.

May will surely not be granted a short extension.  If the EU does not somehow plump for No Deal – which is improbable – she will be given a long one, with terms approved by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.  British participation in the European Parliamentary elections will loom.  Corbyn is unlikely to come to her rescue.  If he does, the logic of her turning her back on her own Party, and approaching Labour instead, will work its way to completion.  Most Labour MPs would vote for the Withdrawal Agreement.  Many Conservative MPs would not.

Whether it passes or fails, the Parliamentary stage would be set for further seizures of power by the Letwin/Cooper axis, aided and abetted by John Bercow.  The natural drift of the Commons would then be towards a second referendum.  There is an outside chance that some form of Norway Plus scheme may revive.  We would be on course for a softer Brexit, or else for No Brexit at all – unless the voters seem ready to put two fingers up to Britain’s pro-EU ascendancy.  In which case, expect talk of revocation to grow louder.

This takes us to the crunch.  Ten Conservative MPs voted in favour of cancelling Brexit at the start of this monthEight backed a second referendumA hundred and eighty-seven opposed an extension in March: that number represented two-thirds of the Parliamentary Party, and included six Cabinet Ministers.  In these circumstances, confronted by revocation or a second referendum or even Norway Plus, the Tory Party could split altogether.  It is not impossible to imagine Corbyn winning a no confidence vote and the election that followed.

There is an alternative, but it is neither pleasant, easy, nor guaranteed to work.  In a nutshell, it is to use any long extension to remove Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party, and hold a leadership contest that would conclude after those wretched European elections.  (Since were that new leader in place for them, he or she would get off to the worst possible start.)

In the event of the Withdrawal Agreement having failed to pass, this new leader would want to begin all over again.  He would propose a policy based on that set out in the Brady amendment – the only Brexit policy option for which the Commons has recently voted – and built on in the Malthouse Agreement by Nicky Morgan, Steve Baker, Damian Green, Simon Hart and others.

Whether the Agreement had passed or not, he would back a lower alignment rather than a higher alignment policy for the second stage of the Brexit talks.  In the event of it not having done so, it would make sense for the backstop to be put in place for a limited period while “alternative arrangements” are thrashed out.  This is more or less what the recent legal elaborations agreed with the EU imply.

If the EU rejected this approach, there would be No Deal.  You will point out that there is no clear majority in the Commons for it.  This is correct.  Which is why this new leader would have to prepare for a general election later this year in any event.

Yes, such an approach risks some Tory MPs peeling off to the Independent Group – though, as we say, an approach based on the Brady amendment makes sense, since the whole Parliamentary Party, pretty much, was able to unite behind it.

But the alternative risks a bigger split, both in the Commons and among the grassroots, in any event.  Expect soon to hear a new form of that old talk about a Conservative-UKIP alliance – this time round, of a Tory-Brexit Party pact.

Furthermore, there is even more at stake than the future of the world’s most venerable political party: namely, whether the referendum verdict of 2016, carried by the largest vote in this county’s political history, is to be upheld or dishonoured.

You will have spotted the fly in this unpalatable ointment.  Namely, that the Prime Minister is unwilling to go.  The 1922 Committee Executive has presented her with the obligatory glass of whisky and pistol.  She has refused to pick them up.

Furthermore, there is no formal means of expressing no confidence in her leadership until December.  The habit of suggesting indicative votes in catching on.  But the 1992 executive is doubtful that these could produce a resolution.

That leaves the Cabinet.  Its members are divided on policy, dogged by personal ambition, and daunted by the scale of the challenge before them.

To ask this dispirited band to come together, tell the Prime Minister to step down as Party leader, and stay in Downing Street until the ensuing leadership election is concluded – particularly when the options are so grisly – is a very big ask indeed.

But the driver of the car is taking it towards the edge of the cliff.  True, it may crash if the Cabinet attempts to wrest control from her.  But if they don’t, it is set to career into the void, in any event.

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

The Cabinet must tell May to go

In Theresa May’s perfect world, the Withdrawal Agreement would have been carried through Parliament by Conservative votes.  It has failed to pass the Commons three times.  So she has turned to Jeremy Corbyn.

In her next best place to this ideal world, the Agreement would somehow be supported by the bulk of both the main parties.  Labour would settle for a customs union which isn’t called a customs union but really is a customs union – in addition to the customs union already written into the Withdrawal Agreement, at least as far as any future Unionist government is concened.

Meanwhile, Corbyn would stop pushing for what he can’t have – namely, guarantees that Labour-style future employment and environmental policies will be proofed against a fundamental of our unwritten constitution: that no Parliament can bind its successors.  Instead, the Prime Minister would offer vague assurances.  Meanwhile, Corbyn would block his party’s push for a second referendum.

May would thus be able to wangle a short extension from the EU at this week’s emergency summit – having persuaded Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron that she and Corbyn would shortly combine to drive the Withdrawal Agreement through the Commons.  This would then happen.  A Bill based on the Agreement would pass swiftly.  Plans for British participation in the European Parliamentary elections would be scrapped.  Britain would leave the EU before May 23.

Her Party would then forgive her for preparing for those elections; for whatever losses emerge from the local elections on May 5, and for all the trials, U-turns, humiliations, defeats and tribulations of the Brexit negotiation process.  She would thus have room to execute a swift reshuffle in which her most likely successors would be moved sideways, marooned or sacked.  There would be talk of bringing on a new generation of leadership candidates – to reinvent the Party for the future, along the lines which Onward and others are floating.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister would move on from the Withdrawal Agreement to the Political Declaration.  She would kick off the Brexit talks, Part Two, by reviving parts of her Chequers plan.  She would enjoy a last hurrah at the Conservative Party Conference, before December arrived with its prospect of a confidence ballot.  But by then she would have so befuddled her critics and confounded expectations that the ballot might not take place at all.  She would be able to stay on for just a little longer…

But it takes only a moment’s though to perceive all this as the fantasy that it is.

May will surely not be granted a short extension.  If the EU does not somehow plump for No Deal – which is improbable – she will be given a long one, with terms approved by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.  British participation in the European Parliamentary elections will loom.  Corbyn is unlikely to come to her rescue.  If he does, the logic of her turning her back on her own Party, and approaching Labour instead, will work its way to completion.  Most Labour MPs would vote for the Withdrawal Agreement.  Many Conservative MPs would not.

Whether it passes or fails, the Parliamentary stage would be set for further seizures of power by the Letwin/Cooper axis, aided and abetted by John Bercow.  The natural drift of the Commons would then be towards a second referendum.  There is an outside chance that some form of Norway Plus scheme may revive.  We would be on course for a softer Brexit, or else for No Brexit at all – unless the voters seem ready to put two fingers up to Britain’s pro-EU ascendancy.  In which case, expect talk of revocation to grow louder.

This takes us to the crunch.  Ten Conservative MPs voted in favour of cancelling Brexit at the start of this monthEight backed a second referendumA hundred and eighty-seven opposed an extension in March: that number represented two-thirds of the Parliamentary Party, and included six Cabinet Ministers.  In these circumstances, confronted by revocation or a second referendum or even Norway Plus, the Tory Party could split altogether.  It is not impossible to imagine Corbyn winning a no confidence vote and the election that followed.

There is an alternative, but it is neither pleasant, easy, nor guaranteed to work.  In a nutshell, it is to use any long extension to remove Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party, and hold a leadership contest that would conclude after those wretched European elections.  (Since were that new leader in place for them, he or she would get off to the worst possible start.)

In the event of the Withdrawal Agreement having failed to pass, this new leader would want to begin all over again.  He would propose a policy based on that set out in the Brady amendment – the only Brexit policy option for which the Commons has recently voted – and built on in the Malthouse Agreement by Nicky Morgan, Steve Baker, Damian Green, Simon Hart and others.

Whether the Agreement had passed or not, he would back a lower alignment rather than a higher alignment policy for the second stage of the Brexit talks.  In the event of it not having done so, it would make sense for the backstop to be put in place for a limited period while “alternative arrangements” are thrashed out.  This is more or less what the recent legal elaborations agreed with the EU imply.

If the EU rejected this approach, there would be No Deal.  You will point out that there is no clear majority in the Commons for it.  This is correct.  Which is why this new leader would have to prepare for a general election later this year in any event.

Yes, such an approach risks some Tory MPs peeling off to the Independent Group – though, as we say, an approach based on the Brady amendment makes sense, since the whole Parliamentary Party, pretty much, was able to unite behind it.

But the alternative risks a bigger split, both in the Commons and among the grassroots, in any event.  Expect soon to hear a new form of that old talk about a Conservative-UKIP alliance – this time round, of a Tory-Brexit Party pact.

Furthermore, there is even more at stake than the future of the world’s most venerable political party: namely, whether the referendum verdict of 2016, carried by the largest vote in this county’s political history, is to be upheld or dishonoured.

You will have spotted the fly in this unpalatable ointment.  Namely, that the Prime Minister is unwilling to go.  The 1922 Committee Executive has presented her with the obligatory glass of whisky and pistol.  She has refused to pick them up.

Furthermore, there is no formal means of expressing no confidence in her leadership until December.  The habit of suggesting indicative votes in catching on.  But the 1992 executive is doubtful that these could produce a resolution.

That leaves the Cabinet.  Its members are divided on policy, dogged by personal ambition, and daunted by the scale of the challenge before them.

To ask this dispirited band to come together, tell the Prime Minister to step down as Party leader, and stay in Downing Street until the ensuing leadership election is concluded – particularly when the options are so grisly – is a very big ask indeed.

But the driver of the car is taking it towards the edge of the cliff.  True, it may crash if the Cabinet attempts to wrest control from her.  But if they don’t, it is set to career into the void, in any event.

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

LISTEN: “There are pressing problems within the Conservative grassroots” – Wallace on the Week in Westminster

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

WATCH: Gyimah – I’ve faced deselection attempts from those who believe I’m “step in modernisation too far”

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

Newport West’s by-election. Where is the voter uprising against establishment elites?

Amidst the growing likelihood of European elections this summer, and reports of Conservative woe in local election campaigning, we have a real Parliamentary vote with real voters – the Newport West by-election, only the third of this Parliament.

It offers something for almost everyone.

– – –

Ruth Jones (Labour):                       9,304   36.6 per cent   -12.7 per cent

Matthew Evans (Conservative):     7,357   31.3 per cent   – 8.0 per cent.

Neil Hamilton (UKIP):                      2,023    8.6 per cent   + 6.1 per cent.

Jonathan Clarke (Plaid Cymru):      1,185    5 per cent      + 2.6 per cent.

Ryan Jones (Liberal Democrat):     1,088    4.6 per cent    + 2.4 per cent.

Amelia Womack (Green):                   924    3.9 per cent    +2.8 per cent.

– – –

Majority:                                          1,951     8.5 per cent     – 4.5 per cent.

Turnout:                                         23,515   37.1 per cent   – 30.5 per cent.

Swing: 2.4 per cent to the Conservatives.

– – –

  • For Labour, there is a victory.
  • For the Conservatives, there is a swing.
  • For UKIP, there is the largest increase in vote share.
  • For the other main parties, there are rises in vote share.

But –

  • Labour’s vote is down.
  • So is the Conservatives’.
  • UKIP didn’t win the seat on a wave of anti-establishment protest – or even come second.
  • The smaller parties’ totals are derisory.

So, come to think of it, is that of all the contestants.  Turnout is down by over a third – from 43,438 at the last general election to 23,515.  That’s poor, of course, but by no means exceptionally low: nothing like the 18.2 per cent record low at Manchester Central in 2012.

At Westminster, we have floods, thunderstorms, Theresa May in negotiation with a Marxist who leads an institutionally anti-semitic party, a referee who plays for one of the teams, Nick Boles, Richard Drax, another backbencher who was Prime Minister In All But Name when the week began (and could still be), a possible EU-delivered No Deal, a probable extension – and no-one with a clue what will happen next.

In Newport, we don’t even have that event of journalistic legend – small earthquake, not many dead.  We have a tremor that barely registers on the seismograph.  Plus evidence that our old friend, Neil Hamilton, is still alive and kicking.

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

Iain Dale: Anti-semitism – and how Corbyn is vanishing into the deep pit he has dug for himself

Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, a commentator with CNN and the author/editor of over 30 books.

When you’re in a political hole, it’s generally best to stop digging. Yet Jeremy Corbyn keeps buying new shovels. Nothing can get him out of the hole he has dug for himself on anti-semitism. Every day, it seems, there is a new revelation which demonstrates his attitude to the subject.

And still there are some of his diehard supporters who continue to believe that there’s nothing to see, and we should just move along. The fact that there are dozens to Labour MPs who are horrified by what is happening means little to Corbyn’s true believers. They are blind to any apparent failing their hero has, and instead think that those who call him out should be expelled from the party.

There’s no way back for Corbyn from this sorry debacle. He’s shown himself to be weak, indecisive and the opposite of a leader. Hodge believes Corbyn to actually be anti-semitic himself. I don’t. But I believe that he tolerates anti-semitism, and has no real comprehension of what the word even means.

His hatred of the state of Israel trumps everything. It’s also more proof of the hold Seumas Milne has over him. You just have to read the latter’s rantings in The Guardian over the years to understand where he’s coming from on the subject. I suspect that he drafted Corbyn’s non-apology on Wednesday, which memorably couldn’t even utter the word Israel. Instead, it was called ‘Israel/Palestine’. Criticism of Israel does not mean automatically that someone is anti-semitic, but in context it often does.

Many Corbyn supporters accuse the media of launching a witch-hunt against him. Just by covering the story we are ‘smearing him’. It’s apparently a non-story. They say we should be covering Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

When that story broke, I did a phone-in on it. If you remember, the self-appointed Muslim Council of Britain alleged there was widespread Islamaphobia in the Tory Party. But they could only produce nine examples over a number of years.

I have a lot of Muslim listeners, so I decided to test it out. I did an hour-long phone-in, and asked Muslims to phone into the programme if they could cite any examples. Not one could. That’s not to say that it doesn’t exist but, in the two months since then, if it was indeed widespread, you’d think we’d have had a drip-drip of examples.

Unless of course the media wouldn’t print or broadcast them. Don’t make me laugh. I don’t doubt that there are Islamophobes in the the Tory Party. They exist in all political parties and across society. It’s an issue which needs to be addressed.

But let’s not try to conflate a small problem in one party with an endemic problem in another. There are masses of cases of anti-semitism which have been reported to Labour Party HQ, and masses too that have been reported in the media.

And yet there are still people, such as NEC member Peter Willsman, who say they have never seen an example on it. And this man sits on the Labour Party’s National Executive. Not only that, but he sits on their disciplinary panel. Has he been asleep during their meetings?

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My heart aches for Zimbabwe. I’ve never been there, but it’s clear it is the most amazing country, which has been completely ruined by Robert Mugabe and his acolytes. Its GDP per person is now only $2300, lower than that of Yemen. Only six pent of its adults are in full time formal work. Its currency is worthless. I could go on.

When Mugabe was toppled, there was a real hope that things would change. I spoke to a lot of Zimbabwean expats on my radio show, and many of them said that if the new regime proved things would change they would go back to help rebuild their proud nation.

The truth is that little has changed. Emmerson Mnangagwa – known as The Crocodile – has tried to put a new sheen on the Zanu PF government, and declared to the outside world that the country is ‘open for business’, but in reality things haven’t really changed at all.

We saw that in the election on Monday. It’s clear there was widespread electoral fraud and ballot-stuffing. In one town, with a population of 28,000 people, 35,000 ballot papers were counted. Zanu PF won all the seats in Matabeleland – the very area where Mnangagwa is alleged to have led the slaughter of 20,000 people during the 1980s. It hardly seems likely that they would have voted for him.

Meanwhile, it has to be asked what on earth the EU election observers were doing. Their only comment so far has been to regret the delay in announcing the result. What a waste of space they have been.

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On Wednesday, an Appeal Court Judge unwittingly made Tommy Robinson a hero. He was freed on bail over a technicality.

His supporters, who had been accusing the judicial establishment of a plot to lock up their hero, rather had the wind taken out of their sails when the judicial system actually worked as it should. They rather ignored that he hadn’t been found not guilty. A retrial will be held shortly.

But make no mistake, a new far-right hero has been born. The wretched Steve Bannon sees Robinson as someone who can lead a new so-called Alt-Right movement in this country. Ignore the fact that Robinson is a thuggish criminal and an Islamophobic bully.  Bannon sees him as articulate, with an eye for catching the media’s attention, and capable of galvanising people.

He’s right in that judgement, and I suspect there will be a lot of American money flowing into the Robinson coffers. His supporters are true believers. They worship at this altar, and see him as their true saviour. UKIP and its current leadership are going along with this. Gerard Batten is obsessed by Islam, to the exclusion of virtually everything else.

He’s made UKIP an irrelevance in the Brexit debate, but instead has gone out of his way to defend Robinson. He’s leading UKIP down a very dangerous path. The only way it can be reversed is if Nigel Farage returns to the political fray. I’m not sure he wants to, but many people are urging him to take up the cudgels again. Time will tell if he’s up for it.

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