Boris Johnson and the Records to Avoid

All British prime ministers, however, humble they appear on the surface, keep at least half an eye on their likely place in the history books. No 10 Downing Street’s current occupant has never even attempted to be humble, so is obviously no exception. Having lusted after the job for so many years, Alexander Boris DePfeffel Johnson wants to make his mark as an exceptionally memorable head of the British government. Indeed, the job of prime minister is essentially not unlike …

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From Enoch Powell to Nigel Farage. Brexit and the Atlantic Wedge…

Hobsbawm’s account of history at the Cold War’s end makes for stark reading now in 2019 – our world being the one that this old one birthed. American hegemony is not secured, economics is no less clear and international relations have melted from their bi-polar “Communist/Capitalist” freeze. The European Community, originally created in the 1950s because of the mutual fear of communist overrun in the minds of US technocrats and Western European elites, made its effective declaration of independence from …

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What would happen at GE2019 if it is more like the 2019 European election than the last general election?

Previously, I looked at what might happen at a future general election using the 2017 general election results as a base and a YouGov poll to redistribute votes to see how a new general election might pan out. This poll gave the Tories a 9 point lead over Labour in second place, and accordingly in such a scenario the Tories would win a majority despite a historically low vote share, albeit with a smaller majority if the Lib Dems, Greens …

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Breaking the Union: Brexit, Boris and the Backstop

Analysed too closely, the Tory leadership race and its implications becomes more surreal by the day. Understanding its rules, relating to this, is futile: we can only observe and remark, our noses pressed with disbelief against a window of a strange and distant court that will soon decide our immediate fate. At this crucial point, we can all agree whatever is coming will mean something for us. The only questions are what, how and when. The who will likely be Boris Johnson, less probably Jeremy Hunt. Both Eton …

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Yesterday’s Commons vote shows how hard it could be to stop a No Deal Brexit – even with a vote on a general election

On the eve of the first ballot, we have a full house of leadership pitches at last.  Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, and Esther McVey are committed to leaving come what may  at Hallowe’en. Only Rory Stewart refuses to put No Deal “on the table”. All the others pretend to their party electorate and perhaps to themselves, that they can swing some sort of agreement in Brussels without a hard border in Ireland. Let’s pay them an undeserved compliment and say …

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General election seat forecasts are no longer useful

For much of the last century, general elections in Great Britain have been largely predictable affairs. Aside from the odd Liberal, SNP and Plaid Cymru MP returned here and there, Westminster elections were a battle between Labour and the Conservatives. The relationship between the opinion polls and election results was straightforward; most constituencies were either safe Labour or Tory seats, and it was well established that a few points gained or lost in the opinion polls could predict the winner …

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#EP2019-Tell them again: Northern Ireland voted Remain

There are certainties in Northern Ireland. Everyone goes on holiday in July. A single crash on the Westlink will halt traffic across the country. An Ulster Fry is the best breakfast. The final truth: politics follows a script, the same story over and over again. We have our moments but we tell people that nothing ever really changes. May has been an extraordinary month for Northern Irish politics. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the past few …

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The Brexit Party look set to dominate at the European Elections in Great Britain as the Conservatives collapse

The Conservatives are on the verge of being virtually wiped out at this Thursday’s European election, whilst the Brexit Party look set to improve on the 24 seats that Ukip won at the 2014 poll. Using the data from this YouGov poll and analysis on the number of seats won by the vote received in the 2014 election, I estimated the probability of each party winning each seat in each European constituency. The Brexit Party would be, by far, the …

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Theresa May is stuck with presenting an alternative Brexit to the EU

This is an interative post.. Friday is usually a day of anticlimax in public after the excitements of an EU summit This one is no exception. It leaves three days for the contending forces to prepare their battle plans for the next three weeks. But this week, the Friday truce is less than complete. The immediate note of anxiety came with the question of whether Mrs May would default to No Deal if MPs fail to approve her deal for …

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“This is the “Canada-plus” option the EU at one point said it would never agree to…”

The Irish Times today carries the view of, the always worth reading, FT columnist Wolfgang Münchau on the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU. First he makes a quick point on the opposition on both sides of the House of Commons… When British cabinet ministers resigned hours after the publication of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU, they could not conceivably have read it, let alone digested its finer points. Many of the MPs who denounced the …

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Border poll recedes as polls show nationalist support for unity hinges on Brexit outcome

If two polls out today  are to be believed, pressure for  an early border poll will recede and unionists  fearing the worst, will heave sighs of relief For nationalists, while much hinges on the economic consequences of Brexit,  majority  opinion among them in favour of  unity hasn’t solidified, despite the UK government’s confused approach to Brexit and the border. The Newsletter gleefully reports Two separate polls have found no evidence that Brexit has yet caused a radical shift in public …

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The Conservatives have a mountain to climb to challenge Labour’s social media dominance

In the wake of this year’s snap general election, it has become apparent that age, not social class, has become the new fault line in British politics. Analysis published by YouGov highlights the woeful electoral performance by the Conservatives amongst younger voters. Amongst 18 and 19 year old voters at the 2017 general election, Labour were ahead of the Tories by a staggering 47 points (66% to 19%), and were 40 points ahead of the Conservatives with voters in their …

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“It will be interesting to see what the delivery mechanism for that money will be.”

In his analysis of where the £1.5 billion, over a number years, from the Conservative/DUP arrangement will be spent, the BBC’s John Campbell makes a couple of interesting points about some of the new money, and all of the old money. There is also £100m to be spent on deprived communities over five years. It will be interesting to see what the delivery mechanism for that money will be. Stormont’s Social Investment Fund, which was also designed to help those …

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“Anyone for more opium?”

The empty rhetoric of the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, in Downing Street last week… Speaking at Downing Street, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that the party told Mrs May “very directly that she was in breach of the Good Friday Agreement” over the Conservative negotiations with the DUP. …is neatly summed up in Ed Moloney’s blog post title, “Sinn Fein Meet May, Complain And Then Go Away……Move On, No Story Here“. The party’s impotence, in relation to any arrangement …

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“We don’t believe that any deal between the DUP here and the English Tories will be good for the people here.”

So stated the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, as he paraded his “Magnificent Seven” MPs [and Carál Ní Chuilín – Ed] in front of the media at a press conference at Stormont yesterday.  But whilst most reports focused on that line, or a variation on it, only the Irish Times’ Gerry Moriarty appears to have still been listening when he went on to say… [Gerry Adams] said Sinn Féin would not reject any positive deal that might emerge from these …

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Will YouGov’s election model be vindicated when the results are in?

Opinion polling firm YouGov have raised eyebrows in the run up to Thursday’s poll with the results of their forecast model, which at the time of writing is forecasting that the Conservatives will only win 307 seats. This would deprive them of their parliamentary majority, and leaves open the possibility that Jeremy Corbyn could become Prime Minister if Labour could secure support from the smaller parties in the Commons. The YouGov model is out of line with other election forecasts, …

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Conservative manifesto very warm on the Union, cool and correct to the Republic, no mention of special status in ” a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement”

TORY LAUNCH: Here I concentrate on those matters of specific interest to Northern Ireland. Remember that while manifestos tend to be mainly broad brush, they convey a sense of direction. The rhetoric of this one is modern British Unionist, as would be expected with the Union under threat but it avoids Rule Britannia jingoism.

What does May running up the Union Jack mean for Northern Ireland as well as Scotland?

Theresa May has spoken out very directly  to reject Nicola Sturgeon’s demand to be allowed  to hold Indyref2   in emotional British patriotic language which marks it out starkly from the language of Scottish nationalism.   “Our Party believes heart and soul in our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The union is more than just a constitutional artefact.  It is a union between all of our citizens, whoever we are and wherever we’re from. So our plan for …

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If May chooses to be tough in negotiating Brexit, she must be tougher on the causes of Brexit…

So two weeks, two very difference conferences. What Labour and Tory parties have in common is that they both have newly chosen leaders. Labour’s by-election from the mass ranks of the party (twice) and the Tory’s by ‘acclamation’ once (if that’s the term for it). If there is one significant difference between the two, it is that Labour spent its whole conference talking to and arguing amongst itself whilst the Tories were busy messaging the nation at large. Corbyn’s speech was …

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DUP and Tories playing footsie in Birmingham over a Parliamentary pact?

Interesting blog from Gary Gibbon who’s been in Birmingham, which speculates that there’s a deal in the offing between the Conservative party and the DUP to ensure that the party has an extra bit of insurance in Parliament for the times ahead. It’s not the first time a UK government has come calling, and it won’t be the last. Fragmentation in party representation puts an essentially pragmatist, pro-Union party like the DUP in a usefully powerful position until at least 2020 …

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