Sunday 11 June 2017 – More on the aftermath of the shock Hung Parliament result in the UK General Election

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Above: Jeremy Corbyn buying his papers in his Islington constituency

 

While the Tories are doing their deals with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and desperately hoping to get the Queen’s Speech passed in the House of Commons on 19 June, the leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn is planning his own strategy for bringing down Theresa May’s government.  The Queen’s Speech, so called because it is read to Parliament by the Queen as part of the State Opening of Parliament, is a summary of the new government’s legislative proposals.  Of course the Queen does not write the speech, or have any input in what it contains.  It is written by the Prime Minister and her ministers.  The passing of the Queen’s Speech is essential. If it fails to get approval from MPs it will almost certainly cause the collapse of the government.  This is exactly what Mr Corbyn is hoping he can make happen.

 

Mr Corbyn says that Theresa May has no credibility and that it was “unclear” what kind  of legislative programme she is going to put forward in the Queen’s Speech, or what compromises she will add to placate her new “friends” in the DUP.  Mr Corbyn is planning to introduce an amendment to the Queen’s Speech debate and hope that this generates enough support from his own MPs, other opposition parties and even members of the Conservative party and the DUP.  He said: “I believe the DUP is in favour of scrapping the bedroom tax. There’s a whole range of issues like that where we think there’ll be a majority in Parliament.” While the Conservatives, together with the DUP, have a working majority of two seats they have to make sure every one of their MPs in their respective parties vote with the Government to pass the Queen’s Speech.  To defeat it, as well as all the opposition MPs voting against it, they will rely on a few Tory or DUP defectors joining them in the No lobby. It seems an unlikely possibility, but then most people believed Labour would be destroyed by now and the Tories would have a landslide majority. Instead they achieved the highest share of vote in decades and the largest election-to-election share increase since 1945.  Their shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also suggested that given another two weeks of campaigning they could have won a majority themselves.

 

Mr Corbyn told the Andrew Marr Show on the BBC that he would put down a “substantial amendment to the Queen’s Speech” and that it would be based on their election manifesto, with an emphasis on Brexit, young people and relaxing austerity.  He said the Brexit element of the amendment would be about negotiating as quickly as possible a “jobs-first Brexit.” He said that he wants a “tariff-free access to the European market,” and wants to maintain membership of key European agencies and preserve our commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Court of Human Rights.  He added that he had “obviously massive support in this country” and that he was “quite ready and able to put forward a serious programme of government.”  Mr Corbyn warned that there may be another General Election soon.  He thought this “might be a good thing,” but stressed that “we can’t go on with a period of great instability.” 

 

The Labour leader said  he was “the most generous person in the world” when referring to the chances of his opponents inside his party being welcomed back into the shadow Cabinet.  He was talking of the likes of Chuka Umunna and Yvette Cooper who were reported to be planning leadership bids before they saw Mr Corbyn’s gains on Thursday. Ms Cooper had run against Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 but today was sounding conciliatory: “We all need to pull together to take on Theresa May and take on the Tories.” She was asked by Sky News if she would join Labour’s front-bench if asked but said she didn’t want to be “presumptuous.” Instead she attacked the deal between the Tories and the DUP, calling it “dodgy”  and said that Mrs May’s position was “not remotely tenable” and that she lacked the skills to hold together a minority government.  She said that Labour were ready for another election “at any time” and urged the party not to “rest on its laurels” and that it would be hard to win more seats from the Tories.

 

Not all Labour MPs were sounding so supportive. Chris Leslie, the MP for Nottingham East told Radio 4’s Today that the party had missed an “open goal”  of a chance to win a majority:

 

“We shouldn’t pretend that this is a famous victory. It’s good as far as it’s gone, but it’s not going to be good enough.

 

“You’ve got to convince them of your credibility and that you can move from protesting about the government to being in government.”

 

Click HERE to read more on where we are now with the Tory/DUP deal, or click HERE to read about who’s who in the DUP.


cabinet theresa mayCABINET AND OTHER APPOINTMENTS WHICH HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED:

Theresa May’s new Cabinet has been appointed.  Despite the disastrous showing of the Government in the election she has made hardly any changes to the Cabinet, shuffling around a handful of them but the majority carrying on in their pre-election posts.  It seems that Mrs May is not getting the reality of what happened on Thursday and is trying to carry on as if nothing has happened. Or as the BBC political correspondent put it: “More reappointment than reshuffle, but it looks like business as usual for a prime minister and maybe that’s partly the point.”  Mrs May herself commented on her Cabinet appointments:

 

“I am pleased that people from across the party have agreed to serve in my cabinet and we are going to be getting on with the job.

 

“I said during the election campaign if re-elected I would serve a full term . […] 

 

“What I am doing now is actually getting on with the immediate job. I think that’s what’s important. I think that’s what the public would expect, they want to see government providing that certainty and stability.”

cabinet damian greencabinet david gaukecabinet david lidingtoncabinet michael govecabinet liz trusscabinet philip hammondcabinet amber ruddcabinet boris johnson

  • DAMIAN GREEN becomes the First Secretary of State and will be second in command behind Mrs May.  He was the former Work And Pensions Secretary. (PROMOTION)

 

  • DAVID GAUKE now becomes Work And Pensions Secretary, moving from his previous post as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. (PROMOTION)

 

  • DAVID LIDINGTON is the Justice Secretary. He was previously the Leader Of The Commons. (PROMOTION)

 

  • MICHAEL GOVE returns to the Cabinet as Environment Secretary. His last Cabinet role was as Justice Secretary. (PROMOTION)

 

  • LIZ TRUSS is the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, moving from being Justice Secretary. (DEMOTION)

 

  • PHILIP HAMMOND is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • AMBER RUDD is the Home Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • BORIS JOHNSON is the Foreign Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

cabinet david daviscabinet michael falloncabinet greg clarkcabinet liam foxcabinet justine greeningcabinet james brockenshirecabinet andrea leadsomcabinet brandon lewiscabinet patrick mcloughlin

  • DAVID DAVIS is the Brexit Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • SIR MICHAEL FALLON is the Defence Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • GREG CLARK is the Business Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • LIAM FOX is the International Trade Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • JUSTINE GREENING is the Education Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • JAMES BROCKNSHIRE is the Northern Ireland Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • ANDRA LEADSOM is the new Leader of the Commons. She was previously Environment Secretary. (DEMOTION)

 

  • BRANDON LEWIS becomes a Minister of State for Home Affairs, and will attend Cabinet meetings. (PROMOTION)

 

  • PATRICK McLOUGHLIN remains Chairman of the Conservative Party. (NO CHANGE)

 

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  • SAJID JAVID is the Communities Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • ALUN CAIRNS is the Welsh Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • JEREMY HUNT is the Health Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • GAVIN WILLIAMSON is the Chief Whip. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • CHRIS GRAYLING is the Transport Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • PRITI PATEL is the International Development Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • KAREN BRADLEY is the Culture, Media & Sport Secretary. (NO CHANGE)

 

  • JEREMY WRIGHT becomes Attorney General.

 

  • NATALIE  EVANS (Ladyd Evans) is the Lord Privy Seal and the Leader of the House of Lords.

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In another sign that Theresa May is incapable of accepting that things need to change in her Government following her spectacularly bad election campaign, she has brought back into Cabinet another familiar face – and what a face!  Michael Gove was never the most popular member of David Cameron’s Governments – first in the poisoned chalice that is Secretary of State for Education (2010-14) then as Justice Secretary (2015-16).  Last year he chose to back Boris Johnson in the leadership election that followed Mr Cameron’s resignation after the Brexit vote.  Mr Johnson was standing against Theresa May and others.  But half way through the campaign he decided to stop supporting Mr Johnson and to run against Mrs May himself.  She of course won and Michael Gove wasn’t offered a role in her first Cabinet.  His appointment today was therefore something of a surprise, coming late in the day after most other appointments had been made.  He replaces Andrea Leadsom who is now Leader of the Commons.

 

The Press Association reported on his unexpected return to the Cabinet:

 

“His appointment is a remarkable comeback for a man who fought, and lost, to Theresa May in last year’s Tory leadership battle. The former justice secretary dramatically ditched Mr Johnson to run himself and had found himself frozen out in Mrs May’s first Cabinet last July. The 49-year-old’s wife, journalist Sarah Vine, was forced to deny being power-hungry after an email blunder revealed she told him not to “concede any ground’ to Mr Johnson.

 

“The appointment of Mr Gove – who she clashed bitterly with over tackling extremism when they were in government together under David Cameron – will be seen as further evidence of Mrs May’s need to shore up her position after seeing her Commons majority wiped out.”

 

Michael Gove later commented on his appointment, expressing his surprise:

 

“I  was quite surprised, I have to say … I genuinely didn’t expect this role.

 

“I am delighted to be part of the government, I am delighted to be able to support Theresa to ensure that we have a government capable of delivering on the people’s wishes.”

 

Here are comments  by reporters and correspondents on Michael Gove’s return to Government:

 

  • The BBC’s Andrea Catherwood on Twitter: “Michael Gove gets a quick rehabilitation. Back in the cabinet, May’s nemesis #awkward.”

 

  • Beth Rigby of Sky News on Twitter: “Gove just out the front door. Am sure he nodded when @joncraig asked if he’d been forgiven #reshuffle.”

 

  • The Mirror’s Jack Blanchard on Twitter: “Michael Gove is made Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Good to see Theresa May can keep her sense of humour, despite it all.”

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Above: ‘Harry Potter’ writer J. K. Rowling

 

The author of the Harry Potter books, J. K. Rowling, has been critical of the Labour party and the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in the last few months – believing that his leadership will destroy the party.  Like many, she is being proved wrong after Thursdays election result which shows that Mr Corbyn’s leadership has reinvigorated support for the party.  Ms Rowling is, of course, entitled to her opinion and she was far from alone in fearing the consequences of the swing to the far-left in which Jeremy Corbyn is taking the party.  This week Ms Rowling has taken to Twitter to express her anger at one so-called liberal man on Twitter who had used foul and abusive language to describe the Prime Minister Theresa May.  She expressed her disgust at his misogynist views towards women.  The following is a combination of 14 individual tweets she posted on her Twitter account on Friday:

 

“Just un-followed a man whom I thought was smart and funny, because he called Theresa May a whore. If you can’t disagree with a woman without reaching for all those filthy old insults, screw you and your politics. I’m sick of ‘liberal’ men whose mask slips every time a woman displeases them, who reach immediately for crude and humiliating words associated with femaleness, act like old-school misogynists and then preen themselves as though they’ve been brave. When you do this, Mr Liberal Cool Guy, you ally yourself, wittingly or not, with the men who send women violent pornographic images and rape threats, who try by every means possible to intimidate women out of politics and public spaces, both real and digital. ‘Cunt’, ‘whore’ and, naturally, rape. We’re too ugly to rape, or we need raping, or we need raping and killing. Every woman I know who has dared express an opinion publically has endured this kind of abuse at least once rooted in an apparent determination to humiliate or intimidate her on the basis that she is female. If you want to know how much fouler it gets if you also happen to be black or gay, ask Diane Abbott or Ruth Davidson. I don’t care whether we’re talking about Theresa May or Nicola Sturgeon or Kate Hooey or Yvette Cooper or Hillary Clinton: femaleness is not a design flaw. If your immediate response to a woman who displeases you is to call her a synonym for her vulva, or compare her to a prostitute, then drop the pretence and own it: you’re not a liberal.  You’re a few short steps away from some guy hiding behind a cartoon frog.”

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Above: Ruth Davidson MSP and Diane Abbott MP

 

J. .K. Rowling mentions both Ruth Davidson  and Diane Abbott in her tweets. Both are MPs – Ms Davidson in the Scottish Parliament for the Conservatives and Ms Abbott at Westminster for Labour –  and both suffered  abuse during their political lives and during this campaign – for being women and for being gay and black.  Ms Abbott became the subject of horrendous Tory jokes and ridicule during the election campaign after she struggled to answer questions in an interview.  Later in the campaign she was replaced as Shadow Home Secretary due to ill-health but she said she would rejoin the fray  of politics soon.  She did not stop working and continued to campaign in her constituency. Ms Abbott answered here critics in Thursday’s election by winning her seat in Hackney North – where she  won a massive majority of 35,139 over the Conservative candidate Amy Gray – an increase of over 1,100. Ms Davidson won at the last Scottish Parliament elections with a slender majority of 610 over her SNP rival Amy Gray.

 

Ruth Davidson is now being described as a  “heroine”  for effectively saving the Conservative party on Thursday from total disaster.  As leader of the Scottish Conservatives she was the only Tory representative  north of the border in her Scottish Parliament seat  before Thursday but at the Westminster election on Thursday 12 Conservatives gained Westminster seats in Scotland. Ms Davidson played a crucial role in that success.  Without those 12 seats the Tories would be effectively finished as a government.

 

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called her the “heroine of the party” who is now “flexing her muscles,” referring to the potential power she now holds over the direction of the Conservative party.  She has been pressing for reassurances that LGBTI rights will not be watered down following the deal with the anti-gay, right-wing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and she has vowed to scupper Theresa May’s ‘hard’ Brexit plans.  She said that the economy and free trade should be the priorities in the EU negotiations, which are due to start within the next two weeks, and said that immigration would not be a key focus.  George Osborne suggested  that ‘hard’ Brexit is now perhaps a lame duck:

 

“I don’t think there is a majority now in the House of Commons for hard Brexit […]  and if the Ruth Davidsons of this world are starting to flex their muscles, in my view that can only be a good thing.”

 

Ms Davidson has made it clear that she will use her influence to sway the EU negotiations and that she believes there should be more consultation over the negotiations, including with opposition parties:

 

“I want to ensure that we can look again at issues like Brexit which we know we are now going to have to get cross-party support for.

 

“And move to a consensus within the country about what it means and what we seek to achieve as we leave.”

 

Related Article


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Above: Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, with her 10 Westminster MPs on Friday.

 

The Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny has spoken by phone with Theresa May over his concerns about the Conservative’s deal with the DUP.  A spokesman for Downing Street said he wanted reassurances that “nothing should happen to put the Good Friday Agreement at risk.”  The spokesman continued by saying both Mrs May and Mr Kenny had “confirmed their joint commitment to restoring the Northern Ireland Executive as soon as possible.” The spokesman also said that “the Prime Minister reiterated that the government’s approach and objectives in the forthcoming talks to re-establish the Northern Ireland Executive remained unchanged.”

 

Talks at the Northern Ireland Parliament Stormont are due to begin tomorrow in an attempt to restore the executive power sharing deal in the Province. All five of the main parties in Northern Ireland have said they will be there.  The DUP has said that its role in Westminster does not alter its desire to restore power sharing, and they say they are ready to form a power sharing executive without preconditions.  Power sharing broke down in January following the late deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness standing down to protest the DUP’s handling of an energy scandal.  Other parties in Northern Ireland fear that the DUP’s deal with the Tories will make resuming and maintaining power sharing more difficult.

 

cabinet james brockenshireFormer Sinn Féin finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said the government would now be “dancing to the DUP’s tune”.  There are also concerns about the role of Northern Ireland Secretary James Brockenshire (right).  The SDLP’s Nichola Mallon said that he could not be considered an “honest broker,” asking: “How can you have a secretary of state sitting as an honest broker when they already have a deal with one of the parties sitting around the table?” The Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry agreed: “There’s now a massive problem, he cannot be an impartial broker.” Mr Farry continued:

 

“The government will have one hand behind its back and if it tells the DUP to agree to something it doesn’t want to then the DUP will pull the plug and the whole thing will come crashing down.

 

“We cannot stop them from making this deal, but the repercussions for Northern Ireland are potentially severe.”

 

Meanwhile the Ulster Unionist Party’s (UUP) Danny Kennedy said the other parties will have to “wake up” and accept the situation.  He said that the parties were well aware that the Conservatives are a Unionist party – their full name being the Conservative and Unionist Party.  He said that the UUP will be at Stormont tomorrow and continued by saying:

 

“That’s what people want.

 

“The secretary of state and indeed the prime minister have made no secret of their own unionist views. They support the union and we welcome that.”

 

The newly re-appointed Northern Ireland Secretary James Brockenshire issued a statement on tomorrow’s talks at Stormont:

 

“The UK government will do everything in its power, working alongside the Irish government in relation to those areas where they have responsibility, to contribute to and support the process, steadfastly upholding the principles of the Belfast Agreement and its successors.

 

“Like the overwhelming majority across the community in Northern Ireland, I believe a devolved government in Belfast is the best way to address the key decisions which affect people’s day to day lives – whether these relate to the economy, security, public services or issues of policing and justice, as well as addressing the legacy of the past.

 

“A Northern Ireland Executive also has a vital part to play in ensuring that Northern Ireland’s interests are represented as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

 

“Northern Ireland’s political leaders now have this chance to take control and restore effective power sharing government under the current assembly mandate. If they do not, the power to make decisions passes to others. Their choice in the next three weeks will shape Northern Ireland’s future.”

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Above: Protesters against the DUP deal on Whitehall in London


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Above: Prime Minister Theresa May

 

The Prime Minister’s future, despite what she may be saying in public about “certainty and stability”, could be in jeopardy as early as tomorrow.  The backbench 1922 Committee, chaired by Graham Brady, has brought forward a meeting it was planning to have with the Prime Minister on Tuesday to tomorrow instead – demonstrating the urgency at which the backbenchers wish to discuss their concerns with their leader.  The power of the backbenchers has been greatly enhanced after Thursday’s hung parliament result as Mrs May is going to need all their support to have any hope of passing legislation in her minority government.

 

The Committee wish to discuss the deal with the DUP and how they can avoid being personally, and as a party,  tarnished by the DUP’s reputation for right-wing social conservatism.  They are also concerned that certain aspects of the Conservative manifesto, such as a commitment to grammar schools, could be in peril in the need for compromise to ensure more urgent legislation passes:  Mr Brady told the BBC:

 

“One of the things I’ve said to the Prime Minister is it’s very important that she speaks to colleagues as soon as possible.”

 

“We were going to have a meeting of the 1922 committee on Tuesday, I’m hoping to bring that forward to tomorrow now so that she can talk to colleagues about that deal.”

 

The Prime Minister has an uphill job of convincing her MPs to support her leadership.  Some are already openly showing dissent and talking of her demise.  The former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan today told ITV’s Robert Peston:

 

“I suspect that it could be over this summer and I think it should involve our party conference as well.

 

“I think we do need to have a debate in the Conservative party, we need a period of reflection after what’s happened in the last few days. We need to understand exactly where we’re headed.”

 

Another former Minister, Anna Soubry, told Sky News: “I just can’t see how she can continue in any long-term way. I think she will have to go, unfortunately,” though she didn’t think she wouldn’t  leave the leadership for some time yet, adding: “Let’s get this clear, we need stability.”

 

The biggest name so far to express doubt about the Prime Minister’s future within her own party is the former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who has called her  “a dead woman walking.”  Mr Osborne, who is now editor of the London Evening Standard, continued:

 

“It is just how long she is going to remain on death row.

 

“I think we will know very shortly. We could easily get to the middle of next week and it all collapses for her.”

 

It seems that the deal with the DUP is not yet signed and sealed, so to speak.  After initial statements that they had agreed an outline agreement for a “confidence and supply” arrangement where the DUP will “lend” its support to pass Conservative legislation, no deal has been agreed formally.  Talks will continue with the DUP during the week as Mrs May’s position becomes more desperate.  The DUP’s leader Arlene Foster will meet with the Prime Minister at  Downing Street.  Unless she can come to a satisfactory arrangement that will satisfy her own MPs and those of the DUP her chances of surviving as leader and Prime Minister decrease dramatically. 

 

cabinet boris johnsonReports and rumours are circulating that the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (right)  is preparing a leadership challenge.  He ran against Theresa May in 2016 for the leadership after the resignation of David Cameron, and his ambitions to lead the Conservative party have been well known since he was an undergraduate at Oxford.  The Mail on Sunday, who are reporting the rumours were saying things like it was “go-go-go” that he would run and added: “We need Bojo.”  For his party, Mr Johnson tweeted: Mail on Sunday tripe – I am backing Theresa May. Let’s get on with the job.”  His spokesman added: “The Foreign Secretary is 100 per cent supporting the PM and working with her to get the best deal for Britain.”

 

But the rumours will continue. An ally of Mr Johnson told the Sunday Times, who are claiming that he is being pressed to run by five Cabinet colleagues:

 

“We are facing a populist and they have realised we need someone who can talk to the people.

 

“We need a Brexiteer. Boris is the only option with the liberal values, Brexit credentials and popular appeal.”

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Above: Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd, Michael Fallon, Liam Fox

 

Whoever replaces Theresa May if there is a leadership challenge and she loses it is likely to be no better at healing the problems the party is facing after Thursday.  In a survey conducted by Survation – who had the most accurate polling at the General Election – say that Labour are six points ahead of the Tories.  They asked the same people supplementary questions on the possible leaders of the Tory party and the results suggest that Boris Johnson, David Davis, Michael Gove, Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond would not be any more attractive to potential voters as Theresa May was on Thursday.  For each of these potential leaders, more people said they were “less likely” than “more likely” to vote Conservative if they were leader.  The pollster YouGov reached similar conclusions when they asked if certain MPs would make good or bad leaders. Those that were deemed bad leaders all did so by a margin of 10% or significantly more. Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, was considered a good leader by 20% to 15%. However, Mrs Davidson is not an MP – she is a member of the Scottish Parliament –  and therefore cannot become leader of the party.


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I will finish my election blog post for today with the news that Nigel Farage, the former leader of UKIP (twice!!) is thinking of coming back for a third time.  UKIP’s leader at the General Election, Paul Nuttall, resigned on Friday morning after the collapse of the party’s vote to less than 2% of the popular vote and the party achieved no  representation in Westminster.  Mr Farage is currently a Member of the European Parliament, representing South East England,  and has made several unsuccessful attempts to secure a seat at Westminster.  He was leader of UKIP from 2006-09 and again from 2010-16.   He said yesterday:

 

“It’s not top of my bucket list. For me, getting the referendum, forcing the referendum and helping to win it, I thought I was done with it.

 

“I’m going to watch very carefully, but I do think now we will see backsliding.”

 

He added:

 

“I suspect what we’re gong to see is a Government that will struggle to get things through the commons, and I think we’re probably headed towards a Norway-type situation two and a half years down the road.

 

“Norway is better than where we are now, but it’s not where I want to finish up.”


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