Conservatives

Out with the Old, In With the New

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Cameron out, Theresa in.

The new Prime Minister has named her first cabinet: Phillip Hammond as chancellor, Amber Rudd as Home Secretary and the surprise of the day, Boris Johnson as the new Foreign Secretary.  Aside from Boris (this is debatable), there are no heavyweights in the new cabinet. No Osborne, No Nicky Morgan, and bye bye to Michael Gove who is rumoured to have clashed with May. Interestingly, Theresa has chosen to depart from the usual cabinet appointment method where the Prime Minister would include the heavyweights in his or her government. The reason behind this is that Prime Minister will have the full support of the party and it will unify the government. By not appointing the big beasts in her cabinet, Theresa May is making a statement that her appointments are different to the usual ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ in politics. Instead she will have the heavyweights as backbenchers, whether this will be something for her worry to about…we shall see. Most importantly Theresa May has placed Brexit backing MPs in positions that will be key to Brexit negotiations (as previously mentioned Boris as foreign secretary, David Davis as the Brexit minister and Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary). She also gave her former rival, Andrea Leadsom (who backed Brexit), the Environment Secretary job.

Compare it to Cameron’s Cabinet

The remainers vs brexiters, Theresa chose to include more of the brexiters in her cabinet to reflect the outcome of the referendum.

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While many are celebrating Theresa May being the second female prime minister, some are criticising that it is still not good enough-it is an improvement of one.

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The number of black and minoritiy ethnic MPs in the cabinet, like women it is an improvement of one and not reflective of the population in this country. Priti Patel, joins Sajid Javid in the Cabinet.

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The old vs the young. Cameron’s cabinet commpared to Theresa May’s was younger with 13 out of 22 cabinet ministers in their 40s.

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Many have criticised Cameron’s government for being elitist this includes Nadine Dorries Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire. She described Cameron and George Osborne as “two arrogant posh boys” with “no passion to want to understand the lives of others”. It looks like Theresa May wants to move away from that.

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So who is in?-the newbies, the people who got a promotion and the unlucky who got demoted.

Boris Johnson- BREXITER

The former London Mayor was considered as the frontrunner to takeover Cameron, only until Michael Gove backstabbed him and run for the Conservative Leadership. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Boris worked as a journalist before coming into politics and has written for the Times, the Spectator and the Telegraph. As much as Boris is a popular figure, he is also a controversial one. He was forced to apologise for his comments in 2002, referring to Africans as “piccaninnies” and “watermelon smiles” . He has also been scrutinised for insulting Turkey’s president, commenting on Obama’s ancestry and more. America, Australia, France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Sweden…the list goes on and on but in short, the world thinks we have lost it in him being the Foreign Secretary when he has offended so many leaders, diplomats and countries.

A map of countries he has offended:

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Phillip Hammond-REMAINER

The former foreign secretary is seen as the ultimate safe hands in government and someone Theresa May will be able to rely on. Mr Hammond has been a MP since 1997, joined the cabinet as Transport Secretary, then he became the Defence Secretary and he is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Amber Rudd-REMAINER

One of the Tories’ rising stars, Amber Rudd won a marginal seat from Labour back in 2010. After being on the backbenches, she was promoted by George Osborne serving as his Parliamentary Secretary and was appointed as the Energy Secretary in 2015 and is now the Home Secretary. Unlike many in her party, Amber Rudd is committed to tackling climate change and her appointment was respected by environment groups.

The others…

Many thought that Jeremy Hunt would not survive May’s reshuffle, however he lives to fight another day. Jeremy Hunt is to continue with his controversial reforms of the NHS and there may be more industrial action if he plans to go ahead and impose contracts on doctors. His next challenge is taking on the consultants. As for Liam Fox, this is a political revival for the Brexiter, from backbench to one of the most important positions that can be held currently as International Trade Secretary. He will be responsible for negotiating trade deals beyond Europe, an argument that the Brexit Camp said was a benefit of being outside the EU. Michael Fallon, remains as Defence Secretary and is one of the few that kept his job. Justine Greening has been promoted to Education Secretary (was International Development Secretary) and will be replacing Nicky Morgan. A bit of history made by May’s reshuffle, Liz Truss is the first female Justice Secretary and will be replacing Michael Gove. Chris Grayling, one of May’s biggest supporters is the new Transport Secretary and was previously the Leaders of the House of Commons and justice secretary. Greg Clark previously the communities secretary has now taken over the defunct Business, Industry and Skills (it is now Business, Energy and Industrial energy, Theresa May has merged the energy and business departments together). Patrick McLoughlin previously the transport secretary and is now the Conservative party chairman and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Alan Cairns and David Mundell remain unchanged. The newbies are Karen Bradley, James Brokenshire, Damian Green, Andrea Leadsom and Priti Patel. Sajid David, is one of the few left associated with Old Downing Street, he has moved down from Business Secretary to Communities and Local Government.

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So who is out?-Those who were shown the door, those who “resigned” and those who did not want the job no more

It has been called one of the most ruthless reshuffles in recent times with nine sackings and resignations. Theresa May sacked a number of Cameron’s closest allies which includes George Osborne, the former Chancellor and axed Michael Gove, Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan and John Whittingdale. Stephen Crabb resigned from his role as Work and Pensions Secretary “in the best interests of my family” and Theresa Villiers the former Northern Ireland Secretary resigned.

Theresa May’s government

Theresa May’s cabinet has had a change of direction and its a big one. From sacking big names, to surprising us all of with Boris as the Foreign Secretary (Osborne was not a surprise) and abolishing the Energy and Climate Change department. Then merging energy with business and having veteran right-wingers Liam Fox and David Davis in Brexit related roles. One thing is for sure, Theresa wants us all to know that the Cameron era is in the past. She wanted us to know that she had a clear out, she has moved in and she has thrown out what she does not want or need. May’s appointments highlights that she is determined in repairing the damage caused by the referendum. Theresa’s cabinet gives us a hint of the government she wishes to lead: Tory unity, “Brexit means Brexit”, climate change sceptics and that Tories do go to state schools.

Images:  www.bbc.co.uk  www.independent.co.uk

Brexit: Regional Divides

Brexit regional divides

One of the big questions that continues to pop up in the Brexit debate is how each country will vote? Leaders from Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have taken opposing views as to where they stand in the EU referendum. Thus highlighting the regional divides that the debate will bring up. Let’s see where they stand:

Scotland

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said she would like to see “a strong and positive case” for the UK to remain in the EU.  She also said David Cameron’s negotiations were argued on narrow grounds. Both, Alex Salmond (the former leader of SNP) and Nicola Sturgeon have warned that Brexit will reopen the question of Scottish Independence. Mr Salmond said that the second referendum will be “irresistible and I think very rapid”. This was supported by the First minister who said, “If we get into the situation where Scotland stays to vote in, the rest of the UK votes to come out, then people in Scotland will have big questions they will want to look at again about whether Scotland should be independent”. She also made a similar statement on the Andrew Marr Show as she said it will almost certainly trigger a second referendum. Additionally, she has previously called for the EU referendum to be subject to a double majority whereby there will need to be a majority in each part of the UK rather than a simple majority.

Compared to other parts of the UK, Scotland is more pro-European. This is partly down to the current Scottish government, SNP, which the majority of Scotland’s population are supporting. It is seen by SNP that an independent Scotland being part of the EU is only possible if they have a pro-EU stance. Additionally, Scotland benefits from EU subsidies and exporting to the continent without trade barriers. Brexit could have a great impact on the Scottish economy as Britain Stronger in Europe (pro-EU campaign) has said Scottish Exports to mainland Europe are worth £11.6 billion. Furthermore, Scotland in the next few years will be receiving £33 million from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and hundreds of millions more from structural funds. Polls have shown that Scotland is in the remain camp. A poll by Comres found that amongst 1,105 British adults the support for remaining in the EU was higher amongst the Scots, compared to the UK as a whole. 59 per cent said they will vote to remain whilst only 31 per cent said they will vote out. Similarly, a poll by the Daily Record showed that 66 per cent want the UK to stay in the EU and  28 per cent will be more likely to back independence if the UK got out of the EU (14 per cent less likely to back independence).

Wales

The debate in Wales is likely to be centred around the financial benefits of the EU membership. Wales is said to have received an estimated £3.8 billion between 2007 and 2013 from the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, structural funds and other funding streams. Labour’s first minister, Carwyn Jones has said that the Welsh electorate have a choice about the money in their pockets “£3000 per household, right across Wales”. He further added that the farming industry in Wales (58,000 farmers in Wales)  could come to an end as “our farmers depend on over a £200m a year of subsidies and access to the European market”. The Welsh government has said the country will benefit from £50m of EU investment each year under various funding schemes. Despite Wales being one of the main beneficiaries of the UK membership, it has grown Eurosceptic. According to Barometer, the country’s 2.2m voters will decide to leave the EU (45 per cent to vote out and 37 per cent to remain). The leave vote has grown by 3 points since December and the remain has decreased by 3 points. The Vote Leave camp had not gotten more than 40 per cent of the vote until the end of last year. This is seen with the rise of support of UKIP in Wales, with the party polling ahead of Plaid Cyrmu and Liberal Democrats who have both been in government. Recently, Plaid Cyrmu leader Leanne Woods argued similarly to Sturgeon that UK should only leave the EU if all four countries voted to leave.  It is said that the pro-EU parties are fearful of how close the June 23 poll is to Welsh Assembly elections and they will not have enough time to come together. Many argue that the money the UK spends on the EU budget could be used in Wales. Campaigners argue that there is little evidence that money from EU has made a big difference in Wales. Many in Wales are unhappy with the Labour administration, as well as the loss of steel jobs at Port Talbot which some blame the EU for its failure to prevent Chinese steel dumping. This has therefore lead to a drop in support for the EU.

Northern Ireland

A poll in November showed that Northern Ireland wanted to remain with 55 per cent wishing to remain and 13 per cent wanting to go out. However first minister of Northern Ireland,  Arlene Foster said she was recommending Britain to vote out of the EU. This is because she said the Prime Minister’s negotiations did not go far enough in securing fundamental reform of Europe. This is likely to cause heated debates and divisions, where Northern Ireland has a power-sharing government (DUP shares power with Sinn Fein, Ireland’s nationalist party). Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuiness said “the future of Ireland north and south is in the EU and Sinn Fein will be campaigning vigorously to stay in”.

Image: www.theguardian.com

The Brexit Gang

Six cabinet members have come out against David Cameron by supporting the Vote Leave campaign.

Brexit gang

 

The prime minister today announced the EU referendum will take place on the 23rd June after securing a deal with 27 EU leaders to change the UK’s relationship with EU. Shortly after Cameron’s announcement, the ‘Brexit Gang’ posed for photos at the Vote for Leave headquarters.

The ‘gang of six’ includes Michael Gove, the justice secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, John Whittingdale, the culture secretary, Chris Grayling, the leader of the Commons, Theresa Villers, the Northern Ireland secretary and Priti Patel, the employment minister. There have been several rumours for the last few weeks as to who will break the ranks with the Prime Minister’s in campaign. The majority of the ‘six member gang’ are not political household names but will add intellectual weight to the out campaign. Michael Gove joining the out campaign, was not anticipated by number 10 and is seen as a blow to Cameron. One politician that political commentators are keeping an eye as to which side he will support is Boris Johnson. If Boris was to join the Brexit Camp, this could be real trouble for the in campaign and a coup for the Vote Leave campaigners.  The London Mayor’s position is unclear as he has stated that Cameron must do more to convince him on staying in the EU. Boris Johnson is apparently playing the waiting game until Cameron outlines plans to reassert parliament sovereignty.Boris is popular and will win people over which ever side he decides to join.  Until we find out which side Boris will back, let us look at the rebels:

Michael Gove- Justice Secretary

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Michael Gove is one of Cameron’s closest political allies however Gove said if he campaigned with Cameron to stay in the EU he would not be “true to my convictions or country’. The justice secretary said it was one of the hardest political decisions he has had to make and added that Britain would be “freer, fairer and better off outside the EU”. The prime minister said yesterday that he was “disappointed but not surprised” that his loyal friend decided to support the Vote Leave campaign.

Iain Duncan Smith-Work and pensions secretary

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There is no surprise here, Iain Duncan Smith is a long-standing Eurosceptic. He was one of the Maastricht rebels too.

Theresa Villers-Northern Ireland Secretary

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The Northern Ireland Secretary represented London as a Eurosceptic MEP, so no surprise here again that she decides to support the out campaign.

Priti Patel-Employment minister

The MP for Witham has been a long time supporter of Brexit as she was the former communications chief of the Referendum party. She has said in the past that the country wants “less Europe more Britain”.

John Whittingdale-Culture secretary

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The former Thatcher aide is a committed Eurosceptic and it was known he would back the outers.

Chris Grayling-Leader of the House of Commons

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Chris Grayling, is a long-standing Eurosceptic and said that the deal that the Prime Minister had won in Brussels was not enough to transform the UK’s relationship with the EU. Grayling argued Cameron, “has undoubtedly made some progress but what he has discovered over the last couple of days is the limitations of change that we can secure within the European Union”. He further added that the EU does not give the UK control over its own borders and for that reason he will be supporting the Vote Leave campaign.

This will be the first post of the ‘Brexit Series’ I will be doing. I will be writing on interesting updates and the legal, political and economic implications of Brexit and staying in.

Images: www.theguardian.com , www.telegraph.co.uk , www.mirror.co.uk