The Politics Pantry #2: Tory Turmoil, Corbyn’s Crisis and Farage’s Frustration

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Well, it’s certainly been a jam-packed political week and now it’s time to unravel the events.

The EU referendum was a close call. On the 23rd June the UK decided to ‘Leave’ the European Union by 52% to 48%. So what lies ahead in weeks, months and years to come? Amongst the uncertainty the pound fell to a record low, billions were wiped off the Stock Market, the Prime Minister resigned, the leader of the Labour Party was humiliated by a vote of No Confidence and forecasts for the future predict nothing less than chaos and Armageddon.

Tory Turmoil

The Conservative Party is now in disarray after David Cameron resigned from his post just hours after the ‘Leave’ decision became clear. This has triggered what is expected to be a three-month Leadership election with many candidates already looking hopeful. Here are those who have already indicated that they are planning to run:

Boris Johnson is the clear favourite to win thanks to his support among the Tory grassroots and his success as a leader the victorious ‘Leave’ campaign, despite never holding a ministerial role. It is possible that Boris would seek a mandate with a snap November 2016 election, although this would require 2/3rds of all MP’s agreement. Assuming he won the election he could then trigger Article 50 and the UK’s exit from the European Union. Although popular in the country Boris has many enemies amongst Tory MP’s and may not even make it in the race to go forward as one of the two potential candidates Conservative MPs will put to their members nationally in a couple of weeks’ time.

Theresa May is regarded as a more unifying candidate and the only person who can move the Conservative Party forward in a constructive way. Theresa May, currently Home Secretary, is building strong support as the ‘anti-Boris’ candidate and is almost certainly to go forward as one of the options. Across the country her profile is lower than Johnson’s and her rather serious demeanour might count against her, although she is widely regarded as highly competent.

We know that for people in low-paid jobs, wages are forced down even further [as a result of immigration] while some people are forced out of work altogether.
Theresa May

Liam Fox, the former defence secretary (who resigned in 2011 over misconduct with Adam Werritty) stood against David Cameron for the leadership in 2005 and is also considering a bid. Liam Fox is the MP for North Somerset and has significant financial backing. He is a hard-line Eurosceptic and considered to be strongly on the Right of the Party.

Stephen Crabb, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has also confirmed that he is standing for the leadership. He gained his current position after the dramatic resignation of Iain Duncan Smith earlier in the year. Crabb has indicated that the Business Secretary Sajid Javid would also stand as his deputy. Both figures campaigned to remain in the EU and are considered the ‘Blue Collar ticket’ appealing to working-class Tories.

It is also widely believed that Nicky Morgan and Jeremy Hunt might run, but Ian Duncan Smith and George Osbourne have ruled themselves out.

Corbyn’s Crisis

A motion of no confidence against the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn was today passed by a large majority of the party’s MPs 172-40 and follows an unprecedented swathe of resignations from the shadow cabinet. Corbyn said that the confidence vote had “no constitutional legitimacy” and argued he would not “betray” the members who voted for him (Corbyn won a 59% majority last year after Milliband’s resignation). Corbyn’s allies have told his critics to trigger a formal leadership contest if they want to challenge him and it is likely that either Angela Eagle or Tom Watson will be nominated as that candidate. As we go to press events are unfolding so quickly that the Labour Party can’t even update their website fast enough to keep pace with events, Hilary Benn and Angela Eagle still appearing in their old shadow ministerial roles.

Farage is Frustrated

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, was jeered today by the European Parliament after telling them that they were in “denial” over Brexit. Farage accused the MEPs of never having a proper job, but was met with boos and insults. Farage went on to say that Brexit had become a “beacon of hope” for other member states such as France, Holland and Italy.

Martin Schulz, who is the President of the Parliament, intervened as the volume of opposition to Farage grew even louder. Mr Farage responded:

“You’re quite right, Mr Schulz. Ukip used to protest against the establishment. Now the establishment protests against Ukip. So something has happened here.”

The Party everyone’s forgotten: The Green Party Leadership election

Lucas calls for progressives to ‘unite’ against further austerity & slashing of protections.

Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s MP for Brighton Pavilion, is calling on progressive parties to join forces to “resist any attack on hard-won rights”.
Green Website

Caroline Lucas, the party’s only MP, is believed to be the most likely candidate for the job she previously held as its leader. Whether you agree or disagree with her politics she is an extremely powerful and engaging woman with much credibility across the political spectrum. Others thought to apply may include:

  • Amelia Womack
  • Shahrar Ali
  • Jonathan Bartley

Sturgeon and Salmon(d) swim to safety?

North of the border Scotland presents a further level of complexity.  Will Scotland stay a member of the European Union or not and will they hold another referendum on Scottish independence? Alex Salmond, former SNP leader, has said that a second Scottish independence referendum should now take place and Nicola Sturgeon almost certainly agrees, although she cannot afford to lose for a second time. In 2014, Scotland voted to remain as part of the UK by a margin of 55% voting Yes to 45% No on a turnout of 84.6%.

In the EU referendum Scotland was one of the few regions to vote to remain within the EU and by a margin of 62% to 38%. Scottish MEP Alyn Smith made an impassioned speech today asking the EU not to turn its back on Scotland because Scotland had not turned its back on the EU.

Events in Scotland also call into question whether Northern Ireland will wish to remain as part of the UK whilst Gibraltar’s 98% vote to remain may encourage them to re-open alliances with Spain.

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