In Numbers

Weekt in Numbers 24.2

The week that was

The Conservatives won the Copeland by-election, the first time a party of Government has beaten an opposition party in a by-election in 35 years. Trudy Harrison won with 13,748 votes, giving her a majority of 2,147 over Labour’s Gillian Troughton. In last night’s other by-election in Stoke on Central Labour saw off UKIP with Gareth Snell defeating UKIP leader Paul Nuttall. Theo Bertram, former adviser to Blair and Brown wrote earlier in the week how losing Copeland would demonstrate Labour was losing its core vote, something that should worry the party, Jeremy Corbyn however denied the result in Copeland had anything to do with him.

The Brexit Bill this week passed the second reading in the House of Lords. The Prime Minister sat in briefly on the deliberations in what was interpreted as a warning to Lords to not frustrate the progress of the Bill.

Finally, There have been further confusion on the Government’s plans to increase business rates, after Theresa May announced a review of business rates relief to calm pressure from within her party for a revaluation. However, there was some confusion on whether the Government would be providing support for small businesses hit by the proposed rises, with May initially saying she wanted to ensure there was ‘appropriate support’, despite her spokesperson saying there would be no more money for small firms, later contradicted by government officials who said they expected more money in the next budget.

On the benches

May I sit here?
In attempt deter any rebellious Lords considering an attempt to contradict the will of the democratically elected Commons, the Prime Minister chose to sit on the steps of Her Majesty’s Throne to oversee the start of the second reading of the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in the upper house. Flanked by Leader of the Commons David Lidington, the PM scowled at the opening statements from beneath the golden throne before quietly making her way out. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson later took over the responsibility of watching over the noble peers.

Things you learn in select committees…
Things got a bit eery in the Environmental Audit committee this week when a strange ringing sound echoed throughout the room. This led to a number of witnesses and MPs checking their phones and devices, only for the noise to continue. Committee member Kerry McCarthy suggested ‘it may be the aliens’ only to add ‘oh…they must have gone’ once the noise stopped. With recent NASA announcements that Earth may not be the only planet in the Universe capable of habiting intelligent life, its good to see we’re not alone in the universe in enjoying Select Committees on EU regulation…

Return of the Dark Lord   
The so-called ‘Prince of Darkness’ Peter Mandelson was in the news this week, after he revealed that he works ‘every single day in some small way’ to bring down Jeremy Corbyn. Mandelson said that whether it be ‘an email, a phone call, or a meeting I convene’, he tries every day to bring about the end of Corbyn’s tenure. Despite the Dark Prince’s best efforts, Corbyn appears to be the man who lived after his supporters united to attack Mandelson and defend their aged, white hair, bearded leader. Sound familiar?

Watson is a dab hand
PMQ’s is almost universally accompanied by MP heckling and jeering each other as they seek to defend and cheer on their party leader. Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson tried a different tack this week though and was seen at PMQ’s performing what appeared to be a dab move behind Jeremy Corbyn as he celebrated the Labour leader’s critcising Theresa May over the NHS crisis.

Dabbing, for the uninitiated, is a dance move popularised in the United States. It’s described on Wikipedia as ‘a dance move in which the dancer simultaneously drops the head while raising an arm and the elbow in a gesture that has been noted to resemble sneezing’. When asked by the Huffington Post’s Paul Waugh why he had done it Watson replied “’Did I do a dab? I’ve been doing them with my kids in the holidays so I may have inadvertently done one’.

Good week/Bad week

Good week for:  Trudy Harrison. the newly elected MP for Copeland who won the Cumbrian seat from Labour, who have held the seat since 1935. Harrison only joined the party after the Prime Minister’s conference speech last year and the Copeland victory is a huge endorsement of Theresa May. This is the first time a governing party has gained a seat in a by election since 1982, when Labour were in a remarkably similar position…

Bad week for:  Sajid Javid. A bad week for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid MP who, having been lumbered with the unenviable task of reforming a somewhat archaic business rates system, has been the subject of recriminations from colleagues for sending a letter which many claim fed ‘distortions and half-truths’ about the extent of the changes.

Tweet of the week

Tweet 24.2

Brexit bites

‘Nothing gets more bitter and twisted than EU negotiations on money and I’ve lived a few of them, and sometimes it can be over beans rather than large sums, and these are quite large sums’ – former Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union Sir Ivan Rogers giving evidence to the Brexit Committee.

‘The British people have to know, they know already, that it will not be at a discount or at zero cost. The British must respect commitments they were involved in making. So the bill will be, to put it a bit crudely, very hefty.’ – European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker discussing the EU’s strategy for Brexit negotiations.

‘There are scenarios where this process proceeds relatively smoothly to an increasingly clear end point and that will be consistent with a higher path for interest rates.’ – Bank of England Governor Mark Carney giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee.

In focus: Tories celebrate Labour and UKIP defeats

The Prime Minister, not known as a garrulous extrovert, could be forgiven for doing a jig in the Cabinet Room in Number 10 this morning. She has pulled off the very rare feat of winning a by-election from the main Opposition, last achieved 34 years ago. It is an impressive achievement for a Leader who took over less than a year ago after the most extraordinary defeat of the Conservative government at the hands of the voters in the EU referendum.

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