The Week in Politics: Ties, Titles and Tyneside
The Week in Politics: Ties, Titles and Tyneside
The week that was
The Prime Minister stuck to her guns regarding the public sector pay cap this week, as she faced pressure from the Opposition and even members of her own Cabinet, to scrap the 1% cap. Jeremy Corbyn focused all of his PMQs questions on the topic, while Theresa May warned of a Greek style economic collapse if the UK fails to tackle the deficit. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt were amongst those calling for the pay cap to be lifted, while former PM David Cameron said that ending austerity was ‘selfish’. Disagreements on policy and a lack of certainty and authority from Downing Street are likely to be defining features of May’s premiership, especially as Ministers and MPs no longer fear the centralised control of Downing Street.
Internal divisions in the Labour Party have flared up again, as a Momentum group in South Tyneside published a list of 49 MPs who they believe should go and ‘join the liberals’. This included Luciana Berger, who this week was threatened by new CLP committee members who said that Berger will now be accountable ‘to us’ as opposed to the constituents who elected her with a majority of over 30,000 a month ago. Jeremy Corbyn also conducted a small reshuffle, filing the posts left vacant by ‘rebels’ who backed an anti-Brexit amendment to the Queen’s speech. Corbyn did not use the opportunity to bring any big beasts back into the fold, meaning that the list of new appointments was filled some of the less well known members of the Labour PLP.
Meanwhile, Theresa May is attending the G20 summit this week, which marks the first official meeting between US President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, and discussions will focus mainly on climate change and trade. The security situation in Hamburg has been tense, with one rally leaving 76 police injured. Elsewhere the Government published its Transport Investment Strategy, promising major investment in the roads network, and a number of MPs have put themselves forward for select committee chairs after the allocation was announced on Thursday.
On the benches
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had us on tenterhooks this week, letting us know a mysterious written ministerial statement would be published on the Department. It was, of course, to reveal the big name change of DCMS, adding in digital to the name, but stressing the acronym will not change. So we guess it’s the Digital for Culture, Media and Sport going forwards. Twitter was also quick to pour scorn over the announcement, pointing out the grammatical error on the new name; with it missing a crucial comma.
Legislation with a hefty price tag
Lord Holmes of Richmond brought a little pop-culture to the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill this week when he reminded his fellow Lords of the importance of securing funding for a new single financial guidance body telling them that ‘Jessie J is not entirely correct that it is not about the money. Often, it is absolutely about the money.’
This week’s ‘tie-gate’ caused uproar in the House of Commons, following John Bercow’s landmark decision that male MPs could choose not to wear neck attire as they saw fit. The controversial choice has seen stark divides across the House with John Hayes, a transport minister, shunning tieless MPs. Hayes, who sees the immeasurable value of wearing ties for parliamentarians, says that he will dismiss speech interventions from MPs with inadequate neckwear. International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, is also reluctant to assert this new freedom. Parading his own English-made, blue number in the House, Fox tried to lead by example, underlining the importance trend-setting MPs will have in promoting British tie-makers post-Brexit. Clearly, it will be some tie-me before this dispute is settled…
Good week/Bad week
Good week for: 2015 and 2017 Tory MPs
A good week for the 2015 and 2017 intake of Tory MPs, who are co-ordinating to take on the party’s old guard, by putting themselves forward for prominent positions on select committees. Former army officer Johnny Mercer has made a bid for Chair of the Defence Committee, and is taking on incumbent chairman Dr Julian Lewis, a defence expert who was first elected in 1997, while Tom Tugendhat, another MP from the 2015 intake, is said to be considering running for the Foreign Affairs Committee, taking on incumbent Crispin Blunt. How their fellow MPs respond to their candidacies will be a useful insight into just how prevalent this new order of MPs could be under Theresa May’s weakened leadership.
Bad week – Former Prime Ministers
A year after the Chilcot report was published, Sir John Chilcot said that Tony Blair was not ‘straight with the nation’ about the decisions he made in the lead up to the Iraq War. In an interview with Laura Kuenssberg, Chilcot said that the former Prime Minister had been ‘emotionally truthful’, but his arguments were based on his own assessment of the situation, rather than facts. Meanwhile, David Cameron has been criticised after claiming that critics of austerity are ‘selfish’, with Labour and the Lib Dems arguing that he is out of touch. Cameron’s comments came following a Cabinet row on austerity, which saw senior figures such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove calling for the one per cent public sector pay gap to be lifted.
Instagram of the week
“We reject the ideological and deeply unhelpful red line the prime minister has drawn that would prevent any future involvement of an EU-UK court-like body (over regulation), even when such an arrangement is demonstrably in the national interest.” Shadow Europe Secretary Sir Keir Starmer writes a letter to Theresa May calling for her to soften her position European Court of Justice in order to retain access to key EU organisations.
“The bill, as you rightly say, is going to be complicated but what it will be doing is setting up arrangements so that there will be British institutions who will be replacing the EU institutions that are currently responsible for enforcement”. Former Brexit Minister David Jones speaks to Radio 4’s John Humphreys on the Great Repeal Bill.
“I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and build a customs union to achieve ‘frictionless trade’ — that is not possible.” The European Commission’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, accuses the UK of not “facing facts” on Brexit and the Single Market.