Monday, February 27, 2017

Political Turbulence

Quite a bit of turbulence in British politics as we move into another week in Westminster - even if my week in going to be dominated by things Welsh and Colombian. Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones has invited me his grand St Davids Day bash at Lancaster House tomorrow and we have a Dydd Dewi Sant do at No 10 on Wednesday. And no less than three meetings about Colombia on Wed, including meeting with the Ambassador.

But back to the political turbulence. Hard to judge how significant it is. Firstly, we have just seen the Conservatives win the Copeland by-election, following resignation of the excellent Labour MP, Jamie Reed - and it wasn't a shock result. It seems an absolute disaster for Labour. We have to go back many decades to have seen such a rejection of the main opposition party in Britain. So one question exercising many of us today is the future of the Labour Party. Does it has one?

And then there was the failure of UKIP to take Stoke in another by-election on Thursday. If UKIP can't take Stoke, where can they win. While Mr Farage MEP seems to be having a grand time mixing with Donald Trump, I cannot see where his old party is going to make any political gain. And UKIP members are fighting like ferrets. So another question exercising us is the future of UKIP. Does it have one?

And then there's Lord Heseltine, a man I greatly admire. Amongst other things, he is a wonderful gardener. He's been telling us today how he's going to force through amendments in the Lords to the Article 50 Bill. Seems there are two he's keen on. The first will not make much difference. The amendment would protect the status of non British migrants resident in Britain as part of the Bill. No amendment would mean a wait of a few weeks to achieve the same end. The other could be more problematic. Would have thought it helpful to Govt Ministers negotiating the UKs exit from the EU, if exit is certain. If there has to be an affirmative vote at the end of the negotiation, it encourages those who want to stop the UK leaving to agree a bad deal. Not sure this looks wise. Whatever, I sense Govt is not in the mood to compromise. Lord Heseltine has a big task before him.

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