Labour’s victory in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election bodes ill for Conservatives and Nationalists. If the 20% swing from the SNP is replicated across Scotland, Labour stands to win 42 Scottish seats in 2024. Extrapolations may be a little hasty, however; low voter turnout and national polling showing the SNP ahead suggest the result from last week is not indicative of a wider trend.
Labour riding high in Rutherglen.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said the country is “at war” after fighters from Hamas broke into Israel accompanied by 5000 rockets. Israeli reservists have been called up and Netanyahu has promised a retaliation “with a strength and scope that [Hamas] [have] never known before”. European leaders were quick to condemn the attacks and affirm support for Israel, while Iranian authorities promised to support Hamas until “the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem”.
A meeting of EU leaders in Granada ended in controversy after representatives from Poland and Hungary refused to endorse a statement on migration. The meeting was convened to discuss the issues of EU enlargement and migration. Rishi Sunak and Italian PM Giorgia Meloni co-authored an article in The Times and Corriera della Sera calling for action to reduce the number of migrants coming by boat.
Odd ones out.
The Conservative Party Conference was dominated by the news that the Birmingham to Manchester branch of HS2 would not be completed. Whatever the merits and demerits of the decision, it is a damning indictment of the government that it can spend £2.3 billion over nearly 8 years on a railway line that will never be built. The Prime MInister’s promise of infrastructure investment in the North, the benefits of which will not be seen before the next election, are unlikely to have an effect on public opinion.
Andrew Bailey admits that Brexit has created opportunities for Britain.
Katy Balls asks a panel of Conservative politicians about the legacy of 2016.
The EU will eat Starmer for Breakfast by Adrian Hill
Ursula’s new plan for an EU outer tier simply follows her strategic plan for Germany drawn up six years ago when she was German defence minister. That’s why she could pull it from her desk drawer and dangle it before Starmer’s worried eyeballs.
The Tory party faces wipe out at the next general election – unless Labour are so naive they still believe the EU is a friendly trading alliance. Once upon a time perhaps, but no longer – the Europe project has become a third attempt by Germany to control Europe, from day one for much of their establishment.
Data revisions undermine the Brexit pessimists’ propaganda by Harry Western
UK GDP data for the last few years have been significantly upwardly revised, undermining the pessimistic narrative about the UK’s post-Brexit economic performance. Far from UK growth since 2019 having been the worst in the G7, the new data show a respectable mid-table position. Revisions to business investment are even more striking, rendering claims that investment has ‘flatlined’ since 2016 redundant. These developments illustrate the foolishness of trying to use short time series and early vintages of economic data to make cheap partisan points.
The revisions to the UK’s GDP data have, at a stroke, rendered a large volume of pessimistic commentary on Brexit irrelevant. In the process it makes the people and institutions who have pushed this anti-Brexit commentary look foolish. This includes a large number of people who really should know better, such as professional economists, but who – seven years after the EU referendum – still apparently cannot stop their prejudices dominating careful analysis.
Conservative Party Conference was a much less dramatic affair this year than last, when Liz Truss was battling to save her premiership. But there were a few key takeaways which are worth noting:
Firstly, Rishi Sunak has nothing new to offer. Before the conference, there was talk of a rejuvenation of his administration, that after almost a year to steady the ship, he was ready to start proactive measures and would use the conference as an opportunity to set out his vision for the future. Instead, he promised to ban smoking and scrap A levels. No doubt he has good reasons to pursue these policies, but they hardly constitute an agenda. As polls continue to show a large Labour lead, he will come under increasing pressure from his own Party.
Secondly, Liz Truss is still a force to be reckoned with. Despite her disastrous time in office, she is still a popular figure amongst Conservative members, and the fringe event at which she spoke was packed. Her core message – that Britain needs to deregulate and lower taxes in order to promote economic growth – was a common theme amongst other fringe speakers. Though it is hard to imagine she herself could ever have another shot at the leadership, her endorsement could be a coveted prize for ambitious future leadership candidates.
Thirdly, immigration is going to be a major (and divisive) issue over the next few years. Suella Braverman’s speech sparked criticism from Cabinet colleagues and caused a storm in the left-wing press. That the Home Secretary can use rhetoric so at odds with others in her party with no fear of losing her job speaks to the powerful position she holds in the Parliamentary Party. She has very strong links with the so-called “Common Sense Group” of MPs, which is thought to have up to 60 members. They take a strong line on reducing immigration and will be a powerful constituency in any future leadership contest.
Finally, Kemi Badenoch is likely to be a front-runner to succeed Rishi Sunak if he leaves office before or immediately after the next election. According to polling, she is the most popular Cabinet minister amongst Conservative Party Members and her appearances on the main stage and at various fringe events drew large crowds. Her role as Minister for Business and Trade brings an irregular but frequent supply of positive headlines relating to post-Brexit trading opportunities which endear her to many in the party. After her strong showing in 2022, she is undoubtedly one to watch.
Kemi Badenoch is
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A Cambridge Philosophy Graduate