PM May’s summer honeymoon is about to get over

PM May’s summer honeymoon is about to get over

By ANTONIA FILMER | LONDON | 13 August, 2016
Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May is enjoying a prime ministerial honeymoon, with the Conservative lead up to 42% over Labour’s 28%. May’s personal lead in voter intention is now 52% over Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s 18%. It is thought that if a general election were to be held this autumn, the Tory party would gain up to 80 new seats. In July, May took the one-off opportunity as the new Prime Minister to jettison David Cameron’s team of loyalists and be sure that her appointments were of her mind-set. But when the House of Commons returns on 5 September, the honeymoon summer might be over and her parliamentary majority may become vulnerable. Likely poltergeists who will make noisy appearances will be discontented MPs who did not get ministerial posts. The Brexit junior MPs, who were seen as “up and coming” from the post 2015 intake, feel completely ignored; they could make it difficult for May to pass legislation and badmouth her. Immigration reformers, who are disappointed that net migration is still approximately 330,000 a year, will demand immediate stricter application controls and new targets. The UK now has 8.4 million foreign born residents—13% of the UK population. Brexiteers fear EU regulations will stymie Brexit and try to pigeonhole May into a seven-year EU absence/abstinence, which would not be acceptable to the hardcore pro-Brexit MPs. The new economy figures will be out and the UK’s deficit will rear its ugly head. Since George Osborne scrapped the deficit reduction and his surplus aims for 2020, what will Chancellor Philip Hammond have to announce?

Two other bugbears for May are David Cameron’s resignation peerages and honours list, thoroughly lambasted for its unadulterated cronyism. Cameron’s former strategy adviser, Steve Hilton, said this resignation honours list revealed a “serious type of very British corruption”. Bernard Jenkin, MP, will invite the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee to examine the 60-plus awards given to Conservative donors, aides or special advisers and to review the system by which new peers are appointed. It has already been noted that May wants to cap the number of special advisors in Whitehall thought to be bloated with cronies. May’s joint chiefs of staff are understood to be in charge of “vetting” meritocracy.

The number of Conservative peers in the House of Lords is now 207, one more than Labour. When House of Commons returns on 5 September , her parliamentary majority may become vulnerable. 

The “resignation” of Justice Lowell Goddard, the third chairwoman to quit, has brought the doomed child abuse inquiry back into focus, an embarrassment to May since she actioned this inquiry as Home Secretary. It has been recently reported that Dame Goddard requested archive files from MI5 and MI6 to be examined for sex abuse allegations against the late Lord Janner. The Times reported that the Home Office and the Cabinet Office have also been asked if they hold material relevant to the investigation. The Janner family says these enquiries are unfair as the deceased cannot defend himself. Janner’s friend and neighbouring constituency MP, Keith Vaz, Chair of the Home Office Select Committee, has suggested the scope of the report is too big and that it should be divided into more manageable sections. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has assured that “The success of this inquiry remains an absolute priority for this government.”

The number of Conservative peers in the House of Lords is now 207, one more than Labour. Corbyn criticised Cameron’s list, but undermined his position by elevating Shami Chakrabarti to the House of Lords. Chakrabarti is a former director of Liberty, an NGO that campaigns for civil liberties and human rights in the UK. The peerage is controversial as she was the author of the “Chakrabarti Inquiry” into Labour’s alledged anti-Semitism, which stated that “the Labour Party is not overrun by anti Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism”. The report, which has been called a whitewash, ended in 20 recommendations from Chakrabarti including “Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular” and “epithets such as ‘Paki’, ‘Zio’ and others should have no place in Labour Party discourse going forward”.

Although the Labour is in constant disarray and the antagonism between Corbyn and Owen Smith grows stronger during the current leadership hustings, Corbyn still retains the majority of support, helped by the High Court’s decision that the 130,000 Labour members, who joined since 12 January should be allowed to vote. This week, Deputy Leader Tom Watson accused Corbyn of allowing a “Trotskyist Labour infiltration”. Watson claims he has evidence that hard left activists and members of the Socialist Party, that were driven out in the 1980s by Neil Kinnock, have returned to support Corbyn. The Socialist Party’s leader, Peter Taaffe, said Corbyn was welcoming “to all strands of socialist and working class opinion” and Corbyn’s huge support is due to him representing a break from the pro-capitalist, pro-austerity, pro-war politicians that have so-called dominated Parliament for the last 20 years. 

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