The government still hopes to pass a deal before candidates elected into MEPs have to sit in the European Parliament.
US Secretary Mike R. Pompeo delivered the Margaret Thatcher Lecture at the Centre Policy Studies; a brilliant lecture full of optimism and caution. Pompeo is clearly an admirer of Thatcher. Almost immediately he invoked the special relationship and the shared values of justice, freedom and truth derived from a common history and culture between US and UK. He referred to the defence and diplomatic partnership and the intelligence relationship, in this context. Pompeo also cautioned about China’s cyber capabilities and how it has surreptitiously integrated into Western economies, with plans to steal intellectual property and become dominant in Artificial Intelligence (AI), space technology and ballistic missiles. Pompeo directly challenged Prime Minister Theresa May’s Huawei intentions when he asked if the Iron Lady would have allowed “the Belt and Road Initiative without demanding absolute transparency and the highest standards? Would she allow China to control the internet of the future?” Post-Brexit Secretary Pompeo said that President Trump was ready to go with a new Anglo-American free trade agreement.
Another important event this week was the talk between Britain’s favourite philosopher Roger Scruton and Douglas Murray, political commentator and associate editor of The Spectator. Following Professor Scruton’s trial by Twitter for comments quoted out of context by the New Statesman magazine and his subsequent unnecessary sacking from the Building Better and Building Beautiful commission by a government minister, Scruton acolytes and fellow conservatives rallied to support him. Scruton and Murray discussed the meaning and future of conservatism, and how Scruton has made a career to make it an intellectually respectable cause. He explained conservatism is an instinct to hold on to and protect what we love, the heritage of political order and home (country/society/a shared background, identity and nation); they agreed love of this is not an easy sell but how easy it is to turn hatred, resentment and oppression into a political movement. Murray referred to the tool-boxes of the left and right, in essence, socialism promises everything to everyone without any explanation of how it will be funded and how hesitant Conservatives are to open the box and broadcast their solutions. There was a suggestion Scruton may continue his Better Beautiful Homes project privately.
The European Parliament elections have begun and postal voting is already underway. The UK government strategy is to get out the loyal bloc of the Conservative votes, but due to the possible overspend of the Electoral National Spending Limit, Conservatives candidates may be restricted about how much they can spend on campaigning. All candidates will share a common leaflet without any candidate input promoting the Brexit Deal, with an anti-Farage and anti-Corbyn flavour. The government still hopes to pass a deal before candidates elected into Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have to sit in the European Parliament on 22 June.
The National Conservative Convention, the party’s voluntary wing and activists’ representative, has chosen to hold a vote of No Confidence for the Prime Minister on 15 June. Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee, hastened to No10 for unconditional details on when the PM will leave No10 and relinquish leadership of the Tory party. He left without details. The Brexit conversations between Labour and the Conservatives have made no known progress. The team in charge of leaving the European Union (EU) apparently have little commitment. The PM’s chief Brexit negotiator and adviser Olly Robbins has accidently confirmed he is a Brexit renegade. Guy Verhofstadt EU’s chief Brexit co-ordinator, is caught on camera revealing Robbins requested EU citizenship. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leaders met with May to discuss the future of their confidence and supply arrangement, which is all the more important now that Johnny Mercer has withdrawn his support for May. It looks like her majority is now minus one, a situation that would make most governments untenable.
The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) will return to the House of Commons soon. Support is likely to be weaker because of the lost confidence in May’s tireless efforts, unless the Backstop is eliminated or changed to satisfy the European Research Group (ERG), it is unlikely to pass. It is being reported that May is contemplating introducing the WA sans the Backstop, whether this is permanent elimination or to be resolved later, is not clear. Brexit action-man Steve Baker, who has accepted his nomenclature as Brexit hard-man, has a conscience to deliver Brexit undiluted. He has confirmed that “postponing the implementation of the most unpalatable parts of the Withdrawal Agreement in the hope they disappear is the legislative equivalent of fat free chocolate, headache free wine or exercising while sitting down.” The Deputy chair of ERG has tirelessly opposed May’s deal and is gathering a significant and credible following encouraging him to stand for prime minister.
Mark Wallace, opinion influencer at Conservative Home, has identified the new dividing line among would-be Tory leadership candidates: experience versus a “new generation” and a fresh start.
The beauty parade of Tory leadership contestants grows themselves daily; Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt and Amber Rudd represent those with ministerial experience. They are joined by Esther McVey, Rory Stewart, Johnny Mercer and James Cleverly from the backbenches. Rory Stewart is batting for Theresa May’s Deal and is actively promoting himself as “a good Prime Minister”, Esther McVey is UK’s 25th most popular Conservative politician and described as ambitious, good looking, up and coming.