Weekly Wrap-Up – 31/05 – 06/06

Just a quick one this week, folks. We here at BTL HQ have been putting blood, sweat and tears into getting the Tory Leadership Race blog up and running, and that has meant sifting through some pretty mediocre newspaper articles about some pretty mediocre politicians.

However, there are also some fascinating candidates besides the big-hitters of Johnson and Gove, and we’ve also explained exactly how the system works.

Hint: It’s not a great system.

But the most pertinent news story this week in British Politics was the arrival of The Donald.


Donald Duck Trump Comes To Town

It’s always reassuring to know that even if your own house is falling to pieces, at least your neighbour’s is already ablaze with the fury of a thousand populist suns. Trump’s America is about as divided as the split between those who stand to wipe and those who sit.

Donald Trump set down for his first real state visit this week, following on from last year’s fleeting, business-heavy trip. He met and dined with the Queen and the Royal Family without causing any major diplomatic rifts, claimed that the NHS would be a target for future trade deals then backed down… hell, he even backtracked on his claim that the Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle) was “nasty.”

All in all, it went rather well… considering…

…You know. Trump.

However, he did manage to cause a political stir by slagging off the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, before he even landed, and on Tuesday he also claimed to not know Michael Gove, prominent candidate for the Tory leadership, despite being interviewed by him a few years ago. Instead, he gave his blessings to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, which is probably not as meaningful a gesture as it would have been a few years / exactly one President ago.

Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, absconded from his invitation to the banquet with Trump’s delegation and gave a speech at an anti-Trump rally, then changed his mind and asked to meet with him, only to be denied the meeting.

Way to stick to your guns, Corbo.

Then, yesterday, Trump travelled to France to take part in the profoundly moving memorial of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Tonally, his speech was very good, which probably means he had nothing to do with the writing of it. The day was granted the sombre and reflective tone it deserved.

All in all, Trump threw a few spanners into the works, as he is wont to do, ignored the protests against him and called it fake news, but also failed to be an abject nightmare for all concerned.

It’s a sign of where politics has gone that this is considered to be a considerable diplomatic win.

For more info on his first two days in the UK, please check out our article here.


But What Of The Tories?!

I know, I know – it’s so exciting my brain might melt.

Well, as we linked to above, Between the Lines has taken some time to put together a comprehensive guide to the Tory Leadership Race this week. There have been some developments, too:

  • Matt Hancock made the bold move of calling Jeremy Corbyn himself an anti-Semite, a ballsy move that will probably see him slapped down with a defamation case;
  • Dominic Raab said that he would push through a no-deal Brexit by circumventing Parliament through proroguing it (calling an end to it without calling for a new one).
  • John Bercow, arguably becoming the most unlikely bastion of democracy in history, has since said that Raab’s idea is practically impossible.

Woof.

The hustings to the One Nation (or moderate and progressive) Tories were held this week, and Raab came off incredibly badly. We can but hope, as we alluded to in our analysis of his strategy, that this utter moron and his policies are taken off the table for good.

But who knows anymore?

Stay tuned next week folks – things are going to get bumpy until the Summer Recess, where MPs will take some time off. Then, a new Conservative Prime Minister will be announced.

Then, the shit will hit the fan.

You heard it here first. Have a lovely weekend!


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Sam Gyimah

Name:
Samuel Phillip Gyimah

Age:
42

Current Position In Government:
None
(Formerly Minister for Universities)

Current Position In Circus:
Trampolinist – Launching himself as high as he can

MP For:
East Surrey

Best Known For:
Promoting freedom of speech in university campuses

Previous Career:
Investment banking, Recruitment

View On Brexit:
Loud advocate for a Second Referendum

Bookmakers’ Odds:
250/1- Skybet, 06/06

Campaign Video:
None so far.

Pros:

  • A candidate who brings something different to the table
  • Another young, progressive Tory who could be the future

Cons:

  • Amongst the Tory electorate, being in favour of a second referendum is basically signing your own death warrant
  • Another relative unknown

Analysis:

Quite bold for someone with so little political clout to stand – probably one with his eyes on the future prize like McVey or Hancock.

Will not get far.


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Mark Harper

Name:
Mark James Harper

Age:
49

Current Position In Government:
None
(Formerly Chief Whip)

Current Position In Circus:
Clown No. 6 – Who?

MP For:
Forest of Dean

Best Known For:
Being in favour of fox hunting… at a push

Previous Career:
Accountancy

View On Brexit:
Voted Remain.
Seek better deal and short extension if required – no-deal is a fall-back.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
100/1 – The Times, 11/06

Campaign Video:

Pros:

  • Well turned-out…
  • I like the heavy-gravitas music in his campaign video

Cons:

  • A total unknown
  • Middle-of-the-road, beige politician… I think?

Analysis:

Who?


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Esther McVey

Name:
Esther McVey

Age:
51

Current Position In Government:
None
(Formerly Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)

Current Position In Circus:
Fire Eater – Spits out fire, burning those in the immediate vicinity

MP For:
Wirral West

Best Known For:
Claiming that poor families only use food banks because they prioritise new mobile phones over food.

Previous Career:
Businesswoman and TV Presenter – co-presented GMTV

View On Brexit:
Voted Leave.
No deal, and Parliament gets no say – also plans to prorogue.

Major Policy Idea:
Give all public sector workers yearly pay increases in line with inflation. To do this, reduce foreign aid spend.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
100/1 – The Times, 11/06

Campaign Video:

Pros:

  • …as per Dominic Raab, we really try to be impartial at Between the Lines. We really do.
  • Strong support from the Vote Leave campaign
  • She won’t be elected

Cons:

  • Again, no-deal is not something that should be pursued. It’s widely condemned to be extremely damaging economically. There is no disputing democracy would be badly damaged if Brexit isn’t delivered, but no-deal is outright stupid. 
  • Probably too much of an unknown.

Analysis:

This hard stance on Brexit smacks of being remembered for the right stance further down the line. Should Brexit not be delivered, she could manoeuvre herself into a position of power by saying that she always campaigned for no-deal.

She doesn’t have the support at the moment to succeed, but she’s one to keep an eye on.


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Andrea Leadsom

Name:
Andrea Jacqueline Leadsom

Age:
56

Current Position In Government:
Resigned as Leader of House of Commons just before May quit

Current Position In Circus:
Dressage – Sits atop her high horse, the horse does not look comfortable

MP For:
South Northamptonshire

Best Known For:
Fighting for the leadership against Theresa May, and claiming she would make a better leader than her because she’s a mother.

Previous Career:
Banking

View On Brexit:
Voted to Leave.
No renegotiation, only a “managed no-deal,” with small pieces of legislation to protect citizens’ rights keep goods moving. This has been dismissed by the EU already.

Major Policy Idea:
Overhaul tuition fees for university – stop interest accumulating on loads until after students have left university.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
8/1- The Times, 11/06

Campaign Video:
https://twitter.com/TeamLeadsom/status/1136996231916314624

Pros:

  • A seasoned Tory politician, with allies throughout the Party
  • When working as Leader of the House of Commons, worked her role seriously and even earned the praise of Jess Phillips, a staunchly anti-Tory MP
  • Hard stance on Brexit makes her popular with many Tory supporters and MPs

Cons:

  • Her slight against Theresa May was largely seen as below-the-belt, which means that she is seen by some as slightly too ruthless and driven
  • Slightly matronly tone that doesn’t sit well with some members of the electorate

Analysis:

A committed leaver, Leadsom will certainly be up there with the leading candidates as the race ploughs on towards the finish line. This writer cannot quite make up their mind about whether or not she is a bit of a power-hungry career politician, or a competent and quieter option.

Perhaps her slight against May sits worse with me than with others. Additionally, proactively going for a damaging no-deal ahead of trying to find some kind of deal is such an objectively stupid thing to do that it makes me question her brain.

Either way, one to watch.


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Rory Stewart

Name:
Roderick James Nugent “Rory” Stewart

Age:
46

Current Position In Government:
Secretary of State for International Development

Current Position In Circus:
Unicyclist – Going round the crowd, entertaining them and maintaining the balancing act

MP For:
Penrith and The Border

Best Known For:
Making campaign videos that look like selfies but aren’t.

Screenshot 2019-06-06 at 12.13.20

And then admitting to it.

Previous Career:
Where to start.

  • Tutor to Princes William and Harry,
  • Foreign Office in British Embassy in Indonesia,
  • British Representative to Montenegro after the Kosovo crisis aged 26 (also possibly as a spy),
  • Military co-ordinator in Iraq (awarded OBE),
  • Worked for an NGO in Afghanistan,
  • Fellow at Harvard University Centre for Human Rights Policy.

View On Brexit:
Voted Remain.
Says that no-deal would be disastrous, and wants to create a Citizens’ Assembly with 500 members of the public to find a solution. Fan of May’s deal, seeking consensus with Labour to push it through.

Major Policy Idea:
Would expand the National Citizen Service to make it universal for all teenagers – essentially, enforced community service to bring young people of different walks of life together.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
25/1- Skybet, 06/06

Campaign Video:
Not really a campaign video, but in an interview with JOE Media he spelled out his vision pretty clearly.

Pros:

  • An absolutely bizarre Tory politician – incredibly diverse background, an almost entirely on-foot campaign to talk to real people without the usual fanfare… what is happening?
  • A new, fresh face with good ideas.
  • Seems to be winning over non-Tory voters, too.

Cons:

  • Another unknown entity – could be a positive in modern times, but also doesn’t have the clout of other candidates.
  • Definitive stance against no-deal is likely to put off the more right-wing factions of the Conservative Party and voter-base.
  • Sounds a little bit like a deflated Tony Blair – does he have the oomph of rivals like BoJo?

Analysis:

Rory Stewart has come out of the woodwork like an earwig on crack. His unconventional campaign and common-sense approach are at odds with much of the Tory voter-base pandering of his rivals.

However, this carries a risk – he’s certainly generating support with the public, but they famously have no say in who becomes PM. That falls to the Tory MPs and Conservative Party membership, who he might be doing a good job of alienating.

Rory Stewart might just be on the path to being a brilliant politician, but probably one for after Brexit.


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Matt Hancock

Name:
Matthew John David Hancock

Age:
40

Current Position In Government:
Health Secretary

Current Position In Circus:
Acrobat – Will he continue to soar? Or plummet back down to earth?

MP For:
West Suffolk

Best Known For:
Making an app of himself (no, really)

Previous Career:
His family’s software company, then Economist at Bank of England.

View On Brexit:
Voted Remain.
Says that Brexit can only be between a deal or no Brexit, because no-deal would not be allowed by Parliament. Suggested an Irish border council to resolve backstop. Open to extension.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
100/1- The Times, 11/06

Campaign Video:

Pros:

  • Seen as a youthful face for the Tories at a time where they are haemorrhaging youth votes
  • Progressive, modernising
  • Shows a real passion for what he does – seems to be one of the more less cynical politicians in the race

Cons:

  • Youth not always a positive – hasn’t had the time to develop real clout as a politician
  • Not good under interview pressure – had some pretty cringe-worthy interviews following May’s Withdrawal Bill defeats
  • Recently wore a white t-shirt tucked into jeans, while wearing a jacket. This is unacceptable on all levels

Analysis:

Little Matty Hancock is being touted as the future of the Conservative Party, and it’s reasonably easy to see why – he’s basically David Cameron-lite.

He seems to be in politics to make a difference rather than play the political game, making him seem like less of a manipulator than some of his rivals.

However, this is probably too much, too soon. Another one to watch for the future.


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Sajid David

Name:
Sajid David

Age:
49

Current Position In Government:
Home Secretary

Current Position In Circus:
Strongman – Soldiers on and carries burdens

MP For:
Bromsgrove

Best Known For:
Reportedly calling himself “The Saj.”

…Although he denies this. You would, wouldn’t you?

Previous Career:
Banking

View On Brexit:
Voted Remain.
Thinks he can secure a change to the backstop, but no extension.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
20/1- The Times, 11/06

Campaign Video:

Pros:

  • An unconventional Tory – he has proudly described his roots as the son of a bus driver from Romford
  • Not prone to gaffes – a safe pair of hands
  • Proudly campaigns as a man from a Pakistani Muslim household (despite not being religious himself) and is a keen ally of the Jewish community

Cons:

  • Another candidate who doesn’t set the world on fire – not a brilliant orator
  • Former Remainer
  • No huge wins to his name yet – is not a big-hitter

Analysis:

Sajid David is a competent politician, but doesn’t seem to be too much of an actual leader, let alone one who could bring the country together at its most divided time in a generation.

He seems to be a good man, but unfortunately that doesn’t quite cut it these days.

Possible one to watch for the future.


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Dominic Raab

Name:
Dominic Rennie Raab

Age:
45

Current Position In Government:
None
Former Brexit Secretary (for five months)

Current Position In Circus:
Clown – Funny if he wasn’t so scary, fundamentally stupid, makes children cry

MP For:
Esher and Walton

Best Known For:
Taking over the Brexit negotiations from David Davis, finalising the Brexit deal, then voting against it. He voted AGAINST THE THING HE NEGOTIATED.

Previous Career:
Law, with a focus on International Law.

View On Brexit:
Voted Leave.
No-deal. Just no-deal.

Major Policy Idea:
Make Britain a world leader in resolving climate change through technology. Also, cut basic rate of tax.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
20/1- The Times, 11/06

Campaign Video:

Pros:

  • Look, Between the Lines always tries its best to be impartial. We really do.
  • Like, seriously, we go out of our way to listen to both sides of every argument.
  • We really do. Promise.
  • He has a very soothing, softly-spoken voice.

Cons:

  • Utterly incompetent – many EU negotiators hold him personally responsible for the Withdrawal Agreement being a failure.
  • Didn’t realise that Calais was a major trading port until he was made Brexit secretary.
  • One-track mind with Brexit – Leave, and to hell with the consequences. No attempt at making the situation better, despite the economic damage a no-deal break would cause.
  • Openly not a feminist – a phrase which means equality for men and women. When pushed on this, still avoided the label.
  • Has said he would prorogue Parliament to enforce Brexit – i.e. try to circumvent democratically-elected politicians to push no-deal through.
  • I know he’s biased, but James O’Brien, the liberal LBC radio host, made a very good video about Raab, which you can find here.

Analysis:

The concept of Dominic Raab becoming Prime Minister is, on every level, horrifying. The man is the embodiment of everything that people hate about the Tories.

He’s thick, he’s spiteful, but it still feels like he thinks he deserves to be Prime Minister.

And yet he’s at 20/1.

Despite his middle name being Rennie, he gives me actual heartburn.


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Jeremy Hunt

Name:
Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt

Age:
52

Current Position In Government:
Foreign Secretary

Current Position In Circus:
Lion Tamer – Tries to keep the beasts at bay, but will probably end up getting mauled at some point

MP For:
South West Surrey

Best Known For:

And also for waging war with the NHS during his time as Health Secretary.

Previous Career:
Management Consultant, English Teacher in Japan, Entrepreneur – supposedly is the “richest Cabinet member.” If that matters.

View On Brexit:
Voted Remain.
Willing to look at an extension in pursuit of a better deal.

Major Policy Idea:
Attempt to fix the social care crisis by giving more funds to local authorities and combining healthcare and social care systems.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
9/2 – The Times, 11/06

Campaign Video:

Pros:

  • A moderate, progressive Tory who’s been in the thick of it for a while
  • Has an understanding of foreign affairs and cultures that could be argued as lacking in other candidates
  • Despite huge unpopularity in a tricky situation, he stuck to his principles with regards to the NHS – it shows that he has a certain amount of backbone

Cons:

  • Hugely, massively unpopular with doctors, nurses, anyone who likes the NHS, and arguably most young people
  • Not a dominant leader
  • Just a bit… meh?

Analysis:

Jeremy Hunt is a loyal modern Tory. Take that as you will.

He is more competent than he looks, despite a particularly weird gaffe where he thought that his wife was Chinese when in fact she was Japanese (!).

Following the recent endorsements of both Amber Rudd and Penny Mordaunt, two respected Tory politicians, he looks like he might be the dark horse in the contest.


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