Michael Gove

Name:
Michael Andrew Gove

Age:
51

Current Position In Government:
Environment Secretary

Current Position In Circus:
Contortionist – Twists and turns at every opportunity to make himself please everyone

MP For:
Surrey Heath

Known Best For:

Looking like Pob.

Perhaps slightly more fairly, his department has taken big steps towards reducing plastic consumption. His time as Education Secretary was fraught with criticism, however.

Previous Career:
Journalist at The Times, author.

View On Brexit:
Voted Leave.
Will go back to Brussels to try to negotiate a better deal, but open to idea of extension of a year. However, must leave the EU before next General Election. Keen to protect rights of EU citizens in the UK.

Major Policy Ideas:
Scrap VAT and replace it with a “sales tax.” Reform business rates to reduce advantage for internet retailers.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
16/1 – Skybet, 11/06

Campaign Video:

Pros:

  • A competent politician – achieved demonstrable success as Environment Secretary
  • A more moderate candidate than some of the hard-line Brexiteers
  • Has allies on both the moderate and right-wing sides of the Conservative Party
  • Surprisingly good orator

Cons:

  • Subject of some serious criticisms whilst Education Secretary, including cutting the previous government’s school-building programme and encouraging the creation of more academies – highly controversial moves that led to teachers’ strikes.
  • Seen as duplicitous – was famously Boris’ most prominent ally during Johnson’s PM bid in 2016, yet stabbed him in the back at the 11th hour to run his own campaign.
  • Recently admitted to using cocaine recreationally numerous times when he was working as a journalist. This has not sat well within the party or with the public.

Analysis:

Gove isn’t exactly Mr. Set-The-World-On-Fire, but since his controversial time as Education Secretary he has settled down to become a pretty safe pair of hands (unless your name is BoJo).

Progressive social politics and a diplomatic, rational approach to resolving Brexit appeal to the more moderate One Nation Conservatives, and his stint as a prominent member of Vote Leave means he has allies within the more right-wing ERG, too.

While Boris is the outstanding candidate, Gove is certainly one to watch…

*UPDATE: …Or rather he was, until his cocaine gaffe. This may prove to just be a hiccup rather than a full on catastrophe, however.


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Folks Like U.S.

The Trump train arrived in the United Kingdom to the sight of someone having cut the grass in their field, underneath Air Force One’s flightpath, to tell The Donald that ‘Climate change is real.’ He also curated a massive topiary todger just to reinforce the point.

There’s plenty going on in the UK at the moment. There are parallels between Farage’s brand of populist politics and Trump’s courting of the rust-belt vote, bitter divisions over Brexit ripping the country apart and a lame duck PM who’s two days from early retirement.

Yet, despite this, it is extremely pleasing to know that we still retain our sense of humour.


Coffee with Covfefe

Team Trump arrived on Monday to much fanfare, but interestingly there was no actual red carpet at the base of Air Force One. Knowing the gaudiness of our esteemed guest, it seems like this might have been something of an oversight (or a subtle dig).

First stop, The Royal Family.

By all accounts, things actually went rather well on the whole. By which I mean Trump didn’t accidentally insult the Queen, Melania managed to avoid Prince Phillip asking her how much she cost, and Prince Harry didn’t punch the President for calling his wife ‘nasty.’

Although Trump did, during an after-dinner speech at the YUGE banquet laid on for him, put his hand behind the Queen, which is strictly against protocol. At least he didn’t ping her bra.

Good God, do you think the Queen wears a bra? I’d never even thought about it before. I suppose she must do, even royal tits need support (except for Prince Andrew).

Badaboomtish. Sorry Queenie.

Anyway.

The joint speech went well, no-one was insulted, and it really did seem as though some of the recent rifts in the “Special Relationship” were water under the bridge. Although…


Khan U Not?

Before he even landed, Trump insulted Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, with whom he has previous. He called him a ‘Stone cold loser’ on Twitter, before basically saying “Anyway lol just landing, brb.”

This didn’t sit well with many across the country, especially Labour supporters, and Khan even got support from Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of NYC and a current Democratic candidate for the 2020 Presidential election. The two have already bonded over a mutual dislike of Trump, with Khan even visiting de Blasio during the Presidential campaign in 2016.

It’s probably not quite what Trump had in mind when he thinks of the ‘Special Relationship,’ but at least London and NYC seem to be getting on well.

Yesterday was a far more political affair. Trump held meetings with various politicians, including the outgoing PM. Jeremy Corbyn had another weird day at the office, giving a speech at an anti-Trump rally before backtracking and trying to meet with him.

Trump denied him one. A future PM in the making, ladies and gentlemen.

Trump did, however, also hold a joint press conference with Theresa May.

Some highlights:

  • He said that he knew Boris Johnson (absent to prepare for Tory leadership hustings) and Jeremy Hunt, but didn’t know Michael Gove, despite having a picture with him on his last trip. Savage.
  • He then asked Hunt if Gove would make a good PM. Depending on which report you read, Hunt either laughed or said ‘Of course.’ I’d guess a little of column A and a little of column B.
  • He claimed that a new trade deal with the US post-Brexit could be a game-changer for both economies (which many economists have already disputed).
  • He also said that the NHS could well form a part of these trade negotiations.

National Wealth Service

This was a dangerous thing to say, because a privatised NHS is something that could dismantle it and change it from the incredible organisation it is today. (It is worth noting, at this point, that Trump-ally Nigel Farage has previously said that this is something that he would want to look at.)

Now, this situation is complicated, so let’s break it down simply.

US companies getting contracts to supply drugs to the NHS could dramatically alter the cost and delivery of life-saving medicines. In order to be able to afford the supplies, the NHS might have to privatise more universally. The US’s health system is so dramatically privatised and dominated by Big Pharma companies that many of the poorest are still struggling to afford treatment, despite the best efforts of Obamacare.

The NHS, despite currently creaking to the point of snapping, still manages to treat people without them having to pay a penny for it. It’s a truly remarkable achievement in a furiously capitalist Western society, and absolutely should be protected at all costs.

It is definitely worth noting that every single Conservative leadership candidate has definitively said that the NHS is “Not for sale,” and Trump backtracked, too.

However, Alex Azar, Trump’s Health secretary, did declare last year that “socialised” health systems would have to pay more for US goods and services, so the threat is very, very real.

Today, all that is put behind us, as Trump and May go to Portsmouth to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.


And What Of The Tories?

Johnson, Sajid David, Andrea Leadsom and Rory Stewart held their first leadership hustings in front of the more moderate group of One Nation Conservative MPs. The other candidates will do the same over the coming days, but two names, James Cleverly and Kit Malthouse both dropped out of the running.

The Tory party have changed rules so that, when it comes to the first round of votes, each candidate must have 8 MPs backing them instead of the usual two, which will also likely cut the field down considerably.

Additionally, we now have some dates. While we knew that Theresa May will step down this Friday, the 7th of June, we now know when we will have a new Prime Minister:

The 23rd of July.

…And the next one by Christmas?

Who knows. Maybe we’ll even have a Labour leadership contest at some point to get rid of the mardy Marxist.

Everything you need to know on the Tory leadership contest can be found at the BTL CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE EXTRAVAGANZA.


And Finally…

Change UK.

6 MPs left the group to become independent MPs yesterday, leaving Anna Soubry in charge.

A noble cause, carried out with all the competence of a guide dog with ADHD. RIP Change UK.


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Boris Johnson

Name:
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

Age:
54

Current Position In Government:
None
(Formerly Mayor of London, Foreign Secretary)

Current Position In Circus:
Dancing Elephant – Entertaining to watch, but very powerful

MP For:
Uxbridge and South Ruislip

Known Best For:

Previous Career:
Journalist at The Times, Brussels Correspondent at The Daily Telegraph, Editor at the Spectator.
Also well known for appearances on Have I Got News For You.

View On Brexit:
Voted Leave.
Will go back to Brussels to try to negotiate a better deal, particularly with regards to the Backstop. If this fails, will leave with no-deal on the 31st of October.

Major Policy Ideas:
Increase funding per pupil at secondary schools.
Increase threshold for higher rate of income tax from £50K to £80K.

Bookmakers’ Odds:
5/4 – Skybet, 04/06

Campaign Video:

Pros:

  • Seasoned politician – arguably best credentials of the candidates
  • Extremely well-known
  • Enjoyed strong publicity as Mayor of London and 2012 Olympics
  • Liked by many non-Tory voters
  • Personable manner
  • Has many powerful allies throughout the party, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Chairman of the ERG
  • Prominent member of Vote Leave campaign

Cons:

  • Prone to ‘gaffes’:
    • Famously said “F*ck Business” – unhelpful given standard Tory stance as being pro-business
    • Absent-minded comment resulted in extended imprisonment of British citizen in Iran
    • Accusations of xenophobia – described women in Burkhas as looking like letterboxes
  • Some personal affairs have raised eyebrows, including allegedly paying off a woman who claims to have had a daughter by him, and questionable ethics within marriages.
  • Is currently facing a court hearing over lying during the 2016 Referendum campaign.
  • Famously slippery when it comes to policies – wrote two articles for The Telegraph before the Referendum result, one in favour of the EU and one against, but only published the winning viewpoint once the result was announced.
  • Tax giveaway is being widely denounced as a huge mistake that favours the rich and gives little to those in need.

Analysis:

Look, it’s Boris. Everyone knows Boris. He’s the outstanding candidate to become the next Prime Minister, is loved and reviled in equal measure by different quarters, but is undoubtedly an extremely powerful politician.

His slippery nature and willingness to adapt does throw an element of instability into the mix – some would argue that he is the only politician with enough clout to be able to survive if/when no-deal is rejected again.

He could even have the power to be able to turn public opinion in favour of a second referendum…

But, in the interim, he is most likely going to storm into power, storm off to Brussels, then plod back to the UK with very little to show for his swashbuckling promises. It’s the job he’s always wanted, but whether or not he will be a success is still uncertain.


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Cirque du Tory – The Conservative Leadership Race Explained

Roll up, Roll up!

Come one, come all, to the greatest show in town!

In case you hadn’t noticed, things have got a bit crazy lately. Theresa May, ringmaster to the absolute circus that British politics has become, has finally elected to hang up her riding crop and jodhpurs, leaving a vacuum on the centre stage.

By the 23rd of July, we will have a new Prime Minister.

Everyone from the lion-tamer to the dancing elephant has thrown their hat into the ring, which means plenty of choice but also plenty of confusion as to what each one actually stands for. Well, have a throw at the coconut shy, get yourself some candy-floss, then come and take your seat – we’ll explain it all for you.


Who Is Running?

Below is a list of the candidates. Each is a hyperlink – click through to learn more about the candidate.

Boris Johnson

Jeremy Hunt

Michael Gove – eliminated at 5th vote

Sajid Javid – eliminated at 4th vote

Rory Stewart – eliminated at 3rd vote

Dominic Raab – eliminated at 2nd vote

Matt Hancockpulled out 14/06

Andrea Leadsomeliminated at 1st vote

Esther McVey – eliminated at 1st vote

Mark Harper – eliminated at 1st vote

Sam Gyimahpulled out 10/06

James Cleverlypulled out

Kit Malthouse – pulled out


And How Does It All Work?

Well, first of all, we as bog-standard British citizens have no say in it. (Unless one of you reading is a member of the Conservative Party, in which case you do. You should probably know this if so.)

Each leadership hopeful will announce their candidacy, then go out and campaign – most candidates have now started doing this in earnest.

However, unlike a General Election, where candidates are trying to earn the votes of every single citizen of Britain, their campaigns here are to win over the other MPs in their own party and their own Party membership. 

The first part of the election is held by a vote of all Tory MPs. Multiple votes are held, where the candidate with the least amount of votes is whittled away each time until just two are left standing.

This means that candidates will have been playing a very careful and considered game to get as much support as possible from their colleagues as early as possible. However, a strong public campaign is also extremely useful in generating support from their peers, as support among the public => more support for the party => more chance of their MPs remaining in power.

Once there are just two left standing, the party membership votes for their favourite, who then becomes new Party Leader, and, in this case, the new Prime Minister.

The party membership are fee-paying supporters of the Conservative Party, who pay £25-a-year to be able to attend the Party Conference and vote in elections such as these.

Among the Tories, there are around 125,000 members. The average age of a party member is 72.

And these members will choose our new Prime Minister.


And What Does This All Mean For Brexit?

It really depends on who wins.

There are some quite progressive candidates on the list, such as Rory Stewart and Sam Gyimah, but also some staunch no-deal advocates such as Esther McVey and Dominic Raab.

A hardline Brexiteer will likely struggle to actually carry out their intentions – while a new Prime Minister may well inspire some former dissenters through strong leadership, the Parliamentary arithmetic will stay the same. No-deal will almost certainly continue to be defeated by Parliament, therefore, as whoever becomes leader will simply not have enough support for it to pass.

Additionally, renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels has also been flatly refused by the EU multiple times. Boris Johnson and many other candidates say that they would try to press for a better deal, but this will be next-to-impossible, too.

So, come the deadline on October 31st, a hardline Brexiteer may find that they cannot leave with no-deal, have no better deal to try and win Parliament over, and rely on a support-base that refuses to allow an extension.

Essentially, exactly where Theresa May found herself.

Whoever becomes Prime Minister next will have an extremely tough time – I would bet good money on whoever gets the job being forced out by the end of 2019. It could be the end of a prominent politician’s career…

Or even the end of the Tory Party. 


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