Swinging His Johnson About

D-Day.

Or rather, B-Day.

In yesterday’s scorching heat, itself preceded by tumultuous thunderclaps and lightning flashes during the night, the sun set on one era and rose on another.

It was a day of drama, tension, and upheaval – everything an important day in politics should be.

We said goodbye to Theresa May and welcomed in Boris Johnson. Nobody quite knew what was going to happen as the political panda that is Mr Johnson shuffled into the doors of Number 10, Downing Street.

But by golly and by gosh did he immediately leave his mark.


The Maybot Is Terminated

Yesterday, we said a sort-of-but-not-all-that fond farewell to Theresa May, Britain’s second female Prime Minister. A mere 120 days since May first offered to resign in order to push her Brexit deal through, she was finally done.

But, before she could depart No. 10 and hand the keys over to Bozza, Tezza had one last Prime Minister’s Questions to take part in. To a packed House of Commons, she fielded “questions” from all over the house, which were mostly just complimentary statements about her premiership from stooges or admirers.

This is the norm for a PM’s final PMQs – play nice, thank them for their service, turf them out with a nice gift of a decanter or a handbag and then move on.

Jeremy Corbyn, however, didn’t get the memo – he laid into May’s legacy, highlighting her shortcomings on policy and failure to address some serious social issues like homelessness and food banks.

And, in a moment that makes me wish she’d had a bit more chutzpah from the start, she showed humility towards Corbyn with her final statement to him…

And then told him that he should follow her example and stand down as leader of the Labour Party.

This, in political terms, is the equivalent of shaking someone’s hand, kicking them in the shin, farting on their head while they’re keeled over then setting off on a moped, aiming a ferociously-flipped bird in their direction as you do so.

It was rather glorious.

Then, tears brimming, she said her goodbyes, marched out of the Commons, shaking the hand of John Bercow as she went (some enemies aren’t worth keeping), and set off for Buckingham Palace.


BoJo Time

After resigning to Queenie, May left the palace and retreated to her constituency in Maidenhead.

The time had come.

Boris, on his way to meet with the Queen, was met by climate change protestors who forced him to change his route, but this was a mere hiccup on the path to fulfil his destiny – far worse had befallen him before, only to be vanquished.

…Like Michael Gove stabbing him in the back, lest we forget.

Ho ho ho.

As per tradition, the Queen invited him to form a government, which he accepted. He was then carted back to Number 10 to give his maiden speech – so far, so textbook.

But this is Boris we are talking about – nothing is ever as straightforward as that. There were a few… oddities… about his speech.

Firstly, it was held to the backdrop of anti-Brexit protestors screaming at the top of their lungs outside the gates to Downing Street, and pro-Brexit counter-protestors screaming right back at them.

I travelled to Downing Street myself yesterday to be met by chants of “BORIS IS A LIAR” to the backing track of “Killing In The Name Of” by Rage Against The Machine. British politics is fun.

Second, his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, already a target of excruciatingly intense media coverage following the release of her recorded bust-up with Boris, did not accompany him to the palace – she instead stood waiting with the rest of his staff outside the doors to No. 10.

While not a bad thing at all in and of itself, it is atypical for an incumbent Prime Minister to not appear with their partner… although Boris is still technically married to someone else, so that might be for the best.

Most importantly, his speech itself showed more than we thought it might – while there was little in the way of real substance, went on far too long, and was an oratory mess, it told us one, major thing: Boris means business on Brexit. 

While many had suspected that Boris might play his cards a little closer to his chest in order to keep both sides of his warring party together for as long as possible, Boris doubled down on his commitment to leaving the EU by the 31st of October, and promised to negotiate a new deal.

Which the EU have said, repeatedly and clearly, will not happen.

But Boris was not done yet. Not by a long shot.


Collaborative Cabinet or All-Out War…drobe?

Wardrobe.

War.

…Or something.

Boris didn’t reshuffle the Cabinet so much as disassemble it, lovingly stack it into a firepit, pour lighter fluid on it and burn it into ashes.

My God, it was a massacre. That sounds hyperbolic, but seventeen ministers were sacked or left of their own accord – a truly absurd number.

Look, I’ll go into more detail about the new Cabinet in a blog in the next few days and give you the lowdown on the new faces but the one thing to know is this:

This is not a collaborative government. There is not the width and breadth of ideological and political opinion in there that there was in May’s government.

This is a Brexit task-force.

And they face Mission Impossible.


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Long Live The King

As I write, it is 1am. It is currently apocalyptic outside.

With a torrential downpour acting as the percussion, the night’s sky is a symphony. Regular, pallid illuminations of the garden act as a melody, with the alarmingly frequent forks of jagged lightning skimming across the sky serving as dissonant frills to an already jarring tonality.

The thunder, rolling in and out from far and near, serves as an unwilling timpani.

Two things could have caused such a malevolent force across our national clime.

  1. Cthulu, Beelzebub, or Hades themselves have risen, turning these fair green lands into their playground;
  2. Or Boris Johnson finally became Prime Minister.

Lol, it’s deffo number 2.

And actually, Boris deserves to be Prime Minister – a superb orator, someone who commands loyalty and respect from those around him, and someone who is, despite everything, trying to mobilise Britain with something that has been lost for quite some time now…

Optimism.

And yet I find myself watching the storm outside, worrying for the mental fortitude of the dogs downstairs, and finding myself falling on the side of the critics.

It boils down to one, all-encompassing and yet unanswerable question:

How does Boris make us survive the storm that, once forewarned, is now finally falling upon us?


Route One: The Masterplan

Boris is, as he has himself confessed, someone who believes that bravado and courage are more important than having a clear-cut plan. He is also someone who is more than happy to put the interests of a career, and the long-term, over what is arguably right.

This is, after all, the man who wrote two columns for the The Telegraph in 2016 – one in favour of Remain, and one in favour of Leave. He only chose the latter mere hours before the result was announced.

But underneath it all lies an extremely intelligent man, make no mistake. The hair, the bluster, the bonhomie – it is all a calculated plan to be the acceptable face of conservatism to a nation that lurches in and out of support of it.

Perhaps his claims during the election campaign were merely a mask. Perhaps his claims of leaving on October 31st “come hell or high water” are merely a ploy to strike fear into the hearts of the EU.

Perhaps there is an ace in his sleeve. Perhaps there is a get-out-of-jail-free card that is yet to be played.

But many, far more intelligent people than this humble writer have yet to see it. It is unlikely that there is an angle that no-one else has seen yet.

But you never know.


Route Two: The Boris Factor

There is no denying that Boris is a force of nature. 

This writer has even experienced it himself.

In 2006, I attended a debate that he was on the panel for. When questions were opened to the floor, I asked him, “Do you think that your political success is because of your appearances on Have I Got News For You?”

This was in front of around 600 people, many of them also prominent politicians, and the question sparked a murmur in the room (and suddenly made me need to urinate very urgently).

However, he simply chuckled and then gave his answer, all the while making welcoming, non-threatening eye-contact with me. He even cracked jokes which were warmly received by the room before him.

I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t listen a word he said – it was like being under a spell of joviality and warmth and I just found myself smiling and nodding.

But back then, I was but a mere teenager, acne-ridden and wide-eyed. The EU are not teenagers, nor are they acne-ridden or wide-eyed.

They are hard-nosed negotiators, who have the backing of an entire continent of trade and political security. We are an island, with waning power, and a distinct lack of self-awareness concerning our empirical past.

Boris might have charmed me, but I cannot envisage a time where he would have Ursula von der Leyen in the palm of his hand.


Route Three: The Ritual Sacrifice

King Boris will never fall on his sword.

However, his refusal to do so may prove to be the tipping point.

To watch any documentary about Boris recently is to see a man who is desperately insecure. According to widely-shared accounts, he has always been a man who believes that he deserves different treatment to those around him, for he knows better.

And yet, for a man who knows better, he has chosen to take the poisoned chalice of the Tory leadership at the time where it is less wine than it is pure arsenic.

He knows that Parliament will block no-deal. He knows that Parliament will block prorogation. He knows that Parliament will block anything he does, and he knows that his majority will soon be down to just three.

Three.

A majority to pass a white paper on the idea that “Kicking Kittens Is Wrong,” but little else.

The fact of the matter is that Boris will, more likely than not, come to realise that his timing was nothing short of catastrophic. His premiership will come crashing down around him as he realises that his promises of leaving on October 31st will eventually be proven to be lies; that he cannot be a One Nation Conservative while he panders to the ERG; and that a divided nation will not unite under him in these apolitical times.

In short, Boris is fucked.

A man who has always dreamed of becoming Prime Minister has chosen the worst time in history to do it. In a matter of weeks, his bluster and bravado will make way for pleading and pandering. His plans will fall to ashes, he will be forced into a General Election, and God only knows what will happen then.

Or, if fortune favours him, he will lead us into a no-deal Brexit. And it will be on his shoulders, and his alone, if the damage done to our economy is as bad as the warnings say.

The King Is Already Dead.

Long Live The King.


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You Swinson, You Lose Some

Well, folks, here we go. Today, we will find out whether our new Prime Minister will be Boris Johnson (it will) or Jeremy Hunt (it won’t).

While it is almost certain that the blonde, bumbling BoJo will take office, the question is by how much? Will he romp to victory, giving his no-deal credentials a shot in the arm? Will he flatten Hunt, giving him a mandate from the Tory membership to press on, at full steam, to leave the EU on October 31st, come hell or high water?

Or will it be closer than we thought? If he only narrowly wins, might the first seeds of doubt start to creep in to his mind? Maybe no-deal isn’t such a good idea after all, if even the Tory faithful don’t believe in it…

But let’s save the speculation and discuss it when we know the answer.

For today’s new leader isn’t the only new face this week…


I’m Sorry What? The Lib Dems Have Been Having a Leadership Contest?

Yep. Despite next to no coverage by the media whatsoever, the Liberal Democrats have also been holding hustings up and down the country over the last few weeks. The two candidates, Jo Swinson and Sir Ed Davey, were competing to take over from Sir Vince Cable.

…Who is around 400 years old.

And, yesterday, it was announced that Jo Swinson had won the contest by a whopping 47,000 votes to Sir Ed’s 28,000, making her the first female leader of the Liberal Democrats.

This leaves only the Labour Party as a major political party to have never been led by a woman.

Anyway, her maiden speech was surprisingly good.

She was optimistic, magnanimous, consensus-building and open to cross-party collaboration.

She was also openly, politely, and fiercely critical of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, the Tories, Labour, Brexit, Leave.EU and just about anyone that has taken centre stage since the 2016 Referendum was announced. She championed liberalism, and spoke passionately about her desire to see a society where those who worked hard got what they deserved – a societal contract that she believes is currently broken.

She also announced that she would do everything in her power to stop Brexit.

Seeing as the country is so utterly divided at the moment, a future coalition with the Lib-Dems might be the only way for a party to gain a majority to form a government – if she is really serious about stopping Brexit, she might insist on a second referendum being a part of the deal.

Which could make things tasty.


So, a Bright, Engaging, Young(ish) Leader – What’s Not to Love?

Plenty, according to both the hard-left and the far-right. Which, to her, is probably exactly how she wants it.

Of course, the far-right will have absolutely none of not only Jo, but the Liberal Democrats and their catchy slogan, “Bollocks to Brexit” in general. Being hard Brexiteers, she is the complete antithesis of their deep-seated desire to leave the EU.

This makes sense.

The hard-left immediately started attacking her voting record while she was in the coalition government with the Tories. And I mean immediately – within minutes of her victory, before any kind of congratulations were issued, the Labour Party posted this:

The Twitter equivalent of a 6 year-old doing slam-poetry.

And while they do make good points in there, you also have to remember that this was a coalition government – she would have been whipped to ensure loyalty. 

Back in the days when our politics wasn’t a festering long-drop toilet at Glastonbury after three days in the sun, if you defied the whip, you destroyed your career. The Lib Dems famously hated a lot of the policies they had to vote in favour with – but they had made their bed, and had to lie in it.

Jo Swinson did not create these policies. She was forced to vote for them.

But she will likely pose a huge threat to Labour by attracting voters who are in favour of Remaining, especially if the European Parliamentary elections are anything to go by.

So, obviously Labour would attack her to try to keep as many voters as possible.

This also makes sense.

However.

What doesn’t make sense, at all, is the Scottish Nationalist Party doing exactly the same thing.

Again, posted just minutes after her election result was announced.

The SNP, unlike Labour, are a party that is vehemently opposed to Brexit, just like the Lib-Dems. Why would they attack someone who is about to be one of their strongest allies, and possibly even a coalition partner, in this way?

She is an MP for a Scottish constituency, which makes her a political rival, but the SNP were recently polled at being around 40% in Scotland, which is excellent. So they’re in a strong position – so strong, in fact, that Swinson might even lose her seat to the SNP, which would be embarrassing.

So why attack her? Surely one seat is far less important than defeating Brexit, for a party who openly campaign against it?

Ah yes. Scottish Independence. If Brexit doesn’t happen, then the Union remains strong. If it does, Scotland will do everything in their power to leave.

So Scottish independence is more important than Brexit. So they slag off an ally.

Good to know where the SNP stands.

ISN’T POLITICS FUN?!

All of this, however, is just the prelude of guff that comes before the symphony of crap that’s about to splatter over us – not because of Boris, but because of what he has to face. He may find that his campaign promises might be broken very quickly.

It’s all going to get very, very messy.

But, in a few months time, when the dust settles, Jo Swinson might just be the one who gets to decide how it gets cleaned up…


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Weekly Wrap-Up: Parliament’s Slippery Kippers

Ok, slight lie in the title – we’re sacking off this week’s Wrap-Up because it’s eclipsed by what happened yesterday.

And to kick things off, yesterday’s story about Boris was pure, unadulterated comedy in the style of The Thick Of It.

Our future Prime Minister brandished a kipper, easily the world’s funniest-named fish, atop his stupid, funny head, and laid into the EU over the red tape and bureaucracy that meant that the humble kipper had to be cooled with ice pillows in transit.

This, supposedly, was killing off the trade of that staple of British industry, the mighty kipper smoker.

It was quite quickly pointed out that while the EU does require food to be chilled to ensure food safety standards, smoked products like the majestic kipper are actually governed by UK rules. We are the ones that decided on expensive ice pillows, or rather the Food Standards Agency did, not the EU.

Additionally, the frustrated kipper smoker that Boris referred to came from the Isle of Man, which is neither in the UK or the EU, meaning that they are free from the regulations of both.

What an absolutely wonderful start to the blog that was. I’ve never had an opportunity to talk about kippers so much.

KIPPERS.

Meanwhile, a considerable number of MPs in Parliament were plotting to smoke their own prize trout…


No-Deal Dead In The Water?

Today, 315 MPs voted against the government (i.e. the Prime Minister and all Cabinet ministers), preventing it from being able to bypass Parliament in order to push through a no-deal Brexit.

The majority was 41, which is a pretty sizeable one these days, given the almost 50:50 split in Parliament. What’s more intriguing is who voted in favour: seventeen Tory MPs voted to block their own government, and thirty Tory MPs abstained from voting.

Or should I say, provisional government, because this legislation will only be applicable to whoever wins the Tory leadership contest (which will be Boris).

All in all, forty-seven Tory MPs defied their own party over this issue, anticipating a Johnson-led dive-bomb towards no-deal.

Of those, there were some big names amongst the rebels, too. Among the abstainers were Phillip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, media darling and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, faithful-servant-turned-revolutionary David Gauke, the Secretary of State, and Greg Clarke, the Secretary of Da Biz.

Additionally, Margot James, the digital minister, actively voted against the government and resigned as a matter of principle.

Finally, Jeremy Hunt forgot to vote.

Jesus Wept. “The Details Man,” indeed.

So what does this all mean? Does that mean that no-deal is actually dead in the water, as I cheekily alluded to in the sub-heading?

No. No it does not.

In actuality, while today was certainly a win for those MPs who are committed to preventing a no-deal Brexit, it is merely a road-bump on the path to it.

The idea to prorogue Parliament, whereby the Prime Minster shuts it down and MPs do not have any power for a short period, has been touted as a possible means to force a no-deal through without Parliament having a say.

Seeing as Parliament has already voted against a no-deal Brexit with strong majorities, it is easy to see why a future Brexiteer PM might want to bypass it.

Today’s vote merely says that MPs can still come in to sit and make decisions, even if it is prorogued, over a set time-limit around the Brexit deadline of October 31st.

No-deal could still be passed, especially if the EU upset British politicians over the coming weeks, or the Prime Minister could choose to ignore them entirely.

No-deal is not dead.

However, the level of opposition shown today to some of Boris’ hypothetical policies, before he’s even been sworn in, is quite remarkable. Most of the ministers who abstained or voted against the government today expect to lose their jobs when Boris comes in next week, but they are clearly not going to go out with a whimper.

Boris’ Parliamentary majority, assuming an upcoming by-election is yet another loss, will most likely be three.

Three.

That, in Parliamentary terms, is the square root of sod all.

Whatever Boris does, he will need to please as many politicians as possible from a deeply-divided Parliament. Unless he decides to prey on the opposition when they’re weak…


Update: Labour Still Utterly B*llocksed

Jeremy Corbyn, who is still somehow still in charge of the now pretty toxic Labour Party, is facing a new threat.

Not only are most of his MPs turning against him, as are many centre-left voters, but now Labour peers in the House of Lords are considering holding a vote of no confidence in him as leader next week.

In another astonishingly ill thought-out plan, the Labour leadership sacked Baroness Hayter, something of a Corbyn-Hayter (lol), after she criticised his handling of the antisemitism crisis.

This, despite the antisemitism crisis being largely about failing to sack members of the Labour Party who have evidence against them that shows that they are antisemitic. Sack the critics, not the racists.

Good plan, Labour.

While this vote of no confidence, if passed, is not binding, it’s a pretty dismal look for old Jezza.

Makes you wonder if he should have dealt with the racists earlier, doesn’t it?

Rumour has it that Boris is planning an early election to ensure that it’s held while the opposition is as weak as possible – not a terrible move, but also quite possibly hugely overestimating latent Tory support compared to the newfound adoration for the Brexit Party.

Either way, it all starts next week, folks – the new PM will be announced on Tuesday.

Strap in: we’re about to experience some pretty major turbulence.


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It’s Just Not Cricket

What a glorious Sunday of sport we had. So glorious, in fact, that I got a bit excited on Sunday evening and “forgot” to write a blog for yesterday morning.

It was incredible, though. Djokovic hammering out a fifth set, tie-break win over Roger “The Todger” Federer (NB: may not be real nickname), Lewis Hamilton winning a record sixth British Grand Prix, and, best of all, the jewel in the crown…

England won a World Cup. In a sport that we created some hundreds of years ago, and the most quintessentially English sport there is – cricket.

I enjoy the occasional test match to mong out in front of, but am not a die-hard fan. Watching the sheer excitement play out on Sunday, however, resulted in a feeling nothing short of euphoria as the stumps fell to the turf. To win, in a sudden-death super over, on the last ball, by about two feet, was a once-in-a-lifetime, Jonny Wilkinson-between-the-posts moment.

Finally – a chance for this divided nation to come together and, for once, just enjoy something. No need to politicise it, no need for this glorious moment to be sullied by the trauma of Brexit. Just a chance to sit back, relax and enjo—

https://twitter.com/Jacob_Rees_Mogg/status/1150475669677268992

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS


Back To Reality. Back To Trump.

Whyyyyy.

Well, as we know, Trump has been on fire recently. Last week, when he heard about the leak from the UK ambassador to the US’s office calling his government inept, instead of brushing it off as a fact of the job, he not only threw his toys out of the pram, but also crapped himself.

Because of his decision to cut Sir Kim Darroch, the ambassador, out of future diplomatic meetings and his Twitter tirade, our man in the US lost his job.

But this week, oh boy. This week he’s not just thrown the toys out and crapped himself, he’s bit the nanny, set fire to the nursery and vomited on the dog.

After a series of scathing attacks by four Democratic congresswomen about the appalling conditions of the detention centres where illegal immigrants and asylum seekers are being held, Trump decided to retaliate. He did so by telling the four women, all of them from minority backgrounds, to go back home.

This despite three of them being born in the US and the other arriving from Somalia when she was ten.

I’m actually just going to hand over to el Presidente himself for this one. Read the below, and in your mind just keep repeating the words: “This man is the President of the United States.”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1150381394234941448

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1150381396994723841

Jesus. Christ.

Since then, he’s also Tweeted a statement from Lindsey Graham, a man who is a red-wine-vomit turned human, calling them Communists, that they hate the US, and that they are sympathisers with the 9/11 bombers.

So what does this all mean? Well, an outburst of this level of emotional rage probably means that he’s running scared – the Democrats have taken control of Congress, so he can’t really pass any legislation without their say so.

Additionally, Robert Mueller was set to present more evidence to suggest Trump obstructed the course of justice this week, but has pushed back to the 24th of July instead.

With 2020 being an election year, he cannot lose face early – hence the blistering attack.

However, it is worth noting that one of the women he’s targeted is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a twenty nine year-old Congresswoman for New York. AOC, as she is commonly referred to, is quite something.

Watch her in the clip below demonstrate how easy it is for Trump (implied, not explicitly mentioned) to cheat the system to maintain power to a stunned chamber:

No wonder Trump is terrified of her.


And Across The Pond…?

Boris has said that his first priority after Brexit would be to negotiate a trade deal with the US.

The US, a global superpower, that would hold all of the cards for any trade deal, that has far less need for a deal than we will, would be negotiated by an “inept” government (our former ambassador’s words, not mine), and one that’s ruled by an orange, puss-filled verruca that’s sprouting dog-hairs.

We would be at the mercy of one of the thickest, greediest, dirtiest politicians in history.

And they are our first port of call.

In fairness to Boris, he did say that Trump’s remarks to the congresswomen were unacceptable during the last, and most pointless, televised leadership debate (as did Hunt), but the whole situation is still incredibly depressing.


Speaking of Depressing…

The fall-out from the Panorama programme on antisemitism continues. Two of the whistleblowers from the programme are now suing the Labour Party over defamation.

This is following the Labour’s Leadership Team calling them “disaffected former employees” and dismissing their claims in the immediate aftermath of the programme’s release.

Additionally, the Labour Party are also demanding that the BBC remove it from iPlayer due to “inaccuracies.”

And to think that the right-wing call the BBC biased…


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Weekly Wrap Up – 05/07 – 11/07

Well this wasn’t really supposed to happen.

Last week, it looked for all the world that the Tory Leadership Race was all done and dusted, Boris was going to win, and it would be a mere formality in that he would end up with the keys to No. 10. This week would have had a pointless debate on ITV, some more vacuous vox pops, but nothing would really happen.

Bam. Enter Donald Trump.

Also bam, enter Jeremy Corbyn’s ineptitude. Again.

The US President ended the career of a British official by directly involving himself in our affairs and our government refusing to back our man, and a Panorama exposé released on Wednesday night shone a harsh spotlight on some of the deeply concerning antisemitic actions of Corbyn’s inner sanctum.

Jesus Christ. And we thought politics couldn’t get any worse.


Donnie Dumps Darroch

Earlier this week, the British ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, had some of his private memos leaked to Isabel Oakeshott, a right-wing journalist who has close links with Aaron Banks, Andy Wigmore and Nigel Farage.

These three men are the main power brokers of Leave.EU, which might end up being important – Darroch is unashamedly pro-EU and anti-Brexit. The leak may be proved to have been perpetrated by pro-Brexit activists to oust him.

These were then published in The Mail, and it didn’t make for pretty reading – Darroch essentially called Trump’s government inept and confused, and that in order to get anything done you had to lavish praise upon him. You also had to pretend he had the mental age of a 5 year-old.

Trump did not take kindly to this, lashing out on Twitter not just against Darroch, who he said he would cut ties with, but also at Theresa May and the British government.

Follow the link above to read more about Trump’s tirade, but since BTL covered the story on Wednesday, Sir Kim has resigned his post.

This has led to an outpouring of anger and disgust from many politicians, who believe that Darroch was simply prepping his team as any decent leader would do. But their anger isn’t just aimed towards Trump, but towards Boris Johnson, too.

You know, the right-wing, blonde-haired whoopee-cushion-in-a-suit on our side of the Atlantic.

In the leadership race debate on Tuesday, Johnson refused to unequivocally back Sir Kim, while Jeremy Hunt explicitly said that he would give him full backing until his retirement at the end of the year.

This has not sat well with politicians and people alike, who find it disgraceful that one of our politicians (and, let’s face it, our next Prime Minister) would rather kow-tow to foreign influence than protect one of our own civil servants.

Reportedly, Darroch was watching the debate and saw that Boris wouldn’t support him – this is what made him decide to resign.

There is an interesting undercurrent to this story, as it was reported today that less than half of the Tory membership’s ballot papers have been returned so far, despite most of them being sent over a week ago. Most pundits believed that the membership would already know who they wanted to vote for, immediately fill out their ballot paper, and send it back.

The fact that they haven’t suggests that there might be a bit more to this race after all – decisions may be being held back to see how both candidates fare against one another.

Failing to support “Our Man In The US” may not have done BoJo any favours…

That being said, he’s still overwhelming favourite to win.

It is Boris, after all.


Gooo, Jeremy Corrrrbyn

On Wednesday night, BBC’s Panorama programme ran an hour-long exposé of the ongoing antisemitism scandal that is slowly destroying the Labour Party.

It was deeply unpleasant viewing.

Interviewing a number of ex-party members who worked in the complaints division, it was clear that the problem has been far larger than previously thought, starting in 2015 when Corbyn’s promotion to leader brought an influx of new, hard-left members to the party.

With them came their historic distrust and vitriol against Jewish people, stemming back from the 20th century and earlier.

Look, I can go into more detail about the documentary, and we covered antisemitism within the Labour party in an article you can read through the link above, but the most important thing to take away from it is that there is clear evidence of systematic ignoring of antisemitism cases, attempts to sweep them under the rug, and outright hostility towards those who tried to combat it.

Again, unpleasant viewing.

The fallout from the programme has been intense, but Labour have fought back. The Labour Press Team worked quickly to dispel much of the story as hokum, and the witnesses interviewed on the show as “disaffected former officials.”

This, despite some of them talking about requiring therapy after working there, and one even contemplating suicide.

Labour’s leadership have threatened certain interviewees with legal action for breaking Non-Disclosure Agreements and firmly flipped the bird towards all of those who are now accusing them of systematic antisemitism.

But for the rest of the Labour Party, those not in the inner sanctum, the documentary was a harrowing wake-up call. The first quiet cries for Corbyn’s head have been let out, and it will only be a matter of time before they turn into a crowd of thousands, baying for blood.

Just two years ago, a crowd of thousands was chanting Corbyn’s name at the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival.

Now, they’d hound him out of the Festival on sight.

Cowards on the right, and cowards on the left.

Strange times.

Strange, depressing times.


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Trump Takes Aim & Tory Mass Debaters, Pt. 3 – Mutual Mass Debating

In a time where next to no-one is satisfied with the way that our politics is being carried out, last night’s debate carried the extra burden of being practically irrelevant.

The vast majority of the Tory membership, who, lest we forget, are solely responsible for choosing either Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson to become the next Prime Minister, have already received their ballot cards.

Indeed, there have been scores of joyous tweets from MPs and prominent Tories with a picture of their ballot with a big cross next to their preferred candidate’s name.

It’s usually next to Johnson’s. In truth, he’s almost certainly won already.

Yet last night’s debate was still interesting, not least because Hunt, given the chance, landed some heavy blows on old Bozza – hardly surprising, therefore, that the Johnson campaign refused to let him out in public too often.

Set against a backdrop of diplomatic turmoil, the debate proved to be tasty viewing.


Tit-à-tit

Over the course of the Tory leadership contest, perhaps the most remarkable thing is how little the candidates appear to have changed over the last few weeks.

While Hunt was certainly more aggressive last night, he still remains the steady Eddie – a safe pair of hands compared to Johnson’s hands, which are gloved by giant foam fingers that are also on fire.

Look, it was another unedifying evening for the two candidates, with cheap point-scoring and attempts to drown each other out making the whole thing quite sordid. But the major talking points were as follows:

  • Johnson pledged his commitment to leaving the EU on October 31st again. Hunt was less committal, but…
  • Hunt’s rhetoric focussed again on being the candidate that speaks the truth, not just what you want to hear.
  • And Boris, as per, gave some pretty spurious statements:
    • He said a solution for the Irish border could be found during the implementation period if it wasn’t resolved by October 31st. There is no implementation period in the case of a no-deal Brexit. 
    • He blamed the Iranian government for the detention of Nazanin Zughari-Ratcliffe, despite his words being used as evidence to extend her prison sentence;
    • And, perhaps most strikingly, he refused to defend the British ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch…

Which leads neatly onto the other major news story. Let’s be honest, the debate needs no further coverage.


Lambasted Ambassador

Donald Trump, probably sat on the loo, used his fat little fingers to take aim at the United Kingdom over the last couple of days because one of our ambassadors called him thick.

What a glorious sentence that was to write.

Sir Kim Darroch, the UK’s ambassador to the US, has found himself thrust into the spotlight this week, after private memos written to staff were leaked to Isabel Oakeshott, a journalist with close ties to Aaron Banks, Nigel Farage and UK’s hard-right factions.

In these memos, Darroch essentially described Trump as something of a moron, and not in many more words than that either. There is a legitimate argument to say that these memos were advisory, explaining to other diplomatic officials that in order to communicate effectively with the President, you had to “dumb it down a little.”

This kind of stuff is important in maintaining the fine balancing act of diplomacy – making sure your colleagues are armed and ready is paramount to continuing strong relationships.

Plus, basically all of the US media bar Fox News thinks Trump is a colossal moron too, so it’s hardly a huge secret.

However, Trump has taken some umbrage with this, as the colossal moron is prone to do. He has also used it as a springboard to launch into a scathing attack on Theresa May’s handling of the Brexit negotiations.

I know that I have written extensively about how terrible those negotiations were, but still, I’m a British citizen. Donald Trump is an American block of lard that’s been left in the sun and sat on by a mangy dog.

Quit attacking Theresa, Donald, that’s my job. And I hear you don’t like foreigners coming over and doing your job for you.

To summarise the major takeaways from Trump’s tirade:

  1. He has said he will refuse to ‘deal with’ the ambassador (take with a pinch of salt);
  2. He called the ambassador a ‘wacky… very stupid guy‘ (which has now overtaken “spunk trumpet” as my favourite insult ever);
  3. He called Brexit a mess (fair enough tbh lol);
  4. He said it was a good thing we’ll soon have a new Prime Minister (have you watched any of the debates, Donald?);
  5. “It was the Queen who [he] was most impressed with!”

If I was the Queen, I’d be training the corgis to go for the balls in preparation for his next visit.

The whole situation is beyond parody, made worse by Johnson’s refusal to back Darroch despite the leaks being of private memos. Additionally, Darroch retires at Christmas – it’s only 6 months, Boris!

What happens next is anyone’s guess. But those who believe that we’ll be best friends with the US post-Brexit might be starting to second-guess themselves…


Finally, Good News For Labour!

LOL, just kidding. In brief, yesterday:

  • Corbyn received backlash for saying that Labour’s stance on Brexit is to back Remain in the face of a Tory Brexit, but would fight for an orderly Brexit if they were in power. Which clarifies absolutely nothing. Again.
  • Three Labour peers (members of the House of Lords) have resigned from the party due to the antisemitism scandal. This comes the day before tonight’s Panorama report about antisemitism in the party, and the party being under formal investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Our politics is broken. I hope we kept the warranty.


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Weekly Wrap-Up – 28/06 – 04/07

HOLD YOUR HORSES EVERYONE, THERE IS NEWS. Imagine CHIC’s ‘Good Times’ playing while you read this next sentence.

The postal vote for the Tory leadership has now OFFICIALLY BEGUN.

Well, this week has been more of the same in the race to become Prime Minister – spending pledges that seem to be plucked out of thin air with no funds to achieve them, in-fighting within the party, and no-deal “willy-waving” (credit: Rachel Sylvester).

Oh, and for anyone who isn’t in the 160,000 or so Conservative Party membership, an overwhelming sense of dread.

So, in the week where Between the Lines has finally shaken off those post-festival blues, let’s cheer ourselves up with a quick update on where we’re up to.


Vote So Simple

We march, loudly and blindly, towards the deadline day where either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will become the Tory party leader. The competition has become fierce, and not just a little bit vitriolic.

While Johnson remains the overwhelming favourite with the bookies, currently marked at 89% likelihood, there is no denying that the Jeremy “Underdog” Hunt is gaining some kind of momentum.

Boris has consistently dodged and swerved face-to-face interviews, and there are only two currently scheduled to take place (the 9th of July on ITV and on the 15th at an event held by The Sun). These will happen once the vast majority of the Tory members have already voted.

As such, Johnson is being viewed with slightly more mistrust than before – is he really just all style and no substance?

And if so, is that style (namely a fat golden retriever with ADHD) really enough for a Prime Minister to resolve the vast array of divisions within the UK?

Indeed, even within Johnson’s own campaign, some cracks are starting to show. The Times reported today that more centrist, One Nation Tories Boris-supporters are being laughed at behind closed doors by those on the right. ERG-supporters and more deeply right-wing Bojo-backers believe that the modernisers are going to be immediately forgotten about when Boris comes to power.

Take Matt Hancock, for instance. The current Health Secretary is about to bring a green paper to Parliament (i.e. a debate) about whether or not to extend the sugar tax to milkshakes in an attempt to try and stave off the obesity epidemic.

And it is an epidemic – this week it was announced some cancers were now more likely to be caused by obesity than smoking.

But Boris came out against “sin taxes” afterwards, saying that the poorest are hit hardest by them and that there is no data to suggest that they help tackle obesity.

While there is undoubtedly some wisdom to his words and the taxes deserve more scrutiny, he did absolutely steamroller poor little Hancock. The Boris juggernaut stops for no man, even a (supposedly) close ally.


Hunt/ing Ban

Jeremy Hunt, by contrast, today said that he believed that there should be another vote on the hunting ban.

Which makes me think that there shouldn’t be so much a hunting ban as a Hunt ban.

For being such a moron.


Widdecombe Goes William Wallace

If the earlier childishness within the newly-formed EU Parliament this week wasn’t bad enough, Ann Widdecombe waded in today to make things worse.

While the Brexit Party’s turning their backs was pretty standoffish and the Lib-Dems’ “Bollocks to Brexit” t-shirts were absolutely pathetic, Ann Widdecombe today came out and made a speech comparing the UK leaving the EU to slaves uprising against their masters.

Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s Brexit Co-ordinator, quite succinctly remarked that Widdecombe was giving Nigel Farage “stiff competition as chief clown.” But I don’t think that goes far enough.

Just before I say this, some caveats:

  1. I believe the Brexit Party are doing an important job in representing Leave-voting constituencies in the EU;
  2. I believe that they are, on the whole, doing their jobs and standing up for what they believe in;
  3. I absolutely, categorically, do not hold anything against anyone who voted for the Brexit Party, and nor is the following about anyone but Widdecombe.

But Jesus Christ, just fuck off Ann, you racist, homophobic, rancid turd sausage in an anthrax pastry. Don’t you dare use the emancipation of those who suffered in literal slavery for centuries (millennia, even) to emphasise a point about a first-world country leaving a supranational body through a democratic process.

You don’t understand what you’re talking about, you never have, you never will, and when you’re gone you will be a mere snot stain on a page of our political discourse.

So just fuck off Ann.

You absolute spunk trumpet.

Have a good weekend everyone!


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From Anarchy To Anarchy

Hello everyone! After a brief hiatus, Between the Lines is back in action following the editorial team’s trip to Glastonbury.

…And subsequent recovery period.

Glastonbury is, by many accounts, the best festival in the world, and this writer is inclined to agree. Having been for the last 9 consecutive years (minus the fallow years), for me the festival at Worthy Farm has been, at various points:

  • A joyous celebration of music and arts;
  • A politically-charged, almost revolutionary gathering of like-minded people;
  • A place of solace and comfort;
  • A place to escape reality;
  • And a place to remind yourself of how under-rated sleeping indoors is.

This year was something of all five. Within the confines of Pilton, the phone signal is so notoriously bad that the news is almost forgotten, save for those committed to trudging to the Guardian tent to pick up their papers every morning.

As such, I have essentially sealed myself away from the Tory leadership race for a week now, and perhaps the most depressing thing is that upon my return it seems as though absolutely nothing has changed.

While Glastonbury is unashamedly left-wing, with historical alliances with Billy Bragg and the Labour Party (John McDonnell spoke on the Left-Field Stage this year), it is far more progressive and inclusive than simply being a platform for Red Book Communism. While Corbyn may have been the darling of 2017’s festival, his once-progressive views have been tarnished by the antisemitism nightmare and his stock has fallen dramatically – this year, David Attenborough was the Pyramid Stage’s real headliner.

Some consider it to be a hippy-drippy, kum ba yah, weed-smoking paradise for the oddballs and drifters who don’t want to buy into society. And while there are definitely a few of those knocking around, the vast majority of festival-goers there are normal people who just want to escape the drudgery of the world we live in.

Which is probably why everyone joined in with Stormzy’s lyric, ‘F*ck the government and f*ck Boris’ with such gusto.

But now that the tents have come down (99.3% were taken home this year, despite what The Sun and The Mail will tell you), the glorious sun has retreated behind the clouds and the ciders have worn off, we return to the Tory party leadership race.

My feelings for which can be summed up by the below, which I found next to the Wormhole bar:

IMG_0054.JPG


Jeremy Hunts Down Boris

Little has seemed to have changed in the week that we’ve been away, aside from a few policy points that have been raised here and there by the two candidates vying for the Premiership.

Hunt has seemingly tried to ease back his aversion to a no-deal Brexit, repeating that he would still go for it “with a heavy heart” should no new deal be forthcoming. While not sounding like he’s particularly enthused by it, repeating his commitment to it is important for winning over the Tory party members who are resolved to leaving on October 31st, come hell or high water.

This comes at the same time as Matt Hancock, an unexpected Boris-backer, being lambasted by some senior Tories for following Boris’ “rubbish,” both contenders being criticised for coming up with ludicrous spending policies and the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, warning that a no-deal Brexit would cost us at least £90bn.

But, ultimately, all of this matters little in the race for become Prime Minister – very few Tory party members will have failed to have decided already, and only a scant few will change their minds. Boris will almost undoubtedly win, and the march towards a no-deal Brexit will begin.

Until Parliament almost certainly blocks it.

More analysis on the leadership race will come tomorrow. When I can face it.


New EU, I Look Just Like Buddy Holly

The first sitting of the newly-elected European Parliament happened earlier this week, and it was just as much of a train-wreck as any Eurosceptics could have hoped for.

During the EU Parliament’s national anthem, Ode To Joy, all of the newly elected Brexit party MEPs turned their backs on the youth orchestra that was playing it. They turned their backs on children.

Children.

But the good news is that the Liberal Democrats, a longstanding political institution with gravitas and a deeper understanding of the seriousness of the current political landscape, afforded the situation the respect it deserved by– Oh no wait hang on they came in wearing bright yellow t-shirts with BOLLOCKS TO BREXIT written on them.

Everyone is going insane.

In other news, we learned that on October the 31st we will have new EU head-honchos!

President of the European Commission:
Jean-Claude Juncker => Ursula von der Leyen

President of the European Council:
Donald Tusk => Charles Michel

President of the European Central Bank:
Mario Draghi => Christine Lagarde

Which means that two out of three head positions will be filled by women (a good thing). However, Ursula von der Leyen is highly pro-the European project, in favour of an EU army, and an advocate for a “United States of Europe” (a bad thing).

Increased integration into Europe was a major factor behind Brexit. Should Brexit not happen (which is a very real threat) von der Leyen’s plans could be disastrous. Additionally, it will go down exceptionally badly within those nations facing populist threats like Italy, France and Hungary.

This could eventually lead to the dissolution of the EU, which even the most ardent of Leave-voters would argue is a bad thing overall.

Take me back to Glastonbury. Let’s sink a cider in the Bimble Inn and wait ’til this all blows over.


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Between the Lines is Away

Unfortunately, we’re away this week and so won’t be able to give you updates on the Tory leadership race.

I know, we’re gutted too.

However, we will leave you with this little gem, recorded yesterday.

This is the man who will probably be our next Prime Minister.

Good luck everyone, we’ll see you on the other side. Next article should be up on Tuesday week.