SEVEN NATION BARMY – Corbyn Kicked Out of Labour Party

Just a few short years ago, I saw Jeremy Corbyn speak to the Glastonbury crowds firsthand.

Luckily, I wasn’t too drunk or sunburnt at that particular moment, so I remember it pretty vividly.

While I always find time to be political at Glastonbury, on this particular occasion I wasn’t absolutely battered, nor was I wearing a gummy-bear jumper, unlike this picture.

He spoke with passion and verve about his vision for a new, more egalitarian future. Tens of thousands around the fields of Pilton chanted “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” to the tune of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.

It felt like a moment.

Yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn was suspended from the Labour Party. It’s fair to say that the moment, if there ever was one, had passed.

Oh, and Labour are about to enter a fully-fledged civil war over it.


Antisemitism & Antisemantics

Antisemitism plagued Corbyn’s reign over the Labour Party. Throughout the entirety of his leadership, claims of antisemitic bullying and racism across the wider party were hushed up, dismissed outright or belittled by leading party figures.

It led to the party becoming cultish. Any criticism of Corbyn or his team was met with cries of heresy.

It led to promising MPs like Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth leaving the party. It led to widespread condemnation from every political opponent you could imagine. It led, at its core, to a previously inclusive party becoming a pale shadow of its former self.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, itself set up in 2006 by a Labour government, began an investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party in May of 2019. Corbyn’s Labour Party stood accused of racial injustice. For months, the Commission investigated a series of incidents and complaints raised against the actions of the party’s leadership.

Yesterday, the results were published. They were damning.

To summarise, while the report doesn’t lay the blame at the feet of any named individuals, it gives demonstrable evidence that there were multiple occasions where antisemitism was systemic across the wider Labour Party. On multiple occasions, key figures were proven to have acted or spoken in a way that was obviously antisemitic. Jeremy Corbyn himself was also in the firing line – he spoke out against the removal of graffiti that depicted insulting Jewish stereotypes.

But it was no great shock. There were Panorama investigations; there were leaked reports; there were news stories and widespread awareness of its existence among the general public.

Depressingly, the report confirmed what we already knew.

Keir Starmer, the new leader of the Labour Party, set out his stall on the first day of his leadership – he was going to root out antisemitism within the party and make sure that it would never rear its head again. Yesterday, he reasserted that claim by apologising on behalf of the Labour Party for the findings of the EHRC report and promising to implement all of the report’s recommendations for safeguards.

He also made a pointed remark to his predecessor by saying that those who think the antisemitism claims are “exaggerated or a factional attack” are “part of the problem”.

Jeremy Corbyn has a habit of making inauspicious timing something of an art-form. And, yesterday, he surpassed himself. Exactly half an hour before Starmer gave his press conference, Corbyn put out a tweet in response to the EHRC’s findings. It contained the following claim:

“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.

So. Corbyn put his chips down as, “Yes, antisemitism is bad, but the whole thing was overblown because people didn’t like me.” He then gave an interview where he doubled-down on his statement, calling the antisemitism claims as “exaggerated”.

This appears to have gone down like a cast-iron buoyancy aid with Starmer. Six minutes after the interview was released, the Labour Party released a statement saying that Corbyn had been suspended from the party and that he had had the party whip removed.

In April of this year, Jeremy Corbyn was the leader of the Labour Party. Six months later, he is no longer a member of it.


For the Many…

Antisemitism has been around for a long time. Members of the socialist ideology dated as far back as the 1800s have had an inherent distrust of Jewish people, mostly through the lazy and ignorant generalisations that the Jewish people are wealthy bankers, gold-hoarders and capitalists.

And if there’s one thing socialists hate, then hoo boy is it capitalism.

That being said, it’s also extremely important to point out that most socialists disagree with capitalism, but aren’t racist. It’s just that antisemitism is particularly prominent in socialist circles compared with other ideologies.

Let’s be clear.

Racism in all forms is abhorrent. That should go without saying. That the former leader of the Labour Party allowed antisemitism to spread without trying to stop it with all his might is a pretty appalling state of affairs.

For the sake of balance, it is worth noting that the Conservative Party has a considerable, but far less-widely reported, problem with Islamophobia.

But turning our attention back to Labour, Starmer is seemingly hell-bent on eradicating antisemitism from the wider Labour Party, which is arguably more than can be said for the Tories.

Doing so might be harder than you’d think, however..


Where Do We Go From Here?

The Labour Party is now at war.

Just as the Conservative Party is a mix of moderates and hard-liners, so it is with Labour. The unions that used to back Labour financially are re-evaluating. Len McCluskey, head of Unite the Union, is a long-term ally of Corbyn and a devout anti-Starmerist. He also holds the keys to a considerable amount of Labour funding.

We might be about to see a Labour Party openly choose to move away from unionist backing. This, if it comes to it, is a very big deal.

But it was (probably) always going to come to this. An old-school, 1970s socialist with 1970s socialist backing was never going to beat a modernist, inclusive, former head of the Crown Prosecution Service when it came down to electability.

Starmer has set his line in the sand. Whether or not the party moves to meet him will rely entirely on his performance over the coming weeks. It’ll be fascinating to watch.

But it will also be distracting. Isn’t there a pandemic on?

LABOUR-IOUS PROCESS : The Leadership Race Candidates


Cheeky Nandy’s or KeirFC?

The final five candidates for the Labour leadership race are now confirmed. Not only that, but the window for registering as a Labour supporter is now open, too! This means that for the paltry fee of £25, you can vote for its next leader.

The window closes at 5pm on Thursday. Yes, it’s just a 48-hour window. Politics is for everyone, and all that.

Anyway. Given my recent affiliations with a certain orangey/goldy party, I’m not allowed to register. But any normal voter, unregistered to other parties, is welcome to get involved with the Labour election process!

And if you can afford to, I would heartily recommend you get involved.

We’ve got Prime Minister Burrs Jernsern for 5 years, barring a colossal cock-up. But forming a strong, competent opposition is still vitally important to democracy – holding governments to account is a cornerstone of our political system.

If Corbyn had been able to put up a front that was half as unified Noel and Liam Gallagher he may well have beaten the Tories.

Instead, his ineptitude led to a Tory landslide. A principled man, but an abysmal leader. Poka-poka, comrade.

Anyway. Should you want to be a part of the process, or are simply just interested, you’ll probably want to know who the candidates are, won’t you?

Well then. Let’s find out.


Sir Keir Starmer

In the last shadow government, Sir Keir was a prominent anti-Brexit campaigner – somewhat ironic, given his position as shadow Brexit secretary under a leader who was hardly pro-Remain.

A measured man, he is far more centre-left than Corbyn. Not quite as centrist as Blair, but there are echos of Big Tony with old Keir. His knighthood was awarded for his services to law and criminal justice – he was a prominent human rights lawyer and former Head of the Crown Prosecution Service.

He also prefers not to be called “Sir.” Understandably.

Starmer is currently the outrunner by a considerable margin in terms of support within the Labour party. He stands an excellent chance of winning, and would be a sensible choice to steady the extremely wobbly, half-sunk ship.

But he might not quite have the charisma to take down Johnson at the dispatch box in PMQs. That might not be a bad thing, however – if the Johnson government is half as chaotic as early signs suggest it might be, a calm opponent might start to look very alluring by 2024.

The most likely winner. Cool, calm, collected, he could be just what the Labour party needs.

OFFICIAL BTL RATING: 4/5


Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long-Bailey has been something of a dark-horse, emerging out of nowhere to become the darling of the Corbynistas. A strong proponent of the hard-left policies of the last Labour leadership team, she has been dubbed “Continuity Corbyn.”

This is perhaps a touch unfair – she doesn’t have the CND, 1970s Marxist background of her predecessor, having been a solicitor before becoming an MP.

Long-Bailey’s meteoric rise has come through support of the unions and other traditional left-wing support bases, so despite her relative lack of experience, she’s definitely popular.

But is she popular enough with the Labour mainstream? She recently gave Corbyn’s leadership a slightly surprising (i.e. absolutely mental) 10/10, which is hardly going to endear her to the Labour die-hards who have seen their safe seats turn blue. She’s also not the most engaging of personalities – it’s hard to see where she could beat Bumbag Jumblesale in terms of charisma.

She’s basically the only hard-left candidate, which will stand her in reasonable stead within the party. Whether or not the entire Labour party is prepared to have one last stab at socialism, which has left them decimated, is another thing altogether.

BTL RATING: 3/5


Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry came to my attention through this video.

Oof.

And my love affair with Emily started from there. An unashamed critic of Corbyn’s, Thornberry was a prominent campaigner and organiser of the People’s Vote campaign. At every turn, she was more than happy to throw her leader’s Brexit policy under the bus in favour of being staunchly pro-EU.

As Shadow Foreign Secretary, no less.

She’s also bloody hilarious, and would easily sidestep a lot of Johnson’s bluster in the House of Commons. It would be something of a vaudeville act, but fun nonetheless.

She’s also another former lawyer, and married to a Sir herself – she could be Lady Nugee if she wanted to (which itself sounds like a rather endearing euphemism).

But therein lies her problem – Thornberry is unashamedly centrist, and often accused of being too posh for the Labour party. She’s not popular with the unions, the left of the party, or, seemingly, that many MPs – she had a surprisingly low number of nominations.

And so, as fun as it would be, she’s unlikely to win. She’ll almost certainly be a cabinet minister – I, for one, hope she remains Foreign Secretary. Imagine her and Donald Trump meeting.

We can only dream.

BTL RATING: 2/5 (but 5/5 for the bants)

Watch until 0:23

Jess Phillips

I cannot tell you how much I adore Jess Phillips.

Another centrist Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, it’s hard to remember a politician who fights so hard for both her constituents and what she believes in.

She doesn’t look, sound or act like a politician, but that’s why she’s so bloody brilliant.

Take, for instance, this little story. When Jeremy Corbyn appointed his shadow cabinet in 2015, Phillips challenged Diane Abbott to explain why he hadn’t given any of the major offices to women. Abbott accused her of being sanctimonious.

Phillips told her to fuck off.

When asked what Abbott did after that suggestion, Phillips told a reporter, “She fucked off.”

Lovely stuff.

She’s an ardent Remainer, despite being in a Leave seat, and yet still has a huge majority – that’s how much her consituents believe in her. She is a passionate feminist campaigner, and a brilliant orator, too. She takes zero prisoners.

She’s passionate. She’s a true advocate for the people. She’s brilliant.

But she won’t win. She doesn’t have the support of the hard-left, and as wonderful as her passion is, it often doesn’t win her many favours across her party. Her allies are fiercely loyal to her, but I don’t think she can win.

And I don’t think she should yet, either.

If Jess can be in the shadow government for the next five years, keep fighting the good fight and channel her energies ever so slightly into becoming more statesmanlike, she could end up being one for the future.

BTL RATING: 2/5 but with bags of potential


LISA NANDY

Who?

Oh.

…Who?

I’m not going to lie, Lisa “Cheeky” Nandy has come out of nowhere for this leadership race. As MP for Wigan, she struck me as competent, capable, but not really leadership material.

And yet she’s received more nominations than Jess Phillips, and only 2 fewer than Long-Bailey.

Nandy also secured the backing of the National Union of Mineworkers, a persuasive force in the left-wing of the party. Her passion for reigniting town centres has also struck a chord with some members of the electorate, and has sparked some truly excellent memes.

I’m not sure what to say about Nandy, as being a candidate with little previous fame is not a bad thing in this election.

Keep an eye on this one. The Rando Cardrissian of Labour’s Leadership Race (one for you Cards Against Humanity Fans).

BTL RATING: ?/5


LOTO FUN

LOTO being Leader of the Opposition. Politics nerd wordplay banter.

…How am I not single?

Anyway, these are the candidates for leader of the Labour party. One of these five will be tasked with trying to hold a romping Johnson government in check.

No small task. But all of them, in their own ways, are competent, engaging and exciting.

And that, alone, makes any of them better than the mess that Corbyn leaves in his wake.

CONTACTS, CONFERENCE AND CONFLICT : PM In New Scandal, Labour Lose Plot

Even the weekends are mad these days.

We enter this week with the real chance of it being Johnson’s worst yet since becoming Prime Minister. Either today or tomorrow, the Supreme Court will make its ruling on his prorogation of Parliament, and whether or not it was legal.

If they rule that it was illegal, the ramifications could be huge. Parliament may have to be recalled, Johnson may call another prorogation, or more legal challenges could be made against him.

Yet even if he wins the legal challenge, another scandal that broke over the weekend could yet fatally damage him.

Also, the scandal might be Johnson’s first about misusing his “Johnson” since becoming Prime Minister!

Sound the “headlines-we-all-knew-were-coming bingo” klaxon.

Also, the Labour Party has been having its conference over the weekend. Here, the plan was that the party would come together, form a unified front, and finally be the Opposition the country needs them to be!

Q: How did that go, I wonder?


A: ABSOLUTELY F*CKING TERRIBLY

What was meant to bring the Labour Party together actually threatened to finally tear it apart over the weekend. Reports emerged late on Friday night that Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the party and prominent People’s Vote campaigner, was to be kicked out.

A senior Corbyn-ally tabled a motion for the position of deputy leader to be disbanded, thereby removing Watson from office. The fears amongst prominent Labour leaders was that should Corbyn resign (which has been lightly-rumoured) then Watson would inherit the leadership by default.

Seeing as Corbyn has been slowly filling the other positions of power around him with far-left, largely Brexit-favouring allies, Watson’s Remainer disposition put him at odds with many of Labour’s head honchos.

Not, however, with everyone in the Labour Party.

Corbyn’s stance on Brexit is to remain impartial to Leave vs. Remain. If, however, Labour were in government, they would negotiate a new deal with the EU then hold a referendum on it : this deal, or Remain.

However, many within the party have already broken rank on this – Emily Thornberry, Sir Keir Starmer and Watson himself have all prominently spoken about their preferences to Remain.

This is directly contravening the party’s leaders – and they are the most vocal of a very large number of moderate Labour MPs. The rifts between the party are getting worse and worse, just in time for a General Election.

Just to compound things further, one of Corbyn’s closest allies, Andrew Fisher, also left the party the previous weekend. Fisher, who helped write the 2017 manifesto for Labour, left with a note criticising the leader’s office and their “lack of professionalism, competence and human decency.”

Ouch.


JOHNSON’S JOHNSON STRIKES AGAIN

In other news, Boris Johnson might have used government funds to help the career of an American businesswoman whose apartment he frequented.

Yep, that’s just another headline that rolls by, these days.

The Sunday Times, who are easily winning the media war for best investigative journalism over recent months, revealed in an article yesterday that Johnson, while London mayor, might have used his position and public money to help promote a “friend” of his.

This friend is Jennifer Arcuri, a former model who is now a tech entrepreneur. The Sunday Times alleges that Johnson personally intervened to allow Arcuri access to international trade missions, give her company sponsorship grants and even win a £100,000 government grant from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

This grant was for UK-based start-up companies. Miss Arcuri left the UK in 2018, but registered the company at a rental house in Cheshire, the Times claims.

If you want to see just how closely Johnson got to Arcuri’s career, have a little gander at this:

Just to add more lighter fluid to the barrel-fire that is this story, it is alleged that Johnson frequently visited Ms. Arcuri’s Shoreditch flat. Far be it for me to speculate on the activities of a convicted serial womaniser, but I doubt that Johnson would have been able to concentrate on any business-oriented meetings there, what with the stripper-pole that is in the centre of the flat.

Look, these kinds of headlines used to kill careers. But these days, in this environment, it’s likely that we’ll forget all about this. I hope we don’t, as if this story is proved true then it means that a politician used public funds, our taxes, to give preferential treatment to a foreign businesswoman.

But, despite everything, I think he’ll survive it. The man has enough puncture wounds to kill a rhino, but he keeps trundling on regardless.

Today could prove to be the day where his chickens come home to roost. And they may roost pretty damn hard. Serious, next-level roosting.

But do not think that the fight is gone out of this Prime Minister yet. With his opposition about to quite literally fall apart and anger against the Lib-Dems’ “Revoke or Bust” policy, he may yet survive.

At what cost, however, remains to be seen.

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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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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Cor-binned

We live in curious times. While the Tory party membership of around 180,000 is currently choosing who will be our next Prime Minister, the opposition is slowly but surely tearing itself into pieces.

This has been a tough few weeks for Jeremy Corbyn. Not only was his name not sung to the tune of Seven Nation Army once at Glastonbury this year, a YouGov poll released last week showed that just 18% of the electorate would vote Labour at a General Election. This is their weakest result in decades.

Add to this the continuing scourge of antisemitism, dangling over the party like a filled-up dog-poo bag in a bush, and it’s hardly surprising that the party’s leaders are all starting to attack one another.

Despite the media’s gaze being fixed intently at Boris Johnson’s procession to No. 10, a far more fascinating leadership race could be emerging.

And this shit is practically Shakespearian.


Laboured Movements

On Wednesday, a Panorama report into antisemitism within the Labour Party will be aired. Former Labour employees, politicians and advisors will speak candidly about alleged attempts by the party to cover up cases of antisemitic abuse carried out by hard-left figures within the party.

These left-wing, anti-Zionist zealots were, for many years, banished to the confines of the fringes of the party – now, under Corbyn’s stewardship, they are in the mainstream.

Corbyn has a team of allies around him that include Jennie Formby (currently absent from politics while she battles cancer – Between the Lines send their hopes for a speedy recovery), Karie Murphy and Seamas Milne. These three names have been centre-stage during the antisemitism controversies, and are rumoured to be behind planned lawsuits against the whistleblowers in the Panorama documentary.

But their vice-like grip on Corbyn appears to be weakening.

They have been largely blamed for Corbyn’s refusal to steer the Labour Party towards favouring a second referendum, something that all but a few Labour MPs are strongly, and vocally, in favour of. Combined with the influence of Eurosceptic Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite the Union (a massive trade union and major Labour Party donor), many Labour MPs are bemoaning the fact that the unelected figures around Corbyn seem to be the ones with the real power.

Pleasing everyone is impossible in politics, but it seems as though Corbyn has been trying to play both sides for too long – something would have to give eventually, and now it finally seems as though it will.


The Death Of Corbyn

In another personal matter, Karie Murphy, the Labour Chief of Staff, has also taken a temporary break from politics following the passing of her mother last week. Her absence seems to have emboldened some of those MPs who have felt shut out by her influence.

Enter Diane Abbott, long-standing Corbyn-supporter and, at one point, lover.

Yes, really.

Abbott reportedly confronted Corbyn this week, as did John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor. Both told him to sack Murphy and Milne, the communications director, and to tack towards a Second Referendum.

And if he didn’t? Mutiny.

Abbott openly challenging her beloved Corbyn like this is akin to Piers Morgan standing in front of a mirror and telling himself not to be such a massive bellend – desperately unlikely, but largely welcomed.

But mutiny may well be on the way whatever Corbyn decides to do. With the antisemitism furore raging, and the upcoming documentary poised to douse the flames with nothing but lighter fluid, Tom Watson, the deputy leader, has done little to hide his posturing for the leadership in recent weeks.

He’s explicitly recruited MPs onside for a potential overthrow, has been a prominent campaigner for a People’s Vote for months and has directly, and publicly, clashed with Formby over the handling of the antisemitism crisis.

However, reports suggest that, for now, he will simply watch the hard-left at the top of the party destroy themselves like a pack of starving hyenas and then just stroll into the top job.

But he isn’t the only one, either – McDonnell himself has been having private meetings with MPs to create a scenario where a centre-left, appealing candidate would take the top job (Sir Keir Starmer, Angela Bailey and Rebecca Long-Bailey have all been touted), but he would remain as Chancellor to maintain his left-of-centre economic policy.

It is starting to look pretty lonely at the top for Corbyn. A principled man but a deeply-flawed politician, opinion polls suggest that most members of the public view him as a pretty feeble leader of the opposition, and it would be hard to argue against them.

In a period where a united party with a coherent strategy would have flattened the Tories by now, he has utterly failed to do his job. The relative success of the 2017 General Election has been marred by antisemitism, confused Brexit strategies and a systematic failure to hold the government to account.

On a day where Sajid David has pledged his support to Boris Johnson, further cementing the inevitable result of him becoming Prime Minister, the Labour Party should be screaming about the dangers of a Johnson government from the rafters.

Instead, they are putting out fires inside their own house. The sooner that Corbyn goes, the better.


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Fallout

If you haven’t started watching Sky’s Chernobyl yet, I’d strongly encourage you to do so. In a nutshell, it’s a drama based on the explosion at the nuclear power station in northern Ukraine during the days of the Soviet Union, back in 1986.

In the first episode, politicians and other political figures frantically try to ensure that they are not blamed for the disaster, with each trying to demonstrate their loyalty to a corrupt and creaking government. Each one is in their own personal state of denial, telling experts that they are wrong: “Do not criticise the Party.”

As a result, the lives of the millions of people affected by the disaster are put in jeopardy. The politics outweighs the practical, and as a result, innocent citizens are doomed.

It is gripping telly.

That being said, it’s on Sky, so you’d need to pay for a subscription to watch it. If you fancy watching a free compelling political drama which has:

  • A cock-up of monumental proportions caused by ineptitude;
  • Yellow-bellied politicians denying reality and pledging blind loyalty to a crumbling regime;
  • And a handful of Communists who don’t know what they’re doing;

then I’d recommend sticking on BBC news.


Ooh, Spill The Tea

Right, let’s get started with the Conservative Party, who are in the first throes of a leadership contest.

On we stride towards a new Prime Minister, chosen by the votes of the 125,000 or so Conservative Party members and the Tory MPs themselves. Between the Lines will be covering all the candidates in more detail in the near future, but for the purposes of this article we’ll be looking at some of the more prominent candidates.

Many candidates, following the drubbing by The Brexit Party at last week’s EU Parliamentary elections, have forthrightly come out and said that “No-deal is back on the table.” Well done chaps, that’ll stick it to Farage, said no political strategist, ever.

Boris Johnson has proclaimed his swashbuckling idea to go back to Brussels to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement, particularly the backstop, then go for no-deal if that fails. He is not the only candidate to do so. However, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, has again come out to say that the deal will not be renegotiated, no-way, nuh-uh, never.

So that means no-deal.

However, Jeremy Hunt, survivor of one of the worst Freudian spoonerisms possible when he was Culture Secretary, has declared that no-deal would be “political suicide,” which in these strange times has lost him support. Michael Gove, the unfortunately-faced Environment Secretary, has benefited from this, as he positions himself as a “Leaver that Remainers can talk to.”

So why is no-deal actually political suicide? Why would Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, and other assorted Conservative leadership hopefuls all declare that they would leave without a deal on October 31st when they know it would be bad news?

Because nothing has been learnt from the May years. Theresa May’s premiership was a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of “Let’s promise this impossible and damaging thing now because it’s what voters want to hear, then we’ll find out a way to do it afterwards.”

It is worth remembering that no-deal is not a good thing – it would cause massive economic disruption to the UK and should, by any rational account, be avoided if at all possible.

Additionally, a no-deal Brexit is not as guaranteed as the Tory candidates would have you believe.

Enter Speaker of the House, John Bercow.


What’s He Done Now?

First of all, like Jordan Belfort, “HE’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE.”

Bercow told The Guardian that he isn’t going to step down in July, as he had previously been touted to do, because of the ongoing situation with Brexit. “It doesn’t seem to me sensible to vacate the chair,” he said.

This would likely make the hearts of the no-deal Tories sink, as it was essentially his interventions during the last frantic scramble to resolve Brexit that allowed Yvette Cooper to pass a bill ruling out no-deal.

And he’s ready to do it again, too. In a speech to the Brookings Institute in the US, he said that “The idea that parliament is going to be evacuated from the centre stage of debate on Brexit is simply unimaginable.”

He has a point. It is quite absurd to think that these Tory candidates are all campaigning as though they are about to be elected supreme overlord of Britain. If they say they will go for no-deal, that does not mean that no-deal will automatically happen. 

It will have to be approved by a Parliament that will most likely refuse to let that happen, much as it did the last time. Johnson and his rivals would do well to remember that – the Parliamentary arithmetic is the same, no matter your policy, so you can’t just get what you want without passing it through Parliament.

But for now, they will continue to spout platitudes about “taking the fight back to Brussels,” or “leaving without a deal for a brighter future for Britain,” all the while hiding the fact that these claims are either next to impossible or economically damaging.


And Now That Labour Are In Favour Of A Second Referendum, They’ll Finally Be In A Place To Lay Down A Real Challenge, Right?

Oh Labour.

As if things weren’t bad enough, the Labour Party expelled Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s spin-wizard and prominent People’s Vote advocate, for voting Lib Dem last Thursday.

This has caused a furore about the speed at which they expelled him compared to the speed in which they have dealt with antisemitism cases, with other lifelong Labour politicians coming out and saying that they also voted Lib-Dem or Green – they have challenged their party to expel them, too.

The timing was also about as ideal as a giggling fit at a funeral, as The Equality and Human Rights Commission launched an investigation into Labour’s handling of said antisemitism cases. Prominent Labour voices have condemned their party, calling it abhorrent that racism has become something of an accepted norm within it.

Corbyn, meanwhile, has remained tight-lipped about whether or not Labour will actively support Remain if there was a second referendum, further alienating a large swathe of Labour voters (though not all, it must be added).


So Who Can We Turn To?

How about one of the real winners from last week, Vince Cable?

Oh wait, no, he’s stepping down.

Nigel Farage? He’s said he’s going to challenge in a General Election, but the First Past The Post system means that he probably wouldn’t get many seats.

Let’s just make Bercow sort it out. It’ll at least be funny to watch everyone collectively lose their shit over it.


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Wheeler Dealer Theresa Geezer

Happy Monday one and all, 25 sleeps until Brexit!

And if that doesn’t fill you with an overwhelming sense of dread then I admire your optimism. Even if Brexit itself turns out to be fine, the arguments and anger will never truly end.

Welcome to Brexit Britain – one big, drunken Wetherspoons argument where everyone gets vomit splashback on their shoes.

The real meat-and-two-veg of Brexit will happen next week – next Tuesday is the deadline for a second vote in Parliament on Theresa May’s deal, and the subsequent days will see votes on no-deal Brexit and delaying Article 50.

However, there have been some developments over the weekend, so let’s have a very quick update.


May Offers Bribes For Votes*

*Although not explicitly, I must add. I don’t want to be sent to the Tower Of London for treason (that’s still a thing, right?).

Theresa May has created a £1.6bn fund for redistributing wealth to some of the poorer towns across the UK. In particular, this money will go to the north and the Midlands and will be sent out over the next six years.

  • MPs from across Labour and Conservative Parties have accused this of being a means to bribe Labour MPs who represent poorer, Leave-majority constituencies.
    • The accusation is that in exchange for more funding, Labour MPs might rebel against their party and vote for Theresa May’s deal next Tuesday.
    • It is worth noting that these funds are available even if the vote fails, however.
  • Most funds are directed to Labour-heavy areas, leading to accusations that it is also simply trying to buy support from Labour supporters.
  • Additionally, the amount of money that’s been offered has been widely ridiculed by MPs.
    • Ruth Smeeth (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent) called it “extraordinarily pathetic.”
    • The accusation is that national cuts to local funding generally vastly outweigh the offered funds, meaning that these towns will still be poorer overall.

Why is this important?

It suggests that May is starting to panic somewhat in what could be a vital week in gathering support for the vote on her deal. She will almost certainly need Labour defectors to get a majority and this new offer of funds for poorer efforts does smack slightly of underhand tactics to get support.

Speaking of support…

ERG Still Unhelpful Cretins

The ERG have laid out three ‘tests’ to any new deal that must be passed before they can support it. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is currently handling negotiations with the EU to make changes to the backstop before next Tuesday’s vote.

The tests call for a clear, legally-binding change to the backstop that unequivocally states that the UK will never be locked into it indefinitely – i.e. that it can only ever be temporary.

Sounds reasonable…

Yep. However, a change which fulfils these criteria is extremely unlikely to be accepted by the EU. The backstop must exist, they argue, to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, as they must protect EU member states – in this case, Ireland. Alternative solutions are being studied, but many around the negotiations are reported to be pessimistic about the outcome.

So this is basically just more blustering from the ERG. It is, however, still a sign of at least some form of conciliation, so even if their demands are highly unlikely to pass, it demonstrates more of a willingness to work with May to pass a deal.

And the importance?

As above, May desperately needs support for her deal. If she can get the Brexiteers in the ERG onside, she stands a much better chance of getting a vote through the House of Commons.

If she doesn’t, the circus of delaying Brexit begins, which would be catastrophic for her politically.

And Finally…

  • The antisemitism row continues in the Labour Party:
    • Deputy Leader Tom Watson has asked for complaints about antisemitism to be sent to him directly as he has lost faith in the party to handle it.
    • General Secretary Jennie Formby has said that this is unacceptable as it is not proper process. Formby is a close ally of Corbyn.
    • Watson has gone more and more rogue recently, looking likely to actively oppose Corbyn in the next few weeks. He has considerable support from moderate MPs.
  • Tony Blair has praised the courage of the MPs who left to form The Independent Group, but has said that he will remain a Labour Party member.
  • Jeremy Corbyn was egged as he visited a local Mosque. Reports say that he was “unharmed.” Presumably this is because the weapon of choice was an egg.

I predict this to be a slower week so will keep developments to a minimum in preparation for next week, which I shall henceforth refer to as:

The Brexit Ultimatum: Lies, Leverage, Stalemate, Histrionics, Idiocy and Tusk.

B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T.

I think it’s a fitting acronym.

Not-Particularly-Meaningful Vote

Well, last night was something of a damp squib, as was to be expected. As I sat watching BBC Parliament and praying that it was all done and dusted before the start of the Chelsea/Tottenham game, I realised that a) everything was going as expected and b) I’ve now taken to watching BBC Parliament over football.

Funny how ‘maturity’ works, isn’t it?

But what did we actually learn from proceedings last night?


Costa Amendment

The Costa amendment was quite rightly voted in and accepted by government without needing to go to division (i.e. the floor of the Commons shouted ‘AYE’ louder than ‘NO,’ because a shouting match is what the first round of votes is in our democracy. No, I’m not making this up).

The amendment safeguards the rights of both EU citizens in the UK and British citizens abroad, which is undoubtedly a good thing. It got support from all corners of the HoC, from Rees-Mogg to Corbyn, and was a slightly heartening sign of good faith from politicians who haven’t always been clearly acting in the best interests of the people.

Costa himself, a Scottish Conservative MP, had to resign his post as a Parliamentary Private Secretary (a junior role, but a stepping stone to greater things) to table the amendment because, despite overwhelming support elsewhere, our fun-sponge PM Theresa May didn’t agree with it – he simply believed that it was vital to protect the rights of EU and UK workers so stuck to his guns.

Good work, Alberto Costa.

Cooper Amendment

This absolutely flew to victory, winning by 502 votes to 20. Given Theresa May’s concessions the day before, this was never going to be the swashbuckling, lame-duck-government-kicking amendment it was before, but Cooper still tabled an amendment that enshrined those concessions into Parliamentary will.

Basically, before the amendment, May had promised Parliament that she would allow them to vote on no-deal and an extension to Article 50 in March, but she has gone back on promises before. Now that this amendment has passed, she is far more obligated to do, shock horror, what she said she’d do, because Parliament has officially stated its will for it to happen.

Additionally, one entertaining note from yesterday is that the Conservative Whips (policy enforcers) didn’t know that Cooper would still be tabling an amendment and so failed to properly brief Conservative MPs on how to vote, which is probably why so many Conservatives voted for it.

Isn’t democracy fun?

Corbyn Amendment

The biggest news of the night. Labour’s alternative Brexit proposals (protecting workers’ rights, having a customs union) were rejected fairly resoundingly by 323 to 240. Corbyn had previously promised that if this happened, Labour’s official stance would then be to back a second referendum.

After the result of the vote, Corbyn toyed with us politico-types by retweeting a tweet that was all about Labour’s alternative strategies.

“What are you doing, J-Corbz?” I cried, alarming the dog. “Does that mean you’re going back on your promise?”

But, a short time later, an official statement said that Labour were now indeed backing a second referendum!

…But also not giving up hope on their alternative strategies. Corbyn is nothing if not reluctant to budge on his ideas.

Watching Peston after the football, it made for fascinating viewing. Three Labour MPs (including John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor – a title I always think sounds like a sci-fi villain) all argued with each other about how to proceed. One MP from a leave-heavy constituency said that a second referendum was a terrible, divisive idea, and McDonnell himself said that he would actively campaign for remaining despite representing a leave-constituency himself.

On a day where one of Corbyn’s friends and allies, Chris Williamson, was suspended from the party for saying that Labour ‘was already saying sorry too much for antisemitism’ (what a clever thing to say in the current landscape, Chris), it must have been good for Corbyn to know that at least his party is united behind him, and not an anxious, divided mess.

…Oh, wait.


For a while, the two main political headlines in Western politics, Brexit and Trump, have been incrementally building up to fever pitch, slowly but surely bubbling away in their respective kettles of destiny.

Now, both kettles are perilously close to boiling over and there seems like there is little chance of them being taken off the hob.

Trump’s former lawyer and soon-to-be jailbird Michael Cohen’s testimony yesterday was absolutely extraordinary (it’s easy to forget that he is talking about an incumbent President). Additionally, the Mueller investigation is drawing to a close, the FBI sharks circling ever close to Trump’s life-raft (which I like to imagine is a semi-inflated Baby Trump Balloon).

Brexit must, rationally and legally, reach a conclusion in the next few months (even assuming there is an extension). With the EU refusing to budge on renegotiating the deal and time running out, something will have to give.

Between the Lines will be there, folks, trying to make some profoundly serious politics a little bit more accessible through dodgy humour and bullet points.

There’s a Storm a-Brewin’

Since the meaningful vote in January, we’ve had some relative respite from the never-ending tumult of Brexit.

While the threat of no-deal still loomed over us like a policeman who’s caught you drinking when you’re 15 (I’m still scarred from that experience), there were scant few headlines of any real importance. There were a few smatterings of events that wanted to be stories, but mostly these were just murmurs about how cross everyone would be about a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

Last week saw the creation of The Independent Group, and I wrote that it could prove to be something of a catalyst for breaking the deadlock. Without wanting to seem like I’m desperately craving praise (I definitely am though), it’s starting to look as though I might be right. There have been some major developments in the last 24 hours and it feels like we are now, at last, approaching the Brexit endgame.

Yesterday, at the start of what could prove to be an exceptionally important week, the air suddenly got heavy and still. The previously distant rumbles started to crack louder, with once-distant flashes now appearing overhead. In the distance, the rain clouds started to form and the wind blew them closer.

The storm hath brewed, and it is here.

BREXIT’S BACK, BABY!


Corbyn Backs Second Referendum

Let’s start with the Labour shift first. Everyone’s favourite mardy Marxist, Jeremy Corbyn, announced yesterday that the Labour Party will support a second referendum for the first time. He has finally decided to have a strategy on Brexit that isn’t just watching what the Conservatives do with a thumb stuck firmly up his bottom.

While for remainers, this is undoubtedly good news and is something of an ideological victory, there are some caveats worth noting:

  1. This absolutely, categorically, does not guarantee a second referendum
    • An amendment backing a second referendum will only be voted on after his own version of a deal is voted on (which he expects to lose), making it a Plan B.
    • Additionally, and more pertinently, it is also widely believed that there would not be a majority of MPs in Parliament (from all sides) to vote for it to pass, so even if a vote for a second referendum is held it may well LOSE.
  2. This has been the Labour Party’s unofficial stance for quite some time
    • While Labour MPs have largely been in favour of a second referendum, although this is the first time the Party is officially, and proactively, supporting a People’s Vote
  3. As such, the timing of the announcement has to be considered
    • The formation of The Independent Group last week, who are all pro-second referendum, has scared the living bejesus out of the Labour top branch.
    • More and more Labour MPs have threatened to defect if there was no change in Labour policy, so this could be seen as a means to appease them.
    • This is especially true if, as above, there is no majority for it – Labour’s leaders could be seen support to a People’s Vote it but secretly know that it won’t happen.
  4. If it does happen, it will be a nightmare
    • Many would argue that it is a necessary nightmare, but the nitty-gritty will be a right old slog.
    • For instance, what would the vote be on? Leave/Remain? Deal/No-Deal? Deal/No-Deal/Remain?
    • What happens if there is a tiny winning majority for Remain, similar to the one the first time round? What happens if Leave wins again, with a bigger margin?

All fun questions to be considered, and the not-particularly-cuddly Communist will be pressed today into explaining his stance further and will be challenged on much of the above.

Could be fun.


Tories Are Revolting

No, not like that, though plenty of you seem to think so.

This week, Theresa May has had her position massively undermined by her own party. While she has been off in Egypt saying “It’s my way or the highway, buster,” her party have been slowly taking the wheels off the car she’s currently driving, “her way,” towards a wall at 80mph.

  • Prominent cabinet ministers (and some non-prominent ones too for good measure) have threatened to quit their roles as ministers and even the party if the Prime Minister doesn’t definitively state that Britain won’t leave the EU without a deal, as have scores of MPs.
    • The Conservative Party is starting to corner her into ruling out no-deal.
    • She and the Brexiteers in her party insist that no-deal must be on the table as a negotiating tool, but those who disagree believe that the threat of the damage it could cause is simply too much of a risk to use as a bargaining chip.
    • Her rebelling ministers are saying that she must be more responsible, and up until now she has flicked them the V and blown them a raspberry in a far less adorable way than Olivia Colman.

Now, however, she will have to listen. With the threat of the Cooper/Boles/Letwin amendment tomorrow, she will be desperate to remain in control of negotiations, something she will not be able to do if the amendment passes. Increased pressure of rebellion might just be enough for her to consider her negotiating stance untenable in the long run (thank you again, TIG).

Reports this morning have said that Brexiteer MPs have been briefed to receive bad news today, as Theresa May will be making a statement which presumably panders to the ministers threatening rebellion. Most likely, she will attempt to win the amendments tomorrow by tabling her own that takes no-deal off the table. It seems as though she is listening to a moderate majority for the first time, rather than pandering to the ERG.

There have been fascinating stories this week about Theresa May’s leadership style – absolutely zero co-operation, no listening, no concessions, just a zombified walk to a destination she doesn’t know yet.

Now, finally, she might just have her decision (or lack thereof so far) made for her.


The most notable thing about these two stories is that both leaders are finally, FINALLY, having to change their official stance on Brexit, a mere five weeks before it’s legally bound to happen. The influence of The Independent Group cannot be understated here, providing MPs with a credible threat to leave, and thank goodness someone had the balls to actually try to break the deadlock.

The staring match is over, and now we enter the endgame.

The skies crackle and roar, and the first few drops of ice-cold rain land upon the balding British head of destiny.

Hope you brought a brolly, because it’s going to be a downpour.


Tomorrow will be the first of the Inbox Insights, a short, bullet-point-based email which will tell you all you need to know about the amendments in a five-minute read or less.

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