Blair and Boris – who would have thought it?

At last, a glimpse of bipartisan analysis in the chaos engulfing Boris Johnson’s premiership.

Say what you like about Tony Blair, but he is a serious politician.  What he says is worth taking seriously.  

It is also not great for Boris.  And worse for everyone else.

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Late Frost in Brexit Britain

Another sharp take on the resignation of Lord Frost – Boris Johnson’s chief European sherpa – from the folk at Eurointelligence.

Wonk-in-chief Wolfgang Munchau argues Lord Frost was one of the few (perhaps the only one?) of Boris’s close advisers that really understood the needs of a post-Brexit strategy:

“What Brexit requires, first and foremost, is a post-Brexit economic model.”

What model?

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In Britain, Christmas locks itself down

Experience suggests one should only call a turning point after it has actually – well – turned.

That said, it might be wise to keep an eye on developments in the UK over the Christmas and New Year period.

While Europe is fast locking down for fear of Omicron, Britain’s cabinet is the fulcrum of a political battle over whether any policy response would be meaningful.

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Boris: holding out till Christmas

We said a few days ago that British PM, Boris Johnson, still looked to be the indispensable man.

It’s hard to tell if subsequent events are qualifying or confirming that.

Two examples.

First, Lord Frost, Minister of State and the government’s EU strategist resigned citing the general drift of policy, most recently towards Covid authoritarianism.

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Boris: Bad reaction to Omicron

British politics is proving a fine laboratory for times of transition.

Boris Johnson’s enemies are exultant at his latest woes: a crushing by-election defeat and a parliamentary vote in which he endured the biggest Conservative party rebellion since – well since the Brexit horrors a few years ago under his predecessor Theresa May.

But oddly enough, it looks like he might keep on standing.

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Climate change has Boris wilting

Winter by-elections are rarely kind to governments.  But Boris Johnson’s Conservative party held on to a south London stronghold on a low turnout with a tolerably-reduced majority.

More worrying was that 1,400 voters got out of bed (one presumes) on a bitterly cold day to vote for the relatively anonymous candidate of a rebranded populist Reform party.  That’s about as many as the Greens and Liberals could manage between them.

After two years of setting the agenda, the talk now is of Boris losing his grip. But might it be the change in his agenda?

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Energy markets: the more they change, the more they stay the same

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Which, with baroque variations, is the story from the UK domestic energy market.

As we’ve reported before, the market is suffering from the unfortunate conjunction of soaring input prices and a populist price cap.  As suppliers collapse into the consumer-funded government safety net, the regulator is thrashing around trying to cobble together a fix which might avoid prices rising to their true level too fast, without offending voters or damaging long-term supply.

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And trouble in the East as well …

Tyrants prefer to move when their enemies are weak, divided or both.  So no surprise to see Russia’s Vladimir Putin fresh from his triumph in coercing Moldova, to stirring up trouble in the Balkans, supporting Belarus’s migrant-based diplomacy, blackmailing the EU over energy supplies this winter, and ratcheting up the threat of military action against Ukraine.

Well, that’s the view from the London-based Daily Telegraph, which points out that Putin has been sending clear and consistent messages, (punctuated by use of force in Georgia, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine):

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Boris: right idea, wrong execution

A week ago we wrote about the British PM’s move to check an out-of-control Parliamentary watchdog.  It ended in a populist revolt and he sacrificed a former minister, Owen Paterson, to the mob.

This seems to have worked as well for him as it did for Charles II.  One of his Tory predecessors, Sir John Major, broke the first rule of party loyalty by branding the government “politically corrupt”.  And the opposition started baying for the head of former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox because, as a backbench MP, he had also worked as a barrister and had committed such heinous offences as missing the deadline to register his earnings.  

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