Party conferences offer no respite from Brexit, as Boris readies his offer

Britain’s Conservative party has its annual conference in Manchester this week. Planes, trains and automobiles are on standby to rush MPs back to London if there is any action in Parliament.  And on Wednesday, PM Boris Johnson is expected to set out the Brexit offer he will be making to the EU, and in particular, his proposals for the status of Northern Ireland.  

It’s a good time to explore some detailed polling, undertaken by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft, to see how the government’s polarising strategy is playing out with voters. Continue reading “Party conferences offer no respite from Brexit, as Boris readies his offer”

Labour gets a Brexit policy

Britain’s Labour party leaders are not regular Point of Order readers.  Back in March we suggested it made sense for them to vote for then-Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal which would have ensured a (very) close ongoing relationship with the EU. They decided not to.

Now, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson charges towards the 31 October departure date with a policy of new-deal-or-no-deal, they have changed their mind.  The party’s shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, says their plan is to tweak the May agreement and then put it to a second referendum, asking the voters to choose between it or remaining in the EU.

Continue reading “Labour gets a Brexit policy”

How is Boris’s Brexit plan looking?

The old joke about a man falling from a 10 story building – at the 5th floor, he shouts ‘So far, so good’.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his people are doing a lot of cheery shouting.

One of the taunts flung in the face of his parliamentary opponents is that they are too late to stop the UK leaving the European Union as scheduled on 31 October.  If they bring forward and win a no-confidence vote when Parliament resumes in September, legislation to fix the parliamentary term will let the PM schedule the resulting election for just after Brexit day. Continue reading “How is Boris’s Brexit plan looking?”

Brexit: no-deal contingency plans could encourage a deal being struck

LONDON CORRESPONDENT:   As the Christmas truce approaches, the EU and UK have set out their respective plans for how they will respond if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March next year without a withdrawal agreement.  The announcements are proof of the increasing likelihood of ‘no deal‘ Brexit; they also have the potential to drive the parties towards the very outcome for which they are the contingency.

The EU preparations bear a passing resemblance to the War of the Roses battle cry of “kill the nobles, spare the commons”.  Steps will be taken to avoid inconveniencing individuals by keeping flights running, protecting the rights of UK residents of the EU and so forth, while going slow on measures to help UK businesses to deal with the flood of new obligations – like border and veterinary checks, licensing requirements, tariffs etc – that will descend overnight.

The hope is that the disruption, and in some cases stoppage, of trade will show the UK government and electorate the error of their ways and ideally bring them to heel. Continue reading “Brexit: no-deal contingency plans could encourage a deal being struck”

How MPs can unleash the furies by throwing barbs like ‘stupid’

Describe the leader of the Opposition as “Simple Simon”, and it’s all a bit of a lark. Yes, Jacinda Ardern did have to withdraw and apologise in Parliament after she responded to a question from Opposition leader Simon Bridges with reference to a character in a childhood nursery rhyme.

Ardern was elected on a promise to bring a kinder and nicer face to politics, of course,   as a scribe at Stuff pointed out.

So is it kind and nice to respond to Bridges’ question: ” It’s quite simple…..Simon”

Ardern might have been paying Bridges a compliment, of course, saying he is uncomplicated, clear, plain and understandable (yeah,right!).  Those happen to be among the several meanings of “simple”  – but:

“If you say that someone is simple, you mean that they are not very intelligent and have difficulty learning things.”   Continue reading “How MPs can unleash the furies by throwing barbs like ‘stupid’”

Finding a job for Helen Clark – what about a posting to London?

The Ardern govt has invited a former PM, Jim Bolger, to head up the working group on fair pay agreements, as part of the Labour Party’s policy to reform workplace bargaining. No-one doubts the vast experience Bolger brings to the task: he was Minister of Labour in the Muldoon govt, and then PM when the National govt abolished the national awards system and banned compulsory unionism through the Employment Contracts Act.

Labour’s idea is to set up a new type of industry-wide employment agreement, to set minimum wages and conditions in particular occupations. It’s a very different concept from that implicit in the Bolger govt’s legislation, which some might think would require a degree of mental flexibility to accommodate.

But not all PMs are like Margaret Thatcher, who famously described herself as a “lady not for turning”. Continue reading “Finding a job for Helen Clark – what about a posting to London?”