Some Surprises and Contradictions in New British Cabinet: Boris Johnson as Foreign Minister and Philip Hammond as Chancellor of Exchequer

The new Conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May has made some interesting appointments to her new cabinet. First of all some big figures in the previous Cameron cabinet are not included. This includes most notably as Chancellor of the Exchequer the departure of George Osborne widely seen as the architect of Britain’s punishing and in my view misguided austerity policy. Osborne has been replaced by Philip Hammond who is also quite right wing and has a reputation as a fiscal hawk. So this raises a potential problem if the Prime Minister wants to move away from austerity and embrace a one nation strategy that strives to promote greater equality of opportunity and abolition of class division. The first test will be when the new Chancellor a former business entrepreneur brings in his first budget in an environment still likely to be suffering from the shock of the Brexit referendum and the general malaise in the European economy. In another appointment which has raised eyebrows in high places in both Europe and North America, Prime Minister May has named the leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. Johnson is, of course, a controversial charismatic intellectual figure but does he have the necessary diplomatic skills ? Already his critics in Germany and France have weighed in critically. For example, the French Foreign minister has called him somewhat undiplomatically “a liar” on account of Mr.Johnson’s declarations against the EU during the Brexit campaign. So it should be interesting to watch the new foreign minister perform over the next few months. Our own Minister of Foreign affairs, Stéphane Dion and our Minister of international trade should be quick to be in touch to open discussions about enhancing trade and exchange with Britain.

Other interesting appointments and dismissals include the dismissal of Oliver Letwin as Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove from justice and Nicky Morgan from Education in the Cameron cabinet and the appointment of Amber Rudd at energy, Liam Fox as Secretary of International Trade, David Davis as Secretary of state for exiting the EU and Andrea Leadsom to environment and rural affairs.

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Corbyn wins British NEC Labour party vote: his name will be on the ballot in fall leadership contest

The embattled Labour party leader has won a significant victory at the meeting of the National executive of the Labour party of Great Britain. The executive committee voted 18 to 14 that Corbyn had an automatic place on the ballot and he did not require the nominating support of 50 MPs as is the case of his opponents who are trying to oust him from the leadership. 172 parliamentary Labour MPs voted no confidence in his leadership but since he won an overwhelming majority of party member votes less than a year ago he is likely, though not certain, to win the the bulk of their support in this new contest.

If so, the Labour party rebels will have been vanquished and the grip of Corbyn and his allies in the party strengthened. There is also the danger that the defeated rebels will bolt the party and seek to form a new centrist coalition opposed to both the left and the tory right. But first we have to see how successful Corbyn will be in this leadership race. The anti-Corbynites may have strengthened their position somewhat by tightening the rules on members who will have voting rights and demanding that new members who sign up in the two days between July 18 and July 20 or have previously signed up at 3 £ will have to pay 25£ in the those two days to acquire voting rights.There may also be a loophole which permits people to sign up with a union like Unite or another registered group for a smaller monthly fee and gain the right to vote as a registered supporter via this route. In such case the deadline would be postponed until August.

Some anti Corbynite journalists are predicting the demise of Labour and a restructuring of the party system with a new centrist coalition party emerging as a competitor to Labour. This may happen but its premature to conclude this. I would not rule Corbyn out at this stage. He’ s proved himself and his team are competent political competitors in a very tough environment.

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Theresa May 199, Andrea Leadsom 84, Michael Gove 46 Gove eliminated and Leadsom drops out. May will be prime minister.

The Michael Gove betrayal gambit turns out all for nought. Ruthlessness has its electoral limits. So the next British Prime minister will be a woman, Theresa May. How long she can keep the job without calling an election remains to be seen.It is also unclear to what extent she will follow the policies of George Osborne with respect to austerity and anti deficit hysteria.

In the opposition Labour party in the meantime chaotic self imposed disintegration has set in with the announcement of a challenge to the democratically elected leader Jeremy Corbyn by one of the MPs who was formerly in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. Angela Eagle who previously had served in the cabinet of Gordon Brown as pensions minister and who voted for the Iraq war has launched the challenge to Corbyn on behalf of the rebels in the parliamentary party. She was an active campaigner on the remain side and is regarded as a soft left member of the PLP. Her sister is also an MP. Her support for the Iraq war in stark contrast to Corbyn’s refusal to vote for it will undoubtedly be an issue. The first hurdle Corbyn may have to overcome might be an attempt by the anti Corbynites to exclude his name from the ballot on account of his failure to get a sufficient number of MPs, 20 % of the party’s MPs and EU parliament MPS to back him. The union president of Unite who backs Corbyn Len McCluskey has stated that should the executive fail to include Corbyn on the ballot this act will split the party and yield a poisoned chalice to whomever the party chooses as leader. Labour’s hari kari would be complete.

Generally speaking people are very reluctant to vote for a party in the throes of civil war. They usually turn away from such parties in an election. The replace Corbyn coup will be seen in this way and is likely to be a bitter and divisive contest. The Iraq inquiry has severely damaged the Blairite wing of the party who seem to loath Corbyn. His very well reasoned critique of the Blair administrations mis-handling of the decision to go to war in Iraq backed up by the thorough report of the Chilcot Iraq inquiry is probably resented by them. But in the current state of British politics resentment is an unaffordable luxury.

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Iraq Chilcot inquiry report published.Tony Blair criticized for proceeding to war without carefully vetting intelligence.Crabb drops out of leadership race and along with Fox endorses May.

The UK Iraq war Inquiry report under the direction of Sir John Chilcot has been published. It strongly criticizes the British Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, for having rushed the decision to go to war on the basis of faulty intelligence. It also concludes that Mr.Blair gave premature support to President George W. Bush before he had legal permission to go to war from Parliament or the United Nations.In retrospect then Canadian Prime minister Jean Chretien’s decision not to commit to Canadian participation looks like a much better decision when compared to the error in judgement made by Blair for Britain. There may be some civil law suits undertaken by the families of soldiers killed or wounded in the war as a consequence of the Chilcot report.Without a doubt the reputation for good judgement and political leadership of Mr.Blair has suffered a major blow. To his credit Jeremy Corbyn, the embattled Labour party leader who had voted against participation rose in Parliament to remind the public and the House that there were also millions of Britons at the time who had been opposed and over a million people had marched in London in opposition to the war in advance of it.

On the tory leadership front Stephen Crabb has dropped out throwing his support to Theresa May. So now it is a choice between Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom for the second spot. The odds favour Leadsom but surprises can happen particularly if some May supporters throw their final ballot votes to Gove in order to shut Leadsom out of the final.

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May 165, Leadsom 66, Gove 48, Crabb 34, Fox 16. Fox eliminated in British Tory leadership race.

The first round results are out in the British Conservative governing party leadership race to succeed David Cameron. Theresa May is the big winner with 165 first round votes Andrea Leadsom a distant second with 66 votes followed by Michael Gove with 48, Stephen Crabb with 34 and now eliminated Liam Fox with 16.It looks quite likely that the two finalists are going to be May and Leadsom who will then face off in a vote of the party membership. May voted to Remain while Leadsom was an advocate of the Brexit Leave position.Two rounds remain. One on Thursday and a final one to determine the pair who fill face the party membership next Tuesday.

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UK continues to reel from Brexit shock: Johnson drops out of the race to succeed Cameron .Corbyn refuses to resign.

The fallout from last Thursday’s Brexit vote in the UK continues. Five candidates to replace PM David Cameron as leader of the governing Conservative party have announced their candidacy. These will be reduced to the leading two by a vote of the parliamentary party.The Tories have 330 seats in Parliament so it would seem with five candidates splitting the vote a candidate would likely have to get over 100 votes to finish in the top 2. The two finalists will then face off before a vote of the party membership. The candidates include Theresa May, 59 the home secretary, Michael Gove,48 the former Education secretary,Stephen Crabb, 43 work and pensions secretary; Andrea Leadsom 53, a former banker with expertise in the financial markets and their dealings with the Bank of England, and a Thatcherite Energy Minister; and Liam Fox 54, a social conservative and a medical doctor and member of the House of Commons since 1992. The big surprise is the absence of Boris Johnson from the list. Much to the shock of his many supporters and journalists Johnson announced that after canvassing his supporters, fellow MPs and other party sages he decided he would not win . Michael Gove’s decision to desert him and take one of his chief organizers with him and run himself despite his earlier suggestion that he was likely not to run and support Johnson came as a big surprise- some would say betrayal- and effectively shut Johnson out from his long goal of becoming British Prime Minister. Johnson would seem to have depended on winning support from the same MPs who Gove will be drawing upon, the pro leave Brexiteers. Having to share them with Gove and Fox meant his base would be substantially diminished. Most of the remain MPs were probably too hard of a sell for even such a charmer as Johnson.He would assuming a three way split among the pro Brexit faction have to win the support of close to 70 plus of these MPs. He must have discovered that his high profile leadership of the leave Brexit side had cost him the leadership support of many Remain MPs who may well be bitter about the resignation of David Cameron and put more of the blame on Boris than on the other Brexit candidates.
It was a very surprising outcome for the most charismatic and intellectually ambitious – with the possible exception of Michael Gove- of the Tory leadership hopefuls.

On the Labour side of the house turbulence also reigns. Jeremy Corbyn is effectively under siege as the left wing populist leader of the Labour party. Despite the fact that Corbyn won the leadership decisively a mere nine months ago defeating three other more conservative MPs the majority of his MPs -172 to 40 with 13 abstentions and 4 spoiled ballots-have voted non confidence in his leadership. They had hoped by doing so Corbyn would be forced to resign.However under the new rules that govern the Labour party only a vote of the entire party can determine who is the legitimate leader. An MP who contests the leadership can trigger an overall vote from the membership but only by marshalling 50 plus one MPs to support him or her. So far despite much manoeuvering from the anti Corbyn majority and pressure being applied by party leaders like former leader Ed Miliband for Corbyn to fall on his sword no one has stepped forward so far with the requisite number to trigger the leadership campaign. If they were to do this, as seems likely in the coming days, they will have to face a renewed membership that has taken place under Corbyn that strongly supports him and passionately approves of his critique of austerity and neo-con politics. More than 250000 people have signed a petition backing Corbyn. It is not clear that he can be defeated in such a new race.

Time will tell. One way or the other Brexit has shattered the state of the party system in Britain and the effects will reverberate for some years to come.

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Britain votes to leave the EU: 17,410,742 vote to leave, 16,141,241 vote to remain.PM David Cameron announces his resignation in the fall.Financial markets react very negatively.

The referendum results are clear. The Uk is a very divided union. Despite 16.1 million voting to remain a member of the EU 17,410,241 voted to leave and so the United Kingdom will begin the process of disengaging from the European Union in a complex process which will take a minimum of two years and very likely even longer.The vote was very different in different regions of the UK. London, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as Gibraltar all voted to remain by large margins. The rest of the country including the midlands,the north,most of the the east , most of Wales except for Cardiff, Devon and Cornwall voted to leave.In the big cities the vote was much more favorable to remain but Brexit carried the day very narrowly in Birmingham. Bristol, Manchester,Leeds, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow , Aberdeen and London all voted to remain.But it was not enough to overcome the more conservative provincial parts of England and Wales. David Cameron is the first political victim of the vote. He announced that he would resign stepping down in the fall. Boris Johnson emerges initially as a big winner as does Nigel Farage. But there may well be some buyers’ remorse that will emerge in the coming weeks and months as the consequences of the vote begin to emerge. Boris will have determined rivals who will seek to block him. The stock market very negative reaction will probably fizzle out in the coming days. But market participant are often young and very inexperienced and easily moved by short term greed, excessive fear and lack of historical knowledge.The very negative reaction of the financial markets may turn out to be a one day wonder as irrational emotions subside.In the longer term Scotland may well hold a second referendum on leaving. Northern Ireland may join them in their own referendum.Great Britain and Europe will never be the same.

Regional Nation results:

England Remain 46.6% 13,266,996 votes. Leave 53.4% 15,188,406 votes. Turnout 73%

Northern Ireland Remain 55.8% 440,437 votes . Leave 44.2% 349,442 votes turnout 62.9%

Scotland Remain 62 % 1,661,191 votes Leave 38 % 1,018,322 votes. turnout 67.2 %.

Wales Remain 47.5% 772347 votes Leave 52.5% 854,572 votes turnout 71.7 %

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