Top 3 developments
Merkel says EU must “take its fate into its own hands” – leaving the UK to forge allegiances with those outside of Europe.
The polls tighten between Tories and Labour – but with one week until polling day the odds still seem firmly in the Tories’ favour.
May refuses to debate – May declares that she is too busy answering voters’ questions on the doorstep to take part. Home Secretary Amber Rudd took her place.
May Day, May Day!
Corbyn and May have both had fairly media-intensive weeks, with positives and negatives for both of them. Much of the criticism of Monday night’s televised interviews seemed to focus more on Paxman’s wavering abilities than it did either of the party leaders. It is worth noting that May and Corbyn were not, in fact, in the studio together – the interviews were filmed separately. The real kicker was May’s absence at last night’s debate in Cambridge. Corbyn’s last-minute decision to take part was widely lauded, and he took the Conservative representative, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, to task over spending cuts. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron pounced on May’s absence: “The prime minister is not here tonight. She can’t be bothered. So why should you?… You’re not worth Theresa May’s time. Don’t give her yours.” Rudd, meanwhile, condemned Labour’s infighting, warning voters against “a coalition of chaos”. Boris Johnson slammed the audience as “the most left-wing… I’ve ever seen”.
A booting on Brexit
May’s absence at last night’s debate last night was notable – almost as notable as both parties’ refusal to touch on the mechanics of Brexit. George Osborne is clearly still smarting from his dismissal from May’s cabinet a year ago, and used his position as Evening Standard editor to give May’s campaign – and her refusal to disclose her plans for Brexit – a good kicking. “Honey, I shrunk the poll lead”, he quipped. “High-handed British arrogance and low leaks from the Europeans have poisoned the dialogue before it’s even started.”
#GrimeforCorbyn pays off; pound plummets
Election uncertainty saw the pound fall overnight, as a slew of polls showed a tightening lead for May’s Conservative party. YouGov’s seat estimate also projected that the Conservative Party could lose 20 seats, and Labour gain 28. However, the common consensus amongst commentators and other pollsters is still that a Tory majority is inevitable; the Financial Times recently commented that polling typically predicts a leaning to the left that fails to translate into hard votes on election day. The tightening of polls has been cited as a good galvanising motivator to vote against Corbyn by the right, and evidence of a mobilised youth vote by the left. We’ll find out on the 9th.
SNP slams softie socialists
The SNP’s manifesto launched this week. Its contents were unsurprising – calling for devolution of power to Scotland, a commitment to the single market, and a focus on education and gender equality. The SNP’s ambition – to establish themselves as a valid left-wing alternative to Labour – will probably not transpire, but the SNP’s deputy leader, Angus Robertson, performed solidly in last night’s debate. Sturgeon warned that a vote for Labour is a vote to let the Tories in “by the back door”.
It’s a ‘yes’ from Yves!
The rights of EU and non-EU residents to remain in the UK remains a widely-discussed topic in the run-up to Brexit negotiations. A legal adviser to the European Court of Justice argued that EU nationals should not face stricter residency rules if they become citizens of another country, and advised that a Spanish woman who obtained a British passport can’t be prevented from living with her Algerian husband in the U.K. EU citizens “should be able to continue the family life they have until then led with their spouse in the member state whose nationality they have acquired,” states Advocate General Yves Bot, of the EU Court of Justice. This shows that May’s unbending – and increasingly unrealistic – commitment to cutting migration will not find favour with the EU when it comes to negotiations.
May usurps Noel Edmunds as the face of “Deal or no deal”
A TV interview on Monday night say May talk tough on Brexit, repeating her mantra that “no deal would be better than a bad deal”. Economists disagree. The Centre for European Reform have published a report, unambiguously titled “Why no deal would be much worse than a bad deal”. Post-Brexit the UK will have to renegotiate an estimated 759 trade deals; 295 regarding trade, 202 on regulatory cooperation. The latter addresses issues as diverse and important as antitrust and data sharing. Negotiations for the former are time-pressured and will need to take place with more than 160 countries. Andrew Hood, former UK government lawyer commented that “the nearest precedent you can think of is a cessation of a country — you are almost starting from scratch… It will be a very difficult, iterative process.”
The ramifications of Brexit for the NHS are already becoming apparent. If reciprocal health agreements are withdrawn during Brexit expat pensioners returning to the UK for medical treatment will cost the NHS an extra £500 million per year. It is estimated that up to 26,500 NHS workers may leave as a result of Brexit. Nick Clegg has said that “It will cost the NHS around £265m to bring in EU staff to fill these jobs over the next five years”. Eurosceptics may argue that the UK should train its own staff. NHS bursary reform this year has seen bursaries replaced by loans. This has elicited widespread condemnation from the medical profession in the UK; it is predicted that fewer will train as nurses as a result. Brexit, it seems, will do little to help an NHS that is already facing sizeable staffing issues.
A covfefe in Brussels
Trump’s meetings with EU and NATO leaders saw him elbow heads of state, bluster, and wince through a bone-crushing handshake with Macron. He criticised the Germans as “bad, very bad” due to the fact that they sold “millions of cars to the US”. It is extremely likely that he will pull the US out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement later today.
EU say goodbye, Premier Li say hello (that is a Beatles joke, pop fans)
Many in the UK were saddened to be grouped with Trump, then, when Merkel told a crowd of 2,500 that “the times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over. I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.” The potential chasm between the UK, Europe – and Germany in particular – grows. German news outlet, Manager Magazin, observed that “The total absence of any sense of realism and pragmatism in May’s camp represents a profound culture shock for… all European capitals…The Tories are also furious because their customary “divide and rule” strategy toward Europe does not work at all.” As the UK sets its sights on post-Brexit trade partners such as India and China, Merkel assuredly continues to build these links. Merkel was unphased by the reaction to her comments when, after hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she declared “It’s important for us to proceed with the German-Indian — or rather, the EU-Indian — free trade agreement”. The EU and China will be hosting a summit in Brussels tomorrow, and will discuss trade, climate change, security, and foreign policy. Premier Li Keqiang – the Chinese head of State – met with Merkel yesterday, and will continue with talks today.
- 8th June – UK General Election.
- 13th June – Parliament reconvenes.
- 19th June – State Opening of Parliament.
- 19th June – Tentative start date for Brexit negotiations.
- 1st July – 3rd September – Parliamentary recess.
- 1st – 4th October – Conservative Party Conference.
- October 19th – EU Summit.