From Maheen Behrana - Best for Britain <[email protected]>
Subject Weekend Wire #6
Date April 14, 2022 3:30 PM
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Dear John

It may be a long weekend, but that’s all the more reason for a (long-ish) round up! 

We’re sharing the latest headline hitters, alongside some of the gossip you might have missed, to make sure you’re up to date and suitably armed with all the political insight you need. 

Not fine by us

The big news this week is that both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been issued fines <[link removed]> as a result of the Met police’s investigation into lockdown parties at Downing Street. Johnson’s wife Carrie was also issued a fine. 

The big question is, of course, what happens next? Opposition figures are naturally calling for Johnson to resign, but his supporters are rallying round him and insisting that the parties are a distraction compared to the much more serious issue of war in Europe. Not that war in Europe has ever been much of a reason for Prime Ministers retaining their role in the past. 

If you think it’s high time for Johnson to go, sign our petition <[link removed]> urging for the recall of Parliament so that Johnson can face a vote of no confidence. And then send a message to your MP <[link removed]>.

More Sunak specials

For Rishi Sunak, parties are just the tip of the iceberg. There are few things we wish to thank Rishi Sunak for, but his ability to provide us with juicy content to share with you all is pretty special. 

Sunak has this week continued his descent from Government golden boy to the murky depths of political infamy. His family’s use of a set of tax dodges has made him ever more unpopular, and he’s unlikely to be able to recover his previously glossy image. All very sad for the once prime ministerial hopeful (but we’re not shedding any tears, particularly after that tax hike).

All we can say is that Sunak must have been glad when partygate reared its ugly head once more, but probably less happy when he was fined too. You can’t win them all. 

Defending the indefensible

If you thought that was the worst of it, think again…

Imran Ahmad Khan, Conservative MP for Wakefield, was this week found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15 year old boy in 2008. If he’s sentenced to more than 12 months in prison, he will have to step down, triggering a byelection. 

While one might expect robust condemnation of Khan, the (now former) chair of the APPG on LGBT+ rights, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, declared that the guilty verdict marked a ‘miscarriage of justice’ <[link removed]> and decided to openly support Khan. After an outcry, Blunt then resigned as chair of the APPG.

But Ahmad Khan’s isn’t the only sexual harassment scandal plaguing the Conservative party currently. There was the sexual assault conviction for Charlie Elphicke <[link removed]>. And then of course there’s the MP Rob Roberts, who had his Conservative membership restored <[link removed]>, despite his sexual harrasment of a member of his staff. And there’s also David Warburton <[link removed]>, who has been accused of sexual harrasment and cocaine use. 

Bonkers and inhumane

And it gets worse in Government-land this week. The Government announced late on Wednesday night that it has signed a new migration partnership enabling the UK to deport asylum seekers who enter the country ‘illegally’ to Rwanda. 

This system is clearly modelled on the Australian idea of creating deterrents. Australia has sent asylum seekers offshore to places like Nauru <[link removed]> or Manus Island and held them in camps there indefinitely - often with disastrous human rights implications and at huge cost to the taxpayer. 

The UK Government appears to have taken one look at Australia’s failed system and decided to import it wholesale.

Oh and here’s a little sweetener for any taxpayers feeling the pinch: the policy is estimated to cost a whopping £1.4 billion <[link removed]>. So while many have to choose between heating and eating, the Government is throwing money away on this perverse populist project. What a coincidence that this was announced just one day after the partygate fines…

Across the Channel

Things are heating up in the French presidential election, after first round voting left Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen as the final contenders for the position. 

Macron, who leads the neither-left-nor-right La Republique en Marche party, is facing off the hardline Le Pen after a closer than expected first round, where Macron gained 27.6% of the vote to Le Pen’s 23.4%. 

As the second round of voting commences, it is expected that votes from other first round contenders will transfer to either Macron or Le Pen. The extremely far-right Eric Zemmour gained 7.1% of the vote, almost all of which is likely to transfer to Le Pen. The far left Jean-Luc Melenchon gained 22% of the vote, but has not yet endorsed Macron, instead telling his supporters not to vote for Le Pen. 

This could prove troublesome for Macron, as without the explicit endorsement of Melenchon, voter apathy could win a big victory here and seal the deal for far-right Le Pen. 

On top of Tik Tok

Best for Britain is now truly down with the kids - we’ve started our own Tik Tok!

Our first video <[link removed]> featured our CEO Naomi Smith discussing partygate and what the fallout should be. We’re calling for a vote of no confidence in the Government, and we were thrilled to see hundreds of people commenting and engaging with our call to action. 

Thousands of people liked the video and hundreds shared it. 

If you’re already a Tik Tokker, why not follow our page here <[link removed]>? 

New kid on the block

It’s been confirmed this week that Chris Mason will take over <[link removed]> from Laura Kuenssberg as BBC political editor. 

He’s not quite new to the BBC - in fact, he’s been there for 20 years, and has reported on Westminster for 10 of those. 

It comes after a tumultuous recruitment process, which took place against a backdrop of several high profile staff departures at the BBC. Mason only applied for the role last week, after the original recruitment process was scrapped. 

It’ll be interesting to see what direction Mason takes the role in. 

Fishy friends

More of Boris Johnson’s personal past-times seem to be catching up with him, as reports emerge that the Chair of the Commission that advised on the appointment of Evgeny Lebedev to the House of Lords has been summoned to give evidence to MPs when the Commons return from recess. 

Lord Bew chaired the Commission that urged the Government to rethink Lebedev’s appointment to the Lords on security grounds, after coming under pressure from intelligence agencies. But it seems that those warnings went unheeded by Downing Street, which exerted its influence to ensure that Lebedev’s appointment went ahead. 

Lebedev’s father was once a spy for Russia, and both currently co-own the Evening Standard. Johnson has been friends with Lebedev for a long time, but categorically denies that he asserted any pressure to have Lebedev’s appointment to the Lords pushed through. We’ll file this one alongside ‘I didn’t know it was a party’ in Boris Johnson’s collection of incredulous claims.  

Best wishes,

Maheen Behrana

Senior Campaigns and Policy Officer, Best for Britain

P.S. It's really easy to support Best for Britain's campaigns and be first to know what's going on. £10 per month will make you a Best for Britain Fellow Traveller. Join now <[link removed]>.


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