Another week down and we’ve lots to share as usual. Parliament might not have been sitting, but political news has managed to remain at a constant frenzy.
I want to take a moment to congratulate all those who have taken part as candidates and campaigners during these elections. Standing for election, knocking on strangers' doors, arguing your platform and asking people to vote for you is tough no matter what party you represent.
Democracy only works as long as we all take part in it, so to everyone who campaigned, stood for election and cast their votes - THANK YOU.
Now, here’s what happened this week…
At the time of writing, the local election results are still (trickling) in - and it looks like that most thrilling of outcomes for us political anoraks: a mixed picture. We’re going to be glued to the results as they get announced into the weekend.
As far as we can see, the Conservatives haven’t done that well - but they’ve also not done that badly either, outside London.
Red as a London bus
Labour hasn’t made as much progress as they might have hoped in key Northern areas like Hartlepool <[link removed]>, but they did have a stellar night in London and London accounted for fully 40% of the seats up for grabs. Significant councils fell to Labour, including Margaret Thatcher’s favourite of Wandsworth <[link removed]>, and Westminster City Council, which has been Conservative since its creation in 1964. Barnet Council also went to Labour from the Tories, a sign for many that the party is recovering from the anti-Semitism allegations that plagued the Corbyn years.
Gains for Lib Dems and Greens
The Liberal Democrats have had a productive night, winning control of Hull City Council <[link removed]> from Labour. Other Lib Dem and Green successes <[link removed]> suggest that discontent with the incumbent Government has benefitted parties of many colours. However, the absence of a Tory collapse underlines the need for opposition parties to work with each other if they want a change of government at the next General Election.
Sínn Féin reigns
A huge election result is expected in Northern Ireland late tonight or early tomorrow as everything points to significant losses for the DUP, big success for Sínn Féin, and an insurgence of the cross-community Alliance Party into the Northern Ireland Assembly.
If the DUP falls behind Sínn Féin (and potentially the Alliance Party) it looks like an Irish Nationalist party will become the largest party in Northern Ireland for the first time since its creation in 1921. The success of Sínn Féin, a party which advocates Irish unity, has been cited as evidence that continued Brexit dysfunction is making the break-up of the UK more likely.
Let them eat own brand
Away from elections, more sound advice from the Government on the cost of living crisis this week. For anyone struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table, the Government has a killer solution, one that has scarcely been thought of before: buy value brands.
Yes, the genius that is George Eustice, Cabinet Minister for Food and the Environment no less, entered into uncharted territory when he advocated for ‘value brands’ <[link removed]> as a means for consumers to keep household spending down. So surprised no-one else had thought of it! Crisis solved.
Our social media team decided that Eustice deserved a new marketing slogan all of his own <[link removed]>,
All aboard the bragging bus
Also laying the condescension on thick this week was PM Boris Johnson, who made his first Good Morning Britain appearance in five years <[link removed]>. He was told the heart-rending story of Elsie, a pensioner <[link removed]> who has cut down to one meal a day and spends her time on London buses so she doesn’t have to pay for heating in her home. When asked what more could Elsie do to cut back, Johnson (obviously) didn’t have an answer and so decided to (falsely) boast that he had introduced free London bus passes for pensioners while he was Mayor of London.
This isn’t strictly true - as free bus passes for those over 60 in London have been around since the 1970s <[link removed]>. Nice try, Prime Minister.
Looking ahead to next week, we have the Queen’s Speech <[link removed]> set for Tuesday. The Queen’s Speech marks the beginning of the new Parliament, and lists bills that the Government is hoping to pass during the next year or so. Be prepared for the worst.
After smashing through the Elections Bill, Borders Bill and Policing Bill last week, we’re expecting the Government to have packed even more unpleasant plans, all coated in a glittering veneer of populism.
The Government regularly complains about ‘woke lefty lawyers’ and the UK’s ‘rights culture’ <[link removed]> - which seems an odd thing to take issue with. Apparently on the table is the repeal of the Human Rights Act, to be replaced by a British Bill of Rights.
Keep an eye out for some dodgy legislation on the Northern Ireland Protocol, and some fanciful Brexit bluster too. No Government initiative would be complete without it.
Would you like some radioactivity with that free trade?
This week, Boris Johnson met with Japanese PM, Fumio Kishida. Ahead of that meeting, the Food Standards Agency prepared for an exciting new development by reviewing controls on the levels of radioactivity <[link removed]> that can be contained in products sold in the UK.
They decided to scrap them.
This will now allow vegetables grown in the vicinity of the old Fukushima nuclear power plant to be sold in the UK. Looks like those sunlit uplands will have a distinctly green glow.
You’ll remember the Government’s inhumane announcement that it would send asylum seekers offshore to Rwanda.
Well it turns out despite bragging about being able to send ‘thousands’ <[link removed]> of asylum seekers offshore, the Government will *only* be able to send 300 people per year <[link removed]> to Rwanda through this scheme.
This is still 300 people too many, but what is particularly disquieting is the way that the Government has clearly chosen to make its lack of compassion a means of scoring political points.
Dover the hills and far away
The UK Trade and Business Commission, a group of cross-party and cross-industry MPs and business leaders who gather evidence about UK trade post-Brexit, will be visiting Dover in a few weeks’ time.
The trip will see Commissioners speak to small business officials and some of those drivers stuck in the 30 mile M20 lorry park about the impacts of Brexit and much more. Expect to see plenty of footage from the day on the Commission’s Twitter account <[link removed]> - and we’ll definitely get a shot or two of those white cliffs!
A new survey <[link removed]> out this week of British nationals living in the EU has sadly revealed that many now feel disconnected from the motherland.
In particular, many of those surveyed were angry about Brexit <[link removed]>and the blows it had dealt to them, especially the loss of free movement.
Many respondents were deeply upset that their non-UK family members would no longer automatically have the chance to reside in the UK, and despaired at losing their own chances of exploring more of Europe. Those surveyed expressed high affinity with the EU, but overall a low attachment to Britain.
Could this mean that the recent Elections Bill which expands overseas voting rights <[link removed]> comes back to bite this Brexit government? Probably not, but it is clear to see the UK’s Brexit experiment is not just disastrous economically but also on a personal level for so many.
Anger across the pond, and around the world
Continuing to make headlines <[link removed]> is the leak of a US Supreme Court draft ruling which suggests that Roe v Wade, the 1973 case has led to a guarantee of the right to abortion across the US, might soon be overturned.
Tons of protesters gathered <[link removed]> outside the supreme court and this video <[link removed]> of Massachusetts Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren decrying the increasing restrictions over abortion went viral.
It is clear that social conservatives in America are moving the goalposts on abortion - and if this ruling is made, it is highly likely that abortion would be outlawed in numerous US states. The even greater fear is that it won’t just be abortion <[link removed]>, but that other rights like same-sex marriage and access to contraception will also come under attack from the conservative-stacked surpreme court. Read the reaction from our CEO on what this means for the UK government’s trade deals with individual US states here <[link removed]>.
Best wishes, and have a good weekend!
Director of Operations, 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. £5 per month will make you a Best for Britain Citizen of the World. Join now <[link removed]>.
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