Our last four-day extravaganza hardly prepared us for the onslaught of events this week.
Boris Johnson is still Prime Minister (for now), Brexit is still costing us all money and opportunities, the Government is still intending to break international law and today we found out that Rishi Sunak has lost us £11billion.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll need this weekend to get over all that.
By the skin of his teeth
Boris Johnson has this week been spared a crushing defeat at the hands of his own parliamentary party after he won a confidence vote <[link removed]> by 211 votes to 148.
Despite being a ‘win’, these numbers show Johnson has the confidence of just 59% of his parliamentary party with most of his support coming from those on his personal payroll. When Theresa May’s leadership went to a confidence vote, she won the backing of 63% of her parliamentary party - but still had to resign six months later <[link removed]>.
Johnson may now have a very difficult time keeping his party under his control, and that is likely to be exactly what the parliamentary rebels want.
The PM might still be here - but is he here for long?
Spinners and losers
Following Johnson’s victory in the vote, he was quick to claim that the result was ‘decisive’ <[link removed]>. He also told his Ministers it was time to ‘draw a line’ <[link removed]> under the events of partygate.
He also told backbench MPs he'd “do it again” <[link removed]>. Great to hear lessons have been learned.
Johnson’s allies followed suit <[link removed]>, with Dominic Raab telling people it was time to move on. Nadhim Zahawi added the particularly distasteful claim <[link removed]> that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would be ‘punching the air’ at the result.
But despite all the spin, things are unlikely to move on quite that smoothly. Rebel tories <[link removed]> have heralded the result as the beginning of the end for Johnson and vowed to keep trying to topple him. It looks like the parliamentary party is irreconcilably divided, and the fallout from that cannot be erased.
Dressed to kill
Someone who was having a great time on Monday, however, was Theresa May.
The former PM, who had her own traumatic experience with votes of no confidence, turned up to cast her vote on Monday evening dressed in a floor-length ballgown. Apparently this outfit was in honour of the Jubilee dinner <[link removed]> she was attending later that evening.
We don’t believe this was quite the only reason for the sensational attire.
Plotting Johnson’s downfall
It’s not the first time we’ve been accused of plotting, and hopefully not the last. Our CEO, Naomi Smith, told the Mirror this week <[link removed]> about our plans to help oust Boris Johnson and this government at the next election.
Naomi promised to unleash the most powerful tactical voting campaign the UK has ever seen, saying:
“Non-aggression pacts between the [Labour, Lib Dem and Green] parties will be necessary but not sufficient.
“Short of standing aside for each other in marginal seats, the only thing left under the voting system we are currently stuck with is to give people advice about who to vote for.
“Tactical voting is the best way to get Boris Johnson out of No10, purely because it will be the only tool left in the arsenal of those who want it.”
Rumours of a Bill to override the Northern Ireland Protocol have been swirling around.
New legislation is predicted to be published next week <[link removed]> which will set out plans to give Ministers powers to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
It’s clear tensions between the UK, the EU and Ireland in particular over the Northern Ireland Protocol are only going to continue to grow. The Taoiseach has said that it will mark <[link removed]> a ‘historic low’ point when the Bill is published.
The situation in Northern Ireland is….strained, to say the least with the DUP continuing to block <[link removed]> the formation of an Executive until their demands are met on reforming the Protocol.
For their part, the EU have made sounds that any unilateral action on the Protocol will be a clear signal that the whole Brexit deal is dead which could mean new tariffs on UK exports <[link removed]> as Britain would return to third country status with the bloc. Just what we need at a time of spiralling inflation, rising food costs and low growth <[link removed]>. How cheerful.
Getting his house in order?
As he often does in the aftermath of testing times, Boris Johnson made some big policy announcements this week.
On Thursday, he set out a plan <[link removed]> to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing associations. This would allow housing association tenants to buy their homes at a significantly reduced price. Johnson also promised to allow those in receipt of universal credit to put that money towards a deposit on a house.
Exactly how the Government plans to do this is unclear. For starters, they don’t own housing association homes and so are not in a position to sell them off for way below market value. Secondly, those on universal credit must have savings less than £16,000, and will in any case struggle to meet mortgage eligibility criteria, so it’s unclear how these new policies are actually going to help anyone.
Many also pointed to the fact that with the government characteristically failing to fulfil their promise to build more houses, that even if it is successful this plan would only serve to increase demand and hike prices further out of reach of first time buyers.
Our updated analysis <[link removed]> shows that the government has wastefully spent or dubiously allocated an estimated £63,986,302,250 of public money since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.
It was revealed today <[link removed]> that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has blown £11bn of taxpayer funds by failing to insure against interest rate rises on £900bn of reserves created through the quantitative easing (QE) programme.
We also learnt today that £4 billion worth of PPE purchased at the start of the pandemic will now have to be burnt <[link removed]> as it is unsuitable for use.
At a time when people are struggling to feed their families and heat their homes, this Government’s carelessness with public money is utterly appalling and exposes their dishonesty when they say tax rises and cuts are needed.
The latest session
This week, The UK Trade and Business Commission held two live evidence sessions <[link removed]>back to back!
The first session focused on the UK-Japan free trade agreement, while the second focused on the trade agreement between India and the UK that is currently in the works.
During the Japan session, trade and industry experts detailed how Brexit is already affecting growth and employment in the UK, with the value of service imports to the UK from Japan seeing sharp decreases between 2020 and 2021, and financial service imports, a critically important sector for the UK economy losing more than half their value (56%). Check out the clip below to see how our government’s behaviour is impacting trade and our international standing.
During the India session, witnesses discussed the key priorities that each country would want to gain out of a free trade agreement, with many noting that the movement of people and services would be a key ask for India.
To watch the session back, just click on the link below:
The first flight deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda is set to depart this month <[link removed]>, on 14th June.
Not all of those handed removal notices are likely to be on board the flight, as legal challenges are sure to be mounted. More than a dozen Syrian refugees are amongst those given removal notices while the Mirror reported <[link removed]> that Afghans fleeing the Taliban are expected to be on the first flight out.
To make matters worse, it has emerged this week <[link removed]> that the UK has offered an alternative to those it is proposing to deport to Rwanda: a return trip to the countries from which they have fled.
Many of those in line for deportation to Rwanda have fled active conflict zones - and a proposal to return escapees to these places is ludicrous and a clear failure of Britain’s human rights obligations.
Some asylum seekers have gone on a hunger strike in protest at their proposed deportation to Rwanda - and have in return been threatened <[link removed]> with being deported faster.
In more worrying news this week, a new report <[link removed]> from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution found judicial independence is under threat from Government ministers.
Where previously ministers would have taken judicial decisions as a starting point for reform, now judicial decisions critical of Government action are often lambasted by ministers.
The report even found the UK Supreme Court may on occasion have departed from decisions in order to assume positions more favourable to the Government as part of a response to political pressure.
This is really disturbing news which suggests threats to judicial independence in the UK are far more tangible than we might previously have assumed.
Having a Balls
We appreciate that everything so far in this week’s Weekend Wire has been rather depressing, so we thought we’d end on a much more cheerful note.
Behold, the social media team’s Ed Balls Tik Tok <[link removed]>. You can thank us later.
Have a wonderful weekend,
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]>.
Published & promoted by Cary Mitchell on behalf of Best for Britain, the campaign name of BEST FOR BRITAIN LIMITED registered at International House, 24 Holborn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2BN. Best for Britain is registered with The Electoral Commission.
Best for Britain Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 10436078. Registered for VAT no. 378894125.