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The Tory Rat Race  

THe Tory Rat Race

By Steven Paterson, former Stirling MP

Last week’s Tory conference in Birmingham did not quite explode into open warfare over the succession to the Tory leadership, but only just.

That’s not to say some didn’t stray perilously close to the line of course. Bombastic Boris Johnson is so obsessed with being seen to be the heir apparent to the Tory crown, and is so utterly lacking in the self-awareness that is characteristic of most human beings that he just could not help himself. His careful manipulation of an ever-willing media ensured that when he showed up at the conference to a celebrity welcome, it was in the guise of the champion of the one true Brexit, and his exuberant and well-rehearsed speech ensured that he dominated the airwaves for the 24 hours before it was the Prime Minister’s turn in the spotlight. Pressure successfully cranked up to maximum.

It is probably incumbent on Boris to keep himself in the headlines though, since his unpopularity amongst the parliamentary Tory party may prove a fatal weakness to his leadership ambitions. Conservative Party rules mean that in any forthcoming leadership contest, the 316 Tory MPs would have the power to select the final two candidates in any leadership selection process. By eliminating the candidate with fewest votes round by round until only two remain, aspiring Prime Ministers can be whittled down, and Boris may find it hard to escape the cull unless he can somehow broaden his appeal in the parliamentary party.

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The Beginning of the Dead-End Game

Prime Minister Theresa May

This week’s comment from Steven Paterson, former MP for Stirling

The tedious creep towards the Brexit endgame suddenly accelerated in the past week or so, as the looming negotiation deadline in September finally forced the Prime Minister to nail down some actual proposals at her Chequers showdown.

Cue the resignations of the Brexit Secretary David Davis, who had clearly been side-lined and ignored by the Prime Minister, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whose political calculation after seeing Davies resign on a point of principle was that his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister were better served in resigning too.

Boris Johnson,
possibly your future PM and to quote Frankie Boyle, “a cross between a serious head injury and an unmade bed……” scary thought.
Image licensed from depositphoto.com
Any question that the Prime Minister has seen off her extreme hard Brexit opponents is entirely illusory, of course. Both Johnson and Davies will be vociferous critics of her Brexit negotiations from the backbenches and in the press, and the precarious arithmetic for the minority Tory Government in the House of Commons means that each time a significant vote on the matter comes along, the risk of defeat is very real.

It’s anyone’s guess how many such defeats May’s administration can take before collapsing, but we are probably about to find out. Votes on customs arrangements take place in the Commons today (Monday), and the hard Brexit brigade, whose leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has been scathing in his criticism of the Prime Minister’s position and the White Paper published following the Chequers conference, may seek to derail the Government depending on the level of support he can count on.

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A Long Hot Summer

By Steven Paterson former MP for Stirling

In the end, the EU Summit was a bit of a damp squib with no real progress on Brexit to note. And this is remarkable, now that it is over two years since the referendum and with a deal, if there is to be one, requiring to be agreed by October in order to allow its ratification in EU member states.

It seems the gravity of what is at stake is lost by a public long since bored to tears by the glacial rate of progress on the technicalities and intricacies of this issue.

Yet Brexit has enormous ramifications for the economy and jobs in this country, and the UK’s fantastical position is to persist with the obvious pretence that everything will be alright on its own. This is taking complacency to a staggering and unbelievably irresponsible degree. Reports from EU countries like Ireland now indicate that preparations for a no deal Brexit are being stepped up by the EU27, who despair at a UK Government which simply cannot get its act together. It seems utterly incredible that facing the biggest constitutional change in decades, the government charged with delivering a Brexit deal cannot even participate in meaningful negotiations as yet because it has still not finalised its own position a full two years into the process.

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Co-operation and Partnership, Westminster-Style

The Scotland Office - time to go! Image By Paul the Archivist [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

By former MP for Stirling, Steven Paterson Perhaps Stirling’s unpredictable Tory MP Stephen Kerr was overcome and swelling with Britannic pride this week owing to wall to wall and unavoidable coverage of a royal wedding. Or maybe he just took a wee turn in the hot weather. Whatever the reason […]

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SNP Councillor Condemns Tory MP’S Defence Of Rape Clause

Maureen Bennison

Bannockburn SNP Councillor Maureen Bennison, has condemned Stirling’s Tory MP Stephen Kerr over twitter comments he made defending the disgraceful Tory ‘Rape Clause’. Measures brought in by the Tory Government at Westminster mean that women may only claim child support tax credits for a third or subsequent child if they […]

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What Matters Most To Tories?

Amber Rudd

By former MP for Stirling, Steven Paterson

At the time of writing, Home Secretary Amber Rudd remains in her job as the Windrush scandal fallout continues, and the full extent of the inhuman treatment meted out by the UK Government to its own citizens through deliberately rigid officialdom is becoming more painfully clear by the day.

In normal times, it is difficult to imagine how she could possibly keep a job she is so obviously not on top of. But these are certainly not normal times.

The Guardian has just broken a story with further leaked documents contradicting the Home Secretary’s position that there were no official targets for kicking ‘immigrants’ out the country, and it rather looks like she has been caught lying to Parliament. Human shield for her predecessor as Home Secretary she may be, but if it transpires that she has indeed been misleading parliament, her time will undoubtedly be up, and yet another nail will be hammered into the coffin of this decaying administration.

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