Parliament is stuck in a state of limbo. Only Norway Plus can dig us out of this crisis

House Magazine Theresa May limped through her no confidence vote, but her dog’s dinner of a Brexit deal is still dead in the water. May’s decision to defer the Meaningful Vote was not only the most anti-democratic act by a British Prime Minister in living memory, it was also utterly self-defeating. Had May held the vote she would also have gained leverage in negotiations with the EU – proof that they need to budge. But perhaps most importantly she would have moved the debate along. She would have learnt much about the will of the House, and what deal she can do with Brussels. But with May’s head still buried in the sand, and with Labour reluctant to table a No Confidence motion, we remain stuck in a state of limbo. Continue reading

Remember The Golden Days Of Our EU Affair? A Norway Deal Could Return Us There

The Times On Tuesday evening one of us will vote against Theresa May’s deal. The other will vote in favour. One of us will vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s amendment — and for any motion of no confidence in the government. The other will vote against. One of us is Welsh through and through — the representative of the Port Talbot steel-making community and proud scion of a tribe of passionate Labour politicians and trade unionists. The other is as English as hot buttered toast, the representative of Grantham in Lincolnshire, where Margaret Thatcher was born and raised, and a Tory moderniser with a career in business behind him. Continue reading

Theresa May’s Dog's Dinner Of A Brexit Deal Looks Almost Certain To Fall

The Mirror Theresa May’s dog's dinner of a Brexit deal looks almost certain to fall on Tuesday, not least because MPs know that it hands far too much power to the EU after 29 March. With no appetite for an economy-shattering No Deal, her own cabinet ministers must now persuade her to pivot to the only other feasible Brexit option; Norway Plus. Let’s be clear. The Norway option is a strong compromise. Continue reading

Norway Is The Only Way To Avoid The Cliff

New European Let’s be clear: Theresa May’s Brexit deal is a thumping victory for the EU, whichever way you slice it. On March 29, 2019 our country will effectively become a vassal state for the 21 months of the transition period – complying with all EU rules but without any seat at the table. The EU will have us over a barrel as we scramble to turn the vague, open-ended Political Declaration into a legally-binding, long-term future relationship, while the cliff edge of December 2020 looms ever-larger. Continue reading

Russia-West Relations In The Age Of Fragmentation

The world is arguably more fragmented and polarised than it has been at any time since the end of the Cold War. The wave of optimism and internationalism that swept all before it in the 1990s has given way to a rising tide of nationalism. The seemingly unstoppable forward march of liberal democracy has been halted in its tracks and forced to retreat, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the forces of tribalism, nativism and authoritarianism. Putinist Russia is at the vanguard of the zero-sum game mind-set that has come to define this age of fragmentation that has driven the rise of Trump, Orban, Le Pen, Salvini, Bolsonaro, the Brextremists, and a plethora of nationalist parties such as the AfD and the Sweden Democrats. Disdain for multilateralism and international organisations is the red thread that runs through and between every one of these individuals and the movements that they lead. To them, compromise, moderation and pragmatism are dirty words. Continue reading

Pride And Paranoia – The Putin Influence

Progress ‘What’s the definition of the Soviet Union?’ ‘Well, it’s where the workers pretend to work, and the bosses pretend to pay them.’ Of all the many jokes about the Soviet times that I heard during the three years that I lived in St Petersburg, this was probably my favourite. Why? Because that one short punch line tells you all you need to know about why so many Russians are so deeply cynical about rules, systems and institutions. Continue reading

Opaque Election Campaign Financing Threatens British Democracy

The Guardian The Electoral Commission’s decision to refer Leave.EU donor Arron Banks to the National Crime Agency for investigation has come not a moment too soon. Since February 2017 I’ve been asking the commission to do more to investigate how Banks’s money was spent during the EU referendum and, more recently, why he has refused to disclose the source of his money to the commission and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee. On Thursday that call was answered, with the commission’s director of political finance and regulation, Bob Posner, speaking of suspicions that “money given … came from impermissible sources” and that Banks “knowingly concealed the true circumstances under which this money was provided”. “Our investigation has unveiled evidence that suggests criminal offences have been committed,” he said. Continue reading

Bring Together Cosmopolitans And The Communitarians To Avoid US-Style Culture Wars

(Photo credit: The Times News Syndication) The Times The news of a so-called “Make America Great Again” bomber targeting 11 different addresses of high-profile liberal Americans should serve as a stark warning to all Western democracies about the dangers that US-style culture wars can pose. These barbaric acts might be rare, but it would be wrong to dismiss the direct link between such extremism and the increased political polarisation taking place either side of the pond. Continue reading

Monday’s Budget Is The Tories’ Moment Of Truth - Will They Bring Our Divided Country Together, Or Will They Continue To Deepen The Splits?

South Wales Evening Post This year’s Westminster budget comes with the Westminster parliament in a state of disarray. Thanks to Tory in-fighting Theresa May has spent two years negotiating with her own party rather than with the European Union. Her scrambled ‘Chequers’ plan fails to solve the issue of the Irish border, and it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of forming the basis for our future relationship with Europe.  Continue reading

To Win The Next Election We Need To Show Communitarians That We Genuinely Share Their Values And Priorities

House Magazine It’s fair to say that my party came out of the 2017 general election on a high. We went into the campaign with low expectations, but Jeremy Corbyn’s energy, an inspiring manifesto and a clear, socialist anti-austerity message took us to 40% in the polls. Yet we still came second. And despite the shambles of the Conservative’s Brexit negotiations, the polls have barely moved an inch since. We should now be 20 points ahead, so why aren’t we? And why is our politics in this worrying state of paralysis and deadlock? Continue reading