This Week in Politics

Jess Hurd/Another Europe is Poss/PA.
A Special Place in Hell
One of the biggest bits of news this week was Donald Tusk's comments in Brussels following talks with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Wednesday. Tusk said,
We will not gamble with peace or put a sell-by date on reconciliation. And this is why we insist on the backstop. I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it safely.
He then reiterated it on Twitter:

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Council's Brexit negotiator, added fuel to the flames by retweeting it and adding,
Needless to say this did not go down well with Downing Street or Brexiteers. Downing Street made a statement shortly after to the effect that the British people had voted to leave, and questioned "whether he considers the use of that kind of language helpful". Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, was equally miffed, saying among other things that Tusk had "no manners".

It was then widely misreported among the right-wing press: whilst the centrist paper the Guardian wrote in their headline "Tusk: special place in hell for those who backed Brexit without a plan", the Telegraph went with "Brexiteers have special spot in hell, says Tusk", which as you can see is not quite what he said. The Express, who went with "'Special place in HELL for EU'" for their headline, quoted Conservative MP Rehman Chishti who hit back at Tusk by more or less saying he, Tusk, was probably going to go to hell too (though to his credit he did respond to what Tusk actually said):
Let me be very frank, what Mr Tusk and others have said that there is a 'special place in hell for those who pushed for Brexit but had no plan'. But, what I would say to that, is that there must also be a special place for those in Brussels who negotiated with David Cameron in a certain kind of way. Maybe if they had engaged constructively with David Cameron and pushed through the reforms that were needed, then on that basis we would not have had the result that has come through. So I think there must be a special place in hell for them too, being completely frank.
Conservative MP Peter Bone, on the other hand, was one of the many Brexiteers who hadn't quite got to grips with what had been said and was duly humiliated in Parliament by the Speaker John Bercow and SNP MP Joanna Cherry:

On Tuesday Theresa May travelled to Belfast and promised that the UK would not leave the EU without assurances of protection against a hard border in Ireland, saying "Over the last two and half years, we have come a long way towards a solution that works for Northern Ireland and Ireland". She continued,
So I am here today to affirm my commitment, and that of the United Kingdom Government, to all of the people of Northern Ireland, of every background and tradition. 
To affirm my commitment to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, to its successors the St Andrew’s Agreement and the Stormont House Agreement, and to the principles they enshrine – which is absolute. 
And to affirm my commitment to delivering a Brexit that ensures no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – which is unshakable.
She then affirmed her commitment to the backstop to the dismay of the DUP and ERG. #StandUp4Brexit, a pro-Leave Conservative grassroots movement, tweeted,

Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP.
Later in the week Theresa May then travelled to Brussels where she was told that a plan in line with Jeremy Corbyn's would go a long way to resolve the current deadlock. This morning Labour tweeted a video of their five demands:
Some of his party has reacted with dismay, especially after Corbyn denied a refusal to adhere to them would lead to Labour backing a second referendum. Chuka Umunna, former Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills who resigned when Corbyn was made leader in 2015, tweeted,

Kerslake Predicts a Riot
More revelations (and reassurances?) came this week from Lord Bob Kerslake that the government is preparing for possible riots post-Brexit. The Mirror quoted his comments on Radio 4's Today programme:
Britain is divided, directionless and hurtling towards a legal deadline, with no idea where we will end up after we cross it.
A responsible government should now acknowledge our predicament: we are not ready to embark on a journey when we do not know where we will end up.
We should not leave until and unless we know where we are going.
If we do, the only certainty is that the resources, energy and talent of our country will be consumed by Brexit for many more years to come.
The nightmare will not end. It will simply take on another form.
A blindfold Brexit that offers no clarity can never provide closure.
It means the arguments about Brexit will just go on and on.
Bank of England
This week Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, reiterated his warning that Brexit uncertainty may lead to a recession. Sky News reported,
Britain's economy is heading for its weakest year since the financial crisis a decade ago, the Bank of England said today as it unveiled its latest forecasts for the UK economy.
The Bank slashed its economic growth forecast for 2019 to 1.2% - warning that Brexit uncertainty has started to take a serious toll on the economy.
Its forecasts imply there is a one in four chance the UK economy dips into a recession.
The downgrade means Britain's gross domestic product is expected to expand even less this year than it did in 2012, when economists feared a double-dip recession in the face of the euro crisis.
Chope Strikes Again
Conservative MP Christopher Chope has become infamous for his blocking of members' private bills: a private bill is explained on Parliament's website:
Private Members' bills are public bills introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers. As with other public bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population. A minority of Private Members' bills become law but, by creating publicity around an issue, they may affect legislation indirectly. [read more]
An objection to this practice is that some feel the bills aren't subject to sufficient scrutiny, and so on principle Chope and several other MPs will regularly object to the introduction of a bill in this manner regardless of what the bill is actually about. Chope received widespread criticism just last year when he blocked a bill that would have made "upskirting" a criminal offence despite believing it to be "vulgar, humiliating and unacceptable" (Theresa May at the time commented on her disappointment). This week Chope again objected to a private bill that would have toughened the laws on FGM, leading to criticism from even his own party. Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted,
Whilst Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted,

Failing Grayling
Chris Grayling is having another bad week. Sky News' Deputy Political Editor Beth Rigby tweets -
#FailingGrayling was trending for most of Saturday morning and the headline of this morning's Observer calls for him to be sacked. Given how well Boris Johnson held out, however, I'm doubtful he'll be pushed.

Chris Riddell for the Observer.
And finally -
David Cameron's long-awaited memoirs will, it's thought, be published in time for the Conservative Party Conference at the end of September. What joy they shall bring.


Wow! Makes your head spin!

How are you finding these updates? Are they taking up your reading time or do they go up pretty quickly. And, more importantly, are you finding them cathartic?
o said…
It's not so hard because I'm adding to it daily :) And no, it's not taking up too much reading time. I've been kind of absent this week cos I've not been so well and my spring clean's started - got a bit of catching up to do (I'm about 3 or 4 posts behind my Deal Me In!). And it's all interesting. It's not cathartic, but it's helpful and it stops me being lazy. Like that Christopher Chope thing - I don't like the guy and I don't agree with him, but I wouldn't write about him blocking the bill without finding out WHY he blocked the bill. There's a lot of lazy writers out there who are implying that he doesn't take FGM or upskirting seriously. I think he does, but he's more focused on the principle of private bills. As I say I don't agree with him, but nor would I say, as others have, that he's a monster.