The state of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition

Whilst we await the first round voting results from the Conservative leadership I feel I should give readers the opportunity to think about the role and performance of the Opposition in Parliament.

I have always regarded the Opposition as an important part of the UK constitution. Any government needs the challenge and arguments good Opposition brings. It leads to better decision taking, to second thoughts when the first proposal is ill thought through, and to the exposure of failings and worse in government management. In recent years the Opposition has in effect been part of the government. Since 2010 much of the big programme of European measures, spending plans and EU laws have been voted through thanks to Opposition support or abstention, at a time when the Conservative governing party has had many rebels on EU matters. I have talked before about the emergence of a grand coalition to keep the EU plans alive. This presumably is no longer needed as we head to the exit.

It takes a lot of MPs to run a good opposition. There needs to be a full team of shadow Ministers, following the detail of each Minister’s actions, and keeping up with the wider work of the departments of state. There need to be enough people to man the Select Committees and the Bill Committees of the House, often working at the same time as other MPs need to be in the main Commons chamber keeping the debate going. There are also the debates in Westminster Hall which require an official Opposition presence.

Mr Corbyn has a large mandate from his own party members. His election win was remarkable for modern politics, winning an outright majority on the first round instead of having to face a run off against the most popular opponent. Most of his MPs were always sceptical about his views and talents. Now the big majority of them refuse to serve in his shadow government, making it extremely difficult for him to lead a credible opposition staffing all the tasks they need to fulfil in Parliament.

The irony is that his rebellious MPs seem to want to move policy and attitudes further away from those of many members and voters. Mr Corbyn himself seemed to compromise his Eurosceptic views in order to accommodate his former Shadow Cabinet. This drove him apart from millions of Labour voters who voted Brexit in the referendum, whilst not protecting him from accusations of insufficient commitment to the Remain cause amongst his MPs. They claim most Labour voters did vote Remain nonetheless, yet the figures for the Leave vote were very high in many once safe Labour areas.

Mr Corbyn understands the disillusion with elite politics felt by many voters in those Labour areas, but is finding it difficult to concentrate the conversations in ways that will help them thanks to the antagonism of many of his MPs.

What should he and they do next? Can Labour elect a new more moderate leader, given its membership? Would such a leader anyway be able to reconnect with the voters that seem to be drifting away from their old allegiances?

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67 Comments

  1. amelinixon
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    ‘They claim most Labour voters did vote Remain nonetheless, yet the figures for the Leave vote were very high in many once safe Labour areas.’ Lest it be said that Labour supporters are dyed in the wool racists looking back to how things used to be, as they have been throughout the process.
    This is the crux of the Labour dilemma, ashamed of their past and in need of a future proud of their past and in fear of the future. Blairites and Corbynites cannot exist side by side, one in favour of radical politics and appealing to old style answers to complex problems and the other appealing to the conservative in the Labour heart. They need to split and form 2 parties, there is no golden middle road unfortunetly. IMHO

  2. Richard1
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    The Labour Party needs to decide whether it believes in Parliamentary democracy or not. mr Corbyn is leader of an extra Parliamentary sect of far leftists. Whether he got a few 100 thousand of such people to vote for him is irrelevant. It is clear he cannot form a government without being able to command a majority of MPs. The Militant Tendancy has in the end been successful taking over Labour. moderate Labour MPs should courage of their convictions and simply reform as a new party – New Labour perhaps.

  3. Richard1
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure Andrea Leadsom is up to being PM. Gove is far more articulate and has many excellent and radical ideas beyond Brexit. All this stuff about ‘betrayal’ is irrelevant nonsense. If Michael Gove concluded Boris Johnson couldn’t be PM one minute before he got elected it would be his duty to say so.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 5, 2016 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Dear Richard I–Yes, IF he did, but it is a bit naive of you to believe it.

  4. Spinflight
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    It does make the prospect of EU legislation being reformed now tricky. Those inside the cabinet and shadow cabinet tend to have something to lose if a whip is called.

    Fundamentally though the vast majority of labour mps are europhile and find themselves at odds with their electorate. 68% of likely constituency areas voted for our and higher it appears in labour areas

    In a post brexit world the plp simply has the wrong personnel in parliament.

  5. Antisthenes
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Labours turmoil is about hard left versus soft left. Put another way the idiots versus the stupid and the very authoritarian versus the slightly less authoritarian. Labour is no longer a party for labour because it has achieved all that is possible for blue collar workers. It is now a party for minorities and for elitist ideas. Corbyn represents the former but not the latter and he is an incompetent to boot. He believes he represents the workers but they do not want him as they are now too well off to embrace raw socialism so he only represents idealists and revolutionaries.

    The Blairites/left of centre(so called) want to govern but they can only do that if hard socialism is ditched not realising they have to ditch their progressive ideology as well. So getting rid of Corbyn will not be enough. The political landscape has changed. It is no longer class against class and rich against poor. It is now about identity tribe versus tribe hence the rise of the SNP. Statism has caused life to become very complicated and less certain and more prone to gross incompetence. People do not understand what is going on and dislike the corruption, incoherent immigration policies and crony capitalism that statism causes. So only the Conservatives without the wets/remain in the EU have the answer. Leave the EU, reduce the size of government, taxes, regulations, more free trade and devolve power.

  6. Harry
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    It’s the so called labour party has drifted away from it’s voters.
    Hence the SNP and UKIP victories.
    But the brain dead parliamentary “socialists” still don’t get it. They live in Lala Land.

    Labour voters thought they were getting a Eurosceptic when they voted for Corbyn Dioxide. If Labour had been pro Brexit in the referendum, they would have been sitting pretty right now. But as with all socialists, they are brain dead.

  7. mickc
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Corbyn should stay. He was duly elected by Labour members. His opponents represent only themselves.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Well I am no fan of Corbyn, clearly his economic policies would be a complete disaster. But the more one sees of his enemies, people like Kinnock senior & junior, Angela Eagle (in floods of tears or otherwise), Blair and the likes then the more I warm to Corbyn.

  9. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Needs of UK:
    1. To deal with a Brexit which continues our prosperity and which gets us out of a Europe which is going to be increasingly dominated by the Eurozone.
    2. The Welfare State is under threat. First of all we cannot afford it: £1.6 trillion in debt already. Secondly we simply cannot allow everyone to join it from all over the world. It just does not add up. This is usually referred to as “immigration”.
    3. We need to wake up our earning possibilities in the world.
    4. We desperately need a reform of the Civil services and the taxation system. They are swollen and complex and therefore very inefficient. I was looking at the rules for getting a Residency yesterday and, for the life of me, I cannot understand them.

    Would some kind soul please tell me what the official position of the Labour Party is on any of these issues?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      Indeed the absurd complexity of tax, planning, employment laws, EU laws, “equality” laws, wage laws, refuse laws, motoring laws, indeed almost anything in the UK just creates endless parasitic jobs for “expert” consultants, lawyers, bureaucrats, tax specialists and other essentially parasitic activities.

      Rendering many businesses simply unable to compete in the world and damaging real jobs and the economy.

  10. Mark B
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    To me a politician in our system of Representative Democracy is there to ‘represent’ the views of their constituents first. They are also there to implement, if elected with a clear majority to form a government, promises made to the electorate in their manifesto. As part of the latter, some (really rather too many in my view) are promoted to the Cabinet and manage government departments. All well and good but, it seems to me that, once elected they tend to really rather forget the very first reason they were elected. The people once they have fulfilled their role in this sham democracy can now be safely ignored, as we have all seen over the years.

    What has happened with regard to the Labour Party, is the game has now changed. With the rise of both the SNP and UKIP, voters in once strong Labour heartlands now have a choice much like Conservatives do. The old parties no longer have a monopoly they once enjoyed.

    Current Labour / Blairite MP’s seem to either ignore or dismiss this. And this in time will cost them much like it has cost them in Scotland. The Labour Party has failed. It had 13 years in power and did little to help those that put them in power. In fact, it actually through MASS Immigration, damaged their communities and left them abandoned.

    Jeremy Corbyn seems, surprisingly in my view, much like Lady Thatcher. Although the politics and views are very different, they are nonetheless those of a person of real conviction. You know where you are with him, much like the Great Lady herself. The thing is, all these Blairite Labour MP’s do not give a stuff about the ‘Little People’, they will say, and do, anything to get power. And once they have power, they will do whatever they please. Once gets the sense that, although, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party might never see power, in opposition it will fight for the rights of the ‘Little People’. And in life that can be worth far more in the long run than being PM.

  11. eeyore
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    If Labour cannot function as an effective opposition why should they continue to receive that part of Short money – about £900,000 I think – which goes to the funding of the Opposition leader’s office and the Opposition whips’ office?

  12. stred
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Corbeau should keep his nerve and stay. They are using psychological techniques of bullying and undermining confidence until they force out the victim. It is used in business and employment. He was elected under a system devised by Red Ed and won fairly. It would be a travesty if there were no real opposition with a bunch of non-representative MPs who were little different from their clones on the Conservative side. The only opposition would be from the likes a minority of Conservatives.

    If the Labour SDLPs want to split off, let them. They will go the way of the Liberals and finish up with a pary of a few MPs, whose name no-one can remember and only given prominence by the BBC and Guardian. It is possible that the much larger number of voters who support UKIP migh get some representation in Parliament if the pro EU MPs are kicked out at the next election and the same will go for the Tory clones if Mrs May becomes PM and carries out the plot to delay and reverse the referendum.

    • stred
      Posted July 5, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      The goings on are becoming surreal. Could someone explain why after a clear vote to Leave, the likely new PM is a woman who was against leaving and wants to delay the process for ages, was for the EAW and Big Brother email watching, opposed by David Davis. But he and a leader of the Leave campaign and also MPs like Nigel Evans are supporting her. While 80% of the constituencies polled by Bow Group prefer the Leave capaigners- but not according to the BBC, which has many Leavers longing to rush back into Herr Junker’s arms.

      Is there something else going on which is perhaps called job offers? Or what is it?

  13. agricola
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    It is a three way detachment . Jeremy is detached from his MPs. His MPs are detached from party members at large. The Labour party is now detached from what were it’s traditional supporters. Labour need to ask themselves whether they wish to be a more extreme left wing organisation in line with Jeremy and party activists, or a party of the left supporting those elements of the electorate that historically have voted for them. I think that they highlight a warning that political parties in general should start being less self indulgent and begin representing the views of the electorate at large.

  14. Ian Wragg
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    The Labour Party is doing a trial run for the fate of the Tory Party if there is any backsliding over Brexit.
    The traditional parties are fighting for survival because they are so out of touch with the voters.
    Yesterday I was reading the German papers and was intrigued to read one of Merkels spokesman saying we should be offered some sort of associate membership retaining our contribution and protecting free movement.
    This is a worse deal than we have now but no doubt the preferred route of the Remainiacs and the Bilderburger clan
    Very quiet on the Dresden meeting last month.

  15. fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Well, I don’t really know much about the Labour party having never followed them. I just can’t get to grips with how they operate.

    However, if we are shafted in the Conservative vote and we get May who makes us follow the FOM and single market etc and not really LEAVE the EU I can imagine many people will not vote Conservative, Labour or LibDim in the next election. UKIP could find themselves in a prominent position. Conservative MP’s should think really careful what they are doing.

    • anon
      Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Only a full b leaver can become PM.

      I will never vote Liblabcon until they prove themselves worthy of Britain.
      They are not.

      How many more people will come to see the self evident truth staring at them?

      Lots still needs to change.

      Keep up the very good work , i dont know how you do it.

  16. formula57
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Corbyn and his Momentum movement are the Militant Tendency of our times, with the fatal distinction that they have captured the leadership and the levers of power in the Labour Party. Accordingly, it will take very much more than a latter day Kinnoch to cleanse the Party this time, even supposing one could be found amongst the 172 Red Tory Blairite careerists. Perhaps if the soon to have time on his hands Right Honourable member of Witney could be persuaded to cross the floor? A true heir to Blair!

  17. alan jutson
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    It would seem that there is a real disconnect between the traditional Labour supporters, the majority of Labour Mp’s and Mr Corbyn and his supporters.
    Thus the Party appears to be split into three rather than just two.

    Most Labour Mp’s appear Blair like in thought and deed, although most traditional Labour supporters think this is a bit too far to go to the right.

    Mr Corbyn is a traditional left wing socialist, which pleases most unions and some hard core supporters, but they are now a minority.

    Most Labour voters traditionally want something in between, they really want socialism light, they put up with Blair for a while as he got them into power, but they did not like his champagne lifestyle, his wealthy connections or his lies.

    Thus the problem is rather more complex than just getting rid of Mr Corbyn.

    Labour need to find their soul and support in the modern world, the problem is, even Socialism light has to be able to promise to balance the books.

    Traditional Labour supporters understand that you cannot live on borrowed money forever, they like Public services that work , but understand they need to be efficient, they like people who through no fault of their own who cannot work need support, they understand that the benefits system should not be a lifestyle choice for those who can work.
    They like people who speak their mind, they like law and order, they like Immigration controls, they like democracy, they are patriotic and realise we have to have a strong defence force.
    They are happy for people to progress through life if such progress is made through hard work and talent, but they very much dislike people who have noses in the trough and who are dishonest.

    Hence the problem, until they find a leader and a majority of MP’s which reflect those views and values, they will continue to be in trouble.

  18. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Off-topic:

    https://euobserver.com/tickers/134196

    “Austrian finance minister Hans Joerg Schelling said he expected Britain to remain an EU member despite the June 23 referendum in which Britons voted to quit the bloc.”

    Because of course it is the EU norm to render unfavourable referendum results nugatory by one method or another.

  19. Bert Young
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Corbyn cannot overlook the majority of the feelings of his comrades in the HoC ; he may have achieved an overall result from the Labour Party but he cannot operate without a team pulling beside him . As it stands both sides are really leaderless at a time when great stability is required ; the sooner things settle down and get back to normal the better .

    In Germany Merkel is biting her nails until the August exodus ; she faces the threat of a right wing revolt and the summer holiday cannot come soon enough ; this situation is also true in several other EU countries . Foreign investors in this country are also biding their time to see which way the wind blows ; the overall instability in Europe does have considerable influence in the world markets and we , the underdogs , suffer the consequences . For goodness sake let things settle down .

    • libertarian
      Posted July 5, 2016 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Sorry Bert

      Couldn’t disagree more, there is no way I want things to “return to normal” . The 19th /20th century is dead. We need to totally reinvent our politics, democracy and governance and this set of circumstances is what is needed to bring that about.

      Massive change is always disruptive and scary but theres no progress with out it

    • Hope
      Posted July 5, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      JR, you need to worry about the snakes in your party and how it will damage our country and the wishes of the public who voted out- in all its entirety not some May EU light. Gove has got rid of our best hope to leave on the terms we wanted. For the time being Labour is unimportant.

  20. They Work for Us?
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    We need an opposition (and a government) that operates on a common sense basis for the public good and not try to whip through on Party lines whatever is put up. Is this piece of legislation necessary at all, is this “new” offence already covered by existing law etc?
    Parliament should not be a platform for the dreams of individuals and their wish to leave a political legacy, to inflict on the electorate e.g HS2, “managing climate change”, impractical very expensive renewable energy, political correctness etc. Persisting with discredited impractical policy to avoid loss of face. The alleged need for “Change” real or manufactured is the only selling point of most Politicians. This country needs a long period of common sense consolidation and stability after Brexit .
    Much less legislation, sunset clauses on many laws and yes more referendums as per the Swiss system would help restore faith in politicians

    • Antisthenes
      Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      You are not going to get less legislation or regulation. Politicians and bureaucrats do not go in for that sort of thing. It is their raison d’etre to enact more laws and reulations. It is not whats good for us that matters but for them. The establishment and their institutions are riddled with people just like them. We have started on the EU elite now it is time to set our sights more closer to home.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 5, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      The problem is perhaps that the majority of the people who aspire to be an MPs are exactly the sort of people who are unsuitable.

      The sort of people who like bossing people about, aspire to power, have barmy strong religious or climate alarmist beliefs, lefty or other chips on their shoulders, or just aspire to a well paid and pensioned career.

      A lottery of the public in general would have produced far better MPs and decisions. We certainly would have avoided Blairs pointless wars, the EU, the millennium dome, greencrap energy and many other total insanities.

  21. Leslie Singleton
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Was vaguely under the impression that the word “Loyal” as per your title is no longer used. Might be wrong.

  22. Al
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Given that the Labour membership supports Corbyn, and in many areas they voted out and not remain unlike their MPs, I tend to take the opposite view. The problem is less the leader being disconnected from the MPs than the MPs being disconnected from their membership. Reselection or by-elections could solve this, and may also get the traditional labour vote engaged again.

    At this point, electing a new labour leader should probably wait until after the Chilcot report comes out. Its contents will probably affect the way the membership votes in any leadership election.

  23. Caterpillar
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    For the sake of the country, the Labour Party are making a serious error in not backing Corbyn at the moment. They needed to stay together and pressurise the Govt to act so that UK confidence is restored/maintained. Petty squabbles about the referendum are a sunk cost, both parties need to sort themselves out much quicker than they are, and operationalise the way forward. PM Cameron needs to give confidence whilst this is happening. 12 days and no progress and the pound is at a 31 year old low, with Carney probably going to go looser. As B Johnson indicated the malaise brought on by misplaced grieving with no one acting on confidence could lead to the told-you-so forecasts.

    Politicians need to stop arguing about the colour of the curtains, or whether to have tea or coffee, and do the job. I trust that the Conservatives will sort this out in the next day or two, get a leader and get on with Leaving and confidence building. The economy is more than starting to react to the delays and lack of leadership.

  24. Anonymous
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    So long as we are overruled by the EU then UK parliamentary opposition is irrelevant.

  25. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I don’t find the tone this surprising given the wish of the author often to ignore the elephant in the room; it suggests that Corbyn’s MPs are the source of the trouble, that Corbyn is a benign parliamentary democrat just trying to do his best in a hostile environment.

    It refuses to recognise the truth. That Corbyn is a Marxist (or the like) anti-democratic revolutionary who surrounds himself with Hard-Left aggressive zealots mixes with and supports enemies of freedom yet attempts to give the impression he is a harmless leader who wishes to make everyone happy.

  26. Mark
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The Labour party should split. Neither its Marxist Momentum faction (probably really a version of TUSC, which never gets more than a few hundred votes where it stands) nor its Blairite wing represent the traditions of the party that did speak for large swathes of Britain. There are a few Labour MPs who are closer to that tradition – and they can all be found among those who declared for the Leave side of the referendum. Temporarily they may find it difficult to choose a new home. However, it also seems apparent that UKIP is likely to split between a wing that heads to the right, and a more moderate and sensible wing that aims to hoover up disaffected Labour votes.

    Who knows what all these parties will be called, but the one big advantage of our FPTP system is that the ones that don’t really have mainstream public support will be rapidly swept aside at the next election, in just the same way as the SNP cleared out the not-listening Labour party in Scotland last time.

  27. Horatio
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Very worrying that the vestiges of the remain campaign , including @infactsorg are campaigning for Theresa May. The grassroots need to be told about this. It will be a betrayal to the millions who voted leave if a devoted remainer like May is elected. It is now completely clear that May’s relatively quiet referendum campaign was a hedge in case of defeat.

    It will be utterly disgusting if having lost a battle with all the guns (bbc and other news) in their favour, the establishment and euro elite win the war.

  28. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    There will never be a perfect correspondence between the views of a party’s members and those of the representatives the party has managed to get elected. For a start the national party may preselect potential candidates so that the party members have restricted choice when it comes to a final selection, and then again the party membership will not be static but may change a great deal during the term of those elected.

    The system currently used by the Tory party to choose its leader could lead to MPs excluding the candidate most preferred by the members, while the new Labour party system has led to the members imposing a leader who is unacceptable to the MPs; it’s difficult to say to what extent that is owing to an influx of new members after the 2010 general election or to the people chosen as candidates for that election already being out of touch with the views of the bulk of the existing membership thanks to the preselection and final selection processes.

    In a way the college system previously used by the Labour party was better because it was less likely to throw up a leader who was unacceptable to one section or another; the new system is part of the Miliband legacy, and the Tories should be grateful to him.

  29. oldtimer
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    My first observation is that Brexit is not a done deal. For that to happen the Conservative party needs to select a Brexiteer as its next leader and to be PM and for the necessary decisions to be made to make sure it happens. Ideally Labour remains in chaos until that is achieved because the majority of its MPs are Remainiacs.

    Returning to the main point, there absolutely needs to be a strong, credible opposition because that is, potentially, the next government after the next election. That, it seems to me, will be unlikely to happen. It appears that one outcome is for a trades union brokered deal between the two sides. It is difficult to see this providing a lasting or stable basis for effective opposition given the differences of opinion between them. Another is a new leadership challenge that will topple Corbyn and co or, alternatively, it will fail, leading to a splintering of the party and a realignment on the left of British politics through the formation of one or more new parties. If this happens it is impossible to know what will ensue except that the opposition will be weak. There will probably be a trade union backed faction; UKIP potentially could make progress depending on its next leader; LibDems will seek the chance to regroup with like minded ex Labour MPs; there might be a Mark 2 version of the Gang of Four. This should give a clear run to the Conservatives until the next election and the opportunity to enact and implement the reforms needed to make Brexit a success.

  30. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Off-topic again, there’s an article here:

    http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/07/daniel-moylan-the-referendum-mandate-is-clear-we-must-act-invoke-article-50-and-get-on-with-a-new-trading-relationship.html

    which states:

    “Article 50 is emphatically not about negotiating a replacement trading arrangement with the EU. It is a divorce proceeding: it will cover things like compensation for loss on any assets owned by the EU in the UK and the future of the staff whose careers and lives may be disrupted by our decision to leave.”

    I’ve seen this claim made before but I find no basis for it in the text of Article 50:

    http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-European-union-and-comments/title-6-final-provisions/137-article-50.html

    That says:

    “In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.”

    The idea that two years will be spent, wasted, on negotiating such subsidiary, even trivial, matters, rather than getting down to sort out the rather more important matter of trade, on which the economic futures of all concerned will depend, seems absurd.

    I would expect the guidelines from the European Council to be fairly sensible, not utterly stupid, and perhaps running along these lines:

    “During the negotiations top priority must be given to agreeing new arrangements to ensure that existing trade between the UK and the other member states will continue uninterrupted and unimpeded after the UK has left. Agreements on less important matters, such as pensions for British EU officials, can if necessary be deferred, with existing arrangements continuing for the time being. Negotiators on both sides should bear in mind that even after the UK has left the EU will still be prepared to make other mutually beneficial agreements under Article 8 TEU”.

  31. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Off-topic but interesting, here’s a chart with the caption: “Sterling has fallen a long way against the dollar but less in trade-weighted terms, which is what matters”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/business/2016/07/04/sterling_trade_weighted-large_trans++JkOOPTgCoBwVWEG7Yu7ksX0qh_PbALeAq-r9vpUj7zM.PNG

  32. Kenneth
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    None of my business but I can’t understand why Labour MPs do not respect the fact that Mr Corbyn has a big mandate.

    However, whether Blairite or Corbynista, Labour’s big problem is that it is in denial about the effect high levels of immigration and both wings have little in common with the People.

    Thus, we have a gap in the market. The Conservatives could be in a good position to fill that gap but sadly it has too many Blairites of its own.

    The People do not want big government. They want a government that leaves them alone and allows them live. Whichever political party gives People what they want (simple really) will be the winners.

  33. Lifelogic
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Carney is talking a lot of nonsense about credit availability today. He keep saying there is not a supply problem with credit it is more lack of demand. There certainly is a supply problem, getting loans of banks currently is an absurdly slow process with all sorts of artificial constraints, slotting rules, buy to let lending restrictions, huge over regulation and the rest.

    He says “credit is there for a business person with a viable plan” – complete and utter tosh there are countless viable plans being turned down by the banks all the time. Due to the restraints they are operating under. Many bank managers would not recognise a viable plan if it hit them on the head which is why they got into such difficulties.

    The banks are getting away with huge fees, very poor terms, high margins and lending very low LTVs. The is a huge lack of competition in the market second charge lending is almost unavailable.

    I have had a UK bank premier card for many years which used to charge 2 over base when I first got it. The same bank has now put the rate up to about 16% or 15.5% over base which they say is their best rate! Needless to say I do not use it.

    How can it be that bank pay less than 1% on deposits but can lend to good solid customers at such absurd rates? No real competition and absurd government red tape is the answer.

  34. Richard1
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Corbyn, McDonnell, Abbott et al play all innocent but it is clear the Group Momentum which sustains them is an unpleasant & thuggish far left sect. The ability to field a mob of a few thousand activists means nothing in a parliamentary democracy. Labour MPs need to do their duty and form a new party – the LibDems will presumably join it. Then there will be a proper parliamentary opposition again.

  35. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I pointed out before that some of Theresa May’s declared supporters should be enough to repel any MP who genuinely wants to leave the EU. Now, one of those May supporters, Dominic Grieve, has suggested that the public may have made a mistake when they voted to leave the EU and perhaps his side should be given a second bite of the cherry:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/dominic-grieve-brexit-second-eu-referendum-legal-former-attorney-general-says-7119491.html

    This is the same man who back in March 2008 gave Cameron his professional advice that it would “create a constitutional contradiction” if MPs voted to affirm and defend the legal supremacy of their Parliament, the national Parliament of the British people.

    • Chris S
      Posted July 5, 2016 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      I am extremely worried that we might be faced with a conspiracy of Conservative Remainer MPs managing to exclude Leadsom from the final two by tactical voting for Michael Gove.

      If that is the case, and May wins, I do not believe we will see an end to FOM or contributions to the EU budget. May and her Remain Supporters across the House will compromise on both to keep us in the single market. Hammond said as much on the Today Programme.

      In other words, the worst possible option.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 6, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        There is no reason to trust May and good reasons not to do so.

  36. Anthony Makara
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Looking at this historically, one might well draw comparisons with the Leninist concept of the inner party being the instrument needed to bring about change, with a relatively small dedicated leadership leading the way (ie PLP), standing in contrast with the Trotskyite concept of mass membership and all manner of vested interest groups (ie Momentum et al) pushing to achieve various and often contradictory end goals. There can be no doubt that the Labour Party’s attempt to broaden its active base has been its downfall. Far from creating a Vanguard with a vision, it has in fact, atomised the party into 1001 trends with no clear message beyond anti-Tory Iconoclasm. We do need an effective opposition, because if that opposition does not come from outside of Government it will inevitably come from within Government and that in itself can be damaging and lead to instability.

  37. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Fifth paragraph: “…Mr Corbyn himself seemed to compromise his Eurosceptic views in order to accommodate his former Shadow Cabinet…”
    Yes, Mr Corbyn did his best to square the circle.

    The Labour Party PLP never approved of him. Undermined him wherever they could.
    The dumb insolence shown at Prime Minister’s QT when Mr Corbyn was speaking.The Labour Party front bench would grimace, laugh, sigh, smirk to one another and to the Tory Opposition at Mr Corbyn’s words.
    Yet his words have been and are in perfect conformity with the Labour Party Manifesto and position.
    The Labour Party PLP are now by their undemocratic behaviour on the farther reaches of the far-right of even the fringe groups outside of the Parliamentary maelstrom.
    I believe the Labour PLP are a grave danger to the democracy within their party but importantly a severe danger to Parliamentary democracy itself.
    They are now fighting for Mr Corbyn NOT to be on a ballot paper for their challenge to his leadership.

  38. Chip
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    The better, although highly unlikely, resolution would be to have new political parties probably based on the divisions we saw in the leave/ remain camps. Personally, and I’m sure you’d dispute this, I don’t see much difference between Tory and Labour anymore even with Corbyn at the helm.
    As another commenter said we could also move towards a more direct democracy solution such as the Swiss have.

    • libertarian
      Posted July 5, 2016 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Chip

      Agree 100%

  39. Stephen Berry
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    JR: They claim most Labour voters did vote Remain nonetheless, yet the figures for the Leave vote were very high in many once safe Labour areas.

    The tenuous claim is that two-thirds of Labour voters voted for Remain and yet one wonders how this result was arrived at? After all, such rock solid Labour strongholds as Barnsley and Hull voted two to one in favour of Leave.

    My guess is that voters were asked how they voted in the referendum and then how they voted at the 2015 general election. But we know that many long-time Labour voters switched to UKIP in 2015 so these people would merely figure under UKIP.

    It would be nice to know the number of traditional Labour voters who voted UKIP in 2015 AND for Leave in the referendum.

  40. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    The best thing for all concerned including the general electorate, Labour Party members and UK democracy itself would be for the Labour Party PLP o resign from the Labour Party. Form a new Party.
    Few if any of those MPs, would be elected under their own banner.
    Five years afterwards, the Party would cease to exist.
    The undemocratic behaviour of many Labour MPs can and should be tolerated in a free society. Free speech. But it would be profitable if those undemocratic voices were not in the centre of power in a UK Parliament.

  41. William Long
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    The Labour Party is in a very difficult situation with a chasm existing between the views of the party at large and the Parliamentary party which has to provide an effective opposition in Parliament. Mr Corbyn’s support lies in the wider party that is not constrained by the Constitutional framework, or it appears by any impetus to compromise in order to gain the confidence of the electorate necessary to enable it to become a potential Government. In one way though, the Labour party is fully meeting one of the requirements of the Opposition in our system, and that is to offer the electorate a alternative, even if it is one they do not like. I think this is a point worth making as one cannot escape the conclusion that Mr Cameron would always have been equally happy in the Blair government, and Mr Osbourne in his ability to complicate the Tax system has much in common with Mr Brown.
    The turning point will come when we see whether in a leadership contest, Mr Corbyn gets the endorsement of the 50 Labour MPs necessary for him to stand again. If he does, it is very likely he will be reinstated by the Labour membership and then, if the non Corbyn MPs are worth anything, the Labour party must split.

  42. scottspeig
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I would have thought one option is to resign and re-stand on the condition that if he gets a new mandate then the MPs have to abide with it until after a GE. And that he should get more leeway with his policies.

    I do not think though that Corbyn should stand down though without the PLP fielding a candidate against him. That would be worse imo.

  43. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I confess to not being au fait with the protocols or rules of Parliament. For instance, how is it determined which failed political party becomes officially HM’s Opposition?

    The Corbynistas have both their own Constituency electoral ballot in their favour in the General Election and it seems the wholehearted support of Labour Party members. Their 170 or so dissident MPs of the PLP have voluntarily removed themselves from front of class and sit on the back benches blowing bubblegum balloons, flicking bits of paper, pulling the pigtails of those in the seats in front and spitting hawthorn berries and other nasty phlegm laced projectiles though their concealed peashooters.

    So, isn’t the SNP, though we dislike their ideas have both a valid Constituency ballot and, importantly supported in full, by their parties members? Should not the SNP be deemed, in the spirit of the issue, HM’s Opposition?

    Reply The party with the largest number of seats not in government

  44. Shieldsman
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    The Blairites – NU-Labor seem to be remote from the Labour voter. Even the TUC ignored some of the Unions and their membership, in backing remain.
    Many of the Guardian readers are of the Society that fills the ranks of the remainders.
    Having lost the vote they are questioning the intelligence of the LEAVE voter, as if they are some superior being.

    The referendum was all about Sovereignty, Immigration and pressure on Infrastructure until David Cameron failed to get any concessions from Donal Tusk and the Council. To ?…..Brown’s bigots that never changed, immigration had been tearing the heart out of many communities and still is.

    When the PM came back from Brussels and claimed for the Government the remain leadership he gave up on controlling immigration from the EU. By economic scaremongering he did frighten people into voting remain but not enough. The Labour heartlands have had enough, hopefully things could only get better by leaving the EU.

    The new Conservative leader and Prime Minister must clear out the old Guard and take up the challenge of caring for the poorer communities who voted for change.

  45. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    If an individual from a fringe political party were on the panel BBC Question Time and denounced the very principles of democracy in “X” on a ballot paper being the decider, then they would be howled down by all the audience, the Chair, and fellow panelists.
    Yet we have 172 Labour Party dissidents advocating the same in terms of internal Labour Party democracy and quite a number of those dissidents advocating the same in terms of the Leave result.
    “HM” should not preface “loyal Opposition” in the event of those 170 individuals gaining centralised power over the Labour Party. It is their own choice of course whether they term themselves “loyal” But of course it would beg the question of “Who to, amounting to more than 170 or so? “

  46. Pete Stroud
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Yes, an effective opposition is one of the corner stones of democratic government: but Labour has ceased to provide this since Mr Corbyn was elected leader. Behind Corbyn are some formidable cheerleaders for the extreme left. Not least of these is Seamus Milne. I suspect that he, supported by the shadow chancellor, is keeping Corbyn on the far left path. It is unfortunate for the country that Corbyn is also supported by a large wedge of new, extreme left wing, young Labour supporters: all very grateful to Ed Miliband for allowing them a vote in the party’s leadership election for £3.00 per p.a. Added to that we have to thank some solidly, moderate Labour MPs for proposing Corbyn – just to make the election more interesting. Historians of the future will surely love this political drama.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      They, nobody, could hardly make it up as historical fiction!

  47. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s not primarily Jeremy Corbyn’s fault. The entire Labour Party is incapable of making a choice:

    They can have the support of international socialism and the Islamic block vote.

    They can have the support of the white working class in the Midlands and the North.

    BUT THEY CAN’T HAVE BOTH.

    In addition, they don’t seem to recognise that Vote Leave convictions are deeply held.

    The situation where over 50% of voters voted Leave and 75% of the House of Commons voted Remain is unstable and has to change at the next election, and UKIP is the agent of change. If the Conservative Party is led by a Brexiter who gets on with the job rapidly, the number of pro-European Conservatives will dwindle, with UKIP taking lots of Labour seats in the Midlands and the North.

    And the new PM will need to get Her Majesty to appoint 500 Eurosceptic peers. Is anyone getting that list ready? We don’t want Lord Kinnock governing this country in the manner of Balfour, do we?

  48. Adam
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    They do not bring good arguments.

  49. Adam
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    You can’t argue with a person who has already made up their mind

  50. Chris
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    May met up with Richard Branson to discuss the problems of Brexit. I must say I do not like the sound of this one bit and I do not think it helps May’s leadership bid one bit. It just looks like the big corporate business bully boys lobbying Theresa May and apparently getting her attention.
    http://news.sky.com/story/1721938/branson-and-may-meet-as-tycoon-demands-new-poll

  51. John Robertson
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Change happens. The assumption is that this is just a temporary blip and things will go back to normal if only they could override the membership.

    In Scotland Labour are behind the Conservatives and the Lib Dems behind the Greens!

    Since democracy was introduced in Scotland it has made about 4 voting decisions if you allow for a bit of wavering. rior to this latest wavering with the Nationalists it’s voted Labour every time since the late 1950’s. So it’s rejecting Labour and UK Labour needs the Scottish vote to be electable!

    Maybe Corbyn is doing Labour a favour. It is no longer electable as Scotland has shifted so the sooner those moderate centre left MPs move on an form another Party the better.

    Are we seeing a more fundamental revolutionary historical change? I think we might be and all the better for it. Our history has shown that when these events happen we take a leap forward. The Labour MPs need to find a couple, club together and form the Party they want as its not the arty the membership wants.

  52. gyges01
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Corbyn should remain. He should apologise on behalf of the Labour Party for Blair’s War post Chilcot. He should recommend that Blair be deported to the Hague. He should de-select the Blairites. He should continue to grow and invigorate his party.

    This would make him a credible threat to the Tory party at the next election.

    Beware.

  53. Chris S
    Posted July 5, 2016 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Let us start from the premise that the existence of a political party is to win power and put the party’s policies into effect. Otherwise what is the point of their existence ?

    Labour almost always relied on Scottish and Labour seats for a majority.
    Both countries were also over-represented in Parliament.

    At the next general election that over-representation will no longer exist, giving the Conservative Party an estimated additional 20 seats.

    Labour has also lost more than 40 seats in Scotland and is very likely to lose a few in Wales to other parties, including, possibly, UKIP.

    The Party now has to win an overall majority in England alone to gain power at Westminster. That means gaining upwards of 60 seats more than they have ever won in England before.

    This might, just, be possible with another charismatic leader like Tony Blair. But, unless the new Conservative leader performs catastrophically badly, nobody currently on the Labour benches has a prayer of winning enough seats in England to form a Government.

    We have already seen how England’s voters responded to the possibility of the SNP pulling the strings in a coalition with Labour. Given the behaviour of Sturgeon and the SNP since the last election, it is likely that opinions in England have hardened even further.

    So, the conclusion has to be that, even with an electable leader, it will be almost impossible for Labour to form a Government in 2020.

    As for what policies they propose or who is the leader, it really doesn’t matter, does it ?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 6, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      “Both countries were also over-represented in Parliament.”

      No, Scotland is no longer significantly over-represented in the UK Parliament.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted July 8, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        An alternative to English votes for English laws is for provinces with a devolved asembly – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – to have fewer MPs per 100,000 of population than England.

        For example, Northern Ireland used to have 12 MPs. It was Enoch Powell who persuaded the Callaghan government to increase that to 17 MPs when Stormont was suspended – what he described as his solitary political achievement.

        Many Unionist people in Northern Ireland would be content to get rid of Stormont if Westminster devolved more powers to local government.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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