Iain Dale: Why have Buckland and Braverman signed up to breaking international law?

11 Sep

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.

Few people believe in Brexit more than I do, but I also believe in the rule of law. Quite how a democratic government can brazenly admit that it intends to break the law, albeit in a “strictly limited and specific” way, is quite beyond me.

The Supreme Court must be licking its lips in anticipation. Perhaps that’s part of the reason the new Bill is being introduced. I’d like to think that no one in Downing Street would wish to deliberately foment yet another clash between the Executive and the Judiciary, but anything is possible.

Rather than introduce this squalid Bill, it would have been far better to say that in the event that the EU doesn’t meet its pledge in the Political Declaration – to come to a Free Trade Agreement – then the Withdrawal Agreement ceases to apply.

At least this would have had some logic to it, even if it would still be incendiary. Countries often withdraw from Treaties – the EU did this themselves with Switzerland not too long ago, when they object to how the Swiss had voted to limit EU migration into the country.

But to introduce this new Bill without even using the mechanisms for discussion set out in the Withdrawal Agreement is an audacious move to say the least. Those, like John Major, who predict that this will affect trust in Britain into the future and make trade agreements less likely, certainly have a point. It’s hard to argue about the logic of that position.

It may be that I’m wrong. It may be that these hardball tactics with the EU will result in them rushing to an agreement. I hope they do, but I have more doubts about that than I did a week ago. Michel Barnier was on the ropes, but this move will have given him a renewed spring in his step.

What puzzles me is how Suella Braverman and Robert Buckland signed off on this. Perhaps we will find out in the Sunday Times, where I hope Tim Shipman has one of his long reads about how this came about. Because I, for one, am totally perplexed and somewhat horrified.

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I just knew it. On Wednesday, when the Prime Minister announced the new Coronavirus restrictions, I predicted to a colleague that one of the big beast political journos would ask a question purely designed to get themselves a headline, and sure enough the task fell to Robert Peston to ask the Prime Minister if he was effectively cancelling Christmas.

I expected it to be a headline in The Sun yesterday but even The Times sunk to the depths too. This is what political reporting has come to. Slow handclap.

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One thing the Coronavirus crisis has made us all realise is that we are no longer a United Kingdom. The other constituent parts of the country seem to have revelled in doing things differently to the Westminster government.

In some cases, this has been entirely justified, but much of the time it has been gratuitous. Given that all four nations make their policies from the same data, sometimes one is left scratching one’s barnet at the different decision that are arrived at.

No wonder many people think there’s a lack of clear messaging from government. You’d think the four health ministers could have a Zoom call and agree a way forward, wouldn’t you? And if they can’t then explain why one part of the country is acting differently to another. Perish the thought.

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Today is the nineteenth anniversary of the event which helped shaped the world we live in now. It was the day when Islamist terrorists seized control of a series of plans on the eastern seaboard of the United States, and caused the death of more than 3,000 people.

The date is stained into history as 9-11. Next year’s 20th anniversary will be a more significant one in many ways, as America and the world continue to try to come to terms with what happened, and the consequences we are still living through now.

It’s not an exaggeration to claim that most of the terror attacks we have experienced in this country, and many around the world, would not have happened without 9-11. It’s a sobering thought

Clare Ambrosino: Why One Nation Conservatism can unite the country and win the Millennial vote

21 Aug

Clare Ambrosino is a Communications Consultant and was a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate in last year’s General Election.

It is a common perception that my generation, the Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996), also known as the Peter Pan generation, the Boomerang generation or the Me, Me, Me generation, are principally governed by their desire to live life hedonistically, and place their emphasis on personal pleasure and career rather than buckling down to a life of responsibility.

Certainly, a brief look at the social media profile of anyone born after 1980 (#guilty), will show a lifestyle of holidays, instagrammable rooftop cocktails and a catalogue of material purchases, as well as a penchant for photographing everything ever eaten in a restaurant. This has led many of our parents, who by the age of thirty were already married with kids and a mortgage, to roll their eyes and wonder when we are going to settle down to real life!

However, are Millennials really so privileged or is this apparent golden age of opportunity masking the simple fact that our parents, who received free access to university education and were able to buy a home with generous mortgages (sometimes as much as 100% of the cost of the house) shared fundamental values and a belief in society which we do not have?

After all, what better way to get people to buy into the values of a society if they literally buy a stake in it? Is it any wonder that young people today – the first generation unable to buy a home in decades – seem to want to spend as if there were no tomorrow? Could it be that precisely because the thirty some-things of 2020 are unable to buy their stake, that many have become largely disillusioned with traditional party politics, preferring instead the populist and single-policy movements?

Talking to my peers, it seems that many of them don’t see the relevance of traditional values or traditional politics to their lifestyle, and they prefer to live life in the now. They choose the fast hit of dating apps and fun over responsibility and deferred gratification.

Millennials were largely born into carefully planned, child centred families whose high ambitions, encouraged them to aim high and provided infinitely more affirmation than their parents had received. For decades they have enjoyed the lowest unemployment levels on record, and had access to opportunities and luxuries that previous generations did not have, brought by technological advancements and globalisation.

Yet, all is not as idyllic as it seems. Born into a fast changing and threatening geo-political landscape and with old certainties of growing up in question, younger people have become reluctant to commit to saving and planning for the future in the same the way previous generations did.

The twin towers, the war on terror, the credit recession, austerity, the tensions underlying the EU referendum and now, to cap it all, a deadly pandemic all wrapped up into a new recession and culture wars on the side. The lives of Millennials have been set against a backdrop of fear and anxiety, so that it is of little surprise that many, mercifully not all, have turned inward and do not buy into the values which are the pillars of society. ‘Peter Pans’ of both sexes prefer to burn the candle at both ends. They are cicadas, not ants.

The fact of the matter is however, that many, if not most Millennials would love to plan for the future and raise a family, but this is becoming increasingly difficult. According to recent ONS data, overall marriage rates are at their lowest on record, sinking by 45% since 1972, with the average age of marriage being 35.7 for women and 38 for men. High university debts make it difficult to save for the significant deposits now required by banks, and this has led to increased rents and inflated house prices.

Coming into Covid-19, the last standing pillar of stability for young people – that of employment – is now also at risk. This will naturally lead to an exacerbation of an already existing resentment towards the institutions and powers at play.

Now more than ever, the nation needs to be brought together as a whole and we need to make younger people feel that they have a voice which will be listened to. The fall of the red wall in the North was the proof that if people feel that they are being part of the conversation, they will respond. Too many people have felt excluded and unheard – excluded from the decisions of Westminster, excluded from the workforce, excluded from society itself.

The Prime Minister said last week that we can expect to have a “bumpy few months” ahead of us, and we have a “long way to go” until the UK sees a return to “economic vitality and health”. However, one of Britain’s greatest strengths is that its people pull together in a crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic, whilst causing one of the biggest recessions in our economy, may become an opportunity to reset the way we live and work – the Great Reset, as it was called by the World Economic Forum. The UK should use this time to focus on its strengths as one of the world leaders in the AI and tech sectors, to generate new jobs for the young, retraining existing workers and pushing forward with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The UK should also pivot on the rising trend of working from home to encourage people to move out of the city and invest in rural and coastal towns, where homes are more affordable and new investment is much needed for the survival of their economies. What the government can do to encourage this, is to ensure there are favourable conditions for these opportunities to thrive, such as cutting edge broadband connectivity across our rural areas. Our education system too can follow the job demand, so that the community, education institutions and job opportunities are more closely interlinked.

It is always worth looking at the Democrats to see the future direction of the Labour Party. Esteemed Professor Niall Ferguson, in an article for The Atlantic in May 2019 entitled ‘The Coming Generation War’, correctly identified that the Democrats would start to use generational divides as a wedge issue for future elections. Certainly, this appears to be the central strategy in the impressive Democratic presidential campaign. Joe Biden has recently told a virtual town hall with young Americans that “young people have got a kick in the teeth”, effectively communicating how he feels younger voters’ pain.

In the UK, the Labour Party, whilst traditionally relying on the votes of younger people, has yet to articulate the generation crisis they find themselves in by offering any real solutions.

As Conservatives, it should be our priority to be bold and become the voice of this generation by providing a new vision to keep unemployment levels down, and keep the promise of a home owning democracy, which has served previous generations so well. We should allow young people to buy a stake in society and live by One Nation Conservative values. Now more than ever, young people should be reassured they have a stake in the future and nothing will encourage people to feel included as much as home ownership and stability in the workplace.