January 30, 2020
Sign up now to get The Waugh Zone, our weekday evening politics briefing, by email.Tripping the light fantasticTwas the night before Brexmas, when all through the House
Could Boris Johnson Be The Last PM Of The (Current) United Kingdom?
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
The stockings were hung by the No.10 chimney with care
In hopes that St Boris soon would be there
As MPs clocked off at 5.30pm, after a not exactly action-packed day in the chamber, there was a strange calm at Westminster on Brexmas Eve. Yes, not even the mice (of which there are multitudes) could bother to stir themselves across the House of Commons. It was as if everyone, Leavers and Remainers, humans and rodents, was just taking a breather before Friday’s big party/wake/shrug (delete as appropriate).
Lots of huge Union flags were drawn up the flagpoles in Parliament Square, ready for what look like being low-key celebrations under a bongless Big Ben. A light show, rather than a fireworks display, will illuminate Downing Street and Whitehall, we’re told. It will all be deliberately modest and muted, in a bid to ‘heal’ the nation.
But as much as the PM would love us all to move on from the acrimony and delay of the last three years, the sense of unease in one key part of this disunited kingdom is palpable. With just hours to go before the moment of exit, a new YouGov poll reported the first majority for Scottish independence in years.
Now 51% Yes to 49% No is a wafer-thin margin, though as the EU referendum proved, a win is a win. Supporters of the union will argue that the independence campaign should be miles further ahead, given all the factors in its favour: the SNP has been in power for nearly a decade in Holyrood, it just won a stunning general election result and Boris Johnson is arguably the most loathed PM north of the border in a generation.
It is just one poll, of course. Yet just imagine if support for independence climbs steadily from that 51% in coming years. The real shape of Johnson’s Brexit won’t be known for a few months, and its actual impact won’t arrive until next year. That gives the independence movement what could be the perfect storm as more Scots start to believe that quitting the UK is the best route back to the EU.‌
Johnson’s refusal to allow another referendum - something that is galvanising even floating voters - will also come under huge pressure if the SNP win a fresh mandate in the Holyrood elections next year. The YouGov poll showed Scots don’t want a new referendum this year or next, but do back on in the next five years. Not for nothing is Nicola Sturgeon tomorrow set to unveil the ‘next steps’ on the road to that referendum.
And as London stages its strangely muted celebrations as the clock strikes 11pm, up in Edinburgh campaigners will be holding a candle-lit vigil for the UK’s dying membership of the EU. Some campaigners plan a ‘haunting’ light display in the ponds outside the Scottish parliament building, in honour of SNP MEP (and new MP) Alyn Smith’s Strasbourg speech that urged the EU to ‘keep a light on’ for Scotland.
It’s a reminder that while there’s been plenty of focus was on future links between London and Washington (more today, thanks to Mike Pompeo) and between London and Brussels, it’s the ‘future relationship’ between London and Edinburgh that could prove the thorniest for Boris Johnson during this parliament. Auld Lang Syne, the tune sung so forlornly by MEPs in the European parliament yesterday, is after all written in Scots.Quote Of The Day“An important part of this relationship is reducing the friction..we want to lower every barrier towards the free flow of information, talent, capital - all the things that promote wealth and prosperity.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounds almost like a Remainer as he backs a new UK-US trade dealThursday Cheat SheetThe PM held crunch talks on HS2 with Grant Shapps and Sajid Javid, in what many expect to be the key decision-making group ahead of a possible cabinet endorsement later next week.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the Commons Press Gallery: “The bullying is over. We are not going to tolerate it.” He also suggested he may allow MPs to breastfeed in the chamber.
Tom Tugendhat, the Tory chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast that he wanted ministers to commit to reducing to ‘zero’ Huawei’s share of the UK 5G system.
The Communication Workers Union nominated Rebecca Long-Bailey as the next Labour leader and Angela Rayner as deputy leader. But general secretary Dave Ward didn’t sound too impressed by the race so far and called on all candidates to deliver “more dynamic and innovative campaigns”.
Keir Starmer called on Boris Johnson to give the three million European nationals living in the UK the right to vote, including in general elections.What I’m ReadingHow One Policy Transformed The US Asylum System - LA TimesGot A Tip?Send tips, stories, quotes, pics, plugs or gossip to waugh.zone@huffpost.com. Subscribe To Commons PeopleEach week, the HuffPost UK Politics team unpack the biggest stories from Westminster and beyond. Search for Commons People wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe.
This week, Tom Tugendhat talks to us about Huawei, Brexit, HS2 and Johnsonism. Click HERE to listen to the podcast. For a taster click HERE.Related... Top Tory Urges Boris Johnson To Force Huawei Out Of UK 5 Ways To Look After Yourself If You're Totally Exhausted By Politics 'Put Your Flags Away': Nigel Farage Makes One Final Cringeworthy Scene In Brussels
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