Politics

Read about the latest UK political news, views and analysis.

Charles Moore

What the Tories got wrong on housing

Sir Keir Starmer may be our first atheist prime minister, but his manner in parliament resembles that of what, in House of Lords terminology, is called a ‘Most Reverend prelate’. There is a lot of sonority about serving others, disagreeing well etc. These are good sentiments but, when trying to be good, ‘show, not tell’ is better. Adopting an archiepiscopal tone, a political leader is quickly tripped up. For example, Sir Keir wants to drive peers aged over 80 out of the Lords, thinking this conducive to the public good; and yet, as I write, he is having his first much-prized bilateral with Joe Biden, who is six years older

My future as a reality TV star

Magpies have long been thought to be birds of omen. I am not superstitious. Yet during the election campaign I could not help but notice single magpies all the time. Perhaps you only notice what you are looking for, as from the beginning of the campaign the polls were clear that I would lose North East Somerset and Hanham. I wrote to my boarding school children when the election was called to warn them of the impending defeat, but unfortunately they cannot read my handwriting. Throughout the campaign, the mood on the doorstep was excellent and the team full of beans. Many visitors came to help and I regularly had people

James Heale

Who will lead the Tories next?

Rishi Sunak performed a mea culpa when his shadow cabinet convened on Monday, taking full responsibility for the election loss. There were, he said, lots of lessons to be learned. He tried rallying his team, reminding them it was time to knuckle down and prepare for the King’s Speech. When those around the table began agreeing, with some saluting Sunak’s performance during the campaign, Kemi Badenoch decided she couldn’t take it any longer. Isn’t it necessary, she asked, to say that the snap election had been a calamity, the Tory campaign had been even worse – and that it was about time to examine why? She argued that Sunak went

Katy Balls

Starmer must move fast without losing his head

When Keir Starmer’s Labour party gathered on Monday to celebrate their election victory, the difficulty was finding a big enough venue. There were so many MPs that aides had to abandon Labour’s usual meeting room on parliament’s committee corridor, and instead head for Church House, where Tony Blair met his party after the 1997 landslide. Cabinet ministers joked that their biggest problem in government would be learning their colleagues’ names. Later in Strangers’ Bar, the queue for a drink went six rows back. ‘It’s freshers’ week,’ said one newbie. Yet some in the party still felt a sense of unease. ‘This majority is a mile wide and an inch deep,’

Steerpike

Listen: Patrick Vallance slams Brexit

Another day, another drama. This time Sir Patrick Vallance is in the limelight, after attacking Brexit on the BBC. The new science minister – and former scientific adviser to the government – has given a rather curious interview this afternoon in which he has slammed the decision to leave the EU and refuses to rule out free movement. Golly. Speaking to the Beeb today, the new peer started by telling his interviewer he was ‘surprised’ but ‘honoured’ to be asked to be the science minister by Sir Keir Starmer. The conversation then took a rather, um, bizarre turn. Turning to the ‘problem’ of Brexit, Vallance said that visa rules should

Does Starmer’s ‘cast-iron’ defence spending pledge mean anything?

When the agenda for this week’s Nato summit in Washington DC was announced, one of the items on it was funding for the alliance. This was no surprise: the need to financially supporting Ukraine since the Russian invasion in 2022 and the possibility of a second Trump presidency leading to a lower US commitment have brought the issue of money into sharp focus. It transpires that the new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, is urging his fellow Nato leaders to increase their levels of defence spending, but he may find that his moral authority is shaky. The subject of defence spending is one which has bedevilled the alliance for years.

Biden’s leadership, not his health, is America’s biggest problem

Since Joe Biden’s now infamous debate performance, the Democratic party has been having palpitations about his candidacy. But all brouhaha about Biden’s decline has distracted the public from critically examining his administration’s more significant failures. Democrats now talk as if the only problem with Biden is his ability to convince the public that he’s fit to serve. But a fish rots from the head and, thanks to his inept leadership, Biden’s government has weakened America’s security, its economic stability, and its international standing. These shortcomings should not be ignored. The failing policies of the Democratic left have made America less safe and less prosperous. One of the most contentious issues of

Ross Clark

The trouble with Rachel Reeves’s ‘National Wealth Fund’

What country ever went wrong with a sovereign wealth fund? It is easy to envy Singapore and Norway – the latter of which now has £1.3 trillion squirrelled away, equivalent to £240,000 for every citizen. Britain would be in a much better situation now had it, like Norway, invested its windfall from the North Sea, rather than chucking it into the pot of general day-to-day expenditure. Paying state and public sector pensions liabilities out of tax revenue rather than from a long-term investment fund is going to become an ever more serious burden on the state. We shouldn’t, then, sniff at Rachel Reeves’ idea for a ‘national wealth fund’. It is just that what

Steerpike

Labour slammed over cost of scrapping Rwanda plan

Uh oh. It’s day five of Sir Keir’s new Labour government and already the reds are running into trouble. Politicians confirmed last week Sunak’s Rwanda plan was to be scrapped, with the Labour party instead planning to tackle immigration by ‘smashing the gangs’. But there is a cost to the change of tack – and a rather steep one at that. It turns out that the Rwandan government is a little reluctant to repay the money it received from the UK for the scheme, saying it is ‘under no obligation’ to return the £270 million sum. Dr Doris Uwicyeza Picard from the country’s ministry of justice told the BBC: We

What will the relationship between Starmer and King Charles be like?

When the King greeted Keir Starmer last Friday, his first words to him were: ‘You must be utterly exhausted and nearly on your knees’, to which the new Prime Minister replied: ‘Not much sleep.’ From the body language and easy rapport between the two men, most inferred that this was a relationship that was likely to be a productive and enjoyable one on both sides. This is quite the turnaround from Starmer having said in 2005, ‘I also got made a Queen’s Counsel, which is odd, since I often used to propose the abolition of the monarchy.’ Starmer has since rowed back from his republican views, without wholly disavowing them;

Steerpike

Spectator summer party 2024, in pictures

The election is over and with MPs now being sworn in, where better to take the temperature of Westminster then at The Spectator’s annual summer party? As New York Magazine recently wrote, it is ‘an unmissable event on the social and political calendar’ and perhaps the only place in the world that you would find Jordan Peterson laughing at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s jokes. The party, always in early July, is typically a scene of political drama: prime ministerial resignations, leadership plots etc. ‘But while the Tories inside are licking their wounds,’ said Sky News’s Sam Coates, reporting outside the door, ‘it’s been a parade of Labour cabinet members coming

Steerpike

Badenoch attacks Sunak over election decisions

The Tories faced a difficult election campaign and things aren’t much improving for the party. Now it transpires that Kemi Badenoch used the group’s first shadow cabinet meeting to hit out at ex-PM Rishi Sunak, describing his decision to call an early election as bordering on ‘unconstitutional’. Talk about trouble in paradise… The shadow housing secretary slammed Sunak for telling an inner circle of the snap election before he informed his cabinet of the plans, blasting his former aide Craig Williams as a ‘buffoon’. And Badenoch didn’t stop there. Going on, the shadow cabinet minister spoke of the former prime minister’s ‘disastrous’ decision to leave D-day commemorations early, blaming Sunak’s

Isabel Hardman

How will Starmer keep his backbenchers busy?

One of Keir Starmer’s very nice problems to have is that his majority is so big and many of his new MPs so experienced that he needs to work out how to keep them occupied. The Prime Minister gave a partial answer to that last night, appointing a number of figures who have only just entered parliament to the government. This would be remarkable were it not for the fact that those new MPs really have got a lot of experience in government from previous jobs. Kirsty McNeill was made a parliamentary under-secretary of state in the Scotland Office – the most junior ministerial job. She worked for Gordon Brown

Patrick O'Flynn

Can Robert Jenrick save the Tories?

At the 2019 general election, the Tories won eight seats out of eleven in Nottinghamshire, but now the political map of the county is dominated by red. Only two of those 2019 Conservatives survived last week’s brutal cull. Both did so by running against Rishi Sunak’s version of Toryism rather than for it. Lee Anderson, having had the Tory whip removed by Sunak, got re-elected in Ashfield in the colours of Reform. Meanwhile, in nearby Newark, Robert Jenrick defied MRP surveys which predicted he was a goner by withstanding a strong Labour challenge and hanging on with a majority of more than 3,000. Jenrick was teased about his noticeable weight

Isabel Hardman

Spare a thought for our departing MPs

The MPs who lost their seats spent yesterday clearing out their offices. Their passes stop working later this week, and then they have a few months to wind up their offices and constituency work before truly becoming ex MPs. It is a brutal experience, not least because Westminster is buzzing with newly-elected members. There is always a risk that someone congratulates a member they think has come back as a victorious MP – only to find out they are in fact on their way to pack their working life into cardboard boxes and make their staff redundant. Before an election, some MPs choose to clear out their offices early, just

Isabel Hardman

Why Wes Streeting is ‘optimistic’ he can win his battle with junior doctors

Wes Streeting has just emerged from his first set of talks with junior doctors over their pay, saying he is ‘optimistic’ that the government can bring the dispute to an end. The Health Secretary reiterated that ‘this government has inherited the worst set of economic circumstances since the Second World War’ but that ‘both sides have shown willingness to negotiate and we are determined to do the hard work required to find a way through’. They are meeting again next week. Taking the side of the doctors against NHS management is Streeting’s way of getting them on side The line about the economic backdrop is Streeting’s way of reminding doctors

Cindy Yu

Can Wes Streeting end the NHS strikes?

14 min listen

Health Secretary Wes Streeting declared the NHS ‘broken’ over the weekend. With a creaking in-tray of issues, he opened up negotiations with the BMA today to try and solve one: the pay dispute with junior doctors. With ambitious reforms planned, and a workforce with low morale, how successful will Labour be?  Isabel Hardman and James Heale join Cindy Yu to discuss.  Produced by Patrick Gibbons and Cindy Yu. 

Steerpike

Watch: Farage attacks Bercow in first Commons speech

To the House of Commons, where party leaders are making their first post-election speeches. And for the first time, Nigel Farage MP gets to join in too. The Reform leader and newly-elected member of parliament for Clacton addressed his colleagues this afternoon, dubbing his party’s five MPs ‘the new kids on the block’, admitting to chuckles that ‘we have no experience in parliament whatsoever, though many us have tried, many times over the years previously, to get here’. But the laughter turned to groans after Farage praised current Speaker Lindsay Hoyle – and turned his speech into an attack on his predecessor… We can’t judge you for working in this

Isabel Hardman

What Keir Starmer revealed in his first Commons speech as PM

Keir Starmer has just made his first Commons speech as Prime Minister. Both he and Rishi Sunak spoke at the election of the Speaker Lindsay Hoyle this afternoon in what was, by tradition, a largely jovial occasion. He paid tribute to Hoyle’s work in the previous parliament, and also cracked a joke about Sir Edward Leigh, now the Father of the House, writing a book of quotations dating back to 3000 BC – ‘which might be said to cast some light on the Tory mind – after the last six weeks, I think it might be time for a new addition’. He was also careful to praise Diane Abbott, now