Will Reform overtake the Tories?

12 min listen

A new YouGov poll has Reform just four points behind the Conservatives. Richard Tice’s party is on 15 per cent, and Rishi Sunak’s party is on 19 per cent. What is driving the Tory decline? Max Jeffery speaks to Katy Balls and to James Johnson of JL Partners.

Will the Red Wall revolt split the right?

48 min listen

On the podcast this week: is Rishi ready for a Red Wall rebellion?  Lee Anderson’s defection to Reform is an indication of the final collapse of the Tories’ 2019 electoral coalition and the new split in the right, writes Katy Balls in her cover story. For the first time in many years the Tories are polling below 25 per cent. Reform is at 15 per cent. The hope in Reform now is that Anderson attracts so much publicity from the right and the left that he will bring the party name recognition and electoral cut-through. Leader of Reform UK Richard Tice joins Katy on the podcast to discuss. (02:23) Then:

Lee Anderson defects: what next?

13 min listen

Lee Anderson has defected from the Tory party to Reform. In a press conference this morning, Anderson said ‘I want my country back’ and said that his parents had urged him to change party allegiance. How much of a headache is Anderson’s defection for Rishi Sunak, and will more Tory MPs quit the party? Max Jeffery speaks to Fraser Nelson and Katy Balls.

Is this the end of borrow and spend?

Since the spring statement last week, Rishi Sunak has been dealing with complaints from all sides: the right have been arguing he should have been bolder with tax cuts, the left insists more support is needed to help people with the rising costs.  With the Office for Budget Responsibility projecting the biggest fall in living standards since records began, rumours of U-turns and further announcements started bubbling over the weekend. The media, the opposition, and even some Tory MPs have been asking Treasury representatives over and over again: is that all? In a keynote address hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs this morning, chief secretary to the Treasury Simon

Can the EU save Italy?

There’s been a lot of hype around the green light given by the European Commission yesterday to Italy’s recovery plan. But let’s break it down: the final headline numbers are €68.9 billion in EU grants by the year 2026 and €123 billion in loans. If you take the grant component, and divide it over the six-year duration, you arrive at an average of 0.6-0.7 per cent of Italy’s 2019 GDP each year. It is front-loaded, and it’s by no means a modest sum. What’s harder to accept however, is folding in the loan component to arrive at some giant fake headline number. The whole point of this exercise is not

When will there be another right-wing insurgency?

Almost the whole of the British political class failed to understand that the rise of Ukip after the 2010 general election was not some fringe irrelevance but was in fact likely to have major consequences. Academics Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin were two of a select band of political futurologists who were onto the Ukip advance early. By the time their insightful book Revolt on the Right was published, Ukip had already forced an EU referendum pledge out of David Cameron and the book was therefore read by many dumbfounded Westminster insiders as if it were a crammer for a module that had unaccountably not been covered in the standard

The greatest threat to Boris’s legacy

The government is starting to have an opinion poll problem, but it has nothing to do with any great threat from Keir Starmer or the Labour party. While the Tory ratings have gone from high to low 40s and Boris Johnson is not as extraordinarily popular as he was in January last year before the advent of the first dry cough of coronavirus, that’s not the issue of concern at all. On the contrary, the problem is that the Prime Minister may be getting addicted to favourable ratings and increasingly unwilling to put them in jeopardy by taking difficult or unpopular decisions. The latest evidence for this view came in

Why Reform UK’s Scotland launch was a flop

Scots may be getting vaccinated against Covid, but they already have the highest rate of immunity to the appeal of Nigel Farage to be found anywhere in the UK. So it was not a particular surprise that Farage today stayed away from the launch of the Scottish offshoot of his new entity, Reform UK. Instead it was left to party chairman Richard Tice to unveil the identity of the leader of Reform UK, Scotland. The sitting MSP Michelle Ballantyne, who stood unsuccessfully for the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives less than a year ago before going independent, has become the Scottish leader of Reform UK, without needing to win a single

Charles Moore on BBC reform

Former editor of The Spectator and Daily Telegraph Charles Moore is tipped to become chairman of the BBC. Despite being proactively encouraged to put himself forward for the job of director-general earlier this year, Moore made clear he would not be applying for the role. Firstly, he didn’t think he’d get it, writing in his Spectator notebook that he is ‘not a woman’ with ‘no plans to become one’ and ‘under the BBC’s diversity rules, uniformity of gender is required’. Secondly, the job didn’t appeal. He wrote ‘bureaucracy is the enemy of creativity. The BBC can only be a bureaucracy.’ But with Lord Moore now poised to become head of the BBC

Boris should take back control from the House of Lords

I imagine that in recommending Philip Hammond and Ken Clarke for peerages, Boris Johnson sees himself in engaging in a Tory healing process. ‘I may have kicked them out of the parliamentary party,’ he is saying, ‘but let bygones be bygones – I’m big enough to honour my former enemies.’ And of course, unlike David Gauke and Dominic Grieve, neither had the temerity to stand against the Conservative party in the general election, so it is some kind of reward for not complaining too bitterly when punished for disloyalty. But is that really the message that Boris needs to be handing out regarding the House of Lords – underlining its