5 June 2019

New Conservative leader to be announced week starting July 22

The Conservative Party yesterday announced the rules for the party’s leadership election, which will begin when Theresa May formally submits her resignation as party leader on Friday. Candidates seeking to take part in the election will require a proposer and a seconder from the Parliamentary party, and must also submit the names of six other MPs supporting their nomination. Nominations will be open between 10am and 5pm on Monday, and the first ballot will take place on Thursday 13 June with subsequent rounds scheduled for the following week. Candidates would then need to win the support of 17 or more MPs in the first ballot and 33 or more MPs in the second round to remain in the contest. After the Parliamentary stages are completed, the party membership will be balloted and a new leader will be announced in the week of Monday 22 July.

Earlier, Brexit minister James Cleverly and housing minister Kit Malthouse both withdrew from the race, taking the total number of candidates down to 11. Cleverly said it had “become clear” that it was “highly unlikely” he would progress to the final two candidates, while Malthouse said he had pulled out because “there is an appetite for this contest to be over quickly.”

Separately, US President Donald Trump said yesterday in a press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May, “Our nations have more than 1 trillion dollars invested in each other’s economics… As the UK makes preparations to exit the EU the US is committed to a phenomenal trade deal between the US and the UK.” Trump also said the NHS would be on the table during negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.  However, in a later interview with Good Morning Britain, Trump said: “I don’t see [the NHS] being on the table. Somebody asked me a question today and I say everything is up for negotiation, because everything is. But that’s something I would not see as part of trade.”

This comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the debate about the future UK-US trade relationship “should not be a debate about how we go forward with No Deal at the same time as offering up our…National Health Service to private American companies to come in and take it over.” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “The NHS is not on the table in trade talks and will never be.” Fellow leadership contender and former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab also said, “I want to see the UK get fair deals on trade with the US and many other countries when we leave the EU. But the NHS is not for sale to any country and never would be if I was Prime Minister.”

Meanwhile, Trump will today meet with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

Source: BBC News I The Guardian I BBC News II BBC News III The Telegraph The Guardian II

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Change UK splits as 6 MPs leave

Six of Change UK’s 11 MPs left the party yesterday, and will return to sitting as independents. The six to leave were former Conservative MPs Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston, and former Labour MPs Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith. The five remaining Change UK MPs are Conservative MP Anna Soubry, who is now the party leader, together with former Labour MPs Mike Gapes, Joan Ryan, Ann Coffey and Chris Leslie.

In a joint statement, the departing MPs said, “We know that the landscape will continue to shift within the political environment and have concluded that by returning to sit as independents, we will be best placed to work cross-party and respond flexibly.” The New Statesman reports that some of the defectors are considering joining the Liberal Democrats.

Source: Sky News New Statesman Heidi Allen

European Commission to take first step in a disciplinary process against Italy

The European Commission is today expected to take the first step toward starting a disciplinary process over Italy’s failure to rein in its debt. This comes as Italian deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said yesterday, “I have no intention of bringing down the government,” adding, “If I should realise in 15 days’ time that we find ourselves here again, saying the same things, with the same delays and postponements, then there would be a problem.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission will issue a new report today, which assesses the economic situation in Greece. According to the draft seen by Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the level of repayment of the state’s debts is “disappointing,” and the recent decision by Greek Prime Minister Tsipras to give handouts questionable.

Elsewhere, Open Europe’s Dominic Walsh is quoted in Spanish newspaper Publico. Commenting on the varying performance of Green parties in the recent European elections, Walsh said, “Climate change seems to be more on the political agenda in western and northern Europe.”

Source: Bloomberg The Financial Times Kathimerini Publico