Parliament may be in recess but politics doesn’t take a holiday

Are Cameron and Osborne in agreement over EU referendum? Are Labour preparing for a decade of Opposition?

Parliament may be in recess but politics doesn’t take a holiday, especially with an EU referendum on the horizon. The hiatus in the normal ebb and flow of Parliament has allowed the Chancellor to pick up the baton on EU diplomacy. Today he is in Paris, where he will be making the case that the UK referendum presents an excellent opportunity to reform the entire EU. Eurosceptics may think this argument will make little headway with one of the biggest beneficiaries from the EU as it stands. But Osborne may feel that timing is on his side and he does not shy away from being opportunistic. The recent success of Eurosceptic parties in Spain and Poland and the Greek crisis means people might be more receptive to the idea of reform.

Reports from inside the Government suggest that both the Chancellor and Prime Minister want to hold a referendum as early as next year. The rationale for this is that they would rather the referendum takes place while there is some residual afterglow from the general election. The fact that the PM and Chancellor are now on song about when the referendum should take place is contrary to what the media was saying only a few months back. There were rumours the two were in disagreement, with the Chancellor reportedly wanting to take time over the negotiations. It now looks like the PM has won the battle, but this may be more about optics. With the media now pontificating about Osborne as the next Prime Minister and with the Chancellor playing the statesman in Paris, any sign of a rift between Numbers 10 and 11 would give political journalists a real story to write about over the summer break.  

Meanwhile, the Labour leadership contest keeps the homes fire burning. It is really starting to hot up with rumours that far-left groups and even Conservatives are exploiting a new membership rule to make sure their man – Jeremy Corbyn - wins. This ‘entryism’ is a hangover from Ed Miliband who changed membership rules allowing anyone to pay just £3 to join and have a vote. Nevertheless, the interim Labour leader, Harriet Harman has ignored calls to suspend the leadership contest. Keen politicos are starting to highlight how this leadership contest is fast becoming an examination of whether Labour are willing to pick a future Prime Minister or preparing for a decade in Opposition.

Julian

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search