Newslinks for Saturday 14th December 2019

Johnson calls for “healing” in his Downing Street speech

“Boris Johnson has pledged to use his 80-seat majority to “heal” Britain once he has brought “closure” to the Brexit turmoil of the past three years. Signalling a distinct shift towards the centre ground, the Prime Minister made unity the theme of a muted victory speech in Downing Street, promising to repay the trust of all those who had voted Tory for the first time. He promised 2020 would be a year of “prosperity, growth and hope” on Friday and signed off by saying: “Thank you all very much, and Happy Christmas.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “In No10, Boris Johnson watched the results with Carrie Symonds, Dom Cummings, Lee Cain, Ben Gascoigne and Rosie Bate-Williams, plus Dilyn the Downing Street puppy. Johnson responded to the result with  disbelief at how big it was.” – Financial Times
  • Two unknown gurus masterminded his victory – The Sun
  • The centre ground is now on the centre-Right – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • At last, Britain’s glorious Brexit dream can take off – Patrick O’Flynn, Daily Express
  • Blue Dawn – Leader, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: “Johnson put out his right hand softly and drew the sword out as gently as from a scabbard”.

>Yesterday:

PM heads to the north to thank voters

“Boris Johnson is to visit the north of England later, hours after celebrating his party’s biggest election win for 30 years by sweeping aside Labour in its traditional heartlands…Mr Johnson, however, is expected to announce a minor re-shuffle possibly as early as Monday. MPs will then return to Westminster on Tuesday and begin the process of swearing in, before the Queen formally opens Parliament on Thursday with “reduced ceremonial elements”…There were protests in London on Friday following Mr Johnson’s election victory. Demonstrators in Westminster carried signs that read “Defy Tory Rule” and “No to Boris Johnson”. The Metropolitan Police said two people were arrested in relation to the protests – one person on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and another for suspected affray.” – BBC

  • He may go to Sedgefield – Daily Mail
  • How the North was won – The Sun
  • This realignment offers a once in a lifetime opportunity for a political party – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson must see them right – Leader, The Sun
  • “Not my Prime Minister” protestors chant – The Guardian

A full reshuffle “won’t be until February”

“I am informed that Monday’s shuffle will be a strictly limited affair, with just the outgoing Secretaries of State Nicky Morgan and Alun Cairns being replaced. I understand Boris wants to wait until February to do a proper reshuffle. The reason is that he and his team are keen to rewire Whitehall for the Brexit era, merging some departments and reorganising others. But he doesn’t want to rush this process and intends to use the next few weeks to think about how best to do this. My sense is that Johnson is considering a far more fundamental reorganisation of the way government works than anyone expects.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Shares and Sterling surge

“Companies with a UK focus listed on the London Stock Exchange today reaped the benefits of Boris Johnson’s election victory. Businesses enjoyed some huge surges, after spending years in turmoil due to the uncertainty of Brexit. Investors this morning plugged assets into UK companies, with many feeling a new sense of security following the result.  The listed banks were some of the biggest gainers in early trading, with Virgin Money, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays all soaring. Royal Bank of Scotland – which remains majority owned by the taxpayer – was the biggest riser, with shares up 11.3 per cent.” – Daily Mail

  • Victory will unleash wave of overseas money into UK – The Times

Queen’s Speech to include boundary changes and abolition of the Fixed Term Parliament Act

“Abolition of the Fixed-term Parliament Act is expected to be included in the Queen’s Speech next week as Boris Johnson moves to lay the groundwork for a second term. Changes to Westminster constituency boundaries which the Tories hope will make it easier for them to retain office is also likely to be an early priority, with a wider constitutional overhaul in prospect. The first elements of changes are said to be “ready to go” and could be put before parliament before Christmas.” – The Times

Record number of women Conservative MPs

“According to Mark Wallace of Conservative Home, the newly bolstered cohort represents “a parliamentary party of this decade”…The new-look Tories are a lot more gender balanced too, with a 29 per cent increase in women MPs. Female Conservatives candidates have won 86 seats, a considerable rise from 67 female MPs in 2017, although that still only represent less than a quarter of the parliamentary party. One of them is Dehenna Davison, the new Tory MP for Bishop Auckland, a ‘muscle car, baseball and fluffy animal enthusiast’ who helped the Prime Minister to smash through the so-called Red Wall by winning the former mining town in Country Durham.” – Daily Telegraph

Sandbrook: We love our country. Corbyn never understood that. Johnson did. And that is why he won

“Deep down, we are a patriotic, small-c conservative nation. We are cautious, grumpy and suspicious of change, but we are also honest, pragmatic and tolerant of difference. We hate being patronised, nannied and told what to do. We despise ideology, we don’t like being bribed and we hate being taken for fools. We despise bigots and bullies, even when they dress up as high-minded martyrs. And though we like to moan, nobody should doubt that we love our country. Jeremy Corbyn never understood that. But Boris Johnson did. And that, above all, is why he won. Well done, everybody.” – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

  • Optimism triumphed over Corbyn’s cynicism and bigotry – Leader, Daily Mail
  • The soul of our nation is intact – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph

Moore: The real meaning of “one nation”

“As a result of Mr Johnson’s leadership, the Tories are the One Nation party at last. Until now, the phrase “One Nation” tended to be a codeword meaning the Left-wing, anti-Thatcherite wing of the Conservative Party. It meant high welfare spending and “caring” patter. Now it means what it says – an independent nation free to govern itself, as Margaret Thatcher herself fought for; and a patriotism which unites the classes. In workaday Workington, a Tory candidate with a strong northern accent threw out Sue Hayman, one of the many animal-rights fanatics on the Corbyn front bench. In Blyth Valley, a Geordie Jew, Ian Levy, captured the Labour stronghold for the Tories. In his speech he thanked the southern Old Etonian whose popularity had helped him to victory in that previously hostile territory in the politically frozen North. One Nation.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Hannan: A victory for moderation

“Unlike many European countries, we have never had a Marxist party in office. Nor, in modern times, have we ever allowed an anti-Semitic party anywhere near power. Those two honourable records are still intact. Above all, Thursday’s election was a vote for moderation. Although his detractors make him out to be some sort of extremist, Boris Johnson is a mainstream politician. Yes, he is unusually clever and gifted. Yes, he has a rich and eccentric speaking style. But his politics are pretty moderate — he is a one-nation Tory who, as a backbencher, backed Ken Clarke for the party leadership. He has always stood for liberal and humane conservatism. The only way you can label Boris “far Right” is if you also apply that label to 17.4million Leave voters.” – Daniel Hannan, The Sun

Nelson: Johnson sees this as the first term of a new Government

“Seeking to heal the rifts exposed by the referendum – as well as the rifts created by its result. He’ll combine a global Brexit agenda (more visas for scientists and high skilled workers) with tough control on low-skilled immigration. And somewhere along the way, redefine Toryism. As he knows, a great many voters came to him because of their exasperation over the Brexit deadlock and Jeremy Corbyn. Neither of these two will be around for long. There was no sign of the Tory logo at his victory speech to party members yesterday. Instead he seemed to be speaking for something called “the people’s government,” which he referred to again outside No10. It gives a glimpse of how he sees things: that this is not the fourth term of Tory administration, but the first term what he calls his ‘new One Nation government”. At the moment, it’s a soundbite. He will now start work making it into the new Conservatism.” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

  • The real test is just beginning – Matthew Parris, The Times
  • A list of the challenges – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

Labour recriminations over “lack of leadership focus”

“Within minutes of the catastrophic exit poll being published on Thursday evening, the recriminations began, with many defeated Labour candidates pointing the finger at Corbyn’s unpopularity on the doorstep, particularly among working-class voters. The former cabinet minister Alan Johnson complained that Corbyn “couldn’t lead the working class out of a paper bag”. Meanwhile, Corbyn’s allies quickly laid the blame with the party’s Brexit stance, pointing to the fact that Labour’s losses were greatest in leave-leaning seats. The party chair, Ian Lavery, said: “Ignore democracy and to be quite honest the consequences will come back and bite you up the backside.” Over the coming weeks and months, this row will shape the battle for the future of the Labour party.” – The Guardian

  • Corbyn ‘very sad’ at election defeat but feels proud of manifesto – The Guardian
  • Chaos and dejection inside London campaign HQ – The Times
  • Khan unleashes huge attack on Corbyn’s ‘deeply unpopular’ leadership – Daily Express
  • Corbyn experiment banished at last – Giles Audy, Daily Mail
  • Corbynism must be overturned to return Labour’s credibility – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Traditional Labour voters felt abandoned – Ross Clark, The Sun
  • Labour must face a reckoning over Corbyn’s poison – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • This Labour meltdown has been building for decades- Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian
  • The question is not only can it change but does it want to? – John Denham, Daily Telegraph
  • How social media gave Lab our false hope – The Times
  • Labour moderates are also to blame – Philip Collins, The Times

Swinson apologises for election failure

“Jo Swinson has apologised to the Liberal Democrats for a dismal election in which she lost her seat and the party slipped to 11 MPs, but said she did not regret fighting on a defiantly pro-remain platform. Naming some of the MPs ejected as her party lost 10 of its pre-election tally of 21, including the Brexit spokesman, Tom Brake, and all the recent defectors from the Conservatives and Labour, Swinson said: “I’m so sorry I couldn’t get them re-elected.” In a speech to party activists, Swinson said she had been an “unapologetic voice of remain in this election”. The stance prompted some criticism inside the Lib Dems, notably the pledge to revoke Brexit without a second referendum if the party won a majority.” – The Guardian

Sturgeon’s call for a second referendum on independence rejected

“Boris Johnson has told Nicola Sturgeon that he remains opposed to a second independence referendum, despite the SNP’s general election success. The PM spoke to the first minister by phone on Friday evening, with Downing Street saying he had “reiterated his unwavering commitment” to the union. Mr Johnson insisted the result of the 2014 referendum “should be respected”. However, Ms Sturgeon made clear it was not “credible” to deny Scotland the right to choose its future.” – BBC

  • Carlaw promises Scottish unionists: We can still stop IndyRef2 – The Scotsman
  • SNP Leader maps out collision course – The Times

“People’s Vote” campaign to close down

“The so-called People’s Vote campaign is to be scrapped following Boris Johnson’s overwhelming Brexit mandate. Leading Remainers on Thursday watched their hopes of a second EU referendum go up in smoke as the Prime Minister stormed to a decisive 80-seat majority with which he can ram through his withdrawal deal. Open Britain, which runs the campaign, conceded a fresh vote is no longer a realistic possibility and made the decision to mothball the grassroots movement. The group will instead rebrand to an organisation that holds the government to account as it charts a course outside of the EU. Tom Baldwin, communications director of the People’s Vote campaign, said he ‘(didn’t) think there is much chance’ of the public having a final say.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Stephen Booth on Comment: An inconvenient truth for Remainers and Leavers alike. This was the result that the EU wanted.

“No threat” to Foster’s leadership

“Senior DUP sources on Friday night insisted there is no threat to Arlene Foster’s leadership after the party’s disastrous Westminster election performance. The party will carry out a detailed post-mortem into what went wrong, but insiders said Mrs Foster’s position was secure. They were speaking after Sir Jeffrey Donaldson declined to back her as he appealed to the UUP to work more closely with his party as unionists were giving away seats “on a plate”. Mrs Foster said that her position wasn’t under threat. “Why would my leadership be in any doubt when we have a job of work to do?” she told UTV.” – Belfast Telegraph

News in brief

  • It’s Boris Johnson’s Britain Now – Tom McTague, The Atlantic
  • If the Labour is to recover from this defeat, it must work with the Government to get Brexit done – Brendan Chilton, Brexit Central
  • Will Remainers finally admit defeat on Brexit – Douglas Carswell, CapX
  • Christmas elections should be a last resort – John Redwood
  • People had had enough of being bossed about – Harry Phibbs, The Article
  • It will be a One Nation Conservatism, but it will wear a blue collar – James Kirkup, The Spectator

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