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By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

I Hope the Sun Shines in Cornwall

As the G7 summit takes place in Cornwall, Jim suggests that our Prime Minister is battling to gain the trust of President Biden. He also looks at a potential major shake up in parliamentary seats in the North West.

Will a Cornish pasty for President Biden in the sunshine of Carbis Bay this weekend, help our chances of a trade deal with the United States?

Probably not. Biden will be impressed with the Prime Minister’s commitment to world vaccination by the end of 2022, but will it be delivered? Can Britain be trusted?

Integrity has been in short supply under this Prime Minister in his personal life, implementation of the ministerial code, spending on the Downing Street flat and now the Northern Ireland Protocol.

President Biden will no doubt be aware of the remarks of former Prime Minister Theresa May’s top aide Lord Barwell. He was at her side as the then Prime Minister tried to square the circle of a hard Brexit with the land border with the EU in Northern Ireland.

It was, and remains, because of the insistence of hard line Brexiteers that we should not be aligned with the EU on food standards that the current crisis has blown up. May’s solution was a backstop. It was hated but it was honest, and she paid for it with her Premiership.

Johnson’s approach was to bluff his way through, sign up to anything to “Get Brexit Done”, promise there would be no border checks and win the election. Barwell is clear that both May and Johnson knew what the consequences would be, and the EU is entitled to expect that a treaty will be honoured even if the people of Ulster have to go without their bangers.

There is no reason, except political dogma, why we should not align our food standards with the EU.

Meanwhile President Biden and many others look forward to the marching season in Ulster with anxiety.

ALL CHANGE.

Twenty years ago, Tony Blair had just won his second General Election. The Tory leader William Hague handed over to the hapless Iain Duncan-Smith and people spoke of Conservatism as a spent force.

Two decades on the political scene has radically changed, the Tories have won three elections in a row and already are looking at a fourth.

Battlefield preparations began this week with proposals for a major shake-up of parliamentary constituencies. Two previous attempts to line up seats with where people are now living have failed because they contained plans to cut the number of MPs by fifty.

80% of North West constituencies are affected. We will lose two seats altogether to reflect the fact that people are moving south and that has meant some MPs will be seeking a new home. Among the constituencies to go are South Lakeland which is bad news for our remaining Lib Dem Tim Farron plus Preston North and Wyre which is awkward for Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. Rossendale and Darwen becomes Pennine Moors and Chester is split up as boundary chiefs try to deal with the perennial problem of the nearby area of Wirral.

The peninsula cannot justify 4 MPs and the idea of a cross Mersey seat was shot down in flames when it was proposed before. So, Chester and Wirral South (Alison McGovern) are split up.

The changes will help the Tories as the south gets more seats at the North’s expense, for instance the new Lancaster constituency, shorn of Fleetwood, would have voted Conservative. Bad news for Labour’s Cat Smith. However, with the Tories having a bigger stake in the region these days, the damage to Labour will be mitigated.

After all that it might not happen. You can have your say. Changes could be made and with a final report not due till June 2023, another election may have been held.

Downtown in Business

Not another one!

The Blackpool South by election will be the eleventh in this parliament caused by Tory MPs being thrown out for sleaze or walking off the job. Jim reports on this sad saga. He also reflects on fifty years of local council shakeups and the birth of Piccadilly Radio!

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The storm before the storm

Check out Jim’s comprehensive preview of next week’s local elections. While the Conservatives face hundreds of losses, the Gaza crisis poses problems for Labour in Lancashire and Rochdale.

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Scots and the General Election

Amid all the turmoil in Scotland, Jim notes the support for independence is still strong. He also reports on a great Downtown event that looked at the challenges Manchester still faces in redevelopment.

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