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By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

The end for Ben Wallace?

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is not only snubbed by President Biden for a top NATO job, he's losing his Lancashire seat. Jim takes the chance to examine our relations with America as well as looking at the regional shake up in parliamentary boundaries.

BIDEN, NOT A SPECIAL FRIEND

A year ago, Ben Wallace could have made a run to be Prime Minister after Boris Johnson was forced out. The Wyre and Preston North MP would have been a good choice in my opinion. He represents that great Tory One Nation tradition of North West MPs who have included William Whitelaw, David Trippier and David Hunt.

A year on it is reported he has been vetoed by President Biden from becoming the next Secretary General of NATO, and his constituency of Wyre and Preston North is being abolished in boundary changes. It is suggested he might quit politics which would be a shame.

I’ll come back to the new parliamentary boundaries shortly in the wider regional context, but just for a moment I want to dwell on Biden’s decision and my evolving view of the American President.

Almost anyone would have been an improvement on the dreadful Trump. Biden is a decent man and has concentrated on improving America’s ageing infrastructure. He is due back in the UK next week, and the special relationship is in need of some TLC.

Apart from the Ben Wallace snub, we can be in no doubt that the Biden measures to improve the US economy put us at an economic disadvantage. There is no prospect of a post Brexit trade deal. Far from it, Biden’s America is a strong economic competitor.

Finally, I used to think Biden was a good option for next year’s Presidential election. He had the beating of Donald Trump last time, so why change a winning team. However, is 80 years old and would be 86 at the end of a second term. I am very much against ageism, but he is showing his years with stumbles and gaffs. A second Trump term must be avoided, and it is a worry that some voters will be put off voting for him because of the age issue and the thought that they could be putting into office, at a heartbeat’s notice Vice President Kamala Harris. I quite like Harris, but she has attracted much criticism.

Understandably the Democratic Party is reluctant to tell Joe his time is up, but I think they need to do this and choose a more credible candidate to face down the Trump threat.

ALL CHANGE

Ben Wallace is not the only MP facing boundary changes as officials ensure equal sized constituencies for next year’s General Election. Preston North and Wyre is split three ways between Ribble Valley, Preston and Lancaster and Wyre. Wallace’s options in the region look difficult. Preston is a Labour stronghold; fellow Conservative Nigel Evans is MP for Ribble Valley. Would he fancy taking on Labour’s Cat Smith? She survived Johnson’s landslide in 2019 and Labour is now rising high in the polls.

The biggest shake up is in Cheshire with Chester split in two along the river Dee. Chester North will now stretch to Parkgate whereas the rest will form the new division of Chester South and Eddisbury. Wirral South is abolished with Bromborough joining Ellesmere Port. The MP Alison McGovern has already secured her place in a reshaped Birkenhead at the expense of her colleague Mick Whitley. Weaver Vale is also abolished with MP Mike Amesbury now contesting the new seat of Runcorn and Helsby. Another new seat, Mid Cheshire will take in Northwich and Winsford. Finally, Tatton takes Lymm from Warrington South where the Tory MP Andy Carter has announced he is standing down.

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