Some Remain Labour MPs have criticised the Lib Dems for backing a General Election. They say support for a second referendum was growing and the parliamentary impasse would eventually lead to the government backing it. I’m afraid this a fantasy. Boris Johnson has embarked on a hard Brexit project and fears that a referendum would lead to a Remain victory, albeit narrow. He would have really died in a ditch rather than agree to it.
Furthermore, the Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, was right to draw attention to 19 Labour MPs who, far from moving towards a second referendum, voted for Johnson’s bad deal.
Swinson is now campaigning for a majority Lib Dem government to revoke Brexit. She can do no other, but as it is not going to happen, the BBC’s Andrew Neil was right to challenge her with the following uncomfortable truth. She, and all Remainers, are relying on a Labour minority government to get Brexit stopped. Hopefully Corbyn will have to work with 40 or 50 Lib Dem MPs, and 50 odd SNP MPs who will insist on a referendum choice between Remain and the softest of Brexit options being put to the country.
Although Corbyn will struggle to deal with the charge that Labour has been captured by the extreme left, it should be noted that in the last week two moderate MPs, Margaret Hodge and Diana Johnson have survived attempts to deselect them. It is perhaps a sign that there is sanity in the wider Labour membership that will resist Momentum.
Joe Anderson reaching out
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson will be facing the voters again next year having fended off internal opposition and attempts to abolish the post, but next Wednesday he’ll encounter our CEO Frank McKenna at a Downtown event in the city. Ahead of that I’ve been listening to the key people involved in Liverpool’s future.
Anderson has his critics and acknowledged that recently in respect of the council’s first Inclusive Growth Plan for the city. He accepted that the Town Hall had not reached out enough to the public and stakeholders in its efforts to tackle the multiple problems the city continues to face.
He certainly needs all the help he can get now. Referring to the government’s claim that austerity was over, the city’s impressive new Chief Executive, Tony Reeves, has said “it doesn’t feel like it in Liverpool”. A Town Hall official tells me there are no reserves and there is an embargo on non-essential expenditure.
That said the mayor points out the positives. £58m more generated in the local economy than 9 years ago, the development of the waterfront with 70 cruise liners visiting the city.
Anderson claims the “Preston Model” of using local companies and people has been in practice in Liverpool too. He wants to use that approach in building schools. He wants a mutual bank to issue low deposit mortgages.
Tony Reeves observes that the city has some of the finest health expertise in the city’s universities and close by some of the worst life expectancy rates in the country. The new Inclusive Growth Plan aims to tackle that.
Michael Parkinson from the Heseltine Institute believes the time has come for the city to concentrate more on economic competitiveness than physical regeneration, the local economy being too small.
Urban Splash boss Tom Bloxham once observed that it takes 30 years to become an overnight success. Joe Anderson hasn’t that long, but he is on the journey.