Voters deliver a sharp kick

Chris MoncrieffChris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff
The Brexit bogeyman has crept into Britain’s town halls and has now played a major role in transforming the local government landscape in the country.

In the local elections, the Conservatives have paid a heavy price for what many regard as their bumbling, shambolic and feeble negotiations with the hard men of Brussels - although to be fair the results were not so horrendous for the Tories as many of their supporters had feared.

Even so, it has come to something when the Brexit Minister James Cleverly said he would be “happy” with a loss of 500 council seats (a figure of 1,000 had been mooted). Labour, too, lost key seats, making a mockery of their claim to be the Government in waiting.

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They will also, probably feel the need to tone down their clamour for an immediate general election.

The results also show the voters delivering a sharp and painful kick in the pants of the two main parties, warning them to get a grip on Brexit or face even more dire punishment at the general election.

Both Labour and Conservatives will have noted, with some anxiety, the surprising rise in Liberal Democrat fortunes at the vote.

All this, plus the imminent emergence of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party should set the alarm bells jangling in both the Labour and Tory camps.

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n Is Prime Minister’s Question Time losing its allure? Once it was the unchallenged highlight of the Parliamentary week: a crowded rowdy chamber, high expectation - usually fulfilled - of an enthralling gladiatorial contest.

But that seems to have changed - for the worse. Last week’s session took place in a chamber that was far from packed. And neither of the two principal combatants Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn possess the exciting theatrical flair of most of their predecessors.

Unfortunately, therefore, PMQs is now run-of-the-mill, shorn of all drama. Sadly, they could now erect the sort of notice that you used to see outside cinemas: “Seats in all parts.”

The situation was cruelly summed up in a Tweet by Labour MP Chris Bryant: “A vacant chamber and a vacuous Government.”