'My Government will'... Well, what will it do?

  • 14 October 2019
  • From the section England
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption First the theory, then the reality of the Queen's Speech

The Biggest Day in Parliament

In theory, there is no more important occasion at Westminster than the State Opening of Parliament, when the Sovereign announces her Government's plans for the forthcoming session.

Already overshadowed in political terms by the "intense negotiations" between the UK and the EU, this week's pageant also has a serious credibility problem.

Labour dismiss it as "a political stunt".

The stark reality is that Boris Johnson's government is more than 40 votes short of a Commons majority so the measures set out stand next to no chance of becoming law, unless, that is, Labour agrees to a confidence vote, which, in turn, could trigger a general election. And this, they say, they will not do until a no-deal Brexit has been avoided.

And here's the point:

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Politicians beware! Doctor will see you now

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Dr David Nicholl is now the Lib Dem candidate in Bromsgrove, a seat held by Chancellor Sajid Javid

Trust me I'm a doctor

What is it about doctors and politics? Maybe it's the profession's general reputation for unimpeachable respectability that confers so much authority on them.

Without really trying I can reel off the names of just some of those who have gone on to forge careers at Westminster: Liam Fox, David Owen, Dan Poulter, Michael Winstanley, Robert Winston, Sarah Wollaston.

Read full article Politicians beware! Doctor will see you now

Government can't govern: Opposition can't oppose

  • 2 October 2019
  • From the section England
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Boris Johnson gives his keynote speech to the Conservative conference in Manchester: He wants to get Brexit done

Can't move. Won't move.

Be it a white rabbit or a pig in a poke, Boris Johnson's "final offer" to the EU negotiators in his keynote speech to the Conservative conference enabled his supporters to portray it as an attempt to end the Brexit stalemate.

Read full article Government can't govern: Opposition can't oppose

Midlands questions to the Prime Minister

  • 23 September 2019
  • From the section England
Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Topics including Brexit and HS2 will be put to Prime Minister Boris Johnson by Sunday Politics Midlands

"He's right to bring this to a head"

That's what the Conservative Metro Mayor Andy Street told me when I asked him recently how he reconciled his support for a prime minister who says he's determined to take Britain out of the EU next month, "do or die", with his own repeated warnings about the dangers of a "bad Brexit deal" or, worse still from his perspective, no deal at all.

Mr Street went on to emphasise Boris Johnson's commitment both to secure a deal and then to see it through Parliament.

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Midlands questions for Jeremy Corbyn

  • 16 September 2019
  • From the section England
Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The new numbers game: Jeremy Corbyn faces a binary question amid a Tory 12-point lead, 'five-party politics' and the supposedly magic sum of 35

The right of reply?

When Ian Austin lambasted Jeremy Corbyn during the Commons' brief but acrimonious sitting before its prorogation last week, the Labour leader simply had to sit there and take it. The former Labour MP for Dudley North now sits as an Independent, having quit the party over what he sees as its failure to deal with anti-Semitism in its own ranks.

Mr Austin had the air of a man who was getting things off his chest and settling some old scores when he accused Mr Corbyn of allowing racism against Jewish people while defending extremists and terrorists: the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah for example.

Read full article Midlands questions for Jeremy Corbyn

Midlands questions for Jo Swinson

  • 11 September 2019
  • From the section England
Jo Swinson Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jo Swinson is having her first party conference since become Lib Dem leader

Parliament may have been controversially prorogued by Boris Johnson, but that doesn't mean our politics goes into suspended animation.

Far from it.

Read full article Midlands questions for Jo Swinson

'It's a high-speed high-risk strategy'

  • 15 July 2019
  • From the section England
Alstom's proposed design for a HS2 train Image copyright Alstom
Image caption The first passengers are expected to travel on HS2 trains between Birmingham and London in late 2026

It was one of those routine stumbles in the crucible that is the Sunday Politics Midlands studio. Normally I'd do my best to shrug it off.

I had mangled my words during an interview about high-speed rail after Jeremy Hunt, in Worcestershire on the first day of his regional leadership campaign, had told us he was "a supporter, a very strong supporter, of HS2... because whoever becomes prime minister must govern for the country as a whole".

Read full article 'It's a high-speed high-risk strategy'

Why summer is no holiday for low income families

  • 10 July 2019
  • From the section England
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Recently collated data shows almost half of children in Stoke-on-Trent are living in poverty

School's Out For Summer

We all know the first line of the Alice Cooper Band's barnstorming hit, no matter whether or not we were around when it first came out back in 1972.

Less well-remembered is the second line:

Read full article Why summer is no holiday for low income families

Brexit Party in the Midlands: Now with added policies

  • 1 July 2019
  • From the section England
Image caption The Brexit Party added literal fireworks, glow sticks and then policies, but where were the prospective candidates?

Expect fireworks!

It's just one of those things we say in the run-up to potentially lively political events or "crunch meetings". We don't usually mean it literally.

But when the Brexit Party came to Birmingham, promising an audience of 5,000 to witness the unveiling of more than 100 candidates for a possible "snap" autumn general election, that's exactly what we got.

Read full article Brexit Party in the Midlands: Now with added policies

In the Hunt: Midlands backing for underdog candidate

  • 25 June 2019
  • From the section England
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has support from several Worcestershire MPs

"I'll give him the fight of his life"

The self-proclaimed "underdog" wasn't pulling his punches when he opened his regional campaign for the Conservative leadership in Worcestershire.

And Jeremy Hunt does not lack for influential support in this part of the country.

Read full article In the Hunt: Midlands backing for underdog candidate