The National Interest to #Remain

The referendum campaign has at times been ugly. Last week I wrote a lengthy piece on how just ugly our politics had become and hoped that after the 23rd June we cold return to a politics I knew to be robust but ultimately fair.

To show this in a practical way I have worked with my Tory successor NIcky Morgan the Tory MP for Loughborough to produce a joint letter to our Loughborough Echo newspaper urging a #Remain vote.  The decision on Thursday is above ‘Party Politics’ and our national interest in the modern world is to stay in the EU and make it work for us all. I am proud to stand alongside Nicky this week to urge a vote for Remain.

Letter to the Echo…

We write as current and former MPs who between us have had the great privilege to represent the Loughborough constituency over the past almost two decades. We disagree on many things but we do agree that the UK should remain as a member of the EU. This a momentous vote which will have consequences for Britain for decades to come.

Much has been made of the likely economic shock a vote to leave would have and the consequent impact on jobs and the money available to spend on our essential public services. But this debate is about more than numbers. It is about Britain’s place in the world. Britain is an outward facing nation and being part of the EU makes us stronger on the world stage. As a member of the EU we have the ability to lead and influence on issues such as security, trade, equalities and climate change to name just a few. A vote to leave would mean we forfeited our seat at the table and the ability to influence others and secure developments in our favour. As proud members of the UN, NATO, IMF and Commonwealth why would we now turn our backs on the EU?

We hope Echo readers will take the time to weigh up all the issues and vote to remain on 23rd June.

Yours faithfully

Nicky Morgan (MP for Loughborough 2010 – )

& Andy Reed (MP for Loughborough 1997 – 2010)

New Style PMQs

It has been a roller coaster of a ride for Jeremy Corbyn since his election on Saturday and PMQs was the first time to see him in action in the Commons. As a former insider it is difficult to express how much of the mood for MPs is set by this weekly encounter that many of us hated in its current yah boo political style. It does matter up to a point. But as a vehicle for holding the PM to account it has largely lost its ability to do so.  I hated PMQs as a forum, but enjoyed it as theatre.  I always tried to ask serious questions and not to join the shouting. It took a lot of self restraint!

So Jeremy Corbyn by announcing he was going to do things differently would have struck a chord with many people. Although to be frank every leader of the Opposition and PM have said the same and it has lasted a few weeks, a few hours or a few minutes! 

It has not been the best start for Corbyn and his team. I say ‘team’ but from the shambolic few days he has had I am not actually sure there is a proper team in place yet. I really hope for his own sake he can rely on some good people to help him. I don’t mean to over style or over coach him but mumbling speeches at TUC conferences are not a great start. It is probably the easiest audience he will ever have and whilst most told the cameras how excited they were by his speech, most privately despaired. The fiasco over the Singing/Not singing the National Anthem is a case in point. It is an unecessary battle line. 

Today the idea of taking questions from the Public  or ‘crwodsourcing’ had some merit and the authenticity of the questions shone through from people who know what is happening in their ‘real lives’. This is always powerful and harder to tell members of the public they are wrong rather than fellow MPs. It is an innovation that should stay even when people are bored of it… 

The Corbyn style of asking questions in a calm way was welcome. Although he will have to work on the sharpness of the questions and perhaps give himself a couple of quetions as follow up with supplementaries when the PM slips out of answering the question by making a facile point or by deversion. Short sharp pointed questions have always caught Prme Ministers off their guard. Don’t forget PMs spend a great deal of time preparing for PMQs and rehearsing their ‘answers’ so they usually have good lines available when questioners give them time to think.

I was equally interested in how Cameron handled the new style. He cleverly showed he could calmly answer questions instead of going into one of his red faced rages that frankly make him look petulant. Look at not only the style of his answers but the long term traps he has laid  for Corbyn. In a very sublte way today he started defining Corbyn and you can see the ‘attack lines’ emerging already. We will see a lto more of these lines on the economy and defence.

Quite a few journalists gave it to Corbyn ‘on points’. I saw it as a 0-0 score draw. The real tests are still to come and I bet by 2019 as we build to the next election we won’t be having this style of PMQs. The noise will have risen by then. But let’s hope things have changed a little for the better.