Brexit should ring in real change in Whitehall

The battle to get Big Ben to bong on Brexit day goes to the heart of what Brexit was all about. People voted to restore sovereignty, to “take back control” – so what does it say about the country if we can’t even ring a bell to celebrate our independence? The stumbling block is the wall-to-wall bureaucracy that says “you can’t do this.” What it usually means is: “We don’t want you to do this.”

Of course Brexit is controversial and, yes, a lot of people were against it. But the mood has changed dramatically since the general election. Even many Remain voters now want to get it over with and most of the prophets of doom have gone strangely silent. A few ring on: the economist Will Hutton intends…

Dishonestly pretending to be more Left-wing than they actually are risks backfiring on Labour’s moderates

Every political party is dysfunctional, but each party is dysfunctional in its own way.

To understand the Labour Party, it’s necessary to understand one basic truth: the rank and file membership is, and has always been, significantly to the Left of its MPs and its leadership. 

This is the fundamental fault line that has caused regular bouts of civil war within the party – in the 1950s, the 1980s and in the decade just past – and which has bubbled just under the surface for most of the rest of its history. The Left considers itself to be the socialist soul and conscience of the party, ever vigilant to call out the many inevitable betrayals by the centrists and Right-wingers, who they see as too…

Barbarous Iran is the real Great Satan, but the morally bankrupt Left is incapable of admitting it

“Death to America! The great Satan!” Predictable chants on the streets of Tehran following President Trump’s strike against Iranian General Qassim Soleimani. Comments by many political leaders in Britain suggest their own feelings may not be much different. Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction, in any case now politically irrelevant, was so predictable it can be passed over. The candidates to replace him also lined up to condemn Trump’s action, led by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry who spoke of “Trump’s reckless lurch towards war”. Clive Lewis condemned “this cowboy action”.

Is it strategic naïveté that leads these people to side with Tehran over Washington? Ill-judged comments like this can only…

Remain’s death has left the EU too toxic to embrace, as Jess Phillips has found

Jess Phillips hopes to become Labour leader by pledging to "speak truth" and unlike Jeremy Corbyn, who only went as far as pledging "straight talking honest politics", to "win power". 

The Labour MP sought to show her supposed election-winning candour over the weekend, as Andrew Marr asked her  how she would deal with the fact that by the time she aspires to take over her party, Brexit will have happened — and it will be many years before anything can be done about that. 

Ms Phillips, one of the scores of MPs who argued against Brexit during the referendum and continued to fight it at every turn in their desperation for a referendum, insisted that she was "not going to just change my mind on…

Thank the voters for ridding us of this grandstanding Parliament

It is fitting that almost all the MPs who reduced our politics to paralysis have lost their seats

The House of Commons returns today, and one of the most striking changes will be who is no longer there.

John Bercow is tending to his new career as a television personality, replaced as Speaker by the less self-aggrandising figure of Sir Lindsay Hoyle. From Dominic Grieve and David Gauke to Sir Oliver Letwin and Philip Hammond, the ex-Tory rebels are out, either losing their seats in doomed bids to win as independents or having pre-emptively decided to leave politics for good.

Those Conservatives who defected to the Lib Dems to campaign for a second referendum all failed in their attempts to re-enter…

Labour’s cynical plan for the railways would be the worst of all possible worlds

Their unaffordable programme would put vested interest groups ahead of passengers

From today and until New Year’s Day, commuters who use South West Trains will have a tough time of it. A strike by the RMT union means that only about half of all scheduled services will run in the next month. 

The strike is all about the industry’s running sore – the introduction throughout the country of driver-operated doors on trains. Unions are unhappy about the perceived threat to railway jobs and, despite assurances from the safety regulator as well as the fact that the London Underground has been safely running on this basis for years, insist that safety of passengers is being put at risk.

Meanwhile, in…