Sunday, 17 July 2016

EUref - Who Might Lead a New Centrist Remainers Party?

Last Sunday, the Observer ran an article titled Pro-EU Labour and Tory MPS look at chances of forming a new centrist party”.  We were told that a source at ministerial level had said “talks should be taken seriously”..

Nothing further has apeared since, probably because Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the Tory leadership race the following day, and Theresa May was crowned Prime Minister mid week.  Whilst that removed the issue for those that were not willing to serve under Andrea, a key issue still remains. Theresa has said her government is pursuing Brexit, but over half of Conservative MPs campaigned for Remain. Are they happy with the Brexit strategy? Presumably not.

On the Labour side, not much has actually changed, although whether Jeremy Corbyn would be standing, and who would be standing against him, has only become clear at the end of the week. Uncertainty that would have affected if and when Labour MPs would consider moving to a new party.

So I'm waiting to see if there are any other developments towards a new party. But it is worth noting what Toby Helm, co-author of last week's article, has said in today's Observer. As a result of Theresa May appointing a new cabinet and set of junior ministers, she has "exiled to the backbenches a powerful collection of able and still ambitious Tories who will, if she falters, not be shy of seeking revenge." Given the possibility of a new centrist party that would pursue a pro-EU agenda, the ex-ministers do not need to wait for her to falter.  Indeed for those who believe leaving the EU would be bad news, the quicker the Brexit nonsense is stopped the better.


The people who have campaigned for Remain and could lead the new centrist party could include (with apologies to anyone omitted):

1) Ex Cabinet Ministers

The following former cabinet ministers are noted Remain supporters, and no longer hold any ministerial post (and therefore have lost their extra salary, if that is significant to them)

George Osborne - former Chancellor
Nicky Morgan - former Education Secretary
Oliver Letwin - former Cabinet Office minister
Stephen Crabb - former Work And Pensions Secretary (although he resigned for personal reasons)
Mark Harper - former Chief Whip

There is also of course David Cameron .  He had always fancied being seen as Tony Blair's successor in terms of running a centrist government.  So he could even be tempted to return to government to complete his ambition with a more appropriate centrist party. Stranger things have happened already in this last three weeks since the referendum result!

2) Current Cabinet Ministers

The following members of Theresa May's cabinet supported Remain and could be tempted to move to a new pro-EU centrist party.  This would be if they would prefer to do so rather than serve in a Brexit government, especially if they would command a higher position:

Philip Hammond - Chancellor (potential PM?)
Amber Rudd - Home Secretary
Michale Fallon - Defence Secretary
Liz Truss - Justice Secretary
Jeremy Hunt - Health Secretary
Justine Greening -  Education Secretary
Karen Bradley - Culture Secretary
Damina Green - Work and Pensions Secretary
Sajid Javid - Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire - Northern Ireland Secretary
Alun Cairns - Welsh Secretary
David Mundell - Scottish Secretary
Patrick McLoughlin - Party Chairman
David Littington - Leader of Commons
Greg Clark - Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

3) Senior Centrist Labour MPs

Some weeks ago a list of Labour MPs was published, showing how sympathetic there were to Corbyn's socialist cause.  Assuming this highlights who are more Social Democrat, and therefore eligible for a centrist party, the more senior and well known MPs are:

(a) In the "Hostile Group" (furthest from Corbyn politically)

Caroline Flint
Chris Leslie
Chuka Umunna
Liz Kendal  (former Labour leadership candidate)
Harriet Harman (fomer acting leader)
Jamie Reed
Margaret Hodge
Pat McFadden
Rachel Reeves
Rosie Winterton (Chief Whip)
Sadiq Khan
Simn Danczuk
Stella Creasy
Tristram Hunt
Yvette Cooper (former Labour leadership candidate)

(b) In the "Core Group Negative" (nt sharing Corbyn's socialist views)

Alan Johnson (former Home Secretary)
Dan Jarvis (almost a former leadership candidate)
Ed Miliband (former Labour leader)
Hilary Benn
Keith Vaz
Lyn Brown
Margaret Beckett
Maria Eagle (not Angela Eagle, leadership candidate)
Stephen Kinnock

(c) In the "Neutral Not Hostile" Group (not necessarily sufficiently centrist)

Andy Burnham  (former Labour leadership candidate)
Angela Eagle (current leadership candidate)
Chris Bryant
David Lammy
Heidit Alexander
Paul Flynn (author of "How to Be an MP")
Stephen Timms


There is clearly plenty of leadership and ministerial talent in both the Conservative  and Labour parties who would be eligible and potentially interested in joining a new pro-EU centrist party.

It now remains to be seen who grasps the mettle, and makes the idea a reality!.

If you know any of the people in this blog posting, do bring this to their attention. Thanks.

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