Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
If I were Dominic Cummings (and there’s a thought), I’d be deploying the acronym TTIP as a major part of the Leave campaign. The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership is a very boring-sounding trade plan between the US and the EU. From what I know about it, it scares the s**t out of me. I have always suspected it was a bad thing, but now we have proof. If it were just a free trade agreement everyone would support it – but it goes far beyond the realms of free trade.
Until this week, we only suspected what its contents are. Its drafting was so secret that the European Commission banned any knowledge of the negotiations. Anyone who revealed the contents were threatened with criminal proceedings. This week, a draft of the agreement was leaked to Greenpeace and it makes for pretty horrifying reading.
One of the main aims of TTIP is the introduction of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), which allow companies to sue governments if those governments’ policies cause a loss of profits. In effect, it means that unelected transnational corporations can dictate the policies of democratically-elected governments.
For example, if the Government introduces an environmental tax on fracking which affects the profit of a US mining company, they can sue for loss of profits. Totally outrageous. It also forces public sector organisations such as the NHS to effectively open up all their services to privatisation. Now that may be a good idea, but it is our Government that should decide to do this – not TTIP.
US-manufactured GM food products will be forced on EU countries who currently ban them. I could go on. It’s an issue which even many Remain supporters are uncomfortable with. In essence it’s an affront to democracy. There is some debate about whether national governments have a veto over its final draft. Some say it is subject to Qualified Majority Voting. In my opinion, it’s so important that there should be a referendum on it in each of the 28 countries.
On Wednesday I interviewed Mike Gapes, a TTIP enthusiast, and War on Want’s John Hillary. You might be interested in listening to the discussion, which can be heard above.
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All anyone seems to want to talk to me about nowadays is who I think will be the next Conservative Party leader. Whenever anyone asks the question, I sigh inwardly. It’s an impossible question to answer in any meaningful way, mainly because there isn’t actually a vacancy.
If there is one after June 24, then it’s clear that Boris Johnson will be in the driving seat. The niggling doubt in his mind, though, is that he might not be able to convince enough of his fellow MPs to vote for him to reach the final two. Like Theresa May, he has very few devoted followers and acolytes. Off the top of my head James Cleverly, Ben Wallace and Nadine Dorries are the only three MPs who I have heard being Boris enthusiasts. I am sure there are others, but would they number more than a dozen?
But if he gets into the final two, I suspect that Party members would give him a bigger majority than David Cameron achieved (66-33) against David Davis. The task for people like me is to identify who the outsider candidates might be.
Sajid Javid was a good bet up until the moment he inexplicably declared himself to be a supporter of Remain. Greater love hath a Cabinet Minister than he lay down his career for beliefs he doth not possess. It’s a funny old world.
Nicky Morgan has made clear she wants to stand, but the policy of forced academisation has done her no good among a range of Tory backbenchers.
Priti Patel, Andrea Leadsom, Amber Rudd and Penny Mordaunt are four leading female contenders. Indeed, it’s possible there may be more female candidates than male. Anna Soubry has impressed me of late, with some very deft handling of the steel crisis, but would Conservative MPs vote for the woman who is possibly the most vocal advocate of Remain?
My money remains on Michael Gove, who last week topped the ConHome next party leader poll for a second time. Michael protests he isn’t qualified for the job and wouldn’t want it. Funnily enough, I have never heard Mrs Gove back him up on that one. Someone should place a recording device under their respective pillows. I suspect the results would be very revealing. (Get your minds out of the gutter, please).
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So Donald Trump has more or less secured the Republican nomination. Shows how much I know.
Can the Republican Party unite around him? Judging from the comments of many Republican commentators and strategists, that is doubtful. Most of my Republican-supporting friends will be holding their noses and voting for Hillary Clinton.
However, that might not be enough to stop Trump. If he can appeal to people who haven’t voted for years and really burnish his anti-establishment credentials, he could still do it.
I wonder whether we in this country have fallen for the same trick that we fell for when many people (not including me, I should say) thought that no way could the Americans vote for that stupid George Bush. We constantly misunderestimated him, and suspect that we (myself included) are now repeating that trick with The Donald.