Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.
The pundits seem to be euphoric about the failure of the summit between America and North Korea. “Told you so,” they all chirruped. “It was never going to produce anything,” they said in unison.
Maybe, but I beg to differ. Meetings like this are never a waste of time. The more world leaders meet and talk, the less likely they are to push a button which could bring about mass destruction.
And let’s remember where we were at the beginning of 2018. Relations between the two countries were at an all-time low, and the two leaders were exchanging pot shot insults, which could have led anywhere.
I remember thinking that 2018 could see real military conflict between the two countries. It turned out very differently. Donald Trump’s undiplomatic ability to turn things his way struck again, and he brought about that historic meeting in the demilitarised zone between Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-In, South Korea’s president. I don’t think that would have happened without Trump. And then Trump met Kim Jong Un in Singapore. This was more of a “getting to know you” summit, rather than one which was likely to produce any meaningful breakthrough.
It is a shame though not a surprise that yesterday’s summit broke up early. But, for Trump, it will have deflected some media attention away from the Michael Cohen testimony, so in that sense it was very helpful to him. And, for Kim Jong Un, he will nowgo back to North Korea with more understanding of where the Americans stand – but also able to tell his people he stood up to the US giant. Job done for both of them.
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Alberto Costa is by common consent one of the nicer Conservative MPs. But this week, he has been treated incredibly shabbily.
He was forced out – i.e. sacked – from his position as PPS to David Mundell. Why? As a consequence of supporting Government policy. You couldn’t make it up. He had tabled an amendment for debate on Wednesday which guaranteed EU citizens’ rights here, and sought to push the government to negotiate the same with Brussels in the event of No Deal.
The Government accepted the amendment, but forced him out because, in theory, PPS’s aren’t allowed to table amendments. This is no way to behave, and is symbolic of the chaos at the heart of government. It came only a few days after various Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State blatantly breached collective responsibility by writing articles in the Daily Mail opposing the Brexit policy of their own government.
If any of them had had a scintilla of honour, they’d have immediately resigned. In effect, they were challenging the Prime Minister to sack them, but she was too weak to do so. The message sent out is that if you’re a Minister, you can now get away with anything. But if you’re a lowly PPS – a member of the government, but with no salary – watch yourself, otherwise your career will be toast.
If the chief whip wanted to score a few brownie points, he’d ask Costa to return to his old job and offer him a fulsome apology. It won’t happen, of course, but it should. And whoever succeeds Theresa May should make a note to give him a ministerial job in their initial reshuffle. In the meantime, Costa can bask in the knowledge that he, at least, stuck by his principles and genuinely achieved something.
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This week Labour, sank deeper in the mire of anti-semitism row. I won’t rehearse all the events again, but it was a familiar pattern. MP says something bad. Labour has to be dragged kicking and screaming to take action.
At least this time they did it relatively quickly, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. The MP concerned is Chris Williamson, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn. He was spotted heading for Corbyn’s office, where presumably he was to be told of his fate, by Michael Crick of Channel 4 News.
He encountered the Ian Lavery, who proceeded to give him a bear hug. Presumably at the same time the Labour Party Chairman whispered into his ear: “Don’t worry, we’ll look after you.” Labour’s support among the Jewish community has plummeted from 65 per cent to less than five. But they don’t care, given there are only 280,000 Jews in this country. Shameless and shameful.