A Week in Parliament: The Not Brexit Insights – 1 February 2019

Now that Brexit is finally done and dusted (OK, maybe not), it’s officially time to turn to turn our attention to political developments outside of our impending departure from the European Union.

As ever, this week saw some significant developments across Government, opposition and the devolved nations. Here’s a roundup of what you may have missed while all the Brexit drama was unfolding.

Labour lagging

This week saw YouGov publish particularly negative polling on Jeremy Corbyn’s favourability ratings. Reduced to a level last seen prior to the 2017 general election with a net favourability of -45, Corbyn appears to be experiencing a backlash against his ‘constructively ambiguous’ position on Brexit (sorry, even The Not Brexit Insights struggles to completely avoid the ‘B’ word). Particularly concerning to the Labour leader may have been another poll, conducted for the Higher Education Policy Institute which showed a 10% fall in Corbyn’s support among students. While Corbyn’s Labour still enjoys a healthy lead among these young voters at 52%, this time last year the figure was 62%. This is a crucial group of voters for the Labour leader, and he will be concerned at this trend, as well as his declining personal ratings.

Corbyn travels in car

The irony! Corbyn was this week forced to take a car to a discussion on cuts to bus services after his bus failed to show up. There were no well-crafted campaign videos a la ‘Traingate’ but he later stated that the experience “proved his point about private operators running buses and not doing it terribly well.”

Scotland scrapes through budget

It’s as though not a week goes by where we don’t get the threat of a snap election. This week saw the Scottish Government manage to crawl over the finish line in order pass its budget for 2019-20. Given its minority status, the SNP relies on the Scottish Green Party to attain a majority in Parliament. With the Greens initially withholding support due to disagreements over funding for local councils, Nicola Sturgeon and fellow SNP MSPs were reportedly touting the possibility of a snap election in order to break the impasse. Alas, after concessions were made, including an additional £90m settlement for local government, it appears as though we might be safe from the polls for at least another week.

Money, money, money

With the number of stories published on cash-strapped Departments and public sector salary caps, it feels as though it might be 2010 again. This week saw Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, announce that teachers’ salary increases next year would be capped at 2%, far below the 5% called for by the joint teaching unions. Elsewhere the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee reported a £7bn funding black hole at the Ministry of Defence. Fingers crossed for a Brexit dividend.

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Euan Ryan

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