The GUIDE to the week

So, Christmas 2019 is sorted. Tim Shipman has agreed to write the third instalment of his modern political chronicles, due out in the autumn next year. But for now, here’s our take on the week in Westminster…

London calling

Jeremy Corbyn will hint at a more pro-EU stance next week. Labour sources tell us this is about positioning ahead of the local elections, where the party is determined to take some Tory scalps and maybe even win talismanic councils like Westminster and Wandsworth. Voters in the capital might find Corbyn’s proposition less attractive if they knew about Labour's thoughts on a 20% wealth tax – and after May, Labour intends to revert to whatever Brexit position causes the Government most harm in Parliament.

A trouble, not the troubles

It went without comment in the UK media, but in Leo Varadkar’s latest Brexit speech the Taoiseach insists there should not only be ‘no hard border’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic, but that there should be ‘no new barriers to the movement of people or to trade’ at all. Given that last year’s UK-EU27 Joint Report puts the UK on the hook for the cost of any new measures (on either side of the border) that Ireland or the EU determines are needed, this new bar could turn out to be higher and much more expensive.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems

This week it was confirmed Labour raised more cash than the Tories in the last quarter, but that might not last. Next Thursday sees measures from the Trade Union Act 2016 come into force – including restrictions on funds for political parties and an ‘opt-in’ system for new union members who want subs to go to Labour. As well as threatening the size of Labour’s coffers, the change is also likely to increase the party’s reliance on Momentum.

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