Well, the Easter choccy has run out, we’ve all put on half a stone and feel terrible about ourselves, but at least the country doesn’t seem to be quite as close to the apocalypse as it did a few weeks ago. After the Easter recess, it’s been something of a slow week, but let’s just have a quick recap and then get on with our weekends.
Cheeky trip to see the Avengers, anyone?
Friday, The Weekend + Monday
BANK HOLIDAY, BITCHEZZZ
The first day back saw a fresh challenge for Theresa May, as many of her backbenchers called for the 1922 Committee, the Conservative Party’s head office, to change the rules to allow them to vote May out of power.
The Committee voted against changing the rules, but only by a small margin – May is hanging on by a thread, it seems, but it is unlikely that any changes will be made any time soon. With the European Parliamentary elections coming up, the Tories are seemingly on a date with destiny to fail as badly as a dog sitting a physics exam (every answer was ‘biscuit.’ Just ‘biscuit.’). When the results are announced and the Tories have done as badly as everyone predicts they will, we might finally see the back of her.
Or it might not.
Change UK, the party formed of rebels that promised to be a new, centrist voice in politics, launched their campaign. The fanfare wasn’t so much to the sound of trumpets as it was to a tuba with a turnip in the bell. They had some reasonable candidates standing as MEPs, such as Rachel Johnson, Boris’ sister, and a former BBC Newsnight presenter, but the whole event was pretty underwhelming.
Poor branding, poor messaging, deciding that their official name was *deep breath* CHANGEUKTHEINDEPENDENTGROUP… all of this had more than a whiff of amateurism. Additionally, they have ruled out working with other Remain-backing parties, which could split the Remain vote and make it far weaker.
With Farage’s Brexit party unified, coherent and powerful, bringing in Leave-voters from all corners, there is currently no party that has the power to compete against it.
The European Parliament elections could be a Leave-led massacre of the Remainers.
Speaking of massacres, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year old climate change protestor, met with leaders of the UK Parliament to ask them why they weren’t doing more to prevent humanity from being entirely wiped off the face of the earth.
While her message is powerful and needed globally, it was slightly misguided as the UK actually doing a pretty good job on the greener energy front (the UK ran without coal power for more than 92 hours over the Easter weekend, the first time since WWI). However, rather than accept the general spirit of the message, many commentators (mostly middle-aged white men) got very angry that they were being told how to think by a teenager.
So they fired off articles insulting a 16 year-old girl with Aspergers who’s trying to save the world.
Cool beans. So that is where we’re up to.
Good old fashioned espionage to cheer us all up from the Brexit malaise.
Huawei, the Chinese mega-telecoms company, have had some bad press in 2019, with accusations abound that they are using their mobile phones to spy on Western users and send data back to the Chinese government. So far, so John le Carré.
However, despite this, their technology for 5G, the next big step in creating Skynet and dooming us all to Termination, is supposedly far and away better than that of Ericsson or Nokia. As such, the UK government has reportedly chosen Huawei as the company to roll 5G out across the UK.
It’s also cheaper, but I’m sure that’s not the main reason.
Anyway, the supposed handing of the contract to Huawei immediately created some tension between the UK and some of its intelligence network, such as Canada and Australia, but the US seemed to be reasonably ok with it (despite previously urging the UK to never consider Huawei over espionage fears). There were reports cited from intelligence communities that the Chinese army, the PLA, gave some funding to Huawei, something which absolutely doesn’t look sketchy at all…
…he writes, just in case they’re watching him.
Anyway, it is no understatement to say that 5G will herald a new dawn of technology, with ideas that were previously too much for current networks to handle becoming commonplace – driverless cars could be around the corner. The creation of the network in the UK is a monstrous piece of infrastructure, and in the wrong hands could result in billions of terabytes of data being misused.
So… why do we, the great unwashed general public, know about the threats?
Because our government is leakier than a colander full of leaks, that’s why.
While cabinet-meeting leaks have become commonplace, with ministers’ aides or unnamed sources frequently telling journalists what was spoken about, what the mood was like, or how many new batteries needed to be put into Theresa May’s brain, the Huawei and 5G discussions were held during a sitting of the National Security Council.
Leaking information from the NSC is pretty stupid in terms of intelligence. It’s also quite possibly treasonous.
There has been widespread condemnation of the leaks by members of the civil service, and yesterday saw the hilariously terrifying spectacle of various prominent cabinet ministers rushing to tell the media that it wasn’t them. It was like watching a group of toddlers tugging on teacher’s skirt to tell them that it definitely wasn’t them that did a poop on the carpet.
There are rumours abound that a full-on criminal investigation may be launched into the leaks. It may well end up becoming quite a full-blown scandal.
A SCANDAL THAT ISN’T BREXIT.
I’ll get the champagne.
What Happens Now?
We’ll have to wait and see what comes of this investigation into the NSC leak. Besides this, a slow week in politics means little to look out for. The European Parliamentary elections will start to dominate the headlines before long, so for now, go out, enjoy the sunshine, and take a deep breath.
Brexit will be back before long.
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