The Year That Was: UK Politics in 2017

UK Politics


Well hey hey kids. I’m @aidanleape here at your service. Now, when the powers that be at BTM Towers said we were doing reviews of the last 12 months in various areas I thought “Great, what a good idea. Celebrate the success and positivity of the last 12 months. A fantastic way to end the year.” Well, about that. The same powers that be then asked me to review the last 12 months in British Politics. And so, here it is. Sit back, relax, and prepare to scream at your laptop as we look back at the last 365 days (give or take a few, because that’s how this format works), as we look back at The Year That Was UK Politics in 2017.

January: The year started with perhaps the wisest political move in many a year. Sir Ivan Rodgers left his post as Britain’s Ambassador to the European Union just three days into the year. Seeing the potential pitfalls of the process, young Ivan had said that Brexit negotiations may take up to 10 years. Instead of being praised for his accuracy, the government disagreed with this conflicting, yet accurate picture of the road ahead, and thus forced him to fall on his sword. Sir Tim Barlow would take up the role a day later. I hope he plastered electrical tape across his gob before he took up the role for fear of bleating out anything else sensible. On Brexit-Island, The Maybot, AKA Malfunctioning Theresa, was all set to make her first set piece speech of the year. In it, she stated that Britain would be playing for a ‘hard’ Brexit, which would include exiting the European Single Market. Much like a gingernut that had slid down the back of the sofa, that stance would soften up nicely across the course of the year, but more of that undoubtedly later. In the run-up to and aftermath of the speech, the pound crashed through the floor, as Britain continued to take back control. Also in the wondrous Brexit-Land, The Supreme Court ruled against a government Brexit appeal, which meant that Parliament had to vote in order to trigger Article 50. I don’t understand law, so let’s just move on. I think this was the one where Gina Miller was happy, and then people wanted to kill her online. Not really cricket that. Away from Brexit, more issues were brewing which would continue throughout the year. Norther Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned. Citing the involvement of Arlene Foster in the Cash For Ash scandal, McGuinness resigned, thus bringing an end to power sharing in the Northern Irish assembly. That seems a bit complicated to explain in a light hearted BTM review of the year, so let’s keep it nice and simple. Sinn Fein refused to nominate anyone to take over as Deputy First Minister, and so James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland assumed control of the country (again don’t ask). He called a snap election (see March), and the Northern Irish Assembly was dissolved on 26th January. In other January News, Rail Fairs once again increased by an average of 2.3% (some things never change), Women across the globe marched in protest at Donald Trump’s inauguration (with marches in London, Belfast, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Shipley (cheers wiki), Edinburgh and Bristol) taking centre stage, and Tristram Hunt (the man who made Tony Blair look like a raving Trot), resigned as Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central to become director of the V&A Museum in London. How very respectable

February: Into February then, and back to Brexit Island. After the Supreme Court said that MPs had to back the European Union Bill to trigger Article 50, they did. No real stress there. The government then published their white paper, setting out the Brexit Plans (Don’t laugh at the back there). I would look to see what it said, but it’ll look more ancient than the Bayeux Tapestry at this point, so it’s not really worth bothering. Over to the good-ship Labour now, and another resignation. Clive Lewis this time went off, but this time it was on principles, not simply because he wanted to run a museum. Indeed, he even stayed on as an MP, simply resigning from his Shadow Cabinet position as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lewis Reportedly turned down adding ‘& Kitchen Sink’ to his job role). Lewis was unhappy that Labour MPs had been whipped (metaphorically, not literally) to vote with the Government to get the Article 50 ball rolling. It was another dint to the beleaguered leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. A rabbit stuck in a cliché, he had the control of your drunken nan at Christmas, and the leadership skills of Joe Root. A sticky year ahead for him. In other news, the European Commission shouted at the UK, saying that we were breaching air pollution limits. We shouted back “Brexit Means Brexit, Go F**k yourselves, and carried on as we were. Gareth Snell was victorious in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election which was set off by Tristram going to be a part of the Metro-Lib Elite, in so doing beating the UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall, who was taking a break off hosting the new series of Eggheads. In other by-election excitement, Trudy Harrison won the Copeland by Election for the Conservative Party, the first by-election victory for a serving government in a by-election for 35 years. “Christ we’re good at Elections” mulled the Maybot as she loped around inside Number 10. Also in February, Tony Blair stuck his oar back in telling remain voters to “Rise Up” and fight Brexit, whilst Cressida Dick became the first woman to be appointed Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. We’d sadly hear much more from her over the next 10 months.

March: Into March, and back to Brexit Island, where Britain was finally ready to jump off the White Cliffs and into the abyss of negotiations. The Brexit Bill was passed on March 14th, before Article 50 was officially triggered on 29th March. That came just a day after the new 12 sided one pound coin was put into circulation, and immediately made everyone’s new flashy change worth less than it had been just 24 hours before. Back in the real world, The Northern Irish Assembly elections were held. Most parties became less popular, but Sinn Fein were voted to be less less popular, losing just one seat. Meanwhile, the DUP lost 10 seats, meaning that, for the first time since partition in 1921, Unionist Parties did not win a majority of seats. Sinn Fein continues to refuse to resume power sharing, and we’d had an election that resolved absolutely nothing and made basically all of the parties in the country less popular. Negotiations would continue for months, but we’ll pick up this story in June. Back on Planet Tory, and it was time for the Budget. Phillip Hammond delivered it on 8th March, and then on 15th March, was forced to make a U-Turn, meaning that National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed would not be raised. But it didn’t matter, because Theresa was seemingly happy with all this. Then, on 22nd March, terrorism came to Britain once again. Four people died and at least 40 were injured when Khalid Masood mounted the pavement in a vehicle, running over pedestrians, before stabbing PC Keith Palmer. The Houses of Parliament were put on lockdown for several hours as investigations continued. In other news of the month, Michael Heseltine (remember him) was sacked as a government adviser (who knew) after he rebelled against the government when voting against the Brexit Bill, Theresa May told Nicola Sturgeon to shut up about IndyRef2, and George Osborne took his 39th job, this time as editor of the London Evening Standard, in one fell swoop making an unreadable rag somehow yet more unreadable for angry people all across the country who never go to London, and thus never come into contact with the publication. Finally, Martin McGuinness (see January) passed away after a short battle of illness at the age of 66.

April: April then, and The Maybot had been walking. She’d been walking a lot, all around the country. And she decided she liked it. She enjoyed walking so much that she wanted more of that. And so, buoyed with a new penchant for walking around all parts of the country, and tied with a minor success in a by-election, and having just plunged the country into a constitutional crisis by triggering Brexit, dear Theresa decided that this would be a perfect time for an election. And so she called an election. In the campaign, she asked people to vote for her, bleated strong and stable a lot, and basically tried to flaunt herself on the electioneering catwalk. On the other side, Jeremy was just trying to keep his party together. He wasn’t really one for strutting his stuff on the catwalk, and so he spent his time dressing in an avuncular fashion and strode round the country, grabbing microphones and loudspeakers wherever he could, and just said some nice things. They were never going to happen, and Jeremy knew that he wasn’t going to win, but they were nice things none the less. He even turned up to music concerts and things. He kept telling people he was nice. He kept taking jars of chutney from his smallholding with him just in-case he could flog any on the side. It was all very nice. Meanwhile, the election meant we could stop worrying about negotiations in Northern Ireland as they were put on ice, we could find out that whatshisname who ran the Liberal Democrats was very Christian which made him not very Liberal, Nicola Sturgeon kept on banging on about Scotland, Leanne Wood kept on bleating on about Wales, Paul Nuttall kept on looking like and egg, and some bloke somewhere in Maidenhead decided to shove a bucket on his head. In other April news, some woman on the tele said she was fed up of elections, and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of that there London withdrew funding for the Garden Bridge over the Thames, meaning there would be no yucca plants. And that Joanna Lumley would be unhappy. Absolutely Cancelled-ulous.

May: You might be wondering why I’ve wrapped up the election campaign in April. Well 1.) It’s boring 2.) None of us can be bothered 3.) A f**k tonne of stuff happened in May and June. So deal with it. To kick off May it was Local Government Elections time. How glamourous. Old Theresa was delighted with her walking holiday decision, as the Conservatives gained 500 seats, and seized control of 11 councils. That General Election is just a couple of weeks away now. Theresa would go to the ball, she would be PM again. More than that, she’d piss the election. All was well. Even in Scotland the Tories could do no wrong. Labour came 3rd North of the Boarder and were scrabbling for any vote they could get. Meanwhile, The Fruitcakes, Nutters and Closet Racists Alliance lost all 145 of the seats that they defended, people forgot that the Lib Dems existed really, and the Conservatives won 4 out of 6 of the new Metro-Mayors. Andy Burnham did grab Manchester for Labour though. Not as though that was any comfort for Uncle Jez though, because Burnham for some reason hated him. Poor Jez. Away from politics, and it was terrorism which once again dominated the headlines in May. 22 people died in Manchester as a concert by American pop-star Ariana Grande was attacked. It was the first time that Manchester had been attacked in 21 years, and was the deadliest attack on British soil since the 7/7 bombings in 2005. In the aftermath, a community once again rallied together, whilst the UK’s terror threat level was raised from ‘Severe’ to ‘Critical’ for the first time in 10 years, signifying that another attack was ‘expected imminently’, a position that was proved to be heartbreakingly accurate as May turned to June. In other news, it was announced that the Duke of Edinburgh was to step down from Royal Engagements come autumn, Paper £5 notes ceased being legal tender, meaning we all had the daily struggle of plastic notes sticking together in your wallet, meaning you nearly overpay for anything, and computers in the UK were struck by the WannaCry Virus, the cyberattack denying access to computers unless a ransom was paid. The NHS was severely affected as Government cuts meant that Norton Internet Security was out of the price range of the Greatest Healthcare Service in the World ™ (other anti-virus software is available).

June: And so to June, where, by this point, the whole nation was again looking at images of yet another terrorist attack. Seven were reported dead, and 48 injured in an attack at London Bridge. Once again, a vehicle was used in a hit-and-run, this time followed by a knife attack at Borough Market. Again, the police acted at a pace, with all three perpetrators shot within eight minutes. For the third time in just a few weeks, Britain was mourning. However, just a day after those attacks, Britain went from despair to hope and resilience, as Ariana Grande hosted the One Love Manchester Concert at Old Trafford Cricket Ground. Joined by a host of superstars from across the globe, 22 million Brits settled in to watch the concert which was touching and uplifting in equal measure. After the terrorist attacks, and the suspension of campaigning, on 8th June it was time for Britain to go to the ballots. The Conservatives won, but they didn’t win. Labour lost but they won. Nobody was quite sure where the SNP stood, and everything was just a bit buggered. I’d love to give you a bigger review of this, but I’ve been sat here writing for an hour now, and I’m getting tardy, and so I’ll send you to our blog of the night: After election night, it was all fallout and swazz. Moody May couldn’t really stay on as Prime Minister, but she seemingly hadn’t got the memo, and just pretended that she won. She even managed to cling on the next day too, by giving the angry Tories some scraps of meat by sacking Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, the two brainboxes who’d decided to make Theresa flaunt it in the political fashion show. All they’d found out is that Theresa was so 1990 that it wasn’t even funny. At the same time, Jeremy Corbyn kept on saying he’d won, even though everybody knew that he definitely hadn’t won, and Tim Farron just looked very very confused by everything and just resigned, sliding into obscurity, blaming his failure on being a Christian. Nothing about being an intolerant arse. And then, with the political circus winding down, horror struck the country again with the fire at Grenfell Tower. A disaster so obviously waiting to happen that residents themselves had said only a fire would force action, did happen, with over 70 fatalities confirmed. Once again, a nation mourned, and nothing I can say can really add anything. Nor can it for the Finsbury Park terrorist attack that followed just 5 days later, which killed one. Basically, this summer was shit. In other June news, the DUP (remember them) eventually agreed a confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives, meaning that the winners, but also the losers of the election, actually won, The Houses of Parliament were hit by a cyberattack, David Davis starting Brexiteering by holding a 18.23 second meeting with chief EU Negotiator Michel Barnier, and Nicola Sturgeon, having won the election in Scotland, actually lost the election, and she cancelled the planned IndyRef2.

July: Incredibly, July was reasonably quiet. The month opened up with the “Not One Day More” protests, as people took to the streets of London to protest at the economic policies of a government that had won enough seats to form a Government just three weeks ago. You do wonder if there could have been a better protest, you know, like, just before the election. Anyway. Back with Planet Conservative, and it had all gone so well. Theresa had clung on to power. She’d got a government. She’d even staved off questions about her authority. She was the PM again. And then one of her MPs, Anne Marie Morris decided to go to a Brexit debate and use the racist phrase “***REDACTED*** in a woodpile.” Jeez Anne. Tell us what you really think. Cue everyone calling the Conservatives ‘The Nasty Party’ and Theresa was sweating again. Morris had her whip withdrawn. Don’t worry if you think that sounds harsh though. The whip was restored on 12th December. Banter... On Brexit Island, negotiations were back underway after the Magic Roundabout of the election. David Davis went to Brussels to negotiate. And then talks ended. And then we found out we’d got nowhere. Still no agreement on EU Citizens’ Rights, or the divorce payment. That will become a recurring theme as we hit the second half of the year. In other July based news, the money that we’d taken back control of was to be spunked back in the air, with a £100 million investment into the UK’s Space Sector, The State Pension rise to 68 was bought forward to 2037 rather than 2044 (that seems so far away, but I know we’ll be there in about six minutes), Vince Cable became Lib Dem leader, and Charlie Guard passed away after a long legal battle ended with the high-court approving a plan for his life support to be removed.

August: Ah August. Delightfully quiet August. Made all the more quiet by the fact that the chimes of Big Ben fell silent as a four year renovation plan begun. I say it got quiet, it actually didn’t with politician’s bleating about the significance of a bell to democracy. Give me a break. The government confirmed they didn’t want a hard border in Ireland, and some mental bloke ran around outside Buck House with a machete. He injured three police officers, and was then arrested. NEXT.

September: September was also nicely quiet for all involved. Labour’s Party Conference took place in Brighton, and avuncular Jeremy spent it being very nice again. He probably got the chutney out too. He said he was the man, and that he was ready to be Prime Minister, even though he really had no reason to be PM. Everything went off without hitch, it sounded quite good, if a bit oddly fanatical, and Labour moved on all happy (unless you even slightly liked Tony Blair). With Brexit, and MPs backed the EU Withdrawal Bill by 326 votes to 290. Theresa was happy. She hadn’t been beaten again. This minority government lark was easy. Elsewhere, Uber was deemed unfit for purpose in London, and it’s licence was not renewed, The new £10 plastic note came into circulation, meaning even more stuff was getting stuck together in your wallet, there was a failed terrorist attack on a tube train at Parsons Green Station, and Moody’s, who seemingly decide how rich countries are, decided that we were less rich, and downgraded the UK’s credit rating to AA2. Whatever that means. I think it might be a battery.