On Tuesday 28 February, WA Communications hosted Chris Hope, Associate Political Editor at the Daily Telegraph, and presenter of ‘Chopper’s Political Podcast’, to discuss the inside track on the politics, personalities and policy discussions shaping SW1 – drawing on Chris’s 20 years’ experience covering Westminster and Whitehall and exploring the relationship between politicians and the press.
Chaired by WA’s Head of Public Affairs Marc Woolfson, Chris discussed this week’s new deal on Northern Ireland with the EU, May’s Local Elections, and assessed the state of the UK’s major political parties as they begin the run-in to the next General Election.
Chris outlined five key takeaways during the session:
- Rishi Sunak’s new deal with the EU – which grants the UK veto-powers over EU laws that affect Northern Ireland – has instilled confidence in his ability as Prime Minister. Sunak has shown he can deliver and is moving the Party away from the chaos, characteristic of his predecessors’ premierships. How Sunak leverages this opportunity and delivers on other politically salient priorities, like stopping small boats crossing the channel, will be key to clawing back against Labour’s lead in the polls.
- The General Election is Labour’s to lose, with Keir Starmer and his team positioning their Party as ‘ready to govern’ and courting business to prove economic credibility. Where Starmer lacks Blair’s charisma, he makes up for it in competence, professionalism, and a resolute commitment to show Labour has changed under his leadership and moved to the centre-left.
- If the new EU deal pushes Brexit to the side-lines and Starmer remains a ‘safe pair of hands’, the Liberal Democrats may struggle to make headway at the next General Election. Similarly, the SNP could lose steam following Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation.
- The housing crisis is the ‘gordian knot’ neither major Party want to tackle head on. Unlocking home ownership would be an attractive offer from the Conservative Party to draw in younger voters, while Labour is not prioritising housing as a core mission nor priming it as a battle ground to fight the next election.
- Populist politics is off the menu, for now. Following a decade of political somersaults, shocks, and surprises, a growing synergy between Sunak and Starmer – both thought as professional, serious, and competent (albeit a tad uninspiring) – hints at a “management consultant” style of leadership, here to get the job done.
Last week, Chris announced he would be leaving the Daily Telegraph to join GB News as their new Political Editor in the summer. When asked how he felt about the move, Chris said he was excited for a “new challenge, audience and mode of communicating” and the opportunity to speak to people across the UK, confessing that growing up in Liverpool, he sometimes felt like an ‘outsider’ in the Westminster bubble.
WA regularly host high-profile political figures and leading journalists to explore the intersection between politics, the media, and business – our recent event speakers include Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer; Chris Giles, FT Economics Editor; and Katy Balls, Political Editor at The Spectator.