Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London


June 2017

Joint security now is more important than ever

The inconclusive result of the General Election caught many of us by surprise. Although I am critical of elements of the campaign - including its overtly presidential nature and calling it after Article 50 was triggered, rather than before so hoping for a hard Brexit mandate - few came close to predicting the unstable outcome. I have worked with all of the Conservative MPs in London who unfortunately lost their seats and I am sorry to see such committed representatives go.

The trend of a shift to Labour was particularly evident in London, where we saw the Conservatives lose four seats to Labour, in addition to the two seats lost to the Lib Dems. The gain in Richmond with a narrow majority of 45, however, saw overall Conservative losses in London limited to five seats, in sharp contrast to the predictions of us winning at least four.

The strong performance of Labour overall leaves many questions to be answered. It is clear to me that Brexit played a significant role in the results across London; 59% of Londoners voted last year for the UK to remain in the European Union, with many boroughs across the capital seeing support for Remain top 70%. Indeed, only five of the capitalís 33 boroughs backed the Leave campaign in the Referendum.

Such an impact can be seen in the large increases of majorities for Labour MPs in Remain seats - notably in Ealing Central and Acton, Hampstead & Kilburn, as well as in Tooting Ė all of which now boast strong five-figure majorities. It can be argued that the collapse in UKIPís vote benefited some Conservative seats, in particular in the traditionally strongly euro-sceptic areas.

However, overall the effect has been negligible, with as many UKIP votes going to Labour as well the trend being counter-balanced by a loss of pro-European Conservative voters to other parties.

I do not, therefore, believe the Governmentís hard Brexit stance was an electoral advantage across London. In next yearís Borough elections the Conservative Party should be mindful that this may be the last opportunity for this cityís one million EU citizens to vote. They may well turn out in larger numbers than usual to protest over the way they perceive our government has treated them to date. Efforts to reach out to them at Borough level would be wise - and this is already being done by our opponents including the Lib Dems.

As a supporter of the Remain campaign and representative for London, since the EU referendum I have advocated a soft Brexit, arguing for Britain to remain in the Single Market, the Customs Union, and to re-join the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area. Already a recent opinion poll has shown 60% of the public reject the UK leaving the single market and the customs union so the zeal for a hard Brexit, as the consequences become apparent, is softening.

I also believe the UK could invoke Article 112 which would impose a cap on total migration numbers. This could deliver the promise of Brexit and see some powers brought back to the UK Government, whilst mitigating the negative economic consequences that a hard Brexit would visit upon the City of London.

This election has worryingly not delivered a rejection of Jeremy Corbynís hard left platform but instead has brought back into political focus issues such as austerity and spending cuts, in particular to the police.

We as a party need to show that these are issues we are concerned about and that we can offer solutions to challenge the Labour leaderís ill-conceived wish for a return to the political climate of the 1970s.

But the protection of Londonís economy should also play a major part in the Conservative vision, post-Referendum. London generates approximately 22% of the UKís GDP. The estimated tax contribution of the UK financial services sector in the year to 31 March 2016 was £71 billion. This represented 11.5% of total UK Government tax receipts, up from 11% in 2015. Employment taxes remain the largest component of financial services taxes at 47%. These vital contributions to UK tax revenues are put at risk in a hard Brexit.

The endless distractions of pursuing a hard Brexit over the next two years will in my view see the UK economy contract - to the detriment of the City of Londonís financial district.

For London in particular I am convinced more than ever there is little appetite for this and that the compromise of a soft Brexit is what is required to reunite both our party and our nation.

US Independence

At the US Embassy with the Chargť and Deputy Chief of Mission to the EU, Adam Shub, celebrating the USAís 241st Anniversary of Independence.

French television

During the General Election I was filmed by French TV channel France 24 on the campaign trail in Battersea with local activists and Jane Ellison, who unfortunately missed out on re-election.

Twickenham campaign

With fellow medic Tania Mathias campaigning ahead of the General Election in Hampton with Twickenham Conservatives.

Receiving Maldives delegation

Meeting the Maldives cross-party delegation led by Abdulla Shahid, former Speaker of the Peopleís Majlis, to discuss the breakdown in democracy and the rule of law and and the arrest of opposition politicians.

Interview on Washington visit

Giving an interview in the European Parliament to EuranetPlus TV on EU-USA relations ahead of UK Prime Minister Theresa Mayís visit to Washington to meet the US President.

Kurdistan independence

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Meeting Delavar Ajgei, Kurdistan Regional Government Head of Mission to the EU, in my role as Chair of the EP Kurdistan Friendship Group, discussing plans for the independence referendum scheduled for Autumn.

Guatemalan developments

Meeting the Guatemalan Ambassador, H.E. Josť Alberto Briz Gutiťrrez, to discuss developments in Guatemala and the wider region.

Portugal-UK relations

Speaking in Funchal, Madeira about Brexit and its consequences for UK-Portuguese relations.

Cancer roundtable

At an MEPs Against Cancer group meeting discussing the negative effects of sun-bed use and the associated risks of skin cancer, highlighting the need for better education and that more stringent regulation is vital.

Kingston for Berry

Campaigning with Greg Clark, Baroness Vere of Norbiton and candidate James Berry in Kingston during the General Election.

Irish radio interview

Being interviewed on election day by Shona Murray of Irelandís Newstalk radio, reflecting on the campaign and hoping the Tories would emerge victorious.

Hampstead & Kilburn

Assisting Claire-Louise Leyland, Camden Councilís Conservative leader of the opposition, in her bid to become MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.

Homeless charity

Welcoming charity Depaul International to the European Parliament to highlight their work tackling homelessness in the EU, Ukraine and the USA.

Brentford & Isleworth

Mary Macleod was another candidate I assisted in the campaign - for the Brentford & Isleworth seat. Pictured here in Turnham Green together with Conservative activists from across London.

Backing Barwell in Croydon Central

I was delighted to join forces with Croydon Conservatives and take part in the campaign to see Gavin Barwell re-elected in Croydon Central. Sadly he was not returned but Croydonís loss was the nationís gain as Gavin has since been appointed Downing Street Chief of Staff.

Tooting Tories

Many Tooting Tories and activists were out during the General Election campaigning for parliamentrary candidate Dan Watkins - I joined them.

Border security discussions

Addressing the Brussels Border Security Roundtable and presenting my Brexit Security paper, discussing the need for better intelligence exchange and cooperation across the EU.

Israeli Ambassador

Meeting the new Israeli Ambassador to the EU and NATO, Aharon Leshni-Yaar - discussing the Middle East peace process, Iran, the Gulf Cooperation Council, fighting terrorism and the future of the EU post-Brexit.

New Zealand agreement

With Julian Wilson from the European External Action Service who negotiated agreement for the EU New Zealand Partnership Agreement for Relations & Cooperation ahead of my report.

Paris Conservatives talk

Speaking to British Conservatives in Paris, with Chairman Jeremy Stubbs, about my role as an MEP, sadness about leaving and hopes for a soft Brexit.

Highgate Conservatives

Out and about during the General Election in Highgate helping Conservative candidate Tim Barnes.
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