Blow-by-blow on the blogosphere

This week the political blogs are obsessed, not surprisingly, with local elections but some of the e

My promised second part of a council, Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliamentary election-focused blog has morphed into its own feature. But there's still room for the sideways glance - riddled with exposed hypocrisy and campaign blundering - that follows.

A war of words has flared up in the Liverpool ward of Kensington and Fairfield. Labour councillor Louise Baldcock accused the Lib Dems of gutter politics, wasting money and poor hand-writing. She later goads an anonymous poster over the content of the Lib Dems leaflets.

More leafleting troubles in Bristol where Guido Fawkes believes he has exposed a Labour candidate's photoshopped attempt at claiming he was on an anti-Iraq demo to boost his anti-war credentials.

For anyone interested in the minutiae of a council candidate’s campaign trail look no further than Richard Baum, Lib Dem candidate for St Mary's Ward, Bury. Hear
how
Richard confronts rain, borrowing a wayward umbrella from a councillor. Gasp as he tells of his opinions on luxury flats. And bite your lip along with Richard as he recounts his tale of frustration with Orange customer services.

Over in Wales, I found the true identity of one of Welsh politics' top bloggers is someone I regularly play football with. When I found out I told Blamerbell Briefs it was like discovering the true identity of Superman, while he compared it to discovering your father plays battle games in the attic.

He
discovered
Education Secretary Alan Johnson had sent a message of good luck to Plaid candidate Carolyn Evans. While it may be put down to an email blunder, it has been suggested a Lab-Plaid coalition may be more certain than political commentators have hitherto revealed.

North of the border, Richard Havers offers a witty overview of the "torrent, flood, surge, and
veritable plethora of pamphlets from the political parties" he was confronted with when returning from a couple of days away.

The SNP rounded up 100 business types to agree an independent Scotland would be a more financially stable Scotland. In response, an advert appeared in The Scotsman with a trumping 151 signatures warning against Scottish independence which some
have traced back to Gordon Brown.

There is nothing new in political parties seeking endorsement from celebrities and prominent members of society. But sometimes, as Kerron Cross discusses, parties go that extra mile: what would Jesus do?

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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As a Conservative MP, I want Parliament to get a proper debate on Brexit

The government should consider a Green Paper before Article 50. 

I am very pleased that the government has listened to the weight of opinion across the House of Commons – and the country – by agreeing to put its plan for Brexit before Parliament and the country for scrutiny before Article 50 is triggered. Such responsiveness will stand the government in good stead. A confrontation with Parliament, especially given the paeans to parliamentary sovereignty we heard from Leave campaigners during the referendum, would have done neither the Brexit process nor British democracy any good.

I support the government’s amendment to Labour’s motion, which commits the House to respecting the will of the British people expressed in the referendum campaign. I accept that result, and now I and other Conservatives who campaigned to Remain are focused on getting the best deal for Britain; a deal which respects the result of the referendum, while keeping Britain close to Europe and within the single market.

The government needs to bring a substantive plan before Parliament, which allows for a proper public and parliamentary debate. For this to happen, the plan provided must be detailed enough for MPs to have a view on its contents, and it must arrive in the House far enough in advance of Article 50 for us to have a proper debate. As five pro-European groups said yesterday, a Green Paper two months before Article 50 is invoked would be a sensible way of doing it. Or, in the words of David Davis just a few days before he was appointed to the Cabinet, a “pre-negotiation white paper” could be used to similar effect.

Clearly there are divisions, both between parties and between Leavers and Remainers, on what the Brexit deal should look like. But I, like other members of the Open Britain campaign and other pro-European Conservatives, have a number of priorities which I believe the government must prioritise in its negotiations.

On the economy, it is vital that the government strives to keep our country fully participating in the single market. Millions of jobs depend on the unfettered trade, free of both tariff and non-tariff barriers, we enjoy with the world’s biggest market. This is absolutely compatible with the result, as senior Leave campaigners such as Daniel Hannan assured voters before the referendum that Brexit would not threaten Britain’s place in the single market. The government must also undertake serious analysis on the consequences of leaving the customs union, and the worrying possibility that the UK could fall out of our participation in the EU’s Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with non-EU countries like South Korea.

If agreeing a new trading relationship with Europe in just two years appears unachievable, the government must look closely into the possibility of agreeing a transitional arrangement first. Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, has said this would be possible and the Prime Minister was positive about this idea at the recent CBI Conference. A suitable transitional arrangement would prevent the biggest threat to British business – that of a "cliff edge" that would slap costly tariffs and customs checks on British exports the day after we leave.

Our future close relationship with the EU of course goes beyond economics. We need unprecedentedly close co-operation between the UK and the EU on security and intelligence sharing; openness to talented people from Europe and the world; and continued cooperation on issues like the environment. This must all go hand-in-hand with delivering reforms to immigration that will make the system fairer, many of which can be seen in European countries as diverse as the Netherlands and Switzerland.

This is what I and others will be arguing for in the House of Commons, from now until the day Britain leaves the European Union. A Brexit deal that delivers the result of the referendum while keeping our country prosperous, secure, open and tolerant. I congratulate the government on their decision to involve the House in their plan for Brexit - and look forward to seeing the details. 

Neil Carmichael is the Conservative MP for Stroud and supporter of the Open Britain campaign.