On course for a Green MP...

The Green Party's Caroline Lucas responds to their performance in the 1 May local elections

Any election count is a rollercoaster ride, and this one has been no different. But as the final results come in, the Greens are five seats up, and have gained enough firsts and new records in Norwich to make Charles Clarke extremely nervous.

Norwich City Council is the first in the country to have a Green opposition, with parliamentary candidate Adrian Ramsay leading the second-biggest group on the council, two seats behind Labour. In the popular vote, Labour have fallen in Adrian’s target Norwich South constituency to third, with the Greens 2000 votes ahead. Greens are also leading in vote share across the whole city.

This is a very similar story to my own constituency of Brighton Pavilion. In each case, Labour votes have collapsed at the almost exactly the same rate as the Green vote has advanced, and since the last general election, we have overtaken Labour in both.

Interesting parallels can also be drawn between today's excellent result in Cambridge, where Margaret Wright has won the city's first ever Green councillor seat, and my council win back in 1993 when I became the first Green councillor in Oxford - and only the second Green county councillor to be elected in the UK. It would be great to think that the Cambridge win might spark a surge of voter interest in the party of the kind witnessed in Oxford in recent years, thus breaking the mould and moving towards greater Green representation.

Last night Labour lost out to the Tories in almost exactly the same way as they did in 2004, before going on to win the most boring general election in modern history. So far so inconclusive. But the real story for the sharp election-watcher is the clear indication that the Green Party is on course for its first gains at Westminster.

Caroline Lucas is the MP for Brighton Pavilion.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

PMQs review: Theresa May shows again that Brexit means hard Brexit

The Prime Minister's promise of "an end to free movement" is incompatible with single market membership. 

Theresa May, it is commonly said, has told us nothing about Brexit. At today's PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn ran with this line, demanding that May offer "some clarity". In response, as she has before, May stated what has become her defining aim: "an end to free movement". This vow makes a "hard Brexit" (or "chaotic Brexit" as Corbyn called it) all but inevitable. The EU regards the "four freedoms" (goods, capital, services and people) as indivisible and will not grant the UK an exemption. The risk of empowering eurosceptics elsewhere is too great. Only at the cost of leaving the single market will the UK regain control of immigration.

May sought to open up a dividing line by declaring that "the Labour Party wants to continue with free movement" (it has refused to rule out its continuation). "I want to deliver on the will of the British people, he is trying to frustrate the British people," she said. The problem is determining what the people's will is. Though polls show voters want control of free movement, they also show they want to maintain single market membership. It is not only Boris Johnson who is pro-having cake and pro-eating it. 

Corbyn later revealed that he had been "consulting the great philosophers" as to the meaning of Brexit (a possible explanation for the non-mention of Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith's resignation and May's Goldman Sachs speech). "All I can come up with is Baldrick, who says our cunning plan is to have no plan," he quipped. Without missing a beat, May replied: "I'm interested that [he] chose Baldrick, of course the actor playing Baldrick was a member of the Labour Party, as I recall." (Tony Robinson, a Corbyn critic ("crap leader"), later tweeted that he still is one). "We're going to deliver the best possible deal in goods and services and we're going to deliver an end to free movement," May continued. The problem for her is that the latter aim means that the "best possible deal" may be a long way from the best. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.