David Cameron gives a press conference following the results of the Scottish referendum on independence outside 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Cameron promises English votes for English laws - what does Labour do now?

Having opposed "two classes of MPs", Miliband faces a huge political dilemma. 

Downing Street was briefing last night that David Cameron would move immediately to address "the English question" following a No vote in the Scottish referendum - and he did just that in his statement outside N0.10 a few minutes ago. The PM suggested that he would end the right of non-English MPs to vote on English laws that do not affect their constituents. He said:

I have long believed that a crucial part missing from this national discussion is England. We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard. The question of English votes for English laws - the so-called West Lothian question - requires a decisive answer.

So just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so, too, England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland should be able to vote on these issues. And all this must take place in tandem with, and at the same pace as, the settlement for Scotland. I hope that this will take place on a cross-party basis, I've asked William Hague to draw up these plans. We will set up a cabinet commitee right away and proposals will also be ready to the same timetable. I hope the Labour Party and other parties will contribute. 

The move is designed to respond to a genuine constitutional anomaly (one that will only intensify with further devolution to Scotland and Wales), but it is also intensely political. The Tories are keenly aware that denying Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs the right to vote on English-only legislation could leave future Labour governments in office but not in power, handing the Conservatives an effective veto. Significantly, Cameron suggested that the reforms would not only apply to areas long devolved to Holyrood such as health and education, but also to tax, welfare and spending. Were the changes to be applied in their purest form, a future Labour Chancellor could be left unable to pass his or her Budget. 

For these reasons, among others, Labour has long opposed having "two classes of MPs" (although some would argue that there are already two classes). Ed Miliband has promised radical devolution to city authorities, transferring at least £30bn of funding downwards from Whitehall, but this does nothing to answer the West Lothian question (first posed by Labour MP Tam Dalyell). Whether and how to do so is the question he must now confront. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Wikipedia.
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Daniel Hannan harks back to the days of empire - the Angevin Empire

Did the benign rule of some 12th century English kings make western France vote Macron over Le Pen?

I know a fair amount about British politics; I know a passable amount about American politics, too. But, as with so many of my fellow Britons, in the world beyond that, I’m lost.

So how are we, the monolingual Anglophone opinionators of the world, meant to interpret a presidential election in a country where everyone is rude enough to conduct all their politics in French?

Luckily, here’s Daniel Hannan to help us:

I suppose we always knew Dan still got a bit misty eyed at the notion of the empire. I just always thought it was the British Empire, not the Angevin one, that tugged his heartstrings so.

So what exactly are we to make of this po-faced, historically illiterate, geographically illiterate, quite fantastically stupid, most Hannan-y Hannan tweet of all time?

One possibility is that this was meant as a serious observation. Dan is genuinely saying that the parts of western France ruled by Henry II and sons in the 12th century – Brittany, Normandy, Anjou, Poitou, Aquitaine – remain more moderate than those to the east, which were never graced with the touch of English greatness. This, he is suggesting, is why they generally voted for Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen.

There are a number of problems with this theory. The first is that it’s bollocks. Western France was never part of England – it remained, indeed, a part of a weakened kingdom of France. In some ways it would be more accurate to say that what really happened in 1154 was that some mid-ranking French nobles happened to inherit the English Crown.

Even if you buy the idea that England is the source of all ancient liberties (no), western France is unlikely to share its political culture, because it was never a part of the same polity: the two lands just happened to share a landlord for a while.

As it happens, they didn’t even share it for very long. By 1215, Henry’s youngest son John had done a pretty good job of losing all his territories in France, so that was the end of the Angevins. The English crown reconquered  various bits of France over the next couple of centuries, but, as you may have noticed, it hasn’t been much of a force there for some time now.

At any rate: while I know very little of French politics, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the similarities between yesterday's electoral map and the Angevin Empire were a coincidence. I'm fairly confident that there have been other factors which have probably done more to shape the French political map than a personal empire that survived for the length of one not particularly long human life time 800 years ago. Some wars. Industrialisation. The odd revolution. You know the sort of thing.

If Daniel Hannan sucks at history, though, he also sucks at geography, since chunks of territory which owed fealty to the English crown actually voted Le Pen. These include western Normandy; they also include Calais, which remained English territory for much longer than any other part of France. This seems rather to knacker Hannan’s thesis.

So: that’s one possibility, that all this was an attempt to make serious point; but, Hannan being Hannan, it just happened to be a quite fantastically stupid one.

The other possibility is that he’s taking the piss. It’s genuinely difficult to know.

Either way, he instantly deleted the tweet. Because he realised we didn’t get the joke? Because he got two words the wrong way round? Because he realised he didn’t know where Calais was?

We’ll never know for sure. I’d ask him but, y’know, blocked.

UPDATE: Breaking news from the frontline of the internet: 

It. Was. A. Joke.

My god. He jokes. He makes light. He has a sense of fun.

This changes everything. I need to rethink my entire world view. What if... what if I've been wrong, all this time? What if Daniel Hannan is in fact one of the great, unappreciated comic voices of our time? What if I'm simply not in on the joke?

What if... what if Brexit is actually... good?

Daniel, if you're reading this – and let's be honest, you are definitely reading this – I am so sorry. I've been misunderstanding you all this time.

I owe you a pint (568.26 millilitres).

Serious offer, by the way.

 

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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