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Theresa May is delivering the Ukip 2015 manifesto

The prime minister is committed to leaving the EU, stopping immigration, bringing back grammar schools, and other familiar policies.

If you thought Theresa May’s government was Ukip-lite in rhetoric, just take a look at its policies. The Prime Minister is essentially delivering the top lines of the Ukip 2015 manifesto.

A source involved in writing Ukip’s general election manifesto admits to me that the Prime Minister has “very much shot the Ukip fox” – citing grammar schools, and her “direct approach to the markets and controlling immigration.”

Can that be true? And, if so, does it explain why Ukip foundered in Stoke? When visiting the constituency ahead of the by-election, it was clear that rerunning the EU referendum was central to the party’s campaign – and it didn’t work. Ukip appears to be losing traction with voters because the Conservative government is already delivering its key policies. Why vote for a party pledging policies that are already being implemented?

I looked back at Ukip’s 2015 manifesto to find out how much the Tories have borrowed:

The EU

What Ukip pledged:

“Leave the EU.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

She is taking Britain out of the EU.


What Ukip pledged:

“Take back control of our borders.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

Immigration control is a “red line” for the Prime Minister, who, by taking the UK out of the single market, is clearly prepared to take the financial hit in order to bring down the number of migrants.

What Ukip pledged:

“End welfare tourism with a five-year embargo on benefits for migrants.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

The Prime Minister is using Brexit to pursue the idea, first mooted by David Cameron, of stopping newly arrived migrants from the EU claiming tax credits and other in-work benefits. This would bring them into line with the welfare rights of non-EU migrants.

What Ukip pledged:

“Introduce a new visa system for workers, visitors, students, families and asylum seekers.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

In October last year, May ordered a cabinet taskforce to draw up plans for a new “targeted visa system”, tasking ministers with coming up with a scheme to cut migration numbers but ensure the UK isn’t left with a shortage of workers.


What Ukip pledged:

“End ‘health tourism’ by making sure those ineligible for free NHS care pay for treatment.”

What Theresa May is doing:

Jeremy Hunt’s new law forces hospitals to deny non-emergency treatment to any “foreign patient” who cannot produce identity documents proving their right to free care. Such patients who are not eligible for free, non-emergency treatment will be charged upfront – NHS staff will be issued with credit card readers to take payments before beginning treatment.


What Ukip pledged:

“Bring back grammar schools.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

She’s bringing back grammar schools. In his Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond is setting aside £320m for expanding the government’s free school programme, which can now include selective education.


What Ukip pledged:

“End subsidies for wind farms.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

Because of lack of government funding, investment in renewables looks to fall 95 per cent over the next three years.

It wasn’t May’s policy, but she is carrying on with the decision to end onshore wind subsidies, and also slashing subsidies for other renewable energy sources. She even nearly pulled the plug on the Hinkley C nuclear power project.

What Ukip pledged:

“Support ‘fracking’ for shale gas.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

Theresa May was already a fracking fan before she became PM, having voted against an 18-month fracking ban and additional regulation. Indeed, she has changed fracking policy to include a new fund that could deliver as much as £10m to each community where wells are sited. A policy leading to accusations that she’s trying to “bribe and silence” the public into accepting fracking.


What Ukip pledged:

“Allow British businesses to choose to employ British workers first.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

The Home Secretary Amber Rudd tried to bring in a law by which businesses would have to publish lists of their foreign-born workers, but it was met with such hostility from employers that the government u-turned on the idea.

What Ukip pledged:

“Raise the personal tax allowance to at least £13,000, taking those on minimum wage out of tax altogether.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

This one dates back to the Lib Dems in coalition, but the Prime Minister is continuing it with gusto – Hammond increased the tax-free income threshold in the Autumn Statement last year; the personal allowance will rise £500 to £11,500 for the 2017-18 tax year.

Foreign affairs

What Ukip pledged:

“Foster closer ties with the Anglosphere.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

The Prime Minister’s lack of criticism of Donald Trump, particularly the Muslim travel ban, caused dismay among many who believe she is appeasing the authoritarian and racist policies of the new US President.


What Ukip pledged:

“Insist on there being one law for all – British law.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

She has vowed to take the UK out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.


What Ukip pledged:

“Limit child benefit to two children for new claimants.”

What Theresa May’s doing:

OK, again, not her policy, but she’s carrying on with it – child tax credits and the child benefit through universal credit is now capped at two children for any new claimant after 6 April 2017.


There are plenty more proposals in that manifesto that have not yet found a home in government. Policies Theresa May could yet nick include:

Abolishing inheritance tax.

An Australian-style points-based system for immigration.

All migrants and foreign visitors to have their own health insurance.

Stopping child benefit being paid to children who don’t live here permanently.

Ending sex education in primary schools.

Restrict the Right-to-Buy and Help-to-Buy schemes to British nationals.

Repealing the 2008 Climate Change Act.

Scrapping our opt-in to the European Arrest Warrant.

Give a national referendum on the issue of greatest importance to the British public every two years on the most popular petition with over two million signatures.

Ending the use of multilingual formatting on official documents.

Pulling funding from public bodies promoting multiculturalism.

It seems both the country and Ukip would benefit from May finding a different source for her policy-making.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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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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