Opinion: Is Peterborough ‘ready for Rishi’?

Nick Sandford has congratulations and a word of warning for the new Baron JacksonNick Sandford has congratulations and a word of warning for the new Baron Jackson
Nick Sandford has congratulations and a word of warning for the new Baron Jackson
The Conservatives have decided they are "Ready for Rishi": but what about Peterborough and the rest of the country? (writes Lib Dem councillor Nick Sandford

So now we know: The Conservative Party is "Ready for Rishi" as their leader but is the country ready for him as prime minister? It's great that the UK has it's first ever PM of colour: that is a truly historic moment. And we can hope he is at least a little more economically competent than the previous holder of the post.

Our local MP, Paul Bristow's, reputation as a "political tipster" lies in tatters, as the last two leadership candidates that he backed both fell at the first fence.

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Under the UK political system, it's not necessary for a new prime minister to call a general election but we have now had almost three months of political chaos and a month of near economic meltdown caused by the Conservative Party's leadership turmoil.

We have seen numerous reversals of policy and it now seems likely that the Sunak/Hunt partnership will be embarking on a new austerity and spending cuts programme for which they have no mandate from the British people. So Lib Dem leader, Ed Davey, is absolutely right in calling for a general election to be held as soon as possible.

Events in UK politics over the past month or so have been truly extraordinary. It would be great to watch as a spectator sport: but we have to remember that all of us are suffering and will continue to suffer dire economic consequences which are at least in part caused by the incompetence of the outgoing prime minister and her first choice chancellor. We know that the tragic war in Ukraine has also played a part but so has the fact that due to "Brexit", the UK is no longer part of the World's largest trading block, the EU single market.

The so called "Brexit dividend" of new trade deals and freedom to sell our goods around the world has proved to be the mirage that some of us predicted it would be. We are now in a new more risky and unpredicable World where we will need the support of our close neighbours and allies both militarily and economically: going it alone will no longer be a realistic option.

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On a brighter note, I would like to congratulate the newly enobled Baron Jackson of Peterborough. Stewart and I are poles apart politically but, having stood against him in three general elections, I have always got on well personally with him. But a word of warning: the current unelected and oversized House of Lords is a constitutional outrage in a modern democracy. So when Lib Dems return to Government, one of our most urgent tasks will be to abolish it and replace it with an elected second chamber for our Parliament.