Politics

How voters will judge whether Brexit means Brexit – and the two questions Ministers should ask about any deal

By Lord Ashcroft

Rarely can a Prime Minister have been so glad to see the back of her colleagues. As she left Westminster for a well-earned holiday last week, Theresa May knew that each one of the crucial votes she survived in a fraught parliamentary session only served to underline just how unenviable her task of shepherding any kind of Brexit deal through the House of Commons will be – if indeed a deal can be concluded that she is prepared to sign.

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Malta makes a strong case to host the EU outposts of British companies after Brexit

By Lord Ashcroft

First published on 28 June 2018 on ConservativeHome.com.

My lifelong passion for bravery, in general, and gallantry medals, in particular, means that I have long had a soft spot for Malta. As the only country in the world to be awarded the George Cross – for its tenacious resistance to Germany and Italy during the Second World War – my admiration for the island’s once-besieged people is immense.

However, my support for Malta as a business location where UK companies might wish to set up a base after Brexit has nothing at all to do with any sentiment. (more…)

Brexit, the Border and the Union

By Lord Ashcroft

The Irish border is at the centre of negotiations as to how we will leave the European Union. My latest research, published today, explores what people think about the issue on both sides of the border, how voters in Great Britain see the question in the context of the wider Brexit debate, and the potential implications for the union of nations in the United Kingdom. My report is called Brexit, The Border And The Union, so let’s take those themes in turn.

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Leave voters would rather lose Northern Ireland than give up the benefits of Brexit

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Telegraph on 19 June 2018.

It seems ironic, when we remember the sound and fury generated on both sides of the referendum campaign, that the biggest sticking point in the Brexit negotiations – the Irish border – is one that was hardly mentioned before the vote. As with so much in politics, how you see this conundrum depends on who you are and where you sit.

My latest research finds that for Nationalists in Northern Ireland, the practicality of customs checks is almost beside the point: any kind of border in an island that they see as one country is unthinkable. For them, avoiding a hard border eclipses any other potential goal of the Brexit negotiations.

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‘In Ireland, we’d have a second referendum to get the right result’: Brexit and the border, as seen from the Republic

By Lord Ashcroft

Yesterday I reported on what my focus groups in Ballymena and Belfast had to say about Brexit, the border and the Union. Today, the view from the South.

One thing that united our focus groups in the Republic of Ireland – Fine Gael voters in Dublin and Fianna Fail supporters in the north-western city of Sligo – was the conviction that by voting for Brexit the UK had made a terrible mistake which it would regret, if it didn’t already: “They misunderstood what they were doing;” “Places like the North East are wholly reliant on foreign investment. It’s like turkeys voting for Christmas;” “It was for all the wrong reasons. ‘We are Britain and we’re going to be great again, we’re not going to have the EU telling us what to do, we won the war’.”

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Brexit and the border: the view from Northern Ireland

By Lord Ashcroft

The UK’s future relationship with the European Union increasingly hinges on a question that for many years seemed settled: the Irish border. I wanted to hear from the people on either side of it: what they hope for and fear from the Brexit settlement, and the consequences they see for relations between North and South and the future of the Union. Tomorrow I will report from the Republic, and I’ll publish further research on the issue in the run up to the European Council summit next month at which the question will supposedly be resolved. Today, though, we’ll start with my focus groups in Northern Ireland.

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My pride at working for our military veterans over the past six years

By Lord Ashcroft

First published on 15 May 2018 on ConservativeHome.com

I have announced today that, after nearly six years in the role, I am stepping down as the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Veterans’ Transition.

It has been a privilege to serve under the last two Conservative Party leaders as I worked with all stakeholders to ensure military personnel receive the support they need when making the transition to civilian life. (more…)

My visit to the Donbass, Europe’s forgotten war

By Lord Ashcroft

First published on 25 April 2018 on ConservativeHome.com

AS the reverberations of the Skripal affair continue, I have been to eastern Ukraine to see the effect of Russia’s territorial ambitions on states the Kremlin considers to be part of its sphere of influence.

This is Europe’s forgotten war, between Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass and the Ukrainian government, which is determined to preserve sovereignty over the region. (more…)

You can guess what people think, or you can find out – why polling is a force for good

By Lord Ashcroft

First published on 21 April 2018 in India’s Sunday Guardian

It’s been a bumpy few years for the pollsters. Surveys overestimated support for Angela Merkel’s party in last September’s German elections, having correctly identified Emmanuel Macron as the front runner in a competitive field in France earlier in the year. In the last two national contests in the UK, most pollsters expected a knife-edge result in 2015 and a comfortable Conservative victory in 2017, but got precisely the reverse. Before our 2016 referendum most surveys suggested the country would vote to remain in the European Union, and a few months later many received a second shock with the election of President Donald Trump.

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Brexit Britain won’t forget its old friends

By Lord Ashcroft

First published on 17 April 2018 in The Times Of Malta

Britain’s friendship with Malta is so long and so rich that it would be easy to take for granted. The award of the George Cross in 1942 by King George VI to bear witness to the nation’s “heroism and devotion” following the second siege of Malta is only the best-known episode in a story that spans the centuries: the joint enterprise of ridding Malta of the French garrison in 1800, the islands’ part in the British Empire, their crucial role as a supply station in the First World War, their valiant endurance against the Axis powers in the Second, their long service as the home of the British Mediterranean Fleet, and accession to the Commonwealth on gaining independence in 1964 are testament to a true partnership. (more…)