Politics

My interview with Christopher Hope on Choppers Brexit Podcast

By Lord Ashcroft

First aired on Chopper’s Brexit Podcast on Friday 13 September 2019.

Listen to my chat with Christopher Hope, Chief Political Correspondent and Assistant Editor of The Daily Telegraph, Chairman of the Parliamentary Lobby and Presenter of Chopper’s Brexit Podcast, discussing my new book, Jacob’s Ladder: The Unauthorised Biography of Jacob Rees-Mogg, among other things.

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My Northern Ireland survey finds the Union on a knife-edge

By Lord Ashcroft

Last month my polling in Scotland found a small lead for independence. My latest research, a survey in Northern Ireland, brings equally gloomy news for unionists: a slender lead for Irish unification in the event of a referendum on whether or not Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom.

In my poll, 45% said they would vote to stay in the UK, and 46% said they would choose to leave and join the Republic of Ireland – a lead of 51% to 49% for unification when we exclude don’t knows and those who say they would not vote. This is in fact a statistical tie and well within the margin of error. Such a result might also reflect the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Brexit, the Irish border and its potential effect on life in the province, which could recede when the outcome is settled.

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What my latest focus groups say about the twists and turns of the Brexit drama

By Lord Ashcroft

As last week’s parliamentary drama unfolded, I decided to find out how things seemed to the people on whose behalf it was supposedly being enacted – namely the voters, in the shape of focus groups in Barnet and St Ives.

It was no surprise that people were sharply divided over their new Prime Minister. For many Labour voters he was “dangerous”, a “charlatan”, “bullying”, “running the country into the ground” and “trying to baffle people with poshness;” “he’d be an amazing character if he was fictional.” But Conservative remain voters also had mixed views: while some thought he was divisive, dictatorial and untrustworthy (“I don’t think he’s as proper as some MPs – he can probably go rogue”), for others he was colourful, “flavoursome” and “quite statesmanlike compared to the rest. If you think about how Britain is presenting itself on the international stage, who else would have the personality and persona to stand up and be heard?” “His inauguration speech was actually quite rousing. I thought, we are where we are, but he’s got the right attitude, he wants to try and fix some things.”

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The world’s most unlikely sex symbol: New book reveals how Jacob Rees-Mogg asked a chick lit author to marry him, ditched a girlfriend because she was a divorcee then wed an heiress with a silver tongue stud.

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Mail on Sunday on 08 September 2019.

A new biography has revealed the unlikely sex symbol of Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Despite his controversial stances Rees-Mogg attracts admiration from his rivals.

Happily married for 13 years the Conservative now has a family of six children. (more…)

An open letter to International Development Secretary Alok Sharma

By Lord Ashcroft

Dear Alok

Congratulations on your richly deserved elevation to the cabinet. The job of International Development secretary is always a challenge for a Conservative politician, given our desire for fiscal responsibility and understandable scepticism among party members over the sanity of fixing aid spending as a proportion of national income rather than determined by need. The struggle must be especially acute for someone who was trained in accountancy.

As you have no doubt already discovered, the Department for International Development seems to see itself as closer to the charity sector that it funds so lavishly then to the rest of Whitehall, which can only look with envy at the department’s constantly-rising budgets. Even as Tory prime ministers oversaw the imposition of austerity policies in Britain, Dfid’s budget doubled in a decade to more than £14bn. Little wonder there is such public concern, since this is more than we spend on our hard-pressed police forces in England and Wales as they grapple with issues such as gang violence, knife crime and cyber-theft.

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JACOB’S LADDER – New book by Michael Ashcroft

By Lord Ashcroft

Jacob's Ladder - The Unauthorised Biography of Jacob Rees-MoggPublication Date: 10 September 2019.
Price: £20 hardback.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council, is one of the most prominent and controversial figures in contemporary British politics. He is a man who divides opinion in his own party, in Parliament and across the country. (more…)

My Scotland poll: Yes to independence takes the lead

By Lord Ashcroft

In the wake of Boris Johnson’s visit to Edinburgh last week I polled Scots to measure support for a second independence referendum and to gauge opinion on independence itself. I found a small majority in favour of a new vote – and the first lead for an independent Scotland for more than two years.

I found 47% agreeing that there should be another referendum on Scottish independence within the next two years (First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has demanded a new vote by 2021), with 45% disagreeing.

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Will voters still give Boris the benefit of the doubt? We’re about to find out

By Lord Ashcroft

Six years ago, I published some research entirely dedicated to the Boris Johnson phenomenon. The title of the report – Are You Serious? – encapsulated two things: the reaction of Boris-sceptics to the idea that he might rise to an office greater than the London Mayoralty, and the question many voters, intrigued but not altogether convinced by this unusual adornment to public life, were asking of Boris himself.

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More woe for St Helena. New figures reveal that its airport has failed to bring an influx of visitors

By Lord Ashcroft

First published on ConservativeHome.com on 22 July 2019.

The number of visitors to St Helena, the remote British Overseas Territory in the middle of the South Atlantic, remains worryingly low, despite widespread hopes that the island’s new airport would bring economic prosperity. Newly-released figures have revealed that, during the first six months of 2019, there were only 2,807 “passenger arrivals” to the island compared with 2,034 in the first six months of 2014. (more…)

My choice for the next PM

By Lord Ashcroft

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Like most Conservatives, I wanted Brexit wrapped up and out of the way under Theresa May’s stewardship, allowing a new leader to begin a new chapter, reinvigorate the party and – at long last – change the subject.

So much for that. Far from drawing a line under the unhappy recent history of British politics, the new Prime Minister will face exactly the same problem as his predecessor. He will also face the same parliamentary maths and apparently, despite the personnel changes in Brussels, the same stance from the EU. The first question on the minds of many Conservative Party members as they ponder over their ballot papers, then, will be who is finally going to get Brexit signed, sealed and delivered.

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