At our beloved European Union HQ the parliament has selected its leader for the next five years – from a candidate choice of just one! Despite this non-existent range of options Ursula von der Leyen still struggled to get enough votes to confirm her appointment as President.
And again those Grandads who favour staying members of the Europa Projekt will surely know all about their new ruler – but for the rest of us here is a quick update. Frau von der Leyen is currently the German defence minister – useful for those EU Army plans – but not exactly a high flyer in German politics. Back in childhood her father, Ernst Albrecht, was one of the first European civil servants who later moved back to Germany and became Prime Minister of Lower Saxony. A post that may have helped Frau von der Leyen become a minister in the Lower Saxony state government in 2003 and then in the federal government in 2005. In recent years she has been considered as a contender for the post of Chancellor and ironically NATO Secretary-General. However her performance in government has not been much of a recommendation for high office being the lowest rated minster in national polls. Some see her being gifted the top EU job as a way of removing her from German federal politics.
Meanwhile in the UK we are still waiting to learn who has got the most votes for the job of Conservative leader – and with it the keys to 10 Downing Street. Unlike the EU election process the UK contest had an over-supply of candidates even if the voting was limited to party members. The expectation is the Boris Johnson will win with a massive majority – by a similar margin to the earlier votes by MPs.
But the fractured nature of UK politics mean that even if Johnson does have much more support than anyone else there will still be party members trying to block and disrupt his time in office. Moves that invalidate the idea that they are in a single political party. The issue of Brexit has split both the Conservative and Labour parties so that we now have a least four separate groupings who are only nominal on the same side. If the factions lead to an early general election then it could be the Brexit party and the LibDems that gain – merely because they have unequivocal positions on the biggest issue this country has faced in a life time.