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Inside politics

The Lib Dems blow a hole in the blue wall

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey on the campaign trail. Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Last night’s by-election result in Chesham and Amersham reflects the realignment of British politics, says John Rentoul in the Independent. The true-blue Buckinghamshire constituency fell to the Lib Dems, with an even bigger swing than the Tory-Labour one in Hartlepool last month. Just as the pro-Brexit Tories are eating into the “red wall”, they’re losing their grip on “southern middle-class Remainland”.

But the result isn’t too shocking. Governments often lose by-elections, and by “harvesting protest votes”, the Lib Dems tend to win them. In this case they positioned themselves against the Tories’ planned housebuilding boom and “ruthlessly exploited” local opposition to HS2, which runs through the constituency – even though the Lib Dems support the project on a national level. The result could be even worse news for Labour than it is for the Tories: it shows that while the leave vote has stuck with the Conservatives, the remain vote is “hopelessly split”.

The entente très cordiale

The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy once held an intimate dinner in honour of Gordon Brown to thank the then PM for his leadership during the 2008 financial crisis. At one point, says Nick Robinson on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast, Sarkozy stood up, tapped his glass to gain the room’s attention, and said: “Gordon, you know, in many ways I should hate you. You’re Scottish, you’re an economist and, well, you can sometimes be a little boring. But Gordon, I think I love you. But not in a sexual way.”


“There’s a new Bush on the block,” says Ian Birrell in the I newspaper. George P Bush, nephew and grandson of the 43rd and 41st presidents respectively, is contesting next year’s Texas primary for attorney general. But he has distanced himself from the Republican elite with which his family is synonymous. Instead he’s hailed Donald Trump, who beat his father, Jeb, to the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, as “the centre of the Republican party”.

Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Ross Henning, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Wiltshire, has been appointed co-chairman of the county’s police and crime panel, despite receiving a two-year prison sentence in 1987 for helping to smuggle £500,000 of Bolivian cocaine. He told the Salisbury Journal that his “unique experience with policing” would be an asset.