POLITICO's Westminster Insider

POLITICO's Westminster Insider

POLITICO’s weekly political series hosted by Jack Blanchard lifts the curtain on how Westminster really works, offering in-depth insight into the political issues which typically only get broad-brush treatment in the wider media.

Episodes

June 18, 2021 63 min

In a special episode marking the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, Jack Blanchard interviews the two men behind the crucial spin campaigns for Leave and Remain.

In a rare interview, Paul Stephenson, director of communications for Vote Leave, reflects on the often-controversial tactics pioneered with his friend Dominic Cummings, which convinced millions of Brits to vote to leave the EU. On the opposing side, Craig Oliver — ...

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As the G7 summit gets underway in Cornwall, Jack Blanchard speaks to Tony Blair and a host of former senior government officials about what it's like to attend these surreal events — and whether they're really still relevant in the modern age.

Blair reminisces about his first big summit — a Bill Clinton-hosted G8 in Colorado in 1997 — and the most memorable, the G8 in Gleneagles in 2005. Former diplomat Peter Ricketts explai...

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Jack sits down with the Tory MP and former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson, whose wife Rose killed herself last summer. Owen talks about the shock of learning that someone you love has died by their own hand, and the devastating impact it has on all those around them. He shares his favorite memories of his late wife, and reflects on the changing nature of grief. And he explains his campaign for greater suicide awareness, and for mor...

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In the week of Dominic Cummings' jaw-dropping testimony to Parliament, Jack Blanchard takes a closer look at the role special advisers play within government, and at just how powerful these shadowy figures really are.

Theresa May's former chief aide Nick Timothy talks about his all-powerful role inside Downing Street, and what it feels like to become a magnet for unwanted press attention. Two more former Tory advisers, Salma...

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May 21, 2021 39 min

As pubs and restaurants finally reopen across Westminster after lockdown, Jack Blanchard takes a closer look at the centuries-old drinking culture that pervades British politics.

Former UKIP and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage discusses his favorite liquid lunches, while the journalist and author Isabel Hardman considers why some MPs drink so much. Former Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan explains the concept of "red wine dip...

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After a tumultuous week for the U.K. Labour Party, Jack Blanchard sits down with deputy leader Angela Rayner to discuss where the party goes from here.

Rayner discusses the challenge the U.K. Labour Party faces in winning back its former heartlands, and explains the appeal of Boris Johnson to voters in the North of England. She also opens up about her relationship with Labour leader Keir Starmer following his decision to remove her ...

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May 7, 2021 38 min

As the dust settles after the Hartlepool by-election, Jack Blanchard looks back at some of the great by-election contests of recent years — and ponders whether these quintessentially British political battles are always as significant as they seem.

Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney recalls her famous Brexit-fuelled victory over Conservative Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park in 2016, while Labour campaign chief Andrew Gwynne reveals how he masterm...

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With the Scottish parliament election less than a week away, Jack Blanchard looks back at the history of the Scottish nationalist movement and explains how it shifted from a fringe pursuit to perhaps the majority view in Scotland.

Former First Ministers Alex Salmond and Jack McConnell — who between them ran the Scottish government for more than 13 years — discuss the collapse of Scottish Labour in the mid 2000s and the extraordinary...

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The new season of Jack Blanchard’s weekly podcast on how Westminster really works kicks off on April 30. Subscribe now and never miss an episode.
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Jack Blanchard heads back to Westminster on the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown to hear how the pandemic has changed British politics for good. Guests in this season's finale include Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, who discusses the pros and cons of a more digital parliament, and opens up about his home life during lockdown. Lord Speaker Norman Fowler laments the closure of his favorite House of Lords bar; ...

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Jack Blanchard sits down with Rishi Sunak to discuss his whirlwind first year as U.K. Chancellor, and hear more about his Hindu faith, his fears for the future and his love of computer games. In a wide-ranging interview, Sunak reflects on the 13 months in which he was dramatically elevated to the second-biggest job in British politics as Chancellor of the Exchequer — and then immediately plunged into the biggest global crisis since...

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Jack speaks to Richard Wilson, Cabinet secretary under Tony Blair, about his years as Whitehall's top official, and his memories of crises including the 9/11 terror attacks. Suzanne Heywood, widow of the legendary Cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood, reflects on her late husband's long career in government and considers the extent to which unelected officials can end up shaping government policy. The Institute for Government&#...

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February 25, 2021 38 min

As Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, finalizes his speech ahead of next week's Budget, Jack Blanchard looks back at the pitfalls and disasters which have plagued Chancellors in years gone by.

Former Treasury aide and official Ed Balls recalls his old boss Gordon Brown's 10p tax band fiasco. Philip Hammond's former media adviser Poppy Trowbridge picks over the 2017 U-turn on national insurance. Former Chancellor G...

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Jack Blanchard abandons Westminster for a week and explores the hidden costs of lockdown, by delving into the postbags of two MPs in different parts of the U.K.

Tory MP Robert Halfon explains the struggles families face in his corner of Essex, and warns of rising domestic abuse during lockdown. And one of his constituents explains how abuse victims are repeatedly failed by Britain's secretive family courts system. In Bristol, La...

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Jack sits down with Britain's top epidemiologist, Professor Neil Ferguson, to discuss how the next few months of the coronavirus pandemic are likely to pan out — and why things went so badly wrong last year.

Professor Neil Ferguson, the man dubbed "Professor Lockdown" explains his "fervent hope" that Britain's astonishing vaccine successes mean life can finally start getting back to something like normal in 2...

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February 4, 2021 39 min

As Boris Johnson ponders how to woo the newly-elected President Joe Biden, Jack Blanchard looks back at how past prime ministers have tried to charm their counterparts in the White House — with varying degrees of success.

Theresa May's former comms chief Katie Perrior reflects on the thankless task of trying to build a relationship with the erratic Donald Trump. Historians Andrew Roberts and Richard Aldous look back at how Winst...

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Jack hears from former Chancellor George Osborne about how these morning memos are devoured by senior politicians and newspaper editors alike; and from current and veteran authors including Esther Webber, Paul Waugh and Benedict Brogan about their daily struggle to get the email out on time. Former government special adviser Jamie Njoku-Goodwin discusses their impact inside the corridors of Whitehall; while New York Times media col...

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It's striking how few political leaders across the Western world can claim to have handled the coronavirus pandemic especially well. Throughout large parts of Europe and the Americas, politicians have been caught on the hop, reacting slowly and clumsily to the unfolding disaster. In their defense, these leaders have typically blamed what they insist is the unprecedented nature of the Covid catastrophe.

But a glance through the h...

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December 15, 2020 2 min

Westminster Insider is a weekly narrated story which lifts the curtain on how Westminster really works, and looks in-depth at political issues which typically only get broad-brush treatment in the wider media. 

In this new podcast, POLITICO’s Jack Blanchard meets with and shines a light on the politicians, experts and advisers who really drive decision-making in U.K. politics and policy.

Unafraid to get stuck into detail but with a l...

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