POLITICO's Westminster Insider

POLITICO's Westminster Insider

POLITICO’s weekly political series 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. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.


November 25, 2022 47 min
Host Jack Blanchard sits down with Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, to discuss life, politics and the Labour Party over a bottle of red wine at an exclusive Westminster restaurant. Streeting, tipped by many as the next Labour leader, discusses his poverty-stricken childhood, his recent battle with cancer and his vision for the future on the eve of his 40th birthday.

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more informa...

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As U.K. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveils huge spending cuts and tax hikes in his Autumn Statement, host Ailbhe Rea looks back at the economic program still haunting the current debate: the austerity of the early 2010s. David Gauke, one of former Chancellor George Osborne's must trusted lieutenants, opens up about how the big decisions were taken and reflects on how he'd do things differently if he had his time again. Torsten ...
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November 11, 2022 47 min

Following Rishi Sunak's unprecedented 50-day turnaround from defeated leadership candidate to U.K. prime minister, Westminster Insider host Jack Blanchard looks back at some of the great political comebacks of our times.

Guests include Peter Mandelson, who shocked Westminster — and himself — with a sensational return to the U.K. Cabinet in 2008 after four years away as an EU Commissioner; and U.S. historian John A. Farrell, who ...

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November 4, 2022 49 min

Host Ailbhe Rea profiles the U.K.'s new prime minister, with the help of those who know him best. From his early years in Southampton and his lifelong Hindu faith; his elite education at Winchester, Oxford and Stanford; to his rapid rise through the political ranks, his time as U.K. chancellor and his machinations for the top job, we uncover the values, personality traits, priorities and potential pitfalls of the new man in No....

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As the world grapples with the energy crisis stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy security has climbed to the top of the political agenda.

Successive U.K. governments had already laid out strategies to decarbonize all sectors of the economy to meet net-zero targets by 2050. Now, in the sprint towards energy independence, pledges have been made to make the U.K. a net energy exporter by 2040.

But is that possible? Spoiler...

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As Liz Truss considers another humiliating budget U-turn, host Jack Blanchard looks back at the U.K.'s infamous 1972 'Dash for Growth' budget — when another Tory Chancellor announced unfunded tax cuts and sent inflation through the roof — and considers the parallels with Truss' chaotic first month as prime minister.

Historians Duncan Needham and Nick Thomas-Symonds explain the backdrop to that 1970s meltdown, while e...

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October 7, 2022 48 min

Host Ailbhe Rea goes behind the scenes at this week's chaotic Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, with newly-installed leader Liz Truss already on the ropes.

The conference saw Truss openly criticized by members of her own government and forced to U-turn on a flagship tax cut, just 10 days after it was announced. Ailbhe gives the inside story from the biggest speeches, the fiery fringe meetings and the late-night drinks...

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POLITICO's Ailbhe Rea meets the ultimate Westminster Insider, Laura Kuenssberg, until recently the BBC's political editor and the new host of the BBC's flagship Sunday politics show.

In a rare interview, Kuenssberg discusses her early career, life covering the tumult of the past seven years in British politics, and how she managed to survive the relentless pace at the coalface. She discusses the sisterhood in Westminster...

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September 23, 2022 40 min

It's time for the weirdest few weeks of the British political calendar: conference season.

Host Ailbhe Rea takes us on a whistle-stop tour of the speeches, fringe events, champagne receptions and bad karaoke parties that happen at the annual Conservative and Labour conference, with the help of Emily Thornberry, Labour's shadow attorney general and a conference veteran. Two former advisers to Conservative cabinet ministers, T...

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September 16, 2022 41 min

Behind the scenes, the late Queen Elizabeth II was the ultimate Westminster Insider. 

Host Ailbhe Rea and POLITICO's Annabelle Dickson uncover how the Queen received a daily dose of gossip from deep inside the heart of government, and speaks to two of the politicians tasked with sending that private missive to Buckingham Palace: former Conservative whip Anne Milton, and former Cabinet minister Julian Smith.

Simon Lewis, a former ...

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September 2, 2022 39 min

With days to go until Boris Johnson’s replacement is announced, host Ailbhe Rea considers whether the Conservatives are now on their way out of office — or whether this is just one more clever shape-shift from the most successful political party in the world. She meets Johnson’s cheerleaders and his critics, grassroots members and expert advisers, to discuss how Boris Johnson changed the Tory Party — and what on earth it will do wh...

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As Boris Johnson prepares for his final session of Prime Minister's Questions, Ailbhe Rea takes a look inside the weekly showdown at the heart of British politics.

Former PM David Cameron explains what it's really like to stand at the despatch box for a noisy session of PMQs, and reveals how he prepared and strategized for the toughest event of his week.

Ayesha Hazarika, a former adviser to Ed Miliband, lifts the lid on the d...

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As the jaw-dropping downfall of Boris Johnson plays out on Twitter feeds across Westminster and far beyond, Jack Blanchard looks at how the social media platform has revolutionized the way we watch, write about and conduct British politics.

Co-host Ailbhe Rea, Twitter executive Nick Pickles and freelance journalist Marie Le Conte discuss how Twitter has become the main platform through which political junkies now view major events s...

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Co-host Ailbhe Rea sits down with the Labour Party's charismatic former deputy leader Tom Watson to discuss his life in politics and much beyond.

Watson recalls his central role at the heart of the Blair/Brown battles of the 2000s, and the showdown with Rupert Murdoch which saw him propelled into the limelight — and trailed by private investigators — in the 2010s. He opens up about his chaotic years as Jeremy Corbyn's deputy...

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In the wake of Thursday's crunch by-election results, Jack Blanchard considers why Britain always seems to turn against even its most popular prime ministers in the end.

The Atlantic's Tom McTague and pollster James Johnson discuss the collapse in Boris Johnson's popularity, and whether it's still possible for him to turn things around.

And former Downing Street officials Caroline Slocock, Jon Ashworth, Paul Harrison ...

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June 17, 2022 37 min
This week Jack Blanchard sits down for dinner with former Brexit Secretary David Davis to discuss his 35-year career in politics. Over ribeye steak and too much Malbec in an exclusive Westminster restaurant, Davis muses on the Brexit negotiations which will prove his legacy, and his personal relations with David Cameron, Michel Barnier, Theresa May and other key players of the recent past.

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for...

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Co-host Jack Blanchard speaks to Jon Ashworth, Labour’s pugnacious shadow work and pensions secretary about his extraordinary childhood and his 20-plus years in Parliament.

In the week Boris Johnson faced down an attempted Tory coup, Ashworth recalls the tumultuous years he spent working for former PM Gordon Brown as Labour MPs plotted to bring him down. He discusses the frustrating past decade in opposition, and where Labour has go...

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Host Ailbhe Rea takes us on her year-long journey covering the British government’s contentious efforts to find peace and reconciliation within Northern Ireland’s war-torn past.

She travels back to her homeland to hear the emotive testimony of the families of some of those murdered during The Troubles, and their anger at Westminster proposals for an effective amnesty for those responsible.

But she hears too from Conservative MPs – an...

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New host Ailbhe Rea explores the quirks and the controversies of the pack of journalists who inhabit Westminster, known universally as 'the lobby.'

We take a trip down memory lane with the legendary Andrew Marr, former political editor of the BBC, and tour the 'Burma Road,' the historic corridor in the House of Commons where political reporters have their offices.

We hear Alan Rusbridger, the former editor-in-chief of...

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May 21, 2022 30 sec
POLITICO’s weekly narrated story, hosted by Ailbhe Rea, 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.

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

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