2 October 2015 | UK 2020 EMAIL NEWS
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Welcome to the latest UK 2020 Email newsletter:
  • Conservative Party Conference Fringe Programme 2015: 
    EU, Defence, NHS, Global Food Security
  • Isabel Hardman interview, The Spectator
  • In case you missed it - other stories
UK 2020 are hosting four fringe events at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester next week, 5 and 6 October 2015, hearing from Colonel Tim Collins OBE, Tim Montgomerie, Liam Halligan, Matt Ridley, Mark Lynas, James Bartholomew, Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Helen Whately MP, Steve Baker MP, Tom Tugendhat MBE MP and more.

Events are open to all registered Conservative Party Conference guests with access to the secure zone. Refreshments will be served.

UK 2020 Fringe Programme in full here
An optimistic vision of a post-EU United Kingdom

Monday 5 October 2015, 17.45 - 19.00
Exchange 10, Secure Zone
Manchester Central Convention Complex

What would life be like outside of the EU? An optimistic picture of the fifth largest economy in the world and its vital role

Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Chairman, UK 2020
Steve Baker MP, Co-Chair, Conservatives for Britain
Tim Montgomerie, The Times
Chris Bullivant, Executive Director, UK 2020

Picutre (l-r): Tim Montgomerie, Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Steve Baker MP
An interview with Colonel Tim Collins OBE
The UK, defence and international security

Monday 5 October 2015, 19.30 - 21.00
Exchange 2-3, Secure Zone
Manchester Central Convention Complex

What are the threats that face the UK in the 21st Century and are we prepared to meet them? An interview with war veterans Colonel Tim Collins OBE and Tom Tugendhat MBE MP

Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Chairman, UK 2020
Colonel Tim Collins OBE, Co-Founder and CEO, New Century
Tom Tugendhat MBE, MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling

Picture (l-r): Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Colonel Tim Collins OBE, Tom Tugendhat MBE MP
What will the NHS of 2020 and beyond look like?

Tuesday 6 October 2015, 12.45 - 14.00
Exchange 10, Secure Zone
Manchester Central Convention Complex

Exploring the future of British healthcare. What are the rest of the world doing, and what is achievable now?

Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Chairman, UK 2020
Helen Whately MP, House of Commons Health Select Committee
Liam Halligan, Columnist, Telegraph Media Group
James Bartholomew, Author, The Welfare of Nations
Pete Digger, Managing Director, MHP Communications

Picture (l-r): Helen Whately MP, Liam Halligan, James Bartholomew
How biotech and agriculture can feed the world's poorest

Tuesday 6 October 2015, 17.45 - 19.00
Exchange 10, Secure Zone
Manchester Central Convention Complex

Sponsored by Crop Protection Association


The outlook is good for global food security thanks to advances in agriculture and science. But what is preventing the world's poorest from benefitting from these breakthroughs? 

Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Chairman, UK 2020
Mark Lynas, Cornell Alliance for Science
Matt Ridley, Peer, author and The Times columnist
Chris Bullivant, Executive Director, UK 2020
Nick von Westenholz, CEO, Crop Protection Association

Picture: Mark Lynas
First published online in The Spectator 1 October 2015

One evening early in this autumn term in Parliament, Tory MPs crowded excitedly into a parliamentary office for drinks and nibbles. It wasn’t a particularly unusual event: there were many more people than could fit in the room, though MPs surged in and out like the tide as the division bell rang. But in between votes, the host gave a speech that marked this out from all the other drinks events that MPs throw for one another.

That host was Owen Paterson, and he told the room, which was made up mainly of right-leaning eurosceptic Conservatives, that he would be writing a set of policy papers for a future leadership contender to take over from David Cameron. He wanted, he said, to make the most of the opportunity the leadership contest offers to move the party to a more robust, right-wing position.

As they walked across the estate for another vote, MPs wondered who Paterson could have in mind as the ideal robust, right-wing leadership contender. When we meet in that same, now much emptier, office, he insists that it isn’t him. ‘I’ve said no before, but nobody believes me,’ the former Environment Secretary says. ‘That is not the current plan, the current plan is policies.’

He wants to use his UK 2020 think tank to develop a checklist of policies to put to leadership candidate. ‘The idea is that we come up with a framework of robust policies which we can put to and challenge leadership candidates in a couple of years’ time, so do you agree with Owen Paterson’s think tank on this? Because x, x, and x – by then we will have some of these guys – think it is great. That will put quite a lot of pressure on them.’

Paterson set up UK 2020 after he lost his Cabinet job last year. He hadn’t seen it coming until the Sunday newspapers all described him as ‘vulnerable’. ‘I had to decide what to do and having had a robust conversation with the Prime Minister, I decided pretty rapidly I was not going to go away, that I represented a significant strand of thought within, not just within the Conservative party itself but outside in the country and I owed it to these people.’

That David Cameron has said he won’t go into the next general election as Prime Minister gives people like Paterson remarkable space to develop this sort of policy platform without the risk of being seen to be agitating against the current leadership. It also means that ambitious MPs and leadership contenders can get involved without being accused of the same thing.

But he doesn’t yet have a candidate in mind, and when I ask if he has spoken to any would-be leadership candidates about this policy platform, he says ‘er, no, unless, no I don’t think I have actually. Can’t think of anyone.’ But he says the ‘point’ of writing these policies now is that he could announce a preferred candidate once the contest really is underway.
For the time being, he’s focusing on the tests those candidates will have to face in his policy papers. He has already looked at energy, Europe, GM crops, the economy and the NHS. Interestingly, he hasn’t yet done anything on education because ‘I thought we were doing pretty well on education, I mean Michael Gove’s reforms are tremendous, they are certainly having a big impact in my patch, it’s a good point, we have rather deliberately left education in a way’.

He believes that the rise of Jeremy Corbyn increases the need for a candidate who can ‘very, very robustly stand up for the massive benefits that markets have brought’. That sounds as though the Tories aren’t doing enough of that under the current leadership. ‘I think there is a real role for the Tory party not to be mealy-mouthed, I think it has been in recent years, yes.’

He also thinks there is still too much of a tendency to ‘pander to the green groups who don’t like economic activity’, but is pleased that ‘Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom have listened to what I’ve said’ about solar subsidies and stopped them.

Paterson does have a lot to say about energy and the environment. Though UK2020 is writing policy papers on every issue, he’s clearly most enthused about these, talking at length about the ‘wicked’ opposition of environmental groups like Greenpeace to GM crops, and the inability of Europe to adapt to new farming practices. Having met farmers in developing countries, he is convinced of the need for GM. He met a woman from Uganda at a conference, who said ‘people in Europe don’t understand what it’s like to see one of your neighbours die of cassava poisoning’. He adds:
‘I asked a question [at the conference], are you worried that these big multinationals impose themselves on weak defenceless farmers, and they all laughed. The idea that any multinational can impose its will on 400 million very independently-minded Indian farmers and 100 million equally combative Bangladeshi farmers, it’s just laughable.’
Paterson himself is quite combative, too. He doesn’t mind standing up to big lobbying groups, or being derided by them, either. But what’s striking is that while he is very assertive, he is also very positive, not just about GM and modern farming techniques, but also about the opportunities for Britain in leaving the European Union. He paints a rather attractive picture of life outside the bloc, saying it will give the UK a seat at the top table for the first time.
‘The key point which everybody misses is that we would get our full seat back on the key world bodies that decide regulations, so everyone twitters on about Brussels regulation, that’s completely out of date. Increasingly regulation is made at global level, so if you take the WTO, we are currently represented by probably the most charming person – I’ve never met her – but she is a Swedish psychiatric nurse who was last teaching at Gothenburg University. Now, she wouldn’t be my first choice if I was head of the British government, to have represented the fifth largest economy in world trade negotiations.’
Paterson thinks the UK leaving the EU wouldn’t just improve this country, but the whole world. ‘It would be massively beneficial for the world to have a really invigorated independent UK, co-operating in the closest possible terms with European neighbours, but regalvanising world free trade, doing bilateral trade agreements…
‘So it’s a complete contrast to us falling off a cliff, disappearing into the awful dark abyss and cutting ourselves off. We would be rejoining the world! We would be massively empowering. All this appalling migrant crisis, we’ve got it partly because free trade has broken down.’
Paterson is a confirmed Outer, but he is part of Conservatives for Britain, which hopes to attract many of those who are waiting to see what David Cameron brings back from his renegotiation. He thinks that ‘people are making increasingly sceptical noises’.
‘There are significant businessmen who very much want the destination I’m talking about who still have not come out publicly because they are hoping upon hope upon hope that Number 10 has some secret, clever, cunning plan and there’s an envelope in the bottom of Ed Llewelyn’s desk that’s going to get flashed out at some critical moment in the renegotiations, with one bound we’re going to come leaping into the real world. I’m afraid to say I don’t think that’s going to happen.
‘What we’re going to end up with is this complete botch where we allow the eurozone to go its own way in forming a new country and we are left on the outside with this secondary status with frantic rebranding.’
Britain will, he says, be ‘in a much, much worse position’ if it ends up with ‘secondary status’, or associate membership. He makes an eloquent case, but who does he think should lead the campaign? Paterson argues that you don’t need lead personalities to win a campaign, but adds ‘there are obvious personalities, you might think’.

Is one of those obvious personalities Boris Johnson? In the latestSpectator, James Forsyth reports that the Mayor still hasn’t decided which side he should come out in favour of in the EU debate. Paterson says he has discussed Europe with Johnson, but that ‘the last time I saw him I told him to tuck his shirt in because his shirt was hanging out and he was going to the Chamber and that was portrayed on one of the blogs as Owen Paterson in deep discussion with Boris Johnson’. Perhaps they’ll end up in deep discussion about Paterson’s policy papers, too, when the leadership contest finally begins.

The new intake of Tory MPs currently appears very loyal and grateful to Cameron, but they too have shown great interest in what Paterson is up to, turning up in large numbers at the two events he has already organised for them. ‘They may have just come for the cheese but we’ll see,’ says Paterson. ‘We put on wine, very good cheese. Very good cheese. In huge lumps if they’re hungry.’ Clearly Paterson knows the way to his colleagues’ hearts.
"Billion Dollar Green Campaigns Kill Poor Children", Science 2.0

Paterson joins forces with environmentalists to argue case for technology in agriculture", Farmers Guardian

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