OPINION - The Standard View: Get a grip and around the negotiating table to prevent a summer of discontent

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 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

Just because Londoners are famous the world over for queuing, doesn’t mean we enjoy it. This week, commuters are bracing themselves for long lines at bus stations, on the roads and in whatever transport services are still running, as three days of national rail strikes are set to combine with Tuesday’s Tube strike for a week of carnage.

These walkouts hurt us all, from schoolchildren sitting their GCSE exams to revellers travelling to Glastonbury and everyone in between, simply trying to go about their normal working days.

The Prime Minister is right to point out that this industrial action is an act of self-harm, not only for rail workers but for our city, which left to thrive can lead the country through these difficult economic times.

However, the Government must do more than express its disappointment. Boris Johnson and the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, must take a firmer grip, get the unions and train operators around the negotiating table and urgently seek to resolve the issues at play. That is their job.

As for its policy towards the capital and our transport network, it seems to be one of silence. Transport for London’s bailout expires on Friday. Without a long-term settlement and sustainable finances, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan concedes he will have no choice but to enact major cuts, including to vital bus services and enter a period of “managed decline”. This cannot be permitted.

Yet Mr Khan says ministers have cancelled 20 funding meetings with him, rather giving the impression that they prefer the optics of fighting with City Hall to the hard yards of negotiation.

The greatest risk for the Government, and for all of us, is contagion. That these walkouts, which will impact so many workers, spark similar strikes across multiple sectors. That would bring Britain to a halt and stall any meaningful recovery. A summer of discontent need not be inevitable. We call on all sides to do all they can to defuse this bomb before it is too late.

Macron’s harsh lesson

The delay between presidential and parliamentary elections affords French voters the opportunity to grant their leader a majority in the National Assembly. It also provides them with a chance to give them a bloody nose.

That’s the route they’ve chosen this time, as President Emmanuel Macron has lost his majority and both the far-Left and far-Right secured substantial gains. These results will not only impact the president’s ability to pass his legislative agenda, but are also a window into the future. Macron is term-limited and unable to run again.

With the traditional centrist parties in the doldrums, France’s future direction — and indeed that of Europe — looks highly uncertain.

Just champion, Matt

Congratulations to England’s own Matt Fitzpatrick on winning the US Open in Massachusetts last night.

A shot behind playing partner Will Zalatoris with six holes to play, the 27-year-old from Sheffield holed from 50 feet for birdie across the 13th green to draw level.

His win places him alongside 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win the US Amateur and US Open on the same course, Nicklaus doing so at Pebble Beach in 1961 and 1972. Fine company to join.

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