Rain on Dave’s Parade

The PM brought back up to his summer bash for Peroni-guzzling Lobby hacks last night, but it was the weather that rained on his parade – literally. As damp Tory leadership contenders worked the thinning lawn of the Downing Street rose garden, a relaxed Dave stood side by side with Theresa May doling out titbits to a ‘doughnut’ of senior correspondents, while Saj put in a good innings. By pure coincidence, Osborne was hosting a rival party upstairs and his guests soon milled out to join the PM’s. The high turnout of ministers included Matt Hancock and Nicky Morgan, Fallon was presumably busy blowing up Syrians. Boris was conspicuous by his absence…

By contrast to the Chancellor’s austere offering of pretzels and Skips last week, the PM generously put on a decent spread of sausages, vol-au-vents and lovely little fried feta cheese pastry nibbles. Asked by mischievous visitors how much holiday he would be taking this summer, Dave zinged back: “I’ll take the same amount of time off as the Lobby”. After an hour or so’s mingling, the PM was hurriedly called back into No.10 just as the heavens threatened to open…

EU Purdah Stitch Up: Full Letter From Lidington to Tories

Minister for Europe David Lidington has written to Tory MPs to tell them they are still planning on stitching up the EU Referendum, but it’s ok because they they will ‘work with them’ to do so:

16th June 2015

Dear Colleague,

EU REFERENDUM BILL

I am writing ahead of the Committee Stages of the Bill to address some of the key concerns raised by colleagues during the Second Reading debate last week and to set out the Government’s approach.

As you know, the Government’s intention in bringing forward this Bill is to fulfil our General Election Manifesto pledge to let the British people decide our country’s future in the European Union. It is our clear intention, through the Bill, to provide a straightforward, fair and effective framework for the referendum.

Timing of the Referendum

As stated during the debate, the government is keen to maintain as much flexibility as possible over the date of the referendum. The bill sets out a requirement to hold the referendum by the end of 2017 at the latest, and the Prime Minister has always been clear that if we can hold it earlier, then we will. This has lead to a great deal of speculation that the Government intends to hold the referendum in May 2016 in combination with elections to Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies. I can confirm that this is not the case. We have now tabled an amendment to specifically rule out 5th May 2016 as a date. If we are not able to debate it during committee, it will be retabled at report.

Section 125 of PPERA 2000

A number of colleagues raised concerns in the debate about Clause 25 and Schedule 1 of the Bill. I am grateful for the constructive way in which these concerns were raised.

The effect of Clause 25 is to disapply S.125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. It therefore removes the statutory restrictions placed on Government publications in the final 28 days before the referendum. Under S.125, Government and Ministers are prohibited from publishing during the 28 days prior to polling day any material which deals with any of the issues raised by a referendum question; and which puts any arguments for or against a referendum outcome.

As the Foreign Secretary set out during the debate, after careful consideration we believe that it is unworkable and inappropriate to fully apply S.125 in this instance. It is unworkable because the restriction on publication is so broad that it could prevent Ministers from effectively conducting the significant amounts of ordinary day-to-day business between the Government and the EU that will necessarily continue during the pre-poll period. And it is inappropriate because the Government, having taken a position on the outcome of our negotiations with the rest of the EU, will naturally be obliged to account to Parliament and the British people.

The Foreign Secretary said during the debate that the Government will exercise proper restraint to ensure a balanced debate during the campaign. We have no intention of, for example, spending public money to deliver mailshots to households ​in the last four weeks of the campaign.

Working out a system that will reassure colleagues and voters that the referendum is a fair fight, yet will preserve the Government’s ability to act in the national interest is not straightforward. It is important that it is legally clear and robust.

Therefore, we will work with colleagues over the next few months to understand their specific areas of concern and bring forward at report stage in the Autumn government amendments that command the widest possible support within the House and put beyond any doubt that the campaign will be conducted throughout in a manner that all sides will see as fair.

I look forward to working with you during its passage.

Yours sincerely

David Lidington MP
Minister for Europe

Yeah, that should do it…

Huge Increase in “Payroll Vote” after PPS Splurge

pps-overdriveAbout turn:

Despite the confusion over whether members of the government will be allowed to campaign for ‘out’ after the EU renegotiation is complete, it is clear No. 10 is pulling out all the stops to secure European unity.

Though an official list has yet to be circulated, it is apparent that Cameron has massively increased ‘the payroll vote’ by creating a record number of Parliamentary Private Secretaries. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun:

‘Agitators from the last Parliament are being brought back into the fold. “It’s amazing how quickly these rebels turn when the PM calls and asks them to do more work for no more money,” whispers one insider.’

Once the preserve of just the Secretaries of State, Guido understands that all Ministers of State and crucially many Junior Ministers have been appointed a PPS. Therefore binding in a whole swathe of potentially awkward backbenchers to the government line according to last night’s line from the PM to the Lobby:

minister-resign

If they want to vote against No. 10 they will have to resign from the first rung on the greasy pole…

Machinery of Government Changes: Power Redistributed From BIS

Three vaguely interesting bits of government power play this afternoon.

Osborne takes control of the Shareholder Executive – the body managing the taxpayer’s holdings in part-government owned businesses – from BIS.

While overall responsibility for the Digital Economy Unit goes to John Whittingdale at DCMS – again away from BIS.

Greg Clark at DCLG gets responsibility for Cities policy from Oliver Letwin.

BIS will no longer be quite the all-encompassing department it was, albeit these changes being rather minor.

Egrets, I Have a Few…

Larry the Downing Street cat really is rubbish at his job. Today No. 10 has been invaded by a heron:

CGGNGBaWMAArNsq

From heron in they should be more careful about leaving the door open…

Via Ramsay Jones

Treasury Seeks SpAd Gender Balance

George Osborne’s new Director of Communications James Chapman is seeking some gender balance in the Treasury media team, and is “asking every woman in the Lobby” if they want a job. Rumours swirl that the FT’s deputy pol ed Beth Rigby is among those who have been approached. She certainly has a strong grounding on the policy side of things but is she ‘on message’ enough for the role? So far the men who have put their names forward have been rebuffed…

SpAd List: Treasury Seeking Another Spinner

spads2

Due to overwhelming traffic crashing Google Docs yesterday, here is Guido’s much sought after (and still in progress) SpAd list embedded on the site:

The exodus from the CCHQ press office continues as comms chief Giles Kenningham becomes a Special Adviser to the PM. Meanwhile the Lobby will be braced for another departure as the Treasury looks to hire another spinner. Send news of new appointments to team@order-order.com.

Blue on Blue: First Shots Fired in EU Row

If Cameron pushed through HRA reform today he would be accused of rushing it by critics. Just as his fast-tracking of the EU referendum bill has irritated others. Here’s Liam Fox accusing No. 10 of not being ‘entirely honourable’:

“Those who are urging him to go for a referendum in 2016, I think, have ulterior motives which are not entirely honourable. I think they want to see a decision made quickly to limit the level of debate in the United Kingdom; I think that they are afraid that if we have a very full debate then some of the real unacceptable issues in Europe at the present time will become all the more clearly seen by the British public.”

After years of demanding a referendum, suddenly on the cusp of one, there is a dawning realisation amongst eurosceptics that they will in all likelihood lose… 

SpAd List: Rolling Updates as They Come In

spads2

A new government means a new SpAd list and Guido’s handy resource of political appointments is starting to take shape. There are still a few gaps missing and we will be updating as and when news of the remaining hires […]

+ READ MORE +

New No.10 EU Adviser: UK “Could Prosper” After Brexit

Downing Street have hired Open Europe director Mats Persson to advise on Europe ahead of the referendum. Yet another EU immigrant taking a British job…

Persson is a pragmatist who very much fits with the ‘renegotiate then stay in’ approach. […]

+ READ MORE +

No. 10 Hire Camilla Cavendish as Policy Chief

David Cameron has hired another of his Oxford contemporaries, Sunday Times columnist Camilla Cavendish, to do policy:

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Steve Hilton on Stewart Pearson

The Thick of It’s Steve Hilton was asked by Newsnight about his former No. 10 adviser alter-ego Stewart Pearson:

He thinks it’s funny. Really, really funny…[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Nigel Farage on Jeremy Corbyn:

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