Tory rebel Conor Burns is ready to resign as Owen Paterson’s PPS after informing his chief whip that he will vote against the government on Lords reform. Burns has left the final decision up to Dave, it appears he could be out of a job tomorrow evening: “It would seem that my position is incompatible with membership of the Government. I deeply regret the government have put us in a position where a long-held and mainstream view means I cannot continue to serve as a PPS“. Guido is sure it won’t be the least we hear from Conor.
Sky’s Sophie Ridge confirms:
Guido has just asked Conor if he had; proffered his resignation if asked or simply thrown himself at the mercy of the Prime Minister? To which he replied: “Sort of both!” Burns is now leading the heckling of Nick Clegg and co. in the Commons. They said it would be bloody…
UPDATE: Here is Burns’ letter in full:
Further to our conversation in your office I wanted to formally write to put my position as PPS to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at yours and the Prime Minister’s disposal. I have long held views on reform of the House of Lords and cannot support the Bill tomorrow or the programme motion. It would appear that my position is incompatible with membership of the Government. I am a keen supporter of the Government and deeply regret that the Government have put us in the position where a long held and mainstream view within the Conservative Party means that I cannot continue to serve as Owen’s PPS. If by voting against the Bill tomorrow means I have to resign I will of course continue to support the Government and the Prime Minister from the backbenches.
They put Chloe Smith on Newsnight and Nick Clegg on Newsround. Sounds about right…
The LibDems are continuing to claim that they are untainted by BSkyB bid revelations this week. While it is true that Cable’s SpAd Giles Wilkes set the example of how Adam Smith should have been dealing with News Corp spinmeister Fred Michel, the email chains are still damning for the party. When Wilkes rejected a meeting it seems that Michel went to other LibDem spinners and found success with Jonny Oates, the former Bell Pottinger director turned Clegg SpAd, who as Guido reported yesterday was happy to help and brief. But he didn’t stop there…
Paul Marshall, the founder hedge fund Marshall Wace, is a LibDem donor. Crucially he’s also an adviser to Nick Clegg.
Here not only does Marshall acknowledge a meeting with James Murdoch to discuss the bid, he also gives further advice, in writing, for Fred Michel to pass on to his boss:
He recommends BSkyB beef up their PR team and goes so far as to recommend his friend and Brunswick chief Alan Parker. All of this is so that BSkyB can get the “easy win” that Marshall clearly supports adding: “I wish you luck. You have built a great business and it must be very frustrating to be penalised for your success.” It doesn’t sound like all the LibDems were at war with Murdoch…
Nick Clegg’s reform packages are not going very well. Obviously AV is still a sore subject in yellow circles and the prospect of two year battle over House of Lords reform is even being discouraged by Guardian columnists. The Recall bill seems to be an irrelevance too. Zac Goldsmith is slamming it this morning:
Here’s the process; once the narrow Committee has qualified an MP for Recall, the petition begins, and requires only 10% of voters to sign it. Given that the MP will effectively have been deemed guilty by Parliament, that threshold will pose little challenge. The MP then faces an immediate by-election where they must fight in the context of national issues and where they are dependent on their Party’s fortunes. Unlike in true Recall, where MPs face a simple referendum on their job, under the Government’s plans, they have no chance to persuade voters that the Recall is unwarranted. This gives real power to the authorities to throw inconvenient MPs to the wolves for spurious reasons.
It says something when even Tory MPs are accusing you of not being radical enough. Guido can’t think why Nick Clegg, in his student-filled constituency, would possibly want to water anything down…
The pollster and commentator Peter Kellner has written an open letter to Nick Clegg suggesting that to save himself in 2012 he backs an In/Out referendum, he argues that the Yes side would win because Cameron would join Ed Miliband and Alex Salmond in campaigning for a Yes. Kellner believes, somewhat optimistically, a united political class would overcome entrenched popular opinion and press opposition.
They would, in Kellner’s view, sway currently €uro-sceptic public opinion in the course of the campiagn to the Yes side. Given that Clegg’s negative public approval rating has gone from a terrible -40% to a catastrophic -55% this would for once put Clegg on the public’s side of an argument. Kellner argues that if Clegg called for a referendum he would receive the public’s credit, Cameron would have to concede. Tory backbenchers would demand it and Cameron would not be able to resist the Tory right and the LibDems combined.
Kellner is a technocratic pollster and this has a certain Machiavellian logic to it. Guido has one other reason why Clegg should call for an In/Out referendum: he promised one without any Cameron cast-iron “if the treaty isn’t signed” wiggle room or qualification.
Clegg promised in writing
The Liberal Democrats believe that Britain should have a referendum, not on the narrow question of adopting this new treaty, but on the big question that faces Britain, whether we remain a part of the EU or not.
The question of Britain’s place in the European Union has poisoned our national politics for decades. As a nation, we need to lance this boil and decide once and for all if we want to be a part of this European Union or not.
So he can outflank the Tories on Europe and restore some of his lost trust. Why is he waiting to honour his promise?
It seems Clegg is taking this fake row thing a little too far…
UPDATE: Cleggies tell the Sun that Nick doesn’t “want to be a distraction”. Yeah right…
There may not have been Prime Minister’s Questions today, but Guido wouldn’t want you to miss out on your weekly dose of Parliamentary bashing. Over to Nick Clegg, who has clearly been reading Guido’s work on Cash for Votes and Sadiq Khan’s dodgy connections with the GMB:
See how they squirm…
The only attempt at a solution to Europe’s doom seems to be the EU forcing out democratically elected leaders and replacing them with trusted stooges who are loyal to the project. In Greece the incoming Prime Minister Lucas Papandemos was Vice President of the European Central Bank from 2002-10. Mario Monti, who is favourite to take over in Italy, was a European Commissioner in the nineties. Not a referendum or election in sight…
Luckily for the UK our cost of borrowing has dropped to a record low. Ten-year gilt yields fell to 2.106% yesterday. If however the UK was in the €urozone and things took a turn for the worse about now the European establishment elite would be forcing Peter Mandelson on us as PM. Or Clegg…
When asked after his speech this morning about yesterday’s promised repatriation of powers from Brussels, the Deputy Prime Minister stuck his oar in:
“We should stop tilting at windmills about threats and challenges which simply aren’t there right now… You don’t change Europe by launching some smash-and-grab dawn raid on Brussels…”
If Clegg promises something won’t happen, that means it will, right?
Small State Keynesians, Anti-Corporate Hayekians? | Chris Dillow
Ruffley Shows Why We Need a Proper Recall Bill Now | Alex Wickham
How is Miliband’s ‘New Politics’ Working Out? | Speccie
State Should Send More Poor Children Private | Sam Bowman
£1 Million Cost of Ed Balls’ Ego | Laura Perrins
William Hague’s Sausage Fest | Rochdale Online
Public Doesn’t Prioritise Housing | Mark Pack
Mysterious Case of Ruffley’s Missing Letter | Speccie
All the Single Ladies (And Lords) | Bloomberg
How Ruffley’s Resignation Became Inevitable | ConservativeHome
We Need a Recall Bill Now | Speccie
Damian McBride writes in the epilogue to his memoir…
“At the time of writing, nine months from the election, I’ve concluded that Labour currently has no positive messages to communicate to anyone about why they should vote for the party, no policies which will persuade them, and is being run in a totally dysfunctional way.”
What time will dinner be ready this evening?
Rob Wilson MP
In the interests of me I am placing a copy of this email in the public domain.