Dave’s Banter, Man Hugs and Awkward Schmoozing

By Guido’s count there are 18 Tory MPs who have yet to declare their positions on the referendum. Cameron has been schmoozing the undecideds with attempts at banter, “man hugs” in Commons corridors and one-on-one private persuasion sessions in his office. Though the PM was left disappointed after wrongly assuming several such backbenchers would be backing Remain. In one private meeting Dave told Geoffrey Clifton-Brown he hoped he could count on his support, believing he had won him round. Tempers frayed when the veteran Eurosceptic replied that he would be voting to Leave. Talk of a full-blown slanging match is played down, though Clifton-Brown “gave as good as he got” in the tetchy exchange that ensued before he swiftly exited. 

Over Easter weekend the Tory civil war became less civil when Downing Street insiders told Dan Hodges that “trying to negotiate with the Eurosceptics is like trying to negotiate with IS”. Tory Outers are particularly unimpressed with one senior Cabinet minister after he was overheard loudly mocking them as “the goggle-eyed John Redwood brigade”.

The 18 Tory MPs yet to declare are:

Caroline Ansell, Tracey Crouch, Jackie Doyle-Price, James Heappey, George Hollingberry, Pauline Latham, Phillip Lee, Charlotte Leslie, Johnny Mercer, Huw Merriman, Andrew Mitchell, Wendy Morton, Caroline Nokes, Jesse Norman, Rebecca Pow, Mary Robinson, Grant Shapps, Kelly Tolhurst

Get in touch if any of these have been quietly coaxed off the fence…

Osborne’s Post-Budget Poll Plunge

Osborne dissatisfaction March

Yet more evidence of decline – the Chancellor’s personal ratings plunge with Ipsos Mori, the Budget gets its worst rating since 2010. He’s now less popular than he was after the Omnishambles Budget. The Osborne effect is so toxic that Corbyn’s satisfaction score even overtakes Cameron’s…

Remain Convert Duncan Said “UKIP Have a Point” Last Year

Guido’s Tory MP referendum spreadsheet is fully updated as Alan Duncan comes out for Remain, writing: “This is no time to withdraw from, and hence weaken, such an important multilateral structure as the EU”. Which is odd because just last year Duncan, a self-proclaimed lifelong Eurosceptic, said UKIP “do have a point about the way in which we’re governed from Brussels and we cannot ignore that”. Duncan claimed he shared UKIP’s “anger” over the EU, “would not rule out” voting to Leave and claimed he would only back Remain “If renegotiation really changes to a significant extent the scope Brussels has to tell us what to do then I think staying in would be fine”. He even met with Vote Leave at their HQ, where he modestly offered to lead the campaign…

Today he writes a gushing piece about Dave and Europe in the Telegraph titled “Why this lifelong Eurosceptic is now voting to stay in”. A turnaround of almost Mak-ian proportions…

Downing Street Censors Dave’s Holiday Snaps

Cameron On Holiday Censored

CONFIDENTIAL – STRICTLY NOT FOR PUBLICATION:

Ipso has today been contacted by Craig Oliver, Director of Politics and Communication at 10 Downing Street…

Mr and Mrs Cameron will shortly be going on holiday again and, in light of the previous notice, Mr Oliver has asked Ipso to make editors aware of their request that their privacy – and particularly that of their children – is respected while they are away.

Mr Oliver says that arrangements will be made for Mr and Mrs Cameron to appear for a photograph at the beginning of their trip. He has asked Ipso to make editors aware that they do not otherwise wish to be photographed while on holiday, and pass on their request that photographs taken of them in private family situations are not purchased or published.

Dave flies off to Lanzarote for a week today, where Sam Cam’s family has a holiday home. IPSO has contacted newspaper editors with a warning from Downing Street Director of Communications Craig Oliver not to publish any unauthorised holiday snaps. Entirely reasonable for photos of the kids, though No. 10 is also asking for no pictures of Cameron himself to be taken. That means no more snaps like the unflattering topless shot above which so upset the PM…

Tory MEPs Facing Deselection Threat

Guido hears there are moves afoot by angry Conservative associations to change the rules so they can more easily deselect Europhile MEPs. Local Tories are fed up with Brussels careerists who have been on the gravy train for years, flirting with backing Brexit to curry favour with the grassroots, then backing Remain. Tory sources point to the likes of Ashley Fox and Vicky Ford, who spent the last year flexing her Eurosceptic muscles before coming out for In. The current rules give sitting MEPs privilege over new candidates when European election lists are drawn up, making it nigh on impossible to unseat an incumbent. Tory plotters want to open up the process so all MEPs face reselection on an equal footing with new Eurosceptic candidates. It’s the Tory Momentum…

Osborne: I Will Listen And Learn

The Chancellor comes out of hiding:

“Of course, Mr Speaker, there is always robust discussion between the treasury and the spending department when money needs to be saved. The decisions we make to keep our economy secure are always been difficult and when we don’t get them right I’ve always been prepared to listen and learn.”

Another U-Turn: Poppers Unbanned

Victory for Crispin Blunt as Home Office minister Karen Bradley confirms that the government no longer considers poppers a psychoactive drug:

“I understand that the Council has now advanced its understanding of the psychoactivity of the alkyl nitrites group under the Act and concluded that only substances that directly stimulate or depress the central nervous system are psychoactive under the Act. Having given due consideration, the Government agrees with your advice and interpretation of the definition. We do so in the understanding that “poppers” have these unique indirect effects. Our understanding is that this approach does not have any further implications for the operation of the Act and that other substances that the Act intends to cover are not affected.”

That sound you can hear coming from the parliamentary estate: “Wooooooooooooooo!”

Just 8% Say Osborne Up to Job of PM

Osborne’s worst poll ratings since the Omnishambles Budget of 2012 from YouGov in today’s Times. Even Tory voters say he’s not up to the job of PM…

Crabb Sticks It to Osborne

Stinging line from the new Work and Pensions Secretary as he announces the government has “no plans” to make no further welfare cuts:

“A compassionate and fair welfare system should not just be about numbers. Behind every statistic there is

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Chloe Smith’s Revenge on Osborne

Former Treasury minister Chloe Smith, hung out to dry by Osborne in that infamous Newsnight interview and then dumped by the Chancellor, gets her revenge. On Osborne and the Budget she says:

“I don’t think [PIP] was the right

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Osborne’s £4 Billion Budget Black Hole

So the Budget vote goes ahead tomorrow with a £4 billion spending black hole – the money to pay for the PIP u-turn will not be found until the autumn.

The government will also u-turn on the tampon tax and […]

+ READ MORE +

IDS on Marr: Full Interview

The most explosive 20 minutes of political television this year so far:

“They are losing sight of the direction of travel they should be in. It is in danger of drifting in a direction that divides society rather than unites

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Cameron’s closest friend in politics Steve Hilton backs Brexit:

“A decision to leave the EU is not without risk, but I believe it is the ideal and idealistic choice for our times. Taking back power from arrogant, unaccountable, hubristic elites and putting it where it belongs. In people’s hands.”

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