Boris Only Contender Winning Brexiteers Back to the Tories

With the Tory leadership race finally starting to hot up, a new Hanbury Strategy poll has looked at how the potential candidates fare with different sets of voters. Boris is the only contender to make 2017 Tory voters more likely to vote Tory next time round. Not a great result for the contenders Hanbury execs are (informally) advising, Raab places fourth while Hancock isn’t even included… 

The poll found Tory General Election voting intention had dropped to just 21%, well behind Labour on 30% and only just ahead of the Brexit Party on 19% (Change UK surged to 5th place with a whole 6%). Again, Boris was the only contender to make Brexit Party supporters more likely to vote Tory:

Interestingly, the poll also found that voters would be less likely to vote Labour if they backed a second referendum in all circumstances, 37% said they would be less likely to vote Labour if they did, compared to only 32% who said it was more likely. Bad luck Labour Remainers, Corbyn was right…

Tory Leadership Hopefuls: Who Are You?

We could be days away from a Tory leadership race if Theresa May loses a no confidence vote. The jostling for position on the Tory benches is becoming blatant. Leadership hopefuls are tapping up donors for support, assembling campaign teams and beaming as they glad-hand fellow MPs. With that in mind WPI Strategy commissioned a 2,000 head poll from Deltapoll with fieldwork done last week (25/26 March). They asked the public “Who would you recognise in the street?”

David Lidington would be recognised by 1 in 20 people – which seems on the high side. Liz Truss would be recognised by 1 in 14 people proving that not everyone is on Instagram. Dominic Raab will be disappointed that his brief profile raising period as Brexit Secretary means that 1 in 9 people claim they know his face. Then we get into potential leaders who do have some recognition with voters. Amber, Saj and Hunt are recognised by a quarter to a third of voters, Mogg (who is not running) and Gove are recognised by two fifths of voters. There is only one candidate who stands out with over three quarters of the public recognising him – Boris.

George Eustice Tears Into Grandstanding Remain Ministers

Former Farming Minister George Eustice has laid into grandstanding Remain ministers for flaunting resignation threats around in the press, after his own principled resignation yesterday. Speaking to TalkRadio, he attacked them for “trying to buffet the Prime Minister around through threats of resignation”, adding “that’s no way to behave as a minister”. Cabinet Ministers who have happily sat in Government on a “no deal is better than a bad deal” platform for two years now publicly blackmailing the PM into reversing that policy is a truly shameful spectacle…

Eustice privately made his case to the Prime Minister and then simply submitted his resignation when he felt he could no longer continue. Without any highly embarrassing Richard Harrington-style media antics in advance…

SpAd Moves: Downing Street Departures

Following the news that May’s close adviser Alex Dawson is leaving No 10 for Peter Mandelson’s Global Counsel outfit, Guido can reveal another move with Kenny Ferguson also leaving Downing Street to become Special Adviser to Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay alongside Steph Lis. Ferguson had been Downing Street’s Chief Press Officer for Brexit and the Economy since October 2017 and was previously at the Treasury and DfID. Congratulations…

Guido can also confirm Amber Rudd’s lineup at DWP. Rudd has kept on Esther McVey’s SpAds Alex Hitchcock and Jean-Andre Prager, who continues to work between DWP and No 10, alongside Jason Stein who joined from the Treasury in December. Get in touch with any further updates…

Hammond Slaps Down Rudd: “It Could Be No Deal”

Last night on his new show, ITV’s Robert Peston asked the Chancellor whether May’s deal being voted down by Parliament could lead to a ‘no deal’ scenario.

 “If Nicky [Morgan] and Amber Rudd are right and we’re not going to get no deal, you’re spending a colossal amount of money for something that’s not going to happen…”

Slapping down Amber Rudd’s assertion that Parliament would somehow “stop no deal,” Spreadsheet Phil told Peston that if the withdrawal agreement is voted down the UK would be in unknown territory, confirming that “it could be no deal.” Cabinet unity still going strong then…

New Ministerial Appointments In Full

Following the appointment of potentially troublesome Amber Rudd as DWP Secretary, Remainer rebel Stephen Hammond has replaced new Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay as Health Minister.

John Penrose who backed Remain but has become an ERG stalwart since the refendum has been appointed as Minister of State for the Northern Ireland Office. Leave-voting Kwasi Kwarteng has been appointed as new junior Brexit minister after serving for 18 months as Philip Hammond’s PPS. The Cabinet’s balance has shifted further in favour of remain, and some potentially troublesome backbenchers have been bought off…

Amber Rudd New DWP Secretary

After the resignations of Dominic Raab and Esther McVey, Theresa May is looking to shore up her top team. Amber Rudd is back in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions after 201 days on the backbenches. Brexiteer out, Remainer in…

There have now been 14 work and pensions secretaries since the department was created in 2001, and a whopping six since March 2016.

In September Rudd came out to say a second referendum is preferable to a no deal Brexit. Cabinet could get choppy.

Rudd Case Shows Sedwill Wrong to Put Civil Servants Above Criticism

Amber Rudd levelled some remarkable accusations at her former civil servants in the Home Office this morning following the publication of a report into the events surrounding her resignation over the Windrush Scandal. Sir Alex Allan’s report, which was completed on May 23rd but not published until today after being leaked to The Times, pointed the finger of blame at civil servants for not providing Rudd with correct briefings which led her to misleading MPs about the existence of removals targets.

Rudd herself went further on Today, effectively accusing senior civil servants of politically-motivated leaks against her:

JW: You were leaked about at the time as well – do you have a sense that this was just incompetence or was there something political as well – was there an attempt to embarrass you?

AR: It certainly felt like the latter as well… yes, there were a series of leaks during the past year at quite a high level that were definitely intended to embarrass me.

The two civil servants singled out for criticism in Allan’s report, Director General for Immigration Hugh Ind and Permanent Secretary Patsy Wilkinson, have simply been moved to other high level jobs within the civil service. Ind is now Director General at the Cabinet Office while Wilkinson has moved into a national security role. Classic civil service promotion for failure.

The whole affair makes a mockery of Mark Sedwill’s protestations only two weeks ago that civil servants should not be subject to scrutiny from the press. It is a basic fact of politics that individual civil servants have agendas and leak to the press for political reasons. It is a basic fact of life that civil servants are not infallible and sometimes make mistakes when carrying out their jobs.

Yet the notion still persists in some quarters that civil servants should be immune to political criticism despite carrying out political attacks of their own, while politicians take the flak for officials’ mistakes even as the Whitehall gravy train ensures that the officials responsible still have a cushy job at the end of it all. Funny how many of those rushing to defend Robbins now want officials’ heads to roll over Rudd…

Prime Minister’s Saucy Banter

“The Member for Wellingborough might well like the hot English Brexit sauce to put on his breakfast sausages”

Rudd: Leadership Election Would Be An Indulgence

Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd has rallied to May’s defence on Newsnight, saying that a leadership election in the middle of the Brexit negotiations would be a “total indulgence” and a “huge mistake”. In truth the looming Brexit deadline is the only thing that has held MPs back from launching a leadership challenge thus far, with MPs nervous about unleashing chaos with such little time left in the negotiations. The danger for May is that increasing numbers of MPs are concluding that the risk of chaos is preferable to whatever deal she is going to bring back from Brussels…

Nonetheless, Rudd’s point on the numbers cannot be ignored. A new Tory leader would still have to grapple with a minority government propped up with the DUP, and with at least a dozen Tory MPs ready to rebel in favour of a softer Brexit or no Brexit at all. May’s toughened language on the Irish backstop yesterday may have calmed some Brexiteer nerves but with Boris Johnson becoming the 44th MP to join anti-Chequers group #StandUp4Brexit last night and the DUP opposed to any regulatory barriers being erected in the Irish Sea, not simply customs barriers, it is not clear that May’s arithmetical challenge is any less severe.

However, MPs may be less inclined to listen to Rudd’s advice after she insisted that any so-called “People’s Vote” would have to have Remain on the ballot paper, contradicting her previous pledges to “fully respect the result” and that the UK would leave without a deal if Parliament rejects it. If Rudd wants to gain Tory MPs’ trust as a peacemaker within the party, backing a second referendum is absolutely not the way to do it…

Rudd Replies to David Davis Letter

Amber Rudd just sent this letter to all Conservative MPs…

Like you I received a letter from David Davis yesterday and while I am enormously respectful of his views and experience, I wanted to share my thoughts on why I think he is wrong.

His main premise is that there exists an alternative to leaving the EU, which is neither the Government’s one, nor “no deal”.

He is right.

The other alternatives are versions of Canada or Norway. Having sat in Cabinet for two years and having attended the smaller Brexit cabinet, I participated in the discussions on the negatives and positives of these options.

From these discussions it was obvious that neither the Norway nor the Canada options addressed our country’s unique position, as one of the largest and most influential countries in Europe and with the 6th largest economy in the world.

So it was always the U.K Government’s intention to get a bespoke deal.

The Government’s proposals seek to deliver on us leaving the EU and recognise our unique position. They would allow us to control our borders, money and laws – as the Prime Minister has said.

The proposal for a Canada version with or without pluses, is not acceptable to those of us committed to the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and committed also to frictionless trade to protect our successful manufacturing businesses. Industry needs the “just in time” delivery across EU borders that has so successfully kept their products competitive.

David says that nobody wants a hard border. He is right about that too. But it is not enough to say nobody wants it if you propose a solution that would deliver it. The Canada deal being offered for the U.K. by the EU that he refers to effectively excludes N. Ireland.

As we leave the EU, nobody is getting all of what want they want. Nobody can. That is what happens in negotiations. There is give and take.

The approach of Conservatives is always to be practical, to understand the needs of a modern market economy and to make sure that while principled we are also realistic.

David points to the electoral consequence of getting this wrong. He is also right about that. But I think he isn’t right in his interpretation of what the voters want.

My view, underpinned by polling undertaken recently, is that there is a quiet majority in this country who want us to leave or at least accept that we should leave – either because they favour leaving or because they want the referendum result to be respected – but will not allow the success of our economy or the hard won peace process of Northern Ireland to be threatened.

At the next election the Conservatives will want to be the party that protects and advances prosperity for everyone and argues that our opponents are too ideological to do the same. We can only fight and win that campaign if people trust in the common sense and practicality of a Conservative Government.

The electoral consequences of our decision are not the first thing the Government is thinking about anyway, but the politics are pretty much the same as the economics. They dictate a willingness to compromise and an adherence to realism and common sense.

The PM is in the final stages of negotiating a deal. Alternative proposals at the last hour are neither viable nor preferable.

Yours sincerely,

Amber Rudd

Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP

Not sure that her assertions will sway Tory MPs…

Rudd’s Remain Hypocrisy

Amber Rudd was one of the guests on the new Peston show last night, using the platform to lash out at the alternative Brexit plan supported by Boris and DD. Rudd claimed that 40 Tory MPs would vote against any Canada-style free trade deal. A majority of MPs have voted time and time again in the Commons to leave the single market and customs union – this number seems implausibly high…

Rudd also told Peston that if it was a choice between no deal or a second referendum, she would “absolutely” back having a second referendum and that Brexiteers “might not even get their Brexit”.

It’s funny, because that’s not what she told Conservative Party Conference last year:

“Back in June 2016, everyone had their say. The country made a clear decision. I have said it before and I say it again: I fully respect the result. We chose to Leave and we must make a success of Brexit.”

 

She was even more explicit on her own website in January this year, specifically clarifying that even if there was no deal, the UK would leave without one:

“The majority of the UK electorate voted to leave the EU and I believe that I have a democratic duty to deliver the result. This means that the UK will be leaving the EU in March 2019… In the unlikely situation that an agreement is not reached or Parliament votes to reject it, the UK will leave without a deal.”

Rudd was a passionate Remainer – she represented BSE in the final high-profile TV debates before the referendum, while her brother Roland was BSE’s Treasurer and now chairs the People’s Vote campaign. Since the referendum, she has gained respect from Leavers and Remainers alike for her commitment to honouring the result. Not a good look for her to be reverse-ferretting on her self-proclaimed “democratic duty” now…

Profundity of the Punditry: Amber Rudd Edition

Some absolute classics from Fleet Street’s finest over the weekend. The usually sagacious John Rentoul’s Saturday column for the Indy declared Amber Rudd to be in a “surprisingly strong position”:

Dan Hodges at 5:13pm yesterday evening was almost onto something with his view that the latest Guardian story “supports Rudd”:

Top prize however goes to Paul Mason, who confidently tweeted at 9.56pm: “It’s become easier to imagine the end of the world than a Tory minister resigning for probably lying.”

News of Rudd’s departure broke just minutes later. Mason immediately fired off another 20 tweets to bury the take and cover his modesty. Peak neoliberalism? Peak punditry…

Rudd Audit Revealed She Missed Operational Targets

Worth noting that it isn’t the Guardian’s leaked memo from yesterday afternoon that brought down Amber Rudd. That referred only to the government’s overall ambition for increasing removal targets.

What Rudd missed was the fact that there were specific operational on the ground targets for deportations – and she knew nothing about them. Guido is told an audit ordered by Rudd over the weekend found numerous mentions of specific operational targets in documents she should have seen.

She missed them, knew they would be leaked, and, despite efforts from Number 10 to keep her in place for obvious reasons, decided she had to go…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Rudd Resigns

At 10pm on a Sunday, after the first editions have gone and after the news bulletins…

Rudd Was Aware of Migrant Removal Targets

Amber Rudd on Friday claimed she was never aware of migrant removal targets:

A letter from Rudd to the PM in January last year, published by the Guardian tonight, reveals she was:

Worth noting the Guardian quoted from this letter on Friday 20 April and are now claiming today’s story is “breaking news”. Cheeky…

Lewis: I Told Rudd About Migrant Removals “Ambition”

So Rudd knew of an “ambition” to increase migrant removals, but Brandon Lewis claims that is different to a “target”. You’d have thought she might have mentioned that to the Home Affairs select committee last week…

Rudd Farce: I Didn’t See It

Amber Rudd is not resigning tonight. Home Office statement:

“I will be making a statement in the House of Commons on Monday in response to legitimate questions that have arisen on targets and illegal migration.

I wasn’t aware of specific removal targets. I accept I should have been and I’m sorry that I wasn’t.

I didn’t see the leaked document, although it was copied to my office as many documents are.

As Home Secretary I will work to ensure that our immigration policy is fair and humane.”

May’s human shield remains in place, but what a farce…

Did Rudd Lie to Home Affairs Select Committee?

Amber Rudd told the Home Affairs select committee on Wednesday: “We don’t have targets for removals… if you’re asking me are there numbers of people we expect to be removed, that’s not how we operate.”

Today the Guardian reveals a memo sent to Rudd last year referred to the Home Office’s “target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18″ and that they were on a “path towards the 10% increased performance on enforced returns, which we promised the home secretary earlier this year”.[…] Read the rest

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Liz Truss on the next Tory leader…

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