Chris Grayling Wanted to Blow Up Pacer Trains

Before he left the department the former transport secretary, Chris Grayling, wanted to publicise the phasing out of the Pacer trains so despised by commuters. Grayling joked that he wanted to ‘blow up’ a Pacer train in a populist move to demonstrate the government’s understanding of the public’s widespread detestation of them. In response, Gavin Williamson, who was at the time Defence Secretary, offered to lend him a tank…

Whilst the photo op would have secured an incredible redemptive legacy for the former minister, the explosive imagery was never sanctioned, with the government instead looking at turning the hated “buses on train wheels” into public spaces for social enterprises. The Department of Transport is running a competition to award 3 carriages to the best 3 community projects put forward. Always trust the civil service to ruin everyone’s fun…

Grayling’s Approval Rating With Tories Hits All Time Low

Chris Grayling has sunk to one of the lowest approval ratings the ConservativeHome members survey has ever seen, plummeting to more than ten points behind even Philip Hammond, who he had been neck and neck with at the bottom of the table since July. Grayling is the only Brexiteer in the bottom dozen Cabinet ministers, in a league table that overwhelmingly rewards Brexit credentials. Tory members think he’s useless, that is apart from one Tory, Theresa May. Her debt of gratitude to him for managing her leadership campaign must surely be reaching the limit.

New “Chris Grayling is a Moron” Party Thwarted

Embattled Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has not been having a great time of it of late. However, he earned a brief respite this afternoon as Guido learned that the Electoral Commission has thwarted an attempt by a group of disgruntled commuters to launch a new “Chris Grayling is a Moron” party to take him on in his Epsom and Ewell seat.

The Electoral Commission told the peeved passengers that it was likely to refuse the proposed name on the basis that it “could be considered offensive” and could also include “words the publication of which would be likely to amount to the commission of an offence”. Spoilsports…

Bim Goes Quiet on Train Troubles

For months Tory MP Bim Afolami has been a vocal critic of Govia Thameslink which (nominally) provides rail services to his commuter-heavy constituency of Hitchin and Harpenden. Exasperated on June 4th he wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling “demanding answers”. Three weeks ago on August 29th he wrote to Grayling again, demanding a rail fare freeze “until Govia Thameslink and Great Northern services are up to scratch.” In short he was becoming a pain in the arse being an active constituency MP looking out for his voters.

Two days after his last epistle to the Transport Secretary, it was announced that he had been appointed new PPS to… Chris Grayling. He hasn’t mentioned the rail companies since, and so far hasn’t brought it up publicly with his patron again. Will Bim keep the pressure up or go soft on the rail companies to spare his new boss’s blushes?

First “No Deal Ready” Legislation Becomes Law

Yesterday the first “no deal ready” legislation quietly got Royal Assent for a little thing called the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act. Whilst sounding very boring, this is very significant as it is the first “no deal ready” bill to become an Act. The Department for Transport is pleased that for once they have arrived ahead of schedule with this Act in place to provide for all kinds of eventualities (in this case relating to cross-border road haulage) in a no deal situation. The word around Whitehall is that Downing Street were not keen to boast about “no deal ready” legislation. This is going to change according to friends of Dominic Raab…

The Act itself is technically the legislative equivalent of “Noel Edmonds” – it provides for a deal and no deal. In a nutshell one key thing it does: at the moment the UK doesn’t require HGV drivers to have permits to drive here. Thus there is no framework in law to issue / enforce permits. If there is a deal the UK will have permits and control the numbers of lorries with the powers to do that. If there is no deal the Act also provides for the powers to do UK permits. Solving transportation regulatory issues is a priority for a clean Brexit. So it begins…

Grayling Faces Judicial Review Over New Airports Cock-Up

Guido hears the airports vote has been pencilled in for Monday 25 June – and Chris Grayling faces more trouble over yet another cock-up. DAC Beachcroft, legal advisers to the Heathrow Hub consortium proposing an extended runway at Heathrow, have today indicated that they will challenge the DfT’s National Policy Statement. They say it wrongly calculated the capacity of the extended runway option after a mistake by the Airports Commission (dating back before Grayling was Transport Secretary), thus erroneously finding the 3rd runway option had a higher capacity. This was one of the principal reasons why the extended runway was rejected.

The Planning Act – Section 13 to be specific – allows for a Judicial Review of an NPS in the six weeks after it has been designated, following a vote in parliament. If this was objectively an error of process then it does not look good for Grayling…

Grayling’s 27 Seconds as Party Chairman

11:04am: Chris Grayling tipped as new party chairman on Twitter.

11:40am: The BBC “confirms” Grayling’s appointment.

11:43am: A CCHQ staffer sees the BBC’s report, assumes it is correct, and tweets its out from the @Conservatives account. The Times says the tweeter was CCHQ political director Iain Carter. He also sent the Grayling graphic round the Tory MPs’ WhatsApp group and MPs tweeted it out.

11:43am and 27 seconds: @Conservatives tweet deleted.

11:47am: Number 10 say no appointment has been made.

11:48am: Tory MPs delete their tweets.

11:57am: Brandon Lewis arrives at Number 10 to be appointed party chairman.

This is going well.

Grayling’s Presence

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on why he’s in Qatar on the day rail fares have been hiked:

“My presence in the country doesn’t make any difference.”

Grayling Slaps Down Flights Scaremongering

Chris Grayling comprehensively slapped down remain scaremongering over flights post-Brexit, saying:

“Michael O’Leary’s got his own interesting challenges at the moment. Air France and KLM have just spent hundreds of millions of pounds buying a stake in Virgin Atlantic, they would not have done that if they thought there was the remotest danger of the planes stopping flying… People will be able to carry on booking their holidays. Does anyone seriously think the Spanish government, which would see hotel bookings collapse in 2019, is going to intervene to stop the planes flying? Of course they’re not.”

Zombie Project Fear’s latest BS not working….

New HS2 Conflict of Interest Row

HS2 will re-tender a £9 million consulting contract after further potential conflicts of interests came to light. Construction News reports that the bidding process for a “commercial services management framework” has been abandoned and will start afresh within the month. It emerged that firms Arcadis and Mott MacDonald  would be “conflicted” if chosen…

Last month Guido forced the scrapping of a separate £170 million contract between public-sector-backed HS2 Ltd and private firm CH2M. Our series of revelations exposed a half-a-billion pound revolving door between the two firms. Chris Grayling will have a lot on his plate at the Transport Select committee after Easter…

Grayling Ignores Calls For HS2 Inquiry

Chris Grayling came under fire from all sides at a bad-tempered Transport Questions this morning. He ignored calls from the Shadow Transport Secretary Andy MacDonald and Tory MP Cheryl Gillan for an inquiry into the HS2 – CH2m shambles. MacDonald not unreasonably said the story “stinks to high heaven”, Grayling laughably replied that the cancelling of a £170 million contract was not a “massive” issue. Wonder what CH2M think about that. Notable how Grayling carefully distanced himself from the beleaguered “independent” HS2 board…

Transport Minister Grayling Knocks Cyclist Off His Bike

Awkward for a Transport Minister…

Protestors Shout ‘Grayling Out’ At Department for Transport

A bizarre protest is underway outside the Department for Transport tonight. Around 40 noisy supporters of the hitherto unknown Association of British Commuters are chanting “Grayling out” and demanding the government intervene in the Southern Rail dispute. Shouldn’t this protest be taking place outside the headquarters of ASLEF and the RMT?

Worst Jokes Of The Day

jokes

Guido gives you the best of the worst jokes of day two of Tory conference:

Philip Hammond:

“Remember Ed Balls? I know you remember him from Saturday night – I’m asking if you remember him from when he was Shadow Chancellor… You know Ed was not their first choice for Strictly?

[…] Read the rest

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Campaign Report: 22 Days to Go

oil rig

Leave message: Government would axe fuel VAT post-Brexit.

Remain message: Lord Sugar says Remain’s better for business.

Cut through: Fuel VAT cut post-Brexit.

Leave social media count: 434,209 likes, 48,062 followers.

Remain social media count: 440,282 likes, 31,838 followers.

Odds: Remain 1/3, Leave 3/1

Latest poll: Remain 44%, Leave 47% (ICM, phone). […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Media Minister Monitor: Leave Winning Air War

MMM April the ministers

Ambitious ministers with an eye on the leadership provided seven new entries for our Media Minister Monitor this month. Top of the charts is Dominic Raab, a sound-as-a-pound Eurosceptic who has been attracting admirers in recent weeks. Mooted candidates Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Crabb and Penny Mordaunt have all received their first leaderboard position since MMM started in February.[…] Read the rest

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Farage Buries Hatchet With Vote Leave

Guido hears Chris Grayling will be the first Cabinet member to share a stage with Nigel Farage during the referendum campaign. They are due to appear under a Grassroots Out banner at a rally in Stoke on Monday. Very welcome to see the star supporter of Grassroots Out and a Vote Leave committee member put aside the past differences of their respective campaigns and unite to focus on the real enemy.[…] Read the rest

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Media Minister Monitor: Fireman Fallon Deployed

MMM March the ministers

In February referendum fever saw government ministers make 55 broadcast appearances, in March Downing Street entered bunker mode and the number plunged to just 35. The statistics show Craig Oliver is enforcing a “one minister a day” policy for broadcast appearances as they look to dodge accountability. […] Read the rest

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Satire is (Still) Dead

Chris Grayling and Labour MP Rupa Huq must be fun at parties:

“I think it’s very important that we make sure coverage of this House is used in an appropriate way. I’m not in favour of it being made available for use in satire programmes.”

So the barmy ban on British broadcasters using Commons footage for satire purposes is not to be overturned.[…] Read the rest

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Blue on Blue: Grayling-Soubry Debate Cancelled

Downing Street had optimistically hoped for an unspoken convention whereby ministers would not appear in public disagreeing with each other on the EU. Unsurprisingly that ain’t gonna last – Chris Grayling and Anna Soubry are going to face off in a debate chaired by Jeremy Vine at Church House in Westminster on March 15.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Seen Elsewhere



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Quote of the Day

Responding to Corbyn’s statement that the US should have arrested ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, John Mann bluntly tweeted:

Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide belt. An arrest might have been slightly difficult in these circumstances.”

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