Lord Frost Still “Considering Next Steps” Despite Bridgen Challenge Rumours

Now that Lord Frost has finally confirmed he’s applied to be a Tory MP, the SW1 rumour mill is spinning over which constituency he’s set to contest. His official statement over the weekend gave no clues: 

“I am grateful to the Party authorities for accepting my application as a potential Conservative candidate for the House of Commons, the centre of our national political life. I have not yet applied for any seat and am considering my next steps.  Meanwhile I look forward to campaigning for the Party and for conservative principles in the months to come.”

There had been talk over the last few days that he’s being lined up to challenge Andrew Bridgen for North West Leicestershire, now that Bridgen has jumped ship to Reclaim and left an opening for the Tory candidacy – a rumour based on him apparently having some local link to the region. Guido hears Team Frost are strongly denying this rumour this morning and sticking to the line that he is still merely “considering next steps“. Mid Derbyshire is another mooted option, with Tory incumbent Pauline Latham standing down at the next election. Even without a confirmed candidate, the Tories are still set to hold both seats according to UK Polling Report

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Rich’s Monday Morning View

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Frost on NI Protocol: “The Core Problem is the Imposition of EU Law in Northern Ireland Without Consent” mdi-timer 26 February 2023 @ 10:12 26 Feb 2023 @ 10:12 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments Lord Frost: Penny Mordaunt Isn’t Up to the Job of Prime Minister

Former chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost has just savaged Penny Mordaunt on TalkTV. Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer, Frost poured cold water on Mordaunt’s competence and leadership, claiming he has “grave concerns” about her after working alongside her on the Brexit negotiations last year:

“To be honest I’m quite surprised that she is where she is in this leadership race. She was my deputy, notionally more than really, in the Brexit talks last year… I felt she did not master the detail that was necessary in the negotiations last year. She wouldn’t always deliver tough messages to the European Union when that was necessary… she wasn’t always visible. Sometimes I didn’t even know where she was. I’m afraid this became such a problem that after six months I had to ask the Prime Minister to move her on… from the basis of what I saw I would have grave reservations about [Mordaunt].”

This isn’t the first time Mordaunt’s former colleagues have questioned her competence this week. On Tuesday, CityAM published damning claims from Department for International Trade sources alleging Penny was “missing for months” as a trade minister and wasn’t reliable – something Guido’s ministerial sources later confirmed themselves…

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Chris Bryant “Worthy Winner” of Civility in Politics Award

Congratulations to Chris Bryant, joint winner of the 2022 Civility in Politics award. Last night he took home the gong alongside minister Robin Swann, with judges claiming Bryant stood out in a crowded field for his “praise and support from across the spectrum“:

“As Chair of the Standards Committee Chris has been responsible for marshalling commitments from people across the political spectrum to hold those in power to account, striving to maintain standards and facilitate scrutiny, of his own side as well as others.”

Bryant has an unrivalled record of thoughtful and reflective conduct in office. He is a worthy winner. Here are just a few examples of his upstanding behaviour:

This April, in the spirit of bipartisanship and civility, he declared David Frost “an idiot”:

Then just six days ago, Bryant again reached across the aisle to mock Frost after the by-election results:

Who could forget the moment he stormed out of the Commons after, according to multiple chamber eyewitnesses, telling Hoyle to “f*ck off”:

To be fair to Bryant, he did eventually return a week later to apologise. No doubt this sealed the deal for the judges yesterday as they handed him a trophy for his efforts. Commiserations to the nominees who missed out this time, including Wes Streeting and Tom Tugendhat. It must be tough to lose an award recognising standards and civility to a man who had to refer himself to the standards commissioner…

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Lord Frost Takes Fight to Online Harms Bill, as Cost Balloons by £400 Million

Today Lord Frost joins Guido in the fight against the Online Harms Bill, launching an all-out assault on its threat to free speech. Frost’s no holds barred attack, including calling the bill “fundamentally flawed” and un-conservative, has been published alongside a new paper by the IEA, which accuses the bill of handing “unprecedented censorship powers to Secretary of State and Ofcom”. Objectively correct.

In full, Frost says:

“There is so much wrong with this Bill that it is hard to know where to start, but the report rightly highlights the fact that it will mean some speech that is legal offline will effectively be impossible online. That makes no sense and will be highly damaging to public debate, especially given the weakness of the free speech protections in the Bill.

Overall the Bill also panders to the view of the perennially offended – those who think the Government should protect them from ever encountering anything they disagree with.  A Conservative Government should not be putting this view into law.

“The best thing the Government could do would be to slim down the Bill so they can proceed rapidly with the genuinely uncontroversial aspects, and consign the rest where it belongs – the waste paper basket.”

Reading through the IEA’s paper, one thing that immediately jumps out to Guido is that the government’s own expected cost of the bill has jumped up from £2.1 billion in May 2021 to £2.5 billion today – a whole £400 million extra in a year. A figure the IEA rubbishes as a nonsense underestimation anyway:

“The impact assessment asserts that it will cost businesses, on average, £700 over ten years to read and understand the regulations, for example. However, this would not realistically cover the fees of a specialist law firm for two hours, let alone the internal staff time costs. The impact assessment specifically assumes staff will only require 30 minutes to familiarise themselves with the requirements of the 255-page legislation and 90 minutes to read, assess and change terms and conditions in response to the requirements. Legal advice is estimated to cost £39.23 per hour  an order of magnitude less than the fees of hundreds of pounds per hour typically charged by lawyers in this field.”

Turning to the inclusion of ‘legal but harmful’ speech, which platforms will have to crack down on, huge questions remain on specifics given the government has still not formally specified categories this will include. While the obvious woke labels of ‘misogynistic abuse’ will likely be included, shadow DCMS secretary Lucy Powell has already let the mask slip on the future plans of Labour ministers to massively abuse this power:

“Lucy Powell has raised concerns that the Bill as it stands would allow ‘incels’ and ‘climate deniers’ to ‘slip through the net’. She clearly envisages an extension of the notion of ‘harmful’ to cover matters of public policy debate.”

David Davis also pitches in, warning “could end up being one of the most significant accidental infringements on free speech in modern times.” Guido can’t understand why Nadine believes this won’t backfire on Conservatives like her. Big Brother Watch already proved that her “nail your balls to the floor” tweet, if posted to Facebook, results in the post being deleted by the platform. That’s before her new free speech clamp down comes into force…

Guido encourages all policymakers to read the paper – embedded below. If the government wants to get the Boris show back on the road, and reassure Tory members and MPs that this government is worth fighting for – while saving at least £2.5 billion – scrapping swathes of this big-state bill could not be a more obvious starting point…

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