Grieve’s Association Chair Slams ‘Very Unconservative’ MP

Dominic Grieve’s Constituency Chairman in Beaconsfield has written a furious email to local members after Grieve’s latest posturing on Wednesday where he again threatened to quit the Tories to bring down the new Prime Minister. Grieve recently lost the confidence of the Association, now the Constituency Officers including Chairman Jackson Ng slam Grieve as “very unconservative”. They say he has lost their confidence as well:

Your Officers and I find it very unconservative for our Conservative MP – especially one of our Association’s standing – to state in the House of Commons that he is willing to bring down a Conservative Government. Especially so when we have always been tolerant of his minority views, votes on Brexit and been supportive and fair following March’s AGM and SGM last week…

Your Officers and I now find ourselves in a situation where we have to publicly rebuke Dominic’s position and that he has lost our confidence…

Ng wrote to Grieve last week formally requesting that he apply for re-adoption as the Conservative candidate, under the Tories’ obscure constitution this is the next part of the process for the Association to deselect him as their MP. However there’s no specified time limit for Grieve to respond, he can simply hang on until the next general election attacking his own party. Assuming he doesn’t resign the whip or have it removed first…

Read the letter in full:

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Constituency Chairman Asks Grieve to Apply for Re-Adoption

The Chairman of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association, Jackson Ng has written to Dominic Grieve

As the Chairman of Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association, I understand that there are feelings of disappointment, anger and frustration from many of our membership. Therefore, following this evening’s Special General Meeting and on behalf of our Executive Council, I have immediately written to our MP Dominic Grieve QC to formally request that he now submits a written application to us to seek his re-adoption as our Parliamentary Candidate for the next General Election expected in 2022.

This is usually a formality, not sure it will be this time…

Grieve Loses Local Support After Breaking His Word

Dominic Grieve, Beaconsfield’s current Tory MP, lost a local constituency association confidence motion by 182 to 131 against him. The Beaconsfield Conservative Association chairman says that, “He remains our Conservative MP but I will be speaking as soon as possible to my fellow officers and the Executive Council.” A vote of no confidence is not a deselection.

Grieve is a decent man, we all agree, courageous even. To ignore your supporters and act against their wishes has consequences in a democracy. Deselections are always unpleasant, without them or at least the threat of them, MPs would be completely untethered from their supporters. MPs of all parties often arrogantly detest their activist members, who generally tend to be politically further away from the mainstream and their own ordinary voters. This tension is always there, sometimes the link snaps. This is such a time.

Grieve’s arrogance was that he thought he could shift from promising his members – in writing – that he would respect the outcome of the referendum, to leading the efforts to thwart Brexit, without cost. Breaking your word to voters, particularly the ones who get out the vote for you, is risky.

George Osborne tweeted this morning that Dominic Grieve had been “deselected”, going on to say “The Tory leadership can stop any deselection if it wants – we frequently did. CCHQ should suspend the local party. Otherwise we are heading for a huge, historic split in the Tory Party.” As a matter of fact Osborne has got it wrong, Grieve has not been deselected – yet. It is a bit rich Osborne, who has been campaigning to get rid of the leader of the Conservative Party since 2017, now calling for party unity. It is also more than galling when a Tory grandee says the little people who deliver leaflets, raise funds, vote for the party should be ignored and steam-rollered. Assuming of course that Osborne is still even a Conservative Party member…

UPDATE: Some groups like Leave.EU have been trying to claim the credit for Grieve’s deselection – local members strongly dispute the idea that they had anything to do with it, although Guido understands that the grassroots Campaign for Conservative Democracy was involved. A local Tory source tells Guido:

“Last night was a case of local members, most of whom have been members for years, finally getting organised and rising up. It has nothing to do with so-called “blue wave entryism” which isn’t even a thing. We’ve seen no real rise in membership numbers at all to suggest it could have any sort of impact.

“The principal reason Beaconsfield members voted against Grieve was that they felt he had been dishonest with them; promising at his last re-selection meeting to honour the referendum result, and then doing everything he could to thwart it. It’s his duplicity which has led to this motion passing.”

Hardline Remainers Come Out Against May’s New Deal

While Brexiteers are keeping their own counsel until the Attorney General and the Star Council of Brexit lawyers come back with their formal legal opinions on May’s latest offering, Remainers have wasted no time in coming out to batter her new deal. Despite Brexiteers being the ones always branded headbangers, as usual it’s the Remainers who kicking up a fuss while Brexiteers are open to compromise…

Dominic Grieve has said this morning that it “doesn’t make any significant difference”, digging in on his fundamental position that he won’t back any deal unless May commits to holding a second referendum on it. Sam Gyimah dismissively says “We’re being played!” while comparing Brexit to Iraq. The mercurial Damian Collins also declared that he wouldn’t be budging last night…

There are still niggling concerns over what May has secured. Most pro-Brexit lawyers Guido has spoken to so far believe that the UK’s unilateral declaration will carry weight in future legal disputes if the EU does not raise any formal objections to its inclusion alongside the rest of the Treaty, there are still doubts about what position it leaves the UK in overall. Varadkar once again displayed his ham-fisted lack of political judgement with a bullish tone at his press conference this morning…

May said last night that the changes guaranteed that the backstop would not become the “template” for the future relationship, as EU negotiators boasted after the deal was first agreed. Ultimately MPs will be making a political judgement as much as anything today. May’s changes are legally binding, but are they enough? Does the risk of an even softer Brexit or no Brexit at all justify voting for the deal as the least worst option still available? Nick Boles’ ego is now so large that he is already threatening Brexiteers to “take the win” or else “we will do whatever it takes to frustrate you.” Brexiteers are still reserving their judgement, Remainers have showed their cards and made clear their only interest now is sabotaging Brexit…

Soubry Accuses May of Having “Personal” Problem With Immigration

Anna Soubry has not held back with her personal criticisms of Theresa May since quitting the Tories and launched into another attack against May on Newsnight last night, accusing her of having a “problem with immigration”. Soubry insisted that it went beyond policy and was “personal”, and even claimed it was the only reason May hadn’t backed the UK staying in the single market. “She just has a thing about immigration”…

While it’s true that May has generally been holding out within Government against more flexible immigration policies favoured by many of her ministers, particularly on students, it’s a bit glib for Soubry to say “I don’t know where the hell it’s come from”. Has she already forgotten about the referendum three years ago?

Soubry’s old comrade-in-arms Dominic Grieve was also on Newsnight, confirming that he would “have to leave” the Tories if they were heading for a no-deal Brexit, although he is clearly not as enthusiastic about the prospect as the three defectors. Between Soubry’s personal attacks on May and Heidi Allen’s comments that there hopefully “won’t be a Tory Party to go back to”, wavering Tories will already be getting cold feet about whether they really want to throw their lot in with them…

Tory People’s Vote Campaign Loses Most of its MPs Despite Burning Through £40,000 of Dark Money

The Tory awkward squad launched their own “distinctive” People’s Vote campaign last month under the excruciatingly bad name-pun of ‘Right to Vote’. At the time of their launch Right to Vote widely claimed to have 10 Tory MPs on board, although Phillip Lee only counted eight at the launch event – Sam Gyimah, Heidi Allen, Dominic Grieve, Justine Greening, Guto Bebb, Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and himself.

That number appears to have shrunk even further by the time of their latest ‘intervention’ this week, with just four MPs putting their name to their letter calling for Brexit to be delayed – Gyimah, Lee, Grieve and Bebb along with two hardline Remainer Lords. They seemed so desperate for MP support that the letter even originally listed “Baroness Altmann MP” as a signatory before the amusing mishap was corrected…

Incredibly, Right to Vote have reportedly spent a whopping £40,000 so far, despite not even having a website or a Twitter account at the time they launched, and their woeful lack of impact generally. As a campaigning organisation specifically made up of members from only one party they also clearly satisfy the Electoral Commission’s definition of a ‘members association’, which means they have should have registered with the Electoral Commission and declared every donation they have received over £7,500 by now – they haven’t. By law, the public have a right to know exactly whose dark money they’ve been fruitlessly burning through…

Dominic Grieve’s Amendment Defeated 321 to 301

Dominic Grieve’s Slippery Letter to MPs

Dominic Grieve has been spamming MPs with a letter trying to convince them to back his amendment (g) tomorrow, which would suspend Parliament’s Standing Orders every Tuesday from 12th February until the end of March. Giving Grieve and his cronies free rein to disrupt Brexit on a weekly basis with Bercow’s assistance…

Naturally Grieve adopts his avuncular ‘impartial defender of the constitution’ persona in the letter, while using misleading arguments to justify doing the complete opposite. Grieve writes that the amendment “presupposes no specific outcome to the debates it would help initiate”. Yet Grieve himself personally tabled two Bills calling for a second referendum just two weeks ago…

Grieve claims that “Government control over the Order Paper is not an ancient constitutional principle, but the product of 20th Century Standing Orders.” Grieve is wilfully misinformed on this point – as the literature states it is in fact a centuries old convention, with origins dating back to 1811…

Grieve was claiming last week that his amendment wouldn’t be used to force through minority legislation such as Yvette Cooper’s Bill to delay Brexit. In today’s letter he specifically says that his amendment will give MPs further chances to get Cooper’s Bill through if it “fails for any reason to reach the statute book”…

The ongoing mystery about Dominic Grieve is how his softly-spoken manner and well-crafted sophistry continue to trick MPs into taking his arguments at face value when he has overtly been front and centre of the efforts to reverse Brexit altogether for months. Any MPs who truly believe they have a duty to respect the referendum result are simply kidding themselves if they get taken in by him again…

How MPs are Plotting to Stop Brexit

Despite the second ‘meaningful vote’ not being for another week, scheming MPs have been getting their anti-Brexit amendments in early. The following amendments are all already tabled, although they may change between now and next week:

  • Corbyn: “all options on the table” amendment. Corbyn continues his vague policy towards Brexit with an amendment calling for the Government to give time for Parliament to vote on options aimed at preventing no deal, including a Labour-style “strong single market” deal or “legislating to hold a public vote on a deal or a proposition that has commanded the support of the majority of the House of Commons”. Heavily-qualified support for a second referendum that likely wouldn’t be binding on the Government in any case…
  • Cooper, Boles, Morgan, Grieve: “coup” amendment. Seeks to give an entirely arbitrary grouping of backbench MPs the power to take over the Parliamentary timetable and bring in a Bill that would force the Government to extend Article 50 if a deal is not agreed by the end of February. Literally a coup…
  • Benn: “indicative votes” amendment. Commits the Government to holding a series of so-called “indicative votes” – MPs would hold non-binding votes on a range of different Brexit scenarios. Likely generating more heat than light…
  • Grieve: “endless debates” amendment. Somewhat similar but more tedious, this attempts to create a slot for weekly six-and-a-half hour debates for MPs to debate a meaningless motion while adding their own amendments to it. The most pernicious aspects allowing a minority of 300 MPs to take over Parliamentary business have been removed. Grieve claims the debates won’t be used to try to force primary legislation through…
  • Reeves, Benn, Grieve: “two-year extension” amendment. Attempts to force the Government to seek a two-year extension to Article 50 if no deal is agreed by 26th February. Not going to happen, not least because the EU won’t agree…
  • Creasy, Nandy: “citizens’ assembly” amendment. Extends Article 50 and creates a “citizens’ assembly” of 250 people along with an “expert committee” appointed by Sarah Wollaston’s Liaison Committee to advise the Government how to proceed. Very Green Party…

The one amendment which hasn’t yet been tabled but could also be highly significant is some variation of Andrew Murrison’s from last week which Bercow refused to call. This is looking like the most likely route for the Government to try to get its own MPs and the DUP back onside by voting through the Withdrawal Agreement but only on the condition that the backstop is time limited. Would give the EU some tough choices to make…

Government Entitled to Ask Queen Not to Give Assent to Brexit Wreckers’ Bills

Devastating argument from Policy Exchange this morning. Sir Stephen Laws QC – who was until 2012 the Government’s most senior lawyer on legislative and constitutional matters – says don’t assume that MPs could engineer a change to the law to postpone or cancel Brexit without persuading Government to acquiesce and participate in securing the change.

Attempting to change the law without the Government’s participation, he argues, could jeopardise fundamental constitutional principles based on centuries of history, especially if the Speaker dispenses with or ignores a rule that gives Government complete control over increases to public expenditure.

Sir Stephen Writes:

“If the Speaker chose to allow this rule to be dispensed with or ignored, that could have unpredictable, and potentially horrific, constitutional consequences. It could raise a question whether the Government would be entitled or might feel required to reassert its constitutional veto by advising the Queen not to grant Royal Assent to the Bill.

How should the Monarch react to such advice? The answer is not straightforward and the prospect of it needing to be considered in a real life political crisis is unthinkably awful. It is a sacred duty of all UK politicians not to involve the Monarch in politics. They have a constitutional responsibility to resolve difficulties between themselves in accordance with the rules, and so as not to call on the ultimate referee.”

If the Speaker and Dominic Grieve are going to vandalise the constitution and overturn established parliamentary conventions, don’t expect the government to just roll over. The Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will be studying this argument closely as no doubt will the Brexit sympathetic Queen. Bercow is only the Prince of Parliament, though he might not want to believe, the Queen still outranks him constitutionally. Grieve isn’t as clever as he thinks he is…

Grieve’s Minority Coup D’etat

Alex Wickham has scooped the Sundays by getting hold of Grieve’s Proposed Amendment to let a minority take control of the parliamentary legislative agenda:

PROPOSED AMENDMENT 1 TO SECTION 13(6) MOTION

As an Amendment to the Motion tabled for the purposes of section 13(6) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2017
Leave out from “House” to end and insert “believes that [INSERT DECLARATORY WORDS RELATING TO NEED TO PREVENT NO DEAL BREXIT), and orders accordingly that — (1) On [DATE OF SUBSEQUENT SITTING DAY TO BE INSERTED] —

(a) Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting sa. as provided in that order) shall (subject to paragraph (e)) not apply;
(b) a Motion in connection with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union in the name of at least 300 Members of the House elected to the House as members of at least five parties and including at least 10 Members elected to the House as members of the party in Government shall stand as the first item of business;
(c) that motion may be proceeded with at any hour though opposed, shall not be interrupted at the moment of interruption, and, if under discussion when business is postponed under the provisions of any standing order, may be returned, though opposed, after the interruption of business; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) will not apply;
(d) at the conclusion of debate on that motion, the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on that motion (including for the purposes of Standing Order No. 36(2) (questions to be put following closure of debate)) shall include the questions on any amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; and
(e) but if no motion which meets the requirements of paragraph (b) is tabled by 6.00 pm on [DATE PRIOR TO INTENDED DATE OF DEBATE), the provisions of paragraphs (a) to (d) shall not apply”

If his amendment passes a minority of 300 MPs across five parties – with only 10 Tories needed – would be able to control the parliamentary agenda. Effectively creating a minority opposition controlled legislature.

It is possible that this draft might be a ruse, so that it looks more like a reasonable compromise when they go for a straight majority in parliament taking control of legislative agenda from government. This is all designed to stop Brexit happening on March 29th without a deal in place. It is a coup against the expressed will of the people…

Leadsom Outwits Bercow and Grieve on Brexit ‘Plan B’

Dominic Grieve and John Bercow’s attempts to force the Government into a corner have fallen flat thanks to a loophole which allows the Government to avoid another humiliating defeat just three (working) days after the last one. Andrea Leadsom confirmed that the Government would lay its motion on its Brexit ‘next steps’ on Monday as required by Grieve’s rogue amendment, but that the debate and vote on it would not be held until the following Tuesday 29th. Backbenchers who have worked with Grieve on amendments before privately whisper that his drafting skills are not as tight as they are made out to be…

Leadsom also announced that the Government would not be bringing any more Brexit legislation back to the Commons for the foreseeable future, including the Trade Bill and the Immigration Bill. No legislation, nothing for Remainers to attach hostile amendments to…

Remainers To Formally Launch ‘Conservatives For A People’s Vote’ on Thursday

This morning Philip Lee, Dominic Grieve, and Heidi Allen met to plan the launch of ‘Conservatives for a People’s Vote’ which formally relaunches on Thursday at 8 in the Shard. A shiny skyscraper in central London, surrounded by bankers… That’ll win over Mansfield…

The group is expecting to receive explicit support from eleven Tory MPs, and plan to use the defeat of the PM’s deal to recruit more. Heidi Allen, who is voting for May’s deal, attended the planning meeting in the knowledge that it would be voted down. Her plan is to argue that she tried to pass the deal but now the only way out is a second referendum. Duplicitous…

Guido understands that public affairs agency Hanover Communications is managing the campaign. In other news, Hanover Senior Adviser Steve Richards appeared on Sky News earlier today arguing for a second referendum. Fancy that! 

Commons Clerk Torpedoes Remainers’ Brexit Sabotage Hopes

Commons Clerk David Natzler has torpedoed the wishful thinking of Dominic Grieve and others that they will be able to use motions in the House of Commons to force the Government into any particular course of action on Brexit, be it preventing no deal, extending Article 50 or forcing a second referendum. Natzler confirmed that the Government would have no legal obligation to follow any such motions. Remainers can pass as many motions as they like but none of them will stop Brexit…

As ever, the Government can only be bound by statute – although this does mean the Government is still vulnerable to amendments to primary legislation. Natzler also didn’t have a view on what would happen if the Meaningful Vote motion itself was amended, saying it would be a question for the lawyers. Brexit not entirely out of the woods yet…

Grieve Surrenders, Government Fudges

After all that, chief Remoaner Dominic Grieve surrenders and calls off his rebellion after the government comes up with yet another fudge. Each side can now argue about whether the meaningful vote will give parliament control in the event of the deal being rejected. As ever the can is kicked down the road. Real leadership on both sides as ever, well done everyone…

UPDATE: The government wins the vote 319-303.

Labour Poll Lead as Grieve Threatens to Collapse Government

A well-timed reminder of the consequences for Tory rebels backing Dominic Grieve’s threat to “collapse the government”. BMG has Labour three points in front this morning:

Guido has averaged out the Tory poll lead over the last two months (via UK Polling Report) – it is around 2%, well within the margin of error. If Tory Remainers defeat May today that could mean the end of her premiership and possibly a general election. Which Tory MPs want to join Grieve and Soubry in risking Prime Minister Corbyn?

Julian Smith Must Hold Firm Against Isolated Grieve

Over the last 48 hours there has been speculation that the whips are going soft and considering a further compromise to Dominic Grieve ahead of tomorrow’s Commons vote.

Guido isn’t sure what else there is to concede on. Number 10 has given Remainers absolutely everything they want, short of the ability to stop Brexit entirely. We are heading towards a very ‘soft’ Brexit, closely aligned to Brussels. We are staying in a customs union for years after Brexiting, possibly longer. By the end of the negotiation, things might be even closer to the Hammond / Remainer vision of Brexit than that. Further concessions are not acceptable.

Remain MPs who Guido has spoken are increasingly unimpressed with the Grieve / Soubry / Hailsham attempt to block Brexit. Most Tory Remainers accept that Brexit has to happen, and that it would be a dangerous betrayal of democracy to allow Grieve and co to get their way. Indeed, Tory Remainers are privately accusing Grieve of dishonesty over his motives. His talk of blowing up the government went down spectacularly badly, too. At least Hailsham and the rebels in the Lords are honest about wanting to stop Brexit. 

How many Tory Remainers have come out to endorse Grieve’s plot to keep us in the EU this week? The likes of Nicky Morgan have been quiet for days. Julian Smith must hold firm, win round the majority of the more sensible Remain rebels, and see Grieve off tomorrow with no further concessions…

Grieve: “We Could Collapse the Government”

Friday Caption Contest (Grieveous Error Edition)

Entries in the comments…

Lee and Grieve Dined Together Last Night

According to the popular Eye Spy MP account, quitter Philip Lee dined with arch-Remain rebel Dominic Grieve last night. Lee and Grieve are old friends. Did Grieve put him up to it? 

[…] Read the rest

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