It’s an unfortunate coincidence that the name of the storm battering the UK, Eunice, shares such a similarity with the name of the man who’ll be in the spotlight once the skies have cleared, DEFRA secretary George Eustice. It turns out plenty of MPs have failed to spot the difference. Scrolling through Twitter no fewer than three MPs have managed to cock up without realising:
Storm Eustice has now been upgraded to a red warning for Friday morning.— Ruth Jones MP (@RuthNewportWest) February 17, 2022
If you are able to work from home tomorrow, I would strongly advise that. Tonight, if you can, secure anything around or outside your house, as it could be blown around tomorrow.https://t.co/TZrokwBqCh
⚠️Storm Eustice⚠️— Stephanie Peacock (@Steph_Peacock) February 18, 2022
We currently have a yellow weather warning in place from the Met Office.
This means that the weather may cause damage to trees and buildings, will affect travel, and may cause some power cuts and potentially injuries, so please do take care.
BEIS minister George Freeman also made the error, though managed to correct himself unprompted:
Still, MPs don’t have whole subediting teams to spellcheck their tweets. Hopefully no national news outlets would publish such an error…
To be absolutely clear: while George Eustice may be responsible for the environment, he cannot be held responsible for tearing apart the O2…
Last year, Guido set an important test for the Brexit-EU trade deal on regulatory sovereignty: would it allow the UK to repeal the EU’s stupid directive forcing websites to put up those annoying “Accept Cookies” banners? It seems trivial, yet this small annoyance is indicative of the hundreds of thousands of trivial and anti-business regulations that have unaccountably poured out from Brussels for decades, rubber-stamped by a servile parliament. If we can repeal the Cookie Law, Guido argued, that will indicate a far deeper sovereignty that allows us to do so much more. Six months later, it looks like the cookie button is finally about to crumble…
Buried deep in a new report published by the Taskforce for Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform – the group investigating how the UK can capitalise on its new regulatory freedoms post-Brexit – is a paragraph explaining why the ‘Accept Cookies’ request is a waste of time:
“Both behavioural science and common sense tell you that putting a ‘tick to accept’ box in front of someone at the point they want to access a website or service does not generate genuine informed consent, it just means people are likely to tick ‘accept’ without thinking…a good measure of whether reform is successful will be the end of pointless cookie banners.“
Finally, after five years of wrangling, the real Brexit victory is now imminent. Guido sends his warmest congratulations to the Taskforce leaders Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa Villiers, and George Freeman, who should all be immortalised for their heroism if and when the pointless “Accept Cookies” buttons finally disappear. Guido has long-argued that you can and should set your privacy preferences at browser level, once, not on every site, every time. Boris says Downing Street will “publish a response [to the report] as soon as is practicable”. Guido waits with bated breath for the Prime Minister to fulfil his patriotic duty and show, by banishing the cookie, that Brexit really was worth it…
Eric Pickles’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) has admonished two former ministers for taking on second jobs without first consulting the committee, as per the official ministerial rules. According to the anti-corruption watchdog, both Stephen Hammond and George Freeman failed to seek advice from Pickles when taking on extra roles within the two year grace period of leaving office. In terms the Wimbledon MP might understand, that’s 30-love to Pickles….
A letter written to Freeman, published last week, accuses the former transport minister of breaching the rules after taking £5,000 from Aerosol Shield Ltd in June 2020, just four months after leaving government. The notoriously wet MP was reminded the “rules exist to protect the integrity of government”
Ultra Remainer Stephen Hammond, who lost the whip in 2019, got an even bigger bollocking from the committee last night for failing to seek their advice before taking a £100-an-hour job with think tank Public Policy Projects. According to Pickles’s letter:
“The Committee regards it as unacceptable you did not seek advice as you were required to for your original role with PPP. This is a breach of the Government’s Rules, and the requirement set out in the Ministerial Code.”
Conversely, Former Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith set an example to Hammond and Freeman this morning, getting permission to take up a new role at Simply Blue Management Ltd. after consulting the committee in line with the rules. Lining your pockets is a bureaucracy-laden business these days…
Yesterday Guido revealed Laura Pidcock was fined £3,835.32 for cheating in her re-election attempt. Today Guido can reveal three other Members of Parliament have been fined by the Standards Commissioner after using Parliamentary resources for party political campaigning.
All three politicians had, like Pidcock, sent constituents campaign letters using Parliamentary stationery and tax-funded second class stamps. After constituents complained the Standards Commissioner investigated the breaches and handed out fines, all of which have now been paid. Nothing more than a slap on the wrist…
George Freeman’s lefty remain tent has become so broad it now apparently covers environmental extremists. His ‘Big Tent Ideas Festival’ has announced it is “unbelievably excited” to be “partnering with Extinction Rebellion”.
They’ll be in our #EnviroTent proposing that the UK’s current net zero target of 2050 needs to be revised to 2020/2025
— Big Tent Ideas Festival (@BigTentIdeas) August 12, 2019
But just last month the think tank Policy Exchange published a paper on the group by Counter Terrorism experts which outlined that Extinction Rebellion:
There is no doubt that Extinction Rebellion is an extremist organisation. What is Government Minister George Freeman playing at..?
Despite Boris’s insistence that all Ministers have to be on board with leaving the EU on the 31st October, deal or no deal, it seems not all of his new appointments are quite so enamoured with his policy. Transport Minister George Freeman this morning appeared on the Huffington Post podcast ‘Commons People’ and launched into an anti-no deal rant, claiming that “WTO long-term” would be an “absolute disaster that would leave my party out of office for decades”. Not exactly the Downing Street line to take…
Freeman freestyling on message doesn’t seem to just be confined to podcasts, his Big Tent Ideas Festival this year has a rather unexpected lineup for an event originally billed as coming from the “small c, pro-enterprise, innovation and reforming branch of Conservatism”. Guido is struggling to tell it apart from a Labour fringe event:
In Freeman’s defence there are some Tory Brexiteers going including Bob Seely, Penny Mordaunt and Liam Halligan, although they’re firmly in the minority. He’s going to need a pretty big tent…