Government Launch Review into Scrapping HS2


The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has this morning announced there will be an independent inquiry into whether HS2 should be scrapped, with a decision made this Autumn on whether the ludicrously expensive project will continue. In some estimates, the ballooning endeavour has been projected to cost over £100 billion. At least unlike HS2, this enquiry will be completed in an expeditious time frame…

The review, chaired by civil engineer Douglas Oakervee and deputised by HS2 critic Lord Berkeley, will look at whether the most expensive infrastructure project in Europe should continue, the benefits and impacts on the North and London, affordability, efficiency, deliverability and its relations with Boris’s planned Northern Powerhouse Rail. In the meantime, work on HS2 will continue in a more limited capacity. Hopefully this review will be the end of the line for Osborne’s vanity project.

Shapps and Mitchell Plotters’ Dinner Scheduled Tonight

You couldn’t make it up: Grant Shapps’ local Tory association are hosting their annual dinner this evening at Beales hotel in Welwyn Hatfield. Guess who is down as the guest speaker? Only Shapps’ fellow arch-plotter Andrew Mitchell, who spent the summer along with Shapps calling round MPs stirring up anti-Theresa May sentiment. They could probably do with a few glasses of vino to forget the last 24 hours…

Shapps Mauled in Tory MPs’ WhatsApp Group

Earlier Steerpike reported that Grant Shapps was added to the Tory MPs’ WhatsApp group this morning. Here are a selection of messages to Grant from MPs in the group via WikiGuido’s column in the i tomorrow:

“I’ve added you to this group of colleagues. The summary is WTF and STFU.”

“There are fewer signatures on your list than files sent to the CPS after the election campaign you ran as chairman.”

“Do yourself a favour and wind your neck in.”

“My constituents are demanding we get our sh*t together.”

“Keeping our sh*t together seems the most sensible approach.

“Totally agree on the sh*t front.”

Another MP tells Guido: “It’s so bad, if I were him, I wouldn’t go anywhere near Westminster next week”. Conference and leadership gossip round-up here

Nads: Diane Abbott Must Be Doing Shapps’ Adding Up

“If Grant Shapps has got 30 people signing his petition then Diane Abbott must be doing the adding up.”

Zing…

Disgruntled Sacked Ministers Blamed For Plot

There are two lines of thoughts among MPs as to the motivation behind the Shapps plot. Is it is an attempt by Remainers to disrupt Brexit and install a pro-Remain PM? It is true that some arch-Remainers are on manoeuvres – Guido understands Anna Soubry texted the Chief Whip Gavin Williamson calling on May to go. Yet most Tories don’t think it is a Remain/Leave issue and instead blame disgruntled former ministers who have one thing in common: they lost their jobs. Shapps and Vaizey case in point. Soubry more privately vocal…

If Shapps had anything close to 48 names he would have gone to Graham Brady in the knowledge that the 1922 Committee chairman would tip May off that the threshold was approaching so she could go with dignity. Which means he is likely well short. Shapps has always been self-mythologising and is seen by many as deluded – three weeks ago he said he wanted to be PM himself. Ministers are asking how many names on his list are his own? It could snowball and get to 48 names, though if the whips did leak it to The Times, it’s only because they think sunlight will kill it…

Shapps: ‘I Want to Be PM’

On Radio 4’s At Lunch With just three weeks ago Shapps was asked directly if he wanted to be Prime Minister. He said:

“Yeah, everyone would want to do that in their right mind… I don’t think there’s any reason why I couldn’t do it… what you’ll always think is what’s the best way to make a big change…”

Cringe…

Shapps Calls For Leadership Election

Grant Shapps tells 5Live’s Stephen Nolan:

“She should call a leadership election. This is a view I’ve held for quite some time. Quite a lot of colleagues feel the same, including five former Cabinet ministers.”

Shapps has long been an enemy of May and has been on manoeuvres riling colleagues up since the election. MPs yesterday told Guido Shapps had spent the day ringing round asking colleagues if they thought she should go. According to MPs Guido spoke to most of them were not receptive. Shapps says he told Downing Street last week he was formulating a list of MPs, including five former Cabinet ministers, who think she should go. He says more names were added to the list yesterday and that serving members of the Cabinet want her to resign. How many names does he have?

Tory MPs Boycott Channel 4 News Over Jon Snow Bias

The general consensus among Tory MPs Guido has spoken to over the last few days is why should they bother appearing on Channel 4 News if their main anchor thinks it appropriate to shout “f**k the Tories”? A view taken by Grant Shapps when he was asked to go on last night. Snow-gate is now preventing C4 News from having a balance of guests… starting to become a problem for editor Ben de Pear…

Shapps Declares For Remain

Rumour doing the rounds [13:20 now confirmed] that Downing Street have got Grant Shapps, who calls himself a Eurosceptic, to declare for Remain. Presumably a return to government for him is imminent. Is Michael Green backing Leave?

Below are the Tory MPs who have yet to declare:

Andrew Mitchell, Grant Shapps, Tracey Crouch, Jackie Doyle-Price, James Heappey, Pauline Latham, Phillip Lee, Charlotte Leslie, Huw Merriman, Wendy Morton, Caroline Nokes, Mary Robinson, David Tredennick, Jessie Norman [not declaring]

Downing Street will be offering everything under the sun to the bigger names to get them on the Remain side. Keep an eye on Mitchell…

CCHQ’s Battle Bus Guidance Revealed

battlebus

Where do the Tories stand on the election fraud scandal? They are bang to rights on failing to declare £38,000 of hotel bills for Tory activists, blaming an “administrative error”. The issue of transport – the fabled “battle buses” – is contested. There are three outcomes here. Are CCHQ right when they say they’ve done nothing wrong? Did they breach the rules on national and local spending? Or was there a conspiracy to hide spending from the official declarations?

Leaked emails reveal CCHQ told their local campaign teams that the cost of hotels and battle buses would be “accounted for out of central campaign spend”. It stressed transport within the seat was not included: “For legal reasons the Battlebus cannot ferry people around the seat”.

The arrangement had the “personal sponsorship” of Grant Shapps, was “signed off” by Lynton Crosby, Stephen Gilbert and Lord Feldman, and was “supported by Deborah Feldman’s Team in CCHQ“. That’s Lord Feldman’s sister.

The good news for the Tories is this shows they did see battle buses as part of the national campaign all along, and demonstrates they were taking steps to abide by spending laws. So they can argue there wasn’t a conspiracy to hide the cash. The bad news? If the cops find it should have gone down as local spend, the party chairman and his sister are implicated…

Shapps Throws Feldman Under the Battle Bus

The Tory election expenses scandal is ramping up a notch. Grant Shapps made it crystal clear on the Daily Politics which of the two Tory co-chairman was responsible:

“I can tell you absolutely that compliance was not my area… compliance wasn’t my side of things, campaigning side was my side of things but not the money or the finance”

Asked who was responsible, Shapps replied: “Other people at CCHQ”. The co-chairman in charge of the other “side of things” was Lord Feldman…

Meanwhile the Electoral Commission is meeting with the CPS and police today to decide on applying to extend the limit on prosecuting election expense allegations. Stay tuned…

BT Forgets to Hang Up

Could have been a lot worse…

Harry Cole on Shapps Resignation

Feldman next?

Shapps Resignation Letter in Full

Dear Prime Minister,

In July 2014 I gave a second chance to former candidate Mark Clarke. Having been removed from the candidates list following the 2010 election, Clarke had gone on to establish a campaigning organisation called RoadTrip2015. He presented himself as having learned from his past experience, being more mature and wanting to prove himself again. After some discussion, I appointed him in order to incorporate RoadTrip into our wider campaign. The aim being to better coordinate his activity with our rapidly expanding Team2015 target-seat operation.

During this summer and autumn, there have been widely reported, very serious allegations made about the conduct of this former activist, who has subsequently been expelled from the Party. I appreciate that there are ongoing coroner and Party investigations underway, yet whatever the outcome of these processes, I doubt any of this will bring much comfort to the Johnson family whose loss is simply unimaginable.

Although neither the Party nor I can find any record of written allegations of bullying, sexual abuse or blackmail made to the Chairman’s office prior to the election, I cannot help but feel that the steady stream of those who raised smaller, more nuanced, objections should have perhaps set alarm bells ringing sooner. In the end, I signed that letter appointing Mark Clarke ‘Director of RoadTrip and I firmly believe that whatever the rights and wrongs of a serious case like this, responsibility should rest somewhere.

Over the past few weeks — as individual allegations have come to light — I have come to the conclusion that the buck should stop with me. Given the very serious nature of what has subsequently occurred and my role in appointing Mr Clarke, I cannot help but conclude that the only right course of action is for me to step down as a Minister in your government.

It has been an enormous honour to serve in your government which is making tremendous progress in taking Britain forward. You will have my full support from the backbenches, where I will also continue to work for my Welwyn Hatfield constituents who have elected me to serve.

But more than anything, I am deeply shocked and saddened by the recent death of Elliott Johnson and my thoughts are with his friends and family.

Yours ever,

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP

Grant Shapps resigns for not acting on bullying claims that CCHQ say they never received…

UPDATE: Shapps is replaced at DFID by former minister Nick Hurd.

BBC / Sky: Shapps Resigns

The BBC and Sky report that Grant Shapps has quit over the Mark Clarke scandal. Yesterday Elliott Johnson’s father Ray called on both Shapps and Tory chairman Lord Feldman to resign. Statement expected this afternoon…

Shapps to FCO

shapps

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP as a Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This is in addition to his current role as a Minister of State at the Department for International Development.

Developing…

UPDATE:

Wikipedia Slaps Down Shapps’ LibDem Tormentor

schapps

The ominous sounding ArbCom, Wikipedia’s arbitration committee – a sort of geek court – has stripped the Wikipedia administrator who alleged to the Guardian that Grant Shapps had a sockpuppet account, of all his Wikipedia editor privileges.  A geek death sentence…

ArbCom ruled that Richard Symonds, the administrator in question, had abused his CheckUser privileges, an app which allows Wikipedia administrators to check the IP address and thus physical location associated with a specific Wikipedia account. By not sharing his findings with the Wikipedia community and running straight to the press, Symonds created the “appearance” that he was using his the CheckUser tool to “exert political or social control“.

The committee also found that “no evidence” turned up by Symonds or by them definitively connected the supposed ‘Grant Shapps sockpuppet account’ with Grant Shapps himself or anyone else. Shapps may feel justice has come too late..

How Grant Shapps Could Be Back in Cabinet in Just 3 Easy Steps

So, you’ve been demoted from your Cabinet-attending role as Tory party chairman to a lowly junior ministerial role at DfiD. Do not fear! Here is your how-to guide to getting back round the Cabinet table in just three easy steps:

Step One

The government’s decision on airport expansion is a step closer post-election. The LibDems – most importantly Vince Cable – are out and Boris has been given a role where he would not have to resign if the Tory government backs Heathrow. A decision could be made in the next few months…

Step Two

One person who would surely have to honourably fall on her sword if the government chooses Heathrow is Justine Greening. As MP for Putney, opposing a third runway was her main local campaign for re-election. As she says on her website, “Justine has led our community’s campaign against extra aircraft noise from an expanded Heathrow… Justine will continue to stand up for the thousands of residents who are concerned about aircraft noise”. Could she realistically vote for a Heathrow third runway?

Step Three

Who is the junior minister at DfiD who could step up to fill the vacant Secretary of State position in an emergency? Ah yes, the minister of state, one Grant Shapps.

Barring any brewing personal scandal that might slight his good character, there is a route back to the Cabinet table…

Shapps Comes Out Fighting

It is fair to say all the evidence against Grant Shapps is purely circumstantial, there is no conclusive smoking gun, on that basis the Tory chairman would have a good case for defamation against The Guardian.  It is not impossible he was framed, it is also possible that an over eager aide could be responsible – “the Chuka defence”. One for the Courts perhaps?

LibDems Troll Shapps

The LibDem press office are having a laugh:

Coalicious![…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Seen Elsewhere



Tip offs: 020 7193 4041
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Peter Mandelson tells Emma Barnett…

“I think that Jeremy Corbyn himself should search his conscience and ask himself whether he’s the best person to lead the Labour Party into the general election with the best chance of success for the party.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.