Greg Clark’s Soft Brexit Push is Sign of Things to Come

Remainer Cabinet ministers are not even bothering to wait for Theresa May to be defeated in the meaningful vote next week before putting forward their Brexit ‘Plan B’ ideas. Heavily Remain-leaning Business Secretary Greg Clark has broken ranks to come out and call for ‘no deal’ to be taken off the table and for the Government to pivot towards a softer Brexit to get the deal through with Labour support, neither of which are Government policy. Yet.

Clark doubled down on Today, pointedly saying that “not just the Government, but the whole of Parliament” would work out the “shaping of the final deal”. He is not alone, Lidington, Gauke and Rudd have also made their opposition to ‘no deal’ explicit. The question for Brexiteers is to what extent they are outliers or actually represent mainstream Cabinet thinking. Or even the view of Number 10…

While Downing Street has still not taken ‘no deal’ off the table publicly, privately they are extremely adverse to allowing ‘no deal’ to happen. For now their Plan A is still to get enough Tory and DUP MPs back on board to eventually get May’s deal through. If this proves to be impossible, Plan B will not be to press ahead with ‘no deal’ but to seek support from the Labour benches instead by softening up the deal further, think customs union and much more of this. Bercow’s willingness to play fast and loose with Parliamentary procedure opens the door to worse…

Brexiteers are right in their criticisms of the deal but they have a much bigger fight on their hands in trying to force ‘no deal’ in whatever happens next than many realise. How far will an unholy alliance of Downing Street and Cabinet Remainers with Labour’s Remainer MPs be prepared to go to force through a Brexit-in-name-only rather than allow ‘no deal’ to happen?

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Clark: Extend the Transition Period

More posturing from chief Cabinet remoaner Greg Clark as he suggests extending the transition period:

“You need to be aware of the technical requirements and respect them… when it comes to putting in place the arrangements for our permanent relationship we have to be guided by the evidence.”

They never want us to leave…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Tories Won’t Kick Out Pendle Racist Joke Councillor

Confusing message from the Tories this morning over the Pendle councillor who was re-instated therefore securing a majority despite having been suspended for posting a racist joke online. On Sky Party Chairman Brandon Lewis said he would look at the case again, noting the councillor had been through “diversity training” and served her punishment. But Greg Clark, over on BBC One, said she had no place in the party “if those are her views.” Accusing Labour of racism has been the Tories’ main attack recently. Trust them to throw it away…

UPDATE: Pendle Tories said:

“In June last year Rosemary Carroll was suspended from the Conservative Party for three months over a post made on social media. The post was shared in error but Rosemary fully accepted the potential upset caused and sincerely apologized. Having served her suspension period she re-joined the party and completed additional diversity training.”

Mogg: Customs Partnership is Effectively Staying in EU

It’s nearly two years since the referendum and the government still hasn’t decided its position on customs. Number 10 want to further delay the decision to the Autumn (by which point any remaining negotiating leverage will have disappeared). Senior Tories are now in open warfare on TV over the issue. It’s hard to understate how serious the next few days are…

On Peston Jacob Rees-Mogg clearly explained why the customs partnership would require adherence to single market rules to function. “We would not in effect be leaving the European Union”… 

He then accused Business Secretary Greg Clark of fostering “scare stories” and “Project Fear”:

“You’d have thought it would have come to an end by now.”

Finally Mogg took apart the remainer argument over terrorism, security and the Irish border, suggesting it is disgraceful for remainers to mobilise fear of terrorism for their political ends. Starting to feel like it could really come to a head this week…

Greg Clark’s Project Fear 2.0

Business Secretary Greg Clark launching Project Fear 2.0 on Marr this morning. Clark, one of the most ultra Remain cabinet members, scaremongered in defence of their customs partnership. This week could really kick off…

Who is on Question Time Tonight?

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DECC RIP

decc

So farewell, then, the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It’s merging with BIS into the new Greg Clark-led Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Hopefully that streamlining brings greater efficiency. Here are some of their greatest hits:

  • Paying £600 to promote just one job advert on LinkedIn – which nobody clicked on.
  • Running a photo contest about what climate change might impact in the average Brit’s “day-to-day life” – and choosing a photo of a dead zebra as the winner.
  • Shelling out £1.3 million in bonuses – including nearly £300,000 to already well paid top civil servants.
  • Spending £500 per day on printing – despite having run a “Think Before you Print” Campaign.

Take your hot air with you…

Conservatives In: Spot the Difference

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE

In the top photo, “Kent Conservatives In” activists pose for a picture as members of the local Tory Remain campaign.

In the second photo, “Sussex Conservatives In” activists pose for a similar snap.

Notice anything odd?

The pavement is the giveaway – the photos were taken in exactly the same place, they just swapped the banner. Look closer and you see the exact same activists appear in each photo, they just swapped places so they appear for the cameras in a different order. One way of disguising the fact no one wants to campaign for you…

UPDATE: This from the weekend is another ConservativesIN event, publicity photos on the right show the closely pressed crowd, on the left we can see that the speech was actually delivered to a seated audience of three. Which is, to be fair, a pretty good turnout for a Hammond speech…

c-in

Greg Clark Denies U-Turn on ‘Right to Buy’ Manifesto Promise

Communities Secretary Greg Clark appeared to have quietly backed down to housing associations on “Right to Buy”. Furious Housing Association fat cats were opposing giving tenants the chance to own their own homes because they argued they were being forced to sell their assets at a discount. Following negotiations and heavy lobbying over the summer, Clark has this afternoon said he is considering their new offer to ‘voluntarily’ introduce the extension, ensuring market rate sales with discounts to tenants subsidised by the government. This looks like a complete cave in and effectively a U-turn on a manifesto promise. 

 “We will extend the Right to Buy to tenants in Housing Associations… It is unfair that they should miss out on a right enjoyed by tenants in local authority homes.” Conservative Manifesto 2015

Guido isn’t quite sure how it could be described otherwise. If landlords only have to sell to tenants on a voluntary basis, tenants won’t have a ‘right’ to buy, landlords will have an “Option to Sell”, just as they do currently…

UPDATE: DCLG sources get in touch to insist there is no U-turn, that the proposal from the Housing Associations will have to “absolutely ensure a right-to-buy”. They were unable to confirm whether or not legislation would be required.  When Guido asked if the proposal seen today matched the right to buy commitment in the manifesto he was told “We haven’t read it”.

UPDATE II: Greg Clark calls to tell Guido forthrightly “If they [housing associations] want to extend the right to buy to more people that is all well and good.  My bottom line is that their proposal must match up to the ‘Right to Buy’ manifesto commitment and if they want to do it voluntarily they can start implementing it right away. There will be no compromise on introducing ‘Right to Buy’.” 

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Quote of the Day

Tobias Ellwood tells LBC…

“So Jeremy Corbyn will meet with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA with no preconditions, but won’t meet the British Prime Minister without her agreeing to his precondition.”

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