A clearly frustrated Boris at the Liaison Committee this afternoon railed against the idea that Huw Merriman could not ask a question due to tech problems when he is in the same building and there was plenty of room in the Committee Room. A freshly libertarian Boris said:
“By the looks of things he’s in Portcullis House… he could literally walk in here Bernard. I mean we could do this incredibly thing called actual propinquity. It’s a revolutionary concept. In a Covid secure way Huw could come and sit here.”
Boris clearly not keen on pettifogging rules…
Over the last decade or so, Eurostar has booked hundreds of millions of euros in profits for shareholders. This morning the French transport minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, has told French lawmakers that negotiations are underway over protecting the cross-channel rail link which, hit by the 95% drop in passengers, has seen its profits turn into losses. Just like many other enterprises.
The dripping wet Tory chairman of the Transport Select Committee, Huw Merriman, is reportedly backing French calls for a bespoke UK-French government solution to help it through the crisis. Why?
Why can’t the shareholders reap the losses just as they reaped the profits? Why should British taxpayers subsidise a majority French state-owned venture that has paid institutional investors hundreds of millions? If the shareholders are short of cash, why can’t they get a bank loan on commercial terms? If the current owners don’t want to shoulder the losses then let it go bust and new owners can takeover. Rishi Sunak should not fall for the banker’s con we saw in 2008, that profits should be private and losses should be socialised by taxpayers, not again.
A new Parliamentary term means new Select Committee Chair elections, and the races are already hotting up. Two of the more interesting battles are shaping up to be the Health and Social Care Committee, vacated by Sarah Wollaston, and the Transport Committee, which switches from Labour to Tory due to the size of the Government’s stonking majority. The formerly Lib Dem Science and Technology Committee is turning Blue too…
On the Health Committee, Guido hears that Jeremy Hunt is angling for the top job, but is facing a strong challenge from Dr Dan Poulter who has been sounding out colleagues about standing for the role.
Guido understands that former Transport Minister Robert Goodwill will be standing for the newly Tory role of Transport Committee Chairman, against Tory wet Huw Merriman.
Crispin Blunt is also staging a re-match against Tom Tugendhat who beat Blunt to take the role in 2017.
With every Government bill almost guaranteed to pass, Committee Chair races are set to become the biggest source of scrutiny…
PPS to the Chancellor Huw Merriman has spent most of today claiming that he will imminently be fired for speaking at a second referendum rally this afternoon. He even told the gathered Remainers that “I am determined to play my part, and if that means I use my voice and I get fired for it, then so be it.” A source in Number 10 has told Guido that Merriman remains PPS to the Chancellor.
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) January 23, 2019
Michael Fabricant was on his feet championing the West Midlands economy at PMQs again – little did he know that right behind him fellow Tory MPs Kelly Tolhurst and Huw Merriman were making fun of his hair. No doubt fabulous Fabbers will take it in his stride…