Geidt’s Resignation Explained

Despite both Lord Geidt’s resignation letter and the PM’s response being published, the specifics behind the ethics adviser’s decision to quit remain broadly unanswered by both documents. Boris’s letter goes the furthest, specifying Geidt had been asked to look into a “potential future decision related to the Trade Remedies Authority” (TRA), which while “in line with our domestic law… might be seen to conflict with our obligations under the [World Trade Organisation]. With further details emerging, it now looks like Geidt’s decision is not only confusing, it takes the wind out of Labour’s sails…

In 2021 the TRA issued advice to then-Trade Secretary Liz Truss to drop tariffs on certain types of steel. While Truss was initially in favour of complying with the TRA advice, opposition from Cabinet – spearheaded by Kwasi Kwarteng – eventually meant the government deciding to go against it.

As Boris said, while this would be uncontroversial at home, it may have clashed with WTO rules. As reported at the timerolling over the EU safeguarding measures without an investigation, according to some respondents to the TRA’s review, would be “incompatible with World Trade Organisation rules”. The great irony here is that the minister in charge of TRA policy is none other than Boris’s chief ministerial dissenter Penny Mordaunt, who by extension has now unintentionally caused Geidt to quit. 

The specifics behind Geidt’s resignation also create a headache for Labour, who have been revelling in the news since last night. In 2021 Labour responded to the TRA’s recommendation to withdraw steel safeguards by saying the government “must instead accept Labour’s offer to work together in the national interest and come forward with emergency legislation, which we will support, to amend the regulations and allow Britain’s steel safeguards to be maintained in full.” 

Before these details emerged, it was speculated that Geidt had been asked to investigate an issue relating to a conflict of interest. Even following the publication of both letters, Robert Peston tweeted “the only conclusion to be drawn is that Geidt was asked to sanction tariffs being imposed to help companies with connections to the Conservative Party or ministers.”

It now appears not only was this not the only conclusion one could draw, it was an incorrect one. Government sources tell Jim Pickard that Geidt “never” mentioned potential conflicts regarding Tory donors in his conversations and texts about this with the PM. A government source describes Peston’s flawed conclusion slightly more bluntly to Guido, as a “deranged falsehood”.

mdi-timer 16 June 2022 @ 12:57 16 Jun 2022 @ 12:57 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Kwasi’s Fuel Market Fix Can Be Found in Whitehall

On Saturday, Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy wrote to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) requesting that it

“conduct an urgent review of competition in the fuel market, and to provide advice to the UK Government on steps that might be taken to improve outcomes for consumers across the UK.”

Guido can save Kwasi and the CMA a lot of effort. No inquiry is needed. Government taxes account for more than ten times* as much of the cost of fuel than retailer margins. If you want to improve outcomes for consumers, cut fuel taxes.

Andy Mayer, Energy wonk at the Institute of Economic Affairs, predicts:

“The inquiry will also find nothing new. There are over 8,000 fuel stations in Britain. It is self-evidently a competitive market, and could be more so by removing restrictions to competition, like motorway service licensing. The answer to high prices today is lower fuel duty. The answer to local differences is to build a rival, not more regulation. And the answer to lower long-term prices is more domestic production, not windfall taxes, banning onshore drilling, and dependency on imports.”

The failure to frack, along with high fossil fuel extraction taxes, add further hidden costs to wholesale barrel prices, which are then passed on to consumers at the pump. All due to the government…

*Retail fuel profits account for between the 2-4% (RAC) of each tank. Whereas, 45%-46% are taxes and 7-10% from the biofuel mandate.

mdi-timer 13 June 2022 @ 15:40 13 Jun 2022 @ 15:40 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Kwarteng: Windfall Tax on Oil and Gas Companies is a Bad Idea
mdi-timer 15 May 2022 @ 10:13 15 May 2022 @ 10:13 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Kwarteng: “Political Stability of Northern Ireland is Our Number One Priority”
mdi-timer 15 May 2022 @ 09:57 15 May 2022 @ 09:57 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Kwarteng: Russia’s “Initial Goal to take Kyiv Has Failed”
mdi-timer 15 May 2022 @ 09:48 15 May 2022 @ 09:48 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Kwarteng: “Absolutely Right” UK Should Scrap NI Protocol Despite EU Opposition
mdi-timer 15 May 2022 @ 09:33 15 May 2022 @ 09:33 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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