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
Protocol Problem Produces Perils of Pronunciation

Guido has some sympathy for the British Foreign Secretary over her mispronunciation of the Irish Prime MInister’s title as “tea-sock”. If his daughters and wife are being particularly exclusionary they will talk in Irish over the breakfast table and mock any attempt by him to join in. It is headline news in the Irish press that Liz Truss mispronounced Taoiseach. Further evidence to feed the national meme that the British don’t understand Ireland…

It should sound like “tee shuhk”, though there are regional variations. Here is some guidance:

Incidentally Liz, if you do get to first name terms when you meet the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, do be careful. His name is pronounced “mee-hole”. Honestly…

mdi-timer 14 June 2022 @ 09:54 14 Jun 2022 @ 09:54 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Friday Caption Contest

Entries in the comments…

mdi-timer 20 May 2022 @ 12:30 20 May 2022 @ 12:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
EU Immediately Threatens Trade War After Truss Confirms Protocol Overhaul

It took less than an hour for the EU to start beating its chest over the Northern Ireland Protocol. At the time of going to pixel, Liz Truss is still up at the despatch box fielding questions over the planned changes, and already European Commission VP Maroš Šefčovič has issued a statement essentially threatening a full on trade war:

“Should the UK decide to move ahead with a bill disapplying constitutive elements of the Protocol as announced today by the UK government, the EU will need to respond with all measures at its disposal. Our overarching objective is to find joint solutions within the framework of the Protocol. That is the way to ensure legal certainty and predictability for people and businesses in Northern Ireland.”

Read the full statement below:

Read More

mdi-timer 17 May 2022 @ 13:56 17 May 2022 @ 13:56 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Truss Confirms Plan to Overhaul Northern Ireland Protocol

Liz Truss has just confirmed the government will set out draft legislation overwriting the Northern Ireland Protocol for the sake of preserving the Good Friday Agreement “in all its dimensions“. Unilateral action the EU is inevitably threatening would “break” international law…

While Truss stressed she is “open to a negotiated solution” with the EU, months of deadlock have finally come to a head, and unless the protocol is changed, power sharing in Stormont will be politically impossible. Truss stressed the changed would be “consistent with our obligations under international law”:

“The Northern Ireland protocol does not have the support necessary in one part of the community in Northern Ireland… practical problems have contributed to the sense that the east-west relationship has been undermined… We need to restore the balance in the agreement.”

The legislation will create a “green channel” for British goods entering Northern Ireland which will not be shipped out of the UK, tearing up the red tape currently in place on those exports. Businesses will also have a choice between aligning with UK or EU standards in a dual regulatory regime. The UK will also be able to set tax and spend policies across the entire country. The new bill will be set out in the next few weeks, before summer recess. “We cannot afford to delay any longer”…

mdi-timer 17 May 2022 @ 12:56 17 May 2022 @ 12:56 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Heappey Refuses to Rule Out NATO Involvement if Russians Have Used Chemical Weapons

Following unconfirmed reports overnight that Russian forces have deployed chemical weapons in Ukraine, Armed Forces Minister James Heappey appeared on the media round this morning to warn that, if confirmed, the attack “crosses a line” and refused to rule out direct NATO involvement for the first time. Ominous, although still unlikely…

Speaking on the Today programme, Heappey said:

“…I think it’s important that everybody is clear that the reports overnight haven’t been verified […] but if they were used, [world leaders] have all been clear that that crosses a line and all options are on the table for how we would respond…”

Pushed for specifics, Heappey added:

“I think some ambiguity is useful, but all options means all options… it’s also not for any government minister from an individual country to pledge NATO involvement, it’s perfectly possible that a response to chemical weapons use could happen outwith NATO involvement. But ‘all options on the table’ is meant as a deterrent to President Putin…”

Truss used a similar line last night, although Heappey’s refusal to rule out a direct NATO response goes even further. All we can do is wait and see…

mdi-timer 12 April 2022 @ 09:02 12 Apr 2022 @ 09:02 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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