When Gove Compared Prince Charles to Hitler

In his past life as a journalist, while he wasn’t busy going through David Attenborough’s bins, the now Environment Secretary made an interesting comparison between Prince Charles and… Adolf Hitler. According to Gove, both were fans of classical architecture, haters of metropolitan life and “keen supporters of population control”. Gulp…

DD on Govey

David Davis says of Michael Gove…

“he is clever. But sometimes clever men miss the obvious.”

Gove: Chequers Right “For Now”

 

Michael Gove tells Andrew Marr

“A future PM could always choose to alter the relationship between Britain and the EU, but the Chequers approach is the right one for now.”

Gove in the Moment

Michael Gove in the present tense…
‘The Prime Minister is doing a great job at the moment’

Boris Storms Ahead of Rivals

Number 10 will be spluttering into their cornflakes this morning after seeing the latest ConHome survey. Boris has stormed ahead of all the other contenders with 35% of Tory Party members now backing him to be next PM, ahead of Sajid Javid on 15%. The Mogg is third on 10% while Gove is languishing in fourth with 6%.  Another boost for Boris as he ramps up the pressure on Chequers…

Norway Is No Way Out of Euro Limbo


The “Norway” option of staying in the EEA was one of the first to be ruled out after the referendum – among other issues it doesn’t allow the UK to end free movement and would mean the UK remaining subject to vast swathes of EU law in perpetuity. Although much the same could be said about Chequers…

However, the suggestion of using the EEA as a staging post during the transition period has regained some traction after senior Tory MP Nick Boles made a renewed call over the weekend for the UK to seek temporary membership of the EEA, to give the government time to negotiate a new relationship with the EU and avoid what he calls the “humiliation” of Chequers. Boles is very close to Michael Gove – has the Environment Secretary gone cold on Chequers after taking the heat from angry local party members over the summer break?

It won’t work for several reasons. If the UK had announced it was seeking to maintain EEA membership two years ago, it’s possible that the EU would have agreed to it. At this stage in the negotiations it’s unlikely the EU will accept any EEA-style deal unless the UK also commits to remaining in the customs union. As we’ve seen time and time again in the negotiations, the EU simply pockets any British concessions and then continues demanding more…

And while Boles’ well-intentioned plan only views the EEA as a short-term stop, many Brexiteers are understandably worried that once the UK gets in, the inertia of the EEA will prove too great to overcome and Britain will end up staying in on a permanent basis, with all the disadvantages that brings. If the Brexit negotiations are still a mess after March next year, that will at least be a strong incentive for both sides to keep negotiating until a sustainable long-term solution is found. Once Britain has been safely bound up in the trap of the EEA, the EU will have no incentive to come back to the table…

As Boris’ column this morning pointed out, there are still over two years until the end of the transition period – time which can be used to negotiate a better alternative to Chequers. With the exception of the Irish backstop, the Withdrawal Agreement itself should not lock the UK in to any particular type of future relationship. Provided the UK does not give in to the EU’s demands on the Irish backstop, there is no need to make a desperate dash for the EEA option. It’s not too late to put a comprehensive Canada-plus deal back on the table…

Now Gove Floats EEA at Dinner With Remainer Tory MPs

It falls to Guido to gently prod Michael Gove and remind him of his commitments to 17.4 million Leave voters, and his own Brexit red lines from before he accepted a job in Theresa May’s Cabinet. Because the Michael Gove who the FT says has been floating the EEA model to ultra-Remain MPs isn’t the Michael Gove who fought the referendum. They report:

Michael Gove, the Eurosceptic UK environment minister, has privately discussed a backstop plan that would keep the UK in the EU single market if Theresa May’s Brexit strategy failed. At a recent dinner, Mr Gove talked with moderate Conservative MPs and peers about a scenario in which the UK would remain “parked” in the European Economic Area, like Norway, to avoid the chaos of a disorderly “no deal” exit… Mr Gove raised the possibility at a private dinner with about 20 Tory MPs and peers on June 25…

His dinner with members of the Green Chip dining group — a gathering of moderate Tories set up by Mr Gove and former minister Greg Barker to support David Cameron, the former prime minister — was part of that drive. One ministerial colleague has taken to jokily referring to the environment secretary as “St Michael of the EEA”…

“He was steering the conversation towards the EEA idea,” said one MP who attended the dinner. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Michael’s personal rating with Tory members was 73% last month, he is now on a dismal 39% post-Chequers. Guido would urge him to reassess his leadership strategy, because it clearly isn’t working.

Tory Members Want PM Boris as Gove’s Popularity Plummets

Boris Johnson has been catapulted into first place in the ConHome Tory leadership survey of members following his resignation over Chequers. His rating has quadrupled as members come to the conclusion he is the only leader who can deliver a real Brexit. He is now more than ten points ahead of anyone else, and you can effectively add Jacob Rees-Mogg’s numbers to Boris’ too. MPs in marginals will be looking at this thinking he is the only one who can keep them in their seats when an election comes. A reminder that those pundits who love to write Boris off are motivated by jealously rather than reason…

And just look at what has happened to the fortunes of those who backed Chequers. Last month, Michael Gove was in second place on 17%. After his Brexit sellout, he has plummeted to fifth on a meagre 9%, behind “other”. Guido cannot help but feel supporting Chequers will be fatal for the leadership ambitions of the remaining Cabinet Brexiters…

Gove’s East Coast Train Wine

Michael Gove was filmed generously sharing his wine with other passengers in the first class carriage of a newly nationalised LNER East Coast Main Line train yesterday.

Surprised he was sharing after a day with the Cabinet…

Tory MPs to Reflect Over Recess on Who Can Beat Corbyn

The YouGov/Sunday Times polling this weekend which put various potential Tory leaders against Corbyn to voters has given much food for thought for Tory MPs as they head off for recess. With Labour now pulling ahead (41% against 36%) in polling since the Chequers Plan sell-out, the question of who can beat Corbyn post-May is becoming urgent…

Despite a continuous monstering in many of the pro-Remain papers by green-eyed hacks, Boris remains the Tories’ best hope according to YouGov. With Boris as leader the Tories would now be tied (38% to 38%) with Corbyn’s Labour. With Mogg they trail Labour by 5%, with Gove, Saj and Hunt they would be double digits behind. Something for Tory MPs in marginal seats to reflect on over the holidays.

Boris still has the ability to reach parts of the electorate that no other Tory can, he is the reason the Leave campaign won the referendum. When Tory MPs return to their constituencies, this polling will focus minds in the coming months…

Source: YouGov

Gove: Deal Critics Guilty of “Fake Outrage”

Michael Gove gave a full-throated defence of Theresa May’s deal on Marr, blasting those criticising the proposal as being guilty of “fake and mock outrage”. Gove says the two people who most oppose the deal are Clegg and Farage. Err, what about multiple Cabinet members, dozens and dozens of Tory MPs, 60% of Tory members (according to a ConHome poll this morning). And no doubt a huge number of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave. Are they all faking it?

Guido understands that Gove fully backed the PM’s plan from the beginning of the Chequers meeting, to the astonishment of Brexiters in the room. Gove has carefully moderated his position on Brexit over the last year, calculating that his best shot of becoming leader is getting Remain MPs onside. Today he has written a joint op-ed with ultra-Remainer Greg Clark in the Mail on Sunday lavishing praise on the deal. Guido can’t help but wonder if Gove has misjudged this. What will Brexiteer MPs and voters make of his performance over the last 48 hours?

ConHome: Saj Would Beat Gove in Tory Leadership Contest

The conversation in Tory circles is very much centred around Theresa May going in the spring if she makes it through this year. ConHome’s survey of party members this morning calculates that Sajid Javid would currently beat Michael Gove as their choice for next leader. The run offs ConHome has surveyed over the last few days have been interesting: Boris beats Hunt, Saj beats Hunt (not much going for the Health Secretary) and Gove beats Boris. Saj has had a good couple of months and finds himself in a strong position…

Liz Truss on “Wood-Burning Gove”

Team Truss spinning hard that she didn’t break collective responsibility on the government’s plastic straws policy as that line was taken out of the speech. As you can see above though, she did make the crack at “wood-burning Gove”.

Truss is boldly attempting to spin her jibe as a good-natured joke about a “good mate”. Interesting way to treat your mates…

Ruth and Gove Blast ‘Dour, Joyless, Pessimistic, Unhappy, Authoritarian’ Tories

Some choice quotes from the keynote speakers at the launch of the Osbornite / Mayite / centrist think tank Onward last night. Ruth Davidson left the sweaty Churchill Room in parliament in no doubt as to who she was talking about here:

“Sometimes as Tories we just look a bit dour. We look a bit joyless, to be fair. A bit authoritarian, sometimes. We don’t get to win if we start hectoring the people that we need to vote for us… We’ve got to learn to be a bit more joyful… It’s not just what you say but it’s what you can show people… when you do it with a smile, they actually get behind you.”

Bet that went down well in Number 10.

Her attack on Labour was punchy too:

“If you look at Jeremy Corbyn, actually I feel sad. I feel sad at how far a once important, integral, sensible, solid party has fallen. And I then look at John McDonnell, and the shock troops, and the troll factories, and the conspiracy theories and their envy and their fake news and their Skwawkbox and their Canary and the rest of it, and I think that this Labour Party has about the same amount of moral authority as Sepp Blatter putting a fiver on Russia getting the World Cup. I genuinely think to myself, when I look at the Nationalists or the Corbynistas, what I see is a movement that works in its own way to break up our country. That’s what they want. They want to tear it apart.”

A woke Michael Gove said of Ruth: “In the future when think tanks ask, ‘Can we get the pregnant lesbian to speak?’, they will ask: ‘Which pregnant lesbian?’”. Less woke Gove made two comparisons between himself and Ruth, first as Ike and Tina Turner, the second between Sonny and Cher. Perhaps might have thought that through.

His musical call for the Tories to pursue a Fleetwood Mac / Pharrell Williams strategy was more successful: ‘Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow’ and ‘Happy’ would certainly be a change of tone. Gove echoed Ruth in calling for optimism, though his call could have easily applied to Remainers as well:

“Sometimes in the past the Tories have been pessimistic and unhappy, uncomfortable that we seem to be living in the 21st century, when the 1950s would be far more attractive, and what a pity that the 19th century isn’t an option. Indeed when I heard today that Club 18-30 was at last closing, I thought that must be a group of Conservative modernisers looking forward to that year as some glorious future to which they can aspire.”

The evening was also notable for Neil O’Brien’s Macron style speech, which several in the audience saw as the beginnings of a leadership bid. The theme of the night certainly that the Tories should be more bold, interesting, positive and happy than what is currently on offer…

Gove Rules Out Extending Transition

Gove ruled out an extension to the transition period, telling Nick Robinson “I don’t believe in an extension… in delay there lies no plenty… we need to crack on” and must “meet the deadline”. That’s a thanks but no thanks to Nick Boles’ suggestion from last week…

Gove on “Flawed” Customs Partnership

Gove suggests the proposed customs partnership does not meet the tests set by Theresa May in her Sunday Times article today. Tough to see how the customs partnership can survive…

Ministers Warn May: We Must Leave Customs Union

Following the Sunday Times story that Number 10 is once again considering surrendering on the customs union, two Cabinet ministers tell the PM she has to hold firm:

According to the Sunday Times, Number 10 think Gove wouldn’t resign if they cave on the customs union – and he does not address that point in his tweet. Gove is playing the long game and been carefully moderating his positions with his eyes on a bigger prize. But no self-respecting Brexiter can stay in the government if Number 10 capitulate on this. 

Yet again we are having to re-run the same old arguments as May fails to get a grip and tell her Remainer advisers that we are not staying in a customs union. This is going to be a big week for Brexit – more tomorrow… 

Onward to PX2

Invitations are going out this week for the launch party of Onward, the new Tory think tank promising to come up with ‘retail’ policies to win back under-45 voters. Onward was the brainchild of Tory MP and former Osborne SpAd and Policy Exchange director Neil O’Brien, with Nick Faith, the former PX comms chief who now runs WPI Strategy with Sean Worth. So is it just Policy Exchange Mark II?

Onward’s main aim seems to be to bring the Cameroon and May brands of Tory party politics together. Last summer O’Brien and Faith organised a dinner at the home of Tory donor David Meller (don’t mention the President’s Club), who hosted Nick Timothy and JoJo Penn from May’s inner circle, top Cameroon Nick Boles (a former PX director) and a number of younger ambitious MPs. Onward’s director will be former May adviser Will Tanner, its chair is Osborne confidant Danny Finkelstein (former PX chairman), and its board members include former Cameron advisers Kate Rock and Kate Fall, ex-Osborne aide Eleanor Wolfson, and Craig Elder, who co-ran Cameron’s digital campaigns in 2015 and the referendum. Their main financial backer is Martyn Rose, who ran Cameron’s National Citizens Service.

The plan is to create a party-oriented think tank for MPs rather than wonks, which combines Timothy’s statist agenda with the more liberal politics of the Cameroons, and has both Remainers and Brexiters on board. They have signed up MPs from the left and centre-right of the party, from Ruth Davidson and Tom Tugendhat to Michael Gove and Kemi Badenoch. It will have some external authors but most of the reports will be written by MPs.

The danger for Onward is it goes down the road of expensive, interventionist, big-state policies which mean higher taxes, more spending and more borrowing – social democracy with a blue-wash. A May-Osborne fusion could mean more cumbersome policies like the energy price cap, HS2 and ever-creeping vice taxes. Guido also fears the instinctively more liberal, small-state, low tax MPs may fail to resist the temptation to drift leftwards as they seek wider support ahead of the next leadership contest. Number 10’s hopeless lack of a domestic agenda means the Tories are crying out for post-Brexit polices, or, perish the thought, policies that could actually be implemented while Brexit is taking place. They won’t beat Corbyn with lite versions of his policies…

Chequers Security Lapse

Smart watches were banned from Cabinet meetings years ago for fears the Russians could hack them and listen in. In 2016 the Telegraph reported: “Under Theresa May ministers have been barred from wearing them amid concerns that they could be used by hackers as listening devices. One source said: ‘The Russians are trying to hack everything'”. Not sure Vlad will have learned much about the end state…

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John McDonnell tells the Gallery/Lobby lunch what the priest told him to do…

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