Nick Timothy: Theresa May Sees Brexit as a “Damage Limitation Exercise”

The inexorable truth straight from the mouth of the adviser who knew her best. Much as Timothy rightly took much of the blame for the 2017 election debacle, if anything the long-term damage done by removing the true Brexit believer from May’s inner circle has been far greater…

Nick Timothy Tells May to Back Max Fac

Another important intervention from Nick Timothy in the Telegraph today, who directly advises his old boss to drop her customs partnership and back the Brexiters’ Max Fac option. Last week Timothy savaged the NCP, today he makes the case for Max Fac and tells Number 10 to “get on with it”. Theresa May still listens to her former chief of staff, it is also significant that Max Fac is being pushed by someone in the PM’s trusted inner circle, not just Cabinet Brexiters and the ERG. Timothy says Max Fac:

“…can be made efficient by sensible policy and technology, and the costs can be offset by the opportunities provided by trade deals with the world’s fastest growing economies…

Downing Street’s reluctance to choose “max fac” is driven by concern about the Northern Irish border. But “max fac” does not demand a hard border. Checks do not need to be conducted along the border: the administration can be done in advance through pre-registration and trusted trader schemes, and monitoring can be conducted in each country. Small businesses can be exempted, more powers devolved to Belfast, and more all-Ireland governance arrangements can be agreed to facilitate trade.

The Commission says this is impossible, but their negotiating stance is hardly surprising when they believe Parliament might force the Government into a customs union. And whatever Barnier says, “max fac” would be no anomalous lacuna in the EU’s border. Two years ago, more than a million migrants simply walked into Europe. And as anybody who has driven into France from Switzerland knows, there are no checks along whole sections of the EU border.

The EU is ignoring its own negotiating guidelines. They say “the unique challenges of Ireland will require flexible and imaginative solutions”. The responsibility to find these solutions is not only British but European too.

If there is a compromise to be made, ministers might accept that “max fac” will take longer to be introduced than the current implementation timetable suggests. But to get its way with Brussels, and to convince Parliament that there is an alternative to a customs union, the Government needs to get on with it, choose “max fac” – and start making its case.”

The crunch meeting is now on Tuesday next week. If Timothy was still in Downing Street May would be backing Max Fac, instead she has been captured by Remainers. Five days to see sense…

Nick Timothy Advises May to Drop Customs Partnership

An important intervention from Nick Timothy in The Sun, who has called on Theresa May to drop the customs partnership proposal. His critique of the plan backed by Olly Robbins and Cabinet Remainers is devastating:

After months of scrutiny, it seems unlikely to work. The EU has dismissed it as impossible, and it involves significant risks for Britain.

It would almost certainly require “full regulatory alignment” with the EU, meaning that after Brexit we could not change our laws and regulations in a long list of ways. It would create a bureaucratic burden on businesses and some may choose to use higher EU tariffs, or avoid importing and exporting altogether.

And, because of the need for alignment with EU regulations and the complexity of dual customs checks, it would be much harder to negotiate trade deals with other countries. So today, when Theresa May chairs her Brexit Cabinet Committee meeting, she should lead ministers to a clear decision about the Government’s favoured customs policy.

That decision should be to reject the “new customs partnership” and pursue instead the Government’s own alternative proposal: its “highly streamlined customs arrangement”.

If Timothy was still in Number 10, the customs partnership would be dead. The people keeping it alive are Remainers trying to undo the referendum result…

Nick Timothy Leaves Twitter

Nick Timothy attempted to come to the aid of his old boss yesterday by revealing that Theresa May was on holiday when the infamous ‘Go Home’ vans were signed off. It is fair to say doubts have been raised about May’s supposed opposition to the vans. Timothy has now deleted his Twitter account…

Nick Timothy Dodges Question of Contact With May

Asked by the BBC’s Eleanor Garnier if he is still in contact with Theresa May, her former chief of staff Nick Timothy said he hadn’t seen her since the election. That’s a yes then…

The Sun’s Corbynista Columnist

Consider this left-wing nonsense:

“The Government should be prepared to redistribute more through the tax system: from the wealthy to working families with modest incomes. They should be prepared to increase taxes on accumulated wealth so they can cut taxes on income. They could raise more money through inheritance tax.”

In a country where the top-marginal rate of tax is 60%* is the pressing policy challenge a lack of redistribution and too low rates of taxation? After managing to keep a mere 40% of your justly earned income this wonk wants to increase the tax burden on your savings. If you then want to pass on your savings to your children he wants to tax the cash all over again…

Which left-wing Corbynista policy wonk is responsible for this nonsense? Nick Timothy, author of that Conservative Party manifesto and Theresa May’s former right-hand man for policy, proposed this in The Sun this morning. How he thinks social mobility will be increased by taxing people more heavily is not clear. Margaret Thatcher correctly identified that many of her opponents would “rather have the poor poorer, provided that the rich were less rich.”  Levelling down is the worst form of social mobility…

*According to the Taxpayers’ Alliance a salary of £110,000 will, including employers’ NI, see you on a marginal rate of 66.6%.

Nick Timothy: The Policies Were Rubbish

Tory MPs always enjoy Nick Timothy’s “Ideas to Win” column in the Telegraph. The snap election manifesto author reckons this week’s policy announcements were rubbish:

“This week was the opportunity for the Tories to reset and show the country not only that they understand the need for change, but that they have the policies to change people’s lives for the better. Unfortunately, they failed to take their opportunity… It is odd, for example, that the Treasury supported putting £10 billion into helping people to buy existing homes but only £2 billion into building new ones… Where was the policy earlier in the week? Where was the plan to make our economy truly dynamic? What is the future for school reform? What should we expect from the review of higher education? What about the cost of living? Several policies felt like they had been watered down due to disagreements between ministers… The Tories need to get their act together, and fast.”

Some may bristle at being lectured on terrible policies by Timothy, but he is right. 5,000 new homes a year is paltry, £360 a year extra for students is a mickey-take and imposing an energy price cap while extolling the virtues of the free market is not credible…

Hammond and Treasury “On Manoeuvres” Against Brexit

A timely intervention from Theresa May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy, who fingers Philip Hammond for being “on manoeuvres” against Brexit. Timothy says May “deserves the support of her ministers, Leavers and Remainers alike” – the implication being that the likes of Hammond and Rudd are undermining the PM on Brexit. He accuses Hammond of playing “games” and says “the Treasury’s reluctance to even mention the positives of leaving the EU, such as the Brexit dividend, is why the government has not talked positively enough about the opportunities of Brexit. In that respect, the Foreign Secretary was right in his Daily Telegraph column last Saturday”. As Guido reported on Monday, Hammond and the Treasury have been pushing for a soft EEA-light Brexit, contrary to government policy…

For an idea of just how much the Treasury hates Brexit, here is former HMT permanent secretary Nick Macpherson responding to Timothy’s article:

The man who ran the Treasury until last year implying Brexit is an “overwhelming wickedness” and some terrible example of human nature that needs to be “curtailed“. This is the sort of pompous, anti-democratic civil service intransigence May is still having to deal with. Mandarins and Remainer Cabinet ministers are working against government policy and the referendum result…

Nick Timothy on Osborne’s Standard

Nick Timothy on George Osborne’s latest:

“Evening Standard editorials will soon be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.”

Nick Timothy’s Lessons From Yanis

Those Tories uncomfortable with Nick Timothy’s more statist policy platform will be amused to see he is a disciple of Yanis Varoufakis. The book beardless Timothy is reading is the Greek firebrand’s “My Battle with Europe’s Deep Establishment”. Nick was one of the leading Brexiters in the government before he quit, no doubt he and Yanis have some shared experiences…

Nick Timothy: Brexit Still Has to Mean Brexit

Nick Timothy might be out of Downing Street but he is almost certainly still advising Theresa May off the books. Many MPs are convinced he will just be emailing her from his Gmail account rather than his Number 10 address. Timothy was a Brexiter, one of the sounder people in May’s team on Europe, and had consistently argued to the boss and Cabinet that a real Brexit had to mean leaving the ECJ, single market and customs union. In an article for the Speccie today, he outlines what the PM has to do to fulfil her promise that Brexit means Brexit:

“Skilful leadership may deliver stability, but the absence of an overall majority means the nature of the Brexit deal the government negotiates is more uncertain. There has long been talk of a choice between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ forms of Brexit, with the latter requiring membership of the EU’s single market. Since that would involve accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, vast annual membership payments to the EU, and the continuation of free movement rules, people who voted to leave the European Union might wonder whether advocates of a ‘soft’ departure really do understand that Brexit means Brexit.”

Many Leave Tory MPs who hated Timothy’s manifesto were apprehensive about him leaving Number 10 due to his strong commitment to a real Brexit. They will be hoping Theresa is still listening to him…

Nick and Fi Resign

Nick Timothy out:

“I take responsibility for my part in this election campaign, which was the oversight of our policy programme. In particular, I regret the decision not to include in the manifesto a ceiling as well as a floor in our proposal to help meet the increasing cost of social care. But I would like to make clear that the bizarre media reports about my own role in the policy’s inclusion are wrong: it had been the subject of many months of work within Whitehall, and it was not my personal pet project. I chose not to rebut these reports as they were published, as to have done so would have been a distraction for the campaign. But I take responsibility for the content of the whole manifesto, which I continue to believe is an honest and strong programme for government.”

Read his whole article on ConHome.

A Tory spokesman says Fiona Hill has resigned too. May now all alone in Number 10 without the aides upon whom she depended…

Katie Perrior Machine Guns Nick and Fi

Former Downing Street comms chief Katie Perrior goes on the record about what it’s like working for Theresa May’s top two aides…

Hammond Admits Sweary Rows With Team May

Philip Hammond on the Today programme repeatedly refused to deny reports of rows with Theresa May’s aides, in particular Nick Timothy, and even let slip that he had “occasionally sworn”. When they call it “tittle-tattle” you know it’s true…

Death Tax Wasn’t Just Awkward For Hammond

The Sunday papers reported that Philip Hammond has shelved plans for a new death tax after deciding his previous statements on the policy meant a u-turn would be too toxic. The Sunday Mirror said Hammond “feared he’d look a plonker”, while the Sunday Times quoted an aide:

“Virtually everyone who was in the cabinet when the death tax was first suggested is on the record saying it is a terrible idea. That’s quite hard to get around.”

Guido knows another reason why a death tax would be a very brave move by the Tories. Which top CCHQ aide was at the forefront of those vicious attacks on Labour’s death tax back in 2010? The Conservative Research Department’s then deputy director, now Downing Street chief of staff Nick Timothy…

Nick Timothy Was ‘In Charge’ of Thanet Campaign

The Tories have consistently denied that Downing Street chief of staff Nick Timothy worked directly on the expenses scandal-hit South Thanet campaign. CCHQ’s line has been that Timothy only “provided assistance for the Conservative Party’s national team“. Tim Ross’ book ‘Why the Tories won‘ – the authoritative inside account of the 2015 general election – tells a very different story. By this account Timothy was drafted in by Lynton Crosby to “take charge” of the Thanet campaign:

Lynton Crosby called in Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s special adviser, who had experience of working on successful by-election campaigns before the 2010 election. He was sent to take charge of the party’s flagging campaign to stop Farage in Thanet, where Henry Macrory, the party’s former press chief, and Marion Little, from CCHQ’s campaign team, were already on the ground. The CCHQ reinforcements found a campaign in Thanet devoid of effective messages, with no strategy for turning the tide….

Ross also places Timothy at a restaurant in Thanet when one Nigel Farage walked in:

On one otherwise unexceptional evening, Farage, his election strategist, Chris Bruni-Lowe, and a number of other team members were enjoying a meal and relaxing over a few drinks – or maybe more than a few, after a long day, one of those present recalls. At a table across the room sat the rival Conservative team, including Henry Macrory and Nick Timothy. Farage spotted the table of Tories and, ever the bon viveur, picked up his glass and wandered over to engage them in conversation. ‘So this is what I’m up against, is it?’ the UKIP leader joked, in an attempt to break the ice. But there was no sign of a thaw. The table of Conservatives put down their forks and turned to Farage, fixing him with a hard stare. ‘We all just kind of looked at him and didn’t really say anything. After a while he went away,’ one of the Tories recalls. Another source says the Conservatives muttered abuse at Farage and told him he was ‘splitting the right’ and risked allowing Labour to win. Farage quickly concluded his attempt to socialise with the enemy would be fruitless and so he left. ‘Well, if they want to be rude, fuck ’em,’ he thought as he returned to his table and sat back down.

The original Tory line on this is in danger of blowing up…

Top May Aide Nick Timothy Gets Crick’d

The long legs of top Theresa May adviser Nick Timothy allow him to run away from Michael Crick’s Tory election expenses questions…

Taking Out the Trash Day: Nick and Fi on £140,000 Each

Downing Street has chosen the first day of the Christmas holidays to publish the salaries of government special advisers. Theresa May’s joint chiefs of staff Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy are on £140,000 each. There are now 83 SpAds costing the taxpayer £7.9 million a year…

Top May Ally Cleared: PASC Rules Tory SpAd Telecanvassing Was Unlawful

A report published today by the Public Administration Select Committee has found that CCHQ were wrong to ask Special Advisers to campaign for the party in the Rochester by-election. Theresa May’s SpAd Nick Timothy was dropped from the candidates list in a major internal Tory row after he argued that demands from Grant Shapps for SpAds to take part in telephone canvassing were against their Code of Conduct. The report finds:

“We therefore conclude that any direction to a Special Adviser to conduct telephone canvassing was misguided, and that advice that such a direction or such canvassing was permitted under their Code and contract of employment was wrong in law… We recommend that Special Advisers should never again be confronted with directions or informal pressure that puts them in breach of the Code and of their contracts of employment.”

Will the Tories now reinstate Timothy to the candidates list after this key ruling?

UPDATE: Labour’s Jon Ashworth sticks the boot in:

“The Parliamentary Authorities have delivered a damning assessment of the Number 10 operation, and we now need to know which Ministers were complicit in issuing this ‘misguided’ advice. Given the proximity of the election campaign, we need a formal government response today which outlines how Number 10 will ensure no rules will be broken over the role played by Special Advisers.”

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