Arms Folded in Unity

Actually not a bad ad lib from Corbyn pointing out that Amber Rudd was keeping Boris and Hammond apart at PMQs.

Positive body language… sorta.

Hammond: EU “Silly” For Not Moving Talks On to Next Stage

Philip Hammond has given an interview to CNBC, where he demanded an end to “the infighting on our own side”, insisted “we’re gonna be prepared” for no deal and called the EU “silly” for refusing to move talks onto the next stage.

“The biggest sticking point of the moment is process. The European Union have decided on a process to follow. And it’s become apparent that that process isn’t going to facilitate the most effective negotiation… This seems like a rather silly thing for us to get hung up on. If we could just have a talk about this round the table I’m sure pretty sure we’ll unstick it.”

Guido agrees with Phil…

Tory MPs’ Two Nicknames For Hammond

Tory MPs have been texting each other using their two favourite nicknames for Philip Hammond this week (see the i for more). Remember when Nick Robinson accidentally called the Chancellor “Spread Sh*t Phil”? Tory Brexiters see it as an apt description of his downbeat Brexit assessments, though equally it could describe his “enemies” intervention this afternoon. More recently backbenchers have taken to calling Hammond “PH1”, since he is so sour about the referendum result. He has certainly left a bad taste this week…

Hammond Calls Brussels “The Enemy”

If Boris had said that Remainers would be calling for him to be sacked. This obviously won’t endear Hammond to Brexiters, it will just inflame tensions with Brussels. Is he trying to lose his job?

UPDATE: Hammond repents:

Lawson: Sack Saboteur Hammond

Nigel Lawson calls for Philip Hammond to go: “what he is doing is very close to sabotage”. Strong words summing up some of the Brexiteer feeling towards the Chancellor this week…

Mail Calls on May to Sack Hammond

The Daily Mail, which has remained steadfastly loyal to Theresa May and whose view she values highly, says “treacherous” Hammond must go:

“Dismal, defeatist, relentlessly negative, Philip ‘Eeyore’ Hammond might just as well run up the white flag to Jean-Claude Juncker and the Brussels bureaucracy. At every stage in the Brexit process, the inordinately self-satisfied Chancellor has struck a profoundly pessimistic note over the country’s prospects in the wider world outside the European Union. In defiance of Theresa May, he has called for a three-year transition period after withdrawal, while welcoming the doom-mongering CBI’s calls for an indefinite delay…

It is not as if the man is much of a threat to her. With all the charisma of a gloom-laden undertaker, he has no personal following at Westminster. Nor has he so far proved an effective Chancellor. On the contrary, his Budget was a disaster, with his hastily withdrawn plan to attack the self-employed. Meanwhile, there are capable replacements in the wings…

At the earliest opportunity, she needs a reshuffle to stamp her authority on the party and give new talent the chance to revive the Cabinet. What is absolutely clear is that this lack of grip cannot go on. At this crucial juncture in our history, we need a Government with vision and purpose — not half-hearted, lugubrious appeasers like Mr Hammond.”

Today’s Sun editorial meanwhile calls Hammond “grossly negligent”. May wanted to fire Hammond after the election but the result meant she was too weak to go through with it. The broadcasters and Remain media obsess about Boris’ perceived disloyalty, when there was nothing in his 4,000 word article which contradicted government policy. Hammond on the other hand has consistently argued with Number 10, whether on the customs union, length of the transition, budgeting for no deal or his general gloomy tone. May had to slap him down once again yesterday. Compare and contrast the broadcasters’ coverage of Hammond and Boris to see where their views lie…

Hammond: No Cash For No Deal “Until the Very Last Moment”

Only a few bombs dropped by Hammond at the Treasury select committee this morning. The Chancellor said he wouldn’t spend cash on preparing for no deal “until the very last moment”, which is winding up Brexiters no end.

“I don’t believe we should be in the business of making potentially nugatory expenditure until the very last moment when we need to do so.”

He raised the issue of air traffic unprompted, saying it was unlikely flights would be grounded in the event of no deal but admitting it is “theoretically possible”, which he knows will grab headlines. And he said the lack of progress during the negotiation was causing a “cloud of uncertainty” over the economy. Carefully and cleverly worded by Hammond to both slap down Brexiters and get anti-no deal headlines in Remain papers…

Hammond Refuses to Budget For No Deal

For months Brexiters have warned the Treasury and civil service are not preparing properly for the possibility of no deal. Despite May and Davis starting to make more encouraging noises on no deal preparations, Philip Hammond writes in the Times that he won’t spend any money now to prepare for that outcome. In March Number 10 sources told Guido the likelihood of no deal was 50-50, those same odds were offered by a Cabinet minister to the Sun this week. Why would the Chancellor rule out budgeting for something which the government says could easily happen? That is just irresponsible. 

If Hammond won’t fund plans for no deal it simply doesn’t look like a credible option. It’s not hard to see that this clearly weakens our negotiating position with the EU. Also curious for Hammond to come out and say this given it is a direct provocation to Leave Cabinet ministers who asked for the money this week. Arguably a greater undermining of the PM’s position than anything in Boris’ article…

Nadine: May Should Sack Hammond

May wanted to fire Hammond after the election but he was saved by her weakness following the result. There’s a case that Hammond is far more at odds with government policy than Boris or any other Cabinet Brexiter. Getting rid would have saved a lot of time and effort…

Gloomy Hammond Speech Falls Flat

Philip Hammond’s gloomy speech was a barely coded attack on Boris and Liam Fox, talking up the “difficulties” of Brexit, insisting we must remain “closely linked” to the EU, and talking down investment. His jokes fell flat too:

Hammond: Brexit “has created uncertainty so investment has slowed as businesses wait for clarity.” Very much NOT the DIT position

Fiscal Phil sends ’em to sleep…

Hammond and Rudd Bomb in Tory Focus Group, Boris Still Membership’s Favourite

Fascinating Frank Luntz focus group on the Sunday Politics asking Tory voters their thoughts on potential leadership contenders. Terrible viewing for Hammond (“so boring, so dull, bland”), and bad too for the great Remain hope Amber Rudd (“not leadership material, she’s backroom staff”). Better for Boris (“underneath it he’s very, very intelligent”), though it was the Mogg and David Davis who were most popular. Nobody in the room wanted May to fight the next election…

With over half of ConservativeHome readers wanting Theresa May to go before the next election, on Friday YouGov helpfully released this poll:

Basically Boris wins if he gets in front of the membership according to YouGov. Amber Rudd is likely to be the unity candidate of the continuity-Cameroons and Tory Remainer resistance, with Ruth Davidson campaigning for her fellow Remainer. DD and Boris will split the pro-Leave majority of the parliamentary party so it is, as things stand, going to be a Tory leadership campaign where in the final membership round Rudd likely loses to one of them. Is DD more popular with MPs than Boris?

Fiscal Phil

Philip Hammond asked to describe himself in one word:

“Fiscal.”

Team Hammond: Brexiters Are Stupid

Classic condescending quote from “an ally” of Philip Hammond on the front page of the Telegraph, the use of the phrase “simple-minded Brexiteers” is revealing:

“The bottom line is this is not going to be easy, something that’s overlooked by simple-minded Brexiteers like Boris. When it comes down to practicalities it may take longer.”

So anyone who doesn’t agree with Hammond and Amber Rudd that the transition must be longer than two years is a “simple-minded” Brexiter. Remember Hammond and Cabinet Remainers had until last week been living in a fantasy land of a five year transition. A senior government Leaver tells Guido in response:

“Hammond has been revealed as duplicitous and calculating and the mouthpiece of the City. He’s also been done up like a kipper by Boris and Davis. There’s a reason the PM was going to chop him.”

Of all the briefing at the moment, not sure sneering at Leavers is the best look for the Chancellor…

Hammond Overspending By Just £10 Million-an-Hour

The Tories are claiming it is some sort of achievement that public sector net borrowing was £28.3 billion between April and August, down £0.2 billion on 2016. Yes, big congratulations to Philip Hammond for getting government overspending down to just £10 million or so an hour.

All Smiles After Cabinet

Boris and Hammond clearly made to walk out together from this morning’s two and a half hour Cabinet as some show of unity. “Is he your new best friend?” heckles the BBC’s Chris Mason…

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…

Cabinet Brexit Split: Where They Stand

All explained here

Hammond, Heywood, Robbins Pushing For Weak “EEA Light” Deal

The £350 million row is (once again) distracting everyone from the real story. James Forsyth has written a bang on the money blog about the “biggest Cabinet Brexit split” – between “several of the most senior members of the Cabinet” who want an “EEA minus/light” deal, and Boris and Gove who want a CETA/Canada plus model. An EEA minus/light deal means the UK shadows EU regulations and ECJ judgements, tying the UK’s hands and not delivering the Brexit for which Britons voted. A Canada plus deals means the UK shadows some standards but mostly we would be able to forge our own way in the world. This is what is kicking off right now.

Guido understands Boris went bonkers last week when he found out Theresa May was heading towards the EEA light option at her Florence speech. Senior Tory Brexiters say the EEA light model is being pushed by Philip Hammond and Remainer civil servants in the Treasury, the permanently frustrating Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood and Olly Robbins, the DExEU permanent secretary who it was announced this morning is off to Number 10. Dom Cummings, who Tim Shipman revealed yesterday was still in close contact with Boris and Gove, alleges David Davis is sympathetic to the EEA light option. Friends of DD deny that is the case. Boris and Gove are strongly opposed and insist it is the worst of all worlds.

As Open Europe’s Henry Newman, former SpAd to Gove, explains:

“Government needs to debate and decide what sort of country UK ought to be after Brexit: that’s the prior question rather than transition. The Treasury are pushing for us to be in an “EEA minus” arrangement – just outside of the Single Market but bound into a regulatory ERM. EEA minus would mean all the costs of Brexit and few opportunities. We need to be further along the spectrum from Norway/Swiss to Canada.”

EEA minus/light is essentially the Swiss model. When Switzerland sought to end freedom of movement they were threatened with being cut out of single market access and eventually had to climb down and relinquish control of borders. Theresa May should not be promising loads of money on Friday in exchange for a weak Swiss-type deal which does not deliver the Brexit people voted for. Guido believes May wants to do Brexit right, she has certainly shown no sign of wavering so far. She should remember that Boris and Gove won the referendum, not Hammond and Heywood…

Victory For Hammond? Proposal Meets Tory Leavers’ Demands

The Times and FT predictably report today’s proposal for a temporary customs union with the EU during the transition period as a victory for Philip Hammond. Is this true? Back in June Guido told you what most Tory Leavers want:

“Leavers want Britain fully out of the single market and customs union within two or three years, well in time for the next election. Tory MPs are concerned that the public will want to see progress on immigration and trade deals by the time they next vote. One of David Davis’ main reasons for lobbying Theresa May to call a snap election was so Brexit could be fully completed by the next election.”

DD’s proposal clearly meets the requirements of Tory Leavers so long as the transition period is short, time-limited and trade deals can be struck well in time for the next election, so voters can see evidence of progress in Brexit Britain. Guido has spoken to various Leave Tory sources this morning who support today’s plan so long as the implementation phase is as brief as possible and those trade deals can be struck with time to spare. As has always been the case. Backbench Brexiter Bernard Jenkin sums up the view of Tory Leavers:

“Anything that smooths our exit and gives business reassurance is good but it depends how long this transition period is. We must not look hobbled in our trading relationships with non-EU countries.”

Privately Tory Leavers feel these “victory for Hammond” headlines on policies they also support are a price worth paying to help build consensus. Last month Remain papers called the transition itself a victory for Hammond, even though the vast majority of Tory Leavers support it. The reality is a transition has always been sensible and inevitable, supported by Tory Leavers so long as their conditions are met. Today’s proposal meets those conditions on paper, over to the EU…

Hammond and Fox Dash Remain Media’s Wishful Thinking

Back in June, Guido told you a consensus was forming between Hammond, Fox et al on a time-limited 2-3 year transition outside the single market and customs union. As other publications breathlessly reported on Cabinet splits and Brexit coming off the rails, we wrote:

“Everyone in government including Philip Hammond agrees on a destination outside the single market and customs union… Hammond and Leavers now agree on a “softer landing”, so long as the transition is short and time-limited… this seems to Guido a sensible approach for a smooth, real Brexit.”

Yesterday Hammond and Fox dashed the hopes of the less reality-based Remainers, writing a joint article for the Sunday Telegraph confirming what Guido readers already knew:

“We will leave the customs union and be free to negotiate the best trade deals around the world as an independent, open, trading nation.

[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Corbynista media cheerleader Aaron Bastani says his friend Clive Lewis’s “b*tch” comment was:

“beneath any parliamentarian”

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