Government Minister Backs Customs Union

Today Wimbledon MP and Government Health Minister Stephen Hammond has written to constituents expressing his support for “a Single Market and Customs Union style solution.” Stating that he believes that a “Hard Brexit and no deal are not acceptable outcomes”, Hammond is playing fast and loose with collective responsibility. The manifesto he was elected on, and the referendum result he purports to respect directly contradict him…

Hammond hinted yesterday that he would resign to try and prevent a No Deal Brexit. Today he has broken another manifesto commitment…

This is a big change of tune from last week when he was reportedly one of the linchpin backers of the Malthouse Compromise. The Government can’t allow Ministers of the Crown to go around freestyling like this if they are serious about getting the whole party on board…

‘The Malthouse Compromise’: Leavers and Remainers Unite Behind Brexit ‘Plan C’

In an unexpected development late last night, reports began to leak out of a secret compromise hammered out between Brexiteers including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker and Remainers including Nicky Morgan and Stephen Hammond. Even Remain-leaning Government ministers Robert Buckland and Kit Malthouse are on board, with Baker crediting Malthouse for bringing the warring factions together as he confirmed the reports which somehow managed to remain secret until last night. Remarkable given the range of people involved…

According to the messages sent to Tory MPs by Nicky Morgan last night, The ‘Malthouse Compromise’ would’:

  • Replace the backstop with the alternative protocol from the ‘Better Deal’ report launched last month, which would be “acceptable indefinitely”.
  • Extend the transition period for up to a year until the end of 2021 to give time for a smooth transition to a new relationship (Plan A).
  • Include a “triple safety net” around exiting with no Withdrawal Agreement:
    • Continue to offer ‘Plan A’
    • Agree a standstill transition period with the UK paying its financial commitments
    • Offer a GATT 24 WTO-compliant standstill on trade with no tariffs, no quantitative restrictions and no new barriers for execution” to come into force at the end of 2021 if the future relationship has not been agreed by then

Morgan says that “this would allow time for both parties to prepare properly for WTO terms, but also provide a period in which the parties could obviate this outcome by negotiating a mutually beneficial future relationship”. EU citizens’ rights would be guaranteed in all circumstances.

The big question is how this plan relates to today’s Parliamentary action. There are no amendments specifically related to it for MPs or even the Government to get behind, but the broad coalition of support behind it makes it impossible to ignore. Guido understands that Downing Street is interested in the proposals but has concerns about technical aspects around SPS checks…

Brexiteers remain divided over whether to support Sir Graham Brady’s amendment on renegotiating the Irish backstop, despite Theresa May giving it her official backing last night. Liam Fox confirmed on Today that the Government would be seeking to reopen the legal text of the deal if the amendment passed, potentially reassuring Brexiteers that it is not simply going to be ‘Operation Figleaf Mk II’. Guido cannot see any good reason for Brexiteers not to support Brady’s amendment, it is compatible with the ‘Malthouse Compromise’ and the best chance of changing the worst aspect of May’s deal…

New Ministerial Appointments In Full

Following the appointment of potentially troublesome Amber Rudd as DWP Secretary, Remainer rebel Stephen Hammond has replaced new Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay as Health Minister.

John Penrose who backed Remain but has become an ERG stalwart since the refendum has been appointed as Minister of State for the Northern Ireland Office. Leave-voting Kwasi Kwarteng has been appointed as new junior Brexit minister after serving for 18 months as Philip Hammond’s PPS. The Cabinet’s balance has shifted further in favour of remain, and some potentially troublesome backbenchers have been bought off…

Tight Tory’s £4.50 Remembrance Expenses Shocker

Earlier this year, Guido revealed Labour MP Sarah Champion’s £17 expenses claim for a poppy wreath.

Then top Miliband aide John Cruddas was caught putting funeral flowers on the taxpayers’ tab.

Now the Tories are at it too.

Wealthy Stephen Hammond rakes in £67,000 a year as the MP for Wimbledon. He also owns a luxury £500,000 second home in Portugal, complete with a swimming pool.

That didn’t stop the rotund miser from filing a £4.50 expenses claim on Remembrance Sunday last year for “mileage” to drive, in his own car, to “two Remembrance services” within his constituency.

This is what greedy Hammond said about MPs’ pay in the last parliament:

“An MP salary should be linked to a public sector job of similar responsibility such as a GP. Official figures I have been shown put the average salary for a GP at over £105,000.”

At least then maybe he’d be able to find the cash to honour our heroes from his own pocket.

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Quote of the Day

Ken Livingstone deployed a corker on TalkRadio this afternoon…
“I joined the Labour Party 50 years ago this month and in all that time I have never heard a single anti-semitic comment.”

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