James Cleverly has diplomatically warned Cabinet colleagues to shut up after yesterday’s day of chaos, in which collective responsibility broke down on everything including the 45p u-turn, immigration numbers and uprating benefits in line with inflation. Speaking on the BBC this morning ahead of Liz’s big speech, the foreign secretary warned:
“All Cabinet colleagues ultimately are going to have to abide by collective responsibility… I think it’s always better and easier to feed ideas, particularly when you’re in government and have access to the Chancellor and the PM, feed your ideas directly into the centre of the system…”
On TimesRadio he also implied yesterday’s comments from Braverman, Mordaunt and Clarke – among others – were inappropriate. Guido hears Cleverly’s speechwriter had to edit a swear word out of the Foreign Secretary’s speech earlier this week; we can only imagine how many expletives Cleverly wanted to use in response to yesterday’s farce…
Cabinet Ministers have not been shy in freelancing on economic policy over the last few days, with Suella Braverman now attacking the Government’s reversal of a cut to the 45p rate of tax. Speaking to Christopher Hope this afternoon, the Home Secretary expressed her “disappointment” at the U-turn, and criticised the rebels who effectively “staged a coup” against the PM. She’s not one to mince her words…
The blue-on-blue fighting didn’t end there, with Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke taking to Twitter to support Suella:
Suella speaks a lot of good sense, as usual. https://t.co/EHEPhhZ0sX— Simon Clarke MP (@SimonClarkeMP) October 4, 2022
Jacob Rees-Mogg was also quick to voice his disappointment at the scrapped cut at a fringe event this afternoon, although he claimed to recognise the politics of the move. This all comes in the context of public cabinet battles over benefits, and Penny Mordaunt’s attacks on government comms. Meanwhile backbench agitators continue briefing out plans to rebel, with some now even claiming they’re holding “crisis” talks about Liz’s leadership. Truss has been PM for 28 days. Not quite the honeymoon period she would’ve hoped for…
In case you missed last night’s “People’s Forum” with Liz Truss on GB News, one of the most eyecatching moments came when Liz went further than she has with any other hypothetical Cabinet appointments. Asked by a member of the public about her plans for the make-up of government, Liz inquired if they had anyone in mind:
Audience:“I would like you to give some opportunity to maybe people that you might not know as well at the moment… certainly somebody who fired the imagination of the public was Kemi Badenoch and I’d really like to see her given a meaty role.”
Truss: “Do you have any ideas about what that role should be?
Audience: “Oh well, Foreign Secretary! There might be a role going there!”
Truss: “Look, I don’t want to get ahead of myself and this leadership campaign is still going on, but I can tell you that I will make sure the best players in the Conservative Party are on the pitch if I’m elected leader… Kemi – I’ve worked with her as Women & Equalities Minister – we’ve taken on a lot of the agenda of people who are trying to deny that women are women and so on, so I think she’s absolutely brilliant and I would definitely want her as part of my team if I’m successful.“
Whilst not an explicit commitment, it sounded like a firm hint of promotion. The news made a lot of members – and high-profile figures like Nikki da Costa and Toby Young – very happy…
Boris attended his last Cabinet today and had a nice old shindig by all accounts. Despite the government spokesperson confirming there were no snacks or refreshments – not even ice lollies – there were a few presents, and a round of applause for the PM. Nigel Adams also gave a speech commending Boris’s time in office, followed by a school photo.
Boris was gifted a six-set first edition of Churchill’s war books; surprisingly not something the ex-PM’s biographer didn’t already own. Guido also learns Boris was given wines that reflected significant dates in his life and political career: 1964, 2008, 2012 and 2019. He also got wine from other countries that mean a lot to him, including Ukraine and Greece. Wine time Friday set to be a fun one this week…
Boris is making appointments to what will definitely be his last Cabinet. The announcements are coming through in drips and drabs, Guido will keep this updated as and when appointments are made.
Michael Ellis has clocked in an early contender for picture of the day, as the Cabinet announced they’ve gifted a music box to the Queen for her Platinum Jubilee. The announcement – accompanied with snaps of Michael Ellis showing it off to the Cabinet like an excited child at Christmas – sets out the box was handmade entirely in Britain, plays Handel’s Messiah when opened, and is Downing Street staircase yellow on the outside with portraits of the country’s post-1952 PMs. The inside lid features each cabinet minister’s name.
A Downing Street spokesperson has said the gift was organised – quelle surprise – by Parliament’s royal fan boy Michael Ellis, who’s also been in charge of fundraising for Parliament’s Jubilee gift. Guido has confirmed every member of the Cabinet stumped up a whopping £200 per head, meaning the 31-strong contributors paid some £6,200 for the gift. Guido’s sure Her Majesty will use it every day…