Tom Watson has been making a full-throated case for remaining in the EU this morning at the sycophantic pro-EU think tank Centre for European Reform. Guido couldn’t help but remember this memorable clash between Watson and Alastair Campbell just last May. Watson tears into Bad Al for not respecting the Brexit vote and repeatedly mocks the fact he no longer decides Labour policy:
“We have to listen to the whole of the British people on this Alastair and we’ve got to make sure that we honour them by saying we’re coming out of the EU…”
“What I’m saying is: you no longer decide Labour Party policy… I know you’d like to, I know they don’t pay you a lot of money as the editor of the New European…”
Campbell might have been unceremoniously shown the exit door from Labour, its Deputy Leader doesn’t seem to mind him setting the agenda again…
Jacob Rees-Mogg asks if it is true that “officials in the Treasury have deliberately developed a model to show that all options other than saying in the Customs Union were bad and that officials intended to use this to influence policy” pic.twitter.com/qUTKvAJFi0
— BrexitCentral (@BrexitCentral) February 1, 2018
The big row today is over whether the Centre for European Reform’s Charles Grant did or didn’t tell Steve Baker that the Treasury was deliberately trying to change Brexit policy and keep us in the customs union. Baker says he did. Grant says in a statement:
“I did not say or imply that the Treasury had deliberately developed a model to show that all non-customs union options were bad, with the intention to influence policy.”
Fair enough. But it turns out Grant did say the Treasury was trying to influence policy by forcing the government into a softer Brexit. Publicly, in July:
— Charles Grant (@CER_Grant) July 2, 2017
Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform… revealed the existence of an unpublished Treasury analysis showing that the costs of leaving without a customs union deal far outweigh any benefits from future overseas trade deals.
“The coalition of forces pushing for a softer Brexit is considerable,” Grant said. “The Treasury, long an advocate of retaining close economic ties to the EU, is newly emboldened.”
Does anyone really think the Treasury doesn’t want a softer Brexit?