Reshuffle As It Happens

RESHUFFLE2

Chancellor – Philip Hammond

George Osborne sacked.

Foreign Secretary – Boris Johnson

Home Secretary – Amber Rudd

Defence Secretary – Michael Fallon

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – David Davis

Secretary of State for International Trade – Liam Fox

Camerons Leave Downing Street For Last Time

Removal Van at No. 10

van

Via Standard

Tory Leadership Runners and Riders

This is where the potential Tory leadership contenders stand this morning:

  • Boris Johnson – Will announce he’s running within days. Jesse Norman, Nadhim Zahawi and Ben Wallace are phoning round MPs canvassing for support. Faces a battle to get on the ballot from Cameron’s allies, Remain MPs and a number of Leavers too. The story of the next few weeks is whether anyone can ‘Stop Boris’.
  • Theresa May – Definitely a goer, the leading ‘Anyone But Boris’ candidate. Her aides did a ring around yesterday and a group of 20+ Remain MPs met on Friday where her name came up. MPs believe only she can beat Boris with the members. Several Leavers would back her. But would Cameron and Osborne?
  • Michael Gove – Many Leave MPs wanted him to run but he has always had reservations. Sunday Times says he is backing Boris. Out of the running.
  • Stephen Crabb – Sets out his stall in two Sunday papers. Has the personal story but MPs say he isn’t PM material. Could be the Cameron/Osborne choice. Faces fight to the death with May to be the Remain candidate.
  • Andrea Leadsom – Name has been doing the rounds for months. Leader of the Fresh Start group which will be a player in the next few years. Potential Chancellor?
  • Liam Fox – Intends to stand. Has significant backing from the south-west contingent of MPs. Will he make a deal for a Cabinet post? Whoever squares him off will get a boost.
  • George Freeman – Who? He’s the Life Sciences minister and the Sunday Times says he’s running with the backing of 30 MPs from the 2010 and 2015 intakes. He has tweeted that he is “discussing how best to get a bold Programme of OneNation reforms centre stage. #NoPlansUPDATE: Tells Crick he’s not running.
  • Nicky Morgan – Arch-Europhile. “Friends” unsubtly briefed Sky that she was “taking soundings“, which was treated with as much derision as when she put herself forward at conference last year.
  • Jeremy Hunt – Tipped by the Mail on Sunday today, and previously by Toby Young and Peter Oborne. Could Cameron and Osborne back him? His SpAd Ed Jones has cryptically posted on Facebook that he is “losing his job”.
  • Dominic Raab – David Davis’ old chief of staff is something of a hipster choice for Tories who fancy a flutter. Name was in the mix pre-referendum and he had a good war. An outside right-wing choice, seems a long shot. UPDATE: Told Question Time tonight “I can tell you now I won’t be running.”
  • Priti Patel – Has ruled herself out.
  • George Osborne – Missing, loathed by Leavers over his scorched earth campaign and punishment budget. Isabel Oakeshott says he spent yesterday canvassing support. Has longer odds than Priti, and she’s not even in the running.
  • Sajid Javid – Eurosceptic who went with Osborne and will forever live to regret it.
  • David Davis – Said to want another go.
  • Graham Brady – Chairman of the 1922 so has influence, said to fancy himself.
  • Adam Afriyie – Genuinely not ruling himself out. LOL.
  • Alan Duncan – hard for anyone he tells to keep a straight face. Attention seeking behaviour.

  • Jeremy Hunt – well you have to dream. Will need a personality change.

So, who are you backing?

Cameron’s Big Speech Bombs

For the second time, Downing Street have summoned the press for a supposedly “significant” statement that has bombed:

Is that it? The “significant statement” is that Dave backs Remain?

Panicked PM Misses Parkinson’s Memorial

PARKINSON-540

Today brought the memorial service for Cecil Parkinson, the former Thatcher confidant and Party Chairman who was possibly one of the best Prime Ministers we never had. It was noted by many attendees that the PM did not show his face – it was held in St Margarets, Westminster Abbey, a 2 minute walk from Downing Street. He did turn up last month for the service for Geoffrey Howe and was expected today. Apparently Lord Feldman and Baroness Stowell represented the PM in his place. Was the PM too busy wasting his time at the Savoy or was it because Cecil was a Eurosceptic?

Peter Gabriel’s “Interspecies Internet”

Peter Gabriel went to Downing Street to hand in a petition to ban keeping monkeys as pets. Also on the agenda: “An interspecies internet that is open and available to non-humans.”

H/T ITV News

Dave’s Photo-Ban Fail

Despite a Downing Street mandated ban on holiday photos of the Camerons, nobody appears to have told Alicia Fisher:

She beat the paparazzi…

UPDATE: Spotted arriving as well:

Peston’s Downing Street “Movie Set”

ITV’s scoop-getting political editor Robert Peston is annoying Tory spinners in more ways than one. When the other broadcasters film short interviews in Downing Street, they usually bring one camera with them to film the interviewee. Peston however insists on bringing two cameras, one to film the minister, the other to film himself. Apparently Pesto wants a camera on himself at all times so plenty of shots of him looking inquisitive can be edited into the package. This means double the number of camera crew, causing a headache for press officers. A senior government source reveals “he turns up with a f**king movie set”. Don’t disturb the creative process…

Introducing Minister Media Monitor

Pundits and political producers have complained since the election that Downing Street is refusing to put up ministers on television. Craig Oliver has an iron grip on broadcast appearances, implementing  a “one minister a day” policy where a single, reliable minister reads out the lines to take on whatever issue. Our Minister Media Monitor charts ministerial broadcast appearances throughout the day, everyday.

From the Today programme to Newsnight, we monitor which ministers appeared answering questions in interviews. Note this will not include doorsteps, only scheduled appearances. Our league table ranks ministers by their number of appearances, showing who is the flavour of the month in No.10, and who has been kept away from the cameras. This resource empirically illustrates No.10’s strict broadcast grid, their reticence at sending ministers out to be held to account, and how this is being challenged by the referendum. Here is the spreadsheet with the data from February and here is the league table…

MMM February the ministers

The referendum sees three Leave ministers make the top ten, with Chris Grayling by some way the most vocal. Philip Hammond is No.10’s flavour of the month to give the government’s line, followed by the ever-reliable Matt Hancock. Jeremy Hunt was under the spotlight over junior doctors and government spinners obviously think it is important to get as many women on screen as possible – Greening, Rudd and Soubry are high up the list. It is notable that there were just 53 ministerial broadcast appearances in February, and a considerable number of these by off-the-grid Outers not authorised by Craig Oliver. George Osborne is keeping away from the cameras, the submarine Chancellor appeared just twice in 29 days…

Downing Street: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

Taxpayer-funded civil servants have been authorised by David Cameron to use public resources to campaign for Remain. Will advisers and officials working for ministers who back Leave have the same freedom? They have tonight been issued a strict ban on their activities by the Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood.

Civil servants working in the departments of Grayling, Whitto, IDS etc have been barred from giving their ministers briefings supporting their position on the EU. They are banned from providing speech material, and will be denied access to government papers relating to the referendum. Special advisers working for Leave ministers are banned from supporting their boss’ position in office hours. They are also banned from using annual leave on campaign activity. Pro-Remain ministers are meanwhile allowed to use public resources to campaign.

Amusingly, Heywood writes that these restrictions mean:

“The principles of impartiality and the proper use of public resources continue to apply to all government communications activity, including activity related to the EU referendum.”

This is laughable – Downing Street civil servants like Chris Hopkins are authorised to use taxpayer-funded resources to campaign for Remain, yet civil servants and SpAds for Eurosceptic ministers who want to do the same thing for the Leave campaign are banned from doing so. This is the exact opposite of “the principles of impartiality and the proper use of public resources”. It’s “do as we say, not as we do…”

No. 10 Loses Half its FTSE Support Since Dave’s Deal

Last Thursday, before the EU council meeting, the Telegraph had a briefing that “more than 80 FTSE 100 firms” were about to support Dave’s deal and back Remain:

Yesterday, after the deal, the FT reported that only 50 FTSE bosses were going to sign the letter supporting Remain:

As Guido revealed, the stunt had been drafted and orchestrated by Downing Street civil servants, and was lined up to appear in today’s Times. Sure enough, here it is in this morning’s paper:

Yet just 36 FTSE 100 bosses have signed…

Five days ago, journalists were being briefed that No.10 and Remain had 80 FTSE bosses backing them. Since the EU council meeting and the deal, more than half no longer fancied giving their support. Just 36 names for the letter backing Dave’s deal is positively paltry… 

H/T @suttonnick

Downing Street Soliciting Big Business Support For Remain

Guido has got hold of a draft letter sent to FTSE 100 bosses by Downing Street business adviser Chris Hopkins yesterday, soliciting support for Dave’s deal. It was due to appear in tomorrow’s Times, but you can read it on Guido today:

From: Chris Hopkins
Sent: 21 February 2016
To: XXXXX

Dear Sirs

We run businesses representing every sector and region of the United Kingdom. Together we employ hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

Following the Prime Minister’s renegotiation, we believe that Britain is better off staying in a reformed European Union. He has secured a commitment from the EU to reduce the burden of regulation, deepen the single market and to sign off crucial international trade deals.

Businesses like ours need unrestricted access to the European market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs. We believe that leaving the EU would deter investment and threaten jobs. It would put the economy at risk.

We believe Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the European Union.

Give me a call if you have any issues.

Regards,

Chris

The letter was sent around yesterday, after the new rules limiting what Leave ministers are allowed to do with public resources came into effect. No.10 are unsportingly using the taxpayer-funded civil service machine to campaign for Remain, within the rules…

That No.10 Pantomime in Full

Thursday

8:00pm: No.10 briefing to Lobby: “I would say the going is tough, this could be a long night. Some real outstanding issues to resolve, it’s not clear how we’re going to do that.”

8:20pm: BBC reports No.10 source: “impasse… we thought there might be talk of bridges but still big gaps”, “talks pushed back”

Friday

5:29am: Times reports No.10 downbeat: “problems across the board”

7:50am: No.10 briefing to Lobby: “It’s hard going. Some signs of progress but nothing yet agreed and still a lot to do.”

8:15am: Amber Rudd is sent on Today“The deal is out of reach at the moment”

10:52am: No.10 brief the Lobby: “We may have a deal today, we may not. We may have Cabinet today, we may not. Tusk has told us he’s prepared to go into Sunday”

As the President of Lithuania said yesterday: “Everybody will have his own drama, then we will agree…”

Prang Spin

momentary-prang

The PM’s official spokesman says his official car “momentarily touched” another vehicle while manoeuvring in Downing Street. “PM was not inside, no damage done”, they also deny it was a “car crash”Never believe anything until it is officially denied…

Rain on Dave’s Parade

The PM brought back up to his summer bash for Peroni-guzzling Lobby hacks last night, but it was the weather that rained on his parade – literally. As damp Tory leadership contenders worked the thinning lawn of the Downing Street rose garden, a relaxed Dave stood side by side with Theresa May doling out titbits to a ‘doughnut’ of senior correspondents, while Saj put in a good innings. By pure coincidence, Osborne was hosting a rival party upstairs and his guests soon milled out to join the PM’s. The high turnout of ministers included Matt Hancock and Nicky Morgan, Fallon was presumably busy blowing up Syrians. Boris was conspicuous by his absence…

By contrast to the Chancellor’s austere offering of pretzels and Skips last week, the PM generously put on a decent spread of sausages, vol-au-vents and lovely little fried feta cheese pastry nibbles. Asked by mischievous visitors how much holiday he would be taking this summer, Dave zinged back: “I’ll take the same amount of time off as the Lobby”. After an hour or so’s mingling, the PM was hurriedly called back into No.10 just as the heavens threatened to open…

EU Purdah Stitch Up: Full Letter From Lidington to Tories

Minister for Europe David Lidington has written to Tory MPs to tell them they are still planning on stitching up the EU Referendum, but it’s ok because they they will ‘work with them’ to do so:

16th June 2015

Dear Colleague,

EU REFERENDUM BILL

I am writing ahead of the Committee Stages of the Bill to address some of the key concerns raised by colleagues during the Second Reading debate last week and to set out the Government’s approach.

As you know, the Government’s intention in bringing forward this Bill is to fulfil our General Election Manifesto pledge to let the British people decide our country’s future in the European Union. It is our clear intention, through the Bill, to provide a straightforward, fair and effective framework for the referendum.

Timing of the Referendum

As stated during the debate, the government is keen to maintain as much flexibility as possible over the date of the referendum. The bill sets out a requirement to hold the referendum by the end of 2017 at the latest, and the Prime Minister has always been clear that if we can hold it earlier, then we will. This has lead to a great deal of speculation that the Government intends to hold the referendum in May 2016 in combination with elections to Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies. I can confirm that this is not the case. We have now tabled an amendment to specifically rule out 5th May 2016 as a date. If we are not able to debate it during committee, it will be retabled at report.

Section 125 of PPERA 2000

A number of colleagues raised concerns in the debate about Clause 25 and Schedule 1 of the Bill. I am grateful for the constructive way in which these concerns were raised.

The effect of Clause 25 is to disapply S.125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. It therefore removes the statutory restrictions placed on Government publications in the final 28 days before the referendum. Under S.125, Government and Ministers are prohibited from publishing during the 28 days prior to polling day any material which deals with any of the issues raised by a referendum question; and which puts any arguments for or against a referendum outcome.

As the Foreign Secretary set out during the debate, after careful consideration we believe that it is unworkable and inappropriate to fully apply S.125 in this instance. It is unworkable because the restriction on publication is so broad that it could prevent Ministers from effectively conducting the significant amounts of ordinary day-to-day business between the Government and the EU that will necessarily continue during the pre-poll period. And it is inappropriate because the Government, having taken a position on the outcome of our negotiations with the rest of the EU, will naturally be obliged to account to Parliament and the British people.

The Foreign Secretary said during the debate that the Government will exercise proper restraint to ensure a balanced debate during the campaign. We have no intention of, for example, spending public money to deliver mailshots to households ​in the last four weeks of the campaign.

Working out a system that will reassure colleagues and voters that the referendum is a fair fight, yet will preserve the Government’s ability to act in the national interest is not straightforward. It is important that it is legally clear and robust.

Therefore, we will work with colleagues over the next few months to understand their specific areas of concern and bring forward at report stage in the Autumn government amendments that command the widest possible support within the House and put beyond any doubt that the campaign will be conducted throughout in a manner that all sides will see as fair.

I look forward to working with you during its passage.

Yours sincerely

David Lidington MP
Minister for Europe

Yeah, that should do it…

Huge Increase in “Payroll Vote” after PPS Splurge

pps-overdriveAbout turn:

Despite the confusion over whether members of the government will be allowed to campaign for ‘out’ after the EU renegotiation is complete, it is clear No. 10 is pulling out all the stops to secure European unity.

Though an official list has yet to be circulated, it is apparent that Cameron has massively increased ‘the payroll vote’ by creating a record number of Parliamentary Private Secretaries. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun:

‘Agitators from the last Parliament are being brought back into the fold. “It’s amazing how quickly these rebels turn when the PM calls and asks them to do more work for no more money,” whispers one insider.’

Once the preserve of just the Secretaries of State, Guido understands that all Ministers of State and crucially many Junior Ministers have been appointed a PPS. Therefore binding in a whole swathe of potentially awkward backbenchers to the government line according to last night’s line from the PM to the Lobby:

minister-resign

If they want to vote against No. 10 they will have to resign from the first rung on the greasy pole…

Machinery of Government Changes: Power Redistributed From BIS

Three vaguely interesting bits of government power play this afternoon.

Osborne takes control of the Shareholder Executive – the body managing the taxpayer’s holdings in part-government owned businesses – from BIS.

While overall responsibility for the Digital Economy Unit goes to John Whittingdale at DCMS – again away from BIS.

Greg Clark at DCLG gets responsibility for Cities policy from Oliver Letwin.

BIS will no longer be quite the all-encompassing department it was, albeit these changes being rather minor.

Egrets, I Have a Few…

Larry the Downing Street cat really is rubbish at his job. Today No. 10 has been invaded by a heron:

CGGNGBaWMAArNsq

From heron in they should be more careful about leaving the door open…

Via Ramsay Jones
[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Embattled Henry Bolton on his battles…

“I’m going nowhere. I have seen people die, I have seen people blown up, I have seen people shot. Even the Taliban doesn’t quite prepare you for UKIP, though.”

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