CCHQ Diverted Resources Away from ‘Safe’ Seats Tories Lost

There is a lot about the Tory campaign that has caused huge anger among MPs. Though little provoked more fury than the decision by CCHQ to divert resources away from supposedly ‘safe’ seats that the Tories then went on to lose. Guido has heard from several defeated MPs who were continually assured by HQ that their seats were safe. The decision was taken centrally to pull resources out of these constituencies and divert them to target seats like Ealing Central. Some MPs themselves were even sent to knock up in others seats on polling day. This complacency was fatal for several MPs. They ended up losing their seats by small margins, while in Ealing Rupa Huq increased her majority from 274 to 13,807.

MPs repeatedly warned CCHQ that large numbers of Labour and Momentum activists were flooding their perceived safe seats, while their local Tory campaigners had been relocated elsewhere. They were told not to worry. Then they lost their seats. What an extraordinary clusterf**k.

Boris Boys’ Adams & Berry Get Jobs

Key Boris lieutenants Nigel Adams and Jake Berry have been promoted into government. Berry is the Northern Powerhouse Minister and Guido hears it will be announced later that Nigel will be put in the Whips Office.

Always useful for a leadership campaign to have whips experience…

CCHQ Already Preparing For Next Election

Tory HQ was caught on the hop by the snap election, initially struggling to find enough candidates to fill seats having culled their list of approved prospective MPs. They are determined not to make the same mistake in the event of another early election – Guido hears preparations have already begun. CCHQ Head of Candidates Gareth Fox emailed the old candidates list yesterday inviting them to apply be considered for the new list. This would not normally happen for several months after an election, instead the process has been accelerated and is already underway less than a week after polling day. Applications from candidates are wanted “as soon as you can”, and by no later than 10 July. CCHQ wasn’t ready when Theresa May called the June 8 election, they want to make sure they are all set to go if they have to in the autumn…

MPs Set Up “2017 Victim Support” WhatsApp Group

Ousted Tory MPs have set up a WhatsApp group called “2017 Victim Support” to console each other about losing their seats. It has provided a forum to air frustrations about the Tory campaign and Theresa May’s lack of emotional intelligence in failing to mention them in her post-election speech on the steps of Downing Street, or to get in touch since Friday. Many of the defeated MPs have still not had a phone call from the PM. Karl McCartney has been bemoaning how awful IPSA is, so some things haven’t changed. Ousted 2015 intakers, who were MPs for two years and one month, have expressed concerns about qualifying only for a measly parachute payment. Theresa May’s implied offer of financial support from the Tory party for defeated MPs has not materialised, she would be wise to get a move on…

Nick Timothy: Brexit Still Has to Mean Brexit

Nick Timothy might be out of Downing Street but he is almost certainly still advising Theresa May off the books. Many MPs are convinced he will just be emailing her from his Gmail account rather than his Number 10 address. Timothy was a Brexiter, one of the sounder people in May’s team on Europe, and had consistently argued to the boss and Cabinet that a real Brexit had to mean leaving the ECJ, single market and customs union. In an article for the Speccie today, he outlines what the PM has to do to fulfil her promise that Brexit means Brexit:

“Skilful leadership may deliver stability, but the absence of an overall majority means the nature of the Brexit deal the government negotiates is more uncertain. There has long been talk of a choice between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ forms of Brexit, with the latter requiring membership of the EU’s single market. Since that would involve accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, vast annual membership payments to the EU, and the continuation of free movement rules, people who voted to leave the European Union might wonder whether advocates of a ‘soft’ departure really do understand that Brexit means Brexit.”

Many Leave Tory MPs who hated Timothy’s manifesto were apprehensive about him leaving Number 10 due to his strong commitment to a real Brexit. They will be hoping Theresa is still listening to him…

+ MORE RESHUFFLE NEWS +

In the Lords:

Department for Transport
Lord Callanan

(joint) Department for Communities and Local Government and the Northern Ireland Office
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

In the Commons:

Cabinet Office
Caroline Nokes MP

Ministry of Defence
Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP

Department of Health
Jackie Doyle-Price MP
Steve Brine MP

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Richard Harrington MP

Northern Ireland Office
Chloe Smith MP

Department for Culture, Media and Sport
John Glen MP

Department for Work and Pensions
Guy Opperman MP

HM Treasury
Economic Secretary to the Treasury – Stephen Barclay MP

The following have been confirmed as Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State:

In the Lords:

Department for Health
Lord O’Shaughnessy

Department for Education
Lord Nash

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Lord Prior of Brampton

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lord Gardiner of Kimble

Department for Media, Culture and Sport
Lord Ashton of Hyde

In the Commons:

Cabinet Office
Chris Skidmore MP

Home Office
Sarah Newton MP

Department for Exiting the European Union
Robin Walker MP

Ministry of Defence
Harriett Baldwin MP

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Thérèse Coffey MP

Ministry of Justice
Sam Gyimah MP
Phillip Lee MP

Department for International Trade
Mark Garnier MP

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Margot James MP

Department for Transport
Paul Maynard MP

Department for Communities and Local Government
Marcus Jones MP

Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Tracey Crouch MP

Office of the Leader of the House of Commons
Michael Ellis MP

And in addition:

The following have also been confirmed

Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentleman at Arms (Lords Chief Whip)
Rt Hon Lord Taylor of Holbeach CBE

Captain of the Queen’s Bodyguard of the Yeoman of the Guard (Deputy Chief Whip) Earl of Courtown

Advocate General for Scotland
Lord Keen of Elie QC

The following have left Government:

Lord Bridges of Headley MBE
Lord Dunlop

Hammond: “It’s Clear We Can’t Stay In Customs Union”

Today’s Times reports Philip Hammond is again scheming to keep Britain in the customs union. A senior Whitehall source tells Guido that, back before the government announced it would take Britain out of the customs union in January, Hammond met with Theresa May and David Davis and lobbied them to keep the UK inside. He was told Britain had to leave the customs union to respect the referendum result. (The ability to strike free trade deals with other nations – impossible inside the customs union – being a key aspect of Brexit.) Hammond accepted this publicly:

“The decision to leave the European Union has changed the game. It’s clear that we can’t stay in the customs union and wasting a lot of political capital arguing about that will not be fruitful.”

The customs union is a protectionist barrier to free trade with the 162 countries outside the EU. Don’t fall for the hype that it reduces trade barriers. Garlic has a 200% external tariff to protect French farmers, some US jeans face a 26% tariff, shoes face 17% tariffs to protect Italian cobblers. Some agricultural products, e.g. beef and dairy, have very substantial tariff rates, 54 dairy products alone have tariff rates of more than 75%. The customs union only liberalises internal trade within the EU.

We had this debate during the referendum – and leaving the customs union won. The Cabinet had this debate in January – and leaving the customs union won. Yesterday ministers from DexEU and DIT promised Britain would take control of trade policy – that means leaving the customs union. Cabinet agreed. Come on Phil, listen to your own advice and don’t waste time going down the Remoaner road of Hilary Benn and Chuka Umunna…

Steve Baker Appointed Brexit Minister

Steve Baker, the Brexit true believer who leads the European Research Group of Leave MPs, has been appointed a minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union. Before his appointment this afternoon Baker proposed a “clean exit” which is the “softest” possible in terms of minimising disruption, but a real Brexit controlling laws, money, borders and trade. Outside of the ECJ, single market and customs union.

“The language of “hard” vs “soft” Brexit is so misleading. We need a good, clean exit which minimises disruption and maximises opportunity.  In other words, we need the “softest” exit consistent with actually leaving and controlling laws, money, borders and trade and that means delivering on the whitepaper so the Department for International Trade can get on with improving UK and global trade.”

As Adam Boulton said on Sky this afternoon, Baker’s appointment can be read as a gesture that Brexit really will mean Brexit, or as a way of taking the shop steward for backbench Leave MPs out of the game. Or both. Nonetheless, Leavers will take heart…

What is On This Tory MP’s Phone Screen?

Anna Soubry tweeted this picture from inside the Commons this afternoon. But more importantly, what is on the screen of the phone being held by the MP sitting in front of her?

Suggestions in the comments…

UPDATE: The photo is of “Showgirls playing chess” in New York in 1958:

++ RESHUFFLE LATEST ++

Department for Exiting the European Union
Steve Baker MP

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Rt Hon Mark Field MP

Department for Communities and Local Government
Alok Sharma MP

Ministry of Defence
Mark Lancaster TD MP

(Joint) Department for International Development & Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP

The following have been confirmed as Ministers of State:

(Joint) Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy & Department for Education
Jo Johnson MP

Department for Education
Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
George Eustice MP

Department of Health
Philip Dunne MP

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan KCMG MP

Home Office
Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP
Baroness Williams of Trafford

Department for Culture Media and Sport
Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP

Department for International Trade
Rt Hon Greg Hands MP (and also Minister for London)
Lord Price CVO

Department for Transport
Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP

(Joint) Department for International Development & Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Rory Stewart OBE MP

Department for International Development
Rt Hon Lord Bates

Department for Work and Pensions
Damian Hinds MP
Penny Mordaunt MP

Ministry of Defence
Rt Hon Earl Howe (and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords)

And in addition
Julian Smith MP has been appointed Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip)
Rt Hon Mel Stride MP (already confirmed as Financial Secretary to the Treasury) has also been appointed Paymaster General
Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG has left the government

Ministers Reassure MPs Brexit Policy Hasn’t Changed

Guido hears the Brexit caucus of Tory MPs met with the remaining DexEU minister Robin Walker and DIT ministers Greg Hands and Mark Garnier this morning to have their concerns allayed. MPs were reassured by the ministers that, contrary to reports, the government will not pursue a weakening of Brexit policy. They were told that government policy has not changed and that the UK will have control of trade policy. i.e. No wavering, we are leaving the single market and customs union. Steve Baker, who leads the European Research Group caucus of around 80 Leave-supporting MPs, says it was a “hugely encouraging and constructive meeting”. Ministers will need to keep their word, the 80 MPs in Baker’s group alone far outweigh Ruth Davidson’s handful of Scots…

The broadsheet Remain media and broadcasters are persisting with the misleading language of “soft Brexit” and “hard Brexit”. Those arguing for a “soft Brexit” need to be honest about what they mean. Do they want to stay in the ECJ, stay in the single market, not take back control of immigration and not have the right to strike trade deals with the rest of the world? If so, that is not Brexit, it is not what the country voted for on June 23. Remainers arguing for this, and broadcasters indulging them by using their terminology, are laying the ground to overturn the referendum result…

Gove Fights Dangerous “Austerity is Over” Narrative

Encouraged by her new chief of staff Gavin Barwell, Theresa May is aggressively pursuing the dangerous narrative that “austerity is over”. Barwell told Newsnight that he lost his seat because public sector workers in his constituency wanted a pay rise. May has apparently accepted this analysis and told Tory wets she will pursue Labour-lite economics to win back Corbyn voters. Hers was already the most economically left-wing Red Tory manifesto since the seventies and it was rejected by the public. By contrast David Cameron won a majority while Labour screamed about spending cuts. The Tories had a 24 point lead before the manifesto was released – it was the dementia tax and the student offer not austerity that lost them their majority. Ending austerity is the wrong inference from May’s failure…

The national debt is nearly £1.9 trillion. It grows at a rate of £5,170 per second. The debt burden is 86% of GDP, more than double what it was pre-2008. Public sector borrowing is £51.7 billion this year – that is government overspending by £1 billion a week. May’s manifesto already kicked the deficit reduction can down the road to 2025, ten years later than George Osborne’s original so-called austerity programme. Young voters chose Corbyn, now May wants to win them back by saddling them and future generations with even more debt.

The only Cabinet minister who so far seems to recognise the recklessness of all this is Michael Gove, who told the Today programme “we need to get on with the job of reducing the deficit so that we do not saddle the next generation with a burden of debt”. The trouble with the government’s “austerity is over” spin is the deficit and debt can’t be spun away. If the gilt market loses confidence interest rates shoot up, as inflation takes off wage demands will spiral and the UK’s own version of Chavez will be installed. CPI has hit a 2.9% high this morning, above expectations. Not a good signal to loosen the fiscal stance and abandon austerity…

Tory Concern at Brexit Department Mayhem

When May became PM one of her more sensible appointments was putting staunch Leaver David Jones in the Brexit department. The move allayed concerns among Leavers that May would sell out on Brexit. She has now decided to sack Jones, a knowledgable and competent minister, after just 11 months in the job. He has been replaced by Baroness Anelay, a Remainer…

George Bridges, Brexit minister in the Lords, was widely respected by all sides and quickly gained a reputation as one of the most impressive ministers in the government. He has also now left DexEU. 

This is all going down really badly among Tory Leavers:

“One suspects the table banging would have gone on for a lot less than 25 seconds had she had the guts to complete her reshuffle before going to the 1922.”

Another notes:

“An almost whole new Brexit team. What was that about needing stability because negotiations started 11 days after the election?” 

A pertinent point. Why is May taking the axe to her Brexit team just days before the negotiations start? 

++ RESHUFFLE LIVE ++

Home Office
Nick Hurd MP

Ministry of Justice
Dominic Raab MP

Department for Education
Rt Hon Anne Milton MP
Robert Goodwill MP

Department for Exiting the European Union
Rt Hon Baroness Anelay DBE

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Claire Perry MP

HM Treasury
Financial Secretary to the Treasury – Rt Hon Mel Stride MP

The following have left Government:

· Rt Hon Mike Penning MP
· Rt Hon Sir Oliver Heald QC MP
· Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP
· Rt Hon David Jones MP

“I’ll Serve As Long As You Want Me” Humble May Tells ’22

“I got us into this mess, I’m going to get us out,” Theresa May told the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers tonight. In a performance described to Guido by MPs as “impressive” and “humble“, the PM showed contrition, repeatedly saying sorry for her election campaign and specifically apologising for the dementia tax.

She told colleagues “I’ll serve as long as you want me”, one MP present says, and she explained to the room that she had stuffed envelopes for the party since she was 12 years-old. May assured the room the DUP’s less palatable views would not affect policy, though conceded somewhat worryingly that she will listen to voices across the party on Brexit. (The Spectator reports Ruth Davidson, Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond met this afternoon to discuss how to stop Boris and achieve a softer Brexit.)

The PM’s very popular new chief of staff Gavin Barwell, who lost his seat, was warmly received. Afterwards MPs were positive, Boris described the “percussive noises of support” and Gove gave the thumbs up. MPs were always likely to back May tonight, she has time, the is no appetite for a challenge for a while yet…

BBC’s Simon McCoy Laughs at Robo-Mak

Tory MP Alan Mak did his best Theresa May impression on the BBC earlier, causing an exasperated Simon McCoy to laugh out loud. Ambitious Alan’s appearance has had colleagues joking about a leadership bid. Mak Britain Great Again? 

Told You So: 16 Times Guido Was May-Sceptic

When other elements of the right-leaning media were enthusiastic about the May regime, Guido was always sceptical:

  1. May Attacks Libertarian Right
  2. May’s Five U-Turns in Three Months
  3. May: Hiking NI Taxes is Fair and Progressive
  4. May’s SpAds Trying to Escape
  5. May Pretending She Backed Brexit
  6. Tax Burden to Hit Highest Level Since 1969 Under May
  7. Voters Already Tired of May’s Coalition of Cliches
  8. Gogglebox Focus Group’s Damning May Verdict
  9. Peter Oborne on “Empty Politician” Theresa May
  10. May Manifesto Rejects Free Markets and Individualism
  11. Weak and Wobbly May U-Turns and Exaggerates “Fake Claims”
  12. May Also Misleading on “Dementia Tax” Origin
  13. Mayism: Job Losses, Higher Inflation, Living Beyond Our Means
  14. May’s Energy Price Controls Savaged By Experts and Her Own Cabinet
  15. Quentin Letts Calls May a “Glumbucket”
  16. Article Pulled By Telegraph After May Pressure

The last article in particular has stood the test of time – it was pulled from The Telegraph and reprinted in the middle of the Tory leadership battle by Guido with the author Jonathan Foreman’s permission – resulting in hot calls from Team May and a certain coldness thereafter. Don’t say we didn’t try to warn you…

SPIN WARS: Boris and Davis ‘Trying to Stitch Each Other Up’

Boris and David Davis are both trying amusingly hard to convey that they are not manoeuvres. Boris has enthusiastically thrown his support behind Theresa May on TV and in The Sun. Those WhatsApp messages expressing loyalty yesterday were self-evidently written to be leaked. Davis did a broadcast round this morning where he offered “100% support” for May, telling ITV he would not challenge her. And yet…

Allies of both Boris and Davis believe the other is trying to stitch up their respective leadership chances. Boris’ supporters accuse Davis, a prolific texter, of hyping up Johnson’s alleged behind-the-scenes manoeuvring to journalists, with the aim of making him look like a dastardly plotter. They see Davis’ hand in Sunday newspaper stories claiming Boris is set to launch a bid. Team BoJo quickly and strongly denied the stories when the papers came out on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, those backing Davis accuse Boris of going too early in an attempt to steal a march on DD. Davis himself took a barely-veiled dig at Johnson on the Today programme, accusing unnamed “colleagues” of “self-indulgence”. Boris met with a number of high-profile old allies and former advisers in the days before the election, and anti-Boris MPs say he was touting support in the early hours of June 9. Wherein lies the truth?

It was already obvious that if May goes Boris and Davis will be the front-runners to replace her. Ignore the wish fulfilment fantasy forecasts of the pro-Remain broadsheet pundits who tip Amber Rudd, she has little chance of getting the support of enough Tory MPs and would win a derisory vote from the rank and file. The shadow boxing between DD and BoJo over the last 48 hours all but confirms their ambitions. Notwithstanding the chance that somehow tonight’s 1922 goes nuclear, they both know going too early is mad and that patience and perceived loyalty is a much better strategy…

Davis: We Are Leaving Single Market

On election night David Davis had a bit of a wobble and conceded that single market membership might be back on the table thanks to the dire Tory result. These words infuriated Leave Tories and were immediately seized upon by gleeful Remainers. Today Davis has clarified that Britain will still be leaving the single market, and that we will “not be going down the Norway route”.

Today’s Times splash excitedly claims May will now pursue “soft Brexit“. The policy remains to leave the single market. Not soft Brexit, just Brexit…

++ RESHUFFLE LIVE ++

Philip Hammond: Chancellor of the Exchequer

Amber Rudd: Secretary of State for the Home Department

Boris Johnson: Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

David Davis: Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Michael Fallon: Secretary of State for Defence

Damian Green: First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office

Greg Clark: Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

David Gauke: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Liz Truss: Chief Secretary to the Treasury, attending Cabinet

Liam Fox: Secretary of State for International Trade

Justine Greening: Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities

Sajid Javid: Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

David Lidington: Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

Alun Cairns: Secretary of State for Wales

Jeremy Hunt: Secretary of State for Health

Gavin Williamson: Chief Whip

Chris Grayling: Secretary of State for Transport

Priti Patel: Secretary of State for International Development

James Brokenshire: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Karen Bradley: Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Andrea Leadsom: Lord President of the Council and Leader of the Commons

Michael Gove: Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Brandon Lewis: Minister of State in the Home Office, now attending Cabinet

Jeremy Wright: Attorney General

Baroness (Natalie) Evans: Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords

Patrick McLoughlin: Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Conservative Party Chair[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

“We have no plans to write off existing student debt.”

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