Fox Likes Tweet Calling Deal “A Turd”

That’s about the total extent of Fox’s efforts to stand up for Brexit…

UPDATE: Spokesman for Liam Fox:

“Dr Fox has not logged into Twitter today, therefore we are very concerned into how this could have happened and will be asking the appropriate authorities to investigate this urgently. The tweet has been unliked.”

Guido hopes they find the culprit…

Chief Whip Bans Tory MPs From Doing Media Bids on Brexit

The chief whip has banned Tory MPs from doing media bids on Brexit until they have been briefed fully by Number 10, Guido can reveal. Julian Smith emailed Tory MPs last night ordering them not to carry out any media bids until they had heard Number 10’s side of the argument. May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell is also offering a new emergency briefing tonight, in addition to the previously scheduled one on Monday morning.

From: Government Chief Whip
Subject: Further briefing on Sunday evening

Dear Colleague

You will have seen my emails inviting you to the briefing this morning in No 9 Downing Street and to the briefings on Monday morning. I am keen to ensure that all Colleagues are able to attend a briefing and to be provided with as much information as possible about what the Cabinet has agreed.

The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff is willing to give an extra briefing on Sunday evening at 8pm. If you are interested in attending this briefing, please could you let me know as soon as possible?

I want to stress that Colleagues must ensure they receive a full briefing before carrying out any media bids and you can contact me or No 10 Press Office to arrange this.

With best wishes

Julian

Rt Hon Julian Smith MP
Government Chief Whip

Signs of trouble…

Gove: Deal Critics Guilty of “Fake Outrage”

Michael Gove gave a full-throated defence of Theresa May’s deal on Marr, blasting those criticising the proposal as being guilty of “fake and mock outrage”. Gove says the two people who most oppose the deal are Clegg and Farage. Err, what about multiple Cabinet members, dozens and dozens of Tory MPs, 60% of Tory members (according to a ConHome poll this morning). And no doubt a huge number of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave. Are they all faking it?

Guido understands that Gove fully backed the PM’s plan from the beginning of the Chequers meeting, to the astonishment of Brexiters in the room. Gove has carefully moderated his position on Brexit over the last year, calculating that his best shot of becoming leader is getting Remain MPs onside. Today he has written a joint op-ed with ultra-Remainer Greg Clark in the Mail on Sunday lavishing praise on the deal. Guido can’t help but wonder if Gove has misjudged this. What will Brexiteer MPs and voters make of his performance over the last 48 hours?

Cabinet Backs Softest Brexit

The Cabinet has backed the softest form of Brexit, with the UK becoming a rule-taker on goods and agri-foods and facing severe consequences if we ever attempt to diverge on anything. They have also backed Number 10’s rebadged customs plan.

Despite vows from David Davis and other Cabinet Brexiters to fight Theresa May’s Brexit proposal, it appears tonight that they have conceded on every point and that Downing Street has succeeded in forcing through an ultra-soft Brexit as the agreed government policy.

The Sun reports that Michael Gove, Sajid Javid and Gavin Williamson all sold out and backed the PM.

A senior ERG MP tells Guido: “This looks like a total betrayal from both No10 and the Cabinet. We will be total rule takers and our ability to strike trade deals will be severely hampered. Cabinet Brexiters promised us they would fight this. If what Number 10 says is true, this is not Brexit.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg tells Guido: “The devil will be in the detail”. Brexiters have been crushed. 

The key point here is that this is the UK’s opening offer to Brussels. The EU will now attempt to force us into an even softer Brexit. How do the government think this is going to play out?

Guido cannot understand how DD and co have accepted this. They said yesterday that they would fight it. Have they achieved any concessions? Not according to Number 10. Allies of Olly Robbins are claiming total victory tonight.

Extremely depressing – this does not look anything like the Brexit 17.4 million people voted for.

Here is Number 10’s defence of the plan:

Not So Fantastic Fox

When news emerged last night that Liam Fox was bottling it and backing Number 10’s Brexit plan, Guido cannot imagine a single Brexiter was surprised. Hiring Fox as International Trade secretary has been one of Theresa May’s few shrewd decisions since taking office. Painfully loyal to his old lunch partner – those must have been a laugh riot – and more interested in having a Cabinet job and jet-setting around the world, Fox has capitulated time and time again as Brexit has been softened by Downing Street. His allies insist he makes representations defending Brexit at Cabinet, but if he has you never hear about them and they haven’t achieved anything. He has not said anything publicly to fight his corner as Number 10 repeatedly emasculated his department. DIT has become a total laughing stock in Whitehall. Number 10’s policy of regulatory alignment and a common rulebook on goods and agri-foods significantly reduces our attractiveness to other countries in terms of trade deals. Yesterday Number 10 refused to deny their proposal would limit scope for a trade deal with the US. In any case, the increasingly likely extended customs union membership means trade deals will not be happening before the next election. This was once a Brexiteer red line, but the International Trade secretary has crossed it. Fox went in to Downing Street last night and came out fully backing the PM. Seemingly no one is happy with the plan apart from Fox, whose job and department become largely redundant if it goes ahead. He is the biggest Brexiteer sellout…

May Allies Troll “Narcissistic” Brexiters

This is being briefed out by allies of Theresa May this morning, via Jack Blanchard and Sam Coates:

“All set for Chequers. Totally focused and confident of delivering a successful day for PM. Collective responsibility will be asserted at the end of the day. Taxi cards for Aston’s taxis the local cab firm are in the foyer for those who decide they can’t face making the right decision for the country but it will still be a long walk as it is a mile long driveway. A select number of narcissistic, leadership dominated cabinet ministers need to support the PM in the best interests of the UK or their spots will be taken by a talented new generation of MPs who will sweep them away.”

Team May are calling Cabinet Brexiters’ bluff, publicly attacking them as “narcissistic” and threatening to take away their ministerial cars for the 40 mile trip back to London. Why are DD and co taking this?

Those Whips’ Patsies in Full

Last night deputy chief whip Chris Pincher sent this round robin text to a number of Tory MPs begging them to tweet in support of the Prime Minister:

A selection of the least subtle whips’ patsies:

Like footballers being asked to tweet out an advertiser’s campaign, then giving the game away…

Senior Member of Government: Tory Brexiteers ‘Will Reject Soft Brexit Proposal’

A senior member of the government tells Guido that a plan for a soft Brexit will be rejected by Tory Eurosceptics. The view among Leave supporting ministers is very low this afternoon, they say this is not the Brexit they voted for. Jacob Rees-Mogg tells Guido: “If the leaks are accurate it would be the vassal state enchained.” And he tells the Telegraph:

“If this correct this is not Brexit. This common rulebook means that we are essentially a vassal state. The Prime Minister should imitate Mr Gove and tear up this paper.”

Leave supporting Tory MP Lucy Allan tweets to Guido: “This is not Brexit.”

Owen Paterson tells us:

“If true, a complete breach of Theresa May’s manifesto commitment, reconfirmed to me at PMQs yesterday, to leave Single Market, Customs Union & ECJ. We could not eliminate tariffs to reduce prices for consumers & businesses, or strike free trade deals.”

What does David Davis think about a common rulebook that sees the UK mirror all EU rules on goods and agri-foods potentially forever, or face “consequences” if we ever try to diverge? Open Europe’s Henry Newman describes this as a compromise too far.

UPDATE: A Whitehall source says that Dexeu considers the government’s own Brexit plan unacceptable and that David Davis and others are fighting it.

What does Liam Fox think about a proposal that restricts our ability to strike a trade deal with the US? What does he think about regulatory alignment’s impact on his ability to strike trade deals with other countries?

What are they gonna do about it?

New Names For Tory Mayoral Candidate

A couple more names have thrown their hats in the ring to be the Tory mayoral candidate:

  • Andrew Rosindell: The Romford MP plans to challenge Sadiq on knife crime and Brexit. Careful with the leaflets this time, Rozzer.
  • Joy Morrissey: Works at the Centre for Social Justice, a mother, a Councillor in Ealing as well as the former parliamentary candidate for Ealing Central & Acton. Not a household name, but then not many are forthcoming. 
  • Richard Tice: The Leave.EU co-founder has submitted his form to CCHQ and says he is running as the “business candidate”. Suspect CCHQ might say “f*** business” on this one.
  • Nimco Ali: The impressive anti-FGM campaigner says she is putting her name forward as a “symbolic” candidate and wants to be the deputy mayor for women and girls. Shame it’s only symbolic. 

Other key runners and riders:

  • Shaun Bailey: London Assembly Member who is one of the few candidates with a backstory to rival Khan’s. Has been effective in his criticism of the mayor over knife crime. 
  • Kulveer Ranger: Another former Boris adviser who was very effective in City Hall.
  • Duwayne Brooks: Joined the Tories a few weeks ago and is being talked up by insiders. Has branded Sadiq “the worst mayor ever”One to watch.
  • Andrew Boff: Perennial candidate. Ladbrokes favourite…
  • Rohan Silva: Former blue sky digital tech guru to Cameron and Osborne, Silva went on to found the Second Home workspace in Spitalfields. His name has been doing the rounds, he’s a Remainer but would be good for the youth vote and a more interesting candidate than some of those below. 
  • Nick de Bois: Former Enfield MP. CCHQ took his advice on bringing the selection forwards. Has outlined how he would beat Sadiq here.

Any others, get in touch

Penny’s Sign Language at the Despatch Box

Mogg: Regulatory Alignment is Not Brexit

Jacob Rees-Mogg says that if Number 10 pursues remaining in the single market for goods and regulatory alignment, that is “not Brexit” and will mean we have nothing to offer other countries in terms of trade deals. He says it would be contrary the Tory manifesto. And he says he took 50 Tory MPs to see the chief whip this morning to protest…

He says he is still backing May…

Williamson Heckled By Siri

Gavin Williamson’s phone goes off as he speaks at the despatch box. Was he heckled by the sound of his own voice? One of his Insta stories from the Commons chamber? With the audio turned up, it turns out it was actually Siri: “I’ve found something on the web for Syrian Democratic Forces”

Perhaps soon AI will be able to replace MPs as lobby fodder. Dread to think what else Siri has overheard the Defence Secretary say…

Cleverly Rules Out Mayoral Bid

James Cleverly joins Justine Greening, George Osborne and Ed Vaizey in ruling himself out of the Tory mayoral nomination:

Which leaves the remaining runners and riders:

  • Shaun Bailey: London Assembly Member who is one of the few candidates with a backstory to rival Khan’s. Has been effective in his criticism of the mayor over knife crime. 
  • Syed Kamall: Time for a Brexiter mayor of London? Came second to Zac in the Tory nomination stakes last time round. Popular with true believers.
  • Kulveer Ranger: Another former Boris adviser who was very effective in City Hall.
  • Duwayne Brooks: Friend of Stephen Lawrence who was with him when he was murdered. Joined the Tories a couple of weeks ago and is being talked up by insiders. Has branded Sadiq “the worst mayor ever”One to watch.
  • Andrew Boff: Perennial candidate. Ladbrokes favourite…
  • Richard Tice: The businessman who co-founded Leave.EU is an accomplished media performer – readers will remember his punchy Question Time appearance. Would be bold to choose a Brexiter in London, though.
  • Rohan Silva: Former blue sky digital tech guru to Cameron and Osborne, Silva went on to found the Second Home workspace in Spitalfields. His name has been doing the rounds, he’s a Remainer but would be good for the youth vote and a more interesting candidate than some of those below. 
  • Munira Mirza: Former deputy mayor to Boris, she wrote compellingly for the Speccie a couple of months back about how stop and search is the best weapon in the fight against knife crime. The Tories have a real shortage of strong female candidates – indeed Mirza might be the only one.
  • Gavin Barwell: Was sniffing around last year when he thought things were falling apart in Number 10. Would someone who couldn’t hold Croydon be able to win London? There are local whispers that Barwell now has his eye on Bob Stewart’s 15,000 majority Beckenham seat instead…
  • Nick de Bois: Former Enfield MP. CCHQ took his advice on bringing the selection forwards. Has outlined how he would beat Sadiq here.

The big names shunning a doomed campaign…

UPDATE: Syed Kamall rules himself out too, “The announcement of hustings so soon means I cannot take part and still fulfil my role in helping to get the best possible deal between the UK and EU.”

Vaizey Attempts Flossing

Attempts being the operative word…

ConHome: Saj Would Beat Gove in Tory Leadership Contest

The conversation in Tory circles is very much centred around Theresa May going in the spring if she makes it through this year. ConHome’s survey of party members this morning calculates that Sajid Javid would currently beat Michael Gove as their choice for next leader. The run offs ConHome has surveyed over the last few days have been interesting: Boris beats Hunt, Saj beats Hunt (not much going for the Health Secretary) and Gove beats Boris. Saj has had a good couple of months and finds himself in a strong position…

Hancock Jumps on a Wall

Matt Hancock has tweeted a video of himself jumping onto a 2 foot high wall and claimed it shows him demonstrating the military training discipline of parkour:

This follows him attempting to moonwalk last week:

Is he worried about Liz Truss?

Cabinet Brexiters Silent as Robbins Rubs Out Red Lines

As Downing Street’s Remainer Brexit supremo Olly Robbins further blurs the Prime Minister’s red lines, Guido cannot help but ask where are the Cabinet Brexiters?

  • Single market: According to the front page of today’s Times, Robbins is now saying there is no chance of the UK striking a bespoke deal with Brussels and that Downing Street is now favouring a Norway-style Brexit inside the single market. This would be a clear betrayal of the result and mean a sellout on free movement. At the very least Number 10 is considering asking to stay in the single market for goods. May told Brexiters we would be completely outside the single market.
  • Customs union: Robbins’ hybrid plan is a customs union in all but name. Even if Number 10 choose MaxFac, staying in single market for goods ruins our ability to strike free trade deals with other countries. We would not have an independent trade policy. May told us we would be outside the customs union, not staying in it in all but name.
  • Laws: It is now clear we will have to accept significant ECJ rulings after we leave, and that the ECJ will still effectively have some jurisdiction in the UK. If we stay in the single market for goods and pursue regulatory alignment, we will be a rule taker. This is arguably a worse situation than being a member of the EU, where at least you get a say. May told us we would be taking back control of laws.
  • Transition: There is now significant talk the transition period could be extended. Brexiters only accepted the transition agreement after May promised it would be strictly time-limited to two years.

Among Cabinet Brexiters, Boris has at least put up a fight, repeatedly condemning the direction of the government and calling the hybrid model “crazy”. But what about the rest?

DD’s threat to resign was embarrassing, he has been outmanoeuvred and then publicly mocked by Robbins at every turn. He is in danger of going down as the Brexit Secretary that effectively kept us in single market and customs union. How can he live with that? How can Steve Baker and Suella Braverman? We hear about their threats to resign, we hear about Baker packing his things up and threatening to walk out. When will Dexeu actually do something to stand up to Robbins?

Gove has been strongly critical of Robbins’ hybrid model, and at least he did tear up the NCP document in front of civil servants. But it has not gone unnoticed that he has been painfully loyal to the government and has moderated his position on pretty much everything Brexit-related over the last year. After the referendum he was insisting the transition must last months not years – he never mentions that when he’s speaking and schmoozing at every Tory drinks party. The consensus is his motive for staying quiet is the leadership, softening his stance to get Remainers onside…

Fox, whose department is being made a mockery of by Number 10, has said and done nothing. It appears all he cares about is being in government. He seems to spend most of his time sending press releases about putting up England flags rather than worrying that his job has become pointless. Fox and Leadsom are even talking about extending the transition period, falling into the Remainer trap to keep us in forever. 

UPDATE: A source close to Fox says: “Liam makes his passionate eurosceptic arguments around the cabinet table rather than in public because he believes that’s the way these things should be done”

Where is Grayling? Where is Mordaunt? Have they ever said anything about how they think Brexit is going? Are Cabinet Brexiters actually going to do anything this week, or roll over and let Olly Robbins push us into the softest of non-Brexits?

Phillip Lee Defends Plan to Teach Lags Martial Arts

Remain martyr Dr Phillip Lee is standing by his crackers plan to school lags in… martial arts. That’s right, take Britain’s criminals and teach them how to… beat people up. Genius…

Don’t think this will fly…

Soubry Accuses Association Chairman of Plot to Oust Her and Reports Him to CCHQ

Anna Soubry has reported her Conservative Association chairman to CCHQ, accusing him of plotting to oust her in order to replace her as the MP for Broxtowe. In a letter sent to her association executive and local Tory councillors, Soubry accuses John Doddy, who himself is a Remainer, of exploiting her views on Brexit to “further your own ambitions to oust me”. She says Doddy has exaggerated the extent of discontent with her among Broxtowe Tories, noting that only one of 17 critical emails sent to the association came from a constituent, and they were not a Tory party member. Soubry says the email campaign against her is “part of a concerted co-ordinated campaign organised by UKIP / Leave.EU” and implies Doddy is in league with a “UKIP infiltrator”. Here is her letter outlining her case against Doddy and her complaint to Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis and CCHQ head of candidates Gareth Fox:

Doddy obviously does harbour ambitions to replace Soubry. His claim that 80% of local members are unhappy with Soubs is bold. There is clearly discontent among some Broxtowe Tories with their MP’s opposition to Brexit and talk of a new party. We will find out how deep that discontent is next month

80% of Broxtowe Tory Members Unhappy With Soubry

Last week Guido revealed Anna Soubry’s association chairman was canvassing the opinion of local Tory members about their MP. The initial results are in, and 80% of Broxtowe Tory members who have replied so far say they are unhappy with Soubry.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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Change UK MP Joan Ryan tells Change UK’s South West ‘rally’:

“Can everyone look at their hands please?”

*everyone holds out their hands in front them*

“That’s it, it’s there, the future is in your hands.”

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