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Westlake Legal Group > Justine Greening MP

“There are kids who can read and write today because of Nick Gibb”

That’s what a Special Adviser says – and his are words to ponder on this second day of the reshuffle.

Nick Gibb has been reappointed to his job as an Education Minister, serving under Williamson.  By our count, that makes the latter the fifth Education Secretary that Gibb has served under.  We make it: Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening, Damian Hinds, and now Williamson.

Gibb’s still there because he is legendarily committed to his work, and in particular to the teaching of sythetic phonics (see here for example, and look elsewhere too).  Secretaries of State have come and gone, and education fashion with them.  Consider for example the twists and turns of policy over the years on grammar schools.

All the while, Gibb has stuck to his cause; driven through change; refused to be distracted, sidelined or daunted.  So it is that he has been at the Education Department, with one break, since 2010.  Politicians get a kicking, sometimes deservedly, but if you want an example of committed public service, look no further than Gibb.

We’ve nothing against Robbie Gibb, his brother, having received a knighthood.  But the disparity should make one think hard about the vagaries of the honours system.  If R.Gibb can become a knight, shouldn’t N.Gibb, in due course, become a peer?

Let’s hear it again: “there are kids who can read and write today because of Nick Gibb”

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Revealed: The potential route back for some of the 21 Conservative MPs who lost the Whip

A host of bogus theories and fantasies have floated around the official position of the 21 MPs who lost the Whip last month. There were claims that prior readoption by their associations protected them (it doesn’t), and there was even excited talk that some would take the Conservative Party to court to overturn the decision or insist on their right to be a Conservative candidate (they haven’t, for the good reason that they would lose).

Not all of the 21 are even interested in regaining a future as Conservative MPs.

Some are off the reservation entirely, and seek careers elsewhere. Sam Gyimah has joined the Liberal Democrats. Rory Stewart has resigned his Tory membership and intends to stand for Mayor of London as an independent.

Some – including Ken Clarke, Nicholas Soames, Justine Greening and Oliver Letwin – don’t intend to stand for Parliament again. Letwin’s seat was the first of the 21 to select a successor candidate.

A number of the others, however, would like some sort of route back. Quite how that might technically happen has been a bit of a mystery so far; until now.

I can reveal that there is a formal process buried in the thicket of agreements and addenda which have attached themselves over the years to the Conservative Party’s rules.

After Michael Howard ruthlessly stripped Howard Flight of the Whip in 2005, thereby deselecting him and denying him the right to stand as a Tory in that year’s General Election, the 1922 Committee  – rather alarmed by that summary execution – demanded some kind of protection against abuse of such power by the leadership.

They had to wait for a new leader to be elected, so it was in 2006 that David Cameron, Patrick McLoughlin (then Chief Whip) and Sir Michael Spicer (then Chairman of the ’22) put their names to an agreement creating an appeal process for MPs who lose the Whip.

It works like this: within six months of an anticipated General Election, any de-whipped former Conservative MP may request to appeal their status. A panel of three people is then convened, composed of an MP nominated by the Chairman of the ’22, a representative of the voluntary party nominated by the President of the National Convention, and a third person mutually agreed between the ’22, the Convention and the Chief Whip.

The MP then pleads their case – and if successful can regain not the Whip but their membership of the Candidates’ List, ie the right to apply to stand again as a Conservative candidate and re-enter the fold following the ensuing election.

There are a few things to note. First, even for any MP who navigated the panel successfully this arrangement still rightly leaves the final verdict to readopt or not in the hands of their association

Second, there are no specified criteria for judging the MP’s fate. And as the process has so far never been used, there is no case law. In essence it will inevitably be a political decision for the panel, and likely the powers that be. “The MP’s conduct since losing the Whip is likely to feature”, as one person close to the process put it to me.

Third, the particular carrot – regaining the right to stand again, rather than automatic full reinstatement immediately – might lend itself to applying conditions for good behaviour between now and the elusive election. It isn’t hard to imagine a panel effectively binding a supplicant MP over to keep the peace/support Brexit as a requirement for later release from their exile.

I’m told it is expected that at least one of the 21 will seek to exercise this right to appeal, and possibly several will do so. We don’t know yet on what basis their case will be made: continued Hammond-like, defiance on the issue which cost them the Whip in the first place, or an attempt at reconciliation. By the same token, we don’t know yet what attitude the panel will take to them, or what conditions it might apply if it was willing to consider a return. Ultimately, you can bet that it will be a purely political call: does the leadership want them back?

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The eight MPs from whom the Conservative whip was removed who voted today against a conference recess

They were:

  • Guto Bebb.
  • Ken Clarke.
  • David Gauke.
  • Justine Greening.
  • Dominic Grieve.
  • Anne Milton.
  • Amber Rudd.
  • Antoinette Sandbach.

Steve Brine and Greg Clark, from whom the whip has also been removed, voted with the Government – which lost by 289 votes to 306.

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Ex-Tory MPs split three ways on the question of compelling advisers to publish private correspondence

The Government was defeated in this evening’s vote on Dominic Grieve’s proposal that a named list of advisers should publish their private correspondence, by 311 votes to 302. The motion was proposed under Standing Order 24, the mechanism for backbenchers to seize control of Commons business.

No Conservative MPs rebelled in the vote, although some former Conservative MPs voted in favour of Grieve’s motion: nine who now sit as independents, two who now sit as Liberal Democrats, and one from the ever-changing TIGfC (The Independent Group for Change, since you didn’t ask):

 

Independents

Heidi Allen

Guto Bebb

Nick Boles

Ken Clarke

David Gauke

Justine Greening

Dominic Grieve

Sam Gyimah

Oliver Letwin

 

Liberal Democrats

Phillip Lee

Sarah Wollaston

 

TIGfC

Anna Soubry

 

Interestingly, there was evidently a degree of divided opinion among the former Tory MPs sitting as independents. Seven of them – six of whom lost the whip last week – voted with the Government:

 

Independents

Richard Benyon

Steve Brine

Greg Clark

Charlie Elphicke

Stephen Hammond

Caroline Nokes

Rory Stewart

 

In addition, one Labour MP voted with the Government, against the motion:

John Mann

 

The remaining former Tory MPs who lost or resigned the whip last week – Philip Hammond, Richard Harrington, Margot James, Anne Milton, Amber Rudd, Antoinette Sandbach, Nicholas Soames and Ed Vaizey – did not vote.

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WATCH: Greening says withdrawing the whip from rebels is a ‘self-defeating move’

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The rebels – 21 Conservative and two Labour – on the Letwin SO24 motion

Tory rebels

Here are the 21 Conservative MPs who rebelled to vote for the motion seizing control of Parliamentary business from the Government:

Alistair Burt

Anne Milton

Antoinette Sandbach

Caroline Nokes

David Gauke

Dominic Grieve

Edward Vaizey

Greg Clark

Guto Bebb

Justine Greening

Kenneth Clarke

Margot James

Nicholas Soames

Oliver Letwin

Philip Hammond

Richard Benyon

Richard Harrington

Rory Stewart

Sam Gyimah

Stephen Hammond

Steve Brine

The BBC reports that the Chief Whip has begun to phone round each of them informing them that they have lost the Whip.

Labour rebels

Two Labour MPs – John Mann and Kate Hoey – rebelled against their own party to vote with the Government.

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Andrew Gimson’s Commons sketch: An astonishing level of mutual scorn on the Tory benches

One of the great advantages of a good education combined with polite manners is that one can then be extremely rude about people, but the scorn leading Tories have taken to expressing for each other is still rather extraordinary.

When Sir Oliver Letwin explained to the House why he wishes to legislate against a no deal Brexit, he compared Boris Johnson to a man standing on one side of a canyon, shouting across it that if the people on the other side “do not do as he wishes he will throw himself into the abyss”.

Letwin, sitting high to the right of the Speaker in a group including Sir Nicholas Soames, Dominic Grieve, Philip Hammond, Justine Greening, Alistair Burt and Sir Peter Bottomley, added that the rest of us “are to be dragged over the edge” with Johnson.

Jeremy Corbyn spoke next, and could find no image that conveyed such murderous stupidity. He was so dull and diffuse that Letwin, Soames, Grieve and the rest started to look a bit embarrassed at receiving support from so inept an ally.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House, rose and declared that “what is proposed today is constitutionally irregular”.

He accused Letwin of “stunning arrogance” for supposing that it was all right to engage in this constitutional irregularity in order to defy the will of the people as expressed in the referendum.

And he said that if MPs have lost faith in the Government, the proper course is to bring in a motion of no confidence, which if passed could make Corbyn Prime Minister.

But the Government’s critics won’t do that: “They are afraid, they are white with fear because they do not want the Right Honourable Gentleman to be in Downing Street.”

So they have instead, Rees-Mogg went on, engaged in “legislative legerdemain” – pronounced “legerdemane” rather than in the French manner – in order “to create a marionette government” and impose “possibly indefinite vassalage” upon this country.

How Rees-Mogg loves being the voice of the people. But soon after ten, when the vote was declared, it was demonstrated that he is not the voice of 21 Tory MPs.

“It’s not a good start, Boris,” someone shouted from the Labour benches.

Johnson rose and said the people must now decide who should go to represent Britain in Brussels at the European Council on October 17th. If the people choose Corbyn, “he will go to Brussels and beg for an extension”.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister declared, “If I go to Brussels I will go for a deal and I believe I will get a deal.”

Corbyn retorted that keen though he is on an election, he wants to get the Bill to avert a no deal Brexit through Parliament first.

Michael Gove, sitting next to Johnson, became extremely animated, gesticulated wildly at Corbyn, and was rebuked by the Speaker: “Yes, we know the theatrics he perfected at the Oxford Union.”

It was indeed a rather Oxford Union line-up on the Conservative front bench, Johnson and Gove both having been elected president of that debating society, an office for which Rees-Mogg, sitting on the other side of the Prime Minister, also ran.

How will these Oxonian tribunes of the people fare in an election? No one yet knows, but to begin the campaign by withdrawing the whip from 21 Tory MPs is a fairly astonishing way of going about things.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The 17 Conservative MPs who rebelled against the Government on prorogation – and the ministers who failed to vote

In this afternoon’s defeat on the amendment intended to prevent prorogation of Parliament, 17 Conservative MPs rebelled against the government, while several ministers did not vote. One minister – Margot James – resigned after rebelling. The Government lost by 315-274.

Here are the 17 rebels:

Guto Bebb

Steve Brine

Alistair Burt

Jonathan Djanogly

Justine Greening

Dominic Grieve

Sam Gyimah

Richard Harrington

Margot James

Phillip Lee

Jeremy Lefroy

Oliver Letwin

Paul Masterton

Sarah Newton

Antoinette Sandbach

Keith Simpson

Ed Vaizey

James’s resignation adds one to the tally of the ‘awkward squad’ a new Prime Minister will have to tackle – and it is that factor, and how it erodes the Government’s majority, which raises the chances of a General Election, more than an obstacle to prorogation in itself.

One Labour MP, Kate Hoey, rebelled to vote with the Government. Ian Austin, a former Labour MP sitting as an independent, voted the same way.

As ever, we must be careful in how we report on those who do not vote. Not voting is not necessarily a deliberate abstention. Sometimes MPs are ill or absent with family crises, ministers in particular often have aspects of their jobs that take them away from Westminster or out of the country without permission, and so on.

There are at least two such examples today. Karen Bradley didn’t vote, but she is in Northern Ireland on a planned trip. Jeremy Hunt didn’t vote either, but he has official permission from the Whips due to the leadership contest (Boris Johnson has this permission too, but he did vote with the Government nonetheless).

However, we do know that some Cabinet ministers are willing to deliberately defy the whip, and openly snub collective responsibility. I warned when they first did so back in March that allowing it to pass without consequence would simply lead to further breaches, and it seems almost certain that this is what has happened.

Of those who defied the whip in March, David Mundell and Amber Rudd fell into line and obeyed it today, while Greg Clark and David Gauke repeated their stand and did not vote. They were joined in their absence by Alan Duncan, Rory Stewart, and, most outrageously of all, Philip Hammond.

It’s hard to imagine a starker illustration of the utter dysfunction the May era has wrought than a Chancellor of the Exchequer junking collective responsibility while hanging onto office for as long as possible. Strangely the Prime Minister’s ‘final speech’ yesterday on the topic of “the state of politics” did not reflect on her own contribution to the problem.

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Opposition Day Brexit motion. The ten Tory MPs who voted with Labour. The eight Labour MPs who voted with the Tories.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-06-12-at-18.13.25 Opposition Day Brexit motion. The ten Tory MPs who voted with Labour. The eight Labour MPs who voted with the Tories. Stephen Hepburn MP Sir Oliver Letwin MP Sir Kevin Barron MP Sam Gyimah MP Ronnie Campbell MP MPs ETC Kenneth Clarke MP Ken Clarke MP Kate Hoey MP Justine Greening MP Jonathan Djanogly MP John Mann MP Jim Fitzpatrick MP Jeremy Corbyn MP House of Commons (general) Guto Bebb MP Graham Stringer MP Europe EU Dominic Grieve MP Caroline Spelman MP Caroline Flint MP Brexit Antoinette Sandbach MP

The ten Conservative MPs who voted with Labour were:

  • Guto Bebb.
  • Ken Clarke.
  • Jonathan Djanogly.
  • Justine Greening.
  • Dominic Grieve.
  • Sam Gyimah.
  • Oliver Letwin.
  • Antoinette Sandbach.
  • Caroline Spelman.

– – –

  • Kevin Barron.
  • Ronnie Campbell.
  • Jim Fitzpatrick.
  • Caroline Flint.
  • Stephen Hepburn.
  • Kate Hoey.
  • John Mann.
  • Graham Stringer.

– – –

Early days, but Dominic Walsh’s take looks on the money.

Additionally, one of the questions posed by the European election results is: what effect will they have on Labour MPs in seats that voted for Brexit in 2016?

If large numbers of Labour abstentions on this motion are identified, we may began to have an answer.

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Thomas Kerr: The SNP is relying on a culture of secrecy to hide their failings in Glasgow

Cllr Thomas Kerr represents Shettleston Ward on Glasgow City Council.

On May 2017, the Shettleston Ward of Glasgow voted for change. They wanted a fresh face who would bring them hope and deliver on promises made. A local champion who knows, cares, and loves the community, and for the first time in over 100 years, the candidate offering that was myself, as the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party candidate. Shettleston took a chance on me, and from the feedback I get on a daily basis, it isn’t a choice they regret.

Last month, another group of people took a chance on me, and I hope that, like my constituents, they’ll look back to see that it was the right choice. I speak, of course, of the Glasgow Conservative Group. Cllr David Meikle, Glasgow’s previous group leader, announced last month that he would be stepping down after 12 years at the helm of Glasgow Conservative politics. His dedication to our party when times were tough was outstanding, and his contribution to our group as our leader was amazing. However, family (the birth of his first child) and other work commitments meant that David had to take a step back. This led to a chance that I couldn’t give up, and thanks to the support of my council colleagues, I became Scotland’s (and I believe the UK’s) youngest Council Group Leader at age 22. This is an exciting time, and I want to share with you all my ideas and vision, not just for our group, but for my city.

Every leader can only do their job successfully with a team behind them, and before I set out my vision, let me thank the excellent team of Glasgow Conservative councillors I have who will help me in developing policies for the city in the run-up to our next election. From Cllr Tony Curtis, who will lead our fight against obesity, to Bailie Kyle Thornton, my business manager, but also environment spokesperson, who is leading the fight against the SNPs anti-car agenda in Glasgow. With a team as dedicated as mine behind me, the possibilities for the Conservative movement in Glasgow are endless.

However, while the Glasgow Conservatives see an opening for us, our city sees the door of opportunities close because of our out of touch SNP ‘City Government’. The administration in Glasgow is crumbling before our very eyes, and it is a sorry state of affairs for our city. Just 2 years into a promise of change, they’ve let down their supporters, the city, and their own councillors. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen two SNP councillors resign the whip over claims of bullying and harassment from the leader’s office, and leaked Facebook posts have shown that the council leader, Cllr Susan Aitken, says one thing in private and another in public. All this while they still continue to strangle investment and drive business away from our city.

The SNP’s cry in Glasgow was to be an administration which was “open”, “transparent”, and “for Glasgow”. But just two years in, these principles have been swept aside, and decisions are made behind closed doors with no consultation with any elected members. Despite their status as a minority administration, the SNP has unilaterally decided to scrap Glasgow’s airport rail link in the face of over a decade of promises to the people of this city. Their culture of secrecy means that legitimate freedom of information requests from members of the public, including those that wanted to know the full truth regarding the administration’s handling of the Ibrox fan-zone scandal amid allegations of bias, cannot tell the full story, because discussions regarding council policy are taking place on private SNP Facebook pages.

The SNP applauded a budget settlement from the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, which saw Glasgow’s money get cut again, but pretended this was a fair deal for our city. The SNP in Glasgow should be our city’s champion within the SNP, yet all Aitken and her team are showing are that they are the SNP’s voice in the City Chambers – blinded by party loyalty and selling out our great city for hopes of a future career in Holyrood. I know the City Treasurer, Cllr Allan Gow, has said he reads my blogs on here so my message to you Allan is that it’s time you put our city first and the only way that can happen is by your leader resigning because not only does the opposition no longer have confidence in her but I believe your group doesn’t either.

Yet despite the backdrop of negativity coming from the leader’s office, the Conservative Group is hopeful. We have big ideas for our city and let me lay just a few of them here for you today. One of the issues very close to my heart is offering people from all backgrounds opportunities in life – the sort of opportunities that saw the son of recovering drug addicts become the Leader of the Glasgow Conservatives. That is why I took a motion to our full council meeting calling on Glasgow to become Scotland’s first local authority to sign up to Justine Greening’s Social Mobility Pledge and while we didn’t get to it on that occasion it is my intention to bring it again and get it passed because social mobility is exactly the sort thing the Glasgow Conservatives need to be standing up for.

While I am Group Leader I also have another title and that is our Group’s spokesperson on business and the economy something which, despite the possibilities Glasgow has, we are way lagging behind on. That is why as Group Leader I have called on the SNP Government to reduce business rates to give our small business owners a break. Times are tough for the retail industry and only by listening can we get it right. Over the summer recess, while other councillors will be relaxing, I will be using the time to tour our city and meet with the people on the ground from business and development backgrounds to hear first-hand the issues they face in our city and why Glasgow is lagging behind on investment compared to other large cities within the UK.

One of the major issues our city has is our planning department, which is out of touch and out of date. That’s why my two members on our city’s planning committee Cllr Robert Connelly and Cllr Tony Curtis are looking at ways of changing the structure of that committee to make it work better. But governance is not the only issues we face. Let me give you an example of where our city has got it just plain wrong. Like many other cities, Glasgow zones off pieces of land for certain types of development and whilst this approach has some merits it is clear that for some locations the policy is having the unintended consequence of strangling investment. I have spoken directly with another elected member who had a businessman want to invest and develop a hotel in our city down by the River Clyde yet the planning authorities said no because the piece of land has been zoned off for office space despite this land lying empty for nearly 20 years. Here we are in 2019 with a developer ready to go and we are saying no because of our out of date zoning policy. It is time Glasgow had another look at this and I hope my group will be a part of it.

In times like ours, business needs a champion and in Glasgow they simply don’t have it. Instead they have an administration too busy fighting amongst themselves to engage with the business community and a main opposition party which lacks the leadership to stand up to them. That’s why my group stands ready to do that job for Glasgow. Above I have outlined just two policy areas on which my Group will be leading from the front. Glasgow needs change, it deserves change and my pledge to the city is this my group will offer you that change.

 

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