web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Liz Truss MP

Greg Hands: Trade policy is back, so it’s time MPs mastered the topic

Greg Hands is MP for Chelsea and Fulham, and Co-Chair of the Free Trade Parliamentary Caucus.

Many things will change in this Parliament; the importance of trade will be probably the largest and most durable shift, now that Britain has left the European Union.

Today I am launching in the House of Commons the Free Trade Parliamentary Caucus, which will seek to both make the case for free trade, and to bring expertise into Parliament to allow them to have a more informed say.

The return of Britain’s independent trade and regulatory policy presents a once in a generation opportunity to increase economic growth, strengthen our relationships with other countries and play a leadership role in promoting liberalising trade around the world.

Of course, we cannot assume that any of this will happen automatically. But one of the biggest changes brought about by Brexit will be the Government’s independent trade policy and the Parliamentary scrutiny of it.

Trade is back at the heart of government, where it should always have belonged. I was one of the founding ministers at the Department for International Trade, under Liam Fox, who was the first Cabinet Minister solely for trade since 1983. He has been ably succeeded by Liz Truss, who gives way to nobody in her enthusiasm and drive for the subject.

Trade policy is one of those cross-cutting issues which affects nearly every department. Many think that trade is all about tariffs and quotas. Those are important. But most trade negotiations are taken up by discussions over behind the border barriers – that means regulation and competition issues. In addition to the DIT, the Treasury and Department for Business are instantly involved.

There will be aspects that will affect the Home Office, too, such as the labour and migration elements of trade agreements. The working of the Irish border, and the precise details of how East-West trade between Britain and Ireland works will require careful thought and close collaboration with Irish authorities by HMRC and potentially the Northern Ireland Office.

Fishing and farming are two of the sectors most affected by leaving the EU, making the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs a major player in any trade negotiation.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments, and the Northern Ireland Assembly, will also have roles, as many of these matters are devolved (although trade policy and international treaties are clearly not).

It is well known that free and fair trade is the fastest way for developing countries to escape poverty but is unfortunately not always practiced by the developed world. The Department for International Development will soon find it has another, powerful weapon in its armoury.

Trade is a pillar of foreign affairs. Trade agreements may be legal in nature and economic in content but are often motivated by geo-politics. Japan, for instance, is motivated to sign a bilateral trade deal with the UK and for our early accession to the Comprehensive and Progress Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) trade block of 11 nations, which is partly driven by the commercial and security threat of China. They hope closer economic ties will bring a stronger relationship and greater security co-operation.

The close relationship between commerce, diplomacy and security means the Ministry of Defence is also part of the trade dialogue. And that’s even before we get to the defence procurement opportunities in trade negotiations.

We all know the NHS is off the table in any trade talks. But there will still be professional licencing to agree, along with any issues around drug patents and pricing. DCMS will have issues around domestic content restrictions, intellectual property rights and digital competition. The Department for Education will want to ensure education – one of our export success stories – continues to thrive.

So Government will have to work closely together, led by the Department for International Trade. The same is true of both Houses of Parliament.

After 47 years without our own trade policy, it is no surprise that we lack domestic expertise. There have been heroic efforts by civil servants at the DIT to master the brief, and a handful of Parliamentarians who stand out for their interest and knowledge of trade and customs policy.

But on the whole, we are reliant on British experts who learned their trade overseas, such as Shanker Singham who spent 20 years practicing trade law in the United States, or dual nationals like Crawford Falconer, New Zealand’s former Ambassador to the WTO and Chief Trade Negotiator, who joined the UK government as Chief Trade Negotiations Adviser in 2017.

There is a small, but important community of trade policy commentators at think tanks too, like Allie Renison at the Institute of Directors, David Henig at the Trade Policy Observatory and Sam Lowe at the Centre for European Reform.

Of course, trade is about much more than just trade agreements. Barriers can be analysed and reduced plurilaterally, multilaterally or bilaterally, with or without formal treaties. One thing is for sure though: MPs and Lords will be poring over the fine detail in the coming years. The Department has set a target of 80 per cent of UK trade being covered by trade agreements within three years. Priority deals include of course the EU itself, as well as the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the CPTTP.

As we enter the transition period, we face intense trade negotiations on multiple fronts and our taking back of our independent seat at the WTO. It is unprecedented for a pro-liberalising trade G7 nation to re-join the WTO with the opportunity to impact the evolution of global trade. The challenges for Ministers, civil servants and business are real. But the opportunities for our economy and our relationships around the world are considerable.

It for these reasons that I am launching a Free Trade Parliamentary Caucus with fellow MPs Suella Braverman and Mark Garnier. The Trade Caucus will be an opportunity for Parliamentarians to deepen and broaden their understanding of trade policy, discuss challenges and opportunities and advocate for free trade in the UK and globally.

We will look at the role of trade in foreign affairs, how free trade can help the world’s poorest countries and how to create high paying jobs through boosting UK exports. Whether colleagues represent a rural constituency with a significant number of farmers, a coastal constituency home to commercial fishing fleets or have a personal interest in foreign affairs, international development or the economy – trade policy matters too.

I have been heartened by the level of interest from colleagues, and hope those who cannot make it to our inaugural meeting today will join the group and get involved.

We owe it to our constituents and to the country to make a success of leaving the European Union. I hope the Free Trade Caucus will be one way of doing that.

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

The Treasury fights back. How it plans to drive radical reform – and become “the Government’s internal think tank”

It was bad news for Sajid Javid when the Prime Minister pledged to keep him as Chancellor.

Not nearly as bad for him, you may counter, as if Johnson hadn’t.  But you take the point.  There is tension if not between the two men then at least between some in their camps.  (Dominic Cummings has been known to be just a little sharp about Javid.)

The Prime Minister’s commitment, made less than a month before the general election, succeeded in its purpose – namely, to shut down speculation that Javid would be replaced at the Treasury, if Johnson won big, by the coming man of the Government: his deputy, Rishi Sunak.

A view from the Treasury is that this choppy water has smoothed out.  It is keen to stress that the working relationship between two men is not only excellent, but a partnership on which much of the Government’s work is built. And it has examples to hand.

But even more significantly, it portrays the Treasury not as a cowed department, bamboozled by the voters’ endorsement of Brexit and dominated by a resurgent Downing Street, but as the continuing powerhouse of government.

One insider tells ConservativeHome that the department will become nothing less than “the Government’s internal think tank”.

Let’s start with what should be uncontentious.  Sources claim that Javid won the internal debate over tax and spending with the aid of Isaac Levido – who stressed to Political Cabinet, pre-election, that the Tories could not simply mimic Labour, and display a Nick-Timothy era tolerance of public spending growth.  They needed to frame an electoral choice.

And so to pre-election new fiscal rules (the Tory manifesto lists two of them) and a post-poll squeeze on current spending and the slaughter of “sacred cows”.

There is a new Cabinet public spending domestic delivery committee; the Treasury has been empowered to go through departmental spending line by line, to ensure that spending plans are in line with Johnson’s priorities; it and Number Ten are “in 100 per cent agreement”.

But what’s to stop the departmental Sir Humphreys from simply presenting the same old projects under brand new headings – linking them to the delivery of 50,000 more nurses; 20,000 more police; an Australian-style points-based immigration system; net zero emissions by 2050 and investment in science?

“We have the numbers,” the Treasury counters.  Which raises the question of how the effectiveness of all this extra cash will be monitored.  It is at this point that the conversation begins to get interesting – from a political point of view at least.

The inside view from the department is that there are three main reasons why the manifesto avoided public service reform.  First, the exigencies of Brexit gave Ministers little time to plan.  Second, the Conservatives didn’t plan for having so big a majority.  Third, Johnson was determined not to risk a 2017-style document.

But the Treasury has not given up on seeking to drive reform – even if that means Javid stepping on other Cabinet Minister’s toes.

Consider its drive to take ownership of the Government’s skills programme.  Late last week, it was reported that the Chancellor “will make them a central theme of his March Budget”.  And his support for HS2 has been heavily briefed (to the irritation of some in Downing Street).  The skills pitch contained a spoor (talking of “we have the numbers”). “Treasury officials have been collating research on the drivers of regional disparities”.

It is against this background that our source’s wish to turn the department into the Government’s internal think tank must be seen.

To the Treasury, it has a history of departmental predominance; “the numbers”, and a tradition of driving radical reform when it wants to.  Which is does – at least under this Chancellor.  According to the pro-building Sun, he sees eye to eye with Downing Street on planning reform.

But there is more.  The department has a long interest in seeking to free up the demand side of childcare.  Sources speak sympathetically of Liz Truss’s quest to ease up on the ratio of childminders to children.  It failed, ConHome pointed out.  To which we got the response: “but she was right”.

Then there is the police.  “Does anyone really believe that policing in Scotland is worse now that it has a single force rather than eight?”, this site was told.  Maybe not.  However, merging forces in England and Wales would raise big questions, some structural (such as the future of police commissioners).

There are others.  The manifesto doesn’t mention such reforms at all.  Indeed, it promises to “enhance the Green Belt”.  This would not be easy to square with building on bits of it.  Furthermore, pressure from Tory MPs has a way of frightening change off: consider the fate of fracking.

And to turn from the external to the internal: were the Treasury to work as the Government’s think tank – presumably with more SpAd experts working to that brief – what would become of Number Ten’s Policy Unit?

It waxes and wanes depending partly on the strength of the Prime Minister, and partly on that of its own leadership – and in both contexts it is currently in the ascendant.  Johnson has his near-landslide size majority, and the Unit is vigorously led.  Munira Mirza was a co-author of the manifesto and is a Downing Street force second only to Cummings – when it comes to intellectual drive and policy formation, at any rate.

The growth of Downing Street Ten as a driving force since the Blair era provides a context in which to see the Treasury’s ambitions.

The Theresa May-Philip Hammond relationship went sour almost from the start. David Cameron and George Osborne got on famously well; Tony Blair and Gordon Brown famously badly.  Looking back to the pre-Blair era takes us to John Major and Ken Clarke.  Weak Prime Minister, strong Chancellor: not the template here.

Johnson’s majority positions him to be more like Margaret Thatcher, during her post-1983 landslide, when it comes to his relationship with his Chancellor.  She was dominant.  And at that point, the Exchange Rate Mechanism was not even a speck in Nigel Lawson’s eye.

However, Javid is not really comparable to the man who became one of the most formidable of Britain’s post-war Chancellors.  Lawson was never a leadership contender.  Javid stood against Johnson and lost, though he ended up running a creditable campaign.

If Javid is identified with any cause – as Lawson was with tax reform – it is with infrastructure spending.  He pushed for £100 billion more of it when seconding Stephen Crabb’s Conservative leadership campaign in 2016.  Now he is getting his way.  But Number Ten is much more weaponised a creature than in Major’s Day.  Whether it is signed up to the wider ambitions of some in the Treasury remains to be seen.

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

The calm before the reshuffle? Our first Cabinet League Table of 2020

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Jan-20-1024x955 The calm before the reshuffle? Our first Cabinet League Table of 2020 ToryDiary Thérèse Coffey MP Theresa Villiers MP Steve Barclay MP Simon Hart MP Sajid Javid MP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Liz Truss MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Baroness Morgan Andrea Leadsom MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

This is the first Cabinet League Table of 2020. It is also very likely the last before the Prime Minister embarks on his next reshuffle. December saw some stellar scores in the aftermath of that month’s general election victory, and it’s once again a pretty rosy picture. Here are a few takeaways:

  • No change to the podium. There has been some inevitable fluctuation in the specific scores but the top spots are still held by Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid, and Michael Gove.
  • Few women at the top. With rumours that the Prime Minister might be about to dismiss five female Secretaries of State, we note that only Priti Patel makes the top ten this month. Expand the selection and only Andrea Leadsom and Liz Truss make the cut in the top twenty.
  • Another bad month for the territorial offices… Both Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, and Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, are at the bottom of our table for the second month running.
  • …save for Northern Ireland. But Julian Smith has broken out of that pack, rising to the top half of the table on the back of his role in getting the Northern Ireland Assembly back up and running.

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

The calm before the reshuffle? Our first Cabinet League Table of 2020

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Jan-20-1024x955 The calm before the reshuffle? Our first Cabinet League Table of 2020 ToryDiary Thérèse Coffey MP Theresa Villiers MP Steve Barclay MP Simon Hart MP Sajid Javid MP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Liz Truss MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Baroness Morgan Andrea Leadsom MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

This is the first Cabinet League Table of 2020. It is also very likely the last before the Prime Minister embarks on his next reshuffle. December saw some stellar scores in the aftermath of that month’s general election victory, and it’s once again a pretty rosy picture. Here are a few takeaways:

  • No change to the podium. There has been some inevitable fluctuation in the specific scores but the top spots are still held by Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid, and Michael Gove.
  • Few women at the top. With rumours that the Prime Minister might be about to dismiss five female Secretaries of State, we note that only Priti Patel makes the top ten this month. Expand the selection and only Andrea Leadsom and Liz Truss make the cut in the top twenty.
  • Another bad month for the territorial offices… Both Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, and Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, are at the bottom of our table for the second month running.
  • …save for Northern Ireland. But Julian Smith has broken out of that pack, rising to the top half of the table on the back of his role in getting the Northern Ireland Assembly back up and running.

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

Moore on Major’s part in Thatcher’s downfall, and why she considered women superior to men

On Monday night, Boris Johnson hailed Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher as “the greatest recent work of biography” and “the greatest work of modern British history”.

Johnson observed that at the heart of the third and final volume, Herself Alone, now published, lies “a single glittering and terrible event, an assassination”, and said of those who carried it out: “They are all honourable men, Brutus, Cassius and the rest.”

In this interview, Moore describes the conduct of John Major during her downfall as “not noble, but understandable”, though had she known Major was playing a double game, and was “shafting” her, she would not have “anointed him her heir”.

And Moore explains why Thatcher regarded women, not as the equals of men, but as their superiors. For women

“suffer from fewer illusions, they’re closer to reality, more conscientious, and more aware of the human factor, and less likely to be patronising, pompous and jargon-ridden.”

Moore has written a history, so declined to speculate about how Thatcher, who died in 2013, would regard the present Prime Minister. But he did remark on one of the reasons for her success:

“People were always telling her she must have a strategy. She said no, I mustn’t, because politics isn’t like that. So what she had is big aims, and big principles, but no strategy. 

“And this used to drive people, particularly with a business background, mad. Her phrase for it was, ‘We don’t want to get stuck on graph paper.’”

Johnson is always being told he must have a plan, when what he actually has is a big aim. He can perhaps derive some comfort from his great predecessor’s example.

ConHome: “What influence has Thatcher had on women politicians today?”

Moore: “Well of course a lot of women politicians admire her, or are very interested in her – Liz Truss for example, Priti Patel and Nicola Sturgeon – the last not being a fan in terms of her politics, but a student of how she did it.

“Only a very foolish aspiring politician, particularly a woman politician, would not be interested in her.

“There is a school of thought, I see, from Corbynistas that she is almost literally the devil incarnate – there’s nothing to learn from her except how to exorcise her spirit.

“But otherwise I’ve found that people right across the political spectrum study her, and the particular thing they’re interested in is, from the woman point of view, how do you do it, how do you thrive in what even now is probably a man’s world, though of course she so comprehensively shattered the glass ceiling that it is much less of a man’s world.”

ConHome: “You’ve said in the last few days that she reckoned women are better than men. Did she actually say that?”

Moore: “She didn’t say it in so many words. But she liked Kipling, ‘more deadly than the male’; she said the famous thing about the cocks may crow but the hen lays the eggs, and she said that men just talk and women do.

“And all those things plus lots and lots of other things amount to saying women are better than men as – not needless to say in every respect – but they suffer from fewer illusions, they’re closer to reality, more conscientious, and more aware of the human factor, and less likely to be patronising, pompous and jargon-ridden.”

ConHome: “Do you agree with all that?”

Moore: “Well it’s not really for me to agree or disagree. I think she exhibited the truth of some of those propositions.”

ConHome: “Did John Major help you with this book?”

Moore: “Yes, a lot.”

ConHome: “Because he’s quite astute about the whole thing, when she’s in desperate trouble in November 1990 and he’s having his wisdom teeth out, but his conduct is also a little bit underhand.”

Moore: “You need to read that very closely, and it’s very subtle and clever of him, the way he shafted her.

“And it’s important to be fair to him on this. He did shaft her, he did conspire against her, I think that’s undoubted.

“But it was very difficult for him, because if he felt there was good reason to think that after not doing well enough on the first ballot she ought to go, it was natural for him to have the ambition to succeed her.

“And if his nomination had gone through for her on the second ballot, he would not have been able to compete to succeed her.

“So that’s why he did this very complicated manoeuvre, which I expose, by which he only promised to nominate her on condition that his nomination was not used.

“And she did not know that. And if she had known that, she would not have anointed him her heir.

“So the effect was to deceive her. But I wouldn’t say the motive was ignoble. I’d say it was not noble, but understandable.

“Because she was going anyway. There was a danger of being linked to a corpse. He didn’t bring her down. He was one of many who did not try to prevent her fall.

“He was positioning himself very carefully and very well.”

ConHome: “In one of our previous conversations, you said that among other things she was ‘a great twister and turner’, as well as a conviction politician.

“Would you say that is an indispensable part of politics? You have to adapt to circumstance, and circumstance changes.

“People have this naive idea of politics that as long as you have a plan, and it’s the right plan, and you stick to it, everything will be fine.

“But of course, nothing could be more damaging, once circumstances change.”

Moore: “Exactly. Because if you say you’re going to go along that railway line, and in fact you’ve learned there’s a carriage lying across it, your promise to go down that railway line must be aborted if you wish yourself and everyone else to survive.

“And she knew that. The way she expressed it was always to do with her resistance to the idea of having a strategy. People were always telling her she must have a strategy.

“She said no, I mustn’t, because politics isn’t like that.

“So what she had is big aims, and big principles, but no strategy.

“And this used to drive people, particularly with a business background, mad.

“Her phrase for it was, ‘We don’t want to get stuck on graph paper.’”

ConHome: “Yes. In fact Boris is rather like that, having big aims, but no strategy.”

Moore: “Yes. She was more focussed in her aims I think than Boris, and she had more of them. And she knew much more about the detail than Boris.

“But it was the same essential political understanding of the need for tactical flexibility.

“A famous example is her capitulation to the miners in 1981. She wasn’t ready. Which made it absolutely clear to her that she had to be ready for the miners when they next came round, which was in 1984. And she was ready.”

ConHome: “The Tories are very good at putting on these tremendous leadership contests every 20 or 30 years.”

Moore: “Every 20 or 30 minutes now.”

ConHome: “Did her manners get worse towards the end of her time in office? I remember John Whittingdale saying he’d never seen anyone be as rude to anyone as she was to Geoffrey Howe.”

Moore: “I think they did get a bit worse, but I think it’s partly because the context was different. She’d been the doyenne, the senior leader of the western world, the longest-serving from 1982 onwards, and very dominant at home, with three resounding victories under her belt.

“So there were fewer and fewer people who could answer her back, and she fights fiercely if they do, and that deters them, and they get more resentful.

“Howe and Lawson were the only two remaining senior ones, and they fall out with her.

“So there’s almost nobody who can say, ‘Come on Margaret, stop it.’ Denis can. He couldn’t stop her remaining in office. He tried to get her out in May ’89, but she wouldn’t do it.”

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

Javid keeps the gold but Johnson and Rees-Mogg fail to medal in our Cabinet League Table

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Sep-19-1024x956 Javid keeps the gold but Johnson and Rees-Mogg fail to medal in our Cabinet League Table ToryDiary Thérèse Coffey MP Theresa Villiers MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Nicky Morgan MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Liz Truss MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Andrea Leadsom MP Alun Cairns MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

Another month in and once again the Johnson Ministry appears to be holding fairly steady in the affections of grassroots activists.

There has been a slight downward drift, illustrated by the top scores no longer breaking the plus-80 barrier, but there are no ministers with negative scores and compared to the tail end of Theresa May’s time in office these are healthy scores.

Yet is it the calm before the storm? We are now only a month away from the October 31 Brexit deadline, which the Prime Minister insists he’s going to meet but nobody can really see how he can. Our next survey will be conducted as he runs into that tempest – it will be interesting to see what affect it has.

A few details:

  • Javid gold again… The Chancellor has seen his score slip a little but, as that is in line with the overall trend, he remains the most popular member of the Government amongst party members for the third month in a row.
  • …as Johnson slips… Last month the Prime Minister was ranked second by our panellists and just a couple of points shy of Javid. This month he slips to sixth after losing more than 12 points. Is this simply a response to various stories this month, or a foretaste of a backlash next month?
  • …and Rees-Mogg stumbles. It’s been an even worse month for the Leader of the House, who has fallen from a bronze-medal position last month to 11th place now after a fall of almost 15 points.
  • …but Brexiteers benefit. The beneficiaries of the above moves are principally Michael Gove, Geoffrey Cox, Dominic Raab, and Stephen Barclay. It is not until Liz Truss, in tenth position, that we find a Remainer.
  • Two departures. It’s goodbye to Amber Rudd and Jo Johnson, who both resigned from the Cabinet this month, and hello to Thérèse Coffey, who takes over from Rudd at Work & Pensions. Johnson’s successor, Chris Skidmore, is not attending Cabinet.
  • Wallace rebounds. Last month we asked what might have caused the Defence Secretary to suddenly slump to near the bottom of the table. Whatever it was, it’s passed – he’s now just below Rees-Mogg after gaining 20 points.

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

Chris White: How much of the Government’s No Deal legislation is in place? And is it all truly essential?

Chris White was Special Adviser to Patrick McLoughlin, when the latter served as Chief Whip, as well as to Andrew Lansley and William Hague when each served as Leader of the House. He is now Managing Director of Newington Communications.

The sense of stasis of the last days of the May administration has been replaced by a turbocharged Johnson Government.  Boris promised us energy in his victory speech, and we have certainly got that.

Michael Gove leads a slimmed down ‘war cabinet’ of key ministers to deliver Brexit and ensure readiness to leave without a deal on 31st October.  The Government is about to launch an £100 million information advertising campaign to help prepare the UK and businesses for the potential of No Deal becoming a reality.  The new Chancellor has said he will fund 500 new Border Force officers and identify new infrastructure at ports to minimise congestion and improve the flow of goods. The Government is certainly living up to Churchill’s maxim: ‘action this day’.

Yet in Parliament, the strategy is precisely the opposite. Inaction, avoid battle at all costs, man the barricades and repel the attempts by MPs to stop a No Deal Brexit. Last week I wrote about how MPs might attempt to do this, yet if Government does pursue this course of action in Parliament, will the UK really be ready for No Deal?

Brexit legislation

The legal default of No Deal on 31st October is determined by legislation, and no further action is needed to ensure this happens, unless of course MPs manage to pass new legislation to change or revoke the exit date.

The May administration planned a range of legislation to help prepare the UK for a No Deal Brexit.  The Customs Act, the Nuclear Safeguards Act, the Healthcare (EEA and Switzerland Arrangements) Act, the Road Haulage Act and the Sanctions Act have all received Royal Assent. As can be seen from the table below, there has been little progress on completing the passage of the remaining ‘main’ Brexit Bills.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-01-at-17.22.30 Chris White: How much of the Government’s No Deal legislation is in place? And is it all truly essential? Withdrawal Agreement trade Parliament Liz Truss MP Liam Fox MP law House of Commons (general) Highlights Fisheries EU Constitution and democracy Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP border control

Do these need to be completed?

The EU Withdrawal Act 2018, and the large amount of secondary legislation passed by Parliament over the last few months, has ensured that EU law has been transposed into UK law, and that Ministers have the ability to amend it if needed after we leave.

Of the five outstanding Brexit bills, none are absolutely necessary for the UK to leave the EU and therefore they do not need to be completed before 31st October.

The independent and impartial Institute for Government recently published a report on “preparing Brexit”, pointing out that workarounds exist. Liam Fox, then the Secretary of State for International Trade, “told the International Trade Select Committee that the Government has the legal powers to carry out the three main functions of the Trade Bill without it being on the statute book.”  However these workarounds are not always without complications.  The Fisheries Bill also has a workaround, in that the Government “has prerogative powers that will allow it to set fish quotas in the event of No Deal – although use of these powers will cause friction with the devolved administrations.”

Instead, the Government is taking the calculation that is crucial to avoid giving MPs opportunities to insert amendments forcing the Government to ask the EU for an extension, as recently happened with the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill.  MPs were able to amend the law, forcing Parliament to sit in October should the Prime Minister attempt to prorogue it.  The bills will be sat on, with the Government intending to bring them back to Parliament in the aftermath of the UK’s exit.

What happens if there is a deal negotiated with the EU?

If the Withdrawal Agreement is reopened, if the deal is renegotiated in a way that is palatable to the Prime Minister and his team and if it meets the approval of Parliament, the Government still needs to pass an amended EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill that reflects the new deal.  That is unlikely to be done in the short space of time that we have left before 31st October, and would therefore need an extension, which would first need to be agreed with the EU.

This extension would then need to be reflected in UK law, so that the 31st October date could be amended.  When the original ‘Cooper-Letwin’ Bill was passed earlier this year, the Government requested the ability to change the exit date in UK law using a negative statutory instrument, which was accepted by Parliament.  This SI could be drafted and laid in a very short space of time indeed.

No Deal is more likely than a bad deal

At the weekend Johnson, in the public rebuking of Gove, his new ‘war cabinet’ chief, made it clear that this going straight for No Deal was not the government’s strategy. He insisted: “we’re aiming for a new deal”. That seems increasingly unlikely with the public reluctance of the EU to remove the backstop. So as the dust settles for the summer recess and the Government steps up preparations for a No Deal Brexit, we await Parliament’s return in September to see if MPs will really accept that No Deal is better than a bad deal.

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

Full list of Johnson’s Cabinet appointments

Here is the list of members of the new Government, so far:

Prime Minister: Boris Johnson

Chancellor of the Exchequer: Sajid Javid

Foreign Secretary (and First Secretary of State): Dominic Raab

Home Secretary: Priti Patel

Defence Secretary: Ben Wallace

Brexit Secretary: Steve Barclay

Health Secretary: Matt Hancock

International Trade Secretary: Liz Truss

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Michael Gove

You can follow all the latest news on our live blog here.

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

Javid feels the benefit of his leadership bid in the final Cabinet League Table of the May years

 

Westlake Legal Group June-2019-cabinet-league-table Javid feels the benefit of his leadership bid in the final Cabinet League Table of the May years ToryDiary Theresa May MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Penny Mordaunt MP Party Democracy and Membership Ministers Matthew Hancock MP Liz Truss MP Highlights Grassroots Geoffrey Cox MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Boris Johnson MP Alun Cairns MP

Given that the next leader of the Conservative Party is set to be announced on 23rd July, a few days before the point at which we will carry out our next monthly survey, this will likely be the final Cabinet League Table for this ministerial line-up.

Some of those listed above will no doubt survive to serve in the next administration, but others will find their futures in doubt – and so may be looking at these numbers with a touch of hope or trepidation.

A few key findings to note:

Theresa May’s final score. The outgoing Prime Minister has featured in every one of these surveys since ConservativeHome began asking this question of our panel in January 2007 – covering the last 12 years of her total of two decades at Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet level. She ends that run on a low, with a net rating of -61.2.

An overall improvement in ratings. As a group, the total net score of the Cabinet plus Davidson and Davies rose to +92.6 this month. That’s the first positive score since January, and the highest collective rating since October (the month before May presented her deal).

As the chart below shows, this is still a pretty meagre level of approval historically, but it is better than the truly dire numbers we saw in March, April and May. Even the Prime Minister’s numbers have improved a bit, rising 7.5 points on last month. Why the improvement?

Some of it will be a symptom of the leadership contest, as candidates and their supporters gain ground by becoming better known and promoting their opinions and abilities. But, bluntly, some of it appears to be a first sign of Tory ministers starting to escape from the toxic reputation of the Prime Minister – a bump from May’s decision to leave office.

Westlake Legal Group LEague-Table-Net-Rating-to-June-2019 Javid feels the benefit of his leadership bid in the final Cabinet League Table of the May years ToryDiary Theresa May MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Penny Mordaunt MP Party Democracy and Membership Ministers Matthew Hancock MP Liz Truss MP Highlights Grassroots Geoffrey Cox MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Boris Johnson MP Alun Cairns MP

Watch the leadership candidates – Hunt, Gove, Hancock, Javid and Stewart. Jeremy Hunt has certainly gained ground since last month, with his rating rising from +23.9 to +41.7. Michael Gove makes slim gains, up from +24.3 to +30.2. Matt Hancock is sizeably up, too, from +5.6 to +25.7. However, the biggest beneficiary of having been a candidate is Sajid Javid, who picks up a whopping 31.1 extra points, leaping from +22.8 in May to +53.9 in June. By contrast, despite all the publicity and his better-than-expected run in the Parliamentary rounds, Rory Stewart’s rating has barely changed, from -18 last month to -20 today. That’s a result in keeping with the wider sense that while he has ardent fans within the Party, many of his enthusiasts are currently not among the membership. Javid and Hancock appear to have reaped the most from the race.

A windfall for Boris Johnson allies? The current front-runner in the leadership contest is not, of course, in the Cabinet at present, so does not appear in this table. But it’s notable that several of the Cabinet ministers backing him appear to have made noticeable gains in their rating this month. Geoffrey Cox gains 20.2 points. Steve Barclay gains 12.5. Liz Truss gains 8.4. Alun Cairns gains 11.5. I wonder if they are benefiting somewhat by association. Penny Mordaunt is probably the most prominent Hunt supporter in the league table – having topped it last month – and receives an almost identical rating in these results, although she is leapfrogged by Cox, Javid and Truss.

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

Johnson is set to face an early general election. His Cabinet must be ruthlessly shaped to fight it – on a No Deal platform.

Conventional Cabinet-forming means representing as wide a Party spectrum as possible, and sending Ministers to departments that they will hopefully run for several years.

The unique circumstances that Boris Johnson will face in a month or so, if as expected he wins this Conservative leadership election, require tearing up that usual wisdom – and taking risks.

No Deal is not Johnson’s preferred option (nor should it be).  But we will all know whether he is prepared ultimately to lead Britain out of the EU without a deal and honour the referendum result by the Cabinet that he appoints.

It must be one whose members are all signed up to No Deal if necessary, and an election if Parliament prevents Brexit on October 31.

For a Prime Minister Johnson will not be able to afford Cabinet splits, resignations, noises off – or election campaign rows.

Sure, he will, in effect, have no Commons majority: but that problem will not be solved by forming a Cabinet of anti-No-Dealers-at-any-cost as well as of No Dealers-in-the-last-resort.  That way lies the fate of Theresa May.

Instead, he must throw the dice.  His Government must push for No Deal if necessary.  Or for an election on a No Deal manifesto if his Government is no confidenced while seeking to deliver it.

If an election is forced on the Conservatives without Brexit having been delivered, only the most strenuous effort to push it through the Commons, without a deal if necessary, stands a chance of warding off Nigel Farage.

It follows that Johnson must be ruthless – and move as fast as possible while the authority of his expected leadership win is fresh.  Out must go Philip Hammond, Greg Clark, David Gauke plus, it seems, Rory Stewart, and others.

It seems unlikely that Amber Rudd’s affection for Johnson will overcome her anti-No Deal convictions.  So be it.  The diciest, most difficult task of all will be squaring Ruth Davidson and Scotland’s Conservatives.

Here is the kind of shuffle that he should now start to plan.  It is drawn up to meet three non-negotiable requirements.

First, its members must be prepared to sign up to a Johnson policy of Brexiting on October 31.

Second, it should, within that parameter, be drawn as widely as possible from across the Party.

Third, its members will ideally have some experience of the department to which they will be sent.

Finally, they should also be chosen with an eye to presentation skills during an election campaign.

We suggest roughly as follows.

– – –

Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Jeremy Hunt.

The expected runner-up must be bound in completely to the Johnson administration.  The new Prime Minister should delegate much of the day-to-day running of the Government to him.  Hunt will be reluctant to leave the Foreign Office, but could not refuse the promotion, unless he is determined to resist the October 31 deadline.

Brexit Secretary: Dominic Raab.

The EU must be sent the clearest possible signal that Britain intends to leave the EU at the end of October.  There could be none less ambiguous than sending Raab back to his old job.  That he knows the department is another advantage.

Chancellor of the Exchequer: Sajid Javid.

The present Home Secretary is committed to that October 31 deadline, can be relied upon to swing the Treasury behind No Deal preparation, is economically literate, and in an election campaign would be an aspiration icon as well as an attack dog.

Foreign Secretary: Liam Fox.

The International Trade Secretary isn’t a Johnson fan, but he voted against the extension of Article 50, is a very experienced Minister…and not at all someone you’d want loose on the back benches in current circumstances.  He could hold the fort in the Foreign Office during an election’s duration.

Home Secretary: Penny Mordaunt.

The doctrine is that a woman must hold a great office of state, and it justifies moving Mordaunt out of defence, and promoting her.  Though a Hunt supporter during this contest, she opposed extension in the Commons lobbies, and was part of the 2016 Vote Leave team.  She is well placed to strike the right balance on immigration policy.

Defence Secretary: Michael Gove.

There is a strong case for sending him to the Foreign Office, to try to help heal the wounds of this contest.  But defence will be an important element of any election campaign, and Gove could be relied upon to make the most of it.  He may have no experience of the department, but he has certainly pondered the role.

Business Secretary: Liz Truss.

The Chief Secretary is naturally combative, gutsy and a reformer..  She would therefore be a risky fit in an outward-facing, voter-sensitive department such as education – at least during an election.  But as a critic of the Business Department, she would run it will an exacting eye, and treat the corporate lobbies with a healthy scepticism.

Justice Secretary: Robert Buckland.

The Prisons Minister is, in Tory terms, well left-of-centre – a stalwart of the Tory Reform Group.  He is also capable, a Johnson backer, and a realist.  Geoffrey Cox should go to the Justice Ministry soon, but is needed for continuity in the Brexit talks.  Buckland, a lawyer and former Minister in the department, will do very nicely in the meantime.

Trade Secretary: Greg Hands.

It may be that Government policy on Heathrow would prevent Hands’ return, but he was a Minister of State in the department, understands trade policy, and is one of the Party’s best-briefed opponents of a customs union, against which he has written frequently on this site.

Health Secretary: Matt Hancock.

He is running the department with an absence of fuss, has avoided NHS disputes, understands the relationship between technology and healthcare, brings enthusiasm to everything he does – and has therefore written the case, despite his Treasury ambitions and leadership campaign, for staying exactly where he is.

Education Secretary: Damian Hinds.

It is very tempting to give a new policy (showering the department with money) a new face.  The itch should be resisted.  In an election campaign, it is best to have someone in place who understands the department and the issues – and who can present calmly and clearly, as Hinds does.

Work and Pensions Secretary: Alok Sharma.

The Work and Pensions Minister knows his way round the department as a senior Minister in it, is a Johnson backer in this contest, and has been unlucky not to make it to the top table before.  If Rudd won’t serve or is too risky an appointment, Sharma would slot straight in.

Environment Secretary: George Eustice.

Like Ed Vaizey (never appointed Culture Secretary) or Nick Gibb (never appointed Education Secretary), Eustice is one of the club of Ministers-Or-Former-Ministers-Who-Know-Their-Subject.  An honourable and prescient resigner over Brexit policy, he is well-known to the farming lobby and would be all over No Deal preparations.

Housing Secretary: Kit Malthouse.

Now purged, at least for a while, of his own leadership ambitions, Malthouse served under Johnson during the latter’s Mayoral period. He understands the brief, is in place at the department, and would offer, as he would put it, “a fresh face”.  Bring the Malthouse Compromise into the Cabinet.

Culture Secretary: Nicky Morgan.

Talking of Malthouse, let’s reinvent Morgan.  Our columnist is the ultimate Good Egg, having both a strong sense of Party unity and a willingness in extremis to back a No Deal plan.  We don’t want to lose her, but she would be a more-than-useful ambassador from Johnson to the Party’s centre-left.

Northern Ireland Secretary: Theresa Villiers.

This is one of the most daunting appointments of all, given the challenge of dealing with Ireland’s Government.  Villiers is a Brexiteer who understands Northern Ireland, having served there as Secretary of State, and knows the players.  If anyone can square conviction, knowledge and diplomacy, it is Villiers.

Transport Secretary: Gavin Willamson.

Johnson has little choice but to return to Cabinet the man who has successfully managed the whipping of the first stage of this leadership campaign.  It is a very fine judgement as to whether to send him back to head up the Whips’ Office.  On balance, we think it best he be given a department of his own that he will run with enthusiasm.

International Development Secretary: Priti Patel.

The new Prime Minister will need supporters in Cabinet, and people who are committed to Brexit.  Patel fits both categories.  She understands the department, grasps the need for aid money to be spent wisely, and would slot in neatly back there.

Scotland Secretary: David Mundell.

This is arguably the most crucial appointment of all.  No Deal, or a No Deal election, presents particular challenges in Scotland.  Johnson’s support among Tory Scottish MPs has been minimal in the Parliamentary stage of this contest, and he should must be prepared to give the experienced Mundell as much leeway as possible.

Wales Secretary: Alun Cairns.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Party Chairman: James Cleverly.

Cleverly radiates a sense of confidence rare among top-flight politicians, understands social media, is calm on TV, has CCHQ experience, and is itching to do the job.  Now that his own leadership campaigning has calmed down, he can be expected to work well with Lynton Crosby, who will surely return.

Leader of the Lords: Natalie Evans.

Again, if it ain’t broke, etc.

– – –

Entitled to attend –

Leader of the Commons: Andrea Leadsom

Continuity knocks.  Leadsom has blossomed as Leader of the House.  There’s no reason to move her.

Chief Whip: Steve Barclay

This is a hard call, and there are arguments for sending for Williamson, or taking a quite different tack and approaching Graham Brady.  Barclay is a Leaver and an ex-Whip – at one point the only Brexiteer in the office.  He is calm, methodical, well-liked…and was a Johnson voter this week.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Julian Smith

Never sack a former Chief Whip.

Brexit Minister of State: Steve Baker

Johnson should cut the number of Ministers entitled to attend Cabinet, but he could do a lot worse than put Baker, under Raab, back in his old department in charge of No Deal preparations, and allow him to contribute when Brexit policy is being discussed.

Attorney-General: Geoffrey Cox

See “Justice Secretary”.

– – –

So that’s –

23 full Cabinet Ministers, as now (including Johnson).

Six women full Cabinet members. There are five now.

Three visible ethnic minority members.  There is one now.

Eight original Johnson voters in this contest plus four people who switched to back him.

– – –

There are a mass of Ministers and others who would need care and attention.  With no majority, Ministers leaving through the exit door, Team Johnson members queueing at the entrance, other Ministers champing at the bit for promotion and other leadership candidates’ backers to keep quiet, this will be the devil of a shuffle to manage.

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