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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Theresa May MP"

WATCH: May’s press conference. Her pitch is…I am Boycott.

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Gove Agonistes

On the one hand, the Environment Secretary is in the very front line of a No Deal Brexit; understands the instrinsic difficulties it would bring to the movement of food and agricultural goods, and recognises that, even if these could be addressed swiftly, that might not be quickly enough for voters.

(It may also be that as one of Vote Leave’s two frontmen during the EU referendum campaign, the other being Boris Johnson, he feels particularly exposed.)

On the other, reports from yesterday’s Cabinet meeting agree that he doesn’t like Theresa May’s draft deal, though they diverge about the degree of support he eventually offered it.  The sum of his argument seems to have been that a bad deal, or at least a flawed one, is better than no deal.

So the position he seems to be in, as we write, is that he is unwilling either to vote against the deal (and resign) or to speak for it.  Though we add that he is unavailable for interviews today for family reasons that are known to this site.

As his dramatic pull-out from Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign reminded us, Gove is capable of dizzying about-turns – though there is a deep consistency to some of his long-held positions, such as his support for free speech, Israel and rigorous education.  His would be another huge resignation, and it can’t be ruled out.

At any rate, ConservativeHome understands that he has certainly been offered the vacant Brexit Secretary post, which he has reportedly turned down.  A leadership challenge to Theresa May, apparently imminent as we write, would flush him out one way or another.

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WATCH: The Rees-Mogg scrum. He confirms to a media pack that a leadership challenge is on.

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WATCH: Rees-Mogg signals support for a challenge to May’s leadership

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“We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal.” McVey’s resignation letter – full text

Dear Prime Minister,

There is no more important task for this Government than delivering on the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. This is a matter of trust. It is about the future of our country and the integrity of our democracy.

The deal you put before the Cabinet yesterday does not honour the result of the referendum. Indeed, it doesn’t meet the tests you set at the outset of your premiership.

Repeatedly you have said that we must regain control of our money, our borders, and our laws, and develop our own independent trade policy. I have always supported you to deliver on those objectives. Even after Chequers when you knew I shared the concerns of a very significant number of colleagues, I believed that we could still work collectively to honour the will of the British people and secure the right outcome for the future of our country. This deal fails to do this.

The proposals put before Cabinet, which will soon be judged by the entire country, means handing over around £39 billion to the EU without anything in return. It will trap us in a customs union, despite you specifically promising the British people we would not be. It will bind the hands of not only this, but future Governments in pursuing genuinely free trade policies. We wouldn’t be taking back control, we would be handing over control to the EU and even to a third country for arbitration.

It also threatens the integrity of the United Kingdom, which as a Unionist is a risk I cannot be party to.

The British people have always been ahead of politicians on this issue, and it will be no good trying to pretend to them that this deal honours the result of the referendum when it is so obvious to everyone it doesn’t.

We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal.

I cannot defend this, and I cannot vote for this deal. I could not look my constituents in the eye were I to do that. I therefore have no alternative but to resign from the Government.

It has been a huge honour to serve as Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, and I am immensely proud of the part I have played in the record levels of employment we have seen in all parts of the UK. Youth unemployment has halved since 2010, and we now have record number of women and BAME in work and since 2013, 972,000 more disabled people in work.

With employment over 3.3 million more than in 2010 we have helped 1,000 more people into work each and every day since we took office.

I am extremely grateful to you for appointing me to the role, and for the support you have given me, not least in the run up to the budget, ensuring Universal Credit got a much-needed injection of £4.5 billion. That has made my decision a greater wrench.

However, in politics you have to be true to the public and also true to yourself. Had I stayed in the Government and supported this deal with the EU I wouldn’t be doing that.

Yours sincerely,

Esther McVey”

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“I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country.” Raab’s resignation letter – full text

Dear Prime Minister,

It has been an honour to serve in your government as Justice Minister, Housing Minister, and Brexit Secretary.

I regret to say that, following the Cabinet meeting yesterday on the Brexit deal, I must resign. I understand why you have chosen to pursue the deal with the EU on the terms proposed, and I respect the different views held in good faith by all of our colleagues.

For my part, I cannot support the proposed deal for two reasons. First, I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Second, I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit. The terms of the backstop amount to a hybrid of the EU Customs Union and Single Market obligations. No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime, imposed externally without any democratic control over the laws to be applied, nor the ability to decide to exit the arrangements. That arrangement is also now also taken as the starting point for negotiating the Future Economic Partnership. If we accept that, it will severely prejudice the second phase of the negotiations against the UK.

Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election. This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust.

I appreciate that you disagree with my judgement on these issues. I have weighed very carefully the alternative courses of action which the government could take, on which I have previously advised. Ultimately, you deserve a Brexit Secretary who can make the case for the deal you are pursuing with conviction. I am only sorry, in good conscience, that I cannot.

My respect for you, and the fortitude you have shown in difficult times, remains undimmed.

Yours sincerely,

Dominic Raab”

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May’s Deal 1) Andrew Feldman – Party members must back it and her. Let’s not give Corbyn the crisis he craves.

Andrew Feldman is a former Chairman of the Conservative Party.

In recent months, I have spent time talking to business leaders in the UK and around the world. They all have two questions for me. Is there going to be a Brexit deal? Is there a chance that Jeremy Corbyn will become Prime Minister? My reply is always the same. That those two questions are inextricably linked.

If there is a sensible deal, then it is likely that the UK will enjoy an economic boost, releasing pent-up investment from a period of deep uncertainty. Businesses based here would stop sitting on their hands and commit to the new factories, warehouses and capital projects that we need. Investors abroad would once again feel confident that the UK was ‘open for business’, and would seek out the immense opportunities that we offer.

If this happens, the prospects of Corbyn being elected recede dramatically. Improving economic growth and confidence would facilitate continuing high levels of employment, wage growth and investment in public services. The Conservatives would secure their hard-won reputation for responsible government, fiscal prudence and effective management of the economy.

On the other hand, if there is not a deal, and a chaotic exit from the EU, the picture will change dramatically. Businesses will not only sit on their hands, but may start to withdraw activity from the UK. Investment from abroad may be replaced by dramatic divestment. Now of course, over time things may settle down. But there will undoubtedly be a risk of serious economic dislocation – causing substantial job losses, slowing growth and curbing the ability to improve public services.

And of course, Corbyn and John McDonnell are desperate for that to happen – some kind of shock to the UK that can help to win them power. Ideally, they want to force an early general election, because the Conservatives can’t agree on a plan. Failing that, they would take a violent and disorderly departure from the EU, leading to a recession – and then to election victory at a later date.  Chaos and uncertainty are their route to power.

This is more than ruthless ambition; it is rooted in ideology. Karl Marx predicted the inevitable demise of capitalism as part of the great tide of history. Frustratingly for him, it never happened. Living in England until the end of his life, he marvelled at the ability of the British to adapt their system. To accommodate the needs and demands of their changing industrialised economy. His theory did not predict the peaceful emergence of the NHS or the welfare state. He died miserably ruminating over his unfinished sequel to Das Kapital.

The Marxists in Britain have been continually disappointed. They have lurked at the fringes of Labour politics for many years. Unfortunately, they have now entered the mainstream. They are waiting to seize their moment to impose their already discredited ideology on generations who have not experienced its horrors first hand.

It is the duty of the Conservative Party to stop this happening. A Corbyn-led Labour Government would be a disaster for this country. And although Brexit is undoubtedly a seismic event; there is no need to for it to lead to a Tsunami, destroying all before it. The Conservative Party has faced momentous moments before. The reaction has always been pragmatism. Evolution not revolution. Steadiness and deal-making.

In her speech in Birmingham, Theresa May reminded us of this legacy. She asked her Party to come together in the national interest to deliver a solution to the Brexit conundrum. To help her to thread the needle of respecting the democratic result of the referendum; of preserving our proud Union; of keeping the economy on track and business on side, and of finding a fair basis for trading with our close neighbours and allies.

We are leaving the EU: the referendum result must be respected. As with all marriages, it may end with sour words and slamming doors. But once the anger has subsided, we need to come together to work out the future, to protect the interests of the next generation. We need to be grown up enough to accept that although we are going through a divorce, we cannot just walk away from our responsibilities and move on. This can take time and involve ongoing obligations.

And as the Prime Minister reminded us, it is not just Conservatives who need to stand firm. Our friends in the DUP know what a Corbyn Government could mean. They know that his well-documented Republican sympathies would risk the break-up of the Union. He longs for a United Ireland with the same passion that he dislikes the United Kingdom.

So we need to make sure that we rally behind the Prime Minister and help her to deliver a sensible, measured deal. We need to do this to frustrate Corbyn and McDonnell. We need to do this in the national interest. And we need to do this to keep Marx spinning in his grave up in Highgate.

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May’s Deal 2) Rebecca Ryan – It endangers Leave. Now the 51 MPs who have pledged to Stand Up for Brexit must keep their promise

Rebecca Ryan is Campaign Director for Stand Up For Brexit.

The Conservative grassroots are feeling betrayed. Over the past year, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with activists at every level of the party who are totally outraged by how Brexit has been handled. The reactions range from utter disbelief to volcanic rage. Membership cards have been cut up. Tools are being downed. Since the Brexit referendum, which so many members were so delighted to finally be offered, and were so passionate about delivering – hence David Cameron’s majority in 2015 – the grassroots have been slowly frozen out. The result is that the Brexit which so many of us thought we were fighting for could be slipping away.

All of this could have been avoided had the membership, the beating heart of our party, been listened to and supported. It’s often said that the cliche about cliches is that they’re true. The cliche about party members is that we’re sometimes over-zealous, but that we believe in the cause, and are prepared to give up vast amounts of our personal time and money to try and keep the Conservative Party in office and advance its interests. To expect the Party leadership to at least attempt to reflect our views should not be too much. In fact, a healthy two-way relationship between the senior Party and the troops on the ground is absolutely essential.

Ever-centralising control has not worked. The answer to the Conservative Party’s current and future problems is not for the leadership to hunker down and enclose itself in a bunker, but open its ears and listen. We know that when the leadership works in tandem with the wishes of its members, great things can be achieved: our victory in 2015 is evidence of that. But when it stops listening and goes off in its own direction, problems swiftly occur; our near-defeat by Jeremy Corbyn merely two years later is evidence of that. We should not be afraid of recognising that, at the height of our modern success in the 1980s, associations were far more autonomous and the dialogue between activists and senior party figures was much more open. Messages were sent – both ways.

My Stand Up For Brexit campaign has given me unparalleled access to the Conservative Party on the ground. Our mission is quite simple: to raise MPs’ awareness of the discontent amongst members of the public, Conservative activists, Assocation Chairmen and party members over the Government’s Chequers White Paper. We ask MPs to Stand Up For Brexit by rejecting Chequers, and delivering the Brexit that was promised at Lancaster House and in the Conservative Manifesto. That means leaving the Single Market, Customs Union and European Court Court of Justice overview.

Given Theresa May’s statement last night, and the letter subsequently issued by Jacob Rees-Mogg, I feel confident that the 51 Conservative MPs who have pledged to uphold these key tenets of Leave will stick by their promise. Naturally, I am deeply disappointed by the path that the Prime Minister has chosen. It seems to be the very opposite of what the British people voted for and our Party is committed to deliver. A permanent customs union with the EU, without any guaranteed means of leaving it, is simply unacceptable. It’s hard not to conclude that the current policy is the result of a leadership which has become totally detached both from the Conservative family as a whole, and fro, the wider electorate.

It is time for “the troops” to be taken seriously in the running of the party; we are not just there to deliver leaflets. I know that any mention of ‘party reform’ can be terrifying for senior figures, who fear losing control to curtain-twitching village fete organisers. But that’s a stereotype – it’s not what the conservative membership actually is. Supporters of my campaign come from every part of the party. They’re southern, northern, white, black, gay, bisexual. Everybody is represented, and united in wanting the best for our country through a Conservative Party which is sensitive to the electorate and fulfils its promises.

To achieve this, local associations need to expand their appeal, and in particular, start engaging with 30-55 year olds. We become naturally more conservative when we approach 30 and start looking to settle down. Eighteen year olds are often focussed on in political debate; they are great assets and do fantastic, energetic work. But we need the machinery and vitality to appeal to the “establishing a career”, “just-having-children-and-setting-up-home” demographic. They are our core vote. They need to be harnessed.

Being committed Conservatives, we are worried about damaging the party and, therefore, are squeamish about questioning its decisions and structures in public. As part of our campaign, we had 45 Association Chairmen and senior party members commit to oppose Chequers on the first morning of this year’s conference. They were the brave ones; many more feel nervous about coming forward publicly. A culture of distrust is crystallising between the membership and our Parliamentary representatives. That is unhealthy, and needs to be dealt with. Principles and political careers are not always the happiest of bedfellows – but the grassroots admire those with principles, and are worried that too many of our MPs are abandoning them in favour of possible preferment. 80 per cent of the membership are Brexiteers. 70 per cent of Conservative voters support Brexit. And yet 70 per cent of MPs are Remainers. How has this huge disconnect been allowed to happen? And what can both sides – the volunteer and the professional Party – do to change it?

Ultimately, we need to take the climate of change that delivered Brexit and use it to reinvigorate the Conservative Party at every level. Rather than letting those who leant us their vote disappear off into the disengaged horizon, we must deliver on their expectations, and seize their newfound but rapidly dissipating interest in democracy to remould the Conservative Party into a responsive and engaged vehicle for all. And that happens by re-empowering the grassroots.

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May’s Deal 3) Alex Morton – If the Commons rejects it, here are three alternatives

Alex Morton is Director of Policy at the Centre for Policy Studies, and was a member of David Cameron’s Downing Street Policy Unit.

As you read this, MPs at Westminster will be ploughing through the 500-page text negotiated by Britain and Brussels, and deciding whether or not it is something they can sign up to. There is still a reasonable chance that the deal gets through. But if Parliament or the Conservative Party decide that they cannot live with it, something else will have to replace it.

The first thing to say may sound like a statement of the obvious: the only options that aren’t on the table for the Conservative Party are a second referendum, or simply giving up and deciding to Remain. The 2015 manifesto promised to honour the referendum result, and the 2017 edition promised a hardish Brexit. Just one in five Conservatives think the decision to leave the EU was wrong. To go from a Leave referendum result to overturning it and remaining in the EU would split the party, as the Corn Laws did. It is also disingenuous to claim you are really concerned with EU control in areas such as goods regulation under May’s deal…and should instead return to being one of 28 countries making decisions, and also sign up to ending the financial rebate, open borders, Eurozone membership etc.

This leaves us with three real options, each of which have their own positive and negatives:

  • Co-operative WTO exit.
  • Hostile WTO exit.
  • EEA membership or similar.

Co-operative WTO exit

A co-operative WTO exit would see the EU and UK co-operating to sign various side agreements to keep trade flowing and limit economic disruption on everything from planes to imports in key areas like foods and medicines. In effect, it would be a bit like Canada Plus, in that it would seek to rapidly nail down what was necessary and then over time flesh out the rest. EU nations have various reasons to go along with this rather than see a hostile WTO exit:

  • A major EU/UK falling out would have major implications for the EU economy, and for global trade. Donald Trump is hostile to the WTO, refusing to appoint judges (which is slowly causing chaos in the organisation) and bending the rules. If the EU tried to pursue a hostile WTO exit, this would embolden Trump and destabilise multilateral trade.
  • A EU/UK fallout would also have a strong knock-on impact on NATO. If the EU was genuinely attempting to slow or stop exports/imports to the UK, the UK would almost certainly feel obliged to take retaliatory action, such as removing troops from the East and North of Europe.
  • If there is a Eurozone crisis in the next few years, with the City of London destabilised and alternative centres not yet having emerged, it would be a disaster for the Eurozone’s economy (something that everyone bar France realises).
  • UK support for countries in the Mediterranean on everything from Syrian refugees to Royal Navy helping with the migrant crisis or in Libya would have to end.
  • Potential turmoil in Northern Ireland. While the majority of the blame would fall on the British, it is unlikely that Ireland would welcome having to enforce a hard border.

Most of all, if the EU acts as aggressively as possible it may destabilise the EU itself. Member states are still angry or upset that we voted to leave, but many of them also distrust the European Commission. They will grasp that if it bullies the UK today, it may turn on them tomorrow.

Apart from the impact that even a co-operative WTO exit would have on UK businesses in terms of supply chains etc, an obvious drawback is many of our liabilities seem likely to fall payable regardless. In a Co-operative WTO scenario, we would probably end up paying a large amount to buy goodwill, as well as whatever it takes to help smooth over any costs associated with trade friction in Northern Ireland, in return for fewer checks on small-scale movement of goods and people.

Even with a co-operative EU, there would still be a short-term shock to our economy, even if this, in the long run, is balanced by other gains.

Hostile WTO exit

Despite the points above, the EU may not be able to reach sufficient consensus around a co-operative WTO exit, in which case we face a hostile one.

A hostile WTO deal is not an easy prospect, even if it is not as hard as some ‘stop Brexit’ groups claim. The sloppy claim that ‘the UK is Mauritania’ is incorrectly arrived at by going through the WTO database and seeing which countries have zero additional trade deals on top of WTO rules.

But if country A only has one trade deal with country B, it still trades on WTO rules with the other 190-odd nations of the world. Further, many countries have only limited side deals but manage to trade quite widely with one another under WTO rules around this. There are also general global trade provisions around non-discrimination, and since our framework would be based on the EU’s on day one, we could argue that interpreting the WTO treaty in a way that imposes additional burdens where our rules align is illegal and a hostile act.

That said, we’d have to accept that this scenario is very complicated, hire the best possible (expensive) people, and prepare for a fairly sizeable shock to the economy. A hostile WTO exit also risks spiralling out of control, with both sides reacting to the other’s moves in a chain reaction.

All this is before you even get to practical issues, such as capacity at Dover. The much smaller Dutch economy hired a thousand extra customs staff months ago to cope with the potential consequences of Brexit. We need to press ahead with similar measures, co-ordinate essential supplies like food and medicine, and ensure that, however uncooperative the EU is, the most important goods and services will keep flowing. And time is short.

This is not an ideal situation. It would have grave drawbacks for the EU, but would also cost the UK substantially.

The EEA and a temporary, partial customs union

The third option is the EEA – either formal membership or, more likely, just replicating the relationship. This also probably entails at least a partial temporary customs union membership.

Those such as Nick Boles argue for an EEA option by claiming that it would take us out of the growing political project while maintaining economic ties. No Eurozone. No European army. No common refugee policy. No fisheries and farming. Above all else, an end to ‘ever closer Union’.

EEA and a parallel reduction in non-EU migration could have been enough for many Leave voters in 2016. In addition, some argue that this option could be a stopgap while we consider others. Yet for some Leave voters, it might not be enough to feel the vote in 2016 has been honoured, and it might not entirely resolve the Brexit issue for some Conservatives either.

For the EU, this option would have the benefit of removing a troublemaker without the UK gaining total freedom. The UK would be mostly out rather than mostly in, but it would be hard to see it as a total victory for Leave. Immigration could be restricted (EEA is focused on workers’ movement, not all citizens), but not for most workers. Nor would we have control over areas covered by EU goods and services regulation – as long as we were part of the regime we would be a rule-taker in some areas rather than a rule-maker, with restricted freedom to operate an independent trade policy.

So where will we end up?

None of these options are perfect – and it may well be that the Prime Minister’s deal gets through and attention turns back to domestic politics.

But fairly soon, those opposing the deal need to nail their colours to the mast rather than just continuing to claim we can have the best of all worlds without May’s deal. They need to choose a direction – even if, as the joke goes, they wouldn’t start from here. And they need to be confident they can hold a Government together until March 29th, and persuade the Conservative Party and the wider country to back their proposal. We wait to see if enough MPs believe that to be the case.

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May statement due for 17.00 pulled. Cabinet may not finish until after 19.00.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2018-11-14-at-17.48.01 May statement due for 17.00 pulled. Cabinet may not finish until after 19.00. ToryDiary Theresa May MP Nick Hurd MP Michael Gove MP Geoffrey Cox MP Europe EU Dominic Raab MP Brexit

Earlier this afternoon, it was reported that Theresa May would make a statement outside Downing Street at 17.00 or so.

Hurd appears to have misspoken, and confused a press statement with a press conference.  There will apparently be the first later, but not the second.

This is because Cabinet will now apparently not break up until 19.00 at the earliest.  Interpretation one: its members are talking at length, but there’s no real resistance to the Prime Minister’s draft Brexit plan.  Interpretation two: it is running into trouble.  Or maybe the explanation is a bit of both.

Our best guess is that some Ministers are asking for aspects of the draft deal at least to be revised.  There will certainly be calls for clarification.  We will soon find out if there was a push, concerted or unconcerted, for the draft not to be approved, at least at this stage.

If it is correct that Geoffrey Cox is promoting the view that the draft presents no real progress on the backstop, but that it offers a better deal than no deal at all, the meeting is unlikely to be going smoothly.  Brexiteer Ministers unwilling to resign will not wish to go out and sell it to the public on that basis.

The spectrum of resignation expectation has Esther McVey and Penny Mordaunt at one end, as the most likely to go, and Dominic Raab and Michael Gove at the other, as least likely.  David Mundell is a wild card.

As we write, darkness has fallen, and the lectern set for a statement is no longer in view.

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