Teresa May’s Government

Forming a Government

TeresaMayTeresa May spent most of today, 14th June 2016, putting together her cabinet.  A provisional list of the Cabinet Minister is to be found on this page: The Teresa May Government.   This is the first stage.  In due course there will be additional lists of persons who may be asked to attend cabinet and of departmental ministers – who do not usually attend cabinet meetings.

gove2It is to be noted, that Mrs May took pains not to include persons who were particularly close to David Cameron and George Osborne (the so-called “Notting Hill set”) leading some newspapers to report this as the “the most savage cull in modern British political history”.  Perhaps, the highest profile departure from the Conservative Front Bench was the Poison Dwarf, Michael Gove, who has been replaced as Secretary of State for Justice.  So far as this blog is concerned, that was a well-deserved dismissal.

Boris3The surprise was Mrs May’s decision to appoint Clown Boris Johnson to the very important post of Foreign Secretary. This was bound to upset (i) those who voted Remain in the Referendum; (ii) a very substantial number of Europeans in the UK,  (iii) the Members of the Governments and citizens of the other 27 Members of the European Union and (iv) the officials of the EU Commission all of whom wished the United Kingdom to remain in the EU.   There have been quite a number of  expressions of disgust already.  See this report in the Daily Telegraph: “Boris Johnson ‘booed’ during his first speech as Foreign Secretary“.

Perhaps it was the Prime Minister’s design to upset as many people as possible both in the UK and in the EU by appointing this Clown to such a high profile position.

FRFMreBJ

If that were indeed the PM’s strategy, then it seems to be working.  But the Financial Times has a rather more sophisticated  explanation which is well worth reading:-

Theresa May’s bold cabinet gambit on band of Brexiters – Johnson, Davis and Fox to pursue EU divorce and take blame if it goes wrong“.

 

 

 

Teresa May Takes Over Today

 

The Conservative Leadership

CameronBrexitThis morning, David Cameron will answer Questions to the Prime Minister for the last time of his premiership.  In the afternoon, he will attend on HM The Queen, tender his resignation and advise Her Majesty to invite Mrs Teresa May to form a government.  He will have paid the price for failing to win the EU Referendum Vote and it will be interesting to see how he will be remembered.

TeresaMayAfter being invited by Her Majesty to form a Government and accepting, Mrs May will return to No 10 Downing Street.  She may make a statement to the press on her return  and  she will then start work on the formation of her Ministry and it is expected that this will take most of Thursday and Friday.   As set out in this piece on the Conservative Home blog, it is very clear that Mrs May has always been a “One Nation Conservative”:  “The early glimpses of May’s policy agenda show a deep enthusiasm for One Nation interventionism“.

gove2 The newspapers are full of the usual guff and prognostications about who will be appointed to what positions – I think it may be more sensible to wait and see.  Mrs May will probably have one or more surprises in store.   I shall be particularly interested to see what, if any, portfolio Boris2might be given to the Poison Dwarf aka Michael Gove and/or to the Clown Boris Johnson who played such a part in ensuring the failure of the Referendum.  There ought to be some retribution meted out to these two.  It will be necessary to have some of the “Vote Leave” supporters brought into the government to reunite the Party but it ought to be possible to do that without the two principal malefactors.

Imminent Future Events

There will be a debate and a vote on 18th July on the question of renewing Trident.  That was put on the House of Commons schedule by David Cameron.

It is thought the first cabinet meeting of the May government will be on Tuesday 19th July and on 20th July Mrs May  will answer Prime Minister’s Questions for the first time.

Unless there are changes, the House of Commons will adjourn for the Summer Recess on 21st July and return on 5th September.  On 5th October, Mrs May will deliver her first address as Prime Minister to the Conservative Party Conference.

On 20th October there will be the first EU Council Meeting of Mrs May’s Premiership.

The Labour Leadership

The split between Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Members of Parliament gets worse with the National Executive Committee ruling yesterday that the Leader of the Opposition does not need nominations from the Parliamentary Party to run again for leader.  See this in the Guardian: “Labour executive rules Jeremy Corbyn must be on leadership ballot“.   See also this in the Guardian’s opinion pages: “Eyes down, apocalypse bingo players: Labour’s Jedi council has spoken“.

It seems very possible that when Parliament reassembles after the summer recess there will be no effective Labour opposition.  Labour presently has 230 Members in Parliament and, as the 2nd largest Party, it forms the official opposition.  If, for example, 200 Labour MP’s were to leave the Labour Party and re-form as (say) the “Independent Labour Party”, they would become the official opposition.

Brexit Issues

The Referendum Petition is to be debated in Westminster Hall on 5th September 2015 at 4.30 pm.  It is unlikely that this will lead to anything.

This BBC Report is of interest:  “‘Cold, competent and determined’: How Europe sees Britain’s new PM“.  It is plainly the case that, although this will upset the Commission, Teresa May will first seek to have discussions with the other EU leaders and seek to ascertain what might be on offer.  There will be no instant triggering of the withdrawal process.  Hopefully, that might make resolution of the various applications for judicial review rather easier.

 

 

Teresa May will be PM by Wednesday

Tory Leadership Race is Over – Teresa May will be the next Leader

May2This morning Andrea Leadsom announced her withdrawal from the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party. This happened while Teresa May was in Birmingham where she delivered a very good speech setting out her objectives for the next government – the speech is reported with a video of the speech on this BBC News page:

While Teresa May was speaking Andrea Leadsom read out to the press the letter she had sent to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee:  See this BBC report and video:  “Theresa May set to be UK PM after Andrea Leadsom quits“.

It is expected that by this evening the Conservative Party Board will confirm that the Rt Hon Teresa May MP, presently the Home Secretary,  is now the leader of the Conservative Party.

In due course, David Cameron will ask Her Majesty to accept his resignation and he will advise the Queen to invite Teresa May to form a government. David Cameron has just announced from Downing Street that the constitutional formalities will be completed by Wednesday evening and Mrs May will, as Prime Minister, set about forming her ministry.

Teresa May’s speech made it very clear that her policies will be firmly “One Nation Conservatism“.  Many of her proposals were similar to ones propounded by Milliband and show a real concern for the matters which concern ordinary people.  The impression is that this will be a very different style of Government.  And she did say that there would be “no attempts to remain inside the EU”, with no second referendum or “attempts to rejoin it by the backdoor” adding: “As prime minister, I will make sure we will leave the European Union.”

The Labour Party

Angela Eagle MP has set the Labour Leadership process in motion. See this report by the BBC:  “Labour leadership: Angela Eagle says she can unite the party”.   There is going to be a battle  over the meaning of the Labour Rulebook.  A candidate needs to have nominations from 20% of the combined Labour MP’s and MEP’s.  The question is whether this also applies to Corbyn.  He says not – doubtless because he does not have that number of supporters.  The MP’s who oppose him say otherwise.  There has been talk of lawsuits.

Brexit Issues

The Guardian has this: Brexit vote paves way for federal union to save UK, says all-party group.  The same paper has this:”Parliament should make final decision on whether to leave EU, barristers say“.  The Financial Times has:  “A British model for a post-referendum European future“(£) which is well worth reading.

It is now possible to see the letter Bindmans LLP have sent to the Government Legal Department on the Article 50 issue.  It is on this site:  Waiting for Godot.

 

2nd Sunday after Brexit Vote

Where are we going?

Today is the 2nd Sunday after the Referendum and the Country is in a mess.  Why?  Because no-one knows how we should deal with the  consequences of the Referendum vote.  The headlines in the Sunday papers concentrate on the most urgent consequences: the choice of the next Tory leader and the difficulties of the Labour leader: see the BBC Headlines.   That is probably the right approach since any resolution of the Brexit issues is going to need a House of Commons with an effective Government and an effective Opposition.

But it is also necessary to understand some of the background.   In the Observer/Guardian Linda Colley has this: “It is easy to despair of our leaders, but Brexit has exposed Britain’s rotten core” in which she observes:-

“Cameron did not, for example, opt for a referendum on the EU chiefly to cater to democracy. He did what he did to placate his party’s Eurosceptic wing and in an attempt to scuttle Ukip.”

Absolutely so.  But he did not bother to work out the consequences of a “Leave” vote, and there was no planning to prepare for the outcome.  So what did he do – he has announced his resignation and left the mess for others to sort out.   Also writing in the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland obsererves: “Cameron really was the true heir to Blair: both were totally reckless“.

Tory Leadership Issues

May2 The MPs have whittled down the potential candidates to Teresa May, presently the Home Secretary and Andrea Leadsom, presently the Energy Minister.  A postal ballot of party members will decide who the Leader of the Conservative Partly will be and therefore who will be the next Prime Minister. William Hill is today taking bets offering 1/4 on Teresa May and 3/1 on Andrea Leadsom.  That seems to reflect the result of the MPs ballots with May getting 199 votes and Leadsom 86 votes.

Teresa May is very much seen as the “safe pair of hands” and Leadsom as a potential preference of those who voted for Brexit,  but today’s headlines focus on a spat between the ladies’ supporters about whether Leadsom ought to have said she had a better claim for support because she had children while Mrs May had not.

The Sunday Times reports, “Leadsom’s enemies stick the knife in(£)” but adds that up to 20 Conservative MP’s would leave the Party if Leadson were to be elected.  The Sunday Telegraph has “Tory women turn against Andrea Leadsom in retaliation for ‘vile’ suggestion Theresa May should not become PM as she has no children(£) and The Sunday Mail has “‘Do us all a favour and quit’: Senior Tory women spearhead the backlash against leadership contender Andrea Leadsom after motherhood jibe at rival Theresa May”  The Sunday Express has a Tory MP saying “Steely Theresa May is ideal as our next Prime Minister, says MIKE PENNING“.  One might think that Andrea Leadson  has a “foot in mouth” problem.

LeadsonbyLeaveEUBut she has another problem – the support of Arron Banks. See “Theresa May would ‘BETRAY’ Brexit, Ukip backer Arron Banks slams Home Secretary“.  Some Conservative Members, particularly those in deprived areas where UKIP does well, may be induced to support Leadsom  because she has support from that quarter.  But the policy of all the main UK parties is to keep well away from Arron Banks and everything he stands for.  See also the interview with Arron Banks on the Andrew Marr Show which suggests that his present plans are to move to attract more voters to UKIP in the depressed areas which voted to leave the EU.

It doesn’t help her either to have articles like this: “Neocons linked to Tea Party paid for Andrea Leadsom’s flights to US“.

The Labour Party

The standoff between the majority of the Labour MPs in Parliament and their Leader continues. See the Observer: “Labour in turmoil as Eagle announces leadership bid“.  It appears from the article that Labour’s National Executive Committee will meet on Tuesday.

A New Centrist Party? 

The Observer also has this: “Pro-EU Labour and Tory MPs look at forming a new centrist party“.  In effect, Labour MP’s who cannot stomach Corbyn and Conservative MP’s who  voted to Remain (the majority) and cannot stomach Leadson are talking about coming together in a re-run of the SDP. Further,  Baroness Shirely Williams is suggesting that there should be a cross party committee to approve any future deal on the UK’s relationship with Europe.  It merits further consideration.

Meanwhile

With the summer recess coming up, there is not likely to be much movement before September.  While the various legal challenges seeking to ensure that Parliament has control of the post referendum process will chug along, there is unlikely to be any substantive hearing during the Long Vacation. So we just muddle on.

 

 

 

 

 

A Saturday without Gove

The Tory Leadership campaign

May2Now the Conservative MP’s have decided on their two preferred candidates for the leadership of the Party, the choice between the two rests with a postal ballot of members of the Party.   While the tragic events in Dallas take up a lot of space the two candidates do get some coverage:  See the BBC’s Review of the Papers.

The Sun comes out for May: “As Britain faces economic instability, it is vital the nation realises Theresa May is the best bet for No 10 — and fast”.

As befits the paper generally referred to as “The Torygraph”, the Telegraph has (i) Exclusive: Theresa May: Britain faces ‘tough times’ but can enjoy a ‘better, brighter future’ outside the EU (ii) Andrea Leadsom opens up motherhood row as Tory leadership battle turns ugly and (iii) an editorial: Comment: Mrs May’s experience is the crucial factor      No doubt over the Torygraph’s preference for Teresa May, then.

The Guardian has: “Leadsom urged to sign ‘clean campaign pledge’ after motherhood row”  and The Independent has: “Tory leadership contest: Andrea Leadsom named ‘worst Treasury minister ever’

LeadsonbyLeaveEU

As the Daily Mail has reported “Hypocrite! Tory leadership hopeful and Vote Leave campaigner Andrea Leadsom previously said ‘Brexit would be a disaster’”   Not only that. Ms Leadson has continuing collaboration with Nigel Farage and Aaron Banks.  Just 2 days ago the Independent had this report: “Tory leadership election: Nigel Farage backs Angela Leadsom as next Prime Minister” which points out that “Ms Leadsom has previously refused to rule out the prospect of Mr Farage taking part in future Brexit talks in the event of her leadership“.

See also this in the Daily Telegraph: “If Andrea Leadsom becomes Prime Minister, is there any point in Ukip existing any longer?“.  See also  the Vote Leave EU website.     Given her newly found obsession with Brexit,  a vote by the Conservative Party Members  for Mrs Leadson might well bode very ill for the Conservative Party and, more importantly, for the UK.

However, The Scotsman has this: “Brexit vote a ‘golden opportunity’ for Scottish independence“.  The article relies very heavily on the views of Sir Nicholas Macpherson who was at the Treasury during the 1st Scottish referendum and is now a Visiting Professor at King’s College, London. It short, Sir Nicolas has some very positive views on how Scotland could go now forward.  Worth reading.

gove2The only really good thing about this day’s papers was the total absence of anything about the Poison Dwarf.  Maybe there will be some political obituaries in the Sunday Papers tomorrow.  The sooner people come to realise how they were conned by the Leave campaigns the better.

 

The Labour Leadership Problem

According to the Guardian: “Angela Eagle to announce Labour party leadership bid on Monday“.  The efforts to reconcile the Party’s Leader with the majority of Labour MPs seems to have failed.

Brexit and the City of London

The Financial Times has an interesting debate: “Can the City of London thrive after Brexit?

There was something of interest in the International Business Times yesterday by, of all people, one Alistair Campbell:  “Boris Johnson and Michael Gove’s deceit led to this Brexit mess – we must be able to reconsider“.  It’s a longish and rather rambling piece, but this is worthy of consideration:-

It is not sore losing to say that to me, Brexit remains a question of ‘If’ not ‘When’.

All the noises coming from the Tory leadership race show they are all in the main thinking about that and not about the country. That is how we got into this bloody mess. The country is having pretty considerable buyers’ remorse as the wreckage continues to wash up. It is not a done deal if the country decides the deal is a total contradiction of our national interest once the consequences are clear.

Theresa May was right that there will need to be an entire government department devoted to this, and that David Cameron’s Unit in the Cabinet Office under Oliver Letwin is inadequate for what is now needed.”

Parliamentary Control of the Brexit Process

The Guardian reports:  “Government dashes hopes of second EU referendum in e-petition response”. This will not have come as a surprise to those of us who found the email in our in box this morning.  Nor was it surprising that the response was said to have come from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

However, as The Independent points out:  “Four out of 10 people want a second EU referendum before Brexit” and this is a matter for Parliament rather than the Government alone.  It is well worth reading what Dominic Grieve, a former (and respected) Attorney-General has to say in the Independent: “Second EU referendum would be possible, former attorney general says”.

See also this article on the website of the UK Constitutional Law Association:  “Nick Barber, Tom Hickman and Jeff King: Pulling the Article 50 ‘Trigger’: Parliament’s Indispensable Role“.

According to the Independent:  “Brexit: Date set for first legal hearing to stop Article 50 being triggered by Prime Minister” the first hearing in one of the applications  for judicial review has been set for 19th July 2016.  This will put pressure on Mischcon de Reya who have similar instructions – see this announcement.  There is in addition a crowdfunded initiative “Should Parliament decide?” organised by Jolyon Maugham QC. Were the Administrative Court to receive a number of separate applications, it would probably want to have them heard together.

This is a case for a Divisional Court bench (one composed of  at least 2 Judges, one from the Court of Appeal and 1 from the High Court.  In very important cases there can be 3 judges and that might include this one).

Under the Civil Procedure Rules, Rule 54.17 the Court has the power to hear any person who has an interest in the outcome in addition to the Applicant(s)  and the Respondent(s). There may be quite a number of persons and organisations would would wish to consider availing themselves of this provision.  The clock is now ticking.

 

 

Leadsom fiddles while the City burns

Party Leadership Difficulties

While the United Kingdom faces one of the most severe economic challenges of our lifetimes both the government and the opposition are distracted by their party leadership issues.

The Conservatives

The preliminary sifting of candidates by Conservative MP’s is complete.  The two members to be submitted to the Members for a postal ballot are chosen.  The result of that ballot will be publicly announced on 9th September 2016.

Candidates Ist Round 2nd Round Ballot William Hill
Teresa May 165 199 ? 1/4
Andrea Leadsom 66 84 ? 3/1
Michael Gove 48 46
Stephen Crabb 34
Liam Fox 16

Once the Party Members have selected the next leader, David Cameron will give effect to his resignation and advise the Queen to invite the winner  to form a government.  Meanwhile the present team carries on as a caretaker administration, no doubt trying to postpone any difficult issues until the new administration takes over.

The House of Commons rises for the Summer Recess on 21st July, 2016 and will return on 5th September 2016 and is due to rise again for the Party Conferences on 15th September 2016.  So the formalities of the changeover will  most likely take place between 9th and 15th September 2016.

The Conservatives Party Conference is not until  2-5 October in Birmingham so that will give the new Prime Minister time to sort out the Cabinet and so forth in time for the Conference.

A quick perusal of the front pages of the newspapers:  BBC- The Papers, shows that the Tory leaning titles are at this time supporting Teresa May.  The Financial Times has this amusing account of  what has happened:   “Brexit: a coup by one set of public schoolboys against another (£)

The Labour Party

The rift between the majority of Labour MP’s and their Leader and much of the membership continues unabated– see this in The Guardian: “Jeremy Corbyn stands defiant after Labour membership surge”.

While one hopes that  Labour will get its act together before Parliament resumes, that looks doubtful.   The Labour  Party Conference is scheduled for 25-28 September 1986 in Liverpool and bids fair to be a rather fratricidal gathering.   No doubt,  the local NHS will have contingency plans in place.

Meanwhile, while HM Government and HM Opposition seek to resolve their respective  leadership issues,  the entirely predictable (and, indeed predicted) post Brexit financial consequences are coming home.

The Economy

The Financial Times has this: “Harsh realities of a weakened pound – Sterling’s malaise set to hit households harder than they expect(£)“.   See also this from the BBC: “Business pessimism ‘doubles after Brexit vote’

As we know, Andrea Leadsom, who has likened herself to Margaret Thatcher in her bid to be the next Conservative leader, once said that leaving the European Union would be a “disaster” – despite being one of the leading voices in the Brexit campaign.  See this report in the Independent.  Well she was right then and she was wrong during the Referendum campaign and she remains wrong.  For that reason alone she should not be in charge of the government in the difficult period ahead.  Protection of the economy and, in particular,  of the role of the City has to be paramount.

Households around the country are going to feel a squeeze in the shorter term. Imports are going to cost more as a result of the fall in the value of sterling.  That is going to impact on evereyone’s shopping basket.  But if the outcome of the Brexit talks does not enable the City to passport its services across the EU, the Exchequer is going to  have a big hole in its tax revenues.  That hole is not going to be filled by wishful thinking and it is up to Andrea Leadsom to explain how.  Quickly.

 

Drifting after the Brexit collision

Tory Leadership Campaign

In the first MP vote Liam Fox was eliminated and he declared he would ask those who supported him to support Teresa May .  Stephen Crabb also announced he was withdrawing his name from the race and supporting Teresa May.  A final round today has produced the two names to be submitted to the postal ballot of Members of the Party.

Round 2 Candidates Ist Round 2nd Round  

 

William Hilll  Odds
Teresa May 165  199 1/5 (3/10)
Andrea Leadsom 66  84 7/2 (2/1)
Michael Gove 48  46
Stephen Crabb 34
Liam Fox 16

The Conservative Home blog had a thoughtful piece: “Gove over Leadsom – a triumph of hope over inexperience” which concluded with a salutary warning to the Members of the Party who will take the ultimate decision.:-

“If May gets well over half the vote today, she will command a Parliamentary Party consensus.  And if MPs give members the choice they want, members in turn should give them the candidate they want – on such numbers, at any rate.  For no Party leader can flourish without the backing of those that they must work alongside every day.  If you doubt it, look at Jeremy Corbyn”.

Likewise, Guido Fawkes today relied on a poll showing that May had a plus 29% favourability rating while Leadsom had just a plus 1% while the Poison Dwarf Gove had a whopping MINUS 47%.

The papers today have been too full of the fallout from the Chilcot Report to pay much attention to the leadership campaign.  The Guardian has this: “Gove ally apologises for plot to stop Leadsom leadership bid” and the Telegraph has the same story: “Tory leadership election: Civil war deepens as Michael Gove ally urges Theresa May backers to block Andrea Leadsom”.

gove2

So, the bookies and Guido Fawkes were right. The Poison Dwarf has been given the Order of the Boot by his fellow members . The Poison Dwarf has cabinet level experience while Andrea Leadson had not.  So why did Gove fail to make the grade?   No doubt Gove’s sabotage of Boris Johnson played its part.  Serve him right.

 

The Labour Leadership issue

Not much movement as a consequence of the Chilcot/Blair fallout.

The Cabinet Office Brexit Unit

People are beginning to focus attention on Brexit planning issues.

It is is many ways reprehensible that the Cameron government had  (i) not prepared plans for the event of the Referendum failing to deliver the outcome the government was campaigning for, (ii) not been aware of the increase in anti-immigration feeling in deprived areas and  (iii) failed to take any steps to address the causes of such xenophobia.

Even now, the response appears to be half-hearted.  Firstly, the person tasked at ministerial level is Oliver Letwin , the Cabinet Office Minister.  The Guardian has this piece: “Toto has pulled back the Brexit curtain to reveal – oh dear! – Oliver Letwin” in which the writer concludes: Letwin is Captain I-Haven’t-the-Slightest-Idea. That’s the guy running the Brexit situation room

The top civil servant is  Oliver Robbins whose principal claim to fame is that he was thrown out of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee for giving unsatisfactory answers. See: “Civil servant thrown out of Commons committee is ordered to return“.  While Robbins was at the Home Office, he had responsibility for immigration and free movement policy, and oversight of the borders, immigration and citizenship system.

While this will mean that the likely forthcoming Prime Minister, Teresa May,  will be used to working with him,  there must be a risk that this will result in the Unit concentrating overmuch on the immigration issues arising from Brexit, while the primary concerns are likely to be related to the public finances and the looming decimation of the UK financial services sector and the consequences for the City of London.   The Mandarins had better be aware (and make Ministers aware)  that 30% of the UK’s tax revenues are generated by the City of London.

Meanwhile, the Government and in consequence the country, is drifting along, like a ship which has lost its rudder and whose engine has failed. 

[Updated after MP’s Leadership Vote Announced]