Dictator Johnson has gone through with his threat and withdrawn the whip from 21 now-former Conservative MPs.
The list includes extremely high-profile names including Father of the House Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer until only six weeks ago (at the time of writing).
Also out are recent Conservative leadership candidate Rory Stewart, Oliver Letwin, Dominic Grieve, David Gauke and Nicholas Soames (who is entirely forgettable apart from being Winston Churchill’s grandson).
And Guto Bebb, who said he would vote against the government, has also been ejected for going through with it.
Others include: Richard Benyon, Steve Brine, Alistair Burt, Greg Clark, Justine Greening, Sam Gyimah, Stephen Hammond, Richard Harrington, Margot James, Anne Milton, Caroline Nokes, Antoinette Sandbach and Ed Vaizey.
Boris Johnson started his first Parliamentary session as prime minister with 311 MPs and a majority of one. He ends it with just 289 MPs and the stigma of being the first PM since Pitt the Younger to lose his very first Parliamentary vote.
Nissan’s Sunderland factory: It is understood no jobs will be affected by the decision not to make the X-Trail there. We can hope that announcement isn’t untrue, as it was not made by a Conservative MP.
“There’s no cheque book. I don’t have a cheque book,” said Business Secretary Greg Clark on the BBC’s Question Time in 2016, after he was asked if he had done a “sweetheart” deal to keep Nissan in the UK.
He had offered a secret package of state aid to Nissan that could have been worth up to £80 million, if the car manufacturer had gone ahead with its plan to make the new X-Trail in Sunderland.
When a state aid package was formally awarded to Nissan last year, it turned out to be worth £61 million – a sum that appears not to have been enough for the carmaker, as it has announced that it will not make the X-Trail in the UK. It made very clear the fact that its reasons include uncertainty over Brexit.
Mr Clark only acknowledged the existence of the state aid award yesterday (February 4), in a letter to Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP who chairs the Business select committee in the House of Commons.
Apparently Esther McVey hadn’t seen the memo and, in an excruciating appearance on LBC radio, repeatedly denied that Nissan’s withdrawal – meaning the loss of a planned 741 new jobs – was due to Brexit. She was put right by Nissan’s Europe division boss Gianluca de Ficchy, after her appearance on the show.
Tory liars: They even lie to each other.
Worse than that – for This Writer – is the fact that Conservatives are happy to make huge amounts of money available for these so-called “sweetheart” deals with businesses, as they are happy to write off huge amounts of tax when it is dodged by the already obscenely-rich.
But they squeeze anybody on low earnings – hard – to make us pay for their extravagances, and they wouldn’t dream of making sure we are paid a proper living wage, or enjoy a proper, dignified benefit system.
Tory priorities: Take everything away from you and lie to you about it.
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Theresa May delivers her Mansion House speech, but nobody’s listening: Brexit has already made her the laughing stock of the world.
Members of ‘Big Four’ accountancy firm Deloittes may be waking up to an uncomfortable truth about their friends in the Conservative Government today (November 15) – that a Tory will turn on anyone.
The firm has spent six years helping the Conservatives push their punitive agenda of cuts and privatisation but – after a memo on ‘Brexit’ was leaked to the press – suddenly the Tories don’t recognise Deloittes’ work.
This is despite the apparent fact that the consultant from the firm who wrote the report (titled ‘Brexit update’) was working for the Cabinet Office, according to The Times.
The memo said Whitehall departments were working on more than 500 projects related to leaving the EU and may need to hire an extra 30,000 civil servants to deal with the additional work. That would undo much of the Tories’ work in shrinking the civil service, of course.
It identified a tendency by Theresa May to “draw in decisions and settle matters herself” as a strategy that could not be sustained, and highlighted a split between the three Brexit ministers – Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and David Davis – and the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and his ally Greg Clark, the business secretary as “divisions within the cabinet”. So the Conservative Party is divided again – and we know that divided parties don’t win.
It said major industry players were expected to “point a gun to the government’s head” to get what they wanted after Nissan was given assurances that it would not lose out from investing in Britain after Brexit. We all knew this already.
Perhaps most damningly, it stated that “no common strategy has emerged” on Brexit, despite extended debate among the permanent secretaries who head Whitehall departments.
This is not what the Conservatives want the public to hear, so of course they have disowned the memo, claiming it was “unsolicited”, was not a government memo and the government rejected its contents. They would, wouldn’t they?
The government also tried to smear the memo’s authors by claiming it was a pitch for business – but then, government departments habitually ask firms to submit such work, so this is not proof that the memo was not requested by ministers.
The fact that it fell to Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling – the Transport Secretary – to pass these comments lends them no authenticity whatsoever.
David Davis is the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – what does he have to say about it? Nothing.
Grayling said he had no idea where the report came from and denied that it had been commissioned by ministers. But then, what would he know about it? He’s the Transport Secretary.
His comments – like “I have a team of people in my department who are working with David Davis on issues like aviation, but I do not see the scale of the challenge that is in today’s newspaper” – are those of a man who is only seeing part of the project, rather than the whole.
Meanwhile, in her Mansion House speech, prime minister Theresa May told an audience of dozing businesspeople that Brexit was an opportunity for the UK to “step up” to a new “global role”.
Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn received assurances from the prime minister that the carmaker would be shielded from the impact of Brexit [Montage: FT/Getty].
It’s looking as though Anna Soubry was right and Nissan was indeed offered a ‘sweetener’ deal to stay in the UK after Brexit.
It seems certain that other firms will rush to secure similar assurances – that would leave the Treasury, and the hard-working UK citizens the Tories are so fond of praising, seriously out of pocket.
It seems the Conservative Government under Theresa May is unsafe wherever it goes.
If it denies any further ‘sweeteners’ to other multinational firms, they may pack their bags and head for the continent.
If it gives in, then not only will it seem weak but it will also create a spending commitment that taxpayers will struggle to meet.
So a deal that the Tories were touting as a huge victory only two days ago now stands revealed as a monumental mess.
Still, it’s a rosy result for Nissan and company director Carlos Ghosn, who will build two new models at a plant in Sunderland from 2019.
These are the X-trail and the Qashqai – although Mr Ghosn may wish to consider renaming the latter.
In the light of recent events, ‘Cash Cow’ seems more appropriate.
Nissan warned the British government that the carmaker would wind down UK operations if it was not guaranteed competitive trading conditions with Europe, according to two people involved in negotiations over future investment in its Sunderland plant.
During talks that led to a meeting between Theresa May and Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, the Japanese carmaker said it was prepared to shift production to its Spanish and French factories in a move that would lead to the closure of its British plant and other UK sites.
Government assurances offered to Nissan led to its decision this week to locate two new cars at the plant from 2019, safeguarding more than 30,000 jobs at the site and in its supply chain.
Sunderland’s closure would have caused a political tidal wave and set a precedent for other carmakers to locate future work outside Britain.
Rival carmakers are now demanding the same assurances offered to Nissan to shield them from the impact of Brexit. While technology and pharmaceuticals companies are prioritising visas for skilled workers, other exporters including chemicals manufacturers have set tariff-free access to the EU as a priority.
The prime minister’s office faces calls from Labour to disclose details of its exact pledges to Nissan, including the contents of a letter written by Greg Clark, the business secretary, to Nissan’s executive committee in Japan.
According to several people familiar with the contents of the letter, it contains the same assurances that were offered to Mr Ghosn by the prime minister — namely that the carmaker would face no change in its trading conditions following Britain’s exit from the EU.
The production line was stopped at 11:00 BST on Thursday so workers could be told about the decision [Image: Getty Images].
Here’s another chance for Theresa May’s Tories to tie themselves in knots.
The car manufacturer Nissan announced yesterday (Thursday, October 28) that it will remain in the UK post-Brexit, meaning more than 7,000 jobs at its Sunderland plant are safe and it will manufacture two new models there.
But was it offered a ‘sweetheart deal’ to stay? Business Secretary Greg Clark says no.
“There’s no cheque book. I don’t have a cheque book,” he said on the BBC’s Question Time.
“The important thing is that they know this is a country in which they can have confidence they can invest. That was the assurance and the understanding they had and they have invested their money.”
Was he lying, though? According to The Guardian, “Greg Clark reportedly gave a ‘last-minute written promise’ to Nissan to protect the company from the consequences of Brexit, in a pledge that will fuel Labour’s demand for the government to publish any private guarantees.”
And fellow Tory Anna Soubry indicated her own conviction that a ‘sweetener’ had been applied. The Telegraph reported: “She said she had met Nissan on June 30, a week after the Brexit vote, and that the company expressed ‘profound concerns’ about tariffs.
“She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: ‘They didn’t give the detail of what they wanted, they made it very clear that without a guarantee that they would not be subject to tariffs or if they were subject to tariffs the Government would do something to mitigate the damage of tariffs… that without that, they told me, my understanding actually was that they would go to Renault because they clearly had the capacity there.’
“On the assurances that helped Nissan decide to build its next-generation Qashqai, and add production of the new X-Trail model, at its Sunderland plant, Ms Soubry said: ‘I don’t know what it is but I would be very surprised if there hasn’t been some sort of guarantee to mitigate any tariffs should they be imposed.'”
Just to muddy the waters, though, it seems Nissan never had any intention to leave – according to right-wing gossip-monger Guido Fawkes’ blog, which stated in May: “Nissan are on the record saying they won’t leave Britain post-Brexit and have been at pains not to scaremonger about the referendum. So they were a bit put out by Anna Soubry using their reception in parliament last night to preach doom on their behalf. The event had nothing to do with Europe, but Soubs misjudged the tone and told guests how leaving the EU will cause a ‘disaster for manufacturing’ and result in ‘an immediate 10% tariff on Nissan cars’.”
Now she pops up again, again talking about tariffs. And we have no guarantee that Nissan meant what it said before the referendum; it could have been angling for a ‘sweetener’, even then.
And a ‘quiet’ deal would be handy for the government, if it didn’t want to promise a mitigation deal for every Tom, Dick or Harriet who is now facing a 15% tariff on imports/exports.
Bizarrely, some commenters on Twitter were all right with that:
Foolish question. It's time to keep cards close to chest.
It took a while, but Greg Clark, Tory minister for de-industrialisation, eventually had to resort to his party’s agreed line on the film I, Daniel Blake, in the face of a barrage of fact-based analysis from the film’s director, Ken Loach.
“It is a fictional film,” he told a BBC Question Time audience in Gloucester. “People… should not think these are the ways people are behaving.”
I beg to differ – and so do members of the great British public who have actually experienced the benefit system.
People are terrified of taking the work capability assessment (WCA), for reasons mentioned on This Blog only a few days ago.
In that article, I asked readers to send in their own stories, and it seems – despite Tory protestations that they have improved the system – that people really are being treated cruelly. “Teasing” – the word Mr Loach used – is the wrong description for it.
One person who was tested in July this year was stripped of ESA for reasons including appearing to “hear his name called in the waiting room”.
So suddenly every WCA is a Catch-22. If you don’t attend, your claim will be cancelled – but if you do attend, you are fit for work and your claim will be cancelled?
Another respondent explained that her husband took the assessment in February this year. He is unable to comment himself as he died on July 31 after his benefit was cut. The assessor told him he looked well, despite the fact that his skin was so thin it was possible to see the definition of his skull beneath his face.
One more? “Classic from my WCA (shortly after my father died of a massive brain haemhorrage and whilst my brother was in hospital on a life support machine after a brain haemhorrage): ‘She enjoys an active social life visiting her brother in hospital on a regular basis.’ Between those two events I had been diagnosed with a rare and incurable and untreatable disease I knew little about and hadn’t even been assessed by NHS at that point. ‘She has no mental health problems’ – I was clinging on by my fingertips.”
Are you angry yet?
What do you think of Tory Greg’s claim that work capability assessors don’t behave as Mr Loach asserts in his film (Daniel Blake is told he is fit for work and forced to apply for a succession of jobs he must then turn down – because he is not fit enough)?
What do you think of the fact that Tory Greg was quoting the Conservative Government’s agreed line about the film – that it is just a work of fiction?
And if you voted Conservative last year or in 2010, what do you think of the fact that your vote supported the torture (and in many cases, death) of your fellow UK citizens – who have committed no crime, and whose misfortune could happen to you at any time?
In the film, Daniel Blake’s suffering at the hands of the DWP is the result of a heart attack. In real life, 53-year-old Stephen Hill was found fit for work, while he was waiting for major heart surgery. He died of a heart attack one month later.
Or how about Brian McArdle, 57 years old, who suffered a fatal heart attack the day after his disability benefits were stopped?
Or David Groves, 56 years old. He died of a heart attack the night before he would have taken his work capability assessment. His widow claimed the stress killed him.
These are just three similar cases. The WCA dead number in their thousands – and that’s just those that are known.
Stephen Hill’s death would not have been recorded by the DWP because it happened too long after his benefits were stopped.
And the Tories tell you, this is just a work of fiction. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.
Are you angry now?
If not now, when?
It will be too late to be angry when you’re dead too.
Director Ken Loach has condemned the Government for overseeing a culture of “conscious cruelty” in the way it docks people’s benefits.
[The] film-maker hit out at the Government’s benefits regime and fit-to-work tests, which leaves people “living in fear”, when appearing on the BBC’s Question Time [after the release of his film I, Daniel Blake, about about a man’s struggle with the welfare system].
[Mr] Loach made clear he believes sanctions placed on benefits claimants – where the part or all of the payment is docked – are deliberately cruel.
He said: “People are living in fear, and it’s an absolutely intolerable way to live. There’s a conscious cruelty to the way the benefits system is being imposed. The Tory Government knows exactly what it is doing.”
He added: “We know that the Government knows it’s wrong because if you appeal against the assessment you will almost certainly win. They know they are teasing people in a very cruel way.
“When you’re sanctioned your life is forced into chaos and people are going to food banks – there was 1.1 million people getting food parcels. People who would starve otherwise.”
He concluded: “How can we live in a society where hunger is used as a weapon?”
Asked by host David Dimbleby why the Labour Party was in Opposition and trailing in the polls if the Tories were so bad, he blamed the rebellion by MPs who tried to force out Jeremy Corbyn.
He said: “It’s because the Parliamentary Labour Party has done it’s best to undermine its leader, that’s why. People won’t vote for a divided party.”
In response, the Tory Cabinet minister dismissed the account in ‘I, Daniel Blake’ as just a “fictional film”. He said: “Your film, Ken – it is a fictional film. And people seeing it should not think these are the ways people are behaving.”
Loach has said his team “talked to hundreds of people” at the DWP to create the story.
Communities secretary Greg Clark (who?) reckons councils will have to replace any housing association property that is sold under the Conservative Government’s latest plan.
But this won’t work, because the plan is to offer a discount on the purchase of each property, of up to 70 per cent.
That means councils, who are being starved of money by – guess who? – the Conservative Government, will be either unable to replace 70 per cent of the lost accommodation or will be forced into serious debt.
Don’t be deceived by this blatant lie – it’s all part of the Tory plan to deplete social housing.
The new communities secretary, Greg Clark, has insisted government plans to provide a right to buy for 1.3 million housing association tenants will not lead to a fall in overall provision of social housing in England.
The measure is due to be included in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday and Clark defended the policy saying “consistently, over many years, nearly 86% want to own their home and just because you have signed a social tenancy should not mean you sign away your aspiration to own your own home”.
Ministers have insisted that social housing will not fall because councils will be expected to replace any housing association property that is sold. The new properties are due to be provided by the enforced sale of more expensive council-owned property when the tenancy falls vacant. Housing association tenants who have lived in a property for three years will be entitled to seek a discount on the purchase of the property of up to 70%.
Clark said there would not be a net fall in affordable property. “Where the flat is sold to the existing tenant it is not lost, it does not evaporate, and it is sold to someone that has means to pay for it, so then what is released in terms of the sale can then build an extra home – so it is adding to the housing stock. Every housing association property that is sold will be replaced one for one for a new property, so it is not only allowing people to meet their housing aspiration, but to increase the housing stock as well.”
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