Dictator Johnson has gone through with his threat and withdrawn the whip from 21 now-former Conservative MPs.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.
About the only power formally reserved to the PM under the British constitution is the right to hire & fire ministers. But May will now, at the very least, have a chancellor, foreign, health, business & transport secretary she’d rather have in other jobs.
We’ll mention health, business and transport shortly, but let’s just remind ourselves of the records of the people holding the other roles:
Philip Hammond, who remains as Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently blamed a downturn in productivity in the UK economy on people with disabilities. He also recently claimed that there are no unemployed people.
Amber Rudd has kept her job as Home Secretary, where she has worked hard to build a reputation for unlawfully detaining some asylum-seekers, and unlawfully deporting others. Some would suggest that in this area alone, she has broken the law so many times, she should be in one of her own prisons – except there probably isn’t any room for her.
Boris Johnson is still Foreign Secretary, in defiance of reason. This Writer could mention his use of the terms “piccaninnies” and “watermelon smiles”, his offensive quotation of Kipling in Myanmar, the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair, and many more national humiliations. He is a one-man political disaster area.
Quite right too. If a man can’t be rewarded for endangering a British subject in an Iranian prison, joking about people dying in Libya, constantly undermining his Prime Minister and leading the country over a cliff then there’s no justice. https://t.co/WElq7Z1UIf
Sajid Javid continues as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, only with “Housing” added to his title – to emphasize the stress being placed on that aspect of his brief at this time. It is likely that he is also keeping his job partly as a reward for following Mrs May’s lead on homelessness, in defiance of the UK Statistics Agency. He repeated Mrs May’s lie that the Conservatives have cut homelessness by 50 per cent after it peaked under Labour. In fact, Labour cut homelessness drastically but it has been increasing steadily since 2010 due to Conservative policies. Mr Javid was previously infamous for granting licences to export weapons to Saudi Arabia, despite allegations that they were being used to commit war crimes.
Chris Grayling's accidental 30 second 'appointment' as Tory Party chairman speaks volumes as to the state of the @Conservatives. They can't even get a pointless cabinet #reshuffle right, and yet expect to continue governing the country? #ToriesOut2018
According to TheyWorkForYou.com, Mr Bradley, the voice of Tory youth, voted against scrapping university tuition fees; against restoring Education Maintenance Allowance, against maintenance grants and nurses’ bursaries; against ending the public sector pay cap, and against increasing the minimum wage.
Next up is a nasty piece of work This Writer is mentioning out-of-sequence: Greg Clark remained as Business Secretary, for reasons that, I suspect, were not as they were suggested here. But it is interesting that these reasons were put forward. See for yourself:
So the quiet man dug in. Greg Clark stays as Business Secretary. NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
So now we know that Mrs May was powerless to move some MPs as she wished. I would suggest that this is because she heads a minority government – her party has no majority in the House of Commons so she needs to rely on every single Conservative MP and cannot afford to upset any of them. The slightest rebellion could end her government – and after the mess she has made of her ministry – it is unlikely the Tories would take office again for many years, if ever.
One person who was happy to be moved was David Gauke, who leapt from the Department for Work and Pensions to replace Mr Lidington as Justice Secretary. Mr Gauke, let’s remember, worked tirelessly to ensure nothing was done to stop tax avoidance while he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Since moving to the DWP, he has worked tirelessly to ensure the introduction of Universal Credit is as painful as possible for benefit claimants.
Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon was utterly nonplussed:
Gove, Truss, Lidington and now Gauke. Already the fourth Secretary of State for Justice I've faced. It's almost as if the Prime Minister views this crucial role for our justice system as being just about making up the Cabinet numbers. https://t.co/w9utwjemfi
David Gauke has spent most of the past year defending the Tories' cruel and callous Universal Credit plan and refusing to fix it when it was clear just how much it would hurt those affected. Very worrying for those who hope government's legal aid review will help most vulnerable.
But Justine Greening was Education Secretary! What happened to her?
We’ll come to that.
In the meantime, let’s note that Mr Hinds not only supported tuition fees, but voted to increase them to £9,000. He doesn’t like maintenance grants for students. And he loves academies and ‘free’ schools that are free of local authority control.
And what a representative he is. Mr Cairns has consistently voted to cut funds for local councils, against more powers for those authorities, and against transferring powers to the National Assembly for Wales.
How about a mention for the new Tory Vice-Chair with responsibility for women – Maria Caulfield, who thinks women should not be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies?
Former Tory Chairman Patrick McLaughlin was on his way out the door before the reshuffle got started; he seems to have been asked to take responsibility for the Tories’ disastrous election result. This left a vacancy that was filled by Brandon Lewis. But, oh dear:
Former housing Minister, new Tory Party Chair, and landlord Brandon Lewis, warned against strengthening safety regulations to include sprinklers to properties, he said it would put off house builders. #Grenfell#cabinetreshuffle
Now we’re getting to the meat. Remember Greg Clark, who wouldn’t move from Business? Jeremy Hunt was tipped to be offered that brief, with Anne Milton replacing him (because of her prior experience as a nurse and a junior minister for public health, and absolutely not because she’s married to a bigwig in a private health company – and if you believe that, I’ll tell you another).
#cabinetreshuffle Since we're considering Anne Milton because of her nursing experience, it's a shame Harold Shipman's not available to be Health Sec. He had decades pf experience as a GP & was as good at killing old people as Jeremy Hunt. #NHSCrisis#NHSWinterCrisis
But Ms Milton got into trouble early on Monday, when it was revealed that someone in the Houses of Parliament had altered her Wikipedia entry to hide her inconvenient marital association. So what was happening with Mr Hunt?
Breaking: the reshuffle's big shock – Jeremy Hunt refused a move to BEIS to insist he stay on as Health Sec with a beefed up brief of social care too. https://t.co/9zrScUDg19
Her comes another pearl, though – the extra job that Mr Hunt requested was his already:
Did Theresa May not even realise social care was already supposed to be a responsibility of the Health Secretary? I wonder how much it will cost to change all the logos & stationary?! What a shambles of a botched reshuffle
Mrs May seems to have a blind spot where it comes to people of her own gender. She was extremely reluctant to act on the allegations of sexual harassment against members of her party, and former members of the Cabinet, if you remember.
And then there’s Mrs May’s apparent lack of good character judgement:
A Conservative Party which can find a role for Toby Young but not for Justine Greening is one that can be beaten
At the time, Mr Young was still at the Office for Students, having been defended to the hilt by Tories in a Parliamentary debate. Commentators drew the obvious conclusions.
Justine Greening is a Tory who votes for Tory policies. But this is a party which sidelines a gay woman while finding a place for Toby Young, someone who spews misogyny and homophobia and jokes about masturbating over starving African children. All you ever need to know.
She didn’t have to. In the end, it turns out she chose somebody just as bad; Iain Duncan Smith’s lieutenant in the Coalition Government of 2010-2015:
It's taken nearly nine hours but May has just appointed her first new woman Cabinet minister of the day. No.10: The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of the Rt Hon Esther McVey as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Some wits in the commentariat have been saying he was sacked, rather than being allowed to “fall on his dildo”.
But what’s the final result? Did Mrs May manage to refresh, revitalise and diversify her Cabinet?
All she did was move a few ministers around and swap one female minister for another.
The vast majority of the cabinet remain white males, and most of them are from constituencies in southeast England. Their average age remains above 50. The proportion who had a private education has increased, as has the proportion who attended Oxford or Cambridge – up to more than half of the Cabinet.
So we are left with a government that – more than ever – represents a tiny minority of the country, and rules in favour of that minority.
May's #CabinetReshuffle was billed as being about providing fresh faces within cabinet..
Yesterday, 73% of cabinet ministers were male. Today: 74%
Yesterday, 27% were privately educated. Today: 35%
Ah, but she must have improved the representation of women, right? After all, that’s what Downing Street claimed. Here’s Michael Crick to explain the sleight-of-hand behind that announcement:
Downing Street boasts "there are now more women attending Cabinet", but several of those "attending" are just middle ranking ministers, not full Cabinet members. So there's likely to be a serious pay disparity between the men who attend Cabinet, and the women.
Jeremy Hunt (whose nickname begins with a ‘c’, followed by the last three letters of his surname, for those who need an explanation of our headline and lead line) has a knack for putting his foot in it at the wrong time – and, guess what? He’s done it again!
His first act after metaphorically kicking minority prime minister Theresa May in the teeth by refusing to be moved from the Department of Health (forcing her to add ‘and Social Care’ to his title, even though he’s already responsible for it)…
… was to kick Justine Greening in the posterior as she was on her way out of the government.
He clicked the ‘like’ button on a tweet stating that Justine Greening (who also kicked Theresa May in the teeth by refusing to be moved from Education to the DWP – but got the boot, rather than being allowed to stay).
The decision to force Ms Greening out, while caving in to male cabinet members, has triggered an outcry about sexism by Mrs May.
Mr C… Hunt’s rash choice has opened him up to similar accusations.
At least he could fall back on a well-used strategy to limit the damage caused by his gaffe: He said it was an accident.
Some might say that, having had to cancel 55,000 operations because of the NHS winter crisis that could have been avoided if he and the government weren’t so keen to make the health service ripe for privatisation, Mr Hunt’s entire political career has been an accident.
Jeremy Hunt has been left red-faced after he was caught ‘liking’ a tweet announcing Education Secretary Justine Greening had left Theresa May’s Government.
He clicked the like button on the tweet which read: “BREAKING: Justine Greening has quit the government.”
Mr Hunt, who was kept on as Health Secretary with an extended social care role in the shake-up, was forced to explain why he had “liked” the tweet.
He later tweeted: “Like button pressed by accident. Justine was an excellent minister and will be a great loss to govt.”
Theresa May has said she intends to remain as prime minister for “as long as people want me”, as she confirmed she was about to conduct a government reshuffle.
Justine Greening, the education secretary, is tipped to be the most prominent casualty in the shake-up, which is expected to start on Monday.
A government reshuffle has been pending since Damian Green was effectively sacked as first secretary of state and Cabinet Office minister before Christmas for not telling the truth about pornography being found on his office computer during a police raid in 2008.
However, May has decided not to do only the minimum required to replace a departing minister, as she did after Sir Michael Fallon and Priti Patel quit the cabinet in the autumn, but to embark on a full-scale reshuffle intended to refresh the government with new talent.
If Theresa May wants to stay as long as people want her, she should go now; she has already long outstayed her welcome.
As for her aim to “refresh the government with new talent” – fat chance!
She’s ditching Justine Greening for causing the Toby Young controversy.
And it seems she wants to make Guildford MP Anne Milton the new Health Secretary – Anne Milton, whose husband Graham Henderson has connections with Virgin Care, a private health company.
Tory MP Anne Milton is tipped to replace Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary
The litmus test of #TheresaMay ‘s #reshuffle is surely whether she removes: – a #brexit secretary who has repeatedly misled #Parliament – a foreign secretary who has antagonised friends &allies across the world – a trade secretary who doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing #bbcsp
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched a motion this week to stop pupil nationality data collection [Image: BBC].
This is a sneaky move by Theresa May and her gang.
It’s another humiliating climbdown and U-turn for a prime minister who has spent her entire prime ministerial career of such things, but they’re trying to use it to de-fang moves by the Labour Party to stand up for children.
It is quite clear that the Party of Division (that’s the Conservative Party, for those who need to be told) wanted to create another fake enemy for “hardworking British people” (whoever they are) to hate.
Theresa May’s cronies knew there was resentment against “immigrants” who are said to be taking away our housing, health and school places.
This is because Conservatives have been rationing these services (under the banner of fake “austerity” – fake because it affects only the poor and not the rich).
Instead of addressing the real cause of the problem – their own rationing process – Mrs May’s Tories wanted to capitalise on it by making the perceived cause – “immigrants” – more visible and therefore more vulnerable.
Jeremy Corbyn has put forward a motion to block this – and it has cross-party support in Parliament. So now Theresa May and her Tories look like xenophobes and racists.
Their solution: Cancel the monitoring of children aged two-to-five but continue with the rest.
They’ll seem to be acting benevolently while still collecting enough information to continue pursuing their “divide and rule” policy.
Nursery schools will no longer be forced to collect details on the nationality and birth place of children as young as two… following a Government U-turn over the controversial school census.
Since September this year, schools, colleges and nurseries have been required to ask parents to provide details of where their children were born, as well as nationality and English language proficiency – a move MPs say has “all the hallmarks of racism”.
The new legislation, which comes as part of an expansion on the existing school census, have been met with fierce backlash from parents, campaigners and MPs, who have criticised the census as “dangerous and divisive” and raised concerns over how the information is being used.
After meeting with campaign group Schools Against Border for Children (ABC), Department for Education officials said the collection of data on nationality and country of birth would not be extended towards children aged two to five, despite previous Government guidance stating the contrary.
The requirement still stands for children of primary and secondary school age, in spite of cross-party opposition and a motion lodged by Jeremy Corbyn to block the new legislation.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has condemned the census as it stands, criticising the Government for forcing schools to police the immigration status of children.
Department for Education officials said Education Secretary Justine Greening had disagreed with the proposals set out by her predecessor Nicky Morgan to expand data collection.
Unlikely contender: This mouthpiece (Justine Greening) is being tipped for the top Tory job by John McDonnell. Is he having a laugh?
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell seems to be having a laugh at the expense of his opposite number in the Conservative Government, George Osborne.
Laughing off Osborne’s chances of being Prime Minister, he said Gideon was “a bit disconnected from the real world” – tell us something we don’t know, John! He’s a Tory toff – he could hardly be more disconnected from the real lives of UK citizens if he had spent the early part of his life in Shangri-La.
Mr McDonnell went on to say he thought Osborne’s judgement was “pretty poor”. As Shadow Chancellor, this is something you should expect to hear. Whether it strikes a chord with Tory backbenchers is yet to be seen.
Either way, the prospect of Justine Greening as a “surprising” candidate for Tory leader seems intentionally hilarious.
He’s mocking the Conservative Party, and we should all enjoy the joke while we can.
[John McDonnell] believes [George] Osborne has blown his chance at leadership and he thinks an unlikely contender could emerge to take over the Tories.
He’s tipping Justine Greening, the Tory International Development Secretary, to make an unlikely bid for power.
Ms Greening is 50/1 with Ladbrokes but Mr McDonnell thinks the Chancellor’s recent performance could open the door for her.
Mr McDonnell said: “I don’t think he’s bothered about hitting the targets he set anymore.
“He just wants to get to the leadership election and get that out of the way.
“You can see what he’s up to by the rows he’s picked in Cabinet. One of those was Theresa May, his main challenger over the police cuts.
“He’s put his ambition in front of the basic needs of the country
“But I think he’s got real problems now.
“Everyone built him up as this Machiavellian mastermind but actually I think his judgement is really poor.
“I get the feeling he’s a bit disconnected from the real world.
“I think as Tory MPs come back from their constituencies they are saying to each other, hang on a minute none of this is working.
“I have a sneaking suspicion there might be another runner.
“If Osborne does blow it I don’t think they’ll risk Boris.
“So I think it might be someone surprising. I would have a look at Justine Greening.”
Virgin trains will continue to run on the West Coat Main Line until the government sorts out the £40 million mess it has made of the franchise bidding process.
This morning we heard that the controversial decision to award the contract to run the West Coast Main Line to FirstGroup has gone south – by which I mean the franchise award was scrapped by the government after it found “significant technical flaws”.
Three civil servants have been suspended – typical of David Cameron’s government to sack the help.
Bids were made by four companies – Virgin, FirstGroup, Dutch train operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen, and a joint bid from French companies Keolis and SNCF. The flaws were found in the way the level of risk in the bids was evaluated.
This appears to be a problem across the Coalition government’s departments. Does anyone remember Andrew Lansley’s refusal to release to risk assessment on his changes to the NHS, which predicted severe problems with the delivery of healthcare?
The August announcement that FirstGroup would take over services on the West Coast Main Line, starting in December, sparked a legal challenge from current operator Virgin, which has run the franchise since 1997. The Department of Transport said it will no longer be contesting the judicial review launched by Virgin in the High Court, and Virgin will continue to operate the line while the issue is resolved.
I’m not fantastically enthusiastic about this because it seems like a squabble between rich boys over their toys. Let’s bear in mind that Virgin is having great fun peeling bloody strips from England’s NHS and claiming them for itself.
Most damning of all is the fact that the four companies must be reimbursed for the cost of their bids, taking £40 million from the public purse at a time of fiscal austerity. The government has wasted our money. Will the welfare budget take yet another hit to help George Osborne balance the books?
There is a bright side. The flawed franchise was awarded when Justine Greening was Transport Secretary. She was replaced last month by Patrick McLaughlin. I made fun of him at the time because he has a fear of flying, but at least he has the decency to admit when a mistake has been made.
What a shame his leaders can’t admit the same about their entire administration.
There’s trouble at the top of both the UK’s main political parties, according to the latest Guardian/ICM poll.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has become slightly more popular than the Labour leader Ed Miliband, allowing the newspaper to stoke fears of a new power battle at the top, mirroring the problems of the Blair/Brown rivalry.
But the Conservatives are no better off, after George Osborne was singled out as the weakest member of the Coalition cabinet and the one most people wanted moved in the much-anticipated autumn reshuffle.
The Guardian article asks you to believe that Balls and his shadow treasury team have become hard work, demanding that no commitments can be made on anything that has spending implications without clearing it with them first. He is said to be demanding that shadow ministers should just keep repeating his five pledges for growth.
I think this is media-manufactured mischief.
My instinct tells me it is an attempt to continue a narrative that has been created around Ed Balls, that he was a key supporter of Gordon Brown against Tony Blair, while Brown was preparing to take over as Labour leader and Prime Minister, a few years ago – by suggesting that he remains a disruptive influence today.
This would be invaluable to supporters of the Conservative Party, which is losing support rapidly for reasons I will tackle shortly.
But I think it is a false assumption. We’ve all moved on a long way from the time when Mr Miliband parroted the same answer, no less than six times, to a series of questions from a television interviewer. That made him – and Labour – look silly and Mr Balls would be a fool to encourage any repeat of that situation now. And he’s nobody’s fool.
The Blair/Brown rivalry was played out while Labour was in power; today that party is in opposition and the greater priority by far must be the removal of the Conservatives from government. All other considerations should be secondary to the people at the top of the party. If Ed Balls is guilty of the kind of posturing suggested by the newspaper, he needs to suck it in, get behind his leader, and show – by example – that Labour is united.
The problems within the Conservative leadership are far more serious.
I think, as a nation, we are more or less agreed that George Osborne’s tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer has been a disaster.
His spending review in late 2010 stalled the economy. Growth flatlined for a period, then the UK fell into double-dip recession, with GDP now less than it was when Labour left office.
His budget in March this year is now generally considered the most ridiculous travesty in living memory, featuring plans to give a tax break to the richest in society – the now infamous cut in the top rate of tax from 50 per cent to 45 per cent – which would be supported by a range of hare-brained schemes including taxing static caravans and heated pasties.
And it is now accepted that the Coalition is unlikely to reach its two main economic goals – the reason the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came together to form a government in the first place – before the next election in 2015, according to the Tories’ own Centre for Policy Studies thinktank. This is due to the failure of Mr Osborne’s fiscal policy.
The coalition had already given up hope of getting rid of the structural deficit by 2015 and the chance of ensuring that public-sector debt is falling by the time of the next election is now slim, the organisation has stated.
The Guardian/ICM poll says 39 per cent of those who voted Conservative in 2010 want Osborne moved to a different cabinet role, if not sacked outright. Asked if Osborne is doing a bad job, agreement goes up to 44 per cent.
But it seems Mr Cameron might keep Osborne, firstly because the chancellor is his closest cabinet ally – his own position is stronger if Osborne remains in place; and secondly, because he believes changing chancellor midway through a Parliament indicates weakness to the country – and, in particular, the markets.
Mr Osborne might be the most prominent problem for the Tories, but he isn’t the only one. There have been calls for the sacking of Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary who brought privatisation into the NHS despite Mr Cameron’s claim – on Tory election posters – that he would not harm the health service. Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt are also in the firing line.
Transport secretary Justine Greening has threatened to resign over plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport, and internecine squabbles have broken out, with Nadine Dorries attacking fellow Conservative Louise Mensch, who is quitting as an MP, for being “void of principle”.
So which party is in the most disarray?
Call me a loony leftie Labourite if you want, but on the evidence above, I don’t think there can be any doubt. Despite attempts to manufacture disunity in Her Majesty’s Opposition, it is the Conservative Party – and therefore the government – that is falling apart.
I’ve got to share with you some words by Justine Greening,the Transport Secretary. She said them on the BBC’s Question Time, broadcast July 28, 2012: “The first thing to do is bring in a welfare cap, so we put an upper limit on how much people can get in welfare in the first place, that is fair. Let’s make sure we reform it in terms of Universal Credit, so that work does always pay.”
How does capping benefit ensure that being in work will always pay?
Whether in work or not, people are finding it hard to make ends meet because housing costs – either rented or mortgaged – are very high and nothing is being done (for example) to cap the amount of rent being charged by private landlords; utility bills are high and nothing is being done to encourage the gas, water and electricity companies to pass on any savings that come their way; and the price of groceries is outstripping people’s ability to pay for them – inflation has dropped but remains above the percentage rate of annual wage rises (unless you are a fat-cat company boss and have awarded yourself a huge salary increase).
Capping the amount available to honest people on benefits will not be fair on them, as they will have even less to live on than at the moment!
Worse still, it won’t help people who are in work! It’s ridiculous for the Transport Secretary – who previously worked in the Treasury, so she should know what she’s talking about – to suggest this. Benefit payments and wages are completely separate from each other.
In fact, while the British people continue to subsist in a low-wage economy, the government is in danger of repeating the debt crisis that created the huge deficit it is supposedly trying to pay off at the moment – the one for which it continually and inaccurately blames the previous Labour government.
It was imprudent bank lending that created the deficit. The government had to step in to save the banks, after they got into so much debt the entire western financial system was put in danger of collapse. The money to do this had to come from somewhere, and that is why it has to be paid back.
But what happens when a poor working person cannot make ends meet, because their job doesn’t pay enough? They borrow money to make up the difference – even if they know they can’t pay the money back!
What happens when too many people borrow money they can’t pay back? The banking system overbalances and we get a debt crisis. That’s where the Coalition is taking working Britain.
The only action the government can take to make work pay would be to reach not only adequate, but exemplary pay deals with public sector workers, and then take action to compel private companies to reach similar deals.
A living wage for hard-working employees – that’s what’s needed.
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