Frightful four: (Left to right) Iain Duncan Smith, John Redwood, Owen Paterson and Nigel Lawson [Composite: PA/Rex/Getty Images/Martin Argles].
The four right-wing extremists pictured above want to ensure that Brexit will only benefit the very rich and privileged.
For them, of course, that was the entire point of Brexit – taking democracy further away from the people and putting power firmly in the hands of the elite – their hands, in fact.
People who supported Leave have been instrumental in helping them manage this outcome.
Further developments are (currently) out of the hands of the public – it’s a debate among right-wing and hard right-wing politicians. We’ll have to put up with whatever scraps they decide to throw us after they’ve sorted out what they’re keeping for themselves.
So, Leave supporters – are you happy now?
Senior Conservative Brexiters have set new red lines for Theresa May in negotiations with the EU, significantly reducing her chances of getting a deal acceptable to the whole of her party.
The former cabinet ministers Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson, Nigel Lawson and John Redwood have said it would be unacceptable for the European court of justice to have any jurisdiction over the UK during the planned two-year transition after Brexit.
Duncan Smith set out his objections in an article in the Sunday Telegraph in which he also said he particularly opposed a plan for the ECJ to have an ongoing role, beyond the transition, adjudicating on the rights of EU nationals in the UK.
Paterson, Lawson and Redwood, along with more than 30 other Brexiters, have signed a letter coordinated by the group Leave Means Leave listing seven conditions they say should apply before the UK makes any divorce payment to the EU.
David Don’t cry about it, David! Cameron whinges after being outflanked by the SNP.
The Conservative Government has responded to the Scottish National Party’s announcement that it will oppose changes to the Hunting Act – by postponing tomorrow’s (Wednesday) ‘free vote’ on the matter.
It seems if MPs are likely to freely vote against David Cameron’s wishes, he’d rather they didn’t vote at all. Someone should tell him, that defeats the point, really!
His tactic – shelving the vote until such time as he believes he has the advantage – copies that of European Parliament President Martin Schulz over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Faced with strong opposition for the part of the proposed TTIP deal that would allow corporations to take legal action against countries if national legislation was likely to affect profits (ISDS – it stands for Investor-State Dispute Settlement) – no matter whether it was in the best interests of the population or not – Schulz shelved a vote that had been scheduled for earlier this year.
The TTIP vote eventually took place last week, overshadowed by the Greek referendum and clouded by political sleight-of-hand that meant important amendments to the agreement like the cancellation of ISDS were not considered – replaced by watered-down options that left the underlying principle of corporate power over nation states intact.
In line with the European Parliament model, you can expect the hunting vote to return to Parliament in a different form, once Cameron and his cronies have worked out another dirty trick to slip it through unopposed.
This week’s vote had been intended to neutralise opposition from the SNP with a claim that it would bring England and Wales in line with the situation in Scotland – but the Scottish Nationalists said they were reviewing the ban north of the border and it would not be right to allow the law in England and Wales to change while that was going on.
The Prime Minister has not taken this with good grace.
Fellow Tory hunt supporter Owen Paterson chimed in to say the SNP had shown “extraordinary hypocrisy” in voting on a matter that affects England but not Scotland, and claimed they were “playing games in order to antagonise the English.”
And SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had already explained her party’s decision to take part in the hunting vote, saying there had been “overwhelming demand” from people in England.
The English, like the Welsh and the Scots, support the continuation of the hunting ban.
What a shame David Cameron cannot live with that.
Looking forward, we should probably expect fox hunting to return at a point after Cameron manages to force through another controversial plan – English Votes for English Laws (EVEL). He had to shelve that one last week.
Perhaps Ms Sturgeon is right, and he really is “not master of all he surveys in the House of Commons”.
These party games will test David Cameron’s stamina.
Today’s jape involves 50 of his own MPs who reckon he is rigging the rules of the European Union referendum and want to force through their own changes.
The sad fact is that the rebels’ amendments seem more likely to create bias than anything Cameron wants to do. Moves to prevent the referendum taking place on the same day as other elections may be reasonable, but trying to ensure that the Government cannot publish pro-EU reports “on the eve” of the vote seem intended to promote anti-EU sentiment when a level playing field is required.
But Cameron’s response, it seems, is not to reassure them of his good intentions at all – they’re Tory MPs; he might be able to fool the public that way but he won’t fool them. Instead he is resorting to bribery.
According to the Torygraph, he’s hoping rebels including former Cabinet ministers Liam Fox and Owen Paterson can be “bought off” with “credible assurances” ahead of a vote on backbench amendments to the EU referendum bill tomorrow (Tuesday, June 16).
A rebellion by 50 Tory MPs, if supported by Labour and the SNP, will overturn the Conservative Party’s tiny majority in the House of Commons and make it impossible for Cameron to have his way.
If it succeeds in changing his mind, you can rest assured it will be the first of many more such party games.
Cameron is a lame duck who has already been shot. Before you know it, he’ll be plucked and roasted.
Vox Political supports kindness to animals
… but we need YOUR help.
This independent blog’s only funding comes from readers’ contributions. Without YOUR help, we cannot keep going. You can make a one-off donation here:
Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book, Strong Words and Hard Times in either print or eBook format here:
Photo opportunity: David Cameron and his posh new Wellies, talking a good fight but putting up less funds than he previously took away.
The storm of recriminations over the floods that battered the UK during the last few months appears to have been entirely disproportionate to their effect, if Vox Political‘s moles in the Environment Agency are to be believed.
Consider this: In 2007, the UK was hit by unprecedented flooding that damaged around 55,000 properties. Between December 2013 and February this year, the country was again hit by floods. Total number of properties flooded: around 5,000.
So we’ve had one-eleventh of the damage to homes, and (it seems) 11 times the fuss!
The media frenzy has given us photographs of David Cameron visiting flood-hit areas in his posh new Wellington boots, Ed Miliband being unjustifiably upbraided by a posh-voiced villager in his new Wellington boots, Eric Pickles blaming Owen Paterson, Owen Paterson blaming anyone he can, and everybody blaming the Environment Agency.
This is why Vox Political‘s EA moles are feeling ill-served; they say they have been doing the best they can under extremely difficult conditions – starved of funds, working 60-hour weeks including weekends with no extra pay (of course).
The extra cash provided by Mr “Money Is No Object” Cameron did not even equal the amount he had previously cut from the Environment Agency’s budget, meaning that the organisation was still unable to provide the service it had managed before the Conservative Party took the reigns of government in 2010.
Although funding cuts have been put on hold – for now, the Agency has no reason to believe its budget will not be hit again, as soon as the politicians find it expedient. If that is the case, what do you think will happen when the next flood hits?
This was a disaster that could have been avoided, with better planning and funding. But it wasn’t, and the government publicity machine went into overdrive while it was going on.
So our moles have been left with two questions:
Was this disaster manufactured?
If so, what was the government really doing while everyone was distracted by the constant media coverage of the storms?
The Conservative response: David Cameron swans around the Somerset Levels in his wellies while local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger (second from left) tries to get a word in edgeways.
It seems that David ‘Money Is No Object’ Cameron is unnecessarily forcing British taxpayers to fork out for flood relief while European officials scratch their heads and wonder why he isn’t taking advantage of a huge EU fund that is available to us.
We should all know why the comedy Prime Minister is avoiding Europe – he doesn’t want to lose face.
Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party across the UK criticise our membership because we pay so much in and take so little out (in their perception); this argument would be defeated if Cameron actually used the fund in the manner for which it was created and he would then lose support from members of his Parliamentary party.
Also, at a time when the UK’s future in Europe is being questioned, it would be “politically sensitive” (as Reuters describes it) for Cameron to go there and ask for a handout.
But governments are judged on the way they deal with crises (as the Political Rant blog put it) – and this one has put Cameron, figuratively as well as literally, between the rock and the river.
According to Reuters: “Asked whether Britain would ask for EU money, Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters on Wednesday the government was looking at every source of possible funding, playing down the idea that there was anything political behind it.
“Under EU rules, a country has 10 weeks from the first damage caused by a natural disaster to request aid.
“A person close to Cameron said there were technical grounds to do with spending thresholds that determined when to apply for a grant. Britain had no desire to get into a war of words with Brussels on the matter, he said.”
The news agency added that the government had deployed the armed forces to evacuate residents and shore up river defences, while under fire from critics for what ministers have acknowledged was a slow initial response.
Political Rant is less diplomatic (as you might expect): “Ken Clarke said it was just a normal winter and people complaining about flood defences were just a ‘lynch mob’. Eric Pickles criticised the Environment Agency while the Environment Agency criticised government cuts and Owen Paterson criticised Eric Pickles.
“David Cameron has undertaken several jaunts in his nice clean wellies, first to Kent just after Christmas where he was harangued by people left waist-deep in water without power for a week, then Somerset which he only visited after Prince Charles had been the day before, making it look rather silly the Prime Minister hadn’t bothered, and … to Cornwall where, a friend tells me, Railtrack diverted engineers who were supposed to be fixing the washed-out rail line at Dawlish to shake hands with the PM at a rail depot.
“The same PM has talked sadly about how a power cut interrupted his viewing of The Sound of Music on New Year’s Day while staying silent about two SSE engineers who said they were diverted from reinstating the power for 11,000 people to locate his trip switch.
“When the floods recede, we are more than likely to find a few people who died.”
Yes, and they’ll be in rural areas because the increased funds Cameron has announced amount only to a slightly smaller cut than he had originally intended, and the funding formula for flood defences demands £8 of economic benefit for every £1 spent – meaning a concentration on densely-populated urban areas.
Add to that the fact that Cameron only bothered to act when Conservative-voting areas were affected – the Somerset Levels, Windsor, Reading, Oxdfordshire, Surrey, Kent – and couldn’t care less when the waters were hitting places like Scunthorpe (as revealed on the BBC’s Question Time yesterday) and Cameron has put himself in a serious political mire.
He has made it clear that his is a government that only looks after its own supporters.
Hero of the week: Peter Hain put the record straight about the cause of the UK’s current economic woes (bankers) and the Conservatives’ attitude to bank regulation (they wanted less of it before the crash). At long last, the facts came out on a national media outlet!
There are a lot of potential topics for discussion but yr obdt srvt (that’s me) is very short of time on this sunny Sunday, so today’s article is going to have to be a quick run through of Things You Need to Know.
Nice one. Shame it won’t scratch the surface of the £2 billion that has been spent by UK councils on temp accommodation since 2009 – that’s an average of £500 million per year; 250 times the puny amount Mr Prisk is offering, to alleviate problems his government has created with (for example) the Bedroom Tax.
The BBC and many others have reported that Tim Yeo has joined the growing ranks of Tory MPs involved in ‘lobbying’ scandals, alongside Patrick Mercer from last week. Unlike Mercer, the allegation does not involve taking money to raise an issue (paid advocacy) – instead it is alleged that he coached an organisation, telling representatives what to say to the Commons’ Energy and Climate Change committee. It’s still corruption, and it’s staggering that these people are being allowed to continue as MPs while investigations go on, and possibly even afterwards, if they are found guilty. Should we really have people who have been proven to be dishonest, helping to make decisions on the future of our country?
It’s just a shame that funding for the CAB (much of it from the government or statutory authorities) is declining, isn’t it? It’s almost as if somebody planned it that way, to make it even harder for poor people to get any justice. (I write as the vice-chair of a Welsh CAB so, believe me, I know my facts).
On the subject of justice, did anyone hear John Finnemore on The Now Show, laying into inJustice Secretary Chris Grayling’s ‘reform’ (there’s that word again) of the Legal Aid system that will make it impossible for anyone in that system to get justice, unless – you guessed it – they’re rich.
“Legal Aid will have a financial eligibility threshold. To be fair, this doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world,” he said. “And I can be confident about that, because right there next to it – as if deliberately placed there for purposes of comparison – are two of the worst ideas in the world.
“One – defendants will no longer have the right to choose their own lawyer; two – legal aid contracts will be awarded on the basis of price-competitive tender, i.e. who’s cheapest, to private companies – like Tesco and Eddie Stobart. You know, the lorry guy.
“You might almost wonder whether this might affect the quality of the representation in some way but Chris Grayling, Minister of Justice and dispenser of none, assures us it will not… Even though everywhere else, the government is obsessed with getting us to choose… when it comes to poor people who’ve been arrested, suddenly Daddy knows best.
“The bargain-basement Eddie Stobart Legal Aid lawyers will be paid a flat fee, regardless of results and, best of all, regardless of whether the client pleads guilty – which is quick and cheap – or not guilty, which is not. Yes, Chris Grayling has actually created a system where privately-run Legal Aid firms have a direct financial incentive to persuade their clients to plead guilty, while simultaneously being under enormous pressure to slash costs to the bone in order to put in a tender low enough to keep the contract.
“Meanwhile, the career crims… tend to trust their regular solicitor and take their advice if they suggest they’d be better-off pleading guilty, but they’re certainly not going to take that advice from Eddie McTesco in his ‘My First Lawyer’ costume. So they’re going to start pleading not guilty to everything.
“Well done, Mr Grayling, you’ve pulled off the double – innocent people encouraged to plead guilty; guilty people to plead not guilty. What a merry, madcap world of misrule you have created, Mr Grayling, you absolute tit!”
Finally, still on the radio, did everyone hear Peter Hain on Any Questions, putting the record straight on the reasons for the economic crisis and the facts about bank regulation – two subjects about which the Conservatives have been hugely vocal in their lies for many years.
He was talking about the announcements last week by Labour’s leaders, on their future plans for welfare. He’s critical (which is a relief), but he said it would not be right to make promises about things that Labour can’t deliver.
“We can’t deliver because this economic policy of the Tory-Lib Dem government is failing on a spectacular scale,” he said. “They’re doing all these things, all these cuts, in order to bring borrowing down, the deficit down, debt down.
“What’s happening? Borrowing is £245 billion higher than they said it would be in 2010 when they began this cuts programme. The national debt is £309 billion higher – and the deficit is £78 billion higher.
“It’s because cutting and cutting and cutting is a way to putting people out of work, destroying businesses, they don’t pay taxes, you don’t get government revenues and everybody goes on benefit – that’s why this is a spectacular catastrophe and we’re going to have to rescue the country from that, and we’ve got to do it responsibly and honestly.”
Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, went on the attack with the usual rubbish about Labour overspending but didn’t get very far before Hain put him straight: “It was the banks that destroyed the economy, not the Labour government – it was the international banking system!”
Uproarious applause from the studio audience in Machynlleth (just up the road from me) where the broadcast was taking place. They – like most of the British population – had clearly been waiting years for someone to come out with that simple fact on a national media outlet: The banks caused the current economic situation, not Labour.
Let’s just repeat it: The banks caused the current economic situation, not Labour.
Anyone suggesting otherwise is just plain wrong.
Paterson riposted weakly, “Because Gordon Brown didn’t regulate them”. But Hain had his answer for that ready, as well.
“You wanted lighter regulation. Come on, remember – you wanted lighter regulation!”
And that was also true.
Paterson went further into idiocy by prattling about breaking the national credit card – the kind of stuff that we all now know is nonsense and that has been disproved irrefutably on this blog and in many other places – and about the private sector creating 1.25 million new jobs, which we know it hasn’t done, for example, because 200,000 were education jobs that the government redefined from public to private, probably in order to create another made-up statistic.
In other words, the Conservatives have no arguments for what they’re doing. No arguments about the economy. No arguments about the cuts they have been making.
I’ve met Peter Hain a couple of times, and I’ve had a few differences of opinion with him – but in this instance he was right on the button and far more effective in putting forward an argument for supporting Labour than anything Ed Miliband said in his “we’re supporting Tory policies because we think pretending to be Tories will win us votes” speech last week.
It was one of the worst speeches a Labour leader could have made, but if it prompts more Labour representatives, like Peter Hain, to stand up for the party and present a proper case for opposition to this hateful, incompetent, evil shower – the Coalition – then it might do some good in spite of itself.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.