Tag Archives: shelve

The Tories have (again) dropped their plans for a new ‘royal yacht’

Expensive vanity project: this artist’s impression of the Tories much-desired Royal Yacht project was released when it was announced last year.

What a circus.

A little more than a year after launching a competition to build a new ‘royal yacht’ to replace the long-since-mothballed Britannia, the Tory government has withdrawn the project.

The ship was commissioned by Boris Johnson in June 2021, to host trade fairs and diplomatic events – and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced that the £250 million plan to build it had been terminated today (November 7, 2022).

The announcement came as part of the government’s search for spending cuts, and 10 Downing Street said it was right to “prioritise” spending “at a time when difficult spending decisions need to be made”.

The plan had been criticised as Boris Johnson’s “vanity project” – not least by This Writer – but in fact it has long been a Tory dream to have a new state-of-the-art maritime toy on which to gad about the world pretending to be players.

I wrote about it when the project was announced last year:

Tories have been trying to build themselves a new luxury yacht – at our expense – since at least 2012, when Michael Gove suggested spending £60 million on it to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee:

“This boat would cost £60 million, apparently – a million for every year she’s been on the throne. It would be a pointless present because, at Her Majesty’s age, she’s hardly going to be able to steer it.”

By 2016, the projected cost had nearly doubled:

“Now we learn that Conservative MPs want to give the Queen another yacht – at a cost of £100 million that could be better-used elsewhere, perhaps on benefit payments for a further £16,666 sick people for a year.

“When [Gove] suggested it, back in January 2012, the cost was said to be £60 million. Why has it nearly doubled in the years since?

“At least we have an answer to my question of the time – whether Tories try to spend our money on such unnecessary lavishments habitually.

“Yes. Yes they do.”

Amazingly, that price had remained static when the possibility was floated yet again in 2020:

“The twist this time is a proposal to split funding three ways between businesses, the public and the National Lottery (so the public pays twice).”

The idea of boosting trade has been there since Gove, and I addressed it last year:

“The point about trade deals is interesting at a time when the Tory government is desperately trying to re-establish the UK as a trading nation after severing ties with the European Union.

“But who benefits from such deals?

“Rich businesspeople, perhaps – but would they pay their taxes or send the cash to tax havens?

“If the latter, then why should the public pay for something that will not help us in the slightest?”

Exactly. Thankfully, the public will be saved from having to pay for this monumental White Elephant – this time.

How long until the idea is resurrected yet again?

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Withdrawal Agreement Bill shelved as May desperately tries to postpone her own exit

Theresa May: She looks like a zombie and politically, she is the Walking Dead.

Yet again, Theresa May’s “strong and stable” government has wobbled. She has withdrawn her Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) until the first week of June.

The first anybody knew about it was when government whip Mark Spencer, announcing business for the House of Commons to carry out on Friday (May 24), failed to mention the WAB.

Of course it may never be published at all. Consider this:

It seems I may be right. Mrs May is under huge pressure to abandon the Bill, due to its unpopularity with ministers and backbenchers alike. But then she would have no reason to put off her long-overdue and expected resignation any longer – and as you know, I don’t believe there’s any way of removing her from 10 Downing Street other than violence.

The Guardian is reporting that she is having meetings with ministers to discuss re-writing the Bill, in an effort to stave off her ejection from the Tory leadership:

“The prime minister will delay publication of the legislation until the first week of June while she listens to the concerns of the cabinet about it opening the door to a second referendum. There is heavy speculation May will announce a timetable for her departure on Friday.

“Some No 10 insiders privately admit that May’s resignation as Conservative leader on Friday or Monday is a very likely outcome but say the prime minister may not have come to that conclusion yet.”

It is widely believed that Andrea Leadsom quit as Leader of the House of Commons in order to position herself as a leadership candidate, and we can all enjoy the sight of cabinet ministers putting on their best ‘startled gazelle’ looks as they are accosted by reporters. For example – Michael Gove:

And then he dived into his ministerial car, accompanied by a clutch of suitcases and handbags.

Last word for now: Mel Stride has become the new Leader of the House of Commons. Who? Exactly.

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Cameron copies EU president in bid to ‘fix’ the fox hunting vote

Don't cry about it, David! Cameron whinges after being outflanked by the SNP.

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.

“I find their position today entirely opportunistic,” he told a press conference.

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.”

He should have checked his facts.

If he had, he would have seen that a poll for the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show has suggested almost three in four British adults are against making fox hunting legal.

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”.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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