The five things you need to know on Monday July 4, 2016…
1) ONE MORE FOR THE KIPPER
Nigel Farage has a speech at 10am on the future of UKIP (yes, it's Independence Day). But one big question will be whether he gives any nod or wink that he is backing Andrea Leadsom. Arron Banks, Farage’s millionaire backer, certainly has thrown the full weight of his leave.eu campaign behind the energy minister.
And lots of Kippers like Leadsom for her ‘get on with it’ approach, particularly her pledge on Marr yesterday to trigger Article 50 as soon as she becomes PM i.e. September. Gove’s timetable on Friday was merely ‘no later than the end of the calendar year’, but May says 2017 at the earliest.
Plenty of Tories also like Banks’ frank admission that Leadsom would be bad news for UKIP’s own interests, as she could effectively remove any reason for UKIP to exist. In fact, UKIP will continue to act as more of a threat in Labour areas, where there is a demand for concrete action on migrants who undercut wages and take jobs. Still, the Govers - and Maybelievers - are pointing to Leadsom saying as recently as 2013 that Brexit would be a ‘disaster’ for the economy.
Leadsom came across well on Marr yesterday, refreshingly honest and normal when asked questions. “She sounded like what she is, a grown up,” one Tory MP told me. When asked by Marr if she’d consider Farage as a part of her negotiating team for Brexit, she didn’t do what most politicians would have done and ruled it out straight away, on the grounds that Farage is not an MP never mind a member of the Government. Instead she said: “I don’t want to get into who would do what”.
The Tory-Kipper alliance that grew on the ground (Vote Leave staffers were 60-40 Con-UKIP) is still strong and maybe she wants to keep it going. Asked if UKIP and the Tories were now touching fingers, Leadsom said she was “delighted by the wide range of support”. The Times has a corking quote from David Jones, a May backer: “There is no doubt that elements of Ukip are intending to try to steal a Conservative leadership election”.
What won’t help May among the Eurosceps is the suggestion from backer Philip Hammond that there has to be some sort of ‘trade off’ between freedom of movement and single market access.
2) TAKING THE MICHAEL
Both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove seem to be destined for ridicule, despite the latter’s hopes that he can build enough numbers when the Tory leadership race is whittled down from five to two candidates tomorrow.
Boris’s Telegraph article laments the lack of a “clear statement” of “basic truths” and a plan for Brexit. He has a five-point plan. All of which seems a week too late, given Gove dumped him so unceremoniously last week in part for the confusion over what a Boris premiership would look like.
The bad blood about Gove’s betrayal is still flowing out of the slashed veins of the body politic. Boris’s close ally Ben Wallace writes in the Telegraph that Gove cannot be trusted to be prime minister because he has “an emotional need to gossip, particularly when drink is taken, as it all too often seemed to be”. He has a pop at Gove’s wife Sarah Vine and his closeness to newspapers (with a hint about the Queen’s conversations on the EU). “UK citizens deserve to know that when they go to sleep at night their secrets and their nation's secrets aren't shared in the newspaper column of the prime minister's wife the next day, or traded away with newspaper proprietors over fine wine”. Blimey.
Gove certainly got a proper going over on Marr, where he was accused of being a political ‘serial killer’, and Rachel Johnson’s MoS piece was scathing about the “political psychopath” and “Westminster suicide bomber” for “the most egregious reverse ferret and act of treachery in modern political history.”
Boris meanwhile attacks the “hysteria” of the Remainers, “a contagious mourning of the kind that I remember in 1997 after the death of the Princess of Wales”. Which is a curious line given that one of his best friends is Diana’s brother.
Today, the real game in town is whether Gove or Leadsom can come out with some public names to show momentum for their campaigns to face off against May. What a strange old world it would be if after the Boris-Gove alpha-beta male show, it was the two women - neither of whom has spent much time drinking or plotting with fellow MPs - who ended up in the ballot of members.
3) CUTTING OUT THE CORBS
The Icelanders are out of the Euros, but the longest running saga in Westminster seems to be the plot against Jeremy Corbyn. Allies of the leader deride the latest hesitation by Angela Eagle as proof that the plotters are mired in confusion.
There’s more talk of a ‘negotiated settlement’ between Corbyn and his MPs, and the Guardian picks up the talk among leftwing members of the Shadow Cabinet who think there may be a deal that sees Corbyn take a ‘chairman’ role in return for guarantees his anti-austerity platform is secured. Still, none of the options seem to involve Corbyn quitting as leader, one ally told me.
But it’s the brokered settlement between Owen Smith and Angela Eagle that is perhaps more pressing. And we may see some action today, at least of a preliminary form. I’m told that Smith now has over 70 names, more than Eagle some say, and that a ‘significant number’ have switched from the Shadow Business Secretary to the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. With Chilcot looming, Smith not having voted for the Iraq war is seen as a strong card for him.
I’m told there could be a move by both to go to Shadow Chief Whip Rosie Winterton with their respective lists as early as today. The one with the higher number could get the other’s approval to go forward as the unity ‘anti-Corbyn’ candidate. There was talk of a hustings between the pair of them but that was quickly ruled out.
John McDonnell toured the breakfast sofas this morning. He told GMB: “I don't think there is going to be a party split. The most important thing is for us to have a conversation.” The Shadow Chancellor blogs for HuffPost today on something that’s getting missed amid the Tory leadership fireworks: Osborne has abandoned his deficit timetable. In the FT, Osborne calls for a cut in corporation tax, though it’s unclear how a cash-strapped nation would afford it (unless he’s suggesting it would be self-financing, like the 45p tax cut?).
Corbyn will appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee today to answer questions on alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour party. One critic told me last night it would be awful viewing.
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR…
Watch this husband surprise his wife at her last chemo session, with 500 roses..
4) DEPORTATION ORDER
As I wrote last week, David Cameron’s strong words condemning the spike in racist violence post-Brexit would have more force if he actually made clear that no EU citizen can be ‘sent back’ to their home country - and Brexit only applies to new incomers. It was the PM who said on the steps of No10 that there would be “no immediate changes” to the status of those already living here.
This was a point made in a joint letter to the Sunday Tel yesterday, with leading Leavers such as Dan Hannan, Douglas Carswell (Vote Leave made a commitment that changes would only affect new migrants, not existing ones) joining Yvette Cooper and Frances O’Grady and others to demand those already settled in the UK should be made welcome.
Theresa May stuck by the Cameron line on Peston yesterday, saying there is “no change to their position currently”, with currently being the operative word. “As part of the negotiations we will need to look at this question of people who are here in the UK from the EU”. She added: “nobody necessarily stays anywhere forever.” And Philip Hammond, a backer of May, this morning said it would be “absurd" to guarantee EU migrants right to remain in UK ahead of negotiations.
But Stephen Crabb has spotted an opening here for his compassionate Conservatism. He tweeted “I would allow EU citizens already in UK to continue their lives here, and expect same for Brits in EU. People are not bargaining chips”.
Labour’s Angela Rayner has blogged for us on the need for a strong cross-party message on post-Brexit racist attacks.
5) INDEFINITE ARTICLE
Remainers are so desperate these days that they will cling onto any glimmer of hope that Brexit can be overturned, or at least delayed until the cavalry arrives in the shape of a new Government. All the Tory leadership contenders have ruled out a snap general election (though if Corbyn remains, I’m told we shouldn’t rule out the Tories going for it next May to kill Labour in northern seats).
So what’s left seems to be The Law. And with the law around Article 50 of the European Treaty untested, there’s a legal challenge in the offing. In a nutshell, it’s claimed that no Prime Minister can trigger the formal process for Brexit without first getting a new Act of Parliament passed in the Commons and Lords.
Mishcon de Reya’s press notice yesterday certainly caused a stir. The unnamed businesses - and academics - behind the legal challenge may well be named soon (not least as Government lawyers know who they are). Various Brexit lawyers say the legal challenge is groundless.
But note that Eurosceps like Lord Lawson actually want an Act of Parliament before Christmas to ensure no backsliding. Leadsom is also winning the arms race on Article 50, winning over MPs with her September trigger date, as opposed to Gove’s ‘end of the calendar year’ and May’s ‘not this year’ pledges.
Oh, and Nick Clegg has called for a general election before Article 50 is triggered.
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