It’s the start to the last full working week before Christmas and the New Year – my, hasn’t time flown! Now that the GE is over, the MSM are scrabbling around to keep their faux outrage going. It is of course not about the EU’s demands, about Brexit – it’s about the BBC and Whitehall, and that ‘new cabinet’.
The nation is clearly on tenterhooks to learn if our beloved MSM have had the correct ‘sources’ delivering them the titbits of information they need. Well, since the new MPs arrive today and since they need to set themselves up, that’s a bit difficult. But the MSM did have a valiant try, with two main areas of concern: the BBC and Mr Dominic Cummings’ plan to reform the Civil Service.
Allegedly, Johnson plans to de-criminalise the non-payment of the BBC Tax, sorry: Licence Fee. That’s a step in the right direction. I’m not sure if the critique by Lord Grade, former chairman of the BBC and Channel 4 (here) will be sufficient to avert this catastrophe.
Then there’s the speculation of who’ll be in the new cabinet. Only those cabinet seats are up for grabs whose incumbents didn’t stand: Nicky Morgan at Culture and Mr Cairns who resigned (Welsh Secretary). There’s also Environment, where sources speculate that Zac Goldsmith, who was defeated, might be sent to the Lords so he can continue in his job promoting green crappery from there. A summary of what might happen comes from the Spectator’s Isabel Hardman in her email to subscribers:
“For Johnson, this week will be about showing that not only is he going to ‘get Brexit done’ but he also plans a dramatic overhaul of domestic policy to match his election pitch of a totally new Conservative party. We won’t see the full extent of these plans until the new year, but Thursday’s Queen’s Speech will set out the programme for the government. […] The government hopes to bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill back on Friday, which would allow it to keep its vow of ‘before Christmas’, but this is down to the Speaker.”
That would indicate that for the time being JRM will remain as Leader of the House. The absence of his name in the current, speculative list of ins-and-outs in the MSM seems to indicate that their ‘guesses’ that he’ll be ‘out’ were baseless. But – we’ll have to wait and see. All will be revealed tomorrow.
Ms Hardman also pointed out that there won’t be PMQs this week which is a bit of a relief as we won’t have to see Mr Corbyn on the opposite benches trying to take on Johnson. How quickly Labour can sort out its ‘Leadership Battle’ is unclear. We may still see him long into next year … You’ll be delighted to hear that he’s called for 100,000 new members to join his party:
“Jeremy Corbyn has called on like-minded followers to join the Labour party in an apparent bid to ensure the election of another hard-left leader. Defiant in the face of the party’s massive defeat, Mr Corbyn said “although his wasn’t our moment, our time will come”. He added: “To those who haven’t yet joined us, join the Labour party today. Be part of the resistance to Boris Johnson and the politics of fear.” (paywalled link)
Take note of the slogan “resistance to Johnson” – this is what his acolytes inside the new HoC and outside will screech. Before I get to the ‘new’ Brexit policies and the EU, a quick look at that proposed reform of Whitehall. “RejoinCentral” – yes, it’s no longer ‘Remain’, it’s now about rejoining the EU – excelled themselves with this headline: “Prime minister’s Cummings plan for civil service” (link, paywalled). How puerile! What does this terrifying reform mean? This, for example:
“Boris Johnson wants an overhaul of Whitehall that would merge departments and make it easier to fire civil servants and bring in experts from outside. However, “revolutionary” plans overseen by Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser, are already being criticised as pointlessly disruptive. Ideas include merging the Department for International Trade with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to focus on global trade deals and revitalising poorer areas.” (link, paywalled)
Earlier reports said that the Brexit department – DexEU – would be scrapped after January 31st and be merged with this new super Trade Department which would negotiate with the EU – without howls of outrage from ‘sources’. It seems that the former Remainers, now Rejoiners, have finally accepted that some sort of Brexit is now going to happen, but outrage there was nevertheless, slapped down by Downing Street:
“Separately, Downing Street dismissed suggestions from Brussels and pro-Remain campaigners that the Prime Minister would angle for a closer trading relationship with the EU, having gained an 80-strong majority that ends his reliance on hardline Brexiteer MPs. Following the Conservative victory, some ministers claimed that Mr Johnson would seek to align Britain’s rules on the manufacturing of goods much closer to those of the EU in order to secure a favourable trade deal. But a senior Downing Street source said: “We are not going to soften Brexit or negotiate some high alignment model.” (paywalled link)
This looks to be the official Johnson EU Policy. The Times reported in the same vein:
“The prime minister will reject calls from EU leaders for Britain to accept a “level playing field” on regulations, which would mean the UK adopting many of the same rules as the rest of the bloc even after Brexit. A senior figure in government dismissed claims that Johnson would use his new majority to abandon Brexiteers in the European Research Group (ERG) and pursue a softer Brexit. The source said it was “crazy” for people to say Johnson would allow an extension to the transition period, which is due to expire at the end of 2020. “He’s not going to ask for an extension,” the aide said. “There isn’t going to be a level playing field. We are going to be out this year, no ifs or buts.” (link, paywalled)
These are reactions on a lovely EU shopping list published Saturday evening in the DT under the title “EU dangles hope of broad trade deal in exchange for softer Brexit” (paywalled link). That article is going to receive our ‘From Behind the Paywall’ treatment later this morning (see here). It’s needful because otherwise the plaintive cry from Brussels, reported this morning under “You can’t push us into agreeing your terms, EU insists” (link, paywalled), dangles in the air:
“The European Union will not “cut its own throat” with a post-Brexit trade deal next year if Boris Johnson refuses to align Britain’s economy to single market rules, senior Brussels sources said yesterday. […] A senior government figure told The Sunday Times that the prime minister would reject Brussels’ demands that Britain align itself with European rules on competition, the environment and workplace rights in return for tariff-free access to the single market as the price of a trade deal. “If Johnson will not move on alignment then there will not be a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal and certainly no chance of one being agreed in double quick time,” a senior EU diplomatic source said. “We are not going to open up our single market to a big competitor who undercuts European economies on regulations. In the age of Donald Trump and the rise of China it would mean cutting our own throat.” (link, paywalled)
You’ll have noticed that we’re back to ‘sources’, diplomatic sources even, while here in Blighty ‘senior government figures’ are back in business, talking to the MSM. As for the EU being frit of having to cut their own throats: my compassion is severely limited! Go ahead and do it, please, the sooner the better! It’s probably too much to hope that the Remainers, erm: ‘Rejoiners’ will join you.
Meanwhile we have to wait for Johnson’s programme in the Queen’s Speech later this week. Here’s what ‘sources’ had to say:
“The government’s plan is for Britain to leave the EU 47 days from today after the Commons and European parliament ratify the withdrawal agreement in the coming weeks. A reshuffled cabinet will then agree a British negotiating mandate in February with the aim of immediately beginning talks with the EU, whose team will again be led by Michel Barnier, the French former European commissioner.” (link, paywalled)
As mentioned above, DexEU will apparently be scrapped, subsumed into a most powerful Trade Department which, it is rumoured, will see Michael Gove at the helm who thus will negotiate with M Barnier. That is something I’d pay to watch …!
It’s back to EU and Brexit ‘business as usual’, with sources and experts again littering the MSM with their howls or their proposals. So we’ll keep watching, we won’t go away and we’ll