Plotting …. ‘en coulisse’ …
Three more days left of Ms May’s Premiership, and thank God for that. After the latest humiliation of our country – so far, who knows what the next days will bring – it is abundantly clear that she and her cabinet have become totally dysfunctional. Let’s hope that our country can get through the next two-and-a-half days without suffering even more damage.
The official timetable is that tomorrow the Tory Party will announce the winner of the BoJo-Hunt campaign. The winner is generally assumed to be Johnson, the only point of interest being by how many votes. On Wednesday Ms May will perform her last and final PMQ. Phil Hammond is planning to resign officially by 3pm on Wednesday and Johnson is expected to attend The Queen at 4pm as new PM.
These are the bare bones of the political upheaval. Now let’s look at the fine detail. Forgive me if I start with the Iran debacle. It is in the final analysis Brexit-related, not least because two main Johnson opponents cannot escape blame.
“Mr Duncan Smith told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: ‘I think there are genuine questions to be raised right now about the British Government’s behaviour, I say this as a supporter of the Government.They were not taken up at the point and I want to know why, with only one ship as it appears there, and no accelerated attempt at assets. This is a major failure and the Government has to answer that charge very quickly indeed.’” (link)
So would all of us like to know, especially when we read in the weekend editions that:
“Ministers are drawing up plans to target the Iranian regime with sanctions after its forces seized a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf. Jeremy Hunt is expected to use a Commons statement on Monday to announce a package of diplomatic and economic measures, including possible asset freezes, in response to the capture of the Stena Impero. […] The move comes as Theresa May faced heavy criticism from Whitehall officials for failing to agree to an earlier US offer to join a new “coalition of navies”, called Operation Sentinel, designed to coordinate an international effort to monitor and protect ships in the Arabian Gulf region.” (paywalled link)
Jeremy Hunt …. still Foreign Secretary … what was he doing? Many comment posters on various sites have pointed out that Ms May was and is more interested in creating her ‘legacy’ than actually doing her job in the last days of her premiership.
Others have asked why it is that our oh so efficient Mandarins didn’t seem to have a contingency plan targeting Iran, given the attempts of Iran to seize a British tanker these past weeks. Of course, it’s entirely possible that they do have such plan but that Ms May couldn’t be bothered with it while Mr Hunt was campaigning against Johnson. This is what Tobias Ellwood MP had to say:
“The Royal Navy is now too small to fulfil its global role, a defence minister admitted last night as it emerged that Iran had ignored warnings from a British warship against seizing a UK-flagged tanker in the Gulf. […] This was despite the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose, which is patrolling the Gulf to protect shipping, ordering the Iranian authorities to leave the vessel alone.” (link, paywalled)
I’m sure the size of the RN is not a state secret – see Sir John Redwood’s brief Diary entry today. One can ask if nobody in the MoD were aware of this crisis and if they had contingency plans. If not – why not?
On this background, let’s look at whose fingerprints are all over this debacle. It’s none other that the Arch Remainer Mr Philip Hammond. since 2011 he held the three Great Offices of State – Defence, Foreign Office, Treasury (see here). Hasn’t he done well …!
This is the man who is the ‘leader’ of Remain cabal, the current ministers and MPs who are bent on preventing the No Deal Brexit, even unto toppling Johnson’s new government:
“The Chancellor, who rebelled against the Government in a vote last week that makes it harder to achieve a no deal Brexit, confirmed The Daily Telegraph’s disclosure that he had texted colleagues to encourage them to do the same. […] Other Tory MPs are prepared to go further, with up to six of them reportedly considering joining the Lib Dems if Mr Johnson becomes prime minister.” (paywalled link)
Do savour this ever so generous ‘advice’ from Mr Hammond:
“In his interview with the Marr show Mr Hammond made clear that his support for Mr Johnson was conditional on him abandoning his self-imposed October 31 Brexit deadline. […] He added: “I am confident that parliament does have a way of preventing a no-deal exit on October 31 without parliamentary consent and I intend to work with others to ensure parliament uses its power to make sure that the new government can’t do that.” (link, paywalled)
And look at what we read in RemainCentral:
“Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said yesterday that he hoped to open talks with Mr Hammond and other former cabinet ministers to agree a common approach. He said: “After they have resigned this week, I will want to work with all those former ministers who, like me, want to ensure parliament can stop a disastrous and chaotic exit from the EU.” (link, paywalled)
Here’s more, showing the total lack of loyalty of the Tory MPs – not just to Johnson whom their party members have presumably elected but to us, the electorate:
“The plotting within the Tory Party has now become so intense that there are even reports of a cross-party group of MPs and peers holding discussions about installing a government of national unity if Mr Johnson tries to force through a no deal Brexit.” (paywalled link)
Their ‘plan’, from the horses’ mouths, looks like this:
“If Mr Johnson were to lose a no confidence vote it would give others a 14-day window to form an alternative government without the need for a general election. Philip Hammond and Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, are said to be their preferred choices as prime minister.” (paywalled link)
They are of course planning this only from the goodness of their hearts and their concern for our nation, with Hammond wheeling out the hoary old slogan of ‘parliamentary democracy’:
“Mr Hammond said that a no deal Brexit was only possible with the consent of Parliament because: “This is a parliamentary democracy and if the new prime minister can persuade parliament to vote for a no deal exit then I will have to accept that. But we can’t have wheezes like suspending parliament or proroguing parliament in order to deny Parliament its voice. This matter must be decided in Parliament.” (paywalled link)
Those last sentences show what Hammond really thinks of parliamentary democracy and parliamentary conventions: they are ‘wheezes’. To crown it all, a former PM just had to put his oar in as well:
“The obvious and right course is to go back to the people in a referendum. […] Johnson may be tempted to go for a general election because of the weakness of Labour. This would be unacceptable and deeply damaging for the country.” (link, paywalled)
Oh dear. It has apparently escaped the attention of Mr Blair – he is the author of that well-meaning ‘advice’ – and the other Remainers that over the weekend the Brussels monolith looks to be crumbling, with EU countries seeking to negotiate with Johnson to avoid that dreaded No Deal – see here and here and here.
Words’ like ‘panic’ and ‘re-thinking’ are being used, and of ‘wooing’ Johnson. For the Arch Remainers it is of course inconceivable that Johnson’s hard stance could have anything to do with that!
No – all they are concerned with is their personal aggrandisement, their posturing in the HoC, even unto dreaming of a new government, with Mr Phil Hammond as PM acceptable to all Remain MPs.
The history of his failure in the three Great Offices of State – Defence, Foreign Office and Chancellor – should frighten all of us. Hammond however seems to think that becoming PM, even if only with Labour support, would round up his political CV nicely.
You might also like to remember that, no matter how nicely the Remainers package their proposals, it means in the end that we’re still ‘In’ – and that we still pay millions of our money into the EU coffers.
You might like to ask the Hammonds and Grieves, the Blairs and Starmers, to show us this fabulous money tree they would have to harvest to pay the EU should we Remain.
In these last days it’s more necessary than ever to keep vigilant – it won’t be long now, one way or the other …
Photo by ‘J’ Jose Maria Perez Nuñez