Diary

ConHome Diary: A 'Betrayal of Cabinet Ministers Or a 'Schism'?

29 Jun 2018 at 14:04

So 100,000 people attended the anti Brexit march at the weekend, on the second anniversary of the momentous vote. Andrew Adonis tweeted a question: “Is this the day Brexit died?” You’ve got to laugh. The utter delusion of it all. Alison Pearson in the Telegraph this week: “They don’t want a people’s vote. They want a people like us vote.” Never a truer word spoken. Judging from what I saw it resembled a Waitrose customer outing. To think, though, that the poor souls thought it could compete with the 17.4 million of us who actually carried out what was surely the ultimate ‘meaningful vote’. Still, I’m sure it made them all feel a lot better.
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On Wednesday on my show I found myself raging against all the cabinet ministers who seem to think it’s OK to make disloyal speeches, remarks and to slag off their own colleagues. I asked my listeners to come up with a collective noun for a group of cabinet ministers. My suggestion was a ‘Betrayal of Cabinet Ministers’. Other suggestions were ‘a sneak’, ‘a contortion’, ‘a rash’, ‘a conspiracy’, ‘a shambles’ and ‘a schism’. My personal favourite, though, was ‘a squabble of cabinet ministers’. Never a truer word spoken.
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So Boris says ‘fuck business’, Jeremy Hunt backs him up but more politely. Greg Clark seems to encourage business to speak out against government policy on Brexit, Gavin Williamson tells MoD staff he made the PM so he can break her, the Chancellor continues to do his best to thwart whatever the government’s latest policy on Brexit is and Liz Truss takes a giant dump on Michael Gove, because she is so in tune ‘wiv da right’ innit. Shall I go on? And meanwhile Sajid Javid gets on with running the Home Office. Isn’t it funny to think that almost exactly a year ago Theresa May would have happily fired him from the cabinet because she felt he wasn’t doing his job and had his mind on leadership ambitions. Well, the latter is clearly still true, but at least he’s promoting his cause by actually doing his job. And doing it well. Perhaps his colleagues might care to think about that a bit before they do their next bit of grandstanding.
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‘They’re going home, they’re going home, Germany’s going home…’. Schadenfreude has been an overused word these last couple of days.
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At PMQs this week the LibDem leader Vince Cable (remember him?) called for a second referendum. Can he be by any chance related to the Vince Cable who, in late 2016 said the idea of a second referendum was “seriously disrespectful and politically utterly counterproductive”. I agree with the 2016 version of Vince Cable.
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It is rumoured that at the Cabinet sleepover at Chequers next week is going to consider a proposal from Business Secretary Greg Clark that any EU citizen with a job to come to should be allowed to. That’s after Brexit. A.F.T.E.R B.R.E.X.I.T. Astonishing. He clearly also wants us to remain in the customs union and the single market. Greg is a friend of mine, but if he seriously thinks that anyone but devout remainers are going to stand for this, he is in for a surprise. My personal view is that freedom of movement was not a reason I voted for Brexit, but I am in the minority on that. My view is that a citizen of India or Argentina should have exactly the same right or opportunity to come to this country as a citizen of Italy or Portugal. And I think that’s what most reasonable people would think. No one is saying EU citizens will be unwelcome. The opposite is true. But they cannot be given priority over those of the rest of the world.
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The Duke of Cambridge seemed to have relatively gaffe free trip to Israel and the West Bank. Although I did slightly wince when he was with President Abbas and referred to “our two countries”. I was expecting that to become a bit of an incident, but no one else seemed to notice. Probably for the best.

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