It’s time to end this farce. Conservative MPs need to start writing more “Dear Sir Graham” letters

Philip Hammond, under any normal circumstances, would have been fired for going off-piste in Davos. But he knew he wasn’t going to be fired which explains why he said in his speech that there would only be “very modest” changes to relations between the EU and the UK after Brexit.

Boris Johnson’s public intervention on the NHS earlier this week should have got him into hot water, but it didn’t. We understand that some of his cabinet colleagues rebuked him as they were sitting around the cabinet table, but that was it. He was only saying what the rest of us were thinking – additional NHS funding plays well in marginal constituencies. It’s good politics and a few more billions of pounds should have a positive effect on outcomes, even in our dysfunctional healthcare system, desperately in need of reform, but which is never going to be reformed whilst May is in Number 10. It isn’t rocket science, but I am sure that there are many ministers sitting around the cabinet table who think it is.

Two of the most senior Government ministers have openly criticised Government policy because they can, although in all fairness to Boris, publicly calling for more NHS spending is different to attempting to change Government policy in a speech to the World Economic Forum. Continue reading “It’s time to end this farce. Conservative MPs need to start writing more “Dear Sir Graham” letters”

An omnishambles of a cabinet reshuffle once again paints May as weak and wobbly

If the Prime Minister had had a clear plan and had executed it properly, yesterday’s reshuffle would not have been the media disaster that it is this morning. It terms of personnel changes, her options were always going to be limited. In November and December, she lost three cabinet in ministers in quick succession, and yesterday a further three (Sir Patrick McLoughlin, James Brokenshire, and Justine Greening) left the Government. Sir Patrick was expected; James Brokenshire was a sad departure and I send my good wishes to him for a speedy recovery; and Justine Greening simply isn’t up to the job of a cabinet minister. I am sure that she is a nice person (I have never met her), but I have never regarded her as competent, nor is she a good media performer.

Removing the Chancellor was always going to be tricky. If she had fired him, he would have created more trouble for her on the backbenches. If she had tried to keep him in the cabinet, she would have had to offer him another senior position or he would have resigned. That would have meant moving Boris or Amber Rudd. But where to? And if Boris had left the Government, he would have been a thorn in May’s side.

It was all too complicated, and for a Prime Minister who already lacks authority, it was never going to happen. Continue reading “An omnishambles of a cabinet reshuffle once again paints May as weak and wobbly”

Brexit is too important an issue to leave in the hands of May

We should just come out and say it: Theresa May is a dead woman walking. She is unsuited to the role of Prime Minister. She is a weak leader; she doesn’t possess any meaningful leadership skills. She also doesn’t have a political brain. She is leading a Government that limps from one crisis to another. It’s directionless and can’t get the job done. Every time you think she is about to take control and show “strong and stable” leadership, the wheels come off again.

I have said on a number of occasions that if she can make it to Christmas, she will make it to 29 March 2019 – the date we are supposed to be leaving the European Union. As the weeks and months have passed by, it has looked more likely that she will make it to Christmas, but after the events of this week, that is looking increasingly unlikely. Continue reading “Brexit is too important an issue to leave in the hands of May”

Why has Theresa May fired David Jones?

I ask that question as I do not know the answer to it. David Jones has always struck me as a very able minister. He is a former Secretary of State for Wales. He is an experienced operator, and along with David Davis and colleagues, has managed to build-up a department from scratch in just under a year.

Jones is also a Leaver. He was very effective in Wales during last year’s EU Referendum. What is Theresa May up to? After performing so badly at the polls last week, the fears of many that she is preparing to water down Brexit will resurface. After Jones’ sacking, the optics are bad.

Has she learned anything from her humiliation last week?

 

You are in office, but not in power, Prime Minister. You have to go

I didn’t see that election result coming, although if I had used some foresight, I would have done.

I made a number of predictions about Labour marginals before Theresa May launched the Conservative manifesto. Until then, I firmly believe that all was well. The campaign wasn’t very good at that point, however, there was time for improvement.

After the manifesto was launched, the wheels came off. Theresa May couldn’t even admit she had performed a U-turn on the so-called “dementia tax”. The campaign was too presidential. Saying “me and my team” is not only an incorrect use of English grammar, it also makes Theresa May look self-centred. Continue reading “You are in office, but not in power, Prime Minister. You have to go”