Edward Leigh MP

24 Nov 2012 08:54:59

The 118 Tory MPs the Daily Mail lists as being opposed to gay marriage

By Matthew Barrett
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The Daily Mail this morning reports on the 118 Conservative MPs who have written to constituents indicating their opposition to gay marriage proposals. The Mail says "Their opposition has been expressed in letters and emails sent to constituents who have contacted them with their own concerns", and points out that if these MPs voted against proposals, it would constitute the biggest Tory rebellion in modern times. However, Equalities Minister (and Secretary of State for Culture) Maria Miller pointed out on Twitter that since any vote on the issue would be a free vote, it would not technically be counted as a rebellion.

I have listed the MPs from the Mail's story below.

  1. Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty)
  2. Peter Aldous (Waveney)
  3. Tony Baldry (Banbury)
  4. Guto Bebb (Aberconwy)
  5. Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk)
  6. Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley)
  7. Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen)
  8. Andrew Bingham (High Peak)
  9. Brian Binley (Northampton South)
  10. Bob Blackman (Harrow East)
  11. Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon)
  12. Peter Bone (Wellingborough)
  13. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West)
  14. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)
  15. Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire)
  16. Steve Brine (Winchester)
  17. Fiona Bruce (Congleton)
  18. Robert Buckland (South Swindon)
  19. Conor Burns (Bournemouth West)*
  20. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)
  21. David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate)
  22. Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan)
  23. Douglas Carswell (Clacton)
  24. William Cash (Stone)
  25. Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham)
  26. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)
  27. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds)
  28. Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal)
  29. Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon)
  30. Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire)
  31. David Davies (Monmouth)
  32. Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire)
  33. Philip Davies (Shipley)
  34. David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden)
  35. Nick de Bois (Enfield North)
  36. Caroline Dinenage (Gosport)
  37. Richard Drax (South Dorset)
  38. Charlie Elphicke (Dover)
  39. Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North)
  40. David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)
  41. George Freeman (Mid Norfolk)
  42. Richard Fuller (Bedford)
  43. Roger Gale (North Thanet)
  44. Edward Garnier (Harborough)
  45. John Glen (Salisbury)
  46. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)
  47. Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby)
  48. Robert Halfon (Harlow)
  49. Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge)
  50. John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings)
  51. Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)
  52. George Hollingbery (Meon Valley)
  53. Philip Hollobone (Kettering)
  54. Adam Holloway (Gravesham)
  55. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)
  56. Stewart Jackson (Peterborough)
  57. Gareth Johnson (Dartford)
  58. David Jones (Clwyd West)
  59. Marcus Jones (Nuneaton)
  60. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)
  61. Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire)
  62. Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire)
  63. Philip Lee (Bracknell)
  64. Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford)
  65. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
  66. Julian Lewis (New Forest East)
  67. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset)
  68. Peter Lilley (Hitchen and Harpenden)
  69. Jonathan Lord (Woking)
  70. Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)
  71. Anne Main (St Albans)
  72. Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys)
  73. Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)
  74. Karl McCartney (Lincoln)
  75. Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton)
  76. Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)
  77. Esther McVey (Wirral West)
  78. Steve Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)
  79. Nicky Morgan (Loughborough)
  80. David Nuttall (Bury North)
  81. Matthew Offord (Hendon)
  82. Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton)
  83. Priti Patel (Witham)
  84. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)
  85. Mark Pawsey (Rugby)
  86. Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead)
  87. Christopher Pincher (Tamworth)
  88. Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)
  89. John Redwood (Wokingham)
  90. Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset)
  91. Simon Reevell (Dewsbury)
  92. Andrew Robathan (South Leicestershire)
  93. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury)
  94. Andrew Rosindell (Romford)
  95. David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds)
  96. David Rutley (Macclesfield)
  97. Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire)
  98. Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)
  99. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)
  100. Henry Smith (Crawley)
  101. John Stevenson (Carlisle)
  102. Bob Stewart (Beckenham)
  103. Gary Streeter (South West Devon)
  104. Mel Stride (Central Devon)
  105. Robert Syms (Poole)
  106. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)
  107. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight)
  108. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester)
  109. Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West)
  110. Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
  111. Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North)
  112. Robert Walter (North Dorset)
  113. James Wharton (Stockton South)
  114. Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley)
  115. John Whittingdale (Maldon)
  116. Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)
  117. Gavin Williamson (South Staffordshire)
  118. Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth and Southam)
* Conor Burns has stated that he will not be voting against gay marriage but may abstain.

23 Nov 2012 11:23:38

Almost as many Conservative MPs yesterday supported some prisoners voting as opposed all prisoners voting

By Paul Goodman
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It might be assumed that the overwhelming majority of Tory MPs are adamantly opposed to prisoners voting.

Not so - at least, if yesterday's Commons statement is anything to go by.

By my count, David Davis, Gerald Howarth, Nick de Bois, Eleanor Laing, Peter Bone, James Clappison, Christopher Chope, Henry Bellingham, Roger Gale, Robert Halfon, Henry Bellingham, Roger Gale, David Ruffley, Dan Byles, Andrew Bridgen, David Nuttall, and Glyn Davies all made points either about Parliamentary sovereignty or the Court itself.

Caroline Dinenage, Philip Hollobone, Mark Menzies, James Pawsey, Neil Parish, Michael Ellis, and Justin Tomlinson all made arguments against prisoners being given the right to vote - seven MPs in total.

By contrast, I count five of their Conservative colleagues suggesting that at least some prisoners should be given the right to vote.  This claim will perhaps not be believed unless their contributions are quoted in full below.

Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con): Just because there may be a bipartisan consensus does not mean that it is right or rational, and it certainly does not include me. May I volunteer to serve on this Joint Committee, and may I ask those who give evidence the following? Is denying the vote to someone who has been sentenced to jail after being convicted of a crime a deterrent? It clearly is not. Is it a punishment, given that most criminals have not voted in their lives? Is it a penance? Or is it part of rehabilitation? Having discussed Strasbourg, we ought to start discussing why we are doing this to prisoners.

Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to nail the myth about the so-called blanket ban? We do not have a blanket ban in this country; remand prisoners, contemnors and fine defaulters retain the right to vote. Will he assure me that it is for this Parliament to consider a range of options, which I hope the Joint Committee will consider carefully?

Mr Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): Should we not set store by precedent? Am I right in believing that when we signed up to the convention, before the 1960s, those serving as misdemeanours for fewer than six months were allowed to vote but felons serving for more than six months could not? Of course we must be sovereign, but is that not the sort of compromise that could be reached to ensure our continued membership of the Council of Europe?

Guy Opperman (Hexham) (Con): I draw the House’s attention to my recently published book on prison reform. I have represented hundreds of people who were in prison, not one of whom ever said to my good self that they were busting for a chance to vote; I assure the Secretary of State that that was not the intention of many I represented. What is the proposal in the option for considering short sentences of a few weeks or even a few days in custody?

Margot James (Stourbridge) (Con): I was pleased to hear my right hon. Friend say that he will uphold our obligations under international law. I welcome the middle option of six months or fewer as something that those of us who are not implacably opposed to prisoners having the right to vote under any circumstances could consider. Will he qualify that further and comment on whether further restrictions could be added to that option—for example, eliminating from the list of eligible people those who have a record of violence or taking into consideration their previous convictions?

9 Nov 2012 14:44:05

Conservative MPs give warm welcome to Philip Hammond's plans to strengthen Army Reserve

By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday, the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced plans to bring the Territorial Army - or Army Reserve, as it will be known in future - up to the size and standard of a more professional level than the reputation the TA has sometimes had as being "weekend soldiers". He also announced more benefits for employers of soldiers who chose to serve with the Army Reserve. These are all ideas suggested by the Duke of Westminster, which I wrote about last month. The proposals for strengthening the role and duties of reservists was, mostly, met with a positive reception by Conservative MPs. Below are some of the best contributions to yesterdays' statement.

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox wanted Philip Hammond to learn from international examples of reservist forces:

FOX HALF SMILE"Dr Liam Fox (North Somerset) (Con): I very much welcome the creative and supportive way in which my right hon. Friend set out the Government’s approach to the reserves. Will any legislative changes be required to guarantee that reservists can be used for the full range of military tasks? As part of the consultation, will the Government make available to the House the experiences of how other countries incentivise employers? Other countries, particularly the United States, have a much better record than most of being able to use reservists in a full range of tasks and ensuring that they have a full range of promotional opportunities."

Continue reading "Conservative MPs give warm welcome to Philip Hammond's plans to strengthen Army Reserve" »

17 Oct 2012 20:28:21

Mitchell: This evening's '22 meeting "was divided 50/50"

By Paul Goodman
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Michael Crick tweeted earlier this evening: "Four MPs at 1922 Committee critical of Andrew Mitchell - Andrew Percy, James Duddridge, Ann Main, Sarah Wollaston. 12-15 backed him."

I am told that the difference of view was more 50-50 than three or four to one. (Memories don't always tally, as I pointed out earlier this week in the context of the row itself.)

Robert Buckland, Bernard Jenkin, Edward Leigh, Penny Mordaunt, and Nicholas Soames were apparently supportive of Mr Mitchell (and Philip Davies rather critical).

I'm also informed that there is no mood in the '22 Executive for the Chief Whip to go now, though some of its members think that he should have departed after the original incident.

My guess earlier this week was that Mr Mitchell would attend the '22, and that any criticism of him would be muted.

For better or worse, he wasn't there - I presume it was decided that MPs present should be able to speak freely - and it can't fairly be claimed that they were constrained in what they said.

So we have the worst outcome for Cameron and the best outcome for Miliband: a wounded Conservative Chief Whip.  I don't think Mr Mitchell should go, but he is in a bad way.

21.45pm Update A very senior source insists that the Crick tally was correct. I am recording his view to reinforce the point that, as I note above, "memories don't always tally".


11 Jul 2012 06:56:36

Highlights of yesterday's Lords reform debate

By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday's debate on the Lords Reform Bill was heated, yet relatively polite. I noticed far more speakers against reform of the Lords than for - perhaps because pro-reform Tories knew, the programme motion having been withdrawn, that they would win the Second Reading vote easily (thanks to Labour votes).

Many Tories early in the debate - the initial stages took the form of Sir George Young, the Leader of the House, and his Shadow, Angela Eagle, giving statements on behalf of their leaderships - gave answers which followed the format of "Of course the current Lords is indefensible, but so is this Bill". Gareth JOHNSON GARETHJohnson (Dartford) did not take that line. He was proud to be in favour of the Lords' position as an unelected house:

"I have never defied the party line before, and it is something I hope not to do throughout my time in Parliament, but the Bill is fundamentally wrong. I have been a loyal supporter of both the Government and my party, but I am proud to be British, proud of our constitution and proud of our Parliament. The other place forms an essential part of our constitution, our heritage, history and culture, and once it is gone, it is gone. Seven hundred years of history will be undone if we support the Bill. I want to be able to look my children in the eye and say, “I did not forsake the British constitution. I said no.”"

HART SIMONSimon Hart (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire) took a similar line:

"I may be in a small minority, but I am one of those people who do not become infected by the view that we must have a democratic House of Lords. I do not want a democratic House of Lords, and that is precisely why I shall vote against the Bill. I want objectivity, expertise, experience and wisdom, all the qualities that we are told so often that we do not have in this House. I do not want Members of the House of Lords to be subject to the electoral and party pressures to which we may be subject here."


Continue reading "Highlights of yesterday's Lords reform debate" »

8 May 2012 13:03:56

The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record

By Matthew Barrett
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Screen shot 2010-06-16 at 18.02.09Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart of the University of Nottingham have released a new pamplet - "The Bumper Book of Coalition Rebellions", which documents the 239  backbench rebellions so far in this Parliament, in which 544 votes have been held. 

The pamplet takes us from the first rebellion, on the government’s control of time in the Commons, to the last, on Sunday Trading during the Olympics. This Parliament has seen more rebellions by government MPs than in any other session in the post-war era. As "The Bumper Book" says, "It comfortably beats the previous record of 128, held by Conservative MPs in the 1971-72 session. Indeed, a figure of 239 is higher than all but three entire post-war parliaments."

In fact, there were more rebellions in the last two years than there were between 1945 and 1966 - a period which saw six Prime Ministers and six parliaments. On a different measure, the "relative rate of rebellion", this session's 239 rebellions constitute a rebellion by Coalition MPs in 44% of divisions, which is a record in post-war parliaments. The 44% figure can be broken down further: Conservative MPs have rebelled in 28% of votes, while Lib Dems have rebelled in 24% of votes.

It is also notable how much of a contrast there is between the 2010-12 session and most first sessions in a parliament. As the pamplet says: "The rebellion rate for coalition MPs collectively is way above all other first sessions in the post-war era (the previous record was 28%, for Labour MPs in the 2005-6 session, as the party entered its third, and most troublesome, parliament under Tony Blair)".

Continue reading "The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record" »

4 May 2012 06:14:38

What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group

By Matthew Barrett
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My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has so far mainly featured groups founded or mostly composed of 2010 intake MPs. Last time, I looked at the Thatcherite No Turning Back group, founded in the 1980s. This week's group is somewhere between the two. The Cornerstone Group is the main group whose defining mission is to represent socially conservative Members of Parliament. The group was formed in 2005, and presented some challenges for David Cameron's leadership. In this profile, I'll see how the group is doing now.

Origins of the group

HayesLeighCornerstone was founded by Edward Leigh and John Hayes, who still chair the group. Leigh has been the MP for Gainsborough since 1983, and is a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, who was sacked for his opposition to Maastricht, and John Hayes, who has been the MP for South Holland and the Deepings since 1997, and the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning since 2010.

Cornerstone admired the work done during Iain Duncan Smith's time as leader to promote a more communitarian, Burkean conservatism, and wanted to ensure IDS' work on this front was carried on.

When the group launched formally in July 2005, it released a pamphlet, which criticised Michael Howard's election campaign for being too quiet about tax cuts, public service reform and family values. Strongly condemning the personality politics and liberalism of New Labour, Leigh wrote:

"We believe that these values must be stressed: tradition, nation, family, religious ethics, free enterprise ... Emulating New Labour both lacks authenticity and is unlikely to make us popular. We must seize the centre ground and pull it kicking and screaming towards us. That is the only way to demolish the foundations of the liberal establishment and demonstrate to the electorate the fundamental flaws on which it is based."

The group first exerted its influence during the 2005 leadership contest. A group of about twenty Cornerstone supporters interviewed David Cameron, David Davis and Liam Fox. Fox apparently put in the best performance, while David Davis was, reportedly, not able to take criticism well. This meeting, combined with David Davis' alienating stint as the Minister for Europe under Major, and Davis' reluctance to support Iain Duncan Smith's compassionate conservatism programme wholeheartedly, is thought to be why many Cornerstone supporters first voted for Fox, and then switched to Cameron.

Continue reading "What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group" »

26 Apr 2012 16:52:24

What is the No Turning Back group? Matthew Barrett profiles the keepers of the Thatcherite flame

By Matthew Barrett
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In my series profiling groups of Tory MPs, most groups I've looked at have been mostly or wholly composed of 2010 intake MPs. The next group is bit different, as it was founded more than 25 years ago. The No Turning Back group has a proud history of celebrating and promoting Thatcherism. How is the group doing now? In this profile, I'll be examining what No Turning Back, the backbench group for Thatcherites in Parliament, is doing now. 

Origins of the group

Thatcher1No Turning Back was founded in 1985 to defend Mrs Thatcher's free-market policies. The 25 founding members included, amongst others, now-Deputy Chairman Michael Fallon, now-Defence Minister Gerald Howarth, and the late, great Eric Forth.

The name of the group comes from Mrs Thatcher's famous conference speech given in October 1980:

"To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the “U” turn, I have only one thing to say. “You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.” I say that not only to you but to our friends overseas and also to those who are not our friends."

Key members

There are about 100 members of the group, which is chaired by John Redwood, including "quite a lot" from the 2010 intake. Members include such big beasts as John Redwood, David Davis, Bernard Jenkin, Peter Lilley, Lord Forsyth, and Liam Fox. Current Conservative officeholders who are members of the group include the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith; David Cameron's PPS, Desmond Swayne; Nick Clegg's Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Mark Harper; the Minister of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers; a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Jonathan Djanogly; three government whips, Angela Watkinson, Mark Francois and Greg Hands; the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, Greg Knight; and the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, John Whittingdale, who was Mrs Thatcher's Political Secretary in the late 1980s.

Continue reading "What is the No Turning Back group? Matthew Barrett profiles the keepers of the Thatcherite flame" »

28 Mar 2012 16:29:44

Tory MPs debate assisted suicide

Yesterday in a five hour debate MPs discussed the law on assisted suicide. Extracts from some of the contributions from Conservative MPs are pasted below.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: "We have to legislate for the weak and vulnerable, and for those who have nobody to defend them. Yes, of course we can all cite examples of intelligent, capable people who would be able, for example, to resist pressure from family members who might be after an inheritance, but what about those who feel that they have become a burden to society? My greatest concern for the elderly and the frail is that, although they might be enjoying their lives, they might feel that they have become a burden and therefore selflessly propose that their own end should be hastened. That is my concern about the term “voluntary”."

John Baron: "For the avoidance of doubt, let me absolutely clear: I believe that the compassionate approach for patients who are in severe pain, are terminally ill and have the support of their family would be to allow them to choose to die provided that the appropriate safeguards are in place. Yes, there is a right to life, and that is terribly important, but there is also a right to choose to die with dignity, knowing that one’s relatives will not be prosecuted, and surrounded by family and loved ones—not alone for fear of the prosecution of those left behind. That is why I will support amendment (a). This area is far too important and the situation is far too unique to be left to Government officials. It should be subject to parliamentary oversight. Yes, we know that the guidelines are just that and are not law, but prosecution or the threat of it can be profoundly disturbing to the loved ones left behind. We should not underestimate that. We do not know for sure whether those left behind will have committed a criminal act, but the threat of prosecution or prosecution itself can be profoundly disturbing, particularly for those who have already had to endure severe grief in their lives. Putting guidance on the statute book brings that certainty. It brings certainty that those who maliciously assist someone to die will be prosecuted and also provides protection to those acting on compassionate grounds. I believe that those factors should be taken into account and that we need to end that uncertainty."

Eleanor Laing: "Many hon. Members have spoken about choice and palliative care, but palliative care does not work for everyone. If it did, we would not have a problem and we would not be having this debate. Some people who are in the final stages of life have intolerable and untreatable suffering and pain. They have no choice, and they deserve our compassion. Although I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh) about the right to life being paramount, we cannot ignore quality of life at its end."

Continue reading "Tory MPs debate assisted suicide" »

27 Mar 2012 15:18:15

Seven Conservative MPs cited as having abstained on child benefit vote

By Paul Goodman
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If Labour's failure to vote against the 50p rate cut they've criticised was yesterday evening's Commons farce, a small number of Conservative MPs helped to provide the serious fare.

Graham Brady, Douglas Carswell, Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Edward Leigh, David Nuttall and John Stanley - voted in favour of the budget, but have also been listed as having abstained on a specific later vote on child benefit.

The proposed removal of the payment from 40p rate taxpayers was watered down in the budget, but not enough for some backbenchers, evidently.

Chope has been forceful on the matter recently, holding a debate in Westminster Hall.  Sir John Stanley accounced this week that he is leaving will leave the Commons at the next election.

Cautionary note: counting absentions is a tricky business, since the absence of an MP from the division lists can mean that he's abroad, or has been slipped, or has simply missed the vote.

Hat-tip: Sky's Sophie Ridge

22 Mar 2012 15:00:13

An "important moment in British history", and "a very courageous Budget": Backbenchers give their verdict on George Osborne

By Matthew Barrett
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Traditionally, after a Budget speech, high-profile MPs speak in the debate that follows, to give their verdict on the Budget. Compiled below are some of the most significant contributions. 

TYRIE ANDREWFirstly, Andrew Tyrie, the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, raised his concerns about the Government's proposed scheme for banks to lend to small businesses:

"Yesterday’s announcement on the loan guarantee scheme responded to many constituents’ complaints that they simply cannot get the money they need to run or start up small businesses. We all have constituents in that position, and the scheme will offer some welcome relief. How much relief? I think it will offer only a little, and there is a risk of the banks pocketing most of the money. The Treasury Committee, the Public Accounts Committee— I do not know whether its Chair is in her place—and the National Audit Office all need to play a role in ensuring that the banks do not run off with the money, and that value for money is secured."

Tyrie nevertheless commended the scheme:

"I still think the scheme may turn out to be valuable, for several reasons. First, by announcing it the Chancellor has raised the salience of an important issue and put pressure on the banks not to dismiss requests for loans without examining them properly. Furthermore, it seems to me that the Treasury’s own pessimistic briefing yesterday that the money will go only to existing borrowers is almost certainly mistaken. There is very likely to be some more lending, because banks will benefit from the stronger financial position of firms to which they have lent. Those loans, in turn, will be less risky for the banks, so they should have some more headroom for new lending without altering their risk profile."

Continue reading "An "important moment in British history", and "a very courageous Budget": Backbenchers give their verdict on George Osborne" »

31 Jan 2012 18:15:43

Cameron today: Off the hook on the veto. On it over more IMF money.

By Paul Goodman
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Last year, the Prime Minister flew to Brussels amidst rumour of a leadership challenge if he didn't achieve at least a token repatriation of power.

Today, he faced the Commons not only with no such repatriation realised but with his veto - so rapturously greeted at the time by Conservative MPs - arguably valueless, since it's now clear that he won't challenge the principle of the EU institutions being used to enforce the F.U agreement.

Yet there was no mass revolt from his backbenches, and no revival to date of the leadership challenge rumours.  What explains this change in the Tory atmosphere?  I hope to explore the question in detail soon, but will for the moment rest with an answer I've cited before.

Continue reading "Cameron today: Off the hook on the veto. On it over more IMF money." »

21 Dec 2011 07:15:30

Crass or rather splendid?: Merry Christmas from John and Sally Bercow

By Joseph Willits 
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It would probably be fair to say that anything the Speaker and his wife Sally do, will attract criticism from somewhere. The latest in a long list of 'what's wrong with the Bercow's' is a Christmas card, originally a Sun cartoon by Andy Davey.

The image, bought by the Bercows for £300, with the money going to charity, shows a red-faced order shouting Speaker berating his wife Sally as she answers the doors to paparazzi - making light of her time on Celebrity Big Brother where she became best friends with Paddy Doherty of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding fame. John Bercow apparently wasn't very happy about her Big Brother appearance.

Writing in the Mail, Kirsty Walker describes the Christmas card as a "self-deprecating image in the style of an old-style saucy seaside postcard", and her article uses comments from Tory MP Rob Wilson, an outspoken critic of the Bercows, who says the "image shows that his wife clearly has a single minded view of herself."

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22 Nov 2011 14:01:32

Michael Gove, our mutual friend

By Joseph Willits 
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Gove_michael_nw_2Perhaps because the time for reading his Christmas Carol is approaching, yesterday's education Topical Questions was full of references to Charles Dickens. Gavin Barwell MP (Croydon Central) began by asking for more. He congratulated Michael Gove's pledge of £8million for additional school places in Croydon, but asked whether "there will be further such tranches of money in future" due to an increase of 10% in the number of children in reception classes.

Barwell had, Gove replied, "Great Expectations" about what I can get out of the Chancellor", prompting shouts of "Hard Times" from the rest of the House. The Education Secretary continued:

"Well, really it is a “Tale of Two Cities”: the City of London under Labour, under-regulated and, sadly, not paying the taxes that it should have; and the City of London under the Conservatives—at last getting the resources into the Exchequer".

Edward Leigh MP (Gainsborough), highlighted the fact that "many members of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, owe their start in life to private education". Leigh asked whether the Government would look to Europe where there are "many more bridges between private and state education ... for instance, the state paying the salaries of teachers in private schools", and not rule out "imaginative ways of helping ordinary people to access private education".

Continue reading "Michael Gove, our mutual friend" »

8 Nov 2011 17:33:57

Eurosceptic Tory MPs grill Cameron following G20 statement

By Matthew Barrett
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Yesterday afternoon, David Cameron made a statement to the House on his recent G20 meetings. Given that the Prime Minister described the main topic of debate as "instability in the eurozone", one could have predicted Eurosceptic members would turn up in force - as indeed they did. Douglas Carswell, Bill Cash, and Peter Bone were amongst the MPs asking questions. 

Bill Cash posed the first challenging question of the session:

CASH WILLIAM"Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): Given that the single market, including the City of London, is governed by qualified majority voting, how does the Prime Minister propose to achieve a majority to protect our interests in the context of the fiscal union that he advocates?

The Prime Minister: First, we need to disconnect the issues that my hon. Friend raises. The issue of the single market and the threat to the City of London and Britain’s financial services is a real threat. We have to work extremely hard to build alliances in the single market and in the European Council to stop directives that would damage our interests. I think it is extremely important that we do that work. Financial services matter hugely to this country, and this is one of the areas that I want to ensure we can better safeguard in future."

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