Conservative Diary

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Rebellions to the Right of Cameron. Rebellions to the Left. Rebellions as far as the eye can see.

By Tim Montgomerie
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Boris Johnson makes a double intervention today. He calls for Greece to leave the €uro and he implicitly attacks Ken Clarke's soft approach to crime.

This is what he writes in The Telegraph:

"For years, European governments have been saying that it would be insane and inconceivable for a country to leave the euro. But this second option is now all but inevitable, and the sooner it happens the better. We have had the hamartia - the tragic flaw in the system that allowed high-spending countries to free ride on low interest rates. We have had the hubris - the belief the good times would never end. We have had nemesis - disaster. We now need the anagnorisis - the moment of recognition that Greece would be better off in a state of Byronic liberation, forging a new economic identity with a New Drachma. Then there will be catharsis, the experience of purgation and relief."

And in The Sun:

"Soft is the perfect way to enjoy French cheese, but not how we should approach punishing criminals. It's time to stop offering shorter sentences and get-out clauses. The Met Police is currently doing the biggest project in its history, Operation Target, which is cracking down on prolific robbers and burglars after three years of falling crime in London. In little over a week the results have been superb - over 900 arrests and the recovery of firearms, drugs and tons of stolen property. I helped them launch it and took part in a dawn raid on suspected drugs dens. I can't say the people inside the raided homes were particularly pleased to see me. Nor should they smile at the prospect of jail. Prison shouldn't be about sitting on a mattress, playing video games and networking with seasoned criminals. Prison should change people and if it doesn't they shouldn't be let out."

David Cameron cannot do much about Boris Johnson although George Osborne will see the Mayor's interventions as a sign that he won't get the Tory leadership without a fight.

What will worry Cameron more is the latest intervention from Chris Huhne. After a period of enforced silence - caused by his speeding fines problem - the Energy and Climate Change Secretary has resumed his war of words against the Conservative Party.

Playing to the gallery of a gathering of left-wing Liberal Democrats at the weekend Mr Huhne, Allegra Stratton reports, "attacked his Conservative colleagues in government as "rightwing ideologues" and "deregulation zealots" for placing environmental regulations on a list of red tape to be considered for scrapping."

It's one thing to attack your Coalition partners in the middle of an election campaign and quite another to continue that attack afterwards. Cameron needs to impose some discipline. Otherwise people will note that there are no consequences for rebellious behaviour and the kind of rebellions we have seen against the health reforms and, today, against the later pension age for women will become commonplace.

Cameron's premiership is entering a crucial period. He needs to send the strongest signal soon that rebel Cabinet ministers and rebel backbenchers cannot challenge his authority without consequence.


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