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Smith Square Review - 14 July 2017

Fri, 07/14/2017

Caution: inflammatory woodpile 

Anne Marie Morris, Conservative MP for Newton Abbott, has won this month’s well named 'massive offensive and inappropriate comment' award. Perhaps it was the East India Club setting, but an analogy made by Morris at a Brexit talk this week - that getting no deal within the next two years was the real ‘n*****’ in the woodpile’ - has caused the whole of Westminster to recoil in horror.

Under much Twitter-based pressure from members across the benches, the Prime Minister has suspended Morris following a meeting with Chief Whip Gavin Williamson. Green Party leader Caroline Lucas has urged for her resignation, while Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has restrained his remarks to that of mere ‘shock’ (given his record on political correctness, you can see why.)

Though the Conservative party condemned Morris quickly, there was no such action for colleagues present at the event. Fellow MPs Sir William Cash, Kwasi Kwarteng and John Redwood were on the guest list and said nought, although Kwarteng has denied attending, so can only be held quasi accountable…


Coalition of May-os

The opposition woke up to an interesting new bedfellow on Wednesday. Theresa May. The Prime Minister announced with the publication of the Matthew Taylor report on employment that “the reality I now face as Prime Minister is rather different” and she needs help from her not-so-friends on the other side.

As she launched the report on the 'gig economy', she admitted that she would not be able to implement its recommendations without cross-party support.

Was this reality check for the PM? A crisis of confidence? Or perhaps she had a hankering for a pizza before the speech, and really doesn’t want the delivery driver to spit in her dinner. 

Whatever the reason, Mrs May is clearly less Iron Lady wielding a ferocious handbag, but rather experiencing a desperate clutch at authority through pursed lips. 

At least Mrs May was right – ah, how reliable – the election always ran the risk of bringing about a “coalition of chaos". What she did not expect, was to be managing the coalition of chaos herself. 


A right old Barni-er

It has only been a year since Boris Johnson became the Foreign Secretary. But in that time he has built up a peerless reputation of being partial to the odd political blunder. Examples include talking about alcohol in a Sikh temple or excitedly talking about Brexit being a "titanic success".

This week he continued that impressive trend by plodging into the Brexit ‘divorce bill’ debate with two large feet, diplomatically telling the EU to “go whistle” for any payment from the UK.  Boris’ comments predictably went down about as well as Theresa May at a wheat farm or Donald Trump at a taco stand with the Brussels mafia.

Goaded by Boris Johnson’s remarks Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, reacted with a combination of irritation and bemusement, followed up with a healthy dose of punishment beating threat. “I am not hearing any whistling” he said after a dramatic pause filled only by the hum of the angry Brussels bees, “just the clock ticking.” Terrifying.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has opted for a less confrontational (more pathetically sycophantic) approach with Mr Barnier. This week he cheerfully presented his EU buddy with a personalised Arsenal football shirt. In the spirit of the football transfer season, perhaps the EU will even offer to trade the shirt in return for the billions of pounds they want to extort from the UK?


Morgunning for Theresa

So the saying goes, one should always keep their friends close, and their enemies closer.

Clearly not a fan of such wisdom, upon taking the office of Prime Minister, Theresa May decided to publically kick her enemies in the head and now finds herself, post general election, decidedly short of friends.

Already facing daily negative headlines from the estranged former chancellor George Osborne, May now faces another scorned Conservative in the form of Nicky Morgan. 

Morgan, sacked by May as Secretary of State for Education, has now been elected as the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee. A staunch remainer, Morgan has promised that Minister's should "expect to be grilled" until they answer specific questions about Brexit and its impact on the UK economy. 

She added, "when there is information to be shared it should be shared. It should not be dragged out of the Government."

Morgan beat fellow Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg to the post, but following the birth of his stunningly named sixth child, he probably has enough on his hands. 


Souvenir of the week

Fresh from his exploits at the G20, Trump has stuck around in Europe for a visit to France, where he will take in today's Bastille Day celebrations. Always a man to speak his mind, he had a rather peculiar way of introducing himself to the France's First Lady.