Blog: On Brexit, the next crop of Tory MPs will sound like Boris Johnson – New Statesman

MPs who cross the floor by definition change the political balance of the Parliaments they are elected to, but less attention is paid to the effects defections have on those that follow. Four Tory MPs have quit the party over Brexit this year: Heidi Allen, Nick Boles, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston. All four are opponents of a no-deal Brexit, and each resigned from the Conservative Party with harsh words for its membership.

With selections underway in all four of the defectors’ seats, and with Boris Johnson having just won a resounding leadership election victory on a no-deal platform, we can reasonably expect local members to select the opposite sort of candidates to those who quit: that is to say strong Brexiteers who are supportive of the new regime and its policy on the EU.

So it has proved in Grantham and Stamford, the safe Conservative seat currently represented by Boles, who resigned the whip before he could be deselected over his opposition to a no-deal Brexit. Gareth Davies, a Yorkshire businessman and Johnson supporter, won the selection process by what one local member described as “a landslide” on the first round of voting, a relatively rare feat. Save for a relatively close shave in 1997, Grantham has never been anything but a dependable Tory hold, and Davies will likely be an MP for as long as he likes – provided, he learns the lesson of his predecessor’s fate and steers clear of a Brexit course that antagonises his local members. Given his margin of victory and his public endorsement of Johnson’s platform, there is – for now, at least – little risk of that happening.

It’s a similar story in Canterbury, where Tory members also selected a new parliamentary candidate this evening. Anna Firth, who chaired Vote Leave’s Women for Britain in 2016, will attempt to win back a seat the Tories lost to Labour for the first time in its history by just 147 votes at the last election. Unlike most of her fellow travellers from the referendum campaign, she supported the withdrawal agreement, but has since enthusiastically endorsed Johnson. (“The students will loathe her,” sighs one Kent Tory of her general election chances.)

What do the selections tell us? Well, they strongly indicate that a general election is unlikely to provide an easy resolution to the Brexit impasse: the Conservative parliamentary party returned at the next election will contain more MPs with a strong personal and political incentive to toe whatever line Johnson and his supporters at the grassroots decree, and fewer like Boles. On current evidence, that will make the approval of a negotiated settlement by the Commons much less likely. As Labour and Tory defectors and retirees are replaced by memberships with what are for the most part diametrically opposed Brexit stances, that problem can only become more acute.

Source: “brexit” – Google News

Blog: No-deal Brexit plans to get £2.1bn boost – BBC News

Lorries at Port of DoverImage copyright PA

The government has announced an extra £2.1bn worth of funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

The plans include more border force officers and upgrades to transport infrastructure at ports.

There will also be more money to ease traffic congestion in Kent and tackle queues created by delays at the border.

Other measures include money for stockpiling medicines to ensure continued supplies, as well as a national programme to help businesses.

“With 92 days until the UK leaves the European Union it’s vital that we intensify our planning to ensure we are ready,” said Chancellor Sajid Javid, announcing the move.

“We want to get a good deal that abolishes the anti-democratic backstop. But if we can’t get a good deal, we’ll have to leave without one.

“This additional £2.1bn will ensure we are ready to leave on 31 October – deal or no-deal.”

But shadow chancellor John McDonnell described the plans as “an appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash, all for the sake of Boris Johnson’s drive towards a totally avoidable no-deal”.

He added: “This government could have ruled out no-deal and spent these billions on our schools, hospitals, and people.

“Labour is a party for the whole of the UK, so we’ll do all we can to block a no-deal, crash-out Brexit.”

“Turbo-charging” no-deal preparation is the energetic promise of the new Treasury, which under previous management had been accused by the now prime minister and his Brexiteer allies of dragging its feet on funding for such measures.

But there will be hundreds of new border force officers required for new checks, as well as improvements to port infrastructure.

Some of this boost, however, is a repeat prescription for vital medicine supply – spending tens of millions again on reserving cross-Channel ferry capacity and for specialist warehousing and stockpiling that was not, in the end, required after the last Brexit deadline.

All this is designed to mitigate the anticipated freight gridlock around Dover and Calais.

But that is not entirely in the government’s hands. Much depends on whether the French authorities choose to enforce full customs and health checks on freight from the UK.

The flow across the Channel also depends on the preparedness of many smaller traders, more than half of whom have not signed up to the most basic customs registration that will become mandatory for European trade under no-deal.

An advertising campaign will target this vital group. It will have to persuade them that no-deal is highly likely, even as the prime minister himself suggests the chances are vanishingly small.

The new money consists of £1.1bn which will be provided to departments and devolved administrations immediately, while a further £1bn will be made available if needed.

This comes on top of £4.2bn already allocated for Brexit preparations by the previous chancellor, Philip Hammond.

The measures announced by Mr Javid include £344m to be spent on new border and customs operations.

This includes recruiting an extra 500 border force officers, in addition to 500 already announced, while there will also be more money for training customs agents and processing UK passport applications.

Another £434m will be spent on ensuring continuity of vital medicines and medical products, including freight transport, warehousing and stockpiling.

Of the rest, £108m will go on promoting and supporting businesses “to ensure they are ready for Brexit”, including a national programme of business readiness and “helping exporters to prepare for, and capitalise on, new opportunities”.

There will also be a public information campaign and an increase in consular support for Britons living abroad, at a cost of £138m.

Source: “brexit” – Google News

Blog: Dominic Cummings is a fantasist without an adequate Brexit plan – so much for being a ‘political genius’ – The Independent

Among the many appointments to Boris Johnson’s government, few generated more intrigue than that of Dominic Cummings. The former Michael Gove staffer and Vote Leave director reportedly only accepted the advisor role at No 10 after deciding to postpone an operation until after Brexit day, further buttressing his self-made reputation for single-minded commitment to his causes.

Cummings also cultivates his profile through a blog which over the years has combined lengthy tributes to scientific discoveries with quotable invective aimed at his many political enemies. His account of government mixes critique of Whitehall dysfunction and praise for “the error-correcting institutions of science and markets” with historical anecdotes of individuals Cummings considers brilliant; Bismarck is a particular favourite, as is – oddly – Jean Monnet, among the key figures behind the foundation of the EU.

Monnet, Cummings tells us, was a man who “understood how to step back and build institutions” and whose work is “a lesson to anybody who wants to get things done”. Cummings leaves no doubt that he aspires to be a man in Monnet’s image, but this time with the aim of reversing his life project.

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This self-estimation has been reflected in the media response to his return to government. Commentators have praised his “huge brain” and strategic sense. It is less clear what attributes he personally brings beyond a sense of cargo cult. Within hours of Johnson’s arrival, orthodox and surely long-planned campaign tools such as targeted Facebook adverts were being described as revolutionary strategy and credited personally to him.

Shape Created with Sketch. Boris Johnson’s cabinet: Who’s in and who’s out

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left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch.

Shape Created with Sketch. Boris Johnson’s cabinet: Who’s in and who’s out

1/40 In: Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees Mogg appointed Leader of the Commons

AFP/Getty

2/40 In: Esther McVey

Esther McVey appointed housing secretary

AFP/Getty

3/40 In: Jo Johnson

Jo Johnson appointed new business and energy secretary

EPA

4/40 In: Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis appointed immigration secretary

Getty

5/40 In: James Cleverly

James Cleverly appointed Conservative Party chairman

PA

6/40 In: Baroness Evans

Baroness Evans remains Leader of Lords

PA

7/40 In: Julian Smith

Julian Smith appointed Northern Irish secretary

Reuters

8/40 In: Alister Jack

Alister jack appointed Scottish secretary

PA

9/40 In: Alun Cairns

Alun Cairns remains Welsh secretary

AFP/Getty

10/40 In: Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps appointed transport secretary

Getty

11/40 In: Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma appointed international development secretary

AFP/Getty

12/40 In: Robert Buckland

Robert Buckland appointed justice secretary

Getty

13/40 In: Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd remains work and pensions secretary

Getty

14/40 In: Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick appointed housing and communities secretary

AFP/Getty

15/40 In: Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom appointed business secretary

Reuters

16/40 In: Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan appointed culture secretary

Getty

17/40 In: Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson appointed education secretary

AFP/Getty

18/40 In: Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers appointed environment secretary

AFP/Getty

19/40 In: Liz Truss

Liz Truss is appointed international trade secretary

Reuters

20/40 In: Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace appointed defence secretary

EPA

21/40 In: Stephen Barclay

Stephen Barclay remains EU secretary

AFP/Getty

22/40 In: Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab appointed foreign secretary

AFP/Getty

23/40 In: Priti Patel

Priti Patel appointed home secretary

AFP/Getty

24/40 In: Michael Gove

Michael Gove given Chandellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

AFP/Getty

25/40 In: Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid is appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer

AP

26/40 Out: Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt sacked as foreign secretary

Reuters

27/40 In: Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock remains health secretary

AFP/Getty

28/40 Out: Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling resigned as transport secretary

Getty

29/40 Out: Jeremy Wright

Jeremy Wright sacked as culture secretary

PA

30/40 Out: Karen Bradley

Karen Bradley sacked as Northern Ireland secretary

Getty

31/40 Out: James Brokenshire

James Brokenshire sacked as housing and communities secretary

Reuters

32/40 Out: Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mourdaunt sacked as defence secretary

Reuters

33/40 Out: Liam Fox

Liam Fox sacked as international trade secretary

Getty

34/40 Out: Greg Clarke

Greg Clarke sacked as business secretary

PA

35/40 Out: David Mundell

David Mundell sacked as Scottish secretary

Getty

36/40 Out: Damien Hinds

Damien Hinds sacked as education secretary

Getty

37/40 Out: David Gauke

David Gauke resigned as justice secretary

EPA

38/40 Out: Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart resigned as international development secretary

Getty

39/40 Out: David Lidlington

David Lidlington resigned as deputy Prime Minister

PA

40/40 Out: Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer

AFP/Getty

1/40 In: Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees Mogg appointed Leader of the Commons

AFP/Getty

2/40 In: Esther McVey

Esther McVey appointed housing secretary

AFP/Getty

3/40 In: Jo Johnson

Jo Johnson appointed new business and energy secretary

EPA

4/40 In: Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis appointed immigration secretary

Getty

5/40 In: James Cleverly

James Cleverly appointed Conservative Party chairman

PA

6/40 In: Baroness Evans

Baroness Evans remains Leader of Lords

PA

7/40 In: Julian Smith

Julian Smith appointed Northern Irish secretary

Reuters

8/40 In: Alister Jack

Alister jack appointed Scottish secretary

PA

9/40 In: Alun Cairns

Alun Cairns remains Welsh secretary

AFP/Getty

10/40 In: Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps appointed transport secretary

Getty

11/40 In: Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma appointed international development secretary

AFP/Getty

12/40 In: Robert Buckland

Robert Buckland appointed justice secretary

Getty

13/40 In: Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd remains work and pensions secretary

Getty

14/40 In: Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick appointed housing and communities secretary

AFP/Getty

15/40 In: Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom appointed business secretary

Reuters

16/40 In: Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan appointed culture secretary

Getty

17/40 In: Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson appointed education secretary

AFP/Getty

18/40 In: Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers appointed environment secretary

AFP/Getty

19/40 In: Liz Truss

Liz Truss is appointed international trade secretary

Reuters

20/40 In: Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace appointed defence secretary

EPA

21/40 In: Stephen Barclay

Stephen Barclay remains EU secretary

AFP/Getty

22/40 In: Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab appointed foreign secretary

AFP/Getty

23/40 In: Priti Patel

Priti Patel appointed home secretary

AFP/Getty

24/40 In: Michael Gove

Michael Gove given Chandellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

AFP/Getty

25/40 In: Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid is appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer

AP

26/40 Out: Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt sacked as foreign secretary

Reuters

27/40 In: Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock remains health secretary

AFP/Getty

28/40 Out: Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling resigned as transport secretary

Getty

29/40 Out: Jeremy Wright

Jeremy Wright sacked as culture secretary

PA

30/40 Out: Karen Bradley

Karen Bradley sacked as Northern Ireland secretary

Getty

31/40 Out: James Brokenshire

James Brokenshire sacked as housing and communities secretary

Reuters

32/40 Out: Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mourdaunt sacked as defence secretary

Reuters

33/40 Out: Liam Fox

Liam Fox sacked as international trade secretary

Getty

34/40 Out: Greg Clarke

Greg Clarke sacked as business secretary

PA

35/40 Out: David Mundell

David Mundell sacked as Scottish secretary

Getty

36/40 Out: Damien Hinds

Damien Hinds sacked as education secretary

Getty

37/40 Out: David Gauke

David Gauke resigned as justice secretary

EPA

38/40 Out: Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart resigned as international development secretary

Getty

39/40 Out: David Lidlington

David Lidlington resigned as deputy Prime Minister

PA

40/40 Out: Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer

AFP/Getty

Absent from reporting, though, has been any sense of how Cummings might be more successful than Theresa May in delivering Brexit. Briefings on the new government’s strategy suggest that, this time, and under significant pressure, the EU might fold and agree to amend or even abolish the “backstop” which keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU if all other negotiations fail. Alternatively, the government must just be willing to accept a no deal and the ensuing chaos.

In this they, and Cummings, simply misunderstand the incentives and motivations of the UK’s negotiating partner. The reality is that – with the exception of Ireland – no EU member state will be hit nearly as hard by a no-deal Brexit as the UK itself will, and Brexit is simply a second order problem, not one that exercises political debate, and thus not one where it has any incentive to capitulate to aggressive demands.

This impasse will simply recur in a no-deal scenario, with the EU taking unilateral steps to shelter its massively larger economy while the UK goes begging for imaginary “trade deals”, none of which will be ratified until the shape of the future EU relationship is settled. Nowhere in Cummings’s writing is there any even basic detail on what a future British trade relationship might look like.

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We can also see this tunnel vision in Cummings’s little-reported comments on the Irish border question: he once told his blog readers that Remainers and Irish nationalists had conspired in the lie that customs checks are explicitly prohibited by the Good Friday Agreement. Although the Agreement makes no mention of customs, this is because it simply presumes mutual EU membership and so does not cover trade because it is an EU competency, not a bilateral one.

Cummings also omits to mention that Vote Leave itself had promised that border arrangements would be no less open after Brexit, seemingly unaware that the extremely high political stakes of any other arrangement for Ireland would mean that the EU would hold the UK to this promise above all else. So misunderstanding of the opposition is compounded by tactical miscalculation.

Similarly, nothing Cummings has said indicates he has a more imaginative plan to deal with the lack of a government majority in the House of Commons or with a parliament that it is determined to stop a no-deal Brexit. That’s because – in all likelihood – there isn’t one. If parliament finds a means to stop no deal it will do so. The EU still has the whip hand in negotiations, and Ireland still has many overwhelming reasons not to concede on the backstop. The events of the next few months are therefore likely to be driven by these structural forces, not by brilliant (or otherwise) individuals.

Cummings is therefore likely to leave Downing Street – perhaps sooner rather than later – his bitterness at sclerotic Whitehall only enhanced, his failure no doubt to be blamed on others, and with Britain no closer to reaching a Brexit settlement nearly three years after the referendum. Brexit advocates expecting him to be their saviour are likely to get their fingers burned, and this supposed political genius might one day be remembered as little more than an unusually versatile self-promoter.

Source: “brexit” – Google News

Blog: Leveraged and inverse ETFs may be too risky to sell, says state regulator group – InvestmentNews

The North American Securities Administrators Association is alerting broker-dealers that they should carefully consider whether to permit purchases of leverage and/or inverse exchange-traded funds in retail customer accounts.

(More:Vanguard gives day traders the stiff-arm by dropping inverse, leveraged strategy funds)

In a report on broker-dealer sales practices connected with these nontraditional exchange-traded funds, the organization of state and provincial securities regulators said that the products can present greater risks to investors than do traditional ETFs due to their complexity.

“Registered representatives who recommend these products without fully understanding them and without receiving appropriate supervision by their firms pose a great risk to investors,” said Michael S. Pieciak, NASAA president and Vermont Commissioner of Financial Regulation.

The NASAA report recommends tailored supervisory procedures be established for firms that allow leveraged and/or inverse ETF transactions. It also said that the supervisory procedures address the heightened and specific risks associated with these complex products.

NASAA’s Broker-Dealer Section’s Investment Products and Services Project Group collected information from 118 broker-dealers to gain a better understanding of whether registered representatives are recommending the purchase and sale of leveraged and/or inverse ETFs and, if those purchases and sales are permitted, how firms are supervising such transactions.

Most responding firms that allow customers to purchase and hold leveraged and/or inverse ETFs confirmed they have procedures for these transactions. Several firms, however, indicated they are addressing and monitoring customer suitability, including holding periods.

(More:Life is brutish and short for new ETFs)

“This suggests that there is room for improvement in the development and implementation of leveraged and/or inverse ETF-specific supervisory procedures,” the report concludes.

Source: “financial regulation” – Google News