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“A resumption of normal service”

The Telegraph has a scoop. This might not go down too well in the working class areas:

Exclusive: Philip Hammond tells business chiefs MPs will stop no-deal Brexit

Philip Hammond told business leaders that the “threat” of a no-deal Brexit could be taken “off the table” within days and potentially lead to Article 50 “rescinded”, a leaked recording of a conference call reveals.

The Chancellor set out how a backbench Bill could effectively be used to stop any prospect of no deal. He suggested that ministers may even back the plan when asked for an “assurance” by the head of Tesco that the Government would not oppose the motion.

He claimed next week’s Bill, which could force the Government to extend Article 50, was likely to win support and act as the “ultimate backstop” against a no-deal Brexit, as a “large majority in the Commons is opposed to no deal under any circumstances”.

A recording of the call, passed to The Daily Telegraph, recounts how the Chancellor, Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, and Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, spent nearly an hour talking to the leaders of 330 leading firms.

They included the heads of Siemens, Amazon, Scottish Power, Tesco and BP, all of whom warned against no deal.

The disclosure reveals the close nature of the relationship between the Treasury and some of Britain’s biggest businesses, and how they appear to be working in tandem to block a hard Brexit. It will also add to suspicions that Mr Hammond has been orchestrating attempts to soften Brexit.

Mr Hammond assured the business leaders that the Government would stop spending money on no-deal preparations “as soon as we know we are not going there” and give businesses “a resumption of normal service”.

So the Chancellor of the Exchequer sees himself as serving the heads of Siemens, Amazon, Scottish Power, BP and Tesco, among others. Perhaps I am reading too much into one ill-chosen word, but that is not a good look. If he had not used that word it would still not be a good look. The whole conversation, the whole meeting, reeks of the sort of black-tie cronyism that gives capitalism a bad name.

24 comments to “A resumption of normal service”

  • bobby b

    As a respecter of IP rights, it pains me to say this, but that article, and the accompanying transcript of the phone call, ought not be behind a paywall.

    It strikes me as too important for such a limitation.

  • James Strong.

    I am gwtting very angry about all this, and more than a bit baffled.

    If No Deal is taken ‘off the table’ then the EU can offer a deal that they deliberately design to be unacceptable to the UK, and since ‘No Deal’ is ‘off he table’ then the UK is stuck.

    I have today asked Remainers to explain why ruling out ‘No Deal’ is a sensible policy and await their replies.

    If anyone here can explain it to me, other than by saying that it’s a tactic by lying Remainers who simply want to remain, then I’d be very interested.

    I have written to my MP this morning to ask him and his side to be much more assertive in countering this ‘off the table’ idea.

  • Nullius in Verba

    This should hardly be a surprise. Both of the major parties are Protectionist – the Labour party stand for the protection of the labour market, protecting jobs from outside competition, and the Conservatives for the protectionism of big business. Labour are funded by the unions to protect their interests, as they see them, and big business fund the Tories likewise.

    It’s what the EU is for, after all. It’s a big Protectionist wall around Europe, to keep out the competition and (they believe) protect European jobs and industries within it. Protectionist tariffs are a conspiracy between producers and governments to rip off consumers, and keep prices high. Of *course* business wants to stay in the EU, and of *course* the Tories are dancing to their paymasters’ tune.

    Protectionist beliefs have always been the problem here.

  • James Strong

    I want to float this idea and put it open to refinement, improvement or rejection.

    I am thinking of withholding some of my tax – not a lot, £100. It wouldn’t damage the running of taxpayer-funded services but it would be a crime.

    Then in court I would explain why and invite the jury to acquit.

    It would have to go to Crown Court because there would be no chance of an acquittal in a Magistrates’ Court.

    Is there anyone here with expertise in tax law and criminal law who can advise on the risks and benefits?

  • James Strong

    An earlier comment of mine seems to have gone missing.

    It was about what I see as the nonsense of taking No Deal ‘off the table’.

    If it is ‘off the table’ then the EU can offer a deal they deliberately design to be unacceptable to the UK.

    I can’t see the sense of what these Remainers say, except it being part of their dishonest efforts to prevent Brexit.

    I have written to my MP to ask him and the Leave side to be a lot more assertive in countering this nonsense.

  • Mark

    The merging of state and corporate power is a reasonable definition of fascism isn’t it?

  • djc

    I would like to see a list of the names of these ‘ 330 leading firms’, just so I know which not to use.

  • This might not go down too well in the working class areas:

    I sincerely hope it will also go down badly in Tory party and Tory voter areas.

    As a respecter of IP rights, it pains me to say this, but that article, and the accompanying transcript of the phone call, ought not be behind a paywall. (bobby b, January 17, 2019 at 12:14 am

    I think it will nevertheless swiftly get into a wider public domain. And if it helps the Telegraph sells more papers and online subs in doing so, that seems a good thing at this time.

  • Robbo

    @James Strong
    If I remember correctly, tax cases go to a tax tribunal, not Crown Court. There is no jury. Appeal is to the High court, again, no jury. If you don’t pay up after losing in court, your property will be seized and sold. I would suggest this is not a good plan. YMMV

  • Paul Marks

    “Big Business”, or most of it, has supported “Remain” from the start.

    They will say this is because “it is in the best interests of the company” – but that is a LIE. Yes one can say certain regulations help crush competition to Big Business, but that is NOT what this is really about.

    In truth Big Business support for the European Union is the same as the support for the European Union by Prime Minister Theresa May – who appointed Mr Hammond BECAUSE he is a “Remainer” (just as Mrs May is a “Remainer”) – it is FASHION. P.C. Fashion – the same as Mrs May standing up and making a speech denouncing “poverty, inequality and discrimination” as “injustices”. Mrs May parrots the Talking Points of modern Marxism WITHOUT even knowing what she is doing.

    Does Mrs May understand that if anyone actually put her own speech to the House of Commons (the speech last night denouncing “poverty, inequality and discrimination”) into practice, the wealth of her rich banker husband would be confiscated and he himself would be executed? I suspect, on balance, that Mrs May is not very wise (although she is very cunning – not the same thing) and does NOT understand this.

    Does Big Business understand that they are funding far left groups and causes (“Diversity”, “Social Justice”) which would mean that the senior staff and shareholders would be robbed and murdered? Most likely NOT – they do not really understand what they are doing, they were just taught (at school and university) that this leftist stuff (including the European Union “we must all unite – it is good for PEACE”) is a “good thing”. So they do it – they are cunning (very cunning), but they are not wise.

    Big Business types may have the cunning of pigs (no doubt Mr Hammond is very cunning), but they do not really understand matters of “political theory” (I am sure Mrs May and Mr Hammond and the rest of Big Business just go to sleep if anyone tries to explain such things to them). They fund and support the forces that will, eventually, rob and murder them – and will rob and murder their families.

    The question I find myself unable to answer is “do I care?”

  • Mr Ed

    @ James Strong

    I am thinking of withholding some of my tax – not a lot, £100. It wouldn’t damage the running of taxpayer-funded services but it would be a crime.

    Then in court I would explain why and invite the jury to acquit.

    I believe that juries are kept far away from such cases, unless it is an indictable criminal offence, the route I think that HMRC would go down would be from the Taxes Management Act 1970.

    It would be a County Court matter in England and Wales, with a judge sitting alone. Costs and possible tax penalties would follow.

  • Paul Marks

    Chancellor Philip Hammond is almost the stereotype of the “greedy pig businessman” – he has made millions and never let an opportunity pass him by. But he is, at the same time, quite sincere in his establishment left beliefs – although he does not really understands these “theory” matters, he knowns that “Social Justice” is a “Good Thing” and that the European Union is a “good thing” – “we must all unite – for PEACE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE, all of Europe indeed the whole WORLD!” – Mr Hammond dimly remembers being taught something like this at school and university, and he is quite sincere in his garbled beliefs.

    Even Robert Maxwell was quite sincere in his establishment leftism – and I am not being sarcastic, I mean it. Maxwell, Hammond, May – all quite sincere in their establishment leftism (sincere without really understanding it).

  • pete

    Brexit has clearly demonstrated that big business and Guardian reading types are all part of the same section of society.

  • Will Sheward

    djc said:

    I would like to see a list of the names of these ‘ 330 leading firms’, just so I know which not to use.

    One or more of them leaked the conversation to the Telegraph. So they aren’t all bad.


  • John B

    Extending or revoking Article 50 is meaningless jibber-jabber.

    Article 50 is a provision in the Lisbon Treaty and can neither be extended nor revoked without due process through the EU machine and agreement of all the Parliaments of the signatories.

    In any case what exactly would be the effect? The EU Notification of Withdrawal Act 2017 was legislation which obliged the Executive to give notice of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU under the Article 50 provision. The notification was sent… it cannot be unsent. Like the bell rung, which cannot be unrung.

    Then there is the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 which makes it the Law to leave on 29/03.

    Whatever meaningless yap about Article 50, extensions,, second referendum, general election, UK leaves on that date.

    Apparently, Leave MPs made sure a date and time was in the Act precisely to avoid what is currently being attempted, to delay, prevent, overturn Brexit. May herself has confirmed at least twice in Parliament the Brexit date and time.

    Today the French have announced it is ‘less and less improbable’ that there will be no deal and are putting in place procedures for no-deal accordingly.

    That is a clear sign the EU know the game is up, even if Desperados in the UK are still clinging on to their forelorn hopes.

    The EU threw the dice confident they would win, but their gamble failed. They realise that. There is nothing left for them to give – they made that abundantly clear, so Merkel’s ‘still time for negotiations’ is just blather.

    Staying in the Customs Union has now just been ruled out, the so-called Irish backstop will not be removed or changed so having a deal that satisfies all parties is just not possible.

    The problem here is the EU has been seeking a political solution either to trap the UK in the EU and/or hamper its economic success as a warning to others who might think of leaving, whilst the UK has been seeking an economic solution. These two aims are not compatible.

    May accepted a politician solution foisted on her and tried to sell it as an economic solution, but nobody would buy it.

    What’s left to ‘negotiate’? It is no good people saying no-deal is unacceptable, if there is not a deal to be had. No deal is the reality.

  • John B (January 17, 2019 at 2:00 pm), what you say is in a sense quite formally correct but I think some remoaners are getting past what is even formally correct. It is like saying there is no case for impeaching Trump – true, but not in itself quite the complete answer to the question, “Will anyone try?”

    Formal correctness matters. As with Bercow’s blatant lie about the rules, so more generally, the odds are getting better that some of the things remoaners and EUrocrats may try next can honestly (and formally) be declared retrospectively invalid by any future PM or commons majority with the mere will to do so even if they appeared to survive for a moment. However this is not a complete answer to the question, “Will they try it on?”

  • david morris

    Niall K

    “Will they try it on” ?

    Almost certainly. Allegedly the Cabinet Office is floating a second referendum with three choices: No Deal Brexit, May’s Deal or No Brexit. It would be by alternative vote, ie you rate your preferences 1, 2. The thinking is that the first round might go No Deal 23, May’s Deal 37, No Brexit 40. The second round would then go May’s Deal 60, No Brexit 40. (all based on opinion poll data).

    I almost welcome this. It will indeed be amusing to see the reaction of the Westminster Bubble when an enraged electorate descends upon them for “full & frank discussion” with their representatives to explain that when a clear instruction is given, it would be wise to enact on said instruction.

  • James Strong

    My thanks to Robbo and Mr.Ed. I will pay my tax in full.

    Any ideas about effecive protest would be welcome. We must rule out the Ceausescu option.

  • Mark

    If any referendum was held after 29th March, surely the only options would be “stay out” or “rejoin on far more onerous terms”.

    Is repealing the 2017/2018 acts difficult or time consuming? I’m not aware it’s even been suggested.

  • Mr Ed

    John B (may your sloop sail on)

    Then there is the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 which makes it the Law to leave on 29/03.

    Whatever meaningless yap about Article 50, extensions,, second referendum, general election, UK leaves on that date.

    There is a ‘but’ here, as the Withdrawal Act contains provisions for ‘exit day’ (defined in the Act as 29th March 2019 at 23.00 hours), to be altered by a Minister laying a Statutory Instrument before Parliament and if that instrument is approved by both the Commons and Lords, then ‘exit day’ can be changed by the power in Section 20 of that Act.

    “exit day” means 29 March 2019 at 11.00 p.m. (and see subsections (2) to (5));

    (2)In this Act references to before, after or on exit day, or to beginning with exit day, are to be read as references to before, after or at 11.00 p.m. on 29 March 2019 or (as the case may be) to beginning with 11.00 p.m. on that day.

    (3)Subsection (4) applies if the day or time on or at which the Treaties are to cease to apply to the United Kingdom in accordance with Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union is different from that specified in the definition of “exit day” in subsection (1).

    (4)A Minister of the Crown may by regulations—

    (a)amend the definition of “exit day” in subsection (1) to ensure that the day and time specified in the definition are the day and time that the Treaties are to cease to apply to the United Kingdom, and

    (b)amend subsection (2) in consequence of any such amendment.

    (5)In subsections (3) and (4) “the Treaties” means the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

    So unless the basis for changing ‘exit day’ were to be outwith the power in the Act, e.g. Wednesbury unreasonable, then all it takes is for one minister to stick a document in the Parliamentary chambers and call for resolutions from both Houses, with those passing, the whole departure day can be moved, allowing time for more explicit shenanigans.

    The only scope for challenge might be the purpose granted by the Act ‘to ensure that the day and time specified in the definition are the day and time that the Treaties are to cease to apply to the United Kingdom, which is very odd wording, almost circular.

  • bobby b

    Mr. Ed, I read that as a sort of “savings clause”, so that, if the Withdrawal Act exit date – 29 March 2019 – for some reason turns out to be incorrect as compared to the exit date that the EU Treaty sets out – i.e., if they did the math wrong and the EU Treaty calls for a date that really ISN’T 29 March 2019 – this saves the Act from becoming void, and allows the Act’s exit date to simply be refigured to match what the EU Treaty requires.

    The wording isn’t circular because it’s comparing your new Act to the requirements of the Treaty that holds you in the EU.

    I think. 😕

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b

    Thanks for that, I see it as with subsection (3) being there as a means for a change in exit day if there is a change in the date for withdrawal at a UK/EU agreement level, which presumably has been the plan all along, otherwise this would not be likely to have been so worded. So it might be that the EU and UK simply agree to change the date for exit day, (this is done by Ministers, not Parliament) and then a Minister simply amends exit date, and Parliament nods it through with a one-off resolution in each House.

    Article 50 (3). The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

    The way I see it working is that Mrs May agrees to an extension (as does the European Council, unanimously), and then ‘exit day’ is moved, ultimately to some point in 2021 or thereabouts and they slog on to get a withdrawal agreement that is as bad as the current one or as close as possible. So there should be moves to fudge a new withdrawal date in by the end of February 2019, so that the resolution can be laid before Parliament. That procedure is in Schedule 7, paragraph 14, these things normally have 28 days but it might be 28 minutes given previous form:

    Power to amend the definition of “exit day”

    14A statutory instrument containing regulations under section 20(4) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

  • Any ideas about effective protest would be welcome. We must rule out the Ceausescu option.

    You do realise that the Ceaușescu option is the only thing keeping many of these remoaners from actively pursuing treason rather than just mouthing off about it?

    Not that I would do that or advocate it, obviously 🙂 but certainly some have and will, so it’s not exactly “ruled out” and the traitors in Westminster understand this (hence their annoyance at being frustrated)

    As for “effective measures” the model being suggested at the moment (that seems most feasible) is a variation of the original fuel protests of the early 2000’s, except more widespread geographically and a lot more people involved.

    This would involve blockading key installations such as refineries, power stations as well as key transport links (rolling protests, abandoned cars, etc.)

    It’s not got beyond the “angry muttering” stage at the moment, but something along those lines seems quite do-able, would be more effective than the usual Westminster banner parades and would be hard for the government (if they can be called that nowadays, since they are acting more like a junta) would find it hard to ignore or just put it down to “Marxist agitators” as is the usual playbook.

  • Tim the Coder

    While certainly not advocating any illegal act, I note how successful the French yellow jackets have been in disabling speed cameras.
    Very clever of them.
    I wonder when it will spread to parking meters/notices. Cuts off a major revenue flow.