Sunday 1 September 2019

Normal business resumes

It's himself

"It's like being in a plane, assured by the pilot we're on course for a smooth landing, while the cabin crew warn all the passengers to adopt the brace position"

My wind cooling my broth 
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought 
What harm a wind too great at sea might do. 
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run, 
But I should think of shallows and of flats, 
And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand...

Talking of whom...

Andrew Marr was back this morning and his introduction began as follows:
Good morning and well done for getting up!  
All that energy poor Rob Burley put into explaining why the unpopular move to 10 o'clock for the last series was actually a wonderful, well-thought-out idea, and yet here it was back in it's old spot again!

Andrew then delivered his first September sermon:
Parliament's back this week, briefly, before it's put into cold storage by Boris Johnson's government. He insists he's trying to get a deal with the EU, but he faces sabotage from rebel MPs. Brussels still says there are no signs of a deal. And in the meantime, we are all being told to prepare for no deal in a massive new government campaign, under the headline Get Ready. It's like being in a plane, assured by the pilot we're on course for a smooth landing, while the cabin crew warn all the passengers to adopt the brace position.  
He then introduced his main political guests, pre-announcing his 'gotcha' moment for Mr Gove (which we'll return to later, as Mr Gove tried to 'gotcha' The Andrew Marr Show back!):
I'm going to be talking to Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister in charge of no-deal preparations, who told me earlier in the summer he was against proroguing parliament. And to Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, who spent all summer planning how to stop no deal, though he hasn't, in truth, much time left now. Two men, perhaps, better placed than anyone else to answer the simple question - what happens now?  
Then came a promise of disinterested experts:
We are going to try to explain and analyse what is going on during this extraordinary political episode. Today, I'm going to be talking to the former Black Rod, David Leakey, and a former clerk in the House of Commons, Hannah White, trying to understand what's possible for Parliament and what isn't. What's outside the Constitution? Is this a coup? Might a no-deal Brexit be stopped in the courts and what the Queen can be reasonably expected to do herself?  
Did you know that David Leakey used to Director General of the European Union Military Staff, reporting to the EU's High Representative (aka foreign minister)? I didn't until I Googled him. Wonder if that helps explain why he sounded rather sniffy about Boris's actions? Or is that too cynical? As for Dr. Hannah White, the expert from the Institute for Government, her views on the matter were known before her invitation to appear (one presumes), given that she's written pieces saying that proroguing Parliament would be "undemocratic" and "deeply troubling", so she came pre-armed with a strong opinion on the matter. 


Then it was onto the paper reviewers - and we had a less-spotted male of the species on the sofa this morning:
And on the news review, we've got two of Fleet Street's editors, Fraser Nelson from The Spectator and Alison Phillips from the Daily Mirror.  
It was Alison's debut, and she took to it like a drake to water. 

And Andrew's introduction ended with a personal statement:
If, in an hour's time, you don't understand more, then we, but in particular Iwill have failed you rather badly. 
A worthy intention, but I think ITN's famous newsreader Alistair Stewart probably put it best when he tweeted:
Post-'Marr', albeit on catch-up, I am as clear as the re-heated porridge Michael Gove referred to on Brexit, No Deal, Prorogation and a General Election.
Likewise, sir!


"a huge amount of anger and outrage right across the country"

My Twitter feed deliberately isn't a bubble but I did get the sense from it that the numbers protesting on the streets yesterday across the country were a good deal smaller than previous such protests, so I was a little surprised by this intervention from Andrew this morning: 
Andrew Marr: Meanwhile, out on the streets, a huge amount of anger and outrage right across the country. Small towns as well as great cities.  
Alison Phillips: Absolutely everywhere. This week, protest as far afield as Leamington spa, Doncaster, Dundee. Extraordinary scenes yesterday and this is not the end of it. There are talks about transport being closed down, towns and cities coming to a halt. Clearly a lot of very angry people.  
Andrew Marr: I spotted a little placard saying "Chichester is cross", and when Chichester is cross we know something extraordinary is happening. 
Really? Or are they "evidence of a twitching corpse"?

Not angry


"All across Britain..."

Now. as for that 'falling-out' between Michael Gove and Andrew Marr, here's a transcript:

Andrew Marr: And yet here come the bet you would expect, I suspect, which is what you told me in June. You said in June that proroguing would be absolutely wrong. Let's remind ourselves:
Clip of Michael Gove on the Marr show in June: We are a parliamentary democracy and suspending or, as the constitutional experts call it, proroguing parliament, in order to try to get no deal through I think would be wrong....[clip jumps]... I think it would be wrong for many reasons. I think it would not be true to the best traditions of British democracy. 
All across Britain people agree with Michael Gove in June and disagree and are confused and bamboozled by Michael Gove in September.  
Michael Gove: All across Britain people are wondering why you didn't show the question before that answer... 
Andrew Marr: (interrupting) Well, the question did not mention the 31st of October.  
Michael Gove: No, no, no. The question did actually mention October, because it was in the context of a debate happening during the leadership election. And there was an idea going round at the time which you put to me, which was that Parliament shouldn't sit at all during October, that it shouldn't sit at all before we left on the 31st of October, and I specifically said that I thought that would be wrong. That is not what is happening now. And I think it is critically important that on behalf of, not just of myself, but other politicians who have been misrepresented that...  
Andrew Marr: Oh!!! 
Michael Gove: No... Absolutely, Andrew. Because there was a live debate at the time... 
Andrew Marr: (interrupting) This is a distinction without a difference. You're treating people as fools here. 
Michael Gove: No, there's a huge difference. There's a huge difference, Andrew, and it is disingenuous... 
Andrew Marr: (interrupting) I...I...I...Disengenuous or not. I thought... 
Michael GoveI'm not making a personal point. But it is critical that people realise that there is a big difference. There has to be prorogation before a Queen's speech... 
Andrew Marr: (interrupting) No, but you're moving crucial parliamentary days just before this. I thought...I thought when you said "proroguing parliament in order to try to get no deal through, I think would be wrong", you meant "proroguing parliament in order to get a no deal through would be wrong". I thought you meant what you said.  
Michael Gove: Yes, but you haven't actually revealed what you said beforehand, which was in the context of that leadership debate. And I think it's important because a number of my colleagues have been consistently misrepresented in this respect. 
So, who was being disingenuous here?

Andy and Mike 

Well, here's the programme's own transcript of the relevant bit of the June edition in full:
Andrew Marr: So what do you say to your colleagues who say well there’s an obvious answer to this problem. Don’t let parliament sit in October. Then we get out, parliament can’t stop us getting out, we prorogue. What about that? Dominic Raab suggested that, Esther McVey was saying the same thing on this programme.  
Michael GoveI don’t think that is the right thing to do. I think that we live in a parliamentary democracy. Parliament must vote in order to ensure that we leave the European Union. My view is that almost everyone in parliament voted to trigger Article 50. There are some honourable exceptions like Ken Clarke. When they voted to trigger Article 50 they voted to say that we are leaving the European Union. MPs must honour that referendum result. But we must also respect the fact that we are a parliamentary democracy. And suspending or, as the Constitutional experts call it, proroguing parliament in order to try to get no deal through I think would be wrong. 
Andrew Marr: Do you think it would be wrong because it would drag the Queen into the centre of this controversy?  
Michael Gove: I think it will be wrong for many reasons. I think it would not be true to the best traditions of British democracy. I argued that we should leave the European Union because I wanted us to take back control of our democracy and that means putting parliament at the centre of decision making. I took sacrifices in that campaign, make sacrifices in that campaign in order to secure a restoration of additional powers to parliament and I think it is important that we respect that. 
Hmm. I think Andrew Marr couldn't quite recall the question he'd put back in June and floundered somewhat as a result but reading the transcript it's pretty clear that Mr Gove - despite having a point about the context of the question put to him first there was being somewhat disgenguous given that the points he went on to make in his original answers clearly referred to the idea of prorogation more generally. So he was rather trying to take us for fools there, wasn't he? (How unlike a politician!).


  1. Things I didn't know:

    That Marr was back this morning and at 9.

    That David Leakey was something in the EU.

    Isn't he the one who has complained publicly as well as to the official inquiry by a retired judge about bullying by the Speaker Bercow?

    That Hannah White was a clerk in the Commons.
    I remember seeing her once at a select committee hearing improperly dressed for such a formal purpose and I wondered why anyone would do that, who is supposedly something important like Head of Research at an organisation - I think that's what she was.
    From the photo above at least she completed getting dressed before the Marr programme.

  2. Marr originally asked if it would be right to prorogue parliament as a means of getting a 'no deal' Brexit and Gove thought it wasn't.

    But Gove could rightly say that parliament was being prorogued to leave space for party conferences and to permit a new Queen's Speech, after all if it was to get 'no deal' through why allow any days to in September/October anyway?

    Meanwhile 'the other side' clearly want 'no Brexit' not a 'no deal Brexit' and have very selective ideas about democracy!

    1. Quite! The way I would put it is this: Boris is under no compunction to help Remainer MPs block Brexit (many acting like Soubry and Allen in direct opposition to what they said to their electorates they would do, back in 2017), especially as (a) Parliament has already spoken on this matter legislatively (enacting that we are leaving on 31st October, deal or no deal) and (b) it is perfectly legitimate to prorogue for a period before a new Parliamentary session (and Boris as a new PM is perfectly entitled to bring in a new Queen's Speech).

  3. When referencing the "Institute for Government" it should be prefaced by "the Remainiac", and further clarified by "financed and controlled by leading Remainer extremist Lord Sainsbury". Carole Codswallop wants great transparency about think tanks, so that might be the sort of thing she was thinking of.


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