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Olly Robbins bites back at Brussels - May 25,2012: Brexit Bulletin | The Telegraph.
The best news and analysis from the Telegraph's unrivalled Brexit team in London, Brussels and beyond.
Olly Robbins fires back at Brussels after British negotiators accused of 'chasing the fantasy'
By Asa Bennett Brexit commissioning editor
Theresa May’s right-hand man for the Brexit negotiations, Oliver
Robbins tends to operate below the radar. Sir Bill Cash has been trying
for a while to get him to answer questions before his European Scrutiny
Committee, even resorting to asking the prime minister in the Commons to
use her “charm” to persuade him to appear. The mandarin has since responded to the arch-Eurosceptic’s invitation to say he won’t actually attend, but will go and talk to Hilary Benn’s Brexit committee instead in July.
about Mr Robbins’ public scrutiny comes as he has stepped up to defend
British negotiators after they were accused by their European
counterparts of “chasing the fantasy”
in their approach to the talks. British proposals had been “calmly and
professionally presented”, he wrote in a second ever message on Twitter.
Britain’s negotiating effort may get the Robbins seal of
approval, but it gets a worse review from Eurosceptics. Jeremy Hosking, a
major Brexit-backing Tory donor, has told my colleague Christopher Hope
on his latest edition of his eponymous podcast that he fears the talks
“resemble a Greek tragedy and it only ends when everyone is dead”. Mrs
May needs to be replaced “as soon as possible”, he warned, adding that
“the strategy is not working”. Brexiteers may be surprised to find
themselves agreeing with the EU on how British negotiators are doing
Nigel Farage catches up with Jean-Claude Juncker in the European Parliament
British MEPs learn they'll have more work, but Ukip plans a party
the meantime, British MEPs are learning that they will not be able to
quit on Brexit day, as a report commissioned by the European Parliament
found that they will be “legally required”
to complete their mandates and work for about eight weeks after the UK
leaves the EU next March. Nigel Farage thought it was a joke at first,
and insisted he will not staying after the UK leaves.
My colleague James Crisp has found that the former Ukip leader might make his final appearance in Brussels by
joining Ukippers in cheering and pop champagne in front of the TV
cameras when MEPs gather to haul down the UK flag from outside the
European Parliament. Most MEPs will treat it as a solemn moment, but a
Ukip spokesman said “it will be, certainly for Ukip MEPs, a day of
Sajid Javid could be the leader-in-waiting the Tories need to restore purpose to the party
By Fraser Nelson Spectator editor and Telegraph columnist
This time last year, it all seemed to be over for Sajid Javid.
Hailed as one of David Cameron’s rising stars, he had fallen foul of
Theresa May’s new regime and her shift away from free markets. Hers was a
world where government set “industrial strategies” for businesses to
follow: he had came into politics to fight such ideas, so he was clearly
doomed. He was being heavily briefed against by No 10 to the effect
that, when Mrs May won her inevitable strong majority, she would
celebrate by sacking him.
But things changed and Mr Javid is now
the 82nd Home Secretary and perhaps the first to be appointed through
the gritted teeth of a Prime Minister. Her way of doing business –
robotic, target-driven, efficient but often uncaring – had led to the
Windrush scandal. He had seen the disaster coming so, when Amber Rudd
resigned, was the obvious choice to succeed her. Mrs May’s party would
not have tolerated her appointing a yes-man (or woman) to clean up her
mess, so she ended up promoting the man she had been all set to bury.
barely a month into the job, Mr Javid is warming to this second chance
at political life. In his speech to the Police Federation this week he
praised officers rather than upbraiding them as Mrs May had tended to
do. While she had insinuated that officers were racially discriminating
with stop-and-search powers, he urged them to use such powers as much as
is necessary. As for racial abuse, he pointed out that policemen – like
his brother – are also likely to be victims of it. And from his brother
he knows how policemen can be assaulted, even hospitalised, for doing
The EU and Britain's free trade interests are the same
a big change of tone, not just for the government but Mr Javid himself.
He has been in the Cabinet for four years but only now has he really
started to talk about his family, his upbringing and how it shapes his
politics. He grew up in poverty with a bus driver father in a Muslim
household – just like Sadiq Khan. But unlike the Mayor of London, Mr
Javid seldom talks about his background, which seemed not so much
bashful as just plain daft. Being able to explain what drives you is a
basic skill of politics – and one that Mr Javid has been slow to master.
He is quite uninterested in himself, which is a shame when so many
might be interested in him.
His friends say he can’t bring
himself to spin a hard-luck story because he feels nothing but gratitude
for his upbringing. A mother who, though illiterate, supervised his
study every day. Then Exeter University, where he met his wife. A vice
president of Chase Manhattan bank at the age of 25, and a close
relationship with four brothers whose lives are – like his – a case
study in what Michael Howard famously called the “British dream”.
also a case study of the type of Tory who dislikes identity politics
and, as a result, seldom talks about who he is. Now, he’s starting to –
and with some effect. The Windrush debacle, he said, could have affected
his parents as they arrived in Britain at around the same time. When he
expresses disgust at the way immigrants and their families were treated
by the government, his anger is palpable and credible. If his personal
glasnost continues, it will raise questions as to what might come next.
idea of Sajid Javid as Prime Minister would have been seen as a joke
until fairly recently. He’s made his fair share of missteps. He’s a
Eurosceptic who ended up backing Remain, deciding at an embarrassingly
late stage that the cost of leaving would outweigh the benefits. As
Business Secretary he was seen to have mishandled the Tata Steel plant
drama, having to be dragged back from a trip to Australia while the
factory fought for its life. He once said the words “industrial” and
“strategy” should not appear in the same sentence, only to serve a Prime
Minister who created a Department for Industrial Strategy.
He isn’t disliked, which counts for a lot at a time when Tory leadership elections are won by whoever has the fewest enemies
less principled politician would then have gone along with Mrs May’s
dirigisme, to keep his career afloat. Instead he fought her, and
expected to pay for it with his career. Even his last job, as Housing
Secretary, was heading towards a dead end: he had come up with fairly
radical plan for a mass housebuilding programme that sacrificed some
green belt and required a lot of government borrowing. It was vetoed by
No 10, so he ended up stymied yet again – until he ended up Home
Secretary with quite a free hand. And a chance to show his colleagues
what he can do.
His first change – rhetorical style – is
relatively easy. The bigger test will be if he can win the battle that
his predecessor kept losing: creating a more sensible immigration regime
with more Tier 2 visas for highly-skilled workers. Ms Rudd wanted to
let in a lot more doctors, engineers and computer programmers. Mrs May
wanted no deviation from the overall target – and she won. This, of
course, is the inflexibility that led to the Windrush debacle. If Mr
Javid can replace this with a more liberal system – which can easily be
introduced after Brexit – he’ll have won the gratitude of his party.
isn’t disliked, which counts for a lot at a time when Tory leadership
elections are won by whoever has the fewest enemies. When he ran for the
leadership two years ago, the junior partner on a joint ticket with the
now-forgotten Stephen Crabb, they presented themselves as the “nice
guy” duo. That was the biggest boast either could make, having not
achieved much or made clear what they stood for. As Home Secretary, Mr
Javid is making it clearer now: he’s a reformer, someone who wants to
change the tone of the party and is impatient for radical change.
Someone who’s sure of himself and his form of conservatism.
course, it could all end horribly. He might end up stepping on one of
the Home Office landmines, as Ms Rudd did. But if he survives, he might
end up being seen as the best chance of restoring purpose and direction
to a party in dire need of both.
In the news
Hammond battles over Galileo:
The UK will build its own "competing" satellite navigation system if
frozen out of the European Union's Galileo project, Philip Hammond has
said. The European commission has threatened to shut British firms out
of the €10 billion (£8.8bn) programme, citing legal issues about sharing
sensitive information with a non-member state. The UK cannot accept
such a decision, Mr Hammond told reporters while arriving in Brussels
for a meeting of finance ministers on Friday.
“We need access to a satellite system of this kind," the Chancellor
said. "A plan has always been to work as a core member of the Galileo
project, contributing financially and technically to the project. [Telegraph]
Cringeworthy consistent claim:
A Labour frontbencher was ridiculed by the Question Time audience after
claiming her party’s Brexit policy had been “consistent from the
beginning”. Anneliese Dodds, a shadow treasury minister, prompted
laughter as she made the claim during a clash with Anna Soubry, the
leading Tory Remain MP. Ms Dodds responded to the laughter by
challenging audience members to identify any of Labour’s inconsistencies
and “shout it out”. [Telegraph]
Carney anticipates Brexit boom:
Mark Carney has claimed that progress in Brexit negotiations towards a
"deep and special" relationship with the EU could unleash a "boom in
investment" as cautious bosses dust off growth plans that have been on
hold. Consumer spending could also rocket, the Governor of the Bank of
England said, in a significant boost for the economy’s prospects.
Earlier this week he said Brexit had hit economic growth by 2pc and
reduced household incomes by £900 relative to the outcome of a Remain
vote in the referendum. [Telegraph]