James Forsyth

Unconditional surrender

Unconditional surrender
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The front benches on both sides felt that they had to say that they accepted Kelly in full and so Harriet Harman and Sir George Young did just that. One member of the shadow Cabinet told me earlier this week the only option for the political class is unconditional surrender. But it does seem like there might be some areas where Kelly is watered down. The bit of Sir George Young’s statement that stood out to me was on commuting rules, where the shadow Leader of the House said: “As Sir Christopher says, IPSA will need to look closely at the proposals in this report. There are legitimate concerns with aspects of it, particularly the rules surrounding who was expected to get back to their constituencies at night.” Also the emphasis placed by Harman and Young on employment law when talking about the work of relatives suggests that there might be a legal way out of this problem.  

The fact that five British servicemen had died in Afghanistan today meant that the House knew it couldn’t be seen to be getting outraged about changes to its expenses. But when Bercow announced that the new head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will be paid up to £100,000 a year, significantly more than a backbench MP, there was a sustained jeer.  

Interestingly, Cameron left the Chamber before Harman’s statement, which Brown stayed for. Cameron’s circle had an intense debate earlier in the week about whether there was a way Cameron could outflank Brown on this issue, perhaps by calling for the immediate implementation of Kelly. But they decided against that.

The next thing on today’s agenda is a Cameron convened meeting of Tory MPs at 2.45. Then, Cameron’s Europe press conference at 4.