Chris grayling

Can the Leave campaign mount as scary a Project Fear as David Cameron?

David Cameron’s referendum campaign trail continued today, with the Prime Minister visiting Chester and giving a speech defending Britain’s membership of the European Union. And on the other side his Cabinet colleague Chris Grayling gave a speech warning about the dangers of continuing to stay in the bloc. Neither speech today was particularly angry with the other side – though separately Vote Leave’s Matthew Elliott accused the Prime Minister of being ‘desperate to change the subject from his failure to deliver his manifesto promises on immigration’. Cameron’s main Project Fear theme was to accuse pro-Leave campaigners of seeing job losses as a ‘price worth paying’, and therefore to sow further

Will Cameron pull his punches to help the Tories reunite?

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”James Forsyth, Fraser Nelson & Isabel Hardman discuss the opening skirmishes of the EU referendum campaign” startat=540] Listen [/audioplayer] If Downing Street’s calculations are correct, next week will see politics begin to return to normal. We’ll all move on from talking about Boris Johnson and Brexit and instead start fretting about the budget and pensions: the first phase of this four-month referendum campaign will be over. The two sides will regroup and try to work out what they can take from these initial skirmishes. One lesson from the first weeks of the campaign is that the ‘in’ side have the advantage when the debate is on the economy.

Who will be out for Out?

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”James Forsyth and Vote Leave’s Stephen Parkinson discuss Euroscepticsm”] The Leave campaigns continue to bicker with each other in increasingly absurd fashion, but it would be wrong to think that everything is going the In campaign’s way. Number 10, as I write in The Sun today, have been taken aback by the sheer scale of the hostility to the deal. There have been some very tense meetings in Downing Street this week. Cameron himself is, I understand, acutely aware of how volatile the situation is and how quickly the referendum could turn. But those around him are more confident. They believe that they are succeeding in denying the

Gove axes another Grayling plan

You can tell when Michael Gove is driving all over another one of the policies of his predecessor Chris Grayling purely by the volume of incredibly polite language and fulsome praise that he deploys when doing so. In a written ministerial statement published today, the Justice Secretary announces that he will not be going ahead with major changes to the legal aid system designed by Grayling when he was Justice Secretary. The statement says the following: I would like to place on the record my gratitude for the determined, yet sensitive, way in which my predecessors pursued these economies. Gove also praises the ‘careful negotiation’ that Grayling carried out on the

Michael Gove’s greatest success so far — not being Chris Grayling

Michael Gove’s tenure as Justice Secretary has been notable for U-turns on the most controversial things done by his predecessor, Chris Grayling. At Justice Questions in the Commons today, Gove confirmed another policy reversal to MPs which emerged last week: the criminal courts charge. Since April, the charge meant that convicted criminals had to pay £150 – £1,200 towards to cost of their cases. Some felt the criminal courts charge was unfair, acting as a perverse incentive to plead guilty, and 50 magistrates resigned in protest. Gove explained the government’s decision: ‘The government has listened carefully to the concerns which have been raised about the criminal courts charge and in the light

Chris Grayling: we’ll figure out how to take a measured approach with the Lords ‘in the next few hours’

After the government’s humiliating defeats in the House of Lords yesterday over tax credits, how will it seek revenge on the upper chamber? Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House of Commons, spoke on the Today programme about the government’s plans. On tax credits, he said ‘the Chancellor is clear, he will look again at the transitional arrangements’. But on the relationship between the Commons and the Lords, Grayling said a more careful approach would be taken — one that will be worked out ‘in the next few hours’: ‘The first thing not to do is to react on the hoof to this. We have to have a measured look at what the

Cameron tells Tories they no longer have to follow international law

People go on about the awful pressure of 24/7 media on our leaders, and how hard the constant scrutiny must be to bear. But politicians and civil servants know that more means less. As more news sites and tweeters repeat the same stories, and millions of ‘diverse’ voices say the same thing, the basics of power go unexamined. Take the ministerial code, which guides the conduct of politicians in office. It is one of the fundamentals of public life. The opposition (such as it is) and the media can use it as a stick to beat the government. The prime minister can fire ministers who break it. ‘Ministers of the

Ministers should not push ahead with English votes for English laws next week

The first thing that needs to be said about the near-universally panned proposal for English votes for English laws we debated in the Commons this week is not, ‘why the rush?’ but ‘where’s the seriousness?’ If we want to have a constitutional settlement to a problem which the PM and Chris Grayling see as being such a large one, we need to arrive at a solution that’s going to stick. Going about it the way the government currently intends to is not going to end up with a viable, long-term answer. And Tory MPs like David Davis who have made this point are quite right about how counter-productive rushing through

Michael Gove vs. the ‘creaking’ legal establishment — round one

Members of the legal profession who were hoping Michael Gove’s time would be consumed trying to solve the Human Rights Act puzzle will be disappointed. In a speech to the Legatum Institute this morning, the Justice Secretary confirms he will be bring the same reformist zeal to Britain’s legal system as he did to education. Gove’s main concern, according to the extracts of the speech pre-released, is that our justice system at present is tipped too much in favour of the wealthy. Similarly to the rest of the government’s agenda, he wants a One Nation legal system: ‘There are two nations in our justice system at present. On the one hand, the wealthy, international class

Why not settle the issue of MPs’ pay on the floor of the House of Commons?

Now that the fashionable thing for all MPs to do is to announce that they won’t be ‘taking’ the 10 per cent pay rise planned by IPSA, the government has decided to write a letter opposing the extra £7,000, just in case anyone might accuse any MPs of having their snouts in the trough. Chris Grayling argues in his letter (below) that ‘we continue to believe that despite the welcome signs of progress, the continuing structural deficit shows the job is far from done’. This is quite a compelling argument, particularly given the ongoing public sector pay restraint. But regardless of whether you think MPs should get a pay rise

Justice for Michael Gove

Michael Gove is the new Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Downing Street has just announced. Chris Grayling will move to become Leader of the House. Number 10 is also confirming that, as David Cameron promised during the election campaign, Nicky Morgan will continue as Education Secretary. Becoming Justice Secretary marks a return to Gove running a big department after his service as chief whip in the run up to the general election. I suspect that there will be two things that Gove concentrates on. First, sorting out Britain’s relationship with the ECHR. Grayling had already committed the Tories to withdrawing from the Convention if parliament and courts here could not

Under this government, our prison system is falling apart

It used to be sewing mail bags, picking oakum and working the treadmill, now the government has come up with a wheeze to get convicts busy with sandbags, fence posts and kit for the armed forces. The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, says the ten-year deal will teach convicts ‘the value of a hard day’s work’. This has been tried for six months with Coldingley prison in Surrey and Grayling reports savings of nearly £500,000. Although that figure must be offset by the £72,000 of taxpayers’ money he has just spent trying to overturn a court ruling against his ban on inmates receiving books from visitors. He is also planning major

The Krays, Dennis Nilsen – and Chris Grayling: a conversation with Sir Ivan Lawrence QC

I’m standing with Sir Ivan Lawrence QC in a narrow room at his Pump Court chambers, examining an oil painting sent to him from Broadmoor by his former client the late Ronnie Kray. It is a naive depiction of a house in a field which could, at first glance, be the work of a worryingly forceful five-year-old. Yet what it lacks in finesse it makes up for in emphasis: the signature ‘R Kray’ is daubed in thumping capitals. Sir Ivan defended Kray in his 1969 murder trial over the killing of George Cornell in the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel. Cornell, a member of the rival Richardson gang, had reportedly

The last days of the Cameron administration part 2: Failing Grayling

Of all the reasons to wish this government gone, Chris Grayling is the largest. He is shutting poor and much of the working and lower-middle class out of the justice system. In matters as fundamental to a good life as housing, employment protection and freedom from domestic violence, he has placed them beyond the rule of law. If they go to court, they have no one to plead their cause, while their landlord or employer or ex-husband can hire lawyers to outwit them. The legal system intimidates most potential claimants. They are too frightened and confused to think of representing themselves. I suspect many middle-class graduates are as nervous. Most

Commons uproar: European arrest warrant debate in a ‘total mess’

The government is in a total mess this afternoon. The whole house of Commons has turned on Theresa May and Chris Grayling for the way they have handled the vote on the European arrest warrant. MP after MP is calling, via points of order, for the motion to be withdrawn. The whips are in frantic conversation. Update, 17.26  May is now speaking and she appears to be sticking to her line. I hear that whips are trying to get all of the payroll vote ready to support the business motion that the house will vote on, as there are fears that the government will lose it.

Grayling unveils Tory plan for human rights reform

One of the biggest pledges of the Conservative party conference wasn’t actually made at the Tory conference. It’s being set out today by Chris Grayling and is the Tory plan to strip European judges of their powers over British laws. The Conservatives will scrap the Human Rights Act and introduce a British Bill of Rights which will leave the European Court of Human Rights as an advisory body to the UK. It will continue to use the same basic text of the European convention on human rights, as Grayling says ‘it’s never that document and those principles that is the problem’, but alongside it will be a number of caveats

This government’s disastrous prisons policy is putting the public at risk

Data released yesterday lays bare the true scale of the growing crisis in our prisons. Suicides up 69 per cent in a year. Self-harm up 27 per cent since 2010. Serious assaults up 30 per cent, and the numbers absconding up 10 per cent in a year. One in five prisons rated ‘of concern’ – double the figure 12 months before. Sharp falls in courses to help reform prisoners. Hundreds of sex offenders no longer getting the courses they need to stop them re-offending. Yet you wouldn’t have known this by what the Justice Secretary was doing yesterday. While he was off giving a speech way outside his own brief,

Fifty shades of Grayling

With the delicacy of an Israeli F-16, the Tories entered the summer campaign today with an achingly dull speech in Westminster. Something about Labour and the unions. Mud flew everywhere. You know the drill. It was less than a minute — forty seven seconds to be precise — before the charisma-free zone that is Chris Grayling spluttered the Tory catchphrase ‘long term economic plan’. The fun did not end there. Oh no. Grayling is the model of the modern politician; but, even so, it is impressive for a man to speak for twenty minutes almost entirely in banal cliché. Apparently it’s all a ‘big con’. Labour, you see, would ‘turn

The Coalition letter war steps up a notch

Coalition relations are growing more fractious and sour. Even departments where the rapport between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems had been respectful, such as Justice, are starting to bicker publicly. Today the Mail splashes on a row between the two parties over knife crime, in the week of the stabbing of teacher Ann Maguire. Nick Clegg has refused to support mandatory minimum sentences for repeat knife offences, and the normally secret letters discussing the measures have made their way into the pages of a newspaper. Only a few months ago, ministers and advisers thought things were going sufficiently well in most parts of the Coalition (aside from Education, which

British justice the envy of the world? Tell that to Nigel Evans

I am utterly delighted that Nigel Evans has been acquitted of serious allegations of sexual assault. He is a good, kind, gentle and decent man and a very old friend. I hope that he will be able to reconstruct his political career. Hope? Well yes. He might have been acquitted but the stigma is still there. The country has been salivating at tales of hands down trousers, drunken groping and late night romps. And there is a vociferous group of militants who believe that whatever the decision of a jury, any man accused of rape must be guilty. So in the eyes of some, Nigel’s acquittal is meaningless. If nothing