David gauke

The fiery frustrations of the independent conservatives

Dominic Grieve, David Gauke and Anne Milton face a big challenge to keep their seats come 12 December. The trio were among 21 Tory MPs who lost the whip when they backed the Cooper-Letwin bill back in September. Last night, Grieve, Gauke and Milton teamed up with the former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine to hold an event in Grieve’s Buckinghamshire constituency of Beaconsfield to rally against the party they once called home. While the odds might be against them in their bids to retain their seats as independents, the three candidates are optimistic. They embraced their newfound independence, telling voters they could ‘make the difference’ and generally talking up their

What on earth are the Lib Dems up to?

Jo Swinson is right. Most of the gains that it’s worth her party aiming for would be made at the expense of the Conservatives. There are three reasons. First, glance at the 29 seats where the Liberal Democrats came second in 2017. Some 22 produced a ‘close’ result. Sixteen of these are held by the Tories, and only four by Labour. As my Times colleague Oliver Wright explains: ‘Even quite a dramatic swing from any of the other parties towards the Lib Dems could still reap very little reward.’ Secondly, Conservative and Lib Dem ideologies are not diametrically opposed. Anyone who’d even consider voting Tory would be fiercely resistant to

How will the independent ex-Tory candidates cope in the election campaign?

This election is going to be particularly discombobulating for the ex-Tory MPs who are now independents. Even though all three of them – David Gauke, Anne Milton and Dominic Grieve – have been through at least four elections each (Grieve has been an MP since 1997, while Gauke and Milton were elected in 2005), this is the first time they are standing without the help of a party apparatus. For Grieve and Gauke, this is the first time they will be fighting the sort of election campaign that their colleagues in marginal seats are perfectly used to: one full of uncertainty, very long hours, and never quite enough money, local

Can the Gaukeward Squad overcome its inner turmoil?

Usually after a big government reshuffle, the happiest-looking people are the ministers, whether they’ve survived the axe or are celebrating a promotion. But at the end of this week, the most cheerful MPs appear to be the ones who left government, whether of their own volition or after being sacked by Boris Johnson. They’ve been spotted at the cricket and are happily announcing their holiday plans with their family on social media in a way that most politicians shy away from, for fear of appearing to have too much fun. But who is really in the best situation: those in the government, or those now on the outside? In my

Sunday shows round-up: Emily Thornberry – ‘I really think Amber Rudd should quit’

The Shadow Foreign Secretary has called for the Home Secretary to resign over the Windrush debacle that has been dominating the newspaper headlines over the past week. The government has u-turned and apologised after threatening to deport Caribbean migrants who could not provide proof of their decades of residence in the UK, with some of those affected having been refused jobs and access to healthcare as a result. To add insult to injury, it was revealed that the Home Office had destroyed the landing cards for immigrants who arrived aboard HMT Empire Windrush, thereby removing a vital source of documentation. The government has since said that it will provide compensation

How much trouble is David Gauke in?

How much trouble is David Gauke in? The Justice Secretary appears to be up to his neck in it in light of the news this morning that a decision by the Parole Board to release the rapist John Worboys has been quashed following a legal challenge by two of the taxi rapist’s victims. The problem is Gauke decided that the government would not pursue a judicial review to stop the release of the serial sex attacker on the grounds that it ‘had no reasonable prospect of success’. At the time, there was widespread outrage at the decision and so Sadiq Khan, the Sun and several of Worboy’s victims launched legal challenges

Sunday shows round-up: Diane Abbott sounds public sector alarm

Diane Abbott – Public sector at risk if migration collapses The Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has told Andrew Marr that British businesses and essential services such as the NHS require a certain level of migration from Europe after Brexit and that a ‘collapse’ in numbers could pose a serious risk to the UK economy. Abbott claimed that a Labour government would clamp down on bureaucracy with regard to EU migration and that she would implement ‘fair rules’ and ‘reasonable management’: AM: Do you think that the number of people coming here from the EU will go down after Brexit if you’re in power? DA: You should talk to British

Budget leaves Universal Credit claimants in precarious position over Christmas

If Philip Hammond’s Budget was designed to stave off any particularly pressing problems, rather than really building the Britain that he suggested he was going to build in his introductory remarks, then it’s not yet clear whether he’s managed that with Universal credit. Yesterday the Chancellor told the Commons that ‘I recognise the genuine concerns on both sides of the House about the operational delivery of this benefit’. He announced a series of changes, including the end of the seven day waiting period at the beginning of a claim before someone is deemed to be entitled to Universal Credit, which will lead to a shortening of the six week initial


David Gauke taunts John McDonnell over Russia Today

Alex Salmond has been in the firing line of late over his decision to host a chat show on Russia Today. The former First Minister of Scotland has come under difficulty as numerous politicians have declined an invitation to appear on the channel. However, Mr S suggests he give John McDonnell a call. David Gauke has had much fun today on Twitter, where the Cabinet minister recalled an incident that occurred on College Green on Wednesday: ‘Yesterday, on College Green, RT reporter and camera crew came up to me asking questions. ME: I don’t do interviews with RT. INTERVIEWER: Why not? ME: You’re a propaganda station. Reputable politicians don’t do

The universal credit crunch

It only dawned on me in late summer just how terrible our new benefits system, universal credit, might be both for the poor souls who depend on it and for the bedraggled Conservative party. An old friend, Terry, alerted me to the depth of the problem. Terry is 70-odd and has learning difficulties, though he’s astute in many ways and quite startlingly kind. He has a room in a shared house, but like many in precarious or temporary housing, he’s a regular on the homeless scene: part of a growing drift of men and women who move around London morning till night, from the St Martin-in-the-Fields day centre to the

Does the rule of law cover the poor?

Belatedly, the disastrous rollout of Universal Credit has become a media ‘talking point’.  I could do with less praise for Iain Duncan Smith in the debate. He is the man the Tories decided was unfit to lead them, but still fit to manage and, as we are seeing, wreck the lives of the poorest people in the country. He deserves no special indulgence. ‘His intentions were good,’ everyone feels obliged to say. As if motives mattered more than deeds, and what politicians hoped for matters more than what they achieved. Duncan Smith’s achievement was to preside over disastrous and expensive experiments with IT systems that did not work, and then

David Gauke takes a pop at his former boss

Following the disappointing snap election result, Theresa May has had to relax her approach to government – gone are the days when Cabinet members are kept off the airwaves. As a result of the new regime, lobby hacks today finally had a member of the government speak at a press gallery lunch. Doing the honours was David Gauke, the new Work and Pensions Secretary. The former ‘tax personality of the year’ set the cat among the pigeons as he hinted that the pensions triple lock could be scrapped in ten years. However, it was Gauke’s jokes that caught Mr S’s attention. During his time in the Treasury, George Osborne – then Chancellor – regularly

Theresa May leaves Damian Green with egg on his face

As is becoming a habit with Theresa May, the Conservatives have today performed a U-turn on their manifesto plans for social care. After unveiling proposals that would mean many would have to pay more for their own social care — up until their assets were 100k or less — there were cross-party complaints about the plans and the Conservatives slumped in the polls. Now the Prime Minister has rowed back on the so-called dementia tax — promising a cap on the amount members of the public would have to pay towards their social care. But if only she’d told, say, the secretary for work and pensions the plans yesterday. On Sunday, Damian Green,

George Osborne ‘uncorks the Gauke’ once again

At last month’s Westminster Correspondents’ dinner, George Osborne made light of his behaviour during his budget U-turn. Joshing about his decision to send his Financial Secretary David Gauke to field questions from angry MPs: ‘A big speech in parliament, the pressure is on, you lot are baying for blood. My answer? Uncork the Gauke.’ So, it ought to come as little surprise to Osborne that MPs were weary to his ways when he appeared to use the same old strategy to avoid awkward questions on Monday about the latest Treasury EU report. With Osborne absent from proceedings, it fell on Gauke to answer the question — much to John Bercow’s

MPs hammer Treasury ministers on ‘completely unacceptable’ sweetheart deal for Google

Even though, as Fraser argued last week, Google has done nothing wrong in agreeing to pay £130 million to settle its UK tax claims, MPs were in a furious mood about the agreement when they discussed it in the Commons this afternoon. John McDonnell asked an urgent question on the deal, and found, unusually, that he had support from across the House. It wasn’t just Labour MPs who stood up to condemn what they saw as one standard for their constituents, who are hounded by the taxman over relatively small claims, and another for big powerful multinationals like Google. Tory MPs joined in, too, with Steve Baker telling David Gauke

Corbynmania takes hold of the Tories

Forget Tories4Corbyn, a new craze is taking hold of Conservative politicians across the country. With Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity now at an all-time high, he has amassed a hoard of female fans who have described him as sexy in ‘a world weary sea dog’ sort of way. Now it seems the Tories too want in on the action. In a bid to look more like the man of the moment, David Gauke — who is the current Financial Secretary to the Treasury — has grown his beard out in the style of Corbyn. #Corbynmania reaches my chin. Temporarily. pic.twitter.com/C2OKJXlfNi — David Gauke (@DavidGauke) August 10, 2015 What’s more, he’s not alone; Ed Vaizey has also been

George Osborne’s press conference leaves questions unanswered

This is supposed to be the week when people start thinking about the General Election. George Osborne certainly thinks voters are only just switching on as he used his press conference this morning to reiterate a number of claims about Labour’s economic policies that the Tories made last week, including one that the Institute for Fiscal Studies politely described as ‘unhelpful’. The Chancellor launched something called ‘Labour Party Fiscal Plans: An Analysis’, which he presented with the help of a nifty PowerPoint that splashed the words ‘SPENT’ over every funding stream Ed Miliband’s party has come up with so far. It included the claim that Labour would hit working families

David Gauke: Ed Balls has questions to answer on HSBC leak

The HSBC tax dodge leak is from 2007, and so has nothing to do with the current government, sort of. Ministers have been defending the appointment of Stephen Green as trade minister. Green was boss at HSBC during the period that this leak relates to. But given Labour is trying to increase the political temperature on tax avoidance at the moment, the Tories have also been quite keen this morning to suggest that Ed Balls has questions to answer on this story, to be broadcast on Panorama tonight. Earlier this morning Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke released this statement: ‘It is for HSBC to explain what they did

The tricks being played over a VAT rise

Today’s Treasury Questions was a bit odd, not least because neither George Osborne nor Ed Balls were there, so everyone seemed to be quite keen to get the thing over with. Labour’s latest line of attack is to force Treasury ministers into ruling out or obfuscating over whether or not a Tory government would put up VAT after the General Election. Here is the first exchange, between Shabana Mahmood and David Gauke: Shabana Mahmood: ‘The Minister has failed to rule out another tax cut for the richest 1% of earners in our country. As he signalled in his answer, the Prime Minister has made £7 billion-worth of unfunded tax promises

Leaked letter shows ministers trying to calm tensions on marriage tax breaks

Ministers are clearly mindful of the potential damage that Tim Loughton’s amendment to the Finance Bill calling for tax breaks for married couples could cause. This is one of those issues that could become a rebellion if it is poorly-managed by the leadership, or equally could be a bit of a damp squib if enough backbenchers are reassured and feel they should show loyalty to George Osborne. David Gauke has sent out a letter to Tory MPs trying to do just that. This ‘dear colleague’ message, which I’ve been passed, tells backbenchers that the Chancellor will announce the details of a transferable tax allowance ‘in due course’, which is what the