Nick boles

Nick Boles says he’s voting Labour (again)

Gosh! Cripes! Gazooks! It seems that those tireless seekers of truth at the Guardian have done it again. They’ve stumbled on something of a scoop: so toxic is new Prime Minister Liz Truss that even her former colleagues don’t want to vote for her. This afternoon the newspaper published a scathing piece by Nick Boles, the MP for Grantham and Stamford between 2010 and 2019. Headlined: ‘I was a Tory MP, but Truss and Kwarteng have convinced me to vote Labour’ it opens with this gem: ‘Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng possess a level of intellectual self-confidence usually found among undergraduates. They always have’ before rattling through 30 years of British economic

Uncool Britannia

A famous actor looks tearfully into the camera. It is Michael Sheen, or possibly Ewan McGregor. His voice cracks as he says: ‘For just £5 a month, you could help an MP recover from the shock of having his Brexit amendment rejected. Just £5 will help pay for counsellors trained to help our brave MPs debate EU withdrawal motions. Please donate now so that MPs like Nick Boles know you care. They give so much of themselves, and ask so little…’ I exaggerate, but only a bit. We keep hearing from MPs about how the stress of Brexit is harming them mentally and emotionally. You might think the nation’s elected

What the hell is a Progressive Conservative?

Who is your favourite brave Remainer Conservative MP? Anna Soubry has to be near the top of the list, for having remarked before the referendum: ‘We are trusting the British people. We will go to the people, and let the people decide whether or not to stay within the EU.’ And then at about lunchtime on 24 June 2016 bravely insisting that we should take not the slightest bit of notice of what the British people had decided. Or what about that brave no no-deal triumvirate of the early Victorian funeral directors ‘Hammond, Grieve and Gauke, for Exceptional Service in the Sad Event of Your Passing’, sunlight palely glinting on

Boles’s crazy plan

At first, it seems fanciful. A backbench MP, Nick Boles, proposes to take power away from the government and place it in the hands of MPs, to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Can one backbencher usurp power in this way? It’s ambitious. But under the British system, government reports to parliament, not the other way around. Usually the distinction is moot, because government can control the Commons. But when that control collapses, every kind of mischief becomes possible. Until a couple of months ago I was director of legislative affairs under Theresa May in No. 10, where it was my job to look at parliamentary procedures. It’s quite a minefield. Right now,

Tory MPs turn on Gavin Williamson

Despite the good weather and England’s good World Cup result, it hasn’t been a relaxing weekend for all. Step forward Gavin Williamson. The ambitious defence secretary has found himself in the line of fire, with the Mail on Sunday splashing on reports that he has threatened to topple the prime minister unless defence spending is increased by £20bn. Given that Theresa May doesn’t yet have a firm plan in place to fund her £20bn NHS pledge, it’s hard to see her signing up to this anytime soon. Allies of Williamson – known as Private Pike in the Treasury – have moved to deny the reports. However, regardless, the incident has not

Sajid Javid promises to put his own stamp on the Home Office

Sajid Javid has only been Home Secretary for seven hours but already he appears to have settled into the role with gusto. In his first appearance at the despatch box as Home Secrtary, Javid was greeted with cheers from the Tory benches before warning Diane Abbott – his opposite number – that she did not have a ‘monopoly’ on anger over the Windrush debacle. Javid also made sure to put some clear blue water between himself and his predecessor’s predecessor – one Theresa May. Asked by Labour’s Stephen Doughty whether about the net deportations target, Javid said he was not currently aware of any cases of wrongful deportation – before adding

The Spectator Podcast: The fight for Europe

On this week’s episode, we look at the emerging ambitions of the Visegrád Four in a new Europe. We also look at whether there’s a way out of the government’s current drift, and celebrate 70 years of radio’s finest quiz. This week’s cover story looks at growing friction between two European factions. On one side, the Macron and Merkel led federalists are looking for greater integration, whilst, on the other, the Visegrád Four are starting to reassert their anti-immigration stance. Will the alliance hold, asks John O’Sullivan in the magazine, and can it arrest the momentum of the EU project? First off, we were joined by Sean Hanley from the

James Forsyth

The Tory drift goes on – but replacing May is impossible

‘We take the view that while things are bloody awful, we don’t want to risk making things worse.’ That is how one senior Tory backbencher sums up the mood of the parliamentary party. No one disputes that the Conservatives are in the doldrums. There is no wind in the government’s sails. No. 10 doesn’t know where it wants to take the country. This general sense of drift is interrupted by the occasional squall. The latest storm was caused by Nick Boles’s criticism of Theresa May. On Friday evening, the former housing minister took to Twitter to lament the lack of a radical government agenda and to tell the Prime Minister

Nicholas Soames joins the Boles rebellion

On Friday night, Nick Boles set the cat among the pigeons when he tweeted his frustrations at Theresa May’s timid government: With Boles not a typical rebel, his complaints appear to mirror what many MPs have been saying privately. Now, Nicholas Soames has spoken out. Winston Churchill’s grandson has joined Boles in using hashtags to criticise Theresa May. Soames says ‘#wherestheboldandbravesofaritsdulldulldull’ needed to beat the ‘Corbini’: It really won’t be enough to get people to vote against The Corbini they must have really sound reasons to vote Conservative.We really need to get on with this#wherestheboldandbravesofaritsdulldulldull — Nicholas Soames (@NSoames) January 22, 2018 Expect more critical MPs to come out

Nick Boles has said what a lot of Tory MPs are thinking

It’s the end of the week and it’s hard to say what the government has actually achieved. Whether it’s deciding not to launch a judicial inquiry in the John Worboys case or not to tackle the growing pressures on the NHS, the government appears to be in a state of drift. Unfortunately for Theresa May this has caught the attention of one of her more amiable MPs. Step forward Nick Boles. The former minister has taken to social media on a Friday night to criticise his party leader. Boles says ‘there is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints’. He concludes that

Diary – 7 September 2017

September is my time of year. Summer is all very well if you’re one of those golden-haired, long-limbed types who looks heavenly in a sarong and a waist chain. But for me it’s just an endless battle against heat, direct sunlight, corpulence (chiefly my own) and biting insects. Besides, there’s nothing quite like that back-to-school feeling, the promise of a new term — and a chance to catch up with friends who have been off gallivanting all summer. Hence one of my favourite dates in our social calendar, an annual ‘end of summer’ party in Henley. It’s a bit of a schlep on a Saturday night, but always worth it,

Diary – 11 May 2017

Watching the general election from my newsroom is an out-of-body experience. I’ve been involved in the last five general elections variously as photocopy boy, parliamentary candidate, shadow minister, campaign manager and chancellor. This time I’m reporting on the election as editor of the Evening Standard. I have a lot to learn; but I have a great team to help me. There is something remarkable, magical even, about the way every day tens of thousands of words are written on everything from the implications of the French election to Arsène Wenger, to this summer’s trendiest cocktails; then laid out on pages with striking pictures and adverts; printed on a million copies;

The Tories are coming across as the reasonable ones with the new trade union legislation

Who is being more rational in the dispute over new striking laws: the government or the union barons? With just under a week to go until the summer recess, the government will begin fulfilling another manifesto commitment by introducing new legislation to the Commons today that will reform striking rules. The Trades Union Bill will require a 50 per cent turn out for ballots on industrial action and in core public services (schools, health, transport and fire services), 40 per cent of those who are eligible to vote will need to back a strike. While the unions may see this as 1980s-esque battle to the death, the government is arguing

The planning system distorts the housing market more than anything Miliband could dream up

How foolish of Ed Miliband to try to pervert the free market in housing with his rent controls. There is a slight problem with this analysis, which we have heard ad nauseam from the Conservatives and from the right in general over the past 24 hours. We don’t have a free market in housing and we haven’t had for at least 65 years, when the planning system came into being. Yes, rent controls would come with the risk of reducing the supply of rental property, pushing up rents and creating a black market in properties sublet at lower than the officially-approved price. But the effect of Miliband’s reforms (which in

Farewell, Cobham — oh flat, boring, lovely Cobham; hello, Dorking

Farewell then, Cobham. You were the place I ran to when the metropolis became too much, and urban life overwhelmed me. You were to me a shining beacon of blandness in an otherwise frighteningly exotic world. I loved you and held you in mythical esteem. In times of disappointment, I yearned for you every bit as much as Margo Leadbetter did. ‘Cydney! We’re moving to Cobham!’ I would shout at the spaniel whenever Lambeth Council did something Marxist, which was often. We didn’t ever quite move to Cobham, but we kept the horses there. For nearly 15 years, this gave us a bolthole down the A3 to escape to, from

Robert Peston falls for the Spirit Level theory of equality

Robert Peston was recently at Lincoln’s Inn for the launch of schools charity Primary Futures, which all sounds very worthy. He started off apologising for looking scruffy, then spoke at some length about the problems he has with private schools. He thinks they are divisive. Plus, they promote inequality and research shows inequality holds back prosperity. The rest of the evening was your standard charity fare: Nick Clegg’s wife gave a speech, after which Education Minister Nick Boles signalled that everyone could go home. But something has been playing on Mr S’s mind ever since. The BBC’s most senior economics journalist appears to have fallen for the long-debunked ‘Spirit Level’ theory, based on Richard

Reshuffle 2014: where is the radicalism?

One of the more dispiriting things about this reshuffle has been the way in which important policy areas appear to have been downgraded. This week’s leading article in The Spectator lambasts the decision to move Michael Gove from Education, arguing that it means his reforms will slow and future politicians will still be able to criticise the number of Old Etonians in the Cabinet: The Prime Minister and his coterie embody the problem. Gove was out to fix it, fighting a battle on behalf of the state school pupils -a battle that even Thatcher shied away from. Cameron has now decided that he’d rather this battle was not fought. His

One solution to the housing shortage – build on Hampstead Heath

If I was going to measure possible reasons to desert the Tories at the next election, and I can think of a couple, plans to concrete over the countryside would score pretty highly. As a theoretical idea about something happening miles away from my home it almost makes me want to write letters to the Telegraph; if it were in my backyard I’d be shaking my fist at passing traffic or whatever people in the countryside do when they’re angry. This is moderately dangerous to the party, because what’s different now to, say, five years ago is that disaffected shire Tories have a plausible alternative to turn to, one that isn’t

Eric Pickles: Labour’s approach to housing shows how out of touch they are

Under the last Labour Government, house building fell to its lowest peacetime level since the 1920s. Labour’s top-down Regional Strategies and eco-towns built nothing but resentment. Advised by Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown engineered an economic bubble that resulted in a speculative bust and the biggest budget deficit in our peacetime history. This Government is clearing up the mess left by Labour. We are working with – not against  – local communities to help build more homes, scrapping Regional Strategies and rewarding development via decentralising local government finance – from the New Homes Bonus, to the local retention of business rates to a localised Housing Revenue Account. We

Nick Boles: how to deport jobless EU immigrants

From Fraser Nelson: David Cameron proposing delaying welfare payments to EU immigrants – which some might see as his listening more to Lynton Crosby and less to the likes of modernisers like Nick Boles (whose approach to politics Bruce Anderson critiques below). But Boles has advocated going far further: deporting EU immigrants who don’t work. He believes he has found a clause in EU law that allows it. Given that Boles is generally seen as an uber-moderniser,  I thought Coffee Housers may be interested in seeing another side to his political thought –  a deportation plan which is further than most right-wing Tory MPs would go.  The below is abridged from