8 Sep 2019

Amber Rudd’s considered, targeted attack

Amber Rudd came to her view on whether she was going to resign on Wednesday night, one source says. She’d come close to resigning a couple of weeks ago when the government produced its jumbo prorogation.

Unlike Jo Johnson, Ms Rudd made a detailed attack on the PM’s judgement and his word. She said he was woefully wrong to sack mainstream colleagues but also was not telling the truth when it comes to whether real negotiations were going on in Brussels at all.

Choosing Sunday for her attack shows the pre-meditated and lethal intent of her resignation. It is a day when governments in trouble like to try to re-set the agenda using newspaper headlines and political talk shows. It is no accident that she stole the top spot on both the Sunday Times and Marr and made sure the government started the new week on the back foot.

The Tory independents now number 22 and there are signs that some of those thinking of running again are having joined up thoughts about how they might do that and what arrangements they might make to maximise their impact in a new Parliament, maybe taking a “soft Lib Dem whip,” as some have speculated.

One Whitehall source claims that No 10 has been warned at the highest level and in stark terms that civil servants will not operate normally if the government is ignoring the rule of law. They will “down tools,” the source said, and the PM “has been told that.” One minister said he didn’t see how they could do any other as “the code is the code,” a reference to the civil servants’ code of conduct.

The minister said he thought Downing Street didn’t really have an alternative interpretation of the Bill the 21 Tory rebels helped to pass. It’s “chaff,” the minister said and “it is plain as a pikestaff” what the Bill (expected to get Royal assent tomorrow) requires.

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