Awarding self-appointed guru of conservatism Tim Montgomerie a position in Government depended on Monty doing something for which he is not noted - keeping a zip on his North and South, toeing the line as dictated by chief polecat Dominic Cummings, not wandering too far off the reservation. It seems he was not equal to that simple task.
Paradoxically, it is Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, formerly teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, bringing the news which appears to have done for Montgomerie. Wickham has the video of an appearance by The Great Man at a Danube Institute event last month in Budapest. The Institute claims to be independent. But it is not.
As Ian Dunt has put it, “The Danube Institute … is not a real think tank. It is de-facto controlled by Fidesz, part of a society wide infastructure intended to eradicate independent thought”. Monty should have known, and probably did know, with whom he was associating. His remarks praising Viktor Orbán suggest it.
And Wickham gives the impression that Monty’s remarks would end his tenure as a SpAd, telling “Full video and quotes from No10 aide (though possibly not for long) Tim Montgomerie on a ‘special relationship’ with Orban, the ‘limits of liberalism’, plus Brexit here”. He then confirmed it: “Govt spokesperson throws Tim Montgomerie under a bus … ’All special advisers are expected to comply with the special adviser code. Tim Montgomerie has not currently returned to his position’”. So what may seal his fate?
Wickham notes “code says SpAds can't make controversial speeches”, but what in his remarks is so controversial that it would embarrass No 10 sufficiently for him to be binned? Ah well. It’s not the “Boris and Viktor” comparison. Nor is it the “limits of liberalism” idiocy. What might finish off Tim Montgomerie was what he said about Brexit.
This from Wickham’s report: “Montgomerie revealed that he believes the UK–EU trade talks over the next 12 months will leave Britain closely aligned to Brussels rules and regulations, in defiance of the wishes of hardline Brexiteer Conservative MPs … he said: ‘I think there will be a large degree of alignment in economic sectors, and I think some Eurosceptics will be disappointed by that in the treaty that emerges from the next few months of negotiations.’”. The ERG will, in turn. also be thrown under the bus.
Monty added “I think there will be quite limited regulatory separation from existing European regulations in how Britain is currently regulated and how Europe is currently regulated”. Which all makes sense.
Take those remarks and add in this comment from a Sky News report: “Emergency preparations for a no-deal Brexit have been stood down ‘with immediate effect’ as Boris Johnson's deal is expected to be approved by MPs”. The Government must be confident of getting that UK-EU trade deal by the end of the year. Which means one thing.
To achieve that, the easiest and quickest solution is to take what the EU is offering, remain aligned to the Single Market and Customs Union, and execute the softest of Brexits. This will do our economy the least harm and protect the most jobs. It can be called Brexit, and Brexit can therefore be said to be done, even if it isn’t. Tim Montgomerie has let the cat out of the bag and made matters difficult for his boss. That’s why he may be sacked.
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