UK Ministers resign, confidence vote likely for Theresa May

Missy has summarised developments (overnight NZ time) in the UK political split over Brexit plans, with a number of Cabinet Ministers resigning (7 so far), and a confidence vote in Theresa May likely.

(Thanks for this Missy).


Her ‘deal’ has been compared to Chamberlain returning from Munich.

A quick review of this morning’s happenings (rather than re-posting everything I posted this morning).

Five Members of the cabinet have resigned, they are:

  1. Shailesh Vara – Junior Minister for Northern Ireland. He claims that the deal leaves Britain in a half way house.
  2. Dominic Raab – Secretary of State for Exiting the EU. He said the indefinite backstop threatens to break up the Union.
  3. Esther McVey – Secretary of State for Work & Pensions. She said the deal does not honour the result of the referendum.
  4. Suella Braverman – Junior Minister for the Department for Exiting the EU. She warned that the concessions do not respect the will of the people.
  5. Anne-Marie Trevelyan – Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Education Secretary. She said the deal is unacceptable to Brexit Voters.
  6. Ranil Jayawardena – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice. He said the deal does not deliver a fair Brexit.
  7. Rehman Chishti, the PM’s trade envoy to Pakistan and Vice chairman of the Conservative Party for communities has resigned, saying that the deal is contrary to their Manifesto commitment.

May gave a statement in Parliament after which she received no support. During the questions after Jacob Rees-Mogg asked May why he shouldn’t put in a letter to the 1922 Committee Chariman. This is quite a big thing, whatever you think of him JRM has always supported the PM, he hasn’t supported the deal, but he has always said he supports the PM of the day, and that he has indicated in Parliament that he is thinking of putting in a letter of no confidence is quite a big deal, and he has influence among other Brexiters.

When he spoke in Parliament JRM obviously already had his letter written, he has just submitted it to the 1922 Committee. The key part is this: ‘It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place. Regrettably, this is not the situation, therefore, in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the Conservative Party and the 1922 Committee this is a formal letter of No Confidence in the Leader of the Party, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May.’

JRM has said that the Brexit deal has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the PM.

It is expected that the required number of letters will be received by the Chair of the 1922 Committee by tomorrow, and if so then a vote of confidence in Theresa May as leader on Tuesday is expected.

There has been some speculation on who may run for leader, though I think we may get a better idea when the Chair of the 1922 Committee are closer to receiving the 48 letters needed and we see which Cabinet members resign then.

Leading contenders at the moment are:

  • Dominic Raab (odds about 11-2)
  • Boris Johnson (odds about 5-1)
  • Sajid Javid (odds about 5-1) he is the most credible leading contender, despite having voted remain he is against a soft Brexit and for delivering Brexit. He has gone against Theresa May on several occasions, and he was reportedly behind a tougher stance on EU Migrants post Brexit than was originally positioned by TM. Has the advantage of being an ethnic minority (Pakistani parents) and a (non practicing) Muslim, despite having been brought up in a Muslim household he doesn’t practice now, and has stated on a number of occasions the only religion in his house is Christianity (his wife is apparently a practicing Christian). So looks good for the moderate Muslim vote, but isn’t a problem for the extreme anti-Muslim vote.
  • Jeremy Hunt (odds about 8-1) he won’t be a popular choice, he is universally disliked by the public.
  • David Davis (odds about 11-1) he is a popular choice among many party members to bring in as an interim PM until Brexit is done.
  • Amber Rudd (odds about 50-1)

Sources are reporting that Michael Gove was offered the Brexit Secretary job, but he has turned it down unless he can go back to Brussels and renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement.

 

Labour lacking in gender balance – and female capability?

Labour is going backwards with their ideal, gender balance, especially in their senior ranks.

In October 2017 (just after she became Prime Minister) Ardern vows to improve Cabinet gender balance

Women would hold just six of Labour’s 16-strong Cabinet posts, and just one of its five ministerial roles outside of Cabinet.

Ms Ardern said that was not good enough and she was vowing to bring more women up to the top level.

“I’m going to make sure that we continue to work on bringing through more of our team”.

“We set ourselves a goal as a Labour Party that we would bring more women into our caucus. When we set that goal we set it at 50 percent, and we came very close to achieving that this election and I’m proud of that”.

“We’ll continue to make sure that we try to see that reflected in our membership as they come up through roles and responsibilities through both our caucus and through our Cabinet.”

That’s not happening yet – in fact it’s deteriorating.

With the resignation of now ex-Ministers Clare Curran and the sacking of Meka Whaitiri there are now:

  • 8 female of 26 ministers
  • 6 female ministers of 19 in Cabinet
  • 3 female ministers on the front bench (top 10)
  • 5 female Labour ministers

As a comparison, the last National-led line-up (April 2017):

  • 9 female of 27 ministers
  • 7 female of 22 in Cabinet
  • 2 female ministers on the front bench
  • 9 female National ministers

In the Labour-led government, NZ First and Greens balance each other out. NZ First has 1 female of 3 ministers, while Greens have 2 female of 3 ministers.

Labour now has just Jacinda Ardern (1), Megan Woods (6), Carmel Sepuloni (9), Nanaia Mahuta (12) and Jenny Salesa (15) – five out of fifteen.

And there’s not many stand outs there, yet at least.

Gender balance in Parliament and in Cabinet are great ideals, but to achieve that requires enough quality female candidates standing for Parliament, and enough of them capable of handling roles as ministers and in Cabinet.

Both failures as ministers have been Labour MPs.

While I think that most people would like to see approximate gender balances in Parliament, I think that most voters – male and female – would choose competence over tokenism and making up the numbers with MPs not up to the job.

Less than a third of Cabinet are female

Jacinda Ardern has been a staunch supporter of equality. Just yesterday she promoted equality in rugby – see Rugby doesn’t deserve to be New Zealand’s national sport, equality or not.

But the day before she diluted the female presence in her Cabinet, from 35% to less than a third, by demoting Clare Curran to reduced ministerial duties outside Cabinet. Now:

  • 3 of the top 10 Ministers are female (still)
  • 6 of the 19 Ministers in Cabinet are female
  • 2 of 6 Ministers outside Cabinet are female
  • 2 of 3 Supporting Party (Green) Ministers are female (still)
  • TOTAL 10 of 28 Ministers are female

In the place where Ardern could walk the walk on her equality ideals, Government, she is falling well short.

It could be that there are not enough female MPs in the three parties in Government who are experienced enough or capable enough to fill the top positions in equal numbers to men, but this must be a bit embarrassing for Ardern.

 

Modest wins but big possibilities for the Greens

Compared to NZ First the Greens had modest wins on policy and ministerial positions, but they still have a big opportunity to achieve some of their goals.

Their ministerial appointments:

James Shaw

  • Minister for Climate Change
  • Minister of Statistics
  • Associate Minister of Finance

Dealing with climate change is Shaw’s big ambition and he now has a chance to do that, especially given similar ambitions of Labour (Jacinda Ardern has named it as the ‘nuclear issue’ of the current generation) and NZ First.

I don’t know whether he will have a major influence with Grant Robertson in Finance (they know each other well, having competed in the Wellington Central electorate for three elections now.

But it will be invaluable for a Green leader and MP to learn the realities of juggling needs, wants and not a bottomless pit of money, compared to the naive idealism of many Greens.

Julie Anne Genter

  • Minister for Women
  • Associate Minister of Health
  • Associate Minister of Transport

Learning the ropes as a Minister for Women will be useful experience, but Genter may make most impact as an Associate.

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has a huge workload (Housing and Urban Development) so Genter, recognised within the transportation industry as an expert, may contribute strongly.

And as Associate Minister of Health I presume she will take over the role Peter Dunne had dealing with drugs, both medicinal and recreational.

There is a promise to lift restrictions on medicinal cannabis almost immediately, plus a promise of a referendum on recreational cannabis. There is also support across Labour, NZ First and Greens to treat all drug problems as more of a health issue than a crime issue.

On these issues Genter may be a high profile and popular Associate Minister.

Eugenie Sage

  • Minister of Conservation
  • Minister for Land Information
  • Associate Minister for the Environment

Despite a low profile Sage is probably one of the more sensible and better respected Green MPs. She has a background in Forest & Bird and Environment Canterbury.

She will be working with Minister for the Environment David Parker, who has a very heavy workload with other portfolios, but also alongside another associate Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Jan Logie

  • Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues)

A relatively minor role but an important one. Sexual violences issues have been addressed a bit better than in the past but still neglected too much, with support organisations struggling for funding. Logie could make a real difference here, and if she does she will be applauded by many. She will need to take care she doesn’t alienate a demographic that she needs to have onside with her – men.

As stated these are fairly modest responsibilities compared to what NZ First MPs have, but they enable the Greens to address core issues they have been championing from Opposition for two decades.

If they do things well they could make a significant difference.  Perhaps their biggest challenge is transitioning from being advocates and activists and critics to very different roles as movers and shakers.

I hope they succeed in shaking things up and moving New Zealand society in a better direction.

Ministerial appointments

Ministers to chart new course for New Zealand

Portfolio responsibilities for the incoming Labour-led Government underline our commitment to chart a new course for New Zealand, says Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern.

Inside Cabinet

Jacinda Ardern: PM, Arts Culture and Heritage, National Security and Intelligence, Child Poverty Reduction

Winston Peters: Deputy PM, Foreign Affairs, State Owned Enterprises, Racing

Kelvin Davis: Crown/Māori relations, Corrections, Tourism, associate education (Māori education)

Grant Robertson: Finance, Sport and Recreation, Associate Arts and Culture

Phil Twyford: Housing and Urban Development, Transport

Megan Woods: Energy and Resources, Earthquake Commission, Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Research Science and Innovation

Chris Hipkins: Education, State Services, Ministerial Services, leader of the house

Andrew Little: Justice, Courts, GCSB/NZSIS, Pike River re-entry, Treaty negotiations

Carmel Sepuloni: Social Development, Disability Issues, Associate Arts and Culture and Heritage, Associate Pacific Peoples

David Clark: Health, Associate Finance

David Parker: Attorney-General, Economic Development,  Environment, Trade and Export Growth, Associate Finance

Nanaia Mahuta: Māori Development, Local Government, Associate Environment

Stuart Nash: Police, Fisheries, Revenue, Small Business

Iain Lees-Galloway: Workplace Relations and Safety, Immigration, ACC, Deputy leader of the House

Ron Mark (NZF): Defence, Veterans

Tracey Martin (NZF): Internal Affairs, Children, Seniors, Associate Education

Shane Jones (NZF): Forestry, Infrastructure, Regional Economic Development, Associate Finance, Associate Transport

Jenny Salesa: Building and Construction, Ethnic Communities, Associate Education, Associate Health, Associate Housing and Urban Development

Damien O’Connor: Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety, Rural Communities, Associate Trade and Export Growth

Clare Curran: Broadcasting, Communications, and Digital Media, Government Digital Services, Associate ACC, Associate State Services (Open Government)

Support Party Ministers

James Shaw (Green Party): Minister for Climate Change, Minister of Statistics, Associate Minister of Finance

Julie Anne Genter (Green Party): Minister for Women, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Transport

Eugenie Sage (Green Party): Minister of Conservation, Minister of Land Information, Associate Minister for the Environment

Ministers Outside Cabinet

Kris Faafoi: Minister of Civil Defence, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Associate Minister of Immigration

Peeni Henare: Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Whānau Ora, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister for Social Development

Willie Jackson: Minister of Employment, Associate Minister for Māori Development

Aupito William Sio: Minister for Pacific Peoples, Associate Minister for Courts, Associate Minister of Justice

Meka Whaitiri: Minister of Customs, Associate Minister of Agriculture, Associate Minister of Crown / Māori Relations, Associate Minister of Local Government

Parliamentary Under-Secretaries

Michael Wood: Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities

Fletcher Tabuteau: Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Regional Economic Development

Jan Logie: Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues)

“I’m excited by how my executive will tackle the challenges this country faces. The allocation of portfolios shows how the government I lead will be focused on making a difference for all New Zealanders, no matter where they live.

“New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters will be my Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He brings a wealth of experience to both roles and I look forward to working closely with him.

“Labour Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis takes on the new portfolio of Crown/Māori Relations as we transition to the post-Treaty environment.

“Grant Robertson will be the Minister of Finance. We are a government of change, and will be one that makes fiscal responsibility a priority as we take action on our critical challenges.

“My government will have a key focus on reducing child poverty. To underline the importance of this, I am taking a new portfolio as Minister for Child Poverty Reduction. As Prime Minister I want to see urgent progress in this area. That is why we will be introducing measures and targets to ensure our policies across government are making a difference to the lives of children.

“We are making restoring the Kiwi dream of owning your own home a priority through our KiwiBuild strategy. This requires a concerted and coordinated effort across our cities, working closely with councils. That is why there will be a Minister responsible for Housing and Urban Development, who will also have responsibility for our commitment to state housing.

“We said during the campaign that many of our regions have been left behind and that we needed a new approach to ensure all of New Zealand shares in our economic prosperity.

“This is also a priority for my government. To that end, I have appointed a Minister of Regional Development to drive our strategy to create jobs in the regions. The Minister will be responsible for the new Regional Development Fund.

“In addition, the same Minister will have responsibility for both Infrastructure and Forestry which are also pivotal to providing opportunities for regions.

“Consequently, I am dividing the Primary Industries portfolio along its traditional lines of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“We also promised during the campaign to help the families of Pike River get justice for the men they lost. A Minister responsible for Pike River Re-Entry will make re-entering the drift a priority, and will work closely with the Pike River Families and the Deputy Prime Minister on this work.

“I am proud of my Ministers. The team well knows the responsibilities they are taking on. We are all ready and determined to make a difference as we govern for all New Zealanders,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Labour’s Ministers elected

The Labour caucus elected 16 Cabinet Ministers and 2 Ministers outside cabinet this afternoon.

Cabinet Ministers (alphabetical order)

  • Jacinda Ardern
  • David Clark
  • Clare Curran
  • Kelvin Davis
  • Chris Hipkins
  • Iain Lees-Galloway
  • Andrew Little
  • Nanaia Mahuta
  • Stuart Nash
  • Damien O’Connor
  • David Parker
  • Grant Robertson
  • Jenny Salesa
  • Carmel Sepuloni
  • Phil Twyford
  • Megan Woods

Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker and Damien O’Connor were ministers in the Helen Clark led government.

Ministers outside Cabinet (alphabetical order)

  • Kris Faafoi
  • Peeni Henare
  • Willie Jackson
  • Aupito William Sio
  • Meka Whaitiri

Jacinda Ardern:

“I will announce the portfolios of Ministers next week, including the New Zealand First and Green Party Ministers.

“New Zealand First will hold four positions inside Cabinet, and the Green Party will hold three positions outside of Cabinet. In total the Executive will contain 28 members, in line with past governments.

“Early next week, there will also be an official signing of agreements with New Zealand First and the Green Party that will form the foundation of a strong and durable government.”

They all start with a clean slate. We shall see how effective they are individually and how durable they are as a Cabinet and Government.

Government by the numbers

Numbers known so far about the incoming Labour-NZ First-Green government.

Party vote (election 2017):

  • Labour 36.89%
  • NZ First 7.20%
  • Greens 6.27%
  • TOTAL 50.36%
    (National 44.45%)

This is the lowest level of lead party support since the first MMP election (and the first time the highest polling party hasn’t led the government):

  • 1996 National 33.87%
  • 1999 Labour 38.74%
  • 2002 Labour 41.26%
  • 2005 Labour 41.10%
  • 2008 National 44.93%
  • 2011 National 47.31%
  • 2014 National 47.04%
  • 2017 Labour 36.69%

Number of seats in Parliament:

  • Labour 46
  • NZ First 9
  • Greens 8
  • TOTAL 63
  • National 56
  • ACT 1

That’s the largest opposition party ever.

Any legislation (that isn’t a conscience vote) will need to get the support of all of Labour, NZ First and the Greens, or if the Greens don’t support it National will need to to get it passed.

Number of ministers (as announced so far):

  • NZ First 4 inside cabinet (.444 per seat)
  • Greens 3 outside cabinet (.375 per seat
  • TOTAL 7 (.412 per seat)

Using that overall proportion against their 46 seats that would be 19 ministerial positions for Labour, and a total of 26 ministers.

This is in line with the current number of ministers:

  • Inside Cabinet 20
  • Outside Cabinet 5
  • Support party ministers 2

There was 1 Under-Secretary last term (David Seymour). There will be two this term, one each from NZ First and Greens.

Ardern said yesterday “”We have tried to ensure that we have been as proportional as possible”. She seems to be close to the mark, depending on how many Labour ministers there are.

Ardern now needs to appoint ministers. That may be happening this afternoon.

 

CEO’s rate ministers and party leaders

In the NZH ‘mood of the boardroom election survey’ CEO’s rate the performance of ministers and party leaders.

On a 1-5 scale where 1 = not impressive and 5 = very impressive:

  • Prime Minister Bill English: 4.13
  • Finance Minister Steven Joyce: 3.71
  • Education Minister Nikki Kaye: 3.62
  • Minister of Justice Amy Adams: 3.58
  • Paula Bennett: 3.56
  • Chris Finlayson: 3.49
  • Simon Bridges: 3.18
  • Anne Tolley: 3.11
  • Todd McClay: 3.05

I can’t find a rating for Jacinda Ardern. Odd.

Other party leaders:

  • David Seymour (ACT): 2.85
  • Winston Peters (NZ First): 2.76

Winston won’t like that.

The other leaders: James Shaw (Greens), Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox (Maori Party), Gareth Morgan (The Opportunities Party) and Peter Dunne (United Future, who bowed out before the survey was completed) all rated at less than 2.5/5.

From A strong mood for change among business leaders

 

 

Who had copies of the Kitteridge report?

Much has been said about Peter Dunne being the only minister to have been interviewed during David Henry’s inquiry into the leaking of the Kitteridge report – except by Peter Dunne, who is not commenting on it. Discussing an ongoing inquiry you were involved in would be imprudent to say the least.

The impression has been given that only ministers received the report, but that’s not the case. Copies also went to the directors, secretaries, or chief executives of seven agencies or organisations and also to another eleven other senior officials.

This was stated in question time on 10 April when Russel Norman asked Bill English who had received a copy.

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Who in his Government had access to the Rebecca Kitteridge report into the Government Communications Security Bureau before it was publicly released; and did the Prime Minister, or any of his Ministers, or their offices, leak the report?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Acting Prime Minister) : The report by Rebecca Kitteridge was initially provided to the Prime Minister and his office on 22 March.

The paper was circulated under strict Cabinet security procedures to members of the Cabinet committee on domestic and external security—and the membership of that is available on the Cabinet Office website—of senior Ministers.

Copies of the report were received by the directors, secretaries, or chief executives of the following agencies or organisations:

  • the Government Communications Security Bureau,
  • the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,
  • the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
  • Crown Law,
  • the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service,
  • the intelligence coordination group within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and
  • the State Services Commission.

In addition, 11 other senior officials within these agencies were given the report.

Two other Ministers received it: the Hon Peter Dunne, consistent with his membership of the coalition, and the Hon Maurice Williamson, in his capacity as Minister of Customs.

The Prime Minister can give a categorical assurance that neither he nor his office leaked the report. He does not believe for a moment that his Ministers or their offices leaked the report either.

Earlier today in China the Prime Minister informed the media that he had asked his chief executive at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to speak with the State Services Commissioner to provide some advice about a potential inquiry into the leak. That advice is likely to be received upon the Prime Minister’s return to New Zealand.

John Key has also stated he has full trust in Peter Dunne and is confident he wasn’t responsible for the leak.

I haven’t seen any reporting of any of the non-ministers being interviewed, and Winston Peters has made no accusations against anyone other than Peter Dunne.

There is no obvious motive for anyone associated with the Government to have leaked the report – especially ministers, including Dunne.

And Peters’ accusations have no factual basis, he says phone records would show Dunne talked to a Fairfax journalist prior to the leak of the report (Fairfax say they viewed a copy) – “the pure connection by dates of exclusive leaks shortly after those phone calls“. That’s a very flimsy connection, and it is highly questionable that Peters would have access to Dunne’s phone records.