Today’s newspapers are heavier than usual; not because of all the pull-out supplements, but because of all the stories about Cabinet attendees and Europe. Here’s our summary of the latest:
- IDS’s row with Cameron. The Mail on Sunday reports that Iain Duncan Smith had an “angry showdown” with David Cameron in the latter’s Commons office on Wednesday. The cause? Apparently, IDS’s anger over how the Tory leadership has used the draft EU deal to politick for In, despite promising not to, and despite the silence of the Outers. Not only does this strengthen a long-standing assumption: that the Work and Pensions Secretary will campaign for Brexit. It also hints at how Tory Eurosceptics, generally well-behaved over the past few months, are starting to get angry: they feel that the rules of the game are tilted against them.
- Patel to fight for Brexit. Another minister who wants to trade firm words with Cameron is Priti Patel. The Mail on Sunday says that she will “demand a meeting” with the Prime Minister “to tell him she will fight tooth and nail against his bid to keep Britain in the EU.” It does make you wonder whether the draft EU deal, and its aftermath, has made the Outers more determined to… well, out themselves.
- Will Whittingdale encourage the others? An eye-catching claim in the Mail on Sunday (again) that John Whittingdale is going to fight the Prime Minister over his plans to restrict the advertisement of junk food around television programmes. Earlier this week, of course, Whittingdale became one of the few Cabinet attendees, along with Chris Grayling, to have really signalled his desire for Brexit. Is he going to become one of the chief provocateurs from within? And will he bring others, such as Theresa Villiers, over to his side?
- The PM pleads with Gove. Michael Gove remains caught, it is said, between his loyalty to the Prime Minister and his own Euroscepticism. And both campaigns are trying to help him decide. The Telegraph reported, a few days ago, that Vote Leave is standing by Dominic Cummings, a former adviser to Gove, in the hope of attracting the Justice Secretary to their cause. Whilst today’s Sun on Sunday has it that “Cameron has begged Justice Secretary Michael Gove: don’t lead Britain out of the EU.”
- May no more. Toby Young wants her to front the Out campaign, but perhaps it’s telling that the only other story connecting Theresa May with Europe in today’s papers is this one about refugees in the Independent on Sunday. Sure, anything can change as this simmering campaign heats up, but the assumption seems to be that, with her intervention earlier this week, the Home Secretary has decided to Remain.
- And what about Boris? The Mayor of London still resides in the strange territory betwixt Leave and Remain, or perhaps with a foot in both. The Mail on Sunday quotes an exchange he had with Bernard Jenkin in the Commons: “I’ve never been an ‘Outer’.” But the Independent on Sunday says that Boris has issued an ultimatum in the other direction: “[he’s] give David Cameron a week to come up with concrete plans to ‘safeguard British sovereignty’ before Parliament breaks up for half-term ahead of the EU summit in Brussels.”