Having played a lead role in pressing the Prime Minister to allow ministers the freedom to campaign to Leave the EU, Chris Grayling is today testing the limits of Downing Street’s controversial rules on how and when they may do so. His article in the Daily Telegraph stops short of declaring his support for Leave, but the implication is absolutely clear.
We’re glad that he has taken ConservativeHome’s advice to find a way to make his views known now, rather than waiting in silence until much later in the process. Hopefully others will follow suit.
If they don’t – particularly the bigger beasts, namely Gove, Duncan Smith, May, Boris and Javid – then as we suggested last week, Grayling could yet find himself as the most senior Conservative campaigning for Leave.
That makes this quite a crucial moment for the Leader of the Commons. Eagle-eyed readers of the Telegraph will have noticed that the headline to the story read: “Cabinet minister: EU disaster for Britain”. That phrasing suggests the paper’s view that his position in the Cabinet is rather more important – and more recognisable – than his actual name. Will he now have some chance to make himself more well-known, and thus up his impact in the forthcoming campaign?
This is, of course, also a case study for other Cabinet ministers who are currently mulling their own position in the referendum. For those with an eye on winning the leadership after Cameron, or on making it impossible for the next leader not to appoint them to high office, then a warm write-up on the front page of the Telegraph must look like quite an attractive way to bolster their chances.