Coffee House

David Cameron’s mile-high fight

28 April 2014

How does a Prime Minister get a recalcitrant minister to agree to something? Well, if it’s not going to make any difference to whether some legislation passes and the minister isn’t directly responsible for the policy, then he can always let them avoid a vote, as he seems to be doing on HS2 today. But what if the minister is the one who needs to sign off on a policy change?

I hear that David Cameron found himself in this situation late last year when trying to make some changes to the government’s counter-extremism strategy. Baroness Warsi (not his favourite minister) was refusing to accept the changes, which the Prime Minister ambushed her over. The dispute took place on a plane, with the Prime Minister apparently trying to force Warsi to agree to the change before she got off the flight and the minister refusing to do so. She claimed in conversations with colleagues afterwards that she had won the airborne dispute. The Extremism Task Force report was laid before Parliament on 4 December.

A government source accepts that there was a ‘debate on the Extremism Task Force’, adding: ‘That’s not surprising, that happens with everything.’ A spokesman for Warsi would not give a comment when contacted. Perhaps the Prime Minister will keep his ministers who are opposed to high-speed rail on a train until they agree to it too.

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  • No Good Boyo

    If Cameron was any good, he’d have pressed a button, causing Warsi to fly out of the door. Then he’d turn to the rest of the cabinet, and ask, “Anybody else want to drop out?”

    In reality, the Downing Street cat isn’t even a white one. What on earth is the point of stroking a brown tabby while saying, “No, Mr Miliband, I expect you to die”? He has no sense of style at all.

  • swatnan

    Warsi should go to NI in the reshuffle.

  • itdoesntaddup

    Isn’t that why Andrea Leadsome is on a Eurostar to Brussels?

  • Barakzai

    Cameron has only himself to blame – the arrogant Warsi was a transparently tokenistic appointment.

  • Agrippina

    Cameron trying to show that he is tough on the extremists and warsi disagreeing. Except he does nothing about limiting child benefit to 2 kids, and his govt recognises polygamous relationships, which is wrong and encouraging the ever growing muslim population (paid for by taxpayers). The unemployment figures for muslims is far too high, lack of integration, education and lang skills, perhaps contributing.

    What happened to dave’s policy of withdrawing benefits from non Eng speakers and stopping translations and interpreters? Here in tory Sth Cambs all those services are provided to all foreigners paid for by taxpayers!

  • Mynydd

    “How does a Prime Minister get a recalcitrant minister to agree to something?” If they don’t vote in accordance with the Prime Minister’s 3 line whip (as the second reading of the HS2 bill is) then Mr Cameron should sack them. The big question is does he have the bottle. If the past is anything to go by I would say no he doesn’t.

    • Frank

      Surprised you think that there might even be a question about Dave’s lack of bottle!
      The 41 rebel Tory MPs should be sacked by the Chief Whip – they could then hold their heads high!
      The Chief Whip then ought to question the other 166 MPs (if Tory) who somehow failed to vote. Given the 3 line whip, he should sack them as well.
      None of the above will happen, as Dave is drip, this HS2 bill is a sham and all this is just empty posturing ahead of the general election.

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