One wonders how long Lord Frost will retain his new position. The personnel decisions made by the PM are nothing if not frequent, ruthless and mercurial.
The whole affair is very curious. While I am sure that Lord Frost’s elevation owes much to his relationship with the PM and the perceived success of the Brexit negotiation, it is very curious indeed that allegedly it took a threat to resign to secure this new role.
A role which is needed (although might have been structured differently) but was to a large effect previously undertaken (with reasonable success) by Michael Gove who one might imagine may not be entirely happy with this diminishment of his responsibilities.
What might have happened to have resulted in this dramatic and to some extent destructive move (which appears to have been played out in the context of a wider struggle that saw Oliver Lewis (previously Lord Frost’s (LF) negotiation deputy)?
The original sin, of course, is the agreement to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Who knows who did what to who or thought what about what but my speculation is the PM either did not understand the consequences of the Protocol or was assured they could be successfully addressed.
Either way, it is his responsibility. I’m not sure the consequences of the Protocol are fully understood. The PM has successfully delivered Brexit, his mission statement, but in so doing has presided over, willed and in effect approved a rupture in the union.
My suspicion is that this is taken very seriously indeed. And as a result any wheeze, scheme, idea etc that contributes to addressing the (in this context) faults of the NIP, this rupture of the union, receives a very friendly audience (also see the IMB).
A short while ago, a very strange event occurred. As part of its new vaccine export policy, the EU almost triggered / triggered and then retracted A16. This foolish misstep rightly received considerable opprobrium.
HMG saw this as an opportunity to address its issues with the NIP. This might have been advanced quietly or loudly. We saw a ‘loud’ response in the letter Gove sent to Maros Sefcovic, the tone of which was reminiscent of the combative Vote Leave approach to the negotiations.
But then something surprising happened. The letter’s sabre rattling seems all but forgotten when after the Gove / Sefcovic meeting both sides issue a joint statement in which they talk of their ‘frank but constructive discussion’ and state their ‘full commitment’ to the NIP.
The combative rhetoric is abandoned, the temperature is lowered, and the primacy of the NIP as the legal and political context in which all related issues must be solved is upheld, in the process diminishing the practical viability of A16 as an instrument to effect change.
You can perhaps look at this in 2 ways. Either (i) HMG (represented by Gove) missed a huge opportunity to address the offending parts of the NIP or (ii) the opportunity was hugely overstated, the letter did more harm than good, and as a result HMG / the EU decided to move on.
Either way, and yes perhaps for many other different reasons (this is all speculation) just over a week later Michael Gove’s EU responsibilities are transferred to Lord Frost who becomes cabinet minister responsible for the relationship with the EU. /ends

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More from @Sime0nStylites

18 Feb
I thought I might do a little analysis of this tweet. It’s a rare example of a direct and unfiltered communication from a senior politician in a medium which can provoke a more open style.
Firstly, I think we can assume the tweet was penned by Mr. Frost. The tone and content are, in my opinion, too personal and idiosyncratic to have been written by an advisor or a press officer (which would have more likely produced a blander version).
The first paragraph is the substantive part. Mr. Frost states the two most important aspects of his appointment. That he will be the Minister and that in that role he will ‘take forward our relationship with the EU after Brexit.’
Read 14 tweets
16 Feb
This is very interesting indeed. I’m going to suggest the pandemic will shifting from the period of crisis to the transition to recovery to recovery itself. We are currently positioned at the cusp between crisis and transition.
Inevitably, the transition will be complicated, contentious, full of policy mistakes, and take longer than everyone wants. But it *will* happen. We are coming out of all of this. We will come out of this.
What then does the recovery look like. I think it is gallopingly naive to think the recovery looks like pre pandemic business as usual. We’ve experienced a once in a lifetime shock to pretty much everything you can imagine.
Read 4 tweets
14 Feb
It has come to my attention that this take may not seem intuitively obvious to everyone. Well gather round and let me explain my uncannily prescient logic honed through years of staring into the mists that surround the column.
Naysayers, many and occasionally distinguished, point at the government’s antipathy towards Europe, exemplified by its performative expressions of sovereignty, supported by the Labrador-like loyalty of the right wing press, combined with Labour’s apparent lack of interest.
And all of this is true and well observed. It is also true that Europe bashing has provided a rich seam of political capital (indeed it has made the careers of the PM et al) which, like a dog tantalized by the juicy marrow bone of divisive rhetoric, may prove difficult to resist.
Read 16 tweets
13 Feb
Typically excellent piece from @dsquareddigest The exponential insight is especially neat. Think of it a little like you can’t export oysters to the EU (because you simply aren’t allowed to), tomorrow you don’t have a fish exporting business (to the EU).
The extremely small minority of people who known anything about this who think that Brexit will be good for the City make a number of arguments which I shall address in turn...
1. They need us more than we need them. This is a variant of the German carmakers argument. And we know how that went...Business will follow the profit opportunity and if that has moved then so will the business...
Read 13 tweets
11 Feb
Everyone seems to be going a bit nutty about the Amsterdam share trading news. Is it news? Most definitely. But is it unexpected. Most definitely not.
Let’s start with what if means. Put really simply, in the absence of passporting (now an impossible dream) and most likely equivalence (looks increasingly dicey) the majority of EU related wholesale banking activity in the City will migrate to the EU.
Some of this will happen quickly. Some will happen slowly. The Amsterdam news is a good example. The physical activity has shifted but this probably doesn’t mean much in terms of jobs. Indeed, much of the shifting so far has been trading activity (and ‘money’) vs jobs.
Read 8 tweets
9 Feb
Curious that people didn’t seem to realise that a thin deal or no deal meant that the EU would have huge leverage over U.K. fisherfolk / carmakers / bankers et al doing business with the EU (the other side of the coin from the German carmakers argument).
The only remedies to this situation are...
1. Let the affected business wither away to be hopefully replaced by business with other parts of the world.
Read 8 tweets

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