It’s Carrie v Dominic

With a battle of wills between the Dominicites and the Carrieites behind the black door of number 10 Downing Street over who influences the Prime Minister and with the clock ticking down to 2021, something akin to panic is gripping the Government.

The departure of Lee Cain from Dominic Cummings’ team of prime ministerial advisors has been seen that the realist camp led by the PM’s fiancé Carrie Symonds and fronted by press secretary Allegra Stratton and senior aide Munira Mirza are edging out Dominic Cummings and his Vote Leave team. Why is this important? It’s all about the direction of policy and in particular the economy if there is no EU trade deal this year. And Governing is different from campaigning. It’s reality over aspiration.

The economy is in ruins due to the way the Government has tackled the Covid-19 Crisis. Even if it had taken the Swedish route of not shutting down whole sections of the economy it would be facing a recession at the very least. With the latest hammer blow to business in the shape of the November lockdown the economy is on death row. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak reintroduced the furlough scheme at the eleventh hour extending it to March 31, 2021. Without this intervention thousands of businesses would have gone bust this winter. Now like a convicted criminal awaiting the hangman’s noose businesses have seen their sentence of liquidation put back five months – with the chance of a reprieve in the form of an upturn in the economy in the spring.

Dominic Cummings

Covid-19’s effect isn’t the only issue though. With no trade deal with Europe at the end of the year Britain is facing a cliff edge. On January 1, if the situation hasn’t changed then tariffs on food supplies from Europe will begin to apply, prices will rise in our shops and major delays are expected at the ports and airports of entry. Although every effort will (and has) been made to offset this problem it may well lead to inflation and shortages despite the stay of execution on many imports for six months before full tariffs are applied. But that won’t stop issues with just in time deliveries and supply chains and planning. Medicines, materials and machinery are also affected as well as exporting livestock for slaughter, machinery, goods and food and drink.

It all adds up to a crisis that has been 12 months in the making – exacerbated by Covid-19. Which in my opinion is why a form of words will be found between the EU and the UK to in effect stop the clock at midnight on December 31. It won’t be called a U-turn and it won’t be called an impasse – just an extension of time to find a solution as all eyes turn to the USA on January 20 when a pro-EU President Biden takes the oath of office. And he is not a fan of any policy that threatens the Good Friday Peace Agreement due to his distant Irish roots which add up to a lot of votes in America.

Carrie Symonds

Carrie Symonds, Allegra Stratton, Munira Mirza and a cohort of aides and advisors can see this – as do a growing number of Conservative MPs, Tory Lords and some in the Labour Party. The lockdown cannot and will not be extended into December if only for political reasons. And a no deal EU trade deal is a non-starter due to the potential economic and political fall-out that even Boris Johnson has realised. There’s a growing realisation in Downing Street that the deal the last occupant of number ten achieved might have been the only deal possible. And accepting that will be a bitter pill to swallow.

Harry Mottram

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