Welsh Tories reflect on the Chequers compromise

David Cornock
Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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image copyrightChris McAndrew
image caption'Nobody gives a ****' - Simon Hart reacts to his colleague's resignation.

The temporary media gazebos have disappeared from Abingdon Green, the much-photographed patch of grass opposite the House of Lords.

Perhaps for Theresa May the crisis is over. At least for now. No-one has resigned from the government for almost 24 hours. And some of the resignations have left Conservative MPs rather underwhelmed.

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart used Twitter to respond to the departure of his colleague Chris Green, who resigned as parliamentary private secretary to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

"Your (sic) a PPS Chris," he tweeted. "It is not relevant and nobody gives a ****. Apart from me obviously." Mr Green's reply was brief:"*you're".

Mr Hart suggested that the disarray "hugely increased chances of Brexit never happening". That would be a nightmare for his Welsh Tory colleague David Jones, a former Brexit minister.

He's a critic of the Chequers compromise but told me he would not be writing a letter calling for a vote of confidence in Theresa May. "I think that she has to continue. I think that she has so far delivered important elements of Brexit. We've had the notification of withdrawal and we've had the withdrawal bill, which has gone through the House.

"But I think it is necessary that the government is extremely sensitive to the views within the Conservative party here at Westminster because without taking the bulk of the party with it they will not be able to get the legislation through."

Where does Alun Cairns stand in all this, I hear you ask? As the Welsh secretary handed in his phone at Chequers, a Sky News tweet suggested he was in the same Eurosceptic camp as cabinet Brexiteers Boris Johnson, David Davis, Michael Gove and others with advance doubts about the prime minister's approach.

This surprised me for three reasons. Mr Cairns says he wants a Brexit that works for (rather than *****) business, he is instinctively loyal to the prime minister and, thirdly, the tweet misspelled his name.


These factors did not prevent Cairns critics on social media from seizing on the tweet as evidence of his support for a "hard Brexit". So I asked the man himself if it was fair to suggest he had made the journey from 2016 remainer to 2018 hard Brexiteer?

Here, for what it's worth, is his reply: "That is completely unfair. I'm a pragmatist. I want to honour the outcome of the referendum. I want us to get a deal with the EU because that will allow us to protect jobs."

He added: "I can't talk about reports that are out there but I can tell you that my interest at the meeting in Chequers was to protect Wales's interests and to support the prime minister in coming to an outcome where we would take control of our laws, our borders and our money but also get to a situation where we can craft a deal with the European Union that will allow Welsh companies to continue to export and to continue to be part of a supply chain.

"It was a privilege to be part of that but I made my views known and quite forthright too."

Meanwhile, Mr Hart, who also described David Davis's performance as a "s... show", appears to be taking a break from trolling his colleagues. "I've suddenly had my right hand tied behind my back by a total stranger," he joked.