Leak of Dutch PM's row with Finance Minister is "Gossip and backstabbing;" Rutte apologized
“Village gossip and backstabbing” is how Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag described reports about an argument between her and Prime Minister Mark Rutte. RTL Nieuws and Telegraaf reported on Thursday that Kaag and Rutte had a falling out as the result of an argument about the business climate in the Netherlands. According to Kaag, it was “nothing at all,” and their cooperation is “excellent.” During his regular weekly press conference, Rutte said he apologized to Kaag.
RTL and Telegraaf reported that the two got into a fight about a possible European fund to subsidize companies worth billions of euros which would require contribution from the Netherlands. Kaag is also the deputy prime minister and the leader of the D66 political party. According to RTL, the D66 does not have a problem with a Dutch contribution to such a fund, but Rutte does. Rutte also leads the VVD.
During their argument, Rutte had a temper tantrum, both media outlets reported. Kaag then stormed out, and Rutte later apologized. Kaag called it “funny” that the media wrote about the argument now when it happened last week. She finds it “sad” that someone is apparently leaking information from consultations. “But what can I do about it? Not much.”
"I was wrong," Rutte conceded during his press conference. Neither of the two would reveal details about their argument. Rutte called it an "odd misunderstanding," that is now behind them. He said he regrets that the argument was leaked to the press.
According to the D66 leader, the argument says nothing about relationships within the Cabinet. It was a “communication misunderstanding,” which sometimes happens in “the best families.” She disputes speculations about significant differences between the VVD and D66 about the fund. And she would not say whether the media magnified the incident.
Covid policy caused tensions in Cabinet, Rutte says
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Rutte said that the coronavirus measures “escalated conflicts in the Cabinet,” especially at the end of 2020 and about the restrictions’ side effects on society. But “that was good,” Rutte said during a debate about the first six months of the pandemic. According to him, all those discussions also made it into the news.
Rutte was responding to a question from ChristenUnie leader Mirjam Bikker, who wanted to know whether Rutte thinks that the government paid enough attention to the consequences of the coronavirus restrictions other than on the medical side. “To be honest, the answer is yes,” Rutte said, partly because of those discussions in the Cabinet. “But admittedly, it is only now visible in the form of a [Social Impact Team].”
According to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet had “fierce discussions” between “what then came to be called the white coats and the more economically oriented Ministers who also looked at the social impact.” These discussions happened in Ministerial committees and during talks in the Catshuis. According to Rutte, these were “fierce debates” with political tensions, but there was never a question of the Cabinet falling apart. Though CDA member Mona Keijzer did leave in September 2021 after a clash about the coronavirus policy. She was the State Secretary of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy