Guido understands the BBC has invited Nicola Sturgeon and Nigel Farage to take part in a head-to-head referendum debate in Glasgow. The hour-long face-off is due to take place on May 26 on BBC1 at 8pm. Audience members will be under 30 and representative of the whole of the UK rather than just Scotland. So Nige won’t have to barricade himself in a pub this time…
When Vote Leave secured the designation Farage worried his telly time would be reduced. This is a chance for the UKIP leader to take part in a prime-time head-to-head debate on the BBC, one he will want to seize given his hugely effective performance against Clegg two years ago. He then has his ITV Q&A session on June 7 to follow. He will be box office…
UPDATE: UKIP sources say Farage is still “considering options” on the TV debates. The SNP stress “At the moment no invitations to any EU debates have been accepted”.
Yesterday the Scott Trust, owners of the Guardian, met to discuss whether Alan Rusbridger would take over as chair as agreed two years ago. The Trust was split on whether this should still happen – current editor Kath Viner and GMG chief exec David Pemsel particularly opposed Rusbridger’s return amid staff outcry and swingeing cuts. Today Rusbridger has confirmed he is out. Coup successful…
Read his email in full:
Dear former colleagues
I wanted to let you know I will not be returning to Chair the Scott Trust later this year. Many of you will know what the Scott Trust has meant to me and for Guardian journalism. It is so unique that not many people – externally, or, sometimes, even internally – truly appreciate the crucial role it has had over many years in nurturing, resourcing and protecting what we do. When, in late 2014, the Scott Trust appointed me to succeed Liz as chair I was beyond honoured. But much has changed in the year since I stepped down. All newspapers – and many media organisations beyond – have been battered by turbulent and economic forces that were difficult to foresee last summer.
On my appointment to the Scott Trust job in November 2014 the Chair of GMG, Neil Berkett, was kind enough to say publicly : “Alan has set the standard for journalistic leadership in the digital age. His appointment to lead The Scott Trust coincides with rapidly rising readership, continued innovation and secure finances at the Guardian. His successor will inherit a global media organisation in very strong health and with clear prospects for further growth.” The difference between that assessment and the way things look now is a measure of how much the world has changed. I have been on the Trust long enough to understand its role.
We all currently do our journalism in the teeth of a force 12 digital hurricane. It is surely obvious to anyone that changed circumstances will demand dramatically changed solutions. Kath and David clearly believe they would like to plot a route into the future with a new chair and I understand their reasoning. I have a fantastically interesting new life in Oxford. I will miss you all. You have been the most wonderful colleagues and we achieved really amazing things together. I continue to read with immense admiration the journalism the Guardian and Observer produce. It’s all the more enjoyable for having played no part in it.
Thanks to all of you who have quietly emailed support in the past few weeks. And very best wishes to all as you negotiate the storms currently affecting pretty much everyone in our industry. We will come through….
Where do the Tories stand on the election fraud scandal? They are bang to rights on failing to declare £38,000 of hotel bills for Tory activists, blaming an “administrative error”. The issue of transport – the fabled “battle buses” – is contested. There are three outcomes here. Are CCHQ right when they say they’ve done nothing wrong? Did they breach the rules on national and local spending? Or was there a conspiracy to hide spending from the official declarations?
Leaked emails reveal CCHQ told their local campaign teams that the cost of hotels and battle buses would be “accounted for out of central campaign spend”. It stressed transport within the seat was not included: “For legal reasons the Battlebus cannot ferry people around the seat”.
The arrangement had the “personal sponsorship” of Grant Shapps, was “signed off” by Lynton Crosby, Stephen Gilbert and Lord Feldman, and was “supported by Deborah Feldman’s Team in CCHQ“. That’s Lord Feldman’s sister.
The good news for the Tories is this shows they did see battle buses as part of the national campaign all along, and demonstrates they were taking steps to abide by spending laws. So they can argue there wasn’t a conspiracy to hide the cash. The bad news? If the cops find it should have gone down as local spend, the party chairman and his sister are implicated…
Osborne says the IMF’s Brexit-bashing report is totally impartial: “Today the independent IMF reinforced the conclusions of the independent bank of England.” So it’s unfortunate that Christine Lagarde began by thanking the Treasury for their help:
“Let me by the same token thank all UK authorities who have been helping us in preparing the article for work in the last few weeks. There’s always been good cooperation between the Treasury, the Bank of England and any other authorities that we consult with”
She was then forced to deny the Treasury wrote any of the report. Ooooops!
Christine Lagarde is making yet another doom-mongering ‘major intervention’ at 10am, with that €400 million fraud trial still looming over her. The IMF chief will again warn against Brexit during a meeting with Osborne at the Treasury, a geo-political courtesy return favour to the Chancellor, who campaigned hard for her to get the job. Like pretty much every group Remain have wheeled out, the IMF has received funding from the European Commission. Pro-Remain groups which have made referendum interventions have received €160 million from the Commission in the last nine years:
PwC warned leaving would cause a “serious shock” – no kidding, they’re bankrolled by the Commission to the tune of €16 million. LSE say we’re better off Remaining – they certainly are having received €18 million. The WWF says EU membership “benefits our environment” – it benefits theirs by €46 million.
Remain have barely named a group supporting them which hasn’t received huge amounts from the Commission. He who pays the piper…
UPDATE: RSPB get in touch to stress they do not have a position on the referendum because neither side is campaigning on the environment.
Scottish edition, you can stay late at the pub…
Leave message: Immigration stats confirm UK can’t control borders.
Remain message: Small businesses think Brexit will damage them.
Cut through: Cummings loses the plot (again).