Tory Mayoral Candidate Embroiled in Ongoing Probe By UK Audit Watchdog

After much speculation about a mystery big name female business figure being lined up as a Tory London mayoral candidate, it was announced this week that Ruby McGregor-Smith is running. A big name in the literal sense. So who is she?

McGregor-Smith is a self-styled successful businesswoman who was the boss of cleaning company Mitie until October 2016. She quit the company after a profit warning and as the company restated its accounts following an ‘accounting issue’. At the time she faced calls to have £2 million in bonuses taken away from her. When she said she was stepping down to spend more time with her family, the Evening Standard’s city editor Jim Armitage commented: “Believe that, and you’ll believe anything”, reporting the company had “lost its way” during her tenure and concluding: “I doubt the board begged McGregor-Smith to stay”.

In November 2017, the FT reported that individuals responsible for preparing and approving the Mitie accounts were under investigation by the Financial Reporting Council, the UK’s audit watchdog. McGregor-Smith did not respond to requests for comment from the FT. Mitie admitted it had been aggressive in its accounting practices. A spokesman for the Financial Reporting Council says the investigation is ongoing…

Friday Caption Contest (Leather Kendall Edition)

Ireland Expects RAF Help in Event of Terrorist Hijack

The sabre-rattling by Irish PM Leo Varadkar that in the event of a no deal Brexit Ireland might block off UK access to Irish airspace is pathetic. Treaties dating back to the beginning of the International Air Services Transit Agreement signed as part of the Chicago Convention in 1944 guarantee the freedom of the skies. This is signed by 133 countries, including the UK and all EU member states. Ireland has been a signatory since 1957.

There is another agreement permitting British aircraft to fly over Ireland which the Irish government chooses not to publicise. The Irish Department of Defence and Department of Foreign Affairs with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have entered into a bilateral agreement with their British counterparts: the RAF, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Defence, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that in the event of a terrorist hijacking, RAF jets would be scrambled to defend Ireland. Neutral Ireland has no supersonic military aircraft capability.

Presumably this bilateral  agreement permitting the RAF to conduct armed operations in Irish-controlled airspace in the event of a real-time or envisaged threat of a terrorist-related attack over the skies of Ireland, will not be torn up after Brexit. The Irish are Britain’s kith and kin, it is inconceivable that Brexit Britain would not come to their aid in the event of an Aer Lingus transatlantic flight being hijacked mid-Atlantic. Varadkar is bluffing for domestic consumption.

May Insists Pairing Scandal “An Honest Mistake”

Not sure fibbing that you didn’t tell MPs to break their pairs, and then admitting you did when caught red-handed, can be described as either “honest” or a “mistake”. Ministers and Tory MPs requiring pairs in future will have grave fears about how things are going to play out under the current chief whip…

UPDATE: Tom Watson:

“It is unbelievable that the Prime Minister has repeated the desperate and blatantly untrue excuses made by her Party Chair and Chief Whip. This is a serious issue that goes beyond efficient administration in the House of Commons. This is about public trust in politics. At such a crucial time for our country, people expect candour and decency, not cowardice and dishonesty.”

First “No Deal Ready” Legislation Becomes Law

Yesterday the first “no deal ready” legislation quietly got Royal Assent for a little thing called the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act. Whilst sounding very boring, this is very significant as it is the first “no deal ready” bill to become an Act. The Department for Transport is pleased that for once they have arrived ahead of schedule with this Act in place to provide for all kinds of eventualities (in this case relating to cross-border road haulage) in a no deal situation. The word around Whitehall is that Downing Street were not keen to boast about “no deal ready” legislation. This is going to change according to friends of Dominic Raab…

The Act itself is technically the legislative equivalent of “Noel Edmonds” – it provides for a deal and no deal. In a nutshell one key thing it does: at the moment the UK doesn’t require HGV drivers to have permits to drive here. Thus there is no framework in law to issue / enforce permits. If there is a deal the UK will have permits and control the numbers of lorries with the powers to do that. If there is no deal the Act also provides for the powers to do UK permits. Solving transportation regulatory issues is a priority for a clean Brexit. So it begins…

Peak Media Boris B*llocks

The lefty / Remain papers do write some nonsense about their bogeyman Boris, but today’s Mirror splash has to be most tenuous BoJo attack story ever. They are having a pop at the former Foreign Secretary for not having yet moved out of his Carlton Gardens residence. The Mirror copy says their story “is bound to infuriate ­homeless charities” and hint that Jeremy Hunt is unhappy Boris is still there. Labour say it is “shocking” and “extraordinary”, “taxpayer-funded squatting” and “it’s high time the Government take back control of this property”.

Back in the real world, it has been just 10 days since Boris resigned, it is completely standard practice for an outgoing Foreign Secretary to take a few weeks to leave their official residence, he has permission from the government and Jeremy Hunt to stay there until the end of the month, and Boris is paying all his bills so there is no cost to the taxpayer. So all of the key points of the Mirror and Labour attacks completely fall apart. A front page so “shocking” and “extraordinary” that no one has yet followed it up…

Vaz Investigation Vanishes As Anonymity For MPs Comes In

This was what the “current inquiries” section of the parliamentary standards commissioner’s website looked like this morning, with Keith Vaz and Robert Courts listed as under investigation:

After the new rules giving anonymity to MPs under investigation came in this afternoon, the “current inquiries” section of the website vanished. Vaz and Courts’ names are gone. If they had been placed under investigation now, their constituents would never know. Well, until Guido finds out…

Bookies Reckon Chief-Whip Will Survive

William Hill reckon Julian Smith is more likely to survive than be gone by Monday. Worth a flutter…

Caught on Camera: Brandon Speaks With Pairing Whip Ahead of Crunch Vote

This clip shows Brandon Lewis having a conversation with pairing whip Andrew Stephenson before he voted on Tuesday. They’re going to need to tell us what was said…

Brandon Knew He Was Paired But Voted Anyway

The government’s “honest mistake” line has collapsed further as Guido can reveal Brandon Lewis knew he was paired ahead of the crunch customs votes – but voted anyway. A Tory source has confirmed that he was aware he was paired on Tuesday night. They say he was then told by a whip that he would be required to vote in the two crunch votes, so he did. He categorically denies he was aware that he was paired with the pregnant Jo Swinson. A Tory source insists Brandon acted in good faith…

We know that Julian Smith was explicitly telling paired MPs to break their pairs. We know Brandon knew he was paired, that despite this he received an instruction to vote, and he then voted. Either Brandon has been royally stitched up and misled by Smith, or he knew he was breaking his pair…

Tory MP Accuses Chief Whip and Government of Lying

This is the government line via Laura K:

“Tory sources say chief whip considered but did not go through with telling any MPs on short term pairs to vote even though they weren’t meant to”

But one of those paired Tory MPs tells The Sun:

“Julian told me I was needed and told me to come in and vote. Of course he knew I was paired. I didn’t vote and honoured my pair, and he demanded to know why not afterwards.”

Either that Tory MP or Julian Smith and the government are lying…

Olly Robbins Lands £20,000 Bonus

Was it £5,000 for each red line broken?

H/T Harry Cole

Julian Smith Ordered Tory MPs to Break Pairs

This is looking grim for Julian Smith and Brandon Lewis. Both the Sun and the Mail report that he ordered paired Tory MPs to break their pairs and vote anyway. The Sun quotes a paired Tory MP:

“Julian told me I was needed and told me to come in and vote. Of course he knew I was paired. I didn’t vote and honoured my pair, and he demanded to know why not afterwards. It then appears Julian told the Prime Minister it was all an innocent mistake. What happened was unacceptable. We cannot behave like this”.

The Mail confirms Smith did order MPs to break pairs, but says the order was withdrawn:

The whips office is refusing to deny to Guido the existence of a text from Julian Smith to a paired MP ordering them to break their pair.

The question is: why did Brandon Lewis then break his pregnancy pair? What was discussed in his conversation with the chief whip before he voted?

“Are You Romanticising a Murderous Ideology?”

Jo Coburn on the Daily Politics got to the point. Bastani defended freedom crushing totalitarianism…

No.10 Has Full Confidence in Julian Smith

Number 10 say they have full confidence in Julian Smith. Allies of Smith and Brandon Lewis say they will not be resigning. Peston reports

“I was told by well-placed source that a Tory backbencher was texted by chief whip with instructions to break pair on Tuesday night. “That is an order not a request” was how text was retold to me.”

This is looking very serious… if that text exists…

Those Broken Pairs Numbers in Full

A former veteran Tory whip texts:

“There have been 2,000 pairs arranged since the General Election. 66 have been broken. 14 pairs have been broken by the Government and 52 pairs have been broken by the Opposition (of which 7 were broken by the Lib Dems, despite them having only 12 MPs). There is a lot of faux outrage about.”

It turns out Labour, and proportionally especially the LibDems, are by some distance the worse offenders when it comes to breaking pairs. It does seem to happen a fair amount – around 3% of pairs are broken, and four-fifths of the broken pairs were committed by opposition parties. The Brandon Lewis / Julian Smith / Jo Swinson row comes down to whether you believe the chief whip that it was a mistake… it would be an extraordinarily dangerous thing to lie about… 

Philip Davies Sends Letter to Graham Brady

Philip Davies has submitted a letter of no confidence in Theresa May in protest at the Chequers plan. He has explained his decision in a letter to constituents via the Yorkshire Post:

“Politics is all about trust and once it is lost it is impossible to win back. Many people have told me that as a result of this they have lost trust in the PM to properly and fully deliver the referendum result. It is with much sadness that I have to say that I have also lost trust in her to deliver the referendum result too. Failure to keep our promise to the electorate will almost certainly lead to the catastrophe of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister and I cannot sit back and allow that to happen. Therefore I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I have no alternative but to send a letter to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee asking him for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.

If 48 such letters are sent a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister amongst Conservative MPs will take place. This is a secret process and people do not need to declare that they have sent such a letter, but I believe you (and my constituents) have the right to know what I do as your local MP and that is why I am writing to let you know. Some of you will agree with my decision and some of you will disagree – I am well aware of that. But you all have a right to know.

I always have to look you all in the eye and tell you that I have done what I believe is right for the country and our Party. This has not been an easy decision and I have agonised over it, but I know in my heart of hearts it is the right decision. I hope that the Conservative Party and I can look forward to your continued support at what I appreciate is a very difficult time.”

Partner of Cabinet minister Esther McVey, who has been silent this week…

Knife Crime and Murder Rate Up

New crime stats via the ONS:

  • a continued rise in the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments, with police recording 16% more offences this year compared with last year
  • the number of homicides recorded by the police showed a fourth consecutive rise, increasing by 12% compared with last year; this follows a long-term decline
  • these offences tend to be concentrated in London and other metropolitan areas

When are the PM and Mayor of London going to get a grip?

Team Diane Deletes 9 Tweets That Got Police Numbers Wrong

With the crime numbers out at 9:30am, Guido can offer a helpful word of advice to Diane Abbott and the Shadow Home Office team. For the last few weeks they have been tweeting every couple of days about police cuts since 2010, telling voters again and again that 1,000 officers have gone under the Tories. They have used the 1,000 figure at least nine times over the last few weeks. The correct number is 21,000. Since Guido pointed this out, the Shadow Home Office team have deleted all their wrong tweets. Happy to have been of assistance…

The Pound Did Soar After Lancaster House Speech

PA have “fact checked” BoJo’s claim this afternoon that “the pound soared” as a result of the Lancaster House speech:

DID POUND 'SOAR' AFTER MAY'S LANCASTER HOUSE SPEECH 
AS BORIS JOHNSON TOLD MPS?

PA
POLITICS Brexit Pound
18-Jul-2018 16:16:35
By Ian Jones, Press Association

Boris Johnson told the House of Commons "the pound soared" following 
Theresa May's Lancaster House speech - but 24 hours after the 
prime minister's statement, sterling had lost value against the dollar.
[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Jeremy Corbyn told by veteran Jewish MP Margaret Hodge…

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