Centre for Medical Cannabis Launched

Yesterday saw the official launch of the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis at an event held at the Academy of Medical Sciences. The centre brings together clinicians, pharmacists, patients, campaigners and policy experts. Technically medicinal cannabis has been legalised for prescription, but only in very tightly controlled circumstances…

Steve Moore, who was one of the policy gurus behind the Big Society, has put together a board of serious people from the medical research field and people who have been involved in the area from a patient focus. His team brings them in touch with people who know their way around politics and government.*

Backed by the philanthropist Paul Birch, the CMC has produced a credible model with 30 immediate policy recommendations for the development UK’s first medicinal cannabis regime. They have produced a report and 30 recommendations are both evidence-based and politically deliverable, as they seek to influence the design of new regulatory system.

The CMC argues that

“… the UK needs a system that strikes the proper balance between choice and safety, whilst allowing for future changes as lessons are learnt. As such, our report covers the fundamental policy choices that are necessary when devising an access regime and the trade-offs policy-makers and legislators must make. It explores the particular constraints and preferences that will influence what regime is workable in the UK. This includes healthcare culture, public attitudes and medical options – cannabis based medical products (CBMP) definitions, access routes; modes of consumption; applicable conditions, etc.

The CMC’s report is informed by contributions from patient groups, and others, who will determine the outcomes that any new system must deliver against. The report also draws lessons from other jurisdictions, and engages with clinicians and others, to define what types of medical access are in demand, in order to propose a model that suits the UK context.”

Download the “Blueprint” report.

*Our editor is on the advisory board.

Voters Want MPs to Reject the Deal by More Than 2 to 1

MPs will be getting the chance to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal… at some point within the next six weeks according to her spokesman, who has confirmed that the vote will be held before January 21. Of course, her spokesman was insisting 24 hours ago that the vote was going ahead today…

Had MPs been able to vote the deal down today as expected, the British public would have been behind them. The latest Lord Ashcroft poll found voters against the deal by more than a margin of 2 to 1, with 53% in favour of MPs voting to “reject the Brexit agreement even if it is not clear what the outcome would then be” compared to only 24% in favour of MPs voting to “accept the Brexit agreement as an imperfect compromise and move on to other issues”. Opposition to the deal has grown in the three weeks since Ashcroft first asked the question, with a 9% swing against the deal. Voters aren’t falling for May’s strategy of boring them into backing the deal…

Voters’ responses to what they considered the most important Brexit outcomes were also very revealing. The most important outcome among Leave and Remain voters combined was “the UK being able to do its own free trade deals with countries outside the EU”, ahead of “continuing to trade freely with EU countries with no tariffs or customs checks”. May’s approach has been the other way round…

Both Tory and Labour Leave voters agreed that the most important issue was “the UK making all its own laws and no longer being subject to rulings from the European Court of Justice” – ending free movement was only ranked as the fifth most important issue. Once again proving the Remainer narrative wrong that the Leave vote was nothing more than a small-minded backlash against immigration…

May’s Renegotiation Gets Stuck

In an unfortunate metaphor for her whole negotiation, Theresa May was left stuck in her car as an official struggled to open the door for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel this afternoon in Berlin. At least she managed to negotiate her way out of the car in the end…

Parliament in Lockdown, Intruder Tasered

Parliament is in lockdown and there is a heightened police presence on the estate, after an alleged intruder was reportedly tasered by armed police within the estate by Carriage Gates, having made it a few meters inside. Two police cars are now parked outside.

UPDATE: ITV’s Paul Brand has taken a photo of what appears to be the police holding the alleged intruder. The situation seems to be under control.

UPDATE II: The intruder has now been taken away in a police van, and the Metropolitan Police have released this statement:

“A man was detained and arrested by Carriage Gates inside the Palace of Westminster on suspicion of trespassing at a protected site, at around 11.55hrs on Tuesday, 11 December. A Taser was deployed. Enquiries into the circumstances continue.”

Employment Highest Since Records Began

Official ONS figures released today have revealed that the UK employment rate is estimated to be 75.7%, a significant increase on last year’s 75.1%, and the highest rate since estimates began in 1971. Similarly unemployment is at near record lows at 4.1%, down from 4.3% this time last year. Wages are also up by 3.3%, the fastest rise in a decade. All despite Brexit…

Standpoint Editor: Runners & Riders

After more than 10 years at its helm, Daniel Johnson the founder of the conservative-leaning magazine Standpoint is standing down as editor, though he will continue writing for it. He is moving on to be the launch editor of a new online publishing platform TheArticle.com. Standpoint has stabilised financially and is appointing a new editor. Regular contributor Douglas Murray could be in the running, other contributors such as Nick Cohen would probably be ruled out for his broadly left-of-centre outlook even if he does have neo-con tendencies. Edward Lucas has been writing for the mag on and off for a decade. Oliver Wiseman now editing CapX used to work for Standpoint. Of previous contributors to the magazine, Toby Young has got to be in with a chance now he isn’t currently editing anything, he would certainly be a lively editor…

From outside the ranks Jamie Whyte formerly of the IEA could be available. ERG wonk Christopher Montgomery’s name has been put to Guido, Daniel Hannan will have time on his hands when his term as an MEP comes to end soon. Could Juliet Samuel could combine her Telegraph columns with an editorship?

Steve Baker Sets Out Tory Leadership Shortlist

Former Brexit minister Steve Baker has renewed his call for MPs to submit letters of no confidence in the PM, telling Today that Conservative MPs need to realise that we “cannot go staggering forward any longer like this” and that it is Theresa May’s “duty now to go”. More letters have reportedly gone in since yesterday’s debacle but somehow they’re always around “5 letters short” of 48…

When pressed on who should replace her, Baker gave a shortlist of four Brexiteers – Esther McVey, Dominic Raab, David Davis and Boris Johnson – and called on them to decide between themselves who would be the chosen candidate. Good luck with that…

“There are four people who have resigned from the Cabinet – Esther McVey, Dominic Raab, David Davis and Boris Johnson – the four of them need to work out between them which one of them is going to be our candidate to unite the country, unite the party, and take us out of the EU successfully.”

Boris is certainly back in the frame after his weighty appearance setting out a clear plan for how to proceed on Marr on Sunday, while Tory MPs are the one constituency he has consistently struggled to win over, his enduring popularity with Tory members and the country as a whole is not something MPs can ignore. Raab is Boris’s most likely challenger – he has burnished his credentials with his principled resignation although he does not have the public recognition factor of Boris or DD. DD has been out of the spotlight of late, while McVey’s support may end up being crucial to one of the other candidates if she does not go for leader herself.

Baker is right that Brexiteers should unite around a candidate when the inevitable leadership contest comes – Remainer Cabinet ministers including Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt are also on manoeuvres and the risk is real that Brexiteer infighting could lead to a repeat of the situation where a Remainer PM simply wins the race by default. Whether politicians are willing to put their egos to one side and back one of their main rivals is another matter…

Labour MP Grabs Mace

Heseltine wannabe MP Lloyd Russel-Moyle attempted to steal the show this evening by flouncing down the chamber of the House of Commons and grabbing the Ceremonial Mace to suspend the Commons sitting in protest at the Government postponing the meaningful vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. Famously Michael Heseltine performed the same stunt in protest of Labour’s nationalisations in 1976. The last Member to seize the mace was John McDonnell in 2009 over Heathrow expansion…

Thirty Two year old Russel-Moyle was first elected in 2017. He has now been named by the Speaker and ordered to withdraw from the house for the remainder of the sitting. After grabbing the mace, Russel-Moyle sheepishly gave it back, not even taking the opportunity to brandish it above his head like Hezza. Embarrassing… 

May: “I’m Not Capable of a Parliamentary Ejaculation”

While Theresa May hasn’t managed to bring a meaningful vote to Parliament thus far, she did succeed in delivering what must be one of the most salacious lines ever uttered by a sitting Prime Minister in the House of Commons, telling Rupa Huq: “if she looks carefully I think she’ll see that I’m not capable of a Parliamentary ejaculation.” For once, even Bercow is lost for words…

UPDATE: Iain Dale points out that Rupa Huq has form:

May’s Freudian Slip

The Prime Minister (presumably accidentally) appropriated a Lib Dem slogan at the dispatch box this afternoon. Not surprising she wants an ‘exit from Brexit’, given the month she’s been having…

People’s Vote Splurging Cash on Facebook ‘Micro-Targeting’

Facebook have published pages political spending for October to December this year, revealing that far and away the biggest spenders were Remain campaigners. The People’s Vote campaign came in with the highest spending of any political organisation, in fact being the only campaign to reach six figures, splurging £150,841 in just over two months. Who funds them…?

Interestingly, the Government has promoted just eleven different adverts over the whole period, compared to a staggering 1,238 from the People’s Vote campaign – around twenty different adverts a day. If Guido were more conspiratorially-minded he might say that sounds suspiciously like ‘dark ad’ micro-targeting…

Bercow’s Bombshell Bollocking

Speaker John Bercow has thrown a massive spanner in the works of Theresa May’s wish to delay postpone the meaningful vote scheduled for Tuesday. Stating that communing the debate and cancelling the planned vote is “premature and inconclusive”, the Speaker pushed for the Commons to vote on whether they vote tomorrow, calling it “the right and dare I say it the obvious course to take.” The Government can technically plough on regardless, but Bercow has applied acute and piercing political pressure, especially just days after the Govt was voted in contempt of Parliament…

May’s Statement Laughed Down By Commons

An awkward start…

Londoners on the Hook for Sadiq’s £2 Billion Crossrail Calamity

Sadiq Khan’s calamitous handling of the Crossrail launch is going from bad to worse as it emerges that Crossrail could require over £2 billion in bailout funds. Under a financial package confirmed today between Khan and the Treasury, Transport for London is set for another an emergency cash injection with the GLA borrowing up to £1.3 billion from the Department for Transport as well as providing £100 million of its own funds. There is a contingency option for a further bailout of up to £750 million, also loaned from DfT. This is on top of the £300 million initial bailout which was already granted to TfL in July…

Sadiq’s financial mismanagement has left Londoners on the hook – under the terms of the £1.3 billion loan it will have to be repaid directly by London’s businesses through Sadiq’s Business Rate Supplement (BRS) and Mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy (MCIL) taxes. TfL’s finances are in a dire state thanks to his partial fares freeze, as well as the delays to Crossrail and lost advertising revenues under his ban-happy advertising policy. TfL is now facing a huge £1 billion operating deficit which is why it is having to go cap-in-hand to the Government for bailouts…

Sadiq is still facing an FCA investigation into his failure to inform the London Stock Exchange that Crossrail’s launch would be delayed until Autumn 2019, with outgoing Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan accusing Sadiq of knowing about the delay as early as late July. City Hall insiders reckon that the launch may yet be pushed back as far as Autumn 2020, after the next London Mayoral Election. How much more of London taxpayers’ cash will Sadiq have squandered by then?

UPDATE: A frustrated government source comments: “We’ve had to dig deep to save the Crossrail project thanks to the mismanagement of money under a Labour mayor (and a moderate one by Corbyn’s standards…)”

Stephen Bush Becomes New Statesman Pol Ed

The New Statesman’s editor Jason Cowley has made George Eaton joint deputy editor with Tom Gatti. Congratulations to Stephen Bush who is promoted to political editor. Cowley says: “These appointments are to prepare for a planned expansion of the New Statesman in 2019. We have had another successful year…” Losses last year were £477,271.

Remain and Leave Economists Pressure Treasury to Reveal Project Fear Models

The Treasury is under renewed pressure to reveal the models behind its latest round of Project Fear forecasts, with a group of 26 economists including Remain and Leave supporters writing to Treasury Select Committee Chair Nicky Morgan, calling on her to demand that the Treasury makes its models available to “qualified independent economists”. Signatories to the letter include former external members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, former economic advisers to government and the CBI and former Treasury officials. Not just the usual Brexiteer economist crowd…

The letter notes the “widespread unease about the very negative post-Brexit outcomes predicted by the Treasury’s economic model” and complains that the Treasury’s attempts to explain its approach have been impenetrable even to “experienced macroeconomists”. The Treasury’s black box figures are playing a huge role in the Government’s approach to Brexit, they should be subject to full independent scrutiny…

Read the full letter below:

Continue reading

Alan Duncan Laughs at May’s Vote Shambles

Foreign Minister Alan Duncan had the unfortunate task of being presented with the news that Theresa May’s meaningful vote will be delayed, live on air. You know you’re not in a good place when your own ministers are openly laughing at your Government… 

May Cancels Meaningful Vote

After days of intense speculation, Sky News are reporting that Theresa May has finally decided to pull tomorrow night’s meaningful vote – despite Number 10 repeatedly insisting for the last few days that it was going ahead and sending numerous ministers on air including Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Michael Gove to insist that it was “100%” happening. “100%” shambolic…

May will make a Commons statement at 3.30pm today, with a business statement from Andrea Leadsom expected to follow – a clear sign that the Government plans to pull the vote. Defeat for May looked certain but obviously she cannot put the vote off forever. Brussels will not take UK attempts to renegotiate the deal seriously without a firm rejection from Parliament first. It is hard to see what she has achieved from putting it off except cementing her reputation as British politics’ greatest can-kicker…

ECJ Ruling Does Not Let UK ‘Unilaterally’ Revoke Article 50

Remainers have predictably been salivating all over the ECJ’s ruling this morning that the UK can “unilaterally” revoke Article 50. The notoriously slow-moving EU Court discovered a remarkable turn of speed to deliver their judgement just in time for it to land one day before the crucial parliamentary vote in the UK. Definitely not a political court…

There’s just one problem – it’s not what the judgement actually says:

“…the revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw must, first, be submitted in writing to the European Council and, secondly, be unequivocal and unconditional…”

So it is not as simple as the UK simply telling the European Council it wants to withdraw Article 50 – the EU specifically reserves the power to rule on whether the UK’s notification is truly “unequivocal and unconditional”. Guido isn’t aware of any definitions of “unilateral” which include having to explicitly gain the approval of someone else. As ever, the ECJ marks its own homework to ensure that it always has the ultimate say over anything a member state can do…

The bottom line is that Article 50 is not going to be withdrawn unless there is a government in place that is prepared to table an Act of Parliament to unequivocally revoke it, and a Parliament that is prepared to vote this through. Even in today’s heavily Remainer-loaded Parliament, this is simply not going to happen…

Gove “Exreeeeemely” Unlikely To Stand for Leadership

Speaking to the Today Programme, Michael Gove almost denied he could stand for the Conservative Party leadership. The Environment Secretary twice emphasised his non-denial denial, adding more vowels in an attempt to drive home the point. He wasn’t categorical…[…] Read the rest

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Andrea Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today

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