Question Time Brexit Special Tonight

A one-off Monday night edition of Question Time at 8:30pm tonight…

Taxpayer Billed £100 Million After Government Breached EU Procurement Rules

The taxpayer has been hit with a £100 million bill after the government breached EU procurement rules over a contract to decommission nuclear power plants. Business Secretary Greg Clark today confirmed the compensation will be paid to American companies Energy Solutions and Bechtel after the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority awarded the £6 billion contract to Cavendish Fluor Group. Energy Solutions argued the decision breached the EU’s public procurement rules as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority did not “award the contract to the most economically advantageous tenderer”. This went against the EU’s Public Sector Directive, and therefore Energy Solutions were qualified for a remedy under the Remedies Directive. A giant cock-up by the government, but it’s EU law that has cost the taxpayer the equivalent of the salaries of 4,500 NHS nurses…

Alastair Campbell New Hereditary Peer

No, not that Alastair Campbell… but Alastair Campbell, 4th Baron Colgrain and the former High Sheriff of Kent has won the House of Lords hereditary peer by-election. Lord Colgrain, a Tory, is an old Etonian who has worked for 30 years in the City in the financial executive search sector. PR guru Lord Bethell came a close second. One for the Lords diversity quota.

UKIP Toast Loss of Only MP

With a nod to Douglas Carswell’s trademark sunglasses emoji, UKIP’s NEC break open the bubbly to toast the loss of their only MP…

Davis: Encryption Ban Devastating, May “Laughable”

As Amber Rudd ramps up the government’s draconian rhetoric on encryption, it could fall upon one of Theresa May’s close Cabinet allies to stand up for civil liberties. In November 2015 David Davis, then a humble backbencher, wrote this article for the FT blasting the Cameron government’s proposal to ban end-to-end encryption:

“The government’s approach to encryption also leaves much to be desired. At least it did not go ahead with Prime Minister David Cameron’s unwise proposal this year to ban end-to-end encryption — the unbreakable code that makes it impossible to read our online messages and transactions even if they are intercepted. Such a move would have had devastating consequences for all financial transactions and online commerce, not to mention the security of all personal data. Its consequences for the City do not bear thinking about.”

Davis pointed out that ending encryption would be

“likely to strangle UK tech businesses, by prohibiting the spread of encryption to those services that do not already use it. This will put our communications companies at a severe disadvantage, as their overseas competitors are permitted to offer fully secure services forbidden to UK companies.”

And he had these choice words for the then Home Secretary Theresa May:

“The proposed authorisation and oversight are nowhere near as intelligent as the American, Canadian, German or Dutch systems. The claim by Theresa May, home secretary, that ours will be one of the strongest systems in the world is laughable. It will arguably still be the worst.”

Surely DD will not waver from his admirable stance just a year and a half ago…

Ken to Talk About Hitler on Thursday

ITV report that Labour’s National Constitutional Committee will meet on Thursday and Friday to discuss Ken Livingstone’s case. Ken says he will produce “historical documents” proving Hitler had links with Zionism. Popcorn…

Dan Jarvis Confuses Debt and Deficit

It is often said that Dan Jarvis – not generally considered Westminster’s greatest thinker – doesn’t have the brain to be the next Labour leader. He has tried to dispel those fears today with a 5,000 word essay about his vision for Britain in the New Statesman. What could go wrong?

Action Dan’s big idea is a typically uninspiring “one-off wealth tax” which he says would help bring down the deficit”. Except, as Lucy Powell points out, he means “debt“:

Is this the best Labour moderates can do? Best hope for Jarvis is that no one can be bothered to read his dire snoozefest of a manifesto…

Nuttall and Farage Coy on UKIP’s Electoral Future

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall declared his party the “guard dogs of Brexit” today as he launched six tests ahead of Theresa May triggering Article 50. They all seem pretty sensible to Guido…

  1. Legal – “Parliament must resume its supremacy of law-making with no impediments… Britain must wholly remove itself from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”;
  2. Migration – “Britain must resume full control of its immigration and asylum policies…not be bound by any freedom of movement obligation”;
  3. Maritime – “Restore the UK’s full maritime sovereignty and exclusive economic zone”;
  4. Trade – “UK must have full legal rights to set its own tariff and non-tariff barriers…WTO terms are the acceptable fall-back position”;
  5. Money – “There must be no final settlement payment…and no ongoing payments to the EU budget”;
  6. Time – “Brexit must be done and dusted by the end of 2019“.

To which the Telegraph’s cheeky Chris Hope asked if UKIP would still be around in 2019…

Asked how he plans to enforce the tests in parliament after UKIP lost its only MP, Nuttall said:

“Through pressure, exactly the same way as we did when we forced the referendum… you don’t necessarily have to have a UKIP backside on the green leather of the House of Commons to ensure that we can apply political pressure within that chamber.”

Nuttall predicted the party’s vote share would go up in May’s local elections, though notably not that they would gain seats. 

Nigel Farage sat on the back row throughout this morning’s press conference in Westminster, capturing the attention of journalists present no doubt to the delight of Nuttall. As he was leaving, Farage was asked if UKIP would lose seats in the upcoming local elections:

“I don’t know, as with all these elections they’re peak to peak… that doesn’t mean that your strong areas aren’t still very, very strong, I suspect they probably are.”

Asked if the party would gain seats, Nige said: “I’m retired”…

Number 10 Twitchy Over Hitachi HS2 Bid

As the HS2 conflicts of interest row rumbles on, Guido can bring you the latest issue causing concern for officials in Downing Street. An industry day is being held today for companies to discuss the next major contract, for a rail manufacturer to build the actual trains. Among the bidders is Hitachi, the Japanese conglomerate. Hitachi employs as a consultant with a roaming brief one Kate Mingay, a former senior official at the Department for Transport. She has previous…

Back in 2012 Mingay was suspended by DfT after claims she mismanaged the West Coast rail fiasco. She became embroiled in a furious public row with the government, launched a legal challenge against DfT and was eventually reinstated after much acrimony and threats to take it to the High Court. It was major news at the time and very messy for ministers. Now Mingay helps run Hitachi-owned Italian rail company STS. There are quite a few people in government who thought they had seen the back of Mingay, until this HS2 contract came along…

Nige vs Bad Al Campbell Brexit Bust-Up

Red-cheeks and a lot of huffing and puffing on the Good Morning Britain sofa today…

Amber Rudd and Fleet Street Don’t Understand Encryption

Following Amber Rudd’s talk of “necessary hashtags” and how “we don’t want to go into the cloud”, you’d be forgiven for thinking she is something of a digital immigrant. The Home Secretary has her sights trained on the messaging service WhatsApp and end-to-end encryption, the system which means a conversation can be read only by the sender and recipient and not intercepted by a middle man. Here’s why that’s a red herring…

1. A backdoor to end-to-end encryption would not have stopped the Westminster attack

Khalid Masood was not on the security services’ radar. So even if MI5 and GCHQ were able to intercept his WhatsApp messages before the attack, they would not have done so. The attack would have proceeded all the same. Any change in law or policy would have made no difference.

2. End-to-end encryption is not preventing MI5 read Masood’s messages

Rudd says detectives cannot access Masood’s final messages and that WhatsApp’s complicity in this is “unacceptable“. Today’s Telegraph front page says “Internet giants hide terrorist’s final note”. This is just wrong. WhatsApp do not have access to the unencrypted messages – the messages can only be read on the phones of the sender and recipient. The police presumably have Masood’s phone, it is highly likely they are now inside and able to read the messages. The only thing stopping them get in would be the phone’s passcode. Which is nothing to do with WhatsApp.

3. Encryption is binary

Either you have end-to-end encryption or you don’t. Giving MI5 and GCHQ a backdoor into WhatsApp means the service is no longer secure and any hacker can break in to any user’s messages. As Open Rights Group say, “compelling companies to put backdoors into encrypted services would make millions of ordinary people less secure online. We all rely on encryption to protect our ability to communicate, shop and bank safely”Rudd is asking WhatsApp to open up all their users to attacks by cyber criminals and foreign regimes. 

The Home Secretary is using encryption as a scapegoat when it is completely irrelevant to the Westminster attack. She is being aided by establishment journalists who do not understand technology – Andrew Marr’s interview was pathetic in its amateurism and today’s Telegraph front page is factually incorrect. As a side note, newspapers have splashed on attacks on Facebook, Google, YouTube, Uber and WhatsApp in the last week, today’s Mail bizarrely claims WordPress is helping terrorists. Almost as if Fleet Street has an advertising revenue-shaped ulterior motive for going after tech companies…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Carswell: I’m Not Switching Party

Farage: Thank God Carswell’s Gone

Rudd: WhatsApp Unacceptable

[…] Read the rest

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Farage: Uncontrolled Immigration Adds to Terror Worries

[…] Read the rest

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Carswell Quits UKIP

It has been an extraordinary achievement. UKIP, my party, which was founded in 1993 in order to get Britain out of the European Union, has now achieved what we were established to do.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister is going to trigger Article 50, beginning the formal process of withdrawing our country from the EU.

[…] Read the rest

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Saturday Seven Up

This week 256,478 visitors visited 695,645 times viewing 1,113,067 pages. The top stories in order of popularity were:

You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…[…] Read the rest

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Boris and Dave ‘Stood on Chairs’ at Harlem Restaurant

Twitter employee Joanna Geary was in the Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem last night when she bumped into the Foreign Secretary dining with an old friend. She says “I hadn’t seen David until Boris said “‘I suspect you’ll recognise my friend David’ and pointed in his direction”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Police Release First Picture of Khalid Masood

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Tobias Ellwood speaks following his efforts to save PC Keith Palmer last week:

“I am heartbroken that I could not do more for PC Keith Palmer who gave his life in holding the line against terrorism and defending democracy. I shall be writing to the family of PC Palmer to offer my sincere condolences. My thoughts remain with his family and friends and with the loved ones of all those who were killed or injured in such a despicable act of terror.

I am deeply humbled and overwhelmed by the messages of support. I played only a small part that day, doing what I was taught to do, and am honoured to have been invited to join the Privy Council afterwards. It is right that we concentrate our thoughts on the victims as we stand side by side to protect all that we hold dear, including our precious values and way of life which will always prevail.

As the Prime Minister said in her statement to Parliament last Thursday – “We are not afraid. And our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism.”

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