Dutch MP Makes Love Actually Video Plea to Brits

Dutch Member of the House of Representatives and Euro-federalist Kees Verhoeven has gone to the lengths of producing a Love Actually style video begging the UK to back May’s¬†deal or stay in the EU. A nice touch, but he ignored one vital option…

HMRC Under “Political Instruction” Not to Discuss Customs

May’s survival in the vote last night has not changed her fundamental predicament that there is no Parliamentary majority for her deal in its current form. May’s civil servants should be paying attention to an alternative proposal published yesterday with the support of Arlene Foster and her two former Brexit Secretaries, which proposes sensible limited amendments to the Withdrawal Agreemnt and a legally operable alternative text to the backstop.¬†No unicorns, just concrete proposals.

Nor have the proposals come out of nowhere, the report was written specifically in response to the meeting¬†in October between Michael Barnier and two of the reports’ co-authors, Shanker Singham and Hans Maessen, alongside senior Tory MPs.

Maessen, a Dutch customs expert, recently told a Parliamentary committee that HMRC have been refusing to engage in any discussions on customs, going as far as to claim that HMRC were¬†“not allowed”¬†to do so due to a “political instruction” following the Chequers agreement to pursue the ‘Facilitated Customs Arrangement’ instead. A customs union in all but name…

Money was put aside for the UK to make preparations for leaving the Customs Union by the Chancellor over a year ago, yet Guido understands that senior figures in the Treasury and the Cabinet Office are still putting the brakes on it being spent.¬†May is going to have seriously review her civil servants’ “political instructions” if she is going to find a way out of her mess…

Moderates Purged as Corbynistas Take Control of Welsh Labour

There’s been a rapid and brutal turn of events inside the UK’s newly-created Corbynista oblast, formally known as Wales. Momentum’s new First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has wasted no time in purging his tainted predecessor‚Äôs closest aides. Guido hears Carwyn Jones‚Äô SpAds, Matt Greenough and Huw Price – both of whom are deeply mired in the murky controversy that led to the death of former minister Carl Sargeant in 2017 have already been sacked. Within hours of Drakeford‚Äôs coronation as new Welsh Labour leader, their passes were cancelled, desks cleared and personal effects unceremoniously shipped out in boxes…

Greenough, seen out celebrating the night Sargeant was sacked from government, is being recalled to the Inquest in New Year for a fourth time due to apparent inconsistencies in his previous evidence. Price Рalso seen partying in the photo Рbriefed media against Sargeant and ramped pressure up on him in the days leading to his suicide.

Another likely victim of Drakeford‚Äôs purge will be Welsh Labour General Secretary Louise Magee – a key figure in Sargeant‚Äôs sacking. Hapless Magee admitted gross incompetence in her evidence to the Inquest – confessing that no duty of care was extended to Sargeant before his death. Guido understands Magee is viewed with total suspicion by Drakeford‚Äôs inner circle – with her close friends believed to have been behind vicious attacks on him during the recent leadership campaign. Thankfully for Magee, she‚Äôs just gone on maternity leave – that will at least buy her some respite before she’s purged by the hard-left in the not-too-distant future…

On the ministerial front, a reshuffle is also under way with moderates like ex-MP Huw Irranca Davies and NEC member Alun Davies having already been purged to make way for Drakeford‚Äôs Momentum cronies. The ideological purification of the Politburo is well underway…

Lib Dems Continue Vendetta Against Christmas

A day after Guido revealed that Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder has closed down her UK office and laid off staff just in time for Christmas, an official Lib Dem press release has called for Christmas to be cancelled for MPs.

Brexit spokesman and real life Scrooge Tom Brake said “Liberal Democrats do not believe Parliament should rise for the Christmas recess until Theresa May does what the people expect and give MPs a vote on her deal.” That will make them popular…

Craig Mackinlay’s Agent Cleared of Expenses Fraud

Craig Mackinlay’s election agent Nathan Gray has been found not guilty of expenses fraud at Southwark Crown Court. Gray was cleared of one charge of falsifying election expense returns over Mackinlay’s bitterly contested fight with Nigel Farage for the South Thanet seat in 2015. The jury are still deliberating on charges against Tory activist Marion Little and Mackinlay himself…

Ed Miliband’s Christmas Card

A better than average Christ-less Christmas card from Ed Miliband. 10/10 for self-deprecation. He really is a much better humorist than leader…

Mail Rebuffed By Times Columnists

It is a good time to be a Times columnist. Smarting from having Quentin Letts lifted from their pages to be spread across News UK’s titles, Daily Mail editor Geordie Grieg is on the hunt for columnists to fill the inches previously filled by Quentin. He is looking to nab a Times columnist in revenge. Rumour is that Giles Coren has been an object of his attention, as has the well-remunerated Jeremy Clarkson. So far we understand he has been rebuffed…

Geeks Invent ‘Brexonometer’ to Measure Brits’ Brexit Frustration

A bunch of tech geeks have created a fancy-looking¬†‘Brexonometer’ which claims to give “moment by moment insight into how the nation is feeling about Brexit by applying advanced analytics to compute the real-time sentiment of Tweets.”¬†The creators explain:

“All English language Tweets mentioning the word Brexit are aggregated into mini-batches of messages. We then use natural language processing technologies to compute the overall sentiment of each batch.”

Funnily enough there was a surge of activity around 9pm last night. Incredibly, the current sentiment isn’t just¬†“aaaaaaaaargh”, it is in fact slightly positive today, at least according to the ‘Brexonometer’.¬†Guido suspects it may be a case of ‘garbage in, garbage out’…

Sturgeon’s Brexit Showboating Slammed by Supreme Court

Nicola Sturgeon’s showboating over Brexit has been slapped down in the courts, with the UK¬†Supreme Court ruling that parts of Scottish Parliament’s Continuity Bill were outside the legislative competence of the devolved legislature. Sturgeon’s Bill attempted to claim powers over 24 areas of competency returning from Brussels, claiming them as devolved matters rather than powers reserved for the UK Government. The SNP is well aware of this, the whole exercise was simply an attempt to stir up anti-Westminster sentiment in Scotland.¬†Given that SNP party policy is to continue having EU rules imposed on the whole UK, you’d have thought they’d be happy with not having those powers back anyway…

Government’s Breakneck Timetable for Brexit Bill

Even though it feels like it has been dragging on forever the legislative pace for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is quite compressed. Recently resigned former Downing Street Director of Legislative Affairs, Nikki da Costa, has written an eviscerating thread running through the incredibly tight timetable the Government faces.

“Supposing the deal passes, you then introduce the WAB [Withdrawal Agreement Bill] straight away. And supposing you use EU Withdrawal Act as a template for how much time for scrutiny – then you need 13 days in the Commons and close to 20 in the Lords and 4 in ping-pong. 37 days.

Not including Fridays by my count from 21 January, and if you still allow for a February recess, there are only 36 sitting days.”

The later the Government leaves the meaningful vote, the less scrutiny there will be on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Today Andrea Leadsom confirmed that the meaningful vote will not happen until next year!

On top of this, the deadline could be squeezed even further, as 21st January is only the deadline in law if a deal has not been reached, and the Government told the House on 26 November that a deal has been reached.¬† We are heading towards historically low scrutiny on an historically important Bill…

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Raab Says May Still Needs To Go

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has become the most senior MP to reveal that “in sorrow, not in anger” he did not support Theresa May in last night’s confidence vote, telling¬†Sky News¬†that he still believes she needs to go:¬†“my biggest fear now is that if she continues in place we have a greater risk of a Jeremy Corbyn government.” Raab sums up the mood of the country with his answer to “what happens next?”

He has been even more explicit to the BBC, telling them:

“We will have to back her as best we can but problem is that both in relation to Brexit and wider sustainability of the Government given likelihood of any changes to the deal, given the likely scale of opposition, it looks very difficult to see how this PM can lead us forward.”

He is not alone in thinking this. Will his other senior colleagues come out and admit it too?

National Union of Students Cancels Elections Over Potential Bankruptcy

The National Union of Students has written to all candidates for positions within the organisation to tell them that all elections have been suspended, pending a review of which positions will be cut. Guido understands that as a result of the ¬£3 million deficit, a host of full time officers of the organisation are set to be cut and the NEC will be ‘gutted’. The NUS is learning that the only way they can save themselves from bankruptcy¬†is with sweeping austerity measures and living within their means…

In his letter, the NUS Returning Officer states that “these are extraordinary times; NUS Is clearly facing a number of Serious financial challenges which at worst could result in insolvency.”¬†He also confirms that “It is clear that there is likely to be significant cuts to NUS’ operating budget for 2019/20.”

After leading vehement and violent protests against deficit induced Government cuts in the coalition years, are finally learning cold hard financial realities. All is not well in student paradise…

Read the full communication below:

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How the Papers Reacted to May’s Victory

The papers have given their responses to last night’s drama, with most characterising it as a Pyrrhic victory that secures Theresa May’s survival for now but leaves her in limbo with her authority diminished. In a sign of just how much the British media landscape has changed since the referendum, the only two papers to come out fighting for May are the Mail and the Express¬†– both instructing restive Tory MPs to “now just let her get on with” it.

The fact that over two thirds of her backbenchers expressed no confidence in her is a stark reminder of just how little support there is for her deal in Parliament. May is now heading to Brussels to plead for concessions from EU leaders. She will need to come back with much more than just empty words if she is going to have a hope of getting her deal through Parliament, and perhaps even her Cabinet.¬†Whatever happens now, it won’t just be business as usual…

May Wins Confidence Vote

She won by 83 votes, 200 to 117 – with less than two thirds of Tory MPs backing her.

In the words of Margaret Thatcher “she fights on”. Even after Thatcher won her confidence vote she resigned a week later…

Theresa May’s Best Bits

With Theresa May’s premiership hanging in the balance tonight, her “best bits” have been tastefully compiled into a Big Brother-style eviction video. Thanks for the memories!

Brexiteers and DUP Publish Alternative Backstop Proposal

While the country anxiously waits for the result of tonight’s confidence vote, it is worth remembering that the problems of May’s deal, and particularly the backstop, have not gone away. However, Brexiteers hoped to do just that with the launch of a new 59-page¬†report this morning, complete with 6 annexes including a fully drafted alternative Irish backstop protocol, by “Brexiteers’ Brain”¬†Shanker Singham, lawyer Robert MacLean and Dutch customs expert Hans Maessen. It is not a wishlist, it is a fully legally operable text…

Also on hand to launch the report were former Brexit Secretary David Davis, former Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, and crucially, DUP leader Arlene Foster. The bottom line is that even if May survives tonight’s vote, she has no majority in Parliament without the DUP’s support. If the Government are going to get their deal through they need to start listening to alternative proposals instead of just sticking their fingers in their ears…

Lib Dems’ Scrooge MEP Shuts Down UK Office Just Before Christmas

The Lib Dems’ only MEP and general Scrooge Catherine Bearder has shut down her UK office, throwing two former UK staff members into the lurch less than a month before Christmas. They were handed their notice at the end of November. Co-conspirators tell Guido that Bearder is causing a lot of problems for the Lib Dems, who apparently advised her to not shut the office. The move to shut down the office makes it seem to Guido as if Bearder is not all that confident about the Lib Dems’ signature policy of stopping Brexit…

Tory MPs Worry Keeping May Could Lead Party to Electoral Disaster

After PMQs, her spokesman told Lobby hacks that “She does not believe that this vote today is about who leads the party into the next election. It is about whether it is sensible to change leader now.‚Äô” The spokesman declined to specify a departure date, so no time limited backstop here either. What makes Tory MPs shudder is the thought that she won’t stand down before the next election due in 2022. Downing Street’s advisers know this and it is a matter of necessity for her survival that she reassures MPs tonight at the meeting of the 1922 Committee that she won’t fight another general election campaign as leader.

This however is not the same as quitting before a snap election called next month and doesn‚Äôt rule her out from fighting a second referendum. The nightmare scenario if Theresa May wins today is that the DUP will not support the government. So no government business will get done if it requires a vote in House of Commons. It is not impossible that when hard line Brexiteers realise that she’s sold them out completely, they and the DUP could abstain on a “No Confidence” vote in Parliament and cause a general election. With May still party leader the Tories could be headed for electoral disaster. Nigel Farage will be ready with his new party, ready to siphon off a large chunk of Tory Leave voters. Farage will be waiting for the vote today to confirm her in post before he decides to fire the starting pistol on a new UKIP-like party which will cost Tory MPs their seats. This is the horror show Tory MPs will vote for in preference to a fresh start and at least the chance of change.

UPDATE:

Hammond Calls Colleagues ‘Extremists’

Speaking to Sky News, the Chancellor said that tonight’s confidence vote will be won by the Prime Minister, and serve to “flush out the extremists”¬†in his party. Guido isn’t sure that calling dozens of colleagues ‘extremists’ is the best way to endear them to May’s administration…¬†

Osborne Twists the Knife

The Evening Standard’s front page this afternoon echoes Margaret Thatcher’s famous words said on the steps of Downing Street the day after she won the support of 55% of Conservative MPs in November 1990’s confidence vote:

She resigned seven days later…[…] Read the rest

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