Question Time Runners and Riders

David Dimbleby is stepping down after 25 years presenting Question Time. As ever, Guido gives you your runners and riders…

  • Kirsty Wark: The early hot favourite. Question Time is produced in Glasgow, where Wark lives, and they have always wanted to be produced full time from that location. Wark recently declared her interest in the job, in an interview which suggested she knew this was coming and wanted to roll the pitch. Kirsty’s Newsnight shifts have been cut down now Evan Davis and Emily Maitlis do an equal number of programmes. Newsnight editor Esme Wren may be keen to privately push for Kirsty so she can hire her own special correspondent / third presenter. Would be a very logical move… 
  • Emily Maitlis: The perceived wisdom at the Beeb is that it has to be a woman, and Maitlis is closely in behind Wark as the early second favourite. Emily has been at Newsnight for over a decade. She will be up there.
  • Andrew Neil: If the BBC wanted the broadcast veteran who is the best at holding waffling, question-dodging politicians to account, Brillo would be a shoo in. Not sure what it would mean for his post-Question Time show This Week, alas. It would trigger Owen Jones and Andrew Adonis… 
  • Huw Edwards: Huw has been waiting for Dimbleby to retire for years. The Beeb originally promised him that 2015 would be Dimbleby’s last election, at which point he could take on his responsibilities, only for Dimbers to stick around for the referendum and 2017 general too. Edwards has long been seen as Dimbleby’s successor…
  • Emma Barnett: Rising star who would liven the show up and put the fear into the guests. Guido can see her in the chair one day. But has it come a bit too soon for her this time round?
  • Mishal Husain: Would she want to do it if it means not being the lead Today programme presenter in the post-Humphrys future? Her audition hosting the BBC’s 2017 election debate did not go to plan… 
  • Kirsty Young: Has been at Desert Island Discs since 2006. Though she doesn’t need the money and might not fancy the hassle.
  • Jeremy Vine: Last week Vine announced he is replacing Matthew Wright on Channel 5 and juggling that show with his Radio 2 gig. Bet he’s kicking himself…
  • Fiona Bruce: Seen a less exciting but safe option.
  • Nick Robinson: Another not very exciting option.
  • Victoria Derbyshire: Quite a step up from her current programme.
  • Eddie Mair: Could he take the pay cut?
  • Matthew Wright: Hotly tipped by Buzzfeed media man Mark Di Stefano.

Good luck…

Thomas Markle: Prince Harry “Open To” Brexit

Thomas Markle revealed Prince Harry is “open to” Brexit and may have been a Donald Trump supporter during a staggering television interview. Markle gave a thirty-minute interview to ITV’s Good Morning Britain during which he discusses Prince Harry’s personal politics. On Brexit he said of Harry:

“It was a loose conversation about something we have to try, there was no real commitment to it… I think he was open to the experiment.”

He also said Harry urged him to:

“Give Donald Trump a chance…I sort of disagreed with that but, er, I still like Harry. That was his politics, I had my politics.”

Asked if the Prince was a Trump supporter Markle replied:

“I would hope not now but at the time he might have been.”

Kensington Palace will be thrilled…

Grieve: “We Could Collapse the Government”

How Dominic Cummings Cost Taxpayers £20 Billion

Months ago Dominic Cummings was shopping around polling that he had done showing that the Tories could win the next election almost only by conceding the NHS argument and splurging more money on it. Remember Boris going public on the need to spend more money on the NHS at the beginning of the year? He had seen the polling and been won over by the argument. Which of course also conveniently solved that exhortion-on-the-side-of-a-bus problem for Boris which obstructed, like a stalled bus, the path to him becoming PM. Theresa May today calling the £20 billion NHS spending hike “a Brexit dividend” paves the way for Boris to argue at either a leadership hustings or a general election that the government has delivered on the exhortion he made. That’s why he’s happy…

Jeremy Hunt of course wanted the money, as all Health Secretaries do, whatever he spins about threatening to resign it wasn’t his pleading alone that won the day. Brexiters in government are being bought off by Theresa May, Leave-backing ministers have consistently demanded that the Brexit dividend be spent on the NHS. Given the PM is about to deliberately deliver the de minimis Brexit possible consistent with actually exiting the EU, giving Leavers in government a win to point at is a necessary lubricant for the shafting they are about to get. Whatever your view of the likely magnitude of the Brexit dividend it is clear that it will not be reaped for a good few years yet. This NHS splurge is about politics and will be funded by increased borrowing and delaying the balancing of the budget for a generation. Electorally it takes away Corbyn’s best card, out-flanking him on spending on the NHS…

The Conservative Party in parliament and in the country will swallow it because they would privatise their grandmothers to stop Corbyn and McDonnell getting into Downing Street. Cummings is now one step closer to being chief-of-staff to Prime Minister Boris… or Gove.

May Interviewed By Her Former Aide on LBC

Have to say the Number 10 press team have played a blinder this morning. First they got Marr to agree to an easy pre-record interview rather than a live. Then they got the BBC to lead all morning on the Brexit dividend rather than the fact that the money is actually coming from tax rises. And to complete the hat-trick they had May interviewed by her former head of broadcast Tom Swarbrick on LBC. He was working in Number 10 three months ago. Good day for British journalism… 

May: NHS Spending Will Be Paid For With Tax Rises

Theresa May and the Number 10 spin team have done an impressive job of getting ‘NHS spending funded by Brexit dividend’ as the top line on broadcast this morning. The truth is the vast majority of the new money is going to come from tax rises equivalent to 3p on the basic rate of income tax. The Tories are refusing to say how or when the tax rises are coming. So far they are getting away with a completely uncosted policy and massive mystery tax rises. This is the Tory magic money tree…

May Outflanks Corbyn From the Left

Have we woken up in opposites world? The Tories have announced an uncosted £20 billion-a-year NHS spending policy funded by vague, mystery tax rises, pledging to outspend Corbyn. Labour are saying that, unlike the government, their own less expensive policy is costed.

Impressive spin operation from Number 10 to get all broadcasters to lead on Brexit dividend line, when the policy is as yet uncosted and most of the money is coming from tax rises they have yet to outline. Not sure Labour would be getting such an easy a ride over a £20 billion a year uncosted policy funded by vague tax rises…

McDonnell: “I’ll Find the Magic Money Tree”

John McDonnell, probably after a few pints of (unpaid) Workers’ Beer, finally explained to the LabourLive fans how he would “find the magic money tree” that opponents accuse him of relying on to fund all that “free” stuff he promises. Surprise – he’s going to put up taxes…

Not the smartest quip. Suspect it will be used against him in the future…

Tracey Ullman Does Labour Live


Sneak behind the scenes preview…

Saturday 7-Up

This week 210,203 visitors visited 731,501 times viewing 1,131,664 pages. The top stories in order of popularity were:

You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…

Read: All Tory MPs’ WhatsApps on Christopher Chope

This is the discussion in the Tory MPs’ WhatsApp group this evening after Chris Chope blocked the upskirting bill. The most unpopular man in the Tory party tonight?

7 Ideas Blocked By Tory Dinosaur Chris Chope

Tory dinosaur Christopher Chope has plumbed new depths by blocking a bill to make upskirting a criminal offence. Not sure how he plans to justify that to his wife and daughter. Chope has a tedious habit of blocking Private Member’s Bills supposedly on procedural grounds. In reality he just obstructs and prevents good ideas. He says it’s principle but the truth is he lets his mates’ bills through…

In addition to the upskirting bill, Chope has also blocked:

  • Pardoning Alan Turing (which was supported by The Queen);
  • Same-sex marriage;
  • An investigation into Bercow bullying allegations;
  • The use of wild animals in circus performances;
  • Blocked free hospital car parking for carers;
  • Making revenge evictions an offence.

What a bloke.
UPDATE: Not content with blocking the upskirting bill, Chope just blocked another government-backed bill to make it a specific criminal offence to attack police dogs and horses.

Saj Hires Olivia Robey

Guido can reveal Olivia Robey has been hired as Sajid Javid’s new Special Adviser. Robey is a rising star in Tory circles, she was the former head of CCHQ’s political section before being made a director at the well-connected PR agency Hanbury Strategy. She will be starting shortly as a policy adviser with responsibility for crime, vulnerability and policing. A savvy appointment from Saj and a much-needed hire to strengthen his team following his move to the Home Office. Congratulations…

Let Guido know any updates

TPA Joins Think Tank Revival

The TaxPayers’ Alliance is joining the think tank revival and ramping up its presence in Westminster with two new hires this afternoon. Lynton Crosby protege James Roberts will join as Political Director from CTF. His job will be to make sure the TPA’s campaigning on the ground is reaching the corridors of power. He’s already in with plenty of MPs.

Also coming on board is Phil Basey as Editorial Director. Basey was responsible for whipping the UKIP 2015 manifesto into shape – he will be overseeing the research team. The TPA has been doing well recently, with Chloe Westley emerging as a rising star on Question Time and James Price touring the studios fighting for taxpayers. At a time when the statist Tories in Number 10 are backing new taxes, the TPA’s voice is more needed than ever…

Friday Caption Contest (Grieveous Error Edition)

Entries in the comments…

Police Called to Sports and Social After ‘Fake Pass’ Scare

Police were called to Parliament’s Sports and Social bar last night after a man was challenged over a ‘fake’ House of Lords pass. Scottish Conservatives and SNP researchers spotted a man in the bar wearing what they described as a counterfeit parliamentary pass. One told Guido:

“It was obviously a fake pass. The red lines were the wrong distance apart, the numbers were the wrong size and it wasn’t double sided… When he was challenged he hid the pass in his pocket and then fled the parliamentary estate… others also saw him earlier this week on the terrace.”

A Met Police spokesman said there were no arrests. Witnesses said the police took statements. A House of Lords Spokesman said:

“The Police attended the Sports and Social Bar last night in relation to an access issue. It was not in response to a disturbance or breach of the peace.”

The incident comes weeks after a man was arrested after breaching Parliament’s security fence and attempting to climb scaffolding on the building. Management of the troubled Sports and Social is due to be brought “in house” after summer recess. Another Parliamentary security scare…

When Mann Met Kim

John Mann tells Question Time about the time he met Kim Jong-il. His verdict: “Strange family…”

AC Grayling v Andrew Neil

Carole Cadwalladr and The Observer won plaudits from Twitter’s maddest Remoaner, AC Grayling, on BBC This Week last night. Alas he went on to admit there was no evidence the Russians had any influence on the Brexit result. With an endorsement like that…

Who Is On Question Time Tonight

At last it could be an interesting one!

Kim Il-Sung, Trotsky and Tony Blair Attending Labour Live

Labour Live organisers are handing out free tickets as fast as they can be printed. In the rush to get as many as possible to attend (Labour planned for 20,000, but just 3,000 tickets have been sold), few checks are being carried out on applicants.[…] Read the rest

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