Justine Greening Rules Herself Out of Mayoral Bid

Airbus PR’s LibDem Links

The PR behind Airbus’s anti-Brexit intervention this week has longstanding links to the LibDems. Katherine Bennett worked for LibDem peer Tom McNally during the 1990s:

“I learnt such a lot from him, especially about speech writing, but also working for MPs and doing briefings.”

She shared a platform with former LibDem MEP Graham Watson art a pro-EU public meeting promoted by the party in 2013:

She is a colleague of Mike Collins, Publicly Manager for Airbus, who has also served as a Gloucestershire County Councillor and Tewkesbury Borough Councillor for… the Lib Dems. With a press office like this…

Brexit Drama Cast List in Full

Deadline has the cast for Channel 4’s new Brexit drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dom Cummings. The Vote Leave boss’ wife, the Spectator’s Mary Wakefield, will be played by Liz White from Call the Midwife.

Skyfall’s Rory Kinnear is a good shout for Craig Oliver…

Guido can see The Crown’s John Heffernan doing a good Matthew Elliott. Though we preferred our suggestion

Corrie’s Lee Boardman is Arron Banks. Bit harsh.

Not sure about Richard Goulding from The Windsors as Boris.

Curiously, the show has also cast actors to play Aggregate IQ’s Zack Massingham and Labour Brexiteer businessman John Mills, which suggests it is going to be more of a Cadwalladr-style whinge fest about boring data stuff than an actual drama about the referendum. Predictable… 

Assange Out In July?

Not a very subtle prod to Julian Assange here from FCO minister Alan Duncan, assuring him that he will be given medical attention if he leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy. Interesting that this follows the Guardian reporting that he may be on the way out of the Embassy soon – Guido hears similar whispers. Watch this space…

European Union Withdrawal Bill Receives Royal Assent

A moment for Brexiteers to celebrate.

“Terrible Advocate” Gavin Williamson

Brutal put down for the “not serious” Defence Secretary. Some serious snark from Rachel Sylvester…

Emma Dent Coad Reported to Cops Over Election Expenses

This will be worth watching… Top Corbynista Emma Dent Coad has been reported to the police over apparent irregularities in her election expenses return. Respected democracy campaigner Stuart Coster, whose previous work led the cops to find ex-LibDem MP Sarah Olney had committed a criminal offence over her election expenses, has analysed documents from the Kensington MP. He says she declared a campaign spend of just £5,446.53, extraordinarily low given the spending limit was more than £45,000…

Dent Coad claims she spent ‘NIL’ on “Accommodation and administration” (no office, phone, printers, paper, other stationery?) and only £200 on one member of staff doing ‘social media’. Coster’s analysis suggests she didn’t even declare her official election communication leaflet. 

The Met Police Special Enquiry Team are understood to be completing an initial assessment. Dent Coad has a majority of 20. Interesting to see how this develops…

Soubry: My Chairman is Driven By Ambition

Anna Soubry’s row with her local association has escalated further, with the embattled Broxtowe MP accusing her own chairman of being “driven by ambition”. After John Doddy sent a survey to local members asking if they were happy with Soubs, she tweeted implying he had motives other than Brexit:

“My Chairman is driven by ambition not Brexit. I know it makes good copy but don’t you think it’s time to heal the divisions and move on?”

Last night a local source told Guido: “atmosphere turning toxic here in Broxtowe”. When an MP is openly attacking her association chairman, you know all is not well…

Treasury Encouraging Business to Undermine Government Policy

This line in Henry Newman’s piece for ConHome this morning should be setting off alarm bells among Tory MPs:

“Recent interventions by companies including Airbus and BMW no doubt reflect serious concerns. They should not be glibly dismissed. But at the same time it’s shocking to hear from a City contact that the Treasury itself – including Government advisers – is actively persuading businesses to go public with their concerns. It’s truly topsy-turvy politics when 11 Downing Street is trying to ramp up criticism of Government policy rather than assuage concerns. All of this has consequences: for economic confidence but also for the strength of the Government in negotiations.”

If Treasury advisers are actively encouraging companies like Airbus to come out against no deal, that is clearly in breach of government policy – which still argues no deal is better than a bad deal. It also undermines the UK’s negotiating position, which relies on the ability to walk away. Who in the Treasury is working against the government’s public position? Has Hammond sanctioned it? Brexiteer Tory MPs should be kicking off about this… 

“We Don’t Deal With the Tea Boy”

If Davis Davis was in any doubt as to how he has been rendered impotent by Number 10, Playbook quotes an Irish minister:

“We deal with Olly Robbins. We don’t deal with the tea boy.” 

It’s a zinger because it’s true. You have to wonder how much more DD can take – every few days there are briefings against him from Remainers in Downing Street and Whitehall, openly deriding the Brexit Secretary in the press for failing to steer the government away from the alignment course set by Robbins. How much more will he have to take at Chequers next week…

Soubry Calls Broxtowe Tories Crisis Meeting

Anna Soubry has called a crisis meeting of her local Conservative association and admitted that “some members are not happy” with her. Over the weekend Guido revealed that Dr John Doddy, chairman of Broxtowe Conservatives, has been canvassing the opinion of local Tory members about their MP. Soubry has herself also written to members, making clear that, despite her constituency voting to Leave, she supports staying in the single market and a customs union. She writes “I will continue to support the Prime Minister towards this soft Brexit. I believe this is her aim”. And she has called an emergency meeting of local members on Saturday 28 July to discuss her position on Brexit. Here is Soubry’s letter in full:

 

Soubry’s Broxtowe constituency voted leave with 35,754 votes (54.6% of a 78% turnout). They did not vote to stay in the single market and customs union. This could be a very tough meeting for Soubs…

Corbyn to Snub Armed Forces Day Celebration Again

Jeremy Corbyn will snub the national celebration of Armed Forces Day – again. Guido hears the PM and Gavin Williamson will be in attendance at the major national event in Llandudno this Saturday. Last year the Labour leader chose to attend the Glastonbury festival instead of the commemoration. He tweeted an old photo of himself alongside veterans in a weak attempt to cover for the snub…

A Labour spokesman confirmed Nia Griffith will represent Labour. This year the event is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors and is particularly poignant as it marks ten years since the day was renamed from Veterans Day in order to honour all current and retired members of the armed forces. Busy day at the allotment?

Geordie Bringing in Posh Deputies to Daily Mail

Geordie Greig has begun building his top team ready for his November start date as editor of the Daily Mail. Guido understands Greig’s two deputies at the Daily Mail will be current deputy editor Gerard Greaves and Tobyn Andreae, the Mail on Sunday deputy editor who is moving across with Greig.

Greaves, who had been tipped as a possible successor to Paul Dacre, has worked as Greig’s deputy at the Mail on Sunday before he was poached by Dacre to work on the Daily Mail. Prior to working under Greig at the Mail on Sunday, Andreae held a number of senior roles at the Daily Mail including executive features editor and editor of its women-focused section. Andreae has also worked as an editor at the Sunday Times.

The Daily Mail may be the voice of middle England, however its new top three sound as if they are from a more rarefied class. Greaves will be slightly ahead of Andreae in the pecking order, we have been told. That’s a Geordie, Gerard and Tobyn speaking for middle England. Can’t help feeling that Paul was a more solid name…

Boris in Afghanistan

The BBC reported he was on a trade mission. The Sun speculated he was in Libya. Somewhere in Africa, offered the Sunday Times. Others suggested the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. Red Box got it the most wrong:

Boris has surfaced in Afghanistan, the game given away by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs…

Soubry On Quitting the Tories

Arch-remainer Anna Soubry is under pressure following Guido’s revelation that her own constituency Conservative Party association chairman is canvassing the membership on whether they support her or not. Guido takes a look back at her record…

In recent years Soubry has made multiple threats to resign and called for a new party to challenge the Tories. In March 2017 Soubry said:

“If [a new party] could somehow be the voice of a moderate, sensible, forward-thinking, visionary middle way, with open minds — actually things which I’ve believed in all my life — better get on with it.”

In August last year she wrote in the Mail on Sunday:

“Could I ever see myself joining with like-minded people who want to save our country from such an appalling fate? And has that moment arrived yet? The answer to the first question is ‘it is not impossible’; the answer to the second is ‘no’.”

In February this year she told Newsnight:

“If it comes to it, I am not going to stay in a party which has been taken over by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson. They are not proper Conservatives. And if that means leaving the party, form some new alliance, God knows I don’t know.”

In July 2016, in the wake of the referendum, May sacked Soubry from her post as small business minister. Soubry’s Broxtowe constituency voted leave with 35,754 votes (54.6% of a 78% turnout). If she quits, it would not be the first time Soubry has left the Tories. She quit the Tories in 1981 – reportedly to join the SDP. If she doesn’t jump of her own accord this time, she may be pushed…

Anti-Heathrow Cabinet Minister Abroad For Tonight’s Vote

All eyes on Boris’ whereabouts, which cannot yet be reported for security reasons, though it’s worth noting he is not the only Heathrow Cabinet critic who is missing tonight’s vote. Philip Hammond has long opposed a third runway, telling the Telegraph in 2010 that the idea was “Dead. Dead as a Norwegian parrot”. In 2015, he told his constituents he backed expanding Gatwick instead:

“London’s role as an international air transport hub can be maintained without additional runways at Heathrow. A second runway at Gatwick, plus enhanced transport links between the airports and better transport links to London will create a ‘virtual’ hub airport, maintaining Heathrow’s role in the local economy without expanding it.”

Hammond has sent a solitary tweet backing the government this morning, but we know what he really thinks. He will be defying the three line whip when he misses the vote in Mumbai tonight…

Tetchy Corbyn Promises to Visit Israel

A slightly tetchy Jezza eventually commits to visiting Israel. That’ll be a laugh…

Top Tory’s Russia Lobbyists Investigated By Mueller

Tory peer Greg Barker’s Russian dirty money fiasco is going from bad to worse. First, his boss Oleg Deripaska was whacked with sanctions by the US government, with shares in Barker’s En+ then plummeting. Next, the Foreign Affairs select committee condemned the flotation of En+ on the London Stock Exchange, with MI6 and US security officials expressing concerns about the IPO. So you can see why Barker would want to hire a lobbying firm to help him fight the sanctions…

Unfortunately, the firm Barker has chosen, Mercury Public Affairs, which is charging En+ more than $100,000 a month, is the subject of two subpoenas from Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian links to the Trump campaign. The Washington Post reported:

The investigators asked Mercury for information about their public relations work at Manafort’s behest for a Brussels-based organization called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which pushed for improved relations between Ukraine and European countries. The Brussels group primarily advanced the interests of a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party that had been a client of Manafort’s before he joined the Trump campaign.

So the firm Barker has brought in to spin for him amid allegations of links to Russia is itself being investigated for its own links to Russia. Quite a run of bad luck for Greg…

Heaven Sent: Spec’s Will to PX

Guido hears the Spectator’s managing editor Will Heaven is leaving for wonk world – he’s off to be the new Director of Policy at Policy Exchange this summer. Brainbox Will was the first person to use the phrase dementia tax in an article during the election, so safe to say he has a keener eye for policy than many. Learned his trade under Gove and Truss at the MoJ, it’s a coup for PX to steal him from the Spec, where he will still be writing from time to time. Congratulations…

Justin Webb’s Jeremy Hunt C-Bomb

Justin Webb does it again on the Today programme this morning:

Never forget when it happened three times in one day:

Never gets old…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Jeremy Corbyn told by veteran Jewish MP Margaret Hodge…

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