That’s one way of putting it…
Greggs are not being too hasty with the pasties. Could it happen tomorrow?
Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith was at odds with her leader over his response to Russia’s suspected poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Griffiths told BBC Radio 4:
“We very much accept that what the prime minister said – this is a very sophisticated nerve agent and Russia is responsible for this attack and therefore we’re fully supporting the measures which the government is taking, including the expulsion of 23 diplomats.”
That’s much tougher than Corbyn’s words in the Commons yesterday. Griffith also said of Seumas: “I cannot speak for Seumas Milne. He has to speak for himself.” Griffith and Team Corbyn have a long history of falling out, particularly over NATO and nukes…
Her line and overnight pressure following Milne’s briefing has bounced Corbyn’s office politburo into revising their position. They now say:
“The Government has laid out two alternatives: that Russia is either directly responsible or culpable because it lost control of this nerve agent. Yesterday, we agreed that the evidence overwhelmingly points to those two alternatives. The Russian authorities must be held to account on the basis of the evidence and our response must be both decisive and proportionate.”
Too late, the damage is done…
Britain’s most insufferable lawyer Jolyon Maugham is taking a break from Twitter today and going to court in his latest attempt to stop Brexit. Maugham will petition for a judicial review against the Electoral Commission, arguing the regulator failed to investigate Vote Leave-BeLeave campaign donations. The Electoral Commission has already investigated the donations twice…
Speaking of donations, rather than putting his stupendous QC’s income where his mouth is – and, indeed, despite being a lawyer himself – Jolyon is using other people’s cash to fund the legal bid. He’s crowdfunded nearly £50,000. What can his donors expect for their cash?
Not much, if his form is anything to go by. In May 2017, Maugham went to the High Court of Ireland in an attempt to reverse the Brexit vote after Article 50 was triggered. The case was opposed by the Irish government and was struck out by Mr Justice Peter Kelly. More than £70,000 was crowdfunded…
Then, in February 2018, Maugham was involved in a similar case in the Scottish courts. Lord Doherty of the Scottish Court of Session ruled:
“I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome. However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect…”
A gentle judical admonishing of Jolyon’s grasp on reality. Crowdfunding for this failed case raised over £60,000…
As Guido reported, Maugham also tried to judical review David Davis over the Brexit sector analysis papers. Mr Justice Supperstone rejected permission, finding a simple (and free) FoI request was a suitable alternative. That failed judicial review was also crowdfunded: £59,275. When he loses, do people get their money back? “Any surplus funds will be held for the costs of other litigation”…
Jolyon, a specialist tax barrister, sued Uber to demand a 56p VAT receipt. When Guido says he sued we mean he suckered £107,650 from crowdfunders and cabbies to back this case. Vaingloriously making the claim in his own name he suspended the action when he realised that if he lost the case – a very real possibility given his less than stunning record – Uber would seek to recover their costs from him personally. Unwilling to put his own money where his
suckers crowdfunders did, he pathetically said he was looking for an alternative claimant who didn’t have any material assets to take the risk. Not exactly brave leadership…Hapless Jolyon Maugham has therefore spent over a third of a million pounds (£350,000) of other people’s money vainly pursuing his agenda, entirely without success. All he has got for the money is gout. The crowd that backs him can afford to take the pain…
At the Kremlin Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin settles into his golden throne to watch Prime Minister’s Questions and the accompanying statement. As a jack-booted servant flicks over from Russia Today, Vlad wonders aloud: “Who’s the thin old beardy bloke in the red tie?”
“That’s Jeremy Corbyn”, replies the trembling aide. “Who?” demands Putin, never more than a moment from a nuclear-level rage, or worse, offering to make an adviser’s tea. “You know, Mr President. Codename COB…”
The almond-eyed tyrant purses his lips then raises a smile. An FSB man never forgets a codename.
“Ah, da, da,” he whispers. “Activate Agent COB…”
Theresa May slammed Jeremy Corbyn for his lack of support over the Russian spy poisoning crisis. The Prime Minister told Jezza:
“There is a consensus across the backbenches of this House. I am only sorry that this consesnsus does not go as far as the Right Honourable Gentleman, who could have taken the opportunity as the UK government has done to condemn the cuplability of the Russian state.”
This will lead all the news bulletins tonight, the press will crucify Corbyn tomorrow, his own Labour MPs have disowned him and sided with the PM.
In this type situation Guido would normally expect the leader of the oppostion’s spin doctor to back pedal in the Lobby briefing huddle that follows, he would “clarify” and nuance the wording. Emphasise the more conventional parts of the argument to soften the inevitably hostile headlines coming tomorrow. When that spin-doctor is Seumas Milne however it seems there was to be no compromising on Putin’s line. Under intense questioning he refused to say that the Labour Party’s leader accepted the Russian state was at fault:
“The government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don‘t. However, also there is a history in relation to weapons of mass destruction and intelligence which is problematic, to put it mildly. So, I think the right approach is to seek the evidence to follow international treaties, particularly in relation to prohibitive chemical weapons.”
When Lobby hacks pressed Milne as to if Corbyn believed Russia was responsible for the attack, Milne said the PM continued to leave open the possibility that Russia had lost control of the nerve agent. Milne prefers to doubt MI6 and give the benefit of the doubt to the FSB….
Jeremy Corbyn has taken the line used by the Kremlin when it refused to comply to the UK’s deadline for explaining Sergei Skripal’s poisioning. Corbyn was booed as told the Commons:
“How has she responded to the Russian government’s request for a sample of the agent used in the Sailsibury attack to run its own tests?”
The Russian Embassy in London tweeted:
3/7 Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring. pic.twitter.com/B5CNtimcc3
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) 13 March 2018
The Russian Foreign Ministry said: “Without this, any statements by London are senseless.”
Not much of a surprise though, is it…
Chris Williamson is sitting behind Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs with communist paper the Morning Star deliberately left in camera shot on his lap. Presumably it will stay there for Jezza’s response to the Russia statement too…
Questions to the Prime Minister
Q1 Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 14 March.
Q2 Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington)
Q3 Mr Virendra Sharma (Ealing, Southall)
Q4 Alex Burghart (Brentwood and Ongar)
Q5 Bill Esterson (Sefton Central)
Q6 Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South)
Q7 Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North)
Q8 Richard Graham (Gloucester)
Q9 Jeremy Quin (Horsham)
Q10 Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire)
Q11 Vernon Coaker (Gedling)
Q12 Leo Docherty (Aldershot)
Q13 Jo Platt (Leigh)
Q14 Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton)
Jeremy Corbyn said Vladimir Putin’s illegal incursion into Ukraine which saw the annexation of Crimea was “not unprovoked” and that there were “huge questions” over Western intentions in the country. In a 2014 article for the Morning Star at the height of the Ukraine War Corbyn wrote:
“On Ukraine, I would not condone Russian behaviour or expansion. But it is not unprovoked, and the right of people to seek a federal structure or independence should not be denied. And there are huge questions around the West’s intentions in Ukraine.”
At the same time Corbyn was making excuses for Putin’s actions his top spinner Seumas Milne was loudly defending the Kremlin. Milne, who has described Putin as “a centrist”, called the annexation of Crimea “clearly defensive”:
“Putin’s absorption of Crimea and support for the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is clearly defensive, and the red line now drawn: the east of Ukraine, at least, is not going to be swallowed up by Nato or the EU”
Don’t count on Corbyn backing the tough line against the Putin regime likely to be announced later today…
On the issue that is of most interest to folks in SW1, Greggs can only tell Guido Forks “there is no official opening date set yet” for their Westminster shop.
Teasing and tantalising like a cheese and beans pasty…
The House of Commons last night voted through reforms to Universal Credit (which Labour opposes in principle). As is now normal with a crucial vote, Labour instigated a co-ordinated outrage storm when their statutory instrument failed…
The Tories and the DUP have just voted through cuts to free school meals in England.
The Tories bought the DUP’s support by excluding Northern Ireland from these cuts.
A disgraceful tactic which is playing politics with the health of our children.https://t.co/3PhbHl0iB2
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) 13 March 2018
So sorry about this, we tried our best but government voted against us on our motion for free school meals, we will continue to campaign for #freeschoolmeals for the poorest children https://t.co/ANfGyE4Xa8
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) 13 March 2018
Rayner told the House:
“1 million children growing up in poverty will lose out on free school meals that they would have been entitled to. “
Earlier in his response to the Spring Statement, John McDonnell had claimed:
“Today the Government are even trying to deprive 1 million children of a decent school dinner.”
Awkwardly for Labour, fact checking organisations have probed that one million claim and found it wanting. A Channel 4 investigation found:
“No one who is currently eligible for free school meals under Universal Credit will lose their entitlement. In fact, under Universal Credit, 50,000 more children will receive school meals by 2022 than would have done under the previous benefits system.
This is not a case of the government taking free school meals from a million children who are currently receiving them: it’s about comparing two future, hypothetical scenarios. Both of them are more generous than the old benefits system.”
That didn’t stop ‘get on your knees, b*tch’ Clive Lewis calling Esther McVey:
“Meaner even than the master in Oliver Twist’s workhouse… [she] seeks not just to stop the second helping, but to stop any meal at all.”
This is why people hate politicians, because they are industrial scale liars. Labour again willing to weaponise the anxiety of poor families…
Guido’s co-conspirator gets in touch to say that Sally Bercow has now put a poster in the car windscreen, embellished with an EU flag, claiming it’s her car and she can do anything she wants. The co-conspirator would send an updated picture if there were not policeman stationed around the car…
The Serjeant-at-Arms’ office has been calling all day demanding we remove the picture because – they now claim – it poses a safety risk to the Bercow family. Perhaps in reality it is the personalised number plate that gives the owner away?
UPDATE II: In the comments Guido is reminded that Sally previously had a car with her own number plate:
So is this car really hers?
Chuka and other remainers are gloating that the UK to EU “other liabilities”, mainly pensions, from 2019 to 2064 will accumulate to £2.5 billion. Of course what they don’t say is that if the UK stays in the contribution would hit some £500 billion* over the same 45 years…
*Assuming contribution payments grow at trend inflation.
‘Too sick to be investigated’ Keith Vaz was spotted at both a Bollywood and a dance festival at different ends of the country in the last week. The MP was a VIP guest at the Polish Folklore festival at De Montfort Hall, Leicester on Sunday. Earlier, he attended a Bollywood festival in London where he was pictured with a famous actor:
“Shatrughan Sinha was honoured in London by Keith Vaz the MP from the British Labour Party. During a Q-and-A session after being honoured Shatrughan Sinha was asked which distinguished Indian he would like to play on screen.”
Guido revealed how last month Vaz was spotted opening a swimming pool, attending council meetings, an APPG and a music gig in Leicester. In December Guido asked what had happened to the Standards Commissioner’s investigation into Keith Vaz, which still hasn’t reported back after nearly a year and a half. The Vaz inquiry remains “suspended for medical reasons”. Becoming embarrassing for the parliamentary authorities…
Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the Russia spy poisoning crisis is being used by Putin’s state media to counter the British government’s position. Corbyn’s statement to parliament yesterday is set against Theresa May’s in this write-up by TV Zvezda, a Russian army media outlet run by Putin’s Ministry of Defence:
“Earlier, British Prime Minister Teresa May said that Russia was allegedly involved in the poisoning of Skripal. However, she did not bring any more weighty arguments and evidence in favor of her position, but she traditionally promised new anti-Russian sanctions.
“The UK needs dialogue with Russia on all controversial issues. This statement was made by Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during his speech in parliament. “We need to continue to seek a sound dialogue with Russia on all issues that our countries share, not just cutting off contacts and allowing tensions to grow,” Corbyn said.
“In addition, the politician called for an analysis of all the data obtained and to clarify the level of threat posed by the attack.”
The piece is headlined: “The leader of the British Labour Party calls for dialogue with Russia”…
Corbyn’s intervention over Tory donations gets big play in state news agency RIA Novosti’s sympathtic piece:
“The Conservatives greeted Corbyn with a disapproving rumble. The leader of the Labour Party had to stop several times and begin the phrases from the beginning. At the same time Corbyn rebuked the Conservatives for accepting donations from people who had made money dishonestly in Russia.”
“In general, the negative plans are huge. Strengthen economic sanctions, encircle Russia even more closely with military bases, tighten the rules for entry into the UK for our citizens, freeze many of their accounts in British banks, expel Russian diplomats…“I do not regret the place for the words of the famous politician from the Labour Party (main opposition) party, Emily Thornberry: “We need to strive for a healthy dialogue with Russia on issues that are shared by our countries, rather than severing contacts and further exacerbating tensions.”
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 13 March 2018
President Trump has fired Rex Tillerson as US Secretary of State and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Less than 24 hours ago Tillerson backed to the hilt May’s position on Russia, a boon for the government. Uh oh..
“I won’t be producing a Red Book today, Mr Speaker, but of course I can’t speak for the Rt Hon Gentleman opposite” @PhilipHammondUK
— BBC Daily Politics and Sunday Politics (@daily_politics) 13 March 2018
This one-liner from Hammo at McDonnell’s expense was a cracker, but thankfully not as many jokes as last time round.[…] Read the rest