PM’s Brexit Statement

Read the full statement below:

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Theresa May: Ball is in EU’s Court

The Prime Minister has announced in a live statement broadcast from inside Number 10 that the EU must treat the UK with respect, and not reject proposals out of hand without detailed counter proposals.

Over to you, Mr. Barnier…

PM’s Brexit Statement Delayed

“Let’s hope that’s not a metaphor for what Theresa May has to say…”

Friday Caption Contest (Who Needs Friends Edition)

Entries in the comments…

After 149 entries, the winner of last week’s competition was just_another_centrist with “Corbyn prepares a meal for comrades on a recent trip to Venezuela”

Mr. Centrist can receive a copy of George Trefgarne’s new book, Norway Then Canada: A new strategy to avoid a Brexit smash by emailing Guido with his address.

Amidst Calls for CEO to Resign, Electoral Commission Appeals High Court Ruling

The Electoral Commission are appealing after their humiliating defeat in the High Court last week. They maintain that the advice they gave regarding the ability of Vote Leave to donate to other campaigns was correct. If they win this appeal then Vote Leave acted properly on their advice, if they lose it confirms they gave dodgy advice during the referendum. Either way this shows up the Electoral Commission to be an utter shambles.

Vote Leave boss Matthew Elliott has called on the Electoral Commission’s CEO Claire Bassett to “at the very least” consider her position:

“Leggatt’s judgement last week would drive a coach and horses through electoral law, so it’s understandable that the Electoral Commission is appealing it. But it also marked a humiliating defeat for the Commission, who were shown to have given duff advice to Vote Leave.

Along with the other Commission shenanigans of recent years, this whole situation raises questions about whether they are fit for purpose. At the very least, Claire Bassett should be considering her position.”

The call for heads to roll at the Electoral Commission is cross party…

Toi-Late Batten Misses Start of Radio Interview

UKIP leader Gerard Batten was flushed with embarrassment after he missed the start of his eve-of-conference talkRADIO interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer this morning for “personal reasons”. Her producer had already got him on the line when he disappeared. The prospect of Julia’s fearsomely tough questions clearly loosened his bowels. For a moment the producer thought they had been dumped. The subject matter of Julia’s cheeky question pushed the interview into a sticky situation. After passing that initial conversational blockage, the sit-down interview was back on a roll…

Downing Street: It is Still Chequers or No Deal

The reason May looked so shook yesterday at the Salzburg press conference is simply that she did not expect the rejection to come now or for them to be blunt to the point of humiliatingly rude. Macron positively rejoicing at the prospect of punishing Britain and Tusk claiming Chequers is dead, coupled with him mocking her crassly on Instagram do not signal diplomatic success for Olly Robbins.

The line this morning from Downing Street is, to coin a phrase, “nothing has changed”. This rejection is, they say, merely positioning in the final stages of a negotiation. Nobody else seems to agree. The EU is playing brutally hard ball and Downing Street has been hitherto firmly pragmatic. She needs to stick to what she told Nick Robinson at Chequers in the interview clip above. It is still possible that the EU will blink, Downing Street says they now have to. This is also the end of the line for can kicking by Theresa May, if she compromises beyond Chequers she will see more Cabinet resignations and the resignation of one of her top advisers. She can’t move politically on;

  • ending free movement
  • membership of the single market or the customs union
  • ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ
  • ending vast payments to the EU or paying for access to the single market
  • integrity of Britain and Northern Ireland

Macron’s approval rating is on the floor, bashing les Anglais is a vote winner, Ireland’s Leo Varadkar has no intention of being seen to be soft on the British. It is possible that EU leaders will blink, however not probable unless the they really believe the UK will actually go ahead with no deal, no much needed £39 billion contribution to the EU budget. Just a cheery au revoir and auf wiedersehen…

New “Chris Grayling is a Moron” Party Thwarted

Embattled Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has not been having a great time of it of late. However, he earned a brief respite this afternoon as Guido learned that the Electoral Commission has thwarted an attempt by a group of disgruntled commuters to launch a new “Chris Grayling is a Moron” party to take him on in his Epsom and Ewell seat.

The Electoral Commission told the peeved passengers that it was likely to refuse the proposed name on the basis that it “could be considered offensive” and could also include “words the publication of which would be likely to amount to the commission of an offence”. Spoilsports…

Guido Poll: Readers Reject TV Debates Commission

Guido readers have not embraced the prospect of a new TV debate commission with quite the same enthusiasm as Sky News, despite Sky‘s wall-to-wall attempts to plug the idea. Over 2,500 readers answered Guido’s Twitter poll, with 74% coming out against the idea of a new quango to force party leaders to take part in televised debates in the run up to general elections. A surprisingly firm 3 to 1 ratio. Guido is not opposed to the idea – so long as a commission was funded by the television industry not taxpayer…

What The Font?

Bit of an oops on the front cover of the Conservative Party Conference brochure, where multiple fonts appear to have been used for the dates. Disunited fonts for a disunited party…

Tusk Rejects Chequers as Parliament Shifts Against Plan

EU Council President Donald Tusk has just told a press conference that Chequers “will not work.” By Guido’s count almost half of MPs in the Commons agree with him. Noes are up by 260 since last week

Over 47% of MPs have publicly indicated they will vote against the Chequers plan. May loyalist Sir Mike Penning announced today that he will vote against it, and over the weekend Keir Starmer announced Labour will vote against any deal based on Theresa May’s Chequers proposals. Labour’s moderates and Corbynistas have explicitly said they will not vote for Chequers. Guido so far only counts 132 MPs who have firmly expressed an intention to back Chequers.

To see the full sheet, click here. To notify us of an amendment use this form.

Fact Check Torpedoes Campbell

BBC fact checkers took Remain fanatic Alastair Campbell to task on BBC Politics Live today. Campbell’s assertion that “there has been a big shift in support for a second referendum” was thoroughly torpedoed by Sir John Curtice’s comprehensive analysis that “there is no consistent evidence of a shift in support for a second referendum.”

Loopy continuity Remainers want to convince the media that their second referendum is viable. It’s not.

Evan Davis Quits Newsnight for PM

Evan Davis has announced that he is quitting his role as Newsnight presenter and returning to Radio 4 to present PM. Staff were informed in an internal email today:

Dear team,

Apologies to those who couldn’t make the earlier team meeting in which I announced that after 4 incredible years of presenting Newsnight, Evan is off to present PM on Radio 4.

As both economics editor and then presenter, Evan has made a huge impact on our output with his ability to unpick the most complex of stories with intellect, verve and vitality.

We are fortunate enough to have three outstanding presenters on the show. In the interim Emily and Kirsty will step into the space left by Evan while we decide on the next steps for the programme.

For the moment we wish Evan the very best of luck with his new endeavour and offer him huge gratitude for all he has done for Newsnight.

You’ll be pleased to hear he’ll be popping into the office later when we can take any questions over the customary ITUP cake and fizz.

Who will be stepping into his shoes at the helm of the BBC’s flagship politics programme?

Police Investigating IEA Burglary

Earlier reports that the police were “raiding” the venerable Institute of Economic Affairs turned out to be over-excited. No arrests have been made. The police are investigating a burglary…

DD: “There Will Be No Hard Border… It’s That Simple”

David Davis in his Brexit speech in Munich says:

“The border issue is eminently solvable if the political will is there. I do question, therefore, why it has become so intractable. It seems to me this issue has become the proxy for the negotiations as a whole. Why? Perhaps as a way to keep us tied to the single market and the customs union; perhaps to punish us for leaving; or perhaps it has more to do with internal Irish politics.

In any case, the heads of both the British and Irish customs authorities have told us that a hard border is not necessary. Jean-Claude Juncker, Leo Varadkar and Theresa May have all said that they would never enforce one.

There will be no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It’s that simple.”

He’s not wrong…

Pestmoji on Wednesdays

Robert Peston’s fancy new Wednesday show will kick off next week, with Peston promising some “exciting new elements”. Today we found out that one of these is the creation of his very own emoji. After his Sunday morning flop he’ll need more than an emoji to win over viewers…

“Send the Lot Back” Kipper Re-Joins Tories

Guido hears that Victoria Ayling, who stood as one of UKIP’s top candidates in 2015, the 2016 Sleaford by-election and sat on UKIP’s NEC, has re-joined the Tories after quitting the party by personally telling David Cameron at the 2013 Conservative Party Spring Forum.

Ayling, known for such hits as “I just want to send the lot back, but I can’t say that” and “What happens when renewable energy runs out?”, has re-joined the Tories under her maiden name Victoria Brooks. Her mother claimed that Ayling joined the National Front in 1977 and attended meetings above a pub in Croydon.  Meanwhile well-liked moderate former UKIP MEP and one-time Tory councillor Steven Woolfe is still being refused membership.

Guido understands she has obtained a pass and intends to attend Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham at the end of this month. Maybe she’s turned over a new leaf after attending one of Brandon’s re-education courses

Tories Introduce Equality & Diversity ‘Re-Education’ Programme


Tory Party Chairman Brandon Lewis has emailed local party associations to promote new ‘equality and diversity training’ provided by the party. The service is open to all association chairmen, officers, and members. It has been immediately dubbed a “re-education programme”.

Whilst the programme is voluntary, the promotional email encourages members to take part, stating that “I hope you will find this service useful.” Guido can remember when Conservatives were opposed to equality*…

*More specifically, egalitarianism.

Czech and Maltese PMs Call For Second Referendum

Unusual breach of convention when heads of EU governments openly interfere in the political processes of another democratic state. The billionaire Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš, told The Today Programme that:

“I’m very unhappy that the UK is leaving so maybe it would be better to have a second referendum and the people in the meantime could change their view, because Europe has a lot of problems we have problems with Mr Trump about tariffs, we have problems with sanctions on Russia, Brexit, migration, Turkey, and so on so for Europe it’s a quite difficult time and I was really shocked when the referendum was announced that there were so much people… for Czech Republic I regret very much.”

The Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat also told the programme:

“There is an almost unanimous point of view around the table [of the European Council] that we would like the almost impossible to happen, that the UK has another referendum. That being said I wouldn’t know what the result would be, whether it would be any different from the first.”

Last night at the summit dinner in the Felsenreitschule theatre in Salzburg, May told the EU’s leaders they had to compromise on the Irish border. The PM was firm that there will be no extension of Article 50 process and no second referendum. Malta’s PM Joseph Muscat is right about one thing, another referendum is almost impossible. The anti-Brexit neverendum campaigners are wasting their time. Time’s up and it is deal or no deal…

Ian Paisley Narrowly Survives

Ian Paisley Jr has survived his recall petition by a narrow margin of 444 votes. 7,099 constituents voted to recall Paisley following his Sri Lankan shenanigans, making up only 9.4% of his North Antrim constituency and falling just short of the 10% margin required in order to trigger a by-election.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Stella Creasy at Jewish Labour fringe event…

“I was going to say something about how good it is being a Jew in the Labour party at the moment… but someone told me you guys don’t get irony.”

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