Whips Only Told Brandon to Vote on Two Crunch Votes

Is Brandon Lewis / Julian Lewis excuse that they didn’t know he was paired with pregnant Jo Swinson last night believable? Not really. The Tory party chairman abstained for seven of the nine votes – the whips told him he was not needed for the seven where the government didn’t need every last vote. For the two votes that were on a knife-edge, Brandon voted with the government. Did the whips really not know he was paired with an absent pregnant MP? Swinson isn’t buying it, she says the excuse is “literally not credible”.

Tory chief whip Julian Smith has offered this apology:

As has Brandon, but he has declined to answer Swinson’s request for a further explanation:

There is talk that other paired Tories were pressured to break their promises too…

Scottish Rockets: A Correction

Yesterday Guido suggested that siting a spaceport in Sutherland, Soctland at latitude: 58° 10′ 18.00″ N was not a good idea. Given that it will be the northernmost operational spaceport in the world and the reason spaceports are usually and preferably sited near the Equator is because that is where the Earth’s rotational speed is the highest. Rockets launched from sites near the Equator get an additional natural boost that helps save the cost of putting in extra fuel and boosters. So putting a spaceport in the North of a northern hemisphere country seemed just plain dumb.

A number of well informed readers have been in touch to dispute this, claiming that Scotland is perfect for “polar orbit launches”. Scotland is apparently a world leader in the production of handbag-sized satellites that can be launched by small rockets into Low Earth Orbit. Not altogether clear if they can be launched using an upturned pre-shaken bottle of Irn Bru as propellant, though the science is developing.

In the circumstances Guido feels we should clarify and correct the record. We have learnt two things; sometimes it pays to read more than the headline on a press release, a lot of rocket scientists read Guido…

Remainers Threatened No.10 Into Backing Soft Brexit – Then Reneged

Remainer Tory MPs agreed a deal to support Theresa May if she pursued “continued economic alignment” with the EU – only to renege on it today with an amendment attempting to keep us in the customs union.

Guido can reveal that on 1 July, key Remainer Stephen Hammond emailed his ‘Conservative Group for Europe’ of hardcore Remain MPs, outlining the terms of a coordinated threat to Number 10. The Remainers agreed that if the Cabinet backed a soft Brexit with “continued economic alignment” plus a backstop arrangement, they would not put down rebel amendments to the Trade and Customs Bill. Number 10 and the Cabinet went through a lot of pain to agree to the Remainers’ demands. Yet today Remain rebels are reneging on the deal and attempting to defeat the government with their customs union amendment.

From: HAMMOND, Stephen
Sent: 01 July 2018 
To: SANDBACH, Antoinette; SOUBRY, Anna; ALLEN, Heidi; WOLLASTON, Sarah; GRIEVE, Dominic; CLARKE, Kenneth; SUGG, Debbie; MASTERTON, Paul; DJANOGLY, Jonathan; NEILL, Bob; MORGAN, Nicky; VAIZEY, Ed; FREEMAN, George; Tom Tugendhat MP; LEE, Phillip; LEFROY, Jeremy; SPELMAN, Caroline; PAWSEY, Mark; STEVENSON, John; HOLLINRAKE, Kevin; CARTLIDGE, James; CHALK, Alex; HEALD, Oliver
Subject: Conservative Group for Europe Meeting on Tuesday

Hi
Apologies for the round robin of this email.

Firstly we will have our usual meeting this week at 5 pm on Tuesday , currently scheduled in CR7.

However, more importantly, we have to make the wider voice of Conservatives who want a sensible Brexit and are pro- business heard. Therefore we will probably need to commit to a number of actions this week. I suspect I shall be asking people for help with some different projects.

So as a first task please could everyone make a point to call their Whip to deliver the following message;

The PM has our support if the Cabinet resolves a proposal which not only allows continued economic alignment but that the Cabinet must also agree the Backstop arrangement. The proposal must be one that the EU will say shows progress and are likely to welcome. No more time nor political capital can be spent on foolish Brexiteer schemes.

If the Cabinet can’t agree this then we will force a solution in Trade Bill and the Customs Bill. The only reason a compromise was accepted on meaningful vote was because it delivered what we wanted and we wanted to give the PM the space she asked for at the Council. That Council has now gone and no one should be under any illusion that we will vote against the Government if necessary, as happened in December”.

If anyone has any issue or queries , please do get in touch

All best

Stephen

Number 10 caved in to all these demands from their ultra-Remainer rebels, pursuing a soft Brexit to get them onside. Even with the ERG amendments yesterday, the government is still heading towards the softest of Brexits and “continued economic alignment”. And still the Remainers are breaking their promise and trying to keep us even closer to the EU. Shows the dishonesty of the Remainers, claiming that the ERG is controlling the government when it is they who have been coordinating threats to force Number 10 into a non-Brexit…

POLL: Should MPs Vote for an Early Holiday?

As if the six weeks holiday they have this summer were not enough, MPs are voting to knock-off the week before. Aren’t there a few legislative issues to iron out before?

Nadine: Soubry Has Lost the Plot

Farron and Cable Blame Carmichael For Clusterf*ck

What is the point of the LibDems? Last night Vince Cable and Tim Farron missed the vote on the key Brexit amendment. Cable was at a “confidential meeting” elsewhere and Farron was giving a talk in Dorset about evangelism. If they’d bothered to turn up the government’s majority would have been just one. Vince is briefing out that his absence was “cleared by the party chief whip”, while Faz has told the Guardian “I was authorised to be absent”. Both rather cruelly dumping on Alistair Carmichael for the cock up rather than take responsibility for themselves. Carmichael says sorry:

“Last night I messed up. The government squeaked home by just 3 votes in a key amendment. It should have been 1. I was not expecting a close vote – up until 8pm Labour were planning to abstain which would have meant the vote would be lost by hundreds. In fact several Labour MPs voted with the government- which is why they won. By the time it became apparent that the vote was going to be close – it was too late to get two of our MPs back in time to vote. I’m taking responsibility and redoubling my efforts to stop Brexit.”

Is there any party in Westminster that isn’t a total shambles?

Taxpayers Pay £1 Billion-a-Week UK Debt Interest

Liz Truss has kindly reminded Guido that the Treasury has other problems besides Brexit. The taxpayer is funding debt interest of over £1 billion-a-week, which is more than the budget for Scotland and Wales combined. Remember that when hear Scottish and Welsh MPs demanding more taxpayer spending. When John McDonnell proposes to borrow £500 billion, remember who will pay it back. You, the taxpayer…

Electoral Commission Email Reveals They Refused to Speak to Vote Leave

After finding Vote Leave guilty of breaking electoral law this morning, the Electoral Commission are claiming that officials from the Brexit campaign refused to attend interviews. Yet this email from Louise Edwards, the Tory-hating Electoral Commission boss, to lawyers for the Vote Leave officials says otherwise:

Eh? Which is it? And how on earth can they reasonably find an organisation guilty of breaking the law without hearing their side of the story? Justice – Electoral Commission style…

This was Louise Edwards excuse to Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings for failing to speak to him, emailed yesterday. Essentially, she is arguing the Electoral Commission only made claims about Vote Leave as a whole so don’t need to speak to the key players involved. Which does not seem to be justice in any sense. Real possibility the Commission could be sued here…

Fox and Leadsom Threaten to Resign If May Makes Further Concessions

Last week it was Brexiteers who were furious after Theresa May caved into a soft Brexit, this morning it is Remainers who are kicking off after Number 10 accepted the ERG amendments last night. Now Soubry, Morgan, Grieve and co are attempting to keep us in the customs union if we haven’t got a frictionless trade agreement with the EU by January. The reality is Number 10 and parliament cannot allow any further concessions to the Remainers or the EU if the government is to survive.

The remaining few Brexiteers in the Cabinet say they will not stomach any further sellout. Penny Mordaunt and Esther McVey are staying very quiet as they consider their positions. Sources close to Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom say they will resign if the government makes any further concessions. All of these ministers are privately unhappy with the Chequers plan but currently willing to hold their noses – they say that will change if the EU or Remainers succeed in bouncing Number 10 into any further climbdown. Fox, Leadsom and the remaining Brexiteers in the Cabinet have been weak so far, but they are now at the end of the line...

Chris Williamson Tries to Stop Jewish Labour MPs’ Anti-Semitism Motion

At last night’s PLP meeting, Labour MPs passed a motion calling on the party to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. Before the vote, Chris Williamson raised a point of order attempting to stop two Jewish Labour MPs from moving their motion, to the fury of his colleagues. Peak Chris Williamson.

Meanwhile away from the meeting, 68 rabbis took the unprecedented step of signing a letter calling on Labour to adopt the full IHRA definition. In an extraordinary intervention from a broad spectrum across the Jewish community, they wrote:

“antisemitism within sections of the Labour party has become so severe and widespread that we must speak out with one Jewish voice. The Labour party’s leadership has chosen to ignore those who understand antisemitism the best, the Jewish community. By claiming to know what’s good for our community, the Labour party’s leadership have chosen to act in the most insulting and arrogant way.”

Still Labour moderates do nothing about this other than send a few tweets. Once again the Tory shambles letting Labour get away with this…

Tory Rebellion Over Attempt to Break Parliament Up Early

The government is facing another rebellion – this time over its attempt to break parliament up early. Recess was due to begin next Tuesday, but Number 10 tonight sought to bring it forward to this Thursday, five days sooner. There will be a vote in the Commons tomorrow morning on the date change. A cynical attempt to send Tory MPs off on their summer holidays early so they stop protesting about Brexit…

Tory MPs, even Remainers, are now vowing to rebel on tomorrow’s vote and seek to stay until next week. Nick Boles and Nicholas Soames have already said they will vote against the government:

Labour say they have not ruled out voting against the government. A Labour source says:

“It is staggering that the Tories are in such a state they are considering just packing up and going home. Theresa May is running scared of her own MPs.”

So, Labour MPs, what would you rather vote for tomorrow? An early holiday? Or actually opposing the government, sticking to the original recess dates, voting against this attempt to break parliament up early and having another five days to expose Tory chaos? 

Yet Another Cadwalladr Correction

Here we go again… Hidden away on page 42 yesterday, The Observer had to publish yet another correction following Carole Cadwalladr’s wild claims about Vote Leave. They have admitted that their Orwell Prize winning super sleuth was wrong to say that Vote Leave’s COO Victoria Woodcock had deleted herself and others on a shared Google drive. Cadwalladr has argued that this was an attempt to hide evidence from the Electoral Commission and ICO, but the Observer admits that

‘we accept that Ms Woodcock did not try to destroy evidence and that allegations of trying to thwart official investigations or pervert the course of justice do not fairly arise against her from this reporting’

This ‘evidence’ was put forward by whistleblowers Shahmir Sanni and Chris Wylie, and reported by Carole as if it was gospel. The Observer has now been forced to admit that this was yet another false claim brought by Zoolander and Walter Mitty. Carole has also been made to delete all of her tweets in which she claimed that Ms Woodcock was trying to destroy evidence.This comes after the Observer had to publish two corrections against the Leave campaign, including accusations that Vote Leave, AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica were all working together. The Observer has agreed to pay Ms Woodcock’s legal fees. How much more will they have to fork out for Carole’s conspiracy theory reporting?

Meanwhile, this afternoon Carole tweeted that Piers Morgan “hacked a deal girl’s phone”, referring to Milly Dowler. That was a different paper…

Putin: I Wanted Trump to Win

How Marr Monopolised May

There was much disquiet among rival broadcasters over the weekend when it emerged that Theresa May was doing yet another interview with Andrew Marr. The infamously humourless, bad-tempered Marr Show staff took the criticism from Sky News and co with their usual charm and good grace. The charge: that Marr and Number 10 have sewn up a cosy arrangement to lock out the other, more challenging broadcasters. Guido has had a look back over the last year or so, and it is true that Marr totally monopolises May’s Sunday appearances. The Marr Show routinely – and inexplicably – lets her get away with pre-recorded interviews, completely taking the pressure off the PM and letting her dodge up-to-date, real-time scrutiny. Since the election, May has only done Sunday interviews with Marr, completely shunning every other broadcaster…

15 July 2018 – Marr
17 June 2018 – Marr Pre-rec
4 March 2018 – Marr – Pre-rec
7 January 2018 – Marr – Pre-rec
1 October 2017 – Marr
30 April 2017 – Marr
22 January 2017 – Marr
2 October 2016 – Marr
4 September 2016 – Marr – Pre-rec

30 April 2017 – Peston

8 January 2017 – Ridge

Ridge has been in the penalty box ever since she – rightly – embarrassed May with the Trump “pussy” quote. Remember her face.

Is it healthy for the PM to only speak to one programme, and for that programme to repeatedly give her softball pre-rec interviews? This is a bad look for both Number 10 and Andrew Marr…

UPDATE: BBC insiders suggest these numbers are why politicians favour Marr:

Suella Denies Telling Sky She’d Resigned

JoCo: “Did you, Suella, talk to the Sky reporter Lewis Goodall and say that you would be resigning in the morning after David Davis had handed in his resignation?”

Suella: “No.”

JoCo: “You didn’t?”

Suella: “Not at all. I’d love to see some proof of that conversation. That never happened.”

It was Russia Today fake news merchant Afshin Rattansi that first claimed Suella had quit:

More fool any Lobby hack who copies RT…

UK Government Spaceport Sited in Worst Place

The government is getting excited, the UK is set for new space age! Launching rockets into space from Scotland, supported by the taxpayers with spaceflight grants worth over £30 million as part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy. Sutherland at latitude: 58° 10′ 18.00″ N will be the northernmost operational spaceport in the world. The reason spaceports are usually and preferably sited near the Equator is because that is where the Earth’s rotational speed is the highest. Rockets launched from sites near the Equator get an additional natural boost that helps save the cost of putting in extra fuel and boosters. So putting a spaceport in the North of a northern hemisphere country is just plain dumb.

This is why government industrial strategies are a bad idea. Politicians pick projects for political reasons, “local jobs” – a for-profit enterprise would never consider a launch site at this a northern latitude. There are plenty of British territories nearer the Equator. Even Cornwall would be a better launch site…

UPDATE: Scottish Rockets: Correction

CCHQ Begs Association Chairmen to Publicly Support Chequers

CCHQ has emailed Tory association chairmen begging them to publicly support Theresa May’s Chequers deal if journalists come asking. The email, sent over the weekend by CCHQ Director General Alan Mabbutt, even suggested a form of words for local party chairmen to use, saying Chequers “delivers fully on the referendum result”. One of those who received the email says it is unprecedented for CCHQ to be issuing verbatim lines to association chairmen like this. Guido has not seen any association chairmen use the line…

Statement to Newspapers and Journalists

We are aware that newspapers and others will try to portray the Party in a bad light. Any responses will almost certainly be filtered to suit their agenda. However, if you do decide that you should respond may we suggest the following? “I support our plan for Brexit as set out by the Prime Minister. It delivers fully on the referendum result, taking back control of our borders, money and laws.”

Good luck with that…

Meanwhile, Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis has also emailed association chairmen offering them a briefing in person with Gavin Barwell in Downing Street, or a conference call with the PM herself.

We would like to offer you, as Chairmen of Conservative Associations across the UK, the chance to hear more about the details of the Government’s plan for Brexit and to ask any questions you might have about it, both for yourselves and on behalf of members in your Associations.

We therefore invite you to sign up to one of the options below:

Briefings in person at 10 Downing Street

Gavin Barwell, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, will be holding two briefing sessions at No. 10 for Association Chairmen on the Brexit plan. If you would like to attend one of these, please email xxxxx specifying which one of the dates below you would like to attend.

1. Tuesday 17th July – 15:45-16:45

2. Wednesday 18th July – 09:30-10:30

Conference call with the Prime Minister

We recognise that not all Association Chairmen will find it practical to attend a briefing in person, so we also invite you to join a conference call with the Prime Minister on Tuesday 17th July at 18:45.

Best wishes,

Brandon

Guido’s sense is that this tweet from Bosworth Conservatives is representative of Tory associations across the country:

But perhaps Gavin and Theresa will be able to charm them round…

Nick de Bois Replacing Jacko at Dexeu

Guido understands former Tory MP Nick de Bois is about to be appointed as Dominic Raab’s chief of staff at Dexeu. He replaces Stewart Jackson, whose reappointment was blocked. Another Tory MP who lost his seat gets a SpAd job. Though at least he is a Brexiteer and vigorous Leave campaigner…

Mann Overboard

Treasury PPS Scott Mann is the latest to resign over Chequers:

Following Robert Courts yesterday, who managed to time his resignation at half an hour before the World Cup Final kicked off:

Sounds like there will be more…

Leadsom Deletes Tweet Calling Chequers an “Embarrassing Climbdown”

Poor Andrea Leadsom is having a total mare. Last night she tweeted this Telegraph article describing Theresa May’s Chequers plan as an “embarrassing climbdown”, which is not very in keeping with Number 10’s new strict enforcement of collective responsibility. She quickly deleted the tweet.[…] Read the rest

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