LibDems Livid at Olney’s £68,000 Salary For Four Day Week

There is near mutiny in LibDem HQ after party staff discovered Sarah Olney is being paid £68,000 for a four day week. When Olney quit as Vince Cable’s chief of staff after just six weeks, she was given a cushy non job as head of “special projects”. LibDem sources in the office are bewildered as to how Olney fills her days, she doesn’t appear to do any work and the only email staff remember her sending is the HQ “Hero of the Year” award, which in previous years was done by the PA. Most of the aides in LibDem head office are on £20,000-£30,000, there is outcry among the troops that Olney is on triple their wages for what is ostensibly a nothing job, and for which she only does a four day week. Members’ subs being well spent…

UPDATE: The LibDems have launched an investigation to find who leaked details of Sarah Olney’s salary to Guido. Our mole in the office says it is being carried out by the party’s head of fundraising Emma Cherniavsky. Good luck…

Ian Paisley Jnr Reads Out Guido’s Story on Labour’s Brexit Positions

Another happy reader

‘One Week to Stop a Soft Brexit’, Barwell Failing to Hold it Together

Two columns today show just how serious things are between Number 10 and the Brexiteers. In the Speccie James Forsyth quotes a leading Vote Leave figure warning there is “a week to fight back” against a soft Brexit. His piece blames the whole clusterf**k on a “hopelessly understaffed” Downing Street, “a general lack of direction and grip” and the vacuum caused by Damian Green’s distractions. In the Times Iain Martin is even more damning, he says Number 10 “resembles a morgue” and names Gavin Barwell as “struggling to hold it all together”Yesterday Guido told how May is being bounced by Jeremy Heywood and Olly Robbins into a non-Brexit which prevents us from diverging from the EU – this is now the crunch issue.

Cabinet Brexiteers do not believe Theresa May wants to sell them out on Brexit. However they think May, Barwell and Number 10 do not understand the implications of the direction they are taking on regulatory alignment. Leavers are genuinely raging that there is no one in charge and the lack of leadership in Downing Street has allowed Heywood and Robbins to dictate the process and shift them towards a soft Brexit. Tories are even muttering wistfully that Nick Timothy would never have stood for this – it is a sign of how bad things are that some are almost longing for the days he was in charge. The Cabinet reckoning on the Brexit end state is promised before the end of the year. May has delayed it to hold her government together but in doing so her indecisiveness and caution has allowed the Remainers to walk her towards a non-Brexit.

The Vote Leave figure says there is a week to fight back against a soft Brexit. The other way of looking at it is May has a week to save herself from the consequences of taking the wrong path… 

Momentum Claim They Only Spent £38,743 on Election

The Electoral Commission has today launched an investigation into Corbynista shock-troops Momentum to establish whether the group “breached campaign finance rules in relation to spending.” The questions the probe:

“Whether or not Momentum spent in excess of the spending limits for an unauthorised non-party campaigner in the UK Parliamentary general  election;
whether or not Momentum submitted a return that did not include accurate donation information and/or the required declaration stating that the donation return was complete and accurate; whether or not Momentum submitted a return that was not a complete statement of payments made in respect of controlled expenditure; whether or not Momentum submitted a return that did not include all invoices for payments of more than £200.”

Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission’s Director of Political Finance and Regulation and Legal Counsel, said:

“Momentum are a high profile active campaigning body. Questions over their compliance with the campaign finance rules at June’s general election risks causing harm to voters’ confidence in elections. There is significant public interest in us investigating Momentum to establish the facts in this matter and whether there have been any offences. Once complete, the Commission will decide whether any breaches have occurred and, if so, what further action may be appropriate, in line with its enforcement policy.” 

Momentum reported expenditure of £38,743. Guido said it back in November, that sounds impossibly low…

Jezza Backs Sick Coffin Stunt Targetting Female Tory MP

Sick-minded Labour activists used a coffin in an intimidating publicity stunt targeting a female Tory MP this week – only to be backed by leader Jeremy Corbyn. Totnes Labour Party members paraded a coffin through the Devon town before leaving it outside Sarah Wollaston’s constituency office. Ostensibly, the march was a campaign on the NHS. But protest invoked the worst possible echoes…

Dr Wollaston said:

“The crass insensitivity of delivering a coffin effigy to a woman MP seems to have passed some people by. My office has already been repeatedly targeted with aggressive vandalism by those who can’t abide reasoned debate and want to make it harder for people to access their MP.”

Moderate Labour MP Ben Bradshaw tweeted supportively of her “Memo to any @UKLabour members at this event: @SarahWollaston fights tirelessly for NHS and Social Care as @CommonsHealth chair.” Advising them, “Next time, go canvassing.”

Guido understands Dr Wollaston and her staff were upset and distressed by the incident. A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said:

“Decisions about demonstrations and who carries them out are a matter for them.”

Thanks to Corbyn’s Labour, these disturbing mob tactics will soon be in your town…

Greatest NUS Election Video Ever

Tom Harwood is running the most honest NUS election campaign you will see, and he certainly has the best campaign video. He has already won the endorsement of Nick Boles, who says “Put this man in charge of Conservatives digital campaigning!” Speaking truth to the pious self-serving NUS lefties…

Santa Bone Delivers Presents in Brussels

A lot of work has clearly gone into Peter Bone’s excellent Christmas card this year. Think we have an idea what he thinks we should give them in the Brexit bill…

PMQs Sketch: Corbynish for Beginners

“Thank you Mr Speaker, but on her way back to Britain, someone forgot to share the details of the Irish Border detail, deal, with the DUP. Surely Mr Speaker there are one and a half billion reasons why the Prime Minister really shouldn’t hadn’t forgotten to do that.”

Is English Jeremy Corbyn’s first language? During this lunchtime’s ball-achingly pathetic exchange, the Labour leader confirmed once and for all it is not.

When he was 18, Mr Corbyn travelled to Jamaica to volunteer as a teacher. Thanks to the lasting influence of his pedagogy, it is believed that there are now entire communities on that island who speak only Corbynish. Let us decode this mysterious tongue.

If you would like to learn Corbynish, start with Yoda from Star Wars. Say the following sentence in your head in a Yoda-like voice, but imagine you are Jeremy Corbyn: “the Prime Minister really shouldn’t hadn’t forgotten to do that, forgotten to do that she really shouldn’t hadn’t”. You’re already halfway to thinking in Corbynish.

Continue reading

Sports and Social Closed Indefinitely

Bad news for parliament’s junior boozehounds – the Sports and Social bar has been closed indefinitely, not because of handsy MPs but because two older Commons staffers had a brawl there last night. Police were called at 6.30pm, at which point a 57 year-old man was arrested for GBH and affray and a 64 year-old man was taken to hospital by ambulance. He had allegedly been glassed in the face. The authorities have wanted to close Sports for a while, typically punishing the young staffers who mostly drink there for the behaviour of a few more senior people twice or three times their age. This looks like the excuse to do it. Players?

UPDATE: The word in Parliament is the victim of last night’s fight in Sports is a Hansard editor and the alleged glasser is a regular who always sits at the bar.

Why Do Corbyn and May Make Random Rambling Ranty Statements at PMQs?

Interesting theory from the BBC’s Joey D’Urso – are Jeremy Corbyn’s random ranty rambling non-questions at PMQs deliberately off topic because when clipped up into short videos and pumped out on social media they go viral with his followers? Every week Labour clip his statements and they get hundreds of thousands of views. They seem irrelevant to the small number who watch PMQs live, but look much better as stand alone Facebook videos.

The same theory could explain why Theresa May’s pre-scripted attacks on Corbyn often seem entirely irrelevant to the question:

Though perhaps we are giving them too much credit and they’re both just dire at PMQs.

Hammond: We’ll Pay Divorce Bill Even If There’s No Deal

Well done Phil, great negotiating tactic.

Hammond: We Don’t Know What We Want From Brexit End State

Philip Hammond has confirmed to the Treasury select committee that the Cabinet still hasn’t discussed what the Brexit end state will look like, i.e. whether it will be the convergence non-Brexit preferred by him, Jeremy Heywood and Olly Robbins, or a real Brexit in which we properly diverge from the EU. It has been 18 months since the referendum, it’s mad the Cabinet has not even discussed what Brexit Britain will look like. If the government has no idea on the end state, are they even ready to move onto the next stage of talks?

May Promises Mogg Red Lines Aren’t Turning Pink

May tells Brexiteer Tory MPs that the red lines set out in her Lancaster House speech remain…

PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Ruth George (High Peak) If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 6 December.

Q2 Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley)

Q3 Sir Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk)

Q4 John Grogan (Keighley)

Q5 Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

Q6 Jim Shannon (Strangford)

Q7 Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)

Q8 Dr Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test)

Q9 Alex Chalk (Cheltenham)

Q10 Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

Q11 Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

Q12 Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

Q13 Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough)

Q14 Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North)

Q15 Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West)

Comments in the comments…

Boris on “Cowardly” Paperchase and Pizza Hut

On Monday Guido reported on anti-press freedom cranks Stop Funding Hate targeting much-loved children’s charity the NSPCC in their hellbent crusade to stamp out free discussion and debate in Britain’s media. The mask slipped and the true nature of the group was revealed…

In this morning’s Sun Boris takes apart Stop Funding Hate’s anti-freedom campaign, lambasting “cowardly” Paperchase and Pizza Hut for capitulating to a few hundred Twitter trolls:

“A small but dedicated group of left-wing activists has launched a campaign to undermine the financial base of some newspapers whose views they dislike. They have attacked the advertisers who help to fund those newspapers, and who make it possible for reporters to bring new facts into the public domain. The tactic of this campaign – misleadingly called “Stop Funding Hate” – is to urge a boycott of all companies who place advertisements in the Sun, the Daily Mail or the Daily Express. This week they even attacked the NSPCC – a much loved national charity – for the sin of running a promotion in the Sunday Express. It is deeply disturbing to learn that this campaign is beginning to have an effect. Last year Lego dropped all advertising in the Daily Mail, and actually apologised to its customers. In recent weeks Paperchase and Pizza Hut have followed suit. I believe that these decisions are sad and mistaken and indeed cowardly.

“It is not as if this internet campaign commands overwhelming public support. Despite all the noise and virulence of their campaign, there are said to be fewer than a thousand people who are actively involved. And these companies should realise that they are bowing to a ruse – the attack on advertisers – that comes straight from some of the worst authoritarian regimes in the world. As for those who are mounting the campaigns, they do not seem to appreciate the irony of what they are doing. They may not like the editorial line of these publications, or the way in which they cover certain issues. But this country has the world’s strongest laws against libel and defamation. We have highly progressive legislation against hate speech and the whipping up of prejudice of any kind. By attempting to drive some newspapers underground they risk fomenting a further sense of alienation in the public – and pushing some into the arms of extremists. They are not sticking up for liberal values. They are not sticking up for freedom. They are attacking the freedom which is the foundation of our democracy. They should remember the great French sage Voltaire, who summed up the approach that has served Britain well for generations. “I may not agree with what you say. But I defend to the death your right to say it.”

Well said…

“Technical Problems” With Hammond’s Plane

Today’s Times has a belter of a story about the MoD banning Philip Hammond from using RAF planes and helicopters until the Treasury settles his jet-setting bills. An epic tale of briefing and counter-briefing after Team Hammond dubbed Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson “Private Pike” in the Mail on Sunday.

Yesterday Hammond was late for his meeting with EU finance ministers – journalists were told “because of technical problems with his plane”. Were the technical problems that the RAF wouldn’t let him on board?

Where Are Ya O’Mara?

Time for a by-election?

Davis: Economic Models Always Prove Wrong

Davis admitting the government has carried out no Brexit impact assessments is not going to go down well.

He’s got a point about economic models though… 

Knives Out For Heywood and Robbins

Tory Brexiteers fear Theresa May is being bounced by her top civil servants Jeremy Heywood and Olly Robbins into a non-Brexit which prevents us from diverging from the EU after we leave. Leavers have been pragmatic, calm and willing to compromise throughout the Brexit process so far. This is really the first time things are in danger of seriously kicking off. This line in the draft text apparently agreed by Number 10 has caused genuine fears among all Brexiteers:

“In the absence of agreed solutions, the UK will maintain full alignment with the internal market, customs union…”

This is wholly unacceptable, it is almost unbelievable Number 10 would sign it off. Guido bumped into Lord Trimble last night and showed him this line, he stared at it for some time as if having difficulty believing it could be real before commenting: “This is surely not something the British government could sign up to”.

Brexiteers believe Heywood and Robbins are taking advantage of a weak Downing Street to force through a Brexit which keeps us too closely aligned to Brussels. Guido reported in September that Heywood and Robbins were seeking a softer EEA minus model, there are now genuine fears of a stitch up and Number 10 choosing a route closer to that than the real Brexit preferred by Boris, Gove and Fox, and demanded by the referendum result. A Whitehall source says May is “way too reliant” on Robbins. It is baffling that they appear to have conceded alignment on agriculture between the EU and the whole of the UK – could the Environment Secretary really live with that? There are also serious concerns that May could drop the ECJ red line from her Lancaster House speech. Leavers are seeing the situation as salami slices being given away until eventually there is no salami left. 

There is also disbelief that May did not consult Cabinet about what they were about to concede. A Whitehall source tells the Sun“Cabinet is in the dark about what the PM is doing now, which is a very strange state of affairs to be in”. A Cabinet source tells the Telegraph: “The Prime Minister is playing a risky game”. Brexiteers are asking who in is in charge: is it Heywood and Robbins bouncing a weak May into a softer Brexit, or is it May trying to bounce the Brexiteers? It is more likely to be the former. May knows she owes her position to keeping Leavers onside – if she sells out they won’t stand for it.

Nigel Evans Wishes You a May-ry Christmas

Nigel Evans first out of the Christmas postbag this year with a double picture greetings card showing the PM holding a mug emblazoned with his face. Not a patch on last year’s

H/T Marie Le Conte[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Former public schoolboy Chuka Umunna told the  ‘Exit From Brexit Dinner’…

“Remainians, Remoaners, I don’t care what the label is, I’m proud. It’s fashionable to label everyone in this room as the liberal metropolitan elite . . . This caricature is promoted by a bunch of former public schoolboys!” 

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