‘Scab’ Blair Admits His Advice isn’t Welcome

As if a speech by Blair on how to fix Labour’s terminal failures wasn’t going to rile the left enough, he’s also chosen to give it from King’s College London on the first day of national lecture strikes. No prizes for guessing which candidate he won’t be endorsing today…

mdi-timer 20 February 2020 @ 10:0820 Feb 2020 @ 10:08 mdi-comment Comments
EU Slammed By Academics For Lying Brexit Graph

The EU’s attempt to row back from offering a Canada Style FTA backfired last night as senior academics slammed a new “horribly misleading” and “indefensible” graph from the Commission. The EU tried arguing the UK could not have a normal FTA because it does too much trade with the EU. As a result, they’re demanding we accept a subservient rule-taking relationship…

Unfortunately for the EU, the graphic they used to make their point massively distorts the data – showing artificially small bubbles representing the amount of EU trade with countries that are further afield. The Japanese bubble (€117.1 billion in 2018), for example, should be around one quarter the size of the UK’s (€516.6 billion in the same year). Instead, the Commission shrunk it to just one-sixteenth the size. That’s before the Japan-EU FTA came into effect…

David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University, told Politico that the EU’s graph was “indefensible“, went against “standard graphical practice“, and was “the biggest mistake to make.” While a professor of applied statistics at the OU called the graph “horribly misleading.”

A senior Tory source ridiculed the EU’s graphic, telling Guido “The EU appear to have made a massive balls up. Let’s hope they are as good at negotiating as they are at PowerPoint.” The Government is sticking to its line – the EU can take a Canada deal or it’s Australia…

UPDATE: Analyst Harry Chisholm has re-made the EU’s graph with accurate numbers. It’s clear the EU wants to treat the UK very differently from countries that do similar amounts of trade with it. If a simple FTA would do for the US, the EU can’t explain why it refuses to countenance the same for the UK…

mdi-timer 20 February 2020 @ 08:5220 Feb 2020 @ 08:52 mdi-comment Comments
Toby Young’s Comedy Unleashed Stand Up Set

Toby’s stand up debut last week was pretty good. Judge for yourself…

He’s also announced today that the Free Speech Union’s website is now live and accepting members. Guido is on the advisory board…

mdi-timer 19 February 2020 @ 17:0419 Feb 2020 @ 17:04 mdi-comment Comments
PCH Luxury Furniture Refurb Totals £28,000

The continuing dilapidation of Portcullis House has been well-documented; most recently seeing the removal of its continually-breaking water feature. On Monday, MPs and Staffers arrived to see Parliament authorities have gone too far the other way – removing the low-quality temporary tables and chairs that had replaced the fountains and replacing them with luxury designer sofas and leather armchairs. Is this signalling a new era of sofa government?…

The Times have totalled the cost of the furniture at almost £28,000, although knowing the public sector the work put into buying and installing them will total many thousands more. Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey took the Commons Authorities to task over the absurd cost, saying

“These are the same authorities that don’t provide appropriate office chairs or lighting for a working environment, helped by the fact that we are in a royal palace and not technically subject to health and safety legislation”

The sofas and armchairs form part of PCH’s new “agile working zone” – which is questionable as none of the chairs recline…

mdi-timer 19 February 2020 @ 15:1519 Feb 2020 @ 15:15 mdi-comment Comments
Standards Commissioner Launches Caroline Lucas Investigation

Green MP Caroline Lucas is under investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, for selling offering paid parliamentary tours -which should be free – during the 2019 General Election campaign. Lucas said anyone who paid £150 towards her re-election fund would be eligible for a half-hour long “personal guided tour of House of Commons”The biggest crime is surely Lucas considering 30 minutes of her company to be worth £150…

In a statement to her local paper The Argus, Lucas said “I do not believe I have done anything wrong” despite the House of Commons Code of Conduct explicitly stating. “Members are reminded that tours on the Parliamentary estate which would otherwise be available at nil cost… should under no circumstances be offered as raffle or auction prizes.” It will be up to the Standards Commissioner to adjudicate…

mdi-timer 19 February 2020 @ 14:1519 Feb 2020 @ 14:15 mdi-comment Comments
Government Drops Heathrow Expansion as Ministerial Priority

Rail Minister and Lancashire MP Andrew Stephenson has been given his portfolio, taking on responsibility for HS2, on top of overseeing the Transpennine route and Northern Powerhouse Rail. The appointment comes following Boris’ commitment to get control of the project’s spiraling costs. Initially the Government estimated the cost of HS2 would be £32.7 billion – saying at the time it would bring £46.9 billion worth of benefits. The cost has now ballooned to at least £106 billion. Stephenson will have a job on his hands…

Paul Maynard, whom Andrew Stephenson replaces, had “Aviation (including Heathrow expansion)” as one of the subjects within his portfolio. Now on the Department for Transport website, published overnight, any specific mention of Heathrow has been dropped, it no longer features under any of the Ministers’ remits. This much needed, no cost to the taxpayer, infrastructure boost for the global cargo trade which flows through Heathrow doesn’t seem to warrant a minister’s interest. This may be a reshuffle oversight or it might signal something about the commitment of this government…
Kelly Tolhurst has responsibility for aviation, with no explicit stated brief for expansion. What are we to (not) read into this?
UPDATE: A belligerent DfT spokesman gets in touch to spin “Heathrow expansion is included in the aviation brief and it’s only a stylistic difference. Nothing should be read into it.” In addition to the current legal delays there does seem to be a lack of will at the top to get this done. When the PM was asked at PMQs a few weeks ago about the building of a third runway at Heathrow he said “I see no bulldozers at present, nor any immediate prospect of them arriving.”
mdi-timer 19 February 2020 @ 13:0519 Feb 2020 @ 13:05 mdi-comment Comments
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