Irish Foreign Minister: We Could Introduce Checks in the Sea

Irish Foreign Minister and Tánaiste Simon Coveney has been caught on tape saying to Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross that checks on goods will be introduced in the event of a no deal Brexit, and even suggested that those checks “could be in the sea.” He said that he couldn’t publicly acknowledge this for fear of a backlash…

The two members of the Irish Government were talking at the end of press briefing, apparently not realising that the microphone was still live.

The Independent.ie has transcribed the conversation:

Shane Ross: “Yeah. The border one, should I not have said that?”

[This is a reference to a question Mr Ross was asked about whether a truck travelling from Scotland by boat to Larne could then proceed to the Republic without any checks. During the press briefing, he replied: “I would anticipate that there would be checks.”]

Simon Coveney: “Yes, but we can’t get into where they’ll be at this stage. They could be in the sea, they could be… But once you start talking about checks anywhere near the border, people will start delving into that and all of a sudden we’ll be the government that reintroduced a physical border on the island of Ireland.”

Shane Ross: “Yeah, but I didn’t know what to say.”

This reveals a certain disingenuousness on the Irish government’s part because any prospect of checks at a land border would play into Sinn Fein’s hands and is politically unacceptable to the Irish government. Any prospect of a sea border would inflame the DUP/ERG and is politically unacceptable to the UK government. Unless the checks are going to be across the Celtic Sea between Ireland and the EU26…

McDonnell Distances Himself From Corbyn

Guido hears rumours that Corbyn and McDonnell’s teams may have had a little falling out over the timing of the no confidence motion. McDonnell’s body language certainly suggests something is up – he is nowhere to be seen on the frontbench, instead he’s lurking down by the Speaker’s chair with a worried look on his face. Trouble in socialist paradise?

Soubry Scorches Corbyn

Any suspicions that Tory Remainers could unexpectedly side with Corbyn to inflict a shock confidence vote defeat on May have firmly been put to bed with Anna Soubry nailing her colours to the Tory mast and tearing into Corbyn as he presented his motion of no confidence in Parliament. Hard to see how she could justify siding with the “most hopeless opposition leader we’ve ever had” in any subsequent confidence votes, even if no deal is approaching…

The ERG are also firmly on board. May will be fine this time round…

Vicky Ford Introduces Motion To Ban Low Down Letter Boxes

Tory MP Vicky Ford has today introduced a truly seismic bill that would ban letter boxes being placed at the bottom of doors in newly built constructions. Presented as a health and safety measure, Guido suspects it is more aimed at tired canvassers…

It seems to have a lot support and is scheduled to have its second reading on Friday 8th March. Presumably the support comes from very lazy MPs…

Now that this 10 minute rule motion is over, we’re on to the smaller issue of a vote of no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government…

Owen Jones Buys £500 Indulgence for Sin of Writing for The Sun

T’was the yeare of 2019 and ranteth greatly didde the blessed Owene Jones at The Sunne, for as Owene spake its authores didde “whippe up bigotrie and hatred” moste foule. But becameth it then well-knowne that in the yeare of 2011 the blessed Jones didde himself authore writings for The Sunne, for so to floggeth the sales of his owne veritable tome that be knownest as “Chavs”. A hypocrisie moste horrible…

The blessed Owene didde thus resolve to maeke amends for his moste sinneful deed by proferring the princely summe of five hunderedde pounds to buye indulgence for his sinnes, and saw that alle the goode folkes of Momentumme shoulde know that puritie was restored forthwithe upon his moste blessed soule. Per Corbynum dominum nostrum, amen.

Parliament Not Paying Its Bills

Fans of PMQs were unable to watch from the Parliamentlive.TV website today, as the site is down. The House of Commons tweeted that “We are aware that users are experiencing issues with Parliament TV and we are investigating.” It doesn’t take much investigation. Looks more like someone hasn’t paid the bills…

PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Q1 Charlie Elphicke (Dover) (Con)
Q2 Peter Kyle (Hove) (Lab)
Q3 Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab)
Q4 Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab)
Q5 Grahame Morris (Easington) (Lab)
Q6 Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) (Lab)
Q7 Mr Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con)
Q8 Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP)
Q9 Mr Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley) (Lab)
Q10 Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con)
Q11 Sir David Crausby (Bolton North East) (Lab)
Q12 Trudy Harrison (Copeland) (Con)
Q13 Mrs Helen Grant (Maidstone and The Weald) (Con)
Q14 Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP)
Q15 Ian C. Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab)

Comments in the comments…

Ipswich MP: ‘I Know Better Than My Constituents’

Sandy Martin, the Labour MP who won Ipswich in 2017 by just 836 votes, has told local radio that he knows better than his own constituents, 57% of whom voted Leave.

“You know better than your constituents then?”

Sandy Martin: “Yeah, okay.”

Guido knows a lot of them think this, but it’s rare to have an MP so brazenly admit it. Probably won’t do his reelection bid much good…

Biker Mitchell Breaks Law Yet Again

Andrew Mitchell had a major spot of bother with the coppers on his bike once before, Guido has also spotted him jumping red lights. If he wants to avoid the same happening again it is probably a good idea if he doesn’t cycle on busy-with-pedestrians pavements. In this picture he looks like he’s on course to collide with Mark Harper. Law makers shouldn’t be law breakers…

Eurotunnel Ready “With or Without a Deal”

Eurotunnel have put out a press release in reaction to May’s defeat last night, confirming that “with or without a deal, traffic flow through the Tunnel will be maintained”. A far cry from the scare stories being put around by politicians…

Eurotunnel have been steadily “preparing for all outcomes” for the past two years “to ensure that new post-Brexit border controls will have no significant impact on Tunnel traffic”, noting that truck traffic has increased fourfold since the Tunnel opened in 1994 despite the number of lorry controls increasing from three to eight over that period. The Government could take a leaf out of Eurotunnel’s book on how to prepare *calmly* for all possible outcomes…

John McDonnell Flip Flops On No Confidence Motions

This morning on the Today Programme, John McDonnell was asked if the opposition would call repeated motions of no confidence, to which he gave the clear response “no, we’re not doing that.”

Half an hour later on Talk Radio, however, he suggested that if Labour lose today’s motion of no confidence, “we’ll look again at what the staging is for the next no confidence motion”, and then explicitly confirmed he is not ruling out repeated motions of no confidence: “of course not!”

You know your party’s divided when even the Shadow Chancellor can’t agree with himself…

So Much for Downing Street’s “TARP Moment”

Do you remember when Downing Street briefed the media that the defeat of the meaningful vote would produce a “TARP Moment”, and that markets crashing would push panicking MPs to vote for the PM’s deal the second time round? Just as the US congress agreed the bail-out only after markets crashed in a second vote. The theory was that the pound and equities would slide as investors priced in the likelihood of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal in March 2019. Scared of being blamed, rebel MPs would fall into line. Sterling finished the day where it started and if firm this morning, the FTSE 100 is basically flat as well. So much for Downing Street’s insight into market dynamics.

Market players clearly now expect a softer Brexit. Which suggests Downing Street has totally failed to convince observers to believe that a WTO terms Brexit is really a likely outcome…

Britain “Not Necessarily” Heading For a Softer Brexit

Andrea Leadsom told Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning that Britain is “not necessarily” heading towards a softer Brexit, instead she gave the impression that Number 10 have not moved away from May’s deal as the foundation for what happens next. The Government has not indicated what concessions it seeks to gain from the EU, or whether any changes will be designed to appease the Labour Party. It doesn’t really sound like there is a plan B…

Jeremy Corbyn will table his no confidence vote in the Prime Minister this afternoon at 1pm, with the vote taking place at 7pm. There is little expectation that she will lose that. By this evening, nothing will have changed… unfortunately.

May Challenges Corbyn To Hold Confidence Vote In Her Government Tomorrow

The Prime Minister told the Commons that despite her defeat she believes she still retains the confidence of the House, but has said that if Corbyn tables a motion to be voted on tomorrow the Government will make time for it. Developing…

UPDATE: Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a confidence motion to be debated tomorrow…

May Loses Meaningful Vote

Theresa May has lost the meaningful vote. No surprise there then…

The loss is huge. 202-432.

In three Parliamentary days time the Government will have to come back to parliament with their Plan B. Will this deliver more EU concessions to get Tories on board, or more UK concessions to get more Labour MPs on board? We won’t have to wait long to find out…

Project Leer: Creepy Remainers Sign Naked Professor’s Body in Bizarre Brexit Protest

Cambridge’s resident ‘Naked Professor’ Victoria Bateman has stripped off again to protest about Brexit, hosting an adult-only show last night in Cambridge to make the point that “Brexit leaves Britain naked”. The creepy FBPErs who turned up to watch clearly didn’t mind, they even took to the stage at the end to sign her body with permanent marker. Desperate Remainers resorting to Project Leer…

UKIP MEPs Join National Front Group in European Parliament

UKIP leader Gerard Batten and two other UKIP MEPs (Stuart Agnew and Jane Collins) have joined Marine Le Pen’s ENF group in the European Parliament. Batten had resigned from Farage’s more moderate EFDD group in December to sit as an independent. The far right ENF group was founded in 2014 following discussions between Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, and consists of a number of quasi-fascist parties across Europe. Guido predicted this move a month ago…

Watch: Julian Lewis’ 21 Word Speech

“Because Brexit should mean Brexit and no deal is better than this bad deal, I shall vote no, no, and no.”

Now who does that remind Guido of…

“Carnival” Atmosphere in Westminster Before the Vote

A so-called “carnival” atmosphere has descended on Westminster ahead of tonight’s vote with protesters from both sides lining the roads around Parliament adorned with placards, flags, banners and even biblical prophecies, all while making plenty of noise. The bad news for May is that none of them like her deal…

The influx of civilised Leave protesters has definitely improved the atmosphere from the days of shouty-crackers FBPErs and wannabe Tommy Robinsons. Here’s a taste of some of the action:

Sounds more apocalyptic than carnivalistic to Guido…

Fifth Tier Football Club Tells MPs to Give May’s Deal the Boot

There’s been a new intervention in the Brexit debate today which definitely wasn’t in Number 10’s grid – in a departure from their usual activities of… playing football, fifth-tier Boreham Wood FC have made the ballsy move of publishing an op-ed on their official website crying foul over Theresa May’s deal, urging MPs to give it the boot and switch to a WTO formation instead.[…] Read the rest

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George Freeman on Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit Position:

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