EU Commission: Visa Free Travel Even If No Deal

On Tuesday, EU Commissioners made the recommendation that even in the event of no deal, UK citizens would be placed on the visa-exempt list for short stays across the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.

“The European Commission has proposed to the EU legislator to exempt UK nationals from visa requirements for short-term stays”.

Turns out kids will still be able to frolic around Europe visa free, on their summer holidays. Another Remainer lie bites the dust.

Merkel Calls For “Real European Army”

Angela Merkel, addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg today sung the praises of “European unification” and called for a European Army. She began her remarks by saying she was appearing before MEPs “with joy but also with gratitude, in front of the greatest parliament of the world.”

After calling Brexit “a deep wound,” the German Chancellor called on the EU to “work on a vision of creating a real, true, European army.” After shouts of indignation from predominantly UKIP MEPs, Merkel said “I am really pleased about this I’m annoying some people.”

Was Clegg lying, or just being incredibly naive?

Britain Seeing Fastest Wage Growth for a Decade

New ONS figures released today reveal that the UK saw the biggest rise in wages since December 2008, with pay up by 3.2% on last year, well ahead of inflation.  The unemployment rate is also down again, from 4.3% to 4.1%. All despite Brexit…

What Did Andrew Neil Get Up To Last Night?

Andrew Neil revealed least night that he had received a surprising request to rap Nicki Minaj’s Starships at this year’s Royal Variety Performance. MC Neil is no stranger to musical performance, best known for his 2010 hit single Election Day.

This surprising revelation came during a night of heavy tweeting from Brillo, where he defended Jon Snow getting down wiv da yooth shouting ‘f**k the Tories’, lambasted the lack of balance in BBC comedy, and trolled the FBPE trolls. He also called Channel 4 News “the broadcasting arm of the Guardian”, Bobby Gillespie a “miserable jock”, and conspiracist Carole a “mad cat woman“. Was his twitter account hacked by a blue nun..?

McDonnell Calls for Collective Ownership of Land

John McDonnell has set out his vision for how to “transform the state from within” in an interview with the New Statesman, including his plans to nationalise industry, make it easier to deselect Labour MPs, “convert ordinary members and supporters into real cadres” and for the “collective ownership of land”. The communist policy that has led to famine, violent upheaval and mass starvation the world over almost every time it has been implemented…

Even the limited experiments with communal ownership of land on Scottish islands under SNP land reforms have been complete failures. When implemented on the scale of Communist China and the Soviet Union, land collectivisation led to tens of millions of deaths.

Corbynistas are really going to have to start keeping a lid on their more collectivist urges if they’re going to fool the British public into thinking that they’re only selling soft socialism rather than the full red-blooded variety. It’s barely even been a week since they were calling for the confiscation of private property

Chris Mason: Replace Me With Mr Blobby

The BBC’s Chris Mason offered to stand down in favour of Mr. Blobby live on BBC Breakfast yesterday morning, arguing the Noel’s House Party character could offer analysis as good as his own. Don’t do yourself down…”

Bercow to Host Parliamentary Anti-Bullying Event

Fresh from explicit criticism in Dame Laura Cox’s report into bulling in the House, over allowing bullying, harassment and sexual harassment… to thrive,shameless Speaker John Bercow will on Wednesday be hosting a stunningly hypocritical anti-bullying event, complete with a photo op in Speakers’ House. In the context of the Cox report, this can only be seen as a brazen act of trolling from the Speaker…

Government Facing Double Defeat in Commons Today

The Government is facing at least two probable defeats in the Commons today, as Labour go on the attack over Brexit legal advice and a rebellion over the timing of cutting the FOBT maximum stake looms. Add to that another battle over Brexit impact assessments…

Keir Starmer is using Labour’s opposition day debate to try to use a ‘humble address’ to force the government to reveal the full legal advice it has received on the proposed Brexit deal. The picture has been complicated by an ERG amendment to their motion – backed by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker – which instead calls only for a “full, reasoned position statement laying out the government’s political and legal position”. Which would give the Government a lot more wriggle room, raising suspicions of a backroom compromise…

On the Finance Bill, a cross-party group of 70 MPs led by Iain Duncan Smith and Carolyn Harris will table an amendment calling for the FOBT maximum stake reduction to be brought forward to April 2019 – the issue which led to Sports Minister Tracy Crouch’s resignation two weeks ago. With over 20 Tories, including Boris Johnson and Rees-Mogg, and several DUP MPs already signatories the amendment, the Government is heading for certain defeat on the issue. A climbdown looks inevitable – raising the question of why they didn’t simply change their position earlier and avoid losing another minister…

The Government has yet another headache over a further amendment to the Finance Bill, tabled by Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry with support from 9 Tory rebels, which calls for them to publish economic impact assessments comparing their proposed deal to remaining in the EU outright, as well as to a ‘no deal’ scenario which they have already committed to do. Given Whitehall’s track record on Brexit forecasting, these are not likely to be particularly enlightening, but the arithmetic will be extremely tight if the Labour frontbench decide to get behind it…

And then there’s just the small matter of the Cabinet meeting this morning after a fresh meeting of ‘pizza club’ last night, with worried ministers including Raab, Leadsom, Gove and Cox this time meeting for warm white wine in Liam Fox’s office. Should be a quiet day…

Scruton Defeats Socialism Again

An eagle-eyed co-conspiritor has noticed that Sir Roger Scruton’s book “Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left” has defeated the competition to become the number one best seller in Amazon’s category of ‘Socialism’. Not content with battling socialism on the other side of the iron curtain, he has taken them to task in their own category on Amazon…

Brokenshire’s Defence of Sir Roger Scruton

The Government have come out batting for Sir Roger Scruton. Guido welcomes their rare backbone sticking up for a good appointment, and standing up to a baying twitter mob.

UPDATE: Jacob Rees-Mogg makes the point that while Scruton was busy standing up for free speech and democracy in the Soviet Union, several Labour MPs – including some Gwynne now sits alongside on the Labour frontbench – were more interested in sympathising with the oppressive communist regime…

 

The Other Cambridge Analytica: Whistleblower Wylie’s Own Dodgy Data Dealings

While the ICO’s report into data use in the referendum principally served to blow apart Carole Cadwalladr’s main Brexit conspiracy, one aspect of the report that has largely been overlooked is the role of data-hustler-turned-whistleblower Chris Wylie. The one who made an international media and public speaking career out of setting up Cambridge Analytica and then dobbing them in…

A notable feature of the ICO report is how few people are explicitly named in it – not even Arron Banks is. The few that are include Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Dr Aleksandr Kogan, the academic whose company harvested the data behind the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a couple of other individuals related to Cambridge Analytica, and Chris Wylie. Not exactly the good guys in this whole saga…

Wylie’s inclusion in the report is not in the context of his role as whistleblower, it is as a key part of how Cambridge Analytica came to acquire the Facebook data at the heart of the scandal in the first place:

“In May 2014, Dr Aleksandr Kogan… offered to undertake the work himself as he had developed his own app called the ‘CPW Lab App’… We have seen evidence that CA staff, including whistleblower Chris Wylie, were involved in setting up these contacts through their networks of friends and colleagues; many of whom had been involved in earlier campaigns in North America…

“Once the company was set up and a contract signed with CA, Dr Kogan, with some help from Chris Wylie, overhauled the ‘CPW Lab App’ changing the name, terms and conditions of the app into the ‘GSR App’ which ultimately became thisisyourdigitallife (the app).”

Wylie himself has never denied his role in creating Cambridge Analytica, telling Damian Collins’ DCMS Select Committee in March: “To be clear, Cambridge Analytica was set up in large part because of the research I was doing at SCL Group [Cambridge Analytica’s parent company].”

However, Cambridge Analytica was not the only company which received the illicit Facebook data set that resulted from Wylie’s work with Dr Kogan. As has been reported in North American press (and confirmed by Mark Zuckerberg to the US Congress) but largely ignored in the UK, the harvested data was also acquired by one other company, Eunoia Technologies. Eunoia Technologies Inc. was a separate company registered in the US on 12th June 2014… by Chris Wylie.

Wylie’s background is in centre-left politics, he worked for many years with Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in Canada and also worked with the Liberal Democrats in the UK. Since becoming a whistleblower, he has described social data harvesting as “grossly unethical”…

However, that didn’t stop Eunoia unsuccessfully trying to flog its services to Donald Trump’s campaign director in early 2015, before Eunoia again attempted to sell their services to the Remain campaign in November 2015, as Private Eye reported in April this year. Finally, he had yet another pitch rebuffed in January 2016, this time with Vote Leave’s Dominic Cummings dismissing his offer of “psychographic microtargeting”. Evidently Cummings was not the only one who concluded they were “charlatans”…

Zuckerberg told the US Congress that Wylie had certified to Facebook that Eunoia deleted its data in August 2016, but added that Facebook had “no way to confirm” activities that had “taken place off Facebook and its systems”. Eunoia’s UK branch didn’t wind up as a company until 24 October 2017.

The ICO’s report itself is inconclusive about the fate of the Facebook data, confirming that their own investigations into it are still ongoing:

“Our concerns also extend to who else may have received the harvested data and what they then did with it; our enquiries are active and continuing in that regard…”

“We will be making sure any organisations, which may still have copies of the Facebook data and its derivatives demonstrate its deletion.”

Given his intimate involvement in the genesis of the scandal, it would be remarkable if Wylie and Eunoia were not key lines of inquiry for the ICO in this regard. Only two companies are known to have received the illicit data – Cambridge Analytica and Eunoia. The ICO obtained a search warrant and raided the offices of one. What has it done about the other?

London Office Market Still Booming Despite Brexit

The Central London office market is continuing to defy predictions of Brexit doom, with office space take-up in 2018 Q3 up 12% on the last quarter and 17% above the long-term average. Investment turnover exceeded £5 billion – 40% ahead of the long-term average and the highest for a single quarter since the end of 2015. In fact the biggest investors, accounting for nearly 40% of the investment in Q3, were European buyers. Sorry Frankfurt, the London pull is just too strong…

What’s Going On This Week

  • Monday
    • Labour Whip Fiona Onasanya to appear in the dock at the Old Bailey, charged with conspiring with her brother to avoid speeding points.
    • Commons Education questions, 2.30 pm.
    • Lords Brexit statement, 2.30 pm.
    • Lords communications committee to discuss whether or not to regulate the internet.
    • Urgent Question on Roger Scruton, expected around 4:30 pm.
  • Tuesday
    • Northern Ireland affairs committee to discuss the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
    • Cabinet meeting.
  • Wednesday
    • PMQs at 12pm.
    • Deadline for agreeing a November summit.
  • Thursday
    • International trade questions.
    • Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to appear before the foreign affairs committee on “China and the international rules-based system” 2.30 pm.

Lib Dem Lord Lester Set For Record-Breaking Suspension For Sexual Harassment

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester is set for a record-breaking suspension from the House of Lords after Lords’ Privileges and Conduct Committee recommended that he be suspended for three and a half years until June 2022 for sexual harassment and “corrupt inducement” to sexual relations. It will be the longest Parliamentary suspension since the Second World War…

Lester was forced to resign as a Lib Dem spokesman after allegations that he had demanded sex from a female campaigner in return for help to pass legislation. The investigation upheld the complaint “on the basis of the strong and cogent evidence of the complainant and her witnesses.” The fact that it happened 10 years ago was not used as an excuse not to pursue the investigation…

UPDATE: Sky Pol Ed Runners & Riders

Last week’s Runners & Riders on the Sky political editor role’s availability, now that Faisal Islam is off to the BBC to become their economics editor, brought more than the usual complaints and lobbying from those jockeying for position and their friends. Proving once again that journalists don’t like to be on the receiving end of journalism…

One justified complaint was that Guido had made a glaring omission – Niall Paterson. Fans of Niall are right to say he must be in with a good chance. He stood in successfully for Sophy Ridge during her maternity leave and he knows his way round SW1 as a former political correspondent at Millbank. Currently co-presenting the weekday breakfast show he could easily switch to the pol ed job. Guido would give him short odds for the job…

Labour All At Sea Over Brexit

Labour are all at sea over Brexit again, with Keir Starmer directly contracting his party leader’s comments on whether Brexit can be stopped. Starmer told Sky News this morning “Brexit can be stopped” just days after Corbyn categorically told Der Spiegel on Friday that Labour “can’t stop” Brexit:

DS: “If you could stop Brexit, would you?”

JC: “We can’t stop it. The referendum took place. Article 50 has been triggered. What we can do is recognise the reasons why people voted Leave.”

Emily Thornberry and Dianne Abbott have also given conflicting signals in recent days, with Thornberry telling Marr yesterday a second referendum was still an option, while Abbott warned against the idea on Question Time last week. Civil war in North London luvvie land…

Labour’s position on the deal itself is no less unclear, with shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman making distinctly positive noises about the possibility of Labour supporting a deal on All Out Politics despite Thornberry coming down strongly against the prospect yesterday. Labour’s “constructive ambiguity” is increasingly looking less like astute party management and more a symptom of serious internal shadow Cabinet splits…

The Government’s fundamental problem with getting a deal through Parliament – if it even gets through Cabinet – is that voting down the deal is all things to all people. The Labour frontbench sees it as the best route to a general election. Brexiteers see it as the way to force ‘no deal’. Remainers see it as their best chance of securing a second referendum. The Johnson-Johnson pincer movement looks particularly dangerous for the Government. But ultimately only one of these groups can actually get what they want…

LibDems Holding Emergency Finance Meeting Tomorrow

We recently reported that as a result of cashflow crisis LibDem HQ was slashing 25% of staff. In a highly unusual move Guido understands there is to be an emergency meeting of the Lib Dem board and the finance subcommittee to discuss party finances tomorrow evening (Tuesday). It is almost unheard of for there to be such a joint meeting.

Cable’s low-wattage leadership is proving disastrous and the imminent prospect of a well funded centrist, pro-EU rival with glitz and glamour from Chuka, David Miliband or, errr, Chris Leslie is another deterrent to donors. Whereas in the past £700,000 could have been loaned in an emergency by a rich backer in need of an honour, they are less likely to support a dead parrot of a party. Never a good idea to write off the Liberals, a rival party however could be the final nail in the coffin that was built for them in 2015 by Lynton Crosby…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Labour ‘Won’t Save the Government’ in Brexit Deal Vote

Emily Thornberry confirmed to Marr this morning that Labour is intent on voting down Theresa May’s Brexit deal, in the hope of forcing a general election. The clock is ticking, and as things stand the UK will automatically leave the EU in 138 days.

Army “Ready To Help” In Event of No Deal

Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter revealed this morning that the Army has “not been asked to do anything specifically at this particular stage” by the Government in relation to Brexit contingency measures, but that if there isn’t a deal we stand ready to help in any way we can.”[…] Read the rest

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