Boles, NiMo, Letwin Call to Rescind Article 50 if Deal Rejected

Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan, and Nick Boles are among a group of ultra-Remainer Tories to propose a plan that would force the Government to recind Article 50 when May’s Deal is voted down tomorrow. This is the first time rescinding A50 has been seriously proposed as fallback…

The plan goes that if no consensus is reached by Parliament as to what to do next in the six weeks that follow the meaningful vote, the Prime Minister would be compelled to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50. If they refused then the plan would force the PM to unilaterally rescind Article 50…

Obviously the EU is only going to do one thing if they’re given the chance to automatically end the Brexit process. The EU would have proved escape is impossible, and the UK would be left humiliated…

Read: Juncker and Tusk’s Letter To May

Theresa May’s attempts to make the backstop more palatable to MPs, the so-called ‘Operation Figleaf’, have culminated in the publication of an exchange of letters between May and EU Presidents Tusk and Juncker. As expected, the EU’s letter consists of statements of diplomatic intention and legal interpretation rather than binding legal changes to the Withdrawal Agreement and backstop, although interestingly The Times reported these might be on the cards but at a later stage. Not the gamechanger May needed right now…

Read the letter in full: 

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you for your letter of 14 January 2019.

As you are well aware, use regret but respect the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. We also consider that Brexit is a source of uncertainty and disruption. In these challenging times, use therefore share with you the determination to create as much certainty and clarity as possible for citizens and companies in a situation where a Member State leaves the European Union after more than four decades of closest economic and political integration. That is why the Withdrawal Agreement that you and the Leaders of the 27 EU Member States agreed after long negotiations is so important. It represents a fair compromise and aims to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, thereby smiting the negative consequences of Brexit. That is also why we wish to establish as close as possible a relationship with the United Kingdom in the future, building on the Political Declaration, which the Leaders of the 27 EU Member States agreed with you. It is also why we want negotiations to this effect to start as soon as possible after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

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Brexiteers Dismissive of “Facile” No-Brexit Plots

Backbench MPs have spent the weekend busy plotting how to hijack the Brexit process with the help of flagrant constitutional abuses from Speaker John Bercow. Nick Boles has now tabled an amendment this morning which would effectively legislate for a putsch by the 36-member Liaison Committee of backbench Select Committee Chairs. It is heavily Remain-dominated and chaired by Sarah Wollaston…

Wollaston herself and the Committee’s Vice Chair Pete Wishart have already dismissed it as a “daft suggestion” that “appears to have been developed with just 2 other MPs” and “isn’t going to happen”. As Cumberbatch said in Channel 4’s Brexit drama last week, the golden rule of a successful coup is making sure the military is actually on board in advance…

Brexiteers are similarly dismissive, with one senior MP describing the plan as “facile” and ERG supporters pointing out three major obstacles to a backbench coup. Firstly, any government expenditure, which would be necessary to implement any plan, would require a money resolution, which only a Minister can move. Would Bercow dare to tear this rule up too?

Secondly, they say that any effect on Crown prerogative, i.e. the Government’s ability to act as the executive, would require the Queen’s consent at Third Reading of a Bill. Thirdly, even if Parliament did contrive a viable route towards stopping Brexit, under the Fixed-Term Parliament Acts the Prime Minister still retains the power to prorogue Parliament, ending the current Parliamentary session and voiding any legislation in progress, thereby forcing no deal by default. This would be a nuclear option but the power to stop ‘no Brexit’ still remains in May’s hands…

The Top 50 Political Influencers

There’s never been a more exciting time to cover politics – but with the media in rapid flux, who really sets the agenda?

Vuelio presents the Top 50 Political Influencers as the definitive guide to the media professionals with the most political clout.

See the full list and find out who’s made the cut…

When it comes to politics, the digital media environment continues to develop in novel, sometimes unanticipated, ways – with some serious consequences. New media have radically altered the ways in which Government institutions operate, political leaders communicate, and campaigns are fought.

Although new media has complicated the political media system, it has by no means dismantled it. Legacy media – radio and television news programs, even newspapers – coexist with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Indeed, content produced by the mainstream is fed upon by emerging influencers, increasing its reach and impact even as it is transformed under the weight of myriad digital judgements.

The Top 50 Political Influencers reflects the evolving media, including broadcasters and print journalists in addition to bloggers and other digital influencers. The list includes the most politically informed, those with the best contacts and membership of the right WhatsApp groups for the inside track on breaking news and the latest leaks, and those able to lead conversations across a range of social media platforms.

With the likes of Andrew Marr, Robert Peston and Cathy Newman rubbing shoulders with Owen Jones, Nigel Farage and Kerry-Anne Mendoza – the list is a true representation of the biggest political influencers in the UK media.

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Corbyn Confirms He Opposes A Second Referendum

Jeremy Corbyn explicitly confirmed to Marr this morning that if his no confidence vote fails and he does not get the General Election he is after, he “would rather get a negotiated deal” than back a second referendum.

Corbyn: I Am Not Against The Free Movement of People

Marr: “Why are you against the free movement of people?”

Corbyn: “I am not against the free movement of people.”

Vince Cable: ‘I Am Not The Problem’

Theresa May Already Bending To Labour Demands

John Mann confirmed this morning that the Prime Minister had promised sweeping concessions to Labour MPs like himself in order to coax them into supporting her withdrawal agreement. She promised that the UK would not only keep existing EU regulations on workers rights and environmental protections, but be legally bound to bring forward all new EU legislation in these areas to the House of Commons.

Mann said that he had secured “not just a promise from the Prime Minister, but the legislation on the Withdrawal Act will need to meet those requirements.” The idea of a Singapore style Brexit is drifting away…

BBC’s Universal Credit Interviewee is Actually Labour Party Activist

The BBC extensively quote Universal Credit claimant Rebecca Smidmore as a case study in a widely shared article on the beleaguered benefit reform. What the article doesn’t inform its readers is that Smidmore is a Labour Party member. This is especially curious as the BBC knows this pretty key fact and briefly included it in last night’s News at 10 report. Why did they leave it out of the article?

Saturday 7-Up

This week 260,347 visitors visited 701,366 times viewing 1,065,166 pages. The top stories in order of popularity were:

You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…

Sadiq’s Official Mayoral BMW Has No MOT

It appears that in amongst all the splashing taxpayers’ cash on PR firms and campaign groups while approving prohibited political ads on the tube, Sadiq has forgotten one important thing this week. His official swanky black BMW hasn’t had its MOT renewed – DVLA records show that it’s now almost a week out of date. Not a good look for the boss of the capital’s transport infrastructure. With a massive 4.4-litre engine it’s hardly very environmentally-friendly either…

Flipping Mad: Parliamentary Pancake Race Cancelled Over Threats to MPs

Athletic MPs have had their hopes to win the Parliamentary Pancake Race flattened, as this year the famous race has been cancelled, due to fears regarding the safety of MPs. They have been taking a lot of crêpe from protesters recently…

Following harassment and abuse sizzling around Westminster in recent weeks, police presence around the Parliamentary estate has been heightened. The race was was due to take place on 5th March. Batter luck next year…

h/t Matt Dathan

Friday Caption Contest (Are EU Sure, Tim? Edition)

Entries in the comments…

Britain’s Most Hypocritical MPs

Guido brings you a list of Britain’s most hypocritical Brexit MPs. Those who voted for Article 50, but are now determined to stop Brexit, by opposing both no deal, and May’s deal. 123 MPs feature on the list, from Michael Fallon to Kier Starmer, Chuka Umunna to Sarah Wollaston.

Curiously, a number of hardcore Tory Remainers are absent from the list – people like Heidi Allen and Antoinette Sandbach currently say they are backing May’s deal. What are they up to?

See the full list below:

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Labour MP Gets Hot and Steamy With Female Constituents

Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds swapped the political heat for a different sort of froth this morning – the Stalybridge MP stripped down to his swimmies to open a new indoor-outdoor jacuzzi pool in his constituency with help from some floating voters. A true public servant going the extra mile to see more of his constituents…

“Disgraceful” Sadiq Allows More Banned People’s Vote Ads on Tube

Guido reported back in October how adverts for the People’s Vote’s “Losers’ March” had been allowed on the tube in direct contravention of TfL rules on advertising – as rule 2.3(n) clearly states, an “advertisement will be unacceptable if it promotes a party political cause or electioneering.” Not that the adverts did much good, given that only one third of the 700,000 figure the People’s Vote claimed actually turned up…

Incredibly, yet more People’s Vote adverts have now appeared on the tube at Westminster Station of all places, with Alastair Campbell even boasting about them on Instagram this morning. GLA Conservative leader Gareth Bacon slammed Sadiq for permitting the prohibited ads: “This is disgraceful behaviour from Sadiq Khan; he’s allowing public resources to be used for Remain propaganda.” After his questionable donation revealed by Guido yesterday, this looks like yet another instance of Sadiq abusing his position in a shamelessly partisan way…

Civil Servant Breaks Ranks to Warn of EU “Triple Lock” in May’s Deal

Following the remarkable intervention of an anonymous civil servant over Christmas in the Telegraph, who revealed that the civil service was far more prepared for no deal than the Government was letting on, a second anonymous civil servant has come forward to warn that May’s Deal creates a Brexit “triple lock” which could “shackle the UK to Brussels forever”.

Writing for BrexitCentral, they warn that the “backstop is intended to be inescapable” and would give the EU “effective control over UK trade and competition policy” as well as “carv[ing] out Northern Ireland as an EU province and set[ting] a border in the Irish Sea”. Nor do they see the promised future relationship as a viable way out, they write that “the Political Declaration replicates all the onerous ‘non-regression’ clauses of the backstop” as well as requiring “even more surrender of sovereignty” in numerous other areas including fishing, defence and agriculture. This will not put MPs’ minds at ease ahead of the vote next week…

Owen Jones Scraps With Andrew Neil

Things got personal last night on the This Week sofa when Owen Jones, who was appearing on the show to talk about the threat poised by the British far right, went for Andrew Neil over his role as Chairman of the Spectator. The whole kerfuffle meant that there was no time for Owen to actually answer the question on the distinction between far right ‘thuggery’ and far left ‘activism’. It gets heated…

Who Is On Question Time Tonight?

BBC’s flagship political programme Question Time is back on our screens tonight with new presenter Fiona Bruce. Despite the fresh face, there is still a three to two lefty remainy panel. Some things never change…

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Quote of the Day

George Freeman on Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit Position:

“The Leader of the Opposition’s Position is crystal clear – he’s for Leave up north and Remain down south.”

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