Saj Curtails Holiday To Deal With Migrant Crisis “Major Incident”

Sajid Javid has declared the surge in migrant crossings of the English Channel a “major incident.” The Home Secretary cut his holiday short and travelled back to the UK today to deal with the crisis, as two more inflatable boats carrying migrants from Iran and Syria were caught today mid crossing. These latest boats bring the number of migrants who have attempted to cross the channel since Christmas up to nearly 100.

The Home Office said that Javid “has insisted the Home Office treat the situation as a major incident and has appointed a Gold Commander and asked for daily updates.”

January in Review

Denis MacShane Put His Finger Up My Bum” was perhaps an unexpected headline and return to the public eye of a regular Guido focus of interest. In media news Guardian Axes Paul Mason’s Column and James O’Brien Too Much For Newsnight proved even left-of-centre media can tire of polemicists. Dave on Hot Mic: Brexit Has Turned Out Less Badly Than We Thought was a concession from the former PM that perhaps Project Fear (Version 1) was over done.

Thousands of Doctors On Ski Trips During ‘Winter Crisis’, surely doesn’t help “Our NHS”, it was a popular story followed up on tabloid front pages. A real zinger from Fraser Burns Polly.

In an increasingly difficult to understand alternative gendered reality, watch as a Feminist Fight Club Vows to Destroy Tories and Smash Patriarchy yet Labour Suspend Campaigner to Keep All Women Shortlists Real Over “Women Don’t Have Dicks” Tweet. Labour MP Debbie Abrahams was rendered Speechless at McDonnell’s Violent Misogyny.

Bercow Could Thwart Brexit if the Meaningful Vote is Defeated

Like most of you Guido has tried to put thoughts of Brexit away for Christmas, nevertheless something besides brussels sprouts has been nagging at him, which, whilst the news flow is slow can be explored at length. Labour remainers have of late turned a blind eye to Bercow‘s bullying, mistreatment of staff and gender specific language for one reason, they believe he will be an ally in thwarting Brexit. He has considerable leeway to do so…

The common argument is that although Parliament is sovereign, if the Government holds its nerve there is nothing opponents to Brexit can do to stop the UK leaving the EU on WTO terms. However, there are many things Parliament can do to get its way:

A Contempt Motion
If the House of Commons votes on a non-binding motion to extend or revoke Article 50, and the Government choses to simply shrug its shoulders and ignore the instruction, the Speaker could choose to hold the Prime Minister in contempt of Parliament. How realistic is it for the Government to repeatedly ignore the will of Parliament in terms of repeated contempt motions?

Amendments in Scope
Opponents of Brexit will table amendments to the meaningful vote motion on a second referendum, membership of the Customs Unions or extending or revoking Article 50. Although these votes would not be binding on the Government, John Bercow could use the votes as a demonstration of the will of the House of Commons. This could embolden the Speaker to be even more flexible about the amendments he deems to be in scope of Brexit legislation. So for example the Trade Bill, Immigration Bill or Agriculture Bill could all be amended to make the Act conditional on their being a second referendum. It’s been argued by some that the Government could simply pull these Bills. However, this legislation has a real-world purpose to help the country prepare for leaving. The immigration bill will end free movement. The Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill will ensure reciprocal healthcare arrangements can be in place with other countries after exit. How realistic is it for the Government to pull all its Brexit legislation?

A Humble Address
We have seen how the Speaker has colluded with the Opposition frontbench to use the humble address and other parliamentary mechanisms for party political purposes. A Humble Address could call on the Government to release all its information on no deal impacts, to increase pressure. There could be an attempt to stretch the power of a Humble Address – for instance requesting an extension of Article 50 or committing not to leave the EU without a deal or committing to a second referendum.

The opportunities for parliamentary opponents of Brexit in league with a Speaker who is their ally are worrying;

  • Amending the motion for the Meaningful Vote to say that the UK must leave with a deal. The Labour amendment to the Meaningful Vote requires that the UK leaves with a Withdrawal Agreement but not this Withdrawal Agreement. An amendment by Hilary Benn seeks to reject leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement, require the government to bring forward a debate on its proposed way forward, and allow MPs to table amendments to the motion the government is required to bring forward.
  • Debate triggered under s13(4) of the Withdrawal Act. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Act a loss of a meaningful vote must be followed within 21 days by the laying of a statement, and that followed by a further debate within 7 sitting days of the statement. The debate and possibly an amended motion could signal the House’s view that the UK should not leave the EU without a deal.
  • Emergency motions under Standing Order No. 24. The House could make clear in emergency debates called under Standing Order No 24 that the will of the House is that the UK should not leave without a deal or must hold a second referendum.
  • Opposition Day Debates and backbench time. The Opposition could table motions to call on the Government to take action to prevent no deal or hold a second referendum. Backbenchers could use their allocated time to table motions calling on the Government to prevent no deal.

Pro-Brexit MPs who believe the parliamentary die is set for a no deal Brexit are being complacent. The Speaker is intent on stopping that outcome.

Rich’s Christmas View

Paddy Ashdown Dies Aged 77

Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown has died this evening following a short illness. Guido’s thoughts are with his family.

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said

Paddy will be desperately missed by everyone at the Liberal Democrats as a dear friend and colleague, and remembered as someone who made an immeasurable contribution to furthering the cause of liberalism.

Lord Ashdown led the Lib Dems from their founding in 1988, until 1999.

Americans Are Crowdfunding Millions For Trump’s Wall

A US Army veteran has set up an apparently entirely serious ‘GoFundMepage to help fund the construction of Trump’s promised wall along the southern US border. In just five days, the campaign has already raised well over $14 million. Still no sign of Mexico paying for it…

This comes as the US Government shut down in the early hours of this morning, as Trump has refused to sign off any federal funding package passed by Congress that does not include $5 billion for his promised wall.

The crowdfund page points to previous private donations for US Government construction and says that

“If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall. That equates to roughly 5 Billion Dollars, even if we get half, that’s half the wall.”

They are currently 0.3% of the way there…

UPDATE: A rival crowdfund page has raised over $100,000 to buy ladders for migrants to climb over the wall.

Saturday 7-Up

This week 205,624 visitors visited 675,952 times viewing 1,047,348 pages. The top stories in order of popularity were:

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

Happy Christmas to All Our Readers

We will be updating at a much slower pace over the holidays, tomorrow the daily Guidogram will be sent out for the last time this year. We’ll take a look back on stories, rows and scandals of the year over the coming days.

The team want to say heartfelt thanks once again to our ever loyal and growing readership, for your critical feedback, for the tips, for the fun, the brickbats and making this site what it is today. We love you. We wish you a peaceful Christmas, free of Brexit rows…

Desperate Dutch Boyband Forms to Try to Stop Brexit

Following a Dutch MP’s Love Actually style plea to Britain earlier this month, the Netherlands have now gone one better with an entire boyband forming to try to persuade the UK to call off Brexit. Five heartbroken Dutch singers have come together to form the “Breunion Boys” as part of a “final, desperate, ultimate attempt” to stop Brexit. It appears to be serious…

Their debut single, Britain Come Back, features such inspired lines as “Britain, you’re Great, but together we’re greater”, “we’ll get out of this together, make our union ever closer” and “Bae what did you do? You hurt yourself, it hurts me” as the anguished singers writhe about in wet sand on a chilly-looking beach. They are even planning to go on a pub tour of the UK. Guido suspects they may not quite get the reception they’re hoping for…

Deficit at Lowest Level in 15 Years

The Treasury will have something to celebrate over Christmas with the news that UK’s budget deficit has narrowed to its smallest since 2002-3. The latest figures show public sector net borrowing of a mere £7.2 billion in November – the lowest for a November since 2004. Excluding net investment, the UK has actually run a surplus of £13 billion over the last 12 months. Osborne’s target of 2015 is long gone but better late than never…

Friday Caption Contest (What Did He Do Edition)

Entries in the comments…

Chris Williamson Shares Petition Defending Notorious Anti-Semite

Corbynite MP Chris Williamson has shared a petition urging Islington Council to reverse their ban on notorious anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon from performing at their venue.

Even Hope Not Hate has called Atzmon “an antisemite who has promoted the works of Holocaust deniers.” He blamed Grenfell Tower tragedy on “Jerusalemites” and has stood accused of Holocaust denial by human rights lawyer Adam Wagner. He has openly said “I despise the Jew in me and detest the Jew in you”.

Williamson remains a signatory to the extraordianry petition and has so far refused to apologise for sharing it on Twitter, and has even refused to acknowledge that he deleted his original tweet urging his followers to join him in signing the petition. Even by Chris Williamson’s standards, this is really bad. How can Labour continue to let him stand as a representative of their party?

UPDATE: Williamson has apologised, claiming that he “wasn’t aware” of the Atzmon’s anti-Semitism until after he tweeted the petition.

“I am told that in various blogs and in speeches he has adopted antisemitic language. I wasn’t aware of this until after I tweeted the petition.”

UPDATE II: The Board of Deputies of British Jews has called for Labour to withdraw the whip from Chris Williamson.

Read Williamson’s apology in full here:

Continue reading

Corbyn Doubles Down on Media Lie

After telling the BBC a demonstrable untruth yesterday morning about the media not covering the death in Westminster on Tuesday night, Jeremy Corbyn has doubled down on his lie in an attempt to get himself out of the hole he dug himself over his “stupid woman” comments. Corbyn tweeted out a positively Trumpian video yesterday evening again denying that he had said the phrase “stupid woman” and repeating his lie about media coverage:

“The night before, you wouldn’t know it, but a homeless man died on the steps of Parliament… It wasn’t reported in most of our media.”

As Guido detailed yesterday, the story had already been covered by the BBCSkyITVGuardianIndependentSunMirrorMailMetroEvening Standard and HuffPost by the time Corbyn first made his claim yesterday morning, and many more media outlets by the time he repeated it after 6pm. Corbyn knows he is telling an untruth, he is just bitter about letting the mask slip and being caught out. Making that mistake once as Leader of the Opposition is questionable, doing it again hours later is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public…

BurkaGate: Boris Unanimously Cleared by Tory Party

An independent expert panel chaired by Naomi Ellenbogen QC have unanimously cleared Boris Johnson of any wrongdoing for his Telegraph column which infamously criticised Denmark’s Burka ban over the summer. An extraordinary row ensued, egged on by the left of the Conservative party who called for Boris to be disciplined as a result of his resoundingly liberal column, which argued that the Burka can be criticised without the need for the sort of government ban that many continental European countries have imposed.

The expert panel found him “respectful and tolerant” and defended his writing style saying he had a right to use satire to make his point. It firther stated that censorship was “unwise” and that It said that the Conservative Party’s Code of Conduct did not “override an individual’s right to freedom of expression”. Polls at the time show the public agree, with a clear majority saying Boris should not be disciplined…

A friend of the former two term Mayor of London told Guido that it is “welcome news that Boris has rightly been cleared” and the panel’s ruling completely supported what Boris said from the very beginning” that “his article did foster respect and tolerance for the wearing of the burka.” The friend added that Party Chairman Brandon Lewis should “do the honourable thing and apologise to Boris with the same zeal he shamelessly used to smear his name during the summer.” Punchy…

‘Scrooge’ Sadiq Banning Tube Ads for Christmas Treats

Junk food isn’t the only thing which is set to fall foul of Sadiq Khan’s latest advertising ban on TfL – festive treats including mince pies and Christmas puddings would also be caught out under the ban. Former Tory mayoral hopeful Andrew Boff also claimed that Macmillan Cancer Support could be prevented from advertising their famous coffee morning fundraisers on the tube under the ban because of the presence of cakes in their adverts.

Boff accused Sadiq of being a “Scrooge” and called for the “entirely flawed” ban to be scrapped altogether. Politicians from all parties could do with reeling in their knee-jerk instincts to ban anything and everything…

Ivan Lewis Quits Labour With Damning Resignation Letter to Corbyn

Former Government Minister and Bury South MP Ivan Lewis has resigned from the Labour Party over Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism in the party, saying he “could no longer reconcile my Jewish identity and current Labour politics”. Lewis has been suspended from the Labour Party for twelve months over harassment allegations but accuses the party of a “politically motivated delay” to his investigation, claiming that the party had never interviewed him over the complaints and chosen not to move forward with his disciplinary process “for political reasons”.

Lewis accuses the Labour leader of sacking him “by text message after I had asked to meet with you to discuss anti semitism” and is severely critical of both Corbyn and Seumas Milne:

“It is for others to determine whether you are anti semitic, but what is absolutely clear is that you and Seumas Milne do not believe in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their own state. This is different to your view on the right to self-determination for every other minority community… To compound this, all too often you have been unwilling to condemn those whose hatred of Israel becomes Jew hatred…

“Your long standing preferences are for the values of Putin’s Russia and the Islamist fundamentalism of Iran. It is no wonder that so many British people are uncomfortable at the prospect of you becoming Prime Minister…”

Read the damning letter in full below:

Continue reading

Ireland: No Deal, No Hard Border

Ireland have once again confirmed that they have no plans to erect a hard border on the island of Ireland even if there is no Brexit deal. The Irish Government published their contingency planning for no deal yesterday, with Foreign Minister Simon Coveney confirming that Ireland has no plans to build a hard border in the event of no deal. The backstop is spurious – there is not going to be a hard border whatever happens…

What the Irish Government has been doing as part of its contingency plans – and what the UK has not to any significant degree – is buying up land around their ports in order to have the space to build new infrastructure should it be required. Change Britain’s Ross Thomson makes the point that the UK Government must start “acting responsibly” by making the “necessary preparations including at our ports”. Regardless of whether there is a deal or not now, the Government will inevitably need some extra land at ports if it ever plans to leave the customs union…

France has been buying up land near its ports as well, while Ireland, France and the Netherlands are all well into the process of recruiting extra customs officers. The UK should be miles ahead of its EU neighbours in preparing for no deal, yet in many areas it finds itself behind. Government Departments and the Treasury are still playing the blame game about why preparations haven’t happened sooner. Remainer attempts to stop the preparations outright are beyond daft. The bottom line is that the UK government has a paramount responsibility to implement no deal preparations at full speed now, whatever the politics of the situation…

UPDATE: An Irish Government Minister said this morning that Ireland was “working towards” increased checks at Irish ports and airports in order to “satisfy single market requirements” in a no deal scenario. For over a year Brexiteers have been dismissed for saying checks away from the land border would work, now it appears to be Irish Government policy…

Corbyn Tries to Deflect From “Stupid Woman” Row With Lie About Westminster Death

Fresh from giving his less-than-convincing denials about whether he called Theresa May a “stupid woman” or not at PMQs yesterday, Corbyn has tried to deflect from the row by angrily telling the BBC this morning: “you and your colleagues in the media seem utterly obsessed with this. The fact that a homeless man died outside Parliament has got no coverage whatsoever, and it should.” This is simply not true.

In fact, as of this morning, the sad news had already been covered by the BBC, Sky, ITV, Guardian, Independent, Sun, Mirror, Mail, Metro, Evening Standard, HuffPost and more. Both events have rightly received lots of media attention, it is simply fake news for Corbyn to try to distract from one with a lie about the other…

H/t Dan Bloom

Britain Still Best Country in the World for Business

The UK has held on to its top spot in Forbes’ global rankings of the ‘Best Countries for Business’ for a second year running, beating off competition from Sweden and Hong Kong, with only three EU27 countries making it into the top 10. Countries were ranked across 15 categories from ‘property rights’ to ‘red tape’, with the UK the only country to rank in the top 30 for every single one. Even in the ‘political risk’ category, despite Brexit…

Strong November retail sales revealed this morning – up 1.4% month-on-month – have also underlined the UK’s economic resilience, with consumers continuing to spend despite being fed a relentless diet of negativity from economic forecasters. While the political class vacillates, the rest of the country is just getting on with it…

“Gaston the Turbo-Snail” Invades Parliament

In a sure sign that Parliament is more than ready to break up for Christmas, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins informed the Commons that not only does she have the “most beautiful cat in the world” but that his name is “Gaston the Turbo-Snail”, courtesy of her four-year-old son.[…] Read the rest


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