MEPs “Tricked” Into Voting Wrong Way Over Article 13

The EU’s internet-killing new Copyright Directive has become mired in a fresh layer of controversy after it emerged that multiple MEPs were “tricked” into voting the wrong way on it. Guido understands that an extra vote was inserted into the voting list at the last minute which threw most MEPs’ voting lists out of sync. Unlike the Commons where MPs have to physically make the decision to walk through lobbies, MEPs just robotically press buttons according to a long voting list handed out to them. A clear warning of the dangers of electronic voting…

At least 13 MEPs have told the European Parliament they accidentally voted the wrong way. Now the EU has modified their individual voting records but has refused to revisit the result of the vote, despite the fact there was a majority of just 5 MEPs. The EU also rejected a direct request from MEPs to stage the entire vote again. This blocked MEPs from voting on any amendments, including on the meme-banning Article 13

Brexit Party MEP Bill Etheridge tells Guido “it’s appalling, but that’s how this place works on a regular basis. It’s only come to people’s attention this time because it’s a high profile issue”. Etheridge says his group’s staff were sharp enough to spot the switch but many other groups weren’t, he knows several ECR and other MEPs who are “mortified” after voting the wrong way on it. Now the internet-killing law has been passed the EU simply doesn’t care. “Democracy” EU-style…

U-QUIT: Another UKIP MEP Resigns

The exodus of UKIP MEPs is starting to turn from a trickle into a flood with Bill Etheridge becoming the latest Kipper to quit the party in protest at Gerard Batten’s leadership.

Etheridge accused Batten of allowing his “personal obsessions” to change the party “beyond all recognition” in a stinging resignation statement:

“The changes you have made since becoming leader have changed the party beyond all recognition. You have allowed your personal obsessions free reign. The party is now seen by large swathes of the British public as a vehicle for hate towards Muslims and the Gay community…”

Batten has bitten back in characteristic style:

“I hope that Mr Etheridge will do the decent and honourable thing and resign his seat, thereby handing it back to UKIP to which it morally belongs.

“I am sure the loss of his salary, daily allowance, and pension rights would be a small price to pay for a man of principle such as he.

“It was a great pity that Mr Etheridge was unable to make it to the UKIP Conference in Birmingham last month where he could have witnessed the party members fully behind my leadership – the people who put him in the seat he currently holds by dint of their efforts and donations.”

At this rate, will Batten even have any UKIP MEPs left by the time Britain leaves the EU next March?

UKIP Leader Runners and Riders

With Farage not running, a battle for UKIP’s soul is underway between the more classical liberal / libertarian old guard and populist anti-Islam elements who are accused of trying to infiltrate the party. As ever Guido gives you your runners and riders…

  • Peter Whittle: The bookies’ favourite, Whittle withdrew from last November’s contest to endorse Paul Nuttall, becoming his deputy. Likeable and a strong media performer (former TV producer and wonk). Whittle stands in opposition to the party’s more extreme new entrants and advocates for traditional Kipper identity: “I’ve always seen UKIP as a cultural movement“. The obvious successor…
  • Anne Marie Waters: Priced in at 4/1 as the second-favourite, Waters is a former hard-left Labour Party candidate turned hard-right founder of Sharia Watch UK. She was blocked from standing as a UKIP candidate at the general election (under UKIP’s leadership rules this could become an obstacle if she is deemed as not being in “good standing” for the past two years). She set up PEGIDA’s UK branch with Tommy Robinson, who introduced her at her leadership launch last month. Waters has called Islam “a killing machine“; Nuttall has condemned her and the party will split if she wins. Rumours that Waters is flooding UKIP with new members have been exaggerated. Will UKIP block her from standing?
  • David Kurten: London Assembly member Kurten impressed on the general election campaign and was clearly on top of his education brief. Well placed sources describe him as “talented“; he has made clear his intentions to further professionalise the party. First black leader of a UK political party?
  • David Coburn: Flamboyant Scottish MEP who says he is standing “to stop entryists, dilettantes and single issue loonies“. Pro-Farage and slammed Nuttall’s campaign, criticising him for being “extremely ill-advised“. A colourful outside bet… 
  • Ben Walker: The first candidate to declare a leadership bid, 38 year-old Bristol councillor Walker says he wants to return the party to the “grassroots” and claims the number one obstacle the party faces is “itself“. He described the 2017 manifesto as “a shambles“. Advocates a name change and total re-brand…
  • Chris Wells: Thanet Council leader who proposes re-focusing the party from Brexit to adult social care; said he wouldn’t stand if Farage did, and yet to rule himself out. Chances surely hurt by UKIP’s slump in South Thanet…
  • Bill Etheridge: UKIP MEP Etheridge had been tipped but told a local paper on Friday that he is unlikely to put himself forward for fear of splitting the moderate anti-Waters vote. He said: “Whoever is the best person to maintain Nigel Farage’s legacy will be the person I back. The true libertarians in the party will have to unite behind them to defeat the common threat.” All but ruled himself out…
  • John Rees-Evans: Faragist Rees-Evans, who came third in November’s race, once claimed a “homosexual donkey” tried to rape his horse. Apart from that, he is best-known for advocating direct democracy within the party, and boasts more than 70,000 twitter followers. Said to own a survivalist compound in Bulgaria where he has a shooting range (although he said this was an “exaggeration“) . Popular but a long shot?
Alas there is no “make UKIP great again” candidacy from Raheem Kassam, he reckons UKIP is dead and is concentrating on his stateside shock-jock career. All eyes are on what is going to happen with Waters. Her brand of socialist slash EDL-lite politics would certainly be a surprise to most UKIP members…

Toxic European Parliament: Legionella Outbreak Hits Hot Water

The EU Parliament’s Directorate-General for Infrastructure and Logistics has ordered the immediate closure of the distribution of warm water in Brussels and Strasbourg Members’ offices following detection of Legionella bacteria. It has happened before in 2002 – the futuristic building was only opened in 1999. The problem is the offices are empty more than half the time with water stagnating…

UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge tells Guido

“If it wasn’t so serious it would be comical. On one hand the European Union is fighting to retain control of the UKs fishing waters, yet in Brussels it cannot manage to control a little warm water to MEPs offices. With these offices only fully used half the time due to constituency work and the ridiculous monthly move to Strasbourg, the stagnating water in the Brussels pipes is a disaster waiting to happen. The Parliament here is similar to the water; infested, dangerous and cold. Roll on 2019.”

It would be terrible if all those MEPs were struck down by Legionella. One of the early symptoms is “mental confusion”. So be on the look out for MEPs exhibiting this symptom…

Bill Etheridge Pulls Out

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Bill Etheridge is the first to pull out of the the UKIP leadership race, endorsing his friend Paul Nuttall:

“I always said that if a candidate better suited to take this party forward emerged I would back down and support them. That candidate has emerged.

“Paul Nuttall is not only a personal friend and an honourable man but I believe he is the only person who can effectively unite our party after the recent well publicised problems we have suffered.

“I will be supporting Paul and giving him my 100% backing. I call on all other potential candidates to follow my example and withdraw from the race to allow Paul to go forward from here and unite our party.”

Would Suzanne or Raheem pull out if Nuttall made them a deal?

UKIP Leadership State of Play

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With Steven Woolfe out and more candidates throwing their hats into the ring, Guido brings you an update on the UKIP leadership race:

Suzanne Evans: Quietly gathering signatures for her nomination. Her suspension has lapsed, she should be a member in good standing for 28 days (we think) and thus eligible. Bookies’ favourite. Will her closeness to the Farage-hating Carswell faction cost her with the grassroots?

Paul Nuttall: Other candidates fear Nuttall will win if he stands. This Telegraph article sounds like he wants it. Though there is no noticeable effort to gather signatures, he didn’t want to run last time and will be asking himself if it’s really worth it. Dithering or not bothering at all?

Raheem Kassam: Loudly gathering the necessary signatures. Has been campaigning hard online and thinks he has enough signatures to submit the paperwork on Sunday. If Nuttall doesn’t run there is a possibility Raheem could actually do it. His price to win is tighter than Trump’s!

Peter Whittle: UKIP’s London mayoral candidate is popular in the capital. While campaigning in Witney he appeared on one of Kassam’s campaign videos and even said his rival’s slogan: “Make UKIP Great Again”, though he tells Guido he is not on Team Raheem. Also quietly gathering signatures.

Bill Etheridge: Said he’d stand unless there was somebody he could back 100%. Accused of cheating by his fiancee. Has been round the rubber chicken circuit.

David Kurten: Lower profile, tried to be nominated as UKIP’s mayoral candidate with a false London address. When Breitbart asked him how he responded to allegations of racism in UKIP he replied: “UKIP isn’t racist, I love white people!”

Suzanne, Nuttall and Raheem are the frontrunners…

UKIP Leader Runners & Riders

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After the surprise resignation of new UKIP leader Diane James, Guido brings you the latest runners and riders in UKIP’s leadership battle (odds from Betfair):

Paul Nuttall – Evens

Forever in Farage’s shadow, Nuttall has been deputy leader of UKIP for the last six years. His Liverpudlian roots could appeal to the working class north in a way that Evans or Kassam could only ever dream. The favourite after the fracas despite not yet confirming that he is standing…

Steven Woolfe – 2/1

The front runner in the last leadership contest until he forgot to submit his papers on time. Woolfe seemed to take the latest UKIP fight literally when he was in an alleged punch up with fellow MEP Mike Hookem. No longer the favourite post fracas and leaking of his talks with the Conservative Party.

Suzanne Evans – 4/1

Suzanne Evans was a  Conservative Party councillor who defected to UKIP in 2013.  Highly praised for writing UKIP’s 2015 manifesto, she was later suspended from the party for criticising a fellow candidate. Close to Carswell. Evans’s suspension has lapsed just in time for the latest contest.

Raheem Kassam – 15/1

Nigel Farage’s former chief of staff and current London editor of Breitbart, Kassam has already launched his online campaign to be leader with the slogan “Make UKIP great again” but his odds have been widening in the last few days. Most observers think he’s really running for the deputy-leader spot. The former Conservative Party activist is making a big thing of attacking “Blue Kippers”Like Nigel he’s very much a Marmite character.

Bill Etheridge – 27/1

MEP for the West Midlands and another former Conservative Party member. In the last leadership election he was accused of cheating by his fiancee when she found a half empty packet of Viagra in his car. Lad.

UKIP’s NEC is meeting this coming Monday to determine rules and timeframe…

UPDATE: Guido is told that Peter Whittle AM, UKIP’s former candidate for London mayor is also in the running (currently 27/1). A cultured fellow, if Guido’s memory serves him right he too is also a former Conservative Party member.

Bill Etheridge Speaks: “It’s Been Hard Times”

UKIP’s Bill Etheridge breaks his silence after his Viagra difficulties earlier in the week:

“It’s been hard, difficult times, people have rounded on me, there’s been attacks on me, and it’s been a tough time to get through. And now people are speculating, especially some of my good friends in the Cambridgeshire area. They’re worried about me, they’re worried I might not be able to carry on with the campaign. Today ladies and gentlemen, I have a message that I’d like to give to everybody – especially those who doubt I can carry on. Quit? Not bloody likely!”

Etheridge will be competing tonight in the Torquay hustings. The soft-scoop ice cream is a nice touch…

Viagra-Row Kipper to Give Speech on Impotence Tonight

BILL ETHERIDGE

A limp attempt at an apology from UKIP leadership candidate Bill Etheridge after his alleged infidelity and Viagra use was publicly exposed by his missus. Instead of showing a stiff upper lip, Bill is purple with rage and is calling the cops on his partner. It’ll never stand up in court…

He also says he will be giving a speech on impotence tonight:

“At the end of the day, this is a very personal issue and the posting of this on social media is in my opinion a serious breech of my privacy. That is why I have reported this matter to the police.”

“However, if my experiences does help to raise awareness and help make normative a treatment for this serious men’s health issue, then I’m happy to speak out.”

“That is why I will be making a speech on this issue tonight at the UKIP leadership hustings in Belfast.”

A bona-fide PR flop.

UKIP Leadership Contender Accused of Cheating After Fiancee Finds Viagra

BILL ETHERIDGE

The fiancee of one of UKIP’s leadership candidates has accused him of cheating after she found a half empty box of Viagra in his car. MEP Bill Etheridge’s partner Lorraine Chew last night called him a “dirty disgusting cheat” when she found this half-empty packet of little blue pills:

Just a few days ago Etheridge had tweeted to apologise to his fiancee for “neglecting” her:

It all kicked off at UKIP’s leadership hustings last night when, according to multiple witnesses, a senior UKIP activist “started screaming and shouting” at a rival camp, accusing them of re-tweeting the above image. UKIP HQ then sent messages to all involved asking them to delete their tweets about the matter because they want “a fair and decent fight”. Another leadership candidate embarrassed by links to Pfizer

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Quote of the Day

Expelled Tory MP, Richard Benyon, on the short three-day Programme Motion for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill:

“Whether you had three days, three weeks or three months debating this, you would not hear one original argument that we hadn’t otherwise heard in this process…”

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