May Swerves Boris on Backstop

Brexiteers are not coming away particularly reassured on the backstop by May’s Commons statement. A number of times May was asked directly to confirm that the backstop would be time-limited. May insisted the backstop would be temporary but refused to give a firm answer on when it would end or how the UK could escape from it. Her answer to Boris is best described as aspirational…

“As I said when we published the temporary customs arrangement proposal back in June, we set that point of the expectation that that would be completed by December 2021. One of the issues as I indicated in my statement that we are discussing with the EU is how we can ensure that we do reflect the temporary nature of the backstop… I continue to believe that what we should all be doing is working to ensure that the backstop never comes into place…”

May’s response to a question on no deal being agreed has also raised a few eyebrows:

“If it were the case that at the end of the negotiation process actually it was a no deal… then actually that would come back to this House and then we would see what position this House would take in the circumstances.”

Is she going to shift her position on no deal too?

Boris “Chuck Chequers”

 

This is what the crowd wanted to hear…

Watch/Read in Full: Boris’ Speech

Eager punters have been queuing round the block for hours ahead of Boris’ big speech at Tory Conference, with an extra tier being opened up to take the hall to its full capacity of 1,500. Here’s what they heard Boris say:

“Good afternoon my friends and fellow ConHomers.

It is great to be here in Birmingham where so many thoroughfares in the city are already named after our superb Conservative Mayor. I know this conference is going to be a staggering success because just in the last couple of days about a dozen far left momentum activists have kindly pledged their loyalty by ringing my private mobile phone. I put them straight on to Brandon. Continue reading

Naughty Boris Runs Through Field of Wheat

As Tory delegates gather in Birmingham, Boris was out and about enjoying some fresh countryside air near his Oxfordshire home this morning, with one eagle-eyed snapper even managing to capture him running through what appears to look suspiciously like a field of wheat. The farmers can’t be the only ones who aren’t too pleased about that…

Tory Members Overwhelmingly Back Boris

Tory members still overwhelmingly back Boris for leader, the latest ConHome members survey has found, with the former Foreign Secretary and Brexit winner more than ten points ahead of his nearest rival, Sajid Javid.

After a muted Telegraph column from Boris today, all eyes will be on his big ‘Chuck Chequers’ speech to Tory conference, 1pm tomorrow…

Two-Timing Boris

Boris has managed to give his exclusive “first interview since resigning” to both the BBC’s Laura K and Sky’s Beth Rigby at the same time. Watch his BBC interview here

UPDATE: It turns out Boris gave not two but three interviews in the same room which have all gone out at the same time today – ITV’s Robert Peston has got in on the act too.

Boris Backs IEA’s Alternative Brexit Plan

Boris has given his backing to the IEA’s alternative Brexit plan launched this morning, telling Channel 4 News that it is a “very good piece of work” which “shows the flaws with Chequers” and deals with some of the “difficult questions” around the Irish border.

Brexiteers have been on the back foot since Chequers because of the accusation that they did not have a credible alternative. Now they believe they do…

UPDATE: Boris tweets…

Politicians With Specs Appeal Seem More Competent

No US president since Harry Truman has regularly worn glasses in public because spin doctors believe and say it makes them look old and feeble. According to research published in the Swiss Journal of Social Psychology that is bad advice because glasses are associated with ‘success, dependability, industry and intelligence’. Psychologists have discovered voters prefer politicians in glasses because they seem intelligent and competent. The research by the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Vienna found spectacles enhance a politician’s air of competence easily and effectively, increasing their probability of electoral success. Just saying…

Boris Triggered by “Glutinous Hypocrisy” of “Bourgeois” Left-Wing Students

Boris Johnson has revealed that he wasn’t always conservative-leaning. At an awards ceremony in Washington DC last night, Boris admitted that he was actually “pretty middle of the road” until he was “triggered” at university by “bourgeois, affluent, hypocritical left-wing students”. If he thinks it was bad 30 years ago, he should try visiting one today

Current No. 10 Aide Co-Authored Boris “Dodgy Dossier”

The revelation on the front page of yesterday’s Sunday Times that a “dodgy dossier” recounting some of the more colourful aspects of Boris Johnson’s private life was doing the rounds has sparked yet more bitter recriminations within the Tory Party, with Boris supporters accusing Downing Street and CCHQ of circulating it in an attempt to take down their biggest threat. Downing Street and CCHQ have strenuously denied being behind it.

The Sunday Times named Nick Hargrave, the former deputy head of May’s policy unit, as the author of the dossier in 2016. Hargrave quit Number 10 for Portland Communications last Autumn and is not implicated in the recent distribution of the dossier.

However, Guido understands that Hargrave in fact prepared the dossier under the guidance of Alex Dawson, May’s Political Director, who is still in place in Number 10 today. Dawson and Hargrave are believed to have also prepared dossiers on several other potential candidates in the 2016 leadership election. This was at the same time that May was calling on other candidates to sign “clean campaigning” pledges…

Downing Street have insisted that no-one updated or circulated the dossier, despite widespread speculation amongst the lobby that the dossier had recently been updated. Why did it suddenly resurface, last week of all weeks?

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Sajid: Boris “Absolutely Not” Islamophobic

Marr: Do you think [Boris] is Islamophobic?

Javid: No, absolutely not. Not in the slightest.

Sajid pours lukewarm to cold water on any talk of leadership…

Boris Storms Ahead of Rivals

Number 10 will be spluttering into their cornflakes this morning after seeing the latest ConHome survey. Boris has stormed ahead of all the other contenders with 35% of Tory Party members now backing him to be next PM, ahead of Sajid Javid on 15%. The Mogg is third on 10% while Gove is languishing in fourth with 6%.  Another boost for Boris as he ramps up the pressure on Chequers…

Norway Is No Way Out of Euro Limbo


The “Norway” option of staying in the EEA was one of the first to be ruled out after the referendum – among other issues it doesn’t allow the UK to end free movement and would mean the UK remaining subject to vast swathes of EU law in perpetuity. Although much the same could be said about Chequers…

However, the suggestion of using the EEA as a staging post during the transition period has regained some traction after senior Tory MP Nick Boles made a renewed call over the weekend for the UK to seek temporary membership of the EEA, to give the government time to negotiate a new relationship with the EU and avoid what he calls the “humiliation” of Chequers. Boles is very close to Michael Gove – has the Environment Secretary gone cold on Chequers after taking the heat from angry local party members over the summer break?

It won’t work for several reasons. If the UK had announced it was seeking to maintain EEA membership two years ago, it’s possible that the EU would have agreed to it. At this stage in the negotiations it’s unlikely the EU will accept any EEA-style deal unless the UK also commits to remaining in the customs union. As we’ve seen time and time again in the negotiations, the EU simply pockets any British concessions and then continues demanding more…

And while Boles’ well-intentioned plan only views the EEA as a short-term stop, many Brexiteers are understandably worried that once the UK gets in, the inertia of the EEA will prove too great to overcome and Britain will end up staying in on a permanent basis, with all the disadvantages that brings. If the Brexit negotiations are still a mess after March next year, that will at least be a strong incentive for both sides to keep negotiating until a sustainable long-term solution is found. Once Britain has been safely bound up in the trap of the EEA, the EU will have no incentive to come back to the table…

As Boris’ column this morning pointed out, there are still over two years until the end of the transition period – time which can be used to negotiate a better alternative to Chequers. With the exception of the Irish backstop, the Withdrawal Agreement itself should not lock the UK in to any particular type of future relationship. Provided the UK does not give in to the EU’s demands on the Irish backstop, there is no need to make a desperate dash for the EEA option. It’s not too late to put a comprehensive Canada-plus deal back on the table…

Momentum Twitter Poll Backfires

Momentum, like most of SW1, seems to have severely underestimated Boris and have engaged in a stunt that has only served to highlight his popularity. Taking notes from Brandon Lewis?

After well over 17,000 votes, 80% of respondents say the whip shouldn’t be withdrawn from Boris. You can still vote in the twitter poll here…

BBC Politics Homepage: Boris 6 – 0 Corbyn

Six anti-Boris stories on the BBC Politics homepage this afternoon. Not one mention of Corbyn’s Munich Massacre row, despite it leading on other broadcasters, featuring in every newspaper, and Corbyn recording a piece to camera about it today.

The BBC website isn’t even pretending to be impartial now.

Ken: Boris Must Be Suspended

That’s it, the Boris story has surely peaked…

Met: No, Obviously Boris’ Comments Are Not A Criminal Offence

After extremist linked Assad fan Lord Sheikh referred Boris’s Telegraph column to the Conservative Party, some other idiots are talking about referring him to the Metropolitan Police.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has had to confirm that Boris Johnson’s comments obviously do not “reach the bar” for a criminal offence.

Everyone needs to get a grip.

Brandon Knifes Boris

Just when the Boris / burka story was dying down, Brandon Lewis appears to have deliberately fanned the flames by sending this tweet, creating another round of headlines against the Tories. It is hard to see Lewis’ tweet as anything other than virtue signalling as he continues to court Remainers to further his own ambitions. Given Lewis is lucky to still be in post following pair-gate, Tory colleagues might expect a little more loyalty from their chairman.

Once again it falls to Guido to point out that the Boris row is largely confected outrage from his enemies. Boris’ article explicitly called for the burka not to be banned, yet Corbynistas and Remainers are deliberately ignoring this and smearing him as some far right puppet of Steve Bannon. Other than Lewis, the only Tories to have criticised him are ultra-Remainers Heidi Allen and Jonathan Djanogly. Why? Because the vast majority of Tory MPs agree with Boris that they don’t like the burka, but also oppose a ban. The vast majority of Labour MPs haven’t publicly criticised him. Why? Because they don’t like the burka, but oppose a ban as well. Boris’ view, critical of the burka, but opposing a ban, is shared by pretty much all liberal, moderate people in Westminster.

You don’t need to be a pollster to know that Boris’ position is – obviously – far more liberal than the view of the country, which wants to follow EU countries like France, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy in taking legislative action against face veils. The media / leftie virtue signalling against Boris is only going to stoke illiberal sentiment among the population, who will consider the hand-wringing to be typical out of touch faux outrage. You’d expect this from the likes of Owen Jones, but perhaps the Tory party chairman should know better.

Tory Members Want PM Boris as Gove’s Popularity Plummets

Boris Johnson has been catapulted into first place in the ConHome Tory leadership survey of members following his resignation over Chequers. His rating has quadrupled as members come to the conclusion he is the only leader who can deliver a real Brexit.[…] Read the rest

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Dame Laura Cox report into Pestminster slams Bercow and his team…

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