Chuka Umunna has emailed supporters this morning claiming “Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said that the Government wouldn’t pay a penny in a divorce settlement – Europe could go and whistle, he said”. This is a lie that keeps being repeated by hardline Remainers.
This is what Boris said, from Hansard: “the sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate, and I think that to “go whistle” is an entirely appropriate expression”. Very clearly he says the EU can “go whistle” for “extortionate” … “sums that I have seen that they propose” (which were the reports of €100 billion at the time). All along Boris has said Britain will pay what it owes. In August he said: “Of course we will meet our obligations. We are law-abiding, bill-paying people. We certainly have to meet our obligations”. Chuka’s claim that Boris said we “wouldn’t pay a penny” is a straight lie…
The Mail on Sunday and the Observer’sCarole Cadwalladr seem to believe Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and the Legatum Institute conspired with Putin and the Russian state to deliver Brexit. There are more than a few problems with this theory, though Guido is going to focus on the most obvious: Boris, Gove and Legatum are all staunch critics of Putin and Russia. Anyone who listens to these Gove comments from 2015, in which he rails against Putin and Russian money “subverting” the West, can be in no doubt as to his view.
“You see the influence of Russian agency and Russian money. We should not underestimate the extent to which Putin and those behind him are seeking to throw off balance and to subvert everything that we’re doing… His aim is to divide, to destabilise, and if not necessarily to conquer, at least to consolidate and advance. And inside Russia the widespread view of the Russian people is that Putin is right and the West is seeking to keep Russia down and to divide and to weaken. And for that reason we need to be sensitive to where Russian public opinion is but also vigilant about the threat. Now what does that mean we need to do in terms of our security and defence profile? The answer to that is several steps above my pay grade. But I don’t believe that any of us for a moment should be naive about what Putin is interested in or fall for some of the interpretations we might get on Russia Today or elsewhere about what his real intentions are.”
Boris meanwhile is on the record condemning Putin as a “ruthless and manipulative tyrant” who has been “illegally occupying parts of Ukraine”, adding “Putin’s proxy army was almost certainly guilty of killing the passengers on the Malaysia Airlines jet that came down in eastern Ukraine” and “he has questions to answer about the death of Alexander Litvinenko”.
As for the Legatum Institute, the focus of the latest Remainer conspiracies, as Mark Wallace notes they have a long record of opposing Putin and employed Anne Applebaum, one of the leading anti-Putin voices around. Legatum was even condemned by Russia Today for anti-Kremlin bias. Which kind of ruins the story.
Perhaps all this was an elaborate double bluff. Or it could be, as the FT’s ultra-Remainer editor Lionel Barber concludes, “a stretch”…
UPDATE: Eurosceptic source: “The idea of Gove and Boris as agents of Putin is about as believable as Geordie Greig’s claim to be an impartial editor offering a clear eyed view of Brexit.”
Bang on from Gove, who gave Marr a passionate defence of Boris in the wake of increasingly hysterical point-scoring by his enemies. Gove argued:
“It’s plain wrong for us to try to find fault with democrats when the real responsibility is to say to the Iranian regime: you are a serial abuser of human rights, you are the principal sponsor of terrorism, you have blood on your hands in Syria, your responsibility is to insist that this British citizen is at liberty. We play their game, we play into the extremists’ hands if we do anything other than show solidarity in the face of their abuse of human rights.”
Look at those losing their minds about Boris this week: George Osborne’s Evening Standard, the Guardian, the Mirror, the Times, Jeremy Corbyn, Sadiq Khan, ultra Remain MPs and journalists. They are ignoring that Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s husband, has said: “It’s not in Nazanin’s interests to have the Foreign Secretary battling for his job”. And yet Boris’ political enemies are cynically trying to make the whole story about his career rather than Nazanin. They are more interested in attacking Boris than getting her home…
Guido understands Boris has hired Number 10 spinner Lee Cain as his new media SpAd. Cain is a former Fleet Street journalist so he gets news, he’s popular with the Lobby, is a big Brexiter and knows BoJo from his days running the broadcast operation at Vote Leave. Also a move which shows the relationship between Number 10 and the Boris camp is perhaps better than some have suggested. Good hire for Boris and good to see another big job for a Leaver…
“You are loved, you are welcome, your rights will be protected whatever happens. We will make sure that we will continue to be open and welcoming to those from Poland who want to live and come and make their lives here.”
Probably the strongest message yet from a Cabinet minister to EU citizens and scaremongering Remainers.
Boris and Gove on board at the moment but expect Brexiter backbenchers to oppose the ECJ and new EU rules during the transition. As Guido reported back in June, most Leavers are ok with a two year interim period so long as the end state is a full, clean Brexit outside of all the institutions of the EU. That remains the case tonight…
Today’s Telegraph and Sun run quotes from anonymous “allies” of Boris calling for Philip Hammond to be sacked and claiming BoJo will “just say no” if Theresa May attempts to demote him. Boris is livid about these stories and says they have not been sanctioned by him and do not represent his views. In a furious tirade on the Tory MPs’ WhatsApp group last night, Johnson said he is “fed up to the back teeth” with anonymous “allies” briefing the press purportedly on his behalf:
“I do not know who these people are. I do not know if they are really my friends and allies or if they represent some sinister band of imposters. I heartily disagree with the sense, tone and spirit of what they are quoted as saying. Whoever they are they do not speak for me”
MPs who aren’t in the room with Boris are often appearing in print as his “allies”, claiming to speak for him. More often than not recently they are landing him in hot water, hence his frustration vented on WhatsApp. His declaration that “they do not speak for me” is as much as anything a plea to the Lobby not to report the views of excitable backbenchers as his own. Boris needs to take back control of his supporters…
Another ‘interesting’ take from Robert Peston, who writes: “the life-or-death question for May is whether Shapps and Johnson are in cahoots”. He claims Shapps met with Boris’ team a few weeks ago to “discuss matters”. A Tory source says this is “totally fabricated, an obvious smear”. Jake Berry, who is named in Peston’s story, says it is “fake news”. Senior May allies say Boris is not plotting any challenge with Shapps. Who briefed Pesto?
Boris has managed to win over one of the most ardent remain camapigners – his father Stanley. The former Tory MEP who once headed the European Commission’s Environmental Action Programme has been won over by his son’s arguments and Juncker’s over the top speech outling his vision for a pan-European government. Writing for BrexitCentral he says
For me the critical moment came a couple of weeks ago when EU Commission President Juncker gave his State of the Union address to the European Parliament. The vision he presented of an EU with a single government, and with directly-elected EU ministers with EU-wide responsibilities, including finance and defence, was quite simply – it seemed to me – totally over the top.
Up until then, I was still ready to argue that if you wanted to steer the ship in a different direction, the best thing surely was to stay on board and try to seize control of the steering wheel. In other words, fight from within for change.
But the ship metaphor doesn’t really work. The train metaphor is a better reflection of reality. Mr Juncker’s Federal Express is heading down the track at an ever-increasing speed in a direction we really don’t want to go. Even if Britain stayed on board, I doubt if we would be able to change the points on the track ahead, or even slow the train down.
Boris, I have to say (but I would, wouldn’t I?), wrote a brilliant 4,200-word article in the Daily Telegraph pointing all this out at more or less the same time that Mr Juncker was giving that unfortunate speech. Boris argued that for 40 years Britain has been trying to nudge the EU towards a different destiny and on the whole we have not had much luck.
The time has come to bail out, he asserted. I agree. We may argue about the length of the transition or ‘implementation’ period but there cannot surely be any longer any doubt what the ‘end-state’must be.
So that just leaves his sister Rachel, who has swung her vote to the LibDems, to be won over by the famously persuasive powers of Boris…
As our hearts go out to Las Vegas today we are reminded once again of the attack that took place here only a few months ago, on innocent and music-loving young people. And if there is a message to our American friends it is this: that they will come through it and they will come back from it stronger.
Because this city has shown that nothing and no one can bow the indomitable spirit of the people of Manchester, which in recent years has reinvented itself as the great thrumming engine of the northern powerhouse.
With its vast potential to generate jobs in finance, in academia, in journalism and the arts – and that’s just the ones held by George Osborne Continue reading →
At the weekend Hammond and Rudd bombed in a focus group of Tory voters. Now their net satisfaction ratings on ConHome have taken a plunge – Hammond is down 14 points to minus 37 and Rudd is down a huge 20 points to minus 9. Crystal clear what Tory members think of their attempts to water down Brexit.
Theresa May declined to say that Boris is unsackable on Marr this morning. It would be just as relevant to ask if Philip Hammond is unsackable – the Chancellor has consistently been more at odds with government policy than Boris. Hammond wants a five year transition, May and Boris want two years. Hammond wants an EEA minus model, May and Boris don’t. Is it really Boris who is out of line with policy, or is it Hammond?
Full credit to Boris for recalling a Kipling poem, Guido has long struggled trying to recall “If” at appropriate moments. The ambassador was unamused and considered the moment inappropriate. Channel 4 and The Guardian are trying to work it up into a full international gaffe.[…] Read the rest