ITV Photo Undermines PM’s Party Denial in Commons

Congratulations to ITV, who have managed to win the race to leak the first Partygate photo ahead of the Sue Gray publication. The leaked snaps show the PM giving a toast to Lee Cain at his leaving do on November 13, behind a table-full of wine, gin and fizz. The photo itself is hardly a Great Gatsby-level party, however it’s the straight-up denial of any party on that date given in the Commons six months ago that may prove tricky to navigate.

Asked by Labour MP Catherine West “Will the Prime Minister tell the House whether there was a party in Downing Street on 13 November?”, Boris straight-up replied,No, but I am sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.” He will no doubt try to argue leaving drinks are not a party. What the Standards Committee will make of that argument remains to be seen…

Meanwhile, Labour has scanned the table and given the lack of onion bhajis has pronounced this as clear evidence the PM broke the law. A conclusion the Metropolitan Police obviously didn’t share…

mdi-timer 23 May 2022 @ 16:47 23 May 2022 @ 16:47 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
NEW: PM’s Flat Denial of Cummings’s Claim of Downing Street Party in November

Catherine West, who was on the list of MPs set to be asking questions, asked a question seemingly derived from a tweet made by Dominic Cummings 14 minutes into PMQs. Either pre-arranged or prompted by the tweet. Evidence that Labour are getting nimble and better organised.

November 13 was the day Cummings left Downing Street. Caught unaware of the Cummings tweet, his answer – a flat denial – might be one Boris comes to regret…

mdi-timer 8 December 2021 @ 12:46 8 Dec 2021 @ 12:46 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Labour MPs Silent on Phone Bank Rule Breaking

Last week, Guido revealed five Labour MPs who were clearly guilty of the same rule breaking their party was levelling at Geoffrey Cox – namely using their taxpayer-funded offices for non-parliamentary work. In Cox’s case it was for a second job, in the five MPs’ cases it was for party political phone-banking. Photo evidence was provided. All five have since been quiet about the accusations, so today Guido has sent each of them questions, putting the allegations to them and asking for a response on behalf of both readers and wider taxpayers. We will let co-conspirators know next week what replies we get. In the meantime we are putting our questions in the public domain.

Sections in bold were included in the emails sent to Helen Hayes, Vicky Foxcroft and Kate Green, all of whom campaigned in the ongoing Bexley & Sidcup by-election. Sections in red were also included in the email to Kate Green, as well as Matt Western and Catherine West, who campaigned in the Batley & Spen by-election from their offices. Guido hopes for a response…

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mdi-timer 19 November 2021 @ 14:31 19 Nov 2021 @ 14:31 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
More Labour MPs Caught Red Handed Phone Banking from Parliament

As Guido pointed out this morning, Labour were quick to report Geoffrey Cox to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for his use of his parliamentary office for non-parliamentary work. A dangerous move given the parliamentary Labour Party has a culture of flouting this same rule.

Part V. Article 16 of the Members Code, as Angela Rayner tells us, insists that expenses, allowances, facilities and services provided from the public purse is always in support of their parliamentary duties” and should not “confer any undue personal or financial benefit on themselves”. Yet, Labour MPs have been using parliamentary facilities for party political by-election campaigning. Pictured here are former Parliamentary Standards Committee Chair Kate Green, Labour MP Matt Western, Catherine West, and an unknown staffer using parliamentary offices for phone banking during the Batley & Spen by-election last June. A clear violation of the rules…

More difficult for the Labour Party legally is the question of the by-election expenses which have to be declared. If Labour MPs are using their parliamentary offices, office equipment and telecommunications facilities (internet/telephones), that will have to be reported on the official election spending expenses return. The Electoral Commission’s advice is thatnotional spending will be incurred where such office space is provided free of charge or at a discount by a political party or a third party”. Under election law, the spending return has to reflect an apportionment of the notional costs, even when the resources are provided free.

Taxpayers should not in any circumstances be bearing the Labour Party’s costs in by-elections. In addition to the law, parliament’s rule as laid out in the Code of Conduct given to every new MP is very clear on this point:

The House provides various facilities and services to Members, the cost of which is either met in full or subsidised by public funds. These include, for example: accommodation, including offices and meeting rooms, research support, ICT equipment and services, catering facilities and stationery.

These facilities and services are provided in order to assist Members in their parliamentary work. They should be used appropriately, in such a way as to ensure that the reputation of the House is not put at risk. They should not be used for party political campaigning or private business activity. You must make yourself aware of the Code of Conduct which has been agreed by the House of Commons.

Parliament’s resources should not be subsidising private business conference calls for Geoffrey Cox, nor should taxpayers be funding Labour’s by-election campaign phone banking in Bexley & Sidcup or Batley & Spen. It is not one rule for Tory MPs and another for Labour MPs…  

See also: Labour MPs Caught Red Handed Using Parliamentary Offices for Phone Banking 

mdi-timer 11 November 2021 @ 15:00 11 Nov 2021 @ 15:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Starmer Admits Was “Wrong and Made a Mistake” at PMQs

The Tories will be revelling tonight after Sir Keir admitted he made a mistake when denying he’d said he wanted to the UK to be a member of the EMA post-Brexit. A statement just released from Labour Press says:

“On a number of occasions the Prime Minister has wrongly claimed that Labour wanted to join the EU’s vaccine programme. That is inaccurate and the claim has been found to be untrue.”

“This afternoon during Prime Minister’s Questions, Keir misheard the Prime Minister and assumed he was making the same false accusation again.”

“Keir accepts that, on this occasion, the Prime Minister was referring to old comments about the European Medicines Agency and Keir admits he was wrong and made a mistake in his response.”

Unfortunately, they then put their foot in it again by repeating the false claim that Labour has “never called for the UK to be in the EU vaccine programme”, which Guido and others have fact-checked previously.

Only problem with this denial and apology is that Starmer’s Shadow Minister for Europe, Catherine West, has already apologised on Monday for taking the position that the UK should join the EU’s vaccine programme. A stance Starmer still denies Labour advocated. It can’t be untrue if she publicly apologised for saying it was dumb not to join the EU’s vaccine programme.

UPDATE:  Despite Starmer’s just released denial, Hansard shows Labour’s Health Spokesperson in the Lords actually pressed the Minister on joining the EU Vaccine Scheme. It is undeniable that Starmer’s front benchers were pretty keen on the EU scheme…

mdi-timer 3 February 2021 @ 16:51 3 Feb 2021 @ 16:51 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Shadow Minister Apologises for Attacking UK’s Opt-Out of EU Vaccine Scheme

Last week Sir Keir found himself on sticky ground as he tried claiming Labour had never called for the UK to participate in the EU vaccine scheme. Guido immediately pulled him up on this re-writing of history, not least because shadow cabinet member Catherine West had tweeted last year that the decision to opt-out was “dumber and dumber”. She’s now finally apologised and deleted the tweet:

Guido struggles to believe this climb down from the shadow Europe minister is entirely of her own volition…

There are still plenty who have not taken a bite of humble pie cake and done the same.

Just a small sample, there was a heck-of-a-lot of lofty editorialising which will embarrass the authors, they should apologise or at least correct the record. Guido does not want to have to do it for them…

mdi-timer 1 February 2021 @ 09:35 1 Feb 2021 @ 09:35 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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