Dominic Cummings: Backstop Is Not Permanent

The Remainer-stuffed Commons Privileges Committee has found former Vote Leave Director Dominic Cummings in contempt of Parliament for not accepting an invitation to appear before a Select Committee. This morning he responded in a new blog eviscerating their claims and exposing their highly partisan attitude.

In the same blog, Cummings revealed his thinking on May’s deal…

“Don’t worry about the so-called ‘permanent’ commitments this historically abysmal Cabinet are trying to make on our behalf. They are not ‘permanent’ and a serious government — one not cowed by officials and their bullshit ‘legal advice’ with which they have herded ministers like sheep — will dispense with these commitments and any domestic law enforcing them.”

In other words… back the deal and we’ll escape later…

High Speed Fail: Now California Ditches HS2 Equivalent

The writing is increasingly on the wall for the ludicrously expensive HS2 scheme after a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation this week revealed the ballooning cost of the white elephant project, with fears that the final bill could be as high as £100 billion. The investigation claimed that ministers have already secretly increased HS2’s budget allocation to £6 billion a year. Almost as much as the entire rest of the rail network put together…

There was another blow to HS2’s prospects this week from across the Atlantic as California decided to put the brakes on its own $77 billion high speed rail white elephant. It has been plagued by all the same budget issues as HS2, it is already $44 billion over budget and 13 years behind schedule…

Intriguingly, Guido has got wind that one of the ways Dominic Cummings has been keeping himself busy since the referendum is by making a number of secretive trips to California and reporting back to ministers and senior officials about Silicon Valley’s now successful efforts to lobby against high-speed rail and focus on autonomous vehicles instead. Cummings has a point – polling consistently shows that binning HS2 would be hugely popular with swing voters in marginal constituencies…

Will the post-May/Hammond Government take the chance to emulate California and actually do something which is both very popular and would save tens of billions? Surely not, Sir Humphrey will never allow so many dodgy contracts to be cancelled…

Dominic Cummings’ Real-Life Victory Speech

After much anticipation, Brexit: The Uncivil War aired last night, predictably sending the usual suspects like Carole Cadwalladr into indignant Twitter froths. Those who were actually there (including two thirds of the current Guido newsroom) enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch’s riveting performance as Dominic Cummings, even if many of the broader details of the campaign were inevitably glossed over in the limited space of 90 minutes. It was a drama, not a documentary…

Guido brings you the real-life version of Dom’s iconic victory speech, complete with chants of “taking back control” and the ceiling tile punch. Although Guido can confirm that Dom definitely stayed around to celebrate rather than slinking off alone…

Whistleblower Wylie Pocketed $100,000 From Trudeau Despite Telling Collins He Had No Clients

Fans of political dramas will be thrilled by the news that they will also have a Ron Howard-produced biopic of Chris Wylie – “the young gay visionary who created Cambridge Analytica” – to look forward to following Channel 4’s Brexit drama next month. Ron’s blurb says he’s setting out to tell the “true story of Chris Wylie”, Guido thought he would give Ron a little help with piecing some more of the facts together:

As Guido detailed last month, far from turning his back on illicit data activities after leaving Cambridge Analytica, Chris Wylie was busy attempting to flog the “psychographic microtargeting” services of his own company Eunoia Technologies to all and sundry, with little success. Wylie’s snake oil had already been turned down by Donald Trump and the Remain campaign before his pitch to Dominic Cummings flopped too…

Given this litany of failed attempts to monetise his dubious data practices, Damian Collins won’t have been too surprised when Wylie told him at the DCMS Committee on 27th March this year that he hadn’t “been able to benefit” himself from using the data on other projects outside Cambridge Analytica. Not for want of trying…

“I didn’t do any contracts or any, you know, work with that data… I haven’t worked with any clients that data was used for… that data got deleted, I believe, in 2015 on my end.”

Yet Wylie was still trying to peddle his voter-targeting techniques to Cummings in January 2016, and Facebook said that Wylie didn’t certify to them that he had deleted the data until August 2016. The 2015 date is almost certainly wrong…

And just one week before his appearance at the DCMS Committee, a major story broke in Wylie’s native Canada that in 2016 Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party had awarded a C$100,000 (£58,000) contract – to Chris Wylie and Eunoia TechnologiesSomehow Carole Cadwalladr’s prize-winning investigative skills entirely missed that one…

After media pressure in Canada, Trudeau’s Liberal Party was forced to release a statement confirming that Wylie’s firm had received C$100,000 of Canadian taxpayers’ money to conduct a “pilot project” for the party’s research bureau, including “setting up social media monitoring tools” and to “design and organize several national samples of Canadians to explore responses to Government policy priorities and other issues of national importance”. Which sounds remarkably similar to the psychological voter profiling and micro-targeting techniques Wylie was trying to tout elsewhere…

  • Was Wylie being straight with Collins when he told him he hadn’t “worked with any clients” or done “any contracts” with the data?
  • Was Wylie being straight with the Canadian Parliament when he told them his work hadn’t involved any targeting of voters, despite Liberal Party insiders saying that he had been trying to push micro-targeting techniques to the party for almost a decade?
  • Was Carole completely unaware of any of this as she was busy lionising him in the British press?

In fact, in his failed pitch to Vote Leave, Wylie told Cummings: “some of us will be in Ottowa this month working on a similar project for a major Canadian political party”. Wylie’s proposal to Cummings detailed a number of a data crimes he planned to commit including for his company to retain psychographic algorithms based on Vote Leave’s data “for future commercial applications”. Did Wylie’s work for Trudeau’s party involve “similar” breaches of data protection laws?

These are serious questions for Damian Collins, the ICO and the British media to ask. By his own admission, if Wylie did any work for clients using models built using the Facebook data, even if it wasn’t directly using the data itself, he is guilty of openly misleading Parliament. At least he didn’t walk away entirely empty-handed after all his hard work obtaining the illicit data in the first place…

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Cummings Was Right

Around the time of the referendum Guido recalls that Dominic Cummings feared that if the old school Eurosceptics got control of the Leave campaign it would end up being about “some global Britain bollocks”.

He subsequently wrote in a blog post following the referendum that a subset of the ERG “were an asset to Remain in the referendum and they’ve helped sink a viable policy since. A party that treats this faction (or Dominic Grieve) as a serious authority on the law deserves everything it gets.”

This picture kind of illustrates his point, the optics are terrible. Successful campaigns have to be seen to own the future.

First Look: Channel 4’s Brexit Drama

Channel 4 have released a teaser trailer for their upcoming Brexit drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Vote Leave supremo Dominic Cummings. The trailer doesn’t necessarily calm the suspicions that this is going to be more of a Cadwalladr-inspired techno-conspiracy than a serious political drama. Will they have to dramatically rewrite their script after the Information Commissioner blew apart Carole’s conspiracies today?

Cummings Warns of the Consequences of a Second Referendum

Dominic Cummings says a second referendum would smash the party system…

“… the logical corollary will be to morph into a new party and fight the next election ‘to implement the promises we made in the referendum because the MPs have proved they can’t be trusted’. “

How Dominic Cummings Cost Taxpayers £20 Billion

Months ago Dominic Cummings was shopping around polling that he had done showing that the Tories could win the next election almost only by conceding the NHS argument and splurging more money on it. Remember Boris going public on the need to spend more money on the NHS at the beginning of the year? He had seen the polling and been won over by the argument. Which of course also conveniently solved that exhortion-on-the-side-of-a-bus problem for Boris which obstructed, like a stalled bus, the path to him becoming PM. Theresa May today calling the £20 billion NHS spending hike “a Brexit dividend” paves the way for Boris to argue at either a leadership hustings or a general election that the government has delivered on the exhortion he made. That’s why he’s happy…

Jeremy Hunt of course wanted the money, as all Health Secretaries do, whatever he spins about threatening to resign it wasn’t his pleading alone that won the day. Brexiters in government are being bought off by Theresa May, Leave-backing ministers have consistently demanded that the Brexit dividend be spent on the NHS. Given the PM is about to deliberately deliver the de minimis Brexit possible consistent with actually exiting the EU, giving Leavers in government a win to point at is a necessary lubricant for the shafting they are about to get. Whatever your view of the likely magnitude of the Brexit dividend it is clear that it will not be reaped for a good few years yet. This NHS splurge is about politics and will be funded by increased borrowing and delaying the balancing of the budget for a generation. Electorally it takes away Corbyn’s best card, out-flanking him on spending on the NHS…

The Conservative Party in parliament and in the country will swallow it because they would privatise their grandmothers to stop Corbyn and McDonnell getting into Downing Street. Cummings is now one step closer to being chief-of-staff to Prime Minister Boris… or Gove.

Cummings Threatens Commons Poster Protest

John Bercow has entertained the ridiculous charade of grandstanding Remoaner Damian Collins attempting to compel Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings to come to his committee, allowing a debate on the great pressing issue of our nation tomorrow. Guido is reliably informed that Cummings is threatening to mount some form of protest from the public gallery. One suggestion being  considered, inspired by the epic CBI ‘voice of Brussels’ stunt during the referendum, is that Cummings could unveil a banner during the debate which says “Where the f**k is our £350 million a week for the NHS?” Wouldn’t be the first time he’s hijacked the Six O’Clock News with Vote Leave’s core message…

Cummings to Collins

Dominic Cummings tells Damian Collins:

“You talk of ‘contempt of Parliament’. You seem unaware that most of the country feels contempt for Parliament and this contempt is growing.”

Cummings Calls Collins’ Bluff

As grandstanding Remoaner and DCMS select committee chair Damian Collins fires off another grandiose letter to Dom Cummings threatening to send the men in tights round, the Vote Leave chief responds:

If you had wanted my evidence you would have cooperated over dates. You actually wanted to issue threats, watch me give in, then get higher audiences for your grandstanding. I’m calling your bluff. Your threats are as empty as those from May/Hammond/DD to the EU. Say what you like, I will not come to your committee regardless of how many letters you send or whether you send characters in fancy dress to hand me papers.

As Guido has written previously, the House’s power to punish non-MPs for contempt is untested in the modern age, it would probably fall foul of human rights legislation. In theory Cummings could be summonsed to the bar of the House to be reprimanded or imprisoned. The House of Commons last used its power to fine in 1666…

Cummings also has a warning for the Brexit-hating DCMS committee and other ultra-Remainer MPs:

I’m told many of your committee support the Adonis/Mandelson/Campbell/Grieve/Goldman Sachs/FT/CBI campaign for a rematch against the country. Do you know what Vote Leave 2 would feel like for the MPs who vote for that (and donors who fund it)? It would feel like having Lawrence Taylor chasing you and smashing you into the ground over and over and over again. Vote Leave 2 would not involve me — nobody will make that mistake again — but I know what it would feel like for every MP who votes for a rematch against the public. 

One of the mistakes Brexiters made was letting Vote Leave stop campaigning…

7 Cummings Truth Bullets For Brexiter Tory MPs

Every Brexiter MP and Cabinet minister should be thinking hard about Vote Leave chief Dominic Cummings’ assessment of how Brexit is going this morning. Here are the seven key truth bullets…

Number 10 has botched the Article 50 process and made no serious preparations to leave the EU:

“The government’s nominal policy, which it put in its manifesto and has repeated many times, is to leave the Single Market and Customs Union and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. This requires preparing to be a ‘third country’ for the purposes of EU law. It requires building all the infrastructure and facilities that are normal around the world to manage trade. This process should have started BEFORE triggering A50 but the government has irretrievably botched this. Having botched it, it could have partially recovered its blunder by starting to do it afterwards. No such action has been taken.

Whitehall’s real preparations are for the continuation of EU law and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. The expectation is that MPs will end up accepting the terrible agreement as voting it down would be to invite chaos. In short, the state has made no preparations to leave and plans to make no preparations to leave even after leaving.”

The government’s promises on Ireland have made the negotiation impossible:

“The Government promised in the December agreement to do a number of things that are logically, legally and practically incompatible including leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, avoiding ‘friction’ and changing nothing around the Irish border (as defined by the EU), and having no border in the Irish Sea.”

None of the customs options on the table cut it:

“All this contributes to current delusional arguments over supposed ‘models’ (hybrid/max fac etc) that even on their own terms cannot solve the problem of multiple incompatible promises. ‘Compromise proposals’ such as that from Boles which assume the existence of ‘third country’ planning are just more delusions.”

Brexiter Tories have chickened out of forcing May to pursue a proper Brexit:

“Eurosceptics are full of shit and threats they don’t deliver, they say in No10, and on this at least they have a point.”

The way things are going, Brexit is not going to mean Brexit:

“The Government effectively has no credible policy and the whole world knows it… It now thinks its survival requires surrender, it thinks that admitting this risks its survival, it thinks that the MPs can be bullshi*tted by clever drafting from officials, and that once Leave MPs and donors — you guys — are ordering your champagne in the autumn for your parties on 30 March 2019 you will balk at bringing down the Government when you finally have to face that you’ve been conned.”

That is only going to help Corbyn become PM:

“Ask yourselves: what happens when the country sees you’ve simultaneously a) ‘handed over tens of billions for fuck all’ as they’ll say in focus groups (which the UK had no liability to pay), b) failed to do anything about unskilled immigration, c) persecuted the high skilled immigrants, such as scientists, who the public wants you to be MORE welcoming to, and d) failed to deliver on the nation’s Number One priority — funding for the NHS which is about to have a very high profile anniversary? And what happens if May staggers to 30 March 2019 and, as Barwell is floating with some of you, they then dig in to fight the 2022 campaign?…  If you go into the 2022 campaign after five years of this and the contest is Tory promises versus Corbyn promises, you will be maximising the odds of Corbyn as PM.”

Brexiters have only themselves to blame:

“Yes it’s true that May, Hammond, Heywood and Robbins are Remain and have screwed it up but you’re deluded if you think you’ll be able to blame the debacle just on them. Whitehall is better at the blame game than you are, officials are completely dominant in this government, ministers have chosen to put Heywood/Robbins in charge, and YOU will get most of the blame from the public. The sooner you internalise these facts and face reality, the better for the country and you.”

Tory Brexiters have come to the conclusion that they should just lump it, accept the way things are going and plod on to a middling Brexit. MPs won’t like it, but Cummings is right…

Cummings Filing Formal Complaint to Bar Standards Board About Jolyon

Popcorn alert: Dominic Cummings is filing a formal complaint to the Bar Standards Board about Jolyon Maugham, the mad Remainer QC who he brands “a disgrace to the bar”. He writes:

It’s been suggested to me that I should put in a formal complaint about the lawyer @JolyonMaugham to the Bar Standards Board. His twitter feed alone is a disgrace to the bar. He has been guilty of at least reckless falsehood. Strikes me this would be a good public service so feel free to send evidence about him to my public email and I’ll send in a formal document with help from some barristers. Public debate is badly undermined when QCs spread bullshit on the internet.

And on this subject, it was noticeable that in the hearing over a judicial review on the Electoral Commission recently all three teams were criticised by the Court: Jolyon’s, the EC’s, and VL’s. The JR won’t effect Brexit at all but it will affect future conduct in elections and the debate about reform. As I wrote in my long piece on the referendum a year ago the rules about our elections are a joke and regulators are in an impossible position (e.g the latest flap over what counts as ‘coordination’). It would be in the public interest if all three teams upgrade their lawyers for the JR in the summer so these arguments are properly made and contribute to serious reform of the whole system. (I have zero role with VL and have not been a director since early 2016 so these decisions have nothing to do with me.) 

NB. I respect @JolyonMaugham’s right to free speech and to express his political views on Twitter. Please only send examples of things that can genuinely and reasonably be seen as misconduct for a barrister such as misleading people or deliberately mistating the law. I have no interest in his politics, just his integrity and professionalism. There will be a very strict test applied by my team about what we say. Just the facts please…

Let’s see if the Board share the view of his fellow silks that Jolyon is “the biggest c*** at the English bar”…

Complaints are also being filed to the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office about the Remain campaign. Guido also understands legal letters are going in to Bindmans, the ‘campaigning’ lawyers who held that parody press conference yesterday, and the three lawyers Clare Montgomery, Helen Mountfield and Ben Silverstone threatening them with action for defamation and libel. The understanding is that the press conference wasn’t legally privileged and they aren’t covered by the barristers’ mutual fund because it was outside of court. The day the lies caught up with the lawyers…

Cummings on Seumas in Number 10

Dom Cummings unloading in an epic tweet thread:

“Brexit requires huge change so reboot Downing St/civil service or Seamus will be siting next to Heywood reviewing your tax records shortly.”

Cummings on Davis

Vote Leave’s Dom Cummings on David Davis:

“DD is manufactured exactly to specification as the perfect stooge for Heywood: thick as mince, lazy as a toad, and vain as Narcissus.”

Cummings on the Punditry

Dominic Cummings sums up scribblers…

“99% of expensive punditry is noise not signal, tune it out and think for yourself.”

Campaign Report: Day 6

Leave message: Build hospitals with money meant for EU.

vote leave money

Remain message: Lingerie shops and gap-yah outfitters back remain.

entrepreneurs In

Cut through: Vote Leave’s Dominic Cummings at the Treasury Select Committee.

Leave social media count: 327,325 likes, 36,116 followers.

Remain social media count: 355,739 likes, 24,139 followers.

Odds: Leave 7/4, Remain 4/7

Latest poll: Remain 49% (-3) Leave 39% (-4) (Ipsos MORI, phone). Poll of Polls is now Remain 53 (+1) Leave 47 (-1).

Sort It Out Campaigns

This morning’s slam-your-head-against-the-table developments:

  • Kate Hoey’s Labour Leave said to be leaving Vote Leave and joining Grassroots Out
  • Leaked emails from Vote Leave’s Labour donor John Mills blames Dominic Cummings for the fallout
  • In a complete waste of everyone’s time and energy Arron Banks has called in m’learned friends to threaten the Vote Leave board
  • Banks has twisted the knife into Vote Leave and called for Tory MPs to join them instead:

Dear Member of Parliament,

You may have read about the ongoing struggle between Leave.EU and Vote Leave.

This seems to have culminated in the leaking of an internal Vote Leave email from John Mills, the now former chairman, reported by Sam Coates in The Times today. I attach link to a full copy of this letter for your reference.

I wanted to write to you to clarify the situation and set the record straight on a number of points.

Firstly, our dealings with both Elliot and Cummings chime with the sentiments expressed in the email from John Mills. We have been subject to a number of false and defamatory briefings in the press from these two individuals, the most serious being an accusation that any Conservatives involved in our campaign would have their data stolen for UKIP.

This has led to letters being issued by Mishcon De Reya to members of the Vote Leave board, including one MP.

As a non-political campaign we have offered our support to Grassroots Out, an initiative to co-ordinate activists on the ground during the campaign, set up by two Conservative MPs. They have also been attacked.

John is an honourable man and has been involved in our cause from the very beginning. Elliot and Cummings are two of the nastiest individuals I have ever had the misfortune to meet.

John Mills was demoted as Chairman of Vote Leave shortly after writing his email. It is clear that the Labour Leave people have been treated with absolute contempt. To promote Lord Lawson in John’s place only compounds the humiliation.

Vote Leave now no has no real cross-party support, and I would urge you to consider supporting GO.

Founded by Peter Bone, Tom Pursglove and Kate Hoey, GO represents a genuine grassroots campaign. We were asked to assist along with a number of cross-party donors (including Conservatives) and were happy to do so. Vote Leave were also asked but declined to get involved.

The group recently held a cross-party rally in Kettering attended by 2,500 people.

Contrary to the slurs, Leave.EU are running a positive campaign which is not just focused on immigration but on the wider benefits of leaving the EU. We have recruited 500,000 supporters and attracted thousands of small donations from the public. Our social media operation has overtaken the Labour Party in just five months, we have literally thousands of supporters on the ground and are continuing to grow at an exponential rate day on day.

Finally, as a successful businessman I should say that I don’t think I have ever come across two individuals less equipped to run a campaign or business than Elliot and Cummings. I wouldn’t put them in charge of the local sweet shop.

Regards,

Arron Banks
Co-chairman, Leave.EU

Guido along with almost all other sympathetic and unaffiliated bystanders thinks all the Out campaigns need their heads banging together – though to be fair to Grassroots Out and the likes of Nigel Farage they are willing to work with anyone. Energy should be focused on defeating their opponents, not on the rivalry for glory. The In campaign is uninspiring and some polls – even if we should take them with a massive pinch of salt – have the Leave side ahead. The Eurosceptic media is currently doing a more effective job of exposing Cameron’s sham deal than either of the campaigns. There could be fewer than 150 days to the referendum and the campaigns at the very least need to stop attacking each other, accept whomever the Electoral Commission designates as the official campaign, then get on with getting Britain to Vote Out…

Don’t Bother Cummings! Vote Leave Uninvited From Civil Service Summit

DOMINIC

Guido has been passed a very amusing email chain showing how the civil service uninvited Vote Leave’s campaign director to give a talk about the referendum. The civil service had asked Vote Leave for a representative to speak to fast-trackers about Europe next month:

From: Thomas Barker, Civil servant
Subject: Invitation to EU conference
To: Vote Leave

I’m writing on behalf of a group of civil servants organising a conference for early February 2016. We would like to invite you, as a principle actor in the referendum debate, to take part in a discussion on the UK membership of the EU.

Vote Leave happily accepted the offer, and put forward Dom Cummings to speak on their behalf:

From: Vote Leave
Subject: Re: Invitation to EU conference
To: Thomas Barker, Civil servant

I have spoken to Matthew and our campaign director, Dominic Cummings, and they feel that – having worked in government before – Dominic would be better suited to address the leadership conference. Dominic would be delighted to participate on 9th February from approximately 4-5.30pm. I trust this is ok.

All sorted, then?

Alas not. For some strange reason, the civil servant then replied apologetically explaining that, actually, they had suddenly changed their programme and thus wouldn’t be needing Dom’s input after all:

From: Thomas Barker, Civil servant
Subject: Re: Invitation to EU conference
To: Vote Leave

Thank you for your offer to have Dominic Cummings participate in our panel discussion, following my invitation to Matthew Elliot in December. I’m conscious of Dominic’s seniority and so particularly grateful for the offer.

As the programme for the two days of the conference has come together in recent weeks, and taking on board feedback from ticket holders, we have decided to change our programme slightly. While the referendum is of interest, the organising team have decided that the programme for day one should more clearly deal with the history, context and procedural issues associated with the European institutions. This would then set the scene more clearly for day two where we will focus on specific areas of policy.

Given that we will now not have a referendum focused panel session I am writing to let you know that we can release Dominic from his obligation to speak.

I apologise for any inconvenience this change causes and not being able to get back to you sooner,

Tom

Why could the civil service possibly not want to hear what Cummings had to say? Surely nothing to do with his multiple highly scathing criticisms of… the civil service. They don’t want to hear the truth…

Vote Leave Say No Merger

dear-me

Once again the two main Leave campaigns are doing their laundry in public. Leave.EU’s Arron Banks has written to Vote Leave blaming their campaign director Dom Cummings for being “the only person standing in the way” of a merger.

“As I have said previously, the only person apparently standing in the way of a formal merger is Dominic Cummings.

[…] Read the rest

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