Cummings Doorstepped… Again

Keeping up the unprecedented practice of doorstepping a backroom advisor, Reuters went to Dominic Cummings’s house this morning who responded in his usual blunt way; saying “you guys need to get out of London – go and talk to people who aren’t rich remainers”. Watch above…

Dominic Cummings Hectors The Rebels

The HuffPo have reported that during this afternoon’s No. 10 meeting with rebel Tory MPs, Dominic Cummings “hectored [them] for an extended period of time“, before going on to say:

“I don’t know who any of you are!”

Foreign Office Spending £500,000 on Trade Policy Training

While Civil Servants have been dragging their feet when it comes to Brexit, the Foreign Office has notoriously been the worst when it comes to accepting the result of the referendum. However, it appears that with Boris Johnson now in Downing Street and Dominic Raab in charge the penny has finally dropped at the FCO that Britain is leaving the EU on October 31. The foreign office’s mandarins realise that after 46 years they will once again be able to unilaterally decide Britain’s trade policy. In preparation the department is procuring £500,000 of training in ‘Advanced Trade Policy’. Better late than never…

The winner of the contract will need to “Design and deliver a bespoke, class-room based, Advanced Trade Policy (ATP) training programme” in order to “to ensure civil servants improve their trade policy expertise” and will endure for two years following its award. Unsurprisingly, the FCO has confirmed the contract is not being financed by EU funds…

UPDATE: FCO press office insist this is part of a continuing programme of training pointing to this tender which closed in January.

Dominic Cummings Speaks

Sky News were out with the cameras to doorstep Dominic Cummings this morning, Boris’s top adviser sportingly gave a brief but polite interview – considerably more so than many elected politicians. “Mr Grieve will see what he is right about…”

Cummings Orders SpAds to Take Back Control of Whitehall

Contrary to speculation last night, the much anticipated early morning meeting with Dominic Cummings did not turn out to be a cull of Remainer SpAds. Instead SpAds were given their “marching orders” to go back to their Departments and knock them into shape for Brexit, and warned that Philip Hammond/Greg Clark-style anti-Brexit antics would not be tolerated. Taking back control of Whitehall…

SpAds have been instructed to interrogate their Departments’ levels of no-deal readiness and report any issues back to Downing Street sooner rather than later. Any notion that Downing Street isn’t taking no deal preparations 100% seriously is out the window now.

Meanwhile Remainers’ latest idea to try to stop No Deal is to attempt to force an election – which Boris can delay until November anyway – and then get Mark Sedwill to ask Boris nicely not to go through with No Deal. Cummings will be quaking in his boots…

Here’s the SpAd list as it stands:

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Cummings Should Be Given More Power

Tony Blair gave Alastair Campbell and Johnathan Powell the official power to order civil servants around via an “Order in Council”. For the avoidance of doubt and to ensure the bureaucrats have certainty about the serious intent of the new government, Dominic Cummings should be given the same authority…

Boris Bringing Back Dominic Cummings

Vote Leave mastermind Dominic Cummings is set for a sensational return to government as a senior adviser to Boris Johnson. He met with Boris to outline his ideas weeks ago. The civil service will be wetting themselves about this…

UPDATE: All the right people are not happy at all…

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.

[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Boris as Hulk…

‘Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them. Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be – and that is the case for this country. We will come out on October 31 and we will get it done.’

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