Meet the Candidates: Team Saj

Guido brings you another one of the teams behind the Tory leadership hopefuls – this time it’s Sajid Javid who is hoping to come through the chaos as the compromise candidate. Sajid was flying high as the front-runner last summer. However his star has waned as Brexit has taken over the agenda. His unexpected decision to vote for remaining in the EU three years ago – despite once being an outspoken Eurosceptic – fatally undermined his hitherto Thatcherite brand with a substantial section of the Tory membership and will not be forgotten. Can ‘The Saj’ revitalise his leadership hopes now?

Sajid’s long-serving former SpAd Nick King is back and heavily involved, alongside his work at the Centre for Policy Studies. Sajid also has an able team of current SpAds behind him, including yet another Hanbury connection in the form of Olivia Robey as well as ex-ConservativeHome / ex-CCHQ operator Sam Coates… who very usefully knows the contours of the Tory rank and file well.

There’s also a Vote Leave connection – Sajid has snapped up former Vote Leave and TaxPayers’ Alliance Chief Executive Matthew Elliott who is providing informal advice at this stage. Guido understands that Team Saj has also recently been bolstered by the arrival of CCHQ’s former Head of Media Monitoring and meme guru Gareth Milner. Like Nick King he’s also splitting his time between Team Saj and the CPS…

On the Parliamentary side, Rob Halfon is coordinating support for Javid amongst MPs, while ministers Chris Skidmore and John Glen are also Saj supporters. Sajid will be hoping the Brexiteers take each other out, allowing him to come through as the compromise candidate with the best free marketeer credentials…


Social media support: Avid 4 Javid hasn’t quite hit the heights of Ready for Raab yet but has 218 loyal followers, Sajid himself has an impressive 112k followers and his Facebook has 14k.
Mainstream media support: Tim Montgomerie publicly declared his support for Javid last year, the Home Secretary will also be looking for support from law-and-order focused papers like the Daily Mail now they’ve gone soft on Brexit.
ConservativeHome members survey: 5.4% (5th)
YouGov public recognition: 35% (5th)
PaddyPower odds: 11/1 (5th=)

Amidst Calls for CEO to Resign, Electoral Commission Appeals High Court Ruling

The Electoral Commission are appealing after their humiliating defeat in the High Court last week. They maintain that the advice they gave regarding the ability of Vote Leave to donate to other campaigns was correct. If they win this appeal then Vote Leave acted properly on their advice, if they lose it confirms they gave dodgy advice during the referendum. Either way this shows up the Electoral Commission to be an utter shambles.

Vote Leave boss Matthew Elliott has called on the Electoral Commission’s CEO Claire Bassett to “at the very least” consider her position:

“Leggatt’s judgement last week would drive a coach and horses through electoral law, so it’s understandable that the Electoral Commission is appealing it. But it also marked a humiliating defeat for the Commission, who were shown to have given duff advice to Vote Leave.

Along with the other Commission shenanigans of recent years, this whole situation raises questions about whether they are fit for purpose. At the very least, Claire Bassett should be considering her position.”

The call for heads to roll at the Electoral Commission is cross party…

Hope Won Over Fear

Leave campaign chief Matthew Elliott looks forward…

Vote Leave Boss Matthew Elliott Joins Legatum Institute

Vote Leave boss and EU referendum mastermind Matthew Elliott is joining the Legatum Institute. Elliott joins as a Senior Fellow and will work on the “progress and possibilities of a UK-US trade deal and exploring and researching the rise of Populism abroad, with special focus on the US and those countries facing significant elections this year and next (France, Netherlands and Germany)”. Baroness Stroud, Legatum Institute CEO said: 

“Matthew’s proven campaigning skills, strength of thought leadership and ability to deliver transformational results make him key to that vision. We could not be more delighted that he has chosen to come and join the Legatum team.”

Elliott said:

I’m delighted to be joining the Legatum Institute as a Senior Fellow because Philippa and her team are uniquely placed to provide clear thinking for not only the UK Government, but also for policy makers right across the world. Brexit provides us with an opportunity to promote global prosperity by strengthening free trade, and the Institute is one of the only think-tanks with the skills and global reach to achieve this important objective. Clarity of thought is also required on the rise of Populism, and I look forward to analysing the similarities and differences between public opinion in Britain and overseas.”

A great hire to work on some very timely topics…

Mad Professor Wants to Prosecute Vote Leave Boss

mad-professor

Professor bob Watt, an expert in electoral law from the University of Buckingham, has made a complaint about “undue influence” to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Under electoral law “undue influence” includes the use of “a fraudulent device or contrivance” to “impede or prevent or intend to impede or prevent the free exercise of the franchise”. The eccentric Professor “bob” – he insists on the lower case ‘b’ –  claims there were “instances where the leave campaigns continued to make assertions of fact that were knowingly misleading”. In particular the famous £350 million claim.

He says his “primary aim in seeking prosecution is to try to restore some integrity to our democratic processes.” Good luck with that…

This is beyond quixotic, Vote Leave CEO Matthew Ellliott will simply explain that £350 million is equivalent to the gross weekly payment, not the net weekly payment once the rebate and other transfers are taken into account. Therefore the headline figure is true before those qualifications. Any reasonable person examining the claim – which was widely contested – would understand how the figure was arrived at. In the debates Michael Gove and others conceded that the net figure was less.

Professor “bob” has had success before – he was one of the people behind the election petition against Lutfur Rahman cronies. In that case there was out and out political corruption. Are we seriously expecting judges to rule on the phrasing of political slogans?

UPDATE:

Vote Leave Chief Launching New Brexit Site, Taxpayers’ Alliance Reshuffles

Vote Leave chief Matthew Elliott is back at Business for Britain post-referendum, and Guido hears he will be setting up a new website called BrexitCentral. Former Lobby journalist Jonathan Isaby is leaving the Taxpayers’ Alliance to join as editor. It sounds like the site will offer plenty of comment and analysis – there is a gap in the market for some proper wonkish insight making sure Brexit means Brexit. It launches in September and Guido wishes them well, readers of this site will no doubt await with interest…

Isaby’s departure from the TPA means a reshuffle in wonk world. Tufton Street veteran John O’Connell, who has been at the TPA since 2009, will be the new CEO, another well-deserved appointment. They’ve also hired Tom Banks, who ran Vote Leave’s ground operation in Yorkshire, as their new grassroots campaign manager. More jobs created by voting to Leave…

Matthew Elliott on Why Leave Won

Referendum-winning Vote Leave boss Matthew Elliott recounts how the campaign was won on today’s Daily Politics“At 10pm on the 23 of June, the consensus was that Vote Leave had lost. A contact of mine at Number 10 texted me to say, ‘You’re toast'”. And the rest is history…

Leavers Can Challenge £9 Million Leaflet In Euro Courts

banks elliot

The Venice Commission, of which the UK is a full member, was established by the Council of Europe to ensure European countries protect the “Principles of Europe’s electoral heritage”. Their Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters has previously been used by the European Court of Human Rights to settle legal disputes – including challenging the ban on prisoner voting.

Millionaire Brexit backer Arron Banks and Vote Leave’s head Matthew Elliot should pay particular attention to paragraph 111 of the Code, which states the following:

“in the field of public funding of parties or campaigns the principle of equality of opportunity applies”

The referendum would here be defined as a “campaign”, which must achieve “equality of opportunity” when it comes to public funding. However, Leavers really have the government bang to rights with the later Code of Good Practice on Referendums. The 24 page document provides specific guidelines for European states looking to hold referendums, including very firm rules on public funding:

“the public authorities (national, regional and local) must not influence the outcome of the vote by excessive, one-sided campaigning. The use of public funds by the authorities for campaigning purposes must be prohibited.”

That’s section 3, subsection 3.1, paragraph b telling governments that the use of public funds must be specifically ruled out to ensure the “Freedom of voters to form an opinion”Banks and Elliot can take their case to the European Court of Human Rights here

BSE Apologise: “Work of Fiction” Claim is… Work of Fiction

Yesterday Britain Stronger in Europe sent out a press release describing a new Institute of Economic Affairs report on the EU as a “work of fiction”. Quite a hostage to fortune…

The BSE briefing claimed: “Matthew Elliott CEO of Vote Leave is a former Director of the IEA”. Er, no he isn’t. Elliott has never been a director of the IEA.

BSE then claimed the Elliott (non)link meant: “The Institute for Economic Affairs, Business for Britain and Vote Leave are a revolving door”. About as much as Stuart Rose and Marks and Spencer. Or, indeed, not, since Elliott was never at the IEA.

BSE have now privately apologised to the IEA for the error, they tell Guido: “We do regret any confusion caused”. Though they haven’t sent out a correction. They are instead waiting for journalists to call up before they tell them their briefing was, to coin a phrase, “a work of fiction”. 

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The Guardian’s election editorial urges voters to back Labour with the compelling argument:

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