Priti Accuses Electoral Commission of Bias and “Double Standards”

Following the Electoral Commission’s refusal to investigate the Remain campaign despite clear evidence of spending breaches, Priti Patel has accused them of bias and “double standards”. Priti notes that the Commission launched a full investigation into Vote Leave over claims of spending collusion – despite no evidence – and yet are refusing to look at BSE even though a whole dossier of evidence was submitted to them. Priti has a point – how can they investigate the Leavers when there is no evidence, but ignore evidence of Remainers overspending?

What is particularly concerning is that you decided on 20 November 2017 to reopen an investigation into Vote Leave Limited and Mr Darren Grimes, in spite of the fact that there is much less evidence of a common plan. As you acknowledge at [25] of the Review of Assessments – ‘there are no direct indications of the campaigners working together’ (my emphasis added) and that – as you state at [31] – that ‘the Commission is not aware of what any such communications [between Vote Leave and Mr Grimes] contained or whether it indicated a common plan or arrangement was in place’.

In other words – despite the fact that there is no evidence of Vote Leave Limited or Mr Grimes engaging in joint planning (even of an advisory nature) – you have been persuaded of the need for a full investigation. However, when clear documented evidence of the Remain campaigns coordinating specific messaging is presented to you, this is dismissed as ‘advisory’. This would appear to be a clear case of double standards.

Priti not unreasonably alleges the Electoral Commission have a lower bar for investigating Leavers than Remainers:

I have to conclude that the Electoral Commission appears to have used an extraordinarily low bar – arguably, far too low a bar— when deciding to open your new investigation on Vote Leave and other campaigners for Brexit, yet have set a very high bar when deciding to open an investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe.

She wants them to reconsider their decision. Good luck with that – we know where the Electoral Commission’s loyalties really lie

Priti Asks Electoral Commission to Investigate Remain Campaign

Priti Patel has written to the Electoral Commission asking them to launch an investigation following Guido’s stories on how the Remain campaign flouted spending rules during the referendum. As we revealed last week, Remainers shared data, suppliers and campaign materials, coordinated spending, funnelled £1 million to new campaigns set up in the month before the vote, and potentially spent double the legal limit. Priti says:

“There needs to be a thorough investigation into the actions, expenditure and financial probity of Remain campaigners, who appear to have flouted the rules and the spirit of the law to advance their cause in concert with each other.

It cannot be right that remain campaigners can so blatantly flout the rules to feed the British people their propaganda. As well as coordinating campaigning and spending they used every organ of the British state to try to bully people into staying in the EU. They even spent £9m of taxpayers’ money on a campaign leaflet breaking the normal rules of fair play of our democratic system.

‘Despite this wall of fear and fury the British people held their nerve and bravely voted to take back control. Brexit will be a great liberation for this country – but the leadership of the remain campaign must still be held to account for their actions.”

Read her letter in full below:

The Electoral Commission have told the BBC they are looking into Guido’s stories, but have yet to launch a formal probe. A lot of evidence landing on their desk this morning…

Tory Stars Court Young Activists at Xmas Bash

Big turnout at a Christmas bash for young Tories in Westminster last night, where 100 enjoyed wine and mince pies, with another 200 on the waiting list. A dozen MPs came along to the venue on Smith Square; speeches from movers and shakers James Cleverly (who reminded the room of the role of young people in preventing a socialist government), George Freeman and Priti Patel were well received.

A lot of excited discussion about the future direction of youth movement within the party. Who knows, maybe the Tories might even have a youth-wing in 2018?

Priti Unleashed: Government “Failing” on Brexit, Must Decide End State

Priti Patel said what she really thinks at the Spectator’s event on the future of the Tory party tonight, blasting the government for its “failings” on Brexit, claiming it is “ill-equipped” to handle the negotiation and criticising Theresa May for refusing to hold a Cabinet discussion on the end state.

Leading Brexiteers have been telling Number 10 for months that a Cabinet meeting must be held where the two factions of the government can thrash out whether Brexit Britain is going to look like Hammond’s desired future convergence with the EU or the Leavers’ preferred divergence from Brussels. Priti aired their demands for “conviction and clarity in terms of our end state”.  As James Forysth pointed out, it’s extraordinary that this discussion hasn’t been had yet. 

The ousted former International Development Secretary also warned the government “has been ill-equipped in terms of preparations for the negotiations” and said on the financial settlement: “I don’t like spending money. I would have told the EU to sod off with their excessive financial demands”.

No prizes for guessing why the still ambitious Priti was laying it on thick with Tory members, talking about giving power back the grassroots and “starting from scratch” with the party hierarchy. On Brexit she is saying publicly what a lot of Leavers have been saying privately for months…

Pic via @maxlburnett

Priti’s Course on How to Stage an Exit

Priti Patel from the backbenches:

“I’m speaking today following an intensive course in the past week on how to stage an exit. For anyone who is still tracking my movements…”

Friday Caption Contest (Patel A Lie Edition)

Entries in the comments…

Well done to commenter John Sharp who won last week’s caption contest with the funny (but inevitable) entry “brexterminate”. Get in touch to claim your copy of Quentin Letts’ new book Patronising Bastards

Priti Resigns

Priti Patel has resigned as Secretary of State for International Development. Long day…

UPDATE: The exchange of letters. Priti Patel offers “a fulsome apology” to Theresa May and the government in her resignation letter:

UPDATE: No replacement until tomorrow:

Priti Lands

Wheels down for Priti Patel at Heathrow, no time for duty free as she is quickly whisked into the waiting motorcade. Guido can confirm she has turned her phone on and gone online on WhatsApp:

She has also changed her WhatsApp status, referencing Nadhim Zahawi defending her as a “workaholic” on Newsnight last night:

Gallows humour…

Number 10: Jewish Chronicle Report Untrue

After the Jewish Chronicle reported that Number 10 knew about Priti Patel’s meeting with Bibi before they previously admitted and also ordered Priti to cover up details of two further meetings with Israeli officials, a Downing Street spokesman says the JC is wrong:

“It is not true that the Prime Minister knew about the International Development Secretary’s meeting with PM Netanyahu before Friday 3rd November. It is equally untrue to say that No 10 asked DfID to remove any meetings from the list they published this week.”

Not looking good for Priti, who is currently somewhere over Greece and due to land at Heathrow just after 3pm…

UPDATE: Flight Radar live on Sky News: ‘As you can see she’s currently somewhere over Albania…’

Where’s Priti?

The word is Priti Patel never made it to Uganda and instead stayed overnight in Nairobi. There is speculation she is now flying back to London – could she be on the Nairobi to London flight which departed 6:30am UK time? Priti was last active on WhatsApp at 6:16am our time, so it looks like a possibility. You can follow the flight hereIf so she’s due to land in London some time after 3pm…

UPDATE: Looks like Priti is without WiFi for the next eight hours:

Priti: Small Leaders Are Best

Priti Patel talked repeatedly about “my leadership” during her conference speech, and joked at the beginning:

“Some of our most successful leaders have been the smallest.”

Leadership bid klaxon!

Davis and Priti Won’t Rule Out Leadership Bids

David Davis criticised “self-indulgent” colleagues plotting leadership bids on Marr, though failed to rule out a run himself, insisting: “I’m not getting into it”. Always ambitious Priti Patel gave even less of a non-denial on Peston, refusing to answer the question several times. Count them in your runners and riders…

Notable that Davis broadly endorsed Hammond’s desire for transitional arrangements (though his preference is two years rather than four). The Sunday papers are reporting a Hammond-Davis plot to take over from Theresa May, and Davis’ former SpAd James Chapman is stirring it up:

A ticket that would be tough for Leave Tories to stomach…

Sexists For Remain

patel ROACHE

Uh oh! GMB union chief and leading Remainer Tim Roache tells his annual conference:

“Priti Patel, surely a contradiction in her name”

Think Tim should have gone to Specsavers…

BSE’s Will Straw said Tim Roache “speaks for over 600,000 working people” when he endorsed Remain back in February. Now Straw is silent. Meanwhile Harriet Harman is the big gun wheeled out for the Remain campaign today. She would be touring the studios if a Leaver had said this...

UPDATE II: Roache doubles down:

UPDATE III: BSE statement on the man they described as “fantastic” three months ago:

“Comments like this have no place in this debate.”

UPDATE IV: Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan: “This abuse is a new low for the remain campaign.”

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Immigrants 540

Campaign Report: Day 29

patel

Leave message: IMF bullying British voters and cheating purdah rules.

Remain message: “Independent” institutions back Remain.

Cut through: Christine Lagarde.

Leave social media count: 361,731 likes, 41,072 followers.

Remain social media count: 394,153 likes, 27,631 followers.

Odds: Remain 1/3 Leave 9/4

Latest poll: Remain 44%, Leave 46% (ICM, online). Poll of Polls is now Remain 50%, Leave 50%.

Gove Tops ConservativeHome Leadership Poll

govech

Before Govians get too excited Guido should of course caveat that this is what Mike Smithson calls a “voodoo poll“, a self-selecting unweighted poll of readers. It does still show a clear trend; Remainers are down, Leavers are up.

Priti Patel is equal in popularity to Osborne as far as ConHomies are concerned (20 to 1 if you feel lucky). After the disappointment with Saj (7%), many on the right who don’t trust Boris and think Fox is past it are increasingly thinking about the merits of Priti. One to watch…

Media Minister Monitor: Fireman Fallon Deployed

MMM March the ministers

In February referendum fever saw government ministers make 55 broadcast appearances, in March Downing Street entered bunker mode and the number plunged to just 35. The statistics show Craig Oliver is enforcing a “one minister a day” policy for broadcast appearances as they look to dodge accountability. Viewers are repeatedly being told the government refused to put anyone up for interview.

You know it’s a been a tough month for Downing Street when “Fireman” Fallon tops the charts. Fallon is always deployed by No. 10 as a safe pair of hands when things are not going well, and in a month of Tory splits and Budget flops he made four appearances. Nicky Morgan is – inexplicably – being used with increasing regularity. ‘Super’ Soubry remains high up the list as a Remain spokesman, while Grayling is once again leading the charge for Leave. The highly ambitious Dominic Raab, another Outer, is an interesting new entry. The submarine Chancellor’s Budget went so well he faced interview questions just twice this month… 

Here is the spreadsheet with all the ministerial broadcast appearances for March. The rules: we monitor which ministers appeared answering questions in interviews. Note this will not include doorsteps, only scheduled appearances.


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Quote of the Day

Diane Abbott on Amber Rudd:

Who can have confidence in Amber Rudd to make far-reaching changes to the Home Office if she doesn’t seem able to get basic facts right?”

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