What Has Rob Halfon Swept Away?

Rob Halfon has been doing the media rounds a lot over the last few days, drawing attention to a curious glove puppet on his bookcase. Children’s TV character Sweep could be seen behind the Education Select Committee Chair on today’s episode of Politics Liveduring last week’s Liaison Committee questioning of the Prime Minister, while he was chairing the Education Select Committee in May, even back in in April Sweep was there on his book case. Buy why?

Today the mystery was solved by Twitter user Various Jams, who brought to light an older photo of the bookcase, sans puppet. Sweep had swept away the just as distracting massive books about Hitler. Fair enough.

Before you jump to the wrong conclusion… Halfon used to run Conservative Friends of Israel…

UPDATE: Rob tells Guido that Sweep, who he calls his childhood hero, is “normally is on my chest of drawers but was helping me get rid of Mr Hitler!” Good stuff.

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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=)

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House of Combots: MPs Interview Robot

MPs were subjected a technological treat this morning as a 4-foot tall robot named Pepper gave evidence to the Education Select Committee, arguably with more personality than many Parliamentarians. While the questions may have been more programmatic than usual, at least Pepper didn’t bot-tle out of answering them…

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MPs to Interrogate French Robot

The Education Select Committee will interrogate a four foot tall French robot called Pepper next Tuesday in their quest to understand the impact of artificial intelligence. Pepper, who was developed in Paris by Softbank Robotics, has been working with students at Middlesex University, developing ways to support primary school children. Guido expects that Pepper will turn out to be a more compelling witness than most ministers…

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Maybot to Feature at Tory Conference

The official fringe guide to Tory Party Conference has been released by CCHQ and on one eye catching event, panellists including Rob Halfon MP and “Zeno the robot” will be discussing how long it will take for Britain to have a robot for Prime Minister. Guido would gently suggest that we have had one for some time…

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Halfon: Soubry’s Saying 17 Million Leavers are Extremists

Robert Halfon tells PoliticsHome

“My constituency voted 68% to Leave the EU. I learnt a lot from this. Most of them are just decent people, not extremists at all. They believed the argument about taking back control. They wanted more money spent at home and not on the EU. And they wanted control of the borders – they’re not extremists. What Soubry’s doing with this argument is saying that every one of the 17 million people who voted leave are extremists. That’s the logic of this. That’s where it leads to. I’ve met some of the new members. They seem to be moderate Brexit, some of them. But if some Brexit people decide to join because they believe that this party is going to keep the referendum promise – well, I’m delighted. And this is from someone who voted Remain.”

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