Electoral Commission Investigating Everybody

The Electoral Commission has announced investigations into the spending returns submitted by not just both the lead campaigners – The IN Campaign Limited (‘Britain Stronger in Europe’) and Vote Leave Limited. In addition the Lib Dems, Grassroots Out Limited, the European Movement, Labour Leave and UKIP have issues under investigation. Somebody called Peter Harris is in trouble for delivering his spending return late without the required audit report. Conservatives IN also delivered their donation report late. Basically the entire political class failed to comply with the rules…

UPDATE: A Vote Leave spokesman said:

“Vote Leave’s accounts were approved by external auditors and we believe we have fully complied with all the spending regulations for the EU referendum. Vote Leave will fully cooperate with the Electoral Commission’s investigation. When we handed in our return on 23 December we realised that we had submitted it with excess spending that did not need to be reported so it was therefore amended. We were also missing a handful of invoices from suppliers but these have since been provided.”

Net Migration 273,000 Last Year

The key statistics:

  • Net migration 273,000 for 2016
  • Down 50,000 on 2015, this is seen as not statistically significant
  • 596,000 immigrated to the UK
  • 268,000 new EU citizens, 257,000 new non-EU citizens
  • Net migration now higher from EU than outside EU
  • 323,000 emigrated: including 103,000 EU citizens and 93,000 non-EU
  • 74,000 Romanians and Bulgarians came in 2016, highest estimate recorded
  • 104,000 arrived looking for work but without a job to go to

Net migration essentially still around that stubborn 300,000 mark…

UK GDP Beats Predictions and Exports Up… Again!

UK GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2016 has been revised higher this morning to +0.7%, higher than the expected +0.6%. The Office for National Statistics revealed export growth of 4.1%, which alongside a fall in imports of 0.4% means net trade added 1.3% to growth. Brexit Britain’s boom continues to defy the ‘experts’…

Top Merkel Ally Slaps Down Juncker Over Brexit Bill

A top ally of Angela Merkel has strongly criticised Jean-Claude Juncker for threatening Britain with a “very hefty” Brexit bill on day one of the negotiation. CDU Home Affairs spokesman Stephan Meyer told the Today programme:

“I am not very happy, to be frank, with the statement of Jean-Claude Juncker. The negotiations haven’t started yet and I think it’s not very clever and it’s not very fair also to mention such sums and such amounts… It’s not very smart now to start these negotiations with such amounts which are mentioned.”

This backs up the report in yesterday’s Times which said Merkel was siding with Britain over Juncker and Michel Barnier over an immediate Brexit bill. It is possible that Britain will end up paying a smaller charge for the future aspects of the relationship we want to keep, for example the Erasmus programme for students. What Theresa May cannot accept is a €60 billion bill on day one of the negotiations. The government’s plan has always been to appeal to German self-interest rather than deal with, as ministers call them in private, the “ayatollahs of the European Commission”…

UK Food and Drink Exports Hit All Time High

Britain exported a record £20 billion of food and drink last year, as sales to the US rose by 12% and China entered the top ten UK food export market for the first time. The numbers bode well for Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox:

  • UK food and drink exports grew by nearly 10%;
  • UK food and drink sales to the USA up 12%;
  • UK exports of salmon to France up by 31%;
  • UK food and drink exports to Germany up by 12%;
  • UK pork exports to China skyrocketing to £43 million, an increase of over 70% (China entered the top ten UK food export markets for the first time, with export growth of nearly 50 per cent);
  • Exports to Malaysia grew by a whopping 143%;
  • India emerged as one of our priority markets thanks to growing demand for Scotch whisky, global sales of whisky grew by 3% to reach over £4 billion;
  • Last year exports grew in nine out of ten of the UK’s leading export markets including USA, China and Hong Kong.

It remains the case that just one in five UK food producers are currently exporting, so there is masses of room for improvement. It is in vogue to say the Brexit-focused departments are twiddling their thumbs until we leave. In truth they are kept busy by the job of getting exports up to scratch alone… 

May in the Lords

Theresa May and Commons leader David Lidington are sitting on the steps of the throne in the House of Lords as they begin their Brexit debate this afternoon, to remind peers of the democratic mandate issued by the elected chamber. Sound.

UPDATE: Another angle:

Police: “No Evidence” Brexit Caused Spike in Hate Crime

Essex Police, one of the country’s largest police forces, has sent out a statement denying a link between the referendum result and the rise in hate crime reported last week. They believe the increased figures are caused by an increase in reporting:

“There is no evidence to suggest any increase has been specifically and directly caused by any one event or issue… There has been an increase in reports of alleged hate crime across Essex, which mirrors a national trend. Hate crime is significantly under-reported and we believe that greater awareness and confidence in the police response has contributed to these increases in reporting.”

An interesting corrective to the media narrative that Brexit is behind the spike… 

Mandelson: Parliament Should Be Able to Veto Brexit Deal

Mandelson says that Parliament must be able to veto a Brexit deal that is bad for Britain.

Given he thinks being in the EU is good for Britain all Brexit deals will be bad by his definition…

68% Want Government to Get On With Brexit

A new ICM poll for Change Britain confirms Tony Blair’s delusion. 68% of voters want the government to “get on with implementing the result of the referendum”, compared to just 15% who disagree. Even more Remain voters (42%) agree with the statement than disagree (33%). When this question was last polled in December, 26% of Remainers wanted the government to get on with the job compared to 40% who disagreed. The Blairite / Open Britain talk of Leave voters changing their minds is fantasy – it is Remainers who are changing their minds and now want the government to deliver Brexit…

UPDATE: Dominic Raab says:

“These figures show how out of touch Tony Blair is with the mood of the country. Far from wanting to reverse the referendum, the overwhelming majority want the result respected and for politicians to get on with making a success of Brexit.”

New Tory Attack Ad on Nuttall

The Tories are releasing this attack video on Paul Nuttall this afternoon. Giving Labour a helping hand in Stoke to save Jez?

Boris: Rise Up and Turn TV Off Next Time Blair is On

BoJo adds for good measure that Blair’s speech was “insulting the intelligence of the electorate” and points out he would have taken Britain into the Euro and “dragooned” us into the Iraq War. The Labour and Tory leaderships are united in condemning Blair’s speech…

Labour Condemn Blair’s “Contempt For Democracy”

Following Tony Blair’s speech, a senior Labour source tells Guido:

“No wonder we are still trying to recover from Tony Blair’s legacy when he has such contempt for democracy. What he doesn’t seem to realise is people voted Leave precisely because they felt let down by 13 years of Davos leftism he’s still trying to flog.”

Would Labour be any better off under a democracy-rejecting Blairite Remainer than they are under Corbyn? 

Remain Campaign Deputy Director Slaps Down Blair

Tony Blair’s call for Remainers to resist Brexit has been slapped down by one of the leading figures in the Remain campaign. Lucy Thomas, who was deputy director of Britain Stronger in Europe, delivers this reality check to her old colleagues:

A split among BSE alumni between the delusional Open Britain / Roland Rudd fundamentalists and members of the reality-based community like Lucy…

Open Britain Wheels Out Blair to Patronise Voters

Open Britain, the zombie Remain campaign, is hosting a speech by Tony Blair today in which he will argue for Brexit to be reversed. The pre-briefed quotes go from mildly patronising – “The people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit” – to full on contemptuous condescension: “Our challenge is to show how this decision was based on imperfect knowledge which will now become informed knowledge, to calculate in easy to understand ways how proceeding will cause real damage”. Blair and Open Britain seriously still believe that Leave voters are stupid, ill-informed idiots whose minds can be changed if the case to Remain is explained “in easy to understand ways”. Hard to think how Blairite metropolitan elitists could be more patronising. They just don’t get it.

UPDATE: Richard Tice from Leave Means Leave makes a fair point:

“There is some irony that Tony Blair, a former Prime Minister who will forever be remembered for deceiving the British people, will try to resurrect his political corpse tomorrow by trying to deceive the British people once again.”

Number 10 Considering Article 50 Migrant Cut Off Date

Theresa May has been clear she wants to guarantee the rights of EU citizens currently living in Britain to stay, so long as Britons abroad are given the same guarantees. The question being considered by Number 10 is the date at which this right to remain ends.[…] Read the rest

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Save the (Tax Free) Link

Ju­lia Reda, the Ger­man Pi­rate Party MEP, is the most vo­cal op­po­nent to the EU’s pro­posed neigh­bour­ing right: “neigh­bour­ing rights al­ways have a broader scope than copy­right, be­cause they don’t have a thresh­old of orig­i­nal­ity. Whereas sin­gle words or very short sen­tences can­not be pro­tected by copy­right, they would fall within the scope of the neigh­bour­ing right.” She adds that “the pro­posed new right would make links to news ar­ti­cles sub­ject to a fee, even if only the head­line is re­peated in the link.[…] Read the rest

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EU Commission: Brexit Better For Britain Than We Thought

The European Commission has been forced to scrap its gloomy UK growth forecast and revise up its estimates despite the Leave vote. City AM reports Brussels bureaucrats begrudgingly upped their prediction for 2017 UK GDP growth to 1.5% from a 1% forecast made last November.[…] Read the rest

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Letwin Calls For Debate on Abolition of Lords

A “government source” in this morning’s papers threatened the Lords with abolition if they obstruct Brexit, now Oliver Letwin has asked for a debate if they do hold up the process. Instead of implausibly threatening to abolish the Lords they should promise to cut daily their expenses from £300 to £0. […] Read the rest

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Guido’s Brexit Timeline: All the Key Dates For Your Diary

Last night’s historic Commons vote drives Brexit forward and all eyes are on what happens next. Here’s Guido’s rundown of crucial events in the coming months.

February 

20-21 Article 50 Bill Second Reading, House of Lords. The government doesn’t have a majority in the Lords.[…] Read the rest

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33 MPs Who Voted For Second Referendum

The would-be Brexit blockers who voted for a second referendum:

Alexander, Heidi
Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben
Brown, Lyn
Clegg, rh Mr Nick
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coffey, Ann
Coyle, Neil
Davies, Geraint
Durkan, Mark
Edwards, Jonathan
Farron, Tim

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Ray Bassett, former Irish ambassador…

“Ireland needs to position itself as the leader of the countries wanting as soft a Brexit as possible.”

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