Merkel Calls For “Real European Army”

Angela Merkel, addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg today sung the praises of “European unification” and called for a European Army. She began her remarks by saying she was appearing before MEPs “with joy but also with gratitude, in front of the greatest parliament of the world.”

After calling Brexit “a deep wound,” the German Chancellor called on the EU to “work on a vision of creating a real, true, European army.” After shouts of indignation from predominantly UKIP MEPs, Merkel said “I am really pleased about this I’m annoying some people.”

Was Clegg lying, or just being incredibly naive?

London Office Market Still Booming Despite Brexit

The Central London office market is continuing to defy predictions of Brexit doom, with office space take-up in 2018 Q3 up 12% on the last quarter and 17% above the long-term average. Investment turnover exceeded £5 billion – 40% ahead of the long-term average and the highest for a single quarter since the end of 2015. In fact the biggest investors, accounting for nearly 40% of the investment in Q3, were European buyers. Sorry Frankfurt, the London pull is just too strong…

Labour All At Sea Over Brexit

Labour are all at sea over Brexit again, with Keir Starmer directly contracting his party leader’s comments on whether Brexit can be stopped. Starmer told Sky News this morning “Brexit can be stopped” just days after Corbyn categorically told Der Spiegel on Friday that Labour “can’t stop” Brexit:

DS: “If you could stop Brexit, would you?”

JC: “We can’t stop it. The referendum took place. Article 50 has been triggered. What we can do is recognise the reasons why people voted Leave.”

Emily Thornberry and Dianne Abbott have also given conflicting signals in recent days, with Thornberry telling Marr yesterday a second referendum was still an option, while Abbott warned against the idea on Question Time last week. Civil war in North London luvvie land…

Labour’s position on the deal itself is no less unclear, with shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman making distinctly positive noises about the possibility of Labour supporting a deal on All Out Politics despite Thornberry coming down strongly against the prospect yesterday. Labour’s “constructive ambiguity” is increasingly looking less like astute party management and more a symptom of serious internal shadow Cabinet splits…

The Government’s fundamental problem with getting a deal through Parliament – if it even gets through Cabinet – is that voting down the deal is all things to all people. The Labour frontbench sees it as the best route to a general election. Brexiteers see it as the way to force ‘no deal’. Remainers see it as their best chance of securing a second referendum. The Johnson-Johnson pincer movement looks particularly dangerous for the Government. But ultimately only one of these groups can actually get what they want…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

UK Fastest Growing European Country in the G7

The new quarterly GDP figures this morning reveal that EU economies are experiencing a significant slowdown in growth. The UK on the other hand is one of the few EU countries where GDP growth is higher this year than last year’s admittedly anaemic performance. It is still a staggering outcome compared to previously gloomy official forecasts.

The Bank of England is warning that the UK economy is nearing full capacity and it may have to raise interest rates. So much for the post-referendum immediate economic aftershock we were warned about.

France’s growth rate has halved on last year’s Q3 numbers, and German growth is also expected to halve from 0.8% last year to just 0.4%. On average Eurozone growth was a dismal 0.2%, a new four year low. The rest of the world is experiencing much stronger growth.

Incidentally, these figures would put the UK above all other EU countries in the G7 in terms of GDP growth quarter-on-quarter. Remainers will have to get a new catchphrase …

Guy Verhofstadt’s Soviet Union Hypocrisy

The EU Parliament’s ‘Brexit Coordinator’ Guy Verhofstadt got in a spot of hot water this morning when he told his Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe group conference this morning that he doesn’t like the term “EU Commission” because it sounds like something from the Soviet Union. Which it does.

This is the very same Guy Verhofstadt who blasted Jeremy Hunt’s far less direct comparison, calling for an apology and describing Hunt’s comments as “offensive and outrageous… especially to those millions of Europeans that lived under Soviet occupation.” Like his FBPE fans, Verhofstadt is an expert in only getting outraged when it suits him…

Diane Abbott Warns Remainers Against Second Referendum

A strong warning against a second referendum came from an unlikely source on Question Time last night as Diane Abbott told Remainers to “be careful what you wish for”:

“What I say to people calling for a second referendum now is you should be careful what you wish for, because my suspicion is that if we had a second referendum now, the same people that voted Leave – who are not largely speaking in London – would vote Leave again, saying ‘didn’t you hear us the first time?'”

Didn’t she get Keir’s memo about “constructive ambiguity”?

However it turns out that Diane may be more in tune with the public mood than many of her fellow North London Labour colleagues, as a new Hanbury/Politico poll this morning revealed that just 9% of voters want a second referendum if MPs vote down Theresa May’s Brexit Deal. 34% say we should just leave with no deal…

Britain Growing Three Times Faster Than Eurozone

The UK’s GDP growth figures for Q3 reveal that growth has shot up to a near two year high of 0.6%. Which means that Brexit Britain grew three times as fast as the stagnating Eurozone in Q3, which posted paltry growth of only 0.2% last quarter. The Remainer refrain that Britain has slumped to the bottom of the growth league is starting to look very silly…

UK GDP Growth Best in 2 Years


UK third-quarter GDP was up 0.6%. Which is the fastest growth in nearly 2 years. The Bank of England says the economy is now operating at full capacity…

No.10 Hard-Selling Backstop With Trade Bill Bluster

Guido hears that Number 10 has been telling Cabinet ministers that they must accept the backstop or else rebel MPs will amend the Trade Bill to force the UK to stay in a customs union outright. Not exactly sending out a strong signal that Downing Street believe the merits of the backstop will speak for themselves…

This appears a red herring to Guido for a number of reasons:

As the Labour Lords pointed out, the Government hasn’t even scheduled the Lords Committee stage of the Bill yet, so it will not be making its way back to the Commons any time soon. Any deal will likely be wrapped up long before it does…

Additionally, for all that Downing Street likes to play up the chances of being defeated in the Commons on a customs union, the fact is that every time the Commons has voted on a customs union in the past, there has been a majority against it.

And even if the Government is defeated on a customs union amendment, they can ultimately just drop the Trade Bill – there is nothing so essential in it that needs to be passed into statute right now. The Government has wriggle room on the Trade Bill, not on the backstop…

Dyson Defeats EU’s Daft Dust Directive

After a five-year legal battle, James Dyson has finally succeeded in his long-running legal battle to get the EU’s top court to strike down their absurd regulation that vacuum cleaners should be tested… without dust. The regulation enabled Dyson’s German competitors to market their vacuum cleaners with superior energy labelling, despite the fact that their performance dropped significantly as soon as their bags contained dust. That is, as soon as they were used…

The ruling means the EU will now have to go back and design a regulation that means that test are carried out “as close as possible to actual conditions of use”. A rare victory for common sense in the EU…

EPP Delegates Ignore Barnier

The centre-right EPP group are meeting in Helsinki to, among other things, select their lead candidate for Commission President who will be a shoe-in to replace Juncker next year. British Conservatives can chuckle that despite having left the group some years ago, proceedings are still conducted in English, the world’s global language…

Despite Barnier being almost deified by pro-EU politicians in Britiain, he was largely ignored by his fellow professional politicians. Darren MacCaffrey is live tweeting from the conference hall:

Brexit Chief Negotiator says he doesn’t have time for a joke or a long speech – as clock is ticking on Brexit. Wide ranging speech on future of EU which suggests he may will still have hopes of getting Juncker’s job… The most extraordinary thing about Barnier’s speech, literally NO-ONE is listening, I mean NO-ONE!!! Most people talking amongst themselves or went off to vote. Actually felt very disrespectful… He did not hold the room… And look at this… Manfred Weber having his picture taken right in front of Barnier – as he talks, as he struggles to hold the room

Merkel walked off halfway through to talk to @ManfredWeber and @alexstubb. The MC had to plead with delegates to sit down and listen to speeches after Barnier came off stage.

Ignored by allies from across the EU, no-one listening to him, disrespected, Manfred Weber and Merkel doing their own thing. Now Barnier knows what it feels like to be British…

DD: Government Must Release “Complete” Legal Advice

David Davis has added his voice to calls for the Government to release the legal advice they have received on the Irish backstop. Davis told Today that there was “no argument whatsoever” that at the very least the Cabinet should have access to the full information before making their decision on the deal, while rejecting Matt Hancock’s suggestion on Peston last night that Geoffrey Cox answering questions in Parliament would amount to sufficient scrutiny:

“What we must see is the complete legal advice, not a summary, not something that just glides and glosses over the difficult issues, but the actual legal advice.”

Interestingly, Hancock did add that it would be a “decision in exceptional circumstances for the Prime Minister”. Under the Ministerial Code, the legal advice can be released if the “law officers” i.e. the Attorney General agree to it. May herself attacked Brown and Blair for not showing legal advice they had received on the Iraq War to the Cabinet and MPs, labelling it a breach of the ministerial code. The circumstances of Brexit are at least as exceptional as those of the Iraq War…

In any case, MPs may seek to take the decision out of her hands, with Tory rebels considering supporting a humble address motion from Keir Starmer in Labour’s opposition day debate next Tuesday which could compel the Government to release the advice. If there is nothing to hide in the advice, the Government can avoid the whole row by simply agreeing to release it in full…

May Attacked Blair and Brown for Not Releasing Iraq War Legal Advice

Pressure is mounting on Theresa May to release the full legal advice given to her over the Irish backstop. Senior Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash sums up the issue succinctly, drawing a parallel with his own battle as Shadow Attorney General in the 2000s with Tony Blair over the legal advice he had received on the Iraq War:

“The Attorney General’s advice on critical constitutional issues is for Parliament and the country, not just for the Government. As shadow Attorney General I successfully pressured Blair and the Attorney General to produce legal advice on the Iraq war and it should happen again.”

In 2007, Theresa May herself wrote to Gordon Brown with a dossier of 100 accusations of breaches of the ministerial code under Blair’s government, including this particular entry:

“It emerged in April 2005 that Mr Blair did not tell his Cabinet about crucial legal advice on Iraq. The Prime Minister was forced to disclose the thirteen-page memorandum he received from Lord Goldsmith on the legality of the war. It was never shown to Cabinet or MPs, as Mr Blair should have under the Ministerial Code.”

Constitutionally, the Brexit deal is going to be of greater lasting significance than the Iraq War. If May refuses to release the full legal advice she will be doing exactly what she castigated Blair and Brown for…

Remainers’ Eye Roll “Hero” Actually Backs Brexit

Harriet Ellis, the 21-year-old Birmingham University student who rolled her eyes behind Nigel Farage at Channel 4’s Brexit Debate on Monday night instantly became a “hero” to Remainers.

A host of FBPE accounts jumped in on the praise, JK Rowling liked it, and politicians like David Lammy lapped up the retweets. But little did they know that Harriet Ellis has backed Brexit since she was 14 years old. She told The Bristol Post that “I don’t trust the EU. I don’t like how we don’t really know who’s running it” and has taken to Twitter to tell her new Remainer fans to “Please stop calling me a hero!” and “please unfollow me!” Awkward…

May Under Pressure to Reveal Full Backstop Legal Advice

The Government is facing pressure from all sides to release the full legal advice it has received from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox on the Irish backstop, with Labour, the DUP, the Lib Dems and Tory MPs all calling for the Government to publish the advice. There is no question that this is an issue of fundamental constitutional importance – Parliament and the public have a right to know.

Even Cabinet ministers are being kept out of the loop, with Michael Gove leading the calls within Cabinet for the full legal advice to be revealed. Suspicions are high that Number 10 are trying to bounce Cabinet Brexiteers including Dominic Raab over the line without letting them review the full advice. If there is nothing contentious about it then why is it being hidden from the Cabinet?

Disgruntled Cabinet ministers are complaining that every trick in the book is being used to keep the legal advice from them, from “we’re running out of time”, “you’ll wreck Brexit” and “no deal will crash the economy” to “you’ll be spat at in the street” and, best of all, “we have to keep it ambiguous to fool the Irish”The problem is that no-one believes it’s just the Irish they’re trying to fool…

Brexit Grid Leak in Full

The BBC have obtained a copy of what appears to be the Government’s grid for selling the Brexit deal to a sceptical public and Parliament. Time will tell how accurate it turns out to be…

Brexit Communications Grid Summary

Cabinet reviews the deal this Tuesday, the 6th November. They expect all the details to then leak.

“A moment of decisive progress” will be announced this Thursday. Raab to announce.

The narrative is going to be measured success, that this is good for everyone, but won’t be all champagne corks popping.

Then there’s recess until 12th.

After the announcement of decisive progress there follows the 10 days of Sherpa meetings with EU 27 and then daily themed announcements.

19th November – “We have delivered on the referendum” PM speaks at the CBI conference.

Saying this deal brings the country back together, now is the time for us all to unite behind it for the good of all our futures etc. She will also hold a business reception.

This is the day both the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework will be put to Parliament by way of a statement from Raab who will also do media. Junior ministers are doing regional media all day. Government lining up 25 top business voices including Carolyn Fairburn and lots of world leaders eg Japanese PM to tweet support for the deal.

20th – Theme is Delivering for the Whole of the UK – PM to visit the north and or Scotland and the Commons will debate in business motions the date of the Meaningful Vote.

PM will be back in the house to vote. The Cabinet Office publishes its explainer of the deal and what it means for the public, comparing it to No Deal, but not to our current deal.

Other business leaders to come out and back it eg Adam Marshall from Chambers of Commerce and supportive voices in devolved regions like Andy Street and Andy Burnham. Also hoping to get 3rd Sector voices out supporting it.

21st – Theme is Economy, Jobs, Customs. Philip Hammond to open debate in Commons and Raab to close it. Institute of Directors to speak out.

Hoping for Stephen Martin, Martin McTeague etc

22nd – Theme is immigration – take back control of our borders. Home Sec doing media and visits. Raab on QT in the West mids.

Hope Mike Hawes of SMMT will speak out in favour along with influential voices from the rest of the world saying how great this is for the flow of global talent.

23rd – Theme is money – NHS funding and structural funds. Matt Hancock hospital visit. David Everett to welcome the deal alongside Tech for UK.

24th Theme is Northern Ireland and The Union – no hard border in the UK and the integrity of the Union is protected. PM visits border communities and business in NI and maybe also to Wales to visit agri and export businesses. Karen Bradley doing media.

Trying to get Varadker to support and Anand Menon and Henry Newman too.

25th – Theme is global Britain. We can strike trade deals with RoW (rest of world) security in this one too.

Speech from Liam Fox. Jeremy Hunt on Marr. Hope Miles Celic to come out in support (City UK).

Lining up lots of former foreign secs to come out in support and Mark Littlewood of the IEA.

26th – theme is taking back control of our laws, Raab doing media. PM interview with Dimbleby.

27th – morning theme is agri and fisheries. Gove doing a visit and media.

Evening is the vote. HISTORIC MOMENT, PUT YOUR OWN INTERESTS ASIDE, PUT THE COUNTRY’S INTERESTS FIRST AND BACK THIS DEAL.

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?

Information Commissioner Crushes Carole’s Conspiracies

Guido readers will be well-versed in Carole Cadwalladr’s various conspiracy theories about how a secret nexus of data companies conspired to rig the Brexit vote. As well as the corrections that would inevitably follow her front page ‘revelations’, buried on page 50 of the next week’s Observer…

In an inconvenient twist for the Orwell Prize-winning journalist, the report out today from the Information Commissioner’s Office has crushed most of her central claims. Terrible when a good story gets undermined by basic facts…

Carole claimed that Leave.EU was working with Cambridge Analytica. The ICO found that there was “no evidence of a working relationship between Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU” beyond “preliminary discussions”:

“[B]oth parties stated that only preliminary discussions took place, and the relationship did not move forward when Leave.EU failed to attain the designation as the official Leave campaign… Based on our enquiries, testimony and interviews, we conclude that this is indeed the case – there is no evidence of a working relationship between CA and Leave.EU proceeding beyond this initial phase.”

Carole claimed that the Canadian data firm, AIQ, who worked with Vote Leave, was effectively the “Canadian branch” of Cambridge Analytica, although she has since retracted this claim. The ICO scotched this one too:

“Whilst there was clearly a close working relationship between the entities and several staff members were known to each other, we have no evidence that AIQ has been anything other than a separate legal entity… ultimately we have concluded that this was a contractual relationship.”

Carole’s whole conspiracy centered around the notion that AIQ and Cambridge Analytica had shared data in the referendum. In fact the ICO found no evidence that either Cambridge Analytica or its parent company SCL Elections were involved in any data analytics work on the referendum at all:

“We found no evidence of unlawful activity in relation to the personal data of UK citizens and AIQ’s work with SCLE. To date, we have no evidence that SCLE and CA were involved in any data analytics work with the EU Referendum campaigns.”

Meanwhile Vote Leave was given a clean bill of health for its data work with AIQ:

“We know that Vote Leave had a commercial relationship with AIQ. In respect of that work, we have not obtained any evidence that Vote Leave transferred or processed personal data outside the UK unlawfully – or that it processed personal data without the consent of data subjects… Our further investigations into AIQ revealed no evidence of the unlawful processing of UK personal data.”

After massively bigging up the report yesterday, Carole has been unusually quiet on Twitter since it landed, mainly complaining that no-one was paying attention to the “MUCH bigger story” (was it being “deliberately buried”?) and even accusing Buzzfeed – of all places – of doing Arron Banks’ “dirty work”Maybe she’s still feeling a little bit sore after *that* article

Remainers were hoping for an explosive report to blow up Brexit. Instead it revealed that it’s the Remain campaign and the Lib Dems who are under investigation for potential data breaches, while Arron Banks’ looming fines are almost entirely for using his Leave.EU mailing list to flog insurance after the referendum, not for activities during the campaign. The only thing the report blew up was Carole’s conspiracy. She was after all, as Isabel Oakeshott famously said, “chasing unicorns”…

People’s Vote Under ICO Investigation

Guido can shed more light on the Information Commissioner’s Office investigation into the use of data by campaigns during the EU referendum.

The report reveals that the ICO is “still looking” into breaches of data by BSE that may require further action.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Dominic Raab wrote in his letter of resignation…

“This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust,” he told the PM, concluding: “I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election… I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom. I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit…”

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