EU Commissioner Hints Withdrawal Agreement Could Be Changed

Speaking to Nick Robinson on The Today Programme this morning, EU Commissioner Věra Jourová gave a strong hint that the Withdrawal Agreement could be altered in the future. Saying she would be “very careful” in her answer, she said the decision whether or not to alter the deal in order to avoid a ‘No Deal’ scenario that would hurt both sides would be for the next EU Commission president. She would only commit to the Withdrawal Agreement being the only deal on the table “for the moment”. Given a credible threat of No Deal, the EU is looking like it could move…

+++ Philip Lee No Confidenced +++


The second referendum backing Tory MP has so alienated members of his constituency association that he didn’t even turn up at the Bracknell Conservative Association’s Special General Meeting. Unsurprisingly they voted that they had no confidence in Philip Lee. Contemptible cowardice or arrogance from the man who had “Philip Lee, Great British Hero” posters printed. Perhaps both.

UPDATE:  Lee has issued a statement:

In the future, I may or may not decide that I can continue serving as a Conservative Member of Parliament and the Bracknell Conservative Association may or may not decide that they wish to readopt me as the Conservative Party’s candidate. But one thing is for sure: we will not be forced into taking a decision one way or the other by this orchestrated, destructive campaign from outside the Party that has done nothing but spread hatred, intimidation and distrust over a single issue. That is not the Conservative way; it is not the Bracknell way.

In reality, according to Guido’s co-conspirator in Bracknell, the only external people visible at the meeting weree about 10 or so People’s Vote ‘protesters’ outside the hotel where the meeting was being held. One had a placard “I support Phillip Lee”. Here’s the co-conspirator’s report

Overall, the meeting was good-natured but a few clashes between people. About 150 wish people attended I reckon. At the beginning of the meeting, the Chairman made it clear that the percentage would not be released, only whether the motion was passed or not – this is apparently in accordance with the constituency constitution (this caused some commotion). He absolutely refuted claims of ‘entryism’ suggesting new members were from both sides of the Brexit argument.

I got chatting to someone who had only been a member for 8 or 9 months (but life-long Tory voter) and he was present at the last AGM where Phillip Lee turned up but said nothing the whole meeting (just looked at his phone). This was brought up by a number of members, in addition to him not even bothering to attend this meeting. This wound a lot of people up. There were quite a few life-long Tories who had re-joined recently.

Many people who spoke mentioned his position on Brexit and lack of support for the government but also mentioned his general attitude (not responding to emails, etc). Some councillors refuted this claim. Many scoffed at his comment about foreign money being involved in this action against him.

The most common argument for not supporting this amendment was that it was not the right time; this would play into the hands of the opposition, Phillip may run as an independent and split the Tory vote, etc. These suggestions didn’t go down well. Nothing positive really said about Phillip.

One laughable suggestion was that we should vote to reject this motion because the meeting alone would be enough to help change Phillip’s behaviour – “that boat has sailed” was heard after that comment.

Probably 90% people spoke against Phillip – bringing up all the above points – many of which got lots of applause. He just isn’t well liked.

That last point is a common refrain from people who have to deal with him…

London Chamber of Commerce Hits Back at CBI’s No Deal Scare

The CBI have waded into the Tory leadership race with an entirely predictable open letter sent to all the candidates warning against the supposed horrors of a no-deal Brexit. They might as well just auto-schedule the same press release every three weeks. It’s only going to get worse when ultra-Remain fanatic Lord Bilimoria takes over as CBI President…

Not all business groups share their pessimism – now the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has hit back at the CBI, with chief executive David Frost pointing out the obvious logical flaws with the CBI’s hardline position:

“It is all very well to insist the next Prime Minister must avoid Brexit on WTO terms and instead strike a deal with the EU. But no Prime Minister can actually guarantee that.

“That is because it isn’t just a UK decision: it’s also for the EU. That is why, as we have said, business needs to be confident that Government is still preparing for a No Deal Brexit and engaging fully with business organisations and individual firms.

“Although some of our members cannot prepare effectively, others can, and did so in the run up to 29 March. For them, it is the prolonged uncertainty that is damaging. So the new Conservative leader should aim to bring clarity as soon as possible.”

Business wants certainty on Brexit, not indecision…

YouGov Justify Not Prompting for the Brexit Party

YouGov not prompting for the Brexit Party in this morning’s bombshell poll when it is polling second in Westminster voting intentions and won the Euros has riled a lot of their supporters. Anthony Wells has written an explainer and makes this justification:

“…like many pollsters we overstated support for the Brexit Party, putting them at 37% compared to the 31.6% they actually achieved in Great Britain. Over the next few weeks, we will also be looking at the possible causes of that overstatement, and whether there was something to do with turnout, undecided voters or our weighting or sampling scheme that led to us having too many Brexit voters in our final poll.”

However, it’s worth remembering their final poll for the 2017 General Election predicted a 7% gap between the Tories and Labour, in the election itself this shrunk by the same margin to just 2%. YouGov may well have tweaked their turnout models afterwards, Guido doesn’t recall them doing anything as drastic as moving a major party into ‘Other’…

Either way, remember Cleggmania? Surges have a tendency to fall back. Even so, the Brexit Party outpolling the two main parties of the twentieth century is a real tribute to the popular appeal of Corbyn and May. The outcome of the Tory leadership race will determine the long term sustainability of the Brexit Party…

Raab Accuses Lidington of Sabotaging Backstop Changes

Dominic Raab has done a lengthy interview with the Spectator’s Katy Balls covering everything from karate to feminism. However the moment that will raise Brexiteer eyebrows the most is when Raab directly blames Theresa May’s deputy David Lidington for sabotaging his attempts to renegotiate the backstop as Brexit Secretary:

‘I think there was a window of opportunity,’ he says. ‘The frustrating thing is that it was closed by our own side.’ Specifically, he suspects, by David Lidington, Theresa May’s de facto deputy, who held his own talks with the Irish and seemed to stop what No. 10 saw as Raab’s freelancing. ‘It wasn’t ruled out by Coveney, it was ruled out by Varadkar. The only thing that happened in between is that he met David Lidington. It’s clear what happened.’

This will do nothing to ease widespread Brexiteer suspicions that the backstop was just a ruse cooked up from the start by Theresa May’s inner circle of Remainer advisers…

Hunt Won’t Commit to October 31 Brexit Deadline

Jeremy Hunt was grilled on Brexit by Peston last night after being forced to helplessly sit through a whole segment of the show where his flip-flopping on Brexit was read out line-by-line. Ouch…

More significantly, Hunt would not commit to the new October 31 Brexit deadline on the grounds that Parliament could try to block no deal, which he argues would lead to a “very, very devastating” general election. Hunt’s plan relies on putting back together the Conservative-DUP alliance, which will be a tall ask if the hated backstop is still in place…

On the other side of the argument Dominic Raab tells the Spectator that he would be prepared to use all the “levers of the executive” to force through a no deal if necessary, potentially setting up an epic constitutional crash with aspiring ‘Eternal President’ John Bercow. May never seriously attempted to use those levers so Raab would be in unchartered waters. Ultimately the onus would be on Remainer Tory MPs to decide once and for all what they really think is worse, no deal or a Marxist Prime Minister…

Campaigner To ‘Stop Lying In Politics’ is Lying About His Political Campaign

The smarmy man behind the case to prosecute Boris Johnson has been saying his case is not about stopping Brexit, just about stopping ‘lying in politics’. That will come as news to the original backers of Marcus J. Ball’s first (now deleted) crowdfunder which Guido can reveal was set up from “within a Facebook group called The 48%” in order to reverse the result of the referendum. Quelle surprise…

“Once these prosecutions have established that politicians did indeed lie to voters our next step will be to take other action to prevent Brexit. This may be in the form of a judicial review… We will also work to reverse Brexit and ensure our membership of the European Union is not lost”

After consulting his barristers, Ball deleted his original blogs, seemingly to hide his original intentions and then launched a new site claiming that he was “motivated by a desire to challenge the national problem of lying in UK politics.” In late 2018 a new ‘Brexit Justice Prosecution’ page was launched, a new financial target established, and new Twitter and Facebook profiles were set up as old ones are deleted. The old ‘Brexit Justice’ Page now reroutes to the new page, with all references to Ball’s political views removed. Crafty.

What started as an attempt to prosecute the Leave campaign turned into a campaign against the man who led it, which if successful would have hugely destructive consequences over our democracy, enforcing government regulation of political speech. A source close to Boris told Guido that:

“The claimant has openly admitted that his plan is to overturn the referendum via a legal challenge and he clearly intends to try and undermine the one man who can truly deliver Brexit. The decision to issue a summons is extraordinary, and flies in the face of hundreds of years of British democratic tradition.”

Boris has become the latest in a long line of Brexit champions who the establishment and dodgy bandwagon hoppers are trying to defeat in the courts. They know they can’t defeat Brexit though legitimate democratic processes…

Merkel Cancels Resignation, Decides Successor Not Up to Job

If the Tories thought they were having trouble getting rid of Theresa May, they should spare a thought for the German CDU where Angela Merkel has just announced that she won’t be resigning as German Chancellor after all. Heiliger Strohsack!

Merkel has reportedly decided that her chosen successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, abbreviated to slightly dubious acronym ‘AKK’, is not up to the job after watching her popularity slide since she took over leadership of the CDU. AKK led the CDU to its worst ever performance in the EU elections, which people actually care about in Germany. Merkel now wants to hang on at least until 2021. As long as Theresa May doesn’t get any ideas…

Remainers Overwhelmingly Outspent Leavers on Facebook

Guido reported during the campaign, Change UK were massively outstripping the spending of other parties on Facebook throughout the election. By the last week of the campaign, the Lib Dems caught up with Change UK, followed by the Greens, Labour, then the Tories. In that crucial week, of the parties in England that won seats, the Brexit Party spent the least and won the most…

Europhile Supergroups Lose European Parliament Majority for First Time Ever

The final results of the EU elections are still trickling in, however the overall picture is pretty clear already. Eurofederalists have lost ground although they still outnumber Eurosceptics. Incredibly, it’s the first time ever in the European Parliament’s 40-year history that the giant Europhile EPP (Christian Democrat) and S&D (Socialist) blocks haven’t had a majority between them. However the equally Europhile ALDE group has 115 MEPs to throw into the mix now so the EU Parliament can continue its rubber stamping untroubled…

The Brexit Party is the joint largest party with 29 MEPs along with Merkel’s CDU/CSU – although technically that is two separate parties so the Brexit Party could arguably claim to be the largest. Ultimately none of it matters in terms of EU politics, the only thing of any significance is the outcome of the shady backroom deals and horse-trading between EU leaders over who will be the next President of the European Commission. The field of potential candidates is so unappealing that Michel Barnier might even be the best outcome for the UK…

Projection via @EuropeElects

Raab Accuses ‘Others in Government’ of Undermining Brexit Negotiations

Raab’s no deal pitch on Marr was actually most interesting for the brief moment where he accused “others in Government” of having “undermined” that his efforts to negotiate as Brexit Secretary last year. Something which does appear to be vindicated by the reaction of the EU side…

Raab: I Will Not Ask for Brexit Extension

Raab insists he will not ask for a Brexit extension beyond October…

McDonnell vs McDonnell on Brexit

McDonnell’s going to get seasick if he keeps changing Brexit positions so quickly

McVey: No Hard Irish Border if There’s No Deal

As Barnier, Juncker, Varadkar, Coveney and the EU have all admitted on countless occasions…

Juncker: Stupid Nationalists Love Their Own Country

EU Commission President Juncker told CNN yesterday that populists and nationalists are stupid because they love their own country.

“These populists, nationalists, stupid nationalists, they are in love with their own country.” 

Says more about him than populist parties…

EU Election Blame Game

There have been numerous reports of EU citizens being turned away from polling stations today despite having supposedly completed their two-stage registrations for it correctly. There’s plenty of noise on Twitter about it although it’s not clear yet how widespread the problem actually is…

Either way the blame game has already started in earnest, with people variously pointing fingers at the Government, local councils, the Electoral Commission, loopy Ed Davey has even accused the Tories of “deliberately” engineering a “bureaucratic shambles”. It’s pretty obvious to anyone watching the Tories recently that they’re too shambolic deliberately engineer a bureaucratic shambles if they tried…

The Electoral Commission themselves are trying to blame the Government for the “very short notice” they gave them of the elections. While the Government were officially still in denial until earlier this month, what the Electoral Commission seem to have forgotten is that David Lidington actually gave them official instruction to start preparing for the EU elections seven and a half weeks ago on 1st April. Which is longer than they had to prepare for the 2017 snap General Election…

Judging from most of the reports from EU citizens online, the fault appears to lie largely at local council level – EU citizens have been told they can vote by their local councils but clerical errors mean that databases have not been updated, despite councils having had 12 days to do so. The Guy Newsroom can confirm from personal experience the levels of sheer unbridled incompetence at many local councils’ electoral departments. Trying to blame Brexit is a bit rich when exactly the same problems were reported five years ago, five years in which councils have still failed to get their acts together…

May Breaks Another Brexit Promise

Theresa May bought herself a stay of execution at the 1922 Committee last week after they agreed that she could have one last chance to try to get her deal through. May promised to bring the Withdrawal Agreement to the Commons the week commencing 3rd June before announcing her resignation timetable…

Andrea Leadsom’s stand-in Mark Spencer has revealed the Government’s parliamentary business for that week – predictably there’s no sign whatsoever of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Spencer optimistically added that the Government might yet try to bring the WAB on Friday 7th June, the House isn’t even due to be sitting on that day. To be fair if she does announce her resignation timetable before then, as expected on Friday or Monday, it would render it pointless. Nonetheless it’s still a promise broken, how many more will she break before she finally leaves?

Brexit Party Teller Attacked By Milkshake

Don McNaughton, A Brexit Party teller and 22 year army veteran in Aldershot described as a “popular man with the local community,” has been attacked by a man on a bike with a milkshake. Former Army Major Dominic Farrell described the scene

“Bloke on a cycle passed by, saw his rosette, gave him the finger and abuse, then went to a shop, bought the milkshake and attacked him.”

The police have now attended the scene and Don is staying at his telling post. How do people think this is acceptable..?

UPDATE: Someone has started a fundraiser to pay for Don’s dry cleaning and send him on holiday.

McDonnell: Labour Wants Brexit

When the votes are all counted for the remain and leave parties, which pile should Labour’s votes be put in?

Remember this after the election…

“Led By Donkeys” Unmasked as Greenpeace Campaigners

Guido’s campaign for transparency over big-spending anti-Brexit campaign ‘Led By Donkeys’ has paid off. The Electoral Commission now are reporting details of who the mysterious campaign are – who have raised almost half a million pounds to fight Brexit in the last few months.[…] Read the rest

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