Anti-Brexit ‘Renew’ Party Gives Up After Three Months

Sad news: anti-Brexit ‘party’ Renew is in trouble after its founder resigned just three months after the party launched. Referendum result denying Renew – which compares itself to Macron’s En Marche – was set up to great fanfare among less reality-based Remainers in February. Despite having a handful of supporters it called itself a ‘movement’ and announced ambitious plans to field hundreds of anti-Brexit candidates at the next election. Now its main man has walked…

Founder Chris Coghlan hinted at acrimonious divisions:

“Over the past weeks and months, it has become clear to me that other senior members of the party do not share the same values as I do. These are the values of opportunity, responsibility, integrity and decomcracy; the belief that in every political party members should have the final say.

“It has become increasingly clear that the vision for the party I founded could not be delivered through the existing senior team, and that that team will resist any attempt to change the current structure through democratic means. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I am leaving the party… Renew may not any longer offer this new hope but I’m hopeful that something will soon as Britain deserves better than what it’s currently being offered by those in charge.”

Splitters…

Robbins Hits Back at Brussels Briefing

May’s chief civil service Brexit adviser Olly Robbins has joined Twitter with a passive aggressive dig at the Brussels official who briefed the press yesterday that the UK was “chasing fantasy”. The implication of Robbins’ tweet very much that Brussels has not been calm and professional. Robbins’ Twitter mentions when Leave.EU and co find his account will be quite something…

Hungary Tells Barnier to End Galileo Brinkmanship

Last week Guido said Michel Barnier was lost in space over Galileo, and that his attempts to push the UK out of the satellite project would send costs spiralling for the EU-27 and delay the project even further due to their lack of expertise. Hungary is the first EU country to protest to Brussels – their foreign minister Peter Szijjarto has done a broadcast round today telling the EU to pack it in:

Losing or not taking advantage of the capacity of what the UK can contribute to the Galileo project, I think it’s rather irresponsible and I don’t really see that that would be in the interests of the EU…

Q: Would you like to see the UK staying in the Galileo programme?

Yes, of course. We understand the UK covers 12 per cent of the costs of the budget of the Galileo programme and I really do think that the security risks that are ahead of the European Union demand a very strong cooperation between the UK and the European Union. I think that giving up the cooperation with the UK on the field of intelligence or any other security aspects would be very irresponsible on the part of the European Union.

That’s Michel told…

Cummings Calls Collins’ Bluff

As grandstanding Remoaner and DCMS select committee chair Damian Collins fires off another grandiose letter to Dom Cummings threatening to send the men in tights round, the Vote Leave chief responds:

If you had wanted my evidence you would have cooperated over dates. You actually wanted to issue threats, watch me give in, then get higher audiences for your grandstanding. I’m calling your bluff. Your threats are as empty as those from May/Hammond/DD to the EU. Say what you like, I will not come to your committee regardless of how many letters you send or whether you send characters in fancy dress to hand me papers.

As Guido has written previously, the House’s power to punish non-MPs for contempt is untested in the modern age, it would probably fall foul of human rights legislation. In theory Cummings could be summonsed to the bar of the House to be reprimanded or imprisoned. The House of Commons last used its power to fine in 1666…

Cummings also has a warning for the Brexit-hating DCMS committee and other ultra-Remainer MPs:

I’m told many of your committee support the Adonis/Mandelson/Campbell/Grieve/Goldman Sachs/FT/CBI campaign for a rematch against the country. Do you know what Vote Leave 2 would feel like for the MPs who vote for that (and donors who fund it)? It would feel like having Lawrence Taylor chasing you and smashing you into the ground over and over and over again. Vote Leave 2 would not involve me — nobody will make that mistake again — but I know what it would feel like for every MP who votes for a rematch against the public. 

One of the mistakes Brexiters made was letting Vote Leave stop campaigning…

Tory Quits Government to “Fight For Brexit”

Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns has resigned as a PPS to focus on her role on the Brexit select committee and “fight for Brexit”.

“Currently, there are 21 members on the Brexit committee, only 7 of which voted to leave the EU. It is my opinion that the reports produced by the committee have been unbalanced in favour of us either remaining in the EU, the customs union or delaying our departure. I, therefore, feel I need to spend more of my time doing all I can do to correct this imbalance and be a robust voice for the benefits of Brexit.”

Jenkyns offers this conditional support for the PM:

“The Prime Minister has my full support in delivering the Brexit that she promised the British people. I am glad that the Prime Minister shares my vision of a truly Global Britain which is able to strike trade agreements with other countries. We want to see a new relationship with Europe, with a new model not enjoyed by other countries – nothing that leaves us half-in, half-out. And in order to achieve this, we need to leave the customs union.”

She concludes:

“I made a promise to my constituents during this parliament to fight for Brexit and this is a promise that I intend to keep to the best of my abilities. And it is important that I have both the time and freedom to speak out on the backbenchers to be able to do so.”

Well at least that’s one Leaver on the payroll standing up for Brexit…

7 Cummings Truth Bullets For Brexiter Tory MPs

Every Brexiter MP and Cabinet minister should be thinking hard about Vote Leave chief Dominic Cummings’ assessment of how Brexit is going this morning. Here are the seven key truth bullets…

Number 10 has botched the Article 50 process and made no serious preparations to leave the EU:

“The government’s nominal policy, which it put in its manifesto and has repeated many times, is to leave the Single Market and Customs Union and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. This requires preparing to be a ‘third country’ for the purposes of EU law. It requires building all the infrastructure and facilities that are normal around the world to manage trade. This process should have started BEFORE triggering A50 but the government has irretrievably botched this. Having botched it, it could have partially recovered its blunder by starting to do it afterwards. No such action has been taken.

Whitehall’s real preparations are for the continuation of EU law and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. The expectation is that MPs will end up accepting the terrible agreement as voting it down would be to invite chaos. In short, the state has made no preparations to leave and plans to make no preparations to leave even after leaving.”

The government’s promises on Ireland have made the negotiation impossible:

“The Government promised in the December agreement to do a number of things that are logically, legally and practically incompatible including leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, avoiding ‘friction’ and changing nothing around the Irish border (as defined by the EU), and having no border in the Irish Sea.”

None of the customs options on the table cut it:

“All this contributes to current delusional arguments over supposed ‘models’ (hybrid/max fac etc) that even on their own terms cannot solve the problem of multiple incompatible promises. ‘Compromise proposals’ such as that from Boles which assume the existence of ‘third country’ planning are just more delusions.”

Brexiter Tories have chickened out of forcing May to pursue a proper Brexit:

“Eurosceptics are full of shit and threats they don’t deliver, they say in No10, and on this at least they have a point.”

The way things are going, Brexit is not going to mean Brexit:

“The Government effectively has no credible policy and the whole world knows it… It now thinks its survival requires surrender, it thinks that admitting this risks its survival, it thinks that the MPs can be bullshi*tted by clever drafting from officials, and that once Leave MPs and donors — you guys — are ordering your champagne in the autumn for your parties on 30 March 2019 you will balk at bringing down the Government when you finally have to face that you’ve been conned.”

That is only going to help Corbyn become PM:

“Ask yourselves: what happens when the country sees you’ve simultaneously a) ‘handed over tens of billions for fuck all’ as they’ll say in focus groups (which the UK had no liability to pay), b) failed to do anything about unskilled immigration, c) persecuted the high skilled immigrants, such as scientists, who the public wants you to be MORE welcoming to, and d) failed to deliver on the nation’s Number One priority — funding for the NHS which is about to have a very high profile anniversary? And what happens if May staggers to 30 March 2019 and, as Barwell is floating with some of you, they then dig in to fight the 2022 campaign?…  If you go into the 2022 campaign after five years of this and the contest is Tory promises versus Corbyn promises, you will be maximising the odds of Corbyn as PM.”

Brexiters have only themselves to blame:

“Yes it’s true that May, Hammond, Heywood and Robbins are Remain and have screwed it up but you’re deluded if you think you’ll be able to blame the debacle just on them. Whitehall is better at the blame game than you are, officials are completely dominant in this government, ministers have chosen to put Heywood/Robbins in charge, and YOU will get most of the blame from the public. The sooner you internalise these facts and face reality, the better for the country and you.”

Tory Brexiters have come to the conclusion that they should just lump it, accept the way things are going and plod on to a middling Brexit. MPs won’t like it, but Cummings is right…

EU Escalates Probe into Juncker-Selmayr Cronyism Scandal

The EU standards watchdog is escalating its investigation into the scandal-hit rise of Jean-Claude Juncker’s loathed sidekick Martin Selmayr, who was this year made Europe’s top civil servant. Juncker sparked outrage in Feburary when he parachuted his political Chief of Staff into the hugely powerful role as Secretary General of the European Commission. There were rumours that commissioners’ support was bought. EU civil servants revolted over Selmayr’s lack of experience – the German lawyer, who has never worked in even the most junior official role, is now in charge of 33,000 non-political staff. Concerns were also voiced that Selmayr’s appointment entrenched German bias at the top of the EU. Moreover, it was another predictable appointment in the pale, male and stale world of EU bureaucracy… 

In dramatic developments, the EU Ombudsman has now ordered Juncker’s office to disclose documents relating to the appointment of Selmayr, as well as answer questions over the appointment. A letter from the Ombudsman to Juncker states:

“All documents, whether in electronic or paper format, including correspondence, notes, memos, emails, and all legal advice, from 1 September 2017 until 18 April 2018, relating to the appointment of the new Secretary-General. This should include documents sent from Commissioners to their cabinets, documents within and between cabinets, as well as documents between Commissioners/cabinets and the Commission services.”

The Ombudsman is investigating multiple complaints that the appointment “did not comply with the EU Staff Regulations and with principles of good administration.” Juncker will have to answer questions over the process and propriety of the appointment…

The European Parliament already conducted its own investigation which concluded the appointment: “could be viewed as a coup-like action which stretched and possibly even overstretched the limits of the law”. UKIP MEP Jonathan Bullock said: “Even die-hard Europhiles are waking up to the fact that there is something rotten at the heart of Brussels. Junckers answers will be interesting; and to think that remainiacs want us to cling to this devious, corrupt organisation.” Trouble ahead for Jean-Claude…

Boris Tells May: Get On With It!

Boris speaking to Bloomberg in Buenos Aires:

“The prime minister is the custodian of the plan, which is to come out of the customs union, out of the single market and to get on with it, to get on with that project with all convenient speed. Outward, free-trading countries — what they want to hear from us is that we are getting on with it with confidence and brio and zap and dynamism.”

Speaking for the nation…

German Companies Back Brexit Britain

Officials in Germany’s economic powerhouse state of Hesse – home to significant industry and the major financial centre of Frankfurt – say Brexit has had no negative effect on business. Prof. Mathias Mueller, President of the Frankfurt Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explained:

“Exports to the UK totalled 4.1 billion euros in 2017, which was 6.5 percent of Hessen’s exports… The sectors most affected include automobiles and automotive parts, since many Vauxhall automobiles sold in the UK are essentially “Made in Hessen”. Traditionally important export goods from Hessen are also chemical and pharmaceutical products as well as electro-technical products.”

He continued:
“Many local companies have also invested in the UK. According to statistics of the German Bundesbank, Hessen’s direct investment in the UK amounts to nearly 21 billion euros. Hessian companies employ 39,000 people in the UK. Conversely, British companies in Hessen employ as many as 60,000… 

“Business is running as usual, a ”Brexit shock” has not occurred and most companies are so experienced in international trade that they can deal with problems such as customs clearance, different national licensing processes, site-specific legal norms and the like. In general, the issues confronting companies with Brexit are nothing new.” 

Meanwhile, a nationwide poll by the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry found that even if the framework conditions for future business are not yet clear, companies that are invested in the UK will stand by their commitments. More than 91% of companies replied to the question of possible relocations away from the UK with “no”. Look forward to seeing this reported in the FT…

Mogg: You Wonder Whether the Government Really Wants to Leave

“Inevitably it is disconcerting when the Government says one thing and then agrees to do another. In terms of these negotiations, particularly as they’re led by someone who backed Remain, trust is very important. And it’s very important that the Government maintains faith with those who voted leave.

I think for the Government to be preparing for failure two and half years before the point at which they ought to be ready is just weak.

To go into the negotiations to say to Mr Barnier, ‘we will kowtow before you in every way you possibly want if we cannot get everything ready by the due date’ encourages him to say, ‘just kowtow, I’m quite happy’. And make no effort to come to a sensible agreement, I think it is a sign of abject weakness.”

If we say to the EU our backstop position is that will be the vassal state, why should the EU make any effort to make any arrangement other than for us to be anything other than for us to be a vassal state? This was always a problem with what was agreed in December and the problem with having creative ambiguity. Which is simply a way of trying to gull voters. Actually Governments should not have creative ambiguity, they should be straight with electorates about what they mean. And they should say what they mean, and then do it. I’m afraid this backstop is becoming very attractive to the EU not to offer us anything further. And therefore it is essentially a trap.

The Government should make preparations faster than it is for leaving without a deal. It should be ready to do that because it’s an essential part of the negotiations. It’s not to say that they want to leave without a deal, or even that I want to leave without a deal, but that it would be something a wise government would have spent much more time preparing. It’s been weak about that.”

The other thing that it should do is make it absolutely clear that the money is in return for a trade deal. And if we don’t get a trade deal, if we don’t have it ready to sign immediately after the 29th March, then the EU will not get any money from us. And that no payments will be made until that deal is made. The money is our strongest card, and it seems at the moment to have been given away without anything in return. So I think we need some backbone in these negotiations.

I fear we’re getting to the point where you wonder whether the Government really wants to leave at all.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg echoes the glumness of Brexiters in his ConHome Moggcast…

H/T Sam Coates

Barry Gardiner Brexit Car Crash

Tough morning for Bazza, who was skewered by Emma Barnett firstly on Labour’s Lewisham East candidate Janet Daby vowing to defy Corbyn on Brexit…

… And then on the leaked recording in which he admitted Labour’s Brexit policy is bollocks:

Gardiner totally unable to go on broadcast and talk about Brexit…

Television of Remainers, by Remainers for Remainers

When the Peston show’s producer tweeted the above graphic out Guido responded that he “should call if you need some phone numbers for politicians who want to leave the EU”. What are the chances of 6 guests all being remainers on a politically neutral show?

If guests were selected at random from the population – which they clearly are not – the probability that they would all be remain campaigners would be

The likelihood of an all-remain guest list being selected by chance is that tiny.

Peston tweeted first thing this morning

“It is just conceivable that a false premise underlies this probability calculation. What do you think?”

Sure, it is conceivable. What is inconceivable is that he would have a show with six Brexiters as his only guests.

He then prays in aid Rob Burley, until recently Marr’s producer

Burley also tweeted that the probability measure was silly and “It’s not June 2016.” Leavers feel we haven’t left the EU and the politico-media establishment are determined to reverse the 2016 vote. Is that a silly idea?

Incidentally the public think, by 3 to 1, the BBC is biased against Brexit and by 2 to 1 that ITV is biased against Brexit. How silly of them…

Brexit Drama Cast List in Full

Channel 4 have today announced a new drama about the referendum starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings. Guido has some suggestions for the rest of the cast…

Rimmer from Red Dwarf as Vote Leave boss Matthew Elliott. He’s already nailed the mannerisms.

Vote Leave comms chief Paul Stephenson would have to be played by Bob Odenkirk, aka Saul from Breaking Bad. “Better Call Saul” becomes “Better Call Paul”.

Surely Damian Lewis as Vote Leave spinner Rob “Roxstar” Oxley? He already has the coat and scarf.

Vote Leave’s Lee Cain and James Starkie, above right, were key players behind the scenes and are now SpAds for Boris and Gove respectively. They’d be played by Right Said Fred.

Seriously, how good is this one?

Perma-tanned Leave.EU wind up artist Andy Wigmore would be played by Deuce Bigalow’s Rob Schneider. He knows why.

Cambridge Analytica’s Alexander Nix is the spit of Stephen Merchant. And about as comical a character. 

This being Channel 4, the show will no doubt be a big Remainer whinge about data. Sheldon from Big Bang Theory is BeLeave money man Darren Grimes.

Kelly Osbourne just needs a slight trim and a pair of glasses and she is Observer whistleblower Chris Wylie.

Fellow whistleblower Shahmir Sanni promised Watergate and delivered a dodgy Zoolander. He’d be played by Ben Stiller.

And, guest starring as Carole Cadwalladr, Homeland’s Claire Danes.

Coming soon…

May Customs Union Gaffe

The PM’s spokesman quickly clarifies that she meant “future customs arrangement”, not “future customs union”. Phew!

Irish Border Camera Problem Solved

A lot of Remainers are agitating around the issue of cameras on the Irish border. Karen Bradley, one of the Remainers on the Brexit sub-committee, has insisted this morning that there will be no new Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras. Remainers don’t seem to realise that there already are high definition cameras at the Irish border with a high speed data link to police computers, which can easily be retasked to connect with customs and excise computers. The video above was taken at the border on the A1 motorway, the main route between Dublin and Belfast along which the vast majority of intra-Ireland trade happens. Problem solved!

Bercow Worked With Labour on Humble Address

Labour’s latest Brexit hypocrisy comes in the form of their attempt to force the government to reveal its negotiating hand in the Commons tonight. Back in 2016, Keir Starmer promised he would never seek to compel the government to disclose confidential Brexit papers:

“I fully accept that the Government will enter into confidential negotiations for a number of months and that producing a plan should not undermine that process. This is not the first time that I have said that; I have said it repeatedly…. I do… accept that there is a level of detail and of confidential issues and tactics that should not be disclosed, and I have never said otherwise”

Seems he has changed his mind.

Tory MPs and ministers are livid with John Bercow’s role in Labour’s Brexit games. A senior Whitehall source says it was Bercow who first told Starmer about the possibility of using a humble address motion (an arcane parliamentary procedure explained here) to force the government to reveal the papers: “It wouldn’t be happening without him“. Tory MPs are asking why the impartial Commons Speaker, who had a “Bollocks to Brexit” sticker in his car and publicly backed Remain, has been actively coming up with ideas to help Labour’s attempts to undermine Brexit. Bercow’s behaviour on this is riling Tory MPs as much as any of the other revelations about the Speaker over the last few weeks…

Barnier’s Lost in Space Over Galileo

Remainers are becoming more and more excited over the impact of Brexit on UK participation in EU space activities, especially the Galileo satellite network. The Galileo navigation system is the EU’s rival to US-owned GPS. A key element of the system, designed for military and emergency services, is a timing and navigation signal called the PRS (Public Regulated Service). The European Commission says the UK will not be able to access the PRS without further agreements after Brexit. Michel Barnier is weaponising the issue in his latest attempt at brinkmanship. He said yesterday:

“Third countries and their companies cannot participate in the development of security-sensitive matters.”

That’s more than a bit rich from Barnier: British experts designed much of the cryptography behind the system and developed the security technology protecting PRS. The satellites are currently controlled from Portsmouth. UK companies control the crucial security information – those firms have been reminded by ministers that they should not enter into new Galileo contracts in response to EU posturing. Moreover, the UK has poured £1.2 billion of taxpayers’ money into developing the system. It is already years late. If the EU makes an issue of it, the British will withdraw, sending costs spiralling for the EU-27 and delaying the project even further due to their lack of expertise…

Meanwhile, the UK government has already started work on its own system. A UK Space Agency spokesman said:

“The UK Space Agency is leading the work to develop options for a British alternative to Galileo, to guarantee our satellite positioning, navigation and timing needs are met in the future.”

Taking back control to infinity and beyond?

Switzerland and Canada are member countries of the European Space Agency without being in the EU or, in Canada’s case, europe. This will, as with Euratom and the Open Skies Agreement, turn out to be bluster on both sides and a deal will be done…

Will Collins Ask Electoral Commission About Remain Overspend?

The Electoral Commission is up in front of the Culture select committee this morning. Guido is sure the Remainer-packed committee, which has been the most one-sided, non-reality based, grandstanding committee by a mile under the tenure of ultra-Remainer chairman Damian Collins, will ask about the Remain campaign’s overspend. A good place to start would be Priti Patel’s letter to the Electoral Commission outlining clear evidence of Remain spending breaches, which for some strange reason the Commission declined to investigate. Culture committee members can read up on the evidence here. Surely Collins will want to ask about the Commission’s double standards?

Customs Decision Has Been Coming “Next Week” For Three Weeks

For three weeks in a row now, Number 10 has been putting off the decision on customs until “next week”.

Wednesday 2 May: Cabinet sub-committee meeting splits 6-5 in favour of Max Fac. Number 10 declines to hold an official vote. Decision delayed “until next week”.

Tuesday 8 May: Cabinet meeting. Customs is the elephant in the room, not discussed at all. Conversation put off until next Cabinet sub-committee.

Thursday 10 May: May cancels plan to discuss customs. Cabinet sub-committee instead told to go away into two groups and study proposals further. Still no decision.

Tuesday 15 May: Cabinet sub-committee meeting. Decision now expected “next week”. What will they tell us next week?

And this is without mentioning that Number 10 is considering delaying the Commons vote on the customs union until the autumn, which would wreck our negotiating hand. And appears to be considering extending the transition period for customs, which would further delay Brexit. C’mon Theresa, get on with it…

Clegg Said Brexit Meant Leaving Single Market

It really is Single Market Groundhog Day today. Guido can’t quite believe we are still having this argument two years on from the referendum, but it falls upon us once again to point out that, during the referendum, Nick Clegg was clear that Brexit meant leaving the single market.[…] Read the rest

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Boris on Osborne and Project Fear:

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