Raab Says May Still Needs To Go

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has become the most senior MP to reveal that “in sorrow, not in anger” he did not support Theresa May in last night’s confidence vote, telling Sky News that he still believes she needs to go: “my biggest fear now is that if she continues in place we have a greater risk of a Jeremy Corbyn government.” Raab sums up the mood of the country with his answer to “what happens next?”

He has been even more explicit to the BBC, telling them:

“We will have to back her as best we can but problem is that both in relation to Brexit and wider sustainability of the Government given likelihood of any changes to the deal, given the likely scale of opposition, it looks very difficult to see how this PM can lead us forward.”

He is not alone in thinking this. Will his other senior colleagues come out and admit it too?

How the Papers Reacted to May’s Victory

The papers have given their responses to last night’s drama, with most characterising it as a Pyrrhic victory that secures Theresa May’s survival for now but leaves her in limbo with her authority diminished. In a sign of just how much the British media landscape has changed since the referendum, the only two papers to come out fighting for May are the Mail and the Express – both instructing restive Tory MPs to “now just let her get on with” it.

The fact that over two thirds of her backbenchers expressed no confidence in her is a stark reminder of just how little support there is for her deal in Parliament. May is now heading to Brussels to plead for concessions from EU leaders. She will need to come back with much more than just empty words if she is going to have a hope of getting her deal through Parliament, and perhaps even her Cabinet. Whatever happens now, it won’t just be business as usual…

Brexiteers and DUP Publish Alternative Backstop Proposal

While the country anxiously waits for the result of tonight’s confidence vote, it is worth remembering that the problems of May’s deal, and particularly the backstop, have not gone away. However, Brexiteers hoped to do just that with the launch of a new 59-page report this morning, complete with 6 annexes including a fully drafted alternative Irish backstop protocol, by “Brexiteers’ Brain” Shanker Singham, lawyer Robert MacLean and Dutch customs expert Hans Maessen. It is not a wishlist, it is a fully legally operable text…

Also on hand to launch the report were former Brexit Secretary David Davis, former Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, and crucially, DUP leader Arlene Foster. The bottom line is that even if May survives tonight’s vote, she has no majority in Parliament without the DUP’s support. If the Government are going to get their deal through they need to start listening to alternative proposals instead of just sticking their fingers in their ears…

Lib Dems’ Scrooge MEP Shuts Down UK Office Just Before Christmas

The Lib Dems’ only MEP and general Scrooge Catherine Bearder has shut down her UK office, throwing two former UK staff members into the lurch less than a month before Christmas. They were handed their notice at the end of November. Co-conspirators tell Guido that Bearder is causing a lot of problems for the Lib Dems, who apparently advised her to not shut the office. The move to shut down the office makes it seem to Guido as if Bearder is not all that confident about the Lib Dems’ signature policy of stopping Brexit…

Theresa May Facing No Confidence Vote

After endless speculation and numerous false starts, the 48 letter threshold has finally been reached. Theresa May will face a vote of no confidence today with the result due to be announced at 9pm. Tory MPs will vote between 6 and 8pm after May addresses them, possibly for the last time, at 5pm. May has come out fighting, saying she will “contest that vote with everything I’ve got” and that she will “stand ready to finish the job”:

The next twelve hours will determine whether her party will let her…

US Ambassador to the EU Calls EU ‘Utterly Obstructionist’

American Ambassador to the European Union and former businessman and financier Gordon Sondland has told Politico that he finds the EU to be ‘utterly obstructionist’ on negotiating freer trade between the two blocs. Accusing the EU of deliberately stalling trade negotiations, Sondland said that his joke today is “if I ask someone at the EU what time it is, the answer is ‘no’.”

Having dealt with the EU now for more than half a year, his verdict is cutting…

“The Commission in particular is out of touch with reality. They are off in a cloud, regulating to the heart’s content — and regulating some things that don’t even need to be regulated, because they haven’t even occurred yet — while stifling growth and innovation.”

Better off out.

Voters Want MPs to Reject the Deal by More Than 2 to 1

MPs will be getting the chance to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal… at some point within the next six weeks according to her spokesman, who has confirmed that the vote will be held before January 21. Of course, her spokesman was insisting 24 hours ago that the vote was going ahead today…

Had MPs been able to vote the deal down today as expected, the British public would have been behind them. The latest Lord Ashcroft poll found voters against the deal by more than a margin of 2 to 1, with 53% in favour of MPs voting to “reject the Brexit agreement even if it is not clear what the outcome would then be” compared to only 24% in favour of MPs voting to “accept the Brexit agreement as an imperfect compromise and move on to other issues”. Opposition to the deal has grown in the three weeks since Ashcroft first asked the question, with a 9% swing against the deal. Voters aren’t falling for May’s strategy of boring them into backing the deal…

Voters’ responses to what they considered the most important Brexit outcomes were also very revealing. The most important outcome among Leave and Remain voters combined was “the UK being able to do its own free trade deals with countries outside the EU”, ahead of “continuing to trade freely with EU countries with no tariffs or customs checks”. May’s approach has been the other way round…

Both Tory and Labour Leave voters agreed that the most important issue was “the UK making all its own laws and no longer being subject to rulings from the European Court of Justice” – ending free movement was only ranked as the fifth most important issue. Once again proving the Remainer narrative wrong that the Leave vote was nothing more than a small-minded backlash against immigration…

Steve Baker Sets Out Tory Leadership Shortlist

Former Brexit minister Steve Baker has renewed his call for MPs to submit letters of no confidence in the PM, telling Today that Conservative MPs need to realise that we “cannot go staggering forward any longer like this” and that it is Theresa May’s “duty now to go”. More letters have reportedly gone in since yesterday’s debacle but somehow they’re always around “5 letters short” of 48…

When pressed on who should replace her, Baker gave a shortlist of four Brexiteers – Esther McVey, Dominic Raab, David Davis and Boris Johnson – and called on them to decide between themselves who would be the chosen candidate. Good luck with that…

“There are four people who have resigned from the Cabinet – Esther McVey, Dominic Raab, David Davis and Boris Johnson – the four of them need to work out between them which one of them is going to be our candidate to unite the country, unite the party, and take us out of the EU successfully.”

Boris is certainly back in the frame after his weighty appearance setting out a clear plan for how to proceed on Marr on Sunday, while Tory MPs are the one constituency he has consistently struggled to win over, his enduring popularity with Tory members and the country as a whole is not something MPs can ignore. Raab is Boris’s most likely challenger – he has burnished his credentials with his principled resignation although he does not have the public recognition factor of Boris or DD. DD has been out of the spotlight of late, while McVey’s support may end up being crucial to one of the other candidates if she does not go for leader herself.

Baker is right that Brexiteers should unite around a candidate when the inevitable leadership contest comes – Remainer Cabinet ministers including Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt are also on manoeuvres and the risk is real that Brexiteer infighting could lead to a repeat of the situation where a Remainer PM simply wins the race by default. Whether politicians are willing to put their egos to one side and back one of their main rivals is another matter…

Labour MP Grabs Mace

Heseltine wannabe MP Lloyd Russel-Moyle attempted to steal the show this evening by flouncing down the chamber of the House of Commons and grabbing the Ceremonial Mace to suspend the Commons sitting in protest at the Government postponing the meaningful vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. Famously Michael Heseltine performed the same stunt in protest of Labour’s nationalisations in 1976. The last Member to seize the mace was John McDonnell in 2009 over Heathrow expansion…

Thirty Two year old Russel-Moyle was first elected in 2017. He has now been named by the Speaker and ordered to withdraw from the house for the remainder of the sitting. After grabbing the mace, Russel-Moyle sheepishly gave it back, not even taking the opportunity to brandish it above his head like Hezza. Embarrassing… 

People’s Vote Splurging Cash on Facebook ‘Micro-Targeting’

Facebook have published pages political spending for October to December this year, revealing that far and away the biggest spenders were Remain campaigners. The People’s Vote campaign came in with the highest spending of any political organisation, in fact being the only campaign to reach six figures, splurging £150,841 in just over two months. Who funds them…?

Interestingly, the Government has promoted just eleven different adverts over the whole period, compared to a staggering 1,238 from the People’s Vote campaign – around twenty different adverts a day. If Guido were more conspiratorially-minded he might say that sounds suspiciously like ‘dark ad’ micro-targeting…

Bercow’s Bombshell Bollocking

Speaker John Bercow has thrown a massive spanner in the works of Theresa May’s wish to delay postpone the meaningful vote scheduled for Tuesday. Stating that communing the debate and cancelling the planned vote is “premature and inconclusive”, the Speaker pushed for the Commons to vote on whether they vote tomorrow, calling it “the right and dare I say it the obvious course to take.” The Government can technically plough on regardless, but Bercow has applied acute and piercing political pressure, especially just days after the Govt was voted in contempt of Parliament…

May’s Statement Laughed Down By Commons

An awkward start…

Remain and Leave Economists Pressure Treasury to Reveal Project Fear Models

The Treasury is under renewed pressure to reveal the models behind its latest round of Project Fear forecasts, with a group of 26 economists including Remain and Leave supporters writing to Treasury Select Committee Chair Nicky Morgan, calling on her to demand that the Treasury makes its models available to “qualified independent economists”. Signatories to the letter include former external members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, former economic advisers to government and the CBI and former Treasury officials. Not just the usual Brexiteer economist crowd…

The letter notes the “widespread unease about the very negative post-Brexit outcomes predicted by the Treasury’s economic model” and complains that the Treasury’s attempts to explain its approach have been impenetrable even to “experienced macroeconomists”. The Treasury’s black box figures are playing a huge role in the Government’s approach to Brexit, they should be subject to full independent scrutiny…

Read the full letter below:

Continue reading

Alan Duncan Laughs at May’s Vote Shambles

Foreign Minister Alan Duncan had the unfortunate task of being presented with the news that Theresa May’s meaningful vote will be delayed, live on air. You know you’re not in a good place when your own ministers are openly laughing at your Government… 

ECJ Ruling Does Not Let UK ‘Unilaterally’ Revoke Article 50

Remainers have predictably been salivating all over the ECJ’s ruling this morning that the UK can “unilaterally” revoke Article 50. The notoriously slow-moving EU Court discovered a remarkable turn of speed to deliver their judgement just in time for it to land one day before the crucial parliamentary vote in the UK. Definitely not a political court…

There’s just one problem – it’s not what the judgement actually says:

“…the revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw must, first, be submitted in writing to the European Council and, secondly, be unequivocal and unconditional…”

So it is not as simple as the UK simply telling the European Council it wants to withdraw Article 50 – the EU specifically reserves the power to rule on whether the UK’s notification is truly “unequivocal and unconditional”. Guido isn’t aware of any definitions of “unilateral” which include having to explicitly gain the approval of someone else. As ever, the ECJ marks its own homework to ensure that it always has the ultimate say over anything a member state can do…

The bottom line is that Article 50 is not going to be withdrawn unless there is a government in place that is prepared to table an Act of Parliament to unequivocally revoke it, and a Parliament that is prepared to vote this through. Even in today’s heavily Remainer-loaded Parliament, this is simply not going to happen…

Project Fear Still Wrong

The UK economy continues to steadily grow, with the ONS’ latest growth figures showing GDP growth of 0.4% in the three months to October. This is a solid showing for the first set of growth data not to include July’s hot weather and World Cup-fuelled boost. Almost two-and-a-half years on and Project Fear 1.0 is still yet to materialise…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Only 20% Back Second Referendum if Deal Voted Down

Remainers went all People’s Vote of Judea on each other this morning, with People’s Vote hilariously attacking the Lib Dems for tabling a “deeply unhelpful” second referendum amendment, accusing them of “political point scoring” and whinging about it being “deeply unfair”. Snigger…

The latest polling from IpsosMORI won’t have made Anna Soubry’s birthday any better either. While over six in ten Brits (62%) think May’s deal will be “bad for the UK as a whole” with only 25% believing it will be good, there is no clear support for a second referendum or cancelling Brexit either if the deal is voted down:

Only 20% of people are in favour of a second referendum on leaving the EU altogether, while the same number would back leaving without a deal at all. A mere 10% back Labour’s preferred option of a general election, while a further 10% would back a referendum on whether or not to accept the deal itself.

The most likely outcomes, that the Government either seeks to reopen negotiations with the EU or a second vote in Parliament is held on substantially the same deal, are also pretty low-scoring, notching up only 19% and 6% support each. The bottom line is that we are in unchartered waters – nobody knows what is going to happen, but it is simply not true for Remainers to claim that there is a clear majority for a second referendum on leaving the EU…

‘AKK’ Chosen as Merkel’s Successor

The CDU has elected Merkel’s favoured candidate, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to be its new leader. This puts ‘AKK’, widely seen as the continuity candidate, in pole position to succeed Merkel when she finally steps down as Chancellor in 2021, if not before. Will the Brexit negotiations still be going on then?

NEWKIP? Mass UKIP Exodus, New Group Planned for Monday Launch

Guido hears whispers of a mass exodus of UKIP MEPs planned for Monday. As few as two MEPs (Stuart Agnew and Mike Hookem) could stay with Tommy Robinson-obsessed UKIP leader Gerard Batten, while the rest join a new Farage-led national group within the pan-European EFDD group – also led by Farage.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Jacob Rees Mogg writes

“If I had to choose between no deal and Mrs May’s original accord, I would have no hesitation of opting for no-deal Brexit but even Mrs May’s deal would be better than not leaving at all.”

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