Gloomy Hammond Speech Falls Flat

Philip Hammond’s gloomy speech was a barely coded attack on Boris and Liam Fox, talking up the “difficulties” of Brexit, insisting we must remain “closely linked” to the EU, and talking down investment. His jokes fell flat too:

Hammond: Brexit “has created uncertainty so investment has slowed as businesses wait for clarity.” Very much NOT the DIT position

Fiscal Phil sends ’em to sleep…

Another Top Heywood Ally in Government

The decision to hand former BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead a peerage and make her the new international trade minister has bewildered some and gone down badly with Brexiteers. It seems a bit random for Rona to get the gig given her past career highlight was being paid £10,000-a-day during the HSBC tax avoidance scandal. Doubly odd for Theresa May to appoint someone with close Cameroon links – Fairhead and her husband, ex-Tory councillor Tom, are very friendly with George Osborne, hardly a supporter of the government. Can the appointment perhaps be explained by Fairhead’s friendship with arch-Remainer Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood? Rona sat on the Cabinet Office board with Heywood and it was Heywood who interviewed her for the BBC job. Sir Jeremy is a big Rona fan, so you can understand why this decision is being treated with deep scepticism by Tory Brexiters. An appointment which speaks volumes for the elitist chumocracy revolving door that Theresa May claimed to oppose…

BBC Question Time Panels Dominated by Remainers

Julia Hartley-Brewer joked with David Dimbleby on Question Time a couple of weeks ago that she was used to being the only Brexiteer on a panel. And she was right.

Lefties used to complain that Nigel Farage was forever on the programme, he has only appeared once in the 42 Question Time shows there have been since the referendum. According to research done by a co-conspirator*, Remain panelists have outnumbered Leavers by 137-72, nearly twice as many. 86% of the time the panel was dominated by Remainers…

  • Leavers have only outnumbered Remainers in 3 episodes. Remainers dominated in 36.
  • In 16 editions there was only a single Leaver.
  • Prominent anti-Brexiteers dominate the repeat appearances with Emily Thornberry and Richard Burgon on 5 times, Alex Salmond and Leanne Wood on 3 times.
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg was the only Brexiteer to appear 3 times.

Given the majority of the country backed Leave is it really too hard for the producers to have more balanced panels? Admittedly most of the political establishment they have to choose from is pro-Remain…

*Researched by co-conspirator and journalist Ken Andrew. He excluded the non-partisan edition immediately after the Manchester bombing and the Leaders’ Debates.

Barnier: Months Before Trade Talks Can Start

Barnier top lines:

  • Welcomes “new dynamic” of May’s Florence speech
  • Says “we have had a constructive week”, “useful”
  • But… “we are not yet there in terms of sufficient progress”
  • It may take “weeks or maybe even months” before EU will agree to trade talks
  • Barnier still insisting ECJ must have “indispensable” role in post-Brexit disputes with EU citizens

A warmer Barnier today, but still tediously intransigent…

Team Hammond: Brexiters Are Stupid

Classic condescending quote from “an ally” of Philip Hammond on the front page of the Telegraph, the use of the phrase “simple-minded Brexiteers” is revealing:

“The bottom line is this is not going to be easy, something that’s overlooked by simple-minded Brexiteers like Boris. When it comes down to practicalities it may take longer.”

So anyone who doesn’t agree with Hammond and Amber Rudd that the transition must be longer than two years is a “simple-minded” Brexiter. Remember Hammond and Cabinet Remainers had until last week been living in a fantasy land of a five year transition. A senior government Leaver tells Guido in response:

“Hammond has been revealed as duplicitous and calculating and the mouthpiece of the City. He’s also been done up like a kipper by Boris and Davis. There’s a reason the PM was going to chop him.”

Of all the briefing at the moment, not sure sneering at Leavers is the best look for the Chancellor…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Labour to Officially Ignore Brexit at Conference

Labour members will not be given a vote on the party’s Brexit policy at conference after it was decided it shouldn’t be prioritised among the eight most important topics for discussion. Big loss for Labour Remainers who hoped to get the party to vote in favour of single market membership and freedom of movement. Momentum helped the Corbynista Brexiters keep it off the agenda to save him from having the party split down the middle. Talk about papering over the cracks and making yourselves look completely irrelevant…

UPDATE: Labour Remainers who wanted to use a vote to adopt single market membership as policy are livid:

Labour Remainers lose, Corbynista Brexiters win…

Caroline Flint v Clive Lewis Immigration Bunfight

This got heated when Clive suggested Caroline was racist for supporting managed migration…

Flint: Remainers Aren’t Being Honest About Single Market

Labour’s Caroline Flint says Labour Remainers like Clive Lewis are not being honest and that continued single market membership would not be a real Brexit. Fair play to Caroline, she is one of the few Labour MPs speaking the truth at the moment…

Corbyn Backs “A Lot” of Continued EU Immigration

Corbyn doing his best to come to the aid of imploding Tories this morning…

Corbyn: I Could Back Further Brexit Delay

Corbyn tells Marr he cannot put a figure on how long the transition should be, suggesting he could back a delay to Brexit longer than two years. Leave voters in Labour’s Brexit heartlands take note…

Davis: Boris Didn’t Change May Speech

David Davis has slapped down this morning’s claims by Team Boris that their man “saved Brexit” and toughened up May’s Florence speech. DD insisted government policy hasn’t changed for some time, he also backed Amber Rudd’s drive-by on Boris on Marr last weekend and confirmed he is halfway between the EEA light and CETA plus models, as Guido reported last week. This DD slap down has to be viewed through the prism of their rivalry, this morning’s Sunday Times reports Davis vetoed an election night plan by Boris and Hammond to oust May…

Mogg and O-Patz Grumbling, IDS and Redwood on Board

The likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Owen Paterson are grumbling about May’s speech – the Mogg articulated their concerns on Newsnight about free movement and ECJ oversight continuing during the transition. Other hard-to-please Brexiter backbenchers are satisfied though, IDS says he can live with the transition so long as it is time-limited and John Redwood has given his backing:

As Guido has said since June, most Tory Brexiters are fine with a transition so long as it is time-limited to two years and the end destination is fully out of all the institutions of the EU. The question that matters is what our future relationship with the EU will look like, at some point May has to give an answer that satisfies Leave voters and Cabinet ministers…

Profundity of the Punditry: Florence Quadruple Whammy

Robert Peston caused a bit of a stir yesterday afternoon reporting that Theresa May was about to “do a Canada”:

“Her aspiration for after those two or perhaps three years of transition is for our future trading relationship to be what is known – in the ghastly jargon – as CETA plus… What this means is we want a trade deal modelled on Canada’s new one (CETA) with the EU, that has just become operative in interim mode, and not the more intimate integration with the EU of Norway or Switzerland. The reason we are doing a Canada is there has been no resiling from the position taken by the PM in her landmark Lancaster House speech… all of that is broadly May’s position, to be expressed tomorrow.”

May actually ruled Canada out:

“One way of approaching this question is to put forward a stark and unimaginative choice between two models: either something based on European Economic Area membership; or a traditional Free Trade Agreement, such as that the EU has recently negotiated with Canada. I don’t believe either of these options would be best for the UK or for the European Union.”

Doh!

Over at the Telegraph they has this top pre-speech scoop:

Except it didn’t come true, there was no mention of this in the speech. Boris seemed happy too, rather than on the verge of resigning. Doh!

What about all those Remain pundits who said again and again that May had dropped her view that “no deal is better than a bad deal”? Asked by Laura K, May confirmed this was still her position. Doh!

Then there was Sky’s Faisal Islam, who after the speech claimed May was “65% towards the Norway model”. Nope, you can read May’s damning verdict of Norway here. Doh!

Brexit reporting not particularly enlightening at the moment…

May Rejects Norway: Boris Happy

Theresa May strongly rejected the EEA option – it will be tough for her to go with Hammond’s EEA light plan given these words:

“European Economic Area membership would mean the UK having to adopt at home – automatically and in their entirety – new EU rules. Rules over which, in future, we will have little influence and no vote. Such a loss of democratic control could not work for the British people. I fear it would inevitably lead to friction and then a damaging re-opening of the nature of our relationship in the near future: the very last thing that anyone on either side of the Channel wants.”

May also stressed the need for Britain to be able to make changes to EU rules and regulations. This is what Cabinet Leavers mean when they say they want Britain to be able to go its own way in the world:

“So the question for us now in building a new economic partnership is not how we bring our rules and regulations closer together, but what we do when one of us wants to make changes.”

Boris happy:

A senior Leaver tells Guido:

“Remainers have been outgunned. They were telling us EEA was nailed on and Spreadsheet Phil was going to get a 5 year transition.”

Boris might be happier than Hammond but May still didn’t explicitly say what Brexit Britain will look like, can kicked down the road…

UPDATE: The speech is also reopening the old Leaver splits from the referendum, with the Leave Means Leave crowd (which includes more hardline Tory Brexiter backbenchers) saying:

“We are deeply concerned that her proposals could lead to nothing changing either during or after the implementation period – which will go on for an undefined amount of time. There is no reference to being able to deregulate, sign our own trade deals or control our borders. This is a rebadging of the status quo and is Brexit in name only. In reality, this means we are still members. The Prime Minister should have explicitly committed to a no deal option and the Government should be planning for it. She has fallen for the trap laid by senior civil servants, the Treasury and the CBI.”

Ottimista* May Sounding Like Boris in Drag

May starts her speech channelling Boris “For many, it is an exciting time, full of promise. For others it is a worrying one – I look ahead with optimism”. “Optimism” the word of the day…

*Optimistic Italian

May’s Florence Speech

Friday Caption Contest (Taxi for Khan Edition)

Entries in the comments…

Italians on Board With May Speech, Call For Brussels to End “Punitive Approach”

The pre-briefing of May’s speech has gone down well with the hosts judging by the response from the Italian papers today. Centre-left broadsheet Il Messaggero says Italy should not take the “punitive approach of Macron and Merkel”:

“How should Italy respond to May who comes to our country? Is it profitable for Italy to respond in the same way as France and Germany? Would it not be better for us to propose our own solution, not the punitive approach of Macron and Merkel? On this the Italian government has never been clear. A greater independence from the Macron-Merkel axis would enable us to create more favourable agreements with London, regarding, for example, our countrymen who live and work there. Let’s not waste an opportunity: let’s not delegate to France and Germany our right to decide. We could regret it very soon.”

Likewise, La Repubblica says the negotiations can now properly begin:

“May to give message of hope… If May’s message today is not a ‘soft Brexit’ at least it is not a ‘hard Brexit’. Perhaps the negotiations can really start.”

Corriere della Sera:

“Downing St. makes it known that May will offer an optimistic and ambitious vision for the future relations between the EU and the UK and will underline that a successful agreement is in the interests of both sides.” 

 La Stampa:

“In future relations with the EU May does not adopt either the Norwegian model or the Canadian. It will be something new. For now the objective is to give negotiations a shake”

Italy on board, what about Germany, France and Brussels?

May’s Speech Slogan Revealed

A co-conspirator in Florence has managed to get a photo of the backdrop for the PM’s speech. Think we can safely say she’s going for a building bridges approach…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Former public schoolboy Chuka Umunna told the  ‘Exit From Brexit Dinner’…

“Remainians, Remoaners, I don’t care what the label is, I’m proud. It’s fashionable to label everyone in this room as the liberal metropolitan elite . . . This caricature is promoted by a bunch of former public schoolboys!” 

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