Starmer Won’t Rule Out Remain

Keir Starmer makes the point of again not ruling out Remain if there’s a second referendum. Labour continuing their Brexit policy of being all things to all people…

Suella: UK Can “Thrive” With No Deal

Brexit Minister Suella Fernandes says it won’t be a “walk in the park” but the UK “can thrive in a no deal scenario”. As long as the government has done the ground work to prepare…

Suella denies being a Brexiteer sleeper agent. Ironically many Brexiteers think she was asleep on the job when she headed up the ERG and the Northern Irish backstop was slipped through…

People’s Vote Delete Disturbing ‘Must Watch’ Video After Backlash

The ‘Peoples’ Vote’ campaign have deleted a disturbing video where a parent pushes his five year old child to demand a second referendum. The poor kid can’t even remember what he’s been told to say. After a big backlash on twitter, the campaign sheepishly deleted the video. Guido has it saved for co-conspirators to see and cringe at. They professionally produced it with subtitles and an end screen, and called it a “MUST WATCH”…

Nick Clegg’s New Job Lobbying the European Commission

It seems like a bit of a come down for a former Deputy PM to become Facebook’s spin-doctor and Brussels lobbyist – however it is dressed up that is what he is being hired to do. No doubt the fee and stock option millions will cushion the humilation.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Mr Clegg said: “Throughout my public life I have relished grappling with difficult and controversial issues and seeking to communicate them to others. I hope to use some of those skills in my new role.” The former MP for Sheffield Hallam is being hired for his connections at the European Commission. He was a former EC trade negotiator and member of the European Parliament. Facebook is the prime legal target of the European Commission for privacy breaches and a myriad of other regulatory issues. Not the least of which is taxing the internet giant.

On which subject Clegg previously said “I actually find the messianic Californian new-worldy-touchy-feely culture of Facebook a little grating. Nor am I sure that companies such as Facebook really pay all the tax they could.” Guido’s sure Mark Zuckerberg will be pleased to hear what his new hire thinks now…

It also signals that he thinks the fight against Brexit is over. Now he’s in Brussels for one thing only. The money, reportedly £1 million-a-year…

 

Sadiq’s Suspect People’s Vote TfL Ads

The so-called “People’s Vote” have launched an advertising campaign on the London Underground ahead of their Losers’ March tomorrow. However this is a direct contradiction of the TfL guidelines for advertising on the tube. Rule 2.3(n) clearly states that an “advertisement will be unacceptable if it promotes a party political cause or electioneering.”

With Sadiq Khan due to address the march of the Remoaners tomorrow, could it be the case that the Mayor is abusing his position to bypass the rules and decisions of London’s governing bodies? It wouldn’t be the first time. A few weeks ago, Guido reported how Sadiq’s team had overruled GLA authorities who had banned the Trump baby blimp from appearing. Guido hopes Sadiq isn’t bending the rules because he’s worried about how many people will turn up to watch him speak…

Backdoor EU Funding For Losers’ Vote

EU funded sock puppet organisations are taking to twitter to promote yet another coalescing of Britain’s most die hard, no doubt beret-clad remainiacs in the heart of metropolitan London. The Losers’ Peoples’ Vote campaign is holding another winge-a-thon walk through the capital tomorrow.

European Alternatives was handed €300,000 by the EU

And the European Movement was given €350,000.

Last week the European Parliament proposed spending an extra billion Euros to go to organisations which promote “a greater sense of belonging to the Union.” Your taxes at work…

Meanwhile the National Union of Students has been given £20,000 to bus in students from around the country, lured with the promise of a “FREE TRIP TO LONDON”.

Hundreds of thousands went on CND ban-the-bomb demos in the sixties, more recently the 2002 Countryside Alliance claimed over 400,000 on their march and the 2003 anti-Iraq war march being undoubtedly the biggest in British history with over 750,000 turning out. Guido doubts we’ll see anything like that turnout tomorrow.

Starbucks Ditches Amsterdam, Tells Staff to Move to London

The Netherlands’ attempts to rival the UK have not been going well of late. First £33 billion Anglo-Dutch publishing giant RELX announced it was moving its HQ entirely to London, then Unilever’s Dutch dash was thwarted by a major shareholder revolt. Now, despite the froth of the Brexit negotiations, Starbucks has become the latte-ist company to pick London over its continental rivals.

The caffeine-fuelled corporate announced that it is closing its Amsterdam office and is consolidating its EMEA HQ in London. To cup it all off, they have even encouraged their Amsterdam staff not to venti their frustrations but apply for open positions in their London office instead. Yet another story making a mocha-ry of Remainers’ claims that the UK won’t thrive after Brexit…

What Would Maggie Do?

Bang on from Lord Dobbs…

UPDATE: A hint from the Iron Lady

Remainers Tear Into “Shockingly Bad” People’s Vote Howler

Not content with just losing a referendum, the Losers’ People’s Vote campaign has decided to lose its credibility as well after their woeful attempt to calculate how much an extra year of transition would cost the UK was absolutely panned by Remainers. Incredibly, they managed to come up with a figure of £182.5 billion as the cost to the UK by 2025 of extending the transition period by a single year. Brexiteers have been complaining that it would be an expensive waste of time but these numbers make George Osborne’s predictions look plausible…

Remainers tore into the vast array of basic errors in their methodology, describing the forecasts as “shockingly bad”, “self-discrediting nonsense”, “diabolical”, “extremely disappointing”, and a “huge gift” to Brexiteers. Thanks!

EU Unity Latest: Tusk & Selmayr’s Public Spat

Something was incensing Juncker’s “monster” Martin Selmayr and Donald Tusk, who couldn’t stop themselves from have a fierce public row on the way into their press conference earlier. Brexit causing blood pressures to rise in Brussels too…

UPDATE: Selmayr responds:

“The President of the European Council @eucopresident had a factual question to the @EU_Commission before his press conference, and I helped out. Very simple.”

If that’s how Tusk asks a simple “factual question” Guido would hate to see him when he’s cross…

There Will Not Be a Hard Border

Full stop.

Juncker & Varadkar Guaranteed to the Irish Parliament No Hard Border in the Event of No Deal

The Brexit negotiations are teetering on the brink over the question of the backstop for the Irish border. Some fundamental truths are being forgotten in the froth of the negotiations:

  • If there is no deal, there is no backstop. If the EU collapses the negotiations by insisting on unreasonable backstop conditions, there will be no backstop whatsoever. Would the EU rather have a deal on everything else with no backstop, or no deal at all AND no backstop?
  • The President of the EU Commission and the Prime Minister of Ireland have both already guaranteed no hard border even with no deal. As can be seen in the above video clip, Juncker and Leo Varadkar have all given unambiguous guarantees that they won’t put a hard border under any circumstances – including no deal. So why risk wrecking the negotiations over it?

The fact that Ireland has guaranteed no hard border in the case of no deal means that they clearly have no intention of constructing a hard border in the absence of the EU’s backstop – this is abundantly clear from the Taoiseach’s stated position as forcefully made to the Dáil Éireann

“… we are not drawing up any plans for a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland full stop. Because there isn’t going to be one and I have made very clear to my counterpart in the UK and also to the other EU Prime Ministers that under no circumstances will there be a border full stop.”

If the backstop is genuinely about concern for Ireland, not about trying to force the UK into a certain position, why is Ireland’s own commitment not sufficient? That is the question journalists should be asking.

The current trajectory of the negotiations is unsustainable unless the EU changes its stance on the backstop. Tory MPs have been discussing whether the EEA as a staging post on the way to a Canada-style deal could be a viable alternative – this is unlikely to solve the problem as the EU will simply throw up the same obstacles when the UK tries to leave that. May’s proposed transition extension does nothing to help either. It is simply a very expensive and unpopular way of drawing out the same problems for longer.

Ministers have increasingly been considering the possibility of a mitigated no-deal instead: hand over some cash in exchange for basic legal agreements on aviation, passports, haulage etc. and then negotiate sensible future arrangements outside the cauldron of the Article 50 process. Given the current state of the negotiations, this is starting to look more and more appealing…

UPDATE: Guido’s news editor, Hugh Bennett, reiterates the Irish PM’s “no hard border, even in the event of no deal” guarantee:

EU Survey Manipulates Franchise to Boost Remain

An EU-funded survey found an extraordinary 18-point lead for Remaining in the European union (53%-35%), way out of line with the polling average which shows the country remains more or less equally divided down the middle. What could have caused such an unusual result?

Upon deeper inspection, number boffin Matt Singh found that the Kantar poll had included respondents as young as fifteen years old, as well as others who are not entitled to vote such as non-UK citizens. On top of that it was not weighted to the 2016 vote, nor did it include any turnout modelling. They might as well have asked a “People’s Vote” coffee morning…

After Iran’s ill-fated flirtation with votes at 15 from 2009 to 2011, not one single country in the world has had a franchise that extends that low. Why is the EU suddenly seem desperate to follow Iran’s dubious example…

White House Notifies Congress: US-UK Trade Deal at the Front of the Queue

Under fast-track trade rules, the US Trade Representative cannot start trade negotiations until 90 days after notifying Congress. Last night he sent that notification to Congress.

The letter from the US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, to Congress said the USTR planned to start talks between “the first and fifth largest economies in the world … as soon as it is ready after it exits the European Union on March 29, 2019.” The United States wants to develop “cutting edge obligations for emerging sectors where U.S. and U.K. innovators and entrepreneurs are most competitive.” The UK – US free trade deal will cover the biggest transatlantic bilateral trading relationship in the world, right over the airspace of Ireland…

The letter also reveals that although the EU prevents the UK from formally negotiating a trade deal until after Britain escapes from the EU’s grip, Liam Fox and he have established a US-UK Trade & Investment Working Group which is “laying the groundwork for a potential future free trade agreement”. Turns out when Cameron asked Obama to say “Britain would be at the back of the queue” he was totally lying wrong…

See also: Cameron Asked Obama to Say UK Would Be “At Back of the Queue”

Flag Flying Again in Brussels

UKIP MEP Jonathan Bullock reports excitedly that “The union flag now flies above the British residency in Brussels” following his campaign to get the flag put back up after it was mysteriously removed. In fact a member of staff in the residency was so pleased the flag was back up that they offered to take the photoTo save their foreign office career Guido will not reveal who it was. You can however discount regular occupant Olly Robbins…

Jonathan hopes: “Now that the flag is restored perhaps we can see a sound Brexit policy restored to deliver what the people voted for over two years ago.” Steady on Jonathan, it has taken weeks just to get them to fly the flag…

Fastest Wage Growth in a Decade Despite Brexit

In the three months from June to August UK workers saw their pay rise by the biggest amount since the financial crash. Average annual pay is now rising by 3.1%, outstripping the 2.5% inflation rate. More jobs, higher wages, all #DespiteBrexit…

Cabinet’s Chuck Chequers Challenge

Ministers being forced to run a “bin the backstop” gauntlet on the way into Cabinet this morning…

h/t Joey D’Urso

Unemployment Down By 50,000 Despite Brexit

New unemployment figures released today show that unemployment fell by 47,000 in the three months to August, taking the UK unemployment down to just 4%, and youth unemployment down to its lowest level in history.

Overall, 338,000 new full-time jobs added were added to the UK economy last year – while the number of part-time jobs fell slightly. Guido is still waiting for that 500,000-800,000 unemployment spike that Remain promised us…

The Great Brexit Bluff-Off

Theresa May is set for a stormy Cabinet meeting this morning after one third of her Cabinet met last night to discuss their opposition to her Brexit plans. Eight ministers gathered in Andrea Leadsom’s office for pizza and plotting – Raab, Hunt, Gove, Mordaunt, Grayling, Truss, Cox and Leadsom – a higher turnout than expected with the includion of a number of former May loyalists.

While May looks to be safe from a pizza inspired putsch for now, the inescapable issue is that her backstop plan as it stands is fundamentally unacceptable to significant parts of her Cabinet and her party, as well as her allies in the DUP. Number 10 is banking on the hope that these factions are bluffing and will eventually back down and support her deal. Will they?

  • Cabinet: Most likely to fall into line. May’s evergreen strategy of kicking the can down the road avoids any imminent flashpoints for ministers to make principled resignations over. By putting off crunch decisions for as long as possible, Cabinet ministers may feel that it is too close to the deadline to rock the boat in a big way. But would Tory members forgive them for backing a deal they hate?
  • Tory Backbenchers: A question of how many. While the full ERG membership of around 80 MPs is unlikely to vote down the deal en masse, 40 rebel MPs is not unimaginable. ERG shop steward Steve Baker again made clear on Newsnight that he will vote down the deal unless May changes course. Even if she whittles down the rebels to a hard core of 10-20, this still presents major arithmetical challenges. Particularly if she also loses the support of…
  • The DUP: Anyone who has followed Northern Irish politics for any length of time knows that the DUP do not simply back down. May wouldn’t rule out additional checks being introduced between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain during her Commons grilling yesterday – a “blood red” line for the DUP. Nigel Dodds openly told Newsnight that the DUP will do what it can to disrupt the Government’s whole domestic agenda, short of triggering a General Election. They will never, never, never back down…
  • Labour: May’s hopes of a majority appear to be pinned on a sizeable Labour rebellion. A frontbench pivot seems out of the question. Blairites are unlikely to come to the rescue as they see no deal chaos as their best chance of securing a second referendum. Leave-y Labour MPs like Caroline Flint and Graham Stringer have been making the most supportive noises so far. But are there enough of them?

May’s only other option is to take heed of the concerns of her own MPs and the DUP and go back to the EU with a proposal that Parliament is behind, rather than one her ‘sherpas’ have told her will fly in Europe. Of all the many sides in this multi-dimensional negotiation, the EU seems to be the only one she is unwilling to bluff…

May Swerves Boris on Backstop

Brexiteers are not coming away particularly reassured on the backstop by May’s Commons statement. A number of times May was asked directly to confirm that the backstop would be time-limited. May insisted the backstop would be temporary but refused to give a firm answer on when it would end or how the UK could escape from it.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King…

“There are arguments for remaining in the EU and there are arguments for leaving the EU. But there is no case whatever for giving up the benefits of remaining without obtaining the benefits of leaving.”

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