Gerard Batten Resigns from Farage’s EFDD Group

Gerard Batten has resigned from the transnational Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy EFDD group, led by Farage, and including Italy’s Five Star Movement. MEPs sit in transnational ideological groups in the European Parliament, alongside like minded parties from other countries. Speculation is mounting that he may join Marine Le Pen’s Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group…

The UKIP leader said in a statement:

“I hereby resign membership of the EFDD Group with immediate effect. It is not possible for me to remain in the Group when the President of the Group Mr Farage launches continual attacks on me and UKIP in the UK media.”

UPDATE: A co-conspirator in Brussels gets in touch:

Rumour is that the paperwork by which Gerrard Batten has applied to put Tommy Robinson on his EU staff payroll has gone in. Is that the catalyst for Farage and Nuttall finally walking away?

UPDATE II: Sources close to Nigel say that they don’t know if it is true and in any event it is was not the catalyst.

UPDATE III: European Parliamentary sources get in touch to remind Guido that in order to get on the EP payroll you have to pass a criminal background check. Tommy Robinson has been in prison multiple times and would likely not be accepted…

UPDATE IV: Batten is telling friends that he has not made any plans to hire Tommy Robinson for the European Parliament job.

Boris’s Big Brexit Pitch

Boris Johnson has given a very lengthy interview to ConservativeHome this morning, setting out what looks suspiciously like an alternative manifesto for leadership after May loses the meaningful vote next week. While he insists that May needn’t resign, he sets out a clear alternative path for the country to follow:

  • May must throw out the Withdrawal Agreement, even if she only loses by one vote
  • Boris adds that it would be a “very, very serious mistake” if the Government contrived to pull the meaningful vote now
  • He won’t comment on whether he’s sent in a letter of no confidence himself
  • The UK must go back to Brussels and renegotiate in a “generous, optimistic energetic way” that goes back to the Lancaster House Principles
  • Reinstate a “big free trade agreement at the heart” of the deal, using the implementation period to negotiate it
  • Ditch the backstop – Boris says the Cabinet was “misled” by May and Gavin Barwell over the backstop and sold the December deal in “total bad faith”, adding that the UK has “collaborated in our own incarceration” by helping to “co-forge” the manacles of the backstop
  • Not hand over £39 billion of taxpayers’ money in advance of the final deal
  • Boris rejects the EEA option, saying Norway plus the backstop is “worse” than the deal
  • Proponents of ‘Norway to Canada’ “don’t really want to go forward to the Canada solution”
  • Being prepared to leave on WTO terms is “absolutely crucial” – Boris won’t “pretend there would be no challenges at all. But what people I think want to see is a bit of gumption from this country… and a bit of leadership”
  • He calls the Government’s failure to prepare to come out on WTO terms is an “S&M approach to Government. What perversion is it where you want to be locked up in chains?”

Whether or not you believe that Boris’s approach is any better, the fact is that May’s approach to the negotiations simply has not delivered. May cannot just carry on like it’s business as usual if she loses the vote next week, whatever her margin of defeat…

Oxford Professor’s Car Crash Attempt to Discredit Referendum Result

The online-only Independent’s “front page” today breathlessly reported that “illegal Facebook spending ‘won 2016 vote for Leave'”. Philip Howard, a professor at the “Oxford Internet Institute” said it was his “professional opinion” that it was “very likely” that “excessive spending by Vote Leave altered the result of the referendum”. Howard is due to put his “evidence” to the High Court tomorrow…

On closer inspection, it appears “very likely” that Howard’s evidence is a load of utter rubbish, with statisticians having a field day tearing apart his numbers on Twitter. Howard’s calculations get off to a good start with his assumption that 80 million people saw Vote Leave Facebook ads during the so-called “period of excess spending”. That’s in a country of 66 million people, with an electorate of 46.5 million. By Howard’s calculation, 172% of the electorate saw Vote Leave’s ads…

Of those 80 million people, Howard then claims to use a “conservative industry estimate” that 10% of people who saw the ads would have clicked on them. Of that 10%, he claims that 10% believe, and then “a further 10% of that number can be expected to do something”. Except in his own calculation, he entirely emits his own final step, claiming that 800,000 people (10% of 10% of his imaginary electorate of 80 million) had their votes swung by the ads in the final week of the referendum, rather than 80,000 as his own model predicts. Leave won by over 1.2 million votes…

Moreover, the source he cites for his “conservative industry estimate” estimate of 10% click-through rate – a book called New Media Campaigns and the Managed Citizen – says “banner ads on politics topics generally had a 1 percent click-through rate”. The author of this venerable source? A certain Professor Philip Howard…

Even glossing over Howard’s other major errors, including… deep breath… conflating organic Vote Leave post impressions with paid ad impressions, assuming that the entirety of his imaginary electorate uses Facebook, ignoring the fact that Stronger In were also running huge numbers of Facebook ads and that more people made up their minds to vote Remain than Leave in the final week, assuming that everyone who decided to vote Leave after seeing an ad had previously been planning to vote Remain, the maximum number of people whose votes could have been swung – according to his own methodology – is 4,650. There’s wishful thinking, and then there’s pure and utter fantasy…

UPDATE: For any readers looking to enjoy more of Howard’s stellar “research”, Guido can heartily recommend this paper where he defines all Twitter accounts tweeting more than 50 times a day as bots. Although if you do fall into that category yourself, Guido might suggest getting a few other hobbies…

Remainers Lining Up Gove to Lead Norway-Plus Push

While ERG Brexiteers’ efforts are focused on trying to harden up the Brexit deal or even force no deal, other players within the Tory party are coalescing around a push for a ‘Norway-plus’ Brexit after May’s deal is voted down next week. As yesterday’s Evening Standard reports, Tory “sensibles” including Nicky Morgan and Sir Oliver Letwin are now advocating an “ultra-soft” Brexit of staying in the single market and the customs union. In direct contradiction to key manifesto pledges they were all elected on…

Guido understands from multiple sources that the Norway-plus faction are hoping to have one key Cabinet Minister on board – Michael Gove. One senior Cameroon who has been liaising between Letwin and others in the Norway camp believes Gove will come out and lead the Norway push once May’s deal is rejected. Gove’s outrider Nick Boles has long advocated an EEA pivot, while Gove himself has held private discussions with Tory MPs in recent months on the option of remaining in the single market as an alternative to no deal. Gove’s name is absent from yesterday’s Standard article but his continued lines of communications with George Osborne were a significant source of internal tensions in the Brexit camp post-referendum…

Brexiteers still blame Gove for the post-referendum fiasco which led to a Remainer becoming Prime Minister despite Vote Leave‘s triumph. Gove famously committed to the position during the referendum campaign that leaving the EU meant leaving the single market. When Guido put the claim to an ally of Gove he denied it would happen, pointing to Gove’s many on-the-record rejections of single market membership. So Guido challenged him to a wager… which he declined. It would be hard to see the Conservative Party faithful forgiving Gove a second time if he reneged on the single market as well…

DUP: We’d “Rather Be Shafted By Labour” Than Accept Backstop

Tory MPs turned out in force for last night’s weekly ERG meeting, with around 80 MPs in attendance as well as notable guests including Chief Whip Julian Smith and May’s Deputy Chief of Staff, JoJo Penn. Jacob Rees-Mogg informed the ERG of the outcome of his and Steve Baker’s earlier meeting with Nigel Dodds, where Dodds made clear that the DUP would support the Government in any confidence motion if the Withdrawal Agreement was rejected. If the Withdrawal Agreement went through their support was far from certain…

Also in attendance were DUP MPs Sammy Wilson – who was “cheered to the rafters” by Tory MPs – and Ian Paisley Jr, who made the point directly to Julian Smith’s face that while the DUP had been very happy working with the Tories, they would “rather be shafted by Labour” than accept the backstop. As Dodds pointed out later on Peston, you don’t need a General Election to bring down a government:

Smith himself addressed the meeting later on, while he didn’t get a hostile reception from the ERG, his points were all shot down in the detail. Smith suggested that some tinkering was possible but gave an impression of a government that was reluctant to ask EU member states for any further changes. The overall message remained clear: it’s the PM’s deal or nothing, the Government has no other plans. And they wonder why the EU has been able to play them like a fiddle from start to finish…

Hammond Stumped on Crucial Backstop Question

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s legal advice to the Cabinet on the Northern Irish backstop was finally revealed to the public today, though on the basis of Philip Hammond’s appearance at the Treasury Select Committee this morning, Guido is not certain that the Cabinet have read it in that much detail themselves.

Under questioning from the SNP’s Stewart Hosie, the Chancellor failed to answer a pretty fundamental question on whether the backstop would mean that that the EU could offer third countries access to the UK’s market without the UK getting access to the third country’s market in return, as is the case with Turkey today.

As this 2016 European Parliament report on Turkey makes clear, third countries “do not have any obligation to conclude such agreements with Turkey. Indeed, it is more advantageous for these countries not to conclude preferential agreements with Turkey because they already have access to the Turkish market through the EU-Turkey CU.” This morning Hosie asked Hammond if this humiliating one sided arrangement would also apply to the UK under the backstop. He couldn’t answer…

Read in Full: Government’s Brexit Deal Legal Advice

The Government’s Brexit Deal legal advice has finally been released. The advice largely repeats what Geoffrey Cox told the House on Monday, namely that there is no mechanism that enables the Government to lawfully unilaterally exit the backstop, and that it will endure indefinitely. The Government has admitted all of this before…

Only two really interesting parts stand out. Firstly, the Government admits that under the backstop “GB is essentially treated as a third country by NI for goods passing from GB into NI.” Furthermore, in its conclusion the Government acknowledges there is a legal risk that the UK will become subject to “protracted and repeating rounds of negotiations” as it tries to leave.

Read the six pages of advice in full here…

EU Vice President Applauds Spanish Warship’s Illegal Anti-British Stunt

The Vice President of the European Parliament, Ramón Luis Valcárcel, has sheepishly deleted two antagonistic tweets where he applauded a Spanish warship for illegally sailing through British waters, blasting out the Spanish national anthem. A lovely touch from our European friends and neighbours…

“Strong applause for the patrol boat “Infanta Elena” (P-76) who today has sailed together with the Rock of Gibraltar making hear National Anthem at full volume.”

The senior EU politicians also went on to call Gibraltarians ‘laughing monkeys.’

The UK is getting as much respect from the EU as ever then…

WATCH: Government Will Publish Full Legal Advice

Geoffrey Cox looked absolutely crestfallen as Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom announced to the House after an historic defeat that the Government will be publishing its legal advice on the Withdrawal Agreement in full. She went on to say that the Government will respond tomorrow…

Wrong Flag, Brandon

When a former remainer is the party chairman of an overwhelmingly Brexity party, optics are important. Unfortunate image for his newsletter to highlight right now…

Two Thirds of Brits Want Low Tax Pro-Business Economy

ComRes has found that the UK is split almost down the middle in almost every aspect of Brexit, apart from what happens next. The polling organisation has found that two thirds of voters say that once the Brexit process is complete,

“the UK should try to become the lowest tax, business-friendliest country in Europe, focused on building strong international trade links.”

Amazingly this statement is supported by all age groups and all political affiliations, including 54% of Labour Party supporters. The low tax, free trading, ‘alternate economic model’ Brexit Britain the media scoffs at is actually incredibly popular…

Brexit Britain: FDI Soaring and Manufacturing Booming

New figures show that growth in Britain’s manufacturing sector is outpacing every other major European nation as the EU is gripped by a slowdown. Manufacturing growth is at a 26-month low in France, and a 31 month low even in powerhouse Germany. Also Italy languishes at a 47-month low…

IHS Markit has released its index of factory activity in November where a score of 50 is the cut off point between growth and decline. The UK has risen to 53.1, but the Eurozone as a whole has fallen to its lowest since August 2016, at 51.8.

All the while the ONS has revealed that the UK’s inward foreign direct investment (FDI) position increased to £1,336.5 billion last year, a record high. Despite Brexit…

ECJ Advocate General Says UK Can Unilaterally Revoke Article 50

In a major victory for the continuity remain campaign, the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General Manual Campos Sánchez-Bordona has announced that the UK can unilaterally withdraw its Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty notification, although domestically this would require a Parliamentary vote and a co-operative executive. The ECJ is not bound to accept the opinion of the Advocate General, but it almost always does…

Remoaning MPs, MSPs, and MEPs have been arguing for a unilateral mechanism to remain in the EU and it looks like the ECJ will grant them their wish. Yet another unholy alliance of domestic and foreign interests working to reverse the 2016 result…

Cox: Backstop Would Be An ‘Instrument of Pain’ For UK and EU

Geoffrey Cox responded to Nigel Dodds with about as compelling case as you can make for the backstop. It rests on Northern Ireland firms having unparalleled access to two giant global markets and EU firms taking the Commission to court if they hold up the progress of moving from the backstop to an FTA. Guido is unconvinced, but it is worth listening to respectable Cox’s considered opinion…

Read the Attorney General’s Legal Summary in Full

Read it in full here:

Downing Street Pushing Merits of May’s Deal With Hashtag #BackTheBrexitDeal

This is the line Downing Street will be pushing out in a paid for social media blitz, highlighting the merits of May’s deals versus the alternatives. Like with the £9 million spent before the referendum, the government has no qualms about spending taxpayers’ money pushing their policy position – even though it has little support in the country or parliament. Some might quibble with the accuracy of the presentation’s spin…

For example the “independent trade policy” only becomes available once the final Brexit terms are agreed. As long as Britain is stuck in the implementation period there will be no independent trade policy. May isn’t planning to diverge on regulations either – which would happen with a clean Brexit. The DUP might want to add a red cross next to a line about how Northern Ireland would be treated under “no deal” versus how they will be treated differently from Britain under May’s deal. Some of these line items are merely vague commitments in the political declaration, which may not hold true when the actual hardball negotiations begin. When Guido put these quibbles to Downing Street the response was: “The PM’s Brexit deal is the only one that delivers on the referendum.”

Brexit: “How Did We Get Here?”

Gary Gibbon asks; Brexit: “How Did We Get Here?” It is a good and fair-minded recap.

Incidentally, some say he might be interested in becoming the Sky News Political Editor. A source claims Gary Gibbon was on the shortlist last time, and that John Ryley, Head of Sky News, is a big fan of his. His old school political neutrality does seem out of place at the left-wing Channel 4 News. They could do worse…

Penny Mordaunt Backs May, Slams ‘Unhelpful’ Mogg

It looks like we can take Penny Mordaunt off resignation watch. The Portsmouth North MP has given the scoop to her local Portsmouth paper The News, telling them May would deliver on a Brexit that would ‘work for the nation’.

Of the ERG-led no confidence push, ‘That was not helpful,’ she said.

‘What the public want to see is their members of parliament and their members of government working hard to get the best result for their communities and their country. Everything else that is a distraction to that should cease.’

The paper reported that Mordaunt “would not be drawn on whether the PM was the right person to lead the nation through Brexit.” So not quite a wholehearted endorsement of the PM…

UPDATE: It has been pointed out that if you carefully read the report it does not actually quote her as supporting the current deal on offer.

Science Minister Resigns to Vote Against May’s Deal, Cites EU Attitude Over Gallileo

Sam Gyimah has resigned as Universities and Science Minister to vote against May’s deal, citing the EU’s attitude over the Gallileo Satellite programme as an example of the difficulties ahead with this deal. He was a remainer, very much part of the Cameron liberal-conservative tendency, he has posted on Facebook his reasons for resigning:

I will vote against the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement.

After careful consideration and reflection, I cannot support the Government’s deal and as such, I have tended my resignation as Universities and Science Minister.

This line struck Guido as echoing Boris Johnson

What is the alternative, I hear people say? Sometimes it seems our horizons have been narrowed and our expectations lowered to the point where potentially crippling ourselves politically and economically for decades to come is seen as a success we should welcome.

Sam was seen lunching with Jo Johnson and Justine Greening this week, so don’t expect him to join the ERG. He won’t be the last to resign…

Nigel Farage: This is a Good Deal

Nigel Farage, standing just yards from Michel Barnier, yesterday told the European Parliament that May’s Withdrawal Agreement is a good deal…

“It’s a good deal… for the European Union.

[…] Read the rest

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