Election Speculation Summary

In case Guido readers haven’t had time to keep up with the rumour mill, here’s what’s going down in the Westminster Bubble as election speculation reaches boiling point:

  • The PM has convened a last-minute cabinet meeting for 5 pm, with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg saying Boris will discuss calling an election this week
  • This is well-timed to be followed by a previously-arranged garden party with all Tory MPs. Great way to get all his MPs in one place for any announcements…
  • No. 10 have publicly said they are treating tomorrow’s Remainer plot to take over the House of Commons Order Paper as an implicit vote of confidence in the Government’s negotiation strategy – many are reading into this as a vote of confidence in the government as a whole.
  • In the event of a government defeat on Tuesday or Wednesday, Boris would seek an election.
  • Questions still linger over when the election would be held if it is agreed by Parliament – a decision the government would take a lead on.
  • If it was Boris’s desire to hold an election as soon as possible, Parliament could agree to an election on the September 5, and hold it as soon as October 10.
  • Some remainer MPs have become paranoid the PM could call an election with what appears to be a “reasonable” polling date before October 31, then use prerogative powers to move the polling day out until after the Brexit deadline. Making a No Deal Brexit a fait accompli regardless of the election outcome…

Stick with Guido for any further updates…

UPDATE: Watch Tory Party Chairman, James Cleverly, fail to rule out an election three times:

UPDATE II: The Sun now saying Boris will call an election for 5 week’s time if the rebel MPs manage to pass anti-No Deal legislation tomorrow – perhaps as early as Wednesday. Something he can do provided he has 2/3 majority support of MPs…

UPDATE III: The Brexit Party has released a statement saying it is open to a non aggression electoral pact with the Tories, if Boris completely abandons the Withdrawal Agreement beyond the backstop.

“Nigel Farage has made clear that the Brexit Party would put Country before party if Boris Johnson commits to an unambiguous, No Deal Brexit. We can make Boris a hero in that situation. A non aggression pact Leave Alliance would deliver a very significant majority for this position.

If Johnson brings back a re-hashed version of May’s Non Withdrawal Treaty, just without the dreaded backstop, is not Brexit and we will oppose his candidates in every seat, denying the Tories hope of victory. Partnership is the best way to deliver what 17.4m voted for”.

Boris’s Prorogation Will Be Shorter than Major’s

 

The news of Boris’s planned prorogation has naturally sent Remainers into hysterics, calling the move “undemocratic“, “outrageous” and comparing the PM to a “tin pot dictator” – all for using a bog-standard procedural technique. It’s set to be an entertaining day…

As Guido has reported before, prorogation has historically been used by Attlee, Major and Canadian PM Stephen Harper for political purposes. The move is even less surprising when taking into account the UK is currently enjoying the longest Parliamentary session ever since 1653, so a Queen’s Speech is long overdue.

Whilst everyone else is losing their heads, Guido thought it would be helpful to remind everyone that John Major’s prorogation – which he used to cover up the cash for questions scandal – lasted from the March 21 until the 1997 General Election: a period of 6 weeks, compare this to today’s announced prorogation that will result in Parliament losing only 4 sitting days. One rule for remainers, another for Boris. 

Support Positive Twitter Day This Friday

Since 2012 Sunder Katwala and Guido have been promoting the idea of the last Friday in August being one day of positive exchanges on Twitter. The political Twittersphere in particular can be a horrible nasty place, what with the culture wars and political extremists generally being unpleasant. Brexit has made even usually reasonable people bad tempered. None of us are immune from negativity, Guido is a repeat offender. Wouldn’t it be pleasantly calming if, for at least one day, we all tried to be nice and civil in our tweets? We sorely need to try again…

Last year a lot of mental health charities got involved and helped spread the message, this year Twitter are hosting an event at their London HQ. Spread a bit of civility in these polarised times. Twitter can be a place for the exchange of information rather than the abuse of political opponents. It is not just pay day on Friday, it is #PositiveTwitterDay. Let’s try for one day to make Twitter a positive experience for everyone…

To tweet your support just click this link: #PositiveTwitterDay

Government Repeals the European Communities Act 1972

As Guido reported he would on Friday, Steven Barclay has “signed the legislation setting in stone the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972. This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our law. It underlines that we are leaving the EU on October 31”. Back in 2012, after thousands of Guido’s readers mandated for him to do so in an innovative crowd-sourcing of legislation, Douglas Carswell presented a bill to Repeal the European Communities Act 1972:

Now Boris has made it happen. What a change from the days when a Tory government actively blocked the repeal. It has taken 7 years, we’re winning co-conspirators, we’re winning…

Boris Set to End Supremacy of EU Law in Days

Boris has directed Stephen Barclay to sign the official order to end EU law’s supremacy in Britain, a move that Steve Baker described to The Times as “absolutely totemic”, proving Boris is “willing to leave on a fixed date with no question of extension. It’s the do-or-die pledge in black and white”. Just one of the many jobs May never got round to doing…

Whilst MPs voted for the EU Withdrawal Act in 2018, which repealed the original legislation making us members of the EEC, it required a “commencement order” to come into force, which Barclay is expected to sign imminently. Not only does the Government’s move show Boris is totally serious in his Brexit pledge, since it does not involve MPs – by which Guido means Remainers – Parliament cannot interfere with the process. Surprise surprise, Dominic Grieve is not happy. The Tories’ wannabe Remoaner in Chief begrudgingly admitted that he can’t stop the order being signed. He’s reduced to admitting he will have to try to reverse it retrospectively…

Boris Destroys Corbyn in Under Seven Minutes

Boris didn’t just see off Corbyn’s turgid pre-scripted lines with ease, he thoroughly wiped the floor with him. Ranks up there with Gove’s demolition as the worst beating Corbyn’s ever taken in Parliament, with the added finesse of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Labour MPs will not enjoy watching this at PMQs every week…

Prime Minister Boris Addresses Parliament

Not everyone turned up for their first glimpse of Boris’s sunlit uplands…

Jacob Rees-Mogg Burns Brake

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s first appearance at the Despatch Box has more than lived up to what people were hoping for. Tom Brake found out the hard way that trying to outwit the Moggster is no easy task…

PMQs Sketch: May’s Farewell

There was an air of pageantry for Mrs May’s final PMQs. From both sides of the chamber came effusive praise for her premiership, not the least gushing forth from the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. When the time came for her to leave, there was a standing ovation from all corners. Pageboys laid a carpet of petals for her to walk on. Her Majesty lent the choir of St George’s Chapel to provide a choral serenade as Mrs May exited.

Later on, she made her way to the Palace to nominate her successor, despite Her Majesty’s pleading for her to say on for at least a decade longer. But it was not to be. As a concession, Her Majesty allowed Mrs. May to return to Downing Street for the last time in the Imperial Sate Coach. A helicopter of the Queen’s Flight took the now ex-PM from the Rose Garden to the lavish estate bestowed on her by a grateful nation.

Well, almost. Well, actually not at all.

Continue reading

Every Party Has Had a Female Leader… Except One

This one really winds Labour up…

May Tells Corbyn To Follow Her Lead and Resign

In her final exchange with Jeremy Corbyn across the dispatch boxes, May left a parting blow on the Leader of the Opposition.

“Perhaps I could just finish my exchange with him by saying this – as a party leader who has accepted when her time is up, perhaps the time is now for him to do the same.”

Savage.

UPDATE: Ian Austin agrees…

Corbyn Pays Tribute to Theresa May

Corbyn took a rare break from his reading out his tediously pre-scripted questions to pay tribute to Theresa May’s “sense of public duty” at the start of his final PMQs exchange with her – not sure his diehard Corbynista fans will be too pleased with that. Remarkably he will now be onto his third Tory Prime Minister, not that he’s had much to do with that himself…

May’s Final PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Q1 Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)
Q2 Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
Q3 Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab)
Q4 Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) (Lab)
Q5 Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
Q6 Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
Q7 Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire) (Con)
Q8 John McNally (Falkirk) (SNP)
Q9 Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con)
Q10 Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)
Q11 Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab)
Q12 Mr Paul Sweeney (Glasgow North East) (Lab)
Q13 Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab)
Q14 Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con)
Q15 Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Ind)

The end of an era. A tedious, tedious era…

Bercow Thwarts Duncan’s Pre-Emptive Coup Attempt

Alan Duncan’s self-congratulatory resignation as foreign minister in the middle of one of the biggest British foreign policy crises in recent times has at least achieved one thing – it’s managed to find John Bercow’s limit. Remarkably, Duncan wanted Bercow to hold an emergency debate on the “merits of the newly chosen Leader of the Conservative Party” and whether he can form a Government. Before he even becomes Prime Minister:

Even Bercow wasn’t prepared to entertain Duncan’s delusions at this stage – a second slap in the face for Duncan after he snubbed his request to make a resignation statement in the Commons. Parliament’s most puffed-up popinjay not willing to share his perch…

Jeremy Hunt Apologises for Accidentally Missing Key Vote

It turns out PM hopeful Jeremy Hunt wasn’t paired after all for the Government’s heavy defeat, he’s now apologised for missing the votes as “I thought I was slipped and it turns out I was not”:

He’s a details guy…

The 17 Tories Who Rebelled on the Grieve Amendment

The division lists are out after the Government’s crushing defeat by 41 votes on Grieve’s latest Brexit-blocking amendment. 17 Tory MPs voted directly against the Bill, including DCMS Minister Margo James who resigned to do so:

  • Guto Bebb
  • Steve Brine
  • Alistair Burt
  • Jonathan Djanogly
  • Justine Greening
  • Dominic Grieve
  • Sam Gyimah
  • Richard Harrington
  • Margot James (resigned)
  • Phillip Lee
  • Jeremy Lefroy
  • Oliver Letwin
  • Paul Masterton
  • Sarah Newton
  • Antoinette Sandbach
  • Keith Simpson
  • Ed Vaizey

A further 24 Tory MPs also appear to have broken the three-line whip by abstaining without a clear reason, including Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Greg Clark and Rory Stewart. Karen Bradley – the minister responsible for the Bill – also abstained but she was paired. Philip Hammond reportedly came to Parliament just so he could abstain “in person”…

Guido is aware of 6 other Tory MPs who were absent for clear reasons, although it’s worth remembering that there may be more, whether through pairing/illness etc. Government MPs in bold:

  • Richard Benyon
  • Peter Bottomley
  • Graham Brady
  • Greg Clark
  • Ken Clarke
  • Alan Duncan
  • Vicky Ford
  • David Gauke
  • Cheryl Gillan
  • Damian Green
  • Philip Hammond
  • Stephen Hammond
  • Simon Hoare
  • Jeremy Hunt (by mistake)
  • Gillian Keegan
  • Huw Merriman
  • Anne Milton
  • Bob Neill
  • Matthew Offord
  • Nicholas Soames
  • Caroline Spelman
  • Rory Stewart
  • Julian Sturdy
  • Tom Tugendhat

Word is already doing the rounds that May’s whipping may not have been as robust it should have been to avoid giving her successor a poisoned chalice…

UPDATE: From Caroline Johnson “Your reporting of “rebels” is inaccurate. I did not rebel by abstaining. I was paired. As was Pauline Latham. Victoria Prentis was not “rebelling” either her mother died last night”. We have amended the headline and corrected the list accordingly. Apologies and condolences.

Lords Cheer Baroness Hayter After Corbyn Sacking

Baroness Hayter was cheered across the House of the Lords – as enthusiastically as the Lords ever cheer anything – as she took her seat on the backbenches after being dramatically sacked by Jeremy Corbyn last night. Hayter accused Corbyn of having a bunker mentality, Corbyn naturally thought the best way to prove he didn’t was by sacking her. Instant justice for people who criticise Corbyn, anti-Semitism cases just kicked into the long grass…

Gauke Doesn’t Rule Out Resigning to Vote With Grieve

The Northern Ireland Bill is heading back from the Lords today with fresh amendments designed to thwart prorogation, courtesy of Dominic Grieve’s moat-cleaning buddy Lord Hailsham. Grieve himself is considering having another go at adding his out-of-order amendment now his other key ally John Bercow is back in the chair. All of which means a number of very tight votes today…

It could be even tighter after Newsnight reported that Remainer Cabinet Ministers were even considering resigning to rebel and vote with Grieve, given most of them expect to be out of a job in a week anyway. Philip Hammond is one on resignation watch, while ‘Gaukeward Squad’ leader David Gauke left the door wide open to rebelling on Today – which would also require his resignation. Could get messy…

UPDATE: Grieve has now tabled an even tougher version of his previously out-of-order amendment, which would force Parliament to return for days on end if a new PM attempts to prorogue. Predictably Bercow has selected it

Penultimate Moonshot Session

It’s not really the ‘Questions to the Prime Minister’ that are all that important, so much as the ‘Answers from the Prime Minister’. MPs on either benches can come up with any old rubbish. Only the PM’s fumbles, slips, or surprise admissions will make the bulletins. Or would have. This is Theresa May’s penultimate Wednesday session. The government she formed has a little over a week of life, and has stopped making news. It might be liberating for her instead. She could say anything she wants to her interrogators. An-y-thing. We are at the fin du regime. Power and patronage are slipping away from No. 10, even while there has been one trillion pounds of spending promises and a The Thick of It -style government department announced. But still Mrs May has her tabbed folder from which to refer.

It’s so unfair. She has to mug up all morning on current issues across Whitehall,, as well as memorise the hopefully witty and savage put-down for the final answer to the Leader of the Opposition. All Corbyn has to do is to be able to read out aloud what has been written for him. A grammar-school-educated 13-year-old could do that. Corbyn is not too interested in the actual responses. His over-long polemical questions will be chopped and shaped like a Bird’s Eye chicken burgers and fed to his supporters using the microchips of their internet devices. This multitude already believe JC walks on water. They do not witness Corbyn’s regular crucifixions at the Despatch Box.

There were mentions of England’s Cricket World Cup victory, plus also Lewis Hamilton’s record-breaking sixth successive victory at Silverstone. The reader might be forgiven for thinking that cricketing analogies might be exclusively appropriate for this session. After all, the PM is at the crease while the questions are bowled at her. Opposition MPs use ‘sledging’ tactic to disrupt her concentration.

Not so. John Gummer, or Lord Beefburger as older readers will know him, has described, in his capacity as one of the overnumerous High Priests of Global Warming, the government’s response to climate change as run ‘like a Dad’s Army’. And it was this quote that Jeremy Corbyn used as the basis for his questions. He could gone in like Hodges the Warden, or Yeatman the Verger. But no. He was Private Frazer. ???We’re doomed???, he was saying to the chamber, but not in a Scottish accent. It would be bad form to steal the SNP’s thunder in this way.

Mrs May refused to assume the role of Capt. Mainwaring. She also refused to make her answers just about the environment. In addition to batting off the question, she hit back with questions of her own. It wasn’t cricket after all. It had become tennis. Continue reading

Tory MP Asks May to Congratulate Himself

An unfortunate slip of the tongue. May duly obliges…[…] Read the rest

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Sketch Round-Up

WHO IS BACKING WHO? WHO IS BACKING WHO?