Important Advice for Terrorists, Drug Dealers, Rich People


The viler, more antisocial elements among the readership may not have been watching Sir Charles Montgomery of the UK Border Force in front of the Public Accounts committee just now.

In short, if you want to evade the UK’s state-of-the-art border control system you can probably risk a walk through.

The chairman Margaret Hodge suggested that no one – or almost no one – had been stopped coming into the country.

This was resisted by the officials. Four people in the last six weeks alone had been stopped or prevented from entering the country. This achievement stood in spite of the block deletion of 650,000 records and “hundreds of thousands” of false positives as the department’s £500m computer system flails around, threshing data.

But back to you degenerates – to be completely sure of getting your illegal self laden with contraband into the country – come by private plane and land at one of hundreds of private airfields. It’s a free pass.

And that’s official.

NB: a small light aircraft consumes about as much fuel as a 3-litre car.

SKETCH: Royal Mail Offer Price – Political or Economic? Vince Cable in Front of Business Innovation and Skills

In view of the offer being so over-subscribed, the question the committee repeatedly asked was: is the Royal Mail offer undervalued?

Vince Cable said that was the sort of observation made by grey-market, fly-by-night, speculating outliers on the fringes of the financial community and his irresponsible opposite number (Chuka Umunna).

He didn’t carry the committee.

Adrian Bailey in the chair said he had been an auctioneer in a previous life. “If I pitched a price and thirty hands went up I’d know I’d underpriced it.”

The minister thought that to float shares wasn’t an auction. In what way he didn’t say.

Labour and Tory members wanted to know how he would judge whether he had underpriced the issue. If the price went up 10, 20, 40, 50 per cent, would that cause him to blush at all? He was going to ignore such froth, he said. He wasn’t going to take a snapshot seriously.

Prices, pah!

But what about the 23 acres of prime London property that might be sold for billions by a clever asset-stripping management in a rocketing market?

The minister said such an outcome would assume a serious error had been made in the valuation. “And I don’t buy that,” he said.

Neither do. I can’t afford it.

SKETCH: How nice to be back among the familiar faces

The same 12-year-old making the same pantomime faces with the same fat dame beside him. She was pursing her lips and exercising her exopthalmia; the little one was dropping his jaw and letting his teeth out for a canter – they were both giving us to understand they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. It’s the commedia del arte school of politics, in which words are not enough. In the case of the Eds that’s both astute and true.

“He has no answer to Labour’s Price Freeze policy! He has no idea!” That and “the cost of living crisis” which “IS an economic policy”.

These are propositions that belong in the playground.

On the other side, the Prime Minister failed to wipe the floor with them. A mysterious failure, considering the resources at hand. He had a Miliband quote when he was Energy minister: “To deal with the problems of climate change, prices will have to rise.”

That powerful point – and others like it, such as economic growth, the IMF upgrade, Ed Balls “being wrong about absolutely everything” – got lost in the noise.

As a student of Blair, Cameron should realise that deadliness comes from quietness. It’s how Blair destroyed Hague – he was there, he will remember.

And one Labour point does need some attention from Tory theologians – why is it wrong to interfere in the mortgage market but not the energy market?

But neither was there the correct answer to “Why are energy prices so high?” (No answer is complete without the word “shale” in it.)

The Tory roar at the end showed the Speaker struggling to keep control. Maybe Simon Burns’ bid for deputy speaker is gaining popularity. It’s inconceivable that the Speaker isn’t working behind the scenes on Eleanor Laing’s behalf. It will be the best joke of the year if the House saddles him with his best – and most bestial – enemy.

Remembering Diane Abbott’s parting shot, Ed Miliband seems to be adding a little anti-immigrant nationalism to his socialist instincts. The balance is important, obviously, but that strategy has been electorally successful in the past, abroad.

Vicious Simon Carr Joins Guido as Sketchwriter

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We are pleased to announce that the Guido team has a new member, Simon Carr. In the Gallery from 2000 until last year Simon was the sketch writer for the Independent. He has lived on both sides of the political fence having written speeches for a prime minister and helped to found a political party that got half a dozen MPs elected. But that was in another country.

He was said to be “the most vicious sketch writer in Britain” (Tony Blair) with “a sensibility exquisitely tuned to the House of Commons” (Peter Oborne) and “a complete ****” (various MPs). There is a minority report which describes him as “a very kind person”. He repudiates this.

Simon will be covering events for the Guido Fawkes Blog in the chamber, select committees, press conferences and any court appearances that do not directly include himself.

He starts today with the first PMQs of the new session.

Sketch Round-Up

WHO IS BACKING WHO? WHO IS BACKING WHO?