Burnham: Second Referendum “Fraught With Problems”

Andy Burnham squirms around trying to justify his own conflicting positions on a second referendum, coming out broadly against one. With a healthy dose of fudge…

Saturday 7-Up

This week 251,265 visitors visited 765,620 times viewing 1,138,354 pages. The top stories in order of popularity were:

You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…

Twitter Bitch Fight of the Week: Valentine’s Special

Andrea Leadsom has got into a heated poetry battle with Television’s Sue Perkins after she criticised the Leader of the House’s (admittedly not very good) Brexit Valentine’s Day poem. Perkins rather unimaginatively labelled it “shit”…

Leadsom clapped back in Ariana Grande-like fashion: “Doesn’t rhyme, doesn’t scan, isn’t amusing and isn’t romantic…..next?” Sue then resorted to a personal insult about Andrea’s dress sense…

But Andrea had the last word – with the first poem to actually scan properly…

🔥🔥🔥

Ireland Getting Nervous About EU Stitch-Up

The Irish political class is getting increasingly nervous about the EU throwing them under the bus, with the Irish Independent coming out with a searing editorial today aimed at the EU after a “senior EU diplomat” reportedly said that the EU would force Ireland to “choose between setting up a physical Border with Northern Ireland and de facto leaving the single market” in the event of no deal. Ireland’s leaders slowly waking up to the realisation that the EU will happily toss them to one side once they stop being useful as a stick to beat the British with

Simon Coveney’s office was forced to respond, pointing to the EU’s numerous public statements that there will be no harder border in the event of no deal. He’s right, it is simply not going to happen over a few gallons of milk and bags of aggregate. So why is the backstop necessary at all?

Leo Varadkar has since upped the rhetoric today, saying that anyone who expects the “solidarity” of the EU with Ireland to change was in for a “nasty surprise”. If Ireland had continued working with the UK to develop technological solutions instead of treating the UK as an adversary and knowingly going down the path of brinkmanship over the backstop, the whole impasse could have been amicably resolved months ago. Instead Varadkar is nervously watching his (chlorinated?) chickens starting to come home to roost…

High Speed Fail: Now California Ditches HS2 Equivalent

The writing is increasingly on the wall for the ludicrously expensive HS2 scheme after a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation this week revealed the ballooning cost of the white elephant project, with fears that the final bill could be as high as £100 billion. The investigation claimed that ministers have already secretly increased HS2’s budget allocation to £6 billion a year. Almost as much as the entire rest of the rail network put together…

There was another blow to HS2’s prospects this week from across the Atlantic as California decided to put the brakes on its own $77 billion high speed rail white elephant. It has been plagued by all the same budget issues as HS2, it is already $44 billion over budget and 13 years behind schedule…

Intriguingly, Guido has got wind that one of the ways Dominic Cummings has been keeping himself busy since the referendum is by making a number of secretive trips to California and reporting back to ministers and senior officials about Silicon Valley’s now successful efforts to lobby against high-speed rail and focus on autonomous vehicles instead. Cummings has a point – polling consistently shows that binning HS2 would be hugely popular with swing voters in marginal constituencies…

Will the post-May/Hammond Government take the chance to emulate California and actually do something which is both very popular and would save tens of billions? Surely not, Sir Humphrey will never allow so many dodgy contracts to be cancelled…

Friday Caption Contest (Valentine’s Edition)

Entries in the comments…

CBI Wrong Again

The Telegraph’s Christopher Hope cheekily pointed out that CBI Director and diehard Remainer Carolyn Fairbairn had got it wrong again on Politics Live this afternoon. Fewer A Levels, not less…

Wrong on the Euro, wrong on the EU, wrong on grammar…

EU Investors Considering Moves to the UK Because of Brexit

The narrative of a mass exodus of City jobs has already been consigned to the Project Fear dustbin of history, with just 2,000 jobs now expected to move in the event of no-deal, compared to wild predictions of over 230,000 before the referendum. Now the FT of all places is reporting that EU asset managers are actually considering moving to the UK because of Brexit. That wasn’t in the script…

EU fund managers are up in arms over EU rules which would force them to trade dual-listed shares on uncompetitive EU exchanges after Brexit if the Commission refuse to give them access to London after Brexit. The German Investment Funds Association said that “without equivalence granted to UK trading venues, we see the real possibility of EU27 fund managers locating operations in the future in the UK”. London’s pull as the financial capital of the world is just too strong, whether the EU likes it or not…

Rachel Johnson Gets Her Breasts Out Against Brexit

The naked Cambridge Professor’s protests against Brexit might not be doing much to actually stop Brexit, but they have inspired Rachel Johnson to strip off for a naked Brexit protest of her own on Sky’s The Pledge last night, much to the disbelief of her fellow presenters. Viewers will be thankful it wasn’t any of the other members of the Johnson family who got their kit off over Brexit…

Andrew Neil Nails It On Churchill as BBC Announce End of This Week

This Week began with an opening monologue from Andrew Neil that set the record straight on Churchill after the nonsense spoken about him over the last few weeks. A timely refresher that all politicians should watch…

UPDATE: It emerged overnight that the BBC is scrapping This Week after 16 years with Andrew Neil stepping down from late night presenting. His weekly slot on Politics ‘Lite’ will soon be his only regular appearance – this hardly does justice to one of the giants of broadcasting. Neil is one of the few true heavyweights left on the BBC, they will miss him when he’s gone…

Fran Unsworth, BBC Director of News, said: “We couldn’t imagine This Week without the inimitable Andrew Neil, one of Britain’s best political interviewers. After 16 years, Andrew is bowing out of late-night presenting on the show, at the top of his game. We want to keep Andrew at the heart of the BBC’s political coverage. He continues to present Politics Live on Thursdays and we look forward to developing future projects with him.”

Who Is On Question Time Tonight

Pretty decent panel tonight, to be fair. Guido reckons it’s the first one ever to have a Brexiteer majority…

Momentum Tease Chuka with Valentine’s Video

Momentum have released a tongue in cheek video begging Chuka to stay in the party this Valentine’s Day. Ironic considering how quickly the deselection train is chugging his way…

Government Defeated 303 to 258 on Meaningless Vote

The Government has suffered a defeat on its latest Brexit motion after ERG MPs decided to abstain over fears that the wording of the motion meant they would be implicitly rejecting no deal. The motion is of course meaningless and has no legal effect – in truth the whole row could and should have been averted. A number of ERG MPs are privately unimpressed with the fact that they’ve had to burn up political capital on something so inconsequential…

Anti-Corbyn Staffers Leaking Labour Briefings to Tories

It’s a bad time to be a moderate in the Labour Party – Guido hears that anti-Corbyn Labour staffers have become so disgruntled with the current Labour leadership that they have actually started sending Labour briefings over to their Conservative opponents in advance of Departmental Questions in the Commons. Here is Andy McDonald’s PLP briefing which was leaked to the Tories ahead of Transport Questions today:

One Tory adviser told Guido: “It’s pretty clear from all the info we’re getting it’s not a question of if they split – but when.” Who is going to jump first?

Government Whitewashing Lord Deben’s £600,000 Green Scandal

Lord Deben’s scandalous £600,000 conflicts of interests over vast payments funnelled to his firm, Sancroft International, from ‘Green’ corporations continues to be swept under the rug. Conor Burns submitted a written question earlier this week over Deben’s conflicts of interests, receiving a vapid response back from Energy Minister Claire Perry:

“The Chair of the Committee on Climate Change declared his interests with Sancroft International as part of his appointment process in 2012.

“We have received assurances from the Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change on their processes for managing potential conflicts of interests. These include a clear policy on conflicts of interests, publication of members’ interests, and actively inviting information on actual or perceived conflicts as the first agenda item at each Committee meeting.”

Perry has not done her homework – what Deben actually told MPs during his Pre-Appointment Hearing in 2012 was that:

“almost everything that it does has no connection with the Committee on Climate Change, but there was one thing that I felt we ought to disengage from, and I said that.”

Self-evidently Deben was not telling the whole truth given that £600,000 has now found its way to his company from big green businesses that Deben uses his powerful position as Climate Change Committee Chair to persistently lobby for handouts of vast sums of taxpayers’ cash to.

Cursory research reveals that Deben appears to have failed to declare his Sancroft interest more than 15 times in the House of Lords. Guido hears that Tory whips have been discouraging MPs from making a fuss about it, despite the fact that the Commissioner for Standards in the House of Lords has opened a formal inquiry into Deben’s behaviour. Why is the Government trying to cover up for him?

Video Emerges of Remain’s ‘Bregret’ Poster Boy Confirming He Voted Remain

Guido can reveal that Remain’s ‘Bregret’ poster boy who won them over 150,000 views on social media before the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign slyly pulled their video admitted to having voted remain in 2016. When asked about it, Paul Tomlin told Guido that he only said it out of social embarrassment. Deep within a video, buried inside a Twitter thread….

Sadiq’s New Crime Crony’s Suspect Selection Process

Sadiq Khan has already come under fire for choosing one of his cronies, Labour Councillor Lib Peck, to be his new London crime tsar on a whopping £116,000 salary, despite gun crime almost doubling in her own patch of Lambeth where she has been leader of the Council for six years. Now Guido can shed some light on the murky process which led to her appointment…

The Violence Reduction Unit is a new Khan creation, a ‘Partnership Reference Group’ was set up last year specifically to oversee its creation, chaired by Khan himself and his Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden. Who else was a ‘Partner’ in the Group and has attended every meeting? A certain Lib Peck…

Indeed, Labour’s Wes Streeting was keen to draw attention to this fact after her appointment was first criticised:

In fact, according to the Group’s official Terms of Reference, not only did the Partnership Reference Group design the VRU but it specifically designed the role of Director and the recruitment process for it:

A panel of eight carried out the longlist and shortlist for candidates for the role of Director, while a heavily overlapping panel of eight (six people sat on both) then carried out the final assessments where Lib Peck was selected. On both selection panels, six of the eight members had already worked alongside Peck designing her role on the Partnership Reference Group…

One member of both selection panels, John O’Brien, knows Peck particularly well – O’Brien has been the Chief Executive of London Councils since 2007. Who is the Deputy Chair of and has been a member of London Councils’ Executive committee since 2014? You’ve guessed it. Lib Peck…

And delving even more deeply into the Group’s Terms of Reference reveals exactly who nominated Peck to be on the Partnership Reference Group in the first place. London Councils…

Appointing a Labour politician rather than a policing professional – and one with a poor track record at that – to a highly overpaid quango job is a questionable decision in itself. When that person was involved in designing the selection process for the role themselves and had prior relationships with 6 of 8 people on both selection panels it starts to look a whole lot more questionable than that…

People’s Vote’s ‘Bregret’ Poster Boy Actually Voted Remain

The embattled People’s Vote campaign have released a new video featuring someone who claims to have voted Leave but now changed his mind to support Remain. It already has a combined 150,000 views across Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately for them, ‘Paul from Stoke’ is actually hyper-remain political activist Paul Tomlin, who even says he’s ‘proud to be a Londoner’

In the run up to the vote he pleaded with family and friends to ‘vote to stay’, posted that he will ‘get his country back’ if Britain votes to remain, and warned that ‘if we vote to leave there is no way back’. On the day of the results he lamented the Brexit vote with a vile post celebrating Nigel Farage’s plane crash.

Even more vile, in May 2016 he posted a picture of children in a Nazi death camp saying that voting to leave the EU would risk another holocaust.

This is who People’s Vote chose as their poster boy. Can they plausibly pretend that they didn’t know he voted Remain. Or did they tell him to lie..?

Now he proudly sharing the lie on Facebook:

Guido has reached out to Paul Tomlin for comment. He may well have “Bregrets” about his decisions now…

UPDATE: The video has now mysteriously disappeared from the People’s Vote Facebook and Twitter accounts. Naturally, Guido has preserved it for everyone to see…

UPDATE: Guido has spoken to Paul, who admitted that he was a remainer both before and after the referendum, but claims he nonetheless did vote leave. He told Guido that he decided to vote leave “a day or two” before the Referendum, and changed his mind back immediately after he left the polling booth. Conveniently, this time corresponds to immediately after the last post he made encouraging friends and family to vote Remain, and just before he posted implying he wished Farage had died in a plane crash…

Tomlin posted nothing about his short lived Damascene conversion on social media, and was not willing to share with Guido any texts or Facebook messages he sent to friends during this brief period. Seems legit…

McDonnell Doubles Down

Astonishingly John McDonnell has told ITV News that he would give the same answer again if asked whether he thinks Churchill was a hero or a villain. He answered with two words, “Tonypandy. Villain.”

Now he has expanded on his answer a little…

“Undoubtedly a hero during the second world war but also look at the other aspects of his life as well, and Tonypandy was a disgrace, you know, sending the troops in, killing a miner, trying to break a strike.”

Does McDonnell really think that the events at Tonypandy (with Churchill’s role in escalations hotly disputed) outweighs leading the liberation of half of Europe from Nazi oppression..?

Bercow Selects Soubry Amendment for Debate

Bercow has called just three amendments to be debated and voted on today. Which will come as a small relief to everyone with Valentine’s plans tonight…

The specific wording of the Government’s motion itself has drawn the ire of the ERG and Remainers alike, as it means MPs would in effect be endorsing the Spelman amendment against no deal as well as the Brady amendment calling for an alternative to the backstop, although it would be purely symbolic.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Ken Livingstone deployed a corker on TalkRadio this afternoon…
“I joined the Labour Party 50 years ago this month and in all that time I have never heard a single anti-semitic comment.”

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