Channel Tunnel To Remain Open If No Deal

The EU Commission has this afternoon published legislation on ‘Railway safety and connectivity’ which would guarantee the Channel Tunnel remains open for three months after a no deal Brexit, enough time for the UK and France to renegotiate the treaty that provides the legal underpinning for the crossing. Another piece of a managed no deal that Brexiteers were told was impossible…

EU Broke “Letter and Spirit” of Law in Scandalous Appointment of Juncker’s Monster to Top Job

The EU Ombudsman has delivered their final verdict on the utterly scandalous appointment of Juncker’s “monster” Martin Selmayr to the top job in the European Commission, concluding that “Selmayr’s appointment did not follow EU law, in letter or spirit, and did not follow the Commission’s own rules”. So much for the EU’s “sacred legal order”…

The Ombudsman “identified four instances of maladministration” in the handling of Selmayr’s appointment as Secretary-General and described the Juncker Commission’s failure to follow official recommendations on opening up the appointment process as “highly regrettable”, adding that “the Ombudsman looks forward to its implementation by the next Commission”. Barely a tickle on the wrist, let alone a slap.

Last December the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for him to quit. Naturally Selmayr has no desire to give up his corruptly obtained post and has ignored them. If a scandal of this magnitude had happened in a functioning democracy Selmayr would have been forced to resign in disgrace. Instead he is still the top dog in the EU’s most powerful institution…

UPDATE: The European Commission have put out a statement in response saying they “take note” of the Ombudsman’s verdict and that Selmayr “fully meets all the demanding requirements for the job” and is going nowhere. Rotten to the core…

Naked Brexit Professor Got Publicly Naked Long Before Brexit

Dr Victoria Bateman has shot to political attention this week for her nude media appearances. She told Good Morning Britain this morning that she had given up on using words and now expressed herself using her body.

“As an economist I am used to using words and equations to make an argument, and in the run up to the referendum I must have penned thousands of words… but I also know… that I’m affected by much more than words alone, that there is a power in going beyond words.”

You might have got the impression that Brexit had driven her to strip off. In fact she has found many different excuses to appear naked in public over the years:

  • She herself commissioned and posed naked for a life size portrait to “raise questions” two years before Britain voted to leave the EU.
  • She walked in naked to a faculty dinner to defend prostitution.
  • She walked in naked to a meeting at the Faculty of Economics in protest against the results of the EU referendum.
  • She filmed a video naked to “promote economists taking feminism into account.”
  • She tweeted a video of herself naked to protest the immigration bill.
  • She filmed another naked video to stand up for women’s rights.
  • She delivered an hour long nude lecture against Brexit then asked the audience to sign her naked body.

Guido isn’t a trained psychiatrist, so will be going out on a bit of a limb here, with this question: Could it be she is an exhibitionist who just likes getting naked?

Luciana Berger’s CLP Chair ‘No Longer Employed” After Appearing on David Icke’s Show

The Chair of Liverpool Wavertree Labour Party, Dr. Alex Scott-Samuel, has lost his job over his appearance on a show broadcast by anti-Semitic conspiracist David Icke. He remains in the Labour Party, attempting to deselect his CLP’s Jewish MP Luciana Berger…

His former employer, the University of Liverpool told the Jewish Chronicle that “Dr. Alex Scott-Samuel is no longer employed by the University.” This is following his appearance on the Richie Allen Show in February 2017, Dr Scott-Samuel was introduced as a senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool.* He told the audience that “The Rothschild family are behind a lot of the neo-liberal influence in the UK and the US. You only have to google them to look at this.”

Other guests on the show Dr. Scott-Samuel appeared on have included former KKK leader David Duke, and self-described “Holocaust revionist” Alison Chabloz. The Labour Party has only expelled twelve members for anti-Semitism. Astonishingly, Dr. Scott-Samuel is not one of them…

UPDATE: the University of Liverpool took down his webpage late this morning:

UPDATE II: They appear to have forgotten this reference.

What’s Going on in Grantham?

Last night Grantham Conservative Association’s Executive Council voted unanimously to start the process of selecting their candidate for the next General Election. Usually this process is a formality undertaken just before an election with the executive simply waving the incumbent candidate through. If the executive do not vote to approve the incumbent, it goes to a ballot of the full local membership…

This morning the Association Chairman sent a letter to the local party membership attempting to downplay the executive’s moves last night, claiming that the media had carried “exaggerated reports of deselection moves on the part of the Association.” The local party chairman insisted that the party executive are “merely trying to ascertain what Nick’s intentions are for the future.” Last year Boles revealed he intended to resign the Conservative whip if the Government were to pursue No Deal…

The Conservative Party Constitution is ambiguous on the time an incumbent MP can take to respond to their local party’s request to apply to be re-selected for the next election. If Boles holds off submitting a formal reselection request then the executive can’t hold the reselection vote, and it’s not clear if they can actually force him to do so. Reportedly 300 local members have sent the local party letters regarding Boles’ position on Brexit. Failing to clarify if he wishes to continue as a Conservative will only fan the flames…

 

Trimble Serves Legal Notice on Government Over Backstop Breaking Good Friday Agreement

Lord Trimble, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning architect of the Good Friday Agreement, has formally commenced legal proceedings against the Government to challenge whether the backstop is illegal under the Good Friday Agreement. Guido can reveal the formal letter sent to the Government Legal Department ahead of the Judicial Review challenge, which the Government must respond to by 22 February. The three possible defendants are identified as Karen Bradley, David Lidington or the Prime Minister herself…

The case will argue that the backstop breaches two key laws – the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Union of Ireland Act 1800 – as well as the Good Friday Agreement itself. Under the Northern Ireland Act and the GFA, they say arrangements to avoid a hard border should have been negotiated bilaterally at the British-Irish intergovernmental conference. The EU has already allowed the UK and Spain to sign a bilateral agreement regarding Gibraltar, why can Northern Ireland not be resolved bilaterally as well?

The crowdfund for the challenge to the backstop is nearing its initial target. If Guido readers want to support the legal challenge too they can donate here

CCTV Footage of Ross Thomson Incident Requested Under GDPR

Parliamentary Authorities are expected to release CCTV footage from last Tuesday evening in Strangers’ Bar in the House of Commons, where multiple witnesses say they saw Scottish Tory MP Ross Thomson drunkenly grope men. Over the weekend Thomson dug in saying “these allegations from anonymous sources are completely false”… a panicky claim that may prove to have been unwise.

Someone who was present in the bar at the time has requested CCTV footage of the evening from parliament’s Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service, which they are entitled to do under GDPR. A response will be provided within a month…

“Thank you for your clarification and ID, received today. We understand your request to be for CCTV footage of yourself in the House of Commons on Tuesday 5 February

We will now progress your request and provide a response no later than 12 March 2019, in accordance with your rights under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPRs).”

Guido doesn’t see how Parliamentary authorities can withhold the evidence of this footage…

CCHQ Appoint Youth Vice-Chairman Who is Closer to Retiring than Graduating

Strange appointment of a Tory Vice-Chairman for Youth, Nigel Huddleston, who is 48 years-old and therefore closer to retirement age than his graduation. Usually the appointment goes to a younger MP, even stranger is that he is a divisive factional figure. He is on the wet side of the party, a patron of the TRG and an anti-Brexit campaigner. The youth wing of the party is very keen on Brexit and most young members would lean towards the free market rather than the Blairite end of the spectrum. An altogether bemusing throw-back appointment when right-of-centre millenials are attracted to the exciting and dynamic politics of the future…

Corbyn Called for the EU to be Defeated in 2010

TalkRADIO have unearthed footage from the Durham Miners Gala in 2010, where Jeremy Corbyn called for the European Union, among a raft of other international organisations to be ‘defeated’.

“They, the world’s bankers, International Monetary Fund, European Union, they are utterly united in what they want. Utterly united in deflation, suppressing the economy, and creating unemployment. Utterly united in that.”

“We will not be silenced by these people. We will win through. We will defeat them”

Less than six years later and he got got his wish…

H/t Ross Kempsell 

Labour Have Only Expelled 12 Members Over Anti-Semitism

Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby has emailed all Labour MPs this afternoon with an update on how the party has been dealing with anti-Semitism cases. The statistics do not give the impression of a party cracking down on an serious endemic problem:

Of the 673 party members reported since April 2018:

  • 220 were let off due to lack of “sufficient evidence”
  • 146 received a “reminder of conduct”
  • 96 were suspended
  • 211 were issued with a “notice of investigation”

Of those who were suspended or formally investigated:

  • 44 resigned from the party
  • 25 received a “reminder of conduct”
  • 16 received a formal NEC warning
  • 7 had their cases closed with no further action
  • 42 were referred to the National Constitutional Committee

Of the 42 formally referred to the NCC, described as an “independent quasi-judicial body”, just 12 have been expelled from the party. This is less than 2% of the total number of reported incidents.

Given the huge proliferation of egregious anti-Semitism in the Labour Party since it moved sharply to the left, it speaks volumes that they have deemed so few cases worthy of outright explusion…

UPDATE: Margaret Hodge says she “can’t believe” there have been “only 12 expulsions”, adding that she is “not convinced leadership serious on rooting out anti Semitism”. She’s not the only one unconvinced…

BBC Should Make Billions Worldwide from iPlayer, Not Over-75s

If you started paying the TV licence fee in your student days and are now 75, you would – at today’s rates – have paid approximately £7,500 into the BBC’s coffers. After half-a-century of being forced to fund the likes of Gary Lineker’s multi-million pound fees, it seems not unreasonable that your retirement from working should coincide with getting him and all the other overpaid celebrities off your back. That is why the government exempted OAPs from facing jail for non-payment of the BBC’s regressive telly poll tax.

The BBC is lobbying hard for the government to pay the licence fees, claiming it is costing them hundreds of millions. This is not really a “cost”, it a loss of revenue. The BBC collects some £3.5 billion from the telly tax and £1.5 billion from commercial revenue. It greedily wants to get a few hundred million more from the over-75s. Here’s a suggestion, cut back on Lineker and the likes’ bloated pay packets and generate some more revenue from iPlayer worldwide.

If Netflix and Amazon can generate billions worldwide from online streaming, so can the BBC. There is no technological reason the BBC can’t do it. The reason they don’t do it is purely political. If iPlayer was a pay-as-you-go streaming service the rationale for the licence fee, such as it is, would be destroyed.

The BBC funding model is based on coercion, it is out of date. Netflix’s global success shows just how badly the BBC missed the opportunity to be a global streaming media company with the headstart it had with iPlayer. Now they want to make OAPs or younger taxpayers pay for their commercial mistakes…

Labour Trolls Remain MP

Labour Remainer Angela Smith was left standing outside Labour HQ for twenty minutes attempting to hand in a petition with 45,000 signatures demanding that Jeremy Corbyn backs a second referendum. But no one from Labour would come down to let her in and collect the petition…

It was left to a member of staff at the Southside building that houses Labour HQ to eventually tell Angela Smith and her petition to go away. Despite the Labour Party telling her that she could hand it in at the desk…

Eventually Angela appeared to decide that her petition isn’t going to go anywhere and off she trotted…

Civil Servants Receive ‘Resilience Toolkit’ to Help Them Cope With Brexit Grief

Civil servants have naturally been grumbling about having to do slightly more work than usual as they prepare for Brexit. Luckily for those working in the Department of Health, they’ve just been issued with a “Toolkit for staff during EU Exit” on “Change management and resilience” to help them “understand the impact which change and uncertainty is having on the way you feel”. Seriously…

The toolkit begins by setting out the Department’s “values and behaviours” as a “Great [sic] Department of State”. Staff are then reassured that it’s “natural” for them to be going through the classic five stages of grief over Brexit. They are literally plotted on a graph – rebranded here as a “change curve”…

Staff are then instructed how to “take back control” and shut those bad Brexit thoughts out. The key is to “challenge your inner critic” and “kill your Automated Negative Thoughts (ANTS)”. Kill those nasty ANTS!

There are also some nice colourful graphs to help civil servants get in the “feel good zone”. Just the right amount of “healthy tension”…

Struggling with Brexit Derangement Syndrome yourself? Guido has done the public service of reproducing the ‘toolkit’ in full to help you get through your Brexit troubles too…

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40-60 Labour MPs ‘Actively Looking’ To Support Watered Down Deal

Labour’s Lisa Nandy revealed to BBC Politics Live that there are “40 to 60” Labour MPs who are actively looking for ways to support May’s deal. Their condition would be guaranteeing more rule taking from Brussels on red tape for businesses…

Resolution Foundation Flouts Charity Commission’s New Political Ruling

The Resolution Foundation, the welfare reform focused think tank which has charitable status, hosted an event this morning at its Westminster offices  on the subject of “British politics beyond Brexit: Where are Labour heading?”

According to their website

“Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jon Trickett will set out his vision for tackling Britain’s big political economy challenges. He will be joined by leading Labour thinkers, including Bridget Phillipson MP, Ayesha Hazarika and Stephen Bush, to discuss what the priorities should be as they prepare for the next general election, whenever that may be.”

Speakers for the event were all Labour supporters, MPs or former staffers; Jon Trickett, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Bridget Phillipson, Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, Ayesha Hazarika, former Labour Party special adviser, Stephen Bush, the Labour supporting New Statesman’s political editor, Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation and former Ed Miliband adviser when he was leader of the Labour Party. Torsten came up with the “Ed Stone”.

They all obviously advocate voting for the Labour Party. Which is fair enough and Guido has no issue with a think tank examining the Labour Party’s policy options. However given the regulatory warning recently issued to the Institute of Economic Affairs, which said it had breached regulations stipulating that it is unacceptable if “at events, the audience is only addressed by people with the same views on a topic”. Guido put this point to Torsten this morning…

Torsten’s response was that balance can be “judged across sections of things, not in one given event.” That’s not what the Charity Commission’s guidance says…

The official guidance says that charities “must ensure that the charity’s outputs (research reports, articles, seminars and so on) are balanced and neutral” and that “activity would not be permissible if… its purpose is (in essence) political, party political or propagandist.”

Today’s Resolution Foundation event was clearly political and not clearly related to to their charitable objectives “to improve outcomes for people on low and modest incomes. We do this by undertaking original research and economic analysis to understand the challenges they face.” Guido has contacted the Charity Commission to see if they will be warning Torsten likewise in an even-handed* way…

*The Charity Commission’s duty to act consistently and fairly is one of their principles.

“People should be treated fairly and consistently, so that those in similar circumstances are dealt with in a similar way. Any difference in treatment should be justified by the individual circumstances of the case.”

Chope Reunited With Fellow Dinosaurs

Fresh from yet another highly inflammatory blocking exercise in Parliament, this time on an anti-FGM bill, Christopher Chope is returning to work this morning to again find another special greeting for him on his office door. This time some enterprising protesters have taped up a row of brightly-coloured dinosaurs to help Chope feel more at home in 2019. A good effort albeit not quite as eye-catching as last time…

May Keen on Corbyn’s Cop-Out

May’s official response to Corbyn’s soft Brexit offer has not done anything to calm the nerves of jittery Tory MPs, with May adopting a surprisingly conciliatory tone and offering only a lukewarm defence of the benefits of leaving the customs union. May opens the door to offering further commitments on following future EU laws and even says she is happy to “explore” Corbyn’s call to adopt “shared institutions and obligations” of the single market. May again signalling that she would sooner do a deal with the devil than allow ‘no deal’ to happen…

Steve Baker has sarcastically responded “It’s a good thing Corbyn does not realise the PM is already heading into what amounts to the EU Customs Union, or he would have to ask for more unachievable goals”. For a long time May and Corbyn’s positions have been differentiated more by rhetoric than substance, now they really are heading for ever closer union…

 

UK Grows 1.3% in 2018

The ONS has released its first estimate of GDP growth for 2018 Q4 at 0.2%, giving an initial figure of 1.3% growth for the year. A far cry from the recession that the Treasury, Bank of England and IMF were all predicting before the referendum…

Growth is sluggish across Europe, particularly in Italy and Germany – the UK is still comfortably in the middle of the road, with the European Commission itself putting the UK on a par with France and the Eurozone average for its 2019 forecast. If steady growth in the UK is all Brexit’s fault, what’s the EU’s excuse?

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Watson on the Wavertree Bullying of Berger

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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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