Profundity of the Punditry: Florence Quadruple Whammy

Robert Peston caused a bit of a stir yesterday afternoon reporting that Theresa May was about to “do a Canada”:

“Her aspiration for after those two or perhaps three years of transition is for our future trading relationship to be what is known – in the ghastly jargon – as CETA plus… What this means is we want a trade deal modelled on Canada’s new one (CETA) with the EU, that has just become operative in interim mode, and not the more intimate integration with the EU of Norway or Switzerland. The reason we are doing a Canada is there has been no resiling from the position taken by the PM in her landmark Lancaster House speech… all of that is broadly May’s position, to be expressed tomorrow.”

May actually ruled Canada out:

“One way of approaching this question is to put forward a stark and unimaginative choice between two models: either something based on European Economic Area membership; or a traditional Free Trade Agreement, such as that the EU has recently negotiated with Canada. I don’t believe either of these options would be best for the UK or for the European Union.”

Doh!

Over at the Telegraph they has this top pre-speech scoop:

Except it didn’t come true, there was no mention of this in the speech. Boris seemed happy too, rather than on the verge of resigning. Doh!

What about all those Remain pundits who said again and again that May had dropped her view that “no deal is better than a bad deal”? Asked by Laura K, May confirmed this was still her position. Doh!

Then there was Sky’s Faisal Islam, who after the speech claimed May was “65% towards the Norway model”. Nope, you can read May’s damning verdict of Norway here. Doh!

Brexit reporting not particularly enlightening at the moment…

Italians on Board With May Speech, Call For Brussels to End “Punitive Approach”

The pre-briefing of May’s speech has gone down well with the hosts judging by the response from the Italian papers today. Centre-left broadsheet Il Messaggero says Italy should not take the “punitive approach of Macron and Merkel”:

“How should Italy respond to May who comes to our country? Is it profitable for Italy to respond in the same way as France and Germany? Would it not be better for us to propose our own solution, not the punitive approach of Macron and Merkel? On this the Italian government has never been clear. A greater independence from the Macron-Merkel axis would enable us to create more favourable agreements with London, regarding, for example, our countrymen who live and work there. Let’s not waste an opportunity: let’s not delegate to France and Germany our right to decide. We could regret it very soon.”

Likewise, La Repubblica says the negotiations can now properly begin:

“May to give message of hope… If May’s message today is not a ‘soft Brexit’ at least it is not a ‘hard Brexit’. Perhaps the negotiations can really start.”

Corriere della Sera:

“Downing St. makes it known that May will offer an optimistic and ambitious vision for the future relations between the EU and the UK and will underline that a successful agreement is in the interests of both sides.” 

 La Stampa:

“In future relations with the EU May does not adopt either the Norwegian model or the Canadian. It will be something new. For now the objective is to give negotiations a shake”

Italy on board, what about Germany, France and Brussels?

Who’s On Question Time Tonight?

Another Remainer-loaded panel…

Who is the Eye’s Telegraph Mole?

For the past couple of years Telegraph staff have kept track of the internal bloodletting and embarrassing insider secrets recounted in remarkable detail in Private Eye. Eagle-eyed reporters have noticed a pattern. While he has a reputation in the office for being an all-powerful control freak who always gets his way, in the Eye editor Chris Evans is almost always portrayed as an ignorant, innocent party who is far from the scene of the crime.

Take this well-informed Eye nugget about the Telegraph’s infamous election day email urging readers to vote Tory, for which the paper was fined £30,000. Even though Evans’ name was on the email, the Eye write-up generously portrays him as an innocent bystander “without a political thought in his head“, and instead names and shames two other Telegraph journalists, as well as Murdoch MacLennan and Aidan Barclay, as being responsible.

Then there was this curiously briefed story about the Telegraph’s positive coverage of UKIP. The Eye’s piece makes clear that talking up UKIP definitely isn’t Evans’ idea, in fact it is Evans who has been “keeping at bay” UKIP supporter and Telegraph owner Frederick Barclay. Evans is referred to as an “idiot“, but it’s Sir Frederick who is the true villain of the piece.

This Eye story, again very well-informed, derides the decision of Telegraph execs to cut back the Saturday paper. MacLennan and the Barclay brothers are named as the guilty parties, but who was it who bravely tried to fight back against the cull? Chris Evans, of course, alas his efforts were, according to the Eye’s top source, sadly “swept aside”.

What about this Eye hit piece on former Sunday Telegraph editor Ian MacGregor, who is dubbed a “laughing stock” whose job was really being done by – you guessed it – Chris Evans. MacGregor is portrayed as a shameless lackey of Aidan Barclay’s business interests. Who was the man standing up to him? Evans, once again.

Whoever the Eye’s mole is, it seems they are keen to make sure Evans escapes blame for calamitous decision making, as his rivals in Victoria are publicly machine gunned one by one…

Osborne Lands Job Number 7

George Osborne has landed job number seven (and eight?): visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and dean’s fellow at its business school. Those jobs in full:

  1. Washington Speakers Bureau after-dinner speaker
  2. Adviser to Blackrock
  3. Chairman of Northern Powerhouse Partnership
  4. Fellow at McCain Institute
  5. Editor of the Evening Standard
  6. Economics professor, Manchester University
  7. Visiting fellow at Stanford University

This one, unusually, is unpaid. Though Stanford did pay him £30,000 for a speech last year.

Osborne’s Latest Duff Analysis

Curious line in George Osborne’s Evening Standard editorial today:

“If we want to remain trading in the single market and customs union, then we will have to make annual financial contributions, accept free movement of people and acknowledge the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That is what Mrs May was sensibly shaping up to offer in Florence, until Mr Johnson suddenly realised it would run counter to all the promises he made a year ago.”

Was May really “shaping up” to accept free movement? Not sure Standard readers are getting the best Brexit analysis…

UPDATE: A government source says Osborne’s analysis is “completely delusional” and that there was never any chance of them accepting free movement or ECJ jurisdiction. Another embarrassing Standard cock-up…

UPDATE II: May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy:

“Not even George can believe this. Evening Standard editorials will soon be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.”

Corbynista Journalist Banned From Conference After Failing Security Checks

Michael Segalov is a Corbynista journalist from Vice, best known for ruining a Tim Farron photo op. That moment when your party is taken over by nutters and the police won’t let them attend your conference…

Indy and Mirror Worst For Gender Byline Equality

Research by Women in Journalism has found that between 5 June and 22 July the Independent and the Mirror were the worst news organisations for gender byline equality. 91% of Indy front-page bylines during the period were male, just 9% of stories were written by women. The Mirror wasn’t much better, their gender byline ratio was 90% was 10%. The Mirror might be bro-cialists but the Indy spends its whole time lecturing on gender equality, so this is pretty damning for them. In the same period covered by the survey the Guy Newsroom was 25% female, a similar result to The Times…

H/T Press Gazette

Telegraph’s Boris Story Back From the Brink

The Telegraph went all in with the claim that Boris Johnson was set to resign at 1pm yesterday, something both Boris and his team denied within minutes of the story being published. The original copy was swiftly and quietly deleted and replaced with the news that Boris was in fact staying and had “dismissed suggestions” he was about to quit. (Suggestions from, er, the Telegraph.) The unchanged URL address suggests it was the Telegraph rather than Boris that came back from the brink…

Owen Goes Full Brent


Owen Jones channels David Brent in the cringe-inducing first 30 seconds of this interview with Bad Al Campbell. “You’ve gotta plan for things have you? Like Iraq?”

What Caused Rachel Sylvester’s Boris Volte Face?

Compare and contrast Rachel Sylvester’s drive-by shooting of Boris two weeks ago – branding him an “international joke”, a “wally”, an “irrelevance” – with today’s piece coming to BoJo’s defence: “It is legitimate for the foreign secretary, who has been criticised for his lack of seriousness, to express his opinion on the biggest diplomatic dilemma facing the country in a generation”. What could possibly have caused such a sudden change of mind? Surely nothing to do with the fact that Rachel’s husband, Patrick Wintour of the Guardian, is off to New York to interview Boris…

Osborne Repents

In his Standard leader today George Osborne all but admits that he did make that infamous “chopped up in a bag in my freezer” comment about Theresa May. This evening’s editorial praises May on modern slavery, suggesting her critics should now refrain from OTT language about her:

“In the battles over Brexit, and over the future direction of the Conservative Party, some harsh words have been said about the Prime Minister. Her advisers created a poisonous atmosphere among senior Tories. But they are now gone, and a much more consensual team has recently replaced them in Downing Street. Mrs May’s critics in her party will want to respond in kind. We can reflect that strong differences of opinion do not need intemperate language, even when said in jest.”

So he did say it then. Think “sorry” is the word he’s looking for…

Boris Article Wasn’t Wrong About £350 Million

Boris-hating journalists have reported the row between BoJo and Sir David Norgrove with such glee that they have neglected to mention that Boris’ article was correct and Sir David has cocked up. The supposedly independent UK Statistics Authority chief wrote in his public letter designed to embarrass Boris:

“I am surprised and disappointed that you have chosen to repeat the figure of £350 million per week, in connection with the amount that might be available for extra public spending when we leave the European Union.”

Except this is wrong and Sir David has made a pretty major error. Boris actually wrote in his Telegraph article:

“Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350 million per week. It would be a fine thing, as many of us have pointed out, if a lot of that money went on the NHS…”

Boris doesn’t say there would be £350 million extra money available for public spending. He talks about “control”, because half of how this money is spent is currently controlled by the EU, and he wants it to be controlled by the UK. Boris-bashing journalists are pointing to old Vote Leave posters to defend their corner, but Norgrove’s letter was not about those posters, it was very specifically about Boris’ Telegraph article. Sir David has created a huge row distorting the words of a senior Cabinet minister in order to make a political point. An independent public servant would be considering their position…

UPDATE: Nadine Dorries says Norgrove should resign:

“David Norgrove, resign. You are not fit to be head of UK statistics when you deliberately play politics to deceive and distort basic facts.”

UPDATE II: Michael Gove also backing Boris and tacitly criticisng Norgrove:

Today Going Out of Fashion

More than a few Today listeners were bewildered by this morning’s programme resembling a long Burberry advert, as Sarah Sands continues the Standard-isation of the BBC’s flagship news show. Even Anna Wintour’s brother wasn’t a fan…

Who Is On Question Time Tonight

Pray for Julia…

Brexit Twitter Sentiment Analysis: Faisal’s 683 Negative Tweets Since Referendum

Data Guido has been working hard in a dark room, crunching the numbers to see whether our top broadcast journalists really are impartial on Brexit. So far we have analysed Robert Peston’s relentlessly negative Twitter feed and Nick Robinson’s less than neutral musings. Next up we have Sky News’ Faisal Islam, the Remainers’ TV darling…

  • Faisal has sent 1,467 tweets about Brexit since 24 June 2016.
  • 87 tweets had a positive sentiment, that’s just 6% of his total tweets.
  • 697 tweets were neutral, that’s 47.5%.
  • 683 tweets were negative, that is 46.5% of his total Brexit tweets having a negative sentiment.

Faisal tweets a huge amount about Brexit, far more than Peston or Robbo. The vast majority of his tweets are split between having either a negative sentiment or a neutral sentiment. Only 6% have a positive sentiment. He has sent a massive 683 negative tweets about Brexit since the referendum, which is unrivalled among his broadcast peers.

Guido’s statistical analysis of Faisal, Peston and Robbo has found that three of the highest profile broadcasters covering Brexit tweet with overwhelming negativity. They promote opponents of Brexit far more than proponents, they report negative stories far more than positive ones, and they occasionally let their own pro-Remain opinions slip through as well. The BBC, ITV and Sky are supposed to be impartial – the evidence shows their Brexit journalists are anything but…

New Statesman’s Rude Ruth Page Break

An accidentally naughty page break in this week’s New Statesman, as an interview with Ruth Davidson reads:

“On education, she wants to encourage innovation by giving head…”

“…teachers autonomy over budgets…” obviously…

H/T @jondharvey

Morning Star Fights Capitalism With £1,600 Adverts

The Morning Star is planning a special edition to mark the “Tory Party Conference Protest” organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity on October 1. How to mark this avowedly anti-capitalist event? Sell advertising for £1,600 a page, of course. Wouldn’t see that in Pravda…

Brexit Twitter Sentiment Analysis: Robbo Not Neutral

Data Guido has been hidden away in a dark room, crunching the numbers to see whether our top broadcast journalists really are impartial on Brexit. Yesterday we analysed Robert Peston’s relentlessly negative Twitter feed, categorising his tweets as having either a positive sentiment about Brexit (not many), a negative sentiment about Brexit (82%), or being neutral. Today it’s the turn of the BBC’s Nick Robinson…

  • Robbo has sent 157 tweets about Brexit since 24 June 2016.
  • 3 tweets had a positive sentiment, that’s just 2% of his total tweets.
  • 65 tweets were neutral, that’s 41%.
  • 89 tweets were negative, that is 57% of his total Brexit tweets having a negative sentiment.

You’d surely expect a Beeb man to be neutral, yet only 41% of Robbo’s Brexit tweets have a neutral sentiment. The overwhelming majority of Robbo’s tweets about Brexit – 57% – had a negative sentiment. As you can see above it is the stories and quotes he chooses to report that give the game away – negative quote after negative quote from France, Brussels, George Osborne and other Remainers. By contrast he has sent only three tweets with a positive Brexit sentiment since the referendum. Nothing listeners of the Today programme didn’t know already. Stay tuned for more Brexit Twitter sentiment analysis tomorrow…

Osborne Cracking Up

George Osborne is quoted in an Esquire profile vowing to never stop attacking Theresa May until she is “chopped up in bags in my freezer”. Not really the words of a man who is thinking rationally. As Guido noted a couple of weeks ago Tory MPs have been increasingly disturbed by Osborne’s macabre imagery when describing May.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Nick Timothy on George Osborne’s latest:

“Evening Standard editorials will soon be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.”

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