Best Paid at the BBC

New BBC pay figures out:

1. Gary Lineker – £1,750,000-£1,759,999
2. Chris Evans – £1,660,000-£1,669,999
3. Graham Norton – £600,000-£609,999
4. Steve Wright – £550,000-£559,999
5. Huw Edwards – £520,000-£529,999
6. Jeremy Vine – £440,000-£449,999
=7. Nicky Campbell – £410,000-£419,999
=7. Alan Shearer – £410,000-£419,999
=9. John Humphrys – £400,000-£409,999
=9. Nick Grimshaw – £400,000-£409,999
=9. Stephen Nolan – £400,000-£409,999
=9. Andrew Marr – £400,000-£409,999

And if you don’t want to pay their wages, you end up in court…

Dent Coad Denies Election Expenses Claims

Emma Dent Coad has come out swinging after being reported to the police by democracy campaigner Stuart Coster over her election expenses, telling the Standard: “These entirely baseless allegations make the erroneous assumption that one has to spend a lot of money to win an election”, and adding that she fought the seat “from my kitchen table with loads of volunteers”. Guido hopes she thought that line through…

This is Dent Coad’s election communication for the 2017 election. The imprint is personal to Dent Coad locally (not the national party), the content is fully local and can’t be considered national costs, yet the imprint refers to the printer “Sterling Press Ltd” which appears nowhere on the list of suppliers of her “Unsolicited material to electors”. A Labour source says Dent Coad declared a payment for her election communication to the Labour Party, which was then centrally paid to Sterling Press, in accordance with electoral law.

The leaflet also invites readers to order a poster (which a Labour source says was a Labour poster and therefore national spend), quotes a mobile phone number and refers to a web address – the costs for none of which during the regulated period are included in her return. Did she really only spend five grand on her entire election campaign?

Question Time’s £450,000 Gender Pay Problem

The conventional wisdom is that the BBC will appoint a woman to present Question Time. David Dimbleby is paid £450,000 a year, or £15,000 an episode. If he is replaced by a woman, gender pay sensitivities mean it is unthinkable that she could be given a pay cut. The Beeb would have to stump up the full £450,000. If a man is hired, however, insiders note, the salary could be slashed, potentially saving the BBC and licence fee payers hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. Tough one for Beeb bean counters…

Health Minister Admits NHS Spending Funded Entirely By Taxes For Years

Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price admits the obvious: there is no Brexit dividend while we continue to pay our subs to the EU. That means no Brexit dividend until at least two years after Brexit. Which means the new NHS spending during those years will be paid for entirely out of taxes (and possibly borrowing). In reality the vast majority of the money will come from taxes after the transition period is over as well. Which is not what Number 10 is trying to spin us…

Onward to Higher Taxes

The government currently has no idea how it wants to raise taxes to pay for the £20 billion-a-year funding increase for the NHS. Step forward Tory MP Neil O’Brien, the former Osborne SpAd who recently co-founded the Onward think tank, with a proposal: freezing the personal allowance for two years. His plan to effectively hike taxes for all voters will raise £4 billion a year, which still leaves a huge black hole.

Labour’s policy is to whack the super-rich with new taxes. This Tory plan proposes to stop low earners, middle class voters and everyone else from keeping more of the money they earn. Which one do they think the public are going to vote for? The Tories are shifting the Overton window way to the left, fighting on Corbyn’s territory, and leaving people with no reason to vote Conservative. This madness is only going to make it more likely Corbyn gets into Number 10…

May: NHS Spending Will Be Paid For With Tax Rises

Theresa May and the Number 10 spin team have done an impressive job of getting ‘NHS spending funded by Brexit dividend’ as the top line on broadcast this morning. The truth is the vast majority of the new money is going to come from tax rises equivalent to 3p on the basic rate of income tax. The Tories are refusing to say how or when the tax rises are coming. So far they are getting away with a completely uncosted policy and massive mystery tax rises. This is the Tory magic money tree…

Damian Collins Accepts Donation From Russian Billionaire Friend of Putin

Grandstanding select committee chairman Damian Collins has spent the last year chasing headlines about Russian interference in British politics. So it’s a bit rich of him to be taking donations from a Russian billionaire who is a close ally of Vladimir Putin…

The latest Register of Members’ Interests reveals that Collins accepted two tickets worth £1,000 to a football match at Stamford Bridge paid for by Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea FC. Abramovich has since had his visa renewal application delayed by the UK government, reportedly due to his close links to Putin. The oligarch was described by the Guardian last month as a “big Kremlin player”. Perhaps Collins should write himself one of his famous letters…

Dawn Butler’s £14,000 LA Jolly Paid For By Blairite Guru

Top Corbynista Shadow Cabinet member Dawn Butler lived it up on a £14,000 nine-day junket to Los Angeles paid for by a Blairite guru whose company was incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Butler, who has gained something of a reputation for enjoying the high life since taking a job in Jeremy Corbyn’s top team, jetted off to LA last month, where she mingled with the stars on the red carpet at the GLAAD Awards.

Dawn was taken to LA by Anthony Watson, who readers will remember is a hardcore Blairite who bankrolled Owen Smith’s campaign to remove Jezza. As Guido has previously reported, Watson’s company Uphold Inc was originally registered in the Caymans. Here are Butler and Watson photographed at the glitzy LA awards bash. Not sure what the Corbynistas will make of Dawn partying in LA paid for by an arch Corbyn-sceptic.

The event took place at the Beverly Hills Hilton, where a room fetches up to $530 a night. Well, it beats an evening in Brent…

Butler has declared the purpose of the visit as a “Women and Equalities LGBT fact finding visit“. For some strange reason, she decided not to mention any of the facts she found, or indeed anything about her nine day trip at all, on any of her social media accounts. Guido would have thought it was at least Instagram worthy. For the many, not the few…

Priti Demands New Probe Into Remain Spending and Questions Electoral Commission Impartiality

Following fresh revelations today about the Remain campaign overspend during the referendum, Priti Patel has written to the Electoral Commission calling for an investigation. Readers will remember the Electoral Commission refused to investigate previous evidence of Remain overspending, despite investigating Vote Leave for the same thing. Priti warns the Commission there are questions over their impartiality – Guido has the letter:

I am writing, further to our correspondence earlier this year, and in light of the revelations in the Sunday Telegraph about new evidence of services being shared among the various Remain campaigns in the 2016 EU referendum.

I am sure you share my deep concerns that Britain Stronger in Europe seems to have been provided with services by other Remain campaigns without declaring the expenditure in the appropriate way. There is evidence that many campaigns appear to have acted as a mere continuity of the official Remain campaign as it approached its spending limit, the most egregious example of this being the regrettably named ‘Don’t f*ck my future’ campaign, which many different Remain organisations appear to have involved themselves in.

As you will be well aware, the findings in the Sunday Telegraph are just the latest example of concerns being raised about how the Remain campaign conducted itself during the referendum. There have been numerous ‘warning signals’ over the last few months, including several media reports that have strongly suggested that Britain Stronger in Europe tried to circumvent the Electoral Commission’s rules during the EU referendum. As a reminder, these include:

  • Admissions by senior figures within Britain Stronger in Europe that they were coordinating messaging and campaign activity with other Remain campaigns including Labour In, Conservatives In and the Liberal Democrats.
  • The fact that a number of Remain campaigns were set up in the month leading up to the referendum, which received hundreds of thousands of pounds from donors who had previously made payments to Britain Stronger in Europe and other pro-EU campaigns.
  • Reports that Britain Stronger in Europe were delegating ground campaign activity to the Labour Party, potentially sharing campaign material such as leaflets and canvassing data.

When I wrote to you earlier this year to highlight some of these concerning pieces of evidence you decided to take no action – claiming there were no ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect that these activities were ‘part of a common plan or other arrangement’. We are now faced with a situation where others are instead having to undertake the sort of investigation that the Commission should have taken months ago. It is all the more concerning, as a significant proportion of the evidence cited in the Sunday Telegraph report appears to have come from the Electoral Commission’s own records.

This raises serious questions about the impartiality of the Electoral Commission. The material uncovered in the Sunday Telegraph, coupled with the evidence made public earlier this year, suggests that the Commission has decided to hold Leave campaigns to one standard, and Remain campaigners to another, much lower standard.

In November last year, you decided to open a third investigation into the official Vote Leave campaign, even though you admitted in your assessment that there was no new evidence to justify the reopening of this investigation. Despite the absence of any suggestion that the official Leave campaign indulged in the apparent collusion described above, you have nonetheless continued your investigation.

In reopening the case, you set a very low threshold for triggering an investigation into a campaign. And yet, despite setting this low threshold, you have since refused to open any sort of investigation into the Remain campaign – despite the ever-growing volume of evidence that these campaigners were breaking the Commission’s rules.

I am not unsympathetic to the challenges that the Electoral Commission faces. I understand the reasons behind your suggestion to Parliament that the rules on coordination need to be reviewed. But while I accept the argument that the law should be improved – and that this is beyond your control – what is undeniably in your control is the power to treat campaigns equally.

I believe that the Electoral Commission has an important role to play in our democracy, but that role comes with an important responsibility – to be politically neutral at all times. If you want to restore confidence in the Commission, you should either start a formal investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe, or show equity and end the investigation in Vote Leave. The public – and Parliament – want to see the Commission acting with political balance.

I look forward to hearing from you .

Yours sincerely

The Rt. Hon. Priti Patel

The threshold for investigation is low, the Electoral Commission is already investigating Vote Leave for lesser alleged offences… It would tell you all you need to know about the Remainer-stuffed Electoral Commission if they refuse to look into this…

New Tory Treasurer is Director of 7 Companies With Overdue Accounts

The new Treasurer of the Conservative Party is a director of seven companies which are late filing their accounts, Guido can reveal. Ehud Sheleg, who runs a Mayfair art gallery, is set to be appointed to the role after giving the Tories half a million pounds before the last election. Sheleg is a director of The Halcyon Gallery Ltd, Washington Green Fine Arts Group, Artica Galleries, Halcyon Fine Art Group Holdings, Washington Green Retail and Halcyon Fine Art Group Ltd, all of whose accounts were due last month and have not been filed according to the Companies House website. Another company of which Sheleg was a director, Goldend Ltd, was struck off after failing to file its accounts or confirmation statement on time. The six companies which are still active now face potential fines totalling thousands of pounds. Bodes well…

Top Tory’s Firm Implicated in Russian Dirty Money Report

Russophile former Tory minister Greg Barker’s firm EN+ has been implicated in the Foreign Affairs select committee report into dirty Russian money in London. Lord Barker’s primary role as chairman of EN+ was to give the group a veneer of respectability and to reassure the City as the Russian energy and aluminium producer listed on the London Stock Exchange last year. Then last month, Barker’s boss Oleg Deripaska was whacked with sanctions by the US government and accused of “benefiting from the Putin regime and playing a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”. While the FASC report says “there is no evidence of impropriety in the legal sense”, it is damning of the EN+ flotation on the LSE:

The flotation of En+ Group on the London Stock Exchange in November 2017, which raised around £1bn in share sales, provides an example of the contradictions inherent in UK Government policy towards Russia…

In February 2018, press reports emerged suggesting that both MI6 and US security officials had expressed serious concern about the IPO. One unnamed US official reportedly told the Telegraph: “What is the point of the U.S. imposing sanctions on Russia if the Russians can then get round them in Britain?”…

the ease with which such large-scale transactions occur also sends political messages that undermine the Government’s condemnation of what the Prime Minister has called the “well-established pattern of Russian state aggression”, encouraging President Putin and his associates to conclude that the money supporting that aggression is safe and welcome in London…

The use of London as a base for the corrupt assets of Kremlin-connected individuals is now clearly linked to a wider Russian strategy and has implications for our national security. Combating it should be a major UK foreign policy priority. The assets stored and laundered in London both directly and indirectly support President Putin’s campaign to subvert the international rules-based system, undermine our allies, and erode the mutually-reinforcing international networks that support UK foreign policy. The size of London’s financial markets and their importance to Russian investors gives the UK considerable leverage over the Kremlin. But turning a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption risks signalling that the UK is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of President Putin’s offensive measures.

We call on the Government to investigate the gaps in the sanctions regime that allowed a company such as En+ to float on the London Stock Exchange, and to work with the G7, whose markets dominate the financial world, and other international partners, to close those gaps as soon as possible.

Barker should be under pressure to resign over this scandal but has been let off the hook as ministers and Tory MPs have failed to criticise him. How can the Tories be claiming to take dirty Russian money in London seriously when they stayed silent as one of their own helped float a Putin crony’s company in London?

‘Beijing Barry’ Takes £43,000 from China-Linked Firm

Barry Gardiner is still pocketing tens of thousands of pounds from a law firm whose head is linked to the Chinese regime. New figures show the Shadow International Trade Secretary has accepted £43,500 from Christine Lee & Co so far this year. The latest donations are on top of £180,000 he previously accepted from the firm…

Christine Lee describes herself as a “legal adviser to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the UK” and “legal adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council” in China. Her son, Daniel Wilkes, works in Gardiner’s office as a parliamentary researcher. The register states Wilkes is “paid by Christine Lee & Co (solicitors) for the work I do in Parliament”…

Gardiner’s current brief concerns international trade with China. He was a vocal advocate of the Hinkley Point power station deal, which involved a Chinese state-backed firm. Both the donations and employing Christine Lee’s son are allowed under parliamentary rules. Beijing Barry, still on the make

Will Collins Ask Electoral Commission About Remain Overspend?

The Electoral Commission is up in front of the Culture select committee this morning. Guido is sure the Remainer-packed committee, which has been the most one-sided, non-reality based, grandstanding committee by a mile under the tenure of ultra-Remainer chairman Damian Collins, will ask about the Remain campaign’s overspend. A good place to start would be Priti Patel’s letter to the Electoral Commission outlining clear evidence of Remain spending breaches, which for some strange reason the Commission declined to investigate. Culture committee members can read up on the evidence here. Surely Collins will want to ask about the Commission’s double standards?

Customs Partnership Would See UK Still Paying EU Billions

There is another problem with Number 10’s proposed customs partnership that hasn’t had much attention. In the unlikely event Brussels agrees to such a partnership, it would inevitably require the UK to continue to pay a substantial ratio of the customs revenues it collects to the EU. At present, the majority of UK customs revenues are paid to the EU – in 2017 the UK contributed £3.2 billion, or £60 million a week. Customs revenues make up over a third of the total UK net contribution to the EU…

Cabinet Brexiters need to ask Number 10:

  • what ratio of customs revenues collected would be paid to the EU under their customs partnership?
  • will the EU agree to rebate – or deduct from its overall customs contributions – revenues for goods which remain in the UK?

At present no one in the government seems to have an answer. It would be subject to negotiation, yet if we don’t like the answers there would be nothing we can do about it, as the clock is ticking down and there is no Plan B. As Open Europe’s Henry Newman points out:

“if the Government is to consider the Customs Partnership further, it needs to be clear that it would likely mean the UK continuing to pay a substantial proportion of any customs revenues collected at our borders to the EU. Whatever its merits, a Customs Partnership could entail the UK paying very large sums of money to the EU in the long-term – something the Government has so-far ruled out”

Continuing to pay the EU potentially billions of pounds does not seem to meet May’s red line of taking back control of money. This is £60 million a week that could, to coin a phrase, be spent on the NHS instead…

£10,000 Bribe For 25 Year-Olds Would Cost £8 Billion Per Year

The Resolution Foundation’s call for millennials to be given a £10,000 handout from the state on their 25th birthday has to be one of the daftest ideas from wonk land in a while. The Institute of Economic Affairs tell Guido that, while the number of people turning 25 will vary each year, on average it’s around 800,000 people a year. That means the policy will cost an estimated £8 billion a year. Which is roughly equal to the total annual income tax paid by one million average earners…

The IEA’s Kate Andrews is right:

“Why should the salary of a 40 year old person, earning the minimum wage, be redistributed to top-up a 25 year old, earning double or triple the average national income? There is nothing progressive about cash transfers that are based on age. This proposal stands in opposition to the fundamental principle of welfare safety nets: that resources are redistributed to those who are most in need.”

Not to mention the fact that a £10,000 handout doesn’t pay off a 25 year-old’s tuition fees or get them on the housing ladder, let alone address any of the reasons why the Resolution Foundation thinks they need the money in the first place. Bonkers.

You Wait Ages For a Free Bus Pass Policy, And Two Come Along At Once

Today:

Labour pledge to fund free bus travel for under 25s in England, at a cost of £1.4 billion.

The Tories say the policy is too expensive, will cost far more than Labour say and means “working people paying the price”.

October: 

Welsh Tories pledge to fund free bus travel for under 25s in Wales, at a cost of £25 million.

Welsh Labour say the policy is too expensive, will cost far more than the Tories say and dub it “fantasy economics”.

The wheels on the free bus pass policy go round and round…

Dodgy Green-LibDem Pact Back On As £250,000 Bung Remains Unexplained

One of the murkiest dodgy deals in recent electoral history is back on in Richmond. Readers will remember how the Green Party was offered a £250,000 inducement not to run against Zac Goldsmith in the 2016 by-election – a blatant bung that the Electoral Commission said would have been a criminal offence. In the 2017 election the Greens initially selected a candidate, Andree Frieze, and said she would run. That was until the LibDems stood down their candidate against Caroline Lucas in Brighton – and Frieze dropped out in Richmond to return the favour. Lucas farcically told the Daily Politics she couldn’t “remember the name” of the person who offered the £250,000 bung. They have never explained the inducement, essentially covering up a potential criminal offence…

Now a joint Green-LibDem leaflet has gone out in Richmond explaining the parties “have decided to work together and not compete with each other” and telling voters to vote for two LibDem candidates, Penny Frost and Gareth Richards, and one Green, Frieze, in May’s local elections. Here is the joint imprint:

There are serious questions here to which Richmond voters deserve to know the answers. Who offered the £250,000 bung? Why did Caroline Lucas claim she “can’t remember” the name of the person who offered it? Why did she never disclose the name as she promised Andrew Neil she would? Why did the LibDems claim there was no deal in 2017 despite the Greens admitting there was? What deal has been made this time round that they are keeping from Richmond voters? Remarkable they’ve got away with refusing to come clean on all this…

Remainers Blow Half a Million on Ad Campaign in FT, Guardian and Standard

Ultra-Remain spin shop Best for Britain are spending half a million pounds putting these posters up in Leicester Square, Westfield and Canary Wharf, and buying adverts in the FT, Guardian, Evening Standard and Metro. Way to reach out beyond your base…

The poster campaign purports to represent people “from all walks of life”. It is accompanied by a quote in the press release from Mark Malloch-Brown, the Cambridge-educated millionaire former lobbyist, World Bank vice-president, Economist journalist, friend of Bono and vice-chairman of Soros Fund Management.

Whether it’s spurious court cases or pointless poster campaigns, Remainers are great at wasting other people’s money.

Remain Campaign Used Exactly the Same Spending Tactics As Vote Leave, Only Far Worse

There is a long list of reasons why Carole Cadwalladr’s claims that Vote Leave “cheated” on their spending during the referendum are wrong. First and foremost, the Remain campaign did exactly the same thing that Cadwalladr is accusing Vote Leave of, only far, far worse. Vote Leave gifted BeLeave £625,000. Yet in the month before the vote the Remainers set up FIVE new campaigns and funnelled a MILLION pounds into them so they could stay under the spending limit:

  • DDB UK Ltd registered as an independent campaign on 25 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. DDB UK Ltd received £191,000 in donations.

  • Best For Our Future registered as a permitted participant on 27 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £424,000 in donations

  • The In Crowd registered on 10 June 2016, less than two weeks before the referendum. It received £76,000 in donations.

  • Virgin Management Ltd registered as a permitted participant on 3 June 2016, less than three weeks before the referendum. It received £210,000 in donations.

  • Wake Up And Vote registered as a permitted participant on 24 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £100,000 in donations.

The Remain campaign did exactly the same thing as Vote Leave, only with more money and with five new campaigns. This renders Cadwalladr’s central charge against Vote Leave completely obsolete.

Reason number two why the claims about Vote Leave and BeLeave coordinating are bonkers. The lawyer championing the Cadwalladr claims, Jolyon Maugham, has called the validity of the referendum into question over alleged collusion among the Leave campaigns. Yet the various Remain campaigns coordinated on a much greater scale, holding conference calls every morning to coordinate their messaging, sharing data, suppliers and campaign materials, and coordinating spending. Cadwalladr and Maugham have completely ignored the fact that the Remain campaigns colluded on a much larger scale.

Reason number three, and the most obvious of the lot: how can Vote Leave reasonably be accused of cheating on spending when the Remain campaign spent far, far more and had the entire machinery of Whitehall behind them? Electoral Commission figures show the Remain campaign spent £19 million. The Leave campaign spent £13 million. The government spent £9 million of taxpayers’ money on Remain campaign literature. £3 million of this was spent on online ads and “digital promotion”. How can Vote Leave possibly be accused of cheating when the overall spending was so blatantly biased in favour of the Remain campaign?

As the Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman says:

The truth is the only people pushing Cadwalladr’s nonsense are ultra-Remainers who cannot fathom that the country wants Brexit, and have to believe that the Leave vote only happened due to some corruption or cheating. The facts simply do not bear this out.

Tory Dilemma Over Scandal-Hit Pro-Putin Oligarch

With Theresa May considering new sanctions on Putin-associated oligarchs and Labour going hard on dodgy Tory money, it’ll be worth keeping an eye on what happens with Dmitry Firtash. The Kremlin-linked Ukrainian billionaire is wanted in America and battling attempts to extradite him to face corruption allegations in Chicago.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

President Trump on May’s Brexit deal:

“I would say that Brexit is Brexit. … The people voted to break it up. So I would imagine that’s what they’ll do. But maybe they’ll take a different route, I’m not sure that’s what they voted for.”

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