Tories Raised 11 Times More Than Labour Last Week

Donations from the last week via the Electoral Commission:

Tories: £3,772,550

Labour: £331,499

LibDems: £310,500

Women’s Equality Party: £71,552

UKIP: £16,300

Greens: £9,366

Three quarters of all donations have been to the Tories…

Trump Names and Shames Nato Under-Payers

Awkward faces all round as Trump named and shamed Nato under-payers this afternoon…

Mosley Donates £300,000 to Labour Election War Chest

Political parties raised £9.3 million in the first quarter of 2017, with the Tories accepting £5.4 million in donations compared to Labour’s £2.6 million. Labour’s election fund is being helped by a £300,000 wedge from former blackshirt Max Mosley. What was it that first attracted him to Corbyn’s Labour?

Tories – £5,463,173
Labour – £2,648,315
LibDems – £603,155
Co-operative Party – £322,800
UKIP – £246,910

Healthy Tory election war chest…

Nationalisation Missing From Labour Funding Document

Labour are still spinning that their manifesto is “fully costed”, even releasing an accompanying document with details of how their policies are funded. Except it doesn’t include any costings for nationalising water, energy, mail and breaching railway contracts. Are they just planning to expropriate them? That would mean taking assets out of your pensions…

Was McDonnell Handed Deficit Note?

Nick Robinson: “What is Britain’s deficit at the moment, Mr McDonnell?”

John McDonnell: “If I can say to you… [pause]… If I can say to you that what’s happened as well in terms of day to day expenditure, we need the investment… [ruffling]… we need the investment… [pause] [more ruffling]… we need the investment…”

Nick Robinson: “Is somebody passing you a piece of paper?”

John McDonnell: “Not at all.”

Nick Robinson: “Just sounded like there was a bit of paper being handed across.”

John McDonnell: “[Laughs nervously] Not at all.”

Nick Robinson: “What is our deficit at the moment, Mr McDonnell?”

John McDonnell: “The deficit at the moment is £68-£70 billion.”

Nick Robinson: “I think you’re being a bit too kind… It’s £52 billion.”

McDonnell eventually got the deficit wrong by £18 billion, so if he was handed a note or a mobile phone it didn’t do him much good…

UPDATE: Was that ruffling some quick googling? You get McDonnell’s out-of-date £69 billion figure if you google “deficit uk”

UPDATE II:

McDonnell Admits Manifesto Not Fully Costed

Labour have made a big play of their manifesto being “fully costed”, yet when gently asked by Nick Robinson how much their water nationalisation policy would cost, McDonnell admitted they don’t have a number. That’s tens of billions missing…

£70 Billion Fund Chooses London as New European HQ

Last week Guido reported on how US billionaire Bill Ackman’s £3.6 billion fund had listed in London, today there is more good news for the City. PSP, a £70 billion Canadian pension fund, has backed Britain’s post-Brexit fortunes and opened its new European headquarters in Victoria. Chief executive Andre Bourbonnais told City AM:

“We’re all aware of the possible implications of Brexit. But in our mind with the talent that is here and the fact that London has been the financial centre of Europe for decades, we are committed to it and we think it is the best place for us.”

The fund puts its money where its mouth is and plans to spend up to £4.6 billion here in the next five years. British talent and financial infrastructure is turning out to be what really matters for investors. As Bourbonnais puts it, London “has the financial infrastructure and network that would be hard to replace elsewhere”Can’t see this story on the FT website, though you can imagine the reaction if one of the world’s biggest pension funds announced it was leaving London because of Brexit…

Electoral Commission Say Green-LibDem Bung is Matter For Police

Caroline Lucas has admitted for the first time that the Green Party WAS offered a £250,000 inducement to stand aside for the LibDems in the Richmond by-election. The Electoral Commission tell Guido that offering such a bung is a criminal offence and that this is a matter for the police…

With regards to any allegations about donations offered as an inducement to stand down candidates, it is a matter for the Metropolitan Police to investigate whether an offence has taken place and ascertain which laws may have been broken.

Section 107 of the Representation of the People Act includes an offence of “Corrupt withdrawal from candidature”. The offence is a matter for the police to investigate, and any related complaints must be raised with the police (and not with the Electoral Commission).

Lucas told the Daily Politics the offer was not accepted – even though the Greens did stand aside – and farcically claimed she “can’t remember the name” of the person who offered the bung: “I’ve forgotten the man’s name for the purposes of this debate”. Lucas said at the end of the interview that she would reveal the name when she could remember it, though the Green Party is now refusing to do so. The Greens have to release the name, otherwise they are covering up a criminal offence…

Tom Watson’s Rich List Chutzpah

Tom Watson has fired off a punchy blogpost attacking the number of super-rich Tory donors in the wake of this weekend’s Rich List. “What do many of the 100 richest people in the UK have in common,” Watson asks, “A good number of them have donated significant amounts of money to the Tory Party”. You have to admire Tom’s chutzpah, given he has accepted donations from several entrants on the Rich List himself. 

JK Rowling – worth £650 million and one of the highest profile Rich List entrants – gave thousands to Watson’s deputy leadership campaign. Former Rich Lister Sir David Garrard has been a major Watson donor. Mega-rich former blackshirt Max Mosley has given £500,000 to support Watson in the last year. Other Watson backers include multi-millionaire Labour moderate bankroller Trevor Chinn and millionaire casino tycoon Derek Webb. Classic Watson, listing the millionaires on the Rich List who donated to the Tories but not mentioning the ones who donated to him. For the money not the few? 

Nadhim Zahawi Wins £338,000 Libel Payout From Press TV

Guido can reveal Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi has been awarded a stunning £338,000 payout after winning a libel case against Iranian state television channel Press TV. The channel had falsely accused Zahawi, who is of Kurdish background and was born in Iraq, of facilitating the trade of oil between ISIS and Israel. Press TV has been ordered to pay Zahawi £200,000 in damages and over £138,000 in costs after the judge described the defamatory allegations as “exceptionally grave”. The fake news story was shared by Tommy Robinson, who tweeted “Another bent Muslim politician??”, and Labour parliamentary candidate John Clarke.

Zahawi says in a statement:

“The ludicrous allegation that I, while a Member of Parliament, had firstly betrayed all of my deepest held moral principles, and secondly had somehow managed to avoid international security services, and the law, to personally trade oil with Daesh was of course completely untrue…

In my role as a member the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have often spoken out against the malign influence Iran has so often chosen to exercise in international affairs. It was of particular note that the libellous article was published on the exact same day that I had publicly criticised Iran in Parliament.

I hope that this libel judgment can draw a line under this episode and deter outlets such as Press TV, and by extension states such as Iran, from attempting this sort of attack on anyone again.”

Jeremy Corbyn no longer the MP who will have received the most cash from the Iranian state. Slightly different circumstances though. 

Tories Fundraising On Back Of Brussels Briefing Bluster

As the FT gleefully reports that Brussels is threatening to up the Brexit bill to a very round €100 billion, this is the Tory website this morning. Theresa May must be loving the increasingly aggressive briefing from the Commission, which makes the EU look unreasonable, the “bloody difficult” PM look like she is batting for Britain and serves only to increase her majority on June 8. It is such an electoral gift for the Tories that they are fundraising off the back of the bluster from Brussels. Also worth noting the response from some Remainers to the leaks from the EU. Many are now just openly backing the other side…

Labour: “Never Been a Better Time” to Borrow £500 Billion

Labour First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones says “there’s never been a better time to borrow £500 billion. Speaking on Sunday Politics Wales yesterday the most senior Labour figure in Wales said:

Presenter: “The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said £500bn more borrowing in order to give the economy a bit of a boost – you’d go along with that then would you?”

Carwyn Jones: “Yes I would. Let’s remember…”

Presenter: “£500bn extra borrowing?”

Carwyn Jones: “There’s never been a better time to borrow. It’s cheap.”

Quite a day: Communist-endorsed Labour arguing with themselves about Trident, but at least they agree on borrowing half a trillion pounds more…

Department of Health Spending £25 Million on HQ Refurb

Refurbishing the Department of Health will cost the taxpayer more than £25 million pounds, new figures reveal. The projected future cost of renovating DH offices at 39 Victoria Street and Wellington House, Waterloo is today revealed as £15,120,000. Taken together with cash already splurged on offices for health mandarins, the total figure over three years now stands at £26,677,939.

That’s 5,335 hip replacements, 1,144 nurses or 29 MRI scanners…

Four-Jobs HS2 Boss Paid £240,000 By Taxpayer For Three Day Week

HS2 chairman David Higgins is facing a select committee bashing over the state of his beleaguered white elephant – and MPs would be forgiven for asking if he has taken his eye off the ball. Higgins is paid a £240,000 salary by the taxpayer for a three day week at HS2. What does he do the rest of his time? He is also the chairman of Gatwick Airport, a nice little earner and hardly a job that requires no attention. He is a director at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where his roles also include chairman of the bank’s Remuneration Committee and sitting on the Risk Committee. Kerching. Job number four is as a “senior adviser” at fund manager Global Infrastructure Partners. Higgins is no doubt enjoying George Osborne levels of success in the private sector. The Transport select committee will be interested to know why his very well remunerated job working for the British taxpayer is going so badly by contrast…

Dave Goes to Vegas

David Cameron is heading to Las Vegas next month to speak at an exclusive conference for hedge fund managers founded by a top ally of President Trump. Corporate delegates will pay up to $7,500-a-ticket to hear the former PM in conversation with the American financier David Rubenstein at the SALT hedge fund congress. Held over three days at the opulent Bellagio – of Ocean’s Eleven fame – Dave will speak for 35 minutes. His fee has not been disclosed…

SALT was founded by Anthony Scaramucci of investment firm SkyBridge Capital. Scaramucci was tipped for a senior Trump administration post after serving in the President’s transition team and donating during last year’s campaign. Dave “putting some hay in the barn“…

HS2 Chairman Faces Select Committee Showdown

HS2 chairman David Higgins faces a showdown with the Transport select committee over the £170 million cancelled contract debacle. Transport committee chair Louise Ellman says she wants a session on the fiasco “as soon as possible”. Pressure is beginning to be applied to the beleaguered HS2 board, which has been hit by a spate of recent high profile departures, including of its director-general David Prout, strategy director Alistair Kirk and information chief James Findlay. Rumours have been swirling that Higgins – who has just taken on a second job as chairman of Gatwick Airport – may not be long for the world of HS2. Select committee members will want to ask if HS2’s double jobbing boss took his eye off the ball…

With Chris Grayling rejecting suggestions that the £170 million tender should be re-run, US construction giant Bechtel is the favourite to take the contract. So it is unfortunate that the weekend papers revealed links between Bechtel and a middleman named in British courts as involved in corruption in Abu Dhabi. One to watch. For the £170 million HS2 contract to be mired in sleaze allegations all over again would heap further pressure on the project…

Ryanair Now Say Brexit Means Cheaper Flights

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, backing the Remain campaign on 24 February 2016: “Europe is the one thing that has delivered low fare air travel and cheaper holidays for British citizens.”

Ryanair advert, today: “Brexit means Bargains”

The cheek of it!

Grayling Ignores Calls For HS2 Inquiry

Chris Grayling came under fire from all sides at a bad-tempered Transport Questions this morning. He ignored calls from the Shadow Transport Secretary Andy MacDonald and Tory MP Cheryl Gillan for an inquiry into the HS2 – CH2m shambles. MacDonald not unreasonably said the story “stinks to high heaven”, Grayling laughably replied that the cancelling of a £170 million contract was not a “massive” issue. Wonder what CH2M think about that. Notable how Grayling carefully distanced himself from the beleaguered “independent” HS2 board…

HS2 Boss Resigns Following Contract Fiasco

HS2 has announced the departure of its Director-General following the £170 million cancelled contract debacle. David Prout, the civil servant who had overall responsibility for the entire project for the last four years, has resigned and will take up a position at Oxford University in September. A major blow…

Guido also understands the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, Philip Rutnam, is leaving. He will join the Home Office. The man in charge of HS2 is out, and the most senior DfT mandarin is off too. Problems growing for HS2 ahead of what will be a fiery Transport questions for Chris Grayling this morning…

£170 Million HS2 Contract Scrapped After Guido Pressure

Victory! HS2 has scrapped the scandal-hit £170 million contract awarded to CH2M following our repeated revelations of conflicts of interest. The announcement that CH2M will be withdrawing its bid comes on Article 50 day as the government tries to bury the humiliating climb down.[…] Read the rest

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Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

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