PA’s Woodcock Replacing Indy’s Watts

Guido hears Andy Woodcock from the Press Association has been appointed political editor of the Independent to replace Joe Watts. More when we have it…

UPDATE: Following Guido’s story, Woodcock has confirmed the move. Guido hopes he gets speedier once he has moved to the digital-only Indy…

Rudd Drops Customs Union Bombshell

Amber Rudd has extraordinarily refused to say Britain will leave the customs union in what comes close to a breach of collective responsibility. Asked at today’s Press Gallery lunch if the UK would stay in the customs union, Rudd replied: “I won’t be drawn on that – we still have some cabinet discussions to have”. It seems pretty clear that Rudd is deliberately putting a bomb under the UK’s negotiating position in an attempt to distract from the Windrush scandal. Every crack in the UK line on the customs union encourages the EU to give us a bad deal. Rudd is putting her own career ahead of Britain’s negotiating position. Might work for a few hours, but she will still be lucky to survive the week…

Rudd admitted to the Lobby that she is fighting for her political career, conceding: “I’m just thinking about staying in the game.” She also ruled out a chicken run to another seat to improve her leadership chances ahead of the next election: “I will definitely fight the next general election in Hastings and Rye”. That’s surely a moot point, her leadership chances are close to zero at the moment…

UPDATE: Rudd clarifies:

Her tweet does not address whether she thinks we will be remaining in a customs union…

He Who Must Not Be Named

Seumas Milne has refused to conduct Labour’s post-PMQs Lobby huddles for the last month after getting into a strop about being named – in breach of Lobby convention – by the Press Association and Guido, among others. Today he ended his sulk and gave the briefing, after instructing journalists they must refer to him only as “a Labour spokesman” and not by name. The anonymity traditionally afforded by the Lobby to spokesmen is a means of avoiding accountability – if spinners are safe from ever being named what incentive do they have to be honest? They can lie with impunity. In Seumas’ case, his views on Russia and Syria and his reputation among Labour MPs meant he became the story himself. Ordering journalists to never refer to him by his name is a curious look. Who does he think he is, Voldemort?

Time’s Up For Chorley

Last night’s Westminster Correspondents Dinner saw Matt Chorley finally able to showcase his wit to a larger audience. It was an opportunity he was never going to give up lightly – he certainly wasn’t going to let the fact that he’s no longer the Press Gallery chairman stand in the way. In the weeks running up to the bash, Chorley argued he should give the main journalist’s speech because he didn’t get to do it when last year’s event was cancelled. It was not lost on the female members of the Lobby that, in the centenary year of women getting the vote, a man was demanding all the glory despite two women – Kate McCann and Emily Ashton – now being the Press Gallery and Lobby chairmen. Chorley and outgoing Lobby chair Tom Newton Dunn then secured the two keynote speeches. Justice was served for the sisterhood by one Theresa May, who spent a good few minutes of her speech roasting Chorley:

“so self-effacing is Matt, that in this centenary year of female suffrage, the year of Time’s Up and Me Too, he has demonstrated just what a stalwart ally he is, by heroically forcing the female Chairman of the Press Gallery to sit in silence and listen to him speak.”

Those male Lobby egos brought back down to earth…

May’s Best Gags From Correspondents Dinner

Some actually not bad jokes from Theresa May at the Westminster Correspondents Dinner last night – she’s surprisingly good at this sort of thing and Guido gives you the highlights below. The Hammond crack is a zinger and she even told a sex joke…

“I was able to catch up with David Cameron over the phone and as ever he had some excellent advice. Don’t worry about Boris. Don’t worry about the Chancellor. Worry about ambitious female Home Secretaries. Lovely to see you here tonight, Amber…” Cue awkward OTT laugh from Amber…

“I remember one canvassing trip that sticks in my memory. I was at the open door of a caravan and there was clearly some activity within, so I knocked and there was no answer. But the activity persisted. I could see somebody lying down on the bed so I knocked again. There was no reply so I looked round the door and there was indeed somebody lying down. It was not one person but two, and it was not the best time to ask them if they’re going to vote Conservative. I have to say they were giving a whole new meaning to the phrase deep and special.”

“Matt Hancock has transcended into a higher state of existence. He’s thrown off the surly bonds of flesh and blood. Matt Hancock actually is now an app. He communicates with me by way of alarming phone notifications. Matt Hancock would like to track your location. Matt Hancock would like to access your photos. But perhaps most worryingly of all, there is a fault with Matt Hancock. Other ministers are following his lead. The Boris Johnson app is great for extending your vocabulary, but it does contain some adult content. The Philip Hammond app is like a drier, less frivolous version of LinkedIn. I’m told one minister is even developing a labour-saving app which converts every Cabinet discussion directly into a James Forsyth column, thus cutting out the hassle of briefing him each week. Tonight I can reveal I’m even working on my own app. It does provide GPS directions to your nearest wheat field, real time tracking of Priti Patel’s air travel, and an instant allocation of all household chores into boy jobs and girl jobs.” 

On Lobby hacks’ early careers… “In 1997 we read how one Tom Newton Dunn reported on how plastic surgery to create the body beautiful is no longer just a female prerogative. I have to say Tom if I were you I’d ask for your money back.”

Boom boom…

Lobby Warned Change is Coming at Correspondents Dinner

Last week Corbyn played to his fanbase with that not-at-all-sinister viral video warning the free press “change is coming”. Last night the shadow cabinet – plus Jezza’s media outriders including Evolve Politics sellout Matt Turner – dusted off their black tie and joined the mainstream media at the Westminster Correspondents Dinner. No one tell Skwawkbox…

Outgoing Press Gallery chairman Matt Chorley provided the funnies at the event he has been waiting for his entire tenure. Chorley told the room that plans were already in motion for next year’s bash, when Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn would address the surviving members of the Lobby. “There won’t be any!” heckled well-lubricated brocialist Barry Gardiner. Who will Seumas have first up against the wall? 

Michael White: Female Lobby Hacks Are “Predators”

Guido’s immediate thought was “uh oh” when the former doyen of the Lobby Michael White made this not very Guardianista comment on the Media Show:

“The power doesn’t all lie on one side; clever, attractive young women looking for stories. They can play the power game to poor old, ugly backbenchers with bad breath… they are predators.”

Female hacks are the real predators?

The ladies of the Lobby are understandably unimpressed:

Everyday sexism from old Mike…

Caroline Wheeler to Sunday Times

Congratulations to Sunday Express political editor Caroline Wheeler, who MediaGuido hears will be the new deputy political editor at the Sunday Times from July. A smart hire, Caroline was one of the few journalists who reported definitively that there would be an early election. She has plenty of Sunday Lobby experience and will now enjoy a deserved wider audience. From one Brexit-backing paper to another…

Sunday Times’ James Lyons Off to Spin For NHS

MediaGuido can reveal a major Lobby move: the Sunday Times’ deputy political editor James Lyons is leaving to take up a communications role for NHS England. Lyons has been in the Lobby for 16 years, on the Tories’ case at the Mirror before becoming the scourge of the Corbynistas at the Sunday Times. Spinning for the NHS is a job that typically pays well into six figures, certainly a nice little earner. Congratulations to James. Half the Lobby will be sniffing around his old job, stay tuned for what will no doubt be an epic MediaGuido runners and riders…

Mak Gets Flack After Hack Pack Smacking

The Tory MPs’ team was thrashed 5-2 by the Lobby in the traditional conference football match yesterday. Changing room chatter reveals MP Alan Mak, a mercurial central midfielder, was subbed off after just nine minutes, by which point the Tories were 3-0 down. According to a teammate, “we started playing well when he was taken off”. Mak requested to be allowed back on the field in the second half – he lasted another five minutes before suffering the ignominy of being subbed off a second time. Housing minister Gavin Barwell scored the first own goal of conference by heading into his own net on an afternoon to forget for the Tories. “Mak-ed in the morning, you’re getting Mak-ed in the morning…”

Ruth Davidson’s Lobby Lunch

ruth davidson

Ruth Davidson didn’t spare Leadsom or Brexiteers at today’s lobby lunch:

The top Tory Scot left no Brexiteer safe, taking a pop at the member for Uxbridge’s recent departure from front line politics:

After the room broke up into laughter she said “Sorry that’s not even my speech, that’s just a text from Stephen Crabb….”. She did eventually take a pop at the opposition, calling Corbyn “comical Ali”:

As well as her own opposition in Holyrood:

Davidson also revealed why she was so pro-Remain – love:


And let’s not forget her words for the press:

Letting off some steam, Ruth?

H/T the lobby

Burnham Praises Corbyn in Shift to Left

Andy Burnham has refused to rule out giving Jeremy Corbyn a job in the Shadow Cabinet – describing the man who counts Hamas terrorists among his friends as “a man of integrity”. Speaking to a Lobby journalists’ lunch at the heart of the “Westminster bubble” he claims to despise, Burnham praised Corbyn as someone who has “important things to say” and as having “made important contributions” to the leadership contest. An unsubtle shift to the left to sweep up second preferences from Corbyn supporters… Jezza for Shadow Defence Secretary? 

Burnham then went off on one about Hillsborough, mystically hinting “all I’m saying is there was a decision to leave it alone” when asked directly about a link between Blair and News International. He didn’t squash the idea that the relationship between New Labour & “certain newspapers” led to a cover up. No sign of tin foil…

Pic via @RosaPrinceUK

Daily Mail Political Editor Runners and Riders

With Mail Political Editor James Chapman off to spin for Osborne and not expected to write another word in the paper, the race to succeed him in one of the best jobs in political journalism is well under way…

The Daily Mail, more than other papers, likes its people to be Mail born and bred. This makes an internal promotion most likely, or failing that, someone with strong links to the paper. In light of that here are your current runners and riders:

James Slack
Daily Mail Home Affairs Editor

Slack was sent by Mail HQ to spend time in Westminster during the election and has also impressed as a leader writer, making people think he was being groomed for the job. Understood to be very well thought of by Dacre, but it is unclear if he wants this gig and to take himself off commentary. Experience in the regional lobby. Current favourite.

Jason Groves
Daily Mail Deputy Political Editor

Described by colleagues as “solid” and an “unflappable pro” with good contacts, but deputies don’t often step up. He will stand in for Chappers over the next few weeks and months, so has a chance to shine. Not to be ruled out.

Katherine Faulkner
Former Mail deputy news editor, now Investigations Editor

Faulkner is definitely in the running having a had some big hits during the election on NHS data. She was given the investigations job after attempts to poach her from elsewhere. While she has no previous experience in politics, that might be deemed a bonus if they want to shape coverage from Kensington. A woman in the job is certainly overdue…

Matt Chorley
Political Editor of MailOnline

Though web based, Chorley’s well researched ‘exclusives’ are regularly taken into the paper. He has been in the Lobby forever and friends say he is well liked internally. A good eye for fun stories but also has good contacts. Would trigger a messy power struggle between the paper and the website. 

Tim Shipman
Sunday Times Political Editor

After two spells in the Mail political team – including five years as Deputy Pol Ed – Shippers has spent the last year at the helm of the Sunday Times team. He already knows the Mail team and desk and has been re-hired once before by Dacre. Eminently qualified, but not cheap and may be having too much fun where he is…

Glen Owen
Mail on Sunday Political Correspondent

Would escalate the war with Mail on Sunday Editor Geordie Greig, but Owen is a hard hitter with a track record of scoops. An expensive outside bet…

Peter Dominiczak + Steven Swinford
Telegraph Political Editor + Deputy

Would Tony Gallagher be able to restrain himself from stealing from his old patch? Dominiczak would be more expensive than Swinford but both are solid hacks. After Christopher Hope turned down an approach from the Mail a while back, Media Guido understands it’s unlikely he will be approached again. Besides, why would anyone ever want to leave the Telegraph?

Other names doing the rounds are the Sun’s Steve Hawkes and the Express’ Macer Hall. Sam Coates and James Lyons of the Times and Sunday Times respectively are certainly qualified.

And now you know.

Seen Elsewhere



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Liz Truss on the next Tory leader…

“In order to command public trust we need someone who has backed Brexit from the start, because of the situation we’re in now.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
WHO IS BACKING WHO? WHO IS BACKING WHO?
Gove’s Pitch Gove’s Pitch
Farage Milkshaker Unmasked Farage Milkshaker Unmasked
ChUK Blame Game ChUK Blame Game