McDonnell: Most Right Wing Cabinet in my Lifetime

The endorsements just keep flying in for Boris’s new Cabinet, it was John McDonnell’s turn on Peston last night to hail it as the “most right wing Cabinet in my lifetime” and predict that we’ll see some “pretty hardline neo-liberal policies come out”. High praise indeed from Britain’s most left-wing ever Shadow Chancellor. McDonnell astutely notes that they will be “differentiated certainly from the Labour Party”…

Whether it really suits Corbyn “down to the ground” is another matter, he may end up finding out sooner than he really wants. New Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg told Peston a general election was not a “government objective” but was “impossible to rule out” given the Parliamentary arithmetic. The way Boris ruthlessly stamped his authority on the Cabinet yesterday suggests he is more than prepared to face down any potential rebels. With an election if necessary…

McDonnell couldn’t even say Labour would definitely back Remain, meanwhile Corbyn continues to wander round aimlessly calling for a general election while refusing to table a vote of no confidence in the new government. Labour’s Marxist leadership may be in for a sharp shock now they’re no longer getting an easy ride against May’s muddled centrism…

Tom Watson’s U-Turn on Bad Al’s Brexit Agenda

Tom Watson has been making a full-throated case for remaining in the EU this morning at the sycophantic pro-EU think tank Centre for European Reform. Guido couldn’t help but remember this memorable clash between Watson and Alastair Campbell just last May. Watson tears into Bad Al for not respecting the Brexit vote and repeatedly mocks the fact he no longer decides Labour policy:

“We have to listen to the whole of the British people on this Alastair and we’ve got to make sure that we honour them by saying we’re coming out of the EU…”

“What I’m saying is: you no longer decide Labour Party policy… I know you’d like to, I know they don’t pay you a lot of money as the editor of the New European…”

Campbell might have been unceremoniously shown the exit door from Labour, its Deputy Leader doesn’t seem to mind him setting the agenda again…

Heidi on Joining Lib Dems: Never Say Never

Heidi Allen tried to water down rumours that she will join the Liberal Democrats last night on Peston, but left the possibility open for herself saying “never say never in this game because there are shifting sands”. Guido’s analysis shows that as a Lib Dem Heidi would hold a decent chance of holding her seat. As for the other TIGs, not so much

Hunt Won’t Commit to October 31 Brexit Deadline

Jeremy Hunt was grilled on Brexit by Peston last night after being forced to helplessly sit through a whole segment of the show where his flip-flopping on Brexit was read out line-by-line. Ouch…

More significantly, Hunt would not commit to the new October 31 Brexit deadline on the grounds that Parliament could try to block no deal, which he argues would lead to a “very, very devastating” general election. Hunt’s plan relies on putting back together the Conservative-DUP alliance, which will be a tall ask if the hated backstop is still in place…

On the other side of the argument Dominic Raab tells the Spectator that he would be prepared to use all the “levers of the executive” to force through a no deal if necessary, potentially setting up an epic constitutional crash with aspiring ‘Eternal President’ John Bercow. May never seriously attempted to use those levers so Raab would be in unchartered waters. Ultimately the onus would be on Remainer Tory MPs to decide once and for all what they really think is worse, no deal or a Marxist Prime Minister…

Mercer: We Have to Pick Someone Who Wins – That’s Boris

The Tory leadership field has got marginally less crowded after outside contender Johnny Mercer formally announced on Peston that he wouldn’t be running – and gave a ringing endorsement of Boris Johnson instead:

“The one thing we’ve been missing is leadership… it’s very clear to me that there’s one individual who can try and govern from the centre-right… and that is Boris Johnson…

“We are in parlous times and the only individual who is going to beat Farage and Corbyn and win an election… we have to pick someone who wins.”

Mercer hints that he will be a big part of Team Boris, he reveals that he’s had “many conversations” with him and that “we’re going to try and do it together, go out try and inspire the party, bring them together”. Dominic Grieve and Wes Streeting are predictably amused but there has been a big softening of attitudes towards Boris among many longtime “anyone but Boris” Tories, he has been publicly courting the ‘One Nation’ caucus, even Ruth Davidson has now said she can work with him. Panicking Tory MPs are watching their party’s catastrophic slide in the polls and desperately looking around for a winner, many are coming to the same conclusion as Mercer…

Thornberry’s Jab at Anonymous Labour “Backroom Briefing”

Fair to say that Emily Thornberry’s not particularly impressed with anonymous “backroom briefing” from Labour spokespeople suggesting that Labour might abstain on the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. “I’m the elected politician, I’m on the record, we’re not going to vote for the Withdrawal Bill if we don’t agree it, and we don’t…” Who could she possibly be thinking of…?

Osborne: Cabinet Have a Responsibility to Tell May Enough’s Enough

George Osborne is no friend of Theresa May but his analysis was measured and insightful on Peston last night. No bags in the freezer this time…

Rather than changing the party rules to engineer her departure, Osborne says the Cabinet and the Conservative Party more broadly have a “responsibility” to tell May that enough is enough. She has one last chance to try to get her deal through, after that the game is up…

May’s Remain Cabinet Gets Even More Remain

The net effect of Gavin Williamson’s sacking on internal Cabinet Brexit politics is yet another shift towards Remain. Williamson voted Remain but was at least saying all the right things since. Ardent Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt will have a short honeymoon period but she is swimming firmly against the tide. The chief beneficiary of Williamson’s ignominious departure, Rory Stewart, is swimming completely the other way…

Here’s Remainer Rory on Peston last night, his evangelism has gone up a level from enthusiastically trumpeting May’s original deal to now waxing lyrical about the benefits of a cross-party deal with Jeremy Corbyn, even if it involves a second referendum.

Stewart’s quixotic leadership pitch is to be the “standard bearer of the middle ground”. Right now his “middle ground” appears to be somewhere between May’s centrist authoritarianism and Corbyn’s Marxism…

There cannot be a single person in Government who seriously believes they’re getting a whole Act of Parliament through on the basis of an even worse deal cooked up with Jeremy Corbyn, let alone one including a second referendum. May is heading for two electoral hammerings this month and there’s nothing she can do to stop it…

Hammond: Second Referendum is ‘Perfectly Credible Proposition’

This will go down like a cup of cold sick with Tories already incensed by Theresa May’s approach to Jeremy Corbyn. Both Steve Barclay and May herself refused to rule out second referendums yesterday, a Government source confirmed to Guido then that nothing was off the table besides a full-on revocation of Article 50. Brexiteers fear an even greater betrayal coming…

Rees-Mogg: I Won’t Back the Deal Unless the DUP are on Board

Theresa May’s promise to step down last night if the deal passes looks to have unlocked substantially more support for the deal – a clear majority of the ERG have now come over including big beasts Boris and IDS – although a hard core of around 20-30 diggers-in remains. They are “still looking for a ditch in which to die”, in the words of one MP there…

May’s biggest hurdle now is the DUP, who put out a fresh statement last night confirming they still could not support the deal, before Nigel Dodds brutally put down any suggestion that they could abstain instead of voting against it:

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has now been branded everything from “traitor” to “eurofederalist” after saying it’s May’s deal or no Brexit on Monday, reiterated his position on Peston last night that he will still vote against the deal unless the DUP are on board. However, he does suggest how domestic law could be used to address the DUP’s concerns. Will it be enough? We’ll find out soon enough…

UPDATE: It’s still a no from the DUP according to Laura Kuenssberg “For avoidance of doubt, DUP will vote against agreement tomorrow, party source says”


Red Len: Second Referendum Threatens “Democratic Fabric” of the UK

Len McCluskey has come out with the most robust line yet from someone close to the Labour leader against a second referendum, telling Peston that trying to “deflect away” from the result of the 2016 referendum “would threaten the whole democratic fabric on which we operate”.

Meanwhile John McDonnell was busy doing the opposite and talking up the possibility of a second referendum last night, when he wasn’t attacking Churchill. A deliberate two-pronged strategy from Corbyn’s inner circle or signs of genuine splits emerging?

Truss Categorically Rules Out Customs Union

The big question now is which way does May tack to try to secure a majority for her deal in Parliament. Does she toughen up her stance to try to get her own party and the DUP back on board, or go for a softer Brexit to get Labour MPs on board? Without direct support from Corbyn it’s hard to see how this would ever deliver enough votes. Not to mention the irreparable damage it would do to her own party…

Liz Truss has put herself firmly in the former camp, categorically ruling out a customs union on Peston last night and adding that “there are 118 Conservatives that we have the potential to win over, and I think that’s where we should start.” Number 10 is holding firm for now, but there are plenty of Remainers – including in Cabinet – trying to pull it in the opposite direction…

Leadsom Limits Leader’s Longevity

Last night Peston pushed Andrea Leadsom on the PM leading the party into the next election. Leadsom’s answer was basically a diplomatic “no”.

Television of Remainers, by Remainers for Remainers

When the Peston show’s producer tweeted the above graphic out Guido responded that he “should call if you need some phone numbers for politicians who want to leave the EU”. What are the chances of 6 guests all being remainers on a politically neutral show?

If guests were selected at random from the population – which they clearly are not – the probability that they would all be remain campaigners would be

The likelihood of an all-remain guest list being selected by chance is that tiny.

Peston tweeted first thing this morning

“It is just conceivable that a false premise underlies this probability calculation. What do you think?”

Sure, it is conceivable. What is inconceivable is that he would have a show with six Brexiters as his only guests.

He then prays in aid Rob Burley, until recently Marr’s producer

Burley also tweeted that the probability measure was silly and “It’s not June 2016.” Leavers feel we haven’t left the EU and the politico-media establishment are determined to reverse the 2016 vote. Is that a silly idea?

Incidentally the public think, by 3 to 1, the BBC is biased against Brexit and by 2 to 1 that ITV is biased against Brexit. How silly of them…

Maureen Lipman Invites Corbyn Out for Dinner at Joe Allen’s

Truss: We Can’t Undo Worboys Decision

Geek of the Week: Mark Carney

NiMo Lands Amber In It

Nicky Morgan says she was contacted by a “very senior” member of the Cabinet who said “she” was appalled by briefings against Hammond. The only “very senior” member of the Cabinet (other than the PM) is Amber Rudd. Oops…

UPDATE: Remarkable hypocrisy from NiMo. Two weeks ago she said Boris “has to go” if he can’t keep quiet on Brexit. Last week she was widely implicated in the plot against the PM. Today Morgan says “it’s not helpful for anybody to have ministers being attacked, whether it’s the Chancellor or the Foreign Secretary” and criticises “self-indulgent” colleagues doing so. Eh?

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Quote of the Day

The Daily Mirror has heard that at the shadow cabinet meeting, Nick Brown lost his train of thought so John McDonnell handed over a piece of paper to help out.

Brown: “You’re really helpful“.

McDonnell: “Yes I am. But it would be great if somebody could tell Skwawkbox that“.



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