Vince Bottles “Slicing Up Corbyn” Line

The pre-briefed version of Vince Cable’s LibDem conference speech included the line:

“If Jeremy Corbyn sits on the fence any longer, he is in danger of being sliced up the middle by the serrated edge.”

The line was cut from the speech on delivery, perhaps after they saw how it went for Osborne talking about chopping up his opponents.

This is the most interesting thing to come from this week’s LibDem dross. Sky News cut away from Vince’s speech after a few minutes to hear from the President

New Number 10 “Road to Brexit” Social Media Strategy

Number 10 is releasing a video titled “The Road to Brexit” on Facebook and Twitter this afternoon as it steps up its Brexit messaging – you can watch it on Guido first. It’s the first time Theresa May’s government has really tried to do anything like this – a 21st century social media strategy pumping positive Brexit news into the newsfeeds of young voters. Certainly a marked change in communications compared with the previous regime. The video strikes a realistic tone, noting these are “the most complex negotiations the country has ever faced”, stressing the tough talks ahead and the need for a transition period. It also reconfirms the Lancaster House principles of leaving the single market and customs union and taking back control of laws, borders and trade. Good to see civil servants previously tasked with talking up Project Fear doing something useful for a change…

Boris SpAd Liam Parker Leaving

Guido can reveal Boris Johnson’s special adviser Liam Parker is leaving for the private sector, he’s joining top PR firm Pagefield as a partner after conference. Parker has been Boris’ spinner for the last year, before which he was Mark Carney’s head of press at the Bank of England. No doubt at Pagefield he will earn more for a slightly quieter life – flying around the world with the Foreign Secretary is one of the more demanding SpAd jobs. Good luck to him.

Expect this to be used by Boris’ enemies in the media as another sign of his apparently waning position. Yet senior Tories Guido has spoken to are perplexed by the determination of some to write BoJo off completely. He remains the man Tory associations want their MP to invite for dinner, he is box office, was instrumental in winning the referendum, is highly unlikely to be sacked in a reshuffle despite reports and his career is certainly not over as some would have you believe. Indeed he is the man most Tory MPs still believe will be next leader. Be interesting to see who he hires…

Chairman Boris?

Speculation that Theresa May could demote Boris Johnson to party chairman is again doing the rounds, weeks after BoJo’s enemies first punted the idea around. Does it make sense? Sacking Boris would create the highest possible profile enemy at a time when the PM is hardly in a position of overwhelming strength. Giving him the party chairman job would then arguably increase his power. Chairman Boris would be able to reconnect with members and activists, effectively given free reign to tour associations and win the membership’s support. He could actually be political, which is what he does best and would only help his popularity in the party. Rather than being sent around the world and restricted to 20 second pooled clips he could do all the broadcast and press he liked. If May really were to do something with Boris in a future reshuffle, making him party chairman would be a particularly brave move…

Bell Pottinger CEO Resigns

August 23: Bell Pottinger chief executive James Henderson denies to Guido that he has resigned.

September 3: James Henderson resigns.

The PRCA ruling on the Bell Pottinger South Africa scandal is due this week…

Guardian Brexit Coverage Bewildering Remainers

Guido has spoken to several Remainers recently who have expressed bewilderment at the Guardian’s Brexit coverage. Their view is that among the Remain media, the Times, FT and online publications are streets ahead because the Guardian keeps getting basic facts wrong. Look at these examples from the last few days…

Today they have the headline: “Boris concedes UK will have to pay for Brexit”. Eh? Every sensible Leaver including Boris accepted from the outset that Britain needs to meet its financial obligations. When Boris said “go whistle” he was talking about the €100 billion figure being bandied about by the EU. You can reads his quotes – “go whistle” referred to “the sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate”. He never said we wouldn’t pay anything. This is basic stuff, the Guardian is misleading its readers to wrongly make it look like Boris is u-turning.

Earlier this week the Guardian reported the government’s proposal for a system of civil judicial cooperation is a “climbdown from its promise of judicial independence”. As pro-Remain experts pointed out, this was wrong. The Guardian had misinterpreted the position paper – it was about child custody, divorce and small business disputes, a separate issue from judicial independence and the ECJ. This is either embarrassing incompetence or deliberate spinning just to blindly attack the government. Not sure which is worse.

Then there was the Guardian’s Brussels correspondent Jennifer Rankin, who snarked in response to Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to reform posted worker rules: “Imagine if David Cameron had tried to change EU free movement rules with other EU countries instead of alone”. As pro-Remain journalists pointed out to Rankin, freedom of movement and posted worker rules are not the same thing. And say what you like about Cameron’s renegotiation, the idea he didn’t try to win support from other EU countries is just factually incorrect.

Best of the lot is Martin Kettle’s analysis in today’s paper. He reckons the government’s position papers make the case for staying in the single market and customs union and u-turn on the ECJ. Then Martin hilariously writes: “None of them quite say this, of course.” Correct, in real life the position papers make clear we are leaving the single market, customs union and ECJ. This is just wishful thinking from Kettle, it isn’t based in reality. Not sure how it got past the editing process.

Guido has noticed pro-Remain journalists falling into two camps recently. Some are becoming more practical, more pragmatic, sensibly and accurately reporting the Brexit process having accepted we are leaving. Others, the Guardian and Open Britain crowd, are in denial. They are embarrassing other Remainers and doing a disservice to their readers…

UPDATE: Craig Oliver on the renegotiation point:

#Traingate II: Director’s Cut

For some inexplicable reason the usual suspects for Corbyn are trying to rehash the whole #Traingate saga. Why? Why now? The New Statesman’s Jasper Jackson has taken a fair minded look at the “new never before seen footage”, that we’ve all seen before, from agit-prop video jockeys Double Down. According to Jackson, Double Down’s director is Yannis Mendez…

“… the video maker who was being paid by Corbyn’s team to film footage on the train, and who pitched the Guardian the article. Mendez insisted that his friend, Anthony Casey, be given a joint byline under a pseudonym. (He was billed as “Charles B Anthony”.) This is what the Guardian’s readers’ editor found most objectionable about the story: a paid partisan activist operating as a journalist, without his affiliation being made clear to readers.”

This is what led the Guardian to distance themselves from the original bit of bylined agit-prop. The new video is basically a reinterpretation of the original claims.

Let Guido rehash the facts which are not in dispute;

  • Team Corbyn didn’t reserve a seat.
  • Corbyn himself said he found an empty single seat, but he wanted two adjacent.
  • Virgin staff offered Corbyn first class seats – which he declined.
  • The Virgin conductor later found Team Corbyn seats.
  • During the time between other seats being found (by upgrading other passengers) they filmed the now infamous agit-prop video.

If Team Corbyn wasn’t so chaotic they would have organised booking seats in the first place. If they weren’t so prissy they would have taken the upgrade offered. Instead they made a less than honest campaign video out of the affair. They got a well deserved mauling and it still stings. Hence Yannis Mendez coming back to the issue long after anyone who might have cared has forgotten the details.

Remain Media Coverage Criticised By Experts

Some pro-Remain pundits and publications are single-minded in their desire to blindly attack the government, even if it means getting the story wrong. Take today’s Guardian article claiming HMG’s proposal for a system of civil judicial cooperation is a “climbdown from its promise of judicial independence”. This is rubbish – child custody, divorce and small business disputes are a separate issue to the ECJ and judicial independence. It’s pretty basic stuff, the Guardian is misleading its readers because of its desperation to create something out of nothing and criticise the government. Here are Matt Holehouse from MLex and Allie Renison from the IoD, who actually know what they are talking about:

Then there is the FT’s David Allen Green, who this morning praised Michel Barnier and dismissed the UK’s positioning papers as “noisiness“, “bluster and the spin“. Get a grip. As the Sunday Times EU correspondent Bojan Pancevski says in response:

“‘Bluster & spin’ is UK attempting to extract a best possible deal, also for taxpayer. It’s a negotiation. Disagreeing with Brexit is one thing, but believing that the EU is “right” in the talks and spin, bluster free is bizarre. Should HMG simply accept terms as they are given? DD already accepted the “Brexit bill,” transition period, some role for ECJ & paying into EU budget post divorce. So this is far from the alleged intransigence that gets reported… If you think you can reverse Brexit, find a political way to do it, don’t bash own government, civil service for doing what they have to.”

Of course some pundits would rather Britain had voted to Remain. We get it. But there comes a point where they are just supporting the other side, getting it factually wrong and acting against the interests of their own readers. Embarrassing stuff…

SpAd Movements: Lee Cain to Number 10

Guido hears Theresa May has hired Michael Gove’s SpAd Lee Cain as head of Political Press in Number 10. Cain is a former Fleet Street journalist and Vote Leave alumnus who was the Leave campaign’s head of broadcast, most recently he has been spinning for Gove at Defra. Well-liked by the Lobby and encouragingly another Brexit believer appointed to a senior SpAd position, he joins Robbie Gibb, Paul Harrison, Liz Sanderson, Tom Swarbrick and Kirsty Buchanan in the new Downing Street spin team. Good to see a Leaver promoted…

People’s March For Europe: Theresa May Must Explain Chappers’ Deleted Twitter

This press release has just been sent out by the People’s March for Europe, the organisers of the hotly anticipated James Chapman rally launching his anti-Brexit ‘The Democrats’ party.. They are claiming “James Chapman’s twitter account has been hacked and suspended without his permission… We demand an immediate and full explanation from the Prime Minister and the Secretary of the Cabinet, Sir Jeremy Heywood”. Guido has called them up – they won’t say if Chappers wrote, authorised or has even seen the press release. Are they really claiming that the PM or Cabinet Secretary has silenced Chapman’s tweeting? This could be bigger than Watergate*…

*Chappers did also tweet that he was “lashed” about 4 a.m. local time after saying hello to Vladimir Putin.

UPDATE: The account is back up!

Seumas Feeling the Strain

A parliamentary bag-carrier in Portcullis House yesterday spied an animated Seumas Milne having a heated row with fellow Corbyn aide Jennifer Larbie. Our eyewitness says Seumas was having a “temper tantrum” and paced up and down as an unimpressed Jennifer stood with her arms folded. Seumas then threw his hands in the air and flounced off. Trouble in socialist paradise?

Team Jez: Labour Frontbenchers Were Mistaken

George Osborne’s Evening Standard has splashed on Guido’s student debt scoop from this morning. Team Corbyn have a new line: that frontbenchers Imran Hussain and Sharon Hodgson were “mistaken” about Labour’s policy and shouldn’t have said that Jez was planning to wipe out debts. If Corbyn’s own top team were mistaken, not sure how voters were meant to understand it. Almost as if the Corbynistas are lying to cover their tracks…

Tory Videos on Labour’s Student Debt U-Turn Hit 1.3 Million Views in 3 Days

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner is under heavy fire in the Commons over Labour’s student debt u-turn. Sarah Champion threw Corbyn under the bus on the Daily Politics earlier rather than defend the broken promise. Over on Facebook, Tory videos on Jezza’s fantasy policy shambles have now been viewed 1.3 million times in three days, and shared over 50,000 times – more than the vast majority (possibly all) of anti-Labour posts during the election. This is hurting, and deservedly so…

New Labour Spinner Boasted of “Bullying” Angela Eagle

Labour has hired a new spinner from Momentum who once boasted of “bullying” Angela Eagle. Sophie Nazemi has been sending press releases on behalf of the party this morning. Last year, she was caught in the Mail on Sunday’s undercover sting on Momentum, where she was a volunteer at the time. Nazemi was recorded talking about how Momentum would expose former leadership candidate Angela Eagle’s voting record, boasting: “What we are doing is low-key bullying for Eagle to resign”. Remember at the time Eagle was the victim of aggression and intimidation from hard-left thugs. Nazemi also talked up the alt-left news outlet Novara Media, calling them Momentum’s “militant wing”. Corbyn’s office has long wanted to ditch the current HQ press team and replace them with true believers, is this a sign they’re finally getting their way? 

Remainers Behind Smears and Negative Briefings

A narrative has formed that the ongoing Tory briefing wars are a Brexiteer plot to do in prominent Remainers. Readers and viewers are not being told the whole story by the pro-Remain elements of the media. The most damaging smears and negative briefing have in fact been conducted by hardcore Remainers…

The “Brexiteer plot” narrative went into overdrive following the Sunday Times story on Hammond calling public sector workers “overpaid“. Sky News and the Remain Twitterati immediately blamed the leak on Brexiteers. This is untrue. Tim Shipman, the Sunday Times pol ed who actually wrote the story, saysthe majority of my sources are not Brexiteers”. This fact is being conveniently ignored by Remainers.

The allegation that Boris bonked a “top female Theresa May aide” is the most vicious and nasty negative briefing. This is not just “allies” of Davis trying to wreck a leadership rival. It is being put around by hardcore Remainers trying to hurt Brexiteer Boris.

Boris was the victim of another negative briefing on Sunday. An “ally” of Davis said if DD became PM he would demote Boris to party chairman and smear him in the press if he refused to accept. Talk of DD’s potential Cabinet appointments are being spread by prominent Remainers. 

Then there is the Hammond sexism revelation in The Sun. This is being blamed on Brexiteers too, without a shred of evidence. Hammond is briefing that Michael Gove is behind the negative stories. Gove flat out denies this and again there is not a jot of evidence. It appears it is Hammond’s negative briefing that is untrue.

Last week George Osborne’s Evening Standard called Brexiteer Stewart Jackson “wacko jacko” and quoted “a source” saying his potential appointment as a DExEU SpAd “will undo the credibility that Davis has earned”. Another anonymous, personal, pro-Remain negative briefing.

Then unnamed sources with apparent insight in DExEU told the Guardian there had been a “dramatic change of mood at DExEU since the election” and that Davis was essentially going soft on the ECJ. This was untrue. Yet another BS pro-Remain briefing.

There is a lot of mud flying around and all sides are guilty to some extent. Yet the narrative that the negative briefing is being solely conducted by Brexiteers to hurt Remainers is demonstrably untrue. The truth is the most unhinged stuff being whispered to journalists is from Remainers who have had too much warm prosecco and beer… 

Mrs Milne Lawyers Up

Seumas Milne’s wife Cristina Montanari has taken legal advice – Guido’s betting she didn’t ask hubby if he knew anyone who could help. The Milnes are threatening the press with legal action if they attempt to contact them:

We have been contacted by Howe & Co on behalf of Cristina Montanari & Family.

They say their client will not be making any comments or statements in relation to matters that are currently circulating about her and her family in the press and media. No other member of her family will be making any comments or statements. They ask that press desist from asking questions and refrain from entering onto their client’s property.

They ask that media refrain from calling to the door of the family home (including knocking at the family’s door or ringing the doorbell), as all licences to enter onto the property have been revoked. Any distress caused to their client will result in legal proceedings being issued for damages against those individuals and press or media outlets involved.

They say the attempts by members of the press and media, including repeated attempts, to contact their client and/or members of her family are unwanted. Their client considers the media’s presence outside her family home, despite requests to leave is intimidating and harassing. Media must cease all attempts to contact Cristina Montanari and/or member of her family and must leave the vicinity of her family home.

Notable that Seumas isn’t actually mentioned in the legal threat. A situation where the press aren’t allowed to phone up a Director of Communications would be somewhat unorthodox…

Top Corbyn Aide Sided With Assad and Putin

Following Guido’s story yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn gets a lot of criticism in today’s papers for his links to an Assad-supporting genocide denier. Of course it should come as no surprise that the Labour leader’s office is sympathetic to people with such views. Take Steve Howell, Corbyn’s deputy director of strategy and comms, one of his most senior aides (and a former colleague of Seumas Milne at the Stalinist newspaper Straight Left). His Twitter feed is full of tweets promoting Assadists, siding with Assad and Putin, accusing Western media of spinning the Aleppo slaughter, blaming Ukraine on the West, defending Russia Today, and even spinning Russian hacking of the US election in support of Putin.

These views are commonplace at the very top of Corbyn’s Labour…

“Seumas, I’m Not Sure This Is a Great Idea”

Pictured on the terrace of a 5-star hotel on Thursday evening, married Labour spin chief Seumas Milne getting hard left with a mystery blonde. The photos show shameless Seumas at the plush Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch – the opposite side of London to his Richmond family home – where a standard room costs £300 per night. Milne can be seen leaning in for a passionate kiss, before hugging his lady companion and sitting with her legs draped across him.

A bystander said:

“They had a table to themselves. He was drinking a pink cocktail type thing. She looked younger than he is, I would say in her early thirties, early-to-mid thirties. They were there for a good hour or so. They were very hands on, full on heavy petting. There was a lot of hugging, stroking, kissing and intimate talking going on. The photo where her her head is nestled into him – that was them getting off, that was them mid-snog. We saw them leave together down the walkway back inside the hotel.”

Asked if he wanted to comment when doorstepped by The Sun last night, Seumas, who is married to 60 year-old Cristina Montanari, replied: “I don’t think so“. When the spokesman needs a spokesman…

Call 0709 284 0531 for picture syndication.

Carrie Symonds New CCHQ Director of Comms

Guido can reveal CCHQ’s new Director of Comms is Carrie Symonds. A former special adviser to Sajid Javid and John Whittingdale, Symonds most recently helped mastermind Zac Goldsmith’s stunning win in Richmond, which was probably the best result of the night for the Tories. A true Brexit believer in CCHQ – Symonds has years of press experience and gets broadcast. Another strong and much-needed Tory hire…

Katie Perrior’s LinkedIn Update

Someone’s pleased to be out of Downing Street…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

A senior Leaver tells Guido:

“Remainers have been outgunned. They were telling us EEA was nailed on and Spreadsheet Phil was going to get a 5 year transition.”

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