Number 10: Jewish Chronicle Report Untrue

After the Jewish Chronicle reported that Number 10 knew about Priti Patel’s meeting with Bibi before they previously admitted and also ordered Priti to cover up details of two further meetings with Israeli officials, a Downing Street spokesman says the JC is wrong:

“It is not true that the Prime Minister knew about the International Development Secretary’s meeting with PM Netanyahu before Friday 3rd November. It is equally untrue to say that No 10 asked DfID to remove any meetings from the list they published this week.”

Not looking good for Priti, who is currently somewhere over Greece and due to land at Heathrow just after 3pm…

UPDATE: Flight Radar live on Sky News: ‘As you can see she’s currently somewhere over Albania…’

Juncker: I Am Shocked By Leak

Juncker says the leak didn’t come from him, that he’s “shocked” by the reports in the German press and that it is “not true” he said May “begged for help”. So who was it?

Selmayr: It Wasn’t Me

Last time May had dinner with Juncker his hated aide Martin Selmayr leaked the whole thing to German newspaper FAZ, causing a minor diplomatic incident. Well, the same journalist at the same paper has had another well-informed briefing of Juncker’s view of last week’s dinner. Apparently May “begged”, looked “despondent”, “under her eyes she wears deep rings”, “like someone who does not sleep” and she is “tormented”. Nice.

Former May chief of staff Nick Timothy named Selmayr as the source. He responds:

Selmayr is known as “the monster” so sure we can believe his denial. Reminder that for all the talk of splits on the UK side, the EU is on another level when it comes to poisonous briefings and ideologues undermining the process…

Livid Boris Vents Fury at “Allies” Briefing Press

Today’s Telegraph and Sun run quotes from anonymous “allies” of Boris calling for Philip Hammond to be sacked and claiming BoJo will “just say no” if Theresa May attempts to demote him. Boris is livid about these stories and says they have not been sanctioned by him and do not represent his views. In a furious tirade on the Tory MPs’ WhatsApp group last night, Johnson said he is “fed up to the back teeth” with anonymous “allies” briefing the press purportedly on his behalf:

“I do not know who these people are. I do not know if they are really my friends and allies or if they represent some sinister band of imposters. I heartily disagree with the sense, tone and spirit of what they are quoted as saying. Whoever they are they do not speak for me”

MPs who aren’t in the room with Boris are often appearing in print as his “allies”, claiming to speak for him. More often than not recently they are landing him in hot water, hence his frustration vented on WhatsApp. His declaration that “they do not speak for me” is as much as anything a plea to the Lobby not to report the views of excitable backbenchers as his own. Boris needs to take back control of his supporters…

Team Hammond: Brexiters Are Stupid

Classic condescending quote from “an ally” of Philip Hammond on the front page of the Telegraph, the use of the phrase “simple-minded Brexiteers” is revealing:

“The bottom line is this is not going to be easy, something that’s overlooked by simple-minded Brexiteers like Boris. When it comes down to practicalities it may take longer.”

So anyone who doesn’t agree with Hammond and Amber Rudd that the transition must be longer than two years is a “simple-minded” Brexiter. Remember Hammond and Cabinet Remainers had until last week been living in a fantasy land of a five year transition. A senior government Leaver tells Guido in response:

“Hammond has been revealed as duplicitous and calculating and the mouthpiece of the City. He’s also been done up like a kipper by Boris and Davis. There’s a reason the PM was going to chop him.”

Of all the briefing at the moment, not sure sneering at Leavers is the best look for the Chancellor…

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“.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Jo Swinson on Chris Rennard…

“Vince — and Tim before him — have repeatedly, publicly said Rennard is not welcome anywhere near their frontbench team, even as an adviser. I remain deeply frustrated that he was not expelled from the party through its disciplinary process. It just feels wrong, and I do not want Lord Rennard to continue as a member of the party. As far as I am concerned, he is not welcome.”

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