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…

Landale Out of No.10 Running

Big news for Downing Street. Leaves the BBC’s Westminster chief Robbie Gibb as the strong favourite…

Number 10 Director of Communications Runners & Riders

Theresa May still does not have a Director of Communications following the departure of Katie Perrior at the election. There is a feeling in the government that she needs a star hire to communicate with the media and bring some gravitas to Number 10. As ever Guido brings you your runners and riders…

  • Chris Wilkins: May’s strategy chief was lined up for the role and has been filling in over the last few weeks. Highly regarded in Number 10. But it looks like they’re going for someone else…
  • Robbie Gibb: Head of BBC Westminster and boss of the Beeb’s main political programmes. Would bring much-needed broadcast news judgement and experience. Being tipped by government figures. [UPDATE: And The Sun.]
  • James Landale: Tipped by the Spectator as the celeb signing. His name has been doing the rounds among excitable Tories. Old Etonian…
  • James Slack: May’s civil service spokesman was linked to the job. Gets on well with the Lobby and has been holding things together in Number 10 at times. But he is said to be staying put as PMOS.
  • Joey Jones: Has been more nuanced in his criticisms of the May regime compared to other former colleagues. A pro with important broadcast experience. Doubt they can afford him.
  • Iain Dale: Experienced, former chief of staff for David Davis, could ease the transition of power? Very pro-Theresa May… 
  • Laura Kuenssberg: If you believe the Corbynistas…

Good luck…

Davis Not Going Soft: Still Backs Ending ECJ Jurisdiction

Contrary to weekend reports David Davis remains fully supportive of the government’s policy to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK. On Saturday Davis’ ex-SpAd James Chapman said his former boss had been “hamstrung” by the commitment to leave the ECJ. Today’s Guardian claims there has been a “dramatic change of mood at DExEU since the general election”, erroneously suggesting Davis is now willing to make concessions on sovereignty and concede “political control“. These interventions are wide of the mark and do not represent Davis’ views, according to sources close to him.

The Brexit Secretary remains fully committed to the PM’s Lancaster House speech, which vowed to “bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain” and not “accept a role for the European Court of Justice that would see it still having direct legal authority in our country”. It is worth remembering that Davis himself set the ECJ red line in March, insisting there will be

“.. no future role for the European court in the interpretation of our laws and the bill will not oblige our courts to consider cases decided by the European Court of Justice after we have left..”

Allies of Davis insist he is not going soft on this key Brexit issue and say any suggestion to the contrary is mischief-making by anti-Brexit elements of the press. Indeed a DExEU spokesman flat out denied the Guardian’s story. A source says that Hammond, Davis, Boris and May are in agreement on all the major aspects of Brexit. Boris in particular would not countenance any backsliding on the ECJ issue. Chappers might be Davis’ former spinner but he is also an avowed Remainer, allies of DD find the notion he is still speaking for his former boss unlikely – to put it mildly. The key players agree on the overriding point that if the UK is still subject to the jurisdiction of the ECJ then we will have not taken back control…

Labour Promised More Cash For Northern Ireland in 2010

Labour are complaining today that Northern Ireland should not get more funding than other parts of the UK and that May has given them a deal “to help her cling to power”.

“Where is the money for the Tory-DUP deal coming from? And, will all parts of the UK receive the much needed additional funding that Northern Ireland will get as part of the deal? This Tory-DUP deal is clearly not in the national interest but in May’s party’s interest to help her cling to power.”

Almost gotta admire the hypocrisy…

In 2010 Gordon Brown wrote to the DUP seeking a deal to help him cling to power. He guaranteed money for Northern Ireland and implied Northern Ireland would need more cash than the rest of the UK:

“I am writing to confirm my continued commitment to the block grant for Northern Ireland for the current financial year and to confirm the financial settlement for the budget of the newly established Department of Justice… As you know, I believe it is an imperative to stabilise the economic recovery in Northern Ireland…. I recognise that the legacy of the past will make this more difficult to achieve in the coming months than we may expect in other parts of the United Kingdom. This is a challenge we must all meet. The achievements made by you and the political leaders of Northern Ireland have been an example to us all. I remain firmly committed to doing all I can to support this momentous progress and you can count on my continued support.”

In 2015 Labour under Miliband did the same. Read Gordon’s letter to the DUP, there are lots of similarities with May’s words today…

Hammond’s “Sound Money” Speech Sadly All Spin

Philip Hammond’s Mansion House speech this morning was sound in its rhetoric. “We must make anew the case for a market economy and for sound money,” he said, warning that “higher taxes and higher borrowing” must be rejected, taxes must be kept “as low as possible” or else they will “slow growth, undermine competitiveness, and cost jobs”. He repeated this language at Cabinet, telling colleagues of the “importance of making the case for a market economy and sound money”. This is all positive rhetoric. The policy truth is alas very different.

Hammond confirmed this morning that he still wants to push back closing the deficit until 2025, ten years later than the Tories promised. The Tories have added £500 billion to the national debt in 7 years, Hammond now plans to add a billion a week to the burden. That is not “sound money” by any definition of the term.

Taxes have risen under the Tories. The claim by the Tories to be a low tax party has not been true this century. They raised VAT almost immediately upon coming into office. They argue they have cut business taxes, yet they raised dividend taxes on small business owners and tried to raise National Insurance contributions. Hammond ditched the triple tax lock at the election. He has signalled further tax rises are likely. The tax burden under this Chancellor will rise to its highest level since 1969. That is not keeping taxes “as low as possible”. 

Hammond is sounder on economics than Theresa May and her former aides. Talking up the “market economy” is clearly a slap down of the PM’s failed attempt at interventionism in the manifesto. Though his claim to be funding public services by anything other than more borrowing and more taxes is sadly all spin…

Corbyn Winning With Politicised Grenfell Fire Response

Rightly or wrongly the Grenfell Tower fire has been quickly politicised – and Corbyn is winning. His photo opportunity speaking to residents on the ground is being replayed repeatedly on the news channels, the BBC is carrying pictures of locals telling the Labour leader “the country needs you”. Online, Corbynistas are sending tenuous stories about Boris / Gavin Barwell / the Tories being somehow responsible viral. That is what people are seeing on their Facebook feeds today.

By contrast the pictures from Theresa May’s visit are all long lens shots, with no footage of any conversations with residents. True to form, the Maybot did a piece to camera in Downing Street rather than at the scene. An online story about the new Kensington Labour MP being on the board of the management company – equally tenuous as the attacks on Tories – has not gone viral.

This all fits into the narrative that Corbyn is a modern-day Jez-us, May is aloof, the Tories are out of touch and Number 10 is unable to communicate any positive message to the public. Downing Street is chaotic and understaffed – it has yet to appoint a comms chief, the Lobby is unhappy about lack of information, broadcasters are pulling their hair out and yet another of May’s SpAds has quit.

The Tories thought Corbyn weaponising the terror attacks would seem tasteless and backfire. Instead it turned attention on police cuts and helped him. That is happening again today…

Farron Loses Top Spinner

Guido understands Tim Farron’s top spinner Paul Butters is leaving. This will be a major loss to the LibDem leader, Butters is a page lead wizard with a journalist’s mind who was single-handedly responsible for getting his boss’ name in the paper over the last couple of years. His instantly recognisable catchphrase “mate” will be missed by Lobby hacks struggling for stories in the Red Lion. This election really was the massacre of the contacts…

Gove Fights Dangerous “Austerity is Over” Narrative

Encouraged by her new chief of staff Gavin Barwell, Theresa May is aggressively pursuing the dangerous narrative that “austerity is over”. Barwell told Newsnight that he lost his seat because public sector workers in his constituency wanted a pay rise. May has apparently accepted this analysis and told Tory wets she will pursue Labour-lite economics to win back Corbyn voters. Hers was already the most economically left-wing Red Tory manifesto since the seventies and it was rejected by the public. By contrast David Cameron won a majority while Labour screamed about spending cuts. The Tories had a 24 point lead before the manifesto was released – it was the dementia tax and the student offer not austerity that lost them their majority. Ending austerity is the wrong inference from May’s failure…

The national debt is nearly £1.9 trillion. It grows at a rate of £5,170 per second. The debt burden is 86% of GDP, more than double what it was pre-2008. Public sector borrowing is £51.7 billion this year – that is government overspending by £1 billion a week. May’s manifesto already kicked the deficit reduction can down the road to 2025, ten years later than George Osborne’s original so-called austerity programme. Young voters chose Corbyn, now May wants to win them back by saddling them and future generations with even more debt.

The only Cabinet minister who so far seems to recognise the recklessness of all this is Michael Gove, who told the Today programme “we need to get on with the job of reducing the deficit so that we do not saddle the next generation with a burden of debt”. The trouble with the government’s “austerity is over” spin is the deficit and debt can’t be spun away. If the gilt market loses confidence interest rates shoot up, as inflation takes off wage demands will spiral and the UK’s own version of Chavez will be installed. CPI has hit a 2.9% high this morning, above expectations. Not a good signal to loosen the fiscal stance and abandon austerity…

SPIN WARS: Boris and Davis ‘Trying to Stitch Each Other Up’

Boris and David Davis are both trying amusingly hard to convey that they are not manoeuvres. Boris has enthusiastically thrown his support behind Theresa May on TV and in The Sun. Those WhatsApp messages expressing loyalty yesterday were self-evidently written to be leaked. Davis did a broadcast round this morning where he offered “100% support” for May, telling ITV he would not challenge her. And yet…

Allies of both Boris and Davis believe the other is trying to stitch up their respective leadership chances. Boris’ supporters accuse Davis, a prolific texter, of hyping up Johnson’s alleged behind-the-scenes manoeuvring to journalists, with the aim of making him look like a dastardly plotter. They see Davis’ hand in Sunday newspaper stories claiming Boris is set to launch a bid. Team BoJo quickly and strongly denied the stories when the papers came out on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, those backing Davis accuse Boris of going too early in an attempt to steal a march on DD. Davis himself took a barely-veiled dig at Johnson on the Today programme, accusing unnamed “colleagues” of “self-indulgence”. Boris met with a number of high-profile old allies and former advisers in the days before the election, and anti-Boris MPs say he was touting support in the early hours of June 9. Wherein lies the truth?

It was already obvious that if May goes Boris and Davis will be the front-runners to replace her. Ignore the wish fulfilment fantasy forecasts of the pro-Remain broadsheet pundits who tip Amber Rudd, she has little chance of getting the support of enough Tory MPs and would win a derisory vote from the rank and file. The shadow boxing between DD and BoJo over the last 48 hours all but confirms their ambitions. Notwithstanding the chance that somehow tonight’s 1922 goes nuclear, they both know going too early is mad and that patience and perceived loyalty is a much better strategy…

Seumas Ordered Corbyn to Spin His Real Views on Defence

Seumas Milne ordered Jeremy Corbyn to spin his real views on defence in order to “close down” criticism in the last few days of the election. In the Mail on Sunday’s recording of Seumas having a loud conversation with Jezza on a train, Labour’s strategy chief says:

“We need to find, I think overnight, without looking defensive of trying to seal down the Trident thing so it doesn’t keep intruding in the next few days… It might be worth thinking in the morning how when you do this thing in Lincoln… then maybe do a clip later where you will be asked about it.  We should maybe find a formula to close it down… We just, I think we just need a form of words.”

Corbyn found that “form of words” in his response to the London Bridge attack:

“I will take whatever action is necessary and effective to protect the security of our people and our country. That includes full authority for the police to use whatever force is necessary to protect and save life as they did last night, as they did in Westminster in March.”

Corbyn’s overnight conversion on defence is not a reflection of his true views. It was a “formula” conceived by Seumas to fool voters…

CCTV Footage Shows “Caged Tiger” Seumas Milne

CCTV footage obtained by Guido shows Corbyn’s left-hand man and chief of spin, Seumas Milne, making a call across the road from Labour’s HQ that he does not want overheard by his co-workers (after all, moderates have ears). What struck Guido was how he paced up and down for a very long time, in the way that caged zoo animals do when stressed.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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