Tory Chairman on Russian Spy at Summer Party

Pesto asked Brandon Lewis about the Spectator story of the Russian spy at the summer party. Brandon says the spy wasn’t on the guest list. He was there however…

Soubry: McDonnell One of the Most Dangerous People in British Politics

McDonnell Hardens Labour’s Line on Russia

McDonnell says he agrees with Theresa May that Putin is responsible. More differentiation between the Shadow Chancellor and Labour leader. Has he seen the polling?

Boris: Russia Has Been Stockpiling Novichok

“We actually have evidence, within the last ten years, that not only has Russia been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination, but has also been creating and stockpiling Novichok itself.”

The major news from Boris this morning…

Russia: Porton Down Could Be Behind Nerve Agent

Russia’s ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov suggests Porton Down could have been behind the nerve agent used in the attack on the Skripals, noting it is only 8 miles from Salisbury. Boris hits back: “This is not the response of a country that believes itself to be innocent”.

Russia going the full Craig Murray…

Mogg Tough on Russia

Peston made a curious attempt to suggest Rees-Mogg is backed by Russian bots – even though the whole Russian bots thing has been comprehensively debunked. The Mogg was having none of it…

Hammond Corrects Himself After Accidentally Saying Brexit Is Worth It

Marr: “Is it worth it?”

Hammond: “Yes. Financial services is a very important part of our economy…”

Marr: “Not the financial services negotiation – is Brexit worth it?”

Hammond: “Oh the whole thing?”

Marr: “Yeah, the whole thing.”

Hammond: “Look, the British people have decided that we are leaving the European Union and that’s what we’re doing.”

Asked if Brexit is worth it, Hammond misunderstands the question and replies: “Yes”. Then quickly corrects himself…

McDonnell Orders Labour MPs to Stop Going on Russia Today

McDonnell orders Labour MPs to stop going on Russia Today. His deputy in the Shadow Treasury team Peter Dowd went on yesterday. And does the Absolute Boy agree?

Rouble for Chris Williamson’s thoughts…

Marina Litvinenko Reads Letter From May Vowing Crime Would Never Be Repeated

From the then Home Secretary…

Pesto Asks Sturgeon If She Backs Maggie Statue

McDonnell Tells Leaders Office to Investigate Munroe

John McDonnell expertly landed the Leader’s Office in it as he comprehensively passed the buck over the Munroe Bergdorf controversy (Labour’s new equalities adviser, who thinks the suffragettes were white supremacists and “all white people” are racist). Despite being the most senior Labour figure on broadcast this morning, McDonnell refused to engage with the issue at all, and instead repeatedly made it clear that Bergdorf’s controversial views are Jezza’s problem:

“That will be a matter obviously for her employer, she’s employed directly by the Leader’s Office… I’m not sure about this particular issue, it will obviously be investigated by the Leader’s Office.”

Nicely done…

Labour Now Backs A Customs Union

Labour now backs what they previously opposed…

McDonnell: Watson Should Reconsider Taking Mosley Cash

John McDonnell said Tom Watson “should consider his relationship” with Max Mosley and raised questions over the propriety of the Labour Deputy Leader accepting £500,000 in donations from the disgraced F1 chief. McDonnell said:

“Tom will really need to consider seriously exactly that relationship with Max Mosley and the finances as well because if he is reiterating his views from the past he clearly hasn’t changed.”

McDonnell was reacting to a Guardian interview published yesterday in which Mosley repeated his support for paying migrants to “go home”. Both McDonnell and Corbyn’s offices are wary of Watson’s set-up, which, as Guido reported, has a staff of nine and is seen as a rival power centre. Corbynistas have enjoyed Watson’s pain over the past week…

Red on Red: Field vs Creasy Brexit Bunfight

Check out this rather entertaining red-on-red on the Sunday Politics where Labour leaver Frank Field tells metropolitan remainer Stella Creasy what he thinks of the party’s shift on the customs union. Frank said:

“Are you going to rat on the people’s decision to leave? You come out Stella with all these things, we’ll stay in a customs union, we’ll stay in a single market – the decision was quite clear to leave… in the North Labour voters voted very, very clearly… which bus are you on?”

Labour’s bus well on the road to betraying its core vote…

Starmer: Labour Wants A Customs Union and Could Join Tory Rebels

Keir Starmer confirms Labour remainers have secured a policy shift to staying in a customs union with the EU. The Labour leadership has been gradually unravelling its previously guarded position on the issue over the past week. Starmer hinted Labour could join Tory rebels and throw its weight behind cross-party amendments, saying:

“We haven’t made a final decision on that but they are so close to our amendments … but whether it’s our amendments or cross-bench amendments.”

All eyes will be on Jeremy Corbyn’s set piece speech on the issue tomorrow to see the detail on how far the Shadow Cabinet remainers have pushed Jezza. Liam Fox warned Tory rebels:

“I hope that they will have an open mind and listen to what the Prime Minister says because I think that what the Prime Minister will set out will deal with a lot of the reservations that they have.”

May has little option but to make this a confidence vote and challenge remain rebels to back her or sack her…

Fox: Corbyn ‘Undermined UK Security’ During Cold War

Liam Fox explains (to ‘Red Andy’, no less) the big picture issue raised by Spygate:

“I think that the Labour left during the Cold War were extremely unhelpful to this country. We believed that we should see off Communism, we believed we should see off tyranny… I certainly think the Labour left were the Soviet Union’s useful idiots during that period…

“Jeremy Corbyn and others were very useful to the Soviet Union during the Cold War because they undermined the arguments of the West… I think in the broadest sense he was undermining the security of our country by siding with the Soviet Union in that argument and I think that was very damaging to the country. Luckily it was our side of the argument not Jeremy Corbyn’s that won the day. I think he certainly undermined the security of the United Kingdom by their one-sided disarmament and their very clear preference for a Soviet style communism during that period – fortunately we beat them then and we have to beat them now.”

Well put…

Shami Won’t Rule Out A Place for Ken Livingstone in Labour

Following reports that Labour are on the cusp of lifting Ken Livingstone’s suspension, Shami Chakrabarti refused to rule out his re-admittance to full membership but said he should face further investigation before any decision is made. Asked if there was a place in Labour for Livingstone, Chakrabarti didn’t rule out his return saying:

“Well, obviously I’m not judge and jury… he has been suspended for some time but equally people report he has said things and done things since that suspension and that is something the NEC is going to have to look at.”

Subsequent comments since Livingstone’s suspension include those he made on Iran’s Press TV on Holocaust Memorial Day, on a programme discussing: “Has the Holocaust been exploited to oppress others?” 

There was confusion at the top of the Labour Party yesterday as officials realised Ken’s suspension was due to expire in April. In a storm of controversy and amid a revolt by PLP moderates, the party hurriedly announced a new probe (to which Shami is referring), based on an old promise first made by Jeremy Corbyn ten months ago. Until now, that probe appeared to have been quietly dropped, with no action taken against Ken. Meanwhile, Corbyn claims to be serious about tackling anti-Semitism…

Agent COB is a “Proper Internationalist”

What does Thornberry think about Corbyn meeting a Czech spy, taking money from the Iranians and backing Venezuelan tyrants? It shows he’s a “proper internationalist” apparently…

Verhofstadt: We Don’t Want UK to Diverge, You Can’t Have Canada+++


Guy Verhofstadt tells Marr the EU does not want Britain to diverge and makes veiled threats about any attempt to do so. He also says a bespoke “Canada plus plus plus” deal “will not be the outcome of this negotiation”. If Verhofstadt gets his way it’s either a bad deal or no deal…

Thornbery: Bullying of Katrina Murray “One of Those Things”

After the bullying of Labour’s National Policy Forum chairman Katrina Murray yesterday, a laughing Emily Thornberry tells Peston “it’s one of those things”.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Dame Laura Cox report into Pestminster slams Bercow and his team…

“I find it difficult to envisage how the necessary changes can be successfully delivered, and the confidence of the staff restored, under the current senior House administration.”

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