Tories Storming Ahead in the Polls

New YouGov polling for The Times has shown Boris’s Tories soar higher to a 15 point lead, making up more than the Labour and Brexit Party vote shares combined. The ‘Classic Dom’ strategy seems to be working…

Interestingly, the poll found that since July, the Brexit Party vote has fallen by almost two thirds among 2017 Tories, yet only by just 1% among 2017 Labour voters. Now the Brexit Party vote is almost evenly made up of voters who in 2017 went for the Tory (13%) and Labour (8%) parties, meaning it could be an electoral boost to the Tories in the next election, eating away at Labour voters who would never vote Tory. Jack Brereton, the new Tory MP for Stoke-on-Trent South is convinced he would not have won his seat in 2017 if UKIP had not stood against him, taking Labour votes. Meanwhile MPs like Stewart Jackson who UKIP did not stand against lost out by tiny margins…

Boris’s personal ratings have climbed higher too, being twice as popular as Corbyn in the Best Prime Minister question, with 43% to Corbyn’s 21%. And for the first time ever, Boris has overtaken Corbyn in all age brackets. Among those aged 18-24, Boris leads by 32 to 29.

Among the over 65s, Boris leads by 62 to 8…

Times and Sunday Times Take First Steps Toward Merger

Senior staff at The Times and The Sunday Times were called in for separate meetings at 12:30 today to be told the papers are taking their first steps towards a widely expected merger. Guido hears the meetings were full of high emotion. There will be inevitable job losses…

Read the email from The Times and The Sunday Times editors John Witherow and Martin Ivens in full here:

“As you are aware the DCMS recently approved some amendments to the undertakings that govern The Times and The Sunday Times. This means that the two newsrooms can share resources where the editors agree.

We would like to propose sharing resources in travel, money, property, sport and sports production. The Sunday Times Travel magazine is not affected.

We want to see how we can organise certain editorial teams differently, in a better way. That makes sense for reducing duplication when we commission stories and features and it will extend our range. The readers will get a stronger edition in print and digital.

We understand that these changes may be unsettling for the people affected but we anticipate that new opportunities and more staff roles may be created through changing how we work.

We will start a consultation process today with News Union and the people that work in those departments. If you work in travel, personal finance, property, sport or sports production you will receive an email with a meeting time for today. We expect the consultation process to take at least 30 days.

It is important for the long-term viability of both newspapers that we organise our resources as efficiently as possible and that we continue to innovate to produce outstanding journalism.”

The undertakings still prevent a full-on merger…

The Times Announces Death of Democracy

One grieving Brexiteer is so upset that they’ve posted a Death Notice in today’s Times for UK Democracy, mourning the death of Democracy “in her sleep” at 11pm on the 29th March 2019 by “foul play”:

UK Democracy on 29th March 2019, aged 312. It was with sad regret that Democracy died quietly in her sleep at 11pm, on the 29th March 2019. The cause of death was by foul play and the culprits have yet to be brought to justice. Democracy campaigned for the rule of law, human rights and free elections. She listened to everyone and favoured the majority in all her decisions. She will be sorely missed. God have mercy on her soul.

The lamenting Leaver will have coughed up £87 for the privilege, The Times were sporting enough to take their money and publish it…

Hunt’s Shameless Brunei Spin

In a timely bit of virtue signalling spinners for Jeremy Hunt have managed to successfully plant a story in The Times making it look as if the Foreign Secretary cancelled a fundraising event at the Dorchester hotel last week because its owner, the Sultan of Brunei introduced a law that sets the punishment for homosexual activity as stoning to death. That’s not what attendees of the dinner were told…

Attendees received an email from the Conservative Party’s Treasurers’ Team saying that the dinner had only been postponed, as “the current Parliamentary timetable” meant that MPs could have to be in Parliament that evening. Hunt still tried to take credit…

The dinner was due to take place on the evening of Tuesday 2nd April, before widespread attention was drawn to Brunei’s new penal code. It was postponed before Ellen DeGeneres posted her viral tweet calling for the Dorchester Hotel to be boycotted. The Government took until 4th April to make a statement. Protests outside the Hotel did not begin until 6th April. Either Jeremy Hunt was incredibly prescient in predicting the boycott movement, or he is happy to jump on any passing bandwagon for political gain…

DUP Attack The Times Story Claiming They Are ‘Edging Towards Customs Union’

DUP leader Arlene Foster has taken the unusual step of putting out a formal statement rebutting The Times story this morning which claimed that the DUP are “edg[ing] towards customs union”. Foster attacks it as “inaccurate” and “no doubt designed to undermine efforts to get the necessary changes to the Withdrawal Agreement”.

She dismisses the story “as an attempt to cause division”, adding that “such tactics are not new to us and as in the past will not succeed”. Robust…

Mail Rebuffed By Times Columnists

It is a good time to be a Times columnist. Smarting from having Quentin Letts lifted from their pages to be spread across News UK’s titles, Daily Mail editor Geordie Grieg is on the hunt for columnists to fill the inches previously filled by Quentin. He is looking to nab a Times columnist in revenge. Rumour is that Giles Coren has been an object of his attention, as has the well-remunerated Jeremy Clarkson. So far we understand he has been rebuffed…

Aaronovitch Talking “Sh*t”

Times columnist David Aaronovitch took the high ground when engaging with a critic who called him “a sh*t”, boasting grandly: “I don’t call people ‘sh*t’ on Twitter”. Guido fact check:

Aaronovitch went on to lecture his troll that there is “no excuse” for calling someone a “sh*t” on Twitter…

Times Journalist Misses Sex Pest Scoop

Matt Chorley was going on about sexist publications this morning in his Little Read Box, perhaps he should look a little closer to home for a publication that actually harbours sex pests:

The Times has splashed on its front page the Tory aides’ spreadsheet story this morning. Many female journalists at The Times, past and present, will have a far better story to tell about senior male staff opportunistically exploiting subordinate female staff. Ask around the office Matt, you might even get a scoop for once…

UPDATE: On a lighter note, fresh from slagging off his colleagues on the Times political team who write about Brexit as “boring”, Matt Chorley this morning slagged off those who use the phrase “totty”. A word used on 1,237 occasions by his Times colleagues according to a cursory search of the newspaper’s own website:

Above is a classic example of the sexual objectification of MPs…

Brexiteer Letter Demands Brexit

A Change Britain letter circulated among the European Research Group of Brexiter Tory MPs and leaked to The Times is causing a great deal of excitement. It is being described as a list of red lines from hardline Brexiters insisting Britain doesn’t pay any money into the EU budget and is able to sign trade deals during the transition. The letter is being reported as “a major challenge for Mrs May”, while Anna Soubry says she is “hugely disappointed” that Brexiters want to “bind the government’s hands”. Is that really what Brexiters are trying to do?

The letter was intended to be briefed to a friendly Sunday newspaper as a show of support for the government. Those behind it insist it was supposed to be uncontroversial and simply attack Labour for wanting to remain in the single market and customs union. If you read the actual letter, it largely agrees with government policy…

The letter’s key request is that we leave the single market and customs union – that is government policy. It doesn’t insist that we pay no money into the EU budget during the transition, it simply points out staying in the single market means we “have” to pay in. This is not contrary to the government’s position – when we leave we legally don’t owe anything, but we will pay our obligations and use money as a negotiating tactic. The most awkward “demand” is to be able to sign trade deals during the transition period, currently only an “aspiration” of the government. Crucially, the letter’s signatories tell Guido this is a hope, a desire, not a red line. Obviously Brexiters would prefer us to be able to sign trade deals immediately during the transition, but they are hardly planning to bring down the government if there is compromise on this point…

So is the letter a “major challenge” to the PM? Are Brexiters really worried about the government going soft and trying to “bind their hands”? That isn’t the impression Guido gets from Leave supporting MPs this afternoon. The vast majority of Brexiter MPs insist that they are happy with the government’s plan. They say the letter wasn’t intended to be controversial, and note if it appeared as choreographed on Sunday it would be causing a lot less fuss than it coming out as a leak to The Times. Senior Tories are peeved about the story but relaxed about the situation. Guido urges readers and journalists to look at the actual letter, it is essentially just Brexiters asking for Brexit…

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…

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