Colonel Ruth Davidson

We’re used to seeing her on manoeuvres atop a tank, now Ruth has been made an Honorary Colonel of 32 Signal Regiment. If she could just get her head around Brexit she’d be in with a decent shout you know…

EU Refuses to Accept May’s Offer on Migrant Rights

As Donald Tusk predictably criticises May’s generous offer on EU citizens’ rights this afternoon, it is once again clear that Remain ultras in Britain will side with the EU even when the UK government is being entirely reasonable. What did Remainers want? EU citizens’ rights to be guaranteed. And the government has indeed guaranteed their rights from the Article 50 trigger date, a completely fair and common sense proposal. Still the Guardian’s Brexit correspondent bizarrely calls it “disgraceful”.

Juncker wants the ECJ to continue to hold sway in Britain post-Brexit as part of any deal: “I can’t see the ECJ being excluded from the settlement in the future”. Any fair-minded pundit can see this is unacceptable – the UK voted to take back control of laws. 

Sky News, ever-more partisan for a supposedly impartial broadcaster, asked May what her mandate was for leaving the single market and customs union. Seriously? This debate has been had time and time again – even the government’s biggest Remainers accept it is over. May quite rightly slapped down Faisal, telling him yet again that 80% of voters backed parties which support leaving the single market and customs union. There is a lot of important Brexit scrutiny that Remain supporters could be carrying out. Instead they are backing the other team and asking the same tired old questions…

Ousted Brexit Minister David Jones Joins Leave Means Leave

Guido hears ousted Brexit minister David Jones is joining the board of Leave Means Leave. Readers will know LML as the group fighting to make sure the government sticks to the mantra of no deal being better than a bad deal – an important negotiating position that is increasingly under threat post-election. Jones says he will “work to ensure that the spirit of confidence and optimism that was behind last year’s historic vote continues to inspire the process of withdrawal from the EU”. Interestingly LML chief Richard Tice says an additional 13 MPs have joined the group. Enough to vote down a bad deal…

Hammond’s Revealing Today Interview

During his Today programme interview this morning Philip Hammond all but confirmed his desire for a three or four year transitional arrangement which wouldn’t see us fully leave the European Union until 2022 or 2023. Perhaps even more revealing was his choice of metaphor:

“When you buy a house you don’t move all your stuff in on the first day.”

Well you do unless you have more than one house…

Prezza’s Boris BBC Bias Bunkum

Here is John Prescott complaining that the BBC has not covered Boris Johnson’s car crash interview conducted by the BBC’s Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4. You can listen to Boris’ Diane Abbott moment, courtesy of the BBC, below. It is the third-most watched clip on the BBC website this morning.

Cripes…

May: We Failed Grenfell Victims, I’m Sorry

Humility from the PM during a sombre Queen’s Speech debate this afternoon.

Number 10 Chaos: May Has 8 Fewer SpAds Than Pre-Election

There is chaos in Downing Street: no hierarchy, little communication, humiliation at the hands of the DUP and an embarrassing exodus of top-ranking staff. Number 10 policy chief John Godfrey, one of May’s more senior aides, is the latest to quit.

The full list of Number 10 advisers who have left or are on their way out: Fiona Hill, Nick Timothy, John Godfrey, Katie Perrior, Lizzie Loudon, Chris Brannigan, Will Tanner, Alex Burghart, Neil O’Brien and Chris Hopkins. By Guido’s count May has just 22 SpAds in Downing Street, eight fewer than before the election…

Get in touch with any updates to our SpAd list…

Another No.10 Departure: Iraq War Hero Out

Yesterday Guido told you how the government is understaffed at SpAd level, with Downing Street in particular needing reinforcements after a spate of departures. Here’s another vacancy: a source confirms Chris Brannigan, an Iraq War hero who was the Director of Government Relations at Number 10, is also out. He was the PM’s big business point man. By Guido’s count May now has just 24 advisers, quite a lot fewer than before the election.

If you know of any other updates, let Guido know

DUP Talks Stall

Sky News quote DUP sources saying:

“The party can’t be taken for granted. Negotiations haven’t proceeded in a way that DUP would have expected.”

As Guido reported this morning, Tory MPs are increasingly concerned about the way May has handled the negotiations. Several MPs believe it is possible no deal will be struck. Which won’t stop the Queen’s Speech passing as the DUP would never bring down the government and allow Prime Minister Corbyn. But it would be another humiliation for May…

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…

May to Schmooze MPs at No.10 Party Tonight

“I don’t gossip. I don’t go drinking in Parliament’s bars. I don’t often wear my heart on my sleeve. I just get on with the job in front of me,” Theresa May is famously fond of telling us. As a sign of how much things have changed, this evening she is throwing a drinks party for Tory MPs at Number 10, taking the unprecedented step of schmoozing her own MPs. Colleagues say this is a rare occurrence – not many of these events have taken place under May. Good to see the PM finally come round to the merits of a drink and a gossip…

Tory MPs Unimpressed By May’s DUP Negotiating Skills

Tory MPs expected the PM to have a deal in place with the DUP well before tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech, instead it has gone right to the wire. Nine days have passed since Downing Street erroneously announced a deal had been struck, only to have to clarify that it hadn’t. An announcement could finally come today, though there is growing unrest among Tory backbenchers about the way the negotiation has been handled…

By announcing from the offset that a deal would be made, Tory MPs believe the PM has allowed the DUP to hold her for ransom for all the bridges and roads they want, or else fail to reach a deal and look even more chaotic. Tory MPs say anyone with a basic understanding of Northern Ireland knows there is no way the DUP would bring down the government and allow Corbyn into Number 10. A formal deal they argue therefore isn’t a necessity, a Tory minority government would still be able to pass a Queen’s Speech without one. By putting all her cards on the table and pre-announcing her unequivocal desire for a deal before it had been negotiated, May handed the DUP all the negotiating power. As one Tory snarks, “Good thing we don’t have any other big negotiations coming up…”

Government Understaffed: Key SpAd Vacancies Up For Grabs

Guido has started to put together his SpAd List. We are still some way off appointments being signed off, though there are no Nick and Fi around this time to veto anyone who might show original thought. Number 10 has signed up DCMS SpAd and former Sun man Craig Woodhouse to do press – a much-need hire – though the PM is still without a Director of Communications. May has a lot of appointments to make following the departures of Timothy, Hill, Katie Perrior, Lizzie Loudon, Will Tanner, Alex Burghart and Neil O’Brien. In the Treasury, Philip Hammond has to replace his top SpAds Graham Hook and Hayden Allan. Michael Fallon has vacancies. There is a big media SpAd vacancy for David Davis after James Chapman left – Guido hears DD sounded out several potential candidates during the election campaign but has yet to make an appointment. Tough gig…

If you are a SpAd who has left the government or been promoted or appointed, or if you know of any further moves, get in touch. Guido will post updates as we get them…

Hammond: I Wasn’t Quite Locked in a Cupboard

Phil enjoying his told-you-so revenge media round on Theresa May’s aides this morning…

Hammond: We Never Said We Won’t Raise Taxes

Remember when May and Hammond ditched the Tory tax lock and replaced it with a mere “firm intention” not to raise taxes? Today Hammond makes the most of that wriggle room and warns: “We’ve never said we won’t raise some taxes”. (Though he also cancelled the Budget.) The Tory record is already more debt and more taxes and the highest tax burden for decades. Hammond had already extended the deficit reduction horizon to 2025, now he is talking about ending austerity. This is entirely the wrong inference from their failure on June 8 and it is starting to concern more economically sensible Tory MPs…

Hammond Backs Brexit

Philip Hammond has poured cold water on those stories in the Remain newspapers this week and backed a real Brexit outside the single market and customs union. In other words, the Chancellor has agreed with the government and voters that we should properly leave the EU. Sorry Remainers…

May Confirms UK Leaving Customs Union By Hiring Top Trade Adviser

Theresa May and Liam Fox have confirmed the UK will leave the customs union by hiring a globally respected Chief Negotiation Adviser. Crawford Falconer is a New Zealander with 25 years of experience at negotiating trade deals. His job will be to “develop and negotiate free trade agreements and market access deals with non-EU countries”. An important moment in the ongoing battle for Brexit: striking trade deals would not be possible if Britain were to remain in the customs union. Sorry Phil, bad news for opportunistic Remainers…

Leadsom Takes Questions From Kensington Residents

Andrea Leadsom did a good job in very difficult circumstances taking questions from Kensington residents live on Sky this morning. She stayed for an hour in a local community centre and answered heated questions for some time in the street outside. Once again locals asked why Corbyn met victims but May didn’t. Sky asked Andrea if she would have done a better job as leader, a question she politely dodged. “The Prime Minister is trying to get a grip on this…”

No, Tories Did Not Block Corbyn Grenfell Speech Coverage

Confusion this afternoon as Sky News reported the government had blocked broadcasters from filming speeches by Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MPs during the Grenfell fire statement in parliament:

The conspiracy theory was quickly spread by Corbynistas claiming a Tory plot to hide the debate from the public. A Tory source makes clear this is untrue, they had nothing to do with the decision not to broadcast the first few speeches. Turns out it was a cock-up by the parliamentary authorities, who took a while to determine the protocol for filming while parliament isn’t in session. The vast majority of the session, including Corbyn’s words, were broadcast anyway. No Fi around to send “Bunter” an angry text this time…

UPDATE: The Commons insists it wasn’t their cock-up:

“As the briefing was not a normal parliamentary proceeding, it could only be broadcast upon specific request.  The broadcast began as soon as physically possible after that request was received.”

So it was the broadcasters’ fault…

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”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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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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