Caught on Camera: Brandon Speaks With Pairing Whip Ahead of Crunch Vote

This clip shows Brandon Lewis having a conversation with pairing whip Andrew Stephenson before he voted on Tuesday. They’re going to need to tell us what was said…

Brandon Knew He Was Paired But Voted Anyway

The government’s “honest mistake” line has collapsed further as Guido can reveal Brandon Lewis knew he was paired ahead of the crunch customs votes – but voted anyway. A Tory source has confirmed that he was aware he was paired on Tuesday night. They say he was then told by a whip that he would be required to vote in the two crunch votes, so he did. He categorically denies he was aware that he was paired with the pregnant Jo Swinson. A Tory source insists Brandon acted in good faith…

We know that Julian Smith was explicitly telling paired MPs to break their pairs. We know Brandon knew he was paired, that despite this he received an instruction to vote, and he then voted. Either Brandon has been royally stitched up and misled by Smith, or he knew he was breaking his pair…

Tory MP Accuses Chief Whip and Government of Lying

This is the government line via Laura K:

“Tory sources say chief whip considered but did not go through with telling any MPs on short term pairs to vote even though they weren’t meant to”

But one of those paired Tory MPs tells The Sun:

“Julian told me I was needed and told me to come in and vote. Of course he knew I was paired. I didn’t vote and honoured my pair, and he demanded to know why not afterwards.”

Either that Tory MP or Julian Smith and the government are lying…

Julian Smith Ordered Tory MPs to Break Pairs

This is looking grim for Julian Smith and Brandon Lewis. Both the Sun and the Mail report that he ordered paired Tory MPs to break their pairs and vote anyway. The Sun quotes a paired Tory MP:

“Julian told me I was needed and told me to come in and vote. Of course he knew I was paired. I didn’t vote and honoured my pair, and he demanded to know why not afterwards. It then appears Julian told the Prime Minister it was all an innocent mistake. What happened was unacceptable. We cannot behave like this”.

The Mail confirms Smith did order MPs to break pairs, but says the order was withdrawn:

The whips office is refusing to deny to Guido the existence of a text from Julian Smith to a paired MP ordering them to break their pair.

The question is: why did Brandon Lewis then break his pregnancy pair? What was discussed in his conversation with the chief whip before he voted?

No.10 Has Full Confidence in Julian Smith

Number 10 say they have full confidence in Julian Smith. Allies of Smith and Brandon Lewis say they will not be resigning. Peston reports

“I was told by well-placed source that a Tory backbencher was texted by chief whip with instructions to break pair on Tuesday night. “That is an order not a request” was how text was retold to me.”

This is looking very serious… if that text exists…

Those Broken Pairs Numbers in Full

A former veteran Tory whip texts:

“There have been 2,000 pairs arranged since the General Election. 66 have been broken. 14 pairs have been broken by the Government and 52 pairs have been broken by the Opposition (of which 7 were broken by the Lib Dems, despite them having only 12 MPs). There is a lot of faux outrage about.”

It turns out Labour, and proportionally especially the LibDems, are by some distance the worse offenders when it comes to breaking pairs. It does seem to happen a fair amount – around 3% of pairs are broken, and four-fifths of the broken pairs were committed by opposition parties. The Brandon Lewis / Julian Smith / Jo Swinson row comes down to whether you believe the chief whip that it was a mistake… it would be an extraordinarily dangerous thing to lie about… 

Philip Davies Sends Letter to Graham Brady

Philip Davies has submitted a letter of no confidence in Theresa May in protest at the Chequers plan. He has explained his decision in a letter to constituents via the Yorkshire Post:

“Politics is all about trust and once it is lost it is impossible to win back. Many people have told me that as a result of this they have lost trust in the PM to properly and fully deliver the referendum result. It is with much sadness that I have to say that I have also lost trust in her to deliver the referendum result too. Failure to keep our promise to the electorate will almost certainly lead to the catastrophe of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister and I cannot sit back and allow that to happen. Therefore I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I have no alternative but to send a letter to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee asking him for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.

If 48 such letters are sent a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister amongst Conservative MPs will take place. This is a secret process and people do not need to declare that they have sent such a letter, but I believe you (and my constituents) have the right to know what I do as your local MP and that is why I am writing to let you know. Some of you will agree with my decision and some of you will disagree – I am well aware of that. But you all have a right to know.

I always have to look you all in the eye and tell you that I have done what I believe is right for the country and our Party. This has not been an easy decision and I have agonised over it, but I know in my heart of hearts it is the right decision. I hope that the Conservative Party and I can look forward to your continued support at what I appreciate is a very difficult time.”

Partner of Cabinet minister Esther McVey, who has been silent this week…

Tory Mayoral Candidate Longlist

  • Shaun Bailey – Bookies’ favourite at the moment. Has received endorsements from several prominent Tories. London Assembly Member who is one of the few candidates with a backstory to rival Khan’s. Has been effective in his criticism of the mayor over knife crime. 
  • Andrew Boff – Perennial candidate.
  • Duwayne Brooks: Joined the Tories a few weeks ago and is being talked up by insiders. Has branded Sadiq “the worst mayor ever”One to watch.
  • Simone Finn: Well-liked around Westminster and certainly no push over. Cut her teeth fundraising for Boris’ first mayoral bid, impressive CV – qualified accountant, worked on trade promotion (so well placed to sell London abroad), and known to leave civil servants quaking in their boots. She did more than anyone else to get trade union agreement on pension reform over the line, so well placed to deal with TFL. Puts the party in Conservative Party.:
  • Alison Cork: According to ConHome, Alison is “an entrepreneur, specialising in home interiors, and television presenter”. Google says she hosts the QVC shopping channel.
  • Ruby McGregor-Smith: Via Harry Cole, she broke whip to vote to keep us in customs union and single market, leading ministers to seek her sacking just a few months ago. What are CCHQ doing putting her on the list?
  • Kulveer Ranger: Former Boris adviser who was very effective in City Hall. Not sure he could take the pay cut.
  • Joy Morrissey: Works at the Centre for Social Justice, a mother, a Councillor in Ealing as well as the former parliamentary candidate for Ealing Central & Acton. Not really a household name.
  • Kevin Davis: Former leader of Kingston council.
  • Andrew Rosindell: The hardline Brexiteer candidate now Richard Tice didn’t make the running.

Good luck…

Boris: It’s Not Too Late to Save Brexit

The key line from Boris’ statement…

Boris Statement in Full

Mr Speaker I want to thank you for granting me this opportunity first to pay tribute to the men and women of the FCO

who have done an outstanding job over the last two years

I am very proud that we have rallied the world against Russia’s barbaric use of chemical weapons

with an unprecedented 28 countries joining together to expel 153 spies in protest at what happened in Salisbury

We have rejuvenated the Commonwealth with a superb summit that saw Zimbabwe back on the path to membership – and Angola now wanting to join

and as I leave we are leading global campaigns against illegal wildlife trade and in favour of 12 years of quality education for every girl

and we have the flag going up in nine new missions in the Pacific and the Caribbean and Africa and more to come

we have overtaken France to boast the biggest diplomatic network of any European country

None of this would have been possible without the support of my RT Hon friend the PM

Everyone who has worked with her will recognise her courage and resilience

and it was my privilege to collaborate with her in promoting Global Britain

a vision for this country she set out with great clarity at Lancaster House on Jan 17 last year

a country eager as she said

not just to do a bold, ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU

– out of the customs union and out of the single market –

but also to do new free trade deals around the world

I thought it was the right vision then. I think so today

Continue reading

Andrea Jenkyns: At What Point Was It Decided Brexit Meant Remain?

Yikes!

Whips Only Told Brandon to Vote on Two Crunch Votes

Is Brandon Lewis / Julian Lewis excuse that they didn’t know he was paired with pregnant Jo Swinson last night believable? Not really. The Tory party chairman abstained for seven of the nine votes – the whips told him he was not needed for the seven where the government didn’t need every last vote. For the two votes that were on a knife-edge, Brandon voted with the government. Did the whips really not know he was paired with an absent pregnant MP? Swinson isn’t buying it, she says the excuse is “literally not credible”.

Tory chief whip Julian Smith has offered this apology:

As has Brandon, but he has declined to answer Swinson’s request for a further explanation:

There is talk that other paired Tories were pressured to break their promises too…

Nadine: Soubry Has Lost the Plot

Fox and Leadsom Threaten to Resign If May Makes Further Concessions

Last week it was Brexiteers who were furious after Theresa May caved into a soft Brexit, this morning it is Remainers who are kicking off after Number 10 accepted the ERG amendments last night. Now Soubry, Morgan, Grieve and co are attempting to keep us in the customs union if we haven’t got a frictionless trade agreement with the EU by January. The reality is Number 10 and parliament cannot allow any further concessions to the Remainers or the EU if the government is to survive.

The remaining few Brexiteers in the Cabinet say they will not stomach any further sellout. Penny Mordaunt and Esther McVey are staying very quiet as they consider their positions. Sources close to Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom say they will resign if the government makes any further concessions. All of these ministers are privately unhappy with the Chequers plan but currently willing to hold their noses – they say that will change if the EU or Remainers succeed in bouncing Number 10 into any further climbdown. Fox, Leadsom and the remaining Brexiteers in the Cabinet have been weak so far, but they are now at the end of the line...

How Marr Monopolised May

There was much disquiet among rival broadcasters over the weekend when it emerged that Theresa May was doing yet another interview with Andrew Marr. The infamously humourless, bad-tempered Marr Show staff took the criticism from Sky News and co with their usual charm and good grace. The charge: that Marr and Number 10 have sewn up a cosy arrangement to lock out the other, more challenging broadcasters. Guido has had a look back over the last year or so, and it is true that Marr totally monopolises May’s Sunday appearances. The Marr Show routinely – and inexplicably – lets her get away with pre-recorded interviews, completely taking the pressure off the PM and letting her dodge up-to-date, real-time scrutiny. Since the election, May has only done Sunday interviews with Marr, completely shunning every other broadcaster…

15 July 2018 – Marr
17 June 2018 – Marr Pre-rec
4 March 2018 – Marr – Pre-rec
7 January 2018 – Marr – Pre-rec
1 October 2017 – Marr
30 April 2017 – Marr
22 January 2017 – Marr
2 October 2016 – Marr
4 September 2016 – Marr – Pre-rec

30 April 2017 – Peston

8 January 2017 – Ridge

Ridge has been in the penalty box ever since she – rightly – embarrassed May with the Trump “pussy” quote. Remember her face.

Is it healthy for the PM to only speak to one programme, and for that programme to repeatedly give her softball pre-rec interviews? This is a bad look for both Number 10 and Andrew Marr…

UPDATE: BBC insiders suggest these numbers are why politicians favour Marr:

Suella Denies Telling Sky She’d Resigned

JoCo: “Did you, Suella, talk to the Sky reporter Lewis Goodall and say that you would be resigning in the morning after David Davis had handed in his resignation?”

Suella: “No.”

JoCo: “You didn’t?”

Suella: “Not at all. I’d love to see some proof of that conversation. That never happened.”

It was Russia Today fake news merchant Afshin Rattansi that first claimed Suella had quit:

More fool any Lobby hack who copies RT…

CCHQ Begs Association Chairmen to Publicly Support Chequers

CCHQ has emailed Tory association chairmen begging them to publicly support Theresa May’s Chequers deal if journalists come asking. The email, sent over the weekend by CCHQ Director General Alan Mabbutt, even suggested a form of words for local party chairmen to use, saying Chequers “delivers fully on the referendum result”. One of those who received the email says it is unprecedented for CCHQ to be issuing verbatim lines to association chairmen like this. Guido has not seen any association chairmen use the line…

Statement to Newspapers and Journalists

We are aware that newspapers and others will try to portray the Party in a bad light. Any responses will almost certainly be filtered to suit their agenda. However, if you do decide that you should respond may we suggest the following? “I support our plan for Brexit as set out by the Prime Minister. It delivers fully on the referendum result, taking back control of our borders, money and laws.”

Good luck with that…

Meanwhile, Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis has also emailed association chairmen offering them a briefing in person with Gavin Barwell in Downing Street, or a conference call with the PM herself.

We would like to offer you, as Chairmen of Conservative Associations across the UK, the chance to hear more about the details of the Government’s plan for Brexit and to ask any questions you might have about it, both for yourselves and on behalf of members in your Associations.

We therefore invite you to sign up to one of the options below:

Briefings in person at 10 Downing Street

Gavin Barwell, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, will be holding two briefing sessions at No. 10 for Association Chairmen on the Brexit plan. If you would like to attend one of these, please email xxxxx specifying which one of the dates below you would like to attend.

1. Tuesday 17th July – 15:45-16:45

2. Wednesday 18th July – 09:30-10:30

Conference call with the Prime Minister

We recognise that not all Association Chairmen will find it practical to attend a briefing in person, so we also invite you to join a conference call with the Prime Minister on Tuesday 17th July at 18:45.

Best wishes,

Brandon

Guido’s sense is that this tweet from Bosworth Conservatives is representative of Tory associations across the country:

But perhaps Gavin and Theresa will be able to charm them round…

Nick de Bois Replacing Jacko at Dexeu

Guido understands former Tory MP Nick de Bois is about to be appointed as Dominic Raab’s chief of staff at Dexeu. He replaces Stewart Jackson, whose reappointment was blocked. Another Tory MP who lost his seat gets a SpAd job. Though at least he is a Brexiteer and vigorous Leave campaigner…

Mann Overboard

Treasury PPS Scott Mann is the latest to resign over Chequers:

Following Robert Courts yesterday, who managed to time his resignation at half an hour before the World Cup Final kicked off:

Sounds like there will be more…

Leadsom Deletes Tweet Calling Chequers an “Embarrassing Climbdown”

Poor Andrea Leadsom is having a total mare. Last night she tweeted this Telegraph article describing Theresa May’s Chequers plan as an “embarrassing climbdown”, which is not very in keeping with Number 10’s new strict enforcement of collective responsibility. She quickly deleted the tweet.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Change UK MP Joan Ryan tells Change UK’s South West ‘rally’:

“Can everyone look at their hands please?”

*everyone holds out their hands in front them*

“That’s it, it’s there, the future is in your hands.”

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