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By JACK BLANCHARD
Good Wednesday morning.
DRIVING THE DAY
MAKING A SPLASH: Boris Johnson makes the front page of seven national newspapers this morning, with only the FT, the Express and the Mail able to resist his charms. (The ‘i’ wins the morning with this clever front cover). The honorable member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip is media catnip in a quiet week in August, and he knows it — though whether Boris actually expected any of this is far from clear. Either way, you suspect it will do his leadership prospects no harm at all, which is probably why he won’t be backing down.
Trump card: Johnson’s refusal to say sorry should come as no surprise to anyone with a basic understanding of the Trumpian guide to winning elections — you never apologize, you always double-down. (Jeremy Corbyn has also enjoyed some success since adopting this approach). There’s also this memorable advice from Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon back in March: “Let them call you racist … Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker.” Welcome to politics in 2018.
Whip hand: With Johnson now in open defiance of his party leadership, the calls for punishment are likely to grow. On BBC Newsnight last night, the Tory peer and founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum Mohamed Sheikh urged Theresa May to suspend Boris from the party. “I think we should take more severe action against this man,” he said. “Take the whip from him! Why not? He’s not a super-human being.” Watch the clip.
Spoiler: Never gonna happen.
The bigger picture: It’s impossible to ignore the fact that pretty much all the senior Tories who have criticized Johnson so far — Alistair Burt, Brandon Lewis, Sayeeda Warsi, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry, Theresa May — voted Remain in the EU referendum. And that those lining up to defend him — Nadine Dorries, Andrew Bridgen, plus commentators like Tim Montgomerie — are largely Brexiteers. That’s not to suggest they don’t believe what they’re saying. But it’s hard to see this row other than through the prism of a much bigger dispute about the direction in which the Conservative Party, and the country, are headed this autumn. The knives are out on both sides of the Tory party — and this will be a fight to the death.
Next in line: Armed Forces Minister Tobias Ellwood (who also voted Remain) was the latest to hit out last night. “Boris has many talents, but his attack on Muslim women for their appearance is not the way to defend freedom of religion,” Ellwood tweeted. “Now more than ever, we must communicate the integrity & inclusiveness of the Conservative Party.” Expect a similar message from Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright (who also voted Remain) as he tours the broadcast studios this morning.
But way more exciting than any of this: Is the bitter row exploding between Sky News legend Kay Burley and UKIP, following her somewhat surreal interview with Tory MP Andrew Bridgen yesterday (Bridgen kept comparing burkas to motorcycle helmets; Burley asked Bridgen if he’d feel unconformable speaking to a disfigured war hero). It all kicked off on Twitter last night as UKIP put the boot in, Burley gave them two fingers in return, UKIP had a whine about impartiality, and then Burley responded with, well, this rather eye-catching tweet. Goodness knows what that’s all about, but it’s definitely NSFW.
Labour land: Meanwhile in Westminster’s other favorite racism row (what a time to be alive), the Guardian got hold of a trove of leaked documents showing anti-Semitism cases currently being considered by Labour’s disputes panel. Political Correspondent Jessica Elgot reports: “Examples considered by the disciplinary panel included the founder of the controversial Facebook group Palestine Live calling it a ‘badge of honor’ to be investigated by the party; a member claiming the Israeli lobby had manufactured the party’s anti-Semitism crisis; and a member suggesting Adolf Hitler’s policy on Zionism ‘might not be mutually exclusive with his later actions.’”
Watching brief: Labour’s next big climbdown will likely come in the case of Ian Austin, who like Margaret Hodge was being disciplined for attacking Jeremy Corbyn on anti-Semitism — and who like Hodge has now published an angry lawyers’ letter about the way his case has been dealt with. Presumably the case will be quietly abandoned at 7.52 p.m. on a random Thursday night in recess.
Now read this: Fabulously frenzied anti-Corbyn rant from James Kirchick, a visiting fellow at the Center for the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, who clearly does not much fancy Labour’s new radicalism being exported to Europe. Read his op-ed for POLITICO here.
WORLD OF BREXIT
ART OF THE DEAL: Interesting story from Bloomberg on the Brexit talks timetable. No. 10 believes Europe will be so concerned by the need for a united front against Donald Trump this autumn that it will want to strike a Brexit deal ahead of the G20 summit, Tim Ross and his Bloomberg colleagues report. The next big clash between the EU and Trump is likely to happen at the annual gathering in Argentina in late November, and officials believe the EU will be desperate to have a deal with London by then.
“May’s team now thinks the EU’s focus on preparing to meet the U.S. president’s challenge to the global order will provide the bloc with an incentive to get a deal done ahead of the G20 leaders’ meeting in Buenos Aires at the end of November,” Bloomberg reports. “There is no EU summit scheduled for November, but an extra meeting could be called for the purpose of signing off the Brexit deal.”
In the meantime: The U.K.’s no-deal preparations continue apace, with border guards now being warned not to plan any holidays during the months either side of Brexit Day on March 29. “Nearly 9,000 Border Force staff face an eight-week holiday ban next spring as worried ministers prepare for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit,” the Sun’s Steve Hawkes reports. “Proposals have been sent to Home Secretary Sajid Javid as Whitehall panics about the consequences of the collapse of trade talks with the EU.” Expect plenty more of this over the weeks ahead.
Brexiteers might like: A new report on the London economy in the light of the Brexit vote, due to be published by the Center for London at 2 p.m. All details embargoed until then, but it’s worth looking out for.
Brexiteers might not like: The Ladybird book of post-Brexit Britain. (h/t Anthony Perrett)
TODAY IN WESTMINSTER
THEY SHALL GROW NOT OLD: Theresa May is in northern France today for a ceremony to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Amiens. As Dan Boffey reports in the Guardian, this was the battle that precipitated the end of World War I — at terrible human cost. The PM will read from the war memoirs of then-British PM David Lloyd George. She will be accompanied by dignitaries including the Duke of Cambridge, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright and Armed Forces Minister Tobias Ellwood.
OFF THE RAILS: The Times splashes on revelations that a quarter of all HS2 staff earn six-figure salaries, which is pretty extraordinary given this is a publicly funded body with more than 1,300 employees. “HS2 paid 318 officials at least £100,000 in salary and perks last year, up from 155 in 2015-16,” the paper reports. “It also spent more than £600 million on consultants, well over double the figure of a year earlier. The scale of pay has triggered alarm bells at the top of government. Liz Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury, wrote to Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, in the spring warning him that salaries were worryingly high.” It’s the latest in a series of extremely negative reports about the way the project is being managed — don’t be surprised if voices calling for the whole thing to be scrapped intensify in the weeks ahead.
TALKING TRADE: Chancellor Philip Hammond hosts his Brazilian counterpart Eduardo Guardia in London today for a “U.K.-Brazil financial dialogue,” whatever that means.
COOKING UP A STORM: Tory grandee Norman Tebbit is not impressed with Gerry Adams’ unexpected decision to release a celebrity cookbook. “The Negotiator’s Cookbook” is due out before Christmas, and will contain “some of the best-kept secrets” of the 1998 peace talks, Adams says. But Tebbit — whose wife was paralyzed by an IRA bomb — tells the Daily Mail today: “I hope it chokes him.”
GRATUITOUS HOLIDAY SNAPS OF THE DAY: Redditch MP Rachel Maclean is in Cornwall and enjoying long runs on empty beaches … Stalybridge MP Jonny Reynolds is in Stalybridge and enjoying, well, Wetherspoons.
**POLITICO’s fringe event “The future of Britain post 2022” at the U.K. Labour Party Conference will take place on Sunday, September 23 in Liverpool. Presented by Citi and Clifford Chance, the event is part of the “Britain 2022” series and will examine what country should the U.K. aspire to be beyond Brexit and ahead of the next election. Request an invitation by email.**
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright broadcast round: Today program (7.15 a.m.) … BBC Breakfast (7.20 a.m.) … Sky Sunrise (7.30 a.m.).
Also on the Today program: Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown (7.50 a.m.) … Former Tory Party Chairman Eric Pickles (8.10 a.m.).
Reviewing the papers tonight: BBC News (10.45 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.): The Guardian’s Political Correspondent Jessica Elgot and former UKIP aide Michael Heaver … Sky News (10.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.): The Daily Mail’s Consultant Editor Andrew Pierce and academic Eliza Filby.
TODAY’S FRONT PAGES
(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)
City A.M.: Tesla shares take off as Musk mulls buyout.
Daily Express: I’d bet my £3.6bn EU will give us trade deal.
Daily Mail: Enough to break your heart — Death of Joel Urhie.
Daily Mirror: Spineless — No apology from scheming Boris.
Daily Star: I blew the Lott — Youngest lottery winner broke and happy.
Financial Times: Musk drops bombshell with call to take Tesla private for $70bn.
HuffPost: Number crunching — Jobcentre staff told not to keep record of foodbank referrals.
i: Tory Party leaders turn against Boris.
Metro: Boris won’t say sorry in burka row.
The Daily Telegraph: Johnson refuses to back down on burkas.
The Guardian: Johnson should apologize for “offensive” burka remarks — May.
The Independent: Over 450,000 children “need ADHD treatment.”
The Sun: Joel, 7, never got the chance to be a real fireman.
The Times: Quarter of HS2 workers on pay deals over £100k.
On the Continent: Read what the rest of Europe’s papers are saying in POLITICO’s EU press review blog here (updated daily at around 8 a.m.).
BEYOND THE M25
CRISIS OF LE BORIS BIKE: The wheels have come off Paris’ famous bike-sharing scheme, POLITICO’s Zachary Young reports. “A change of company running the Vélib scheme has resulted in far fewer bikes available and hundreds of docking stations out of order, not to mention bikes being vandalized or stolen,” he writes. “With locals and tourists fuming, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has weighed in by giving the new operator an ultimatum: fix things by September, or else.”
INSIDE MODERN DEMOCRACY: Three wealthy businessmen who frequent Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort are exerting unprecedented control over a key government department, ProPublica reports this morning. “From a thousand miles away, they have leaned on officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans,” the site reports. “They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them ‘the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.’”
SCOOP — INSIDE HELSINKI: Vladimir Putin presented President Donald Trump with a series of requests during their private meeting in Helsinki last month, including new talks on controlling nuclear arms and prohibiting weapons in space, according to a Russian document obtained by POLITICO. “The memo points to a surprising normalcy in the priorities that Putin brought to the meeting, which included a willingness to extend a series of landmark nuclear treaties and pursue new weapons limits,” POLITICO’s Bryan Bender reports. “Such issues have been standard fare in Russian-U.S. dialogue for decades.”
From San Francisco
TWEET ON: Weirdo conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his ludicrous InfoWars site will not be booted off Twitter despite his Facebook and YouTube bans, the social media firm’s founder announced this morning. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted a series of tweets explaining Jones “hasn’t violated our rules” and will not face action unless he does so. “We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories,” Dorsey wrote.
From Buenos Aires
ABORTION VOTE: Argentina’s senate will vote today on whether to legalize abortion. It would be the largest country in Latin America to do so. The BBC has the latest.
Westminster weather: 🌤 🌤 🌤 A much more sensible 23C today, and with a decent breeze to boot. Should stay dry.
Politicos might like: “Open City,” London’s annual documentary festival, which screens in cinemas across the capital next month. The line-up is out now and there are a number of excellent-looking political documentaries on show, including new releases and classics from the past. They include “Kinshasa Makambo” (2018), which follows hundreds of young revolutionaries in Congo as they take to the streets against President Joseph Kabila … “Our Nixon” (2013), a portrait of the president using Super 8 home movie footage compiled by three of Richard Nixon’s young aides. The blurb adds: “Young, idealistic and dedicated, they had no idea that a few years later they’d all be in prison.” … “Golden Dawn Girls” (2017), which follows three women who take key roles in the Greek far-right national party … and “The Patriot Game” (1978), which documents a decade of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Book your tickets soon.
Congratulations and best wishes: To former Labour adviser Tom Hamilton and wife Zoe, who gave birth to their daughter yesterday.
Happy Birthday: Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk … Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes … Crossbench peer Robert Haldane Smith … “This House” playwright James Graham.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich.
- Londoners in the Rain and the Tower of London
- How to Create Splash-Pages For Affiliate Programs
- Inside A Box With The Thinking Woman's Crumpet Or The Art Of Derren Brown
- The People Factor: Collaborative Decision-Making
- Hotel Hot List - The Hippest Hotels In Town
- A Guide To Tantric Massage
- Spill It
- Words Of Love - What Your Girlfriend Is Really Trying To Tell You!
- How The Internet Has Leveled The Playing Field For Entrepreneurs
- Can Andy Roddick Win Another Slam?
- The Pros and Cons of Corruption
- Limin' in Ybor City--A Different Kind of Jury Duty
- The Onside Kick Is Dead. Here’s How To Fix It.
- Shop California
- Colonel Boyd on Limited War and Iraq Victory
- Busking at Clapham Common Station
- Angelina of Glastonbury: the Headman's Axe
- How do I Use a Website to Promote my Business?
- Iran and What History Teaches About Aggressors
- The Tale of Willie the Humpback Whale (An Entertaining and Heartwarming Story)
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