“He has become the most loathed person in the parliamentary party”, is how one Tory MP described a Mr Gavin Williamson, who this week propelled himself from Chief Whip to Defence Secretary, and there are a lot more insults where that came from.
Whatever one’s views on where the bar should be set on sexually inappropriate behaviour, one thing we can all agree on is that the political establishment is rotten to the core.
It was Williamson, a career politician, who strongly advised the Prime Minister to fire the Tories’ trusted attack dog Sir Michael Fallon from his position as Defence Secretary. Fallon had survived a series of cabinet reshuffles and the week’s first sex pest scandal – a touch of Julia Hartley Brewer’s knee fifteen years ago – but this was to be the week of his demise, and the architect, Williamson, was to be the beneficiary. As rumours broke of Fallon’s imminent fall on Wednesday evening, Williamson’s name was nowhere near the running; within twenty-four hours he was in charge of one of the most powerful armed forces on earth.
Beyond the scandal and sour grapes swirling around Parliament, it has emerged that a shocking 56,000 failed asylum seekers have managed to escape deportation. 700 of the missing migrants are convicted criminals, who were initially incarcerated before being released.
Politics is politics one might say: sex and power are two sides of the same coin, ambitions are rarely satisfied without skulduggery. But when these less pleasant elements combine with such disgraceful negligence there can be no doubt that a proper clearout is severely overdue.
The ill-discipline epidemic has infected virtually the entire political class. Even ardent independents like David Davis are displaying symptoms.
Yesterday, the Brexit Secretary agreed in principle to a daft idea being floated by EU fanatic Guy Verhofstadt. The European Parliament’s version of Davis (a meaningless role as it is the European Commission that does that talking) wants to slow negotiations down and keep British borders open by setting up an EU citizenship scheme for Brits eager to live on the continent, but less keen on the faff of applying for a visa.
When asked in the Commons about it, all Davis needed to say was the idea is completely absurd. That would have been the disciplined, principled response voters should expect of their representatives in government. Instead, Davis enthusiastically said he would look into the proposal.
By contrast, President Trump told reporters this afternoon the US would hit ISIS “ten times harder” for every attack against America following Tuesday’s cowardly atrocity in Manhattan by an Uzbek jihadist.
The Electoral Commission has followed the BBC in gorging on unfounded claims of connections between Leave.EU chairman Arron Banks and Russia made by website, Open Democracy early last month. The public body announced on Wednesday it is launching an investigation into the “true source” of Mr Banks’ donations over the course of the referendum campaign.
No coincidence the EC announced its investigation in the same week President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was indicted over old connections with the now deposed Kremlin-backed Yanukovych regime in Ukraine.
“What, another one?!” struck back Banks in a statement, “the Leave.EU campaign was funded by myself, Peter Hargreaves and the general public.
“The Guardian allegations of Brexit being funded by the Russians and propagated by Ben Bradshaw are complete bollocks from beginning to end”.
Leave.EU has undertaken its own investigation into the Electoral Commissioners (see above and below). Each one is politically compromised in one way or another and most of them have highly partial ties to the European Union.
It is one thing being hounded by a backbench has-been in collusion with a lefty-liberal Fleet Street broadsheet and a dodgy website. It is quite another for an agency of government to be joining in. What on earth has happened to our democracy?
Back to the business of Brexit. Labour created a small stir in a week overshadowed by the sex pest scandal with its use of an arcane form of parliamentary motion called a humble address which acts as a direct call for the Queen to request documents from the Government.
The documents in question are sector-by-sector Brexit impact assessments. On Monday, the Government listed the sectors, but withheld the underlying analysis on the rightful grounds that it would weaken Britain’s negotiating position. The address passed unanimously as Tory MPs are under orders not to vote on opposition motions over Brexit.
Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom said the information would be forthcoming, qualifying the commitment by saying that “it is difficult to balance the conflicting obligation to protect the public interest through not disclosing information that could harm the national interest”.
The likelihood is that a redacted version of the assessments will be published and the full versions shared with the Brexit Committee. How much gets blacked out remains to be seen and then, of course, there is the danger of leaks from the Remainer heavy committee.
The Catalan crisis dominated headlines on the continent as the now former president of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont turned the already soap opera levels of drama up a notch by fleeing to Belgium to await Madrid’s next move after it dissolved his government late last week.
On Thursday, a Spanish high court jailed nine of Puigdemont’s colleagues, only one of whom was granted bail. The Spanish prosecutor is investigating all 114 members of the deposed government for rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds. The accusations carry jail terms of up to thirty years.
As for Mr Puigdemont’s fate, following a court summons for the same charges, he is now holed up in the tiny Flemish town of Tielt. His lawyer there, a specialist in asylum for separatists in a land constantly on the verge of separation, has begun fighting off his client’s extradition. A European Arrest Warrant is expected to be issued imminently.
In economic news: manufacturing continued to surge in October as Mark Carney rose interest rates, the aerospace industry rebutted Remoaner scare stories, BMW reaffirmed its commitment to the UK, and Britain trounced European rivals as the most attractive destination for employers and staff.
Meanwhile, the ONS’s annual balance of payments review, known as the Pink Book, carried lots of positive news for passionate Brexiteers. Click here for Leave.EU’s breakdown.
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The Leave.EU Team