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Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
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Journal Archives

Nigel Farage to coach Donald Trump before next presidential debate [UPDATED]

Note: This is NOT from NewsThump or The Onion.

The former leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage, has flown to the US to coach the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, for his next debate with Hillary Clinton.

Farage, who announced he would step down as leader of Ukip less than two weeks after the country voted to leave the European Union, left for the US after the first presidential debate, which it is now widely accepted Clinton won.


Bringing in Farage suggests he is keen to sharpen his debating skills. Politics aside, Farage is considered a skilled orator and debater. In the days leading up to the June EU referendum vote, the then prime minister, David Cameron, refused to debate with him, agreeing only to appear on the same programme. And following a one-on-one televised clash with former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg on the issue of Europe, polls suggested viewers were swayed by Farage.

However, Farage is unlikely to steer Trump away from making outlandish and controversial remarks, to which Farage is no stranger. In debates, speeches and radio station appearances, the former Ukip leader has called for immigrants with HIV to be banned from Britain, said he would be concerned if his neighbours were Romanian, suggested breastfeeding mothers should “sit in a corner”, and said women were paid less because they were simply “worth far less”.



The Guardian appears to have done a near-reverse ferret on this article, rewriting its lede with a new headline and adding the note at the end "An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that Nigel Farage had already flown to the United States. A spokesman for Farage denied that he had made the trip, but refused to confirm whether he would in the coming days":

Ukip denies that Nigel Farage is coaching Donald Trump for next debate

Ukip has denied reports that Nigel Farage has flown to the US to coach the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, for his next debate with Hillary Clinton.

Farage hinted in his farewell speech at Ukip’s conference last month that he might return to Trump’s side following an appearance with the Republican candidate in August, saying: “Who knows, I may even go back to the United States of America at some point.” Ukip sources at the conference also confirmed Farage would travel to the US to help support Trump before the election.

It had been reported that Farage, who announced he would step down as leader of Ukip less than two weeks after the country voted to leave the European Union, left for the US after the first presidential debate, which it is now widely accepted Clinton won.

A Ukip spokesman denied the reports but did not confirm or deny if Farage would be heading to the US in the future.


Given UKIP's track record with the truth, it's anybody's guess what's really happening. I'm saying nothing about the Guardian's record for accuracy.

How Theresa torpedoed Cameron and Boris Johnson said Leave would LOSE

Explosive new book by No10 spin chief reveals the inside story of Brexit

* No10 became so fed up with Theresa May disappearing during the Brexit campaign they nicknamed her 'Submarine May'
* Boris Johnson reassured Cameron in secret text Brexit would be 'crushed' – nine minutes before putting himself at the head of the Leave campaign
* Michael Gove went back on a pledge made to Cameron at a family gathering at Chequers at Christmas to stay loyal to him in the referendum
* Cameron considered clinging to power after losing the vote, but decided against it as it would leave him 'being prepared for the slaughterhouse'
* Revelations made by Craig Oliver, who was PM's head of communications


It the Mail, but just this once it's worth giving them a click for a long (I mean it!) read about the dysfunction, petty factionalism, self-serving agendas and lasting resentments within the party that is currently much more relevant to the future of the country than any shenanigans within Labour.

It is not ‘time to move on’ over Brexit: it’s time to fight

William Keegan

Shortly before the fateful referendum, Lord Carrington, the Tory party’s most distinguished elder statesman, was at a Sunday lunch in the country, listening patiently to the younger element discussing the merits or otherwise of one Alexander (Boris) Johnson. When they eventually paused for breath, the great man spoke, and brought the conversation to a halt with the simple remark: “Anyway, he won’t do.”

I recalled this episode last week when Ken Clarke, one of my favourite Tories of the generation after Carrington, and now in turn very much an elder statesman in his own right, was reported as saying something that could be paraphrased as “anyway, the referendum won’t do”.

What Ken apparently wrote in an email to a constituent was that most politicians “paid lip-service to the supposedly democratic nature of the exercise”, but he would do his best “to contribute to mitigating the disaster that this decision on 23 June might otherwise cause”.

He said he would probably vote against any move to trigger, via the infamous article 50, the Brexit process, and noted the shambles the government has already got itself into over trying to square the circle of remaining in the single market and customs union while satisfying the anti-immigration lobby.


The campaign missed a trick.

She should have adopted the tactic of UK MP Dennis Skinner in Parliament a few years ago:

Skinner: "Half the Tory Members opposite are crooks"

Speaker: "The honourable member MUST withdraw that remark"

Skinner: "OK, half the Tories are NOT crooks"

May's silly season honeymoon may soon be over

Two Months On From EU Referendum Result - And Still No Brexit Plan

Two months on from the tumult, it might seem that calm and normality has returned to British politics.

The referendum rollercoaster is merely in service and the Thrills and Spills have been on a brief summer break.

Fundamentally, this arises from the fact - as I found out within 48 hours of the result - that "there is no plan".

And two months on, that remains the case.


What "plans" there are so far seem to be flailing fuelled by delusional wishful thinking:

Tory dream of a short, sharp Brexit

LONDON — Theresa May began the summer reiterating that “Brexit means Brexit.” She will return to work on Wednesday under pressure to explain what British withdrawal will look like.

In her absence, a chasm of expectation has opened up between increasingly hardline expectations in Westminster, where Euroskeptics believe their plan for a short, sharp Brexit is well-received by team Theresa, and established opinion in Brussels and other European capitals about what is politically acceptable and legally possible.

The boldest option on the table — and that favored by the hardliners — is for an immediate snap Brexit, dubbed “unilateral continuity” by Tory MPs. Under this proposal the U.K. simply informs Brussels that it has left the EU and does not impose trade tariffs unless the rest of the EU does so first.

The radical plan, which veteran Euroskeptics believe is being studied seriously in Whitehall, would see May trigger Article 50 and then pass an act of parliament to annul the 1972 European Communities Act, unilaterally taking the U.K. out of the EU.


I smell end-of-silly season kite-flying. Or maybe May's Brexit team really is this naive and desperate.

While the media have focused on frontpaging cheap, easy headlines about the disarray in Labour ranks, the currently papered-over divisions among the Tory top brass and efforts to keep patching them up have much more serious ramifications for the country's future. The article mentions the centralization of the government's Brexit drive, channeling all policies related to it through May's joint chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, while looking over their shoulders at creeping impatience among Brexiters in and out of government. We've seen the results of such approaches in the past.

Meanwhile, this from earlier in August is no less relevant:

The Brexit Hangover Just Got Worse

Theresa May has left London with her husband, Philip, for a walking holiday in Switzerland, a country that is not a member of the European Union, although it does allow the free movement of people—even British prime ministers. May has said that she enjoys the peace and quiet of the Alps, which she will certainly need before the Brexit phony war ends in September and her government faces the challenge of extricating the United Kingdom from the European Union—an operation that will likely be worse than amputation without anesthetic.

Right now, I can report no advance in the understanding of what Brexit actually means, or what the three ministers charged with overseeing the surgery—David Davis, Dr. Liam Fox, and the buffoonish Boris Johnson—are planning. What is becoming clear, however, is that the U.K. is much more entangled with the European Union than the Brexit campaigners ever admitted, or even understood, at the time of the referendum. And as with any amputation there is never a plus, only one very large minus.


There is nothing to give us confidence that anyone in the U.K. government fully comprehends the reality of the situation. After all, the government minister in charge of Brexit, the aforementioned David Davis, only realized in the last few months that it would not be possible for the U.K. to forge individual trade deals with different E.U. member states. As an old debating partner of mine—we have shared many platforms on civil liberties—I hesitate to be too brutal about Davis’s failure to grasp that E.U. countries cannot make discrete trade deals. But, frankly, it beggars belief that he lived for so long under this illusion, and that these wildly optimistic fantasies weren’t challenged.

The Brexit camp, as represented by The Spectator magazine, which proclaimed “Out—and into the World” when it endorsed the Leave campaign, seems to have absolutely no understanding of international trade or Britain’s dependency on Europe. For instance, the E.U. takes 39.4 percent of the U.K.’s service exports, which is more than the next nine trading partners—the U.S., Switzerland, Japan, China, Canada, Russia, India, Hong Kong, and Brazil—combined (38.4 percent). If Britain were to lose access to the single market, or British-based banks were stopped from trading freely in Europe through the “passporting” arrangements with the E.U., it would take very little to end the City of London’s reign as the de facto financial capital of Europe. In fact, Britain could pretty soon be broke on account the enormous tax revenue the City produces.


Just one of the many recent headlines overshadowed by the burning question of whether or not Jeremy Corbyn could have found a seat on an overcrowded train, and yet again the issue of freedom of movement appears as an obstacle to any mutually acceptable solution:

UK financial sector targets Swiss-style deal for EU market access

The City of London has given up hope of universal access to the EU single market and is now seeking a bespoke deal for its different sectors to trade with Europe, with similar but stronger ties than Switzerland.


Officials and representatives from the financial sector are getting ready to present their policy ideas in time for them to be considered by the cabinet committee for Brexit, chaired by Theresa May, the prime minister, when it meets in early September, people involved in the preparations told the Financial Times.

The City has come to the conclusion that a deal for the UK to emulate Norway’s relationship with the EU is very difficult both politically and practically. Norway has access to the single market but no say in how regulations are set. It must both accept free movement of people and make budgetary contributions.


A task force of grandees, chaired by Shriti Vadera, the chairman of Santander UK and a former Labour minister, is close to embracing this judgment. The group has already been provided one blueprint, a 110-page document prepared by the British Bankers' Association, advised by Clifford Chance and Global Counsel, the advisory outfit founded by Lord Mandelson, the Labour peer.


And the post-Olympics euphoria may not last long:

The sharp costs of Brexit will be felt soon enough
Britons will get poorer through prices rising more than wages, writes Rupert Pennant-Rea

If Britain in August participated in anything resembling political debate, “What was all the fuss about?” would probably have been the prevailing argument. The only honest answer to the question of Brexit’s effects is “Don’t know”, at least with any precision.

But the strongest clue has not come from the stock market or July’s unemployment and retail sales but from the currency markets. There, the message has been consistent and its implications have still to sink in.

On June 23, the day of the referendum, sterling reached a high of $1.50 and €1.31 shortly after polls closed. It then plummeted, and has since averaged at about $1.30 and €1.18. In trade-weighted terms, the pound is down more than 15 per cent from its level a year ago, when David Cameron, then prime minister, started the renegotiations that would lead to the referendum.


Why do these international valuations matter to the average British household? Not many people are old enough to remember Harold Wilson’s fallacious message to the electorate when his government devalued sterling in 1967. “The pound in your pocket”, he claimed reassuringly, would not be devalued. Of course it was, and it has been again in the past two months, as every British holiday-maker abroad has already discovered.


Some of the big financial organizations on which too much of the UK's manufacturing-depleted economy depends aren't hanging round to see how this all pans out. This from late June:

Banks begin moving some operations out of Britain

Banks have already begun to take action to shift operations out of the UK, but most of their staff will have to wait several months to find out how many thousands of them will be asked to move to fledgling financial hotspots like Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt.

Investment banks, who donated heavily to the Remain campaign, have reacted immediately to Britain’s referendum result, with some of London’s largest institutions approaching regulators to secure licences and lining up executives to relocate.

The big US banks — JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley — have large operations employing tens of thousands of people in the UK. They have historically set up their regulated businesses in Britain and then used its right to “passport” into the rest of the 28-member bloc.

But lawyers are warning that after Brexit, they would likely need a new legal home base, so they are preparing to shift at least some work to cities such as Dublin, Paris and Frankfurt.


And if the banks themselves don't go, their major depositors' money may do:

Companies Are Planning to Move Their Money From UK Banks After Brexit

British banks could lose a good number of European and domestic corporate customers in the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June, known as Brexit, according to a private study released on Tuesday.

About 40% of European companies and nearly 25% of U.K. companies already have or are planning to reallocate their banking business due to Brexit, the survey from Greenwich Associates showed.

Some European companies plan to shift their business to larger global banks from U.K. ones, the Greenwich, Connecticut-based consulting firm said.

“Since the vote, the biggest winners are the global banks, with 20% of continental corporates planning to increase business with these banks and U.K. corporates staying net neutral,” Tobias Miarka, the Greenwich managing director who wrote the study, said in a statement.


Sarah Champion unresigns as Labour Shadow Minister in letter to Jeremy Corbyn

Sarah Champion has unresigned and been reinstated as a Shadow Home Office Minister.


A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn confirmed her retraction had been accepted and she had been reinstated.


The spokesperson went on to suggest this could be more than one unresignation - perhaps growing into a deshuffle.

They said: "We hope that others will rejoin the shadow cabinet and get on with the job of opposing Government."


I'd seen online rumours over the past week that moves like this were going on behind the scenes. And yes, "deshuffle" may find its way into this year's OED update.

How David Cameron’s Plan To Screw Labour Cost Him The EU Referendum

In the last days before the EU referendum David Cameron and his team of Remain campaigners were still frantically trying to get young people’s attention. 18-34 year olds, the polls had said, were Britain’s great unharvested crop of Remainers. And everyone agreed that if enough of them turned out on June 23rd, it was in the bag.


Yesterday, hidden within the cache of information dumped on the government website before ministers went to recess, was a clue as to what went wrong: a written statement by Gary Streeter, a spokesperson for the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, which showed a full nine percentage point drop between 10th June 2014 and 1st December 2015 in the number of 18-19 year olds registered to vote.


The change {a motion to change the responsibility for signing up to vote from households to individuals} had been due for December 2016 - plenty of time for voters accidentally left off the new list to get their act together and re-register. But Cameron had wanted to rush it through more than a year early. The reason? Those likely to be accidentally left off the new list were Labour voters.


Cameron did it to screw Labour in this year’s elections - those of London’s mayor, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh National Assembly - but also to skew an upcoming constituency boundary reform vastly in his favour. This redrawing of boundaries is to be based on a snapshot of the electorate from December 2015, thus - as least as far as yesterday’s figures indicate - permanently disenfranchising many thousands of Britain’s young, whether they re-register now or not.


More revelations from the massive end-of-sitting document dump: another take on what went wrong with the Brexit referendum, and another example of the Tories sacrificing the country's interests for electoral gain and party politics.

Spain could veto Brexit talks, Margallo says

The Spanish Government will veto the terms of any Brexit negotiation between the UK and the EU that sought to include Gibraltar, Spain’s acting Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo said yesterday.

The minister said once the UK activates the withdrawal process under Article 50 of the EU treaty, the European Council must agree the broad terms of the withdrawal negotiation “by unanimity”.

Against that context, Spain would “make clear that Gibraltar does not belong to the UK” and would “have the right to veto” if it did not agree with the negotiation framework, Sr García-Margallo said.

He said once the UK was outside the EU, Gibraltar must be seen as “a third territory”, adding that Brexit would have “very serious consequences for Gibraltar economy and for the Spanish workers who worked there”.



11 bits of bad news the Tories buried on the last day before their summer holiday


More than 300 documents have been dumped by the government just hours before MPs toddle off for their summer break.

Ministers alone have given 30 written statements on the final day of Parliament, up from a usual level anywhere between two and 10.

... Labour shadow minister without portfolio Jonathan Ashworth wasn't impressed.

He said: "In a deluge of statements her ministers have slipped out confirmation that tuition fees will go up, nurse bursaries will be scrapped and the news that correspondence regarding patients’ medical records has gone missing.


The article summarizes the "bits of bad news" it's chosen to focus on (and these aren't necessarily the most significant in the grand scheme of things):

1. 57,000 Bedroom Tax victims fell behind on rent
2. ... While rich people get more second homes
3. The DWP got told off for its 45p-a-minute phone line
4. A Saudi diplomat 'brought a slave to Britain'
5. A Mexican diplomat 'made child sex abuse images'
6. Tuition fees are going up ...
7. ... And school budgets could be going down
8. Diplomats owe Britain nearly £100million
9. Bungling NHS chiefs sent wrong forms for 5 YEARS
10. A special jobs body will be shut down
11. It's confirmed nursing bursaries are being axed

Dumps like this on the final day of a sitting aren't that unusual, but the scale of this one is.

EU support surges in big European countries after Brexit vote

(Reuters) - Support for the European Union has surged to multi-year highs in the bloc's biggest countries following last month's Brexit vote, according to a poll that will disappoint Eurosceptic parties hoping to usher their own nations out of the EU.

In an IFOP poll taken between June 28 and July 6, a few days after Britain's vote to leave the EU, support for EU membership jumped to 81 percent in Germany, a 19 point increase from the last time the question was asked in November 2014.

In France, support surged by 10 points to 67 percent. In both countries, that was the highest level of support since at least December 2010, when IFOP started asking the question.

"Brexit shocked people in the EU," Francois Kraus, head of the political and current affairs service at IFOP, told Reuters on Wednesday.


IFOP = Institut français d'opinion publique

Not the first set of polls since the Brexit vote to indicate a similar trend.
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