Tag Archives: boris johnson

Will Boris Johnson’s popularity make us has-beens?

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I’m told that Boris Johnson was a positive factor in voters’ preferences at the last election. Apparently, it wasn’t just a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, they actually liked the captain of the ship.

To many of us, Boris Johnson is either a clown, a liar, or worse and therefore not exactly Prime Ministerial material. Not so, I hear; he is just the sort of chap an aspirational working class lad or lass would admire.

Not so much the public school boy, unkempt toff or even likable rogue. No, he is “the very model of a modern major general”. – Someone to lead us all into a post-Brexit national renewal – England’s green and pleasant land. Notwithstanding the record of his predecessors, he is the salvation of the Conservative Party, embracing the new dawn.

Posted in Op-eds | 45 Comments

The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson

My nearest and dearest booked seats for us at “The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson” at the Nuffield theatre in Southampton this week.

It seems to be your type of thing

– said her nibs.

Well, as usual she was right. It very much was my type of thing.

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Boris offers us a petrol station bouquet as a peace offering…

I’ve watched the Boris Johnson New Year greeting to the nation – feel free to take a look if you’re so inclined – and am as unimpressed as I am unsurprised.

We are promised a decade of growth and innovation, a better NHS, safer streets, an improved environment, and so on and so forth. All very nice, after all, how could anyone disagree with any of that? But, despite the suggestion that we are being invited to pull together, that we now have “a People’s Government, delivering the People’s priorities” (yes, he really did say that… again), he said little that …

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10 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Tories’ plans on health tourism enforcement unit is the latest example of dog-whistle politics
  • Lib Dems: GDP figures show economy is grinding to a halt under the Tories
  • Lib Dem launch poster urging Remainers to stop Boris Johnson
  • Lib Dems: Boris Johnson is lying on a bulldozer instead of in front of one
  • Lib Dems: Johnson attack on international aid will destroy our global credibility

Tories’ plans on health tourism enforcement unit is the latest example of dog-whistle politics

The Liberal Democrats have today branded the Tories pledge to double the budget of the ‘health tourism enforcement unit’ as dog-whistle politics.

The Conservative manifesto states that …

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9 December 2019 – today’s press releases

Apologies to our regular readers for the temporary disappearance of this regular feature – I was away and had some surprisingly poor internet access. Anyway, on with the show…

  • Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency
  • Lib Dems: Brexit leak on Northern Ireland checks shows Johnson is lying to the public
  • Lib Dems: Johnson refusing to look at picture of sick child shows mask has slipped
  • Question Time debate shows Jo Swinson is a next generation leader

Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency

The Liberal Democrats have …

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1 December 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 2)

  • Jo Swinson: Boris Johnson is running scared of scrutiny
  • Lib Dems: Tory no deal Brexit would increase national debt by £220 billion
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show that he despises the poor and vulnerable in our society
  • Swinson outperforms Johnson cheerleaders
  • Farage, Trump and Johnson singing from same misogynistic hymn sheet

Jo Swinson: Boris Johnson is running scared of scrutiny

Responding to Boris Johnson’s interview with Andrew Marr, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, said:

Given Boris Johnson’s dismal performance this morning on Marr it is no wonder he is running scared of Andrew Neil and refusing to be held to account in debates.

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29 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Boris Johnson admits no deal still on the table
  • Chuka Umunna: Boris Johnson continues to let down Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
  • Statement on Lib Dem campaign following London Bridge attack
  • Lib Dems are the only party that can stop the Conservatives

Boris Johnson admits no deal still on the table

Responding to this morning’s joint press conference with Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart, in which Johnson admitted that no deal preparations will continue, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

Seeing Johnson, Stuart and Gove back on stage together will give people flashbacks to the lies of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign. But, after

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27 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people
  • Lib Dems: Trump to profit from Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems – Immigration detention must be absolute last resort
  • Welsh Lib Dems welcome votes at 16
  • Leaked documents show US offered PR advice to UK over chlorinated chicken

Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people

The Liberal Democrats will today unveil a poster attacking Boris Johnson for lying to the Queen, Parliament and the people.

Another poster will show Boris Johnson flanked by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, stating: “Brexit is good for …

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18 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Arcuri interview suggests Johnson abused his position as Mayor
  • Umunna: Repressive scenes in Hong Kong are ‘totally unacceptable’
  • Lib Dems: Leadsom shows Tories have no answers to key questions facing businesses
  • Swinson: Liberal Democrats will scrap business rates

Arcuri interview suggests Johnson abused his position as Mayor

Responding to Jennifer Arcuri’s interview on ITV last night, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture Secretary Layla Moran said:

The evidence is mounting that the Prime Minister, the then mayor of London at the time, absolutely abused his position to forward the business interests of his friend Jennifer Arcuri. This flouts the very rules he was meant to uphold and is

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12 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Refusal to publish Russian interference shows Johnson morphing into Trump
  • Gyimah: Labour plans fail meet the needs of working people
  • Lib Dems set out plans to strengthen support for survivors of violence and abuse
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s speech shows he is misleading voters again
  • Lib Dems: Selection of Chris Davies shows Tories’ contempt for voters

Refusal to publish Russian interference shows Johnson morphing into Trump

Following the reports that Hillary Clinton has said it is “inexplicable and shameful” that the UK government has not yet published a report on alleged Russian interference in British politics, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umunna said:

No-one knows the extent

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4 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Trump and Johnson are two peas in a pod
  • Lib Dems: Tory Gower candidate should be removed
  • Blocking intelligence report undermines the democratic process

Trump and Johnson are two peas in a pod

Responding to President Trump’s comments that Boris Johnson was “the right man for the time” and he should “come together” with Nigel Farage, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umana said:

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are just two peas in a pod. They have the same old right wing, nationalist politics. No wonder the President is falling over himself to find an opportunity to endorse Johnson.

With his desperation to please

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1 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Farage warns Tories of Lib Dem General Election threat
  • Trickett’s comments show Labour are a Brexit party
  • Swinson: Liberal Democrats can win in seats we have never won in before
  • Lib Dems: Johnson and Corbyn running scared of Swinson

Farage warns Tories of Lib Dem General Election threat

Commenting on the Brexit Party’s campaign launch, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Ed Davey said:

Nigel Farage is correct that the Conservative Party should be very worried about the Liberal Democrats in this election. We are the strongest national party of Remain and we are ready to take the fight to Boris Johnson as well as Jeremy Corbyn.

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Hope for a brighter future

In this election there is everything to play for. Traditional voter loyalties have completely broken down, and nearly half the electorate are now regarded to be floating voters.

When talking to voters on the doorsteps and asking their thoughts on the current state of politics, the responses are dominated by the words “mess” and “shambles”.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are not popular, and are not seen as being good options to lead our country. If we get smart we can easily present ourselves as the Stop Brexit, Liberal Democrat and None of the Above party, and hoover up enormous amounts of those floating voters.

It is fear that will deter people from voting Liberal Democrat. Not fear of our policies or any character flaws in our leader, but fear that voting for us lets in the populist or the revolutionary socialist, or fear that we will prop up Corbyn or Johnson in exchange for some scraps of power.

Saying we will support neither is not enough. We have to have an offering that shows our supporters that we have a path to power, and we have to have an offering that shows the floating voters that we can stop the cartoon villains that they so fear.

That offering is a proportional electoral system.

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31 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future.
  • Brexit hinders growth in green, clean cars
  • Davey: Labour’s spending plans “can’t be squared with the cost of Brexit”
  • Self-harm and assaults in prisons preventing rehabilitation
  • Lib Dems: Donald Trump and Boris Johnson both unfit for office

Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future.

Today, Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats are launching their slogan for the General Election campaign: Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future, alongside a campaign poster launch.

This election is a once in a generation opportunity to reshape our politics, and give hope to the millions of people who want a fairer, brighter future.

The Liberal Democrats’ slogan reflects a positive …

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Jo: Is he going to run scared of debating with a girly swot?

The smell of chicken pervades the political atmosphere this morning.

Probably the most predictable aspect of this General Election is that Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn would try to cut Jo Swinson out of the Leaders’s Debates. I mean, why would they want to be completely shown up by a fresh, original opponent with compelling arguments?

And so it looks very much like they are doing just that.

Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson told the BBC

However, when asked about a three-way discussion with Ms Swinson, the spokesman replied: “There are only two people who can be prime minister at the end of this campaign and I think the British public have a clear right to see them debate head-to-head on TV and hear their cases.”

And when Jo put Boris Johnson on the spot in  Parliament yesterday, he ignored her, choosing to make some bizarre crack about how Lib Dems were about dither and delay on Brexit. You couldn’t actually get much clearer than “Stop Brexit.” Watch here:

The exchange in full from Hansard:

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Fortune favours the bold


And so we head into an election campaign as ‘the goose is getting fat’ and Brenda from Bristol boards up her front door to keep out invading journalists.

We’ve whirled around and around the entire gamut of constitutional and Brexit permutations many times, and so we end up with a general election when the Rubic’s Cube of parliamentary arithmetic will be re-spun. Then the whole darn thing will start again.

It is somewhat forbidding to face the prospect of knocking on doors in the ‘deep mid-winter’.

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Brexit: the penny drops as Sir Humphrey is wheeled in amidst the “whiff of sexism”

Sir Ivan Rogers, former UK ambassador to the EU, had to have an uncomfortable conversation with the then Prime Minister, Theresa May in 2016. He told her:

…you have made three commitments in good faith to different audiences, but they are not really compatible with each other.

You have said to the Irish, under no circumstances will a hard border be erected across the island of Ireland.

You have said to the Democratic Unionist community under no circumstances will there be divergence from the rest of Great Britain.

And you have said to the right of your own party that you are heading out of the customs union.

Posted in Humour and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 32 Comments

In praise of Marcus Ball – doughty fighter against the £350 million red bus lie


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Marcus Ball has announced that he can no longer move forward with his legal fight to hold Boris Johnson responsible for his “£350 million a week” red bus statement.

High court judges threw the case out in June after Johnson challenged a summons to attend court on three claims of misconduct in public office. However, Marcus Ball had continued fighting in the hope of taking the case to the Supreme Court.

Last weekend, news came from the legal fraternity that this would not be possible.

This young man has put up an extraordinary fight over the last three and a half years, working at below the national minimum wage per hour.

Goodness knows, there are many roads to riches in the legal profession.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Johnson to implicate the Queen in electoral shenanigans

Admittedly honesty is far from Johnson’s forte. Accordingly, I should not be so surprised that Johnson can simultaneously cry out for an imminent election and prorogue parliament for a Queen’s speech and new legislative session. 

Quite simply, it is not the function of the Queen to present an electioneering address on behalf of the Conservative Party. Having already abused the function of the Queen by illegally advising her on an overlong prorogation, Johnson is merely running true to form in forcing the Head of State to front an election pitch.

We have to make it clear that this is wholly unacceptable and that if he is intent on prorogation, he cannot concurrently expect an election in the near term.  Parliamentary sessions are seldom shorter 150 days, the shortest session in recent times was 65 days.  If the Queen’s speech is not voted down, we must insist there should be a reasonable period, perhaps six months, during which the government should try to work through its programme. We would press for a referendum on whatever it is Johnson has to offer within this period.

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Jo Swinson on Johnson’s speech: ‘Beneath the bluff & bluster, he’s determined to crash us out of the EU’

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Commenting on PM Johnson’s Manchester speech today, Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson said:

When you strip away the bluff and bluster, this was a speech by a Prime Minister who is determined to crash us out of the EU without a deal.

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27 September 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • No-deal prep for health supplies shows Brexit must stop
  • Boris Johnson is the champion of the well-off, not the people – Davey

No-deal prep for health supplies shows Brexit must stop

Responding to the National Audit Office’s report on the Government’s preparations on health and social care supplies under a no deal Brexit, Liberal Democrats Health and Social Care Secretary, Sir Vince Cable MP, said:

This report reinforces what we already knew from the Yellowhammer documents. We know that a no-deal Brexit would have a devastating impact on the UK’s health and social care supplies.

The risk is very real that traders may not

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25 September 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems: Johnson rides roughshod with the law again

Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture Secretary Layla Moran today questioned Ministers on payments made by the Government to Hacker House, a company owned by Jennifer Arcuri.

The Sunday Times alleged that the company was incorrectly registered in the UK.

The paper also alleges that Ms Arcuri, a friend of Boris Johnson, benefitted from preferential treatment for public money and access to overseas trade missions when the Prime Minister was Mayor of London. These are now subject to an investigation by the London Assembly’s Oversight Committee.

Speaking after her Urgent Questionn in the House …

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What Boris Johnson should have said to Omar Salem

I have nothing but sympathy for Omar Salem, the dad who confronted Boris Johnson today. Watch the video on the Guardian, here. Omar’s wee one is only a week old, but was admitted as an emergency. When she got to the ward, she wasn’t seen by a doctor for hours. I can’t imagine Omar would have got much in the way of sleep.

It is absolutely terrifying when someone you love is seriously ill. You need to have confidence in the care that they are getting.

I know.

Three years ago, my husband was very seriously ill and spent 51 nights in hospital. He had some superb care from  truly exceptional people. But occasionally things went wrong. This was invariably because of under-resourcing.

I’ll never forget the day that I was on the ward at just before 5pm and I saw one of the health care assistants getting ready to serve dinner. She had been on night shift the day before until 8am that morning. Because the ward was so short staffed, she’d gone home for a couple of hours’ sleep and gone back in to do the lunches because there was nobody else to do it.

That is simply not safe – for her, mostly.

Other stuff went wrong as well. I won’t give you the gory details, but if you only have one person of a particular grade on duty overnight in an entire hospital, they can’t be everywhere they are needed and vital stuff just doesn’t get done.

If Nicola Sturgeon, or then Health Secretary Shona Robison, had turned up on the ward on one of these days, I might well have given them a piece of my mind. As a worried wife, and a human being, not as a Liberal Democrat.

And if I had done that, I reckon Shona and Nicola would have shown me some kindness. They’d have asked questions and listened. Because they are actually kind and empathetic human beings, and because they know that it is important to handle these things well.

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Jo tackles Boris on sexist insults

Twice this week, Boris Johnson has used sexist insults. In deeply dignified and mature behaviour for a Prime Minister, he called Jeremy Corbyn a “big girl’s blouse” the other day. And now we discover he called David Cameron a “girly swot.”

This is how Jo Swinson responded.

She took the fight for liberal values to him the other day and he was all over the place as a result. Jo is usually very prepared about what she is going to say, but she was clearly furious with his dismissive answer when challenged on his dangerous racism and she handed his backside to him on a plate.

Jo is fired up and ready to go when the inevitable election eventually comes along, after she and others have protected the country from government shenanigans which could force no deal on us.

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Observations of an ex pat: Intelligence insulted

I hate it when politicians insult my intelligence. When they speak and act in a manner which implies that the voting public are no more than gullible poll fodder it undermines their credibility and damages the democratic process.

Not that the current prime minister had much credibility to start with. Boris Johnson is infamous for his deceits, distortions, half-truths, vacillations and outright lies in pursuit of political ends which are clearly designed to serve only the interests of Boris Johnson.

His latest porky is the claim that proroguing parliament has nothing to do with the Brexit debate.  That is so obviously false. It is right up there with the NHS bus, floods of Turkish immigrants, dismissal of the Irish border as “not a problem”, having our cake and eating it too, and the assertion that the German car industry will be on its hands and knees grovelling for a deal.

The Johnson government claims that using the tactic of an early Queen’s Speech to prorogue parliament in the middle of the run-up to the No Deal deadline of 31 October is perfectly normal.  It will, says Johnson, have no impact on parliament’s ability to debate Brexit. “Nothing to do with Brexit,” says Michael Gove. “A bit boring actually,” claims Jacob Rees-Mogg.

More accurate was the comment from Father of the House Ken Clark: “I don’t know how they keep a straight face.”

Posted in Op-eds | 20 Comments

We need a flexible Conference

With the terrible twins Johnson and Cummings in charge, this country is in the most dangerous situation since the start of World War Two. They are planning a right wing coup, with neither of them elected by the British public. Johnson was elected by a handful of elderly right-wingers in the Tory Party and Johnson elected Cummings, who is contemptuous of our democratic process

The news changes every day, and the likelihood is that we are approaching a democratic and economic disaster.

Lib Dems now have a higher profile than for some years, and we can expect more interest in our Conference than in the past.

The public will want to know:

  • What are our solutions to the major issues this country faces?
  • What is our response if we are forced into a No Deal Brexit?

We need to achieve maximum publicity for our response to this crisis.

We therefore need to clear the decks at conference in order to address these issues in the light of the then current circumstances.

Posted in Op-eds | 62 Comments

Surely there is a way that Johnson can give us a treat on Halloween, rather than a trick?

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WARNING: This article contains high amounts of hysterical optimism (or at least non-pessimism)

Here are, to my mind, three significant things about Boris Johnson in the context of the current Brexit dilemma:

1. It is conceivable that he harbours ideas of having statues of himself built in future. When grappling with the choice of being a politician or a journalist, he allegedly once said:

They don’t put up statues to journalists

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 27 Comments

On politicians and TV

Dorothy Byrne is Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4. She was invited to give the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Festival, and she grasped the opportunity to say some pretty pertinent things about politicians.

You can read her funny and very pointed speech in full here, but we can give some extracts:

On trust and politicians:

Don’t believe politicians when they say that the public doesn’t trust the so-called mainstream media in the UK. They trust TV. Remember, terrestrial television has huge levels of trust:  71 percent. 

It’s politicians who are not trusted – they have a trust rate of 19 per cent  And news on the internet – the medium  politicians are increasingly using to bypass us – has, according recent Reuters Institute figures,  a trust level of only 22 percent with a mere 10 percent for news on social. 

But in recent years, there has been a dramatic fall in politicians holding themselves up to proper scrutiny on TV and in recent months and even weeks, that decline has, in my view, become critical for our democracy. 

We have a new Prime Minister who hasn’t held one major press conference or given one major television interview since he came to power. 

That cannot be right. And we have a leader of the opposition who similarly fails to give significant interviews on terrestrial TV. We may be heading for an election very soon. 

What are they going to do then? I genuinely fear that in the next election campaign there will be too little proper democratic debate and scrutiny to enable voters to make informed decisions.  

On TV interviews:

During the 1987 election, Thatcher and Kinnock chaired daily press conferences and gave several full-length interviews. Even more recently, Miliband and Cameron also did extensive interviews in election campaigns.

However, Theresa May, when she was leader, and Corbyn, failed to hold themselves to account in the same way. In the 2017 election, May and Corbyn did only one or two events a day. 

Outside of election periods, and setting aside some interviews with Andrew Marr, Theresa May’s PR people generally said she would do interviews of only four minutes, maybe six if you were lucky. 

Throughout her time as PM, May’s longest interview with Channel Four News was seven minutes. How do you delve into the complex problems of our times in a few minutes. Jeremy Corbyn sometimes permits only one question, and then doesn’t answer it!

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Lord William Wallace writes….Boris Johnson think rules don’t apply to him

We now face a really nasty government, hell-bent on leaving the EU without a deal.  What Boris Johnson described only weeks ago as ‘a million-to-one chance’ has now become the central planning assumption for No.10.  Johnson’s airy language about a rapid re-negotiation has evaporated; he has refused to visit even Dublin, and has made no effort to talk directly to prime ministers he casually offended when he was foreign secretary. He is focussing instead on blaming the EU for refusing to accept the UK’s demand to drop the ‘Irish backstop’, even though the British government has no alternative workable proposals on how to manage the Irish border after Brexit.  He and his advisers calculate that, in a slickly-presented election campaign, enough British voters might blame foreigners to carry this right-wing version of Conservatism back into office, without looking too closely at its own contradictions.

On top of this, our new government is threatening a constitutional crisis.  Briefings by No.10 staffers remind journalists that the expectation that a Prime Minister will resign in the event of losing a vote of no confidence ‘is only a convention’.  The British constitution is built on conventions, and on the expectation that honourable politicians will observe them. But Boris Johnson is not an honourable politician.  On resigning from Theresa May’s government, he broke several clauses of the ministerial code: the Daily Telegraph announced he would be resuming his handsomely-paid column three days after he resigned, in defiance of the code’s requirements to wait a month before accepting other posts, to consult the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments before doing so, and not to announce the move until the committee had pronounced.  As an Etonian master commented, Boris Johnson does not think that rules need apply to him – even constitutional rules.

This is a Vote Leave government, not a Conservative one.  The appointment of Dominic Cummings as chief of staff, and the recruitment of special advisers from the 2016 campaign team and from the clutch of interconnected right-wing think-tanks grouped around the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Institute of Economic Affairs, makes its ideological direction clear.  During the Vote Leave campaign several Conservative MPs tried to remove Cummings and Matthew Elliott (previously the director of the Taxpayers Alliance) as campaign directors: they saw off the plotters successfully.  Cummings despises most politicians – including Ian Duncan Smith, whom he served as director of strategy for 9 months before resigning, labelling the then-Conservative leader ‘incompetent’.  He has referred to the European Research Group of MPs as ‘useful idiots’, and no doubt considers the opportunists in the Cabinet who have hung onto Johnson’s coat-tails – Matthew Hancock, Grant Shapps, Amber Rudd – to be worse than that.

Close ideological and financial links with the libertarian right within the USA are evident.  Liz Truss, the former Young Liberal who has now embraced free market libertarianism, spent part of her ministerial visit to Washington last week with the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, learning about deregulation and tax cutting strategies.  Ministers are flowing to North America, rather than to our European neighbours, for consultations on future relationships.  Matthew Elliott has joined the Treasury as special adviser to Sajid Javid – who once claimed that Ayn Rand, the American philosopher of selfish individualism, was his favourite author.

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29 July 2019 – today’s press release

Swinson: Sturgeon and Johnson have more in common than they realise

Commenting on Boris Johnson’s visit to Glasgow today, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson warned against the divisions profered by the new PM and SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Jo said:

The best way to strengthen the United Kingdom is to stop Brexit.

Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson have more in common than they realise. Both are failing to listen to Scotland with their respective ideological pursuits of independence and Brexit.

When it comes to working with our closest neighbours, we have been clear: our future is best served with a

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