GCHQ plots retaliation against Russia

“The head of GCHQ  has vowed to retaliate against the “brazen Kremlin” for Russia’s nerve agent attack on Salisbury. Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, said the Government’s top secret cyber intelligence agency would “deploy the full range of tools” to counter the threat posed by Vladimir Putin’s regime. Mr Fleming’s intervention – part of the UK’s coordinated response to the Novichok attack orchestrated by Russian military intelligence – further ratcheted up the pressure on the Kremlin. Whitehall sources said Britain possessed the “offensive cyber capability” to target the GRU and individuals linked to it.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Nerve agent was strong enough to have killed 4,000 people – The Times
  • Putin ultimately responsible declares Wallace – The Sun

Nelson: Salisbury poisonings exposed the weakness of the West

“The Kremlin has again demonstrated that it will not play by the West’s rules, reneging on a spy swap deal in a way even the Soviets never dared to do. This Salisbury attack also puts other potential defectors on notice: you may run to a country like Britain, but they can never properly protect you. Theresa May can expel some Russian diplomats, and ask her allies to do the same. But beyond that, there’s not a lot she can do apart from protest at Putin’s new rules.” – Nelson Fraser,  Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Bob Seely on Comment: Ten steps to defend our country against the aggression and subversion of Putin’s Russia

Hammond scraps a tax cut for the self-employed

“The Chancellor has decided to scrap a tax break for 3.4million self-employed people, in a move that has been branded  a “stealth tax”. Philip Hammond has announced he is going back on the Government’s pledge to abolish Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs), in a move which will raise an extra £435 million a year for the NHS. The change will scrap a tax

Paul Davies is the new Leader of the Welsh Conservatives

“Paul Davies has won the battle to lead the Conservative opposition in the Welsh Assembly. He beat Suzy Davies by a two-to-one margin in the contest to take over from Andrew RT Davies, who stepped down in June after seven years in charge. The Preseli Pembrokeshire AM had been interim leader of the 12-strong Senedd group, the second largest after Labour.” – BBC

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Welsh Conservatives choose their new Leader

Brexit 1) Raab’s threat over the Irish border left Barnier “furious”

“Dominic Raab has threatened Michel Barnier with the prospect that the EU will be forced to order the Irish government to reinstate the border in Northern Ireland in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the Telegraph can reveal. The Brexit secretary confronted the EU’s chief negotiator over the border issue at a highly-charged meeting in Brussels last month, leaving Mr Barnier “absolutely furious”, according to a senior European source. The angry encounter came in only the second Raab-Barnier meeting and was confirmed to the Telegraph by three separate official sources drawn from both sides of the Channel, and points to sharp souring of the Brexit talks behind the scenes in recent weeks.” – Daily Telegraph

  • EU sees “positive elements” – BBC
  • Doubts persist about Raab’s sway over Brexit talks – Financial Times
  • Negotiators risk ‘sleepwalking into crisis’ warns former UK ambassador to the EU – The Guardian
  • Brexiteer MPs want to allow EU staff into UK ports to prevent a hard border with Ireland – Daily Express

>Today: ToryDiary: The thrills and spills of seeking the EEA port in a storm


Brexit 2) Dorries is backing Johnson

“My own choice for leader is Boris Johnson. Yes, many MPs nurturing their own political ambitions don’t want him, because like Churchill, he will run and run. But he was the man who delivered Brexit. (Sorry, Nigel Farage, it really wasn’t you). And it matters to Boris that the promises made in that campaign – especially on NHS spending and immigration control – are met as quickly and fully as possible. His loud critics who say they’ll leave the party if he succeeds Mrs May remind me of celebrities who insist they’ll leave the country if a general election result isn’t to their liking. Most end up staying.” – Nadine Dorries, Daily Mail

  • Johnson “has separated from his wife” – The Sun


Brexit 3) Halfon warns the Remainers favour a “coup against the people”

“Former Conservative Deputy Chairman Robert Halfon MP forecasts turmoil if Remainers continue to fight Brexit. He tells us how the UK’s relationship with democracy has changed, and explains his own journey from Remain voter to Brexiteer. Mr Halfon, a former minister, tells Choppers Brexit Podcast: ‘For the first time, it’s not a coup against the leader, it’s a coup against the people.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • ‘Why are our troops wearing EU flag?’ asks Andrew Bridgen MP – Daily Express

Brexit 4) Labour has “no position” on a second referendum

“Jeremy Corbyn has claimed Labour has “no position” on a second Brexit poll, his clearest signal yet that the party will back a re-run. The Opposition leader has repeatedly ruled out support for another ballot but will face grassroots calls for a U-turn at his party’s conference later this month.Just last month he said “It’s not our policy to have a second referendum, it’s our policy to respect the result of the referendum.” But speaking in Hull he told reporters: “We don’t have a position on it yet.” – The Sun

Brexit 5) Prepare for spending cuts says The Treasury

“Government departments have been warned to prepare for public spending cuts to pay for a no-deal Brexit in a secret Whitehall plan codenamed Operation Yellowhammer. Details emerged yesterday after a photographer took a shot of a confidential Treasury document detailing civil contingency planning. The plan, named at random after the small yellow songbird, has been established to co- ordinate government preparations. Led by the Cabinet Office’s civil contingencies unit, it is distinct from no-deal planning by the Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu). While Dexeu’s work encompasses preparations needed to be taken before Brexit day in case there is no deal, Yellowhammer would come into effect only should no-deal become a reality.” – The Times

Brexit 6) May given two month “stay of execution”

“Theresa May has until November to ditch the Chequers deal before Brexiteers would consider ousting her, senior Conservative figures have claimed. The Brexiteers have in effect ruled out a leadership challenge at the Tory conference. They are happy for the prime minister to stay in post beyond March if she embraces a Canada-style free-trade deal rather than force through her existing plan, which keeps Britain more closely tied to the EU. Brexiteers accept that Mrs May will defend her plan at the conference but those in favour of getting rid of the Tory leader believe her continued support for Chequers will make her toxic in the eyes of party activists. Tory MPs who support Brexit believe that the Chequers blueprint will be undermined by the EU in late October or November.” – The Times

  • Davis and Farage join forces for Leave mean Leave rally – Daily Express
  • ERG pulls back from publishing alternative plan – City AM
  • There’s a way out from Chequers for Mrs May – Liam Halligan, Daily Telegraph

Bradley cuts salaries of Northern Ireland Assembly members…

“Members of the dormant Northern Ireland assembly are having their salaries cut by more than £13,000 to try to force all sides back to the negotiating table. The Stormont assembly was suspended 20 months ago. Negotiations convened by the British and Irish governments have failed to persuade the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein, former coalition partners, to reconcile their differences. Mrs Bradley has decided not to call new elections and will bring forward legislation to allow civil servants to make decisions as public reforms have stalled. Public services have suffered because no ministers are in place to make decisions.” – The Times

  • Northern Ireland Secretary “did not understand voting patterns” – BBC
  • Fury as amnesty for Troubles soldiers branded a ‘bad idea’ – The Sun

…as DUP call for Sinn Fein MPs at Westminster to have a pay cut too

“Sinn Fein MPs who choose not to take their seat in Westminster should face similar pay sanctions to Assembly members, the DUP has said. The call came after Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley announced she would be cutting MLA pay. Ms Bradley justified the cut by telling MPs that the MLAs were not “performing the full range of their legislative functions”. DUP MPs asked the Northern Ireland Secretary whether the same logic could be applied to Sinn Fein MPs who refuse to take their seats in the House of Commons.” – Belfast Telegraph

Blair doubts Labour “can be taken back”…

“Tony Blair says he is “not sure it is possible” for Labour “moderates” to take the party back from the left. The former Labour leader told the BBC’s Nick Robinson Labour had been through a “profound change” under Jeremy Corbyn. “It is a different type of Labour Party. Can it be taken back? I don’t know,” he said. He said the British people would never elect Mr Corbyn as prime minister and hinted at the emergence of a new “progressive, moderate” party. Speaking on Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking Podcast, Mr Blair said: “I don’t think the British people will tolerate a situation where, for example, the choice at the next election is Boris Johnson versus Jeremy Corbyn. “I don’t know what will happen and I don’t know how it will happen.” – BBC

  • Labour moderates long for a Tory victory – Philip Collins, The Times
  • If MPs don’t like what Jeremy Corbyn has done to Labour, one word: Leave – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • Far left protesters disrupt Council meeting – The Sun

…as Ryan loses confidence vote

“Joan Ryan, a leading pro-Israel MP who has been a member of the Labour Party for 34 years, has lost a vote of no confidence over her criticism of Jeremy Corbyn in the anti-Semitisim row within the party. Ms Ryan, the MP for Enfield North who chairs Labour Friends of Israel , was targeted for deselection by members of her local party, who claimed she had “smeared” Mr Corbyn’s character and “fuelled” the anti-Semitism storm that has engulfed the party this summer. After narrowly losing the confidence ballot by 94 votes to 92 on Thursday night, Ms Ryan said she would not resign and blamed her defeat on “Trots, Stalinists, Communists”.” – Daily Telegraph

Cable “to announce plans to quit”

“Struggling Lib Dem boss Sir Vince Cable is today expected to announce plans to quit – just a year after getting the job. The 75-year-old will lay out his timetable for stepping down alongside a major overhaul of party rules to attract tens of thousands of Remain supporters to vote in leadership contests. A new “Supporters Scheme” will allow anyone to vote in leadership contests – in a bid to mirror the Labour’s change of rules that attracted more than half a million new members.” – The Sun

UKIP could allow Tommy Robinson to join

“UKIP’s annual conference could debate whether to lift a ban on the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson becoming a member, a move which, if approved, would further indicate the party’s move to the far right. Under long-established party rules, former members of the English Defence League, which was formed by Robinson, are banned from joining, along with people who belonged to the British National party. But UKIP’s leader, Gerard Batten, has strongly backed Robinson, a self-styled freedom-of-speech activist whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, likening him to Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.” – The Guardian

Trump pledges to hunt down White House “traitor”

“The hunt is on for the senior official behind the anonymous New York Times op-ed that labeled Donald Trump ‘amoral’ as the president demanded the paper name the author for ‘national security reasons’. Top White House aides cancelled meetings on Wednesday to come up with a list of roughly a dozen people they suspect of writing the incendiary piece, according to The Washington Post. As officials launched the fight back, Trump announced on Twitter he was ‘draining the Swamp’ but ‘the Swamp is fighting back’. ‘Don’t worry, we will win!’ he added. The president reacted to the column with ‘volcanic anger’ and was ‘absolutely livid’ at what he considered an act of treason, two sources told the Post.” – Daily Mail

Brazilian Presidential front runner stabbed at rally

“The frontrunner in Brazil’s presidential election has been stabbed while campaigning in the state of Minas Gerais. Jair Bolsonaro, 63, a far-right candidate, was being carried aloft by jubilant supporters at an event in the city of Juiz de Fora yesterday when the attack took place. Video of the incident shows him flinching and grabbing his abdomen in pain, before falling backwards into the arms of those around him. The former army reserve captain was taken to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for a perforated liver, lung and intestine. His son, Flavio, said that his father was “almost dead” when he was admitted, but his condition was later reported to be stable.” – The Times

Mordaunt: Let’s end the brutal scourge of landmines for good

“We are using technology to increase the speed at which we can clear land to make demining safer. Robust, super-efficient machines, like the MineWolf, a tracked vehicle operated by remote control, can clear up to 12,000 square metres of contaminated land a day. Today I can announce that we will step up our work with Halo, and the mine clearance charity Mines Advisory Group, another great British organisation. The £46m we are committing to this fight today will protect 820,000 people across Asia and Africa. It will save lives, prevent disability, and bring land back into use to grow crops and provide homes and livelihoods. Children can go to school in safety, businesses can flourish and economies can become sustainable and resilient.” – Penny Mordaunt, International Development Secretary, The Guardian

News in brief

  • I support Johnson to be Leader says Rees-Mogg – The Spectator
  • The West Midlands is Britain’s unsung cultural hotbed, as Mayor I invite you to come and surprise yourself – Andy Street, Huffington Post
  • The West must see Russia for what it is: a rogue state that needs to be contained – Oliver Kamm, CapX
  • Michel Barnier was offering a Canada-style deal all along , now we should snatch it – John Longworth, Brexit Central
  • Cabinet ministers are plotting for a harder Brexit if Chequers Plan fails – Alex Wickham, Buzzfeed
  • Lack of Ofsted inspections at hundreds of schools is ‘unacceptable’, MPs say – Independent