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Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
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An idiot abroad, Part 2

It's gotten too hot for Johnson at home, so he's headed off to Ukraine for some peace and quiet:

Ukraine crisis latest: Boris Johnson tells Vladimir Putin that Russian invasion would be a 'tragic miscalculation'

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a "tragic miscalculation."

In a statement after their phone call this evening, Downing Street said: "The leaders agreed that aggravation was in no one's interest," adding that they would work towards a "peaceful resolution" of the crisis.

However, a readout from the Kremlin said: "the unwillingness of Nato to adequately respond to the well-founded Russian concerns was noted."

Earlier on Wednesday, Russia mocked Mr Johnson as "utterly confused" and ridiculed British politicians for their "stupidity and ignorance", hurling more scorn at the West after accusing Washington of trying to provoke war.


How on earth could the Russians have gained the impression that Johnson was "utterly confused" and our politicians have a tendency to to "stupidity and ignorance"?

Maybe they've been eavesdropping on our media.

Oh, God. They've found out about Liz Truss. Duck and cover!

The Russians escaped lightly, as she'd have accompanied Johnson on his trip if she hadn't caught a dose of the 'vid. As it happens, she got her sabre-rattling in pre-emptively:

Unfortunately, she tried to follow up this threat to stop laundering quite so much of Putin's cronies' dirty lucre (and presumably refusing to accept any more Tory Party donations in rubles) at some point in the indeterminate future by venturing into joined-up thinking. It didn't go well ...

The Daily Mail, not usually known for being over-critical of the Tories, treated this to a banner headline and the dreaded Bullet Points of Doom:

Russia mocks 'utterly confused' Boris Johnson and ridicules Liz Truss for her 'poor geography knowledge' after she boasted UK would supply 'our Baltic allies across the Black Sea'

* Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, attacked Boris Johnson as 'utterly confused'
* Comes after PM cancelled a call with Putin on Monday amid partygate scandal
* Russian foreign ministry slammed Liz Truss for 'poor geography knowledge'
* Comes after she said UK backs 'Baltic allies across the Black Sea' - two different bodies of water located 700 miles apart

Johnson himself, grinning like a vapid goon, was relegated to economy class for a confab with an unimpressed Russian bigwig:

This was a little less embarrassing than his arrival to meet Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine:


What indeed! A longer clip shows the speedy interloper haring at Olympic pace all the way from around the corner of the building.

It was not, in fact, a mugger, but Johnson's Head of Operations, Shelley Williams-Walker. Who's she?

If she'd stuck like glue to him on this occasion, she could have saved herself some sprinting.

Williams-Walker is a woman of many talents. Her most recent previous claim to fame came when details were revealed about the party at Downing Street on the night before Prince Philip's funeral:

Fortunately for Johnson, he was absent at Chequers during those revels. “Everyone was lathered,” said one who went. Shelley Williams-Walker, Johnson’s head of operations, has been identified as the DJ and as the person who broke a swing belonging to Wilfred, the prime minister’s toddler, as the event spiralled out of control.


So what was in the red folder Williams-Walker was so desperate to snatch from Johnson? We can only conjecture. It looks similar to, but less bulky than, the red folder he's resting his hand on in the plane meeting pictured above, so he's obviously allowed some written materials, if only as a prop. But he does have form for having a big loose-lipped mouth (as a result, during his term as Foreign Secretary, Theresa May restricted the government materials he had access to) and being habitually careless, to say the least, with official papers at his Downing Street flat:

Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former senior aide, has signalled that further revelations about the prime minister’s chaotic administration are likely as long as he remains in post. This weekend two sources have revealed that in early 2020 Cummings ordered a crackdown on highly classified intelligence papers being put in Johnson’s ministerial red box.

It is understood that he acted after visiting the family flat and finding highly classified “STRAP” material, easily identifiable because it is printed on pink paper, lying around where it could be read by any visitor. It was also found in the upstairs quarters at Chequers.

One source compared the scene, where Carrie Johnson entertained friends, to “a frat house”.

Cummings and Martin Reynolds, Johnson’s principal private secretary, agreed the prime minister should only be given sensitive papers for signature in his office. “Cummings spoke to the PPS and they agreed on new protocols to stop sensitive STRAP material going to the flat or upstairs at Chequers,” one former No 10 source said. “Instead material was to be shown to the PM downstairs in No 10 or Chequers then immediately returned to safekeeping.”

A third source said Johnson’s ministerial box was left outside the door of the flat on Saturdays. “It would be there in the morning and often still there in the evening,” the official said. “He wouldn’t have touched it.”

STRAP-level papers are typically documents classified as “top secret”, which require a greater level of vetting to access and they are distributed only to named individuals on a tightly controlled list.

However, it has now emerged that, as part of Sue Gray’s investigation into lockdown socialising in the flat, “several” of Carrie Johnson’s friends were given the access code Pin to go in and out of the Downing Street flat at will.


Much as Johnson's capable of wandering around a hospital during the COVID crisis without a mask despite repeated reminders, he's no doubt capable of wandering into high-stakes meetings with sensitive papers, and conceivably forgetting to take them with him when he takes his leave. Who knows? This may have happened before. Or maybe they've been told to tighten things up after the Times's revelations.

Anyway, I guess we'll have to tune in tomorrow to find out how he intends to embarrass the country next.

Thoughts and prayers for the Coronavirus ...

which this evening was announced to have contracted Liz Truss:


Liz Truss
I tested positive for Covid this evening.

Thankfully I’ve had my three jabs and will be working from home while I isolate.

Attentive Twitter denizens pointed to Truss's appearance on the Tory front bench during this afternoon's boisterous Commons session as the preliminary findings of the Gray report into lawbreaking over Covid regulations were aired:

A good job you had your mask on this afternoon, Lizzy.

Covid Liz continued to spread later in the day:

Kate McCann
Liz Truss has tested positive for covid. She attended the packed meeting of Tory MPs and ministers in Portcullis House this evening, leaving before it finished. She was not wearing a mask.

Meanwhile, Culture Shecretary Nadine Dorriesh appeared to have choshen to shelf-medicate with sheveral treblesh of gin ash she shtrove to defend Johnshon againsht shtiff queshtioning from Channel 4'sh Krishnan Guru-Murthy:

Channel 4 News
"The Prime Minister tells the truth."

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries defends Boris Johnson after the publication of the Sue Gray report and following Met police reports that they have 300 images pertaining to Downing Street parties.

[Twitter video]

The SNP's Ian Blackford had earlier been ejected by the Speaker after he refused to withdraw his remarks that Johnson had misled parliament and was a liar:

Ian Blackford
This is what truth to power looks like at Westminster. A liar is allowed to keep his place- I am forced to leave for telling the truth. He misled the house, he must go. Tories must look themselves in the mirror and ask if they can allow this to go on much longer? Remove him now.

[Twitter video]

In what may become another viral video success, Peter Stefanovic sums up:

Peter Stefanovic
Faced with accusations that he has lied to Parliament Boris Johnson responded today…with lies

[Twitter video]

Minister quits in Lords over government handling of Covid loans fraud

Lord Agnew resigns in parliament after £4.3bn write-off, saying oversight of loans scheme had been ‘nothing less than woeful’
Speaking in the House of Lords, he accused the government of “arrogance, indolence and ignorance” in its attitude to tackling fraud estimated to cost £29bn a year.

The row over the decision will leave Johnson fighting Conservative anger on yet another front, with the prime minister facing pressure from backbenchers over Sue Gray’s inquiry into alleged lockdown-breaking parties, as well as over the rise in national insurance contributions, whips’ tactics, and accusations of Islamophobia.

In his statement, Lord Agnew said his resignation was not an attack on the prime minister but that he could not stay on in good conscience.

Presumably it's not an attack on the prime minister because Johnson was too preoccupied with partying to pay any attention to whatever the fuck was going on and is away with the fairies most of the time anyway.

“Given that I am the minister for counter-fraud, it would be somewhat dishonest to stay on in that role if I am incapable of doing it properly. It is for this reason that I have sadly decided to tender my resignation as a minister across the Treasury and Cabinet Office with immediate effect.”
HMRC believes that about £5.8bn, or 7%, of the £81.2bn paid out by the taxpayer through the various Covid-19 emergency response schemes has been stolen. So far, just £500m has been recovered, and it expects to be able to recover between another £800m and £1bn by 2023.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has singled out the government’s “inadequate” attempts to tackle fraud within the £47bn business bounce-back loan scheme (BBLS). It warned in December that loans worth £4.9bn, or 11% of the total, would be lost to fraud because anti-fraud checks had been “implemented too slowly”.


The nobility of Agnew's resignation is tempered by the fact he's likely just another rat bailing out of the rapidly sinking Tory hulk before it turns turtle and takes them all down with it. This from October last year suggests Agnew might have been more appropriately titled the Minister for Fraud:

EXCLUSIVE: Government ministers Michael Gove and Lord Agnew referred six Covid testing firms to the VIP ‘Fast Track’ lane

Good Law Project can now reveal that Michael Gove, and Cabinet Office Minister Lord Agnew, referred six firms down a fast track ‘VIP’ route to bid for lucrative Test and Trace contracts. This is the first time the names of the Ministers who referred testing firms for VIP treatment have been made public.

When we first revealed evidence of a VIP lane for politically connected suppliers to win multi-million pound testing contracts, Government claimed that what we were saying was “completely false”.

Now, after a lengthy battle with the Cabinet Office, it has admitted that senior ministers Michael Gove and Lord Agnew frequently made use of a ‘fast track’ lane.

In its FOI response, it confirms: “a total of 6 offers of help were received to the VIP email address: covidtestingtriage@dhsc.gov.uk from the Private Office of Michael Gove and the Private Office of Lord Agnew”.


And this is from April last year:

Minister Lord Agnew accused in conflict of interest row

A Cabinet Office minister in charge of procurement is at the centre of a conflict of interest row after it emerged that he has shares in a firm that helps companies to bid for government contracts worth millions.

Lord Agnew of Oulton, also a significant Conservative donor, is among shareholders of Public Group, which makes its money by helping start-ups to win contracts with government departments. Labour accused Agnew of a potential conflict of interest and called for an “urgent ramping up of transparency at the heart of government” to tackle alleged cronyism.


Tory MP Christian Wakeford defects to Labour, blaming PM's 'disgraceful' conduct

Bury South MP says Tory policies ‘doing nothing’ to help constituents, piling further pressure on Boris Johnson

Just minutes before prime minister’s questions, Wakeford – elected as the MP for Bury South in 2019 – crossed the floor to sit with Keir Starmer’s party, declaring in a letter to Johnson resigning the Conservative whip that he was “incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.

The move will prove a huge embarrassment for Johnson, who is fighting to avoid enough of his own backbenchers submitting letters calling for a no-confidence vote. Fifty-four are needed to trigger a ballot. Many of those who have written a letter are members of the 2019 intake, like Wakeford. He submitted a letter last week.
To raucous cheers in the Commons chamber, Starmer “warmly welcomed” Wakeford to the opposition benches – gesturing to the MP who was sat directly behind him. “Like so many people up and down the country, he has concluded that the prime minister and the Conservative party have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserved.”

Johnson attempted to appear bullish in front of his own MPs, telling them: “The Conservative party won Bury South for the first time in generations under this prime minister, with an agenda of uniting and levelling up and delivering for the people of BS, and we will win again in BS at the next election under this prime minister.”


If there something Johnson's an expert in, it's BS.

Apart from the scandals currently swamping Johnson and his party, Wakeford's defection in a seat that was part of the much-hyped "red wall" highlights some of the tensions between Johnson's "levelling up" election promises and the absence of delivery, not least in these constituencies.

Not that I'm keen to see Bury South back in Tory hands, but such a radical defection is surely grounds for a by-election, especially as Wakeford has voted for some of the most deplorable Tory policies since the last election. It also maybe says something about Labour under Starmer that a Tory crossing the floor like this is even possible.

Out of the mouths of babes [Twitter video]

This young woman seems to have a better grasp of what's going on than anyone in the Cabinet, as well as a better sense of morals:

Arthur Snell
This is gold.

[Twitter video]

How about a petition to rename Prime Minister's Questions "The Naughty Centre"?

Yay! It's Kick Rees-Mogg Day!

A storm in a teacup (with obligatory cocked pinky) is part of the fallout from yesterday's attempt at a non-apology from Boris Johnson for doing nothing wrong in his own eyes (it ends up it was all the fault of his minions - and not the adorable diminutive yellow-skinned goggles-wearing ones).

Yesterday, Jacob Rees-Mogg was on fine form as he lashed out on Iain Dale's LBC show at Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross for (uncharacteristically boldly) calling for Johnson's resignation:

'I don't think he's a big figure.'

Jacob Rees-Mogg's response to Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross calling for Boris Johnson to resign.

@IainDale | @Jacob_Rees_Mogg

[Twitter video]

He doubled down on the insult in a later interview on BBC Newsnight:

BBC Newsnight
“Douglas Ross has always been quite a lightweight figure”

Jacob Rees-Mogg MP says the Secretary of State for Scotland “is a much more substantial and important figure in this”

#Newsnight https://bbc.in/3I0s4wB

[Twitter video]

Ridiculous and useless as he undoubtedly is, Douglas Ross can at least boast about having been elected to his position, in contrast to Secretary of State Alister Jack, who's the archetypal unelected placeman (and equally ridiculous and useless).

Rees-Mogg was unrepentant today, inventing a convention that he predictably failed to observe when he played his part in deposing Theresa May (and later lying to the Queen about proroguing parliament):

kathryn samson
In an interview Jacob Rees-Mogg stands by his comments on Douglas Ross saying:
‘If you take the King’s shilling you are beholden to the crown.’

Not sure if it's a shock that Rees-Mogg appears to refuse to accept Queen Elizabeth's accession (along with decimalization), but there we have it.

It's not the sort of friendly fire-provoked open goal Nicola Sturgeon makes a habit of missing:

BBC Scotland News
"Even I am not as derogatory about [Douglas Ross] as his own Tory colleagues," says FM Nicola Sturgeon, referring to the "lightweight" comment from Rees-Mogg. Read more ➡http://bbc.in/34P4ip5

Live #FMQs updates ➡http://bbc.in/3Kbn3TJ

[Twitter video]

And other Scots Tories joined in the fun:

Representing Border
NEW: Jacob Rees-Mogg 'should just go and have a long lie down... preferably not in the House of Commons'.

That's the reaction from Scottish Conservative MSP @jamiegreeneUK after JRM called Douglas Ross a 'lightweight'

[Twitter video]

True enough, he has looked inordinately comfortable in the past:

Some of the Twitter responses weren't charitable, the more repeatable of them suggesting that Rees-Mogg should recline "six foot under".

Then Welsh Labour joined the fray:

Kevin Brennan MP
After Jacob Rees-Mogg's remarks about the leader of the Scottish Tories being a lightweight I asked him if he could even name the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives - he couldn't!

[Twitter video]

The Commons' laughter was because the Welsh Tory leader is in fact Andrew R.T. Davies.

As we all sail merrily to hell in a Tory-steered handbasket singing "Rule Britannia", can we enliven the journey by making this a weekly event?

High Court finds Government PPE 'VIP' lane for politically connected suppliers 'unlawful'

Government’s use of system to award deals to two firms during first Covid wave found to be unlawful
Describing the allocation of offers to the VIP lane as “flawed”, the judge said: “There is evidence that opportunities were treated as high priority even where there were no objectively justifiable grounds for expediting the offer.”

She added: “The claimants have established that operation of the high priority lane was in breach of the obligation of equal treatment under the PCR (public contract regulations) … the illegality is marked by this judgment.”

More than 32bn items of PPE with a value of £14bn were bought through directly awarded and negotiated contracts.
The judge said it was “unlawful” to confer preferential treatment on PestFix and Ayanda on account of their allocation to the high priority lane, but in both cases said that they justified priority treatment on their merits and so would have been awarded anyway. In both instances O’Farrell said this was because the companies were offering “high volumes of PPE” at a time of urgent demand.

The judgment noted that gowns supplied by PestFix were deemed unsuitable for use in an NHS clinical setting. PestFix-supplied FFP2 masks were also found to be unsuitable for use in the NHS while its FFP3 masks failed testing and there were issues with the gowns. There are ongoing commercial disputes with PestFix with respect to the FFP3 masks and the gowns. O’Farrell also said that FFP2 masks supplied by Ayanda “have not been distributed into the NHS”.

Describing the advantages being placed in the VIP lane conferred, O’Farrell said: “Offers that were introduced through the senior referrers received earlier consideration at the outset of the process. The high priority lane team was better resourced and able to respond to such offers on the same day that they arrived, in contrast to the opportunities team (which assessed suppliers and their offers not prioritised through the VIP lane), where the sheer volume of offers prevented such swift consideration.”

It was accepted that the VIP lane did not act as a quality filter, it simply processed all offers provided they were considered credible.


The meaning of "credible" seems to be stretched beyond the bounds of elasticity here, given the lack of track record among the suspect suppliers and their inability to provide protective equipment the NHS could actually use.

Lib Dems thrash Tories in parliamentary by-election in North Shropshire

North Shropshire: Lib Dems shock win as Tory by-election defeat piles pressure on Johnson

The Conservatives have lost the North Shropshire by-election, a shock result that will put more pressure on Boris Johnson after a difficult few weeks for the prime minister.

Lib Dem candidate Helen Morgan triumphed in the contest sparked by the resignation of Owen Paterson amid a lobbying scandal.

She polled 17,957 votes, ahead of Tory candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst on 12,032.

Labour's Ben Wood was third with 3,686 votes.


Shropshire Council

Here’s the official vote figures - we will tweet out a link as soon as possible.

Lewis Goodall


Lib Dems: 17957
Con: 12032
Labour: 3686
Reform: 1427
Green: 1738

Maj: 5925

An enormous victory for the Lib Dems and a bodyblow for the Prime Minister.

So a Tory majority of 23,000 became a Lib Dem majority of nearly 6,000 in a seat the Tories have held for almost 200 years.

1.5m damages settlement over Miami Showband massacre

Survivors and relatives of those murdered in the Miami Showband massacre are to receive nearly £1.5m (€1.75m) in total damages to settle claims over suspected collusion with the loyalist terrorist murderers.
One of Ireland's most popular cabaret acts, the Miami Showband was targeted as they travelled home to Dublin following a gig in July 1975.

A fake army patrol made up of Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers and Ulster Volunteer Force members stopped them at the bogus checkpoint outside Newry, Co Down.

Band members were made to line up at the side of the road while attempts were made to hide a bomb on the tour bus.

The device exploded prematurely, killing some of the would-be bombers.

Their accomplices then opened fire on the band, murdering lead singer Fran O'Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy.

Two other band members, Des McAlea and Stephen Travers, were also injured but survived the atrocity.


Stephen Travers has been waging a dogged decades-long campaign for some sort of reckoning and justice over the atrocity.

Stephen Travers

On the way home from the High Court in Belfast tonight, I stopped at the scene of the massacre to say a prayer and to tell Tony and Fran and Brian that I hope they can now, finally, leave that field forever.

If you're unfamiliar with the case, Travers posted details of a video last year that explains some of the background (it's been shown on UK terrestrial TV in recent years).

Stephen Travers

Available now on Netflix. This happened to us. Similar atrocities continue throughout the world and will not stop while good people do nothing. For the sake of every victim and potential victim of state-sponsored terrorism and injustice, please #retweet.


Another day, another lie from lying liar Johnson revealed


Sam Coates Sky
How does No 10 square this:

In May the PM told Lord Geidt that he did not know who was behind No11 flat refurb until Feb 2021

Today the Electoral Commission says Boris Johnson Whatsapped Lord Brownlow in November 2020 asking for more cash for the No11 refurb

On recent form I imagine that, initially at least, whichever mug has to respond to the media about this will say that No. 10 "doesn't recognize" that the No. 11 flat exists.
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