Betting on the location of the new HQ of the European Medicines Agency

November 20th, 2017

Today we get to see an early dividend of Brexit when the EU27 have a vote to choose the new host city for the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to replace London.

London will no longer host the HQ post Brexit because of Mrs May’s desire to implement the result of the referendum and the campaign therein to ‘Vote Leave to take back control of our laws’, since the EMA is underpinned by the ECJ that means our withdrawal from the EMA and only members of the EMA can host the HQ.

Ladbrokes have a market up on the winning city, this looks like a market solely designed to contribute the Ladbrokes Christmas bonus fund, but I’m tempted to stick small stakes on Dublin and Lille at 16/1 each, my logic is that there are stories that the staffers don’t want to move some of the cities listed above, and it might be easier to move to the nearest location to London (Lille) or the only other English speaking city on the list.

Today also sees the vote to replace London as the HQ of the EU Banking Authority for the same reasons as the EMA, Ladbrokes also have a market up on that too, however the terms of my contract of employment enjoin me from betting or offering tips on this market.

I do wonder if the realities of these two moves out of the UK (and the resultant jobs) in the news today might see an uptick in the polling that sees Brexit as the wrong course of action and give succour to those in Parliament opposed to a hard/WTO Brexit.



Memo to Christian, family values, anti LGBT politicians, don’t cheat on your wife with another man

November 19th, 2017

The Independent reports

An Ohio lawmaker who routinely touted his Christian faith and anti-LGBT views has resigned after being caught having sex with a man in his office.

Wes Goodman, who is the Republican state legislator for Ohio, is married to a woman who is assistant director of an annual anti-abortion rally known as March for Life.

The right-wing legislator, who pushed “family values”, was reportedly witnessed having sex with a man inside his office who was not employed by the legislator.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the observer told Ohio House Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe what had happened on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Dittoe responded by telling House Speaker Republican Cliff Rosenberger who in turn met with Mr Goodman. 

The 33-year-old, who has been branded the “conscience of the conservative movement”, resigned for “inappropriate conduct” shortly after the meeting took place.

Mr Goodman, whose Twitter biography describes him as “Christian. American. Conservative. Republican. Husband to @Beth1027”, has regularly claimed “natural marriage” occurs between a man and a woman. 

“Healthy, vibrant, thriving, values-driven families are the source of Ohio’s proud history and the key to Ohio’s future greatness,” reads his campaign website which has now been taken offline.

“The ideals of a loving father and mother, a committed natural marriage, and a caring community are well worth pursuing and protecting.”

Mr Goodman was elected to represent the 87th District, in north-central Ohio, just last year. Prior to that, he worked as an aide to US Representative Jim Jordan, a highly conservative, anti-LGBT Republican. 

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the US, named Mr Jordan in their Hall of Shame in 2014 for attempting to block marriage equality in the District of Columbia.

Mr Goodman, whose Twitter is now private and whose Facebook page has been taken offline, expressed his commitment to so-called family values in a statement back in 2013. “Faith, family, service, stewardship, strong education, and investment in our local communities are what Ohioans value. My wife Bethany and I value those same things and are ready to get to work to serve you,” he said.

The tweet above is NSFW


This isn’t the first time a story like this has broken about politicians who like to flaunt their Christian, family values, usually coupled with a dose of anti LGBTness thrown in turns out be a terrible hypocrite. Voters don’t like being lied to by hypocrites. Hopefully coming out of the closet will help Mr Goodman find peace in his life.



It appears that Mrs May is making plans for Damian Green’s departure

November 19th, 2017

William Hill are offering 7/2 on Damian Green as being next out of the cabinet, with Mrs May making preparations for Green’s departure, it seems like a wise bet, but one I’ll be sitting out, having been burnt in this market ever since successfully tipping Maria Miller’s departure back in 2014.

Green’s position has become less secure since he appeared in recent days to resile from his opening position that there was no porn on his computer.

The other interesting aspect of this story is that Lord Hague doesn’t want to take up Mrs May’s offer, which would have a major impact on how this government operates were Green to depart, June 2017 to November 2017 might be the ‘high point’ of the competency of The Second May Ministry were Mrs May not be able to get a deputy that she trusts as much as her university coeval Damian Green.



Richard Nabavi says EU leaders should remember European history

November 19th, 2017

Napoleon and Queen Louisa at Tilsit

Excessive reparations aren’t a good idea

Angela Merkel might not, just at the moment, be giving Brexit her full attention, given the difficulty of converting the results of Germany’s September election into a viable coalition government. Nonetheless, Brexit is a big problem for her and for the other EU27 leaders, and one which cannot simply be ignored. European, and especially German, history has important lessons which they should heed.

In 1806, Frederick William III of Prussia went to war against Napoleon, who had invaded much of what is now Germany. It didn’t work out well for Prussia, which suffered a series of humiliating defeats. By July 1807 Prussia was on its knees, suing for peace. Napoleon’s terms, in victory, were draconian, including the complete dismemberment of Prussia, and huge reparations. Louisa, Frederick’s queen, met Napoleon in a personal attempt to persuade him to be more reasonable, but she was ignored. Prussia had no choice but to submit to Napoleon’s vindictive conditions, which shocked Europe. The Prussians never forgot the insult, even after they got their revenge at Waterloo.

In 1871 the boot was on the other foot. Prussia was now the arrogant victor, and France was outraged to discover that it was now treated the same way. The cycle continued, catastrophically, in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, until it was finally resolved, but only after the destruction of much of Europe, in the magnanimity of the post-WWII settlement.

Of course, we do things differently today. The UK is not a warmongering state which has wreaked havoc across Europe, raping and pillaging huge swathes of the continent, and giving rise to an understandable, if counter-productive, thirst for revenge. Instead, it is a nation which has peaceably decided, wisely or unwisely, to exercise a right enshrined in Article 50 of a treaty formally ratified by 28 European nations. Yet the mindset of the EU27 seems to be worryingly akin to that of France in 1919: the UK is expected to pay reparations for having the temerity to exercise its right to leave the EU.

The UK has already agreed to continue its full payments for a two-year transition period after we formally leave the EU. That means that the EU will have had four full years’ notice before any drop to its budget from the day Article 50 was triggered, and nearly five years’ since the referendum. That should be enough to cover any residual liabilities, and give the EU27 time to adjust their financial plans, surely.

It might be that the relative negotiating strengths of the two sides are so uneven that the EU27 think that they will be able to extract their €60bn+ reparations for this slight to their amour-propre, and for the knock-on effects on their budget, just as Napoleon judged that he could ignore Queen Louisa’s appeal at Tilsit in 1807. That doesn’t make it a good idea for them to try to do so – especially if they offer nothing concrete in return and pitch their demands at a level which the Prime Minister, weak and buffeted on all sides, cannot accept. The shared interests of the UK and the EU27, and their close economic relationship, mean that this isn’t a zero-sum game; both sides will lose badly if it is mishandled.

Richard Nabavi


Tonight’s cartoon and the latest Opinium poll

November 18th, 2017


DDavis drops sharply in the next CON leader betting following reports that he might quit

November 18th, 2017

And he’s now being backed for next Cabinet exit

A report in the Telegraph about the frustration that BrexSec DDavis is having with his job has prompted big changes in two betting markets – next CON leader and next Cabinet exit.

Under the heading “Exclusive: David Davis could quit because ‘he is being frozen out on Brexit strategy’ by civil servants”. the paper’s Christopher Hope reports:

“.David Davis could walk out on his job as Britain’s lead negotiator on Brexit because of frustrations that he is being cut out of key strategic talks in Whitehall, his friends fear.

Allies of the Exiting the European Union secretary said they were concerned he is not being included by civil servants in key talks about Britain’s negotiations about leaving the European Union.

One source said that Mr Davis had not been shown a key Brexit Cabinet paper sent by Boris Johnson, the Foreign secretary, and Michael Gove, to the Prime Minister.

The fear is that Mr Davis might resign in protest – in the same way that he suddenly quit as shadow home secretary from David Cameron’s front bench team in 2008.

Mr Davis has been been a vocal exponent of the Government’s Brexit policy, making two speeches this week and a third on Britain’s trade deal with the EU after Brext next week.

Allies of Mr Davis, who is known as “DD”, said Mrs May had been ‘captured’ by civil servants Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet secretary, and Oliver Robbins, the former DExEU permanent secretary, who now works in 10 Downing Street advising Mrs May.

One said: “The officials are forming a phalanx around the PM and they are trying to cut DExEu out the loop and move the centre of gravity to Number 10. DD is becoming increasingly frustrated.

“People forget DExEu does not actually formulate policy – the policy is all formulated in the Exiting the EU Cabinet committee.

“All DExEU does is act as an executive for the policy which is formed elsewhere.”

Clearly the PM is now becoming much more involved in the process which will surely define her Premiership. Inevitably the politics will be directed from Number 10. This, surely, was always going to be the case and maybe the decision to create a new cabinet role, the one held by DDavis, was not a good one. TMay is the PM and she was always going to make the big calls not her BrexSec.

Mike Smithson


The Electoral Commission’s investigation into Leave’s funding could halt Brexit

November 18th, 2017

The door to an exit from Brexit might just have opened

Butterflies are beloved of writers of alternate history and counterfactuals. The notion that but for the eddies created by the meanderings of an individual butterfly, a hurricane would (or would not) have developed is as old as it is misleading; there are many butterflies, there are few hurricanes and there is precious little connection from the one to the other.

It’s a curious example of an argument reduced to absurdity which is, nonetheless, taken at face value because the concept it embodies is so elegant.

And the concept is right: even the greatest of moments have, at their extremes, trivially insignificant beginnings. A hurricane may not be begun by a butterfly but its genesis does rely on cloud formation and wind patterns which, a fortnight before the storm becomes organised, are hidden unrecognisably deeply within that day’s weather.

On the human scale, there is just a chance of a new Brexit hurricane brewing. The announcement at the start of the month that the Electoral Commission was investigating Aaron banks’ role in funding the Leave campaign during the 2016 referendum is the butterfly. Like all butterflies, it is flimsy: as yet, we have little to go on other than that announcement and the update yesterday that the Commission isn’t getting the data it wants. On the other hand, all hurricanes start somewhere.

Why does this matter? Because unlike the claim of Russian interference via social media, which even if true, will have been of marginal importance given its limited scale, what the Leave campaign said and did was crucial to the referendum’s outcome.

We should at this point pause to note that there were two main Leave campaigns and Banks’ involvement was with the unofficial one. However, in terms of practical effects on the result, who received the designation wasn’t all that important. Indeed, the fact that there were two campaigns meant that internal contradictions in the Leave claims could be maintained more effectively. What did matter was the effect those campaigns had and – the pertinent point here – the impact the Banks leave.eu money had.

It should also be stressed that we’re dealing with a whole house of cards of contingencies here; a house built on shaky the foundations. As yet no rules have been proven to have been broken, nor any impropriety asserted. But given that there is an investigation underway, we must also consider the possibility that the Electoral Commission could conclude that there was. Those caveats noted, let’s do so.

The central point here is just how important was the referendum? That might sound a simple question and on one level it is – politically, Brexit could not have happened without it – but on the legal and constitutional planes, it becomes more complex.

The process question here returns to the limits of parliament’s sovereignty: are its actions entirely its own or are factors influencing it of sufficient import that its votes can be invalidated if the process in which they occurred were itself invalid? From the speeches of many MPs (including the PM), and from commitments the government made before the referendum, it’s highly likely that parliament voted to trigger A50 as it did because, and only because, of the referendum result. If parliamentary sovereignty is absolute then the referendum is irrelevant: it doesn’t matter whether Leave or Remain won, or whether any campaign finances broke any laws (on either side) because parliament could always have done what it ended up doing.

    To argue the other side is to overturn the constitutional theory of centuries. Nonetheless, if a major part of the Leave campaign, whether the official one or not, was found to be in breach of funding laws (and to reiterate, this remains hypothetical), to such an extent that it might have affected the outcome, then there would be an arguable case that not only was the referendum result invalid but that the political actions that flowed from it were unconstitutional because they were predicated on a flawed process.

There is a certain irony to this line of argument because it would mean that a lot of people who’ve been trying to claim that the referendum was only ‘advisory’ would now have to argue that it had not just great moral weight but real constitutional value – but at least they’d be right this time.

This matters because Article 50(1) states that “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”. If Britain’s notification wasn’t consistent with its constitutional requirements, then the notification would be invalid and Brexit would be off, for now at least.

As an aside, if the Supreme Court were to rule in favour of a challenge against the legitimacy of the notification, it’d also move it one step closer to the US situation of being able to strike down legislation – and for that reason, I think they’d be extremely wary of taking such a step. Further, if they were to accept such a challenge, it’d also embed the concept of popular sovereignty into the constitution and imply a convention binding MPs to a referendum’s outcome, barring exceptional circumstances.

For all those reasons, I think it’s unlikely that even if there is sufficient doubt cast on the Leave finances to justify a court case, the Court would deliver such a revolutionary decision: it would run counter to its opinion on the Gina Miller case and would open too many cans of worms that the constitution has taped shut.

There is a joker in the pack here though. What if the government, backed by parliament, were to argue its own notification should be invalidated? Given the difficulties it’s experienced trying to make progress, you could understand it grasping at any straw to give it more time or even make the whole thing go away. They would surely be powerful, probably clinching, considerations?

The inevitable consequence of a nullification of the notification would have to be a second EU referendum, so all that might happen could be a delay to Brexit if Leave were to win again. However, whether Leave would win again would be very much more up in the air than it is now. The most recent YouGov survey (7-8 Nov) to ask whether Britain was right or wrong to leave the EU – which is effectively asking people how they’d have voted if they knew then what they know now; not quite the same as how they’d vote in a second referendum – had ‘wrong’ with a four-point lead. The reason why that change of heart hasn’t had more impact on the debate is partly because the swing is only slight and partly because it’s hypothetical: it doesn’t challenge the mandate contained in the original vote.

In our real world, plenty of Remain voters still back Brexit on the basis of that referendum mandate. I think the most recent time this question was asked was the YouGov poll of 22-24 Sept, so the data’s quite old now, but less than one-third of Remain voters backed an outright abandonment of the process: the rest either supporting the government going ahead with Brexit in some form or wanting a second referendum (or don’t know). More than half of all those polled, or 62% if Don’t Knows are excluded, backed some form of Brexit.

Put simply, for as long as the mandate of the 2016 referendum holds, Brexit will follow. Political considerations will mean that there is no other option. However, if – and it’s a huge ‘if’ built on a castle of contingencies – if the government was looking for a way out, then claiming that the referendum, and hence the A50 notification, was invalid might provide it. The first flutterings of an exit from Brexit might just be detectable.

David Herdson


Local By-Election Review : November 17th 2017

November 17th, 2017

Kirkley on Waveney (Lab defence)
Result: Con 217 (28% +7% on last time), Lab 374 (48% +12% on last time), Lib Dem 84 (11% no candidate last time), UKIP 78 (10% -10% on last time), Green 30 (4% -5% on last time) (No Independent candidate this time -15%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 157 (20%) on a swing of 2.5% from Con to Lab

St. Margaret’s on Waveney (Lab defence)
Result: Con 487 (42% +12% on last time), Lab 410 (35% -1% on last time), Lib Dem 88 (8% no candidate last time), UKIP 119 (10% -16% on last time), Green 65 (6% -2% on last time)
Conservative GAIN from Labour with a majority of 77 (7%) on a swing of 6.5% from Lab to Con

Penn and Coleshill on Chiltern (Con defence)
Result: Con 697 (81%), Lib Dem 168 (19%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 529 (62%). No swing calculation due to unopposed return last time.

Sudbrooke on West Lindsey (Con defence)
Result: Con 391 (70% +1% on last time), Lab 171 (30% +10% on last time) (No Liberal Democrat candidate this time (-11%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 220 (40%) on a swing of 4.5% from Con to Lab

Whaplode and Holbeach St. John’s on South Holland (Con defence)
Result: Con 541 (78% +21% on last time), Lab 153 (22% no candidate last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -43%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 388 (56%) on a notional swing of 0.5% from Con to Lab (Actual swing: 32% from UKIP to Con)

Staining and Weeton on Flyde (Con defence)
Result: Con 401 (73% +8% on last time, Lab 111 (20% -15% on last time), Lib Dem 37 (7% no candidate last time)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 290 (53%) on a swing of 11.5% from Lab to Con

Penrith North on Eden (Lib Dem defence)
Result: Con 291 (31% -1% on last time), Lab 155 (17% -8% on last time), Lib Dem 422 (45% +2% on last time), Green 65 (7% no candidate last time)
Liberal Democrat HOLD with a majority of 131 (14%) on a swing of 1.5% from Con to Lib Dem

Mowden on Darlington (Con defence)
Result: Con 652 (61% +15% on last time), Lab 285 (27% -5% on last time), Lib Dem 111 (10% no candidate last time), Green 26 (2% -5% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -15%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 367 (34%) on a swing of 11% from Lab to Con

Red Hall and Lingfield on Darlington (Lab defence)
Result: Con 230 (41% +12% on last time), Lab 249 (45% -2% on last time), Lib Dem 11 (2% -10% on last time), Green 20 (4% -8% on last time), Ind 46 (8% no candidate last time)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 19 (4%) on a swing of 7% from Lab to Con

Victoria on Hartlepool (Lab defence)
Result: Con 98 (11% -1% on last time), Lab 479 (53% +12% on last time), UKIP 325 (36% (+13% on last time) (No Green candidate this time -7%, No Hartlepool First candidate this time -15%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 154 (17%) on a swing of 0.5% from Lab to UKIP