The hedging Euroscepticism of David Cameron and Boris Johnson

David Cameron, September 2014 by Gareth Milner, and Boris Johnson, July 2013 by Ian Burt

It has been an odd day for the impending referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, at least for those who thought they had firm backing from at least some top Tories.

First off David Cameron, the prime minister who is predicted to lead the campaign for Britain to remain within the EU, told businessmen at a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference that:

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Andy Burnham leaves open possibility of another tilt at Labour leadership

Andy Burnham, September 2010 by Victoria MacDonald

During the last Labour leadership contest Andy Burnham ruled out running for a third time, telling PoliticsHome that he wouldn’t be standing again.

Yet in an interview with Liverpool Echo the shadow home secretary seemed to leave space for another go. When asked whether he would run again he said:

“I always thought not. I’ve tried twice and I think there’s a limit to how many times you can stand. I have the feeling that if it was to be my time it would have been this one. But you don’t know what the future brings. I’ve always said I will always serve the party in any way I can but I don’t expect to [run again].”

This kind of language seems to echo that of the Tory Boris Johnson, who when asked about the party leadership said that “if the ball came loose from the back of the scrum, which it won’t of course, it would be a great, great thing to have a crack at.”

Burnham has previously said he “definitely” won’t be standing again, but perhaps he hopes that when Labour needs a new leader he might be called on in the manner of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a Roman dictator who only took power when called upon by the empire.

Image Credit – Andy Burnham, September 2010 by Victoria MacDonald

Boris Johnson in 2001: ‘Bin Laden should die, but we must try him first’

Boris Johnson, November 2011 by BackBoris2012 Campaign

Grandstanding at the Tory conference on Wednesday, David Cameron took the opportunity to attack Jeremy Corbyn for his description of the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden as a “tragedy”.

As the Right Dishonourable has now pointed out twice, the video in which the Labour leader is quoted from makes it clear that  for Corbo the escalation of violence and the snuffing out of the rule of law is the real “tragedy”:

“On this there was no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him [bin Laden], to put him on trial, to go through that process. This was an assassination attempt and is yet another tragedy upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Center attack was a tragedy, the war in Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”

In return for this Cameron lambasted Corbyn for his “security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology”.

For a conservative it is strange to attack support for the rule of law as part of a “Britain-hating ideology”, especially since, as all good Tories know, it is partly Britain’s reputation for strong law that makes us such an attractive place to invest.

But stranger still is the implicit attack by Cameron on London mayor and Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson, even if his preferred successor is chancellor Gideon “George” Osborne.

Way back in December 2001, as the fumes from the destruction of the Twin Towers were still strong in the nostrils of New Yorkers, Johnson took to his column in the Torygraph to reject the notion that British squaddies should perform a summary execution if they came across bin Laden:

“Bin Laden should be put on trial; not in Britain, but in the place where he organised the biggest and most terrible of his massacres, New York.

“He should be put on trial, because a trial would be the profoundest and most eloquent statement of the difference between our values and his. He wanted to kill as many innocent people as he could. We want justice. It was a trial that concluded the tragic cycle of the Oresteia, and asserted the triumph of reason over madness and revenge.”

At the end of his piece Johnson does skirt over Britain’s commitment not to hand over crooks to the Yanks if there is a danger of them being executed (as was true in New York at the time), which does rather spoil things.

But even so, once this article is brought to Call Me Dave’s attention he will no doubt waste no time in denouncing Johnson for his “security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology”.

We await the prime minister’s response.

Image Credit – Boris Johnson, November 2011 by BackBoris2012 Campaign

Uber mounts fightback against alleged Transport for London regulation

Southwark Street at Night, January 2013 by Marcus Holland-Moritz

The taxi-hailing service Uber is preparing to battle against Transport for London following the leaking of alleged plans to regulate the service more strictly in the capital.

Folks at Uber have put together a petition to block regulatory changes that at the time of writing has amassed 80,000 signatures, with the concerns of the taxi-hailing app detailed as follows:

“Transport for London (TfL) will soon publish proposed new rules for apps like Uber. If adopted, they will mean an end to the Uber you know and love today. There will be a mandatory five minute wait time, even if a car is available just around the corner. You won’t even be able to see the nearest cars when you open the app.

“TfL also wants to restrict carpooling, including new services like uberPOOL. This enables people going in the same direction to share a car – cutting the cost of the trip as well as congestion on London’s streets. And the proposed rules threaten drivers’ livelihoods by forcing them to drive for just one operator.”

Details of the plans, which the Right Dishonourable has been unable to confirm, were first revealed on the Guido Fawkes blog and following mounting pressure on London mayor Boris Johnson from black cab drivers who are more heavily regulated than Uber drivers, who operate under minicab licenses.

Round the world the taxi-hailing service has faced pressure from regulators concerned about the safety of the service for passengers, as well as the rights of the drivers.

Legal battles with Uber are being seen as setting precedents for the so-called “sharing economy”, which has reduced barriers for people who want to rent out their possessions or skills to others. Other pioneering outfits include the room-renting service Airbnb.

Update: At least one person seems happy with the prospect of more regulation (and higher fares) for Uber drivers. None other than Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan:

Image Credit – Southwark Street at Night, January 2013 by Marcus Holland-Moritz

Boris Johnson nabbed £90m from George Osborne after mischief threat, says Ashcroft

Boris Johnson at hospital demo, March 2006 by John Hemming

Boris Johnson extorted some £90m for extra policing in London from George Osborne in returning for not causing mischief in his Daily Telegraph column during the Tory conference, it has been alleged.

Osborne, whose speech at the event coincided with Johnson’s column, is said to have called the London mayor three days before the conference in the autumn of 2011, telling him: “We just want a quiet conference. Nothing unexpected.”

Johnson apparently replied: “Hmm, funny you should say that. I’m just about to write my column for the Telegraph and I’m staring at a blank page.”

The London mayor reportedly inquired what Osborne’s price would be to guarantee no mischief on the day of the speech, Johnson having demanded a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon – which changed voting rules in the EU and strengthened the European Parliament – at the Conservative conference two years prior.

Johnson allegedly then asked for £90m for extra policing in London, and by the time the phone call ended a package worth £93m had been agreed, which would prove useful to Johnson when he ran for another term as mayor in 2012.

The London mayor is then said to have joked: “That was the best-paid column ever.“

Michael Ashcroft, the Tory peer currently promoting a biography of prime minister David Cameron, made these claims in the third day of Call Me Dave’s serialisation in the Daily Mail.

Written in partnership with former Sunday Times hack Isabel Oakeshott, the biography has already alleged that prime minister David Cameron once put his penis into a dead pig’s mouth as part of an Oxford society initiation ritual.

Image Credit – Boris Johnson at hospital demo, March 2006 by John Hemming