Staunch Remainer Andrew Adonis has come under fire for backtracking on his fervent anti-Brexit stance after the Labour lord released a statement last night saying: “Labour has always been clear that it respects the result of the referendum.”
Adonis was recently announced as a Labour candidate in South West England in possible European elections in May and his statement included an apology for “off-the-cuff” remarks he made in September last year in which he said: “If you are a Brexiteer, I hope you won’t vote for the Labour Party.” But his volte-face, announced in a Facebook post, has been met with widespread bewilderment. “Does someone need to rescue Andrew Adonis from this compulsory re-education?” asked Change UK’s Sarah Wollaston. Prominent People’s Vote campaigner Emma Kennedy said this morning: “This is such a turnaround from Adonis that I’m seriously wondering if they’re holding his family hostage.”
Brexiteer Kate Hoey chimed in, saying: “Well done, Seumas,” a nod to Jeremy Corbyn’s chief strategist, Seumas Milne, who is thought to back Brexit. Hoey also asked: “Does anyone believe that Andrew Adonis believes this?”
Adonis said in February that Brexit was “a catastrophic national error, like appeasement in the 1930s. It is the supreme duty of wise national leaders to argue this and to appeal to the British people not to do it.” Yesterday, however, he wrote: “Labour has put forward a sensible alternative plan that would ensure a close economic relationship with the EU after Brexit.” He did concede that “if such a plan cannot be secured” then a public vote “should remain on the table”. Crucially, the Labour Party is holding what one source calls “absolutely crunch” meetings on Tuesday.
Both the shadow cabinet and the NEC are set to decide whether the party’s EU elections manifesto should include a “confirmatory” referendum on a Brexit deal.
Perhaps the Labour Lord can see which way the wind is blowing on Labour’s second referendum position. When contacted by The Londoner this morning, Adonis declined to comment.
Bank on a woman
The smart money is on the next Governor of the Bank of England being a woman. The ad for Mark Carney’s successor was posted yesterday and The Londoner notes that the Treasury has hired specialist recruiters to oversee the selection process: Sapphire Partners, which specialises in placing women in top executive positions. Founded by Kate Grussing, formerly of McKinsey and JP Morgan, the company has an all-female management team, and Cherie Blair is on the advisory board. Keep your eyes on Sharon White, currently CEO of Ofcom, and Shriti Vadera, chair of Santander UK and a former top aide to Gordon Brown.
Rory Bremner is relaxed about a comedian being elected president of Ukraine. “People used to say that the problem with political jokes is that they get elected,” he told us at The British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Gala Dinner at Boisdale last night. “It really is open season. I don’t mind a comedian being elected as leader, so long as it’s not Boris Johnson.”
A new gig for Jeremy Paxman, who has been appointed the star columnist at over-50s magazine Saga. After taking a one-man show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 and becoming the unlikely hero of a charity series of The Great British Bake Off, it seems that the combative former Newsnight presenter is embracing life in the slow lane.
Models band up for UN Global Goals
A model showing at the launch of a #TOGETHERBAND wristband last night, as Arizona Muse, Izzy Bizu and Emma Weymouth turned out in support. “This is the definitive proof that beautiful people aren’t necessarily evil,” screenwriter Richard Curtis told the crowd. The new wristbands are designed to promote the UN’s Global Goals for sustainability. So, would Curtis clamber onto a pink boat in Oxford Circus? “It’s a complicated issue for someone like me, who is a UN Ambassador and the founder of Comic Relief,” he told us.
Game of Thrones actor Iwan Rheon was more outspoken. “We’ve got about 20 years before we’ve destroyed this planet.”
The wristbands are created using “ocean plastic from Costa Rica, illegal firearm metals from El Salvador, and then made by ladies in Kathmandu”, co-founder Cameron Saul told The Londoner. Don’t mention the carbon footprint… Meanwhile, at another green party at the O2, Matt Smith and Nik Thakkar attended the premiere of National Geographic’s new series of Hostile Planet.
Theresa May was in Belfast yesterday to attend the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. But she nearly didn’t make it: a source tells us her first plane failed to take off due to a hydraulics failure, forcing the PM to change to an older plane. After finally departing from an RAF base in Oxfordshire, May and her entourage landed with 10 minutes to spare, and drove full throttle to get there on time. One adviser said they could “feel the g-force”.
Housing minister and ornithophile Kit Malthouse shared an update on Parliament’s birds of prey last night. “Peregrine falcons nesting on Victoria Tower this evening,” he tweeted, adding: “Lovely to see — nature stakes its claim in Westminster.”
Chuka Umunna rebuts critics of Change UK’s rebrand. “We’ve dared to use three or four different colours. Listen to yourself. The fact that using more than one colour is controversial tells you all you need to know about our broken politics.”
Blockbusting return for bemused Kiefer
Kiefer Sutherland, star of US action drama 24, is a Canadian/British citizen who was born at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. But a pilgrimage to his birthplace with friends didn’t go to plan, he tells Jessie Ware’s Table Manners podcast.
“I said, ‘That’s where I was born’ and as I said it a wrecking ball came out of nowhere and knocked a huge hole in the wall.” (The hospital is under redevelopment)
“I was like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” he continues.
“They were moving the hospital across the street. I got to see it the last day it was there.”
Quote of the day
'It's a fantasy to think a new leader will change the weather'
Craig Oliver, David Cameron's former communications director, warns Tories that getting rid of Theresa May won't help.