Romney's Churchill gaffe

Republican challenger mistakenly attributes Keynes quote to Churchill in debate.

As regular readers will know, Mitt Romney is fond of turning to former British prime ministers for inspiration. In June, he borrowed Margaret Thatcher's most famous poster and declared "Obama isn't working". He's also, like many Republicans, a keen admirer of Winston Churchill (he has vowed to bring back the bronze bust of Churchill that Obama removed from the Oval Office.) At a debate in New Hampshire on Wednesday, he declared:

'In the private sector, if you don't change your view when the facts change, well you'll get fired for being stubborn and stupid. Winston Churchill said, "When the facts change, I change too, Madam".'

The problem, of course, is that it wasn't Churchill but Keynes who remarked: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir? " In the event that Romney wins in 2012, perhaps Cameron should present him with a dictionary of quotations.

Hat-tip: Jonathan Jones.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Britain is running out of allies as it squares up to Russia

For whatever reason, Donald Trump is going to be no friend of an anti-Russia foreign policy.

The row over Donald Trump and that dossier rumbles on.

Nothing puts legs on a story like a domestic angle, and that the retired spy who compiled the file is a one of our own has excited Britain’s headline writers. The man in question, Christopher Steele, has gone to ground having told his neighbour to look after his cats before vanishing.

Although the dossier contains known errors, Steele is regarded in the intelligence community as a serious operator not known for passing on unsubstantiated rumours, which is one reason why American intelligence is investigating the claims.

“Britain's role in Trump dossier” is the Telegraph’s splash, “The ‘credible’ ex-MI6 man behind Trump Russia report” is the Guardian’s angle, “British spy in hiding” is the i’s splash.

But it’s not only British headline writers who are exercised by Mr Steele; the Russian government is too. “MI6 officers are never ex,” the Russian Embassy tweeted, accusing the UK of “briefing both ways - against Russia and US President”. “Kremlin blames Britain for Trump sex storm” is the Mail’s splash.

Elsewhere, Crispin Blunt, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, warns that relations between the United Kingdom and Russia are as “bad as they can get” in peacetime.

Though much of the coverage of the Trump dossier has focused on the eyecatching claims about whether or not the President-Elect was caught in a Russian honeytrap, the important thing, as I said yesterday, is that the man who is seven days from becoming President of the United States, whether through inclination or intimidation, is not going to be a reliable friend of the United Kingdom against Russia.

Though Emanuel Macron might just sneak into the second round of the French presidency, it still looks likely that the final choice for French voters will be an all-Russia affair, between Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen.

For one reason or another, Britain’s stand against Russia looks likely to be very lonely indeed.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.