Newslinks for Saturday 16th February 2019

Brexit 1) Trump offers trade boost “Donald Trump last night gave Britain a massive boost by declaring that trade between… Read more »

Brexit 1) Trump offers trade boost

“Donald Trump last night gave Britain a massive boost by declaring that trade between the UK and the US will be “very substantially increased” after Brexit. The US President announced that the special relationship will be “strengthened further” following a new mutual trade arrangement agreed by both countries worth at least at least £12.8billion a year for trans-Atlantic trade. He also significantly raised hopes of a wide-ranging free trade deal between the UK and US by insisting he wanted to see Trans-Atlantic business significantly increased. UK and US officials signed a “Mutual Recognition Agreement” earlier this week which will mean current trade relations between the historic Western allies will be preserved after Britain quits the EU.” – Daily Express

>Today: Columnist Nick Hargrave: The capitalism of the future demands a bigger role for the state

Brexit 2) EU/Irish solidarity “will not diminish”

“Anyone believing the EU’s solidarity with Ireland may diminish is in for a “nasty surprise”, the taoiseach (Irish prime minister) has said. Leo Varadkar made the comments during the All-Island Civic Dialogue conference in Dublin Castle. The event aims to discuss the implications of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union on 29 March. Mr Varadkar added: “Ireland’s concerns have become the European Union’s concerns”.” – BBC

  • Merkel fears Ireland’s border stance is giving Brexiteers ammunition – Belfast Telegraph

Brexit 3) PM warned of “mass cabinet resignations”

“Theresa May has been warned of a mass walkout of up to seven Cabinet members if she fails to prevent a no deal Brexit, as a minister demanded a free vote on the issue. Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Justice Secretary David Gauke are among those said to be prepared to resign so they can vote to block no deal later this month. In total, more than 20 ministers of Cabinet level and below are “ready to stand up and be counted” according to one of those who is prepared to quit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Minister is itching to thump ‘jaunty’ Brexiteer after vote – The Times
  • Sturgeon can end threat of no-deal if she wants to – Brian Wilson, The Scotsman

Brexit 4) Forsyth assess chances of the Cooper/Boles amendment passing

“Another effect of Thursday night’s defeat for the Government is that it increases the chances of the Cooper amendment passing on February 27. This would compel the Government to seek an extension to Article 50 if Mrs May hasn’t won Parliament’s support for an exit deal by March 13. One Cabinet minister, with close links to several of the ministers who might quit to ensure this amendment goes through, tells me it is now “much more likely” to pass. This Secretary of State complains that the Government’s defeat “makes it harder to make the argument that we should hold our nerve” as “the best evidence for holding your nerve was that the outcome would be the same as when the Brady amendment went through”….Other Cabinet ministers aren’t so sure Cooper will pass. One tells me: “I don’t think the ministers will resign, and if they don’t resign, then it doesn’t pass.” If Cooper does go through, politics will enter into an even more unpredictable phase. One May Cabinet ally is predicting a general election if this happens.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

  • February 27th vote could be momentous – Leader, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Letwin’s wildcat executive would reduce ministers to marionettes

Brexit 5) Macron “backs” legal binding concessions to make the backstop temporary

“France and other European countries are ready to give Britain legally binding assurances that the Irish backstop is temporary. President Macron of France has softened his line in recent weeks to aid a last-ditch attempt by the EU to help get the withdrawal agreement across the line next month. Senior European diplomats said that the government would be given enough in the way of legal assurances to persuade Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, to change his legal advice. He has previously warned that the backstop could be used trap Britain in a customs union.” – The Times

  • Barnier says May’s strategy has “failed” – The Guardian

Brexit 6) Abuse forces female MPs to move house

“Female MPs have been forced to move house and hire bodyguards as tensions over Brexit fuel intimidation and abuse, The Times can reveal. Some MPs have been bullied into changing their position on crucial votes after being targeted by extremists, according to senior figures such as Harriet Harman, the former deputy Labour leader. One female parliamentarian has been advised by police not to travel at night on her own, another has been told not to drive herself and a third has been advised not to run in her local park. Several of those targeted say that police are failing to clamp down on the threats and in some cases are siding with the abusers.” – The Times

Brexit 7) Boles denounces “zealots” who want a new UKIP

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, says Nick Boles. Having twice almost died from cancer he is not afraid of attempts to deselect him by his Grantham & Stamford constituency where he has been an MP since 2010….The Conservative Party, he believes, is only successful when it’s pragmatic but “it’s got an ideology now and you either sign up to it or you are a traitor”. Jacob Rees-Mogg “may be polite and well dressed and good fun, but he’s a zealot. Steve Baker is a zealot. A bit of pepper in the soup is never a bad thing, but I’m not happy for my party to be run by zealots and at the moment Theresa is basically allowing them to run the party.” – Interview with Nick Boles, The Times

  • ‘Purple Momentum’ Tory activists planning deselection ambushes – Daily Telegraph
  • Soubry complains that ex-UKIP supporters are involved in deselections – Daily Mail
  • Democracy-hating Remainers are the true extremists – Michael Fabricant, Daily Telegraph
  • Hardline Brexiteers could trigger a battle for the soul of the Conservative Party – Tobias Ellwood, Daily Telegraph
  • Principled? No, the hard Brexit mob just want to burn the house down – Jack Doyle, Daily Mail

Brexit 8) EU may drop demand on Ireland to set up hard border if there is “no deal”

“The leaks from Brussels have begun. Unnamed EU “diplomats and officials” have floated the subject of a temporary opt-out for Ireland in a no-deal Brexit. Dublin will not have to erect customs infrastructure or police the outer limits of the single market immediately. There will be a transition. Officials told Reuters that Ireland will ultimately face checks on its own exports to Europe or face being kicked out of the EU customs union if it refuses to put up a trade border against Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal.” – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 9) Moore: A new centre party won’t succeed if it focuses on Remain

“When Tony Blair, Andrew Adonis, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Leslie, etc. run round shouting for Remain their eyes swivel and they start shouting like that crazy German who runs Airbus and thinks he ought to be running Britain’s trade policy. They speak all the time, but they have nothing to say about the post-crash problems of our age. People nowadays think of Mr Blair as untruthful, but the fundamental message with which he won three times was true. Under me, he was saying, Labour is non-tribal, centrist, pro-markets, open to all classes, open to the future. In their rage against Brexit, his heirs (and he himself) neglect that future completely.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 10) Parris: It’s the EU that is running down the clock

“Now to that quieter clock-watcher: a creature of my imagination, representing our EU fellow members and their negotiating team. His sardonic smile broadened a little at Thursday’s news from the Commons division lobbies. He knows what we British tend to forget: that it is not within Britain’s power to “rule out” a no-deal Brexit. Not unless we’re saying we would in the end submit to whatever our fellow members dictate. Hence the smile. If (as I believe, and as the rest of the EU probably suspects) no-deal is unthinkable to us, and if MPs cannot accept the draft deal that Downing Street has concluded, and if the clock is ticking, then when’s the best moment (from Brussels’ viewpoint) to turn the screw? Now or at the eleventh hour?” – Matthew Parris, The Times

Grayling under fire, as probation firm becomes insolvent

“Chris Grayling was under fire on Friday night as a private firm to whom he awarded a probation contract to monitor thousands of offenders went into administration after warnings it put the public at risk. Working Links, a company charged with supervising the rehabilitation of 20,000 offenders, announced its insolvency on Friday, three months after an investigation by inspectors uncovered serious failings in its operation. It was awarded the contract in 2014 when Mr Grayling was Justice Secretary as part of his reforms to privatise the probation of low and medium risk offenders. Its work will now be taken over by another private contractor Seetec.” – Daily Telegraph

Harper “planning leadership bid”

“Former Tory chief whip Mark Harper is gearing up to run for the party leadership when Theresa May quits, The Sun can reveal. Friends of the MP, who was sacked by Mrs May when she moved into No10, have been trying to drum up support for his leadership bid, according to Sun columnist James Forsyth. And privately the MP for the Forest of Dean has not denied that he is eyeing up the top job. A former loyalist, Mr Harper voted against the Brexit deal and tore into the PM for “misleading” MPs over it.” – The Sun

Skidmore backs social media “kitemark” to protect children

“Chris Skidmore, Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, is clutching a plasma ball, in which tendrils of light radiate out from a central electrode to meet his fingertips….He has also spent time at UCL’s Educate Centre where researchers are establishing a kitemark-style system for technology that has been properly peer-reviewed and rigorously tested. Skidmore believes such a system may be the future to avoid overly bureaucratic regulation which could stifle innovation, and drive tech companies abroad.” – Daily Telegraph

SNP MP backs “softest possible” independence

“A leading SNP MP has criticised a key adviser to Nicola Sturgeon for proposing the “softest possible” form of independence in order to win the backing of voters. Andrew Wilson, who chaired the party’s Growth Commission, the economic blueprint for an independent Scotland, said a soft end to the Union would recognise the “level of integration and all the ties that have bound us for centuries”. He also dismissed Yes campaigners seeking an overnight revolution, saying: “Some (a very small number) would rather move immediately and overnight to a Marxist revolutionary state. That is their right, but they won’t win the chance to try.”…Joanna Cherry MP said you did not have to be a “Marxist revolutionary” to disagree with his softly softly approach.”- Daily Telegraph

Schoolchildren go on “strike” against climate change

“Pupils from around the UK went “on strike” on Friday as part of a global campaign for action on climate change. Students around the country walked out of schools to call on the government to declare a climate emergency and take active steps to tackle the problem. Organisers Youth Strike 4 Climate said protests took place in more than 60 towns and cities, with an estimated 15,000 taking part.” – BBC

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Cleverly calls on unions to take down hugely influential ‘school cuts’ site that uses ‘misleading’ statistics

Huge shale gas supply found in the East Midlands

“Theresa May is today urged to back the fracking revolution as new tests signal the East Midlands is sitting on “30-years’ worth of gas”. Ineos, Britain’s biggest private company, claims drilling results from its field in Nottinghamshire suggest “US levels” of shale gas under the soil.Tests found an average level of 60.7 standard cubic feet per tonne of gas – compared with an average 39 (scf) at a vast shale field in Texas. Ineos Shale chief operating officer Tom Pickering claimed it was the most significant drilling result so far in the short history of Britain’s shale industry. Geologists believe there could be 436 trillion cubic feet of gas in this part of the Bowland Basin. This test is consistent with that….With a recovery rate of 20 per cent that’s equivalent to 30 years’ worth of gas for the country.” – The Sun

>Today: Wilf Lytton on Comment: Our dependency on natural gas will cost us if we don’t act swiftly

Trump using emergency powers to build wall

“Donald Trump has defied fierce criticism to announce that he is using emergency powers to bypass Congress and pursue the building of a wall on the US-Mexico border. At a combative, rambling and at times incoherent press conference in the White House, the US president insisted he had no choice but to declare a national emergency to stop illegal immigrants spreading crime and drugs. Yet Trump admitted that he did not “need” to take the step now and was only doing so for speed. Opponents seized on the remark to accuse him of falsehoods and fear mongering for political ends, describing the move as “unlawful” and a violation of the US constitution.” – The Guardian

News in brief

  • Boles if fighting for his political life – New York Times
  • Child climate change protestors aren’t truants, they’re traumatised – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • There is nothing to fear from leaving the EU and trading with them under WTO rules – Helen Davies, Brexit Central
  • The Cairncross report threatens more state control of the media – Charlotte Henry, The Article
  • What Britain must do to defeat the Islamist threat – Ghanem Nuseibeh, Conservative Woman

Newslinks for Friday 15th February 2019

May says ‘no deal’ is more likely after Commons defeat… “Theresa May has said a no-deal Brexit is “more likely”… Read more »

May says ‘no deal’ is more likely after Commons defeat…

Theresa May has said a no-deal Brexit is “more likely” after Tory Eurosceptics condemned her to another humiliating Commons defeat. The brief Tory truce over Brexit was shattered as 66 Conservatives – including Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab – abstained in a vote over the Government’s way forward, which Mrs May lost by 303 votes to 258. The result was a serious blow to Mrs May’s chances of winning concessions from Brussels over the Brexit deal. Mrs May had told the EU that a vote in favour of her Brexit strategy last month gave her a “stable majority” for the deal she is trying to broker, but that majority was wiped out at a stroke by her 45-vote defeat. Brexiteers from the European Research Group had refused to back a Government motion which followed a day-long Brexit debate because they believed it meant no deal was being taken off the table.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister suffers defeat on ‘Plan B’… – FT
  • …but doesn’t even turn up for ‘grim result’ – Daily Mail
  • May concedes UK will settle for ‘assurances’, not changes – Daily Express
  • Coveney says EU won’t ‘sacrifice’ Ireland – News Letter

Brexiteers:

  • European Research Group denies holding the Government to ransom – The Guardian
  • Baker warns that Government could collapse if deal passes as-is – Daily Express

>Today:

>Yesterday:

…as Harrington urges Brexiteers to quit the Tories

“Hardline Conservative Brexiteers were accused of treachery by a minister as the party’s fragile truce crumbled again yesterday. Richard Harrington, a business minister, told the European Research Group (ERG) of backbenchers that they should quit the party and join forces with Nigel Farage instead… Mr Harrington, who voted to Remain in the EU in 2016, has emerged as one of the most passionate ministerial opponents of a no-deal Brexit. Last month he praised Airbus for “telling it like it is” after the company said the government’s handling of Brexit had been a disgrace, and said he would be “very happy” if Mrs May sacked him for his opposition to leaving the EU without a deal. But yesterday Mr Harrington, MP for Watford, said he would not countenance resigning and nor should other Remainers, because it would give the ERG “pleasure”.” – The Times

  • Grieve plans mass Remainer walkout to ‘bring down May’ – Daily Express
  • Pro-EU MPs vow to ‘take control of the Government’ and delay Brexit – The Sun
  • The Tories’ Brexit tribes – FT

More:

  • Public won’t forgive Labour if we support the deal, warns Lewis – The Times

>Today: MPs Etc.: Nearly a quarter of Conservative MPs failed to support the Prime Minister yesterday

>Yesterday:

Brussels should trust UK on clearing, says Bank of England

“EU regulators should drop ambitions for greater direct supervision of London clearing houses after Brexit, to avoid imposing potentially “conflicting requirements” on institutions that play a key role in global markets, according to a top official at the Bank of England. London’s clearing houses, which manage the risk around trades if one side defaults, have become ensnared in Brexit politics because they handle the bulk of the €660tn market for derivatives cleared in Europe. While EU authorities have a “valid interest” in monitoring the City’s clearing houses, they should defer to UK regulators, David Bailey, director of markets infrastructure at the BoE, said in an interview. “We have lots of experience co-operating with overseas regulators, making sure where they have a valid interest in a UK clearing house, they have the relevant input they need,” he said.” – FT

  • EU asset managers could move to UK after dual-trading ban – FT
  • Process ‘has cost UK £80 billion’ since vote – The Guardian
  • Dutch leader starts row by saying Britain is ‘on the wane’ – The Sun

Comment:

  • Carney’s ‘canary in the mine’ moment – Patrick Jenkins, FT

Mark Harper: To fix the backstop, May must press ahead with the Malthouse Compromise

“We risk putting ourselves in a very difficult situation. However, some calm, sensible decision making at this critical point can avoid such a mistake. There are three options to deal with the backstop. First, the ability for the UK to unilaterally exit from it; second, a short time limit which ensures it would come to an end before the 2022 General Election or third, replace it with something better. The solution must be something that can be carried in Parliament primarily by the Conservative Party and our DUP allies. We know that this is possible because on 29th January, the House of Commons voted – by a majority of 16 – to require “the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border; supports leaving the European Union with a deal and would therefore support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change.” For a backstop to have the reassurance required by the EU and Ireland, it needs to be capable of being permanent but for the UK, if it were to be permanent, it would need to be acceptable for all parts of our country – both Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The meaningful vote process has failed us – Jack Simson-Caird, Times Red Box
  • Brexiteers have given Brussels a great excuse not to give ground – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • Six weeks to go and we’re none the wiser – Henry Newman, Times Red Box
  • Britain needs more time, but May can’t be trusted with it – Gary Younge, The Guardian
  • This desperate Government doesn’t know which way to turn – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

Javid will try to block return of ISIS bride

“The family of the London schoolgirl who ran away to join Islamic State appealed last night for her to be shown mercy as the home secretary tried to shut the door on her hopes of returning to Britain. Relatives of Shamima Begum, 19, pointed to her youthful innocence at the time when she was groomed online to join Isis in February 2015… Sajid Javid declared, however, that he would use all available powers to prevent Ms Begum coming back to Britain and would seek to try her for terrorism offences if she did return. “We must remember that those who left Britain to join Daesh were full of hate for our country,” the home secretary told The Times. “My message is clear — if you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return. If you do manage to return you should be ready to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted.”” – The Times

  • MPs take hard line on please to come home – The Times
  • Taxpayer could face huge costs from ‘dozens’ of brides – Daily Mail
  • US plans to jail British jihadis in Guantanamo – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Don’t underestimate the role of female jihadis – Raffaello Pantucci, Daily Telegraph
  • Begum deserves to return to Britain – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Jihadi bride voluntary shacked up with killers, this is not her home – Brendan O’Neill, The Sun
  • She made her bed and should lie in it – Alison Pearson, Daily Telegraph
  • Britain should be strong enough to take her back – Richard Barrett, The Guardian

>Today: Bob Seely MP in Comment: The rule of law is an absolute. It cannot be dispensed with when we deal with ISIS terrorists.

May urged to back fracking

“Theresa May is today urged to back the fracking revolution as new tests signal the East Midlands is sitting on “30-years’ worth of gas”. Ineos, Britain’s biggest private company, claims drilling results from its field in Nottinghamshire suggest “US levels” of shale gas under the soil. Tests found an average level of 60.7 standard cubic feet per tonne of gas – compared with an average 39 (scf) at a vast shale field in Texas. Ineos Shale chief operating officer Tom Pickering claimed it was the most significant drilling result so far in the short history of Britain’s shale industry. He told The Sun: “It’s obviously early days but these are the highest readings in the UK we have ever seen.” Geologists believe there could be 436 trillion cubic feet of gas in this part of the Bowland Basin. This test is consistent with that.” – The Sun

McDonnell stands by Churchill jibe

“John McDonnell has defended his description of Winston Churchill as a villain over his role on the Tonypandy riots, saying he was just being honest. Mr McDonnell did acknowledge that Churchill was a war hero but said there was “another side” to him that should be taught more often. Chris Williamson, another Labour MP, agreed that Churchill was a “villain” who had been “in the right place at the right time” during the Second World War. Mr McDonnell has come under pressure to withdraw comments he made on Wednesday when he was asked at an event hosted by the Politico website whether Churchill was a hero or villain. “Tonypandy: villain,” he replied. Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, said that Churchill “saved this country and the whole of Europe from a barbaric fascist and racist tyranny and our debt to him is incalculable”.” – The Times

  • Tories need to wise up to his plans – Iain Martin, The Times
  • That the left think hating Churchill is rebellious shows how little they know – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Blunder adds to doubts about his patriotism – Ian Austin MP, Times Red Box
  • Shadow Chancellor has lost his grip on history – Boris Johnson MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Row is part of glib approach to history that gave us Brexit – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Were it not for Churchill, McDonnell might be speaking German. And so could the rest of us.

>Yesterday: Phil Taylor in Comment: In its bid for bleakness, Labour’s broadcast is both glib and deceptive

Khan promises to help low-earners scrap diesel cars

“People with low incomes and polluting cars will be given grants to scrap them under a plan by the mayor of London. However, the programme is not expected to start until months after charges of £12.50 a day in the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) begin in London. Sadiq Khan, the mayor, has pledged £25 million for the scheme, which will pay for a fraction of non-compliant cars to be scrapped. Recipients will be able to use the money to help buy a cleaner car or pay for a greener form of transport. About 1.5 million diesel cars registered before 2016 and 500,000 petrol cars registered before 2006 entered the area covered by the Ulez at least once last year and will be liable for the charge if they enter again from April 8. Mr Khan has yet to set the amount of each grant but if it was £2,000, as suggested yesterday by the UK100 city leaders’ group that he supports, then his £25 million fund would pay for scrapping only 12,500 cars.” – The Times

  • Berry to be Green mayoral candidate again in 2020 – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Fund to tackle polluting cars won’t go far – Steve Gooding, The Times

SNP advisor calls for ‘softest possible’ model of independence to try to win vote

“A key economic adviser to Nicola Sturgeon has called for the “softest of all” forms of independence in order to win a Yes vote. Andrew Wilson, who penned the recently revised economic blueprint for an independent Scotland – the Sustainable Growth Commission – says this is the way to “win big.” But the ex-SNP MSP’s comments prompted criticism from pro-union parties who insisted there is “no such thing” as soft independence. Ms Sturgeon has pledged to set out her timetable for a second referendum in the coming weeks. The pro-independence campaign has faced increasingly awkward questions over the practicalities of leaving a centuries old union, in light of the turmoil engulfing the UK over its looming departure from the EU. But Mr Wilson sought to play down such concerns in his weekly column for the national newspaper today.” – The Scotsman

  • Think the unthinkable: Sturgeon is on the way out – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman

>Yesterday:

At least 100 MPs will go ‘on holiday’ despite recess being scrapped

“At least 100 MPs will go on holiday next week – despite their “half-term” break being scrapped. They had been ordered to stay in Parliament to tackle the Brexit deadlock and sort through masses of crucial legislation. But sources say Tory and Labour politicians are being “paired off” for hols so they don’t have to be at votes. Staff are still required to work in the Commons and staff its canteens next week. PM’s Questions could now see one of the lowest attendances in modern times. Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom cancelled the break last month amid fears about how ready the UK is for a March 29 Brexit. Some MPs demanded refunds for booked holidays, but Parliament’s expenses watchdog refused. Chief whip Julian Smith then promised those who want to “spend time with families” or who had arranged trips abroad could carry on unhindered.” – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Why Hong Kong will never be just another Chinese city – Lucy Cotillon, CapX
  • Zimbabwe: three reasons why it’s going so wrong for Mnangagwa – Stephen Chan, Reaction
  • Macron vs Salvini is a battle over a continent’s soul – Christopher Caldwell, The Spectator
  • In praise of Nimbys – Ben Cobley, UnHerd
  • People’s Vote campaigners know they’re championing a lost cause – Chris Bradford, Brexit Central

Newslinks for Thursday 14th February 2019

Prime Minister faces defeat on ‘no deal’ vote… “Theresa May’s claim that she is ready to take Britain out of… Read more »

Prime Minister faces defeat on ‘no deal’ vote…

“Theresa May’s claim that she is ready to take Britain out of the EU without a deal appeared increasingly tenuous on Wednesday, as the prime minister’s allies admitted that a slew of ministerial resignations could force her to abandon the strategy. Mrs May wants to keep the prospect of a chaotic Brexit on the table as a way of putting pressure on Brussels to finalise a revised exit deal after the House of Commons emphatically rejected her withdrawal agreement last month. But Mrs May’s advisers admitted that a move led by former Labour minister Yvette Cooper and Conservative grandee Oliver Letwin to take a no-deal Brexit off the table was likely to win the backing of MPs in a key vote on February 27. Downing Street is taking seriously the threat that a number of Europhile ministers will finally make good on their threat to quit and support the initiative by Ms Cooper and Sir Oliver. “This will definitely be high noon,” said one cabinet minister. “We can’t wait any longer.”” – FT

  • Brexiteers vow to defeat plan to take ‘clean Brexit’ off the table – The Sun
  • Up to 80 Tories threaten revolt in Commons showdown – Daily Express
  • MPs accuse May of ruling out ‘no deal’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Blackford repeats claim that Prime Minister lied over analysis – The Scotsman

More:

  • Delay or make clean break, industries tell Brussels – FT
  • Ford warns that no-deal would be ‘catastrophic’ – Daily Mail
  • Government must pass over 450 laws before exit day – The Sun

Ireland:

  • Varadkar insists that no-deal exit can be averted – FT
  • Sinn Fein insists it would lead to border poll – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Europe must offer concessions or risk disaster – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • Project Fear is an insult to voters – Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, The Sun
  • Does Robbins’ blunder hint at a conspiracy? – John Longworth, Daily Telegraph

>Today:

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hannan – The EU’s lack of goodwill shows why Britain must not accept the backstop

…and is urged to reform trades union law to woo Corbyn

“Theresa May is being urged to rip up the Trade Union Act and allow fast-track strike votes to win Labour MPs’ support for her Brexit deal. Union bosses are demanding the Government drop all opposition to the e-balloting of their members – something the Tories have bitterly opposed for three years. Downing Street is understood to be considering the request, one source said. It comes as ministers continue to thrash out a workers right package with the TUC and Unite chief Len McCluskey as well as over a dozen of Labour MPs in the bid to win wider support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal. On Tuesday the PM signalled she was preparing to offer other concessions such as rules on agency workers. These include repealing the so-called Swedish derogation, which allows employers to pay their agency workers less.” – The Sun

  • Labour leader blasts May over ferry ‘fiasco’…- FT
  • …and she fires back on his ‘flip-flopping’ – The Sun
  • Trust in Corbyn plummeting, new poll suggests – Daily Express
  • ‘Shadow Cabinet revolt’ if leader doesn’t back a second referendum – The Sun
  • Corbyn could face up to ten resignations – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Remainers must hold their nerve – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • Britain is hostage to May’s vanity – Philip Stephens, FT

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Corbyn presses May on Brexit preparations at PMQs

May warns BBC not to cut free licences for the elderly…

The BBC must not end free TV licences for over 75s, Theresa May has warned. The Prime Minister said many elderly people would lose out if they don’t have the “connection” with the world which watching television brings. People over 75 are entitled to a free TV licence under a government-funded scheme which is due to end in 2020. A public consultation on the subsidy closed this week. It had five options under consideration: continuing the scheme; scrapping it; raising the threshold to 80; giving over-75s a 50 per cent discount; or means-testing the payment by linking it to pension credit. MPs and campaigners have warned that hundreds of thousands of over-75s will be worse off if the free scheme is ended.” – Daily Telegraph

  • …and pledges to reintroduce FGM law blocked by Chope – The Sun
  • Food Standards Agency casts doubt on Prime Minister’s call for food economising – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Leadsom warns that restoration of Parliament may be at risk

“The restoration of Parliament could never happen unless necessary legislation is passed by May – Andrea Leadsom has warned. Allies said the Commons Leader fears the £4 billion project will never get off the ground if it doesn’t reach the statute book before the end of the current Parliamentary session. She believes a new Government after a possible General Election could drop it altogether given the spiralling costs, a source said. They added there are fears the Lords could try once more to dilute the project. Under current plans, MPs and peers will have to “decamp” within five years so essential works can take place to safeguard the Palace of Westminster. In a separate interview yesterday, Ms Leadsom hinted at her concerns by saying she was “desperately keen” to “crack on” with introducing legislation to establish independent statutory bodies to oversee the restoration.” – The Sun

Defence Secretary accused of blowing Chinese trade talks ‘worth billions’

“A furious Government row has erupted after Gavin Williamson was accused of risking Britain’s chances to access Chinese markets worth billions. Chinese deputy PM Hu Chunhua was due to hold trade talks with Philip Hammond this weekend. But he dramatically cancelled the meeting on Monday afternoon – just hours after the Defence Secretary publicly lashed China’s military ambitions. In a fiery speech, Mr Williamson said Britain must be prepared to boost our “lethality” as he threatened to deploy a British aircraft carrier to China’s backyard… China had been expected to lift their bans on British poultry and cosmetics which have not been tested on animals. The agreements would have opened up access to markets worth an estimated £10.2billion over five years.” – The Sun

  • Williamson says gay members of the Armed Forces should be able to wed on bases – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The most pro-intervention speech by a Defence Secretary since the Iraq War

Freeman requests review of Green’s knighthood

“Theresa May’s former policy chief has asked a Whitehall panel to review Sir Philip Green’s knighthood. The formal request from Tory MP George Freeman means the Honours Forfeitures Committee will now have to consider stripping the billionaire of his gong over explosive sexual harassment allegations. Last night Lib Dem chief Vince Cable said he was likely to file a request of his own. The Committee previously ruled that ex-banker Sir Fred Goodwin should lose his knighthood. Speaking in the Commons Mr Freeman urged Theresa May to “stand up for decent standards” and take action against the Topshop mogul. He said Sir Philip should be stripped of his knighthood for “bringing the system of honours and business into disrepute”.” – The Sun

ISIS bride has ‘right to come home’, says Wallace

“A jihadi schoolgirl who ran away to Syria to join Isis has the “right to come home” but could face years in jail, the security minister has revealed. Ben Wallace said as a British citizen, heavily pregnant Shamima Begum, 19, can come back into the country but can expect to face prison when she gets here. He told Sky News this morning: “As a British citizen she has the right to home here.” But he added: “Anyone who goes to fight for Isis, a dreadful, horrendous group, should expect to be interviewed and potentially prosecuted.” Last night the teen, who fled from East London to join fighters abroad when she was just 15, said she wants now to come home to have her third child. But she said she didn’t regret her decision to go out there, and wasn’t bothered by seeing the sick crimes of the terror group.” – The Sun

  • Their defeat is an example of successful intervention – Michael Fallon MP, Daily Telegraph

James Brokenshire: Like Macmillan, we can deliver a housing market which works for future generations

Since we set the bold ambition to deliver 300,000 properties a year by the mid-2020s ministers, including myself, have noted the important connection with Harold Macmillan. Super Mac took up the challenge of rehousing the nation after the Second World War and within three years had managed to gear an industry up to achieve record levels of performance. We rightly look back at this era in awe at the scale of ambition and mine it for lessons we can use today. A recognition of the interconnection between state and industry at a time of significant building was a central theme of the 1950s mass building, and in that spirit I am proud today to announce £250 million of new housing deals to build almost 25,000 much-needed properties across the country. Similarly, there was an approach which brought government together where different parts of the state worked in support of a common political goal. Fast forward to today and under an innovative agreement our housing accelerator Homes England will help deliver more than 10,000 properties on Ministry of Defence sites.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour centrists ‘prepare to form breakaway party’

“Moderate Labour MPs are plotting to form a breakaway political party within weeks if Jeremy Corbyn refuses to back an amendment calling for a second referendum. At least half-a-dozen backbenchers have been holding regular conversations about splitting from the party and forming a new, pro-EU centrist group. They say Labour has tacked too far to the left under the leadership or Mr Corbyn, a life-long Eurosceptic who spent decades on the party’s fringes. Some MPs say February 27, the date of the next round of voting on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, could be the point of schism if, as expected, Mr Corbyn does not support an amendment backing a so-called people’s vote. “I’ve talked to them [the moderates] lots of times and they are just so angry. They aren’t listening any more. It sounds like nothing will stop them breaking away,” said one Labour MP.” – FT

  • McDonnell brands Churchill a ‘villain’ – The Guardian

Teachers demand taxpayer refunds from SNP’s new tax

“Teachers will demand the taxpayer refunds them if they are forced to pay the SNP’s workplace parking levy at Scotland’s schools, union leaders have warned as the public outcry intensified. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest teaching union, said it would fight for “compensation” in the next round of pay negotiations for any members who were hit with the levy. Assuming the levy is set at around £500 per year, as happens in Nottingham, the Tories calculated that the refund to Edinburgh’s teachers alone would cost the public purse £1.7 million. They said there would also be “huge” rebates for teachers in Glasgow (£2.6 million), Aberdeen (£818,000) and Dundee (£660,000) should their respective city councils implement the levy.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • The Corbyn crack-up – Nick Cohen, The Spectator
  • Still looking for love? Blame the planning system – Ben Ramanauskas, CapX
  • To make a success of Brexit we need an outward-looking foreign policy – Ben Kelly, Reaction
  • What happened to solidarity on the right? – Max Young, 1828
  • The UN’s sexual abuse shame – Julie Bindel, UnHerd

Newslinks for Wednesday 13th February 2019

Brexit 1) Morgan warns May not to rely on Labour to deliver Brexit… “Nicky Morgan urged Theresa May not to… Read more »

Brexit 1) Morgan warns May not to rely on Labour to deliver Brexit…

“Nicky Morgan urged Theresa May not to trust Labour’s front bench to enable Brexit yesterday, completing a striking change of tack from the former education secretary. Until last month Ms Morgan was a leading advocate for the so-called Norway option that Jeremy Corbyn suggests Labour could support. Ms Morgan, who has also previously backed moves to force Mrs May to delay Brexit, shocked pro-EU Tories by teaming up with Brexiteers last month. She is part of the so-called Malthouse compromise group of Tory MPs developing alternatives to the Irish backstop with figures such as Steve Baker, a vice-chairman of the hard-Brexit European Research Group. In an intervention that completes her switch of sides Ms Morgan said yesterday that Mrs May could only hope to get Brexit through the Commons if she kept the bulk of the party together and retained the support of the Democratic Unionists.” – The Times

  • Remainer MPs bottle Valentine’s Day showdown… – The Sun
  • …but are preparing fresh attempt to block ‘no deal’ – Daily Express
  • Prime Minister tells business that delay would serve no purpose… – FT
  • …but Robbins says it will happen if MPs shun deal – The Times
  • Brussels to help May ‘drag out negotiations’ until crucial summit – The Sun

Ministers:

  • Grayling under pressure to face MPs over ferry firm – Daily Telegraph
  • Think-tank claims Javid’s post-Brexit migration plans would see numbers soar – The Sun
  • Treasury Committee criticise Hammond’s ‘deal dividend’ claims – FT
  • Leadsom urges Tories not to be ‘purist’ on the backstop – The Guardian

More:

  • Fury at suggestions of ‘permanent backstop’ – Daily Express
  • Man sent death threats to Soubry – The Times
  • Verhofstadt warns that Brexiteers could be consumed by their revolution – Daily Telegraph
  • MI6 chief in talks to extend term to prevent disruption – FT

Editorial:

  • May must not flinch and allow delay – The Sun

Brexit 2) …as Carney ‘abandons Project Fear’

Britain could lead the world into a new era of democracy and free trade, using the Brexit revolt against the establishment as a springboard to making the global order more cooperative, accountable and prosperous, according to the Governor of the Bank of England. The current system of global trade has key flaws including wealth and income inequality, a lack of democracy and trust, and serious financial imbalances, Mark Carney warned on Tuesday. However, in a sharp departure from the Governor’s “project fear” warnings of the past three years, Mr Carney said Brexit has the potential to address these issues and provide the opportunity to create a new way of running the world. “In many respects, Brexit is the first test of a new global order and could prove the acid test of whether a way can be found to broaden the benefits of openness while enhancing democratic accountability,” he said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Channel Tunnel will stay open regardless, EU confirms – The Sun
  • Port operator ready to boost capacity – FT
  • Haulage firms face fines if they fail to answer surveys after no-deal exit – The Sun

Comment:

  • Business is still in the dark with only 44 days to go – Hannah Essex and Claire Walker, Times Red Box
  • Private capital is ready and able to build a better Britain – Daniel Mahoney, Daily Telegraph
  • I fear no-deal could destroy British farming – Nic Conner, Times Red Box

Editorial:

  • A Brexit agreement cannot come soon enough – The Times

Brexit 3) Fox ‘scrambling to sign promise letters’ over trade

“Trade boss Liam Fox is scrambling to sign promise letters for trade deals in the future as it emerges just six will be done in time for Brexit. The government has promised to rollover 40 current EU free trade deals with 70 different countries, so they will still apply to the UK under a no deal Brexit. But a secret tally leaked to The Sun has revealed that just a handful will be ready in time when the UK leaves on March 29. Instead, the International Trade Secretary is battling to persuade dozens of other countries to carry out an exchange of “letters of understanding”… The current tally drawn up by the Department for International Trade lists progress of the 40 deal rollovers in four colour-coded tables. Only six are in green table, signifying they will be done by March 29. They are the four already agreed, with Switzerland – signed on Monday – Chile, an Eastern and Southern African block, and the Faroe Islands.” – The Sun

  • Business leaders demand May answers 20 questions on trade – The Guardian

Brexit 4) Rafael Behr: This is still likely to split both major parties

“Labour pro-Europeans have been taken for a ride. Their Tory equivalents are now grasping the scale of their symmetrical defeat. Moderate Conservatives once predicted that Brexit bluster would be dispelled by diplomatic reality and that Commons arithmetic would impose a sensible settlement on May. There is still time for that to happen, but not much. Away from Westminster, the party is in an uncompromising mood. Earlier this week, Grantham Conservatives initiated the process to deselect Nick Boles, their local MP. His offence was to say he would renounce the Tory whip sooner than endorse a no-deal Brexit… These episodes are symptomatic of a purifying mania that will shrink the two broad churches of English politics into intolerant sects. One quivers in anticipation of Brexit rapture; the other hunts blasphemies against the supreme leader. Many Labour MPs see this process as irreversible.” – The Guardian

  • Unholy alliance of left and right could push May into a no-deal exit she does’t want – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • Look south, Prime Minister, it’s not just about northern Labour voters – Royston Smith, Times Red Box

May praises campaigners as upskirting banned

Upskirting has finally been made a criminal offence as Theresa May praised the work of campaigners who highlighted the practice. People convicted of taking a photo or video underneath someone’s clothing without their permission now face up to two years in prison. They can also be placed on the sex offenders’ register. The Prime Minister said she was “very pleased to see the degrading practice of upskirting become a criminal offence after the tireless work of victims and campaigners”. The change in the law came after predators were seen to target females at festivals, on public transport and even in schools, with the photos then being shared online. Previously, laws only covered indecency and nudity. On Tuesday the bill received Royal assent in the House of Lords and police will be able to arrest people on suspicion of upskirting from April. The Government intervened last June to bring forward measures to tackle upskirting after a Private Member’s Bill was blocked by Sir Christopher Chope, the Tory MP.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister urged to review Green’s knighthood – The Sun

Comment:

  • We can do without hypocrite Brady’s plastic feminism – Ashley Armstrong, Daily Telegraph

Hancock tells GPs to replace patient letters with emails

“The NHS must stop sending letters to patients and use email like everyone else, the health secretary will insist. Matt Hancock says that email must be the default way of communicating for the health service by 2021, telling doctors that confidentiality concerns are no excuse for sticking with so-called snail mail. Half a million letters were lost in the post in five years and switching over could save lives, he says. Doctors welcomed the plans but expressed scepticism about shifting wholesale to email within two years. Patient leaders said that vulnerable people who do not use computers must not be left behind. Tens of millions of pounds are spent by hospitals and GPs on envelopes, paper and stamps and one NHS boss estimated last year that the cost could reach £100 million a year.” – The Times

Wright supports tax cut for online news publishers

“The culture secretary has promised to discuss tax relief for online news publishers as part of an effort to ease local newspapers’ transition to digital publishing. The move was recommended by a government-commissioned report and Jeremy Wright acknowledged yesterday that there was “passionate support within the publishing sector” for an extension of VAT exemptions. He said that he would raise the issue with colleagues responsible for tax policy. Print newspapers are already zero-rated for VAT purposes because of their social value in promoting literacy and democratic accountability. The Cairncross review, published yesterday, proposed extending this to online news publications. It also recommended tax relief for public-interest news providers… The minister, who is responsible for digital, media, culture and sport, also announced that his department would review online advertising regulations after the review said that the market had become complex.” – The Times

  • Culture Secretary ‘blasted by MPs’ as he plays down need for full BBC review – The Sun
  • Hunt condemns attack on Corporation cameraman – The Guardian
  • Social media firms face new restrictions on images ‘glamorising knife crime’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Responsibility must be the core of social media’s business model – Sam Gyimah, Daily Telegraph
  • BBC is a bastion of smugness which threatens democracy – Mick Hume, The Sun

British Jihadists could face jail under new laws

Around 350 British jihadists suspected to be in Syria could face up to 10 years in jail if they return to the UK under new anti-terror laws that ban travel to designated areas. Ministers will enact within months new powers to make it an offence to travel to or remain in an area overseas designated by the Home Secretary as necessary to protect the public from terrorism. Any person who stays in the area for a month after the power is enacted faces a maximum 10-year sentence unless they can show they had good reason to be in the area such as Government work, journalism or as part of armed services. More than 900 jihadists are estimated by the Government to have travelled to join the conflict in Syria, of which 20% have been killed and 40% have returned to the UK… The difficulty of securing evidence of involvement in terrorist activities overseas has hampered previous attempts to prosecute them. Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, said the Act would give police the powers they needed not only to disrupt plots but also “punish those who seek to do us harm.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • UK extends control of troubled prison for six months – FT

Boles faces fight for seat after vote of local party

“The local Conservative association of Nick Boles, MP for Grantham & Stamford, voted unanimously on Monday night to start the process of selecting the constituency’s candidate for the next election. In a letter to members on Tuesday morning, constituency chairman Philip Sagar said many local members and supporters were “angry” with the former minister, who has threatened to quit the party if necessary to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Mr Boles, a former Remainer, supports Theresa May’s deal with Brussels but has also been advocating a softer “Norway Plus” form of Brexit involving membership of the European Economic Area. Grantham’s executive council voted to start the process of selecting the Parliamentary candidate for the next election and will send a letter to Mr Boles to ask him if he wishes to seek re-adoption. If he takes up that offer he will then need to seek the blessing of those members in order to stand again for Parliament.” – FT

Leadsom attacks Bercow over treatment of staff

“Andrea Leadsom has accused Speaker John Bercow of failing to treat his staff with “courtesy and respect”. The Commons Leader, who has repeatedly clashed with Mr Bercow since he admitted calling her a “stupid woman” last year, also questioned his “impartiality” over Brexit. It follows the controversy over his decision to break centuries of convention to allow a Brexit-wrecking motion to go ahead last month… Mrs Leadsom also revealed that she had been spoken to in a “patronising” way by people in Parliament, after her Cabinet colleague Liz Truss told a newspaper that she had been “mansplained” to in Cabinet… A spokeswoman for the Speaker’s Office said: “The Speaker absolutely shares the Leader’s ambition to develop a culture of courtesy and respect. Indeed, he can be heard every day of the working week encouraging members on both sides of the House to treat each other with respect.”” – The Sun

Criticism of Labour antisemitism ‘upsetting staff’, MPs told…

“Labour’s general secretary has warned MPs that public criticism of the way antisemitism allegations have been handled is “distressing” for party staff. Jennie Formby, a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn, said that the party had received nearly 700 complaints linked to antisemitic abuse by party members since April last year and had expelled 12 people. Dame Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking, disputed this, saying that she had alone made complaints about 200 members. Ms Formby said this was not correct, claiming that Dame Margaret’s complaints related to 111 individuals, 20 of whom were Labour members. She said: “The constant and often public criticism of our dedicated and talented staff team is unacceptable and is causing them considerable distress.” Her comments provoked anger yesterday… Ms Formby, who had previously refused to publish the figures, released them only hours before a deadline set by MPs. It is understood that the Jewish Labour Movement, an affiliated party grouping, has submitted hundreds of complaints against members since last April.” – The Times

  • Formby denies Party are ignoring the problem – The Guardian

…as Opposition set out plan for ‘zero-carbon future’

“Labour is to set out how the UK can move swiftly to a decarbonised future to tackle the unfolding climate crisis and put “meat on the bones” of its promise to create hundreds of thousands of high-skilled, unionised green jobs. Trade unionists and industry leaders will come together with academics, engineers and public institutions to build detailed regional plans setting out the challenges and opportunities ahead. The proposal, due to be outlined on Wednesday by Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, will involve a national call for evidence and a series of regional events to build “a detailed action plan” to maximise the benefits of moving to a zero-carbon future… She said a future Labour government would oversee an economic revolution to tackle the climate crisis, using the full power of the state to decarbonise the economy and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in struggling towns and cities across the UK.” – The Guardian

  • Corbyn forced to pay taxman £6,000 after HMRC blunder – The Sun

Comment:

  • Young protesters talk more sense than most MPs – Alice Thomson, The Times

Newslinks for Tuesday 12th February 2019

Letwin and fellow Remainers demand a chance to delay Brexit in return for time to renegotiate ‘The PM will try… Read more »

Letwin and fellow Remainers demand a chance to delay Brexit in return for time to renegotiate

‘The PM will try to convince the Commons on Tuesday to give her another fortnight’s grace for talks with Brussels for changes to the Irish backstop. She faces a fresh vote on Thursday for Parliament to authorise her plan to offer MPs another say on February 27 if there is still no deal… One minister told The Sun: “Just kicking this down the road another two weeks to give us another vote on February 27 is not going to be enough.” The latest rebellion has been devised by former Tory minister Sir Oliver Letwin. Under his plan, rebel Remainer Nick Boles will agree not to re-table his amendment with senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper for a Brexit delay to avoid No Deal on Thursday. Their revised plot would see a new law rapidly passed that allows Parliament to order the Government to ask for an Article 50 extension… Around 25 Tory ministers who have vowed to block a no-deal Brexit met in secret in the Commons on Monday afternoon to agree a joint line ahead of the showdown. None pledged to resign on Thursday if their demand is refused… But Industry Minister Richard Harrington is one who is still determined to resign then if Mrs May hasn’t offered the reassurance, telling allies that it’s now “a matter of personal credibility” for him.’ – The Sun

  • The Prime Minister will urge MPs to hold their nerve – FT
  • No Deal is now May’s fallback plan – Paul Waugh, Huffington Post
  • It’s now a likely outcome – Robert Peston, ITV
  • Leave voters’ attitudes are hardening – FT
  • Ministers will act if the Prime Minister continues to sleepwalk – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Government accused of ‘ignoring’ small businesses in No Deal preparations – FT
  • Criminals could abscond without a data agreement, police chief warns – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn pledged to ‘defeat’ the EU, on camera – Daily Mail

>Today: Chris White on Comment: Time is getting extremely tight to pass all the required withdrawal legislation

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Boles fights back against rulebook warfare with a loophole of his own

Brexiteers warn the Prime Minister not to negotiate with Labour over customs union

‘Senior Conservative Brexiteers warned Theresa May yesterday that she must never negotiate with Labour on the party’s proposal for Britain to remain in a customs union with the European Union. Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, described Labour’s plan as a dangerous delusion and warned that it was “not workable”, while Boris Johnson accused Jeremy Corbyn of trying to trap the government in a toxic Brexit. Other Brexiteers accused the prime minister of “grinding miserably on” with a “rubbish” Brexit deal that could leave Britain unable to forge meaningful new trade deals with the rest of the world. The comments reflect concern among Leave-supporting Tories that Mrs May is preparing to concede too much ground to Labour in an attempt to win cross-party backing for her deal with Brussels.’ – The Times

  • She is expected to rule the option out – Daily Telegraph
  • Don’t be too purist, Leadsom warns – The Guardian
  • Fox signs Swiss trade deal – FT
  • Port operator can ‘quickly’ raise capacity by 30 per cent – FT
  • No more concessions, Barnier says – Daily Mail
  • The Commissions’ negotiator insists ‘something has to give’ on the British side – The Times
  • We all want a positive deal – Theresa Villiers, Daily Express
  • A time limit on the backstop could secure Johnson’s support – Daily Mail
  • Bank warning over European regulators’ licence backlog – FT

>Today: The Moggcast. He is “very concerned” delaying Brexit would allow “Tommy Robinson to win the European elections”.

May ‘plans to go in the summer’

‘Under the suspected plan, Mrs May would call time on her Premiership shortly after finally delivering Brexit. She will then set out a timetable for a new Tory leadership contest to end at the party’s annual conference in October. At least two senior figures in the Cabinet have come to that conclusion from hints the PM has personally given them, The Sun has been told. Mrs May’s suspected thinking is that by going at a time of her own choosing and in a position of relative strength, she will be able to have some say over who the next Tory leader will be. Her move will widely be seen as a plan to stop Boris Johnson, her long standing enemy, who wants a significantly different future trade deal with the EU with less links to Brussels.’ – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Conservatives should take their Scottish colleagues’ fears about Johnson seriously

Rudd concedes that Universal Credit problems increased food bank use

‘Welfare reforms are partly to blame for greater use of food banks, Amber Rudd admitted yesterday. After years of official denials, the Work and Pensions Secretary said the roll-out of Universal Credit was one of the causes of growing hunger… Miss Rudd replied: ‘We’re committed to a strong safety net where people need it. It’s absolutely clear there were challenges with the initial roll-out of Universal Credit and the main issue that led to an increase in food bank use could have been the fact that people had difficulties accessing their money early enough. We have made changes to accessing universal credit so people can have advances.’ Pushed again on the issue by Labour’s Stephen Timms, Miss Rudd added: ‘I have acknowledged that people having difficulty accessing the money on time as one of the causes of the growth in food banks, but we have tried to address that.’’ – Daily Mail

The economy is slowing

‘Britain’s economy has stalled due to the paralysis over Brexit, Philip Hammond admitted yesterday. Grim new official figures out yesterday revealed growth went into reverse in December as output declined by 0.2%. All four major sectors – services, manufacturing, construction and agriculture – shrank, as worried companies sit on their money. With just 45 days to go until Brexit and still no deal in place, bosses are waiting to see what happens with EU talks before investing, analysts said. Growth also slumped in the final three months of 2018, leaving the economy to expand by just 0.2%, with more grim figures for January expected. The disappointing end to the year meant growth for 2018 was down to just 1.4%.’ – The Sun

  • Treasury Select Committee tells Hammond the deficit pledge has lost credibility – The Times
  • And they accused the Chancellor of misleading claims in the Budget – FT
  • He is £5 billion short of ‘ending austerity’ – The Guardian
  • Spend more, please – The Guardian Leader
  • Consumer confidence is down – Daily Mail
  • Clogged, ageing roads cost £8 billion in lost productivity – The Times
  • Cut time for planning appeals – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit is already raising people’s wages – Steven Woolfe, Daily Telegraph
  • Hancock says Tesco knows us better than the health service does – The Times
  • ‘Snail mail’ NHS uses 1.9 billion pieces of paper a year – The Sun
  • The big data revolution is here, we just need to work out how to cope with it – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Extensive curbs on media giants proposed to give traditional and local media a leg-up

‘The BBC, Facebook and Google face new curbs on their power over news online following a landmark review to safeguard quality journalism. The economist Dame Frances Cairncross suggested limits on the BBC website to stop it competing with commercial outlets on “soft” stories which are not clearly in the public interest. She also said Facebook and Google should be regulated with a “news quality obligation” to ensure they “give more prominence to public interest news”, to improve trust in the media and public engagement in democracy. Dame Frances’ review was commissioned by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, amid concerns about the future of quality journalism in the face of declining newspaper sales and the stranglehold of Facebook and Google over online advertising. She recommended that the tech giants should face detailed examination of their commercial clout by competition watchdogs.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • She proposes to open up their advertising businesses, and investigate them on competition grounds – Daily Mail
  • And a review of the BBC News website, to see if it is killing local papers – The Sun
  • Local papers are vital for democracy – Jeremy Wright, Daily Telegraph
  • Exempt digital papers from VAT – The Times
  • We must stand up against social media leviathans – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Disinformation campaigns are distorting global news – Tony Hall, FT
  • Hit big tech hard, but don’t police free speech – Hugo Rifkind, The Times
  • NSPCC proposes prosecutions and unlimited fines – The Sun
  • Broadcasters avoid ‘taboo’ immigration debate, Sergeant writes – Daily Mail

Editorials

Wallace: British politics is remarkably resilient – just look at France and Italy

‘Even Germany, Europe’s solid, dull, but technically competent heart, with its solid, dull but technically competent Chancellor, has started to wobble. The Greens on the left and the AfD on the far right are jostling their way up the poll ratings. The German economy avoided recession by the alarming margin of just a single day last quarter. In this country, we love a dose of self-doubting miserablism. Isn’t Britain just awful, we think to ourselves in a mixture of performative wokeness and tantalising masochism. We are always eager to beat anyone else to the punch when bemoaning our own performance on the world stage. Sure, the UK isn’t perfect. It has all the challenges I listed above and more. But when you consider how quickly things have unravelled for several of our neighbours, a thought presents itself. Whisper the heresy, but maybe we aren’t doing all that badly after all.’ – The i paper

Hunt: The battle against ISIS is not over

‘Islamic State has not been defeated and Britain must “press on” with fighting it in Syria, the foreign secretary has said. Jeremy Hunt’s position places him at odds with President Trump, who announced last year that he would pull US forces from Syria, declaring: “We have won against Isis — we have beaten them, and we have beaten them badly.” Mr Hunt warned yesterday that the world should not “mistake territorial defeat for final defeat” and that forces fighting Isis should not claim “victory too quickly”.’ – The Times

  • RAF to get ‘drone swarms’ – The Sun
  • Cargo vessels will be converted into warships – The Times
  • The UK does essential work preventing children from becoming soldiers – John Lamont, The Times
  • Williamson is rightly ambitious for our country, but do his colleagues agree? – Daily Telegraph Leader

>Yesterday:

Grayling faces the Commons over ferry contract

‘Taxpayers face a bigger No Deal bill after the humiliating collapse of a £14million ferry contract, Chris Grayling signalled yesterday. The Transport Secretary admitted a contract with Seaborne Freight to bring essential NHS supplies into Ramsgate had collapsed – meaning the Kent port is unlikely to play a role. And the Government will instead likely have to rely on “longer” North Sea routes from the Continent to make up the capacity – meaning higher costs. It came as Labour MPs lined up to demand Mr Grayling resign over the disastrous Seaborne deal. The Department awarded Seaborne – a company with no ferries – one of three deals to ship supplies into the UK in the event of border chaos at Calais in December. But over the weekend an Irish backer pulled the plug on financing the business.’ – The Sun

  • Battered by the storm, but he is still afloat – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • He ‘ignored’ warnings about the firm – The Times
  • Questions grow over HS2’s future – FT
  • The project is essential to northern growth – Gary Neville, FT
  • The Transport Secretary is symbolic of all Britain’s woes and should resign – Seb Payne, FT

The CBI criticises ‘anachronistic’ GCSEs

‘GCSEs have come under attack, with big businesses asking whether the exams “are even necessary any more”. Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, told The Times that GCSEs were “intrusive and intensive” and left little space to teach the broader skills that employers looked for. In a speech today at the Royal Society Business Forum, she will ask: “In a world where few employers even ask for GCSE results and there are better ways of assessing schools, why should we require pupils to cram for a set of exams which feel increasingly anachronistic?” Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, will use the event to call for an independent review of A levels, which he says are far too narrow.’ – The Times

New aid definition could free up £1.5 billion

‘Britain currently spends far more than its 0.7 per cent target of national income on aid-related projects, according to the study. The Global Britain report said a broader definition of ‘international development’ would lead to savings of up to £1.54billion. Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who wrote a foreword to the report, backed calls for a radical overhaul of the overseas aid budget.Money spent which does not meet the criteria of aid includes £270million on peacekeeping missions. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spent £575million on overseas projects in 2017/18 but that did not count towards the 0.7 per cent. The report was drawn up by Tory MP Bob Seely.’ – Daily Mail

Only 12 expulsions from 700 alleged cases of anti-semitism in the Labour Party

‘Almost 700 Labour members have been reported for antisemitism in the past ten months, with 12 expelled from the party. Another 44 quit when presented with evidence of the allegations against them, Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, said last night. Dame Margaret Hodge, a senior Labour MP who has been a victim of antisemitism, said that she did not believe the figures and that she had submitted nearly 200 complaints of serious abuse by party members since October. Other members said the data showed that the leadership had been too slow to deal with the crisis. The figures were released hours before a parliamentary Labour Party meeting that MPs had set as a deadline for more information. One MP accused Ms Formby and Jeremy Corbyn of cowardice for failing to attend the meeting.’ – The Times

  • A new low in relations between the left and British Jews – Charlotte Henry, The Times
  • Holocaust denial is a grim reality – Olivia Marks-Woldman, The Times
  • Corbyn ‘won’t be able to deliver’ on promises, Labour MP warns – The Sun
  • The story behind Abbott’s car crash police interview – Daily Telegraph
  • Despite the stereotypes, millennials are relaxed about others’ wealth – The Sun Says
  • Forty years on from the revolution, Iranians chant ‘Death to Theresa May’ – The Times
  • Maduro launches massive military drills – Daily Mail
  • Venezuelans desperately seek medicines – The Times
  • Hungary exempts mothers of more than four children from income tax for life – Daily Mail

Chope: Why I did it

‘The sponsors of most bills to which I have objected have understood the importance of requiring debate at a Second Reading. Indeed, last Friday the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill and the Rivers Authority and Land Drainage Bill were debated and approved at Second Reading and will now go to Committee. Supporters of two other government-approved bills which I blocked on similar grounds have chosen to vilify me, using social media to orchestrate a campaign of intimidation against my family and staff. ..I fear for the future of my party as a champion of free speech and open debate. The Private Members Bill process faces sustained challenges from single issue pressure groups, each of which wants their own bill to take priority. One way of ensuring that this does not come at the expense of proper scrutiny would be to give top priority each session to the PMBs which attracted greatest support among MPs. Yet this recommendation from the Procedure Committee, of which I am a member, has so far been rejected by the Government.’ – Christopher Chope, Daily Telegraph

‘We’re building the wall anyway’, Trump declares

‘A deal that would finance new barriers on America’s southern border and avert another US government shutdown was agreed in principle by Congressional leaders last night. Negotiators were said to have signed up to a tentative agreement that falls far short of funding President Trump’s border wall but which, if supported by the White House, would finance the government from Friday when temporary funding lapses. Appearing at a rally last night after the deal was struck, Mr Trump gave no firm indication of whether he would back it. “They said that progress is being made with this committee,” he told a crowd in El Paso, Texas. “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.” He said he had had no time to study the details.’ – The Times

News in Brief

Newslinks for Monday 11th February 2019

May’s talks with Labour ‘risk splitting the Cabinet’… “Theresa May opened the door last night to a soft Brexit by engaging with… Read more »

May’s talks with Labour ‘risk splitting the Cabinet’…

“Theresa May opened the door last night to a soft Brexit by engaging with Jeremy Corbyn on a customs union in a move that puts her at risk of losing the support of members of her cabinet. In a letter to the Labour leader, the prime minister suggested that their parties hold further talks on the issue of a permanent customs union in an attempt to win support from Labour MPs for her Brexit plan. She also offered guarantees on environmental and employment laws, addressing more of the opposition’s central demands. Mrs May was warned, however, that by reaching out to Labour, she could prompt an exodus of ministers. Liz Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury, failed to rule out quitting the government if Mrs May backed Labour’s customs union demands. Sources close to another cabinet minister said a core belief was that “a customs union was not Brexit”.” – The Times

  • May questions Labour’s commitment to ending free movement – Daily Express
  • Response stresses opposition to key elements of Corbyn’s proposals – The Guardian
  • Workers’ rights on the table, but customs union rejected – FT

More:

  • Barclay snubbed as Barnier rejects fresh talks – Daily Express
  • Eurosceptics take aim at Tory MPs not toeing the line – FT
  • Prime Minister pushes back do-or-die Commons vote – The Sun

>Today:

>Yesterday:

…as Bercow is accused of ‘plotting with pro-EU MPs’…

“Remainer Commons Speaker John Bercow was today accused of trying to stop Brexit by plotting with pro-EU MPs. He was spotted having dinner with veteran Tory Ken Clarke, a passionate opponent of Brexit. The pair shared a curry at a popular MPs’ watering hole – and reportedly discussed the tactics Remainers would use in coming days. Mr Bercow, who is supposed to be politically neutral, has been repeatedly criticised for sabotaging the Government’s Brexit policy. He has broken with convention to give Europhile MPs the chance to pass wrecking amendments which undermine Theresa May. The Speaker dined with Mr Clarke, the former Chancellor, at the Kennington Tandoori near Parliament on Wednesday night. An eyewitness told the Sunday Express that Mr Bercow asked, “Where do we go from here?” Mr Clarke reportedly replied: “I’m talking to Hilary Benn on Tuesday.” Mr Benn, the Labour chair of the Commons Brexit committee, has helped lead efforts for Parliament to take control of the process.” – The Sun

  • Watson defies Opposition policy with support for second vote – The Times
  • Labour launch fresh bid to block ‘no deal’ – The Sun

>Today: Nicky Morgan’s column: Country before Party? It’s a false choice. The country needs the governing party to deliver on Brexit.

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “It remains our policy” to keep the possibility of a second referendum in play, says Watson

…and Davis says fall in pound could have upsides

“A 20 per cent drop in the value of the pound might not be “such a bad thing”, David Davis has claimed as he called for a tax-cutting no-deal budget. The former Brexit secretary urged Philip Hammond, the chancellor, to draw up tax and spending changes to create a “pro-business, pro-trade, pro-environment” Brexit in the spring. Writing for The Times Red Box politics site, Mr Davis brushed aside “another doom-laden growth forecast” from Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, which downgraded predictions for this year from 1.7 per cent to 1.2 per cent. “If we must leave without a deal then so be it and we can cut our tariffs to zero to help manage short-term disruption,” Mr Davis said. He argued that a sharp fall in the value of the pound could be a good thing. “Analysts predict that in the event of no deal, sterling could fall by over 20 per cent,” he said.” – The Times

More:

  • Supply of medicines under threat, ministers admit – The Times
  • Brexit-hit Spanish nurses fuel NHS staffing crisis – FT
  • No-deal exit threatens 100,000 German jobs… – The Times
  • …and would make UK less safe, police chief warns – The Guardian
  • Blair talks of ‘devastating’ impact on Ulster peace – News Letter

Comment:

  • Free of the EU’s overwrought regulations, Britain can thrive – Roger Bootle, Daily Telegraph
  • Ignore the gloom, let’s make Brexit a success for business – David Davis, Times Red Box
  • Have MPs finally come up with a decent proposal? – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
  • Brexit goes to the brink – Wolfgang Münchau, FT
  • Britain can be a global trading power again post-Brexit – George Brandis, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • If we’re heading for a no-deal Brexit, why is the Government not acting now? – Daily Telegraph
  • The Brexit brink – The Times

>Today: Shanker Singham in Comment: How British farming can flourish after we leave the EU

Prime Minister backs embattled Grayling

“The prime minister has full confidence in Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, after Tory MPs called for him to be sacked over the collapse of a controversial ferry contract, Downing Street said yesterday. A cabinet minister echoed Theresa May’s support, saying that Mr Grayling had done a “really tough” job. The transport secretary’s decision to award a start-up company called Seaborne Freight a £13.8 million contract to run services between Ramsgate and Ostend in the event of a no-deal Brexit had already attracted widespread criticism as the firm has no ferries. It was one of three companies given contracts worth £108 million in December for additional crossings to ease the pressure on Dover when Britain leaves the EU. The deal collapsed over the weekend, when the new firm’s main backer pulled out.” – The Times

  • Cabinet revolt threatens to sink HS2 rail link – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • From ferries to trains, the Transport Secretary is making a mess – Andy McDonald, Times Red Box

May under pressure to intervene on Green’s knighthood

Theresa May is facing mounting pressure to intervene over Sir Philip Green’s knighthood after members of her Cabinet said it was a “disgrace”. The Government is under pressure to ask the forfeiture committee to examine whether he should lose his knighthood, awarded by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 2006. One Cabinet minister told The Daily Telegraph: “It is clearly the case that he is beyond the pale and shouldn’t have been honoured for his contribution in the first place.” Another said: “It’s a complete disgrace, he should be stripped of his knighthood.” The forfeiture committee looks into cases where an individual has brought the honours system into disrepute. People who have lost their honours include Fred Goodwin, the disgraced bank chief, and the entertainer Rolf Harris, convicted of sex offences.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Williamson deploys carrier to illustrate UK’s hard power

“Britain’s new aircraft carrier will be sent to China’s backyard in a show of strength as President Xi’s government increasingly disputes Pacific waters. Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, will say today that Britain must be ready “to use hard power” to protect its interests. He will warn that Russia and China are blurring the boundaries between peace and war and declare that Britain must stand up to those who “flout international law”, a principle that “may lead to us intervene ourselves”. He will announce details of a global tour that the new aircraft carrier, one of two costing a combined £6.2 billion, will undertake, carrying two squadrons of British and American F-35 multirole stealth fighter jets. HMS Queen Elizabeth, the country’s largest warship, will be sent to the Middle East and Mediterranean, as well as the Pacific, where the Royal Navy narrowly avoided a clash with the Chinese.” – The Times

  • Defence Secretary heats up Britain’s rhetoric – FT
  • ‘Ready to strike back against Russia and China’ – Daily Mail
  • UK must increase ‘mass and lethality’ of the Armed Forces – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit could boost Britain’s military standing, Williamson suggests – The Guardian

More:

  • MoD under fire for £1 billion support vessels tender – FT
  • Crosby offered to scupper Qatar world cup – The Times

Rudd plans prison terms for pension abuses

“Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, has set out plans to jail company bosses for up to seven years if they fall foul of a new offence of “wilfully or recklessly” mismanaging employee pensions schemes. The proposals mark a toughening up of the current powers whereby only certain offences — such as obstructing or providing false information to the pensions regulator — carry a prison sentence capped at a maximum of two years. The much broader offence would mean courts could not only impose longer prison sentences of up to seven years but also levy unlimited fines for pensions mismanagement. That marks a tougher approach to the original idea set out last year in a government consultation which proposed fines of up to £1m or more modest prison terms.” – FT

  • Universal Credit bosses snub call to protect single parents and the sick – The Sun

Sajid Javid: Collective action will help stem the rise of serious street violence

“As home secretary I am determined to prevent violent crime scarring our society, terrorising our communities and, most devastatingly, destroying the lives of our next generation. We cannot wait a decade for this violent cycle to end and I will do everything in my power to give those on the front line of the fight the tools they need to end the bloodshed. The causes of violent crime are complex, and while I wish there was just one solution to end this, there is no magic wand we can wave. What I can do is listen and support the dedicated police officers tackling the issue on the front line. I have seen first-hand the pressures they are under and that’s why I announced a brand-new deterrent of knife crime prevention orders. They have been requested by the police which is why they have been added to the Offensive Weapons Bill before parliament.” – Times Red Box

  • Why do the police waste time on Twitter instead of tackling knife crime? – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

Government accused of ‘killing fracking revolution’

“The Government has been accused of killing the fracking revolution by forcing drilling firms to suspend work over tiny tremors. It comes after a group of 49 scientists urged ministers to urgently review the fracking earthquake limit. Current rules force fracking firms to stop drilling if tremors reach 0.5 on the Richter scale. But a report last year showed that tremors of that magnitude are comparable to a football being bounced on the floor. Professor Quentin Fisher, of Leeds University, joined calls to loosen the current threshold in a letter published by The Times on Saturday. Yesterday he hit out against Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth for spreading “nonsense” claims about the industry… Ministers have refused to loosen up the current limits amid a wave of protests from anti-fracking campaigners.” – The Sun

Rebel Tory MPs to push dog meat ban

“Rebel Tory MPs are to enforce a groundbreaking ban on eating dogs in Britain after ministers refused. Fifteen Tory backbenchers have tabled changes to the upcoming Brexit Agriculture Bill to enact the new law. The ban on consuming dog meat would also extend to cats, and follows the US Congress making the sick practice illegal two months ago. The action, being repeated by a series of other Western states, is intended to send a powerful moral message to Far East countries where it is popular. The bid is lead by Tory MP and ex-Bread actor Giles Watling and has the backing of two former ministers, Sir Robert Syms and Tracey Crouch, former London mayor candidate Zac Goldsmith as well some opposition MPs. It could also be formally supported by Labour too – ensuring its victory.” – The Sun

Halfon calls for GCSEs to be scrapped

“GCSE exams in England should be scrapped and replaced with a baccalaureate for school leavers that includes vocational skills and personal development, as part of a radical overhaul proposed by an influential Conservative MP. Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow who chairs the House of Commons education select committee, is the first Conservative policymaker to break ranks over the future of GCSE exams, after the government’s efforts to improve their status by making them more difficult. Halfon, who has campaigned to improve perceptions of technical education and apprenticeships, will argue on Monday that the emphasis on 16-year-olds taking GCSEs has led to a narrow focus on academic attainment and rote learning, and that a well-rounded education requires more breadth.” – The Guardian

Blair urges Labour to be ‘more robust’ on antisemitism

“Tony Blair believes that his party’s leadership has not been sufficiently robust in tackling antisemitism. The former prime minister also backed calls for a local Labour party to be suspended amid allegations that a pregnant Jewish MP is being bullied. On Friday local members cancelled a no-confidence vote in Luciana Berger, the Liverpool Wavertree MP, who starts maternity leave in a few weeks. Mr Blair told the Sky News programme Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “Of course we should eradicate antisemitism from the Labour Party. We are supposed to be a progressive political party. How can we say it’s tolerable to have a certain level of antisemitism in the party?” Asked about the Labour leadership’s response, Mr Blair replied: “It hasn’t been robust enough. The fact that someone like Luciana Berger, who is a smart, capable, active MP doing her best for her constituents, [can] even be subject to a no-confidence motion with this type of allegation swirling around is shameful for the Labour Party.”” – The Times

  • Countdown star attended meeting about breakaway party – The Times
  • Hard-left critics of Berger have close ties to Shadow Cabinet – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour investigates Liverpool branch over bullying of MP – The Guardian
  • Watson claims MP changed their voting position out of fear – The Times

Comment:

  • Even Corbynites are rejecting the Dear Leader – Alex Massie, The Times
  • Labour rebels doing the right thing, but wrong to blame Brexit – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • Why our sickly parties deserve to split – Andrew Rawnsley, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “The fact that Berger should even be subject to a no confidence motion is shameful”, says Blair

Scots may have to pay VAT on SNP’s new tax

“Scots face having to pay VAT on the SNP’s planned work parking levy in a double tax blow that could cost them almost £500 a year, it has emerged. The Scottish Tories pointed out that the levy in Nottingham – the only place in the UK to operate a similar scheme – is liable for 20 per cent VAT if employers pass on the cost to their workers. This adds a further £83 to the £415 annual cost of the levy in 2019/20, taking the total burden to £498. Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Tories’ Shadow Finance Minster, said the disclosure showed how the levy had been “cobbled together” by the SNP government so they could get a Budget deal with the Greens. It came after Adam McVey, the SNP leader of Edinburgh City Council, said employers should pass on the cost of the levy to their workers. HM Revenue & Customs said it could not comment on the specific tax arrangements for a particular scheme, but confirmed VAT is levied on “services employers provide to employees.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Why parking tax isn’t real solution to air pollution – Christine Jardine, The Scotsman

SDLP leader warned members are unhappy with Fianna Fail link

“SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has been warned that a group of party members are “considering options” after a link-up with Fianna Fail was confirmed on Saturday. The SDLP leadership’s proposed partnership with the Dublin-based party was backed by a substantial majority of members – almost 70% – at a special conference held in Newry. But former Irish Labour Senator Mairia Cahill told the News Letter on Sunday she has now contacted Mr Eastwood about the concerns of a “number of people” in the party who are now considering their options following Saturday’s vote. This follows the resignation from the party of a former Belfast City councillor, Niall Kelly, who said in a statement that he accepts the decision made on Saturday but does not support it.” – News Letter

News in Brief:

  • Strong reasons why the EU ought to accept the Malthouse Compromise – Dr Graham Gudgin, Brexit Central
  • Here’s what a UK-EU trade deal could look like – Shanker Singham, CapX
  • Is the financial logic behind HS2 collapsing? – Liam Halligan, The Spectator
  • How to solve the housing crisis – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • The war on drugs has failed – it’s time to pursue legalisation – Norman Lamb, 1828

Newslinks for Sunday 10th February 2019

May’s Chicken Game 1) February 27 emerges as the new deadline for a meaningful vote… “Theresa May is to urge… Read more »

May’s Chicken Game 1) February 27 emerges as the new deadline for a meaningful vote…

“Theresa May is to urge MPs to give her another fortnight to seek changes to her Brexit agreement, as pro-Remain rebels prepare a second attempt to remove the option of leaving without a deal….Downing Street sources suggested that Mrs May would ask for more time, by pledging to facilitate a further debate later this month, by committing to tabling a fresh motion to which backbenchers could table amendments and debate by a new deadline of February 27.” – Daily Telegraph

May’s Chicken Game 2) …As pro-Remain and Soft Brexit MPs mull whether to have another Cooper Amendment-style push this week

“Mrs May is expected to table a sparsely worded Government motion asking the Commons to note her progress that will be open to amendments from backbenchers. She went through the same procedure at the end of last month. Like a 1970s television schedule, the daily Commons order paper is increasingly filled with repeats. Pro-Brussels MPs have yet to decide whether to use Thursday’s showdown as another opportunity to try to pass a binding motion ruling out a no-deal Brexit.” – Sunday Express

  • Barnier and Barclay “getting to know you” meeting tomorrow – Sunday Times
  • Hunt, Fox and Grayling meet Clark, Gauke and Rudd to try to find a common way through – Mail on Sunday
  • Labour MPs Kyle and Wilson caucus with Wollaston, Grieve and Soubry first to pass May’s deal and then to put it to a referendum (with Remain as the other option) – Observer
  • “We must be out by the time of local elections”: Gary Porter’s warning to Downing Street – Sunday Express
  • Soubry calls for Grayling to go over Seaborne, Rees-Mogg suggests Ireland’s government intervened – Observer
  • Duguid hopeful that bid to have end date for CFP membership included in the Fisheries Bill will be adopted by the government – Scotland on Sunday
  • Tusk profile – Observer
  • Japan seeks concessions in trade talks – Observer
  • Ellwood rejects Evans’ plea for a Red Arrow fly-past on Brexit Day – Mail on Sunday
  • Two Tory donors threaten to quit in the event of No Deal – Observer
  • May Black-and-White Ball jibe at Bercow – Mail on Sunday

Meanwhile, Labour moves to head the Prime Minister off

“In an interview with The Sunday Times, Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, reveals that Labour will try to stop a no-deal exit with an amendment that will compel the prime minister to hold another “meaningful vote” before February 26. The move is an attempt to stop May delaying the vote until after the European Council summit on March 21 — only eight days before the UK is due to leave the EU. “We have got to put a hard stop into this running down the clock,” Starmer says. “And that’s what we want to do this week.” – Sunday Times

Adam Boulton: Don’t believe the denials. Number Ten is preparing for a snap election.

“As reported last week, both the civil service under the cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, and Conservative Party headquarters are preparing for a D-Day election on June 6. Downing Street insiders put the probability of an early election at between 60% and 70%. “I know the difference between complacent Sunday afternoon campaigning and going to war — and this is war,” one veteran reports.” – Sunday Times

  • Wreckers on both sides of the channel mustn’t stand in the way of a deal – Dominic Raab, Sunday Telegraph
  • Beware, Ireland: Brussels is planning to end your low corporation tax model – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • The Government is keeping us in the dark – Nick Cohen, Observer
  • Why we can’t stand Juncker – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Norway Plus offers something for everyone – Alan Johnson and John Denham, Sunday Times
  • We should join the EEA, Episode 94 – Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph
  • The letters pages of the Daily Telegraph contain solutions to the problems thrown up by Brexit – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday: Book review by Andrew Gimson: Why Britain wants to leave this European Union of failed nation states

“Minister, you must be in on the story” 1) Mordaunt on Green

“To do this, the necessary steps need to be taken to end the misuse and misunderstanding of confidentiality agreements. That’s why the UK government will launch a consultation to hear from those affected and understand whether there should be more limitations on confidentiality clauses so that workers cannot be intimidated into silence and to find out what needs to be done to ensure that workers are clear about their rights.” – Sunday Telegraph

“Minister, you must be in on the story” 2) Rudd on Green (we presume)

“To curb these freelancers playing fast and loose with your cash, I am going to make ‘wilful or reckless behaviour’ relating to a pension scheme a criminal offence, with jail terms of up to seven years for the worst offenders. We’ll also give the courts powers to levy unlimited – yes unlimited – fines. So if you run your company pension into the ground, saddling it with massive, unsustainable debts, we’re coming for you. The new criminal offence we are introducing is a major step forward in stamping out the abuses that we’ve seen in some final salary schemes, and bringing the fat-cat failures to book.  So if your boss recklessly risks your retirement, they’ll have plenty of time behind bars to contemplate their fate.” – Sunday Telegraph

“Minister, you must be in on the story” 3) Hancock on social media

“Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed he will set up a handpicked cyber-squad to oversee the removal of self-harm pictures from Instagram. He declared: “This is far too important to be left to the whims of social media companies.” In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, Mr Hancock said he had given bosses two months to come up with a fix. And he warned of tough new laws if they don’t clean up their act quickly, adding: “All options are on the table.” – Sun on Sunday

Other Conservative news –

  • Lewis opposes Electoral Commission’s bid for new powers – Sunday Telegraph
  • Hunt launches global bid to curb state murder of reporters – Sunday Times
  • Tomorrow, Boles’ Association will ask him if he wants to stand again at the next election, but he will refuse to answer – Sunday Times
  • Cars 1) Williamson parking space nuclear bunker yarn – Mail on Sunday
  • Cars 2) Malthouse leapt from vehicle to help injured women – Sun on Sunday
  • Formal complaint to Standards Commissioner into Deben – Mail on Sunday
  • “Turning Point fundraiser is Putin cheerleader” – Mail on Sunday

> Today: ToryDiary –“Minister, you must be in the story”

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Effective web regulation will not be easy, and ministers must take the time to get it right

Why doesn’t Corbyn’s new biographer tell us what he really thinks?

All from the Mail on Sunday

Blair aides and fans plot new social democratic party to be launched “within weeks”

“Countdown star Rachel Riley and Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling’s agent are teaming up with advisers from Tony Blair’s Government to launch a breakaway Labour Party within weeks. The plotters, led by Blair’s former Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, addressed about 50 ‘potential supporters of a new political movement’ to stop Jeremy Corbyn getting the keys to No 10, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. The secret meeting on Tuesday night was held in the Central London offices of Ms Rowling’s agent, Neil Blair, where Powell and former Blair speechwriter Philip Collins delivered plans for a new pro-European centrist party.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Twelve Labour MPs to quit – Sun on Sunday
  • “In a few weeks, a handful will display the courage the majority of their contemporaries lack. They will walk away from the cesspit their party has become.” – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • Clegg accused of conflict of interest when Deputy Prime Minister – Mail on Sunday

Newslinks for Saturday 9th February 2019

Cross-party alliance to mount another bid to take control of Brexit… “A cross-party group of MPs determined to prevent a… Read more »

Cross-party alliance to mount another bid to take control of Brexit…

“A cross-party group of MPs determined to prevent a no-deal Brexit will make another attempt to wrest control from Theresa May next week, sympathetic ministers have been told. The alliance, led by Yvette Cooper, the Labour chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, and Nick Boles, the former Tory minister, is expected to ask MPs to vote to put parliament in charge for three days at the end of this month. That would give Mrs May two weeks to get her deal through the Commons before MPs forced her to delay Brexit by asking the European Union for an extension to Article 50. Under parliamentary rules only the government can propose the legislation needed to extend Article 50. The Cooper amendment would suspend those rules for three days. Ministers who had threatened to resign to block a disorderly Brexit have been told that their votes are not needed for the Cooper amendment to pass. “We’ve been told to sit it out,” one said. Another cabinet minister agreed that it was not yet “high noon”.” – The Times

  • Rebels in retreat: May to be ‘offered even more time’ – Daily Mail
  • Major tells Brexiteers he won’t ‘move over’ – The Times
  • France might veto any British bid to extend Article 50 – The Sun

Labour:

  • Corbyn scrambles to stop Labour imploding over Brexit – Daily Mail
  • McDonnell warned Labour MPs not to back May’s deal – The Sun

More:

  • UK ‘not ready to leave’, warns O’Donnell – The Times
  • No-deal ferries in doubt as Irish firm pulls backing – Daily Telegraph
  • Government cancels shipping contract with no-ship firm – The Guardian
  • Risk of no-deal rises as UK-Japan talks stall – FT
  • Dutch businesses fear Netherlands has much to lose – Daily Telegraph
  • Hauliers fear EU lockout over missing permits – The Times

…as May is warned sceptics won’t be won over with ‘tweaks’

Theresa May has been warned by a group of Tory MPs attempting to break the Brexit deadlock that the Northern Ireland backstop is a “monumental” issue that will not be resolved with a “few cursory tweaks”. Three former Cabinet ministers who helped draw up a Brexit “Plan C” known as the “Malthouse compromise” say it appears the Prime Minister has “forgotten” the fact that her Brexit deal was defeated by 230 votes in the Commons last month. Writing in The Telegraph, the Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson join Remainer Nicky Morgan in warning the backstop “in anything like its present form” is “never” going to pass in the Commons. They also warn that supporting Labour plans to keep Britain in the Customs Union will be a breach of the Conservative Party manifesto, leave the UK tied to the EU’s trade policy and “renege” on the result of the referendum. The article suggests that the fragile truce between the Prime Minister and her backbenchers is under significant strain.” – Daily Telegraph

  • British and Irish attorneys general to meet for talks – The Guardian
  • Varadkar ‘refuses to discuss Brexit’ during May’s Dublin visit… – The Sun
  • …but hailed Corbyn’s ‘interesting’ proposal – The Scotsman
  • Irish leader throws Prime Minister’s efforts back in her face – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Brexiteers are rejected precisely the Brexit they used to want – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • Make the case against Brexit right now – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • Why ‘pro-Brexit’ MPs like me back Corbyn’s customs union plan – Gareth Snell, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour MPs in leave-voting constituencies must make a choice – Jack Doyle, Daily Mail

Brexit Party predicts ‘thousands’ of Tory defections

Thousands of Conservative members are likely to defect to a new Brexit party which was officially recognised on Friday by the electoral regulator, its backers claim. The Electoral Commission on Friday formally recognised the Brexit Party as an official organisation which will allow it to field candidates at elections. Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader who is supporting the party, said “the engine is running” and he stood “ready for battle” to fight the Tories and Labour if European Parliament elections are held on May 23. Political space for a new anti-EU party has been created by the lurch to the right by the UK Independence Party, which has been adopting more strident anti-Muslim policies. The timing of the official recognition will be a wake-up call to Theresa May, the Prime Minister, of the electoral risk to the Tory party of agreeing a softer Brexit deal over the next few weeks.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Farage ‘bemused’ that May has not been toppled – Daily Express
  • Tories risk wipe-out at local elections if Brexit delayed, party told – The Sun
  • Brexiteers join social club to escape hostility – FT

Comment:

  • My new party stands ready to defend democracy – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph

Iain Duncan Smith, Nicky Morgan, and Owen Paterson: May cannot back out of ditching the backstop

“Following the PM’s speech in Belfast on Tuesday, she said, a deal would only pass Parliament if, “…changes are made to the backstop.” Yet the Brady amendment did not call for “changes”. It called for the Backstop “to be replaced”. It is almost as if the Prime Minister has forgotten the scale of the original Withdrawal Agreement’s defeat (by 230 votes) or how unacceptable the Backstop proposals remain to significant numbers of MPs on both sides of the House. They believe it would keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and Single Market, creating a new political entity called “UK(NI)”. Northern Ireland’s elected politicians (unlike those in Dublin) would have no say over significant areas of this new entity’s policy; Northern Ireland’s constitutional status would have been fundamentally altered in breach of the Belfast Agreement’s Principle of Consent and the requirement to consult the NI Assembly.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Not insoluble: a Brexit plan to please everyone – Roland Alter, The Guardian
  • My legal fight to prevent a hard border and protect the Union – Lord Trimble, Daily Telegraph
  • Overlooked concession could lead to future border dispute – Sam McBride, News Letter
  • Prime Minister faces a Herculean task to deliver Brexit – James Forsyth, The Sun
  • Juncker’s Irish card another insult we have had to endure – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Hunt and Williamson drive crackdown on Chinese firm

“New laws on foreign investment in the UK will block Chinese firm Huawei from sensitive state projects, The Sun can reveal. The tech giant is among a handful of firms to have developed the next generation of mobile internet – known as 5G… Senior Cabinet ministers and Britain’s most senior civil servant Mark Sedwill fear Huawei’s involvement in such critical infrastructure could jeopardise national security. They are planning reforms to allow the Government to ban Chinese firms like Huawei from future involvement in “strategically significant” UK tech projects… Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson are among those concerned about the Chinese firm’s reach.” – The Sun

Mordaunt says ministers will do what’s necessary to avoid misuse of gagging clauses

Ministers will take all “necessary steps” to prevent employers using Non-Disclosure Agreements to cover up allegations of “disgusting and illegal” behaviour, the Minister for Women has said. Penny Mordaunt said NDAs were being used to “intimidate victims into silence” and vowed to act in the wake of the Sir Philip Green case. Last year Theresa May pledged to end the “unethical” use of NDAs and laws could now be changed to force employers to explain workers’ rights to them if they are asked to sign NDAs. But victims’ campaigners said the Government needed to act faster, as it still cannot say when workers can expect to see action on NDAs… Although NDAs will not be banned, as many employers use them legitimately to protect intellectual copyright, Mrs May has promised to improve the way NDAs are regulated to make it “absolutely explicit” when they cannot be used.” – Daily Telegraph

  • It’s time Parliament stopped abuse by the rich and powerful – Daily Telegraph
  • Tories have tasks to attend to beyond Brexit – The Sun

Scottish Tories claim victory in bid to thwart Johnson’s leadership hopes

“Boris Johnson’s bitter rivals in the ­Scottish Conservatives have declared victory, saying their campaign to discredit him as a future Tory leader has been a “great success”. A senior Scottish Tory source said the former foreign secretary was no longer considered a serious contender to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, thanks in part to behind-the-scenes lobbying to convince colleagues a Johnson premiership would seriously damage the party in Scotland. The whispering campaign against the leading Brexiteer – dubbed “Operation Arse” – burst into the open at the Conservative Party conference last year, when a Scottish Tory source said senior figures were “going to do everything we can” to stop Mr Johnson from becoming leader. Five months on, with the Prime Minister having survived votes of confidence within her party and in the Commons, a source said of the plot: “It seems to me that it was a great success. But should it ever need to be reactivated, it certainly can be.”” – The Scotsman

Thompson demands inquiry into allegations

“A Conservative MP spoken to by police after claims of men being groped in a parliamentary bar has referred himself to an internal party inquiry and insisted that allegations against him were untrue. Police were called to Strangers’ Bar on Tuesday night and Ross Thomson was spoken to by officers, who did not arrest him. Witnesses had said that he was very drunk and had ignored repeated requests to go home. One said that he had been bothering a man in her group before police arrived. Yesterday Mr Thomson, the MP for Aberdeen South, tweeted: “I would like to state that these allegations from anonymous sources are completely false.” He said that no complaint had been made against him to the police, parliamentary authorities or his party but that in the interests of transparency “I am referring myself to the Conservative Party’s disciplinary panel of the code of conduct”.” – The Times

  • MP faces discipline over conduct in bar – The Sun
Chope condemned for blocking FGM bill

Shield“A Conservative MP was accused of “appalling” behaviour by one of his colleagues yesterday after he blocked a bill designed to protect children from female genital mutilation. Sir Christopher Chope, who faced widespread condemnation last year for objecting to a law to ban upskirting, caused the termination of a debate on a cross-party attempt to toughen the law on FGM. As he had done before, the Tory backbencher shouted “object” when the bill was presented to the Commons for its second reading. Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP who sponsored the backbench bill, said afterwards that FGM campaigners had “begged” Sir Christopher not to block the proposal at second reading. After the draft legislation was blocked, Mr Goldsmith tweeted: “As anticipated, Chope objected to the FGM Bill. Just appalling.” He added in another post: “In case anyone is tempted to believe he has a principled objection to private member’s bills, please note that once again he did NOT object to those put forward by his friends.”” – The Times

Labour women accuse leadership of bullying Berger

“Jeremy Corbyn faces a backlash from Labour’s most prominent women after his top team were accused of bullying a heavily pregnant Jewish MP. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, caused outrage after suggesting that Luciana Berger should declare her loyalty to the party to see off a no-confidence vote tabled by local members a day after she challenged Mr Corbyn over his handling of antisemitism. Harriet Harman, the former acting leader, Dame Margaret Hodge, a former select committee chairman, and Dame Louise Ellman, a former chairwoman of Jewish Labour, all called for Ms Berger, 37, not to be hounded out. The emergency motion, due for discussion on February 17, two weeks before Ms Berger is due to go on maternity leave, was dropped yesterday. Labour sources suggested that Mr Corbyn’s team feared a walkout by Labour MPs fed up with the leadership’s stance on Brexit and antisemitism.” – The Times

  • Shadow Chancellor said to offer ‘tacit approval’ to hard-left activists – Daily Telegraph
  • McDonnell criticised for seeking ‘loyalty pledge’ from MP – FT
  • Fury as Shadow Chancellor indulges group which claims antisemitism scandal is smear – The Sun
  • Corbyn’s dissatisfaction rating now highest-ever for Opposition leader – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Row has stayed with Corbyn from the start – Francis Elliott, The Times
  • Whatever Berger’s politics, Labour members must stand with her – Owen Jones, The Guardian
  • Moderates now have no choice but to leave the Party – Jane Merrick, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

Cable calls for assisted dying to be legalised

“Vince Cable has called for assisted dying to be legalised, becoming the first party leader to back the move. In a moving article that will reopen the debate around the emotive subject, the Liberal Democrat leader called for Parliament to introduce new laws. His change of heart emerged as Geoffrey Whaley, a terminally ill man who ended his life at Dignitas in Switzerland on Thursday, said police inquiries about his wife’s role had marred his final weeks. Writing for the Mail, Sir Vince said nursing his first wife Olympia as she died of breast cancer had strengthened his opposition to assisted dying. But a decade on, he had been convinced a change in the law was needed by the moving stories of constituents who chose to end their lives. ‘When Parliament finally lifts its gaze beyond the all-consuming Brexit debate, it will have to think about some of the big ethical and political issues out there,’ he writes.” – Daily Mail

  • This ethical minefield is not just a matter for personal choice – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Sinn Fein MPs failed to register Venezuelan trip

“Trips to Venezuela by two Sinn Fein MPs were never registered with Parliament, the News Letter has discovered. The DUP has said the republican party should now “consider the position” of Mickey Brady and Chris Hazzard, given the past strong stance it has taken on the issue of “integrity”, which has seen it launch attacks on Ian Paisley over not registering his own overseas trips. The news comes after the News Letter revealed earlier in the week that Sinn Fein was refusing to provide details of a trip taken to Caracas last month by its general secretary Dawn Doyle and IRA explosives convict-turned-MLA Conor Murphy. They were attending the inauguration of president Nicolas Maduro Moros, after he was elected to power a second time following a vote which was widely condemned as unfair.” – News Letter

Newslinks for Friday 8th February 2019

May faces ticking clock as EU leaders reject her calls for compromise… “The European Union will push negotiations to the… Read more »

May faces ticking clock as EU leaders reject her calls for compromise…

“The European Union will push negotiations to the brink of no-deal, having rejected Theresa May’s pleas for change to the withdrawal agreement yesterday. The prime minister’s requests for “legally binding changes to the terms” of the Irish backstop were rebuffed repeatedly after she held talks in Brussels with Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and other senior EU officials. “Still no breakthrough in sight. Talks will continue,” Mr Tusk, the president of the European Council, said. According to officials Mrs May suggested three options for changing the backstop: a time limit on its operation, which is her preferred choice; alternative arrangements, including the use of technology to avoid a hard border in Ireland; and a unilateral exit clause. By dismissing Mrs May’s emphasis on the backstop, the EU hopes to drive the Commons towards Labour proposals for a permanent customs union.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister accused of talking talks ‘down to the wire’ – Daily Telegraph
  • London and Brussels to reopen talks to break impasse – FT
  • Tusk backs Corbyn’s plan – Daily Mail
  • May to guarantee that UK matches EU on workers’ rights – The Sun

Ministers:

  • Hammond says public will have ‘to hold their nerve’ – The Times
  • Mundell fails to confirm that Brexit will occur on March 29 – The Scotsman
  • Health minister hints he’d resign to vote against no-deal – PoliticsHome

More:

  • ‘Project After’: Tories’ secret plan for no-deal revealed – Daily Telegraph
  • Davis blasts Tusk for ‘hell’ jibe – The Sun
  • Lack of trade defences for no-deal exit alarms MPs – FT
  • EU admit they would ‘give some ground’ for fishing access – The Sun
  • French firms start to panic about ‘nightmare scenario’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Lord Forsyth tears into SNP over Brexit stance – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: May – “I am going to deliver Brexit, I’m going to deliver it on time”

…as she meets Varadkar for backstop talks…

Theresa May is to hold talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar today as she continues her shuttle-diplomacy to try to break the deadlock in the Brexit negotiations. After spending Thursday in talks in Brussels, the Prime Minister flies to Dublin in an effort to resolve the dispute over the Irish backstop which remains the main stumbling block to an agreement. Ahead of her meeting with the Taoiseach over dinner, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will hold talks in the Irish capital with his Irish counterpart, Seamus Woulfe. Mr Cox has been leading work within Whitehall on providing either a time limit on the backstop or giving the UK an exit mechanism from it. Both proposals have received a dusty response from Dublin, which insists the backstop cannot be time limited if it is to provide an effective “insurance policy” against the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.” – Daily Telegraph

  • US congressman warn UK over Irish border – FT
  • Wilson plays down suggestions of DUP rift – News Letter

Comment:

  • May can betray Ulster, betray her people, or leave without a deal – Andrew Lilico, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Trimble raises over £10,000 for legal challenge to the backstop

…and Corbyn hints at support for second vote to quell rebellion

“Jeremy Corbyn was fighting last night to reassure his MPs that he could still back a second referendum after some said that they would leave the party rather than help to deliver an EU divorce deal. Mr Corbyn’s shift on Wednesday night towards a softer Brexit deal led to a backlash from MPs, including Owen Smith, a former member of the shadow cabinet. He said that he and “lots of other people” were now considering their position… Yesterday one of the frontbench Brexit team ran into trouble with Mr Corbyn’s office over his interpretation of the Labour leader’s letter. Matthew Pennycook, MP for Greenwich & Woolwich, tweeted that Labour could still support a second referendum if Theresa May rejected Mr Corbyn’s compromise offer… The leader’s office resisted this, saying it was not Mr Corbyn’s view but later adopted a more emollient tone. Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, denied that Labour had abandoned its conference policy and Mr Corbyn’s office later messaged MPs with the same claim.” – The Times

  • Second referendum ignored in letter setting out position… – The Sun
  • …and Labour denies it’s the next step – The Guardian
  • Leader’s shift heightens Labour tensions – FT
  • How has Corbyn modified his position? – The Times

More:

  • MPs who back Tory Brexit face ‘moment of reckoning’ – The Guardian
  • ‘People’s Vote’ in disarray as rogue Labour MP tables referendum amendment – The Sun
  • Poll warns that Labour could lose more votes over Brexit than Iraq – The Sun

Comment:

  • Labour cannot paper over its cracks for long – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Corbyn’s letter brings his Party even closer to splitting – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Treating EU negotiations like a car dealership must stop – Chi Onwurah, Times Red Box
  • Labour’s customs union idea might just work – Alan Beattie, FT
  • Opposition MPs must not be fooled by May’s promises – Faiza Shaheen, The Guardian
  • Labour’s poisoned apple would kill the spirit of Brexit – Jack Doyle, Daily Mail

Editorial:

  • This makes a deal with the EU more likely – The Times
  • MPs must think carefully about voting down legal concessions – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Ten reasons why the second referendum campaign is in disarray

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Corbyn’s Brexit tightrope gets ever thinner, and the wind is getting up

Fraser Nelson: The EU needs the Brexit process to look agonising

This is the strange world of Tusk’s inferno, and it’s worth exploring. In another, more logical world, a deal would have been done on the spot on Thursday. The Dutch are dreading a no-deal Brexit, Calais port authorities are already seeing customers making alternative plans and the Irish are fretting about medicines imported through Britain. With a bit of goodwill, agreement could be reached with a single phone call and millions of minds put at ease. So if Tusk’s objective is to agree a deal, his behaviour this week has been unfathomable. But to Tusk, and to others in Brussels, there is far more at stake. There is more to Brexit than just a deal with Britain. The European Union is concerned about its survival, and is keen that other countries do not follow Britain out of the door. For understandable reasons (and ones that Brexiteers are wrong to downplay) Brussels needs the Brexit process to looks agonising. If Britain was able to agree a deal without much pain, then a few other nation states might get similar ideas.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tusk’s tirade show his contempt for leave-voting Brits – Quentin Letts, The Sun
  • Forget new trade deals, the UK is struggling to keep what it has – Sam Lowe, The Guardian
  • The delusion of ‘Singapore on Thames’ – Martin Wolf, FT
  • Politics and business are addicted to bungs – Ed Conway, The Times

>Yesterday:

Gauke unveils new legal aid boost

“A review into the impact of massive cuts to legal aid has resulted in an extra £6.5m to help people who cannot afford a lawyer, including a proposal to place legal advisers in doctors’ surgeries. David Gauke, justice secretary, said the money comprised £1.5m to help people representing themselves in court – known as litigants in person – and up to £5m of investment in new ways of offering legal support. Some lawyers criticised the extra funding as inadequate given the effects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (Laspo) Act, which came into force in April 2013. Richard Atkins QC, chair of the Bar Council, which represents barristers, said he was “disappointed” and called the extra money a “drop in the ocean given the impact Laspo has had on restricting individuals’ access to justice”.” – FT

  • Ministry of Justice accused of trying to sneak through a ‘death tax’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Replace Hammond with Gove, promote Mordaunt, bring back Raab

Truss urges Tories to take on the NIMBYs…

“Homeowners who block local development to protect property prices must be challenged by the government, the chief secretary to the Treasury has said. Liz Truss described them as “the worst vested interest we’ve got” and said that the Conservatives must loosen planning laws to extend the party’s appeal. The shortage of affordable housing for young people was key to Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity with younger voters at the last election, Ms Truss said as she called for changes to increase housebuilding and bring down prices. Speaking to the Resolution Foundation think tank in London, she urged her party to adopt a popular free market agenda in the chancellor’s spending review this year. Ms Truss is closely involved in the review and will set the budgets of Whitehall departments for the next three years.” – The Times

  • Tory promises on housebuilding need changes to planning laws, NAO claims – Daily Telegraph
  • A million more young adults live with their parents than 20 years ago – The Sun
  • Ministers refuse to relax fracking rules as public opposition hardens – The Times

Comment:

  • Local communities’ legitimate concerns must be heard – Tom Fyans, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: John Myers in Local Government: Allow local people to take back control of building design

…and tells ministers to stop trying to dictate people’s diets

“Politicians and quangos should stop “virtue signalling” by telling people how much pizza and alcohol they can have, a Cabinet minister has said. Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said there is an “increasing quangocracy” which is making “pronouncements” on things like portion sizes. She said: “[Voters] resent being told how big their pizza should be or how much alcohol they should drink per week. At the moment we have got an increasing quangocracy that does seem to be prepared to say those things. I think what we should focus on is intervening … to make sure people are capable of making their own decisions, rather than micro-managing their lives.” Asked if Matt Hancock was the Cabinet’s biggest “nanny”, Ms Truss replied that she had eaten a fry-up with the Health Secretary earlier this week, adding: “He did have a black pudding. I think that’s a promising sight.”” – Daily Telegraph

The rise of Javid

“Javid holds Britain’s archetypal establishment job; he oversees the country’s secrets and its borders. When Theresa May’s stricken premiership finally ends, the 49-year-old is viewed as one of the favourites to succeed her. He is a multimillionaire who took a steep pay cut from his job at Deutsche Bank to go into politics, yet the man hoping to walk through the door of Number 10 has a surprising confession to make. “It would probably sound strange sitting here as home secretary that you sometimes feel a little bit like an outsider, but I guess it is a bit like that still.” Javid, who barely needs to open a door himself these days, spent most of his young life having them slammed in his face. Behind the smooth exterior is a politician who grew up on a Bristol street once dubbed by a newspaper “the most dangerous street in Britain”.” – FT

  • Fury as knife deaths hit 70-year high – The Sun
  • Windrush fund helped just one person by end of 2018 – The Guardian

Jewish MP faces no-confidence vote

“Luciana Berger faces a no-confidence motion from her local Labour Party for criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the party’s antisemitism crisis. The Jewish Chronicle reported that Ms Berger, a prominent Jewish MP, was facing the censure motion in her Liverpool Wavertree constituency on February 17. The motion accuses her of “continually using the media to criticise the man we all want to be prime minister”. Ms Berger has been an outspoken critic of the party’s failure to deal with antisemitism in its ranks and has said that the party’s “disgusting” antisemitism was “going unchecked”… Such motions from local party organisations do not mean that the MP is automatically deselected but it suggests that battles lie ahead.” – The Times

MPs face new ‘cheat-proof’ expenses system

“Parliamentary watchdogs are launching a ‘cheat proof’ expenses system for MPs – ten years after the pay scandal erupted. The Sun can reveal that IPSA has written to MPs informing them that Westminster will finally catch up with the modern world and go digital from April. MPs and their teams will be told to scan receipts and send them over the web. Insiders claim the move will save watchdogs up to £1million a year in admin costs. But sources added it will make it easier for IPSA to verify MPs spending – and challenge it – far more quickly. One told The Sun: “It’s about spotting problems before they happen. It allows for quicker, earlier checking and verification.”… The guidance also alerts MPs that any money they owe IPSA from rejected expenses “will not be written off” – and any debtors could be named and shamed if Freedom of Information requests come in.” – The Sun

Charity CEO forced to step down over historical praise for UKIP

“The chief executive of Women’s Aid, Katie Ghose, is stepping down from the domestic abuse charity after complaints from black and minority ethnic women’s refuges about her public praise for Ukip. London Black Women’s Project wrote to Women’s Aid this month calling on the charity to remove Ghose from her post after video footage was circulated on Twitter showing her praising Ukip’s “passion for a new way of doing politics”, referring to Douglas Carswell as “an outstanding MP” and lauding Nigel Farage. Several other groups also expressed anger at Ghose’s comments, made at the Ukip annual conference in September 2015 when she was the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, demanding that Women’s Aid take action because they considered her views on race made her “untenable as a CEO of Women’s Aid”.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • The Brexit prisoner’s dilemma – Tom McTague, Politico
  • Why hard Brexiteers are sticking to their guns – Ryan Bourne, CapX
  • Has President Macron finally blown his fuse? – Maggie Pagano, Reaction
  • Who does Nicola Sturgeon think she is? – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • Why it would be madness to stay in a customs union – Alastair Macmillan, Brexit Central

Newslinks for Thursday 7th February 2019

Prime Minister braces for fresh confrontation with Brussels… “Theresa May is braced for a bruising encounter with European leaders today… Read more »

Prime Minister braces for fresh confrontation with Brussels…

“Theresa May is braced for a bruising encounter with European leaders today after Donald Tusk declared that there will be “a special place in hell” for the leaders of the Brexit campaign. Downing Street believes that the prime minister will receive little sympathy from Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the commission, as they meet for the first time since her Brexit plan was defeated in the Commons. The prime minister is also meeting Mr Tusk, president of the European Council, and Antonio Tajani, president of the European parliament. Mrs May does not believe that the EU will give any additional help in time for next week’s Commons votes over her approach on Brexit. While Brussels may allow a change to the withdrawal agreement, in the form of a legally binding letter making clear that the backstop insurance policy is temporary, this will not emerge until much closer to the March 29 Brexit deadline, The Times understands.” – The Times

  • May ‘preparing to delay vote on deal’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Prime Minister to ‘scrap unity plan’ once Brussels shoots it down – The Sun
  • May to get no help until March – Daily Express
  • MPs urge Government to ditch backstop and go for ‘Plan C’ – The Sun
  • UK won’t be trapped in the backstop, May insists – Daily Mail

More:

  • Business fury at UK failure to roll over trade deals – FT
  • Tusk faces backlash from both Brexiteers and Brussels – The Times
  • Pressure mounts on Council President to apologise – Daily Mail
  • Irish opposition leader attacks ‘hell’ comments – FT
  • What German business thinks of the negotiations – Daily Telegraph
  • Europhile MPs hold fire on push for second vote – The Guardian

>Yesterday:

…as Clark and Fox start a ‘Cabinet trade war’ over tariffs…

“A Cabinet trade war erupted yesterday as Greg Clark rubbished calls to unilaterally scrap tariffs on post-Brexit imports. The Business Secretary said it was vital Britain kept some “defensive” tariffs in place to protect industries such as steelmaking and ceramics. The comments came 24 hours after claims Trade Secretary Liam Fox was considering a plan to slash tariffs on imports to zero to keep prices low for consumers. Union leaders immediately condemned the idea as the “ultimate Brexit betrayal”. Speaking to MPs yesterday Mr Clark said zero-tariffs was not an agreed government position… Speaking separately Mr Fox admitted a zero tariff approach was among a range of options being considered. But he insisted that was not “what I would propose and I have not actually heard anyone else in government propose it”.” – The Sun

  • Trade Secretary says zero tariffs is a ‘possibility’ – FT
  • Deadline for agreement is next week, says Clark… – The Times
  • …as he warns MPs that delay would only prolong uncertainty – FT

More:

  • Brussels will cave at the 11th hour, Davis insists – The Sun
  • BBC faces bias accusations over £4 million EU funding – Daily Telegraph
  • Ministers attack EU over post-Brexit data threat – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Hunt loses pole position in our Cabinet League Table as overall ratings languish

…and Corbyn faces backlash over his EU demands

“Jeremy Corbyn is facing a backlash from pro-EU Labour figures after setting out five demands that need to be met in order for the Prime Minister to get his party’s support for a Brexit deal. In a letter to Theresa May, the Labour leader insisted the PM needs to get Labour’s priorities enshrined in the Political Declaration setting out future relations with the EU. Mr Corbyn said securing in law the demands, which include joining a customs union, is the only way of achieving Labour support and uniting the country. But the move, which came as Mrs May heads to Brussels for talks with EU leaders on Thursday, has angered prominent party members who have accused Mr Corbyn of putting the Brexit policy agreed at Labour’s conference “in the bin”. The Labour leader has told the PM that just seeking modifications to the Northern Irish backstop proposals is not enough to win widespread backing and that she must change tack on key red lines.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour leader offers May his support if she meets five tests – The Times
  • Tusk claims Labour leader has killed chance of a second referendum – Daily Express
  • ‘End of Corbynmania’ as 50,000 abandon Labour over Brexit shambles – The Sun
  • Leaked report says not opposing Brexit could cost party 45 seats – The Guardian

>Today: Alex Morton’s column: If Brexit is impossible, what is the point of politics?

Greg Hands: I voted Remain, but Tusk and friends aren’t helping find a compromise

As someone who voted Remain in 2016, I find European Council President Donald Tusk’s comments today that Brexiteers deserve a “special place in Hell” unworthy and unhelpful. What we need from President Tusk and the whole of the Brussels machine is a spirit of compromise, not words of devilish condemnation. Tusk should have stronger feelings towards Britain. He was Deputy Speaker of the Sejm, the Polish Parliament, in 2004, when Poland joined the European Union. Ironically given Brexit, Britain was the principle advocate of Polish accession to the European Union. Poland might not be in the EU – and therefore Tusk in his job – if the UK hadn’t been such an early and forceful arguer for enlargement in the 1990s. But this is part of a pattern: top EU politicians and officials have moved the negotiations away from finding a reasonable compromise with Britain, towards complete intransigence, straining relations with many of the member states, who want to maintain good relations with Britain.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Comment shows exactly why we need to leave – Jacob Rees-Mogg, The Sun
  • Furore over ‘hell’ jibe obscured two key points – Henry Newman, Times Red Box
  • Tusk didn’t go far enough – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • It’s our EU overlords who deserve that place in hell – Stewart Jackson, Times Red Box
  • Ignore the insults, we’ll get a deal if the ultras don’t sabotage it – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

More:

  • Here’s why Trump and Brexit turned out so similar – Simon Kuper, FT
  • We must break free from Brussels on trade – Greg Hands, The Sun
  • Politics has rarely been in greater need of experts – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph
  • May’s plan is doomed: here’s one which will work – Gina Miller, The Guardian
  • Brexit is testing, but no apocalypse – Bill Jamieson, The Scotsman

Editorial:

  • What was the real motivation for this provocative outburst? – Daily Telegraph
  • Tantrum shows a disregard for democracy – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: To Hell with Tusk

>Yesterday: Richard Graham MP in Comment: Brexit with Muskets – or, lessons from our past about the essential art of compromise

Mordaunt unveils new ‘back to work fund’ for homeless and abuse victims

“Victims of domestic abuse and homelessness struggling to return to work are to be supported by a new £500,000 UK government fund, Penny Mordaunt has announced. Her Women and Equalities department said the money would be targeted at domestic abuse victims, those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, as well as people with mental or physical health issues. The funding will also be available to help men, but the focus will be on women who face greater barriers returning to work. Ms Mordaunt has said improving opportunities for the 1.8m women who are economically inactive because they are carers is also one of her department’s priorities… The new funds come on top of a £1.5m so-called Returners Fund set up last year to support parents and carers back to work through refreshing skills and training. The Government Equalities Office, which collects gender pay gap data for all companies with more than 250 employees, estimates that 91 per cent of potential “returners” in the UK are female.” – FT

Hinds wants to give all pupils shot at ‘public school swagger’

“A public school swagger should not be the preserve of the wealthy, the education secretary will say today as he unveils “five foundations” for building character and resilience. Damian Hinds says that confidence and self-esteem are as important for future success as GCSEs and that no child should be denied access to the activities that help them to develop these attributes. Independent schools have for years marketed themselves on the wealth of character-building activities they offer, including sport, drama and debating. Ministers fear that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are missing out… The five foundations are sport, including “purposeful recreational activities”, such as rock climbing or yoga; creativity; performing; volunteering or membership of an organisation such as the Scouts, and work experience. For primary age children work experience may involve meeting people from different jobs.” – The Times

  • Hobbies as important as GCSE results, claims Education Secretary – The Sun
  • Parents told to ban smartphones from mealtimes and bed – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • The Government will move against social media firms who fail children – Matt Hancock, Daily Telegraph
  • Companies like these must grow up and take responsibility – Ross Clark, The Sun
  • Tories need to be more than the party of freedom – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Soutiam Goodarzi in Comment: The Conservative Party must up its game online – where its attacks on Labour aren’t working

Javid outlines radical new plans to curb traveller trespassing

“Travellers who set up unauthorised camps could be jailed for the first time under radical plans unveiled by ministers yesterday. Currently they can only be dealt with through trespassing laws, which is a civil matter. But Home Secretary Sajid Javid has now launched a review that will consider making it a criminal offence to set up illegal camps. And police will also be given sweeping new powers to close traveller sites. Mr Javid said unauthorised camps can cause settled communities “significant distress”. As of July last year there were 22,662 traveller caravans in England, according to government figures. Some 86 per cent were on authorised land, while the remaining 3,000 are on unauthorised sites. Currently police can only step in to ask travellers to move on if there are at least six vehicles on the site. But under the new plans this threshold will lower to just two vehicles.” – The Sun

Labour helps push antisemitic incidents to record high

Anti-semitism in Labour accounted for almost one in 10 anti-Semitic hate incidents reported last year, helping push the figures to a record high. Some 148 incidents of verbal or physical abuse or damage were linked to the anti-semitic rows in Labour out of a total of 1,652, according to the Community Security Trust (CST). The total for 2018 – the highest on record and a rise of 16% on the previous year- also represented the first time there has been more than 100 anti-Semitic incidents in every month of a year. It is also the first time that the CST charity, which provides security and advice to the Jewish community, has separated out an analysis of the impact Labour has had on anti-semitism incidents in the UK. David Richards, CST head of policy, said: “The incidents were both internal arguments between people in the Labour party but also people expressing their concern about anti-semitism in the party who then received abuse in response to that.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Record smashed for third year in a row – The Times

Comment:

  • Thornberry right to challenge Corbyn’s foreign policy – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Mackay insists SNP is not divided over parking tax

Scotland’s Finance Minister has insisted the SNP is not divided over introducing a tax on parking at work as a senior Nationalist MSP who opposed it performed a spectacular about-turn. Derek Mackay denied most SNP MSPs oppose his Budget deal with the Greens to approve the workplace parking levy, saying it has the “full support of the Scottish Government and members of my own party”. Richard Lyle, the SNP MSP for Uddingston, told a Holyrood inquiry in November that he opposed the scheme and “I speak on behalf of thousands of motorists who have been taxed enough.” But Mr Lyle said he would vote for the plan and sought clarity that employers rather than their workers would be forced to pay the charge in the first instance. However, nearly half of affected firms in the only English local authority area to introduce such a tax pass the cost onto their employees and Mr Mackay failed to rule out that happening in Scotland.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Finance Secretary hits out at ‘scaremongering’ – The Scotsman

More:

  • Scottish Labour oppose SNP-led inquiry into Salmond – The Guardian

‘Surge’ in support for Trimble’s legal challenge to the backstop

“A “surge” of support for Lord Trimble’s legal action against the Brexit backstop has seen him raise almost £10,000 in two days. At the start of this week the informal group supporting the former first minister’s judicial review made an urgent appeal to prospective supporters to donate money so that the case can get into court and there has been a significant response through an online crowdfunding effort. The Conservative peer’s legal action is being taken in conjunction with the veteran gay rights campaigner Jeffrey Dudgeon, now Ulster Unionist councillor, and the journalist Ruth Dudley Edwards. Mr Dudgeon said he was pleased at the “surge” in support and said he was also seeking “significant single larger donations” from wealthy individuals. It is understood that a letter of claim is to be sent to the government within days.” – News Letter

  • Experts warn that ‘trusted trader status’ won’t solve backstop… – FT
  • …as DUP vow to vote against any version of it – News Letter
  • Ulster Unionists urge May to reintroduce direct rule – News Letter

News in Brief:

  • Labour foreign policy cannot escape Corbyn’s amoral dogma – Oliver Kamm, CapX
  • Ocasio-Cortez dissing Corbyn shows he’s on a downward curve – Finn McRedmond, Reaction
  • Europeans can’t understand the existential drive behind Brexit – Thomas Kielinger, The Spectator
  • Tusk reminded us the EU is anti-democratic – Jonathan Isaby, Brexit Central
  • The five elections to watch in 2019 – Henry Olsen, UnHerd