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Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 07.43.40Peston: Boris will announce today that he has decided to campaign for Leave

“ITV News understands Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will come out later and formally announce his decision to join the ‘leave’ camp. If Mr Johnson does choose to campaign against the Prime Minister it would be seen as a blow for David Cameron who will already be up against leading Cabinet figures such as Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Michael Gove.” – Robert Peston, ITV

Mayor held summit earlier this week with Gove

“The two dined at the London Mayor’s home on Tuesday, where they agreed the Prime Minister’s new EU deal was ‘thin’. Shortly afterwards, Justice Secretary Mr Gove shocked No 10 by joining the ‘Out’ campaign to cut Britain’s ties with Brussels. The disclosure of the secret dinner – and the pair’s sharp criticism of the outcome of Mr Cameron’s negotiations – will fuel speculation about which side Mr Johnson will back in the forthcoming EU referendum.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Officially undecided but seems to be leaning towards getting out” – The Sun (£)
  • “Johnson himself told a Westminster contact: “I’m veering all over the place like a shopping trolley.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • Cameron scrabbles for sovereignty rabbit to appease Mayor – Observer
  • Rudd warns Mayor to consider the City – Independent on Sunday

> Today: Tory Diary – Boris’s Heseltine moment?

Zac Goldsmith is for Leave.  So are Fresh Start Ministers Leadsom, Raab and Eustice

“Last night Zac Goldsmith, the Tory candidate for London mayor, announced: “My vote will be to leave.” Today Dominic Raab, a justice minister, announces that he, too, is backing Brexit. Writing in The Sunday Times, he says: “The argument for staying in is based on a fear of standing on our own two feet. The case for a new relationship, outside, is built on the opportunities of being masters of our own destiny.” Raab will join members of the Fresh Start group of Tory MPs, including Andrea Leadsom, George Eustice and Chris Heaton-Harris at a meeting in Westminster today at which at least 30 MPs will launch a new project to draw up plans for Britain outside the EU.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • Raab: A chance to take £33bn burden off shoulders of small businesses – Sunday Times

What Ministers said in Cabinet

  • Cameron: ‘We should have a good debate but it must be conducted on good terms. We need to remember we are all still members of a Conservative Government. This is my team and it is a team I love.’

downingstLeavers:

  • Gove – “Ministers have lost so many powers. We cannot ignore it any longer.”
  • Grayling – “We will all support you regardless – you will be Prime Minister come what may.”
  • Duncan Smith – “I regret having to make this decision but the country requires it.”
  • Whittingdale – Britain must :recover the powers we have lost”.
  • Villiers – “I made my mind up a long time ago: we must leave the EU.”

Remainers:

  • Osborne: “Sterling is at a low point right now and there will be economic shocks if we leave.”
  • Fallon: “There are no prizes for guessing which way Putin wants us to vote.”

- Mail on Sunday

Elsewhere:

  • Javid was warned off by Osborne, Gove never forgave Cameron for demotion, May “has never done anything very interesting with her power base and isn’t starting now” – Ann McElvoy, Mail on Sunday
  • Steve Baker “hovered for two hours” outside the Cabinet meeting “in his black jaguar” – Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday: Chris Grayling on Comment – We have reached a crucial crossroads. The status quo is not an option. I am for Leave – and the campaign begins here.

Cameron interview: I won’t resign if I lose

“My future was determined by the British general election in which I said I would hold the referendum and abide by the result and that’s exactly, I think, what people expect me to do and what I will do.”  Having staked his reputation on a vote to stay in the EU, many believe his position will be untenable if he loses. But Cameron said he would remain to lead Brexit negotiations if necessary. “I will deliver what the British people determine in the referendum,” he said.” – Sunday Times (£)

It was Gove’s recent experiences as a Minister, not longstanding views, that made his mind up for Brexit

GOVE union flag T-shirt“But it was, a colleague of Gove suggests, while the cabinet minister was sitting in his office in the Department for Education, on the walls of which he had hung pictures of Lenin and Malcolm X, that the itch to back Brexit became overwhelming. “Everything, from changing guidance on behaviour in schools to changing the exam system, to the whole school building programme, was affected by officials waving EU rules,” the colleague said. “His experience as a minister showed him how little ministers are now in charge and how EU rules destroy sensible reforms, delay everything, and cost taxpayers billions.” – Observer

> Yesterday: Gove’s statement – full text

The view from Poland: we won, Cameron lost

“Beata Szydlo said the deal struck by European leaders would ensure Poles living and working in Britain could continue to receive welfare payments. ‘Good agreement for Europe, we protected rights of Poles claiming social benefits across EU,’ she tweeted afterwards. Mr Cameron had wanted an ‘emergency brake’ to stop migrant workers claiming benefits to last as long as 13 years, but after objections from Eastern European countries including Poland this was watered down to seven years.”  – Mail on Sunday

> Today: Liam Fox on Comment – Cameron’s deal. Not the mouse that roared but the lion that whimpered

Survation finds Remain lead widens

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 09.43.34“According to the first poll since the Prime Minister’s talks in Brussels, conducted for The Mail on Sunday, the ‘In’ camp has a 15-point lead over the ‘Out’ camp. Nearly one in two voters want to ‘Remain’ in the EU; with one in three in favour of ‘Leaving’ and one in five undecided. The support for the Prime Minister appears to have little to do with his claim to have won concessions from fellow EU leaders last week. More than six out of ten say the new EU deal has not affected the way they will vote in the referendum.” - Mail on Sunday

“What though will be crucial is what Conservative supporters eventually make of the deal. They, above all, are the group whom the Prime Minister is hoping to persuade. Even polls done over the phone suggest that hitherto rather more Conservative voters have been inclined to vote for Leave than Remain. With around a half of Tory MPs, including yet perhaps the charismatic London Mayor agreeing with them, they may still prove hard for Mr Cameron to win over.” – John Curtice, Mail on Sunday

Leave and Remain Cabinet Ministers set out their stalls: Patel says that the EU is treating us like fools…

“Now is the time to show the EU that the British public cannot be treated like fools. We can see through the spin, propaganda, and abuses of taxpayers’ money for endless self-serving vanity projects that are not in our democratic, economic or national interest. But there is a better way. Following a vote to leave, Britain will be able to untangle the labyrinth of EU laws and regulations that have held our country back. We will be free to make our own laws and to negotiate a fair and new trade deal with Europe that defends our interests.” - Mail on Sunday

…While Javid says that we should never have joined, but shouldn’t leave now

“My heart says we are better off out. My head says it’s too risky right now. For the past six years, I’ve been doing everything I can to repair the damage Labour did to our national economy. I’m no europhile, but nor am I prepared to risk undoing all that work and casting aside all the sacrifices we asked of this country while the post-Brexit talks drag on and investor confidence wavers. Staying in the EU for now doesn’t have to mean accepting the status quo.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Cameron Queen's SpeechMy case for staying in – David Cameron, Sun on Sunday
  • Better In – Philip Hammond, Observer
  • Better In – Jeremy Corbyn, Observer
  • On the edge of a precipice – Ian Birrell, Mail on Sunday
  • Cameron is paying the price for a promise he thought he wouldn’t have to keep – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • Cameron was absolutely right when he declared that “the choice goes to the heart of what kind of country we want to be” – Andrew Rawnsley, Observer
  • Cameron must think we’re stupid – Simon Heffer, Sunday Telegraph
  • The EU can’t be reformed – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • Brexit now and we will only have to Breturn to save a disintegrating Europe – Niall Ferguson, Sunday Times (£)
  • All Cameron has freed us from is a meaningless mission statement – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times (£)
  • Often seen as the heir to Blair, Cameron is beginning to seem more like a reincarnation of the wily Harold Wilson – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times (£)

….and a warning to Cameron from John Rentoul

“It looks as if the Leave total will be close to half of the Parliamentary Conservative Party. That’s 165 MPs…The split in the Conservative Party does not run in a perpendicular line. The top leans towards staying in the EU, MPs are split down the middle and the grassroots want to leave. That is the fault line with consequences.” - Independent on Sunday

Editorials

> Yesterday

That Grassroots Out Rally: Galloway was “the worst special guest since Jean-Claude Van Damme appeared in that episode of Friends”.

GALLOWAY George“Founders of the Eurosceptic Grassroots Out campaign last night defended the appearance of George Galloway at a packed Westminster rally.  They spoke out after Galloway was described as “the worst special guest since Jean-Claude Van Damme appeared in that episode of Friends”.  And at least 50 people in Friday’s audience walked out when it emerged the “special guest” was none other than the former Respect MP for Bradford West.” – Sunday Express

  • Farage and Galloway – Mail on Sunday
  • That garish Grassroots Out tie. Bone sent it to Cameron, who joked: “It’s arrived, and I feel that the blazer is soon to follow” – Mail on Sunday

…And, meanwhile, the Syrian civil war is reaching a climax – Patrick Cockburn, Independent on Sunday

Webb: Osborne is planning to scrap the tax-free lump sum

“Steve Webb, who led pension reform for five years in the coalition, said the chancellor was plotting a “tax bombshell” that would hit hundreds of thousands of people.  Currently people can access 25% of their pension pots tax-free in a single lump sum when they reach 55.  But Webb said he believed the perk was “heading for extinction” as part of plans to revolutionise pension saving that are due to be outlined in the budget next month. Having worked closely with the chancellor, Webb said he believed Osborne would like to scrap all tax relief on pension contributions and replace it with an Isa-style system.” – Sunday Times (£)

Labour threatens Commons chaos over short money cuts

CORBYN Citizen cap“The party is drawing up plans for ‘total non-cooperation’ in the Commons until the Prime Minister abandons the proposals, which could cost Labour about £1 million in state subsidies. The plans could involve forcing all- night sittings, staging surprise votes and potentially plunging next month’s Budget debate into ‘chaos’. It would also mean Tory MPs being forced to give up coveted overseas trips because they would have to be on stand-by to vote at Westminster.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Labour’s anti-semitism row at Oxford masks a party in civil war – Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, Sunday Times (£)

News in Brief

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