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By-election 1) May celebrates “astounding” win in Copeland

theresa-may-by-election-copeland-771819“Theresa May has said the Conservatives’ “astounding” victory in the Copeland by-election shows her government “is working for everyone”. The Tories swept aside Labour, which had held the Cumbria seat for 80 years, to record the first by-election gain by a sitting government in 35 years. Mrs May said the success showed her party’s broad appeal across England. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he will stay on after it won a separate by-election in Stoke Central. But one Labour MP has urged him to consider his position following the Copeland loss.” – BBC

  • New MP is a mother of four only joined the Conservatives last year – Daily Mail
  • Mrs May’s chance to paint Britain Blue – Leader Daily Mail
  • Copeland is just the start for May – Leader Daily Telegraph
  • Authority strengthened in advance of Brexit talks – Financial Times

>Today: Rory Stewart on Comment: Three reasons why we won Copeland. Theresa May, Trudi Harrison – and Labour’s long failure to deliver

>Yesterday: Spencer Pitfield on Comment: Copeland shows that the Conservatives are the true workers’ party

By-election 2) Now let’s crush Labour in the local elections urges the PM

“Theresa May urged Tory councillors to crush Labour in forthcoming local authority and mayoral elections as she revelled in an historic by-election win. The prime minister mocked Labour over its infighting and claims of infiltration by Trotskyists as she looked ahead to elections on May 4. She told a conference of councillors: “Last year Labour’s deputy leader warned of entryism in Labour by the far left. This year even the Stalinists in Momentum are complaining about being infiltrated by the Trotskyists. But for those of us who remember what Militant did to Liverpool, it doesn’t matter what term you use: we can’t allow Labour to get a foothold back in local government and let them do for our local communities what they did to our country.” – The Times(£)

By-election 3) Labour at its weakest for 50 years says David Miliband

David Miliband“Jeremy Corbyn has driven Labour to its worst position in living memory, according to David Miliband. The party is now weaker than in the 1980s and must face up to the “historic nature” of the challenge ahead, the former foreign secretary has warned. Mr Miliband was speaking after Labour’s defeat by the Conservatives in Copeland — the first time since 1982 that a governing party had gained an opposition seat in a by-election. In an interview in The Times today, Mr Miliband, 51, who narrowly lost the 2010 Labour leadership election, to the enduring regret of a section of the party, declined to rule out a return to Westminster politics. “I’m obviously deeply concerned that Labour is further from power than at any stage in my lifetime,” he said.” – The Times(£)

By-election 4) I won’t quit says Corbyn

“Jeremy Corbyn says he will not step down following Labour’s Copeland by-election loss to the Conservatives. The Labour leader said the result was disappointing but he had been elected twice and was “proud” to continue. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell claimed there were “mixed views” about Mr Corbyn’s leadership but the defeat in Cumbria was not “about individuals”. But MP John Woodcock said the party was facing an “historic and catastrophic” defeat at the next general election.” – BBC

  • Jeremy you broke it now you must own it – Rafael Behr The Guardian
  • It’s not all Corbyn’s fault – Liam Young Independent

>Yesterday:

By-election 5) Union puts Corbyn on final warning

FIST Red“Jeremy Corbyn has been given a “final warning” from a top union boss who twice backed him to become Labour leader. Dave Prentis, head of the Unison union, said the Labour leader must improve the party – following last night’s “disastrous results”. He said Mr Corbyn needed to show that he understood how to “turn things around and deliver” – because ordinary people needed a Labour government now. In a scathing “final warning”, Mr Prentis said the result in Stoke should “never have been in doubt”.” – The Sun

  • Will Len McCluskey pull the plug? – James Forsyth The Sun
  • Very bad result says Keir Starmer – The Guardian
  • Corbyn blames everyone but himself – Michael Deacon Daily Telegraph
  • A dysfunctional laughing stock of a Party – Tom Harris Daily Telegraph

By-election 6) UKIP backer puts Nuttall under pressure

“One of Ukip’s biggest donors has told Paul Nuttall that he must radically overhaul the party or risk it splitting. Arron Banks spoke out after the Ukip leader was pushed into a distant second place in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election on Thursday. In Copeland, the party’s vote share fell 9 percentage points on the general election result. Mr Banks, an insurance tycoon who also financed the Leave.EU campaign, said that his continued support for the party was contingent upon Mr Nuttall’s willingness to reform it. Otherwise a linked but independent movement that Mr Banks was building could diverge from Ukip, he suggested.” – The Times(£)

  • The death of UKIP and the birth of a new era – Peter Oborne Daily Mail

>Yesterday: UKIPWATCH: Nuttall’s nightmare – UKIP’s flawed machine is being found out and the party is losing its purpose

By-election 7) Parris warns that UKIP’s ghost can still haunt the Tories

PARRIS Mathhew“Tories today are not just feasting off the slow death of Labour, but the comparatively sharp existential crisis of Ukip. Conservatism is subsuming within itself a whole group of people who are philosophically opposed to another large internal grouping: social, moral and economic liberals. This is fine for now. But in the end Brexit may become a wedge. It already feels like that to me. Post-Ukip, a re-imagined force on the right could help to hammer the wedge in. I don’t know whether the weary old Tory party — riding high in the polls yet strangely ill-at-ease with itself — could finally stand the strain. I don’t even know if I’d want it to, any more.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

By-election 8) Now the Tories are the Party with the common touch says Sandbrook

“There is a vacuum at the heart of British politics where the Labour Party used to be. If she is canny, Mrs May should seek to fill it. With her work ethic and moral seriousness, she seems well placed to appeal to voters who have never voted Tory in the past – and if she makes a success of Brexit, she could define the course of our political life for the next generation.” – Dominic Sandbrook Daily Mail

By-election 9) A personal victory for May says Charles Moore

MOORE Charles blue background“It remains perfectly possible that Mrs May’s tough pragmatism will come to seem as illusory as Gordon Brown’s famous prudence. But the fact remains that the Copeland by-election result is unique just now in any democracy – a gain for the status quo. We do not yet know whether what she is doing is “working for everyone”, but it is certainly working for Theresa May.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

Boris to visit Egypt

“Boris Johnson is due to hold talks with Egypt’s president on his first visit to the country as foreign secretary. Mr Johnson says he will discuss a “wide range of issues and deepen the strength of our bilateral relationship” when he meets President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. “We are Egypt’s top economic partner and strong allies against terrorism and extremist ideas,” he added. The Foreign Office said Mr Johnson would meet human rights activists.” – BBC

Mordaunt to overturn ruling on disability payments

MORDAUNT Murnaghan“Theresa May faces a battle over efforts to claw back enhanced disability payments from more than 150,000 people, including those suffering from dementia. Ministers have announced emergency legislation to overturn two tribunal rulings on entitlement to personal independence payments (PIPs), which help disabled people with their living costs. Without the move Philip Hammond, the chancellor, would have had to allocate an additional £3.7 billion over five years in next month’s budget, blowing a significant hole in the welfare bill….Penny Mordaunt, the welfare minister, told MPs in a written statement: “If not urgently addressed, the operational complexities could undermine the consistency of assessments, leading to confusion for all those using the legislation, including claimants, assessors and the courts.” – The Times(£)

Don’t buy diesel warns Grayling

“Motorists should be wary of buying diesel vehicles, the Transport Secretary warned last night. Chris Grayling suggested that an imminent clampdown on air pollution would encourage a switch to cleaner cars. Asked whether motorists should hesitate before buying a diesel, he replied: ‘People should take a long, hard think about what they need – about where they’re going to be driving – and should make best endeavours to buy the least polluting vehicle they can.” – Daily Mail

Lord Waddington has died

waddington“Former Conservative Home Secretary Lord Waddington has died at the age of 87. The barrister turned politician led the Home Office at the time of the poll tax riots and the Strangeways prison disturbances in the spring of 1990. On the right of the party, he entered Parliament in a by-election in the 1960s and served as chief whip and other roles under Margaret Thatcher. After leaving the House of Commons, he served as leader of the House of Lords and latterly as governor of Bermuda. Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to Lord Waddington’s “long and distinguished career in public service”, saying he would be sadly missed.” – BBC

Brexit 1) Crucial role of tiny Canadian IT company

EU Exit brexit“While the Remain camp boasted of their success in reaching out to millions of people on Facebook, home to the millennial voters who would be expected to back Britain staying in the EU, it has emerged that the Leave campaign spent nearly half of its cash on a secretive consultancy firm that helped win the social media battle. AggregateIQ, a technology company operating out of a tiny office above an opticians in a provincial Canadian city, was given £3.5 million by Leave campaigners in the run up to last year’s EU vote – equivalent to more than ten per cent of the £32 million spent by both sides during the campaign. According to the Electoral Commission figures, no other company or individual was handed more cash during the referendum battle, with the official Vote Leave group spending 40 per cent of its £6.8 million budget on the firm.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 2) Investigation into EU referendum spending

“The spending returns of the Stronger In and Vote Leave campaigns in last year’s EU referendum are under investigation, the Electoral Commission has announced. A total of more than £32m was spent on the campaign – with the Leave side funded by donations totalling £16.4m, outgunning the Remain side’s £15.1m. The spending returns show that the Brexit battle was the most expensive referendum ever fought in British political history, said the watchdog. Lib Dem spending is also under review. The watchdog said invoices and receipts submitted by the two umbrella Leave and Remain campaigns appeared to be incomplete and they were seeking further details in relation to certain payments.” – BBC

  • Secret group that funded Brexit fight – The Times(£)
  • DUP confirms £435,000 donation – BBC

Brexit 3) Boeing to open first European factory in the UK

money“Boeing is to open its first European factory in Sheffield, delivering a significant vote of confidence in post-Brexit Britain. The £20 million plant will manufacture parts and systems used on wings for the American aerospace giant’s best-selling 737 and 777 passenger planes. Boeing’s UK boss said the company was drawn to Sheffield by its ‘world class’ workforce and its links to the city’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, where it will launch a programme to develop new manufacturing techniques.” – Daily Mail

  • Tyranny of the minority – Mick Hume Daily Mail

Some schools will turn down the heating to save money Greening warned

“State schools are scrapping music lessons, turning off heating and planning to charge children for sessions with mental health counsellors to cope with crippling real-terms budget cuts. Some are slashing services to the bone and say that it will be impossible to make further savings when a new funding formula is introduced. Losses of hundreds of thousands of pounds will be felt by some schools from autumn 2018. About half will lose and half will gain under the national funding formula proposed by Justine Greening, the education secretary, but all face stagnant budgets in the meantime, with greater pension contributions for staff and other rising costs.” – The Times(£)

Labour would not campaign with the Conservatives against independence says Dugdale

UnionJack arrows angled“Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale says her party will not get involved in another Better Together campaign with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats if there is a second independence referendum. As the Scottish Labour conference opened in Perth, Ms Dugdale ruled out working in direct partnership with the Tories, and said that making Conservative leader Ruth Davidson the figurehead of Union support would be a “huge mistake”.” – The Scotsman

BBC excluded from Trump press briefing

“The White House has barred several major broadcasters and newspapers from attending an informal press briefing. The BBC, CNN, the New York Times and others were excluded from an audience with Press Secretary Sean Spicer, with no reason given. It came hours after President Donald Trump delivered another attack on the media in a speech, saying that “fake news” was the “enemy of the people”.” – BBC

Netherlands investigates ditching the Euro

Euro meltdown“THE Netherlands is to hold a full parliamentary inquiry into whether to drop the euro. Dutch politicians voted unanimously for the inquiry amid growing scepticism about the single currency. The inquiry will also be seen as an attempt to outmanoeuvre far-Right election candidate Geert Wilders, who is leading the polls ahead of next month’s parliamentary vote. Mr Wilders’s Party for Freedom could become the largest single party in the Dutch parliament if he wins – and he’s promised a referendum of euro membership as part of his campaign.” – The Sun

News in Brief

  • HMRC rejects tax avoidance criticism from Tyrie – BBC
  • Academics hit back at “intolerant Left” – The Times(£)
  • Films made in Britain make a quarter of world box office takings – The Sun
  • Philip Davies attempts to talk out domestic violence bill – The Guardian
  • 1.4 per cent pay rise for MPs – The Sun
  • Lord Keen charged with fire arms offence – Daily Telegraph

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