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Brexit 1) May to savage Sturgeon over ‘Brexit games’

MAY Britannia“Theresa May will today tell Nicola Sturgeon to stop playing ‘games’ with Scotland’s future, warning that the UK needs to come ‘closer together’ with Brexit rather than further apart. The Prime Minister will say maintaining the Union is a ‘personal priority’ as she savages the First Minister for ‘tunnel vision’ in which she sees ‘independence as the solution to every problem’. In a scathing speech at the Scottish Tory party conference in Glasgow, Mrs May will claim that schools in Scotland are now performing worse than those in parts of Eastern Europe because of the nationalists’ ‘obsession with independence’.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister takes aim at ‘obsessed’ First Minister for failing pupils – The Times (£)

More Scotland:

  • Davidson says unionists would win second referendum by bigger margin – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish Tories ‘damn serious’ about toppling the SNP – Daily Express
  • Sturgeon insists Nationalists aren’t racist or anti-English – The Scotsman

Comment:

  • Brexit may have downsides, but taking powers from Holyrood isn’t one – Brian Wilson, The Scotsman

>Today: ToryDiary: Brown let talk of a general election run out of control. Is Sturgeon doing the same with a second independence referendum?

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Scotland, independence – and our survey finding. Are Conservative Party members Just About Unionist?

Brexit 2) City minister stripped of Brexit role due to ‘no confidence’ from banks

“Britain’s City minister Simon Kirby has been secretly stripped of his Brexit role – after a crushing vote of “no confidence” from the country’s financial giants. A senior City source told The Sun that he had “no knowledge, no experience and no apparent interest in the City”. And bankers slammed the Government for appointing Mr Kirby, who founded a chain of nightclubs before entering politics, as its main point of contact with the sector. The humiliation comes as the Treasury tries to keep the financial sector on-side ahead of Brexit negotiations. Theresa May has also faced calls to sack Mr Kirby.” – The Sun

  • Miller vows to continue anti-Brexit legal challenges – The Times (£)
  • Europhile campaigner accused of looking ‘desperate’ on BBC – Daily Express
  • Hansard Society warning over Great Repeal Bill – FT
  • CBI chief urges deal with Brussels – The Times (£)
  • Plaid Cymru predict Labour will be first casualty of Brexit – Wales Online

Brexit 3) Liberal Democrats order in camp beds for peers as preparation for Article 50 battle

Lords“The Liberal Democrats have ordered 90 camp beds so that their peers can stay overnight in Parliament in a bid to thwart Theresa May’s Brexit plans. The party is preparing for a late-night stand-off with MPs as they seek to scupper the Brexit Bill, which gives the Prime Minister authority to begin leaving the EU. Mrs May is determined to push ahead with triggering Article 50, which starts the process of quitting the EU, in the next few weeks despite the Lords inflicting her first parliamentary defeat over Brexit on Wednesday night.” – Daily Mail

  • May faces rebellion from Tory MPs over Lords’ amendments – Daily Telegraph
  • Prime Minister confident despite setback in the upper house – FT
  • The top Tories who backed protection for EU citizens – The Guardian

More Lords:

Editorial:

  • The Government isn’t obliged to heed the Lords, but it should – The Times (£)
  • Peers are correct to demand immediate protection – FT

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: Both Trump and May will find they have to learn to love the media in the end

Baroness Deech: My colleagues have damaged themselves and complicated Brexit, without helping EU nationals

“A handful of pro-remain Conservatives joined Labour, the Liberal Democrats and some crossbenchers to subvert the Brexit process. I am disappointed by the decision of my colleagues. I want to make something clear. This Bill is simply about giving the Prime Minister the authority to invoke Article 50 – to begin the formal process of leaving… The rights of EU nationals are of course extremely important and people are right to be concerned about this issue. However this amendment will do nothing of practical use to help secure those rights.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour is burning in Brexit’s fires – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: How other EU countries can stop us leaving. Or so I’m told.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Lords are entitled to amend the Brexit Bill – or to try to. But not to dig in to delay it.

Tories and Lib Dems riding high with donors

MANIFESTO money“The Conservative Party war chest swelled by £3.6 million in the final three months of 2016, new figures revealed today. The Electoral Commission said Theresa May’s Tories had raised almost as much as all the other major parties combined, which together managed just over £4 million. Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats were boosted by a one-off £1 million donation from businessman Gregory Nasmyth that propelled the party to second place on fundraising with £1.9 million. The Liberal Democrats have never raised more than Labour in a single quarter.” – Daily Mail

  • Labour and UKIP humiliated by latest figures – The Sun

Comment:

  • Dear Remainiac tycoons: 17 million votes is bigger than one million pounds – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

MPs criticise the Government’s industrial strategy…

“Theresa May’s industrial strategy is facing more criticism, with MPs pointing to a lack of detail co-ordinated action and proper planning. In a report published on Friday, the business, energy and industrial strategy committee said the prime minister’s approach appeared on the surface to be a “significant shift” from decades of orthodoxy. But so far, it argued, ministers had produced little evidence of a long-term strategy. Instead, the MPs found that January’s long-awaited green paper, or consultation document, on the UK’s industrial strategy was similar to a 2015 document called the Productivity Plan. Rather than being a much-needed “framework for future decision-making”, the report said, it was a long list of policy interventions.” – FT

…as ministers prepare to help firms affected by business rate hike

tax“Ministers are preparing a £300 million Budget Day business rate package to prevent a “cliff edge” for small shops facing huge bills. The Sun can reveal Treasury officials are putting the finishing touches to emergency measures they are convinced will help the ‘hardest hit’. As part of the plans councils will be allotted cash to grant to shops, pubs and cafes in their area who face eye-watering increases in rates this April. Sources claim a specific package of relief is also being put together for 25,000 firms who will be facing their first business rate bills for seven years.” – The Sun

  • Outrage as Government proposes ‘death tax’ to fund social care – Daily Express
  • Spending pledges on police, education, and childcare ‘at risk’ – The Guardian

Comment:

  • If Hammond can’t deliver a radical Budget now, when could he? – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • The strange riddle of the Budget’s enduring mystique – Nicholas Macpherson, FT

Editorial:

  • Chancellor should be more honest about pain to come – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Philippa Stroud in Comment: Hammond should boost Universal Credit now – and cut the deficit through more welfare reform later.

Rudd defends refugee policy after revealing few taken from Calais were Syrian

“Only ten of 750 child migrants taken into the UK from Calais last year were from Syria, the Home Secretary has revealed. Furious Amber Rudd launched a fierce defence of the Government’s refugee policy by saying asylum seekers in Europe were not the “most vulnerable”. And she said critics of the Home Office’s approach were doing a “disservice to the UK’s big heartedness and goodwill” so far in helping thousands whose lives have been turned upside down by the brutal Syrian conflict.” – The Sun

Coffey hints at rethink on plastic bottle deposit scheme

Environment (Deep End)“Ministers are rethinking their reluctance to introduce a plastic bottle deposit and refund scheme. Environment minister Therese Coffey has hinted the scheme could form part of efforts to reduce the 15million plastic bottles thrown away each day which clog up oceans and rivers. The last Government introduced a 5p charge on plastic bags which has cut littering and the number issued at tills by more than 70 per cent.” – Daily Mail

  • Ministers prepare to dish out £2 billion in ‘forgotten’ cash to charity – The Sun

Thousands more Labour members quit over Corbyn’s leadership

“Labour has lost nearly 26,000 members since last summer, according to leaked data that senior party figures believe shows the tide turning against the leadership. More than three quarters of those who left the party last year had joined it only after the 2015 general election, the figures show. Labour’s membership surged under Jeremy Corbyn when he become party leader in September 2015. The number of resignations last year was more than the total of the previous six years combined.” – The Times (£)

Comment:

  • At last Owen Jones realises the game is up, but will Corbyn listen? – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • How the Labour leader has remade British politics – Philip Stephens, FT

Sketch:

  • McDonnell wants a truce, but can his Parliamentary foes believe him? – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Life-saving legacy for Brown’s lost baby – The Times (£)
  • Hospitals to have to justify bed removals as in the interests of patients – Daily Mail
  • Trump blasts ‘witch hunt’ against Attorney General – Daily Telegraph
  • Schulz fires up German centre-left – FT
  • Juncker says superstate dream is over – Daily Express
  • Tory MP’s aide charged with rape – The Times (£)
  • Election turnout expected to be best for a decade – Belfast Telegraph

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