Brexit 1) Downing Street “wrestling over” level of detail in trigger letter

EU Exit brexit“Downing Street is wrestling over the letter to European leaders that will trigger Article 50 amid internal disagreement over how much detail to reveal of Britain’s Brexit wishlist. Theresa May will send the notification that Britain wants to begin the two-year exit process before the end of this month, accompanied by a statement to the Commons… A government source said that two versions of the Article 50 letter were circulating among senior figures. Allies of the prime minister were examining whether to go beyond what she said in her speech at Lancaster House in January or whether to hold back those details for later. Downing Street said it did not recognise this account.” – The Times (£)

  • What the letter should avoid – Agata Gostynska-Jakubowska, Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: The Article 50 letter: keep it short and simple

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: James Frayne: After Article 50 is moved, fasten your seat-belts

Brexit 2) Tom Harris: May has delayed triggering because of Sturgeon

“It will be a temptation for Theresa May to insist today that the announcement by her spokesperson last night that she will not trigger Article 50 this week was the plan all along. Despite getting what she demanded and needed – a “clean” and unamended Act giving her the maximum amount of wriggle room as she enters negotiations with our EU partners – she will wait until the last week of this month before firing the starting gun on the UK’s exit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • EU could delay start of talks until June – Independent
  • Government is being “blown off course” on Brexit by Sturgeon – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 3) Immigration minister describes “bespoke” system not based on points

GOODWILL Robert“Migrants from the EU may face different rules depending on which sector of the economy they are coming to work in, the immigration minister suggested yesterday. Robert Goodwill said that the UK would need a “bespoke” immigration system after it leaves the European Union as part of the effort to increase control over the numbers coming in. He stressed, however, that the government was not looking at an Australian-style points-based system or to imitate the US green card scheme, and ruled out allowing regions of the UK to adopt their own immigration systems.” – The Times (£)

More Brexit

  • May tells MPs not to call it a “divorce” – FT
  • And that she “knows UK doesn’t have to pay” EU after leaving – Daily Express
  • Fox backs campaign for trade yacht Britannia – Daily Telegraph
  • ECJ headscarf ruling doesn’t automatically apply in UK – The Times (£)
  • The “erosion of confidence” in May’s Government – Raphael Behr, Guardian

Scotland 1) Mundell signals that May will delay independence referendum until after Brexit

“David Mundell has given the clearest signal yet that Theresa May will refuse to facilitate a second independence referendum before a Brexit deal is done, warning that Nicola Sturgeon’s desired timeframe means a second poll would not be “legal, fair and decisive” as the 2014 vote was. And the Scottish Secretary, in an exclusive interview with The Herald, made clear that Scotland would be leaving the European Union alongside the rest of the UK, dismissing as “absurd” the notion that another independence poll could prevent this.” – The Herald

Scotland 2) Timothy and Hill are off to Holyrood

TIMOTHY Nick Barrie“Theresa May’s two closest aides travel to Scotland tomorrow as the prime minister considers a tour of the UK’s four nations before she triggers Article 50. The prime minister’s joint chiefs of staff, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, are expected to meet members of the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh to discuss how Mrs May should respond to next Wednesday’s Holyrood vote on a second independence referendum. Ms Hill, who was brought up in Greenock, and was a journalist on the Daily Record and The Scotsman, is Mrs May’s closest adviser on the question.” – The Times (£)

  • SNP’s Robertson says there’s still time for Prime Minister to make a deal – Guardian
  • Sturgeon says May “wasn’t elected by anyone” – Independent


  • Prime Minister “risks alienation” in Scotland – Alex Neil, Daily Telegraph
  • It’s May versus Sturgeon – Cathy Newman, Daily Telegraph
  • May’s attempt at a “conscious uncoupling” – John Crace, Guardian


Scotland 3) Poll shows 57-43 in favour of remaining in UK

“Scottish voters are opposed to independence, with support for staying in the United Kingdom at its strongest for two and a half years, a poll for The Times reveals. Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, would have to close a 14-point gap to win a referendum, according to the YouGov survey. It found that 57 per cent of voters backed staying inside the UK and 43 per cent wanted independence, once “don’t knows” and those not prepared to vote were excluded. YouGov last recorded a 14-point lead in favour of Scotland staying in the Union in a poll in August 2014, a month before the first independence referendum.” – Daily Telegraph

  • This is a record high for independence – FT
  • Tory MP says Sturgeon is treating Scots “like lemmings” – The Sun
  • The dilemma for Sturgeon – Guardian
  • The view from Wales – Wales Online


  • Why Scotland should vote for independence – George Monbiot, Guardian

Scotland 4) Sturgeon “abandons” SNP policy on EU and “turns towards EFTA”

nicola-sturgeon-08-01-17“Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum plans were rapidly unravelling tonight as it emerged she is to abandon the SNP’s policy of rejoining the EU immediately amid record Euroscepticism in Scotland. Just a day after the Scottish First Minister demanded a second vote on independence, senior Nationalist sources told The Daily Telegraph that Ms Sturgeon would instead try to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), whose members include Norway and Iceland. Ms Sturgeon fears that the SNP’s long-standing policy of an independent Scotland joining the EU would put off the 400,000 voters who backed independence in 2014 and also voted Leave in last year’s EU referendum.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Scottish Euroscepticism at “record high” – The Sun
  • Sturgeon “preparing” to drop EU dreams – Daily Mail
  • Scottish Government “planning talks” about seeking Norway-style membership – The Times (£)
  • Green MSPs have power to give Sturgeon necessary majority – Daily Telegraph
  • Former SNP minister says referendum should wait until 2019 – Daily Telegraph


  • Sturgeon is an “effective” politician – Mure Dickie, FT

Conservative MP interviewed under caution over election expenses

“Tory tensions over a police investigation into election expenses boiled over last night as MPs accused the party leadership of “covering their own backsides”. Craig Mackinlay, the MP at the centre of the most serious allegations of over-spending during the 2015 general election, was interviewed under police caution for six hours, Tory party sources said. Mr Mackinlay has denied any wrongdoing. Kent police are investigating allegations that items of expenditure incurred in South Thanet, the seat contested by Nigel Farage, were missing from the victorious Conservative’s declarations on his constituency spending.” – The Times (£)

  • He was “questioned for six hours” – Daily Mail

More Government

  • May turns down Sinn Fein call for poll on unification – Belfast News Letter
  • Tyrie welcomes Bank of England deputy governor’s resignation – Daily Telegraph
  • Fabricant: we need to consider arming police in light of terror threat – Daily Telegraph

Banks leaves Ukip to set up 2.0

arron-banks“Arron Banks, one of Ukip’s biggest donors, has left the party in order to build a new political movement which he is calling Ukip 2.0. The insurance tycoon said on social media that a row had broken out over his membership of the party, which is led by Paul Nuttall. He said of his new venture: “Ukip 2.0, the force awakens.” Support for Ukip has fallen to 9 per cent, a YouGov poll for The Times has found.” – The Times (£)

  • His new “anti-establishment political force” – Daily Express


  • Populist cults never end well – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Ukipwatch: UKIP rebuffs Banks’s demand to take over

Tim Stanley: Dutch election teaches us of need to stop mass migration

Why is the long-haired nationalist Geert Wilders poised to poll top in the Dutch elections? The Netherlands is a liberal country. The economy is strong. Crime is so low that the government has been renting out prison cells. The answer has to be that the Dutch don’t like mass migration. So if Europe wants to stop Wilders, Le Pen and their far-Right gang, Europe is going to have to stop mass migration. It actually makes perfect sense that all of this should come to a head in the hippie Netherlands: that’s where the far-Right journey began.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Erdogan “attacks Netherlands” over Srebrenica – Independent
  • The diplomatic row between Netherlands and Turkey is good for Erdogan – Ece Temelkuran, Guardian

Trump’s 2005 tax return has been leaked

Donald Trump Jan 2017“Donald Trump’s leaked tax return reveals that the businessman had to pay tens of millions of dollars in a single year because of a tax rule that he has specifically promised to abolish as president. A two-page section of Trump’s tax return for 2005, which was published by MSNBC late on Tuesday, revealed that the president paid $38m in federal taxes on more than $150m in income in 2005. But the documents also showed that about 82% of the total paid to the Internal Revenue Service that year by Trump and his wife, Melania, was incurred due to a tax that Trump has said should be abolished.” – Guardian

More Trump

  • He proposes to cut US UN payments by over 50 per cent – Daily Telegraph
  • Home Office staff told not to criticise him on Twitter – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Anti-semitic road sign reported in Stamford Hill – Daily Telegraph
  • Fillon facing charges over PenelopeGate – Independent
  • Cameron’s National Citizen Service criticised for cost – Daily Mail
  • Asylum seekers’ passport scam – The Times (£)
  • Pirates demand oil tanker ransom – Guardian