Barwell and Lidington are alleged to be preparing a second referendum

‘Theresa May’s chief of staff has triggered a civil war in Downing Street by telling Cabinet Ministers that a second EU referendum is the only way to break the Brexit deadlock. Gavin Barwell, the Prime Minister’s most powerful and influential adviser, is understood to have decided that plans should be drawn up for another public poll. But his incendiary suggestion has been greeted with fury from Brexiteers in the Cabinet. Meanwhile, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mrs May’s deputy, David Lidington has held a series of secret meetings with Labour MPs to build a ‘coalition of the willing’ to force a new EU vote…Sources say that Mr Barwell has told the pro-Remain ‘gang of five’ Cabinet Ministers – Mr Lidington, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clarke –that a second vote is ‘the only way out of this’…Mr Lidington has led the secret efforts to drum up support for a second poll by meeting senior Labour figures such as former Europe Minister Chris Bryant…Labour MPs have made clear that the price of their support would be including Remain as an option.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Majority of supposedly neutral campaigners actually want Brexit cancelled – Sunday Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister has discussed her options with Cameron – Sunday Times
  • Senior Tories reportedly want it to be a free vote – The Observer
  • Labour rebels could even keep a post-DUP Conservative government in power – The Sun on Sunday
  • Chief whip accused of ‘freelancing’ with Labour MPs – Sunday Telegraph
  • Helping the Conservatives deliver Brexit would put Labour into third place, poll suggests – Sunday Times
  • No Deal planners propose warning people not to book holidays for April – Sunday Times
  • The EU draws up its own plans – Sunday Times



>Today: ToryDiary: How May’s Conservatives could morph into SDP Two – realigining British politics from the top down

Hunt: Britain would ‘flourish and prosper’ in the event of No Deal

‘Mr Hunt’s words are likely to be welcomed by Leavers who insist that a no-deal scenario – the default position if an agreement is not struck by March – would be better for the country than Mrs May’s current agreement. He acknowledges that the deal on the table risks “anchoring Britain indefinitely in the customs union”. He adds: “I’ve always thought that even in a no-deal situation this is a great country, we’ll find a way to flourish and prosper. We’ve faced much bigger challenges in our history. “But we shouldn’t pretend that there wouldn’t be disruption, there wouldn’t be risk, and there wouldn’t be impact and that’s why as a responsible government we have to make all the preparations necessary.”’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: Sheila Lawlor on Comment: Even with an exit clause from the backstop, this deal would be unacceptable

>Yesterday: Esther McVey on Comment: Delivering Brexit from here. We must prepare properly for no deal.

Even amid seemingly endless crisis, the Prime Minister keeps on going

‘May’s capacity for soaking up punishment may not have led to discernible political success, but it has turned her into an icon of obstinacy. Her refusal to admit defeat has infuriated and awed her adversaries. “She is astonishing,” another aide added. “She doesn’t get any credit for it, but I honestly don’t know what keeps her going and makes her want to get up in the morning.” When May flew to Argentina for the G20 meeting last month, she knew that her days as prime minister might be numbered, yet she spent part of the 14-hour flight signing Christmas cards and doing a sudoku puzzle, seemingly unperturbed by the Brexit storms that were brewing… The latest word in Westminster circles is that May is “bunkered down” with two favoured aides, cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill and chief of staff Gavin Barwell. Other advisers have been frozen out.’ – Sunday Times

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