May and Rudd clash over No Deal vote

‘Theresa May has told ministers they will be expected to vote next week to keep open the option of a no-deal Brexit, in a move that dismayed senior cabinet figures and business leaders. The British prime minister told her cabinet that collective responsibility would apply in a crucial Commons vote next week, as she tries to head off a move by pro-Europeans  to rule out a no-deal exit on March 29. Her tough stance provoked a clash with Amber Rudd, work and pensions secretary, who wants ministers to have a free vote, while business leaders on Tuesday warned Mrs May on a conference call that a no-deal exit would be “a disaster”. The prime minister insisted she had a “duty” to deliver Brexit, but Ms Rudd argued that the whole cabinet had a duty to avoid a no-deal exit.’ – FT

  • The Chief Whip is minded to ignore warning of resignations – Daily Mail
  • Taking No Deal ‘off the table’ would leave us at the EU’s mercy – Peter Lilley, The Guardian
  • Union leaders defy Corbyn and go to Downing Street for talks – The Times
  • Labour frontbenchers say they will resign if forced to vote
  • Fishermen ponder a No Deal future – The Guardian
  • Martin Lewis becomes exasperated at Skidmore’s refusal to answer his questions – Daily Mail
  • Remainers attack Dyson for moving HQ (but only two jobs) to Singapore – Daily Mail
  • It’s six years since Cameron’s Bloomberg speech – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

The DUP would back May’s deal if she secures a time limit on the backstop

‘DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said the price of his party’s support would be changing the Withdrawal Agreement to insert a legally binding end date to the mechanism. It comes 24 hours after Poland became the first EU member state to back the idea of limiting the backstop – suggesting a five-year deadline. In a significant softening of their position until now, a string of Tory rebels also signalled they would back an amendment tabled by Tory MP Andrew Murrison last night that demands a sunset clause to the backstop. And they said a “growing consensus” of Eurosceptics were now ready to back the PM’s deal to stop “kamikaze” pro-EU MPs blocking Brexit altogether.’ – The Sun

  • There are signs that Tory rebels might be changing their minds, too – Seb Payne, FT
  • Concern over possible delays to Brexit are troubling them – The Guardian
  • But some ministers fear this is a con trick to run down the clock – The Times
  • Varadkar says Ireland will still need a side deal even if there’s no wider agreement – Daily Mail
  • The EU Commission contradicts him and says it will insist on a hard border – FT
  • Sack Olly Robbins – The Sun Says
  • The EU Army that we were told was a ‘fantasy’ is becoming real – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Dear Germany, We love you, too, but we still want to leave the EU – The Sun
  • Panic in Davos – The Guardian
  • They can feel the creep of irrelevance – Daily Telegraph Leader


Labour frontbenchers warn Corbyn they will resign if whipped to vote for a second referendum

‘More than a dozen Labour frontbenchers have been to see the chief whip, Nick Brown, to issue a warning about the scale of opposition to the idea of a second Brexit referendum. The shadow housing minister, Melanie Onn, and the shadow justice minister, Gloria De Piero, both of whom represent constituencies that voted leave in 2016, were among a delegation who went to urge Brown not to whip Labour MPs to back a “people’s vote”…Onn said: “It was a meeting for frontbenchers who would find it very difficult to vote for a people’s vote if it was whipped that way. We have been supportive of the party’s policy so far to keep us as a strong and united opposition. We have not been as free in our views as some other colleagues, whose views we absolutely respect, but we didn’t want that to be seen as the only set of views that exist.”’ – The Guardian

>Today: Jonathan Clark on Comment: Representative democracy is waning, direct democracy is waxing. So its MPs themselves who will “come to heel”

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: The angry stereotype of Leave voters was false – but blocking Brexit risks making it true

Brummer: Britain’s economy is thriving, contrary to all the gloom about Brexit

‘Listen to the Brexit doom-mongers talking Britain down and you’d think the world’s sixth richest country was on its last legs, about to commit economic hara-kiri. While Tories squabble over the EU, the Left howls that hundreds of thousands of people are on the breadline. But claims that Britain is impoverished and dysfunctional simply ignore the facts. At Davos in Switzerland, where the global elite are gathered this week, the International Monetary Fund conceded that contrary to earlier downbeat projections, Britain’s growth rate was on course to be at least as robust as those of Germany and France..The latest output and jobs figures show employment jumped by 141,000 in the past three months and the jobless rate fell to just 4 per cent – the lowest in four decades. Contrast this with the eurozone, where it’s almost twice that, at 7.9 per cent. Even more encouraging for Britain, competition for jobs and the high number of vacancies have pushed wages up by 3.4 per cent, meaning real earnings growth, after taking inflation into account, has hit more than 1 per cent year on year. So much for Labour’s whines that wages are still stagnating.’ – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

  • Wages grow at the fastest rate in a decade – The Times
  • So we should hold our nerve – The Sun Says
  • OECD says ‘the whole world is running by WTO rules these days’ – The Sun
  • CBI forecasts the cost to GDP of No Deal to be £193 billion – Daily Mail
  • Why is it that robots are yet to destroy jobs? – FT
  • Watchdog warns accountancy firms not to subvert EU rules – FT
  • Government advisers believe fracking limits are too strict – The Times

Internal report warns that the Conservative Party is unprepared for an election

‘The Tories will lose a snap general election because they are woefully underprepared to fight one, party chiefs have concluded. Senior Conservative officials have privately warned Theresa May that she could face disaster if she calls a new nationwide poll to try to unblock the Brexit logjam. Secret party projections instead put Jeremy Corbyn in No10, at the helm of a rainbow coalition government including the SNP and the Lib Dems… The alarm-bell internal Conservative Party assessment reveals: The Tories’ data base of voters nationwide is badly out of date and now far behind Labour’s, having seen little update since 2015. The party’s grass roots membership is badly demoralised, after many months of infighting with CCHQ over money and structural reforms. The Tories currently don’t even have an opinion polling firm under contract.’ – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: A snap election and a Tory nightmare. Losing seats in London without gaining them elsewhere. Continue to all today’s Newslinks