Robbins’ overheard conversation has further eroded faith in his boss – and the ERG is itself divided over whether changes to the backstop would themselves be enough.



May says ‘no deal’ is more likely after Commons defeat…

Theresa May has said a no-deal Brexit is “more likely” after Tory Eurosceptics condemned her to another humiliating Commons defeat. The brief Tory truce over Brexit was shattered as 66 Conservatives – including Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab – abstained in a vote over the Government’s way forward, which Mrs May lost by 303 votes to 258. The result was a serious blow to Mrs May’s chances of winning concessions from Brussels over the Brexit deal. Mrs May had told the EU that a vote in favour of her Brexit strategy last month gave her a “stable majority” for the deal she is trying to broker, but that majority was wiped out at a stroke by her 45-vote defeat. Brexiteers from the European Research Group had refused to back a Government motion which followed a day-long Brexit debate because they believed it meant no deal was being taken off the table.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister suffers defeat on ‘Plan B’… – FT
  • …but doesn’t even turn up for ‘grim result’ – Daily Mail
  • May concedes UK will settle for ‘assurances’, not changes – Daily Express
  • Coveney says EU won’t ‘sacrifice’ Ireland – News Letter


  • European Research Group denies holding the Government to ransom – The Guardian
  • Baker warns that Government could collapse if deal passes as-is – Daily Express



…as Harrington urges Brexiteers to quit the Tories

“Hardline Conservative Brexiteers were accused of treachery by a minister as the party’s fragile truce crumbled again yesterday. Richard Harrington, a business minister, told the European Research Group (ERG) of backbenchers that they should quit the party and join forces with Nigel Farage instead… Mr Harrington, who voted to Remain in the EU in 2016, has emerged as one of the most passionate ministerial opponents of a no-deal Brexit. Last month he praised Airbus for “telling it like it is” after the company said the government’s handling of Brexit had been a disgrace, and said he would be “very happy” if Mrs May sacked him for his opposition to leaving the EU without a deal. But yesterday Mr Harrington, MP for Watford, said he would not countenance resigning and nor should other Remainers, because it would give the ERG “pleasure”.” – The Times

  • Grieve plans mass Remainer walkout to ‘bring down May’ – Daily Express
  • Pro-EU MPs vow to ‘take control of the Government’ and delay Brexit – The Sun
  • The Tories’ Brexit tribes – FT


  • Public won’t forgive Labour if we support the deal, warns Lewis – The Times

>Today: MPs Etc.: Nearly a quarter of Conservative MPs failed to support the Prime Minister yesterday


Brussels should trust UK on clearing, says Bank of England

“EU regulators should drop ambitions for greater direct supervision of London clearing houses after Brexit, to avoid imposing potentially “conflicting requirements” on institutions that play a key role in global markets, according to a top official at the Bank of England. London’s clearing houses, which manage the risk around trades if one side defaults, have become ensnared in Brexit politics because they handle the bulk of the €660tn market for derivatives cleared in Europe. While EU authorities have a “valid interest” in monitoring the City’s clearing houses, they should defer to UK regulators, David Bailey, director of markets infrastructure at the BoE, said in an interview. “We have lots of experience co-operating with overseas regulators, making sure where they have a valid interest in a UK clearing house, they have the relevant input they need,” he said.” – FT

  • EU asset managers could move to UK after dual-trading ban – FT
  • Process ‘has cost UK £80 billion’ since vote – The Guardian
  • Dutch leader starts row by saying Britain is ‘on the wane’ – The Sun


  • Carney’s ‘canary in the mine’ moment – Patrick Jenkins, FT

Mark Harper: To fix the backstop, May must press ahead with the Malthouse Compromise

“We risk putting ourselves in a very difficult situation. However, some calm, sensible decision making at this critical point can avoid such a mistake. There are three options to deal with the backstop. First, the ability for the UK to unilaterally exit from it; second, a short time limit which ensures it would come to an end before the 2022 General Election or third, replace it with something better. The solution must be something that can be carried in Parliament primarily by the Conservative Party and our DUP allies. We know that this is possible because on 29th January, the House of Commons voted – by a majority of 16 – to require “the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border; supports leaving the European Union with a deal and would therefore support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change.” For a backstop to have the reassurance required by the EU and Ireland, it needs to be capable of being permanent but for the UK, if it were to be permanent, it would need to be acceptable for all parts of our country – both Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The meaningful vote process has failed us – Jack Simson-Caird, Times Red Box
  • Brexiteers have given Brussels a great excuse not to give ground – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • Six weeks to go and we’re none the wiser – Henry Newman, Times Red Box
  • Britain needs more time, but May can’t be trusted with it – Gary Younge, The Guardian
  • This desperate Government doesn’t know which way to turn – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

Javid will try to block return of ISIS bride

“The family of the London schoolgirl who ran away to join Islamic State appealed last night for her to be shown mercy as the home secretary tried to shut the door on her hopes of returning to Britain. Relatives of Shamima Begum, 19, pointed to her youthful innocence at the time when she was groomed online to join Isis in February 2015… Sajid Javid declared, however, that he would use all available powers to prevent Ms Begum coming back to Britain and would seek to try her for terrorism offences if she did return. “We must remember that those who left Britain to join Daesh were full of hate for our country,” the home secretary told The Times. “My message is clear — if you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return. If you do manage to return you should be ready to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted.”” – The Times

  • MPs take hard line on pleas to come home – The Times
  • Taxpayer could face huge costs from ‘dozens’ of brides – Daily Mail
  • US plans to jail British jihadis in Guantanamo – Daily Telegraph


  • Don’t underestimate the role of female jihadis – Raffaello Pantucci, Daily Telegraph
  • Begum deserves to return to Britain – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Jihadi bride voluntary shacked up with killers, this is not her home – Brendan O’Neill, The Sun
  • She made her bed and should lie in it – Alison Pearson, Daily Telegraph
  • Britain should be strong enough to take her back – Richard Barrett, The Guardian

>Today: Bob Seely MP in Comment: The rule of law is an absolute. It cannot be dispensed with when we deal with ISIS terrorists.

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