Brexit 1) Grieve: Cameron’s sovereignty plan would be “pointless”

Dominic Grieve portrait‘In the latest blow to the PM’s renegotiation push, Mr Grieve said it was difficult to see how “any piece of legislation” could remove the final say from the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. He said that any Bill trying to say the UK Supreme Court outranked Euro judges would breach existing EU Treaty terms. Mr Grieve said: “At the end of the day the buck stops somewhere. And the treaty of accession and our own legislation makes quite clear that it is the court in Luxembourg which has the last word.”‘ – The Sun (£)

>Friday: ToryDiary: Does the EU referendum package really restore or protect British sovereignty?

Brexit 2) Downing Street claims the Prime Minister is on track for a deal next week

‘David Cameron will “almost certainly” strike a deal on reforms to Britain’s membership of the European Union at a crunch Brussels summit next week, PoliticsHome has been told. The confident prediction by a senior government source came as a leaked copy of the draft conclusions of the meeting on February 18 and 19 emerged…David Cameron is engaging in a final round of shuttle diplomacy in the hope that the other 27 member states will rubber stamp the agreement next week. A senior government source said: “It will almost certainly be agreed at the summit, and then we can get on with the referendum.”‘ – PoliticsHome

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Cabinet meeting called for Monday. A bid to muzzle pro-Brexit Ministers?

Brexit 3) Trade figures boost the Eurosceptic case

EU Exit brexit‘Britain’s economy has become less reliant on the crisis-hit EU than ever as exports to Europe continue to collapse. In a sign that the UK could prosper if it quit Brussels, sales to EU countries lagged behind exports to the rest of the world in 2015 for the second year in a row. Official figures also showed that Britain bought far more from EU countries than they bought from us – with the gap at an all-time high of £89billion. Britons propped up struggling EU economies by buying French wine, German cars, Spanish vegetables and Italian clothes.’ – Daily Mail

  • Maude steps down as Trade Minister – FT
  • Brussels puts pressure on Greece to change its asylum system – FT
  • NATO steps in to stop illegal boats – Daily Mail
  • French Government sinks scaremongering over Calais camps – Daily Mail
  • Merkel is losing touch – Roger Boyes, The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: Brexiteers should stop hoping they will be saved by Boris

Brexit 4) Wollaston: I’m voting Leave

‘I have always been a Europhile and before becoming an MP would never have imagined voting to leave the European Union. So why am I heading towards the door? I can no longer ignore the grinding reality of the EU. The prime minister’s provisional deal with our EU partners is a threadbare offering. What use are “emergency brakes” when the driver has no control, or “red cards” that have no real chance of being deployed?’ – Sarah Wollaston, The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: World Exclusive. How Margaret Thatcher would have voted in the EU referendum. Stunning ConHome revelation.

Bank shares are on the slide

Banks Face 6 Billion Of Libor Litigation‘European bank shares continued to slide yesterday as speculation mounted about the health of some of the Continent’s leading lenders. Shares in Deutsche Bank dropped by 4.3 per cent, taking the cumulative fall in its share price since the start of the year to more than 40 per cent, while Barclays was down 4.7 per cent, taking its year-to-date decline to a little more than 28 per cent. The sell-off comes amid concerns at the ability of lenders to continue funding their debt piles.’ – The Times (£)

  • FTSE hits three-year low – Daily Mail
  • This is no time for fresh austerity – FT Leader
  • Deutsche Bank is ‘rock solid’, its boss and the German Government insist – Daily Telegraph
  • Economic wobbles could impact on the referendum – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Do not increase fuel duty, George – The Sun Says (£)
  • Warm Chardonnay and Downing Street soirees in the Chancellor’s charm offensive – Bloomberg

>Today: ToryDiary: Osborne is performing a high-wire act, and it’s getting breezy

Intelligence and Security Committee criticises new snooping powers

‘Proposals to increase internet surveillance are intrusive and do not protect user privacy adequately, an influential parliamentary committee has said. The draft investigatory powers bill, making its way through the legislative process, aims to give the police and security agencies greater access to communications data…But the intelligence and security committee said the government should scrap measures in the bill that would allow security agencies to collect records of UK citizens’ internet use en masse. More targeted intelligence-gathering measures would be sufficient, the committee said.’ – FT

Conservative election expenses could face a police investigation

conservativetree‘Newly uncovered hotel receipts have revealed that the Tories allegedly covered up thousands of pounds in hotel bills to spend more on beating Nigel Farage in the key Thanet South seat. An investigation revealed that the Conservatives did not declare more than £4,000 of hotel receipts which would have taken them over the legal spending limit for the constituency in the election. The party now faces an internal investigation and even a police probe after the revelations about spending in a key seat.’ – Daily Mail

  • Black and White Ball features legal advice for donors – Daily Mail
  • Labour could have a field day, if they were competent – The Sun Says (£)

>Today: Ideas for Party Reform 3) Party Conference: lower costs, more debate

>Yesterday: Ideas for Party Reform 2) Ring-fence spending for the longer-term

Thousands of operations cancelled as junior doctors strike again

‘The prospect that the government will impose new working conditions on England’s 50,000 junior doctors appeared to be moving closer, as medics prepared for a second day of strike action. Almost 3,000 routine operations, due to take place on Wednesday, have been cancelled in a continuing protest over changes to terms and conditions for all doctors below the rank of consultant.’ – FT

  • Opposition to the strike is growing… – Daily Mail
  • …but many people still blame Hunt – The Independent
  • Doctors’ patronising responses to supermarket worker comparison – The Sun (£)
  • Immigration puts a burden on the NHS – Daily Mail Leader
  • 2,000 Tube workers will strike on Friday – Daily Mail

>Today: Andrew Haldenby on Comment: Why now is the time to rally round Jeremy Hunt

Ministers accused of ‘buying off’ Tory rebels with extra council cash

money‘David Cameron has been accused of buying off Conservative MPs worried about local cuts after it emerged Tory councils would be handed the lion’s share of a new £300 million fund. An analysis by Labour has found that 83 per cent of the new £300 million two-year fund will go to Tory-run councils. However, government sources insisted that the money, announced ahead of a crucial vote on council cuts, had been allocated in proportion to those cuts. The biggest beneficiaries include rural, Conservative-run areas such as Surrey, which will receive £24 million, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, and Buckinghamshire.’ – The Times (£)

  • Cameron’s aunt opposes local cuts – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Local Government: Tory rebels are bought off – as Clark announces more money for local councils

Town halls to gain Sunday Trading freedom within months

‘By the autumn, councils will be able to ditch Sunday trading laws which limit large stores to open for just six hours on a Sunday. In theory it could allow large supermarkets and major stores opening 24-hours a day 7-days a week. Convenience store groups and unions reacted with fury to the announcement, which will allow large shops to open all day where councils give permission. The change in the law will also face a rebellion by some backbench Tory MPs, including those opposed on religious and family grounds.’ – Daily Mail

Finkelstein: The police are abusing bail rules

Police shield‘With Fergus Shanahan, the police arrested him, turned his house upside down, imprisoned him in a cell for hours, took a box of his daughter’s Sesame Street videos (presumably the ones in which Elmo and Big Bird bribe a customs official), and then didn’t question him again for an entire year. In order to allow themselves to do that, they abused police bail. Now they will, I’m sure, object to that description because they were perfectly within their rights to bail and rebail Fergus for ever. Yet to keep on extending the bail period apparently at random because, say, they were “busy” or “the interview room was booked” is an oppressive procedure. It is abuse.’ – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

  • Police leave businessman on bail for six years – The Times (£)
  • Leveson Part Two cancelled – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Nick Timothy’s column: We are in danger of drawing the wrong conclusions about child abuse allegations

Royal Navy deployment to NATO set to expand

‘Britain is to almost double its naval deployment to Nato as the military alliance reinforces its defences in the face of Russian expansionism. Five warships and about 530 Royal Navy personnel will be sent as part of Nato’s largest military build-up in eastern Europe since the Cold War, Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, will announce today.’ – The Times (£)

Shadow Defence Secretary bombarded for bizarre Trident line

Emily_Thornberry_2111‘The shadow defence secretary has come under attack from senior military figures, unions and Labour MPs after she raised fresh doubts over the party’s support for the nuclear deterrent. Emily Thornberry, who with Jeremy Corbyn, the party leader, opposes the renewal of Trident, claimed that technology such as underwater drones could defeat the purpose of a supposedly undetectable fleet of nuclear submarines.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Chris Grayling’s column: Labour have demonstrated their inability to take power seriously

Clarke will not face charges over Elliott Johnson scandal

‘Mr Clarke, who was once tipped as a future minister by society magazine Tatler, has denied all of the allegations against him. A CPS spokesperson said tonight: “Having considered the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors we have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to charge Mark Clarke with offences of common assault or blackmail against Elliott Johnson and we have advised that no further action be taken.”’ – The Mirror

Trump wins New Hampshire primary

TRUMP hair‘Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary last night – the surest sign yet that voters are ready to put a billionaire former reality TV star with no political experience into the world’s most powerful executive position. On a night of record voter turnout Mr Trump looked set to romp to victory, with an estimated 33 per cent of the electorate.’ – The Times (£)

News in Brief

  • Deepcut dossier alleges wider culture of abuse – Daily Mail
  • Uber seek to woo cabbies – FT
  • IPSA grants a pay rise for MPs – The Sun (£)
  • The drink-driving limit could be reduced – Daily Mail
  • Scientists are on the verge of discovering ripples in space time – The Independent
  • One million more Syrians set to flee the country – The Sun (£)
  • MPs deliver scathing verdict on auditors over Kids’ Company fiasco – FT
  • Thousand-year tradition of writing laws on vellum is ditched – Daily Telegraph
  • Why has Britain abandoned Syrian moderates to Putin and Assad’s bombs? – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

And finally…

Parents oppose their children marrying someone of the wrong politics

Rosette shieldThe proportion of parents who would be “very upset” if their offspring married someone of a different political persuasion has more than doubled in eight years, a YouGov survey shows. Among Labour parents it is up from 4 per cent to 10 per cent while Tory supporters expressing horror at the prospect of a Labour son or daughter-in-law has risen from 2 to 6 per cent. Twenty-eight per cent of Labour supporters say they would be unhappy if their son or daughter married a Tory. In 2008, 19 per cent of Labour voters were against a Tory in the family, suggesting that two election defeats and six years under a Conservative prime minister is taking its toll on tolerance.’ – The Times (£)

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