Twice as many Tory local chairmen back quitting the EU as staying

CAMERON EU fence“Almost twice as many Conservative local chairmen will vote to leave the European Union than stay in, according to the most extensive survey of Tory grassroots since the referendum. In a major blow to David Cameron’s attempts to win over his party, some 42 per cent of constituency chairmen were found back Brexit while just 24 per cent support retaining EU membership.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Cameron faces “grassroots revolt” as just a quarter of constituency chairmen back him – Daily Mail

Chamber of Commerce:

  • Sacked pro-Brexit boss launches parting shot at “irresponsible” Number Ten – Daily Telegraph
  • An honest man “knifed by Downing Street” – Daily Mail
  • Sceptics demand to know of Prime Minister had hand in sacking – The Sun
  • Mayor’s fury over EU “bullying scandal” – Daily Telegraph
  • Chilling witch-hunt which drove out pro-Brexit Longworth – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • The hounding of a man who spoke the truth – Daily Mail editorial


  • Boris tells Marr that officials are prisoners of Brussels machine… – The Times (£)
  • …and attacks City’s pro-EU stance – FT
  • Lamont claims German sado-austerity is boost far fight across Europe – Daily Mail
  • Patel and Morgan woo female voters – Daily Telegraph
  • Cameron deploys Navy against migrant smugglers – The Times (£)
  • Spain’s Brexit threat to Gibraltar – Daily Express
  • Britain’s biggest environmental charities using publish cash to campaign to Remain – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour’s pro-EU camp urges left and unions to fight against Brexit – The Guardian
  • Ex-Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies to lead the European Movement’s Scottish campaign – The Scotsman
  • Brexit could unravel the UK, warns UUP chief – Belfast Telegraph
  • The Queen could be dragged into Brexit row, sources warn – Daily Express
  • EU in emergency talks to eject migrants as division deepens – The Times (£)
  • Brussels “sells soul” in deal with Turkey – Daily Telegraph

Boris Johnson: There is no conspiracy, the EU elite are entirely open about their superstate plan

“We now have up to half our law coming from the EU (some say two thirds); and if the Five Presidents get their way, the process of centralisation will simply continue – much of it in the name of the “Single Market”. It’s time we learnt the lesson. The federalists do mean it when they sketch out these programmes. The ratchet is clicking forwards. When you come to vote, the status quo is not on offer.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Marr dragged Boris through a fiendish alley of details – Quentin Letts’ sketch, Daily Mail
  • The Mayor got lost in a cloud of Brexit waffle – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • The Brexiteers have star power, but no message – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
  • The red herring that was the Sovereignty Bill – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Would Churchill have surrendered our sovereignty? Never! – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail
  • Shambolic Outers are giving Cameron an open goal – Christopher Booker, Daily Telegraph
  • The question isn’t why should we listen to Mandelson on the EU, but why isn’t he being investigated? – Peter Oborne and Richard Heller, Daily Mail
  • This EU poll is critical to Ulster’s security and prosperity – Mike Nesbitt, Belfast Telegraph
  • My new referendum rule: if you’re whining, you’re losing – Andrew Rawnsley, The Guardian


>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Boris on why he wants Brexit. There are issues of “political control and accountability”

Osborne plans tax cut for middle classes

OSBORNE scissors“George Osborne is planning a tax giveaway for middle-class voters in next week’s Budget. Government sources say the Chancellor is set to raise the threshold at which people start paying 40p tax, following years of it being held down. The starting point for basic rate tax will also rise faster than expected.” – Daily Mail

  • Chancellor may raise higher rate threshold in Budget – The Guardian
  • Modest tax help planned for ‘risk free’ Budget – The Independent
  • Government “wasting billions on procurement” – FT
  • Osborne drawing up plans to “eradicate homelessness” – The Sun
  • Chancellor to backtrack on ‘pay to stay’ social housing rents – FT


  • Chancellor urged not to use motorists as “cash cow” – Daily Telegraph
  • Middle earners in line for cut but fuel may go up – The Times (£)
  • Funds for driverless lorry trials to be included in the Budget – Daily Telegraph


  • Plans to transfer more than £30bn of funding from councils to head teachers – Daily Telegraph
  • London and inner-city schools could lose out over changes – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Mark Field MP in Comment: As the Budget approaches, the storm clouds gather – and the long haul back to sustainable recovery goes on

Ministers 1) Lewis proposes compromise to save Sunday Trading reform

“Brandon Lewis, the Local Government minister, said, under the compromise deal, councils would be able to “draw a red line” around town centres and high streets “so that they had the liberalisation, but not the out of town shops”.
Ministers are hoping that the last minute change will win support of Tory MPs because it could lead to a boost in trade on high streets, which have been in decline for some years.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: His Sunday trading scheme shows how the worst of Osborne is harming the best of Osborne

Ministers 2) Fallon gives Army homes contractors’ sharp deadlines to repair unsuitable houses

HOMES Manifesto“Firms failing to fix neglected Armed Forces homes have been warned they risk losing their lucrative contract. Bosses of Carillion and Amey apologised after thousands complained. They have until the end of April to turn round the worst-performing area, the South East, or face losing their multi-billion pound contract.” – The Sun

>Today: Andrew Boff in Local Government: Bring back the prefab

Tories set sights on opposition at Holyrood

“Coming in a distant second may not sound an inspiring electoral goal, but Scotland’s Conservatives are quietly excited by the idea they might soon surpass Labour to become the main opposition to the ruling Scottish National party. At a spring conference just two months before a parliamentary election that polls say the SNP will win by a landslide, Scottish Tories see winning more seats than Labour as a turning point in their long decline north of the border.” – FT

  • Welsh Conservatives want restaurant-style ‘scores on doors’ for hospitals – WalesOnline
  • Scottish Greens hope to capitalise on discontent with SNP’s caution – FT

Khan suspends aide over offensive tweets

Sadiq Khan“Sadiq Khan, Labour’s London mayoral candidate, has suspended one of his aides over a series of sexist, homophobic and offensive posts on social media. Shueb Salar, a parliamentary assistant to the former minister, was removed after Mr Khan’s team admitted that there were “serious issues” with messages allegedly published by him on Twitter in 2012. It came as Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative contender, accused Mr Khan of giving oxygen to people who held “totally disgusting views”.” – The Times (£)

  • Assistant claimed Rigby killing was faked – Daily Mail
  • Labour MP probed by police for allegedly yanking aide’s hair after discovering she was a lesbian – The Sun

Labour MPs turn their fire on Corbyn, again

“Jeremy Corbyn is set to come under attack from his MPs tonight over defence, Europe and his views on prostitution when he faces questions from the parliamentary Labour party. There is anger that he told students last week that he was “in favour of decriminalising the sex industry”. MPs want him to declare how many council seats he hopes to win this year amid predictions that he could be the first opposition leader since the Falklands conflict to suffer council losses.” – The Times (£)

  • Labour leader considers letting voters choose who gets honours – Daily Telegraph
  • Backbenchers to challenge Corbyn over sex industry stance – The Guardian
  • Kendall calls for ‘Aunties Day’ for childless women – The Times (£)

>Today: Nadhim Zahawi MP’s column: The Tea Party provides a warning to Labour

Reclusive multi-millionaire funding independent challengers in every constituency in 2020

ballot_box“Disaffected Labour MPs – along with Tories left isolated by their party’s split over Europe – will be able to apply for financial backing from a new £6.5 million fund if they stand as independents at the next general election… a new pressure group, the Charter for a Free Parliament (CFP), plans to hold “primary” elections for independent candidates in every UK constituency.” – The Independent

Rubio campaign gets a shot in the arm as he storms Puerto Rico

“The Florida senator thrashed his rivals on the island, picking up 73.8 per cent of the votes compared to Donald Trump’s 13.6 per cent. He is expected to win all 20 delegates determined by the primary, just a day after Trump urged him to exit the race. And hard-left Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders picked a win in Maine, a day after beating former First Lady Hillary Clinton in Kansas and Nebraska.” – Daily Express

News in Brief:

  • EU stays silent as Turkish president seizes newspaper – Daily Mail
  • Global fears as markets lose faith in central banks – The Times (£)
  • Car smoking ban branded a farce after no prosecutions in five months – Daily Telegraph
  • EDF finance chief quits over decision to push on with Hinkley Point power station – FT
  • Nancy Reagan dies aged 94 – Daily Mail