May’s dramatic counter-stroke. She seeks to head off a backbench rebellion and outfox Labour by asking MPs to back her on Article 50…

MAY Theresa pensive“MPs will be asked to back the Government’s plan to formally serve Article 50 by the end of March 2017. Mrs May also committed to revealing the official plan for Brexit before the process begins. The unexpected announcement came after months of the Government refusing to give a “running commentary” on Brexit, or formally to allow Parliament a vote on the process.” – Daily Telegraph

…Pro-EU Tory rebels duly back down…

“Mrs May’s move has fended off – for the time being – a confrontation with pro-European Tories but that may not last. One of them, Neil Carmichael, suggested that his colleagues would keep up the pressure on her. “Pleased the government has accepted the need for a Brexit plan – good for business confidence and international reputation, but there is more to do,” he said.” – The Times (£)

…But the price of the Prime Minister’s gambit is a concession of more Commons scrutiny for her Brexit plan.  So has she outwitted Labour, or vice-versa?

Sir Keir Starmer“Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said Labour will accept the Government’s amendment, meaning the motion will be easily passed by MPs tomorrow. He hailed the ‘hugely significant climb down from the Government’ as a victory for Labour.”…Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake welcomed Mrs May’s concession of a plan.”  – Daily Mail

  • Hammond 1) He begins trade tour – The Times (£)
  • Hammond 2) He clashes with Brussels over new bank oversight rules – Financial Times
  • Letwin says: “We’re leaving the Single Market.” “We’re leaving the customs union” – Daily Express
  • Farms face crisis after fall in migrant workers – The Times (£)
  • Rees-Mogg: We could go for Indian safety standards after Brexit – The Independent
  • Fall in European migration would hit UK growth, claims NIESR, but low-paid workers may see modest boost to income – Financial Times
  • Ministers mull deal to give Sturgeon a second independence referendum…after Brexit – The Times (£)
  • Niall Ferguson recants and renounces Remain – Daily Express
  • May defends wearing £995 chocolate coloured Amanda Wakeley trousers and £140 black Burberry trainers –

    The Sun (£)

Jacob Rees Mogg: May is the winner

Jacob Rees-Mogg 18-05-16“An Opposition Day debate is largely symbolic. Essentially the Tory whips have called the Labour party’s bluff. The Labour motion was designed to be so anodyne and say so little that Conservatives would be happy to support it. By broadly accepting it, the government shows it up for what it is, and has ensured it can successfully negotiate an essentially irrelevant motion that could have been painted as a rebellion. The government could have gathered the support to win a vote against the Labour motion – but to no purpose other than prevent the latter from going though.” – Daily Telegraph

> Today:

The Supreme Court hearing, day two. Its Pannick Stations.

“Lord Pannick, acting for the millionaire Gina Miller, said that it was legally “impossible” to give the people the decision to leave the EU, and the Government had to ratify it. He said that MPs rejected the chance to make the referendum legally binding months ago, and that the European Communities Act said “it can only be repealed if Parliament makes it especially clear in the later repealing legislation”.” – The Sun

  • Court told that Government doesn’t need Holyrood approval for Brexit – Scotsman
  • “Lord Pannick is renowned as a superstar of the courtroom. You might not necessarily guess it, to look at him. Outwardly, he seems harmless, with his genial rubbery features, his brow furrowed in gentle concern, and his voice rising and failing in a kind of Sunday school sing-song. His manner is unhurried, unassuming, unaggressive. Yet he chomped through the Government’s case like a shark.” – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • “Here was a member of the legal trade union speaking, in his furtively buttery manner, of the higher calling of legal logic, the primacy of precedent, the pre-eminence of extended legislative process over the smack of firm government.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  •  Pro-Remain protesters claim Brexit is racist – Daily Express
  • The judges must be scrutinised – Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Mail
  • The judges must be defended – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

Barnier speaks! And his message to the UK is: go quickly

BARNIER Michel“At times using measured English, the former French minister had three main messages: that Brexit talks would be a short negotiation lasting less than 18 months; that EU-27 unity was his overriding priority; and that the final deal would have to be worse than EU membership.  The response to Mr Barnier’s remarks reflected the growing gulf in expectations between Britain and the EU. To diplomats in Brussels, he expressed in relatively neutral tones some core principles that were agreed behind the scenes with little controversy.  Yet to British MPs, it was “grandstanding to Brussels” that was jeopardising talks. “Mr Barnier’s latest contribution is of just the type calculated to raise the political temperature at a time when he should be lowering it,” said Andrew Tyrie, who chairs the Treasury select committee.” – Financial Times

> Yesterday: Iain Duncan Smith on Comment: Britain last June. America last month. Now Italy. Next, Germany? France? Holland? Revolt against the elites is sweeping the West.

Commons 1) Grayling unfurls his rail plan

“Mr Grayling told MPs today: ‘I am going to establish East West Rail as a new and separate organisation, to accelerate the permissions needed to reopen the route, and to secure private-sector involvement to design, build and operate the route as an integrated organisation.’ Explaining the reasoning behind the decision, Mr Grayling told the BBC this morning: ‘What we are doing is taking this line out of Network Rail’s control.” – Daily Mail

  • His proposals sound sensible enough – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • Transport Secretary also condemns strike – The Sun

Commons 2) Javid: Casey report has ring of truth

Louise CaseyThe Communities Secretary said the report ‘rings true’ to him and said the Government would press ahead with plans to improve English among new arrivals. The report published by Dame Louise Casey yesterday found in many areas of the country communities contain a rich patchwork of people living and and working alongside each other. But it said in too many places communities were segregated along cultural lines, with a refusal to learn English and offer equality to women.” – Daily Mail

  • How social workers failed Yorkshire schoolgirl abused by gang of 12 – Yorkshire Post
    We must confront Muslim segregation – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph
  • Casey speaks sense – Trevor Phillips, The Sun

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – By banging on about integration, Casey may help to build it up – just a little bit

Commons 3) Truss says that the barking of prison patrol dogs helps to deter drones

“I was at HMP Pentonville last week,” Ms Truss said. “They’ve now got patrol dogs who are barking, which helps deter drones.” One Labour MP shouted out: “It’s the minister who is barking.” Ms Truss was also mocked by Victoria Prentis, a Conservative, who asked: “What guidance and training are governors being given to ensure that they can complete the procurement process properly, be that for the provision of mental health services or even the recruitment of the dogs that bark at drones?” – The Times (£)

Rudd to introduce stalking protection orders

Amber Rudd“Under the new powers, police will be able to immediately apply to the courts for a civil order to slap restrictions on stalkers rather than leaving victims to suffer for years while they try and seek a criminal prosecution. The “Stalking Protection Orders” could order stalkers to stay away from their target or restrict their internet use and force them to seek medical treatment. Breaching the conditions could trigger a five year jail sentence.” – The Sun

Ann Widdecombe: For once, I am completely on the side of Michael Howard

“What really irritates me about this silly saga is that the judge accepted that the Howards told the truth and that they really had discussed the matter and tried to recall which of them was driving.  So why the severe punishment? It was because Lord Howard did not write out his wife’s full name and address when specifying that he could not remember who was driving.  In other words instead of saying “Sandra Howard” he wrote “my wife”. Oh, spare us. How many wives does the law suppose he has? Michael Howard is to appeal. I do not often say this but I do sincerely hope he wins.” – Daily Express

McCluskey to be challenged for control of Unite

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-08-03-23“Midlands regional secretary Gerard Coyne was locked in meetings ahead of an announcement as early as Wednesday. Sources claim he will slam ‘Red Len’ for putting the needs of the arch-leftie Labour leader ahead of Unite’s own members. It came as ‘Red’ Len sparked a bid to tighten his grip on Unite by triggering a snap leadership contest. Mr McCluskey resigned but immediately said he would be standing in the general secretary election that will now have to take place in April 2017.” – The Sun

Merkel endorses partial veil ban

“The German chancellor’s CDU party is expected this week to pass a motion proposing a ban on the full-face veil in some areas of public life such as courts, schools and universities, as well as in road traffic and during police checks. A full ban, as introduced in France in 2011, is seen as incompatible with Germany’s basic laws. Merkel’s comments follow the Netherlands’ move at the end of November to introduce a partial ban on the full veil in hospitals, municipal institutions, schools and on transport, a measure that also covers other pieces of clothing such as motorbike helmets or balaclavas” – The Guardian

News in Brief

  • Green Party ‘did not contest Zac Goldsmith by-election after they were offered £250,000 donation to sit it out’ – Daily Mail
  • Samantha Cameron gives Vogue interview, says she once was “a bit of a Goth” – Daily Mail
  • Union leaders meet today to discuss Tate deal – Wales Online
  • NHS pays £430,000 salaries to stand-in bosses – The Times (£)
  • Wage stagnation drives up number of working poor – Financial Times
  • Stormont ends installation of water meters in Northern Ireland – Belfast Telegraph
  • Crabb: sexting scandal was an ‘excruciating’ embarrassment  – Daily Telegraph
  • Shaving your pubic hair “increases risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections” – The Independent
  • Drunk intruder interrupts the Queen’s lunch at the Goring Hotel – Daily Express
  • Soldier jailed for life for murder of Afghan prisoner in Helmand given fresh hope with new evidence to be presented in court – The Sun