Washington 1) After their first meeting May says Trump is “100 per cent behind NATO”

trumpmay2“US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have reaffirmed their commitment to the Nato alliance after White House talks. Mrs May confirmed Mr Trump was “100% behind Nato” despite the president’s recent comments calling the transatlantic alliance obsolete. Both leaders said they would work to establish trade negotiation agreements. Mrs May also said Mr Trump had accepted an invitation from the Queen for a state visit later this year. “Great days lie ahead for our two peoples and our two countries,” Mr Trump said. The prime minister added that a trade agreement between the UK and US was “in the national interest in both our countries”.” – BBC

  • President backtracks over torture – The Times(£)
  • Trump suspends refugee programme – BBC
  • New US ambassador to the UN warns America’s enemies – Daily Express
  • Even the colour scheme seemed to click – Daily Express
  • Mr Toad on his best behaviour – Patrick Kidd The Times(£)
  • Was that a Jane Austen blush on PM’s cheeks? – Quentin Letts Daily Mail
  • They are playing with fire – Leader The Guardian



Washington 2) Brexit a “blessing to the world” says Trump

“Donald Trump has used his first official press conference with a foreign leader to throw the full weight of the US Presidency behind Brexit. Theresa May stood next to President Trump as he declared that a “free and independent” Britain outside the EU would be a “blessing” for the world.” – Independent

Washington 3) Trump visit UK on state visit

Queen“The Prime Minister confirmed that Mr Trump and his wife, Melania, would later this year come on a full state visit to the UK and meet the Queen. Ahead of their talks, Mrs May had said “thank you, Mr President” as he showed her a bust of Winston Churchill that he has returned to the Oval Office after it was removed by Barack Obama.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Wollaston suggest banning him – James Forsyth The Sun

Washington 4) Laura Kuenssberg’s hostile questioning prompts jokey response

“BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg has been praised and condemned on social media following her stern questioning of Donald Trump during the US president’s joint press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May. Invited to pose a question to both leaders, Ms Kuenssberg raised a number of issues that have caused consternation in the UK…Mr Trump pointed to Ms Kuenssberg and turned to Mrs May, saying: “This was your choice of a question?” He then leaned in to the microphone and joked: “There goes that relationship.” – Daily Telegraph

Washington 5) World kept waiting over softening of sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin“Theresa May urged President Trump not to weaken sanctions on Russia when he speaks to President Putin for the first time today, after the White House signalled that the US was ready to soften its stance on Crimea. Speaking in the White House, Mrs May said yesterday that she had been “very clear” that sanctions had to continue until the Minsk agreement, which calls for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, was fully implemented. Mr Trump played down talk that he may lift sanctions on Russia quickly. “As far as the sanctions, [it is] very early to be talking about that,” he said, adding that he wanted to follow through on his campaign pledge to pursue better relations with Russia.” – The Times(£)

Washington 6) These two leaders confer legitimacy on each other

“The chemistry between Theresa May and Donald Trump might be uncertain, but the dynamic is clear. They confer legitimacy on each other….As always, the special relationship is rooted in political need. It has its historic, spiritual elements – we fought together in two world wars. But it rises and falls depending upon mutual necessity. At this precise moment, Britain and America face isolation. We are loathed for voting to leave the EU; Trump is widely regarded as uncouth, even bigoted. Both countries need a trade deal to prove that they can do a deal, that they are attractive to someone.” – Tim Stanley Daily Telegraph

Washington 7) May must champion the citizens of the world says Parris

PARRIS Mathhew“So she is, after all, a citizen of the world? Theresa May pitched her speech to Republican members of Congress in Philadelphia with careful audacity. She reminded her approving audience that nations needed to get on, to work with each other, to establish and respect the machinery of co-operation, sometimes to sink their differences …I’ve attended nearly 100 conference speeches from British party leaders over the years, and mercifully forgotten almost every line. Little of these laboriously drafted texts persists in the memory for long after the cheers die. But a few words stay. Ten from Mrs May’s October speech branded themselves into my mind. Sometimes in the night they wake me, still burning with anger.“A citizen of the world is a citizen of nowhere,” she said, to Tory applause. A skilful phrasemaker drafted that sentence, and it has a horrid brilliance.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

Other comment

Turkey is the PM’s next stop

“Theresa May will today start drawing up a free trade deal with Turkey in a fresh Brexit boost. The PM will agree to set up a working group with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on her first visit to Ankara since taking power. That will authorise officials to start mapping out how a deal would work once the UK leaves the EU. It will be the 13th working group ministers have set up with other countries since June’s referendum. The leaders will also discuss co-operation over security, as well as fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.” – The Sun

  • Verhofstadt promises a hard bargain over Brexit- The Sun

Cameron advising hedge funds on Brexit

Cameron“Former PM David Cameron has earned tens of thousands of pounds advising hedge fund managers about Brexit, it was claimed last night. He met top financiers in London before Christmas for a confidential breakfast meeting organised by the Gerson Lehrman Group. The chat lasted about 90 minutes and was mostly attended by US investment firms, The Times has reported. A document seen by the paper suggests that GLG plans to work with Mr Cameron in future. A spokesman for the group said it had been a “small, intimate gathering” with no set agenda where clients could ask Mr Cameron questions.” – The Sun

  • A shamless ex Chancellor – Guy Adams Daily Mail

Kawczynski calls for better relations with Putin

“Britain should break rank with Brussels and urgently seek a easing of hostility with Vladimir Putin to avert the terrifying build up of missiles in eastern Europe which is escalating by the day, a Tory MP has said. Conservative Daniel Kawczynski warned the border between the European Union and Russia is fast becoming Europe’s equivalent of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea, which is surrounded by one of the heaviest concentrations of weapons in the world.  The Polish-born politician said that tensions with Russia have become so bad that several Democrat supporters he knew voted for Donald Trump in the hope that the Republican businessmen would help avert a catastrophic east-west conflict.” – Daily Express

Shadow Welsh Secretary resigns over Brexit

LABOUR dead rose“Jo Stevens has quit as Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Welsh secretary after he forced Labour MPs to back the Article 50 bill. The Cardiff Central MP said she believed Brexit was “a terrible mistake” and said she “cannot reconcile my overwhelming view” that to endorse the bill would make it inevitable. She is the first member of the shadow cabinet to quit over the issue. Party leader Mr Corbyn said MPs in pro-EU constituencies were “understandably torn” over the vote.” – BBC

  • Corbyn faces more resignations – The Times(£)
  • Labour is split and divorced from its own voters – Leader Daily Telegraph
  • I’ve quit as Shadow Minister to follow my constituents – Tulip Siddiq The Guardian

UKIP Leader backs torture

“The Ukip leader, Paul Nuttall, has said techniques such as waterboarding could be justified if they saved lives, following comments by President Trump this week that torture “absolutely” works. The issue has been one of the main focuses surrounding Theresa May’s current trip to visit the new US president. In a television interview on Wednesday, Trump said he believed waterboarding and similar tortures worked, and his country should “fight fire with fire”. Nuttall, who is standing in next month’s by-election in Stoke, was asked about the issue during a campaign visit to Cumbria, where the Copeland seat will also be up for grabs on 23 February.” – The Guardian

Mugabe standing for another term

mugabenew“The former Zimbabwean prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, is creating a coalition of opposition parties before the general election next year as he seeks to wrest power from President Mugabe. Mr Mugabe, 92, who has been in office since 1980, will be the sole candidate for his Zanu-PF party in the election, despite facing waves of unrest across the country, which has been crippled by a cash crisis.” – The Times(£)

Fresh BA and tube strikes

“Dozens of British Airways flights are likely to be cancelled after cabin crew called six days of strikes in a dispute over pay. Members of the Unite union will walk out for almost a week next month as part of a continuing row over salary rates for almost 3,000 staff based at Heathrow. The union has staged two stoppages in the past month that involved “mixed-fleet” cabin crew working on a combination of long and short-haul flights….The announcement came as it emerged that staff working for London Underground would strike early next month over job losses and ticket office closures.” – The Times(£)

Moore: We must not surrender to the rail unions

MOORE Charles blue background“Now the cry is for Southern to lose its franchise and the Government to take charge. This is an understandable feeling. It is true that the system, by which Network Rail owns the tracks and the train-operating companies (TOCs) are accountable for what moves on them, is a recipe for an endless shifting of responsibility which drags government in. But this is a dispute about union power. RMT – who run the conductors – and Aslef are united in few things, but they would love it if the Government took over.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • MPs call for footballers to pay more tax – BBC
  • Westminster Council to charge extra for parking diesel cars – The Guardian
  • Tesco buys wholesaler Booker – Daily Telegraph
  • Treasury takes back £384 schools funding – BBC
  • Fresh row about pollution from Heathrow expansion – Financial Times
  • Labour MPs urge Priti Patel to continue abortion funding – The Guardian

And finally…Jacob Rees-Mogg has never boiled an egg

Jacob Rees-Mogg 18-05-16“The Tory MP for North East Somerset has five children, with a sixth due in July, and yet he has never changed a nappy. Nor has he ever boiled an egg, used a vacuum cleaner or emptied a dishwasher. “I’m not hugely domesticated. I’m going to make no pretence that I am busy scrubbing floors in the Rees-Mogg household,” he says. “I don’t cook or wash up. I do know how to change a lightbulb but I have never built an Ikea flat-pack.” He doesn’t wash or iron his own shirts — “even at Oxford I sent my laundry home.” – Interview with Jacob Rees-Mogg in The Times(£)