“Despite Brexit”: Bank of England raises its growth forecast in one of the biggest adjustments in the Bank’s history

“The Bank raised its 2017 growth forecast to 2 per cent, from 1.4 per cent, putting it on track to outpace the eurozone once again. The upgrade was one of the largest in the Bank’s history and the second since November. Last August it had slashed its 2017 growth outlook to 0.8 per cent after the referendum on leaving the EU. As well as upgrading growth, the Bank reversed its jobs forecast, saying that unemployment would be 250,000 lower than previously thought and roughly in line with its projection before the vote last June.” – The Times (£)

America, Ireland…and now Malta for May.  Her third trip abroad in a week.  She will reinforce Trump’s NATO message to EU leaders: meet your obligations

TRUMP and MAY Gone with the wind“The prime minister will see EU leaders in Valletta, Malta, this morning to brief them on her recent trip to the United States. Mrs May will highlight the guarantee that she secured from President Trump on his support for Nato. “She will go on to encourage other European leaders to deliver on their commitments to spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence, so that the burden is more fairly shared,” a No 10 spokesman said. “She will say that it is only by investing properly in our defence that we can ensure we are properly equipped to face our shared challenges together.” – The Times (£)

  • Prime Minister pledges support for EU over Mediterranean migrant crisis – The Guardian
  • Malta’s Prime Minister: May in “unenviable position” over Trump – The Times (£)
  • The history of transatlantic financial deals suggests there’s one winner: and it’s not Britain – Ed Conway, The Times (£)
  • Macron mimics Vote Leave – Michael Gove, The Times (£)

Brexit White Paper launched. Davis says Britain’s best days lie ahead. Starmer says there’s nothing in it.

“Launching the 77-page White Paper in the House of Commons, the Brexit Secretary said the paper outlined Theresa May’s vision of “an independent and truly global United Kingdom”. The White Paper confirmed that the principle of free movement will end and new immigration rules will be “phased out”. Mr Davis called on EU leaders to behave like “good neighbours” during the negotiations. He also confirmed Britain’s strategy would be guided by the 12 principles set out by Mrs May last month.” – Daily Telegraph

  • White paper summary – The Sun
  • It tells us nothing new – John Rentoul, The Independent
  • New immigration controls will be phased in – Daily Mail
  • May vulnerable in Commons over EU nationals in Britain – Financial Times
  • EEA vote not ruled out as new legal challenge looms – Daily Express
  • CARMICHAEL NeilCarmichael says he may vote for Labour’s amendment –  The Independent
  • Peers warned not to block the Bill – The Sun
  • Lord Hill says Brexit isn’t like the Black Death or World War Two – The Sun
  • European Parliament committee says attempt to punish the City could backfire – Daily Express
  • Welcome to the most pro-Brexit town in Britain – Financial Times
  • People in the south Wales valleys give their view – WalesOnline
  • Left-wing MEPs propose member state athletes fly EU flag logo – Daily Mail
  • Clarke is wrong: Parliament cannot defy the referendum result – Alan Johnson, The Guardian
  • Parliament has been given vital oversight – Times Editorial (£)
  • Now the real work begins – Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • The Deutsche Boerse takeover of the Stock Exchange shouldn’t go ahead – Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

Moscow churns out fake news, we must fight back on cyber, says Fallon

FALLON Send for“Sir Michael Fallon said the UK’s enemies should know there is a ‘price to pay’ if they use hi-tech subversion against Nato members. He said Nato members were being ‘tested’ by Vladimir Putin and must compete on the cyber battlefield to counter an increase in Russian hacking attacks. In a hard-hitting speech on Russia, he also accused Moscow of ‘weaponising misinformation’ and said they were guilty of Soviet-style ‘fake news’.” – Daily Mail

  • Millions to be pumped into cyber warfare – Daily Express
  • Defence Secretary says Government would veto second Scotland referendum – Financial Times

Osborne: Better schools are the key to boosting the Northern Powerhouse

“Better transport links, backing science and culture, more devolution of power are all important ingredients – and the partnership will return to these issues. But in all the conversations we’ve had in the north in recent months, one challenge really stood out: education. The education system, right from the start of school to higher education, needs dramatic improvement if it is to provide the next generation with the skills, inspiration and training to fulfil their goals and build our economy.” – Daily Telegraph

New Government strategy to help the children of alcoholics pledged by Blackwood

Nicola Blackwood“A Conservative minister has promised to produce a new strategy to help the children of alcoholics after she was moved to tears hearing Labour frontbencher Jon Ashworth talk about his father’s drinking. Nicola Blackwood, the public health minister, praised Ashworth for speaking out, along with Labour former minister Liam Byrne, about their experiences of growing up with an alcoholic parent. “I hope each member who has spoken today will continue to work with me as we fight to tackle this social injustice,” she said, promising to sit down with MPs to draw up a strategy for tackling the problem.” – The Guardian

When troubles come, they come not single spies. Fresh woes for Corbyn over Brexit Bill…

“Jeremy Corbyn’s team is braced for a fresh rebellion next week when MPs vote again on article 50, as tensions within Labour intensify over the leadership’s handling of Brexit. Backbench rebels, 47 of whom defied the party whip to vote against the government on Wednesday, said they expected a bigger backlash next week, especially if none of the party’s amendments are accepted. In Westminster, three members of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet have already stepped down, rather than vote in favour of triggering article 50, and further resignations could follow.” – The Guardian

…Talking of which: is Diane Abbott alive? Has anyone seen her? Send get well cards, flowers, bunches of grapes.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 08.08.29“Some backbenchers were circulating the ironic hashtag #PrayForDiane saying they were ‘very worried’ about her after she claimed to have a migraine. She was in Westminster all day and gave an animated speech to MPs at just before 4pm but failed to take part in a series of crucial votes in the Commons from 7pm. One furious Labour backbencher told MailOnline that ‘no-one believes she was ill’, adding at least two MPs undergoing cancer treatment had managed to vote.” – Daily Mail

  • Mandelson awarded Legion D’Honneur – Daily Mail
  • Lawyer denies groping Harman when she was an articled clerk – Daily Mail

Nuttall under investigation as he admits that he has never lived in the Stoke house he claimed was a permanent residence

“The Ukip leader slept on a mattress on the floor at the home he claimed was his permanent residence on Wednesday night, after he was exposed as never having lived there. In an argument with Channel 4’s Michael Crick, the Ukip candidate was forced to admit he hadn’t even been to the house, which was previously revealed as being empty of furniture. This has lead to a police report being filed after claims the candidate has broken election rules, and calls for him to be disqualified.” – Daily Telegraph

Tim Montgomerie: The Green Belt isn’t so green. We need bits of it for homes.  Build, baby, build.

Tim Montgomerie 18-03-16“Much of the not-very-green belt is car parks, old industrial sites, heavily developed farmland and scrubland. Worse, it’s also nearly all privately owned, so the bits that actually are the right colour can’t be fully enjoyed by the public. The green belt should be renamed gold belt because land that gets planning ­permission can become up to 200 times more valuable. Theresa May could become the modern-day Queen Midas if she allowed just a small percentage of this land to become places where new family homes are built.” – The Sun

  • May constituency councillor removed from post after green belt plan questions – The Times (£)

> Today: Brooks Newmark on Comment – May must grasp this opportunity to end the scourge of homelessness

Trump loosens sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies

“A notice posted on the Treasury Department website said that sanctions imposed by Mr Obama – first in 2015 and then tightened late last year amid accusations of Russian hacking of political parties – had been eased. “All transactions and activities otherwise prohibited pursuant to Executive Order 13694…as amended by EO 13757, are authorised,” says the notice. Russia’s Tass News Agency said: “US authorities have weakened the sanctions regime against the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB).” – The Independent

  • British airports could help enforce his ban – Daily Mail
  • New Sinn Fein leader says that a Trump visit to Northern Ireland “would not now be appropriate” – Irish News
  • Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 08.15.48He hung up on Turnbull over refugee deal – The Times (£)
  • European Parliament leaders call for Malloch to be rejected as his Ambassador – The Guardian
  • He warns Israel that new settlements “may not help” to achieve peace – Daily Telegraph
  • His Supreme Court nominee “founded fascism forever club” – The Independent
  • He is praised by Wilders – Daily Express
  • Trump-Schwarzenegger handbags over Apprentice ratings – Daily Mail

> Today: Columnist Graeme Archer – Murdered gays. Banned Jews. But stick to those anti-Trump protests, comrade – and avert your eyes.

> Yesterday: Harsimrat Kaur on Comment: Brexit and Trump – nothing in common

News in Brief

  • Shouts of Allahu Akbar as Rotherham gang who made girl of 12 pregnant are jailed for 81 years – Yorkshire Post
  • Southern rail strike off, Aslef claims victory – The Times (£)
  • Supermarkets ration vegetables as floods, snow and storms in the Mediterranean hit supplies – Daily Mail
  • SNP secures Scottish budget after deal with Greens – Financial Times
  • Cut to disability benefits may make return to work harder, claims Work and Pensions Select Committee – The Guardian
  • Legal aid exploiting, ambulance-chasing, Iraq veteran-pursuing Shiner struck off – Birmingham Post
  • Top earners in Scotland to pay £400 more tax next year than in England – Herald Scotland
  • Fillon’s wife: I’ve never been his assistant – Daily Telegraph
  • Treasury prediction: if you’re in your 20s, prepare to work until you’re 74 – The Sun
  • Storm Dorries, sorry, Doris threatens mayhem – Daily Express