Brexit 1) May urges Scottish voters to reject second independence referendum at polls

MAY Britannia“Theresa May fears the Scottish government will call another referendum as she triggers the formal Brexit process. Downing Street is preparing for Nicola Sturgeon to use the start of the country’s exit from the European Union to call a new vote on Scottish independence. Mrs May could reject it and risk a constitutional crisis or accept it and potentially imperil the future of the United Kingdom. She has promised to trigger Article 50 by April and expects to be able to stick to the timetable, despite ongoing parliamentary wrangling over the process. The Prime Minister has urged voters in Scotland to use May’s council elections to make clear to First Minister Ms Sturgeon that they do not want to have another independence referendum.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister warned that Article 50 could precipitate ‘devolution crisis’ – The Times (£)
  • Government ‘preparing for indyref2’ – The Scotsman


  • Corbyn ignores Dugdale’s plan for a federal UK in Scottish speech – Daily Telegraph
  • Leader deals blow to Scottish leader’s constitutional policy – FT
  • Corbyn says SNP should ‘clear up its mess’ and forget referendum – The Scotsman

More Brexit:

  • Miller launches campaign for vote which could block Brexit – Daily Express
  • Departure provides opportunities for the IoD, new head claims – FT


  • After Copeland’s easy sprint, May faces a muddy marathon – Anne McElvoy, The Guardian
  • Ministers should respect Scotland’s oldest exports – Calum Kerr, Times Red Box


  • Plans for a rematch of 2014 are a breach of good faith – The Times (£)

>Today: Anthony Coughlan in Comment: Why Brexit should be accompanied by Irexit

>Yesterday: Mohammed Amin in Comment: Why referendums are almost always a bad idea

Brexit 2) Plans drawn up to end the right to remain permanently in Britain

“European migrants arriving in Britain after next month are set to lose the right to remain permanently in this country, under plans being drawn up by Theresa May. Whitehall sources said the Prime Minister is planning to make the ‘cut-off’ date for new EU migrants the point when she triggers formal Brexit proceedings in March. The move is the first step in ending free movement, as EU migrants arriving after this date will not have the automatic right to live and work in this country once Britain has left the European club.” – Daily Mail

  • May ‘poised’ to announce the end of free movement – Daily Telegraph
  • Immigration won’t ‘suddenly’ fall after Brexit, claims Rudd… – Daily Mail
  • …but we will end freedom of movement ‘as we know it’ – The Sun
  • Rejection of EU citizens seeking UK residency hits 28 per cent – The Guardian
  • May reshapes her administration in a Home Office mould – FT

More immigration:

  • Home Secretary says child refugee criticism is ‘fake news’ – The Times (£)
  • New powers being used to deport homeless migrants, campaigners warn – The Independent


  • Hypocrisy over immigration cannot be tolerated – Gurnek Bains, Times Red Box
  • Brexit is undermining womens’ rights – Sophie Walker and Baroness Jones, Times Red Box


Brexit 3) Government urged to dismiss Heseltine over Lords rebellion

HESELTINE Michael“Ministers are being urged to sack Michael Heseltine as a government advisor after he put himself at the head of a rebel Tory campaign against the Brexit Bill in the House of Lords. The peer has vowed to defy orders by Conservative whips to not vote for a change to the legislation which would give Parliament a veto over the outcome of Mrs May’s Brussels negotiations, including if she walks away without a deal. Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Lord Heseltine says: ‘This is not a confrontation with the Government. It is to ensure the Commons can exercise its authority over the defining issue of our time.'” – Daily Mail

  • Ministers warn peers not to amend the Brexit bill – FT
  • Major to resurface for ‘Brexit reality check’ – The Sun


  • Disloyal, petulant, flaky… and he can’t handle having a female boss – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail


Prime Minister accused of letting down ex-servicemen over pensions

“Theresa May was this evening accused of an “utter betrayal” of Britain’s war heroes after pension benefits for veterans and their widows rose by just 1 per cent. It comes just four days after it was confirmed MPs will be getting a 1.4 per cent pay rise this April. And it means 140,000 heroes and widowers – including some from World War Two – will see their weekly handouts rise by as little as £1.10 a week. The decision was slipped out earlier this month by the Ministry of Defence. The War Pensions scheme supports those who suffer an injury or illness caused by service in the Armed Forces before April 2005. It also helps wives, husbands or civil partners of those who die as a result of military duties.” – The Sun

Ministers 1) Bradley says parents must do more to combat cyber-bullying

Computer“Parents need to ‘face up’ to the dangers their children face online and alert them to the risks, a Cabinet minister will say today. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter could also face legal consequences if they do not help combat the problem, although sources downplayed the idea there was an easy technological fix. Launching a new drive on internet safety, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley warns of the potentially ‘devastating consequences’ of cyber-bullying, sexting and online trolls.” – Daily Mail

More children:

  • Call to abolish streaming in schools as it ‘holds poor pupils back’ – Daily Mail

Ministers 2) Grayling calls for harder stance against using phones whilst driving

“Drivers should put their mobile phone in the glove box before starting the engine, the Transport Secretary said yesterday. Chris Grayling called for a radical change in attitudes, warning that texting, phoning or checking social media at the wheel was as unacceptable as drink-driving. Speaking ahead of a Government crackdown, he warned that offenders could start to face automatic bans. On Wednesday the penalties for using a handheld mobile at the wheel will double.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 3) McLoughlin defends benefit cuts

MANIFESTO money“A cabinet minister has rebuffed calls to cancel more than £3.7bn worth of cuts to a disability benefit, setting the scene for a showdown in Parliament. Patrick McLoughlin said ministers had to view the funding, which would go to people with conditions including epilepsy, diabetes and dementia, in the context of a wider need to reduce the UK’s budget deficit. Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion in the House of Lords, where the Conservatives are in a minority, that would undo the measure to severely restrict the benefit.” – The Independent

  • Freeman defends benefit cuts for ‘less disabled’ – The Times (£)
  • Scrap sanctions or risk mental health crisis, doctors warn – The Independent

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: McLoughlin on Brexit, benefits, and beating Labour

George Osborne and Michael Bloomberg: Strong mayors can help Britain take on the world

“Mayors and city councils understand their communities better than national administrations. They are also more accountable to them, which often leads them to be more pragmatic and less ideological, focused on solving problems rather than conducting debates. Yet local governments often lack the authority and control over funding that they need to address their most pressing challenges effectively. Instead, they must beg their national capitals to act on their behalf. From both of our experiences in government, we have seen how cities – when empowered to act – are able to address many of the sources of anxiety that have arisen on both sides of the Atlantic.” – The Times (£)

MPs claim bickering between Downing Street and NHS bosses is letting patients down…

NHS_Logo“Patients are being let down by bickering between health bosses and politicians while the NHS spirals into crisis, MPs warn today. The Government’s funding plans are simply ‘not up the job’, according to the Commons public accounts committee. Ministers are accused of shifting money around to hide a financial black hole, while Theresa May has ‘fallen out’ with NHS England boss Simon Stevens. ‘The fact that key players running our NHS are bickering in public does little to inspire confidence that patients are at the heart of everyone’s priorities,’ says the report.” – Daily Mail

  • Government must act to avoid ‘catastrophic failure’ – The Independent

More NHS:

  • Patients at risk after 700,000 sensitive hospital letters go missing – Daily Mail
  • Smoking ban could extend outside NHS hospitals – The Times (£)

…and urge the Government to drop questions about criminal records from job applications

“Firms could be told to drop questions about criminal convictions on job application forms, as part of controversial plans being considered by ministers. The Government is also looking at providing financial incentives to companies that hire convicts, such as cuts to their national insurance. MPs have urged the Government to do more to help offenders get a job when they leave prison, rather than relying on benefits or falling back into a life of crime. But businesses are likely to be wary of the proposals. The Commons’ work and pensions committee said former prisoners trying to make a new life for themselves ‘walk over a cliff edge’ when they leave prison.” – Daily Mail

Corbyn loses his cool as Labour struggle to show a united front

Jeremy Corbyn“Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal for the Labour Party to “remain united” fell on deaf ears yesterday as union chiefs, shadow cabinet ministers and MPs traded accusations over who bore the blame for its problems. Mr Corbyn urged his party not to “give up” as he sought to rally members reeling from last Thursday’s defeat in the Copeland by-election. However, Tom Watson, his deputy, reopened hostilities with the head of Britain’s biggest union, accusing Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, of deserting Mr Corbyn in his hour of need. Mr Corbyn, losing his cool on Sky News, insisted that he would lead the party into the 2020 election.” – The Times (£)

  • Leader snaps on TV but accepts ‘share of responsibility’ for Copeland defeat – The Sun
  • Corbyn determined to stay until 2020 – The Independent

More Labour:

  • Labour’s leader to ‘plead’ with supporters not to give up – Daily Telegraph
  • Chakrabarti claims ‘years of neglect’ cost Labour by-election – The Sun
  • Dorries claims Labour’s best MPs are all jumping ship – Daily Express


  • Corbyn is fighting for a working class that no longer exists – Matt Chorley, The Times (£)
  • We won in Stoke, but must keep fighting for our core support – Jack Dromey and Ruth Smeeth, The Guardian
  • Hate professional politicians? Fine, for failed revolutionaries are worse – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • Enough navel-gazing, it’s time Labour got back to work – Zoe Williams, The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: After Copeland, should May seek a snap general election? Take our monthly survey.


Sir Gerald Kaufman, Father of the House, dies

“The oldest serving MP Sir Gerald Kaufman has died at the age of 86. The Father of the House of Commons – held by the MP with the longest unbroken service – died last night after a long-term illness, his family said. The Labour MP was first elected in Manchester Ardwick in 1970 before representing Manchester Gorton after boundary changes in 1983, until his death. Sir Gerald’s death will trigger a by-election – he won in 2015 with a majority of 24,079 votes. His family confirmed he had passed away and politicians quickly rallied to pay tribute to the 86-year-old, calling him an ‘iconic figure’.” – Daily Mail

Nuttall savaged by his own deputy…

UKIP glass“Ukip leader Paul Nuttall was wrong to run for Parliament so soon after taking over the party, his deputy said yesterday. Mr Nuttall was beaten by Labour in last week’s by-election in Stoke – a seat where seven in ten voters had backed Leave in the EU referendum. Deputy leader Peter Whittle said voters did not have time to get to know Mr Nuttall, who took the helm 12 weeks ago. Despite pledging to seize power from Labour in the Stoke Central constituency, Mr Nuttall came second, only a whisker ahead of the Conservative candidate, and barely increased Ukip’s share of the vote. The result sparked a spate of in-fighting between allies of Mr Nuttall and those loyal to former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.” – Daily Mail

  • …who nonetheless confirms he’ll be staying on as leader – The Sun

Trump administration seeks ways to bypass the WTO dispute system

“The Trump administration is exploring alternatives to taking trade disputes to the World Trade Organisation in what would amount to the first step away from a system that Washington helped to establish more than two decades ago.  Incoming officials have asked the US Trade Representative’s office to draft a list of the legal mechanisms that Washington could use to level trade sanctions unilaterally against China and other countries. Their goal, people briefed on the request told the Financial Times, is to find ways that the new administration could circumvent the WTO’s dispute system.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • BBC’s licence fee bullies exposed – Daily Mail
  • Stop and search plays ‘negligible’ role in reducing crime – The Times (£)
  • New pound coin could cost £1.1 billion in obsolete change – Daily Telegraph
  • English schools face ‘6.5 per cent cut’ in funding by 2020 – FT
  • Business rates hike could shut fifth of high street shops, warn experts – The Sun
  • White House Correspondents’ Dinner will go on without Trump – Daily Mail
  • No-fault divorce is long overdue, says top judge – The Times (£)
  • Real cost of council’s pay scandal revealed – Wales Online
  • Democratic Unionists braced to lose seats in Northern Irish elections – The Guardian
  • DUP odds-on to remain Stormont’s largest but big names sweating over results – Belfast Telegraph

And finally… Brexiteers want to buy back Conservative Central Office

ThatcherVictory1983“As Brussels retreats from the UK in the wake of Brexit it will leave behind one highly symbolic landmark: 32 Smith Square. The handsome red-brick neo-Georgian building formed the backdrop to three of Margaret Thatcher’s election day celebrations as Conservative Central Office, until the party was forced to sell it in 2007 to plug a black hole in its finances. To the dismay of Conservative Eurosceptics, it was bought by the EU, renamed Europe House and adorned with the bloc’s blue flag as well as the Union Jack. But to the Brexiters now go the spoils. Eurosceptic Conservatives are calling for the return of the building as part of Britain’s divorce settlement.” – FT