May hits out at Labour during visit to Copeland

MAY education speech‘Labour have tried to focus their campaign on the NHS — including a controversial leaflet claiming “mothers will dies, babies will die” with “a vote for the Tories.” But Mrs May hit back: “There has been a lot of scaremongering about hospital services in the NHS here by the Labour Party. “There is no truth in the suggestion that A&E at West Cumberland Hospital is about to close. They have been misleading in their representation of what I have said about maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital”…Her appearance in the rural seat followed the Sun’s revelations that canvas returns showed 30 per cent of Labour voters in the constituency had deserted the party.’ – The Sun

  • The Prime Minister is accused of ducking the question of a new nuclear power plant – The Guardian
  • Her 700-mile round-trip – The Times (£)
  • The visit featured a traditional awkward photoshoot with children – Daily Telegraph
  • By-elections matter, but not for the reason that you might think – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: In Copeland, the campaign is exposing problems with the Tory ground operation


Productivity rises

‘Productivity in the UK recorded a year of consecutive improvements for the first time in more than five years, despite slowing slightly in the final three months of 2016. Output per hour grew by 0.3 per cent in the three months to December, according to preliminary estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a slowdown from the 0.4 per cent growth recorded in the previous quarter. While the UK economy grew faster than was previously expected, the number of hours worked also rose, weighing on total productivity.’ – CityAM

Backlash against Business Rates shake-up

tax‘Small firms will be hammered by the shake-up of a rates regime that will earn the Treasury £1billion more next year. The first revaluation of the business levy in seven years will force 500,000 traders to pay more. Some pubs, shops and nurseries face 300 per cent hikes. Even schools, GP surgeries and colleges are being hit. MPs said it was scandalous that independent traders were being punished while online giants such as Amazon get a rates cut. Business leaders urged ministers to scrap the new charges, which come into force from April.’ – Daily Mail

Hands hints he opposes Bercow

‘A Conservative minister has become the first member of the Government to publically suggest that he supports a bid by Tory MPs to force John Bercow to stand down as Speaker of the Commons. Greg Hands, a trade minister, highlighted a message on Twitter from a reality television star calling for Mr Bercow to quit and for a new “impartial” speaker to replace him. When approached by The Telegraph he declined to comment on his views but colleagues said they expect him to support a vote of no confidence in Mr Bercow.’ – Daily Telegraph

Lib Dem peers claim they have the numbers to disrupt the Article 50 Bill

Lib Dem bird‘Lib Dem Dick Newby claimed as many of 230 pro-EU Lords would back a slew of amendments when the Brexit Bill goes to the Upper House next week. It will then be sent back to the Commons in a process nicknamed “ping pong”. Lord Newby vowed to use the process to block giving the PM “unfettered power to do whatever she wants” when she hammers out our EU divorce. And he claimed to have the numbers behind him to do so Asked if he was trying to tie the PM’s hands he told The Sun: “We don’t trust her. It’s a simply as that.”’ – The Sun

  • The hypocrisy of these supposed ‘democrats’ – The Sun Says
  • ‘Acid test’ of post-Brexit fisheries policy – The Sun
  • Canada is first in line for a trade deal – The Sun
  • Completely free trade would help everybody – Graeme Leach, CityAM
  • Kenny pledges to oppose Irish hard border – Belfast News Letter
  • Neuberger criticises fury over Article 50 ruling – FT

>Today: Daniel Hannan’s column: A Singapore-style economy isn’t a threat, it’s a growth strategy

>Yesterday: Michael Tomlinson on Comment: Brexit is the greatest opportunity for free trade and prosperity since the repeal of the Corn Laws

The White House warns NATO: pay your way or we’ll cut back support

‘Donald Trump’s defence secretary has told Nato allies that they cannot take America’s commitment to aid their security for granted unless they are prepared to increase military spending. “No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defence of western values. Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” James Mattis told Nato defence minsters in Brussels behind closed doors yesterday. “America will meet its responsibilities but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defence.”’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Ben Roback: The Trump team members who could follow Flynn through the exit door

Trump doesn’t rule out a one state policy in the Middle East

Israel flag‘Donald Trump has dropped a two-decades old US commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as part of a permanent Middle East peace agreement. Speaking at a joint press conference with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the US president did not rule out a two-state solution but implied his administration had no ­preference when it came to the final ­geography of the region as part of a ­permanent Middle East peace agreement. Asked what he thought about a two-state solution on Wednesday, Trump said: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like,” he said.’ – The Guardian

Aaronovitch: Safe spaces don’t protect you, they make you weak

‘Up to now I have worried principally about the effect of banning people and words on the people who are banned (which could be any of us) and on the societies where the bans take place. But there is a substantial argument that trigger warnings, sensitivity training, safe spaces, no platforms are all based on an assumption of fragility — an assumption that can do harm to those supposedly being protected. In other words, the students who are told to fret about their campuses being a maze of hidden triggers, or who wish to be excused the appearance of unpleasant or challenging views, are likely to be weakened as a result.’ – The Times (£)

Liverpool mayor wants Nuttall’s scalp as UKIP leader blames a staffer for false Hillsborough claim

UKIP glass‘The Labour mayor of Liverpool has called on Paul Nuttall to resign as MEP for North West England after the Ukip leader admitted claims that a number of “close personal friends” had died in the Hillsborough disaster were untrue. Joe Anderson said Nuttall needed to stand down as a Euro-MP and “explain himself to the people of Liverpool” rather than seek a new political office by contesting next week’s Stoke-on-Trent byelection for Ukip. Nuttall, who has been leader of his party for less than three months, initially denied making the claim when interviewed on a Liverpool radio station on Tuesday, then admitted the claim had appeared on his website and was not true, and then said that a Ukip press officer was to blame, as she had written it in his name and posted it on his website.’ – The Guardian

News in Brief

  • Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s sister denies she had a brain tumour – Daily Telegraph
  • Mother accused of faking holiday death for the insurance – The Times (£)
  • Brussels is worried English fizz will flood the Continent after Brexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Welsh government poured millions into ‘failed company’ – WalesOnline
  • Street says care homes should be run like John Lewis – The Times (£)
  • North Korean ‘assassin’ wore LOL t-shirt – Daily Mail
  • The Church of England is edging closer to same sex marriage – The Times Leader (£)
  • British Museum opposes Prince William’s ivory plan – Daily Mail