MPs pass Brexit bill and clear the way for Article 50

Debate 11.38pm“Britain passed the point of no return in its historic battle to cut ties with Brussels tonight as MPs backed the Brexit Bill. The Commons endorsed the legislation by 498 votes to 114 after the government saw off a desperate bid by more than 100 Remoaners to block it. In the first of a crucial set of votes in the Commons, a ‘wrecking’ amendment that would have effectively killed the law was defeated by 336 to 100. The House then gave the Bill its second reading by another huge margin, despite the opposition from Labour MPs, the SNP and most Liberal Democrats. One Labour MP yelled ‘suicide’ as the result was read out in the chamber.” – Daily Mail

  • May faces revolt after MPs back Brexit – The Times (£)
  • Johnson hails ‘absolutely momentous’ vote – The Sun
  • No cherry-picking from the Single Market, minister admits – The Times (£)
  • Farron mocked over no-show at Article 50 debate he demanded – Daily Express
  • The MPs who opposed the bill despite Leave votes in their constituencies – Daily Mail
  • How the Commons voted – Times Red Box

More Brexit:

  • Fox dismisses prospect of £50 billion ‘divorce bill’ – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘Brexperts’ to be hired on £142,000 salaries – The Times (£)
  • Miller wants to play role in negotiating EU departure deal – Daily Express
  • Johnson pushes Banks’ ally out of Belize role – The Times (£)
  • Lib Dems regroup around pro-EU message – FT

More Brussels:

  • We’ll meddle with the deal, warns the European Court of Justice – Daily Mail
  • Punishing the City will backfire, EU officials warn – The Sun
  • Key EU players want to prevent Brussels punishing Britain – Daily Express


Iain Martin: Look at the rickety EU and be glad we’re out

“Hearing the litany of despair from those British refuseniks most committed to the EU ideal, one could be forgiven for wondering what on earth is to become of poor, decrepit old Blighty. Meanwhile, the other 27 members of the EU are depicted by ultra-Remainers as a united, determined bloc of supposed sophisticates holding all the cards. The facts suggest otherwise, and the focus on the antics of the new president of the United States and EU diplomats’ horror at Theresa May’s efforts to build a relationship with him should not obscure how precarious and complex Brussels’ position has become, just as the UK prepares to trigger Article 50.” – The Times (£)

  • Remainers lined up to attack Brexit but cannot defy the people – Maria Caulfield, Daily Telegraph
  • Clegg’s hypocrisy in calling for a second vote – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • The path to independence is now clear – Leo McKinstry, Daily Telegraph
  • FT essay winner: reduce the scope of the EU Parliament – Xavier van Hove, FT
  • We’re heading for a senseless nuclear Brexit – Clare Moody, The Guardian


>Yesterday: Philip Baldwin MP in Comment: How to sustain the City of London when we leave the EU

Chaos for Corbyn as MPs defy the whip

Labour holes“Britain’s Brexit dream turned into Jeremy Corbyn’s nightmare tonight, with nearly 50 MPs defying his edict and voting against the EU Bill. Dawn Butler and Rachael Maskell resigned from the shadow cabinet rather than fall into line – taking the total frontbench departures to four. The fate of another 13 shadow ministers who defied the whip has yet to be determined. Mr Corbyn tried to put a brave face on the chaos, stressing that he understood the motives of the 47 MPs who rebelled against him. But in a further humiliation, it has emerged that his close ally Diane Abbott failed to vote. She claimed she had been ‘taken ill’ at around 5pm – even though she was still posting on Twitter hours later.” – Daily Mail


  • Labour leader squashed by the Prime Minister at PMQs – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail


>Yesterday: ToryDiary: We’re on our way – the Article 50 Bill gets a second reading by 498 votes to 114

May 1) Netanyahu to visit London next week

“Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been invited to London to meet Theresa May next week. The news comes only days after there was uproar about Mrs May inviting US President Donald Trump on a state visit to the UK. Earlier today the Foreign Office issued a sternly worded statement condemning Israeli plans to build 3,000 homes for settlers in the occupied West Bank. Middle East Minister, Tobias Ellwood said: ‘The announcement of further settlement units in the West Bank is part of a growing trend which we condemn.”” – Daily Mail

  • Abuse ‘fuelled by Labour row and Brexit’ – The Times (£)
  • Corbyn too tolerant of anti-Semitism as incidents hit record high, report warns – Daily Mail

May 2) Time to talk about mental health, says the Prime Minister

NHS_Logo“Theresa May has urged those who suffer mental health problems to talk about them, saying “conversations change lives”. In a message of support for Time to Talk day, designed to tackle the stigma of mental health, the prime minister said it was important to remember that an estimated one in four of us would have a common mental disorder at any one time. Last month, Mrs May said that improving mental health services would be a primary objective for her government and called poor services a burning injustice. “Getting people talking to one another is central to that. Because, as the theme of this years’ Time to Talk Day puts it, conversations change lives,” she said.” – The Times (£)

  • Fox insists health service will remain off limits – The Sun
  • US trade deal will exclude NHS, May vows – FT

More health:

  • Prime Minister gives go-ahead to cross-party health talks – The Sun
  • May pressured NHS to release data to track immigration offenders – The Guardian

Osborne says he’ll fight May over immigration restrictions

“George Osborne launched a bitter attack on Theresa May over Brexit yesterday – and warned he would ‘fight’ the Government over plans to curb immigration. In a rare Commons appearance, the former Chancellor accused the Prime Minister of failing to prioritise the economy in the Brexit negotiations. Mr Osborne, who was sacked by Mrs May in one of her first acts as Prime Minister last summer, said he had ‘sacrificed my position in government’ to campaign passionately for Remain.” – Daily Mail

  • May charged with failing to prioritise the economy – The Sun

More old guard:

  • Cameron’s attempt to get Daily Mail editor sacked renews demands for press freedom – The Times (£)


  • Is Osborne over his Brexit defeat? Take a wild guess – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • Former Chancellor voices concern but talk is cheap, for once – Patrick Kidd’s sketch, The Times (£)


Ministers 1) Green announces crackdown in welfare payments to over-claiming families

MANIFESTO money“A crackdown on welfare payments has stopped taxpayers subsidising the lifestyles of 170 families who were claiming more than £68,000-a-year in benefits, new figures revealed today. Taxpayers were handing the tiny fraction of the population the equivalent of more than £11million a year before the £26,000-a-year cap on benefit claims came into effect. And today Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green told MailOnline that the new £20,000-a-year cap on the amount households can claim is now in effect nationally for the first time – a week earlier than planned.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 2) Javid risks ire of Tory grassroots with house building plan

“Sajid Javid is set to defy grassroots Conservatives and some of his own MPs with a fresh bid to boost housing construction that could anger the party’s shire heartlands. After numerous delays the government is set to present its plan to address Britain’s housing shortage early next week. The housing white paper, originally due before Christmas, was expected last month but its publication was delayed again after reports of tensions between Downing Street and Mr Javid, the communities secretary. Mr Javid wants to accelerate homebuilding but Theresa May, prime minister, is said to be worried that backbench Conservative MPs will threaten to rebel over the issue.” – FT

  • Strict limits on green belt development to end – The Sun
  • ‘Flat pack’ homes at the heart of May’s housing revolution – The Sun

Greens edge towards deal on SNP budget

SNP logo white background“The Greens are edging towards a deal to pass the SNP government’s Budget after they appeared willing to drop their demand for an immediate increase in income tax for higher earners. Patrick Harvie, the party’s co-leader, said he had been “disappointed” in Finance Minister Derek Mackay’s refusal during their private talks to countenance an increase in the tax burden of those liable for the 40p rate of income tax. But he said that was only one of a range of ways in which additional spending could be found for public services and he did not want the Budget to fall when it is voted on at Holyrood on Wednesday.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: How far should we go to preserve the Union? Take our monthly survey.

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Conservatives attack SNP for neglecting the Scottish Parliament

News in Brief:

  • Romania’s new left-wing government legalises corruption – Daily Mail
  • Puppy sales restricted in crackdown on pet farms – The Times (£)
  • Trump sparks diplomatic row with Australia after row with Turnbull – Daily Telegraph
  • US executives ride the President’s wave of uncertainty – FT
  • UAE says Trump’s immigration crackdown is not anti-Islamic – Daily Mail
  • President ‘threatened to send troops to Mexico’ – The Independent
  • Heathrow third runway plans put out to public consultation – The Guardian
  • School governors threaten to strike over funding – The Times (£)
  • Spies and civil servants face 14 years for leaking in reform of Official Secrets Act – Daily Telegraph