Brexit bill 1) Prime Minister warns MPs against delaying tactics as amendments fail

theresa-may-08-01-17‘Theresa May has warned MPs not to obstruct the Brexit bill during its second phase of debate in the House of Commons, as Labour failed in its attempt to secure regular parliamentary scrutiny of the EU negotiations. The prime minister called on MPs not to use parliamentary procedures to delay the passage of the bill, which will be debated over the next three days. Dozens of amendments have been tabled by Labour and opposition MPs in the hope of getting enough cross-party support to secure better parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit, the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, access to the single market and a more meaningful vote at the end of the two-year negotiations. However, the House of Commons opposed a Labour amendment that would have forced May to make regular reports back to parliament every two months by 333 to 284 – a majority of 49 for the government.’ – Guardian

  • First round of amendments defeated – The Sun 
  • Plan to keep MPs updated is rejected – Independent
  • As is SNP call for extra month – Daily Express 
  • May warns Tory rebels against ‘obstructing the people’ – The Sun

>Yesterday: Mark Harper in Comment: Short – but perfectly formed. Why the Article 50 Bill needs no amendment

>Today: Christopher Howarth’s Guide to Brexit: Haphazard amendments to the Article 50 Bill don’t help EU citizens in the UK

Brexit bill 2) May insists she’ll get ‘early agreement’ on EU workers

‘Theresa May has insisted that she will be able to get an “early agreement” on the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, as she sought to ease the concerns of rebel Tory MPs. The Prime Minister said Britain would be “poorer” and public services “weaker” without the contribution of EU workers and that guaranteeing their rights would be a “priority” during the Brexit negotiations. Speaking in the Commons this afternoon, Mrs May warned potential rebel MPs they will be “obstructing” the will of the people if they vote to amend the Brexit Bill. She told MPs this afternoon that the “general view” from EU leaders during the summit in Valletta last week was that the UK and EU need to reach an agreement that applies equally to citizens of both parties. This means that Britain taking a unilateral decision to guarantee EU nationals’ status is “not the right way forward”, she said.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • She talks of their ‘vital contribution’ – FT
  • And says Britain would be ‘poorer and weaker’ without them – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Videos: WATCH: May discusses the prospect of a reciprocal deal on EU and UK expatriates

More Brexit

  • Government ‘doesn’t know’ how much was spent on court case – Independent
  • Clarke claims Britain dependent on EU – Daily Express
  • May says she has mandate for WTO Brexit – Independent
  • Sturgeon ‘admits’ leaving is ‘Westminster matter’ – Daily Telegraph
  • But says vote is ‘key test’ for devolution – Scotsman
  • Sinn Fein lobbies EU for ‘special status’ – Belfast News Letter 
  • Welsh MP accused of betrayal over vote – WalesOnline

Brexit bill 3) Duncan Smith: It’s 25 years since Maastricht, when I was attacked for voting against the Government

DUNCAN SMITH Iain new preferred‘In February 7 1992 – 25 years ago today – the United Kingdom signed the treaty of Maastricht, which defined our political debate ever after. What I didn’t realise at the time was that what took place in that provincial Dutch town would also profoundly affect my future, as well. When Mrs Thatcher made her Bruges speech in 1988, she set the terms for a battle at first mostly contained within the Conservative Party about our relationship with what was then the European Economic Community (EEC). She had come to see that the direction of travel for the EEC was political and her speech, coming ahead of Maastricht, was the moment when the Conservative Party moved into open warfare on Europe. With or without Mrs Thatcher’s speech, Maastricht would have been cause enough. It is worth reflecting on the enormous change that it involved in the relationship between European nations and institutions.’ – Daily Telegraph

May defends nuclear deal in meeting with Netanyahu

‘Theresa May stood her ground on Monday in the face of pressure from Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to impose new sanctions on Iran. During their first meeting in London, the Israeli leader told Mrs May that “responsible” nations should follow Donald Trump’s lead by punishing Iran for testing a long range missile. Downing Street gave no indication the UK would heed Mr Netanyahu’s urging and defended the nuclear agreement which was struck in 2015 between Iran and six world powers. The meeting came hours before Israel’s parliament was expected to pass a controversial new law that would retroactively approve Jewish settlements built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land.’ – Daily Telegraph


  • The importance of Britain’s relationship with Israel – Daily Telegraph


  • Netanyahu is using diversion tactics – Patrick Cockburn, Independent
  • Trump may disappoint both leaders – Jonathan Freedland, Guardian
  • Is America considering war with Iran? – Martin Jay, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Eric Pickles in Comment: Netanyahu’s visit. It would be fitting were Britain later to sign its first free trade deal with the Middle East’s only true democracy

Bercow says Trump isn’t welcome in Commons

John Bercow‘Donald Trump is a racist, sexist leader and should be barred from addressing the House of Commons, the Speaker declared yesterday. In an intervention that will bring embarrassment for Theresa May, John Bercow told MPs that the US president should be denied the honour of addressing the House of Commons or Lords during a state visit this year. The Speaker had been “strongly opposed” to the idea of Mr Trump addressing parliament before the president imposed a travel ban on people from seven mainly Muslim countries. Since it was announced, his opposition had grown, Mr Bercow said. An address to both Houses of Parliament is “not an automatic right, it is an earned honour”, he told the Commons, earning applause from SNP MPs. He criticised Mr Trump’s views on equality and lack of respect for the judiciary.’ – The Times (£)



  • He got a smattering of applause – Patrick Kidd, The Times (£)
  • As the red mist came down – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Bercow’s Trump outburst was uncharacteristic of him

May urged EU leaders to be ‘patient’ with new President

‘Theresa May mounted a determined defence of her love-in with Donald Trump  after her offer to act as a bridge to the US was roundly rejected by EU leaders. The PM stood by “opening a discussion” on the new US President at an EU summit in Malta last week, and urged everyone to be “patient” when dealing with the controversial with the Trump White House. Mrs May was greeted with laughter from the opposition benches when she told MPs she had “opened a discussion on engaging the new Administration.” EU leaders including Francois Hollande rejected Mrs May’s offer to forge better ties on behalf of the EU in Malta on Friday. But sticking to her guns she told MPs that although “there are some areas where we disagree and we should be clear about those disagreements and about the values that underpin our response to the global challenges we face.”’ – The Sun

  • Trump declares ‘strong support’ for Nato – Independent

More Trump

  • US justice department calls for reinstatement of ban – Guardian
  • Nearly 100 big companies file brief against it – Independent
  • Federal court to hear arguments today – Daily Telegraph


  • Trump must respect rule of law – William Hague, Daily Telegraph
  • His economy trip to London – John Crace, Guardian
  • We must watch out for Bannon and Gingrich – Paul Mason, Guardian
  • Liberals need to harden on migration – Janan Ganesh, FT

New housing plans to be announced today

conhome-house‘Councils will be forced to set aside land for thousands of new homes under new Government targets as part of a bid to “get Britain building”, ministers are to announce. The Government will unveil plans on Tuesday for a new “standardised” way of calculating the number of homes that need to be built by each local authority. Ministers believe that the approach could end the current system where local authorities use different methods to decide the number of houses they need to build. It has led to concerns in Whitehall that some councils are able to “fudge” figures on housing demand in their local plans to limit development.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • White paper will call for thousands more homes – Guardian
  • Land to be earmarked for new homes – The Times (£)
  • Aim is to speed up building – FT
  • Councils to gain ‘radical new powers’ – The Sun
  • Labour calls plans ‘feeble’ – Independent


  • White paper doesn’t truly address home ownership – Liam Halligan, Daily Telegraph
  • Regeneration sounds reasonable enough – Patrick Barkham, Guardian

>Today: Tim Patmore in Comment: Let’s build a million homes a year – but none of them on the green belt

Aid money earmarked for ‘middle-income’ countries

‘The UK is planning to spend taxpayers’ money on improving social care for China’s elderly population and boosting its fashion industry. The Government has announced plans to spend £1.3 billion on improving economic growth in “middle-income” countries such as China, India and Mexico. The Foreign Office has outlined a series of “policy objectives” for the funding in China with “suggested projects” including improving “care in the community for elderly people in China” and the “sustainability of the health system”. It comes at a time when care for the elderly under the NHS is in crisis. Other projects targeted for aid spending include supporting China’s fashion and film industries and providing “policy and regulations for football”.’ – Daily Telegraph


Government begins sale of student loans

jo_johnson‘The government has begun its controversial sale of the student loan book, which it expects to recoup £12bn in the long run for the exchequer, and assured graduates that they will not have to pay more. The universities minister, Jo Johnson, said the move would have “no impact” on student borrowers paying off loans, as terms and conditions would remain the same after the sale was completed. Critics, however, were sceptical of the minister’s assurances, noting that the government had already moved the goalposts once on student loan repayments. Others raised doubts that the sale would result in value for money for taxpayers. The sale covers a tranche of £4bn of loans, which became eligible for repayment between 2002 and 2006. It is the first of a four-year programme of sales of loans issued before 2012, when university tuition fees were raised to £9,000.’ – Guardian

  • Plan described as ‘marketisation’ – Independent
  • This is largest sale yet – FT
  • It’s part of attempt to ‘bring public finances under control’ – Daily Mail

More Government

  • MPs accepted hospitality from eight autocratic countries last year – Independent
  • Home Office plans anti-hate-crime campaign – Daily Mail
  • Antiwar project’s secret beneficiaries – FT
  • May made to apologise to Thornberry over ‘posh’ jibe – The Sun
  • Committee to hear of Afghan translators’ bravery – Daily Mail

Assad regime secretly hanged up to 13,000 prisoners

Syria‘President Assad’s regime has slaughtered up to 13,000 people in a campaign of torture and extrajudicial killings at a Syrian jail, evidence has found. Thousands of prisoners were hanged over four years at the Sednaya military prison after convictions based on confessions made under torture and trials lasting only minutes, according to Amnesty International. Housing between 10,000 and 20,000 inmates, the prison north of the Syrian capital, Damascus, is so filthy and overcrowded that many more died of infection, starvation and the effects of psychological stress. Their bodies are believed to lie in mass graves on military land on the outskirts of the city.’ – The Times (£)

  • Thousands more starved and tortured to death – Guardian
  • He must be tried for war crimes – Editorial, The Times (£)

News in Brief

  • Hungary proposes to detain asylum seekers – Guardian
  • Seventh day of Romanian anti-government uprising – Independent
  • Fillon refuses to quit – Guardian
  • American rapist spared jail on grounds of no sex before marriage – The Sun
  • Commons clerks’ costume change – The Times (£)
  • Eggs thrown at Farage after affair accusations – Daily Telegraph