May sees off Article 50 rebellion

House of Commons logo‘Theresa May defeated a rebellion by senior pro-EU Tories on Brexit last night in the biggest challenge to her authority yet. The PM saw off a demand that she must get Parliament’s approval first before walking away from any bad EU exit deal. In a knife edge vote, the government defeated the bid by 326 to 293, a majority of 33. Seven Tory MPs voted with Labour, including four ex-ministers. And a further three abstained, including heavyweight ex-Chancellor George Osborne and former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.’ – The Sun

  • There’ll be a ‘take it or leave it’ vote on the deal – FT
  • Boles came out of hospital for the vote – The Times (£)
  • Overseas territories set out their demands – FT
  • We must back Eurosceptic Eastern Europeans against Germany and France – Daniel Kawczynski, The Times (£)
  • Lewis might yet defy the Labour whip – FT
  • As might Abbott – Daily Telegraph

>Today: MPsETC: The seven Conservative MPs who rebelled over a Parliamentary vote on a Brexit deal. Osborne abstains.


Tax and Spend 1) Britain’s tax burden is set to rise to a 30-year high

‘Britain’s tax burden is set to rise to its highest level for more than 30 years as the government tries to eliminate the country’s persistent budget deficit. Tax receipts will exceed 37 per cent of national income for the first time since Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1986 when she was aggressively paring back the size of the state, according to forecasts by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). Spending on public services, by contrast, is projected to fall to 2003 levels during this parliament at just under 38 per cent of GDP. To balance the books, the government plans to rely more on tax, the IFS said in its annual check on the health of the economy. Another £17 billion of increases are planned this parliament.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Dominic Raab on Comment: The taxman is going easy on the super-rich, and hard on the rest of us. Here’s how to stop him.

Tax and Spend 2) IFS suggests multi-billion Brexit dividend even after maintaining EU programmes

EU Brexit‘Britain could reap a Brexit dividend of up to £8billion, experts suggested yesterday. In its annual Green Budget, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned Brexit could have a negative impact on the economy – depending on the trade deal the UK secures with Brussels. But it also pointed towards a significant potential boost for the public finances. It said that if Britain were to leave the EU and cease all contributions overnight, the government would have around £13.4billion extra to spend. Ministers have suggested many of the programmes funded by the EU – such as agriculture payments – are likely to continue in the short term. But even after those are subtracted, ministers would still be left with around £8billion extra, the IFS suggested.’ – Daily Mail

  • The European Commission says we will have to pay to escape – The Sun
  • The stresses of the referendum brought me and Gove closer – Sarah Vine, Daily Mail
  • May will visit China later this year – ITV News

>Today: ToryDiary: May should be generous to EU citizens in Britain. But her stance is right – and her opponents’ rhetoric overblown.

Tax and Spend 3) New Greek debt crisis poses ‘explosive’ threat to the Eurozone

‘The EU faces a looming crisis which could threaten the sustainability of the eurozone as the International Monetary Fund has warned Greece’s debts are on an “explosive” path, despite years of attempted austerity and economic reforms. Global financiers at the IMF are increasingly unwilling to fund endless bailouts for the eurozone’s most troubled country, passing more of the burden onto the EU – at a time when Germany does not want to keep sending cash to Athens. The assessment opens up a fresh split with Europe over how to handle Greece’s massive public debts, as the IMF called on Europe to provide “significant debt relief” to Greece – despite Greece’s EU creditors ruling out any further relief before the current rescue programme expires in 2018.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • French former Prime Minister threatens the UK over Brexit – Daily Telegraph

Bercow dismisses concerns about his Trump decision

John Bercow‘The comments last night were cheered by many MPs in the chamber, who have been heavily critical of the travel ban imposed by the White House on nationals from seven mainly-Muslim countries. But Tories have broken ranks to condemn Mr Bercow for abandoning his role’s traditional neutrality and wading into international politics – suggesting his position is ‘untenable’. The Lords Speaker also laid into Mr Bercow this afternoon for failing to consult him before delivering the excoriating statement. Lord Fowler – who also has to sign off on Westminster Hall speeches – said he had received an apology from his opposite number today. The peer added that it might be ‘better’ if neither of them had the power to veto such prestigious addresses.’ – Daily Mail

  • Hoyle could replace him – The Times (£)
  • Most Europeans want to stop Muslim migration – Daily Mail
  • Lords’ Speaker keeps ‘open mind’ on Trump visit – The Guardian




Javid to crack down on councils and developers who delay new homes

‘Unveiling plans to fix the housing crisis, he warned a generation could be priced out of the market by go-slow councils and builders. He vowed to rush through rules to slash time taken to get developments off the ground and to seize land from fat cat developers hoarding plots, as we revealed yesterday. Mr Javid also warned the broken housing market stopped people moving to take up jobs and huge deposits forced families to cut back on spending. Under the plans, councils will be sidelined if they fail to hit binding targets for new homes in their patch.’ – The Sun



National Savings rates are to be cut

MANIFESTO Savings‘NS&I (National Savings and Investments) is slashing rates from May 1 in a move that will affect 21million customers. Premium Bonds, the Direct Isa, the Direct Saver and Income Bonds are to all see reduced payouts in the mass cull. The provider blamed the Bank of England base rate drop, which fell to 0.25 per cent in August. Under the changes, the estimated number of Premium Bonds in May will be 2,219,493, down from 2,224,513 in February.’ – Daily Express

Surrey councillors back down from 15 per cent tax rise referendum

‘Tory councillors in one of Britain’s richest counties ditched plans to hike council tax by as much as 15 per cent to pay for soaring social care costs after assurances from ministers. Surrey County Council dropped its threat to raise bills by as much as £124 a year saying they had been given pledges over funding for the elderly and disabled. Leader David Hodge said he would now seek a 4.99 per cent rise instead. A 15 per cent rise would have required the support of Surrey residents in a referendum which will not go ahead.’ – The Sun

Nuttall plans ‘NUKIP’ rebrand, with less beer

paul-nuttall‘He admitted the party had “resembled a shambles” only last October, when his predecessor Diane James resigned after 18 days and the leadership candidate Steven Woolfe was filmed lying unconscious in the Strasbourg parliament after an altercation with another Ukip MEP. “At that point I was unsure whether Ukip was going to survive or not,” Nuttall said. “I literally sat there watching the news with my head in my hands, looking through my fingers.” He said if the party was to succeed in his goal of taking a significant “double-digit” number of seats in 2020, it had to improve its image and shift its focus. “The Ukip core vote has changed over the past decade. It has gone from being a southern-based party which gets its votes from a bank of ex-Conservative voters. Now we are targeting working class communities.” Nuttall said Ukip would be turning in a new direction and “Nukip” would aim to “give a fair deal for working class people, people who have been left behind”. Details of the rebranding exercise will be revealed at the party’s spring conference this month.’ – The Guardian

  • Labour says the race in Stoke is ‘incredibly tight’ – The Guardian
  • Is Corbyn preparing to quit? – Daily Mail

Finkelstein: In praise of moderation

‘Not every political event requires courage and resistance. Sometimes acceptance and understanding are the right response. I notice the imprint of my parents’ politics on my view of leaving the European Union. I wanted to remain, but you know what? We’ll live. Even if the worst predictions of the economic consequences are correct, which they probably aren’t, we will live. My parents thought political moderation was a virtue in itself. They regarded grand conspiracy theories as bizarre, and sweeping big ideas as unconvincing. My dad liked Harold Wilson precisely for the reason some of Wilson’s colleagues despised him, because he was a pragmatist who adapted to circumstances. I think politically Mum was happiest when she supported the SDP, though she admired John Major.’ – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

92% of hard left protesters live with their parents

Seumas Milne‘The vast majority of left-wing protesters arrested on suspicion of politically-fuelled offences in Berlin are young men who live with their parents, a new report found. The figures, which were published in daily newspaper Bild revealed that 873 suspects were investigated by authorities between 2003 and 2013. Of these 84 per cent were men, and 72 per cent were aged between 18 and 29…A third of them were unemployed, and 92 per cent still live with their parents…Between 2009 and 2013, the Bild report claims, left-wing assassins attempted to commit 11 murders.’ – Daily Mail

  • Police investigate threats made against shale gas workers – The Times (£)

Experts tell Marine A appeal that he was not in a sound state of mind

‘Jailed Royal Marine Alexander Blackman was ‘not Rambo’ and was suffering from the trauma of war when he shot a wounded Taliban fighter, a court heard yesterday. Three top psychiatrists said his ‘abnormality of mind’ was a recognised mental illness which had numbed his ‘moral compass’. This adjustment disorder in Sergeant Blackman – unnoticed and undiagnosed – substantially diminished his responsibility for killing the insurgent and renders his murder conviction unsafe, the Court Martial Appeal Court was told. Expert witness Dr Philip Joseph said the new psychiatric material went to the very heart of the controversial case, telling the judges: ‘I am saying it is more likely than not that the killing was manslaughter rather than murder.’’ – Daily Mail

  • Taliban murder interpreters whom Britain failed to help – Daily Mail
  • Why do we betray those who serve us? – Daily Mail Leader
  • Lawyer who made up claims against troops was linked to holocaust denier – The Times (£)

News in Brief

  • Teachers wear body cameras to record aggressive pupils – Daily Mail
  • What happens when Trump gets bored? – Rob Crilly, Daily Telegraph
  • Cameron misses Larry the cat – The Sun
  • E-cigarettes reduce cancer-causing toxins by 97 per cent – Daily Mail
  • Stonehenge tunnel wins support from English Heritage and the National Trust – Daily Telegraph