Brexit 1) MPs expected to reject Lords amendments

PARLIAMENT“Ministers believe MPs will reject the two changes made to the Brexit bill in the House of Lords when they debate it for the second time later. Peers want to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK and ensure Parliament has a vote on any deal. The EU Withdrawal Bill could complete its final stages if both Houses of Parliament agree the text of the bill. PM Theresa May could then trigger Article 50, which formally starts the Brexit process, as early as Tuesday.” – BBC

  • Consumers “unfazed” by Brexit says HSBC survey – The Guardian
  • 25,000 EU doctors and nurses “thinking of leaving” – The Times(£)
  • Back Brexit says Lady Brady – The Sun
  • Heseltine attacks Boris – The Sun
  • Welsh Government demands to be consulted – Wales Online
  • It reminds me of the Third Reich says Ian McEwan – The Guardian

> Today: Andrew Green on Comment: The Lords amendment designed to derail Brexit that MPs should reject today

> Yesterday:

Brexit 2) Rebels “melting away”

“Peers and MPs are today set to back a historic vote paving the way for Brexit after a Conservative rebellion melted away. A small number of Tory Remainers could abstain or vote against the Government on the Bill giving Theresa May the power to begin the process of leaving the EU. But insiders say there will not be enough to thwart the process, while senior figures in the unelected House of Lords indicated they would not block the will of the Commons….George Osborne, who masterminded the Remain campaign’s Project Fear, is expected to back the Government, although others such as former education secretary Nicky Morgan may still rebel.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Columnist Nicky Morgan: If Britain reaches no deal with the EU, Parliament must still be able to vote

Brexit 3) Last ditch threat from Sturgeon

nicola-sturgeon-08-01-17“Nicola Sturgeon will threaten to derail Brexit by setting out plans for a second independence referendum unless Theresa May offers Scotland a special deal. The Scottish First Minister could name the date she intends to hold a new referendum as early as this week, The Telegraph understands, if Mrs May does not bow to her will. Ms Sturgeon has previously hinted that autumn 2018 would be a suitable time to call a referendum.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 4) The Queen to host boost Commonwealth trade

“The Queen is throwing open the doors of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle to Commonwealth leaders as the UK looks to forge new trade relations ahead of Brexit. Prime ministers and presidents from more than 50 countries will gather for meetings in the royal residences during a summit next year. It will be the first time the buildings have been included in the list of venues for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm).” – Daily Mail

Brexit 5) Don’t tie PM’s hands says Davis

David Davis“David Davis has warned Conservative MPs not to “tie the Prime Minister’s hands” by backing amendments to the Article 50 bill this week. The Brexit secretary told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that doing so would prompt concerns among voters that Parliament intends to reverse the decision to leave the EU.  He said: “It’s inconceivable to me that there wouldn’t be a vote on the outcome…. We are going to do that. Please don’t tie the Prime Minister’s hands in the process of doing that for things which we expect to attain anyway.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 6) Let EU workers stay urge heads of Oxford colleges

“The heads of 35 Oxford colleges are pleading with MPs to allow European Union citizens the right to stay after Brexit as they claim that an exodus of academics has already begun. The leaders of Britain’s oldest university have made their appeal before a Commons vote on the Article 50 bill that will trigger the country’s exit from the EU…In a letter to The Times, which is signed by Louise Richardson, the Oxford vice-chancellor, and the heads of all but three of the colleges, they dismiss as insufficient the indications by ministers that European citizens already resident in Britain were likely to be allowed to stay.” – The Times(£)

Brexit 7) Britain has little to fear says Ridley

mattridley“Under the WTO’s national treatment principle, the EU cannot use non-tariff barriers, such as regulations and standards, to discriminate against British goods and services to favour domestic businesses instead. There is no cliff. The EU negotiators can make a cliff if they want, but only for their own consumers. Imposing tariffs is like blockading your own ports in wartime, says Ryan Bourne of the Cato Institute. The prime minister is quite right to insist that no deal is better than a bad deal.” – Matt Ridley, The Times (£)

Other comment

  • Calls for Thatcher style toughness are out of touch – Clare Foges The Times(£)
  • The Government is wise to prepare for no deal – Leader Daily Telegraph
  • MPs must pass Article 50 unamended – The Sun Says
  • After Budget blunder how will they cope with the EU – Trevor Kavanagh The Sun
  • Prioritise Commonwealth trade – Digby Jones City AM
  • It’s in the EU’s interests to reach a deal – Leo McKinstry Daily Express

Allies of Hammond and May “fighting to avoid Budget blame”

HAMMOND Philip Marr March 2017“Allies of the prime minister and friends of the chancellor traded recriminations over the weekend over who was responsible for the national insurance budget fiasco. Cabinet ministers revealed that Philip Hammond had failed to warn them that one of the budget’s most significant tax raising proposals could be viewed as a breach of a manifesto pledge. The plan to increase the national insurance contributions of self-employed workers, which has now been put on hold until the autumn, was met with uproar from several ministers and Conservative MPs.” – The Times(£)

  • Theresa May must get behind her Chancellor – Leader The Times(£)
  • We need simpler and lower taxes for all – Roger Bootle – Daily Telegraph
  • Lord Sugar attacks “demoralising” attack on self employed – The Sun
  • Tax will continue to torment the Tories – Matthew d’Ancona The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: May and Hammond must kill off the NIC problem now

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The hunt is up for more Conservative manifesto U-turns

Anti-hunting groups ordered to stop using Conservative logo

“The Conservative Party has distanced itself from two animal rights organisations that were calling for a ban on foxhunting and a review of shooting birds such as pheasants and grouse for sport. Sir Patrick McLoughlin, the party chairman, wrote to the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF) and the Conservatives Against Fox Hunting (CAFH) to demand that they stop using the party’s logo. Both groups were founded by the artist Lorraine Platt, who has campaigned on animal rights issues with Brian May, the Queen guitarist. In a letter seen by The Times, Sir Patrick said that he had “reviewed the status of both groups” and asked them “to withdraw their use of the party logo and limit their operations”.”- The Times (£)

Cover up over peers claiming £300 a day but making no contribution

Lords“A Lords probe into peers who claim thousands of pounds in perks but don’t do any work was dropped amid fears of a public backlash. Baroness D’Souza, a former Lord Speaker, spent months investigating peers who clock in to claim their tax-free £300 daily allowance without making any contribution in the Upper House, but scrapped the research to avoid ‘naming and shaming’ offenders. Her shocking admission of a cover-up comes on the day when peers’ attempts to thwart Brexit are expected to come to an end.” – Daily Mail

PM’s visit schedule left on a train

“The government is investigating claims that a document outlining the prime minister’s schedule for a visit to Cheshire was left on a train. According to the Mirror, the briefing note was found on the floor of a first-class carriage on a train heading from Manchester to Edinburgh in January. The document identified details such as a private address where Theresa May was attending a dinner that evening. A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said they had been made aware of the claims.” – BBC

Long-Bailey challenged on Labour’s spending plans

MANIFESTO money“Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has been challenged over how Labour would pay for £63bn spending promises if it gets voted into government. The BBC’s Andrew Marr said the party’s fiscal credibility was at stake because Ms Long-Bailey was unable to provide a detailed breakdown of its plans – suggesting her numbers were “£30bn short”.” – BBC

Labour MP proposes abortion on demand

“Moves to decriminalise abortions in England and Wales could open the floodgates to pregnancy terminations ‘on demand’, campaigners fear. Labour MP Diana Johnson will introduce a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament today calling for ‘Victorian’ abortion laws that carry a potential life sentence to be scrapped. Miss Johnson says the outdated laws deny women control over their bodies, and instead she wants abortion to be regulated by professional medical bodies, such as the General Medical Council.” – Daily Mail

It’s easier for women in the Conservative Party, says Harman

harman“The Tories have had two female prime ministers only because women in the party are not seen as a threat by men, Labour grandee Harriet Harman claims. The former Labour deputy leader claimed it was ‘easier to be a woman at the top of the Conservative Party’. The feminist campaigner said that, although Labour was the ‘party of women and equality’, its female MPs had not yet led the party because they were seen ‘as a subversive force pushing for change’.” – Daily Mail

A quarter of MPs employing relatives

“A quarter of Westminster’s 650 MPs are now employing relatives after a near-10 per cent rise last year, new figures have revealed. Politicians paying their wives, children and other so-called “connected parties” costs the taxpayer nearly £5 million. Some 151 MPs employ their family members – up from 139 last year. They can choose to pay relatives a salary of up to £43,000. It means MPs – already on £74,000 – can top up their household incomes with more taxpayer-funded cash. Average pay for relatives is £30,000 a year, a Freedom of Information request by The Sun found.” – The Sun

Farage would stand again in Thanet South if a by-election is called

nigel-farage“Nigel Farage has said that he is likely to stand for parliament again if an electoral fraud investigation triggers a by-election in a Kent constituency. The former Ukip leader lost to the Conservative Craig Mackinlay in a close-fought battle for South Thanet at the 2015 general election. Police investigations into claims that the Tories broke spending laws may lead to by-elections in several constituencies including the Kent seat.” – The Times (£)

Foster has “not considered” resigning

“Arlene Foster has said she never thought about resigning as Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader in the wake of the Northern Ireland Assembly election. Mrs Foster told Sky News the election had not been “disastrous” but admitted it was a “wake up call for unionism”. The election saw an end to the unionist majority at Stormont. Sinn Féin now holds one seat fewer in the assembly than the DUP.” – BBC

Rennie opposes second referendum on Scottish independence…

Scottish flag“Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie has said he would vote to block holding another independence referendum. Mr Rennie said holding another poll would be “divisive, unhelpful” and not good for Scotland’s future. His comments contrast to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said on Saturday that another referendum would be “absolutely fine”. Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly warned a fresh vote is “highly likely”.” – BBC

  • Poll shows Scots favour staying in UK – by 52 per cent to 48 per cent – Scotsman

…as Corbyn’s backing for the idea prompts Labour backlash

“Labour MPs branded Jeremy Corbyn ‘misguided’ over Scottish Labour figures after he said a second Scottish independence referendum would be ‘absolutely fine’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn infuriated MPs on Saturday by saying a second independence referendum in Scotland would be “absolutely fine”. He was immediately branded “misguided” by Scottish Labour figures. And yesterday former Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn said “Jeremy set out his view” but it was not official party policy. Taking to Twitter, Labour’s only Scottish MP accused the leader of “destroying the party”. He said: “Often asked why I resigned from the Shadow Cabinet. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Jeremy Corbyn.”

Tensions rise in Dutch elections

ballotbox“The far right in the Netherlands has demanded that all 400,000 ethnic Turks there be stripped of their dual citizenship amid rising tensions before the country’s elections on Wednesday. Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, described Turks as a “fifth column” as the Netherlands and Turkey became embroiled in a race row that resulted in rioting, diplomatic deportations and verbal insults. The Netherlands sought to block loyalists of President Erdogan from trying to rally electoral support among the 4.6 million Turkish expatriates in western Europe before a referendum next month that could grant him sweeping new constitutional powers.” – The Times(£)

£2 billion wasted on Overseas Aid climate change scheme

“Serious questions are raised today over hundreds of millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money being ‘wasted’ on climate change projects such as an Ethiopian wind farm and Kenyan solar power plant. A Telegraph investigation shows little benefit so far from a £2 billion foreign aid programme to tackle climate change that was established eight years ago. One scheme, costing £260m of UK taxpayers’ money, has produced only enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of just 100 British households – about the size of a typical street.” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Rail strikes hit the north – Daily Mail
  • Rents fall for first time in six years – The Guardian
  • Vodafone to create 2,100 new jobs – BBC
  • Ministers to put breaks on costly anti speeding courses – The Times(£)
  • £2 billion more to be paid in Inheritance Tax over five years than previously estimated – Daily Telegraph
  • Remaining IS fighters in Mosul trapped – BBC
  • Toxic air bigger threat to plants than climate change – The Times(£)
  • Mice droppings found in Parliament’s kitchens – The Sun
  • Welsh Government scraps right to buy – Independent