May tells Scottish Tories she won’t let the UK ‘drift apart’

MAY Britannia“Theresa May yesterday heralded the UK as ‘the world’s greatest family of nations’ as she warned Scots their security could be put at risk if they break away. In an impassioned defence of the Union, the Prime Minister argued it was not a ‘marriage of convenience or a fair-weather friendship’, stating: ‘We are four nations, but at heart we are one people. Speaking at the Scottish Tory party conference in Glasgow, Mrs May said the economic case for independence ‘simply does not add up and we should never stop saying so’.” – Daily Mail

  • May’s independence vote challenge to Sturgeon – The Guardian
  • Prime Minister’s warning to the SNP – The Times (£)
  • May takes hardline with demands for special deal – FT

More Scotland:

  • War of words over post-Brexit control of farming – The Scotsman


  • May doesn’t need ‘Project Fear’, she knows the positive case – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph
  • Speech shows how little Scotland means in May’s dangerous Brexit game – Lesley Riddoch, The Guardian


  • The Prime Minister’s handling of Brexit riles nationalists – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Why May will give battle to Sturgeon… after Brexit


Downing Street ‘deeply worried’ by elections inquiry

“Downing Street is “deeply worried” about the outcome of a police investigation into claims of expenses fraud during the 2015 general election. Senior figures fear that the results of up to half a dozen constituency votes could be declared void – causing hurried by-elections – if prosecutors decide to make an example of the party. Criminal charges against key individuals are also possible. At one stage 24 investigations were taking place into seats where the Tories were suspected of spending more on their campaign than the legal limit. It is believed that this has been reduced to fewer than a dozen investigations in which the police believe the evidence warrants further examination.” – The Times (£)

  • Conclusion of fraud investigation could make uncomfortable news for May – The Times (£)

EU: Britain under no legal obligation to pay EU ‘divorce bill’…

EU Brexit“Britain can legally walk away from the European Union without paying a penny, Government lawyers have concluded. Eurocrats have threatened that Britain will face a ‘divorce bill’ of up to £52billion to cover liabilities the EU believes it is owed. Most of the money is for projects that Britain signed off as a member but has not yet paid for. It also includes funds for the pensions of Brussels officials. But the Government’s legal advice states that there is no law or treaty that will compel Britain to make payments to the EU after Brexit.” – Daily Mail

More Brexit:

  • Government confident of defeating ‘meaningful vote’ rebellion in Commons – Daily Mail
  • May responds to calls to scrap the Lords – Daily Express

…as Davies says ‘negativity’ of Remainers is the real threat to Welsh prosperity

“Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has thrown down the challenge to his counterparts at the helm of other parties to unite behind the Brexit effort and abandon “relentless negativity”. Mr Davies, one of the highest profile Welsh supporters of Brexit during the referendum campaign, said such attitudes were a threat to prosperity. He said: “During the referendum, we often heard about the whirlwind of uncertainty that Brexit could unleash. But it’s the relentless negativity of the political establishment here in Wales that poses the greatest threat to our future prosperity.” – Wales Online

  • Blair wants new coalition to keep Britain in Europe – Daily Express
  • UK population will pass 70 million within a decade due to EU expansion, experts claim – Daily Mail
  • Prince William and Kate to be ‘unofficial Brexit ambassadors’ – The Sun
  • Government accused of ignoring Britons’ rights in Europe – The Guardian


  • We must ever be vigilant of the left’s domination of our institutions – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit offers an opportunity to reunite with our true friends – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Is 2017 the year for a new party? Heed the lessons of the SDP – John McTernan, Daily Telegraph


  • What happens when the young want to take their country back? – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph


Ministers 1) ISIS planning attack on British Jews, warns Rudd

ISIS“Britain’s Jewish community is on heightened alert after the Home Secretary issued a chilling warning of a ‘significant’ jihadi threat to their safety. Amber Rudd said Islamic State, also known as Daesh, had identified Jews as a ‘legitimate and desirable target’. And she also voiced concerns about a rise in anti-Semitic ‘hate crime’ incidents in this country. Miss Rudd’s grim assessment came as a Daily Mail investigation revealed that Islamic State is actively plotting terror attacks on high-profile targets in the UK including Jewish schools and institutions, Parliament, and football stadiums.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 2) Greening drops plan to ‘relax safeguards’ for children

“Justine Greening, the education secretary, has been forced to drop controversial reforms to the way that vulnerable children are dealt with by social services. The proposals, which faced cross-party opposition, would have watered down the oversight of care. Councils would have been able to opt out of independent scrutiny of foster families, the duty to assess family carers and the allocation of a social worker to each vulnerable child. Experts warned against removing the safeguards, many of which had been put in place to protect children after previous tragedies.” – The Times (£)

  • May scraps ‘dangerous’ child protection reforms launched by Cameron – The Sun
  • Government boosts funding for special needs children – Daily Mail
  • Schools to offer lessons in coping with social media – The Sun
  • Open grammars for just the poor, says Academy chief – Daily Mail


  • Davidson to announce ‘back to basics’ review of Scottish curriculum – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish education mismanaged, says May – FT
  • Pushy parents could be hauled into court for ’emotional abuse’ under SNP plans – Daily Mail


  • Sex education finally gets an upgrade – Miranda Green, FT

>Today: Sarah Lyall in Comment: Can the Shared Society succeed where the Big Society failed?

Ministers 3) MPs urge Chancellor to boost social care sector

philip-hammond-20-11-16“Philip Hammond should use his Budget to bring forward a massive £1.5billion cash injection for the crisis-hit social care sector, MPs have said. The Chancellor is under pressure to use money earmarked for 2019-20 to plug the hole in funding that councils are facing in the year ahead. MPs on the Commons communities and local government committee said that plans to allow authorities to raise council tax were not enough to meet the shortfall.” – Daily Mail

  • Hammond’s plan to ban baffling small-print – Daily Telegraph
  • Chancellor targets self-employed to plug shortfall – The Sun
  • Government scraps housing benefit for young people – The Independent

Ministers 4) Bradley may send Fox bid for Sky to Ofcom

“The past conduct of the Murdoch family’s media empire is set to be thrust back in the public spotlight after culture secretary Karen Bradley said she was “minded” to refer 21st Century Fox’s £11.7bn takeover bid for Sky to UK regulators for a thorough review. In a strongly worded letter published Friday, officials from Ms Bradley’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport outlined reasons for a possible public interest intervention in the deal, singling out James Murdoch, Fox chief executive and Sky chairman, for “failures of corporate governance” during the 2011 phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World.” – FT

Matthew Parris: Both parties could profit from the sort of politicians localism promotes

Rosette shield“Andy Street therefore faces a tough task. As a little-known man bidding for an unknowable job in charge of a mere geographical expression, the former chief executive of the John Lewis partnership has his work cut out as the campaign for the mayoral election on May 4 gathers momentum… Andy Street is greeting the challenge with manic energy. Mr Street belts around accompanied by a shy grin, an outstretched hand, a blessed absence of the Vision Thing, and a hail of statistics. It worked for the sale of dishwashers: could it do the same for Toryism in the new regional politics?” – The Times (£)

  • Burnham says Wales is an example of how Labour can make devolution work – Wales Online

>Yesterday: Andrew Laird in Comment: In the West Midlands, a public services revolution is brewing

DUP lose veto power and overall unionist majority in snap election

“In a truly historic election in Northern Ireland the DUP has failed to secure the 30 seats required to trigger a ‘petition of concern’ veto at Stormont – and unionists have lost their overall majority. The DUP emerged with 28 seats, Sinn Fein had 27, SDLP 12, the UUP 10, the Alliance Party eight, the Greens two, People Before Profit one, the Traditional Unionist Voice one and one independent unionist. That leaves 40 unionists and 39 nationalist/republicans, with the remainder of the 90 MLAs affiliated to neither tradition.” – Belfast Telegraph

  • Nesbitt resigns UUP leadership after party falls behind SDLP – The Independent


  • Northern Ireland’s future in the UK currently rests with Alliance voters – Ben Lowry, News Letter

Labour moderates plot to thwart hard left

Labour holes“A plan to strip hard-left Labour members and supporters of the power to select the party’s next leader is being considered by moderate MPs. Party insiders are again discussing the idea of abolishing leadership election rules imposed by Ed Miliband, which allowed hard-left activists to sign up in their thousands to vote in Jeremy Corbyn. The rules have been described by Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, as a “terrible error of judgment”. Some senior Labour figures are considering an audacious attempt to return to the previous “electoral college” system, which gave full Labour members just a third of the leadership votes cast. A third of the votes were given to Labour MPs, while the remaining third were in the hands of the trade unions.” – The Times (£)

  • Labour ‘caught in struggle’ to survive media attacks, claims McDonnell – The Guardian
  • Party ignored bigamy claims about equality boss – The Times (£)

News in Brief:

  • Emissions scam ‘means early death’ for thousands in Europe – The Times (£)
  • Deal for Vauxhall and Opel raises fear for thousands of British jobs – Daily Telegraph
  • Uber loses court battle over written English tests for drivers – FT
  • Biggest council tax increase in ten years puts average up to £1,600 – The Sun
  • Drug firms plotted to make NHS pay more, watchdog claims – The Times (£)

And finally… Farage receives a ‘knighthood’ on Russia Today

Nigel FarageFormer UKIP leader Nigel Farage received an unexpected honour at the end of his latest appearance on ‘Sam Delaney’s News Thing’ on RT UK. Following an interview in which he addressed his feud with UKIP’s lone MP Douglas Carswell, Farage was given the honour of being the first ever recipient of a ‘News Thing Knighthood’ from a young royal in the acknowledgement that he’s unlikely to be receiving any other honours in the near future. After the ceremony, the atmosphere briefly threatened to become more tense when her diminutive majesty commented, “my mummy says you hate foreigners”, but ‘Sir’ Nigel kept the mood celebratory with a quick retort: “the Queen has to be non-political.”” – Daily Telegraph