Brexit 1) Is the spirit of Fountainebleau stirring? Article 50 may be moved as early as Tuesday – and May limbers up for a fight over cash…

MAY and THATCHER“Senior government sources say that when the prime minister triggers article 50, she will point out that Britain is entitled to the return of funds held by the European Investment Bank (EIB). Legal advice circulating in Whitehall — seen by The Sunday Times — says that not only is the government not legally obliged to pay Brussels a penny, but the EU should pay Britain for its share of the funds in the EIB. That will allow May to argue that EU demands for Britain to pay €60bn — about £53bn — in contributions to the EU budget and money to plug the deficit in its own pension scheme is ­unacceptable.” – Sunday Times (£)

Brexit 2) …while Blunt’s Foreign Affairs Committee claims that the Government is unprepared for the aftermath if no deal is struck

“After a detailed inquiry into what would happen if Brexit negotiations failed, the Tory chairman of the committee, Crispin Blunt, a supporter of leaving the EU, said: “The possibility of ‘no deal’ is real enough to require the government to plan how to deal with it. But there is no evidence to indicate that this is receiving the consideration it deserves or that serious contingency planning is under way. The government has repeatedly said that it will walk away from a ‘bad’ final deal. That makes preparing for ‘no deal’ all the more essential.” – Observer

  • Leaked Treasury document says MFN rules will “cause a major economic shock” – Independent on Sunday
  • Khan claims London will fall off a cliff-edge after two years – Sunday Express
  • Britain does not need to pay £50 billion – Ross Clark, Sunday Express
  • Security is May’s strongest card in the coming negotiations – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times (£)
  • Warnings on Brexit cannot be ignored – Editorial, Mail on Sunday
  • A good deal needs cool heads and common sense – Sunday Times (£)

Brexit 3) The Remainer Gang of Ten in the Commons as the Article 50 Bill returns: Morgan, Soubry, Grieve, Clarke, Burt, Tyrie, Neill, Carmichael, Howlett and Sandbach

BURT Alistair Twitter“Up to ten Tory MPs could vote against the Government or abstain in tomorrow’s key debate sanctioning Mrs May to trigger Article 50.  The MPs, including former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, former Chancellor Ken Clarke and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, hope to put pressure on No 10 to give MPs more of a say over the UK’s exit terms. Anti-Brexit Tory MP Alistair Burt today tells The Mail on Sunday that Mrs May should stop ‘dancing around’ and give Parliament a vote. This newspaper has also learned that Ms Morgan held a secret meeting with Mr Davis on Thursday evening in an attempt to strike a last-ditch deal.” – Mail on Sunday

Alistair Burt and Jeremy Lefroy: Parliament must vote if no deal is reached

“If the Government genuinely believes that a ‘no deal’ is in the UK’s best interests, an endorsement would surely be needed. It is unlikely a simple statement would satisfy the Commons, and an Opposition party could arrange a vote without much difficulty. So let’s stop dancing around. There is going to be a vote on ‘no deal’ one way or another. The assurance of this by the Government – without an amendment to the Bill – would be an acceptance of the obvious. Then we can move on.” – Mail On Sunday

  • MPs and peers must not try to veto Brexit – David Davis, Sunday Telegraph
  • Heseltine: I fight on against Brexit. Before breakfast. Before lunch. Before dinner… – Mail on Sunday
  • IDS warns MPs not to stick two fingers up at voters – Sunday Express
  • Soubry claims Brexiteers are targeting Hammond – Mail on Sunday

The NICs blame game. Team May claim Hammond smuggled NI plan into Budget and didn’t warn the Cabinet. Team Hammond claim May wants a death tax, backed a bigger NI rise, and stole his announcements.

“A Commons source said: “The biggest concern in the Treasury is that if Hammond cannot be seen to deliver now, his reputation will take a battering with the markets. When he has to deliver more difficult decisions over Brexit there will be uncertainty.” With more than 20 Tory MPs in open revolt and those privately prepared to vote against the plans numbering more than 50, May has said the issue will be revisited in the autumn after a report on workplace rights for the self-employed is published.” – Sunday Times (£)

> Today: Nick Boles on Comment – I backed Remain. But I hope other MPs who did so too reject these Lords amendments to the Article 50 bill.

’22 Executive will urge the Prime Minister to abandon the tax rise. Johnson to be deployed in Commons to defend the plan.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 08.44.23“Thirty Tory MPs are understood to oppose the changes and those leading the rebellion believe as many as 100 are sympathetic. There are deep concerns among MPs about the reaction in their constituencies to the perceived attack on the self-employed – seen as traditional Tory voters. On Monday night, the executive of the Tory 1922 committee will see the Prime Minister in Parliament and urge her to abandon the tax rise…Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary and seen as a persuasive figure, has been asked by the Chancellor to defend the measures when they are debated by MPs on Monday.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Osborne allies say Hammond’s Treasury isn’t up to the job – Sunday Telegraph
  • NI rise plan was a rookie error, says Lamont – Observer
  • Cable says that manifesto pledge was Cameron’s “hospital pass” to May… – Mail on Sunday
  • …And Clegg adds that Hammond should therefore dump on the former Prime Minister – Observer
  • Bad blood begins to flow between the neighbours of Downing Street – Andrew Rawnsley, Observer
  • Why I oppose the NI rise – Ann-Marie Trevelyan, Mail on Sunday
  • The tax promise got the Tories into power. It’s madness to break it for a pittance – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times (£)
  • Relax, folks: it’s not going to happen – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday
  • If May gives in, she’s not serious about tax reform – Will Hutton, Observer
  • She needs a Conservative vision – Simon Heffer, Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday: James Cartlidge on Comment – The devastating truth at the heart of the NICs row. We’re palming difficult decisions off on the next generation.

The hunt is up for more manifesto U-turns. Cameron starter homes plan “has been binned”

“The Government has also now binned David Cameron’s flagship housing policy of building 200,000 starter homes at 20 per cent below market price, championed by the former Prime Minister just last year.  Despite dozens of announcements about the homes over the last few years, none have yet been built. This week, housing minister Gavin Barwell confirmed in person for the first time that the Government was not pressing ahead with the manifesto commitment to build 200,000 of them.” – Independent on Sunday

Javid mulls rough sleepers policy revolution

Sajid Javid 12-07-15“In what would amount to a revolution in policy, involving upfront investment in housing places for rough sleepers with troubled lives, communities secretary Sajid Javid told the Observer he was keen to examine the scheme, under which people are placed straight into permanent homes with access to care and training to help them get into work. The approach – known as Housing First – turns the existing “treatment first” policy on its head and works on the assumption that people make most progress sorting out their lives once in a stable home, rather than a hostel or shared temporary accommodation.” – Observer

Shapps and Timothy feud flares up over South Thanet. The former claims that the latter seems to have led the by-election campaign.

“Shapps’s allegations escalated the pressure on No 10 as senior party sources hit back last night. “How the hell would he know?” said one. “He was barely in Conservative campaign HQ so I am not sure on what basis he thinks he can comment. He wouldn’t know what was and wasn’t going on.” There is a history of bad blood between Shapps and Timothy. They had a serious falling out after the then co-chairman removed Timothy from the parliamentary candidates’ list in 2014, seen at the time as a move by David Cameron to limit the presence of May supporters in the new parliament.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • Carswell denies claim that he passed Thanet South data to the Conservatives – Mail on Sunday
  • Bishop Auckland is now 2020 Tory target seat – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

Corbyn under fire over Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn 16-11-15“A group of 29 Labour MPs criticised their leader Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday for failing to take a stronger line on Brexit and demanded that he back continued full membership of the single market…The decision to release a statement follows disquiet in the parliamentary party last week when Labour whips in the House of Lords ordered Labour peers to vote against an amendment by Peter Hain in favour of membership of the single market. It is also reflects a wider concern among pro-EU MPs that Corbyn is failing to create a clear dividing line with the Tories over Brexit as Theresa May prepares to trigger the formal article 50 process to leave the EU.” – Observer

Nick Cohen: The former UKIP leader visits Assange. Farage and Putin – the pact from hell

“Their admirers positively welcome their tearing up of the old rules on honesty in public discourse, their contempt for facts, for human rights, for foreigners and all others who can be defamed by a demagogue on the make. They want a strongman who can pummel his enemies. They are entertained by his brags and impressed by how well he cheats. Many of the men among them revel in a leader who can boast about grabbing pussy or will pass a law allowing them to beat their wives. Many of the women want a real man in charge.” – Nick Cohen, Observer

News in Brief

  • Business Ministers “ready to act” on Big Six – Observer
  • Sparks between Turkey and Holland as Erdoğan calls the Dutch ‘Nazi remnants’ – Sunday Telegraph
  • GCHQ: Russian cyber‑threat to British elections – Sunday Times (£)
  • Private schools fight back over Government plan to compel them to run state schools – Mail on Sunday
  • Headmasters sound alarm on boost for grammars – Observer
  • Asbestos fear in Commons ventilation system – Sunday Express