Brexit 1): May to trigger Article 50 in two weeks

telegraphweeks“Theresa May has defiantly insisted her timetable for triggering Brexit will not be blown off course despite suffering her first Parliamentary defeat over the Article 50 bill. The House of Lords voted to amend the Bill to force the Government to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. Seven Tory peers – including the former pensions minister Baroness Altmann – backed the amendment. But the Prime Minister is confident the amendment will be rejected by the Commons later this month, and Downing Street insisted the timetable for Brexit “remains unchanged”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • An insidious plot to thwart democracy – Leader Daily Mail
  • The Lords risks damaging the Brexit negotiations – Leader Daily Telegraph
  • Proof the unelected chamber must go – The Sun Says
  • Peers thinking of “nothing but the rights of foreigners” says Tebbit – Independent
  • Migrant workers boost London’s coffers – Financial Times(£)
  • Don’t echo Sir John Major’s nervousness – Christian May City AM

Today: Columnist Dan Hannan: British and Continental systems of politics and law are fundamentally incompatible


Brexit 2): The Government will seek to overturn defeat inflicted by the House of Lords

“The government will seek to overturn the defeat inflicted on its Brexit bill by the House of Lords, sources say. Peers defied ministers when they voted by 358 to 256 to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit. The government said it was “disappointed” at the first defeat for its draft legislation. MPs will have the chance to remove the Lords’ amendment when the bill returns to the House of Commons.” – BBC

Brexit 3) Hogg among the Conservative rebels

Viscount Hailsham“Seven Conservatives including the former cabinet minister Douglas Hogg lined up with the Labour party, Liberal Democrats and crossbenchers to demand formal reassurances for more than 3 million Europeans already resident in Britain. There will now be intense pressure on Conservative backbench MPs to follow suit when the bill returns to the Commons for another vote in just under a fortnight.” – The Guardian

  • Lord Moat compared EU nationals to Idi Amin’s victims – Quentin Letts Daily Mail

>Yesterday: WATCH: Viscount Hailsham makes the case for the successful amendment on EU citizens’ rights

Brexit 4) “Moral duty” to Gibraltar

“The government has a “moral responsibility” to protect the interests of Gibraltar during Brexit negotiations, a Lords committee says. The EU committee said the single market and cross-border travel were vital to the territory’s economy, and warned the UK government not to let Spain use trade talks to claim sovereignty. Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly for Remain in June’s referendum. The government says it will ensure the territory’s priorities are understood.” – BBC

Brexit 5): Juncker sets out “pathways” for EU after Brexit

JUNCKER stars“European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has revealed his five future “pathways” for the European Union after Brexit. His white paper looks at various options, from becoming no more than a single market to forging even closer political, social and economic ties. The 27 leaders of EU countries will discuss the plans, without Britain, at a summit in Rome later this month. The meeting will mark the EU’s 60th anniversary.” – BBC

Brexit 6) SNP anger at Westminster “power grab” over farming and fishing

“Theresa May clashed with Scottish Nationalists yesterday after refusing to commit to handing all powers exercised in Brussels over agriculture and fisheries to the Scottish parliament after Brexit. Scottish Nationalist MPs accused Mrs May of a “power grab” after she dodged the question at prime minister’s questions. Senior Tory sources told The Times that recent changes to drafts of the Great Repeal Bill put more emphasis on Westminster control of powers coming back from Brussels post-Brexit.” – The Times(£)

>Yesterday: Columnist Henry Hill: Sturgeon conjures ‘threat to devolution’ to try to break out of her Brexit corner

Nearly 30 per cent of Tory activists would welcome Scottish independence

UNION FLAG torn“Fewer than a third of Tory activists believe that an independent Scotland would cause “serious damage” to the rest of the UK, a new poll has found. More than two-thirds believe that a break-away would be either positive, have no real significant impact on England, Wales and Northern Ireland or would be ‘manageable’. …The survey, conducted by the Centre for English Identity and Politics at Winchester University though the ConservativeHome website, also found that 73% of English Tory activists believe that the devolution settlement since 1999 has been ‘harmful for England’.” – Huffington Post

  • Prepare for a second Scottish referendum – Alex Massie The Spectator

>Today: ToryDiary: Scotland, independence – and our survey finding. Are Conservative Party members Just About Unionist?

Markets rally after Trump’s speech…

TRUMP inauguration speech“Stock markets hit record highs on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday after President Trump’s first speech to Congress was hailed as his most conciliatory and presidential to date. Traders seized on Mr Trump’s renewed promise of a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan and a markedly different tone. The FTSE 100 — Britain’s benchmark index of its biggest companies — closed up 1.6 per cent at 7,383, leaving it 23 per cent higher than its low point immediately after the EU referendum. In New York the Dow Jones closed at 21,116, passing through the 21,000 barrier a month after it breached 20,000 for the first time. European markets also rose strongly.” – The Times(£)

>Yesterday: Ben Roback on International: A view from Washington. Why a trade deal with Britain is so important to Trump.

…and most of his State Visit will be in Scotland

“Donald Trump’s State visit to Britain is set to be delayed until October to curb mass protests…..A meeting between Trump and the Queen would face fewer logistical problems if it was held on the Balmoral Estate rather than at Buckingham Palace in central London…Planners are also looking at shifting much of the visit to the Queen’s residence at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire – a move which could act as a further deterrent to protesters. The President could spend as little as one day in London before heading to Scotland where his mother Mary was born.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Protesting against the state visit doesn’t do Britain any favours, nor does it do Trump any harm

Cameron to defend aid spending legacy

david-cameron-12-09-16“David Cameron will chair a high profile commission on conflict-hit fragile states in a bid to defend his foreign aid spending legacy. The former PM will take up the unpaid role at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government in the coming weeks, it emerged last night. It was David Cameron who enshrined the much criticised Government spending of 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid in law – which amounts to more than £12bn annually. The joint commission will meet every three months before reporting next year on how foreign aid cash could be better spent in the world’s most fragile and war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia.” – The Sun

Policing watchdog says thousands of suspects are not being investigated

“Tens of thousands of crime suspects are on the loose because of the ‘near perilous’ state of policing. The official watchdog says many cases are being shelved without proper investigation, emergency calls downgraded and victims left in danger. Almost 46,000 suspects are now on the police wanted database including 343 sought for murder or manslaughter and 1,012 for rape. The hard-hitting report from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary accused the 43 forces of England and Wales of failing the public.” – Daily Mail

Calls for Hammond to abandon insurance tax premium rise

hammond“Chancellor Philip Hammond is facing demands to abandon a planned increase in insurance premium tax and ‘give drivers a break’ in next week’s Budget. The Government has already been under pressure over Justice Secretary Liz Truss’s announcement of a new injury payout rate that could see up to £300 added to the premiums of older drivers. Now the Chancellor is under fire over insurance premium tax – a levy put on all premiums – which will raise £18billion over the next three years from car, home and private medical cover.” – Daily Mail

  • High earners face budget raid on their savings – The Times(£)

>Today: Philippa Stroud on Comment: Hammond should boost Universal Credit now – and cut the deficit through more welfare reform later.

Treat Ministers like middle managers says Green

“Government ministers should be treated like middle managers and subjected to corporate appraisals and development goals, a cabinet ally of Theresa May has suggested. Damian Green, the work and pensions secretary, said that there needed to be a “revolution” in which ministers would be promoted or fired depending on their competence rather than on political whim.” – The Times(£)

Northern Ireland’s voters go to the polls

ballot_box“Voters in Northern Ireland go to the polls on Thursday for the second time in 10 months. The 2017 Assembly Election was called after the resignation of former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Polling stations open at 07:00 BST and will close at 22:00 GMT. Two hundred and twenty-eight candidates are competing for 90 seats across Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies. Counting in the election will begin on Friday morning.” – BBC

UKIP NEC to consider knighthood row…

“The row over whether MP Douglas Carswell blocked an attempt to get Nigel Farage a knighthood is being referred to UKIP’s National Executive Committee, the BBC understands. Mr Carswell, the party’s only MP, has denied trying to stop an honour for ex-UKIP leader Mr Farage. Mr Farage accused the MP of “working for the Conservatives” and called for him to be expelled from the party. But Mr Carswell, who defected from the Tories in 2014, said: “I’m 100% UKIP.” – BBC

  • An appetite for UKIP persists despite the infighting – Matthew Goodwin The Guardian

…Tories “don’t want” Carswell to defect

Douglas Carswell 28-08-15“Senior Tories have rejected the prospect of Douglas Carswell returning to the party because they believe his feud with Nigel Farage is helping to destroy Ukip. The Clacton MP defected from the Tories three years ago, but he could now be kicked out of Ukip in a row over whether he helped stop Mr Farage getting a knighthood. Mr Carswell is thought to have had secret talks about returning to the Tories at the next election, but Conservative Party figures yesterday dismissed the idea, with one saying many would prefer Mr Carswell to remain as Ukip’s sole MP as his presence continues to provoke strife.” – Daily Mail

  • What on Earth is Nigel Farage so cross about? – Daniel Hannan Daily Telegraph

Corbyn attacks disability cuts

“Jeremy Corbyn has accused Theresa May of turning the Conservatives back into “the nasty party” by quietly announcing a change to rules on disability benefits. The Labour leader told prime minister’s questions that the government had “sneaked” out the announcement that it was overturning two tribunal rulings on personal independence payments, including one that found people with extreme anxiety should be given the same status as those who are blind. May responded by saying the pensions secretary, Damian Green, had made a written statement to parliament, briefed officials and called the office of his Labour shadow, Debbie Abrahams, only to get no answer or any response for four days.” – The Guardian

  • Corbyn’s team admits Labour would lose snap election – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Andrew Gimson’s Commons sketch: Corbyn looks more than ever like Steptoe

Concern for free speech over academia’s lurch to the Left

Mortarboard“British universities suffer from “group-think” with a strong left-wing or liberal bias among academics and an under-representation of conservative views, a report claims. It argues that the trend poses a threat to higher education because it raises the possibility of future clashes with right-of-centre governments that may strip universities of funding. There is an increased risk of unconscious academic bias and a possible threat to free speech….The analysis, published by the Adam Smith Institute, a free-market think tank, sought to look at the political opinions of British university academics over the past five decades and charted a threefold decline in support for the Conservatives in the period.” – The Times(£)

Fillon’s Presidential campaign in further trouble

“The French conservative presidential candidate, Francois Fillon, has suffered new setbacks in his campaign, with a political ally suspending its support. The centrist UDI party, with 27 MPs in the lower house of parliament, says a final decision will be made next week. It follows the revelation that Mr Fillon is facing a formal investigation over a fake job scandal involving his wife. He denies any wrongdoing. A key aide has also left his campaign. Foreign affairs spokesman Bruno Le Maire criticised the candidate for breaking his pledge to step aside if he was put under formal investigation.” – BBC

News in brief

  • Most Unite branches back McCluskey – BBC
  • Primaries could teach pupils about same sex relationships – Daily Mail
  • House prices speed up in February – Daily Telegraph
  • One in five pupils could miss out on first choice of secondary school – The Sun
  • Britain should have closer ties with Russia say MPs – Financial Times(£)
  • Theresa May plans to go hillwalking in Wales – Wales Online