Government backs Trump’s attacks on Assad regime

TRUMP victory speechBritain has backed US missile strikes on a Syrian air base as an “appropriate response” to Bashar Assad regime’s “barbaric” chemical attack, while Russia warned the act of “aggression” will damage its relations with America. The UK Government has offered its full support to US president Donald Trump’s targeted assault on the base from where he said a devastating nerve agent strike on civilians was launched. The surprise barrage of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles – which were launched from US ships in the Mediterranean and struck the Shayrat air base in central Syria in the early hours of Friday – was the first direct US attack on the Syrian government.” – Daily Telegraph

  • UK says attacks aren’t the launch of a wholesale campaign – The Independent
  • Cameron cancelled SAS strike on Assad’s chemical weapons – The Sun
  • Xi visit overshadowed by events – FT
  • Turkey says sarin was used after autopsies – Daily Mail
  • Putin furious over ‘aggression – Daily Express

Nick Boles: Time to exorcise our shame and tackle Assad

“The West’s shameful record of appeasing Assad makes me incensed, and ashamed. On August 29, 2013 MPs had a chance to punish Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people and reinforce the global ban on chemical and biological weapons. After a few days of twisting and turning on the skewer of his own righteousness, Ed Miliband announced that Labour would oppose military action and a majority in parliament voted with him. President Obama used our parliamentary vote as an excuse to back down on the enforcement of his own “red line”, even though he had repeatedly declared that its infringement would require a military response.” – The Times (£)

  • Trump and Putin must avoid a Cold War-style disaster – Roland Oliphant, Daily Telegraph
  • The President has three options with Assad, none of them easy – Leslie Vinjamuri, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Britain must not be drawn into the civil war in Syria

>Yesterday: George Grant in Comment: Obama’s broken red line enabled Assad’s latest chemical atrocity in Syria

May warns EU that Gibraltar is not up for discussion

EU Brexit“Theresa May warned the European Union yesterday that the sovereignty of Gibraltar was off limits in Brexit negotiations as she took part in the first substantive talks with the bloc since Article 50 was triggered. In two hours of talks with Donald Tusk, the European Council president, Mrs May said there could be no change to the status of the Rock without the explicit consent of its people. Spain was accused of causing long traffic jams by tightening border controls for the 10,000 people who cross into Gibraltar to work every day. The Gibraltar government said that the move was a “political weapon”.” – The Times (£)

  • Cabinet Eurosceptics back May’s less hostile approach – FT
  • Villiers and Raab amongst Brexiteers targeted by Remain strategy – The Times (£)
  • MPs urge May to defy Brussels over ‘toxin tax’ – The Sun
  • Mapped: Brexit Britain’s enemies revealed – Daily Express


  • Brexit has set up a monumental clash of ideas – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • Crashing out without a deal would be a disaster – Nicky Morgan, The Guardian
  • Keeping an eye on the EU – Sir Bill Cash, Times Red Box
  • Forget ‘global Britain’ and learn to hug Germany close – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • A great trading nation? That’s just delusion – Ed Conway, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: What are your Brexit red lines? Take our monthly survey.


Ministers 1) Truss’ position at risk after confrontation with judges

“Liz Truss has been identified by ministers as the politician most at risk of losing her job in a cabinet reshuffle after confidence in her was undermined by clashes with senior judges. One judge said that relations with the lord chancellor, who also serves as justice secretary, had deteriorated to such a point that she could not recover, adding: “No one will forgive her.” The views of judges are fuelled by anger in some quarters that she has effectively blocked their candidate, Sir Brian Leveson, from becoming the next lord chief justice. Sir Brian was the frontrunner for the most powerful judicial post in England and Wales when Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd steps down this year.” – The Times (£)

  • MPs claim jail shake-up could deepen prison cuts – The Sun


  • Why the judiciary is trying to sack the Justice Secretary – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • Stealth taxes are the Tories’ new favourite weapon – Fraser Nelson, The Guardian

Ministers 2) Brokenshire warns of direct rule if parties in Ulster crisis talks don’t deal

Northern Ireland“Politicians in Northern Ireland have been warned they have until Good Friday to come to a power sharing agreement or face direct rule from Westminster. James Brokenshire set a deadline of Easter weekend for the parties to agree a new arrangement after failing to broker a deal following the snap election in March. The tight timetable will prompt comparisons with the fraught process ahead of the original Good Friday agreement in 1998. The Northern Ireland secretary said public services in the country need certainty and warned he is prepared to draw up legislation to take control if no deal is struck.” – Daily Telegraph

Government to crack down on ‘abuse’ of leaseholds

“Developers are set to be banned from selling new-build houses with leases that end up costing families a fortune. Ministers are drawing up plans to outlaw the ‘feudal’ practices of builders who sell new houses with leases, forcing buyers to pay a yearly ground rent to the freeholder. Some of these fees can double every decade, crippling homeowners and making the property almost impossible to sell on. The proposed clampdown came as government figures showed the true scale of the leasehold scandal blighting the lives of millions of families.” – Daily Mail

  • Act now before foreigners buy half of all homes, ministers told – The Times (£)


  • Councils must act to prevent overseas buyers leaving properties vacant – The Times (£)

Patrick McLoughlin: The local elections offer a clear choice between the Conservatives and chaos

Rosette shield“To understand the frustration an incompetently run local authority can cause, you only have to ask residents in Labour-run Bury what a cut in the number of bin collections has done to the area’s rat population; or discuss with people how Lib Dem-led Sutton Council lost the only copy of an environmental report mapping out data on air quality that they spent more than £100,000 of taxpayers money on. The local elections next month offer a clear choice – the competence of a strong Conservative council who will deliver value for money, versus the disarray of the rest.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour’s private school VAT pledge a ‘false economy’

“Labour’s pledge to add VAT to private school fees in order to extend free school meals was dealt a blow yesterday by the academic on whose work it was based. Lorraine Dearden, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), said that more research was needed before the respected think tank would back the policy. Jeremy Corbyn cited a study by the IFS when he announced the policy to add the 20 per cent tax to fees to fund free school meals for all primary schoolchildren.” – The Times (£)

  • The Opposition’s scheme for free school meals makes no sense – The Times (£)

More Labour:

  • A thousand Labour members call for Livingstone’s expulsion – The Guardian
  • Party’s by-election hopeful accused Israel of genocide – The Times (£)


  • Term-time holidays are a betrayal of children – Michael Gove, The Times (£)
  • May’s answer on school meals show’s Labour’s irrelevance – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph



>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Is Gove’s education legacy safe with Greening?

Sturgeon rules out legal action in pursuit of a second referendum

SNP logo white background“Nicola Sturgeon has said she has no intention of taking legal action to try to secure a second Scottish independence referendum. The First Minister indicated that rather than being settled by the courts, the matter should be decided by politicians. She told BBC Scotland: “It is absolutely essential that if the will of the Scottish Parliament is for a referendum then that should be respected. “I don’t think there is any need, nor is there any intention, to see a matter that should be settled politically end up in the courts.”” – The Independent

  • First Minister slams Prime Minister over ‘rape form’ – The Scotsman


  • Sturgeon should leave her indyref2 obsession at the door – Brian Wilson, The Scotsman

Reckless confirms effort to re-defect to the Tories

“Another senior Ukip figure quit the party today as Mark Reckless announced he is defecting to the Tories. The Welsh Assembly member and former MP declared he was leaving, tweeting that he regarded it as ‘job done’ after Brexit. However, bizarrely he will not be formally rejoining the Conservative Party – instead merely aligning with its bloc in the Cardiff assembly… Ukip is now demanding that Mr Reckless step down from his post – which he was awarded through a party list system rather than being directly elected.” – Daily Mail

  • This will unleash a fresh wave of paranoia in UKIP – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Basque separatists to ‘fully disarm’ after 49 years – Daily Mail
  • Father loses Supreme Court battle over term-time holidays – The Times (£)
  • Record GP practice closures forces patients to look elsewhere – Daily Telegraph
  • Republicans re-write Senate rules to confirm Supreme Court nominee – FT
  • Fury over Government’s child benefit ‘rape form’ – The Sun
  • Cabbies bring Whitehall to a standstill to protest Uber – Daily Mail
  • Three SDLP councillors suspended in Belfast – Belfast Telegraph