Backbenchers warn Downing Street not to get dragged by America into war in Syria

US flag“Britain is calling for a political solution in Syria rather than military escalation as backbenchers warned Theresa May not to rush to join the conflict. Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence were informed “as a courtesy” late on Thursday night that America was about to begin bombing raids. Sir Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, was called by his American counterpart, James Mattis, to inform Britain that the strikes would proceed. Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, spoke to Rex Tillerson, America’s secretary of state, while Downing Street is understood to have been kept informed of developments through the two governments’ respective national security teams.” – The Times (£)

  • Russia warns Trump that he’s ‘one step from war’ – Daily Mail
  • Congress angry at surprise reversal in foreign policy – The Times (£)
  • Why didn’t Putin’s Growlers intercept Trump’s tomahawks? – Daily Mail
  • Fearful Assad faces new life in a bunker – The Times (£)

More British responses:

  • Fallon says Russia should learn from strike and halt slaughter – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson prepares for crisis meeting in Moscow – The Sun
  • Voters will turn against you, Farage warns White House – The Times (£)
  • Ex-UKIP leader, ‘a Trump supporter and friend’, turns on Trump – The Independent
  • Labour MPs at loggerheads after Corbyn criticises attacks – The Times (£)
  • Salmond says attack offers ‘no solutions’ – The Scotsman

Matthew Parris: Now Putin knows how easily Trump can be goaded

“Now that the US president has shown that he can and (if provoked) will intervene in the Syrian conflict, a restraining cord has snapped and it will be difficult for America to resist responding to the next atrocity. Putin knows how to goad him. Meanwhile the rebel resistance in Syria has never been less convincing. No credible alternative government is imaginable. Here, then, is a power vacuum, and with Moscow’s help Assad will resume his brutal drive to refill it. The US missile strike does not alter that. What it alters is a capricious American president’s picture of himself, a picture importantly formed by watching both himself and others’ response to him on television.” – The Times (£)

  • Could it be that the President’s foreign policy is not fake news? – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Why I support Trump’s Syria strike – Tim Farron, The Guardian
  • May risks copying Blair’s poodle-like subservience to America – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Assad’s luck may be running out – David Gardner, FT
  • The White House’s warning to the world – Professor Mark Almond, The Sun
  • In one move, Trump has made more progress than Obama did in six years – Gareth Browne, Daily Telegraph


  • Trump has put Putin and his puppet dictator on notice – The Times (£)
  • Can the President provide the leadership needed to fight terror? – Daily Telegraph
  • Washington redraws the red line – FT
  • A strike which will alter the global balance – The Scotsman

>Today: ToryDiary: Syria shows how Trump may end up a more traditional Republican

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

Ministers 1) Brokenshire gives Northern Irish parties until Good Friday to make a deal

Northern Ireland“Secretary of State James Brokenshire went to the front line of healthcare yesterday – to warn politicians they must come up with a cure to restore devolution urgently. And Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill also warned last night: “The next week is critical in the political talks. The political stakes are high.” On a visit to Antrim Area Hospital, Mr Brokenshire stressed that the ongoing talks cannot continue indefinitely and only a “narrow window” remained. He said he would make a call on the state of negotiations over the Easter weekend – in 10 days – to enable him to move legislation in Westminster once MPs return from recess on April 18.” – Belfast Telegraph

Ministers 2) Leadsom mulls plastic bottle deposit scheme

“A deposit scheme aimed at curbing the toxic blight of plastic bottles on the environment is being considered by ministers. Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom last night ordered a review to weigh up the costs and benefits of a scheme that would offer cash for returned bottles. The move follows a campaign by the Daily Mail to clamp down on the tide of plastic bottles polluting our streets, countryside and seas. Ministers had ruled out including a deposit scheme in the Government’s litter strategy due to be published on Monday, saying it was not clear how effective it would be.” – Daily Mail

Miller to front new ‘continuity Remain’ campaign

SWIVEL-EYED EUROPHILES“Gina Miller, who won a Supreme Court battle in January to give parliament a say in approving Brexit, has joined forces with luminaries from business, the arts and the charity sector to campaign against Theresa May’s plans for leaving the EU. UK-EU Open Policy Limited, which was incorporated last October, is backed by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and is due to launch publicly within weeks. Campaigners want to put pressure on Mrs May to negotiate a so-called soft Brexit, with as much access to the single market as possible and few new restrictions on immigration. They also want to offer the impetus and infrastructure for a second referendum campaign should opinion turn against leaving.” – The Times (£)

  • Johnson says unlimited EU migration could continue beyod 2020 – The Sun
  • EU considering excluding Britain from trade talks – FT
  • Ministers must block new laws which will harm Britain, MPs urge – The Sun
  • EPP calls for EU-wide ban on Islamic veils – The Independent
  • Ryanair may suspend UK flights without Brexit deal – The Guardian

Bank of England:

  • Carney urges the UK to ‘take the high road’ in Brexit negotiations – Daily Telegraph
  • Bank tells City to prepare better for ‘no deal’ departure – FT


  • Don’t say ‘divorce’: the thorny language of Brexit – Steven Poole, The Guardian

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

>Yesterday: Syed Kamall MEP’s column: Secretive Verhofstadt, constructive Barnier

Labour plunged into fresh anti-Semitism row

“Labour was plunged into a fresh anti-Semitism row last night as police launched an investigation into abuse allegedly sent by backers of union baron ‘Red’ Len McCluskey. A Twitter account supporting the ally of Jeremy Corbyn targeted a rival with a smear campaign accusing him of having ‘shadowy backers’ in a ‘Jewish Mafia’. The messages sent to Gerard Coyne, who is challenging Mr McCluskey for the leadership of the Unite union, are now being investigated by police. It comes as Labour faces criticism for failing to expel former London mayor Ken Livingstone for repeatedly claiming that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism.” – Daily Mail

  • Labour leader will never let Gibraltar fall into Spanish hands, apparently – The Sun


  • Here’s the only way to stop Corbyn’s fans moaning about media bias – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph


News in Brief:

  • Stockholm terror attack leaves four dead – Daily Mail
  • Gorsuch confirmed as new Supreme Court justice – FT
  • Westminster attack victim dies in hospital – The Times (£)
  • California drought officially ends after five years – Daily Telegraph
  • Fox bid for Sky given green light by Brussels – FT
  • Cadbury move production back to Britain from Poland – Daily Express
  • Spain ramps up Gibraltar border checks in Schengen move – Daily Mail
  • Quarter of shops in Scotland could close, retailers warn – The Scotsman