May visits Middle East: she refuses to wear headscarf in Saudi Arabia

Theresa May Saudi Arabia“She had said she wanted to be a role model for Saudi Arabian women, and Theresa May took a stand against the country’s ultra-conservative regime today by refusing to wear a headscarf. The Prime Minister, in a dark blue trouser suit, made sure she had her wrists and ankles covered, in accordance with strict dress codes for women in Saudi Arabia. But her choice of outfit went against official Foreign Office advice, which says that: “Women should wear conservative, loose-fitting clothes as well as a full length cloak (abaya) and a headscarf.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • She says it’s a “personal choice” – The Sun
  • She focuses on trade on the tour –  Daily Express
  • And says worldwide “cut-and-paste” deals will be possible – The Sun
  • She talks about security with King Abdullah of Jordan – Daily Express
  • Fox meets Philippine leader Duterte – Guardian
  •  Talk of their “shared values” is criticised – Guardian
  • Commons committee points up importance of human rights – Independent
  • Three Cabinet members will visit Saudi in coming months – The Times (£)
  • Investment deal with India falls through – FT
  • May writes to Putin in sadness of metro attack – Daily Mail


  • May should go further – Sophy Ridge, Daily Telegraph
  • She’s showing her Christianity – Matthew Norman, Independent
  • Does Brexit now mean “cosying up to human rights abusers”? – Owen Jones, Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: May arrives in Saudi Arabia – not wearing a headscarf

Brexit 1) European Parliament votes today on terms for UK deal

“The European Parliament is to vote on Wednesday on a resolution that sets out the assembly’s terms for an EU-UK Brexit agreement. The parliament’s approval of a deal is a legal requirement for an orderly UK departure from the EU. The British government would be wise to pay attention to this resolution. Known for its ingrained habits of consensus, the EU legislature is likely to support the resolution by a large majority. The political party groups that drafted it represent the governing parties of the EU’s 27 remaining member states… One key passage asserts that the UK must respect its membership obligations until it leaves the EU.” – FT

  • MPs ask May to do some contingency planning – FT
  • She says deal can indeed “be reached in two years” – The Sun
  • Johnson talks of non-deal positivity – Daily Express
  • While Hammond says it’d be “ridiculous” – Daily Mail


  • EU opening position “makes any deal impossible” – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph
  • The past “has a way of invading the present” – Raphael Behr, Guardian

Brexit 2) May “signals” that free movement could continue during “transitional” period

EU Exit brexit“Theresa May has signalled that free movement of EU citizens could continue during a transitional phase after the UK leaves the European Union in spring 2019. Speaking during a trip to the Middle East, the prime minister did not rule out the possibility, and instead admitted that there would need to be an “implementation period” to help businesses to adjust. The European council president, Donald Tusk, has made clear that while the EU27 will be willing to seek transitional arrangements, the “core principles”, including over immigration, must be maintained during that period.” – Guardian

  • Which “could continue into 2020s” – The Sun
  • Prime Minister is “accused of conceding” that UK might not be able to sign EU trade deal until after leaving – Independent
  • She talks of “implementation period” – Daily Mail

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

Brexit 3) FO defends Navy decision to order Spanish warship out of Gibraltar waters

“The British Foreign Office defended the Royal Navy’s decision to order a Spanish warship out of Gibraltar’s disputed territorial waters, the latest spat in the row between the UK and Spain over the enclave’s future after Brexit. An FCO spokesperson described the incident as an unlawful maritime incursion. Spain has for centuries been demanding Gibraltar back and does not recognise the waters as sovereign British overseas territory. A Spanish patrol boat, Infanta Cristina, was told to leave on Tuesday by a Royal Navy unit from the Gibraltar squadron.”


Brexit 4) MPs support campaign to drop net migration target

“A campaign to persuade the Government to abandon its target to reduce net migration below 100,000 a year is launched today by The Independent and the Open Britain group. “Drop the Target” has already won the backing of MPs across the political spectrum who believe the goal will never be achieved – even after Britain leaves the EU – and that doing so would damage the UK economy and leave the vulnerable worse off. Latest figures show net migration running at 273,000 a year. In an open letter, MPs warn that the target is “economically damaging” because the UK needs migrant labour and could be “socially divisive” because it is based on the false premise that migrants are a “negative” for the country.” – Independent

Johnson calls suspected Syria chemical weapon attack a “war crime”

Boris Johnson 30-01-17“Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson condemns a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria that’s killed 58 people as a war crime and says if President Assad’s found to be involved then it’s “unbelieveable” that he can play any part in the country’s future.” – Daily Telegraph


  • Did the victims “reflect on how this wasn’t supposed to happen?” – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

May “indicates partial reprieve” on diesel drivers

“Diesel drivers may gain a partial reprieve from proposed punitive measures aimed at improving air quality, Theresa May has indicated. The prime minister said that the previous Labour government had encouraged people to buy diesel cars, and hinted that the high penalties announced by Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, yesterday would not be implemented in other British cities… Mrs May said: “I’m very conscious of the fact that past governments have encouraged people to buy diesel cars and we need to take that into account.”” – The Times (£)


>Today: ToryDiary: Dealing with diesel

And criticises National Trust for Easter rebranding, saying the festival is “very important”

MAY Theresa March 2017“Theresa May has hit out at the National Trust for dropping “Easter” from its egg hunt, describing the decision as “absolutely ridiculous”. The Prime Minister said Easter was “very important” to her and that she didn’t know what the organisation “are thinking”. It comes as the National Trust Twitter was bombarded with messages on social media from disgruntled members asking how to cancel their membership. Now the Trust has admitted fault by quietly editing the heading of its webpage for the egg hunt to include the word “Easter”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She calls the move “ridiculous” – Guardian


>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: How should the church respond to the decline of Christianity in Britain?

Third-child tax-credit increase ends this week

“The UK government will this week stop giving extra benefits to families when they have a third child, to encourage people to “consider whether they can afford to support additional children”. Until now, tax credits — which provide extra money for unemployed and low-income families — have increased by up to £2,780 a year for each extra child. From April 6, families will not receive extra income for third children born on or after this date… The new policy, announced by George Osborne in the July 2015 budget, is a change of direction for the UK.” – FT

>Today: David Burrowes in Comment: Finally, a long social-term social justice plan from Ministers – but note the missing M-word: marriage

Labour 1) Party suspends rather than excludes Livingstone over Hitler comments

Ken Livingstone 29-04-29“Ken Livingstone has escaped expulsion from the Labour party over his comments about Adolf Hitler and Zionism. The former Mayor of London was found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute by a disciplinary panel last night and suspended for a year. The decision is likely to come as a surprise to campaigners who had called for Mr Livingstone to be expelled from Labour for good over his remarks. Last night Mr Livingstone said he is still considering judicial review after claiming yesterday that the hearing had been timed to inflict maximum damage on the party during the local election campaign.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He’s been a party member for 50 years – Guardian
  • It was “expected he’d be expelled” – Independent
  • Chief Rabbi says Labour “has failed” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Leftwatch: Livingstone claims the Gestapo “worked with Israeli agents” before Israel existed

Labour 2) Jon Elledge: The former mayor has become a “weird old man”

“The night they declared that Ken Livingstone had lost the 2008 mayoral election, I decided to drown my sorrows. Then I went for dinner, where I got into a rather one-sided screaming match with a Tory who, infuriatingly, kept smiling at me throughout…That was nine years ago. Now Boris Johnson occupies one of the great offices of state, however half-heartedly, while Livingstone is a weird old man who won’t stop talking about Hitler. What’s worse, he does it while wearing pretty much the same smirk as the Tory in that Chinese restaurant all those years ago.” – Guardian

Labour 3) Corbyn puts NHS and school funding at centre of local-election campaign

Jeremy Corbyn 24-02-17“Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to put the NHS crisis and lack of school funding at the heart of Labour’s local election campaign, and blamed the party’s poor polling on the media for failing to give those issues due prominence. The Labour leader launched the campaign in Newark, Nottinghamshire, against a backdrop of low support in the polls and warnings that his party could lose dozens of seats on 4 May. His supporters booed when Corbyn was asked whether the local elections would be the ultimate and perhaps final test for his leadership.” – Guardian


  • The elections are a month away and Labour is set for a bad night – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph (£)

News in Brief