Brexit 1) May “rejects accusations” of “botched” meeting with Juncker

Theresa May“Theresa May is fighting off accusations of a botched and humiliating start to the Brexit negotiations as claims emerged that the prime minister was told by the European commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, that there may not be any point in her even turning up to the first day of talks. Speaking on the campaign trail in Lancashire, the prime minister sought to dismiss as “Brussels gossip” devastating accounts of a dinner with the EU chief, where it is claimed she was warned negotiations may not even get going unless she accepted that the bloc would not talk about a future trade deal until the British government came to an agreement on its estimated €60bn divorce bill and citizens rights.” – Guardian

  • She says it’s just “Brussels gossip” – Independent
  • But is “outraged” – Daily Express
  • Government “accuses” Commission of “punishing” behaviour – FT
  • Junker criticised for “spreading lurid account” – The Sun


Brexit 2) Juncker left Downing Street “believing 50 per cent chance of talks collapsing”

“Theresa May faced criticism last night for her handling of Brexit talks after a damaging account of her recent dinner with the president of the European Commission was leaked. She was accused of “megaphone diplomacy” and a complacent approach over her allegedly fractious exchanges with Jean-Claude Juncker. The report of the dinner last Wednesday, in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, exposed a gulf between how the two sides view the sequence and outcome of talks. Mr Junker’s officials left the meeting believing that there was a greater than 50 per cent chance that Brexit talks would collapse, it is claimed.” – The Times (£)



  • The Eurocrats are clearly angry – Douglas Carswell, Daily Telegraph
  • The accounts are “deeply worrying” – Keir Starmer, Guardian
  • We need to consider an EU point of view – Denis MacShane – Independent

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Juncker can leak private talks. Or there can be a proper negotiation. But not both.

Brexit 3) EU “plot to thwart May” over migrant rights

EU Exit brexit“The EU has been plotting for weeks to thwart Theresa May’s plans to secure a deal for British expats in Europe and migrants in the UK, The Daily Telegraph has learnt. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, is reported to have been “astonished” by Mrs May’s demand that an agreement be reached by the end of next month. But documents seen by this newspaper disclose that Mrs May made exactly the same demand to Donald Tusk, the European Council president, at a meeting three weeks earlier.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 4) MPs say that leaving could “threaten energy supply”

“The future of Britain’s power supply has been jeopardised by Brexit and the government must act urgently to ensure nuclear power stations stay open, MPs have warned. The influential business, energy and industrial strategy committee said that any gap between the UK leaving a European atomic power treaty and entering into secure alternative deals would “severely inhibit nuclear trade and research and threaten power supplies”. The cross-party group of MPs said it shared the nuclear industry’s concern that it would take more than two years to hammer out a new deal for regulating nuclear power stations and trade.” – Guardian

  • And the nuclear industry – Independent
  • Calls for transitional deal – FT

>Today: Christopher Howarth’s Guide to Brexit: Henry VIII would have coveted the EU’s powers – not these clauses in the Great Repeal Bill

Election 1) May “leaves door open to tax hikes”

MayTheresa May left the door wide open last night to tax hikes for the rich as she set her sights on Labour voters in Lancashire. It came as the Premier again refused to rule out revisiting scrapped changes to National Insurance for Britain’s strivers. Mrs May used a bank holiday visit to the sunny North West to shore up support in a Tory held marginal but also parked her blue tank firmly in safe Labour seats. Addressing activists in the bellwether constituency of South Ribble, the PM hinted tax rises were coming for the super rich as part of her quest to build a “fairer” country. – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. Two in three party members say: scrap the pensions triple lock

Election 2) Rachel Sylvester: May is an “unlikely figurehead for an election campaign”

“…I am not comparing Mrs May and Mme Le Pen but there is an interesting parallel in one sense. The Tories clearly believe that their own brand is still toxic in the north of England. Despite having had seven years in government to prove they are not the “nasty party” — as the Conservative leader herself once put it — the old associations linger like a bad smell. The resignation of Andrew Turner as Isle of Wight MP last week after suggesting that homosexuality was “dangerous to society” strengthened the off-putting aroma.” – The Times (£)

>Today: MPs etc: Norfolk North and Penistone & Stocksbridge choose their candidates. Latest selection news.

Election 3) Senior Labour MPs call for candidates to stand aside to help Greens

Clive Lewis“A group of senior Labour MPs has called on the party to withdraw its candidates in some constituencies in favour of other parties, fuelling Conservative accusations of a “coalition of chaos”. Former front-benchers Clive Lewis and Tulip Siddiq and Labour’s former policy coordinator Jon Cruddas signed an open letter saying it would be “the right thing morally” to stand aside in seats where the Greens have the best chance of beating the Tories. Meanwhile Compass, a Labour think-tank, set up on online petition calling for a “progressive alliance” of Labour, the LibDems, SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru to allow local “pacts” to shut out the Conservatives.” – Daily Telegraph


  • It all began with Blair – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph
  • Don’t laugh at the idea of a progressive alliance – Zoe Williams, Guardian

>Today: Paul Mercer in Comment: Here in Loughborough, we’re finding a mass of former Labour supporters backing the Tories

More election

  • Sturgeon says election is mostly about independence – Herald
  • Sculptor announced as official election artist – The Times (£)


  • My manifesto thoughts on fiscal policy – Andrew Lilico – Daily Telegraph (£)
  • Blame our apathy for all the slogans – Janan Ganesh, FT

>Today: Frank Young in Comment: Next week’s Conservative manifesto offers May’s chance to support families

Hammond “to take Whitehall financial management away from Treasury”

HAMMOND Philip Marr March 2017“The task of improving financial management across Whitehall is to be taken out of the hands of the Treasury, Philip Hammond has decided, in a move criticised as potentially likely to undermine efficiency for taxpayers. In 2014, ministers implemented reforms to inject more business discipline into the civil service after a series of costly public spending errors. These included a significant procurement overspend at the Ministry of Defence, revealed by the National Audit Office in 2010, which put the MoD billions of pounds into debt; and the 2004 contract that allowed GPs to opt out of providing out-of-hours care but still gain large bonuses for hitting other targets.” – FT

Commons education and health committees address cyberbullying

“Technology companies must not be allowed to “duck their responsibility” to fight cyberbullying, two influential groups of MPs insist. Schools must also stop prioritising academic success over the mental health of pupils and devote more time to making them happy and resilient, the Commons education and health committees say. They have also urged Ofsted to ensure that schools’ inspection ratings are linked to the promotion of better mental health rather than simply academic achievement.” – The Times (£)

  • And says that sites “should be fined” – FT


  • Social media is creating weaknesses in society – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

More Government

  • APPG on balanced migration calls for universities to be held accountable for foreign students who overstay – Daily Mail
  • Committee calls for Libyan terror-victim fund – Belfast News Letter


  • May is helping “greedy bosses” – Polly Toynbee, Guardian
  • Why we need a new SDSR – Peter Roberts, The Times (£)

Trump to speak with Putin today

Donald Trump Jan 2017US President Donald Trump will speak with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin by telephone on Tuesday, the White House said in a statement. There was no indication about the topics of discussion for the call, which was scheduled for 12.30 pm (4.30pm UK time). However, the bloody civil war in Syria and Mr Putin’s continued backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad loom large after Mr Trump angered the Kremlin by ordering an air strike near the western city of Homs last month.” – Daily Telegraph

  • This is first time they will have spoken since Kremlin condemned Syrian strike – Daily Mail
  • Trump: I’d be “honoured” to meet Kim – The Times (£)
  • He cancels Michelle Obama’s initiative – Daily Telegraph
  • Peers report says UK should “potentially distance itself” from US foreign policy – Daily Telegraph

Le Pen accused of plagiarising Fillon speech

Marine Le Pen is facing accusations of plagiarism after a speech she made on Monday resembled parts of an address delivered by Francois Fillon just two weeks earlier. Shortly after the far-right French presidential hopeful had made the comments at a rally in Villepinte, a video was shared on Twitter highlighting the similarities with a speech made by the former conservative election frontrunner, who was eliminated in the first round of the election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Left-wing activists throw petrol bombs at French Labour Day parades – The Times (£)
  • Macron could lose – Olivier Tonneau, Guardian

News in Brief

  • Three UK teenage women held on suspicion of terrorism – The Times (£)
  • Greece and creditors reach early bailout deal – Daily Telegraph
  • Hungarians march in support of EU – Guardian
  • Ambulances failing to meet time targets – Independent
  • Welsh billionaires make rich list – WalesOnline
  • Campaign Against Sex Robots gathers momentum – Irish Times

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