Brexit: May to offer cash in exchange for trade negotiations…

Theresa May will tell Donald Tusk on Friday she is prepared to give ground on the Brexit divorce bill as Brussels demands a written guarantee of more money to unlock trade talks. The European Council President will make it clear to the Prime Minister that Britain must give a “no strings attached” promise of paying substantially more than the current £20 billion on offer. Mrs May, who this week won the backing of senior Cabinet ministers to make an offer that could run to 40 billion euros, has not ruled out giving the EU a written breakdown of what Britain considers its financial obligations to be, but will insist on a written guarantee of trade talks in return. The EU will not expect Mrs May to name a figure at this stage, but wants detail on exactly what Britain is prepared to pay for.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Deal must work for Gibraltar, says Downing Street – The Guardian
  • EU officials scornful over UK’s performance in the negotiations – Daily Telegraph
  • Plan will cost Britain £28 billion after Brexit – Daily Express
  • May to label Russia ‘hostile state’ in speech to unite EU leaders – The Sun


  • A bad Brexit will cost Britain dear in lost business – Carolyn Fairbairn, The Times


…as ECJ judge says British politicians may not be good enough to deliver Brexit

“Ministers still do not “grasp” the complexities of leaving the European Union, the British judge on the European Court of Justice has privately warned, questioning the calibre of politicians negotiating Brexit. Ian Forrester, Britain’s representative on the European Court of Justice for the past two years, candidly told Irish diplomats that there were “issues around the quality of politicians in Westminster at present”. He expressed his hopes that it would “gradually dawn on people” what leaving actually entailed and for a “realisation” that it was a “great mistake”. The comments were contained in a confidential Irish government report leaked to RTÉ News. The paper also included withering assessments of British politicians and officials from senior figures from across the European Union.” – The Times

  • Fury as Brussels blocks city of culture bids – Daily Mail
  • Outraged culture expert says move cost British cities thousands – Daily Express


  • Britain is nowhere near ready to walk away, but we can avoid doomsday – Ben Kelly, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Daniel Hannan MEP’s column: Leave.EU and Arron Banks – the Brexiteers that the Remain campaign loved

…and Gove wins ‘furious Cabinet tussle’ over post-Brexit divergence from Brussels’ rules

“Leave campaign boss Michael Gove has won Theresa May’s backing in a furious Cabinet tussle over a clean Brexit from all EU rules, friends say. The PM’s top table is bitterly split over how close to stick to regulations issued by Brussels after the UK leaves. EU chiefs say Britain will only get a good trade deal if it agrees to keep standards closely harmonised, from competition rules to food safety. But the Environment Secretary is now confident that he and fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson have finally won round Mrs May to reject the demand. Instead, the PM is ready to make a stand and tell other EU leaders that Britain will diverge from ‘regulatory harmonisation’, he believes.” – The Sun

  • Here’s how we break the deadlock: get a deal on conformity and get out – Stephen Woolfe, Daily Telegraph
  • As a mutineer, I’m worried about consumers on the high seas after Brexit – Vicky Ford, Times Red Box

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Don’t believe claims of fewer EU nationals and doctors since the Brexit vote

May urged to find £20 billion for defence

“Theresa May was yesterday urged to increase defence spending by £20 billion – or risk seeing Britain booted off the UN Security Council. Furious peers lined up to berate the Government for turning a deaf ear to the needs of the military and risking the UK’s standing with our allies. Labour’s Lord Solely said defence spending should rise from the current 2 per cent of GDP to 3 per cent – taking the budget to £59 billion. He stormed: “We have a defence policy that seeks to be full spectrum but we are not putting up the necessary money to make that credible. We are putting forward a defence posture for the United Kingdom that looks sophisticated but we are not putting in the money to make it credible.”” – The Sun

Ministers 1) Hancock suggests Uber could have broken British law over hack

“Uber could be prosecuted in the UK over a massive hack involving customers’ personal details, a minister has warned. Culture minister Matt Hancock said today there was a ‘high chance’ that the taxi-hailing company had broken British laws over the breach. It emerged yesterday that the beleaguered firm had hushed up a mass data breach that potentially saw British customers’ personal details fall into the hands of cyber criminals. During today’s Commons, shadow culture minister Kevin Brennan asked Mr Hancock: ‘Has Uber broken current UK law in relation to this breach?’ Mr Hancock replied that it was a ‘matter for the courts’, but added: ‘I think there’s a very high chance that it is.'” – Daily Mail

  • Firm ‘failed to give reliable figures for victims – The Times


  • Uber must clean up its act – Wes Streeting, Times Red Box
  • Tech-driven firms are why I don’t share the OBR’s productivity gloom – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

Ministers 2) Gove promises crackdown on puppy smuggling

“Michael Gove today hit out at the EU for preventing Britain from cracking down on puppy smuggling and pledged to tighten rules once we quit the bloc. The Environment Secretary pledged to lift animal welfare standards after Britain free itself from the red tape of Brussels. He made the comments after a row saw Tory MPs accused of voting down a law which recognises animal sentience – that creatures can feel things. The Cabinet minister said the public had misunderstood the parliamentary vote but pledged to enshrine animal sentience in British law after the outcry.” – Daily Mail

  • British law will recognise that animals feel pain, minister pledges – The Times
  • Stars spread fake news about MPs’ animal vote – The Sun

Ministers 3) Advent of driverless cars will mean millions need retraining, claims Hammond

“The introduction of driverless vehicles will mean more than a million people who drive for a living will have to be retrained, Philip Hammond has said. The Chancellor said the advent of the new technology will “transform the productivity” of the UK economy, but warned that for some people it could be “very challenging”. It comes after he used yesterday’s budget to reveal electric and driverless will get a £500million boost as he laid out plans for the future of Britain’s roads. As part of the measures, red tape will be slashed to allow tech firms to test driverless vehicles on public roads by 2021.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Norman says Government is considering making cycle helmets compulsory – The Times

More Chancellor:

  • Town halls attack Hammond’s housebuilding plans – FT


  • Chancellor shouldn’t try to build Brexit Britain on the cheap – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

Financial crime bill gives ministers too much power, warns ex-chief justice

“Ministers will gain “extraordinary powers” with minimal scrutiny to create criminal offences carrying ten-year prison sentences if an international financial crime bill for the post-Brexit era is passed, a former lord chief justice warned yesterday. The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill proposes that ministers use secondary legislation – in the form of statutory instruments and regulations – to enshrine new crimes in law, declare what legal defences are available and dictate the rules of evidence to apply in a trial. Lord Judge, lord chief justice from 2008-13, said the bill was a “serious inroad” on a basic constitutional principle that new criminal offences should only be created by legislation that is subject to full debate in parliament.” – The Times

Budget 1) Hammond lashes out at doom-laden forecasts

“Philip Hammond hit back at gloomy forecasts for 20 years of economic misery yesterday – and called on the country to prove the doomsayers wrong. The Chancellor spoke out after experts warned workers to expect another lost decade of wage rises and the longest cost of living squeeze since the 1950s. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said wages will not return to their pre-financial crisis levels until 2025 with the nation’s debt mountain not falling to its 2007 level until the 2060s. The analysis came after the Treasury watchdog cut its growth forecasts for the next five years amid lower than expected productivity and uncertainty.” – The Sun

  • National debt won’t fall to pre-crisis levels until 2060s, IFS warns – Daily Telegraph
  • Giveaways mean balanced budget is ‘remote’ – FT


  • Take the official forecasts with a pinch of salt – Iain Martin, The Sun
  • Increase will only increase pressure elsewhere – Carl Emmerson, Times Red Box


  • We must strive for the future, not wallow in gloom – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: The Budget has vindicated Davidson’s rejection of a separate party

>Yesterday: Steve Barclay MP in Comment: A balanced Budget which ensures that Britain is fit for the future

Budget 2) Tax officials to get new powers to raid salaries

“Officials will be able to raid people’s salaries for unpaid tax under new rules buried in the Budget. HM Revenue and Customs will be given unprecedented powers to take extra tax from someone’s pay packet the moment it believes they aren’t paying enough. Critics warned that the scheme could plunge thousands of people into tax chaos if errors are made, leaving them unable to budget from one month to the next as their salaries fluctuate wildly. Currently about 6 million people a year are affected by errors in their tax codes, resulting in some paying too much tax and some paying too little.” – Daily Mail

  • Taxpayers to be let off £100 fines for missing tax return deadline – Daily Telegraph
  • Chancellor unleashes £500 million ‘stealth tax’ – The Sun


  • Workers face two decades of pay freezes – The Times
  • Sturgeon mocked over claim £2 billion boost is ‘wrong sort of money’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Bishop says Budget did too little on affordable housing – Daily Mail


  • Bulldoze second-tier cities to solve the productivity problem – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • A Budget that Miliband could have voted for – Ed Conway, The Times

>Yesterday: Flora Coleman in Think Tanks: This Budget shows that the Tories can be the party for young people

Budget 3) NHS boost ‘less generous than it appears’

“Philip Hammond’s cash injection for the NHS is far less generous than it looks and will be cancelled out by the growing and ageing population, says a leading financial think tank. Health chiefs at NHS England are heading for a confrontation with ministers after declaring that the chancellor’s £2.8 billion boost in Wednesday’s budget was insufficient. They are holding a board meeting next week to decide whether to step up rationing of services. One Whitehall source expressed surprise that NHS England was mounting what they viewed as an overtly political campaign to challenge the Treasury.” – The Times

  • Chancellor tells health bosses to do more to hit efficiency targets – The Sun
  • Labour say Tories will break health funding pledge – The Guardian

Fraser Nelson: At last, a glimpse at what a functioning Tory Party looks like

“This week, Budget aside, we had a glimpse of what a properly functioning Tory Party could look like. Brexiteers and the Remainers have agreed a truce: offering more money to Brussels, but this time not as a negotiating gambit. The plan is to seek approval from Paris and Berlin first, and only if they accept will the offer be made to Michel Barnier in the formal Brexit talks. If it’s a “no”, then a lot more money will be spent preparing for the failure of talks and the fallback option: trading with the EU on the same terms as we trade with the United States.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexit has created a political climate no Budget can fix – Martin Kettle, The Guardian


McDonnell mocked over ipad gaffe

“John McDonnell was mocked after saying “that’s why we have iPads and that’s why we have advisers” when pressed for details on how Labour would deal with the national debt. The shadow chancellor refused seven times to answer how his party would service debt interest if it gained power and implemented its borrowing plans. He accused the presenter Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme of “a trite form of journalism” when she asked him for specifics. The cost of borrowing more to invest would “pay for itself” in extra tax revenue and job creation, he insisted. He has said he wants to borrow an additional £250 billion over ten years to fund national infrastructure. Day-to-day spending on public services would increase by £17 billion a year, paid for by tax rises for wealthy individuals and business.” – The Times

  • The answer to the Shadow Chancellor’s question? Stifling debt – Patrick McLoughlin, The Times
  • McDonnell shows that Labour’s problem is still the economy – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn’s Marxism puts him in murderous company – Philip Collins, The Times


  • Labour’s misery-guts gets some low Marx – Patrick Kidd, The Times


  • The usual, dangerous socialist fantasies on display when the mask slips – Daily Telegraph

Lewis becomes second Labour MP suspended over sexual harassment allegations

“Labour has suspended its second MP in a month as it investigates accusations of sexual harassment. Ivan Lewis, a minister under Gordon Brown, had the whip withdrawn yesterday. He had initially been placed under investigation after Labour received complaints last week about his conduct. At least two women have made formal complaints against the MP for Bury South, who denies all allegations of misconduct, but has acknowledged that some of his past behaviour had made female colleagues uncomfortable. Last week a woman told the Buzzfeed website that Mr Lewis had repeatedly touched her leg and invited her to his home at a Labour event in 2010, when she was a 19-year-old student.” – The Times


  • First Minister of Wales to be investigated over bullying claims – The Sun
  • Activist apologises for ‘unintentional racist language’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Welsh Conservatives pile pressure on embattled First Minister

ISIS won’t be defeated until web giants wipe it from the internet, claims expert

“Britain will never be safe from jihadis unless Islamic State is wiped from the internet by web giants, a Downing Street terrorism expert said yesterday. Patrick McGuinness, the Prime Minister’s deputy national security adviser, said the speed at which fanatics were being radicalised was becoming almost ‘too fast to catch’. His comments came as an EU counter-terrorism chief warned that young fanatics could use the internet to learn how to create viruses instead of bombs. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute’s counter-terrorism conference in London, Mr McGuinness said the internet had become the new front line.” – Daily Mail

  • Secret Raqqa raid led Britain to ban laptops on planes – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Fallon calls for a revival of shareholder capitalism – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Even if we agree a ‘divorce bill’, what do we get in return? – Julian Jessop, Brexit Central
  • ‘Witch hunt’, a phrase awaiting proper diagnosis – David Waywell, Reaction
  • Zimbabwe, Mugabe, and the human nature of politics – Marian L Tupy, CapX
  • Outside Europe, Trump isn’t as unpopular as he seems – Mary Dejevsky, The Independent