Published:

Fallon resigns as Defence Secretary as scandal ‘claims its first scalp’…

“Theresa May pulled the plug on Sir Michael Fallon last night after he warned there could be further revelations about his conduct with women as he was compared to ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ while drinking. In a resignation statement, the Defence Secretary, 65, said his past behaviour had ‘fallen below the high standards we require of the Armed Forces’. He also admitted to the BBC last night: ‘What might have been acceptable 15, 10 years ago is clearly not acceptable now’. His resignation came just 36 hours after it emerged he had repeatedly put his hand on the knee of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer at a lunch 15 years ago and she threatened to punch him in the face unless he stopped.” – Daily Mail

  • Defence Secretary admits to falling short – The Times
  • Months after plotting his way to the top, his dream is in tatters – Daily Mail
  • Mordaunt could be first female Defence Secretary – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • This resignation is badly timed for the Armed Forces – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph
  • May’s Government is a scandal away from losing power – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

Editorial:

  • Fallon is the first to go, but he won’t be the last – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: If Fallon’s account of why he quit is right, his exit is a mistake – and May has set a precedent she may come to regret

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Fallon resigns – saying that his behaviour in the past has “fallen short”. His departure leaves May with a reshuffle dilemma.

…but Green says he can disprove allegations against him…

“Damian Green was last night preparing to release a cache of ‘friendly’ text messages from a Tory activist in a bid to disprove career-threatening claims that he made inappropriate advances towards her. Theresa May’s deputy was left furious after Kate Maltby accused him of touching her knee and sending her a ‘suggestive’ text message. The Prime Minister ordered a Cabinet Office inquiry into the claims against her close ally, which could result in disciplinary action. But Mr Green, 61, flatly denied the allegation he had made sexual advances towards Miss Maltby, a Tory activist and journalist who is 30 years his junior, saying the claim was ‘untrue (and) deeply hurtful’.” – Daily Mail

  • Sleaze chief to investigate misconduct claims – The Times
  • Profile of Kate Maltby – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

More:

  • Raab and Stewart attack ‘false claims’ – The Sun
  • Ministers hit out at ‘malicious’ allegations – The Guardian

Comment:

  • May needs to deal ruthlessly with proven misconduct – Carole Walker, Times Red Box
  • What it’s like to be a woman in Westminster – Edwina Currie, Kathy Newman, and Suzy Gale, Daily Telegraph
  • Tory whips used scandal files to demand loyalty – Lisa Nandy MP, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Rosalind Beck in Comment: The need for zero tolerance of sexism in politics

…as May calls ’emergency meeting’ of party leaders

“Theresa May has called a crisis meeting of all party leaders in the Commons on Monday to discuss sexual harassment and misconduct allegations. The prime minister made the announcement as she said that the power to investigate claims of sexual misconduct in parliament should be taken away from party leaders and their whips and handed to an independent body. A dedicated support team should be established, she said, which would “have the ability to recommend onward referral of any case to an independent body — to ensure appropriate investigation and action takes place”.” – The Times

  • Humphreys under fire for asking about ‘witch hunt’ – Daily Mail
  • Kuenssberg says trolls won’t silence her – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Only an independent body can properly assess these claims – Michael Fabricant MP, The Guardian
  • This mass witch hunt demeans real victims – Rod Liddle, The Sun

Editorial:

  • Don’t allow a legitimate crackdown to become a witch hunt – Daily Telegraph
  • We must not let innocent MPs get caught up – The Sun

>Yesterday:

Prime Minister takes stand against left-wing anti-Semitism

“Theresa May will tomorrow warn that a “new and pernicious form of anti-Semitism” has broken out in the UK – and will declare: “We will not stand for it”. Marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration that announced the establishment of Israel, the PM will accuse lefties of using criticism of the Israeli government as “a despicable justification for questioning the very right of Israel to exist”. It will be seen as an attack on Jeremy Corbyn, who has caused fury for snubbing an invitation to tonight’s official dinner with Mrs May and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in London. Tonight Mrs May will hail Britain’s role in establishing a national home for Jewish people – issued in the Balfour Declaration during World War I.” – The Sun

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: One hundred years on, the Balfour Declaration casts a shadow on Catalonia

Government forced to release Brexit impact studies

“Ministers are preparing to reveal details of secret government research into the effects of Brexit across 58 areas of the economy after a parliamentary ambush by Labour. David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has repeatedly refused to publish the findings of internal economic analysis modelling the effects of Britain leaving the customs union and single market, arguing that it would weaken his negotiating hand in Brussels. But last night the government was forced into U-turn after Labour used an arcane parliamentary procedure to force a binding vote on the government, compelling it to release the documents.” – The Times

  • Queen ‘not happy’ about being dragged into Labour row – Daily Telegraph
  • What is the humble address and how did Labour use it? – The Sun

More:

  • Car industry seeks ‘urgent clarity’ on Brexit – FT
  • Fox reopens rift with Gove over chlorinated chicken… – Daily Telegraph
  • …and says Britain can leave without a deal – Daily Express
  • Bank of England calls on Withdrawal Bill to address cross-border contracts – FT

Referendum:

  • Electoral Commission to investigate Russian involvement in referendum campaign – The Times
  • Russia ‘set up shop’ in Scotland to force new independence vote – Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • These must be published without delay – The Times

>Today: James Arnell in Comment: Ready on Day One for Brexit 4) Ensuring a competitive, outward-looking UK

>Yesterday: James Arnell in Comment: Ready on Day One for Brexit. 3) Urgent transition issues.

Ministers 1) Hammond to raid his Brexit war chest

“Philip Hammond will sacrifice a large part of his Brexit war chest later this month under mounting pressure from Tory colleagues to abandon his fiscal rules. The chancellor announced in last year’s autumn statement that he would retain the flexibility to borrow an additional £26 billion on top of his spending plans to help to cushion the shocks from Brexit while keeping his commitment to return the government to surplus in 2025. The Office for Budget Responsibility is now expected to downgrade Britain’s productivity, growth and tax revenue forecasts, shrinking his room for manoeuvre by at least half and taking the war chest contingency fund from £26 billion to £10 billion or lower.” – The Times

  • Cap on energy bills may not come until next winter – The Sun
  • May savages Corbyn over £500 billion borrowing plan – Daily Express

Comment:

  • The Chancellor must bite the bullet and slash the deficit – Kallum Pickering, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Local Government: Poor value for money of councils’ public health spending exposed

>Yesterday: Alex Morton’s column: Hammond must use his Budget to fix our broken housing system

Ministers 2) MI6 apparently ‘wary’ of Johnson

“Britain’s spies are ‘wary’ of sharing information with Boris Johnson because they do not trust the Foreign Secretary, it was claimed last night. Officials at the Foreign Office are also unhappy with Mr Johnson’s style and behaviour, according to the political journal New Statesman. Yesterday the Foreign Secretary was forced to defend his approach to humour, hitting back at suggestions his jokes were damaging Britain’s relationships with other countries… Last night the Left-wing New Statesman revealed a string of diplomats had little confidence in the Foreign Secretary’s style.” – Daily Mail

  • Foreign Secretary to lobby US to save Iran deal – The Guardian

Sketch:

  • Boris tales off on a flying buttress – Patrick Kidd, The Times

Ministers 3) Rudd tells police forces to stop ‘begging for cash’

“The home secretary issued a rebuke to police chiefs yesterday over their public appeals for more funding after years of austerity. Amber Rudd said that chief constables and elected police and crime commissioners needed to concentrate on cutting crime and that the public did not want to hear about disagreements over funding. She told an audience of PCCs and chief constables that ministers would listen to their concerns but also “critically evaluate” them. A string of chiefs, including Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan police commissioner, have warned that forces cannot sustain further substantial cuts. Elected PCCs have made similar pleas for cash.” – The Times

  • Surge in violent crime fuels austerity debate – FT

Editorial:

  • Crime can stay low if police and government prioritise fighting it – Daily Telegraph

Ministers 4) Brokenshire prepares to set Ulster’s budget from London…

“Plans are being put in place to impose a budget for regional government departments in Northern Ireland, the secretary of state has revealed. But James Brokenshire stressed this did not mean a return to direct rule from London over the province. The Northern Ireland secretary vowed on Wednesday that he would shelve his budget preparations if the two main parties in the Stormont assembly, Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionists, soon secured a deal to restore power-sharing to Belfast. Sinn Féin warned this week that imposing a budget from Westminster was tantamount to direct rule and would crash the negotiations between the two local parties.” – The Guardian

…as Benyon condemns ‘witch hunt’ against troops who served in Northern Ireland

“A former Tory minister has slammed vengeful Irish republicans for creating a witch-hunt against ageing former Army soldiers. Senior MP Richard Benyon lashed out as his bid to ban new investigations against veterans that stretch back decades passed its first Commons hurdle. Ex-Army officer Mr Benyon’s proposed new law would limit any criminal investigation to just the last 10 years. It won significant cross party support yesterday, with four Labour MPs also backing it… Mr Benyon was backed by former Tory defence minister Mark Francois, who told Theresa May during PMQs: “We cannot pander to Sinn Fein”. The government are refusing to support the new law, fearing it could worsen political tensions in Northern Ireland.” – The Sun

  • Justice is being politicised, claims one of our sanest MPs – Quentin Letts’ sketch, Daily Mail

Will Quince: Labour took too much from 16-year-olds to easily give them the vote

“The issue of votes at 16 is before the House of Commons this week with Jim McMahon’s private member’s bill being debated in the Chamber on Friday. Labour will no doubt make arguments about all the things you can do legally at sixteen and seventeen and talk about trusting young people to make the right decisions about their own future. However, we need to recognise that the trend over the past couple of decades has been to recognise eighteen as the age when someone reaches adulthood and when they are able to do certain things… Labour is on a rather sticky wicket when it comes to this issue as they are largely responsible for this confusion.” – Times Red Box

Lords 1) Peer faces backlash from trans activists over surgery warnings

“One of Britain’s leading scientists has suffered a fierce backlash from trans activists after warning of the ‘horrendous’ consequences of gender reassignment for some patients. Robert Winston claimed complications occurred for a significant proportion of those who have had surgery – and added that some also suffer fertility problems from hormone treatments. He said that in his work he has dealt with people who were ‘very unhappy’ and felt ‘quite badly damaged’ by having treatment when they were younger. Lord Winston, who is professor of science and society and emeritus professor of fertility studies at Imperial College London, said it was ‘very important’ to think about the long-term effects of treatment for transgender people.” – Daily Mail

Lords 2) Lib Dems hijack bill to try to impose press regulator

“The press regulator bankrolled by Max Mosley could have its code of practice recognised in British law, under amendments proposed by Liberal Democrat peers. The amendments have been tabled to the Data Protection Bill, which is being scrutinised by parliament… Under the bill proposed by ministers, journalists could be covered by this public interest exemption if their reporting abides by the Ofcom broadcasting code, BBC editorial guidelines or the Ipso Editors’ Code of Practice. Ipso regulates most national newspapers in Britain and 1,000 local titles. However, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord McNally have tabled an amendment to remove Ipso’s policy from the list of codes recognised by the legislation.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • The sexual reformation has opened a schism between women and men – Lara Prendergast, The Spectator
  • How much does Fallon’s resignation hurt the Government? – Stephen Bush, New Statesman
  • Government now risks being tainted by ‘sleaze’ – John Rentoul, The Independent
  • Remourners need to get over Brexit – Walter Ellis, Reaction
  • How low-cost private schools are revolutionising education – James Tooley, CapX

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