Brexit 1) UK and EU move forward this morning

Brexit 2) May in Brussels after “sufficient progress is made” in first phase of talks

“The European Commission has announced it is recommending to the European Council that “sufficient progress” has been made in the first phase of Brexit talks. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, appeared alongside Theresa May this morning where he announced they had made the “breakthrough we needed.” He told a press conference in Brussels that negotiations had  been “difficult” for the EU and the UK. The Prime Minister said the Brexit deal was a “significant  improvement” which had required give and take on both sides. It comes after Mrs May worked overnight to hammer out a Brexit agreement on maintaining a soft Irish border.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Whole UK to leave single market and customs union – The Times
  • Davis and May met Juncker and Barnier this morning… – Guardian
  • …after an agonising night – FT
  • Juncker says “we must now start looking for the future” – Daily Express
  • Selamayr tweets picture of white smoke – Independent
  • Here’s the joint report put out by the UK and the EU – European Commission
  • The three key areas are citizens rights, the Ireland/NI dialogue, and the financial settlement – The Times
  • Report confirms that “commitments taken by the EU28 will be honoured by the EU28, including the United Kingdom” – European Commission
  • Negotiations will now move on to the transition period – Independent
  • There will be an EU27 summit next week – FT


  • May is doing well. But she needs to be more “difficult” with the EU – Daily Express


Brexit 3) Citizens’ rights: ECJ to have continuing role for now

“Mrs May told her press conference that the agreement would guarantee the rights of three million EU citizens in the UK ‘enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts’…. In a potentially controversial passage of the text, the government has agreed that British courts will be able to refer issues about EU citizen’s rights to the European Court of Justice for eight years after Brexit.” – Daily Mail

  • British courts should have “due regard” to “relevant decisions” and a “mechanism should be established” for next eight years to enable UK courts to “decide to ask” ECJ on interpretation – European Commission
  • Agreement will “guarantee the rights of three million EU citizens in the UK” – The Sun
  • The report also “sets out in detail how the divorce bill will be calculated” – Daily Mail
  • Raab says Brexit offers UK legal sector “enormous opportunities” – FT


  • May “wins fight” with EU over ECJ time limit – Tom Newton Dunn, The Sun
  • Some details on the UK’s track record with the ECJ – Lewis Lloyd, The Times

Brexit 4) May “guarantees” no hard border in Ireland after overnight “breakthrough”

“[May] said she would “guarantee” there would be no hard border in Ireland. “There would be no barrier north-south, or east-west”, she added, revealing plans to write to people in Northern Ireland setting out her position. Mrs May denied that the text implied any special treatment of Northern Ireland. She said that the Irish issue carried “unique circumstances” and that she was “confident of retaining the economic integrity of the single market of the United Kingdom”. Attempts to find a compromise on the Irish border continued through the night after the breakdown of talks on Monday, when the DUP leader Arlene Foster refused to back a text which Mrs May had hoped to seal four days ago.” – The Times

  • May will write to people of NI today to “set out our approach” – Guardian
  • Foster says DUP “secured six substantive changes to the text” – Daily Telegraph
  • But that there is “more work to do” – Independent
  • UK committed to avoiding hard border and “no new regulatory barriers” between NI and UK – Guardian
  • Johnson had called last night for “whole of UK to take back control” – Daily Telegraph


  • May has been “attempting the impossible” – Nigel Jones, Daily Telegraph
  • The UK is disintegrating – Ed Conway, The Times
  • The Conservatives don’t understand unionism any more – Martin Kettle, Guardian

More Brexit

  • Brussels “to insist” on UK staying under ECHR jurisdiction – Independent
  • Public Accounts Committee says “no deal” preparation is “borderline reckless” – Daily Telegraph
  • Schulz calls for United States of Europe – Daily Telegraph
  • UK and Council for Europe come to agreement over prisoners voting – Guardian


  • May must go – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph
  • Davis “looks so clueless he’s quite sweet” – Mark Steel, Independent
  • The UK is “being driven by visionary enthusiasts” – Tim Harford, FT

Johnson expected to visit Iran this weekend for bilateral talks including discussion of Zaghari-Ratcliffe case

“Boris Johnson is expected to fly to Iran this weekend for bilateral talks that will include seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British charity worker jailed there. The visit, Mr Johnson’s first to Tehran, follows a small thaw in relations after the Iranian nuclear deal saw sanctions lifted against Tehran last year. Sources in Iran confirmed Mr Johnson is expected to visit on the weekend.” – Daily Telegraph

  • It will be his first trip there since becoming Foreign Secretary – Independent
  • He will likely “appeal for her release on humanitarian grounds” – The Times 

£72,000 social-care cap to be “dropped”

“Ministers have announced they are dropping a plan to place a £72,000 cap on social care costs. The cap was due to come into effect in 2020 but health minister Jackie Doyle-Price announced that the Government had decided not to proceed with the proposals as she confirmed plans for a new consultation on social care reform. Ms Doyle-Price said there would be a process of “initial engagement over the coming months” to shape long-term reform of the sector with plans eventually set out in a new green paper. Labour accused the Government of a “shameful waste of taxpayers’ money”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • It will be “the subject of new consultation” – Independent

Philip Collins: Leadership “jostling” has begun

“Beneath the surface, auditions are taking place. By the end of this parliament at the latest, the Conservative Party will have a new leader and Britain will have a new prime minister. Do not be diverted by the fascinating details of European negotiations; the political jostling has started. In the latest outbreak Philip Hammond, the chancellor, accused Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, of not understanding his own budget. Anonymous briefers accused Mr Williamson of having all the authority of Private Pike from Dad’s Army.” – The Times

  • Is Davis “plotting” to “take the helm”? – Daily Express

Osborne criticises May’s leadership in speech at press gallery lunch

“The former chancellor George Osborne has accused Theresa May of failing to defend the Conservatives’ economic record and of presenting her party as “against the future” in June’s general election campaign. Speaking to journalists in Westminster, Osborne, who was sacked by May last year and left parliament to become the editor of the Evening Standard, repeatedly criticised the prime minister’s leadership. In particular, he accused May of abandoning the “compassionate Conservatism” he and David Cameron had sought to create – in part by facing down critics within their own party.” – Guardian


  • It’s hard to believe he’s only been away from parliament for seven months – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

More Conservatives

  • Williamson criticised for calls to kill Britons fighting for IS – The Times
  • He says he “won’t back down” – Daily Mail
  • He’s descending to “terrorists’ levels” – Dan Jarvis, Guardian

>Today: Interview: Jo Johnson condemns the hounding of vice-chancellors over their pay

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Raab and Stewart. Our survey’s top Ministerial choices for Cabinet promotion.

Momentum’s electoral spending to be investigated

“The Electoral Commission is investigating whether Momentum, the left-wing group backing Jeremy Corbyn, broke election spending rules. The watchdog announced it had opened a probe into whether the organisation spent above limits and failed to submit “accurate donation information”. “Questions over their compliance with the campaign finance rules at June’s general election risks causing harm to voters’ confidence in elections,” said Bob Posner, the Commission’s director of political finance.” – Independent

Other parties

Sturgeon to press on with “Named Person” plans – Daily Telegraph

Lavrov says NK “open” for direct talks with US over “nuclear ambitions”

“North Korea is open to coming to the table for direct talks with the US over its nuclear ambitions, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, told his American counterpart Rex Tillerson on Thursday. The message was delivered to Mr Tillerson during an international conference in the Austrian capital, Vienna, but there was no immediate response from the state department which has long insisted that North Korea be willing to denuclearise as a condition for talks.” – Daily Telegraph

More America 

  • US embassy in Jerusalem may be built on former British garrison – Daily Telegraph
  • The best hope for Middle East peace is Riyadh not DC – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • Trump’s speech sounded sober in comparison to much rhetoric – Donald Macintyre, Independent

>Yesterday: International: Trump may be an erratic man-child, but the Jerusalem policy makes cold, hard political sense for him

News in Brief

  • It’s time for capitalism – Marian L Tupy, CapX
  • Why has Hammond not gone? – Stephen Bush, New Statesman
  • Legal thoughts on the divorce bill money – Martin Howe, BrexitCentral
  • What’s all this regulatory alignment stuff about? – Peter Lyon, Reaction