Brexit 1) Senior figures claim that “arch-Remain mandarins have taken control” and are “forcing” May into “soft” approach

“Mandarins opposed to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU have “taken control” of the Brexit agenda and are “forcing a weak Prime Minister” into a soft Brexit, senior government figures and MPs have warned. In a dramatic intensification of the war within the Conservative Party, Eurosceptics said that Philip Hammond’s declaration last week that Brexit would be “very modest” appeared to articulate No 10’s “direction of travel” on negotiations. A Cabinet source warned that Britain faced a “betrayal of Brexit” unless Theresa May reined in Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, and Oliver Robbins, the co-ordinator of negotiations with the EU. David Jones, the former Brexit minister, said: “It’s time No 10 indicated who’s boss.”” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Cabinet source says May needs to “rein in” Heywood and Robbins – Sunday Express
  • But Clark says Britain is “absolutely, unambiguously” leaving – Independent on Sunday
  • As discussion continues around his letter to business with Hammond and Davis – Sunday Express
  • Meanwhile, EU is “stepping up preparations” for “no deal” or hard Brexit – Sunday Express


  • I understand why some people are “becoming nervous” – Theresa Villiers, Sunday Telegraph
  • Will we be in limbo after leaving? – David Owen, The Sunday Times 
  • People are becoming more confident about leaving – Kenan Malik, Observer
  • The LibDems’ anti-Brexit surge hasn’t happened – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday


Brexit 2) Leave campaigners’ letter calls for CETA-type agreement

“Leave campaigners are calling on the Government to agree a similar deal to the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) agreed between Canada and the EU. A letter to the Prime Minister – backed by senior figures from politics, business, economics, academia and the military – warns “the clock is ticking and we are approaching the last moment at which business can properly prepare for Brexit”. The open letter also calls on the Government to prepare for global trade under WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules from March 2019, in case a Canada-style deal cannot be agreed by October. Moving to Canada-style trade deal would cover 98 per cent of goods and 92 per cent of agriculture.” – Sunday Express

  • The letter is backed by Lawson, Mills, and more – Sun on Sunday


  • Canada-style agreement is the “obvious, rapid and acceptable solution” – John Longworth, Sunday Telegraph

Brexit 3) Johnson to set out his vision this week, calling for “buccaneering” approach

“Boris Johnson will throw down the gauntlet to Theresa May by demanding a “buccaneering” Brexit. He plans to spell out his vision for a post-EU Britain as Brexiteers admit rapidly losing faith in Mrs May. A BoJo ally said MPs feared she was “in danger of f****** this up” and added: “The stakes are too high.” The Foreign Secretary is to spell out his vision of a “bold internationalist, liberal buccaneering Brexit”, the pal said. His speech, still being drafted, would outline more “optimism and hope” than currently on offer.” – Sun on Sunday


  • He’s the “obvious choice” to lead – Andrew Gimson, Sun on Sunday

Brexit 4) Ministers “preparing series of concessions” to bill to “minimise” potential Lords defeats

“Ministers are preparing a series of concessions over the EU withdrawal legislation to minimise the number of defeats they face in the House of Lords, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose. Senior government figures are working on a number of climbdowns designed to head off public battles with influential peers, including Lord Judge, the former lord chief justice. The changes are likely to address a number of significant concerns held by the Lords constitution committee, which will demand a series of specific changes to the Brexit Bill in a report tomorrow, ahead of the first Lords debate on the Bill on Tuesday.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • “Hundreds of peers” are packing their bags to head in – Observer


  • Peers are not in touch with the people on this – Macer Hall, Sunday Express
  • The constitutional details about Lords involvement – Vernon Bogdanor, Observer

Brexit 5) Trump interview will show him saying he would’ve taken “tougher stand” over EU exit

“Donald Trump has criticised Theresa May’s handling of Brexit negotiations, stating he would have taken a “tougher stand” over how Britain exits the EU. In an interview with Piers Morgan, which will be broadcast on ITV on Sunday, the US President also claimed he had been invited to make two visits to the UK this year by the Prime Minister. When asked if Ms May was in a “good position” regarding the ongoing Brexit talks, Mr Trump replied: “Would it be the way I negotiate? No, I wouldn’t negotiate it the way it’s [being] negotiated.” – Independent on Sunday

  • He says he would’ve had a “different attitude” to negotiations – Sun on Sunday

Brexit 6) Dispatches investigation accuses Lansley, Lilley, and Mitchell of “attempting to profit” from “gravy train”

“… Lord Lansley, the former health secretary, was secretly filmed offering to use his knowledge and connections from within West­minster to provide “intelligence” on Brexit to a Chinese company offering him tens of thousands of pounds. … Peter Lilley, the former deputy Conservative Party leader, was also willing to approach key ministers on the Chinese company’s behalf. As part of his pitch for the job he described how he attended two advisory groups with influence over the Brexit minis­ters, one of which has never previously been revealed. A third former minister, Andrew Mitchell MP, also appeared happy to give paid Brexit advice to the Chinese company. He charges £6,000 a day and disclosed that he was looking to work up to 10 weeks a year for private clients despite being paid £74,962 as an MP. “My constituents don’t mind what I’m paid,” he said.” – The Sunday Times 

  • They used “spoiling tactics” to try to prevent the accusations being revealed – The Sunday Times

Leadership 1) Boulton: The would-be runners are warming up. Watch out for Gove

“They are not yet under starter’s orders but the would-be runners in a Conservative leadership contest have left the paddock and are warming up. The contest looks imminent because, in the words of one habitual loyalist, “we can see she simply can’t do it”.Despite Michael Gove’s betrayal in the last contest, Johnson and “the Gover” are back in harness as close allies. Gove is trying to rebuild his reputation as an enthusiastic and effective environment secretary. He has brains and subtlety but he is a true believer in the kind of Brexit which the hardliners fear is slipping from them as the likes of Hammond, Davis and Clark openly back the softest transition period and equivocate on the final settlement. “I could be mad but I’d put my money on Gove,” my informant predicted. Blond Boy may be a mere pace setter in the leadership stakes.” – The Sunday Times

  • May’s standing with the cabinet has “worsened” – Anne McElvoy, Observer
  • Rees-Mogg’s “spectre” is “overshadowing everything” – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • Hammond’s behaviour has been “extraordinary” – Stephen Pollard, Sunday Express
  • May needs to do more than just “getting on with the job” – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

Leadership 2) Did Williamson “leak intelligence” to distract from “flirtation” story?

“The ­battle to succeed Theresa May erupted into fresh acrimony last night as top Tories traded blows over whether Gavin Williamson leaked intelligence last week to ­distract attention from an extramarital “flirtation”. Security chiefs attacked the defence secretary as “alarmist” for claiming Russia could kill thousands of British ­citizens in a cyber-attack and accused him of using secret information provided by American spies to cover himself. However, the allegations sparked an extraordinary row in which William­son accused his rivals for the Tory leadership of black ops to derail his campaign to succeed May as prime minister.” – The Sunday Times

  • More questions arise about his “affair” admission – Sunday Telegraph
  • Meanwhile, Number 10 was in mood of “controlled panic” last week over no confidence fears – The Sunday Times
  • And Shapps says May needs to “announce timetable” for standing down – Mail on Sunday
  • She has been “given three months” to improve by “senior Tories” – Observer
  • She faces “revolt” over immigrant detentions – Independent on Sunday
  • And is worried about potential “major losses” in local elections – Independent on Sunday
  • But Farage praises her “courageous shift in rhetoric” – Sunday Express

>Today: ToryDiary: The ConHome monthly survey is out now – how is the Cabinet performing, post-reshuffle?

More parliament

>Yesterday: Daniel Kawczynski in Comment: The Polish Government is right to pursue judicial reform

And elsewhere

  • Local authorities look to increase council tax by maximum amount – Sunday Telegraph
  • Scottish Labour leader’s “authority challenged” by “plotting” from the right  – Herald
  • Terrorism Act rearrest related to Friday’s NI explosion – Belfast News Letter
  • Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds to be given right to vote in Welsh council elections – Sunday Telegraph

Leaders of almost 70 Labour councils sign letter “attacking” NEC

“Most Labour council leaders in England and Wales have signed a joint letter fiercely attacking the Momentum-controlled committee that runs their own party. In the letter, published exclusively in today’s Sunday Times, leaders of almost 70 councils, including Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and many London boroughs, say the actions of Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) are “dangerous and alarming”, “uncomradely and disrespectful” and “an affront to the basic principles of democracy”.” – The Sunday Times 

  • Meanwhile, Borwick interviewed by police about Grenfell – The Sunday Times
  • And Corbyn holds “away day” to strategise about Brexit – Observer

News in Brief

  • We should remember that history is “rarely about goodies and baddies” – Munira Mirza, All In Britain
  • My thoughts on Davos – George Osborne, Spectator
  • The political “meta-narrative” of the Grammys – Amanda Petrusich, New Yorker
  • Peter Carey on Australia’s colonial past – Erica Wagner, New Statesman
  • Thomas Jefferson’s solution to land division – Gerco de Ruijter, Aeon