Tory donors voice their disquiet about the Prime Minister

‘The prime minister is facing a donors’ revolt and growing pressure to leave Downing Street as soon as the outline of a trade deal is negotiated with the European Union this autumn. Discontent with Theresa May among the Conservatives’ financial backers boiled over at a fundraising event last Thursday, according to a donor. An account of the event — where about a quarter of the 50 donors present were said to have demanded her resignation — has been circulating among Brexit-supporting Tory MPs…“There is no one defending her but no plot to oust her. It’s the worst of all worlds,” a senior Conservative said…Donors publicly voiced their disquiet at the fundraising event in London, one backer said. “Among even the most loyal middle-ranking donors there is utter despair,” the businessman said. “Dominic Johnson [a Tory party treasurer] stands up and says: ‘I love Theresa May, who could possibly want to replace her?’ What he didn’t expect was about a quarter of the room to say ‘yes [we do]’. This was a room of very, very traditional donors.” Conservative campaign headquarters refused to comment on “private events”.’ – The Times


>Yesterday: Nicky Morgan’s column: Perhaps the Prime Minister should have gone. But she didn’t. The Cabinet must now take a lead.

Brexit 1) Whitehall economic forecasts have been leaked

‘The government’s new analysis of the impact of Brexit says the UK would be worse off outside the European Union under every scenario modelled, BuzzFeed News can reveal. The assessment, which is titled “EU Exit Analysis – Cross Whitehall Briefing” and dated January 2018, looked at three of the most plausible Brexit scenarios based on existing EU arrangements. Under a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, UK growth would be 5% lower over the next 15 years compared to current forecasts, according to the analysis. The “no deal” scenario, which would see the UK revert to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, would reduce growth by 8% over that period. The softest Brexit option of continued single-market access through membership of the European Economic Area would, in the longer term, still lower growth by 2%.’ – Buzzfeed

  • The Government responds that the report is speculative and incomplete – The Sun
  • Captains of industry say confidence is at an all-time low – Ben Page, The Times
  • Merkel is reported to have mocked May’s negotiating style – The Times
  • The EU passes its negotiating guidelines – FT
  • Buzzfeed urges Facebook to pay for content – The Times

Brexit 2) Fox tells Tories to ‘live with disappointment’ of a softer arrangement than they might want

‘Liam Fox today tells hardline Tory Eurosceptics they will have to “live with disappointment” and accept a softer Brexit. In an interview with The Sun he urged senior Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Theresa Villiers to stop attacking Philip Hammond after he said there should only be “modest changes” to Britain’s relationship with the EU post-Brexit. Asked what he made about the briefing war against the Chancellor over the weekend, Mr Fox said: “It doesn’t help us for people to be involved in this sort of briefing they were over the weekend against individual colleagues because nothing that would happen would change the parliamentary arithmetic. We don’t have a working majority, other than with the support of the Democratic Unionists and we need to accept the reality of that. I know that there are always disappointed individuals but they’re going to have to live with disappointment.” – The Sun

Brexit 3) Wallace: If peers obstruct the Withdrawal Bill, they will alienate the last people defending them from reform

‘More people voted Leave than have ever voted for any idea or party in the entire course of British history. Attempting to block that wonderful democratic achievement using the House of Lords would be absurd. It would also be existentially dangerous for the upper chamber. While many of the Lords’ opponents egg them on to block Brexit, that does not mean they are converted permanently to the cause of Lords conservation. After Brexit, they will return to calling for their abolition. Where will the Lords find allies to defend their unelected House then?…I support Lords reform for the same reason that I voted Leave: if you get to decide our laws, you should be elected by the people, and the people should have the right to sack you. That goes for unelected EU commissioners just as much as unelected British lords (or both, in the case of Lord Kinnock of Many Pensions).’ – Mark Wallace, the i paper

>Today: Martin Callanan on Comment: The Government welcomes peers’ razor-sharp scrutiny of the EU Withdrawal Bill

May heads to China – though her attitude to Beijing is unclear

‘In a sign of how priorities have changed since Mrs May entered Downing Street, the official UK prime minister account on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, which was established with a fanfare in 2013 by her predecessor, has not posted for more than a year and still contains many of Mr Cameron’s details. Concerns over President Xi’s flagship investment project also threaten to overshadow the three-day visit. One leading business figure said Chinese officials were confused by Mrs May’s dealings with the country since becoming prime minister in July 2016… The prime minister, who will lead a delegation representing 50 businesses, vowed last night to “intensify the ‘Golden Era’ ” in relations between the countries. On the agenda will be the belt and road initiative, China’s investment programme in Asia and eastern Europe.’ – The Times

  • She intends to raise concerns over Xi’s Belt and Road initiative – FT
  • Philip May is on the trip – The Times
  • Will business leaders use the opportunity to lobby her on Brexit? – The Times Leader

The ‘youthquake’ is a myth; the election was lost among people in their 30s and 40s

‘A major report by the British Election Study found there was actually no major surge in turnout among millennials under 25 years-old. Instead, turnout among young voters was broadly similar to the 2015 poll and may even have decreased, academics found. The report said: ‘The Labour youthquake explanation looks to become an assumed fact about the 2017 election,’ the report said. ‘The Oxford English Dictionary even declared youthquake their word of the year. But people have been much too hasty. There was no surge in youth turnout at the 2017 election.’ Researchers said that claims Mr Corbyn had managed to inspire a whole new generation of voters to turn out were ‘largely based on anecdotes’. And it said the only notable rise in voter turnout came from those aged between 30 and 40 years-old. The Conservatives are seen as the traditional party for homeowners, but spiralling house prices have left many unable to get on the property ladder.’ – Daily Mail

The NHS frees up land for new homes – and earmarks thousands for hospital staff

‘Thousands of affordable homes will be built on unused or surplus NHS land across England, with up to 3,000 earmarked for health service staff and the money raised invested back into NHS services, the government has announced. Responding to a review, conducted by Robert Naylor, into NHS property and estates, the Department of Health and Social Care said it was giving the health service access to “the full £10bn investment” that the veteran hospital chief executive had concluded it needed to modernise care. This sum, confirmed by Philip Hammond, chancellor, in his November Budget last year, would be made up of a mixture of government funding, money unlocked through land sales “and private finance where this provides value for money”, the department said. As the NHS struggles to do more with less, after a funding squeeze, the fresh injection of capital is intended to improve facilities and ensure more seamless care between hospitals, GP surgeries and the community.’ – FT

>Today: Robert Halfon’s column: Give the people a referendum every decade on how much to increase NHS spending

Gove turns his green gaze to coal fires

‘Mr Gove will call for evidence today on the use of house coal, smokeless coal, manufactured solid fuels and wood used for heating. He is considering banning the sale of house coal and only allowing low-sulphur smokeless alternatives. Smokeless coal tends to be more expensive but sellers of some varieties claim they have a higher heat output than traditional coal. He may also encourage people to burn only dried wood. This would either be seasoned wood, left for up to two years to dry naturally, or dried in a kiln…Many people buy wet wood in bulk and dry it themselves before burning, and Mr Gove is keen not to penalise them…Mr Gove will reject demands for wood-burning stoves to be banned.’ – The Times

Tory LGBT group apologises to David TC Davies for tweeting insults about him

‘The official group for LGBT Conservatives was yesterday forced to apologise for suggesting that one of the party’s MPs was a “transphobic c***”. David TC Davies, the MP for Monmouth, had said on Twitter: “Somebody possessing a penis and pair of testicles is definitely not a woman.” The Twitter account of the LGBT+ Conservatives replied: “It’s clear that the T in his name stands for transphobe. It’s equally clear what the C stands for.” Mr Davies made an official complaint to Brandon Lewis, the Conservative chairman, yesterday morning. By the afternoon the group had deleted the tweet and apologised. Mr Davies told The Times he stood by his original comment. “I could safely say in Monmouth, most people agree with me,” he said.’ – The Times

Veteran Labour councillor quits over ‘destructive’ dominance of ‘class war’ hard Left

‘A Labour councillor has quit the party after almost 20 years with a furious attack on the direction it has taken under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Nora Mulready, 35, was an activist in Haringey, north London, where the council could become the first to be taken over by hard-Left Momentum supporters. In a resignation letter posted online, Miss Mulready accused them of ‘moral deterioration’, exploitation and keeping people in positions of deprivation. She said they were trying to ‘manufacture anger and hatred as fuel for their desired class war’. The party she had joined in childhood had ‘gone – suffused with the hard Left at every possible level’. She concluded: ‘These politics are immoral, are destructive, cause great harm to the poorest, and great harm to society, and they now dominate the Labour party.’ – Daily Mail

  • Corbyn refuses to condemn protesters who raided Churchill cafe…even though he goes there himself – Daily Mail
  • Let’s melt the snowflakes – The Sun Says
  • His pledge to buy houses for the homeless won’t solve the problem – Tim Worstall, The Times
  • Livingstone appears on Iran’s Press TV to talk about Hitler and the Jews – The Times
  • Corbynism rests on the myth that all non-voters are hardline socialists – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • David Prescott fails to make target seat shortlist – The Guardian
  • Labour councillor quits because her Party is ‘gone – suffused with the hard Left at every possible level’

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Labour council leaders warn their Party’s Corbynite NEC is a “dangerous and alarming” threat to local democracy