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Both sides claim victory over ‘outbreak of unity’ at May’s Brexit meeting

“Theresa May’s Brexit war cabinet last night agreed to take back control of Britain’s laws after we leave the EU. After eight hours of talks at the Prime Minister’s country retreat Chequers, senior ministers agreed to pursue a strategy that will allow the UK to diverge from EU laws. Pro-Brexit ministers last night claimed they had achieved a significant step in ensuring a clean break with the EU – with one claiming everyone was ‘rather happy’ at the end, and another saying the PM had ‘played a blinder’. One Cabinet source said: ‘Divergence has won.’ But, in a concession to pro-Remain ministers, the pace and scale of any future divergence is likely to be fudged for months.” – Daily Mail

  • ‘Divergence wins’, Brexiteers claim – Daily Telegraph
  • Crunch talks hint at Conservative compromise – FT
  • May ‘u-turns on rights for EU migrants’ – The Times
  • Brussels ‘dismisses’ UK proposals in ‘pre-emptive strike’ – Daily Mail

Devolution:

  • First Minister accuses ministers of seeking veto on ‘new powers’ – The Guardian
  • May and Sturgeon on standby ‘as talks fail’ – The Scotsman

Comment:

  • Here’s what the ERG’s Brexit letter was really about – Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, The Sun
  • The Remain brigade is wrong, Brexit policy is perfectly clear – Bernard Jenkin MP, Times Red Box

>Today: ToryDiary: May’s Summit agrees the Davis solution

>Yesterday:

Rumour that Labour might make ‘seismic Brexit u-turn’

“Labour was on the brink of a major Brexit U-turn last night after senior figures said the party wants to stay in an EU customs union. Jeremy Corbyn will risk accusations of betrayal when he outlines the policy on Monday in a shift aides claim will be ‘seismic’. Senior Labour figures said the party’s new stance would include forming a customs union with the EU, even though it would make it impossible for Britain to strike independent trade deals. The move could pave the way for a Commons alliance between Labour and Tory Remainers. Strategists believe inflicting a defeat on Theresa May over the issue could even bring down her Government and force an early election.” – Daily Mail

  • Support for ‘a customs union’ sets a Brexit showdown – The Times
  • McDonnell says Labour ‘could back second referendum’ – Daily Mail
  • Thornberry says Opposition will ‘give up right to negotiate deals’ – The Sun
  • Tory rebels would side with Corbyn, warns Hodges – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Like Thatcher, Corbyn offers change. Tories have forgotten how to fight him – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

Minister won’t rule out extra payments if transition drags out

“Furious MPs demanded answers from the Treasury after ministers signalled Britain’s EU divorce bill could rise by a further £5 billion. Brexit Minister Robin Walker refused to rule out an extra payment if the transition period runs beyond December 2020. The declaration forced Tory veteran Bill Cash to storm: “This looks like something out of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected”. The European Scrutiny Committee warned prolonging the “status quo” transition beyond the EU’s preferred end date of December 31 2020 could leave the UK on the hook for extra contributions to the Brussels budget.” – The Sun

  • May abandons customs union vote after threat of rebellion – Daily Express
  • UK to lose rebate in ‘extended transition’ – The Guardian

More:

  • Johnson overruled civil servants to let Brexiteers use Foreign Office – The Times
  • Brussels signs ‘propaganda’ deal for Euro 2020 – Daily Telegraph
  • Scientists seek continued free movement post-Brexit – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: As May’s top team met at Chequers, Brains for Brexit launched in London

Philip Collins: Labour’s malcontents should join the Tories, but won’t

“If a large enough cohort of Labour MPs crossed over they would send the Brexit ultras a long way towards irrelevance. These Red Tories do not share everything, by any means, with the likes of Amber Rudd and Jeremy Hunt but they are certainly closer in spirit to them than they are to a leader who still laments the fact that America won the Cold War. An alliance of liberal Tories and the new band of Red Tories would scare the life out of the Mogg-Johnsons. The government would shift appreciably to the left, which is the direction it needs to travel, and it would benefit from an influx of talent. This is such a great idea it’s a shame it is a total fantasy. It’s naive and absurd to suppose it could ever happen and that tells us a lot about the nature of politics.” – The Times

  • Stealthy rise of Selmayr, the ‘monster’ of Brussels, shows why we must go – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

May defends Government’s response to Grenfell

“As Tory leader, full-frontal attacks from fans of Jeremy Corbyn are an occupational hazard for Theresa May. Few left-wingers, however, are given the opportunity to take the prime minister to task before an audience of millions – as Stormzy, the grime star, did at the Brit Awards on Wednesday night. Mrs May yesterday issued a defence of the government’s support for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire after the rapper, 24, challenged her directly during his performance and branded the government “criminals”. He suggested the prime minister had failed to offer adequate financial support to the victims of the fire last June, which killed 71 people.” – The Times

  • Vaizey scorns Prime Minister as too weak to see off critics – The Sun

Ministers 1) Gove floats ban on plastic straws

Plastic straws could be banned in Britain, the environment secretary has said. The UK is estimated to go through 8.5 billion single-use plastic straws every year – the highest number in Europe – and Michael Gove said banning their use could help the UK become more environmentally friendly. Because they cannot be recycled the straws often end up in waterways and in the sea, causing damage and death to plants and animals. A distressing video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nostril recently prompted calls for them to be banned around the world, and a number of MPs have called for an end to their use in bars and restaurants. Asked whether he might ban plastic straws after Britain has left the EU next year, Mr Gove said: “Watch this space.” He added: “If it is bad, then banning it is a good thing” but he also said there has to be a balanced approach.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Number of straws used by MPs doubles in three years – The Sun

Editorial:

  • Environment Secretary has a rare opportunity to clear up Britain – The Times

Ministers 2) Hunt promises action to cut NHS medication errors

“Action to stem a plethora of avoidable deaths in England owing to medication errors is to be announced on Friday by Jeremy Hunt, health and social care secretary. His move comes after research, commissioned by the Department of Health, highlighted the impact of medication errors on patients and the fragile finances of the National Health Service. Errors ranged from a drugs prescription being delivered one hour late to a patient, to someone receiving medication for someone else. Researchers at Manchester, Sheffield and York universities concluded such mistakes may be causing about 1,700 deaths each year, and potentially contributing to a further 20,300, at a cost of about £1.6bn to the NHS… Mr Hunt will say on Friday that although the NHS does well in international comparisons, the research “shows medication error in the NHS and globally is a far bigger problem than generally recognised, causing appalling levels of harm and death that are totally preventable”.” – FT

  • The expensive truth about high-quality healthcare – Martin Wolf, FT

Ministers 3) Government mulls new tax for tech giants

“Tech giants such as Amazon and Google could be handed hefty bills in future under a major shake-up of the UK tax system. The new rules would aim to stop the world’s biggest technology firms raking in billions from sales but only handing tens of millions of pounds to the Treasury. At the moment corporation tax is levied on profits. This means multinational companies can artificially reduce their UK bills using complicated company structures. But changes being considered by the Government could see the firms taxed on their sales instead. Mel Stride, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, yesterday said a tax on revenue – one of several options being looked at – was ‘the preferred route’. He said current rules meant big tech companies are not being taxed fairly.” – Daily Mail

  • The public needs the tools to hold technology companies to account – Martha Lane Fox, Daily Telegraph

Lewis attacks online abuse of Tory supporters

“Tory supporters are being put off promoting the party online because they fear a backlash from “vitriolic” Corbynistas, the party chairman warned. Brandon Lewis also slammed Labour for refusing to sign a social media “respect pledge” to rein in internet abuse. It came as he  issued a battle cry ahead of the London elections – insisting more and more young people are joining up because they’re “fed up with being told, because they’re under 30, they must be Corbyn supporters”. He told the House magazine: “If somebody on the right or the centre puts out a message, the attack from the hard left is sometimes unbelievably abusive and vitriolic. “For some people, if they suddenly get attacked by a huge number of hard-left people they’ve never met, that can put them off.”” – The Sun

>Today: Edward Nyman in Comment: A five-point plan for engaging young British voters

Money 1) Tory chief accused of expenses cover-up

“The chief executive of the Conservative Party organised the cover-up of alleged expenses misuse at a charity, leaked emails appear to show. Sir Mick Davis, who was appointed by the Tories last June, was chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) when Jeremy Newmark, its chief executive, was accused of inappropriate spending and expenses claims. Mr Newmark resigned on health grounds after being confronted with the allegations, according to emails obtained by The Jewish Chronicle. He went on to head an influential Labour group that announced this week that it had called in the police to investigate “internal financial matters”.” – The Times

  • Bosses behind hostile takeover of defence giant are Tory donors – Daily Mail

Money 2) Labour MP accused of hypocrisy over donation

“A Labour frontbencher has been accused of hypocrisy for accepting a £5,000 donation from a private water company, despite the party’s pledge to renationalise the industry. Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary and former shadow water minister, received £5,000 from Castle Water, an independent company that supplies water to businesses, charities and public bodies. It is based in Blairgowrie, Perth and Kinross, more than 450 miles from Mr Gardiner’s constituency in Brent North, northwest London. Labour’s election manifesto last June pledged to “replace our dysfunctional water system with a network of regional publicly owned water companies”.” – The Times

Opposition debate land value tax to boost local government

“Labour is considering a tax on land values as a way of boosting local government budgets, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said. In a sign of the party’s confidence about growing public interest in a fresh approach to managing the economy, McDonnell said cuts to council spending were so severe that it might now be possible “to have a rational debate”. At the last election the Tories called Labour’s proposal for a tax on commercial land values a “garden tax” that could force home owners to sell up. The Greens and the Liberal Democrats are also interested in the idea. A land tax, where a percentage of the value of the land is levied annually, is popular with some economists, who say it is a logical approach to taxing individual wealth. But many politicians across the political spectrum are alarmed at the thought of introducing a new tax. A new tax on wealth that creates losers as well as winners would inevitably be a hard sell.” – The Guardian

>Today: Liam Booth-Smith in Local Government: Westminster Council’s voluntary levy on the wealthy is to be applauded

>Yesterday: Kevin Davis in Local Government: We are freezing the Council Tax in Kingston because it is the right thing to do

CIA ‘monitored Corbyn’ over links to Marxists

“The CIA monitored Jeremy Corbyn over his links with a Marxist trade union, it emerged today. American spies followed the Labour leader as he attended a conference in El Salvador hosted by the far-left Fenastras union in 1986. The group was linked to a violent guerrilla militia which was backed by the Soviet Union and killed hundreds of civilians in the country’s civil war. Spies filed a report on Mr Corbyn’s support of Fenastras back to authorities in Washington. The note on Mr Corbyn came to light in the declassified CIA archive and was first reported by the Guido Fawkes website. It dates to 1986 – the same year the Labour MP first met a Communist spy in Parliament.” – Daily Mail

  • Green MEP amongst Czechoslovak spy’s contacts – The Times

Comment:

  • Corbyn’s sickening support of the Soviet Empire – Edward Lucas, The Times
  • Tabloids’ right to print nonsense is UK equivalent of US gun laws – Henry Mance, FT

SNP and Scottish justice ‘in the dock’ after killer freed

“First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is facing demands to overhaul a justice system that sees thousands of offenders freed every year without parole after a convicted murderer tried to kill a dog walker while on home leave. Robbie McIntosh may never be released from jail after he was handed a lifelong restriction order for battering Linda McDonald in Dundee. McIntosh was on unsupervised “home leave” at the time – before any parole board had assessed his case. Conservative leader Ruth Davidson demanded a review of the system and insisted the public want to see violent criminals serve their full sentences, and Mrs McDonald’s family have demanded “answers to straightforward questions” over how McIntosh was released in the first place.” – The Scotsman

DUP and Sinn Fein clash over ‘legacy deal’

“DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said he was not aware of any agreement which Sinn Fein allegedly struck with the UK Government to release funding for legacy inquests. It comes after Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly claimed that funding had been agreed as part of the mooted ‘draft deal’ reached during the negotiations to restore devolution. The Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan has requested funding to deal with Troubles-related inquests. Mr Kelly told the BBC NI’s The View programme that London had agreed to release the money. But Sir Jeffrey – the DUP’s representative on legacy issues – said: “No such proposal was put to me and I most certainly am not aware of any agreement reached between Sinn Fein and the UK Government to hand over money for legacy inquests.”” – News Letter

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Bradley mulls MLA pay cut as direct rule looms

News in Brief:

  • War Cabinet’s decisions must match May’s own red lines – Jonathan Isaby, Brexit Central
  • Inner Cabinet embraces a position which favours divergence – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • How Selmayr became the EU’s top civil servant – Politico
  • Universal Basic Income would only make the state more powerful – Max Borders, CapX
  • Italian election: TV vs internet populism – Tom Wheeldon, Reaction

8 comments for: Newslinks for Friday 23rd February 2018

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