Brexit 1) Davis slams Brussels over threats to ‘punish’ the UK

“David Davis slammed Brussels for threatening to punish Britain during the Brexit transition period today as senior ministers continued talks on the negotiating strategy. The Brexit Secretary said the EU was not acting in ‘good faith’ over December’s political agreement on the terms of the Brexit divorce deal. Yesterday, leaks in Brussels revealed the EU wants powers to penalise Britain by closing off sectors of the single market if it fails to follow EU rules after Brexit takes place in March 2019. Both sides have signalled broad support for a status quo transition for around two years but Britain wants flexibility to start negotiating trade deals.” – Daily Mail

  • May urges ministers to be ‘bold’ in pursuit of new relationship – Daily Telegraph
  • Prime Minister summons Cabinet to ‘away day’ to set Brexit position – The Sun
  • Ministers told UK will have ‘immediate’ break with EU – Daily Express
  • Gove wins fight to block EU demand to set transition fishing quotas – The Sun

Brexit 2) EU set to reignite row over Northern Ireland

“UK negotiators have been warned that the EU draft withdrawal agreement will stipulate that Northern Ireland will, in effect, remain in the customs union and single market after Brexit to avoid a hard border. The uncompromising legal language of the draft agreement is likely to provoke a major row, something all parties to the negotiations have been trying to avoid. British officials negotiating in Brussels were told by their counterparts that there could be a “sunset clause” included in the legally binding text, which is due to be published in around two weeks. Such a legal device would make the text null and void at a future date should an unexpectedly generous free trade deal, or a hitherto unimagined technological solution emerge that could be as effective as the status quo in avoiding the need for border infrastructure.” – The Guardian

  • May could visit Ulster as power-sharing deal ‘edges closer’ – Belfast Telegraph


  • Britain wants to benefit from over 700 EU-struck treaties – FT
  • Japanese ambassador warns of ‘high stakes’ – FT
  • British fishermen set to have better non-EU trading deals – The Sun
  • Nigeria could be key Brexit trade ally – Daily Telegraph


  • Brexiteers are right to take Britain out of the Customs Union – Lee Rotherham, Daily Telegraph
  • Fifteen reasons to be cheerful about ‘taking back control’ – Anthony Browne, The Sun
  • Having-and-eating-cake fantasy is over on EU trade – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph


  • Where Brexit hits hard, a customs union will help – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: There is danger now in Germany of a weak, centrist government – with extremists flourishing on both sides

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Deal to restore Stormont could apparently be done ‘in days’

Brexit 3) Barnier memo raises questions over Corbyn’s policy

“Jeremy Corbyn told Michel Barnier that he was open to keeping Britain in the customs union after Brexit, a memo circulated to European nations suggests. The Labour leader met Mr Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, in London on Monday, where Mr Corbyn promised to run the Brexit negotiations “very differently” if he came to power – and dangled a raft of possible concessions to the EU. According to a memo of the meeting, drawn up after a debrief between Mr Barnier and ambassadors from the other 27 EU nations, Mr Corbyn said that he was willing to allow the UK to submit to the rulings of the European Court of Justice should he become prime minister. The document, seen by The Daily Telegraph, also states that Mr Corbyn said he could offer a “unilateral guarantee” on the rights of EU citizens during transition.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Opposition leader accused of trying to undermine May’s negotiations – The Sun
  • Foreign staff stick to NHS despite Brexit fears – The Times



>Today: J Meirion Thomas in Comment: The Immigration Health Surcharge must be revised or abolished: not tinkered with.

Brexit 4) Miller (!) denounces neo-Remain campaign as ‘undemocratic’

The founder of a Remain-supporting campaign group that is seeking to overturn Brexit has accused the organisation of being “undemocratic” and said it must disclose its financial backers. Gina Miller, who founded Best for Britain, said the public has a “right to know” who is backing the organisation as she criticised its tactics. Her intervention comes after The Telegraph disclosed that George Soros, the billionaire known as the man who “broke the Bank of England”, is backing the campaign. The group is trying to recruit major donors in an attempt to undermine Theresa May. It also plans to target MPs and convince them to vote against the final Brexit deal in a bid to trigger a second referendum or another election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Plotters are the Remain elite incarnate – Daily Mail


  • Soros’ support just makes hypocrites of campaigners – The Sun

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: The language used by both sides in the Brexit debate is hardening and coarsening

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: There will be no Brexit deal for Soros’s allies to vote against

Fraser Nelson: Soros is a champion of democracy but he’s backing the wrong side on Brexit

“No campaign quotes tracts of philosophy, but the slogan “take back control” could have been the leitmotif of any one of the Soros campaigns which worked to such effect during the Cold War. And afterwards, where his support helped Mikheil Saakashvili become president of Georgia and many others to fight against Moscow’s influence. As Saakashvili once put it, Soros was at his best in a clear battle between democracy and authoritarianism, “but when he starts to play politics, he’s not that good”. As we are seeing now. “Many people think the elites have stolen their democracy,” Soros wrote a year ago. Quite so, yet he has now ended up bankrolling a campaign to reverse the biggest vote cast in the history of British democracy.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Don’t blame Soros for Britain’s doubts about Brexit – Philip Stephens, FT


  • Mogg-Johnsons will betray their Brexit fans – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Johnson and pals: the Brexit dream team is back – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • We can leave the EU, but not Europe – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

Ministers plan to get tough on firms which don’t pay interns

“Ministers are taking action to stop businesses employing unpaid interns, with HM Revenue & Customs establishing enforcement teams and issuing warnings to 550 companies about the practice. The teams are expected to target media and arts businesses as well as professional services firms such as solicitors and accountants. A fifth of graduates who undertake internships six months after leaving university find themselves in unpaid posts, according to the Sutton Trust charity. Minimum wage laws ban companies from offering unpaid internships but the government said there had been no prosecutions. Businesses are directed not to avoid paying genuine workers by treating them as interns. However, volunteers do not require payment under the law and campaigners fear that employers are using this as a loophole.” – The Times

  • Labour ‘hypocrites’ advertise jobs below their £10 ‘living wage’ pledge – The Sun
  • ‘Care pension’ plan to cover cost of help in later years – The Times


  • Universal Credit is running better, and it’s working – Esther McVey, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Andrew Carter in Think Tanks: Britain’s cities hold the key to Tory renewal

MPs accused of being sex pests will get anonymity

“MPs and peers who are the subject of complaints of bullying or sexual harassment will be granted anonymity during any investigation to protect them against malicious accusations. Proposals for a parliament-wide behaviour code, complaints procedure and confidential hotline published yesterday by Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, received a cautious welcome. The guarantee of anonymity has been criticised by some campaigners, however. A report into the new code by a cross-party group set up after revelations of abusive behaviour said that politicians should get more protection because of the increased risk to their reputations from false accusations.” – The Times

  • Parliamentarians could be recalled or expelled under new sanctions – The Guardian
  • Harassment victims say plans don’t go far enough – The Sun


Perry accuses BBC of ‘fake news’

“A Tory minister has accused the BBC of ‘fake news’ after last night denying calling Brexiteers ‘the swivel-eyed few’ – despite previously admitting the remark Energy Minister Claire Perry brushed off a reference to her outburst when it was put to her by Question Time Host David Dimbleby. However, the Devizes MP had previously apologised for her Brexit rant after it emerged earlier this week that she written it on a Conservative Whatsapp group. Replying to Dimbleby, Ms Perry said: ‘No, I didn’t. No…I do hate the way the BBC likes to do this fake news.'” – Daily Mail

Tory chief accused of covering up charity scandal

“The chief executive of the Conservative Party has been accused of covering up a Labour activist’s alleged misuse of expenses at a charity. Sir Mick Davis was chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) in 2013, when Jeremy Newmark, who was its chief executive, was accused of inappropriate spending and expenses claims. The police were not informed and the Charity Commission said yesterday that it had not been told of the allegations, which raised serious concerns. Mr Newmark, 45, resigned for health reasons. He was elected chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement and narrowly missed winning a seat at the general election last year.” – The Times

  • Donor pays £55,000 to spend day with May… – The Times
  • …and another stumps up £15,000 for dinner with Davidson – The Scotsman

MP says Facebook is ‘abusive’ and must be regulated

“Facebook was yesterday accused of being in an ‘abusive relationship’ with its users, as MPs called for web giants to be regulated. The culture, media and sport select committee told executives at Facebook, Twitter and Google that they have opened a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of social problems and have become so powerful, it is ‘time for rules’ to keep them in check. Labour’s Jo Stevens said: ‘There is a power imbalance there because you are controlling [the information people see] and the person who is receiving it doesn’t have any control over it. [It] reminds me of an abusive relationship where there is coercive control going on.’ Conservative Rebecca Pow added: ‘You hold so much data about people you are now very, very powerful and you are completely unregulated.’” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Patel and Seely win Foreign Affairs committee places. Simon Clarke is elected to the Treasury committee.

SNP accused of interfering in Freedom of Information requests

“SNP ministers have accused of pervading over a culture of “evasiveness and secrecy” by blocking the publication of documents about their dealings with the Prince of Wales over Scottish education. Holyrood’s opposition parties highlighted emails showing that John Swinney said he would “prefer” that material about Prince Charles be withheld from a Freedom of Information (FOI) response about Teach First, an education charity of which he is a patron. They also disclosed that Colin McAllister, his senior political special adviser, was consulted and that civil servants “addressed” the points he made in their response. The Tories, Labour and Lib Dems argued this contradicted assurances given by Joe Fitzpatrick, the Parliamentary Business Minister, that the replies were not screened by special advisers for political sensitivity and called for the Scottish Information Commissioner to investigate.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Davidson tears into Sturgeon over new policing board chief – Daily Express
  • First Minister rejects call to clarify US military Prestwick use – The Guardian
  • Racism row in Scottish Labour deepens – The Scotsman


  • Wanted: a top cop to rescue Scotland’s battered national force – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • With flexibility and competitiveness, the City can prosper after Brexit – Gerard Lyons, CapX
  • It’s time for Anna Soubry to go – Olivia Utley, Reaction
  • Labour should use Brexit to really take back control – Brendan Chilton, Brexit Central
  • Brexit belongs to the Tories, whether they like it or not – James Forsyth, The Spectator