May to set out plans for post-18 education review in speech today

“Theresa May will on Monday attack Britain’s “outdated attitude” to university education as she says too many people take degrees and are charged too much money for their courses. The Prime Minister will suggest that snobbery towards vocational training has created a belief that it is “something for other people’s children” as she aims to create parity between academic and technical education for over-18s. Announcing a review of tertiary education and university funding, Mrs May will admit that the current system of tuition fees is not working because the amount students pay for their courses bears no relation to the “cost or quality of their course”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She will say “all options are on table except except funding students’ tuition from general taxation” – The Times
  • She will “admit current system of fees isn’t working” – Independent
  • And argue that “reserving university” for “other people’s children” is “outdated” – Guardian
  • And that education should be “rebalanced” towards vocational study – FT
  • The speech will “challenge snobbery” – Daily Mail
  • It could lead to arts degrees costing less – Daily Express
  • Senior Tories show dissent over plans – The Sun



  • Any “retreat” on interest rates “will have nothing to do with decency” – Matthew Norman, Independent

>Today: Rebecca Lowe’s column: If May’s review is to be meaningful, it must shatter the illustion that all universities are equal


Brexit 1) Davidson says she “won’t accept” a no-deal Brexit

“Ruth Davidson has warned Theresa May she would not accept Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal and oppose any agreement she considers damaging to Scotland’s interests. The Scottish Tory leader said it was “certainly” possible she could reject the Government’s eventual Brexit trade policy and pledged to fight against a ‘no deal’ Brexit, which would mean reverted to World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs. The declaration puts her at odds with Mrs May’s insistence that she would be prepared to walk away from the negotiating table because no deal would be better than a bad deal.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She also adds to pressure on Oxfam boss – The Sun


Brexit 2) McKinstry: “What could be more rational than concept of democratic self-governance?”

“What could be more rational than the concept of democratic self-governance, with control over our own laws, economy, trade, borders and justice system? That is how most nations are governed. Alternatively, what could be greater folly than dogmatic belief in our deepening subjugation to an unelected foreign bureaucracy? With their usual condescension, the pro-EU zealots sneer that Leave voters are too dim to appreciate the wider national interest. But if Remain had triumphed in 2016, there would ultimately be no British nation at all because we would be subsumed within the kind of federal empire so keenly advocated by Verhofstadt.” – Daily Express

  • The “Brains for Brexit” academics will “need thick skin” – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail 
  • We mustn’t give in to timidity – Roger Bootle, Daily Telegraph
  • A hard border in Ireland will not help anything – Jenni Chapman, The Times 

>Today: ToryDiary: ‘Partial’ customs union means paying a high price to be stuck in EU limbo

More Brexit

  • British and US tech bosses write to Fox and Johnson about “misunderstanding” on diverging from data rules – The Times
  • Corbyn “won’t commit” to customs unions today – The Times
  • Verhofstadt says no deal before “Brexit Day”… – Daily Telegraph
  • …And that MPs voting down deal could cause “crisis in British politics” – Independent


Commons committee to call on May to “accept” that MPs won’t vote for boundary changes

“Theresa May will resist calls to keep the number of MPs at 650 despite a warning today that moves to cut it to 600 have little chance of Commons support. The Boundary Commission for England and Wales is finalising a map of new parliamentary constituencies to reflect the reduction. Changes are needed in any case to account for shifting demographics so that each MP represents a reasonably equal number of constituents. Among MPs likely to see significant changes under the plans are Jeremy Corbyn, whose Islington seat is likely to disappear, and Boris Johnson, whose redrawn Uxbridge constituency appears vulnerable to a Labour challenge. The Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee will call on the prime minister today to accept the likelihood that MPs will refuse to vote for the new map when the final version is presented to parliament in September.” – The Times

  • The vote is due in the autumn – Independent
  • The plan is to cut MP numbers from 650 to 600 – The Sun

Spring Statement will be “perhaps the most unmemorable fiscal event ever recorded at Westminster”

“Philip Hammond goes by the nickname “Box Office Phil” in Whitehall — an ironic moniker for a chancellor who prefers to stay out of the limelight — but next month he will exceed even his own arid reputation when he presents March’s mini-Budget. Mr Hammond has ordained that his first Spring Statement should be perhaps the most unmemorable fiscal event ever recorded at Westminster, in a deliberate attempt to keep it out of the headlines. “There will be no red box, no official document, no spending increases, no tax changes,” the Treasury said. “The chancellor will publish updated economic forecasts; we expect the speech to last between 15-20 minutes.”” – FT

More Conservatives

  • Brokenshire “recovering strongly” – Daily Telegraph
  • Bridgen calls for NCA inquiry into Vaz’s “property empire” – The Times


  • Do Conservatives want ex-Ukip voters? – Clare Foges, The Times
  • My ideas about housing – Mark Harper, The Times
  • I’ve found out that Soubry was in the SDP – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

>Today: Alexander Temerko in Comment: Why Williamson is right to seek higher defence spending

D’Ancona: Why we must take Corbyn’s Czech “connections” seriously

“… There are two legitimate responses to these reports. The first, to which I incline, is that Corbyn and his friends on the Labour left were, at the very least, playing with fire at a time of great geopolitical tension. Such contacts, however innocent they may have seemed, were freighted with significance and peril, subtly encouraging the myth of moral equivalence between the two sides in the cold war. … An alternative response is this: the threat of nuclear holocaust in the second half of the 20th century imposed a special responsibility on all western politicians to explore every possible opportunity to build bridges with representatives of Warsaw Pact nations. … Much more alarming, however, than either of these arguments is the mildly amused indifference which the Sarkocy story has generally inspired.” – Guardian


Other parties 

  • Fans leave Glasgow concert after singer criticises Sturgeon – Herald
  • New Ukip leader “defends” his description of Islam as a “death cult” – The Times
  • Corbynistas are becoming radicalised – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Powerful pupil action for gun control continues following Florida school massacre

“They went to school with dreams of achieving great things. They aspired to be scientists, broadcasters, actors, musicians and teachers. “Now we are changing the world, just not in the way we imagined,” said Alex Wind, 18, one of the student founders of the #NeverAgain movement that was born out of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school (MSD). “This school, this small town, now has a big voice and we’re going to get things done,” he said. “We are going to be the difference.” The shooting at the school in Florida, in which 14 students and three staff were killed and 14 more injured, has been met with outrage, calls to action, speeches and powerful pledges to get a grip on gun control — led by the young survivors themselves.” – The Times

News in Brief

  • What to expect from May’s speech today – Owen Bennett, HuffingtonPost
  • Some thoughts on social care – James Taylor, Backbencher
  • We need a Brexit focus on services – Jonathan Hill, Reaction
  • Hunt’s unintended consequences – Phil Whitaker, New Statesman
  • The importance of “secular ethics” – Troy Jollimore, Aeon