Heterosexuals to be given the right to form civil partnerships

“Heterosexual couples will be given the right to enter civil partnerships after the Government ushered in the biggest shake up of marriage laws since the 1800s. In a move that was derided as introducing “marriage-lite”, the Home Office said it would review the “operation” of civil partnerships – which are currently only available to homosexual couples – “so the difference in treatment in the current system is resolved”. The reform is the most controversial of a series of changes that will mean couples are no longer given a marriage certificate on the day of their wedding and will not sign an official register on the day. A single electronic register will replace the current system of registers being held in churches.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Loughton’s Bill received an unopposed second reading – The Times
  • Partners who took fight to court – Daily Mail

Gove and Johnson pushing back against proposals for a new Customs Union…

“Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Liam Fox will this week warn against joining a Customs Union with the EU after Brexit in a potentially “explosive” Cabinet confrontation. The three eurosceptic Cabinet ministers will say that Britain must be able to strike free trade deals after it leaves the European Union as the issue is debated for the first time by senior members of the Government. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, and Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, have argued for a new Customs Union to limit the loss of trade with Europe, reduce the need for new customs procedures and avoid a hard border in Ireland.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Robbins to promote plan to “end the stalemate” – The Times

…as Fox insists we must be free to agree our own trade deals

“Britain will not benefit from Brexit if it stays in the EU customs union, Liam Fox warned yesterday. The International Development Secretary exposed a Cabinet rift by ruling out future membership of the union with Brussels. Dr Fox said Britain would never be free to strike its own trade deals if it remained shackled to the EU. However, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark are pushing to stay in a customs union for goods.” – Daily Mail



We will defeat the real life McMafias pledges Wallace

“The McMafia drama reflects the reality of international crime today. As Security Minister I see cases involving young girls trafficked across continents for sex, corrupt officials, murders and smooth middle men laundering money on their crime boss’s behalf…I am determined to ruthlessly focus on the threat using everything we have at our disposal. We will prosecute the Kingpins and the environment they inhabit using a full spectrum of effects. As part of that process, this week our law enforcement community received new powers under the Criminal Finances Act.” – Ben Wallace, The Sun

Conservatives “face wipe out” in the London local elections

“Senior Conservatives are warning that the party faces a near-wipeout in London during local elections this May as tension rises over the role of Boris Johnson in the campaign. Theresa May has been told that she will face renewed attempts to drive her out of Downing Street if the party performs poorly…The Conservatives run ten London borough councils and some in the party believe that they could lose control of every one.” – The Times

  • Dithering plotters adding to instability – The Times

>Yesterday: Local Government: Council by-election results from yesterday

£100 million of Government backed loans offered to Carillion contractors

“Contractors affected by the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion will be able to apply for government-backed loans from High Street lenders. Thousands of Carillion suppliers were left unpaid after the construction giant collapsed in January. Ministers say the state-owned British Business Bank will guarantee £100m of lending to those firms, which should make it easier for them to borrow. This is in addition to funds created by Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and RBS. Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “We want to signal very clearly to small and medium sized businesses who were owed money by Carillion that they will be supported to continue trading.” – BBC

Boles and Truss clash over Labour’s proposed land grab

“Two senior Tories clashed in public on Friday, over a Labour plan to seize land from fat cat landbankers. Former Tory housing minister Nick Boles signalled he’d back a radical plan by Jeremy Corbyn to force landowners to sell plots for a fraction of their market value to build council houses. But in a Twitter spat the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss branded the idea “deeply sinister”. Mr Boles responded: “No it’s not” and told her to “read beyond the headline”. Under existing laws the state must pay market value prices for land compulsorily purchased for housebuilding.” – The Sun

Bogus foreign students have been “rooted out”

“A crackdown on bogus colleges has stopped overseas students driving up immigration figures, Theresa May has said. Speaking during a trade trip to China, the Prime Minister attempted to end the row about including student numbers in regular migration data. Theresa May said Home Office efforts to stop migrants posing as students while really looking for work had largely been rooted out so their movements “don’t have a long term impact on the numbers.” Her remarks follow a bitter row between ministers about the inclusion of student numbers.” – Daily Express

May praised for “side stepping” human rights on China visit

“Theresa May returned to Britain yesterday to lavish praise from the Chinese regime for sidestepping human rights issues despite the “mudslinging” of the western media. An editorial in the Global Times, a state-backed Communist newspaper, said the “pragmatic” prime minister had refused to appease the British media to secure warm relations. “Some western media outlets keep pestering May to criticise Beijing in an attempt to showcase that the UK has withstood pressure from China and the West has consolidated its commanding position over the country in politics,” the paper wrote. “For the prime minister, the losses outweigh the gains if she appeases the British media at the cost of the visit’s friendly atmosphere.” – The Times

Halfon calls for the rights of excluded pupils to be protected

“Excluded kids should be protected by a new “bill of rights” to give greater scrutinise of the school’s decision to kick them out, a top Tory has said. The number of children excluded from schools for poor behaviour has soared to around 35 a day. A probe by the boss of the influential Commons Education committee Robert Halfon has found a lack of protection for pupils and their parents where schools have wrongly expelled them. He told the Schools Week magazine: “There should be clear rules.I’m not against the headteacher having an important say, but at the moment the parent has no proper rights. I want a clear appeal system that works.” – The Sun

Rees-Mogg mobbed in Bristol…

“Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP, was jostled and punches were thrown at a fractious speaking event hosted by the University of Western England in Bristol. The MP for North East Somerset, who has been tipped for the Tory leadership, had just started speaking to the university’s Politics and International Relations Society when activists appeared at the back of the lecture theatre and started shouting anti-Conservative slogans. Mr Rees-Mogg, 48, was called a Nazi, a fascist and a racist, according to one witness. He walked towards his detractors to calm them but other members of the audience got involved and there was a scuffle.” – The Times

  • Wilson was his neighbour in Smith Square – The Times

…as Parris goes on the attack too

“Wrong-footed, his good manners depart and snarls break through the politesse. His cloak of courtesy slipping so easily on and off his shoulders, Rees-Mogg deserves the writer Robert Harris’s appraisal, “a barmaid’s idea of a gentleman”. Barmaids deserve better, though. They see through men more easily than the eager young Tory boys of the ConservativeHome website. It’s revealing, too, about the Brexit ultras: so blinded by zealotry as to think it even remotely likely that senior civil servants would cook the figures; so blinded by zealotry as not even to check with the alleged source of the story — but instead to take a flyer with the facts and the proprieties in the cause of some supposed greater good: Brexit.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Is the Brexit forecast a conspiracy? Apply Hammond’s Razor.

Davidson decided to marry after only three dates

“Ruth Davidson decided she was going to marry her fiancée after just three dates. The Scottish Conservative leader proposed to partner Jen Wilson in 2016, but their wedding was postponed after a car ran over their dog’s paw. Vet’s bills wiped out their savings, and Ms Davidson has declined to make the rescheduled date public to ensure privacy. In an interview with fashion magazine Vogue, the MSP said Jen kept her grounded and was “very, very funny, and really laid-back” She recalled rushing home to see Jen shortly after a referendum debate in 2014 – despite those around her wanting to stay for after-show drinks.” – The Herald

Government to ban export of live animals after Brexit

“Exporters will finally be banned from selling live animals for slaughter when Britain is free from Brussels under plans being drawn up by ministers. Thousands of animals are shipped from Britain to be slaughtered in sub-standard abattoirs in Europe every year. Livestock also endure cruel conditions during long journeys across the continent. Membership of the EU makes it powerless for ministers to ban the trade. But Environment Secretary Michael Gove is already working on plans to bring in a new law to ban the export of live animals for slaughter after we leave the EU. Government sources said it is “something we want to get moving on” and said plans will be published by the autumn.” – The Sun

Labour is still failing to act on anti-semitism

“Labour Party figures are angry that disciplinary action has not been taken against members in a branch that was allegedly beset by incidents of antisemitism “with troubling regularity”. An investigation was conducted into the Liverpool Riverside constituency party after a series of complaints about “uncomradely behaviour, endemic behavioural problems within meetings and incidents of antisemitism”, according to its final report…The revelation comes as Claire Kober, the Labour leader of Haringey council, announced her intention to step down at the May elections, claiming that there was widespread anti-Jewish behaviour in her local party.” – The Times

“Publish your tax return,” Corbyn tells May

“Jeremy Corbyn has challenged Theresa May to publish her full tax return after he released his own document showing he paid almost £50,000 in tax on his earnings in 2016-17. The Labour leader received total income of £136,762, which includes his salary as an MP, pay for his role as leader of the opposition and pensions. The 68-year-old had no outside earnings during the year and paid a total of £48,079.80 in tax. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, received total income of £87,353 and paid £24,099.20 in tax. This included his salary plus a small amount of interest from savings in a credit union.” – The Guardian

Blue plaque proposed for Enoch Powell

“A row has erupted over plans to commemorate the life and work of Enoch Powell with a blue plaque in Wolverhampton where he served as a Conservative MP. The city’s Civic and Historical Society has received an application to honour the politician who caused outrage when he delivered his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech 50 years ago. The move has already triggered threats that any plaque would be ripped down or vandalised. A panel of six members of the society will rule whether to commemorate the politician this year, the 20th anniversary of his death. Powell was 85 when he died in February 1998.” – Daily Telegraph

Zimbabwe invites exiled white farmers to return

“White farmers in Zimbabwe have been thrown a lifeline by the country’s new government, offering hope to those who live in fear of losing their livelihoods and raising the prospect of a new era in the shattered country. The country’s new agriculture minister, Perence Shiri, told the white farmers, many of whom struggled under the recently deposed Robert Mugabe, that they would be offered 99-year leases over their land.” – The Times

Democrats warn Trump not to fire special counsel investigating

“Senior Democrats have warned President Donald Trump not to use a controversial memo as a “pretext” to fire the special counsel investigating alleged Russian involvement in the US election. They warned that such action could trigger a constitutional crisis not seen since the Nixon era. The memo, written by Republicans, accuses the FBI of abusing its powers. President Trump approved the declassification of the memo and said it revealed a disgraceful story. It accuses the FBI and the justice department of using an unsubstantiated and Democratic-funded report to obtain the warrant that gave permission to spy on an aide to Mr Trump.” – BBC

Oborne: Tories must unite behind May

“The fact is that, for all her faults, Theresa May commands more public respect than any of her Cabinet colleagues. I can only see one way that the Tories can pull back from the brink…Last night, there was evidence that the Tory high command is seeing sense. I am told that Boris Johnson, despite a track record for defying Mrs May’s leadership, has honourably decided to postpone a speech he was due to make next week on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Rudd and Hammond should follow suit and show solidarity with the Prime Minister. By doing so, they would help reunite the Conservative Party and stop power being handed on a plate to Jeremy Corbyn.” – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

Forsyth: Time for the PM to show leadership

“In January last year she gave the Lancaster House speech, setting out that Britain would leave the European Single Market. In September she gave the Florence speech, setting out the UK wanted a transition period — and would pay for it. In December she shook on the stage one deal with the EU. In all three of these, there were decisions and compromises made that members of the Cabinet — including senior ones — did not like. But, ultimately, they accepted that Mrs May was Prime Minister and had to lead. I suspect the same dynamic would play out again if she gave a speech setting out the details of the economic relationship she wanted after Brexit. After all, no one wants to be the person responsible for bringing down the Government and splitting the party.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Moore: We need to leave the European Court of Human Rights too

“Mrs May said yet again yesterday that Britain, post-Brexit, must regain control of our money, our laws and our borders. She is right. But if we ask ourselves why we do not have control of our laws and borders, our membership of the European Union is only part of the answer. The other big bit is the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg…One example is the ECHR’s famous ruling that Britain must allow prisoners to have the vote. Another is the way the court has crept beyond the borders of its member states to tell us what we must do anywhere in the world. When we were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, our ability to act in life-and-death situations was constantly compromised by Strasbourg legal interference and the prospect of being sued to the crack of doom. These difficulties now inhibit all our military operations.” Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Ending unfettered free movement of people remains a vital element of Brexit – David Goodhart, Brexit Central
  • What do Tory MPs really think about Theresa May? – Isabel Hardman and Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • Are Gove’s Green policies just an excuse to raise taxes? – Diane James MEP, Capx
  • Corbyn will pledge to keep the UK in customs union claims Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones – Independent
  • Now the good news – Iain Martin, Reaction