Brexit: Government denies rumours of ‘open-ended’ Brexit transition…

“Britain will be fully out of the EU by the end of 2020, Government sources said last night. A senior Whitehall source said the so-called ‘transition period’ would almost certainly be over by the end of December 2020, when the current seven-year EU budget expires. The declaration came after a day of confusion and claims from some Eurosceptics that the Government’s Brexit strategy was becoming ‘shambolic’. Ministers yesterday published negotiating guidelines saying the transition period should be governed by ‘how long it will take to prepare’ for leaving the EU – suggesting it could be open-ended. This sparked a Eurosceptic backlash, which threatened to overshadow today’s crunch meeting of Theresa May’s Brexit ‘war cabinet’ at Chequers.” – Daily Mail

  • Cabinet did not agree May’s position, ministers claim – Daily Telegraph
  • Tory jitters exposed as Prime Minister pushes for agreement – The Guardian
  • Rebels force delay to customs votes – The Times
  • Three Scottish Tory MPs sign ‘clean break’ Brexit letter – The Scotsman
  • Johnson’s allies deny claims he admitted that Brexit was a ‘mess’ – Daily Mail


  • May must emerge from Chequers with a real plan – Daily Telegraph
  • Transition process could drag on indefinitely – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Today’s Brexit summit. We must be Ready On Day One to leave transition and the Customs Union on time.

…as Lidington offers SNP ‘gamut’ of powers to break deadlock

“Theresa May’s de facto deputy has formally offered to transfer to Scotland all powers repatriated from Brussels that involve devolved policy areas as part of a deal to break a Brexit deadlock with the SNP and avoid a constitutional crisis. David Lidington, the Cabinet Office Minister, said he had tabled a “considerable offer” for the three devolved administrations that would see them receive a “significant increase” in their powers while protecting the UK’s internal market. He urged the SNP government to be flexible about the setting up of new “common frameworks” across the UK to replace EU regimes such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy. The sticking point between the two sides is understood to revolve around Downing Street’s insistence that Scottish ministers do not use their new powers to diverge from the rest of the UK until the frameworks are in place.” – Daily Telegraph

  • May capitulates to nationalists over Brexit powers – Daily Express


  • Corbyn to deliver Labour’s Brexit road map – The Times
  • May braced for Unilever decision on headquarters – FT
  • Pro-Brexit economists forecast four per cent boost to growth – The Times
  • Hoey accused of putting Brexit before peace – The Sun

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: To get real Brexit for Great Britain, the DUP should consent to Ulster staying in the Single Market and Customs Union

>Yesterday: Dr Graham Gudgin in Comment: The EU report which confirms that the Irish Border issue can be resolved with technology

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: It is very dangerous to rely on EU goodwill over Brexit

“Mrs May is taking a gamble. She has given up two trump cards – money and defence – in order to clear the political air, without securing any guarantee to our knowledge that this will break the deeper deadlock. Let us acknowledge that this is a legitimate approach to an intractable issue. Sometimes you have to take such risks in high statecraft. She has little choice in any case given the arithmetic of Parliament, and the constitutional fissures over Scotland and Ireland. But let us also be clear about the implications if it turns out that this strategy is based on wishful thinking… Britain might have to choose between a disastrous cliff-edge or total capitulation. That would surely have shattering effects on British democracy, vastly more important than the relative trivia of this or that trade model.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We can respect the referendum without the self-sabotage of WTO terms – Antoinette Sandbach, Times Red Box
  • Rees-Mogg and friends are playing with fire – Iain Martin, The Times
  • EU’s regulatory obsession is protectionist in nature – Shanker Singham, Daily Telegraph
  • Leave voters have grounds for optimism, but there’s more to do – Matthew Elliott, Times Red Box
  • It’s ludicrous for Remainers to pretend voters didn’t know what they were voting for – Tom Cannon, Daily Telegraph
  • The world knows Brexit must be reversed – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Tories face meltdown in London local elections

“Theresa May is facing a London meltdown in local elections – with the Tories on track to lose Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet. A shock poll shows the Conservatives could be stripped of key strongholds in the capital on May 3, with Labour ahead by 54 per cent to 28 per cent. A result as bad as the figures imply would be a devastating blow and reignite speculation about the Prime Minister’s future. The YouGov research for Queen Mary University found there had been a swing of 13.4 per cent in inner London, where Labour has traditionally been strongest, since the council seats were last contested in 2014. But even in outer London the swing is 4.2 per cent. Wandsworth, reputed as Margaret Thatcher’s favourite council during the 1980s, would fall if the swing is even across inner London.” – Daily Mail

  • Capital’s Conservatives may lose a third of town halls – The Times
  • Tory association slammed over tweets – Daily Mail


  • Battle lines drawn as Tories try to cling to flagship council – Carole Walker, Times Red Box

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

May backs free press after Corbyn’s threats

“Theresa May last night made a staunch defence of a free Press as she condemned Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to blame journalists for the Cold War spy row. She said it was newspapers’ duty to ‘shine a light into dark corners and ask awkward questions’. The Prime Minister warned it was the job of politicians ‘to provide answers’, not to complain about ‘legitimate questioning’. Labour yesterday stepped up its offensive against media scrutiny as the row over Mr Corbyn’s links with Eastern Bloc agents in the 1980s continued. His aides warned ‘irresponsible’ reporting had endangered his personal security, as the party threatened to tighten government control of newspapers with a ban on foreign ownership.” – Daily Mail

  • Spy claims ‘endanger’ Labour leader – The Times
  • Czechoslovak dossier which proves Labour can’t just dismiss this story – Daily Mail
  • Communist agent met other Labour MPs – The Sun
  • Stasi ‘infiltrated’ peace group Corbyn helped to run – Daily Telegraph


  • When the mask slips, Corbyn neither thinks nor talks like a democrat – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Middle-class liberals are in denial about the horrors of Corbynism – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • The liberal crusaders have become bullies – David Aaronovitch, The Times


  • War on press is Corbyn’s bid to silence hostile stories – The Sun

Ministers 1) Williamson concerned about takeover of GKN

“The hostile takeover of the defence giant GKN is to be investigated by MPs amid concern that it could harm national security. In a rare intervention in a corporate takeover, executives from GKN and the predatory bidder Melrose are being called before the business committee. MPs want answers about the risk to jobs, pensions and the manufacturing of key military parts if the £7.4 billion deal goes ahead. It came as Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson expressed ‘serious concerns’ about the proposed takeover. Giving evidence to the defence select committee, Mr Williamson said he had written to Business Secretary Greg Clark about the deal, adding: ‘There is no clarity as to what the true approach is going to be in terms of the GKN military side of the business.” – Daily Mail

  • Russia and North Korea are bigger threats than terrorism, Defence Secretary claims – The Times
  • UK announces new combat air strategy – FT

Ministers 2) Chancellor ‘wasn’t told’ of appointees tax-avoiding past

“The row over the tax avoidance past of the man chosen to head Britain’s City watchdog deepened last night. Charles Randell was made chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority despite using a notorious scheme to cut tax bills. Yesterday it emerged the boss of the headhunting firm that recommended him for the job was an investor in the same scheme, Ingenious Film Partners 2. It was also revealed that the top mandarin at the Treasury failed to tell Philip Hammond about Mr Randell’s past. The Chancellor must approve the appointment, as the FCA is responsible for policing the Square Mile and protecting consumers from bad behaviour by bankers.” – Daily Mail

  • MPs approve new FCA chair despite admission – The Guardian


  • Deficit restraint puts the UK economy on a better course – FT
  • Hammond gets an £11 billion boost – The Sun
  • Borrowing falls to pre-crisis levels as productivity hits decade high – Daily Mail


  • Of course the Tories must outbid Labour to save capitalism – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph

Ministers 3) Hancock overrules MPs on charity regulator

“A rift in the charity sector opened up yesterday after ministers overruled MPs to impose their controversial choice to lead the regulator. Several charity leaders spoke out to attack the decision to confirm Baroness Stowell of Beeston as chairwoman of the Charity Commission despite her struggling to answer questions from the digital, culture, media and sport committee in a pre-appointment hearing. Lady Stowell, a former leader of the House of Lords, is to quit the Conservative Party and sit as a crossbench peer but some critics said that her appointment would compromise the regulator’s neutrality. Others in the sector insisted she was an “outstanding” choice.” – The Times

Ministers 4) Mundell attacks SNP tax plan

Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to hike income tax for hundreds of thousands of workers are a “fundamental mistake”, David Mundell has said as official figures showed Scottish unemployment has spiked. The Scottish Secretary described a 14,000 increase in the number of people out of work in the final three months of 2017 as “worrying” and business leaders urged the Nationalists to “change tack” on the tax hikes if there are “unintended consequences” for the economy. SNP ministers attempted to blame Brexit for the figures, which also saw the number of Scots in employment falling by 20,000. However, the total in work across the UK increased by 87,000 over the same period. They were published as the Scottish Budget for 2018/19, which included the tax hike, cleared its final parliamentary hurdle by 70 votes to 56 in the Holyrood chamber following a deal between the minority SNP government and the hard-Left Scottish Greens.” – Daily Telegraph

British Government ‘concedes’ that Assad will stay in power

“Bashar al-Assad will remain in power in Syria because the West no longer has any leverage to get rid of him, the British government believes. The admission came as it emerged that many children have died in the latest wave of bombing and shelling by the dictator’s forces. Five were reportedly killed in one incident as they stood by a school gate. Theresa May and her ministers had repeatedly insisted that Assad must go and there was no future for his barbaric regime. But eight years into the civil war it has emerged that the Government has decided to adopt what is considered to be a more realistic approach.” – Daily Mail

  • Homs, Aleppo… after six years, Ghouta may be next – The Times
  • SNP demands May step up response – The Scotsman

Abbott says Labour would let in more immigrations

“Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott today said Labour would let more immigrants into Britain if  they are elected into Downing Street. The Labour frontbencher said that if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister he will usher in new laws to loosen border controls. She said they will change the rules to let child refugees who come to Britain bring their parents and carers with them. Ms Abbott also said Labour would end the policy of deporting children without the entitlement to be in the UK when they reach the age of 18… But the Tories warned the changes would just encourage children to make the potentially perilous journey to Europe across dangerous and war-torn areas.” – Daily Mail

  • Shadow Home Secretary sparks fury with Nazi comparison – Daily Telegraph
  • Rising number of European workers head to Britain – The Times

MPs take evidence from anti-Belfast Agreement loyalist

“Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson has told the Northern Ireland Affairs committee the Belfast Agreement “is a moral stain on the British parliament.” Mr Bryson, listed as a representative of Unionist Voice Policy Studies, appeared before the committee this morning for the session entitled ‘Devolution and democracy in Northern Ireland – dealing with the deficit’. In a blistering attack on the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Bryson told the committee: “If people took to the streets and said ‘we’re going to burn down London, unless we can have a mandatory coalition, we’re going to blow London up’, would you expect the British parliament to humiliate itself and say ‘okay, we will change our system of government to ensure that you won’t shoot and bomb us’?”” – News Letter

News in Brief:

  • The Government must not let Britain drift into permanent EU purgatory – Gisela Stuart, Brexit Central
  • Britain needs its own Magnitsky rule – Andrew Foxall, CapX
  • How to make modern capitalism work – Andrew Lilico, Reaction
  • Merkel has created Germany’s far right – Fredrik Erixon, The Spectator

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