EU 1) Ministers back curtailing right to work

“EU citizens would have no more right to come and work in Britain than those of any other country under plans presented to Theresa May’s Brexit war cabinet yesterday. In a proposal that risks further inflaming tensions with Brussels, several ministers backed the plan for a “level playing field” immigration system to be introduced after Brexit. The idea was one of two options for a reformed immigration system presented to the meeting by Olly Robbins, Mrs May’s chief Brexit negotiator. While no vote was taken and Mrs May herself did not express a view, one source suggested it was now the most likely option for the government to pursue. “Level playing field is certainly in the ascendancy,” the source said.” – The Times

  • Cabinet still ‘million miles away’ from agreeing a position – Daily Telegraph
  • Prime Minister chairs ‘war cabinet’ to trash out negotiation plan – The Sun
  • May pledges ‘full-blooded Brexit’ to Tory donors- Daily Mail
  • MPs will see full deal before voting, Prime Minister says – Daily Telegraph
  • May will ‘fight back’ after Brussels demands punitive powers – Daily Express


  • Boost from trade deals won’t cover losses, leak reveals – The Times
  • Rees-Mogg leads Tories pushing May to fight ‘bullying’ EU – Daily Express
  • Redwood attacks forecast of £80 billion Brexit ‘cost’ – Daily Mail


EU 2) Bradley installed on Brexit committee

“Theresa May has slipped her most loyal Cabinet minister onto the key Brexit negotiations committee, sparking claims she is preparing to confront Boris Johnson. Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley was quietly made a permanent member of the decision forum last week, The Sun can reveal. The PM’s secret move came just before the committee met for the first time yesterday to start thrashing out Britain’s demands for a future trade deal with Brussels. Until ultra-loyal Ms Bradley’s appointment, the 10-strong committee had a small majority for a harder Brexit, by five versus four, with the PM in the middle of the vicious feud. Brexiteers lead by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson were given the upper hand when new Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said he will side with the Leavers, who are locked in a stand-off with former pro-EU campaigners lead by Chancellor Philip Hammond. The arrival of Ms Bradley, who campaigned for Remain, tips the balance back.” – The Sun

  • Ministers ‘sharply divided’ over Irish border – FT
  • Norway-style deal presents Irish border headaches – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish Government want immigration policy devolved – The Guardian
  • Paisley’s ‘no surrender’ Brexit rallying call to the Government – Belfast Telegraph

More Northern Ireland:

  • Deal to restore power-sharing ‘could happen within days’ – Belfast Telegraph
  • Hoare claims Corbyn and Abbott ‘supported and revelled in IRA terrorism’ – The Sun

EU 3) Soros backs bid for second referendum

“George Soros, the billionaire known as the man who “broke the Bank of England”, is backing a campaign to overturn Brexit, the Telegraph can disclose. The investor is one of three senior figures linked to the Remain-supporting campaign group Best for Britain who plan to launch a nationwide advertising campaign this month, which they hope will lead to a second referendum to keep Britain in the EU. The campaign is trying to recruit major Tory donors in an attempt to undermine Theresa May. It also plans to target MPs and convince them to vote against the final Brexit deal to trigger another referendum or general election, according to a strategy document leaked from a meeting of the group.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Financier ‘donates’ £400,000 to Miller-founded group – FT
  • Guerrilla tactics and hefty sums to return Britain to Brussels – Daily Telegraph
  • Clegg attacks Brussels for misreading public opinion – Daily Mail

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

EU 4) Nick Timothy: Elitist Remainers want to bring down the Government

“The time is now,” said Lord Malloch-Brown, the former Labour minister, as he concluded his presentation. But he had misjudged his audience. The Conservative Party donors he was addressing had little interest in his proposal: a plan to stop Brexit by bringing down the Government… The objective is to convince MPs to vote against the deal Theresa May negotiateswith Brussels, regardless of its content and despite the risk that doing so could mean Britain leaves the EU with no alternative agreement in place. Malloch-Brown and his backers believe that, if Parliament rejects the Brexit deal, the Government will fall, and Brexit can then be stopped. A strategy paper seen by several guests at the dinner declared: “We must win the meaningful vote that Mrs May has promised… That is likely to trigger a new referendum, or election. We must prevail decisively, so reassuring Europe that our return will be permanent.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Parliament is sleepwalking into a British Versailles – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • Some Remainers will fight Brexit every step of the way – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • Rees-Mogg risks endangering Brexit – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Ignore Project Fear, EFTA has much to offer post-Brexit – Stephen Hammond MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Rees-Mogg has become the perfect politician for our confused times – Nesrine Malik, The Guardian
  • To get a good deal we must prepare to leave without one – Ashey Fox MEP, Daily Telegraph


  • Brussels wants to punish us, so Britain needs a Plan B – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: What is a Conservative? Answers to Soubry on a postcard, please.

Tory rebels fail to end local authority austerity

“MPs have approved the government’s local authority funding settlement for 2018/19 after quashing a backbench Tory rebellion. The government is under heavy pressure to increase funding to local councils after the imposition of emergency spending controls in Northamptonshire and a revolt from MPs in rural constituencies. However, MPs voted for the settlement by 287 votes to 223 on Wednesday night, representing an eighth year of austerity. Despite the threat of a rebellion by up to eight Conservative MPs, no Tories voted against the government. It comes after ministers announced an extra £150m for adult social care on Tuesday to appease the backbench rebels.” – FT

  • Councils plan tax hikes to stave off disaster – The Guardian


  • Conservatives open poll lead despite infighting – The Times

>Today: Roy Perry in Local Government: In Hampshire we offer a Council Tax amongst the lowest in the country with services amongst the best.

>Yesterday: Local Government: Who is to blame for the financial crisis in Northamptonshire?

Ministers 1) Gove considers crackdown on puppy sales

“Pet shops and online dealers could be banned from selling puppies as part of moves to crack down on cruelty. Michael Gove announces a review of the law today which could limit sales to licensed breeders and charities that rehouse abandoned dogs. Around 800,000 dogs are sold in the UK every year, mostly through breeders. But around one in ten of all sales are through pet shops and dealers, who need a licence from the town hall. The review will look at banning these so-called ‘third party’ sales. Ministers have given interested parties and the public three months to submit evidence. It is the latest attempt by the Environment Secretary to improve pet welfare. Last year he announced he will increase the jail term for animal cruelty from a maximum six months to five years.” – Daily Mail

  • Food labels to show if animals weren’t stunned – The Times


  • May reveals pet subject to young vlogger – The Times

Ministers 2) Gibb suggests pupils sit more exams to beat stress

“Children should sit more exams so that they find them less stressful by the time they take their GCSEs, the schools minister said yesterday. Nick Gibb blamed the internet and social media, rather than the pressure of assessments, for fuelling severe anxiety among pupils. He told MPs: “Exam pressures have always been there, and the way to deal with exam pressure is to make sure that young people have taken exams earlier on in their school career – at the end of Year 7 [when pupils are aged 12], Year 8, and so on – so they are used to taking exams.” Mr Gibb faced criticism from MPs on the health and education select committees, who said that excessive testing was causing mental health problems in schools.” – The Times

  • SNP to rely on Tory support for their education plans – Tom Peterkin, The Scotsman

Ministers 3) Barclay may ban failing NHS bosses from new jobs

“Health chiefs who cover up serious failings could be banned from taking another NHS job. The move to end the ‘revolving door’ scandal comes after it emerged that two bosses who ran a failed trust where patients suffered ‘significant unnecessary harm’ have found new health service roles. A damning independent report has said that the board of Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust was ‘out of its depth’ when it launched a misguided cost-cutting drive… In response, Health and Social Care Minister Stephen Barclay will announce a review of the ‘fit and proper person’ test. It was brought in following the Mid Staffordshire scandal, in which hundreds of patients died needlessly amid appalling failings in care. He wants to see it toughened up to end the ‘revolving door’ controversy – where failed executives are shifted into other parts of the NHS – once and for all.” – Daily Mail

  • Social media as bad for children as obesity, claims Hunt – The Times


  • Research casts doubt on Government’s school health plan – The Times

One in five at Westminster have witnessed or experienced inappropriate behaviour

“One in five people working at Westminster have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour in the last year, a cross-party working group has found. The report, which was commissioned by MPs, calls for urgent reform to a culture of harassment and bullying at Westminster and a new complaints procedure. The leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, who chairs the working group, said MPs found to have bullied or abused staff would face “real sanctions” for breaching a proposed code of conduct. Recommended punishments include being suspended from parliament and the initiation of proceedings to give constituents the power of recall, meaning MPs could be sacked in some circumstances.” – The Guardian

  • New code will ensure harassment has no place to hide – Andrea Leadsom, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Fleur Butler in Comment: Why Conservatives need to reclaim their feminist heroines

Collins’ committee urged to avoid term ‘fake news’ in US hearings

“A Commons committee has been warned against using the term “fake news” as it prepares to hear evidence on the topic in Washington. The digital, culture, media and sport committee chaired by the Conservative MP Damian Collins will hear five hours of testimony in George Washington University, including an hour each from senior representatives of Twitter, Google and Facebook. It will be the first ever live broadcast and public hearing of a House of Commons select committee outside the UK, as the MPs question members of the technology industry on their role in promoting fake news and misinformation online. In preliminary submissions to the committee, however, some witnesses have been critical of the thrust of the investigation.” – The Guardian

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

Sargeant’s son wins Welsh Assembly by-election

The son of Carl Sargeant has won his father’s old seat in the Welsh Assembly, saying he wanted people to learn “to be kind to each other”. Jack Sargeant, 23, won the Alyn and Deeside assembly by-election after his father was found dead last year, four days after being removed from his role as cabinet secretary for communities and children. After securing a majority of 6,545, Mr Sargeant said he wanted people to learn from his father… Carl Sargent was found dead at home by his wife, after having apparently taken his own life. The father-of-two, from Connah’s Quay, North Wales, was suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping”. There are two ongoing investigations into the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones following the tragedy.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Pro-Corbyn MP sent on diversity training after insensitive language – Daily Telegraph
  • RMT bosses accused of short-changing workers over strike pay – The Sun


  • Labour supporters are wrong to think they have no enemies on the left – David Millward, Daily Telegraph

Macron continues ‘bromance’ with Trump

“French President Emmanuel Macron will be invited to the White House for a state visit in late April, it has been reported. The trip will see Macron become the first world leader to be granted the honor of a full state visit under the Trump administration. It comes after Trump struck up an unlikely friendship with Macron last year as he attended Bastille Day celebrations in Paris. AfP first reported the date of the visit, attributing it to ‘diplomatic sources’. White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the administration’s intentions to extend the invite to Macron back in January. No formal announcement or official date has yet been released.” – Daily Mail

  • US Senate strikes two-year Budget deal – FT


  • There is no reason to rain on the President’s parade – The Times

>Yesterday: Ben Roback’s column: Trump knows what he thinks about the NHS, but does he know which healthcare policy he wants for his own country?

News in Brief:

  • Time to stop doom-mongering over the Irish border – Hugh Bennett, Brexit Central
  • Germany’s centre holds, but for how much longer? – Leopold Traugott, CapX
  • Berlin’s new foreign minister is a Euro-fanatic and no friend to Britain – Gerald Warner, Reaction
  • This is the stock market crash we needed – Liam Halligan, The Spectator