Brexit 1) Senior ERG members discuss its demands with May

“Theresa May has been told by more than 60 Conservative MPs that they will no longer support her Brexit plans if members of the cabinet agree tomorrow to keep Britain too closely aligned to the European Union. The demands were set out in a letter from the powerful European Research Group (ERG) and delivered to Downing Street on Friday. It was signed by four members of the government, four former cabinet ministers and a serving Tory vice-chairwoman. Senior ERG figures including Jacob Rees-Mogg, its chairman, were summoned to see Mrs May yesterday to discuss the contents. A leading Tory MP who supports a softer Brexit position said that the ERG plans “must be resisted” and it would be madness to agree to their demands.” – The Times

  • The 62 set out their “red lines” in a letter – Daily Telegraph
  • They urge her to stick to Lancaster House ideals – Daily Express
  • Including need for UK not to become a “rule taker” – Independent
  • Morgan calls it a “ransom note” – Guardian


  • The ERG’s demands are “wholly unreasonable” – The Times 

Brexit 2) Cabinet to meet at Chequers tomorrow to “finalise proposals”

“The cabinet will meet at Chequers tomorrow to finalise Britain’s proposals but The Times understands that key elements of the plan are already being privately briefed to EU member states. These include: • A pledge not to sign trade deals that would lower Britain’s environmental or product safety regulations. • A new “level playing field” mechanism under which Britain and the EU would be obliged not to use state aid or reduced regulation to hinder competition, or give their companies unfair competitive advantage. • A proposal under which the EU and UK would recognise each other’s regulatory regimes and a new dispute mechanism to manage divergence. The pledges would be underpinned by a new structure of EU and UK joint committees which would consult each other on future laws and regulations.” – The Times

  • They will “hammer out” the details – Guardian
  • Meanwhile, EU sources claim Johnson called Brexit “a mess” – Daily Express
  • Davis suggests UK could withhold divorce bill if no trade deal – Independent
  • And backs Good Friday Agreement – The Sun
  • Hammond and Davis on “charm offensive” to brief EU states on decisions – The Times
  • While Fox says EU tariffs will hurt its countries’ competitiveness – Daily Express
  • Is the Government on “brink” of powers deal with Scotland and Wales? – Guardian


  • The cabinet “must remember what leaving means” – The Sun

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Davis: “Having the EU and its member states succeed…is absolutely in our national interest”

Brexit 3) Morgan: Davis’s speech yesterday laid out need for “compromise” on “global Britain”

“Successfully delivering Brexit has, in truth, always been about who would be honest enough to set out the compromises needed to actually get the UK to leave. Davis’s speech finally laid out one of those, and offered more clarity on what Brexit can’t deliver if the government really is to keep its “global Britain” promise. The key line is this: “ The future of standards and regulations – the building blocks of free trade – is increasingly global.” UK businesses won’t be relieved of the mythical EU regulations and standards that parts of our media have gone on and on about for decades, because many of them are already global– and in fact, as the secretary of state said, these serve consumers, workers and, in some cases, our environment very well.” – Guardian

Brexit 4) Bennett: The “road to divergence” may be more “Mad Max” than Davis wants

“… Those areas the British Government decides to diverge from European rules on will be fiercely fought over. Eurosceptic Tory MPs will want Brexit Britain to diverge as far as necessary to escape burdensome EU rules, but Brussels bureaucrats will be poised to strike if they feel Britain is trying to gain an unfair advantage on them. If ministers fail to diverge significantly, what would they have to show trading partners outside of the EU as evidence that they’re more competitive outside of the bloc?” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Davis made a positive pitch today – so why was the chosen spin for his speech so negative?

More Brexit comment

  • I’ll be there to launch the new Brexit bus this morning – Baroness Lane Fox, The Times
  • Britain will end up as Canada – Martin Wolf, FT

Mordaunt accuses Oxfam of being “quite possibly deliberately” misleading

“The charity sector was pushed deeper into trouble last night after new claims about Oxfam and Save the Children. The international development secretary accused Oxfam, Britain’s fourth biggest charity, of misleading — “quite possibly deliberately” — governments, police and the public by hiding the scale and nature of sexual exploitation by rogue staff in Haiti in 2011. As Penny Mordaunt was making her intervention in the Commons, Save the Children, Britain’s ninth biggest charity, apologised to three women who raised concerns about “inappropriate behaviour and comments” by Justin Forsyth when he was chief executive.” – The Times

  • And of “betraying the public” – Daily Telegraph
  • She threatens to “strip existing public contracts” – FT
  • Meanwhile, Baroness Stowell “blackballed” by MPs regarding charities role – The Times 
  • And Save the Children boss resigns – Daily Telegraph


  • Oxfam boss “grovelled” in front of select committee – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • Aid givers have seen themselves as “white saviours” – Afua Hirsch, Guardian
  • Charity work has become a business – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

>Today: Alex Morton’s column: It’s time to turn the Department for International Development into a Department for Humanitarian Relief

Gove talks of continuing need for “cheap EU workers”

“Michael Gove has demanded farmers still have access to cheap European labour after Brexit – risking a fresh spat with Theresa May, who has pledged a clampdown. Heaping pressure on the PM ahead of a crunch Cabinet session on exit plans, the Environment Secretary added that more workers will also have to come from the wider world to keep Britain’s agricultural sector afloat. In a speech to the National Farmers’ Union, the top Brexiteer- who campaigned to bring in immigration controls – said he had explained to Whitehall migration boss “that we will need continued access to skilled labour if we’re to keep our farming sector productive and profitable.”” – The Sun

  • He makes case for new seasonal agricultural workers scheme – FT
  • Meanwhile, he calls rural connectivity a “public good” – The Times

May says non-active peers should consider retirement

“Theresa May has suggested peers who fail to turn up and contribute to the House of Lords should be encouraged to resign in order to cut the size of the upper chamber. The Prime Minister has also pledged to end the convention of top ranking judges and police officers being automatically offered a peerage when they retire. However, she has stopped short of backing proposals to cut the number of peers from approximately 800 to 600 and said such a move would “require further consideration” to ensure there are no “unintended consequences”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • And that senior civil servants no longer “entitled’ to peerage – The Times
  • But she says plans to cut numbers “need more thought” – Independent

More Parliament 

  • Ellwood directly appeals to HMT for defence money – The Times 
  • First female Black Rod formally takes over – Daily Telegraph
  • Green says he didn’t “behave inappropriately” towards Maltby – The Times
  • Higher education reforms “have been progressive”. The PM shouldn’t attack them –  Ryan Shorthouse, The Times

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: Focusing on university fees neglects the most important and potent parts of the new education review

>Today: ToryDiary: Peter Tatchell – the latest ‘racist’ and ‘transphobic’ target of speech-policing students

Corbyn criticised for “warning the media” that “change is coming”

“Jeremy Corbyn has warned the media that “change is coming” if he becomes prime minister as he described disclosures about his meetings with a Communist spy as “lies and smears”. The Labour leader suggested newspapers including the Telegraph had investigated his links to former Czechoslovakian agent Jan Sarkocy because they are “worried” by the prospect of a Labour government. But Conservative MPs accused him of wanting to “muzzle” the press, which had investigated “a matter of public interest”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Meanwhile, his finance comments seen as risky by sector – The Times


  • He’s been very open about his views on communism – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • No, he should be more honest – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Attacks on him are just propaganda – Tom Watson, Independent


DUP says publishing talks papers’ would be “act of bad faith”

“Edwin Poots has said the publication of any of the talks’ papers would be “an act of bad faith”. The DUP MLA’s comments come after increasing calls from other politicians – including members of the UUP and the Labour Party – to reveal details of negiotiations which collapsed last Wednesday. Mr Poots said the DUP will not publish any talks papers adding if others wish to publish elements “that’s a matter for them”. He said: “It is time for the Government to set a budget and make key decisions for schools, hospitals, mental health, roads and broadband. SF has held the country to ransom for long enough.” – Belfast News Letter

  • They call Brexiters GFA attitude “reckless” –  The Times

Other parties

  • SNP criticises other parties for not attending immigration inquiry – Herald
  • While its finance minister won’t apologise about “misleading” behaviour over income tax – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Whitehall’s “basic forecasting errors” – Kevin Dowd, BrexitCentral
  • May’s “sense of duty” – Kenneth Baker, Reaction
  • Gove the journeyman? – Owen Bennett, HuffingtonPost
  • Rees-Mogg’s “relentless privilege” – Martin Fletcher, New Statesman
  • Adorno’s problems – Owen Hulatt, Aeon

25 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 21st February 2018

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