May leads tributes to those killed in the Westminster Bridge attack

“Police stood shoulder to shoulder as they honoured their colleague Keith Palmer as the Prime Minister led tributes to the five people who lost their lives in the Westminster Bridge attack. Officers fell silent near to the spot where PC Palmer was murdered as they lay flowers and wiped away tears at a special vigil for the victims. Theresa May pledged to remember them and stand ‘in defiance of those who would seek to silence our democracy.’ MPs observed a minute’s silence in the House of Commons this morning before Theresa May laid flowers near the site where Pc Keith Palmer and four innocent pedestrians were killed. Speaker John Bercow asked members in the House of Commons chamber to pause ‘in respectful memory’ of those who died on March 22 last year.” – Daily Mail

  • Ellwood ‘breaks down’ as he remembers events – The Times
  • UK insurance against terror attacks upgraded – FT

Prime Minister to urge MPs to back Heathrow expansion

“Theresa May will ask MPs to kick-start Brexit and back the £15billion expansion of Heathrow in a Commons vote this June. Sources yesterday told The Sun the Government has finally committed to putting the plans before the House in the belief a majority of MPs now back a third runway. A vote in favour of the project in three months’ time will allow Heathrow to finally proceed with a detail design of the flagship development and seek planning approval. Ex-PM David Cameron promised a decision on Heathrow by the end of 2015 – before stalling in the face of a backbench rebellion. The Government delayed again in 2016 after the Referendum vote.” – The Sun

  • MPs say runway must have noise and cost safeguards – FT

More May:

  • New Downing Street unit to promote female entrepreneurship – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Heathrow’s engines rev up

Hancock warns that Facebook could face billions in future fines

“Facebook could be fined more than £1billion if it breaks new data protection laws, Matt Hancock warned today. The Culture Secretary said the measure was at the heart of a package of reforms that would help Britain lead the world in setting the terms on how social media giants operate. Mr Hancock set out plans today to end the ‘Wild West’ of the internet in which the biggest social media firms set the rules on how they collect and use private data. But speaking at a Westminster lunch, Mr Hancock refused to say whether he would keep his own Facebook account after revelations user data was misused by Cambridge Analytica as part of political campaigns.” – Daily Mail

  • British Government could pull all its Facebook adds – The Sun
  • Advertisers begin to boycott Facebook – The Times

More Hancock:

  • Culture Secretary hits trouble on own app – The Times
  • Hancock attacks Watson over Mosley – The Sun


  • The poison in politics runs deeper than dodgy data – Gary Younge, The Guardian
  • Let’s remake the case for capitalism – Lee Rowley MP, Times Red Box


>Yesterday: JP Floru in Comment: People only moan about the use of Facebook data when it is used by campaigns they dislike

Brexit 1) EU prepares to take action against Russia over Salisbury

“Russia’s spy networks across Europe were under threat last night as at least five EU countries prepared to follow Britain and expel diplomats, while the European ambassador to Russia was recalled. The moves, in response to the Salisbury poisoning, came as Theresa May appeared to have won a battle to unify all 28 countries behind a statement blaming Moscow for the attempted murder of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Last night Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, issued a statement on behalf of its members saying that it supported the British government’s assertion that it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible and that there was “no plausible alternative explanation”.” – The Times

  • Corbyn refuses again to blame Russia for poisoning – The Sun
  • Putin’s espionage network in Europe at risk – Daily Telegraph
  • Kremlin hits back at Johnson’s ‘unacceptable’ Hitler comparison – The Sun


  • Russia is ready to fight, but are we? – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • Europe needs a collective defence strategy to counter Moscow – Guy Verhofstadt, The Guardian


  • London deserves Brussels’ support against Moscow – The Times

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: How to show Putin we are taking the Salisbury attack seriously

Brexit 2) EU leaders ‘set to agree transition’

“European leaders will on Friday agree to extend Britain’s de facto EU membership until the end of 2020, backing a transition deal to smooth the implementation of Brexit. Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, proclaimed at a European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday that “considerable progress” had been made towards negotiating the end of Britain’s 45-year membership of the EU. After months of talks, the leaders of the remaining 27 EU member states will on Friday rubber-stamp plans for a 21-month transition deal, starting on “Brexit Day” on March 29 2019 and lasting until the end of 2020. On Friday the EU27 states are also expected to approve guidelines setting out the bloc’s strategy for negotiating a future relationship with the EU, covering trade, security and other issues.” – FT

  • Prime Minister urges EU leaders to create ‘new dynamic’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Smith urges Corbyn to offer a referendum on the final deal – The Guardian
  • Varadkar gives October deadline for resolving Border issue – Belfast Telegraph
  • Pro-EU marchers rally in Edinburgh – The Scotsman


  • At last, good news: Britain is heading for Norway – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • Britain’s latest strategy: any deal will do – Philip Stephens, FT
  • We may not be doomed by Brexit after all – Brian Wilson, The Scotsman
  • Labour should ask if leaving is the right decision – Owen Smith MP, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Holyrood and Westminster face off as MSPs pass Brexit bill

Brexit 3) MPs urge Government to intervene in passport dispute

“Ministers were last night urged to stand up for Britain following a furious backlash over the decision to make post-Brexit blue passports overseas. The UK firm set to lose the £490million contract threatened to take the Government to court unless it changes its mind. MPs from across Parliament called on the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to intervene, after it was revealed a Franco-Dutch firm will be handed the lucrative deal from October 2019. As websites and phone-ins were deluged with protests over the news, Tory MP Andrew Rosindell demanded that Amber Rudd ‘put the interests of our country first’. Matt Hancock, the Culture Secretary, raised hopes of a reversal early yesterday when he said the procurement process was ‘not fully complete’.” – Daily Mail

  • May defends decision to grant passport contract to best bid – Daily Telegraph
  • British bidder bemoans loss of contract – The Times
  • Rudd signed off deal but bidders were anonymous – Daily Mail
  • Put the national interest before EU rules, urges Rosindell – Daily Express


  • The blue passports deal shows global Britain in action – Allie Renison, Daily Telegraph


  • If the French can make passports more cheaply, good luck to them – The Times
  • Unpatriotic passports are a false economy – Daily Telegraph
  • Let’s give the £120 million we’re saving to the NHS – The Sun

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Will the price of an EU deal be French-made blue passports and Spanish boats in British waters?

Brexit 4) Williamson announces new Navy ships to ‘protect fishing waters’

Britain has taken delivery of state-of-the-art gunboats to protect our fishing waters from the EU and others after Brexit, the defence secretary has announced. Gavin Williamson said the vessels will “stand ready” as he unveiled the first of five £116m ships which will form part of the Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squadron. The Ministry of Defence said the boats will become the Royal Navy’s “eyes and ears” around the UK, helping to safeguard fishing stocks. HMS Forth is the first of five from the Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) production line, built by BAE systems in Scotland. As well being designed for fishery protection, it will form part of the defence against smuggling and assist with border patrol, counter terrorism and maritime defence duties.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Corbyn would slash defence spending, aide reveals – The Sun


  • Taking back control is just a fisherman’s tale – Ed Conway, The Times
  • Fishermen need sovereign waters by 2020 to avert a nationalist revival – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 5) EU leaders ‘disown’ Cable’s statement

“Sir Vince Cable was accused of a ‘pathetic’ attempt to interfere in Brexit yesterday by falsely claiming that eight EU leaders backed a second referendum. The Lib Dem leader was humiliated after they said it was a botched PR stunt. Sir Vince, 74, faced criticism last night as opponents said he used improper tactics to impede Britain’s divorce from the EU… The latest furore began when he said the eight prime ministers had agreed to back a British vote on the final Brexit deal. Sir Vince said the group had sent a ‘clear signal’ that Brexit should be challenged by supposedly agreeing to a joint statement published by the Lib Dems… The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE), to which all the leaders belong, issued a furious response, saying such a statement was never signed.” – Daily Mail

Philip Collins: A wall of vanity divides Labour and the Lib Dems

“There is a residual sense of “oh-how-could-you?” about the Lib Dem participation in the coalition and it is gratifying to be able to blame two parties for austerity rather than one. Labour activists also speak contemptuously of the Lib Dem tendency to be left wing in right-wing towns and right wing in left-wing towns. Yet it is also more than that. These two proximate parties have a wall between them, erected by politicians who came to maturity before the age when open versus closed was the main dividing line. These walls between parties are high and very few ever attempt to scale them. The co-operation that any impartial spectator would think rational will only ever happen once those walls are torn down.” – The Times

Corbyn launches local government campaign

“Jeremy Corbyn urged voters to punish the Tories at the local elections today but launched his campaign amid signs his soft stance on Russia has hit support. A series of polls since the Salisbury attack have seen Theresa May’s party edge into a narrow lead. The latest survey by ICM showed the Tories up one on 44 per cent and Labour down one on 41 per cent. Most polls since last year’s general election have seen the two parties tied or Labour slightly ahead. Mr Corbyn has been widely criticised for appearing hesitant to blame the Kremlin for the attack when even many on his own side have accepted the evidence pointing to Russia and firmly endorsed Mrs May’s hardline stance.” – Daily Mail

  • Local polls are ‘referendums on austerity’, Labour leader argues – FT


  • Corbyn in second Facebook group linked to anti-Semitism – The Times
  • Opposition’s economic plans risk scaring off investors – FT

>Today: Harry Phibbs in Local Government: After Brexit, EU nationals in the UK should have the right to vote in local elections – so should all other permanent residents

Cameron backs Harman for Speaker

“David Cameron’s relationship with John Bercow remains as bitter as ever, with the former prime minister privately backing Harriet Harman to become Commons Speaker. Mr Bercow is under pressure after allegations of bullying made against him by a former parliamentary clerk. Ms Harman has been tipped to replace him and admits in an interview that she would “consider it at the time” if he were forced out. Mr Cameron regularly clashed with Mr Bercow while Conservative leader and then as prime minister. Almost two years after he left No 10 the bitterness remains and he is supporting efforts to replace the Speaker. It is understood that Mr Cameron bumped into Ms Harman in parliament this week and told her he was “rooting for her” to become Speaker. “I know that’s just the endorsement you need,” Mr Cameron joked of the cross-party alliance.” – The Times

  • Deputy says next Labour leadership contest should be ‘female-only’ – Daily Mail
  • MPs angry over party’s handling of harassment hearing – The Guardian

Brown calls for investigation into the Sunday Times

“Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has called for a police investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times newspaper, accusing it of “unlawfully” accessing his mortgage details with “the intention of forcing [him] out of office”. Mr Brown said he was “considering all avenues to expose the wrongdoing”, opening the possibility that he could join those who have launched legal claims against a UK subsidiary of News Corp, Mr Murdoch’s publishing group. The Sunday Times said it “strongly rejects the accusation that it has retained or commissioned any individual knowing them to act illegally or that it has deliberately allowed illegal activity”. Mr Brown’s comments came after John Ford, a former private investigator, claimed he had regularly accessed bank accounts and other personal data on behalf of the Sunday Times.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • The seductive simplicity of blaming Trump’s win on Cambridge Analytica – Alex Massie, CapX
  • Who wants to buy the products of ‘Beijing Analytica’? Many of us. – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • Six reasons why Brexiteers need to calm down about “passport gate” – Olivia Utley, Reaction
  • The transition deal shows how Remainers’ attempt to derail the Brexit process have failed – Fawzi Ibrahim, Brexit Central
  • Britain has lost control of the Brexit talks – The Spectator