Published:

Brexit: May pledges NHS cash from Brexit…

“Theresa May has insisted that EU withdrawal will mean more money for the NHS and schools, despite Treasury forecasts of slower growth leading to lower tax revenues after Brexit. As she conducted whistle-stop visits to the four nations of the United Kingdom to mark a year until Brexit day, the prime minister called on Britons to “come together” to seize the “great opportunities” she expects as a result of EU withdrawal. She said that additional resources would be available for hospitals and education once Britain stopped sending “vast sums” annually to Brussels. In a BBC interview she steered clear of repeating Boris Johnson’s term “Brexit dividend” but did appear to say that cash would be freed up by Brexit. “There’s going to be money that otherwise we would have been sending to the European Union that we’re going to be able to spend on priorities in the UK,” she said.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister pledges that UK will control fishing waters after transition – Daily Telegraph
  • Tory leader refuses to endorse Johnson’s ‘dividend’ claim – The Guardian
  • May tours Britain to talk to voters about Brexit fears – The Sun
  • Prime Minister urges return of Stormont to give Ulster ‘full say’ on Brexit – Belfast Telegraph

Comment:

  • Nobody should be in any doubt that Brexit will happen – Gisela Stuart, Daily Telegraph
  • We still don’t know how May will square the Border circle – Hilary Benn, Belfast Telegraph
  • Outside the Remainer bubble, Britain is excited about the future – Iain Martin, The Sun

>Today: Jonathan Clark in Comment: How should we reform our tax system after Brexit?

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: May stresses “absolute responsibility” to maintain the Union on Brexit tour

…as Davis reveals ‘dramatic weakening’ of Government’s immigration position…

“David Davis signalled a dramatic weakening of the Government’s post-Brexit immigration policy by backing preferential treatment for EU migrants. He said he’s “not expecting a visa arrangement between ourselves and the European Union” as he confirmed that immigration policy would be on the negotiating table in trade talks with Brussels. The move that would significantly weaken hard-fought controls on EU citizens and enrage Ministers pushing for more generous visa schemes for Commonwealth countries. Mr Davis wants to see a system of work permits introduced for Europeans – instead of treating them like migrants from the rest of the world who have to apply for visas.” – The Sun

  • Fox warns that he’ll resign if transition is extended beyond 2020 – The Sun

Comment:

  • The left must realise that Brexit can be harnessed for good – Faiza Shaheen, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Andrea Leadsom in Comment: It’s a year today until Brexit. Let’s continue to proclaim that it will be good for Britain.

…and questions mount over ‘soft Brexit’ deadline

“Today is Britain’s last chance to formally confirm it is leaving the single market prompting concerns the UK will be forced into a soft Brexit if the nation does not invoke Article 127 of the European Economic Agreement (EEA). This, like Article 50, will trigger Britain’s termination of membership of the EEA – the broader single market which includes non-EU countries like Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Britain’s membership of the economic club is technically tied to a separate treaty – the EEA agreement – other than the EU, prompting confusion over whether the Government needs to exit both bodies independently. Although the Government has repeatedly insisted Brexit means the UK is leaving the single market, many argue that without triggering Article 127 Britain will still remain a member. Downing Street has argued Britain will automatically leave the EEA, saying we cannot be a member of the economic pact outside of the EU and EFTA.” – Daily Express

  • Claim that Mosley ‘hired’ protesters to boost pro-EU rallies – Daily Mail
  • Ireland boasts of ‘snatching British jobs’ – Daily Express

Comment:

  • How we can be a science superpower outside the EU – Sarah Main, Daily Telegraph

Ministers 1) McVey announces u-turn on plans to cut housing benefit

“Minsters have today announced they are U-turning on plans to axe housing benefit for young people in an announcement slipped out on the last day of the parliamentary term. The Government had planned to scrap the welfare benefit for 18 to 21 year-olds, but will now keep it following concerns it would be unfair on some. Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said the change ‘will reassure all young people that housing support is in place if they need it’. Around 10,000 young people would have been hit by the policy to end automatic entitlement for the housing element of Universal Credit, which was announced by David Cameron and George Osborne in 2014.” – Daily Mail

  • Ministers accused of ‘going soft on young jobless’ – The Sun

More:

  • Government ‘wasting £20 million a year’ on policy consultations – The Times

Ministers 2) Clark suggests Government may halt GKN takeover

“The takeover of GKN, one of Britain’s largest, oldest and most important engineering companies, could be halted by the government, Greg Clark, the business secretary, has said. GKN fell yesterday to an £8 billion hostile takeover from Melrose, a smaller UK industrial conglomerate, pending government clearance. The deal stunned many in the City, and trade unions and Labour MPs demanded a reform of UK takeover laws. Mr Clark said: “During the bid, Melrose made commitments which they are bound to honour, including investment in research and development and maintaining itself as a UK business. Government has a statutory responsibility to consider whether a GKN-Melrose merger in its proposed form gives rise to public interest concerns. An assessment on [this] will be made by the appropriate authorities… and set out in due course.”” – The Times

  • Calls for new laws after speculators’ £172 million payday – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Politicians must stop pandering to sentiment over takeover bids – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

Ministers 3) Sacked parole chief says Gauke must share responsibility over Warboys

“Pressure was mounting on the Justice Secretary last night for refusing to share blame for failings in the black cab rapist case. The sacked head of the Parole Board said David Gauke should ‘accept responsibility for mistakes’ which led to John Worboys being approved for release from prison. Nick Hardwick said Ministry of Justice officials omitted crucial details about the sexual predator’s history from a dossier used in the decision, and the Parole Board was ‘no more at fault’ than the MoJ. It came as pressure grew on the Justice Secretary amid claims he had made the Parole Board chairman a ‘scapegoat’ for his own department’s mistakes.” – Daily Mail

  • Fear that six other Category A prisoners may be freed by Parole Board failings – The Sun
  • Bar Association urges strikes over legal aid – FT

Comment:

  • Culture of secrecy is undermining our police and justice system – Rory Geoghegan, Daily Telegraph
  • Affair exposes a tangled web of responsibilities – David Walker, The Guardian

Editorial:

  • Warboys decision is a win for justice, his victims, and the press – The Sun

Cameron attacks anti-fracking groups

“Ex-PM David Cameron last night blasted green groups for the “painfully slow” fracking revolution in Britain. Speaking in the US to oil execs, he hit out at campaigners for being “absolutely obsessed” with blocking the extraction of fossil fuels. He compared the tens of thousands of shale gas wells drilled in the US with around 10 in Europe, which he said was pathetic. And he said the “painfully slow and incredibly frustrating” progress would only increase the dependence on Russian gas. Mr Cameron said: “We are going to fall behind if we don’t extract the gas that we have that can make us more competitive, more energy-independent, less reliant on Russian gas. The green movements have become absolutely obsessed with the notion that any new form of energy that has any reliance on carbon is a bad thing, so they are just opposed to fracking, come what may.”” – The Sun

Fraser Nelson: May should finish Cameron’s quest to re-normalise religion in public life

To be Christian in Britain today is to navigate your way through one of the fastest religious changes in the history of these islands. Religious MPs need to work out how to ride the wave of public opinion. Do they go with the rules, or try to change the rules? Perhaps the person best placed to press for change is the Prime Minister. She’s a lifelong churchgoer, yet no one can accuse her of zealotry. If she intends to stay in No 10 for a while, we could do with knowing a bit more about her. If faith is important to her, she could perhaps say why. Cameron spoke about trying to “normalise” religion in public life, to try and make faith part of the political conversation. Perhaps Mrs May could finish what he started.” – Daily Telegraph

  • SNP MP apologises to Rees-Mogg for ‘Catholic Brexiteer’ jibe – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Dr Johnson is an inspiring companion at Easter

Corbyn admits Labour has received hundreds of anti-Semitism allegations

“Jeremy Corbyn has revealed that Labour has been inundated with 300 complaints of anti-Semitism since he was elected leader in 2015. The Labour leader made the revelation in a far-reaching interview with Jewish News as he scrambled to try to diffuse the anti-Semitism which has plunged the party into crisis. But he risked igniting fresh fury after he leapt to the defence of a controversial group which claims the accusations against him are a smear. Mr Corbyn said Jewish Voice For Labour, which tried to disrupt Monday night’s protest against anti-Semitism outside Parliament by holding a counter demonstration, are ‘good people’… Dozens of members of the group and its supporters attended the controversial protest, where they angrily argued with those attended the main demonstration.” – Daily Mail

  • Leader is failing to tackle anti-Semitism, Labour MPs claim – The Times
  • Fresh fury as Shawcroft set to stay on disciplinary panel despite sacking – Daily Mail
  • Opposition denies that it is sitting on key measure – The Guardian
  • Six councillors suspended over anti-Semitism quietly re-admitted – Daily Mail
  • Activist suspended over Arbeit Macht Frei tweet – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Corbyn cares more about power than expunging racism – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour should stop feuding and focus on the Tories – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

Editorial:

Shadow minister gave job to husband who ‘abused the elderly’

“Labour’s families spokeswoman gave her husband a job in her parliamentary office after he was found to have mistreated elderly people. Emma Lewell-Buck employed Simon Buck as a researcher when he was suspended from his job as a carer and lost his place on a nursing course following the allegations of abuse. Senior members of her constituency party have written to Jeremy Corbyn urging him to suspend Mr Buck because of “deep concerns” about his permanent, part-time role in the MP’s office, for which he was paid between £10,000 and £14,999 last year. The Labour leader appointed Ms Lewell-Buck, 39, as a shadow minister in 2016.” – The Times

  • Gardiner misses international trade questions by starting holiday early – The Times

Phillips apologises for abuse of Tory activist by Labour supporters

“A Labour MP has apologised for the social media abuse received by a Conservative supporter who criticised Jeremy Corbyn. Young Conservative Alice Terry, 29, said she regularly receives hateful messages because of her views. But the volume of abuse increased considerably this week, after she tweeted she was “genuinely embarrassed” that people in her generation supported the Labour leader. The tweet had been retweeted directly more than 350 times and “liked” more than 1,600 times at 5.30pm on Thursday. Dozens of people posted abusive replies to her tweet publicly and about 20 sent her private messages directly, she said. Among the insults sent to her privately were some that called her a “cunt”, a “slag” and “Tory scum”.” – The Guardian

Scottish Government mulls introducing electronic voting

“The Scottish Government’s consultation on electoral reform closed this week and ministers will soon begin scrutinising responses from across the country. It plans to trial “innovative” electronic voting which would mean votes could be cast on electronic machines within traditional polling stations – using systems “similar to ticket machines at railway stations or supermarket automated checkouts”. More boldly, votes could also be cast remotely via home computers or mobile devices. Launching the consultation in December last year, parliamentary business minister Joe Fitzpatrick said: “Our voting systems have remained broadly unchanged in over 100 years and now is a good time to think about modernising and innovation.”” – The Scotsman

MPs claim that ‘fat cat’ academy salaries are hurting pupils

“School academies that pay their executives and head teachers fat-cat salaries are depriving the front line of vital funds, MPs say. The lack of accountability is “alarming” and in most cases pay packages of more than £150,000 have not been adequately explained, a Commons committee has said. Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the public accounts committee, told The Times that just as university vice-chancellors were being held to account for their high salaries, so should academy chain executives. “It is not clear why these salaries are justified, especially in a time of pay restraint for teachers. Schools are not a business, they are taxpayer-funded and must be transparent and accountable,” she said.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Don’t doubt Trump, he could easily be re-elected – Lord Ashcroft, Time
  • Theresa May’s unhelpful Unionism – Alex Massie, CapX
  • Corbyn’s association with anti-Semitism is rooted in hatred of the West – Alastair Benn, Reaction
  • Brexit will give Wales a more powerful voice and help strengthen the United Kingdom – Andrew RT Davies, Brexit Central
  • Labour can’t tackle anti-Semitism under Corbyn – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator

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