May to “blame Russia” for Skripal poisonings

“Theresa May plans to formally blame Russia for the Salisbury poisonings on Monday after meeting the heads of Britain’s intelligence services and will immediately come under pressure to prevent Russians with links to Vladimir Putin entering the UK. The Prime Minister will chair a meeting of the National Security Council, which will be attended by the heads of MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the Armed Forces, where she is expected to be handed evidence that puts Russian involvement in the attacks beyond reasonable doubt. It will be only the second time the NSC has met since the attempted murders of Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, and sources described it as a “significant moment” in the ongoing investigation.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She will chair meeting of National Security Council today – FT
  • And was set to receive a “key intelligence assessment” this morning – The Sun
  • She will “announce changes to the law” regarding expelling national security risks – Daily Telegraph
  • And “unveil a package of tough sanctions” – Daily Mail
  • Though Hammond says Party won’t return Russian donors’ money – Daily Telegraph
  • Meanwhile, McDonnell warns colleagues against appearing on RT… – The Times 
  • …but Corbyn “rules out” this boycott – Daily Telegraph


  • Britain has been “a soft touch for Russian criminals” – Martin Townsend, Daily Express
  • Russia is acting from “weakness” – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail
  • We can’t ignore this “attack on our soil” – Daniel Hannan, Daily Telegraph


  • The attack shows we need to be better prepared – Daily Express
  • May needs to “redouble sanctions” – The Times
  • It’s “time to get tough” – The Sun

>Yesterday: Videos: WATCH: Hammond agrees with Johnson and Williamson on the Salisbury attack

>Today: Mark Francois in Comment: States like Russia now pose the primary threat to the UK – we must strengthen our defences accordingly

Brexit 1) Davidson and Gove “join forces” over leaving common fisheries policy

“Ruth Davidson and Michael Gove have joined forces to call for the UK to leave the common fisheries policy when Britain leaves the European Union. The Scottish Conservative leader and the Environment Secretary were on different sides of the EU referendum campaign, but claimed it was “vital” the country regained control of its own waters after leaving the bloc in March 2019. The demand was welcomed by Scottish fishermen who said the UK must operate as “a fully functioning coastal state” from day one following the exit. The joint statement from the politicians said: “We believe it is vital that we regain control over our own fisheries management.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 2) Government to pledge today to “transfer powers” to Scotland

“Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington will today table amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill guaranteeing that responsibility for energy efficiency, water quality and other environmental issues will be devolved. His move is to devalue a key argument of Ms Sturgeon and other Brexit opponents that the Government is using leaving the EU as an opportunity to grab power for itself. It follows analysis by ministers last week showing that the majority of duties will go to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast rather than to central Government. Mr Lidington said: “The amendments being tabled will allow Parliament, businesses and consumers to understand how we are intending to manage the transfer of powers from Brussels to the devolved administrations.” – Daily Express

  • Frontrunner in SNP deputy race criticises May over Brexit “power grab” accusations – Herald

Brexit 3) Varadkar suggests Davis, Johnson, and Robbins should visit Northern Ireland

“David Davis, Boris Johnson and the most senior civil servant negotiating Brexit have not visited Northern Ireland since talks began on preventing a hard border. The Irish premier Leo Varadkar yesterday said: “You can read as many briefing documents as you like, sometimes you need to see things with your own eyes.” Mr Varadkar also rejected proposals currently being examined which would mean anyone crossing the border would have to pre-register in order to avoid checks. … Oliver Robbins, Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator who is in direct charge of the Irish strand of the talks, has not visited at all and Boris Johnson, who sent a private missive to the prime minister on his ideas for preventing a hard border, has not been to Northern Ireland since becoming foreign secretary.” – The Times 

  • Meanwhile, DUP says Bradley should consider cutting abstentionist MPs’ salaries – Belfast Telegraph


  • We need to stop “turning a blind eye” to how NI treats women’s human rights – Stella Creasy, The Times

Brexit 4) Newton Dunn: “Nine billion reasons” why we’ll get a good deal

“So that’s it then. Britain is the rock, and the EU the hard place. Theresa May is the poor soul caught in the ­middle, trying to work out how on earth to bridge the Grand ­Canyon-sized gap between them. That’s the received wisdom anyway, after EU Council ­president Donald Tusk spelled out Brussels’ vision of a Brexit trade deal last week vastly more limited than Theresa May’s five days earlier. “A pick-and-mix approach is out of the question,” insisted Mr Tusk, throwing the PM’s intricate plan for the economy back in her face. Has mass depression set in among ministers? Might we just as well walk away now? Here’s the funny thing. Behind the scenes in Whitehall, there is optimism that a good deal is still very ­possible. … Pounds Sterling, and lots of it, will unlock a good Brexit deal. The EU needs it, and we’ve got it: £9billion net a year more of it when we leave the EU and get our annual contributions back.” – The Sun

More Brexit

  • Cable says Brexiters voted on “nostalgia” for “white faces” – Daily Mail
  • Scottish Labour backs Corbyn approach – Guardian
  • Trump calls EU tariffs “horrific” – The Times
  • Brexit has made this “the most inactive parliament in decades” – The Times 
  • Selamayr appointment shows how Brussels works – Dia Chakravarty, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Videos: WATCH: Rees-Mogg – “I recognise all of us have to compromise to some extent”

>Today: ToryDiary: What should our post-Brexit immigration policy look like?

Bercow expected to face no confidence motion today

“The Speaker, John Bercow, is expected to face a motion of no confidence in the Commons on Monday in the wake of allegations that he bullied a member of parliamentary staff. The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, a longtime critic of Bercow, said that either he or another MP would put down an early day motion (EDM) expressing no confidence in the speaker. While an EDM is a formal motion for debate, very few are actually discussed. However, MPs can put their names to them as a way of expressing support for a particular cause. Bercow has vehemently denied claims made by BBC Two’s Newsnight that he bulled Kate Emms, his private secretary, for a period in 2010 and 2011, and that she developed post-traumatic stress disorder after working for him.” – Guardian

  • This follows accusations that he bullied staff – Daily Express
  • Senior MPs are “pushing for him to step aside” during investigation – The Sun
  • Will Harman run to replace him? – Daily Mail

Will there be a “litter levy” in Tuesday’s Spring Statement?

“Chewing gum, crisps and takeaway food containers could all be subjected to a litter levy under measures to be announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement on Tuesday. Philip Hammond has joined the Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s crusade against plastic waste and will launch a consultation on how to reduce the millions of tonnes of it that are thrown away in Britain each year. Chewing gum, which is not water soluble and takes months to decompose, is regarded as a single use plastic in some countries and can be harmful to wildlife as well as blighting parks and pavements. Treasury officials are contemplating including chewing gum in the public consultation document that Mr Hammond will release on Tuesday.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Hammond will “launch a consultation” on cutting down on rubbish – The Sun
  • Five issues for the statement – FT
  • Backbenchers “pressure” Hammond to spend more on vital services – Daily Express
  • He will “open way for” increased NHS investment – The Times
  • And “hints at” defence increase – Daily Mail 
  • And says we’re “about to see debt starting to fall” – Guardian


  • There’s no need to stop borrowing – John Redwood, Daily Express
  • Hammond will stick with prudence – Matthew d’Ancona, Guardian


>Today: Nicky Morgan’s column: It’s too soon to abandon fiscal discipline, but the Spring Statement is a chance to communicate our vision  

More Conservatives

  • Williamson to “intervene” to help Armed Forces in Scotland avoid “punishment” from SNP tax approach – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Videos: WATCH: Gyimah calls on universities to compensate students affected by strikes

Lansman drops out of Labour’s general secretary race

“Momentum founder Jon Lansman has dropped out of the race to become Labour’s next general secretary amid claims his decision to run has caused a split at the heart of the party. In a surprise statement yesterday Mr Lansman, who runs the pro-Jeremy Corbyn supporters group credited with helping Labour do well in the last general election, announced his decision to step aside. It follows weeks of speculation about his reasons for deciding to run, bitter infighting over the control the unions have over Mr Corbyn’s office and a number of anti-Semitic comments directed towards him, some by Labour supporters.” – Daily Telegraph

  • This “could help Corbyn prevent row” – The Times
  • Formby now likely to win – The Sun
  • Meanwhile, Abrahams being “investigated over workplace issue” – Guardian

Other parties

  • HMRC says Ukip isn’t a “proper party” – Daily Express
  • Le Pen renames FN “National Rally” – Daily Mail

News in Brief

  • Some thoughts on PMQs – Backbencher
  • What next for Trump and Kim? – Robin Wright, New Yorker
  • War in Afghanistan is not inevitable – Anthony Loyd, New Statesman
  • The flaw in utopian politics – Michael Shermer, Aeon
  • On mother’s day – Tibor Fischer, Spectator