Brexit 1) Davis heads to Brussels today “confident” of gaining transition deal

“Brexit Secretary David Davis flies to Brussels today confident of clinching a vital transition deal with his Brussels counterpart within days. He will have key talks with European Commission negotiator Michel Barnier. Pressure is mounting on the Government to thrash out details of the agreement by the end of the month to give firms time to plan for Brexit. It is hoped EU leaders rubberstamp the deal by the weekend following this Thursday’s summit. It comes as Leave supporters on the Commons Brexit committee refused to sign off a report extending the time period between transition and exit. They accuse Remainers on the committee of trying to “frustrate” Brexit.” – The Sun

Brexit 2) Rees-Mogg: The UK “will not accept being a subservient state”

“… We have sought sincerely to cooperate with the Commission. Indeed, we have already made startling concessions to be seen to be doing just that. Yet all that Brussels does is bank those, ignore its own proclaimed “values” and sacred legal order, and await the next concession that British opponents of Brexit insist we must make to the EU. Rhyme and reason do not apply, but ultimately facts will out and here are some of the facts the Prime Minister will insist upon in Brussels this week. The United Kingdom will not accept being a subservient state. In the case of tariffs, once we have left the EU, it is non-negotiable that our trade minister should be able to respond to any threat of increased tariffs from other nations as suits our national interest, not the EU’s.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 3) Conservative amendment to Scottish Brexit Bill would aim to stop SNP breaking up UK’s internal market

“SNP ministers would be banned from using the swathe of new powers they will receive after Brexit to fracture the UK’s internal market, under Tory proposals for a “Union guarantee”. The Conservatives are to table an amendment to the Scottish Government’s Brexit Continuity Bill that would prevent ministers introducing rules and regulations that would hinder free trade with the rest of the UK. They will argue that the safeguard is needed to ensure Scottish companies continue to have “free and frictionless access” to their most important market, which is worth four times their trade with the rest of the EU.” – Daily Telegraph


  • Brexit’s effect on the SNP – David Torrance, Herald

More Brexit

  • Brexit committee now in “open warfare” after yesterday’s report – Daily Mail
  • Welsh government to give children say on Brexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Has regaining control of UK fisheries been sidelined? – Guardian
  • What will EU do next regarding Irish border? – FT
  • Maybe I was too utopian about Europe in the past – Patrick Stewart, Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Benn — talk of “extensions” to Article 50 process “is not about undermining the referendum result”

Russia 1) Johnson says government “has evidence” of Russian “creation and stockpiling” of novichok

“Boris Johnson has significantly escalated the row over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on British soil, saying that the government has evidence Russia has been creating and stockpiling the deadly nerve agent novichok within the past decade. In remarks on Sunday morning that broadened the allegations against Russia over the nerve agent attack on the former spy and his daughter two weeks ago, the foreign secretary said: “We actually have evidence within the last 10 years that Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purpose of assassination, but has also been creating and stockpiling novichok.” Johnson, who will brief the EU foreign affairs council on Monday in the hope of securing a new joint statement blaming Russia for the attack, made the claims on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.” – Guardian

  • He says it’s been happening for a decade – Daily Express
  • And backs targeting of “corruptly obtained wealth” – FT
  • Putin says claims of Russian involvement are “drivel” – Daily Mail
  • Meanwhile, his spokesman thanks Britain for “helping” in Russian election win – The Times


  • If the poisonings were a political attack, it was hugely miscalculated – Peter Ricketts, The Times 
  • May needs to keep calm and carry on in the midst of all this – Clare Foges, The Times 


  • May is doing well. Unlike Corbyn and Williamson – Daily Express
  • “We must remain resolute” – The Sun


>Today: ToryDiary: Putin and the Kronsteen fallacy

Russia 2) Davidson: Britain is “being poisoned, both literally and metaphorically”

“This last week we have learned again that Britain is being poisoned, both literally and metaphorically. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, critically ill in hospital, are the most obvious victims of Russian aggression this weekend. But this appalling attack on our own soil has only highlighted the wider attack from the same source – Russia’s deliberate attempt to poison our public discourse. In response to the attack, the usual tactics have been deployed by President Putin’s publicly run media. Russia Today, the state-owned, UK-based channel described the claims of a Russian link to the Salisbury attack as “fanciful”.” – Daily Telegraph

Russia 3) McDonnell says it’s “highly likely” Russia was attempting a “state execution”

“John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has attempted to clarify Labour’s position on Russia, saying that he agreed “completely” with Theresa May. Last week Jeremy Corbyn was criticised for his reluctance to directly condemn the Kremlin for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, but Mr McDonnell said that it was “highly likely” that Russia had tried to carry out a “state execution”. Mr Corbyn came under fire from numerous Labour MPs, including some of his shadow cabinet, after he raised the possibility that “Russian mafia-like groups” were responsible and urged the government not to “rush way ahead of the evidence”. He also pointed to “flawed intelligence and dodgy dossiers” of the Iraq War to caution against hasty action. Mr McDonnell took a different tone.” – The Times


  • Corbyn’s response has been sophomoric – Matthew d’Ancona, Guardian
  • He has little of substance to say on this – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph 
  • This is the real Corbyn – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Chakrabarti — Corbyn’s tone on Russia has been “robust and measured”

Bradley says her role in Northern Ireland is to “facilitate not impose”

“Secretary of State Karen Bradley has said she will not impose a framework deal or a timetable to resume negotiations on Stormont’s deadlocked parties. Mrs Bradley’s comments to the Press Association come after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week called for a re-intensification of the stalled talks after Easter and suggested one way to break the impasse would be for the UK and Irish governments to table their joint view of what an agreement to restore powersharing might look like. While the Secretary of State said she was considering all options, she insisted her role was to “facilitate not impose” and said she had to be careful not to do anything that might make the process go “backwards”.” – Belfast Newsletter

Government to announce funding for school breakfast clubs

“Ministers will pump £26million into breakfast clubs in schools across the country with more than 1,700 schools benefiting. The Tories were forced to quietly abandon a flagship manifesto pledge to give free breakfasts to all primary school pupils after the election result last June. But the Government will announced on Monday that 1,770 schools in the most disadvantaged areas would get extra funding for breakfast schemes. Two charities – Family Action and Magic Breakfast – will be responsible for running the clubs. The Department for Education said the funding – which comes from the new soft drinks levy – will cover both new and existing school breakfast clubs.” – The Sun

More Government

  • Gambling Commission to recommend ministers reduce maximum stake on addictive betting terminals – The Times 
  • Homelessness minister says she “doesn’t know” reason for increased rough sleeping – Guardian
  • Zuckerberg summoned to give committee evidence – The Sun

Conservative membership “swells”, particularly among younger people

“Tory membership has soared to 124,000 as voters, particularly the under 30s have turned their back on Jeremy Corbyn since the general election. Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis claims young people are “fed up” with being branded “Corbynistas”. Mr Lewis says Tory support has now swelled to 500,000 if you include activists – almost equalling Labour’s recent membership surge. Six thousand Tory supporters have signed up since January alone. Mr Lewis said: “Despite all the press coverage of our numbers being between 30 and 40,000 – although one journalist was quite generous and I think said we had 70,000. Another journalist told me very definitely 87,000 – actually it is just over 124,000. The figure is going up literally day by day.” – Daily Express

More Conservatives 

  • The importance of bank accounts – John Glen and Guy Opperman, The Times
  • FREER launches today – City A.M 


And Labour 

  • The findings of our investigation into Momentum – Guardian
  • Campaign launched in Parliament by Corbyn “gave platform to jihad supporters” – The Times
  • Labour MPs emphasise Westminster security failings after being sent suspicious substances – The Times 
  • Labour writes to Johnson about garden bridge scrapping – Guardian

Ridley: Why we should think about nuclear fusion

“Until 2004 Britain was a net energy exporter. Today, it imports about half its energy. Some of that, in the form of coal and liquefied natural gas, comes directly from Russia, which also supplies a third of Europe’s gas through pipelines. The unprecedented “gas deficit warning” of March 2 was a sharp reminder of our dependence on imports. Yet Britain is swimming in energy. Enough sunlight falls on the country to power the economy many times over. Wind, wave, water and tidal power cascade over us. There is wood in our forests. …  And if we were to crack nuclear fusion, all we would need is a little bit of water and some Cornish lithium.” – The Times

News in Brief

  • We need to focus on security – Gerald Howarth, BrexitCentral
  • Corbyn is his foreign policy – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • The intersection of the local elections and Russia – Katy Balls, Spectator
  • Politics and change – Linda Colley, LRB
  • The problems of generic prescribing – Phil Whitaker, New Statesman