Brexit 1) Davis and Barnier announce progress on a deal that would allow trade talks

‘David Davis and Michel Barnier today shook hands and declared they have made a ‘decisive’ step in sealing a Brexit transition deal. The EU chief negotiator and Mr Davis announced the dramatic breakthrough at a press conference in Brussels. Under the terms, the transition period will end in December 2020, while the UK has also given ground on free movement rights and fishing quota rules. However, Britain will be free to negotiate and sign trade agreements after the formal exit date next March. Gibraltar was also explicitly included in the scope of the deal.’ – Daily Mail




Brexit 2) Davidson expresses ‘disappointment’ over fisheries

‘News that the UK had also rolled over on the demand of Michael Gove, the environment secretary, for a renegotiation of the fishing quotas for the last year of the transition period was angrily denounced by Tories in Scotland. The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, said: “That we now have to wait until 2020 to assume full control is an undoubted disappointment. Having spoken to fishing leaders today, I know they are deeply frustrated with this outcome.” Douglas Ross, the Tory MP for Moray, said: “There is no spinning this as a good outcome. It would be easier to get someone to drink a pint of sick than try to sell this as a success.” Scottish MPs concerned about fisheries were due to meet the prime minister for crisis talks on Tuesday.’ – The Guardian


Johnson: Putin’s regime rests on violence and lies – but the world sees through him

‘As he extends his grip on power, Mr Putin is taking his country in a dangerous direction. Throughout his rule he has eroded the liberties of the Russian people, tightened the screws of state repression and hunted down supposed foes…The use of a Russian military grade “Novichok” nerve agent against Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was very deliberate. As Ken Clarke pointed out in Parliament last week, the obvious Russian-ness of the weapon was designed to send a signal to anyone pondering dissent amid the intensifying repression of Mr Putin’s Russia. The message is clear: we will hunt you down, we will find you and we will kill you…The Russian state is resorting to its usual strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation. But when I met my European counterparts in Brussels yesterday, what struck me most is that no-one is fooled. Just about every country represented around the table had been affected by malign or disruptive Russian behaviour.’ – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

  • The Foreign Secretary promises a clampdown on Russian cash in London – Daily Mail
  • Germany sinks the idea of new EU sanctions on ‘important partner’ Russia – The Sun
  • Why have Merkel and Macron congratulated Putin on his ‘victory’? – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Corbyn says he would ‘do business’ with the Kremlin – The Guardian
  • Putin is not as scary as he looks – Gideon Rachman, FT
  • Murdered dissident may have let his killer in – The Times


>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Putin and the Kronsteen fallacy

Full cost of the Tory snap election campaign revealed

‘The Conservatives outspent Labour by more than £7.5 million in the 12 months to last year’s general election, according the Electoral Commission. The Tories reported spending of £18,565,102 in the regulated period running from June 9 2016 to polling day on June 8 2017. In contrast, Labour reported spending of £11,003,980 over the same period. And The Sun can reveal Mrs May billed Conservative donors £1,500 for hair and make up on the night of her spectacular election disaster. When her snap poll backfired, the PM appeared at her constituency count looking tearful and new figures released show she kept a make up artist to hand for more than 17 hours that evening. It came as part of more than £2,000 paid to ‘InParlour Ltd’, “an exclusive team of professional freelance hair and makeup artists, hairdressers and body painters”.’ – The Sun

  • They outspent their rivals combined – FT
  • Crosby’s firm got £4 million – The Times
  • Hancock makes the most of new freedom for ministers to push through policy change – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: “Conservative Party membership is 124,000.” Discuss.

Equalities committee proposes three months of paternity leave

‘Working dads should be offered three months’ leave in their child’s first year, MPs will suggest today. The Women and Equalities committee called for ministers to look at 12 weeks off so they can bond with kids just as mothers do. Their report says a “macho culture” in the workplace means dads do not feel able to ask bosses for leave because they fear harming their careers. Committee chairman Maria Miller said: “If we want a society where women and men have equality, I would strongly urge ­ministers to consider our findings. Effective policies for statutory paternity pay, parental leave and flexible working are vital to meet the needs of families.”’ – The Sun

  • They propose two weeks’ statutory paternity pay – FT
  • Supporting working fathers would help close the gender pay gap – Maria Miller, The Times
  • House of Commons Commission gives green light to bullying investigation – The Sun

Grayling announces new Heathrow-Waterloo railway

‘A new privately built railway line would be constructed into Heathrow from Waterloo station in London under government plans to expand Britain’s rail network without using taxpayer money upfront. Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, will announce today that a new private operator will be invited to build the eight-mile link from Britain’s busiest railway station to the mainline near its busiest airport outside the usual scope of Network Rail, the state-funded infrastructure company. The move will be billed as a significant step by the government, signalling an intention to give big rail upgrades to the private sector in the future. A line between Oxford and Cambridge is already being built using a similar model. The disclosure will be criticised by Labour, which has advocated more state control of Britain’s railways.’ – The Times

Facebook shares plunge in the wake of Cambridge Analytica allegations

‘Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth has plunged about $5 billion after Facebook shares slumped following the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which data of 50 million users was reportedly misused. The company’s stock plummeted nearly 7 percent on Monday putting Facebook on track for their worst day in four years. Zuckerberg, who is currently the seventh richest person in the world, holds roughly 400 million shares, or 16 percent, in Facebook. Following the drop, Zuckerberg is now worth an estimated $69.5 billion, according to Forbes. His company is facing mounting calls to testify after reports emerged that the firm, which has links to President Donald Trump’s campaign, gained inappropriate access to data on 50 million Facebook users.’ – Daily Mail

  • CA executives are filmed saying they use ex-spies and prostitutes to target politicians – Daily Mail
  • May demands answers from the social network – The Sun
  • Four questions for Zuckerberg – FT Leader
  • Facebook also let the Obama campaign scrape data – Daily Mail
  • Officials seek warrant for London office – The Guardian
  • Regulators turn up the heat – FT
  • Sarkozy arrested over Gaddafi allegations – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: There must be a middle-ground between taking data-driven campaigning for granted and wild alarmism about its dangers

Cash-strapped UKIP ordered to pay £175,000 in court costs

‘Ukip has been ordered to pay £175,000 in legal costs over a defamation case brought by three Labour MPs. The party has been told to pay the money towards the costs incurred by Sir Keven Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion…In an indication of the parlous state of Ukip’s finances, earlier this month Mr Batten said the party had to raise £100,000 by the end of March. He wrote to all local Ukip groups across the country to ask them divert any funds they have in their coffers to the central party “purely for operational needs”, the Sun reported. He said that “if we cannot raise it then the future of the Party itself is in question”.’ – Daily Telegraph

Labour will struggle to cut through outside London in the local elections, Hayward and Travers predict

‘The Tories are set to do better than expected in May’s local elections because Jeremy Corbyn has failed to cut through outside the M25 given the Conservatives have been running the country for eight years. The Conservatives are expected to have their worst performance in London in history falling from 612 seats to fewer than than the 519 seats the party won in 1994. However the party’s performance nationally will not be as bad because of Labour’s inability to achieve big support outside London, according to respected local government experts. More than 4,300 council seats are up for grabs in the local elections in England on May 3, including all of councillors in London’s 32 boroughs, 34 metropolitan boroughs, 68 district and borough councils and 17 unitary authorities. There will also be direct elections for the mayors in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Watford. Lord Hayward, a leading expert on council elections, said: “I expect the Tories to lose seats and the LibDems to gain seats but I don’t expect them to lose to such an extent that it would endanger Theresa May’s prime ministership.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • But they also expect the worst ever Conservative showing in the capital – The Sun
  • Labour expect to win Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster – FT
  • Six senior Labour HQ staff resign as Corbynite general secretary takes office – The Sun
  • Have the moderates hit breaking point yet? – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Momentum leader targets female Labour MPs – The Times
  • Owen Jones’s ‘fake news’ about Corbyn’s hat reaches millions – The Sun
  • All this hat whining shows Labour is now a party of victims – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Pull the plug on fake news – Alok Sharma, The Times

News in Brief