Brexit 1) May considering US-Canada border as “blueprint” for Ireland

“Theresa May believes the Canada-US customs regime can provide a blueprint for solving the Irish border problem when Britain leaves the EU. Canada and the US are not part of a customs union but have a trade deal that allows tens of thousands of border crossings each day using a trusted trader scheme to avoid delays. However her suggestion was immediately rejected by the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who said the US-Canada model was “definitely not a solution that we could possibly entertain”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She’s reminded that it has armed guards – Daily Mail 
  • Varadkar dismisses the idea – Guardian
  • And also refuses to take part in three-way talks with UK and Brussels – Daily Express


  • The Irish border issue is risky – Garret Carr, Guardian

Brexit 2) She tells financiers that the City will “continue to be a global financial centre”

“Theresa May looked to soothe financiers concerns this evening by promising a room full of investors that the City won’t lose its status as a finance hub post-Brexit. Speaking at an exclusive event at the British Museum in London, the Prime Minister defended her decision not to consider so-called passporting rights for the financial services sector. “The City isn’t just about the UK. We want to look at it in a different way from the way that it’s been looked at before, we want to look at issues around mutual recognition and how regulators might work in looking at that. The City of London will continue to be a global financial centre.” – Daily Telegraph

  • And also “demands” continued membership of EMA – Daily Express
  • Cameron was briefed about her Brexit speech and said it was “sensible” – The Times
  • Rees-Mogg says he has “points of concern” about her language on UK waters – The Sun
  • Meanwhile Barnier’s chief adviser suggests that “deep trade deal” needs more than “mutual recognition of standards” – Guardian


  • May has reached a calm port for now – Patrick Kidd, The Times 
  • She wanted to buy herself some time – John Crace, Guardian
  • She doesn’t really think her Brexit is “in the national interest” – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Duncan Smith tells her to remind the EU that cake “exists to be eaten” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Henry Newman’s column: May is right – the EU cherry-picks whenever it is politically convenient. Brexit should be such a time

>Yesterday: Howard Flight’s column: Despite all the forecasts of doom, Brexit is not a ‘darkest hour’ for the UK

Brexit 3) Hammond says Britain will need “no deal” planning until 2020

“Philip Hammond said yesterday that no-deal planning must continue until the end of 2020, publicly recognising the scale of the negotiation that would still face the country after Brexit. The chancellor told MPs on the European scrutiny committee that it was likely to be possible to “stand down” preparations for no deal on the date of Brexit once an implementation plan had been agreed with other EU leaders. He said it would probably then be necessary to start preparing once more for a cliff edge at the end of the transition period, set for December 2020.” – The Times

  • He also says an implementation deal must be set “by end of month”… – Guardian
  • …not least to ensure planes situation – Daily Mail

Brexit 4) Is a constitutional crisis now inevitable?

“Whitehall has intensified the political stand-off with Edinburgh over Brexit, making clear that it will move “no further” on its flagship legislation, meaning a constitutional crisis now looks inevitable. At the weekend Nicola Sturgeon dug her heels in, insisting she would “not compromise” on what she sees as the principle of devolution; that all 111 powers and responsibilities being transferred from Brussels post Brexit should go directly to Holyrood. She explained: “There is an issue of principle at stake that we won’t compromise on because if we did, we would allow Westminster to exercise a power-grab on the responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament and I don’t think any First Minister worth their salt should agree to that.”” – Herald

Brexit 5) Hague: European social democracy faces a critical choice

“A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that the news from Germany and Italy could not be more different. In Germany, the Social Democratic party’s decision to enter a new “grand coalition” with Angela Merkel has been greeted with relief in Brussels and on financial markets, with the threat of fresh elections in Europe’s most powerful nation averted. In Italy, by seeming contrast, populist, anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic parties surged to record votes in Sunday’s general election, bringing new fears of instability in a major and vulnerable EU state. It all sounds like the traditional mixture of German order and Italian chaos – almost reassuring in its familiarity.” – Daily Telegraph

  • This is a moment of change for Italy – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • It’s a time of anger for Europe – Rafael Behr, Guardian


  • Europe needs to deal with migration and integration – The Times
  • The populist risk in Italy – FT
  • Brussels must listen – The Sun

>Yesterday: International: Four questions from the Italian election

More Brexit 

  • Gibraltar leader changes opinion about Brexit – Daily Express
  • Are Foreign Office officials “too dedicated” to the EU? – Daily Telegraph
  • Home Office “won’t be able” to deny people right to access immigration data – Guardian

May’s planning reforms include change on affordable homes “loophole”

“A legal loophole used by property developers to halve the number of affordable homes they have to build is to be closed under the government’s proposed planning reforms. Developers will find it harder to claim that they have to cut the number of affordable homes to maintain their profit margin. At present they can use confidential “viability assessments” to renegotiate the commitments they made on affordable housing when obtaining planning permission. These assessments are underpinned by the assumption that developers must be allowed at least a 20 per cent profit margin for a site to be viable. Developers will no longer be able to claim that changing circumstances mean they have to cut affordable housing.” – The Times 

  • She says she’s not a nimby – The Sun
  • Javid says reforms won’t cause property prices to fall – Daily Telegraph
  • And that ministers are tackling uninhabited homes issue – Guardian


  • The new housing supply measures are welcome – The Times


  • Government needs to make sure more houses are built – Liam Halligan, Daily Telegraph
  • May’s housing announcements show she’s become the “maestro of contradiction” – Simon Jenkins, Guardian

Gauke to announce a review of prisoner classification

“Jailed gang members face being put into higher security prisons to curb the influence of kingpins, the justice secretary will announce today. An estimated 6,500 prisoners could be moved as part of a drive to undermine the impact of organised crime on jails. Many are believed to be involved in smuggling rackets, which cause violence and prisoner debt. In his first speech on jails, David Gauke, the justice secretary, will announce a review of the way prisoners are classified.” – The Times

Tory MPs “set to rebel” over energy price cap

“Theresa May is facing a rebellion by Tory MPs over the energy price cap that she announced in her party conference speech. Ministers said last autumn that prices could be capped until 2023, under plans which Mrs May said were necessary to fix the “broken energy market”, and the bill is due in the Commons today. The government is pursuing an absolute limit on prices set by the regulator Ofgem. … The Times understands that amendments are being drawn up with sources claiming that they are attracting support in parts of the Tory party “where there is ideological opposition to interventions in free markets”. These will not be published this week but are being prepared for later in the legislative process.” – The Times

More Conservatives

  • Rees-Mogg speaks out against further press regulation – Daily Mail
  • A profile of Davidson – The Sun


>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft in Comment: Capital Punishment? The Conservatives and the 2018 London elections

Timothy: We must up our defence game

“During their war with Russia, Ukrainian soldiers watched Russian drones flying above them. Moments later rockets rained down and within 15 minutes two entire mechanised battalions had been wiped out. In plain English, that means tanks, armoured vehicles and military transports were destroyed, and many hundreds of soldiers were killed. All in the space of 15 minutes. It has been received wisdom among many policymakers in recent years that the only wars we fight in future will be ones we opt into, like Afghanistan and Iraq, the only threats we face come from terrorists and our most important defence capability is cyber security.” – The Sun

More defence

  • MoD Iraq investigation accused of “risking bond of trust” between soldiers and government – Daily Telegraph
  • Meanwhile, former Russian spy hospitalised after being found unconscious in Wiltshire – The Times 
  • He’s “fighting for his life” – Daily Telegraph
  • Was he “poisoned with polonium”? – Daily Express

Foster says no draft devolution agreement was reached

“DUP leader Arlene Foster has categorically denied claims she personally handed Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill a draft deal to restore devolution. It comes after Mrs O’Neill alleged that Mrs Foster handed a hard copy of the mooted agreement to her in person on February 9, five days before the Stormont talks process came to an acrimonious end. She said the document was the result of hours of negotiation and she was “100% sure” that a deal had been reached. But Mrs Foster rejected the SF deputy leader’s version of events and insisted no draft agreement was reached. The DUP leader added that while many draft papers had been exchanged between the two parties “on an almost daily basis” during the negotiations, “none of those had any standing”.” – Belfast Newsletter

News in Brief

  • My aims when I meet Barnier today – Nigel Dodds, BrexitCentral
  • What actually happened in Italy – Walter Ellis, Reaction
  • The history of M5S – Francesco Zaffarano, New Statesman
  • The “nasty secret” behind housing policy – John Myers, CapX
  • On Bannister – Ian Crouch, New Yorker