‘Brexit blow’ as EU ‘rules out City deal’

“European Union leaders will reject Britain’s plea for a special trade deal for the City of London by backing “equivalence mechanisms” to force financial services to operate under regulations imposed by Brussels. According to a diplomatic draft seen by The Times, the EU will rule out a future agreement allowing free trade in financial services for a much more restrictive arrangement that can be revoked at short notice. The decision will dismay British negotiators as it severely narrows the scope of talks this spring and explicitly rules out government demands for special treatment for the financial sector.” – The Times

  • Europe’s banks told to keep planning for full Brexit – FT
  • Spain threatens to hold deal up over Gibraltar – Daily Telegraph
  • Tusk warns that some Member States may not welcome deal – Daily Mail
  • Merkel says Ireland has her ‘full support’ on Border – Daily Telegraph
  • Varadkar warns that final deal is still to be reached – Belfast Telegraph


  • Transition is welcome news for financial services firms – Omar Ali, Daily Telegraph
  • The Irish Border problem can’t be left unsolved – Charles Grant, The Guardian
  • Britain and Ireland can resolve the border issue – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph


  • Talks approach the limit of easy concessions – FT

>Yesterday: Henry Newman’s column: We were told progress on Brexit was impossible, but it keeps happening – thanks to compromise on both sides

May urged to extend transition to avert ‘security crisis’

“Theresa May was last night urged to consider extending the post-Brexit transition period beyond 2020 – to avoid a “security” crisis. Labour’s Yvette Cooper said “much more urgency” had to be given to talks between the UK and Brussels on thrashing out new legal agreements for extradition and data sharing on criminals. A report by the Home Affairs Select Committee – chaired by the Labour MP – said ministers were being “complacent” over the time required to replicate current cooperation on everything from Europol to the European Arrest Warrant. It added: “Both parties should be ready to extend the transition period, as it is likely to take longer than two year to resolve new arrangements.”” – The Sun

  • UK and EU ‘sleepwalking towards crisis’ over security fears, MPs warn – Daily Express


  • Watchdog rebukes May over police funding claims – The Guardian
  • Cutting migration could boost growth, claims official forecaster – Daily Telegraph

Ministers 1) Gove ‘calms rebellion’ over fishing policy…

“Michael Gove and Theresa May appeared last night to have headed off a Tory rebellion over a Brexit transition deal that was said to have sold UK fishermen short. The row was inflamed by the Tory chief whip who told Scottish backbenchers that fishermen were “not going to vote Labour” in protest. The fishing industry and coastal MPs were furious that the deal agreed with Brussels this week means that the UK will be bound by the bloc’s fishing quotas until the end of 2020. Douglas Ross, the Tory MP for Moray, said it would be “easier to get someone to drink a pint of sick than try to sell this as a success”. Mr Gove, the environment secretary, admitted that the government had not got what it wanted from the negotiations but urged MPs to “keep our eyes on that prize”. Mrs May calmed tensions by holding a meeting with disappointed MPs, though they warned that the government was still “on notice” over the issue.” – The Times

  • Environment Secretary says Brussels will face ‘consequences’ if it plunders UK waters – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish MPs threaten to ‘bring down May’ over dispute – Daily Express
  • Conservative fury as Gove refuses to give promises on fishing – The Sun
  • Tory MPs to fling fish from trawler over ‘betrayal’ – Daily Telegraph

More Scotland:

  • Sturgeon, Davidson, and Dugdale unite against Twitter trolls – The Scotsman


  • Davidson must now choose between the devil and the deep blue sea – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph
  • Our fishermen are being sold down the river – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Transition. There is a fishing furore. But where is the backlash over immigration?

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: The Draft Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU: link to full text

Ministers 2) …as he faces new questions over school sexual abuse

“Michael Gove is facing fresh questions about his alleged intervention in a sexual abuse investigation at a Catholic school after further evidence emerged that appears to link him to the inquiry. The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) has already written to Gove asking whether he tried, during his time as the education secretary, to find out about an investigation into a priest suspected of abuse at Downside Abbey boarding school in Somerset. Now the environment secretary, Gove denied making any calls to the local authority about the investigation. It has now emerged that a second witness testified to the inquiry that Gove took an interest in the Downside investigation.” – The Guardian

Ministers 3) Hunt unveils plan for elderly care

“A blueprint to transform care for the elderly was unveiled by Jeremy Hunt yesterday. The Health Secretary said pensioners were too often treated as ‘tasks on a to-do list’ by a ‘rotating cast’ of helpers. In his first speech since taking charge of social care in January, he outlined how to fund and improve support for Britain’s growing elderly population, including: a possible cap on punitive care bills that strip pensioners of their life savings or force them to sell family homes; an end to the ‘lottery’ that sees dementia patients face higher costs than those with other illnesses such as heart disease; [and] a seven-point plan including measures to support families, give more control to patients and make staff feel more valued.” – Daily Mail


  • Health Service warned of £9 billion cost of Alzheimer’s breakthroughs – FT
  • Plan to scrap Government childcare vouchers delayed – Daily Mail


>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Hunt on social care: “I want to be honest about how well we are meeting that litmus test. In truth, not well enough.”

Ministers 4) Berry says Northern Powerhouse is ‘too Manchester-focused’

“Attempts to create a “Northern Powerhouse” to rebalance England’s southern-centric economy have been too focused on Manchester and other big cities and need to be rethought, according to the government minister in charge. Jake Berry, who was named Northern Powerhouse minister last June, said the project would be extended to smaller cities and towns in what he dubbed “Northern Powerhouse 2.0”. “Northern Powerhouse 2.0 has to be about more than our great cities, it has to be a whole-North approach,” he said, adding that for people in some parts of the region, the scheme “probably felt a bit of a Manchester project”. He denied that he had to choose between cities and towns, but he faces a reality of limited government funds.” – FT

>Today: Tim Bale in Comment: Why the real Conservative membership figure matters to the whole country – not just the party

Ministers 5) Grayling urges private firms to pitch Heathrow railway

“Private firms have been urged to submit plans for a new railway between Heathrow Airport and London Waterloo station without spending taxpayers’ money. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling wants firms outside of public sector body Network Rail to fund eight miles of railway to link the UK’s busiest airport and Waterloo. The project is estimated to cost up to £1.6 billion and the firms involved would earn revenue through fees paid by train operators. Heathrow, which is planning to build a third runway, has no direct rail connections from the south, with existing lines running east to west.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 6) Gauke plans to cut whiplash claims

“The British government set out new rules on Tuesday to cut down on insurance claims for whiplash, saying the changes would save Britons £35 a year in premiums. Insurers have long complained about the rising costs of whiplash claims, with some saying that the problem is an “epidemic” and the UK has “the weakest necks in Europe”. Insurance companies say whiplash claims have contributed to the rise in car insurance premiums in recent years. The average premium in the UK stood at £827 at the end of last year, according to, an insurance comparison website. David Gauke, UK justice secretary, said: “The number of whiplash claims has been too high for too long and is symptomatic of a wider compensation culture. We are putting this right through this important legislation, ensuring whiplash claims are no longer an easy payday.”” – FT

Tory MPs set up campaign to champion liberalism

“A campaign to win over millennial voters and challenge ‘snowflake’ culture has been launched by a group of young ToryMPs aiming to seize the task of party renewal from David Cameron’s ‘Notting Hill set’. The ‘Freer’ campaign will make the case for free markets and free speech amongst the younger generation. The MPs said they were mobilising to win the battle of ideas as ‘socialism stalks our landscape again’ thanks to the rise of the ‘Corbynite left’. The group will be run by Lee Rowley and Luke Graham, both state-educated MPs in their thirties, who represent working-class seats in Derbyshire and Perthshire… In their launch manifesto, Mr Rowley and Mr Graham argued they needed to challenge those who ‘plot the destruction of capitalism while sipping their Starbucks lattes’.” – Daily Mail

  • Corbyn ‘can’t rely on young voters to put him in Downing Street’ – The Times


  • ‘Corbynmania’ failed to bring new voters to the polls – John Curtice, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Euan Trower in Comment: To win more support among young voters, we should become the party of responsibility

Peer says litter picking should be added to the curriculum

“Every primary school pupil should be made to pick up litter as part of the national curriculum, a former Tory minister said yesterday. Lord Robathan, a defence minister under David Cameron, said that if children in Year Six helped tidy the roads, then general attitudes to littering would improve – because they could teach their parents. He said: ‘If it were enacted that all children spent a couple of hours clearing litter it might have a gradual effect on attitudes and a positive educational impact.’ The peer, who was an MP for 23 years, lobbied ministers in the House of Lords to force primary school children to spend one afternoon every week picking up litter.” – Daily Mail

Unite wins race for top Labour office…

“Unite chief Jennie Formby won the race to run Labour’s ruling committee today as Len McCluskey’s union tightened its grip over Jeremy Corbyn’s party. Ms Formby – the mother of Mr McCluskey’s child – was appointed to lead the ruling National Executive Committee following a round of interviews today. The veteran trade union official had a virtually clear run at the powerful post after Momentum chief Jon Lansman quit the contest. She was strongly backed by Mr Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor. Former teachers’ union chief Christine Blower was beaten in today’s contest by 35 votes to two. Mr Corbyn welcomed the appointment of Ms Formby, 58, and claimed it showed Labour was ‘on the cusp of power’.” – Daily Mail

  • Corbyn and McCluskey ‘tighten grip’ on party – Daily Telegraph
  • With Formby’s coronation, Corbyn has total control of Labour – The Guardian
  • Moderates not welcome under new chief, says MP – The Times


  • Union faces revolt over ‘fat cat’ pay deal – The Sun

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Labour Party staff are brave enough to quit rather than serve Corbynism – why won’t ‘moderate’ Labour MPs do so?

…as Corbyn is ‘mocked’ over Russia stance

“Jeremy Corbyn has been mocked by own MPs after saying Russia should be given a sample of the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack so it can “say categorically one way or the other” whether it is responsible. The Labour leader also said he would be happy to work with President Putin if he was Prime Minister and stopped short of blaming the Kremlin for the attack, despite his deputy John McDonnell doing so over the weekend. It exposes a deepening split in the party’s position on the nerve agent attack which has left Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in a coma in hospital. Last week Mr Corbyn was criticised for refusing to categorically blame Russia for the Novichok poisoning and his communications chief drew further ire when he claimed British intelligence cannot be trusted after the Iraq war dossier.” – Daily Telegraph

  • May steps back from further action – FT


  • Labour ‘could win more votes but fewer seats’ than Tories in Scotland – The Scotsman


  • Tyrant’s poisoning gamble has backfired spectacularly – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: National security isn’t a priority for most voters. But here’s why it could matter at the next election.

Ulster politicians face pay cut over Stormont suspension

“Feuding Northern Irish politicians face a £13,600 pay cut as early as next week as No10 ratchets up the pressure on parties to restore power-sharing. Chancellor Philip Hammond has been forced to introduce a Northern Ireland budget to pay for essential services in the province and to collect taxes. The measures will also include cutting the salaries of members of the Northern Ireland Assembly by 27.5 per cent. This would see a fall from £49,500 a year to £36,000. The pay cut is designed to force the DUP and Sinn Fein to end 14 months of stalemate and strike a deal to restore the power-sharing executive in Belfast… The pay cut would come into effect immediately if MPs pass the bill in the Commons today.” – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Brexit can pave the way for a northern renaissance – Callum Crozier and Simon Clarke MP, CapX
  • Let’s hear more of the moral case for Brexit – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • Can the EU step up to a win-win Brexit outcome in financial services? – Barnabas Reynolds, Brexit Central
  • Singapore shows there’s more than one way of doing capitalism – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • Will Facebook lose its likes? – Charles Arthur, Reaction