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Rudd faces fresh woe over deportation targets…

“Amber Rudd said that she would cease immigration removal targets yesterday as she rejected calls for her to quit over her handling of the Windrush scandal. The home secretary made the promise a day after she denied the existence of any such performance targets, having insisted to MPs: “We don’t have targets for removals.” She admitted to journalists at a Westminster lunch, however, that the targets existed but she had not approved them and they would be stopped… Hours earlier she had been called to parliament after it emerged that she misled a select committee with the claim about immigration targets. A 2015 report from the immigration watchdog revealed that the Home Office had a target of 12,000 “voluntary departures” for the year. Senior Tories made clear that they would resist attempts to oust her.” – The Times

  • Rudd was let down by a lack of experience – The Times

Comment:

  • As a son of Jamaican immigrants, I can no longer be a Tory – Derek Laud, FT

Editorial:

  • Government should scent chance for reform after Windrush – The Times
  • Sorry is not enough – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Daniel Hannan MEP’s column: Like the Windrush children, EU nationals raised here have a moral right to UK citizenship

…as she sparks fury with Customs Union hint

“Amber Rudd today risked sparking fury at No10 by hinting that Britain could stay in the customs union – defying one of Theresa May’s red lines. The Home Secretary – one of the leading faces of the Remain campaign – said the issue was still being debated among warring Cabinet colleagues. Her remark came shortly before a symbolic Commons vote on whether to stay in the customs union. The Government did not oppose the motion, meaning it was agreed unanimously – but is not binding and will not change policy. It sparked a furious response from Brexiteers who called for Ms Rudd to go as Home Secretary unless she backs leaving the customs union… Soon after the lunch Ms Rudd tried to backtrack on the comment – insisting that she accepts the UK will leave the customs union.” – Daily Mail

  • Home Secretary accused of stirring unrest – The Times
  • ‘Of course we’re leaving’: Rudd clarifies position – The Guardian
  • Tory rebels accuse Brexiteers of talking ‘rubbish’ on the Customs Union – Daily Mail
  • May’s deal in doubt as opponents line up on both sides – The Times
  • SDLP claims London is ‘blind to Brexit dangers’ – Belfast Telegraph

Comment:

  • Prime Minister has no choice but to back Labour on the Customs Union – Peter Dowd, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Customs partnership tick tock tick tock tick tock…

Garnier says businesses now find Brexit ‘interesting’

“Global businesses have said “Brexit looks interesting” according to former international trade minister and die-hard Remainer Mark Garnier who today admitted he has fincally accepted Brexit. The MP not only admitted he was wrong about the repercussions of triggering Article 50, but also that the epic referendum result is actively drawing in global trade. Mr Garnier went on and not only slammed the ideology that Britain will perish without the EU’s custom union but added that should the UK remain shackled to Brussels’s trade tariffs it could be counterproductive for post-Brexit trade. He said: “In the early months after the Leave vote, people across the world were asking, ‘what are you crazy Britons doing leaving the EU?’. Yet in the last months, as Article 50 progress is slowly made, global businesses are saying ‘Brexit looks interesting’.” – Daily Express

  • Sturgeon ‘dancing on the head of a pin’ to avoid Brexit deal – Daily Telegraph
  • British banks will get no special deal, says Barnier – Daily Mail
  • Australia won’t force UK to take hormone-treated beef – Daily Telegraph
  • Switzerland announces it wants a bigger post-Brexit trade deal – The Sun

Comment:

  • Never mind Brussels, we should focus on trading with Asia – Greg Hands MP, Times Red Box
  • There is a better option for leaving the EU, if we could seize it – Gerald Warner, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • ‘Half in, half out’ is not a sensible compromise – The Sun

May urges FA to reconsider Wembley sale

“Theresa May tonight warned the FA to think of England fans before committing to selling off Wembley Stadium. It emerged today the headquarters of English football could be sold in a £500million deal to Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham Football Club. Downing Street insisted the process was at an early stage and ultimately a matter for the FA to resolve. But Mrs May’s official spokesman urged caution. He said: ‘This is a decision for the Football Association. But Wembley is the historic home of English football and holds a very special place in the hearts of fans up and down the country. I’m sure the FA will want to strongly consider the views of these supporters before deciding what to do next.'” – Daily Mail

  • Demand grows for repayment of £160 million of public money which supported construction – Daily Mail

Ministers 1) Gove backs down from total ban on shock collars

“Michael Gove is preparing to drop plans for a total ban on electric shock collars for cats and dogs, allowing them to be used to prevent pets from straying on to roads. In a carefully scripted exchange with John Hayes, a former transport minister who uses the collars on his cats, Mr Gove indicated that he would limit the ban to collars used as training devices and exempt those used to contain animals… Mr Hayes had previously told Mr Gove during environment questions that banning containment fence collars would result in pets being killed on the roads. Under the system, when a cat approaches a cable buried around a garden, the collar first beeps a warning and then, if the cat continues towards it, delivers a shock.” – The Times

Ministers 2) Jenrick offers reprieve for the penny

Britons will be able to spend pennies and tuppences on the high street “for many, many years to come”, a Treasury minister pledges today. Robert Jenrick, the Exchequer Secretary, will say that penny is “safe as long as the British public cherish it and see in it, more than a unit of currency, but a metaphor for the enduring strength and continuity”. Mr Jenrick will say cash – which fewer people are using for shopping due to the convenience of debit and credit cards – is vital for everyday life for millions of vulnerable people and those living in rural areas. Mr Jenrick is the first minister to speak out in favour of keeping copper coins since the Treasury announced a review of the UK’s coinage which raised the prospect of scrapping the penny.” – Daily Telegraph

Ministers 3) Hunt urged to let women take abortion pill at home

“Doctors and campaigners have called on the health secretary to allow women to take a medical abortion pill at home, bringing England into line with Scotland and Wales. In a letter published today in The Times, representatives from 20 groups including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and the Fawcett Society say that such “simple measure” by Jeremy Hunt “would improve the wellbeing of women”. Abortion is a sensitive topic for Mr Hunt, who faced a media storm in 2012 after he said that he favoured reducing the time limit for abortions to 12 weeks. Women must take two pills for a medical abortion, ideally a few days apart. The second drug, misoprostol, is also used in the management of incomplete miscarriage, for which it can be taken at home.” – The

Times

  • Lansley backs bowel cancer campaign – The Sun

Tories ‘set to hold flagship town halls’ amidst local government losses

“Theresa May is set to be spared humiliation of losing two of the Tories town hall crown jewels in London despite a local election monstering next week. A new poll shows Labour on course for their biggest share of the vote for 40 years in the capital. But they would still fall short of seizing control of affluent Wandsworth and Westminster, seen as a measure of their success. Jeremy Corbyn’s party enjoyed the support of 51% of the capital’s voters, a massive 22 points ahead of the Conservatives on 29%… But politics professor Philip Cowley said a three-point drop in Labour support since a similar poll in February suggested Tories would hold on to the flagship boroughs of Westminster and Wandsworth on May 3.” – The Sun

  • Labour ‘will ban Uber and Airbnb’ if they win control of councils, warns Truss – The Sun

>Today: Kim Caddy in Local Government: A business-friendly approach by councils helps to keep unemployment falling

>Yesterday:

Knight calls Facebook a ‘morality-free zone’ at hearing

“Furious MPs were told today Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to give evidence to the European Parliament – despite still snubbing a House of Commons inquiry. Damian Collins, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, stunned his colleagues by revealing the development while they grilled another executive sent in Mr Zuckerberg’s place… In heated exchanges more than an hour into the hearing, Tory MP Julian Knight condemned Facebook’s attempt to escape blame for Cambridge Analytica wrongly using users’ data. Mr Knight blasted: ‘I put it to you that Facebook is a morality-free zone. You aren’t an innocent party maligned by the likes of Cambridge Analytica: you are the problem.'” – Daily Mail

  • Turn up or face summons, MPs warn Zuckerberg – The Times
  • Five things we heard in the select committee session – The Guardian

Raab’s aide suspended over ‘sugar baby’ sting

“A minister’s secretary who is alleged to have been caught selling sex online has been suspended from her post. Officials at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government are investigating a civil service employee who worked until Wednesday as diary secretary to Dominic Raab, the housing minister. The woman, 20, is alleged to have advertised herself to “sugar daddies” on a website where wealthy men make financial arrangements with younger women, known as sugar babies. She is said to have offered an undercover reporter from the Daily Mirror, posing as a businessman, “full undisputed access to me” for £750 per meeting.” – The Times

  • Secretary claimed minister was ‘difficult to work with’ – Daily Mail

Davidson expecting first child

“Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, has announced that she is pregnant and expecting her first child with her partner, Jen Wilson. Ms Davidson, 39, said she and Ms Wilson, who has been her partner since 2014, were “excited and daunted” about the months to come and “overjoyed” by the prospect of starting a family together. Their baby is due in the late autumn. The news would not affect her political commitment or her plans to lead the Scottish Conservatives into the 2021 Holyrood elections, Ms Davidson said, adding that she was “simply doing what thousands of working women do every year”. Jackson Carlaw, her deputy, will hold the fort for a few months, she said, while she is on maternity leave, which will be shared with Ms Wilson.” – The Times

  • Right-wing groups urge Trump to skip London and visit Scotland – The Scotsman

>Today: ToryDiary: Roll out the red carpet for Trump

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Congratulations to Ruth Davidson

Rail service failures have caused ‘catalogue of misery’ for commuters, MPs claim

“A catalogue of failures by almost everyone involved in organising rail services has caused ‘untold misery’ for passengers, say MPs. The Public Accounts Committee described the operation of the giant Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise as a ‘multi-faceted shambles’. It said passengers on Britain’s biggest franchise suffered an ‘appalling level of delays and cancellations’ since Govia Thameslink Railway started running it in 2014. At one point, it said fewer than two-thirds of trains were on time as services on Southern were hit by a mix of strike action and incessant engineering works in the South East. It said this was a ‘totally unacceptable state of affairs which caused misery for passengers’ and was the result of a ‘catalogue of errors’.” – Daily Mail

  • Franchise system ‘broken’ – FT

Corbyn’s new adviser compared Israel to ISIS

“Jeremy Corbyn has recruited a strategy adviser who once called for Israel to be condemned in the same way as the Islamic State terror group. Mark Dearn has joined the Labour leader’s office from a controversial group that campaigns for a boycott of Israeli goods. The appointment risks reigniting tensions as the party struggles to deal with the anti-Semitism row engulfing it. For the past three years Mr Dearn, 36, has been a senior campaigns officer at anti-Israel group War on Want, which has been criticised for holding events where speakers have defended violence in the country. Its actions have included organising a sit-in at Waitrose over its stocking of Israeli products.” – Daily Mail

  • Leader’s ally says critics should stand as independents – Daily Telegraph
  • Starmer lashes out at McCluskey over antisemitism – Daily Mail
  • Fury as Abbott refers to traditional Jewish dress as ‘costumes’ – Daily Express
  • Inside Momentum, Britain’s revolutionary movement – FT

Comment:

  • Union boss should stick to the day job – Philip Collins, The Times
  • If Corbyn falls, so does McCluskey – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Byron Davies in Comment: How I won an apology from a Corbyn supporter for falsehoods that helped to cost me my seat

Dying grandmother joins calls for SNP health minister to quit

“A dying grandmother has joined the chorus of calls for the SNP’s Health Minister to quit after waiting more than three hours for treatment thanks to a delayed ambulance. Margaret Goodman, 58, who has terminal brain cancer, said she suffered hours of excruciating pain after an ambulance failed to arrive and her husband, Gavin, was forced to drive her to hospital. The teacher described how she left in a packed “warzone” accident-and-emergency waiting room on a Saturday night earlier this month, before finally receiving a dose of morphine to relieve her pain at 3am. However, she claimed she did not see a doctor until 7am at Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert, Stirlingshire. This was disputed by the health board, which said this was when she was discharged.” – Daily Telegraph

  • CalMac chaos is another symptom of the SNP’s centralising obsession – Brian Wilson, The Scotsman

Editorial:

  • Scotland’s message to the SNP: fix the NHS – The Scotsman

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Welsh Labour prepare for leadership race as Jones announces departure

‘Historic moment’ as Korean leaders shake hands

“North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiled and shook hands with South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in on Friday after walking across the military demarcation line dividing the two nations, commencing a summit aimed at ending decades of conflict on the peninsula. He became the first North Korean leader to set foot on South Korean soil since the Korean peninsula was split after the 1950-53 Korean war. The two leaders walked along a red carpet and saluted a line of South Korean honour guards in ceremonial costumes, before meeting members of each country’s delegations. Bespectacled Mr Kim, in his trademark black Mao suit, expressed hope for opening a new chapter in the history of the divided peninsula.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • The Tories should ditch corporatism and champion the self-employed – Alan Lockey, CapX
  • Ruth Davidson and the politics of pregnancy – Alex Massie, The Spectator
  • Puzzle of Baroness Warsi’s links to Islamist groups – John Ware, Jewish Chronicle
  • The medical and legal establishment has got it wrong on Alfie Evans – Gerald Warner, Reaction
  • The EU ignores its Charter of Fundamental Rights, so we shouldn’t be bound by it – Leslie Rowe, Brexit Central
  • Slaying dragons: Corbynism and its cabal of thugs – Julie Bindel, UnHerd

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