London Conservatives ‘considering breakaway’

The Conservatives in London have reportedly held secret discussions about a potential breakaway from the national party, amid fears of an electoral wipeout in the local elections next month. Senior Tories have hosted a series of meetings over the past year in order to draw up plans for a separate party which would boast its own brand, ­policies and figurehead separate to Theresa May. The disclosure is deeply embarrassing for Mrs May, who is braced for the party’s worst performance in the ­capital in its 184-year history, when the ballots are cast next month. According to analysis conducted by Lord Hayward and Tony Travers, a ­respected academic, the Conservatives are expected to lose almost 100 seats in the capital, falling from 612 to 519, while all nine councils under its ­control are thought to be at risk. Meanwhile, The Spectator claims that those involved in the talks have been spurred on by the success of Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, whose distinct brand and policies have been credited for the party’s remarkable turnaround in Scotland.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tower Hamlets faces fresh vote fraud claimsThe Times

>Today: Tim Pollard in Local Government: In Croydon, Labour is going through a tortuous process to block the right to buy for future council tenants

May’s Home Office record ‘comes back to haunt her’ over crime

“Theresa May oversaw cuts to police funding and numbers as Home Secretary which are coming back to haunt her as Prime Minister. As Home Secretary she was tasked with wielding the axe to police budgets and also watered down stop and search powers. But after funding fell and police powers were challenged violent crime has soared substantially. During her first five years as Home Secretary police forces in England and Wales saw their central funding slashed by £2.2billion in real terms – the equivalent of 22 per cent – the National Audit Office found. As funding tumbled so did police numbers with officer numbers falling from 144,235 in 2010 to 123,505 in 2017. In the year to March 2010 –  two months before the Coalition came to power and Mrs May was installed as Home Secretary – there were 699,011 incidents of violent crime, according to the Office for National Statistics.” – Daily Mail

  • Abbott insists that stop and search won’t make London safer – The Guardian
  • Rudd under fire for ‘blaming social media for gang violence’ – Daily Mail


  • The police don’t need to abuse their powers to cut crime – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • Is being deemed a racist worse than kids dying, Mayor Khan? – Rod Liddle, The Sun

Johnson accuses Corbyn of ‘playing Russia’s game’

“Boris Johnson accused Jeremy Corbyn of ‘playing Russia’s game’ tonight after Labour seized on claims the Foreign Secretary exaggerated evidence on the Salisbury attack. Mr Johnson said it was ‘lamentable’ the Labour leader was choosing to ‘side with the Russian spin machine’. Mr Corbyn today said Mr Johnson had ‘egg on his face’ and demanded the Foreign Secretary explain an interview where he said the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down lab had evidence Russia was to blame for attacking Sergei Skripal. But critics accused the Labour leader of doing the Kremlin’s dirty work by casting doubt over Britain’s official position.” – Daily Mail

  • UK locates source of Russian nerve agent – The Times
  • Moscow probes for weakness in propaganda war – FT
  • Russia seeks to discredit UK at UN Security Council – The Guardian
  • Was British scientist another Kremlin victim? – Daily Mail


  • Johnson proves a liability once again, why is he still in his job? – Ellie Mae O’Hagan, The Guardian
  • Useful idiots are letting Putin off the hook – David Aaronovitch, The Times


  • Whoever gave Putin this PR victory should be ashamed – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Some on the Right may admire Putin – but Tory members are not among them, our survey suggests

Raab set to launch ‘crackdown on travellers’

“Police could be given tougher powers to target Travellers and Gypsies after nearly 4,000 caravans were found on unauthorised sites across the country. Dominic Raab, the housing minister, said that he was “deeply troubled” by allegations about the behaviour of Travellers and “particularly by the widespread perception that the rule of law does not apply to those who choose a nomadic lifestyle”. He will launch a consultation today looking at police and council powers, court processes, government guidance, the provision of legal sites and their impact on settled communities. It will be carried out jointly by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.” – The Times

British Firms 1) Howarth warns against GKN takeover

“The sale of engineering giant GKN could leave Britain’s military reliant on other countries, a former defence minister said yesterday. Sir Gerald Howarth – previously in charge of international security strategy – warned against allowing the firm to fall into the hands of asset-strippers Melrose without assurances over its future. He said the UK’s place as leaders in aerospace ‘must not be imperilled by financial spivs whose only interest is in making a quick buck’. It came as GMB, the union for automotive and aerospace engineering workers, called on the Government to block the hostile takeover. Another ex-defence minister Sir Julian Brazier, a former SAS reservist, and Labour’s defence spokesman Nia Griffith also called for action.” – Daily Mail

British Firms 2) Security fears over French-made passports

“Fresh security fears were last night raised about the Franco-Dutch firm chosen to make Britain’s post-Brexit passports. Gemalto, the Government’s preferred bidder, was revealed to have supplied Estonia with as many as 750,000 ID cards with security flaws. Experts suggested the company could be linked to millions of cards vulnerable to cloning and identity theft, sold across Europe, including to at least one government and several private businesses. The cards were said to contain chips and software sourced by Gemalto from a German firm. Under the Home Office deal, it is thought Gemalto will also be responsible for sourcing the biometric chips for British passports. MPs said the revelations raised further questions about whether the company could be trusted to deliver Britain’s new blue travel documents.” – Daily Mail

  • Passport fiasco shows the gulf between rulers and ruled – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

Rees-Mogg attacks ‘Brexit tests’ set by Westminster committee

MPs have set 15 tests by which to judge Theresa May’s Brexit deal and called for Britain to remain governed by EU rules if they cannot be passed.  The House of Commons’ Exiting the European Union committee called on the Government to consider membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) or European Free Trade Association (Efta) as an alternative to a full-blooded Brexit. The report was not backed by the whole committee, which is riven by stark divisions between Leavers, who argue EEA or Efta membership would turn Britain into a rule-taking vassal state, and Remainers. “The High Priests of Remain have pushed through another report that seeks to overturn the referendum result by stealth,” said committee member Jacob Rees-Mogg.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Committee accused of producing ‘Remain propaganda’ – The Sun
  • Boost as Vauxhall expands production in UK plant – Daily Express
  • Barclays boss says Brexit may boost economy – Daily Mail

More Rees-Mogg:

  • MP urged to ‘stop impersonating Beano character’ – Daily Mail


  • Three legal paths to stop Brexit are blocked – David Allen Green, FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Rees-Mogg tops our Next Tory Leader survey for the third month running

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Ici Londres – The tide of history flows away from the EU’s imperial delusions, argues Hannan

Corbyn lines up Livingstone ally as new discipline chief

“Jeremy Corbyn wants to install an activist who defended Ken Livingstone on anti-Semitism claims as Labour discipline chief. His office is lining up Claudia Webbe to take over as chairman of the disputes panel, sources said yesterday. It comes just a week after Christine Shawcroft was forced out of the role after opposing the suspension of an alleged Holocaust denier. Miss Webbe is a former adviser to ex-mayor of London Mr Livingstone and worked on his election bids in 2000 and 2004. Now she is a Labour councillor in Islington, where Mr Corbyn is MP, and describes herself as a passionate supporter of the ‘Corbyn project’. The leader’s backing for her comes despite the fact she stood up for Mr Livingstone when he was suspended in 2005 for comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard.” – Daily Mail

  • Jewish leaders to say that Livingstone must go – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn to finally meet leading Jewish groups – Daily Mail
  • Eleven peers demand police investigation into Labour anti-Semitism – Daily Express
  • Candidate in new anti-Semitism row – The Times
  • Labour leader sat with left-wing author who dismissed anti-Semitism problem – Daily Mail


  • As a Jewish Corbyn supporter, this feels like gaslighting – Rachel Shabi, The Guardian
  • This row is a plot to smear Corbyn – Kenny MacAskill, The Scotsman

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: In Corbyn’s Labour Party, Jews are treated as citizens of nowhere

NUT urges teachers to campaign against Tories

“Union leaders have instructed teachers to leaflet parents about Tory “cuts” in a bid to sway their voting intentions ahead of next month’s elections. The National Union of Teachers have told members to hand out flyers and put up banners at the school gates. It follows a similar campaign held last year before the General Election. Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, called on teachers to relaunch their campaigning this month – despite it coming during the “purdah” period before the May 3 vote. A campaign website which is run by several unions has numerous leaflet and poster templates for teachers to download… ast year teachers were accused of trying to influence the result by sending letters home in children’s schoolbags blasting Tory education policies.” – The Sun

MPs attack Camelot over National Lottery profits

“National Lottery operator Camelot was castigated by MPs last night for making ‘excess’ profits while the amount raised for good causes has fallen. Over the past year the money handed to charities has fallen by 15 per cent as the public moved towards scratch cards rather than entering traditional draws. Despite this, Camelot has made profits well in excess of what was envisaged in its 2009 licence, MPs on the Commons public accounts committee (PAC) said. Profits more than doubled between 2009/10 and 2016/17 to £71million. Over the same period, the amount given to good causes went up by just £31million to £1.5billion – an increase of 2 per cent. The MPs criticised the Gambling Commission for not including a break clause in the 14-year contract with the Lottery operator.” – Daily Mail

  • Spend more money on good causes, operator urged – FT

Scottish Government warned it may not reverse economic lag

“Scotland’s economy is continuing to lag behind the rest of the UK despite a full year of growth in 2017. There are now warnings that the Scottish Government current approach won’t reverse this after the country recorded growth of 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2017. This compares with 0.4 per cent UK-wide. Across the whole of 2017, Scottish growth was 0.8 per cent , less than half of the 1.8 per cent in the UK… Scotland’s has struggled to keep pace with UK growth since the 2014 oil price crash, which devastated the North Sea economy. The Fraser of Allander think tank Institute warned last week that “confusion” in Scottish Government policy making could be thwarting growth. Stuart McIntyre of the Institute said the latest headline figures are “a significant concern.”” – The Scotsman

News in Brief:

  • Red London: Labour is poised to take the capital – Will Heaven, The Spectator
  • Have Umunna and Soubry undermined the Government’s negotiating position? – Simon Gordon, Brexit Central
  • Holding out for a hero will get centrists nowhere – Alex Massie, CapX
  • The passing of the libertarian moment – Kevin D Williamson, The Atlantic
  • Does the gender pay gap matter if gender is being abolished anyway? – Iain Martin, Reaction