Published:

May divides Cabinet to hunt for customs compromise…

“Theresa May has divided her warring cabinet into two rival camps to fight out their differences on Brexit. Her top team is split over how Britain should manage its customs arrangements with the EU after it leaves the bloc. Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, has called her favoured customs partnership model “crazy”. He and other Brexiteers favour an alternative plan called “max-fac”. This is opposed by Philip Hammond, the chancellor, and others who say it would damage the economy and break Britain’s promise to avoid a hard border with Ireland. A meeting of the Brexit cabinet sub-committee last week broke down without agreement. To break the deadlock Mrs May has appointed two new working groups on each of the rival solutions.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister orders Davis to find ‘third way’ on customs – Daily Mail
  • May could adopt high-tech alternative plan after weeks of opposition – The Sun
  • Plan to ‘tie UK to Brussels indefinitely’ ditched – Daily Express
  • Senior EU official mocks May – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Both teams are working on unworkable plans – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • May should sack grandstanding Johnson – Philip Collins, The Times

Editorial:

  • Johnson’s is only plan that delivers a meaningful Brexit – The Sun

…as she delays key bills over Commons gridlock

“Theresa May postponed key Brexit legislation while allies on Thursday played down the prospect of any imminent agreement over future customs policy, deepening the paralysis over Britain’s strategy on leaving the EU. The prime minister’s allies believe there is unlikely to be a breakthrough over customs arrangements and the Irish border at next Tuesday’s meeting of the inner Brexit committee, even though she wants the issues settled before next month’s EU summit. Meanwhile, senior Tories admitted they did not dare bring back two key Brexit bills to the House of Commons – on trade and customs – until the autumn because of fears Mrs May could be defeated… Officials are exasperated by the lack of progress on the customs and trade bills, which have been frozen for months and are not now expected to return to the Commons until the autumn.” – FT

  • Tories accused of ‘subverting democracy’ by not tabling debates – The Guardian

Robbins accused of ‘holding back’ key advice on the Irish border

“Whitehall Brexit guru Olly Robbins was accused of holding back key evidence that proves technology can be used to solve the Irish border headache. Seething Brexiteer Cabinet Ministers are convinced Theresa May’s pro-EU aide could have made a stronger case for the hi-tech “maximum facilitation” customs option at the crunch meeting of the Brexit “war cabinet” last week. The high-flying civil servant talked the 11 strong committee through the merits of the No10’s previously  preferred complex Custom Partnership over the option backed by Boris Johnson. Mr Robbins said “Max Fac” would mean more red tape for 145,000 companies trading with the EU. But Whitehall sources told The Sun that Liam Fox and David Davis both believe more more options about “Max Fac” could have been included in the briefing.” – The Sun

  • Gove concerned that EU will hold Britain ‘hostage’ over Ireland – Daily Telegraph
  • SDLP warns Labour that current plans won’t prevent border – Belfast Telegraph
  • Backbenchers urge Corbyn to support the EEA – The Guardian
  • EU insiders say Northern Ireland could be ‘new Hong Kong’ – Belfast Telegraph

More:

  • MSPs urge Holyrood to reject Brexit Bill without a deal – The Scotsman
  • Environment Secretary criticised over ‘toothless’ green watchdog The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Northern Ireland and historic allegations. Former soldiers deserve protection from unjust pursuit.

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: May clashes with Tory MPs and Irish nationalists over Troubles inquiries

Hannan admits that Brexit is not going as he expected in ConHome column

“A senior Brexiteer today admitted leaving the European Union is “not working out” the way it was planned. Dan Hannan, the Conservative MEP whose speeches against Brussels went viral on YouTube, said Britain should seek an “Efta-type arrangement, à la Suisse” to protect trade with the EU. He expressed surprise that an uncompromising Brexit was being pursued despite the closeness of the 52-48 referendum result which backed Leave. Mr Hannan, writing on ConservativeHome, said he was often asked, “not working out the way you thought, is it?” He  said: “To be fair, they’ve got a point.” He went on: “I had assumed that, by now, we’d have reached a broad national consensus around a moderate form of withdrawal that recognised the narrowness of the result.”” – Evening Standard

  • Leadsom warns peers after Brexit Bill defeats – Daily Mail

More:

  • Leave.EU chief faces scrutiny over spending – The Times
  • Campaign group fined £70,000 – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Daniel Hannan’s column: For partisan advantage, Labour demands a worst-of-all-worlds Brexit

Schools: Hinds announces £50 million for more grammar places…

“Thousands more places at selective schools are to be created in a new revolution for grammars. Making good on the Tories’ pledge to increase choice for parents, Education Secretary Damian Hinds today approves a £50 million fund for selective schools to build extra classrooms. However, grammars bidding for the money must be able to prove that they are taking action to increase admissions of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is thought that between 1,000 and 2,000 new places could be created in areas where there is high demand from parents. Despite the drive to give poorer pupils a more rigorous academic education, the proposals already faced a backlash from the Left last night. Unions claimed the move would not raise attainment or improve social mobility.” – Daily Mail

  • Plan will create up to 16,000 new places, Education Secretary claims – Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

…as he u-turns on the faith-based schools cap (but promises more voluntary-aided faith schools)

“The Conservatives also promised during the election campaign to remove the cap on faith-based free schools, which stops them allocating more than 50% of their places on grounds of religion – which would have brought them in line with other faith schools in the state sector. But the government has ditched this promise – and instead says it will provide funds for local authorities to create a new generation of “voluntary-aided” faith schools. These will be able to be fully selective on grounds of religion – and the funding for their creation will be taken from the pot of money set for the creation of new free schools.” – BBC

  • Morgan backs Labour bid to put ballot boxes in every school – Daily Mail

Blue-collar voters ‘flocking’ to the Tories

“Blue collar workers are flocking to Theresa May and fuelling a Tory polling lead over Labour, new figures revealed today. Data from YouGov suggest working class voters have surged to the Conservatives and now favour Mrs May’s party by 43 per cent to 40 per cent. The figures are a reversal from January when Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour led in the group by 46 per cent to 35 per cent. The turnaround underlines the surprise results at last week’s local elections when the Tories surprisingly held ground while Labour failed to make progress. Across the country, the poll suggests support for Labour is falling in almost half of the 50 most marginal constituencies. Overall, the YouGov estimate the Conservatives are backed by 43 per cent of voters, up one point, and Labour by 38 per cent.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Nabil Najjar and Luke Springthorpe in Comment: How we’re helping build the Conservative Renaissance

Hammond and Hunt lock horns over NHS funding boost

“Jeremy Hunt and Philip Hammond are at loggerheads over how much more money the NHS should get to fulfil Theresa May’s pledge for a long-term funding deal to rescue the service. The health and social care secretary and chancellor have been competing for the prime minister’s backing for their starkly different visions of how much extra cash the beleaguered service in England needs. Hunt is pushing for an increase that would see the NHS budget rise by at least £5.2bn a year, while Hammond’s approach would mean an annual rise of about £3.25bn. May plans to capitalise on the expected surge in support for the NHS around its 70th birthday on 5 July by announcing major, meaningful increases in its budget for the next few years.” – The Guardian

MPs’ ‘damning’ warning over Armed Forces’ spending shortfall

“Military plans for Britain’s Armed Forces have becoming increasingly ‘unrealistic’ because there is not enough money, a damning report warns today. A Public Accounts Committee investigation found the military could be almost £21billion short of the money needed to buy equipment over the next 10 years. MPs said the department ‘simply does not have enough money to buy all the equipment it says it needs’. It warned the gap had consequences for both spending plans and its ability to ‘prepare for serious challenges in national defence’. The report accused the MoD of not being clear with politicians or the public about the financial risks it faces. It came as US defence officials piled the pressure on Britain to take defence seriously ahead of a crucial review to be published in the summer.” – Daily Mail

  • Department must do more to prepare for robot threat, MPs say – Daily Telegraph
  • Ministry of Defence is ‘billions short’ for new ships and jets – The Times
  • Labour wants foreign shipyards barred from Navy contract – FT

More:

  • May personally apologises to Libyan dissident over rendition – Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • The MoD has a habit of recurring financial chaos – The Times

Johnson lashes out at ‘populist’ Corbynite takeover

“A former Cabinet minister delivered a devastating verdict on the state of Labour today condemning Jeremy Corbyn’s flagship policies as ‘crazy populism’. Alan Johnson said the party was in the ‘worst position’ since the 1980s and predicted that the hard-Left takeover would ‘end in tears’. The ex-home secretary gave the withering assessment during a speech at a conference held at Brighton College in Sussex. Mr Johnson – who also served as Education Secretary – told the audience the current situation reminded him of attempts by Trotskyists to seize control of Labour three decades ago… Mr Johnson questioned the purpose of pro-Corbyn group Momentum, saying: ‘Why do we need a second organisation within an organisation, particularly when it is just a fan club for the leader?'” – Daily Mail

  • Corbynites accused of ‘stitch up’ in selecction for Lewisham East by-election – The Times

Miliband vows to fight on for a second Leveson inquiry

“Ed Miliband has vowed the ‘battle goes on’ to secure a second Leveson inquiry in defiance of last night’s vote by MPs. The ex-Labour leader was humiliated by the Commons after he made an emotional plea for the Government to U-turn on its cancellation of a renewed probe. Mr Miliband was defeated in the lobbies when he tried to re-write the Data Protection Bill to force ministers to commission a new inquiry into newspapers’ behaviour. The House of Lords could return to the issue as MPs deleted a clause in the bill specifying an inquiry should be held – meaning peers could force MPs to think again. After he was defeated Mr MIiliband said: ‘Very disappointed for the victims of phone-hacking and press abuse that we did not win the vote for Leveson 2. The battle goes on to keep our promise to them to get the truth they deserve and protection for victims in the future.'” – Daily Mail

  • Peers trying to muzzle the press just days after MPs voted down plans – The Sun

Comment:

  • Miliband and the Mail show why lawmaking by vendetta is a frightening thought – Jane Merrick, Times Red Box

>Yesterday:

Bercow says MPs ‘missed their chance’ to replace him

“A defiant John Bercow has told MPs that they missed their chance to replace him as Speaker last year. Mr Bercow’s position came under intense pressure last week when he was accused of bullying by two former senior Westminster officials. He denies the allegations. In the House of Commons yesterday James Duddridge, the Conservative MP for Rochford & Southend East, asked Andrea Leadsom, leader of the Commons, for a debate about what MPs would like from the next Speaker. After Mrs Leadsom dismissed the suggestion, Mr Bercow intervened to tell Mr Duddridge that he had been unanimously re-elected as Speaker by MPs after the general election last June, giving him the right to stay on until 2022.” – The Times

  • Speaker vows ‘four more years’ – The Sun

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: I’m not out to get Bercow, but I believe that his time is up

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Bercow’s bully pulpit

Farron pulls out of ‘homophobic’ Christian event

“Tim Farron has pulled out of a Christian event today because it turned out to be homophobic. The ex-Liberal Democrat boss was left red-faced today when the event he was meant to speak out lashed out at the “gay lobby”. He was due to talk at the Northern Men’s Convention on Saturday in Manchester. But a description on the event’s website said that “even in Bible teaching churches many appear to be wavering under the onslaught of the gay lobby”. It attacks society for ridiculing and vilifying Christian beliefs, and said that many “increasingly keep their mouths shut for fear of being demonised”… Mr Farron said today he won’t be going to the event after seeing promotional material for it.” – The Sun

Carney warns public to prepare for higher rates

“Households will have longer to sort out their finances before an increase in borrowing costs after the Bank of England yesterday decided to hold interest rates. However, borrowers were warned to prepare for higher rates as the Bank dismissed recent economic weakness as a weather-related blip. It endorsed financial market predictions that there will be three quarter-point rate rises over the next three years, taking rates to 1.25 per cent in early 2021, by forecasting that inflation would hit its 2 per cent target under those assumptions. “For households and businesses, interest rates are likely to go up to a limited extent and a gradual pace and they should plan accordingly,” Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, said.” – The Times

  • The Governor’s legacy is not a happy one – Ed Conway, The Times

News in Brief:

  • Brexit is fast becoming a Tory no-win – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • How Brexit warped the minds of otherwise sane economists – Patrick Minford, Brexit Central
  • Why should baby boomers be the model for future generations? – Chris Bullivant, CapX
  • The government needs to up its game on drug education – Abbie Llewelyn, Reaction
  • Vanilla liberalism is past its sell-by date – Peter Franklin, UnHerd

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