Local elections 1) Good night for the Tories as they defy expectations

“The Tories won Barnet Council today to cap a local election performance that defied expectations and stunted Labour’s hopes of a surge. The Conservative gain in North London will fuel new questions about Jeremy Corbyn’s response to anti-Semitism in Labour. Labour needed just one seat to win Barnet – which had been under no overall control – for the first time ever but fell well short of the winning post… The Tories made a series of gains around the country and won enough seats to deprive Labour of majorities in others. Mrs May did suffer losses in Trafford – meaning there is now no Tory controlled council in Greater Manchester – and Plymouth.” – Daily Mail

  • Mercer blames Conservative defence record for loss of Plymouth – Daily Mail
  • Perry clashes with McDonnell and accuses him of sexism – The Sun


  • Gut feeling, not income, drives voters now – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Tories defenceless against Corbyn’s army of anti-Conservative groups – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • Conservatives pay for forgetting Macmillan’s pragmatism – Martin Wolf, FT

>Today: ToryDiary: These Brexit-shaped elections


Local elections 2) Thwarted Labour councillors blame anti-Semitism scandal

“A local Labour leader has said the anti-Semitism row that has roiled the party in recent months had “made a difference” in the local elections. Barnet was under the spotlight on Friday morning as Labour looked set to fail in its bid to capture a London borough that it had never won since its creation in 1974. With the highest proportion of Jewish residents in England, at 15.5 percent, the result was being seen as an indication of the extent to which a row between Labour and the Jewish community over the handling of anti-Semitism in the party has affected the public mood. Barry Rawlings, Labour group leader, said he expected to see the anti-Semitism allegations make an impact on some of the wards with particularly large Jewish populations, such as Childs Hill and Hale, although Labour only held one of six seats across the two wards going into the election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • McDonnell accused of revealing Labour’s council tax hike – Daily Express


  • Antisemitism isn’t just a vote-loser for Labour – Angela Epstein, Daily Telegraph

>Today: MPs Etc.: The results, council by council

Local elections 3) Liberal Democrats ‘biggest winners’ after Richmond rebound

“With results declared at 90 of 150 councils, the Liberal Democrats were the biggest winners with 40 seats gained, having swept the Tories aside to win back Richmond, a Remain-voting borough in southwest London. They were followed by Labour with 21 and the Conservatives with nine. Labour was hopeful of emerging as the biggest winner when the last of the 4,300 contested seats are declared… Conservative support outside London rose most in areas which voted to leave the European Union in 2016 as Ukip voters abandoned the party. Liam Fox, the trade secretary, said that early results were at the “higher end of expectations” for the Tories, but he rejected suggestions that the Ukip collapse was driven by Brexit.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Kevin Davis in Local Government: Why local manifestos matter

Local elections 4) UKIP evaporate across the country… except in Derby

“Ukip has suffered a catastrophic collapsed in the local elections overnight – facing the loss of almost every council seat it won four years ago. With the results still coming in, the Brexit cheerleaders have already lost 86 of the 166 seats they won last time. The party is currently on just two seats – one of which is a gain in Derby in defiance of the nationwide performance. The dire results come in the wake of almost two years of total chaos inside Ukip the EU referendum. It has burned through five leaders in just 18 months since Nigel Farage quit in November 2016, as the Brexit victory destroyed at a stroke the party’s purpose and unity. Ukip former deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans admitted it had not been a good night for the party but pointed to its victories in Derby.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Video: WATCH: Curtice – A lesson from this poll. The Conservatives must “deliver on Brexit in a way that will satisfy the aspirations of Leave voters”

Williamson and Javid support Afghan interpreters

“The Defence Secretary today insisted Afghan interpreters who served alongside British troops should be allowed to stay in the UK. Gavin Williamson intervened in the row after it emerged many of those who helped with the fight against the Taliban face being ejected from the UK unless they pay the government over £2,000. More than 150 interpreters have written to the Home Secretary complaining that they are being asked for thousands of pounds to secure an indefinite right to remain in the UK… Mr Williamson told the BBC: ‘These are people who have served alongside our armed forces and they have done so much … so we have made it absolutely clear they should be staying in this country.’ It is understood an agreement is close between the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office to waive the charges and allow them to remain in the UK.” – Daily Mail

  • Home Office accused of racism by its own staff – The Times


  • Honouring interpreters’ extraordinary commitment and bravery – Sajid Javid, Daily Mail
  • They put their lives on the line for us – Gavin Williamson, Times Red Box
  • Javid may be change, but he isn’t progress – Gary Younge, The Guardian


Hinds launches plan to give teachers sabbaticals

“Teachers will get sabbaticals as part of a raft of new measures aimed at making the profession more attractive, the Education Secretary will announce today. Damian Hinds will earmark £5million to pay for experienced teachers to take a year off school to work in industry or on academic research. The fund will pay their wages. As part of his offering, he will also announce proposals to drop an accountability measure that names and shames ‘coasting’ schools. It has been hated by teachers since it was introduced three years ago as the Government had originally said those identified would be forced to become academies. The new sabbaticals for teachers will act as a reward for those with ten or more years of experience and will enable them to work on projects that complement their work in the classroom. Participants will be expected to show how their work will benefit their pupils when they return to school.” – Daily Mail

Ministers told UK may not leave Customs Union until 2023

Britain will be unable to leave the customs union before 2023, ministers have been told, leading to fears that the delay will be exploited by Remainers to thwart Brexit. In a briefing to the Cabinet’s Brexit sub-committee earlier this week, senior civil servants said highly complex new technology that will be needed to operate Britain’s borders after Brexit might not be ready for another five years. Theresa May has asked officials to carry out more work on the two options currently being considered by the Government to replace the customs union – a customs partnership and a so-called “maximum facilitation” plan. But the expected delays mean that whatever option the Cabinet decides on, the country will have to stay in a form of customs union for four years after leaving the bloc in March 2019.” – Daily Telegraph

  • May ‘holds back key bills’ to avoid defeat – The Sun
  • Davis vows to ‘deal’ with the Lords – Daily Express
  • SNP using row to push for independence, warns Mundell – The Scotsman


  • Influential committee ‘slams Whitehall’ over unpreparedness for Brexit – Daily Express
  • Osborne stands by warnings over Brexit impact – FT
  • Thatcher would not have backed Brexit, claims aide – Daily Telegraph
  • EU backs Irish right to veto trade deal – The Times
  • Juncker wants Brits working for the EU given Belgian citizenship – Daily Mail


>Today: Charlie Elphicke in Comment: The customs debate is pointless if we aren’t ready with a new system. Which we aren’t yet – but must be.

>Yesterday: Daniel Stafford in Comment: The GDPR chaos is a reminder of how taking back control will allow us to make better laws

May urged to ‘come clean’ over meeting with Hibachi

“Theresa May was urged to come clean yesterday after ‘secret’ talks about a £2 billion taxpayer bailout for a new nuclear power project. The boss of Japanese giant Hitachi – Hiroaki Nakanishi – met the PM in Downing Street days after calling for the UK government to take a £2 billion stake in the plant in Anglesey, north Wales. The group is reported to have claimed the £20 billion project due to start generating in the mid-2020s is unaffordable without state support. It’s the latest blow to the Government’s energy policy after huge delays to the construction of the Hinkley Point nuke plant in Somerset. The PM’s official spokesman would only say Mrs May was taking part in “private meetings” at Downing Street yesterday afternoon.” – The Sun

Davidson ‘defies morning sickness’ to give battle to Sturgeon at FMQs

“Ruth Davidson returned to action in the Scottish parliament today – a week after revealing she is pregnant with her first child. The Tory leader in Scotland faced off against Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions – and showed no sign of the morning sickness she has been enduring. The 39-year-old – often tipped as a possible successor to Theresa May – announced last Thursday that she partner Jen Wilson would be welcoming their baby in the autumn after undergoing IVF. She posted a photo on Twitter of the couple beaming alongside their cocker spaniel, Wilson, with the message: ‘Our little family of three is becoming four…’ There was no sign of Ms Davidson taking it easy today, as she berated Ms Sturgeon over criminals not being prosecuted because ‘overworked’ police officers had failed to submit key reports in time.” – Daily Mail

  • First Minister admits there are no British safety standards for baby boxes – Daily Telegraph


  • No deal for Sturgeon until after SNP conference – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Wollaston speaks out as cancer screening helpline ‘overwhelmed’

“A helpline set up for women worried about breast cancer screening errors was overwhelmed as thousands demanded to know whether they had been affected and what their options were. More than 8,000 calls were taken yesterday, but other women were angry that they could not get through. All 309,000 living women who missed out on scans will be contacted by letter and have been promised checks if they want them, although some will have to wait until October to avoid disrupting routine screening for patients aged 50 to 70… Sarah Wollaston, chairwoman of the health select committee, said it was vital that women who missed out on checks were given balanced information when they called a helpline.” – The Times

  • Scandal shows the cradle-to-grave NHS is over – Judith Woods, Daily Telegraph

Peers urge Lord Speaker to defy Bercow’s ban on Trump…

“Peers are urging the Lord Speaker to defy a ban imposed by his Commons counterpart John Bercow on the US President addressing politicians, MailOnline can reveal. Mr Bercow launched a tirade against Mr Trump from the Speaker’s chair last year – vowing to deny him permission to give a speech in Westminster Hall. But while he was cheered to the rafters by Labour MPs as he condemned the president’s immigration curbs on mainly-Muslim countries, the intervention drew fury from Tories who accused Mr Bercow of wading into international diplomacy and putting the Special Relationship at risk. Peers are now pushing for the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, to step in and offer the use of the lavish Royal Gallery for Mr Trump to deliver a speech – either during his working trip in July or on a future State Visit.” – Daily Mail

…as the Speaker ‘digs in’ over bullying allegations

A defiant John Bercow has vowed to “keep buggering on” as Commons Speaker after he was accused of bullying by the second former senior Westminster official in less than a week. David Leakey, who was Black Rod until last year, said that Mr Bercow displayed “intolerable” rudeness and “explosive” behaviour that terrified his subordinates. The claim follows allegations by Angus Sinclair, the Speaker’s former chief of staff, that he was physically intimidated, demeaned and mimicked before he took “compulsory early retirement”… Mr Bercow, 55, has made clear that he has no intention of resigning, leaving MPs on the House of Commons commission, which is responsible for parliament’s administration, in no doubt that he would have to be forced from office.” – The Times

  • Candidates ‘circle Bercow’s seat’ amidst expectations that he’ll quit – The Sun


  • Speaker and MPs need a better watchdog – Hannah White, The Times

Sinn Fein hold West Tyrone in by-election

“Sinn Fein’s Orfhlaith Begley is the new West Tyrone MP following a parliamentary by-election triggered when Barry McElduff quit amid claims he mocked victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Mr McElduff resigned as West Tyrone MP in January, 10 days after controversy flared when he posted a video of himself with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the notorious Kingsmill massacre… inn Fein’s Orfhlaith Begley, a 26-year-old solicitor, was defending a 10,000-plus majority. She topped the poll with 16,346 votes. Abstentionist MP Ms Begley noted that her victory came in the centenary year of the first woman MP elected to Westminster, the Irish nationalist Countess Markievicz.” – Belfast Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Varadkar and Barnier’s disgraceful provocations on Brexit could seriously damage Ireland – Owen Polley, Reaction
  • Conservatives win the expectation management game – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • As far as the local elections go, what matters is location, location, location – Stephen Bush, New Statesman
  • Can the Tories win back the web? – James Ball, UnHerd
  • Britain’s railways need free market reform, not nationalisation – Matt Kilcoyne, CapX