Brexiteers see vindication in Tories’ strong performance in Leave areas

“Conservative Brexiters have seized on the party’s local election results as a vindication of their hard line on the customs union, presaging the argument cabinet ministers are likely to make next week when the Brexit subcommittee meets to try and break the deadlock. The biggest Tory successes were outside London in areas where Labour should be challenging to win parliamentary seats. These included a win in Redditch and gains in Nuneaton, and relief in Swindon, where the Conservatives held the council in the face of a huge Labour campaign. All three council areas voted to leave in the Brexit referendum. In a tweet celebrating the results, Boris Johnson made the Brexit connection explicit. “Jeremy Corbyn has been abandoned in many leave areas – his pledge to stay in the customs union means he is not trusted to deliver Brexit,” the foreign secretary said.” – The Guardian

  • Results show that voters want hard Brexit, ministers tell May – The Times
  • May urged to seize on surge to push for clean break from the EU – Daily Mail


  • London results let Conservatives dream of winning the mayoralty – FT
  • Tories gain Pendle council… by readmitting suspended councillor – Daily Mail
  • Conservative teenager becomes youngest councillor – The Sun

>Today: Brandon Lewis in Comment: Thank you, Conservative members. Because of you, we did well in these elections. But this is just the start.


Greening says Government should give MPs free votes on Brexit

“Having resigned from the government in January, she is now freed from cabinet collective responsibility on Brexit. So will she rebel? “I’ve never rebelled against the government… but getting Brexit right for the British people is above party politics,” she says. “The national interest has to come first.” Theresa May should, she says, give Tory MPs a free vote on critical questions – such as the nature of the final deal – rather than imposing a party whip. “We need to start healing the rift, uniting the kingdom.” The Brexiteers are in her view doing nothing of the sort, with their demands and threats to the prime minister. “The danger with the ransom letters that go in is… people see it as the tail wagging the dog, this is a Conservative government, delivering on Brexit. This is not a Brexit government that then looks around for how it can deliver some Conservative policies too.”” The Times

  • Williamson ‘under pressure’ to break customs deadlock – The Guardian

Charles Moore: Peers vs the people proves the thesis which led to Brexit

“This coming Tuesday, yet another amendment comes before the Lords. This would remove from the Bill the date of our departure from the EU (29 March, 2019). Probably we would not leave at all. This Peers vs the People power-grab confirms, almost beyond caricature, the thesis that helped Brexit win – that the EU is a project belonging to an arrogant elite. As well as the Remainer swells like Lord P, many of the most active campaigners in the Lords are former mandarins – Cabinet secretaries, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, European commissioners. With their legendary dexterity in drafting, and a gift for the reversal of meaning that would make even George Orwell’s satire redundant, they produced all these amendments in the name of upholding parliamentary sovereignty. The effect – fully intended – would be to make sure that, even though 17.4 million people voted to do so, we would never get that sovereignty back.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Customs plan will screw Tories if they’re seen to ‘sell out’ on Brexit – James Forsyth, The Sun
  • For better or worse, the Tories are now the Brexit party – Matthew Goodwin, Daily Telegraph
  • UKIP defectors will drag May further right – Matthew Parris, The Times
  • Tories northern switcheroo isn’t happening quickly enough – David Skelton, Daily Telegraph


  • Conservatives must embrace their role as the Brexit party – Daily Telegraph
  • It’s clear that Leavers are relying on the Tories to deliver – The Sun

Labour MPs turn on Corbyn over ‘nasty party’ reputation

“Furious Labour MPs yesterday turned on Jeremy Corbyn and demanded a change in strategy after their dismal local election results. The party failed to snatch any of its key target London boroughs from the Conservatives – despite hopes they could take advantage of anger over Brexit. And their main target council of Barnet fell to the Tories amid widespread anger among voters at the Labour leader’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism. Labour MPs yesterday told how Jewish voters deserted their party which they have come to view as racist. And they hit out at Mr Corbyn’s allies who tried to spin the gloomy results as a step on the road to eventual victory. Calls for an inquest into what went so badly wrong for Labour came as  Theresa May carried out a victory lap of councils in London and the Midlands which her party had won.” – Daily Mail

  • Calls for inquest as Opposition fail election test – The Times
  • Antisemitism charges dent Labour in north London – FT
  • Livingstone against insists that Zionists collaborated with Hitler – Daily Mail
  • Corbyn blamed for the loss of Jewish support – The Times


  • Birmingham remains red despite scandals – The Times
  • Opposition call for voter ID trials to be scrapped – Daily Express
  • Labour would oust Tories (with SNP help) if results repeated in 2022 – Daily Mail
  • Expert suggests the results auger poorly for Labour’s election hopes – Daily Express
  • Local disputes help to defeat the Conservatives in Trafford – FT


Fraser Nelson: Corbyn has consolidated his grip over a major slice of the electorate

Today’s local election results suggest Corbyn has consolidated the extraoardinary gains made last year. Michael Thrasher, an academic and local authority pollster, has this morning calculated that if they were translated into a general election the Tories would do, if anything, a bit worse than in last year’s election – whereas Corbyn would hold the ground that he gained. This means that Corbyn’s claim this morning – that Labour “is now well placed to fight and win the next General Election” – sounds like a bit of a stretch. The results show Labour no better-placed than it was after the last general election. The Tories can be relieved about that. But how much relief is the party entitled to? The Conservatives fought a hard campaign on very thin resources, and their activists can reasonably claim to have held off the Corbyn advance. But the wider question is why Corbyn has been allowed to come so close.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Why I can’t see Corbyn winning the keys to Number Ten – Janice Turner, The Times
  • How Jewish voters gave Labour a bloody nose – Daniel Sugarman, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour’s Brexit fudge can’t go on – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • Misfire shows the limits of ground campaigning – Sebastian Payne, FT
  • Results show that Labour has lost momentum – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph


  • Peak Corbyn? – The Times
  • No respite from Brexit-induced stalemate – FT
  • Few changes but big lessons – The Guardian

Cable proclaims that the Lib Dem fightback ‘starts here’

“The Liberal Democrats seized Richmond from the Conservatives and gained dozens of councillors around England to dampen criticism of Sir Vince Cable’s leadership. Sir Vince declared that his party is “beginning the fightback” after they won control of the southwest London borough for the first time since 2010. The party also won Kingston and South Cambridgeshire councils from the Conservatives and Three Rivers council in Hertfordshire from no overall control as well as staying in charge of Sutton, Eastleigh and Cheltenham. “We are reasserting ourselves as a major national force,” Sir Vince, 74, told supporters in Richmond. “It’s certainly the beginning of the comeback… Morale is now very high. We have demonstrated that we can win when we are focused and we can only build on that.”” – The Times


  • Meanwhile UKIP chief compares his party to the Black Death – The Times


  • If anyone can claim bragging rights, its Cable – Jane Merrick, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Audio: LISTEN: UKIP’s general-secretary compares his party to the Black Death

Ministers 1) Javid waives fees for Afghan interpreters

“Afghan interpreters who served alongside British troops will no longer have to pay large fees to continue living in the UK, in a victory for the Daily Mail. Around 1,100 Afghans – mostly translators and their families – faced being kicked out of Britain from next year as their five-year visas were due to expire and they could not afford £2,400 to apply for indefinite leave to remain. But new Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said the loyal interpreters, all of whom served for more than a year on the frontline in Helmand Province, and their families could stay without paying… The ministers’ pledges raised hopes for other interpreters who have not been allowed into Britain because they were not serving on an arbitrary date in 2012. ” – Daily Mail

  • Thousands of Windrush generation lack passports – The Times

Ministers 2) Grayling clashes with Gove over car ban

“Hybrid cars that rely on traditional engines, such as the Toyota Prius, would be banned by 2040 under clean-air plans being drawn up by the UK government that would outlaw up to 98 per cent of the vehicles currently on the road. Vehicles such as the Prius, the best-selling hybrid car in Britain, will no longer be classified as “environmentally friendly” enough to be sold, according to three people briefed on the government’s plans to tackle emissions and air quality. The exact wording is still a matter of consultation between several parts of the government, with the transport, environment and business departments all feeding into the final document, the people said. The plans are backed by Michael Gove, environment secretary, and Greg Clark, business secretary. But Chris Grayling, transport secretary, who has Toyota’s UK headquarters in his constituency, is resisting the limits.” – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Our Next Tory Leader survey. Rees-Mogg leads Gove by two votes in over a thousand

Bercow ‘plans to defy criticis’ and serve another year

“Commons Speaker John Bercow plans to defy his army of critics and serve another year in the post, friends have claimed. Despite calls from Theresa May for a probe into bullying claims, Mr ­Bercow wants a decade in the job. The pledge will infuriate Tory backbenchers demanding his head over allegations he vehemently denies. Mr Bercow originally vowed to serve nine years, which would have seen him quit next month. But in his column today, James Forsyth reveals pals of Mr Bercow, who has been rocked by bullying allegations from former staffers, are “assured” his plan is to stay until mid-2019. Angus Sinclair, his ex-private secretary, said this week he got “compulsory early retirement” in 2010 provided he didn’t complain or speak about his treatment.” – The Sun

Labour 1) Activist interviewed by police over transgender row”

“A veteran Labour activist who opposes transgender candidates taking places on all-women shortlists says she is facing an attempt to silence her after she was questioned by police over an alleged hate crime. Linda Bellos, an outspoken feminist and former Lambeth council leader, last night accused transgender campaigners of targeting her as part of a ‘war on women’. The 67-year-old, who is a friend of Jeremy Corbyn, was interviewed under caution after she was reported to police over remarks she made about her willingness to take on pro-transgender activists. A second Labour activist, Miranda Yardley, was also questioned about messages she posted online. Labour is facing a row over moves to allow transgender candidates who have not biologically changed sex on to all-women shortlists.” – Daily Mail

Labour 2) Miliband and Watson amongst MPs accused of ‘threatening press freedom’

“A new attempt by prominent Labour MPs to hijack data protection legislation to tighten media regulation poses a “grave threat to press freedom”, newspapers have warned. Ed Miliband, the party’s former leader, and Tom Watson, the deputy leader, are among opposition MPs who have tabled amendments to the Data Protection Bill, due to be debated in the Commons next week. These include forcing publishers that refuse to join a state-recognised press regulator to pay the costs of claimants who bring court proceedings, even if their claims are defeated, and setting up a Leveson-style inquiry into data protection breaches by the media. Similar proposals have already been rejected. The News Media Association, which represents newspapers, said the amendments “presented a grave threat to press freedom” and should be voted down.” – The Times

  • Local editors overwhelmingly reject second Leveson-style inquiry – The Sun

Proctor sues for damages against Scotland Yard

“Former MP Harvey Proctor has launched an unprecedented £1million claim for damages against Scotland Yard and an alleged fantasist over the force’s bungled VIP child sex abuse inquiry. The 71-year-old alleges that the Met ‘conspired’ with the man known only as ‘Nick’ and reporters from a controversial news website to ‘injure’ him. This, he states in a High Court document, resulted in him losing his job and his home, and also caused him to suffer ‘a major depressive illness’ and damage to his reputation. A key part of his legal action concerns a senior detective’s controversial public statement, at the outset of the police inquiry, that the man’s allegations were ‘credible and true’.” – Daily Mail

Former SNP campaigner abused by ‘cybernats’

“A former SNP member has described how she was left sobbing on her bathroom floor by a torrent of abuse from the army of so-called Cybernats after accusing the Scottish Government of ignoring her demands for an inquiry into her uncle’s suicide. Gillian Murray said she spent a sleepless night on Thursday and was sick with the stress caused by the attacks on Twitter, with the nationalist perpetrators calling her “every name under the sun.” She said she was “ashamed” to have been an SNP member following the tirade, in which she was attacked for publicly criticising the Scottish Government and joining calls for the resignation of Shona Robison as Health Minister. After opposition MSPs highlighted the “spiteful” abuse, and urged Nicola Sturgeon to intervene, the First Minister called on online nationalist trolls to leave 28-year-old Ms Murray alone.” – Daily Telegraph

New Sinn Fein MP promises to ‘reach out’ to unionists (but won’t take her seat)

“Sinn Fein’s new MP for West Tyrone has said she is holding out “an open hand in friendship” to unionists and will work to build bridges and seek “resolutions rather than recrimination”. Writing in today’s Belfast Telegraph, Orfhlaith Begley says she is proud to be part of a “vibrant, growing and dynamic party under the new leadership of Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill”. The Sinn Fein woman was elected comfortably with a majority of almost 8,000. However, her party’s share of the vote was down 4%, while the SDLP’s rose 5%. Ms Begley secured 16,346 votes and a 47% share of the poll compared to the 22,000 votes and 51% share won by her predecessor Barry McElduff last year.” – Belfast Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Welcome to stalemate Britain – Alex Massie, CapX
  • Weak Lib Dem polling shows little support for a second referendum – John Curtice, The Independent
  • The Lib Dems are back – Olivia Utley, Reaction
  • The European Court of Justice should not adjudicate Treaty rights in post-Brexit Britain – Gunnar Beck, Brexit Central
  • In defence of Olly Robbins – Peter Oborne, The Spectator