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Brexit 1) Preparations for 2019 European elections raise Eurosceptics’ fears

‘The Government is secretly planning to stay in the European Union, Eurosceptics fear, after it emerged that Whitehall officials have set aside hundreds of thousands of pounds to spend on European Parliament elections. The electoral watchdog has been handed a budget of £829,000 to pay for its “activities relating to a European Parliamentary election in 2019”, The Telegraph can disclose. The Electoral Commission said it had set aside the cash as a “precautionary measure, so that we have the necessary funds to deliver our functions at a European Parliamentary election, in the unlikely event that they do go ahead.” The elections will take place between May 23 and May 26 next year – after Britain is meant to have left the EU on March 29 – prompting concerns that civil servants are preparing for the UK not to leave the EU as planned.’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: Rupert Matthews on Comment: We don’t just need a good Brexit deal for Britain. We need one for the Falkland Islands too.

Brexit 2) Leave supporters urge would-be Tory rebels to honour manifesto pledges

‘The gang of a dozen pro-EU back-benchers will face a blitz of lobbying to get behind the PM. Leave supporters living in the group’s constituencies will demand their MPs to overturn efforts by Peers to “delay and obstruct” Brexit. They will be asked to resign from the party if they backtrack on the Tories’ manifesto commitments to leave the single market and customs union. Activists are being asked be asked to write to their MP demanding they scrap Lords amendments when the legislation returns to the Commons next months. The letter states: “Thankfully most Conservative MPs realise that they must deliver the result of the EU referendum and will seek to overturn the amendments of betrayal pushed by the Lords.” “There are still some Conservative MPs, though, who are seeking to go against the manifesto pledge they stood on just a year ago to leave the single market and the customs union.”’ – The Sun on Sunday

Referendum result puts pressure on Northern Ireland to liberalise abortion laws

‘Ministers are facing pressure to relax abortion laws in Northern Ireland, following a landslide vote to overturn a ban on terminations in the Republic. Last night Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, hailed the “culmination of a quiet revolution”, as it emerged the country had voted by 66.4 per cent to 33.6 per cent to replace the eighth amendment, which bans abortion unless the mother’s life is at risk. MPs who have been campaigning for a relaxation of the law in Ulster, where abortion is still highly restricted, pledged to table amendments to the Government’s proposed Domestic Abuse Bill, forcing a change. The move, backed by a number of Tories, would cause a headache for Theresa May, whose government is being propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party, which strongly opposes the reforms. Stella Creasy, the Labour MP, yesterday called on Penny Mordaunt, the Women and Equalities minister, to “stand up to colleagues in Government stopping reform”. Nicky Morgan, a Tory predecessor of Ms Mordaunt, said yesterday that she would support Ms Creasy’s planned amendments to the Bill.’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: We bow to the case for another referendum

Gove: Should we extend our National Parks?

‘I have asked the acclaimed writer Julian Glover, a passionate advocate for the countryside and a resident of one of our National Parks, to lead a review into how we can guarantee our most precious landscapes are in an even healthier condition for the next generation. The goal of Julian’s review is not to diminish their protection in any way, but to strengthen it in the face of present-day challenges. Are we properly supporting all those who live in, work in, or want to visit these magnificent places? Should we indeed be extending our areas of designated land? Could we do more to enhance our wildlife and support the recovery of natural habitats?’ – Michael Gove, Sunday Telegraph

First T-level colleges named

‘Fifty-two colleges are today named as trailblazers for the flagship work-related T-levels. They will provide lessons for the new exams, an A-level alternative, in the biggest shake-up of technical education for 70 years. Courses in construction, digital communications and childcare will be taught from September 2020, with a further 22 subjects added a year later. The move will let 16-year-olds study vocational subjects rather than academic A-levels such as maths, English or history. Prime Minister Theresa May said it will give students the chance of a “gold standard” qualification.’ – The Sun on Sunday

Half a million people will soon pay the top rate of income tax

‘The top rate of income tax could soon ‘trap’ 500,000 people and not just the super-rich according to official data. Experts have warned ‘additional rate tax’ of 45 per cent – currently payable on earnings over £150,000 annually – is no longer applicable to just the ‘one per cent’. The Treasury is now facing calls to raise the threshold, which has not changed since 2011, and if the tax hits 500,000 people it will mean more than double the number are paying it than seven years ago…Currently around 393,000 people will pay the 45 per cent rate, which is up by 67 per cent since it was first introduced in 2011.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • The NHS will have to satisfy the Chancellor that it is spending wisely to get its birthday bonus – Sunday Times
  • Higher taxes cannot be the only solution – Sunday Times Leader
  • Britain hands £62 million to Rwandan dictator, who sponsors Arsenal – Mail on Sunday
  • Army looms over ‘free’ Zimbabwe – Sunday Times

Decline in prosecutions of violent offenders

‘The number of violent offences that lead to prosecution has plunged, new figures reveal. The data, obtained by the Labour Party from the House of Commons library, reveal that over the past six years: The proportion of homicides — whether murder or manslaughter — that led to charges fell from 92% to 56%; Firearm offences that went to court halved to 36%; Robberies resulting in charges fell from 93% to 13%. The government is under pressure to increase police funding and officer numbers in England and Wales. Last week Sajid Javid, the home secretary, signalled he would fight for resources. However, sources suggested that Philip Hammond, the chancellor, would prioritise the NHS.’ – Sunday Times

>Friday: ToryDiary: Gauke makes a start on prison rehabilitation – the neglected conservative mission

McCluskey throws Unite members’ cash at failing Labour Live festival

‘Labour’s biggest union backer is giving away a thousand tickets to an event billed as Jeremy Corbyn’s very own Glastonbury, amid serious fears that it will lead to major losses for the party. Unite announced to members that it was giving away the tickets and even offered free travel to the event in London for those who need it. It follows recent reports that ticket sales for the Labour Live Festival have been sluggish, with only 2,500 of the 15,000 seats sold for the event at White Hart Lane in north London on Saturday 16 June. Full-priced tickets cost £35. Some insiders are worried that the party could be in for a seven-figure loss unless action is taken, though Labour officially denies such a loss is on the cards. Unite, whose general secretary Len McCluskey has been one of Corbyn’s most powerful allies, has now stepped in to help boost the numbers.’ – The Observer

Trump says he is still hopeful of meeting Kim Jong-Un

‘President Donald Trump has announced he still intends to meet with Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore, as originally planned, despite earlier indicating the meeting would not go ahead. Speaking to reporters after a press conference on a US man freed from a Venezuelan prison, he said they were doing ‘very well’ in terms of the summit with North Korea. ‘I think there’s a lot of good will,’ he said. ‘People want to see if we can get the meeting and get this done. We are looking at June 12th in Singapore.’ – Mail on Sunday

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