Fury as Italian President instals technocratic government rather than accept Eurosceptic minister

‘Italy’s president was last night accused of an ‘appalling’ betrayal of the will of his people after ignoring impeachment calls and imposing a technocratic government led by a Europhile. MEPs said the country was in ‘meltdown’ and hit out at Sergio Mattarella after he appointed former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli to lead an interim administration. Just hours earlier Mr Mattarella had faced calls to be impeached after rejecting plans from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and League parties to install a Eurosceptic as the country’s economy minister. The populist parties had been trying to form a coalition after elections on March 4 returned a hung parliament, and wanted anti-euro professor Paolo Savona to head the ministry of the economy.’ – Daily Mail

  • Senior Five Star MEP promises Italy will shield Britain from attempts to punish us for Brexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Italian two-year bond yields soar – FT
  • Why does everything keep going wrong for Brussels? – Politico
  • A surge in migrants trying to cross the sea to Spain – Daily Mail



>Today: Henry Newman’s column: The EU isn’t a conspiracy against democracy, but it does a pretty good job of looking like one

Brexit 1) Hammond criticised for failing to prepare for No Deal

‘Philip Hammond was accused last night of failing to prepare for the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal and of wanting to keep the City too closely tied to Brussels. Tory MPs demanded yesterday that ministers step up preparations for a ‘no deal’ Brexit to give Theresa May the ability to walk out of negotiations if Brussels refuses to agree satisfactory terms. Eurosceptics raised fears that contingency planning had ground to a halt in Whitehall, making it almost impossible for the Prime Minister to follow through on her threat to walk away if necessary…Tory MP James Duddridge said last night: ‘Preparations for no deal are essential. Without no deal as a credible option we have little negotiating power.’’ – Daily Mail

  • Rees-Mogg attacks ‘incompetent and weak’ approach – The Sun
  • Plan for every eventuality or risk failure – The Sun Says
  • HMRC has lost 2,000 staff since the referendum – The Times
  • The divorce bill is May’s strongest card; she must use it – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Britain will take part in the EU’s next round of budget negotiations – Daily Mail
  • The Commission is furious about the plan, which it believes will help the UK’s negotiations – The Times
  • Negotiators demand the UK replicate protections for iconic food brands – The Guardian
  • A new Open Skies deal with the US is set to be signed – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Alastair Stewart on Comment: We expats are still under a cloud of uncertainty about our residency rights

Brexit 2) ‘Poisonous’ tensions between the Treasury and the Bank of England

‘Some companies in London’s financial district are urging the Treasury to drop the mutual recognition proposal from a forthcoming Brexit white paper and focus on what they see as a more realistic target: helping the EU to devise an improved “equivalence regime” to facilitate City access to the bloc’s market. The current equivalence regime — offered by the EU to financial services companies in places such as the US and Singapore — is patchy and can be withdrawn at a month’s notice by the European Commission. Mrs May has said it would be totally unsuitable for Britain. Chancellor Philip Hammond said in March: “That [equivalence] regime would be wholly inadequate for the scale and complexity of UK-EU financial services trade.” However, the BoE deputy governor Jon Cunliffe fears the Treasury is about to compromise the central bank’s regulatory autonomy to try to secure a better equivalence deal.’ – FT

Tugendhat calls for Foreign Secretaries to be given more power

‘Tom Tugendhat suggests that bringing trade, intelligence and overseas development issues under the control of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) would provide better coordination to meet the challenges of the post-Brexit era. In a speech to be given on Tuesday to the Rusi defence thinktank, Tugendhat says his proposals will require a revolution at the heart of government. After the EU referendum, the FCO was dismembered, with the responsibility for Brexit negotiations going to the new Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU). Tugendhat argues that this shift led to a further power grab by the Cabinet Office, taking key Brexit talks closer to the prime minister. At the same time, responsibility for trade negotiations was handed to a self-standing department, diminishing the Foreign Office’s clout in the commercial area of foreign relations. In his speech, Tugendhat will say: “Successive foreign secretaries – including the current one – have been hobbled. They’ve had the title, but they haven’t had the power.”’ – The Guardian

  • The Select Committee chairman is one of Johnson’s most trenchant critics – The Times
  • Legal dispute over Turks’ visa status – FT
  • A grand deal between Trump and Kim could be the worst of all worlds – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

The search for new Tory thinking begins

‘An explosion of Conservative think tanks and initiatives has erupted in an attempt to promote the party’s young talent. The so-called renewal project has evolved out of a consensus that the Tories need fresh ideas and personnel. The centrists in the party set up Onward this week, a think tank that will be run by Will Tanner, a 29-year-old former Downing Street aide. The group, which seeks to revitalise the centre-right and wants to reach a new set of voters, was conceived by Neil O’Brien, 39, an MP and former special adviser to George Osborne. On the right of the party two younger MPs have set up Freer, a pro-free-market offshoot of the Institute of Economic Affairs. ..Some young Tory MPs have complained privately about the proliferation of events, but many feel that they cannot afford to miss out. The new groups provide an opportunity to network and manoeuvre, which is increasingly important as intrigue grows about a leadership contest.’ – The Times

  • Reform capitalism to avoid its overthrow – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • O’Brien pushes for a turnover tax on online retailers – The Sun
  • MPs urge Hunt to abandon plans for a nanny state minimum alcohol price – The Sun
  • The opportunity costs of not paying attention – Janan Ganesh, FT

>Today: ToryDiary: The Tory Left: not always Out, not necessarily Loud, but definitely Proud – and a growing force

>Yesterday: Anthony Ridge-Newman on Comment: Introducing the Tory Research Impact Network

Today is Tax Freedom Day (and it’s the latest in over two decades)

‘The tax burden faced by British families is the highest for more than 20 years, according to a report last night. The Adam Smith Institute said today is Tax Freedom Day – the latest it has been since its records began in 1995 and three days later than last year. Tax Freedom Day is the first day of the year that a typical worker keeps the money they earn rather than hands it over to the taxman. ‘British taxpayers have worked a gruelling 148 days for the Chancellor this year –more than in any year under New Labour, and three days longer than last year,’ the report said…The last time the tax burden was higher as a proportion of GDP was in 1969-70 when Harold Wilson was in power…The Adam Smith Institute warned taxes would rise even further under a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. ‘Tax Freedom Day is a stark illustration of the UK’s tax burden,’ said Sam Dumitriu, head of research at the think tank. ‘It is a reminder that public services such as education, welfare, and the NHS must be paid for, either through taxes or borrowing – taxes on the next generation.’ – Daily Mail

RBS shares to be sold at a large loss

‘The Government could sell a ten per cent stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland this week. It still holds 71 per cent of the bank after a bailout during the financial crisis. Bankers reportedly expect ministers to sell off a stake worth at least £3billion. But with shares closing on Friday at 290p, compared with the 502p which was paid for them, the Treasury stands to lose billions of pounds. The Government put £45.5billion into RBS in 2008, in the depths of the financial crisis.’ – The Sun

A quarter of home buyers this year will be helped by the Bank of Mum and Dad

‘New research from Legal & General suggests parents continue to be a major source of funding in helping their children buy homes. This year, 27pc of buyers will get help from friends or family to purchase property, up from 25pc last year and accounting for 316,600 property transactions worth £81.7bn. The number of property transactions funded by parents will increase by 3pc this year, with parental contributions highest in London, and lowest in Scotland. Nearly half of all buyers in London get help from their parents. That makes the ‘bank of mum and dad’ the equivalent of a £5.7bn mortgage lender. Parents are, however, providing smaller sums than they had previously contributed.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Senior Tory councillors think May’s £2 billion on low-cost rentals is not enough – The Guardian

The NHS is expected to reveal a rising overspend this week

‘Hospitals in England ended last year with twice as big a deficit as expected, according to sources, in another illustration of the NHS’s fragile finances. NHS Improvement (NHSI), the health service’s financial regulator, will reveal the overspend when it releases full details on Thursday of how the NHS performed in 2017-18. Sources close to the publication of the annual health check confirmed NHS trusts ended 2017-18 “about £1bn” in the red. The likely overspend, double the £496m expected, will fuel claims that the government is underfunding the NHS, given the sharp increase in the number of people needing care. It would show the health service has been unable to regain the spending discipline the Treasury demanded after years of steadily worsening finances. But critics will blame the deficit on the NHS experiencing the seventh successive year of a budget squeeze and hospitals having to staff thousands of extra beds as a result of the worst winter crisis in its history.’ – The Guardian

£680 million fund for new school places

‘Tens of thousands of new school places are to be created to cope with England’s population boom. Ministers have set aside £680million to fund 40,000 places in primary and secondary schools across the country by 2021. They are needed in part because of a baby boom fuelled by high migration under the Labour government. Earlier this year, the Government said an extra 600,000 secondary school places would be needed in England by 2023, plus almost 80,000 new primary places.’ – Daily Mail

  • They’ll be focused in the best schools – Daily Telegraph
  • Ten-fold rise in obesity among primary school pupils – The Times
  • Parents raise money for classroom air purifiers – The Times
  • Stop trying to force your unhinged hobby horse onto the national curriculum – Gabriel Milland, The Times

Chakrabarti says May should legalise abortion in Northern Ireland without a referendum

‘Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Baroness Chakrabarti was asked directly if she wants referendum or a legislative change. She said: ‘A legislative change – this is an issue of fundamental human rights and in fact the situation in Northern Ireland is currently putting the United Kingdom government in breach of its international human rights obligations, according to the UN. So, we are calling on Theresa May – a self-identifying feminist – to negotiate with the parties in Northern Ireland and then to legislate without further delay.’ She added: ‘Theresa May, as a self identifying feminist, needs to say, yes I unveil statues of suffragists in Parliament Square, but the test of my feminism will be whether I guarantee fundamental human rights for women.’’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Rebecca Lowe’s column: Women’s attitudes to the Conservatives – and vice-versa – are not what you may think

News in Brief