Brexit: Rees-Mogg questions if May wants to leave on our Moggcast…

“Jacob Rees-Mogg has accused Theresa May of preparing a Brexit deal that will make Britain a “vassal state” as senior Conservatives, concerned about the direction of negotiations with Brussels, rumble about a challenge to her leadership in the autumn. Mr Rees-Mogg, head of the European Research Group which counts about 60 Tory MPs as supporters, said the prime minister’s attempts to resolve the Irish border issue were leading her into an EU “trap”. “I fear we’re getting to the point where you wonder whether the government wants to leave at all,” said Mr Rees-Mogg in a podcast for the ConservativeHome website. He said Mrs May’s strategy seemed intended to “gull voters”.” – FT

  • How Singham became ‘the Brexiteers’ brain’ – BuzzFeed


  • Unknown leader of Italian coalition could derail Brexit – Douglas Murray, The Sun


…as EU rejects May’s call for ‘time limited’ backstop…

“Brussels has rejected Theresa May’s new customs proposal less than 24 hours after the prime minister set it out in a bid to placate Brexiteers in her cabinet. European Commission officials told The Independent Ms May’s plan would be unacceptable and would go back on previous commitments made by British negotiators. A day earlier the prime minister had said the “backstop” plan to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland – which keeps Britain in alignment with the single market and customs union if no other agreement is reached – would be time limited. The move was an attempt to assuage Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, who fear that it would become a backdoor way to keep Britain tied indefinitely to the EU through the customs union and single market.” – Belfast Telegraph

  • Gove won’t say if the ‘backstop’ will last weeks or months – Daily Telegraph

…Gove ‘blames Hammond’ for Government’s Lords defeats…

Michael Gove has accused Philip Hammond of being “short-sighted” over Brexit and helping to inflict a “damaging blow” to the Conservative Party’s “environmental credentials”. In a letter to Cabinet colleagues, seen by the Telegraph, the Environment Secretary blames the Treasury for a defeat in the House of Lords last week which could force the Government to retain all EU environmental protections after Brexit. It is understood that the Chancellor blocked plans to give a new post-Brexit environmental watchdog the power to fine the Government and local authorities if they fail to increase recycling and cut pollution. Mr Hammond believes that the proposal risks saddling the country with more regulation which may undermine the country’s competitiveness after Brexit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Voters think Lords are wrong to block Brexit – Daily Mail
  • Tyrie will sit as a crossbencher, not a Tory – The Sun
  • Upper house could mushroom to 1,000 peers by 2031 – Daily Telegraph

More Gove:

  • Environment Secretary puts household cleaning products in his sights – Daily Mail

>Today: Local Government: The warning from the local elections to Labour MPs seeking to thwart Brexit – or stay in the Customs Union

…and Brexiteers accuse Carney of ‘crying wolf’

“Bank Governor Mark Carney was accused of ‘crying wolf’ today after he claimed households are £900 worse off than they would have been without Brexit. The Bank of England boss said the Britain’s relative slow down compared to other leading economies since 2016 meant people had lost ground. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson led the backlash against the Governor, insisting Brexit had not damaged Britain. While Brexiteer ringleader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MailOnline Mr Carney was ‘crying wolf’. Britain’s economy has grown in every quarter since the June 2016 poll – allowing Brexiteers to claim it has defied grim pre-referendum forecasts of a recession.” – Daily Mail

  • Brussels opens trade talks with Australia and New Zealand – Daily Mail
  • EU breaking promises by freezing UK out of Galileo – Daily Telegraph

Rob Wilson: Like the Millenium Bug, Brexit must be prepared for but has been over-hyped

As we approach the date of EU separation the predictions of a shattering impact to jobs, the economy and our way of life will continue to intensify. Why is this happening? Labour frontbencher, Barry Gardiner, simply told the truth when he suggested that people in his own party and elsewhere are playing up elements of Brexit for political reasons. There is a without question a desire to stop Brexit in its tracks, supported largely by the EU, UK Remain politicians and big business – indeed rumours persist that they are working, if not together, certainly closely. But they have a huge difficulty, how do you overturn the democratic will of 17.5 million UK citizens without turning on democracy itself? The answer is by making the challenge bigger and more impossible than anyone could possibly have imagined, so that the will of the people is snapped on the rock of the sheer scale of the enterprise.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Eight bonkers things I learned during a year filming MEPs – Christian Tumble, Times Red Box

Johnson suggests ‘global Britain’ plane

“Boris Johnson last night suggested a plane decked in Union Flag livery should fly ministers – including him – around the world. The Foreign Secretary complained that he is not allowed to use the RAF Voyager jet reserved for the Queen and the Prime Minister on trips abroad. He suggested ministers could use a new ‘Global Britain’ plane – painted in red, white and blue – to project the nation’s confidence around the world and take advantage of trade opportunities after Brexit. Mr Johnson, who is on a five-day trip to South America, has flown mostly on commercial planes while abroad. His proposal for a ‘Boris Force One’ comes after British officials spent £10million on refitting a Voyager aircraft reserved for the Queen, the Prime Minister, or anyone representing them.” – Daily Mail

  • Foreign Secretary on the hunt for new trade opportunities – Daily Express

Williamson calls for talks with the Taliban…

Britain should hold official talks with the Taliban for the first time in order to bring peace to Afghanistan, the Defence Secretary has told MPs. Gavin Williamson said it was important for the UK to ensure as much stability as possible in Afghanistan, and that Britain was committed to ensuring peaceful elections in the country due later this year. He admitted it would be “incredibly painful for many people to accept, given the price paid” but warned that “there are many malign reasons why some countries are involved in Afghanistan [so it is] important we energise the peace process”. Speaking to the Defence Select Committee, he called the offer from the Afghan government for unconditional peace talks with the Taliban “open and generous” and said: “We need to find a long term solution to Afghanistan and bring all participants around a table.”” – Daily Telegraph

…and wants to protect troops from litigation

“Britain must look at ways to protect all troops, including those who fought in the Falklands, from the possibility of historic war crime allegations, the defence secretary said yesterday. Gavin Williamson, giving evidence to the defence select committee, said that he wanted to take away the “very dark cloud” of litigation hanging over those who had served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan and other conflicts years after the event. “We want to get to a position where these legacy inquests don’t cast these ridiculously long shadows over people’s lives and to try and find a solution to be able to lift that shadow,” he said. Julian Lewis, chairman of the committee, said that veterans of the 1982 Falklands campaign had begun to express concern they could face inquiries over the deaths of Argentine troops more than 30 years ago.” – The Times

>Today: Gavin Williamson in Comment: Why raising the number and profile of women in our armed forces is a priority for me

Javid vows to stand up for police officers

“Sajid Javid will admit that policing has become “hard and horrible” for “stretched “ officers as he promises to fight their corner in his first major speech as Home Secretary. Addressing rank and file officers on Wednesday, he will acknowledge that they feel “overburdened and not sufficiently rewarded” and tell them: “I am listening and I get it.” His speech to the Police Federation’s annual conference in Birmingham will mark a clean break from the confrontational tone of his predecessors Theresa May and Amber Rudd as he tries to redefine the Home Office’s difficult relationship with the police. Mr Javid will leave no doubt that he is prepared to fight for better pay and more resources by saying “you deserve to be respected and valued”, but after just three weeks in the job he will concede that it is too early to make any financial promises.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Home Office under fire over ‘muddled’ modern slavery strategy – The Guardian
  • All about the Home Secretary, son of Windrush immigrants – The Sun

Hammond makes new broadband pledge

“Philip Hammond last night vowed to ensure half of all British homes will have internet 40 times faster than today by 2025. The rest of the country will have had the ultra-fast full fibre service installed by 2033. The Chancellor set the tough new targets in a bid to significantly improve the country’s woeful broadband speeds. Britain currently ranks 31st globally for broadband speeds, behind Bulgaria, Slovenia and Romania. While just four per cent of homes and businesses have full fibre in the UK, the figure for South Korea is 82 per cent, and 95 per cent for Singapore. Unveiling the new targets, Mr Hammond told the annual CBI dinner: ““In the 21st century, fibre networks will be the enabling infrastructure that drives economic growth.”” – The Sun

Davidson attends Cabinet after think-tank launch

“Ruth Davidson attended Cabinet today – after delivering a withering verdict on Theresa May’s  dour and joyless’ Tories. The Scottish Conservative leader was in Downing Street for a political meeting of the PM’s senior team. But the session could have been slightly awkward after Ms Davidson – often tipped as a future leader – demanded the government ditch its ‘authoritarian’ image to win over younger voters in a speech last night. The warning – at the launch of a think-tank in parliament – came with the anniversary of Mrs May’s disastrous snap election approaching… Ms Davidson is often championed as a future Tory leader, after dramatically reviving the party’s fortunes north of the border. The dozen new MPs in Scottish constituencies was essential for Mrs May to hold on to power after the election.” – Daily Mail

  • Tories seek to turn minds beyond Brexit trauma – FT


  • To win big the Tories need conviction, not to chase the ‘centre ground’ – Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Strength through joy?

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: Onward, the new think-tank, is rightly focused on what matters to provincial Britain

Rees-Mogg slams ‘religious bigotry’ against his Catholic views

“Jacob Rees-Mogg slammed ‘religious bigotry’ over his hardline stance on abortion and gay marriage today. The Tory backbencher said his Catholic views should not bar him from achieving high office. But he also risked a fresh backlash by branding the number of abortions happening in the UK ‘terrifying’ and a ‘tragedy’. Mr Rees-Mogg has been tipped as a future Conservative leader after building up a cult following for his ‘Young Fogey’ style and traditionalist outlook. But the devout Catholic has repeatedly come under fire for his opposition to abortion, even in cases where women have been raped. He was also against the introduction of gay marriage. The issues were raised again as Mr Rees-Mogg appeared on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme today.” – Daily Mail

Gibb attacks grammar school boost for helping ‘haves’

“The schools minister was criticised on Tuesday for dedicating 5 per cent of capital spending on English schools to expanding grammar schools in England. Nick Gibb told MPs on the House of Commons education committee that the government had decided to ringfence the money for the country’s 163 grammar schools so that it could set conditions, including a demand to accept more poor pupils. The £50m is the first tranche of a planned £240m in funding for expansion of grammar schools, which survive mainly in Conservative-run local councils in affluent areas. “We wouldn’t have been able to apply the conditions if we had just left the funding in the £1bn pot,” Mr Gibb said, referring to the wider capital budget for England’s 21,000 schools.” – FT

Duddridge demands probe into Bercow

“John Bercow is facing a probe by the Commons watchdog after refusing to apologise for allegedly calling Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom a ‘stupid woman’. Tory MP James Duddridge has asked the standards commissioner to investigate whether the Speaker’s behaviour brought parliament into disrepute. Mr Bercow has been accused of branding Mrs Leadsom a ‘stupid woman’ during an off-mic rant while presiding over the Commons last week. He told the House yesterday that he had used the word ‘stupid’ in a ‘muttered aside’ during a row over business scheduling, and regarded Mrs Leadsom as a very ‘able’ minister. However, he stopped short of apologising and insisted he would continue to speak out frankly when he felt ministers were behaving badly.” – Daily Mail

  • Soeaker holding ‘private meetings with Labour MPs’ to save his job – Daily Telegraph
  • Bercow reported to Commons’ ethics watchdog – The Times

Corbyn faces MPs’ fury over Livingstone

“Jeremy Corbyn faced fury from Labour MPs today for allowing Ken Livingstone to resign rather than expelling him from the party over anti-Semitism. The MPs’ anger was fuelled as the ex-mayor of London hinted he could still make a comeback despite last night’s surprise decision. Mr Livingstone finally quit Labour after more than two years of storms over his Hitler rants – but he remains unrepentant about claiming the Nazi dictator allied himself with Jews before ‘going mad’ in the Holocaust. Mr Corbyn was under fire today for not acting himself as demanded by leading Jewish groups. Instead, he last night paid tribute to his friend and said he was ‘sad’ at Mr Livingstone’s decision but accepted it was the ‘right thing to do’.” – Daily Mail

  • Former mayor already talking about a comeback – The Times
  • Labour suspends local chief for ISIS jibe – Daily Mail


  • Petulant sign-off is the last act of a very sad spectacle – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian
  • It was a mistake to let Livingstone jump before he was pushed – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour’s war on capitalism will end in tears – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • I’m Jewish, but Livingstone’s departure fills me with despair – Angela Epstein, Daily Telegraph

Opposition activist says he’s ‘female on Wednesdays’ to criticise new gender rules

“A male Labour activist has been allowed to stand for a women-only position in the party by exploiting gender self-identification rules to declare he is female on Wednesdays. David Lewis has told party officials he is a woman from when his alarm goes off at 6.50am until midnight each Wednesday – claiming ‘if I say I’m a woman, I’m a woman’. The declaration meets Labour’s rules on gender-specific positions because of party guidelines on self-identification. The idea is to protect the right of trans members in Labour who have not legally changed gender but are criticised by some feminist activists for undermining women. Mr Lewis has told his Basingstoke constituency party he has called the stunt to highlight problems in the party rules.” – Daily Mail

Blair ‘content’ at compensation for Libyan tortured by Gaddafi

“Tony Blair today denied he knew about the case of a Libyan dissident kidnapped and tortured by Muammar Gaddafi after an ‘MI6 tip off’ in 2004. The former prime minister insisted he was not told about the ordeal suffered by Abdul Hakim Belhaj until after he left No10 in 2007. He also hinted that there is far more to the story than has been revealed publicly, and refused to make a personal apology. But Mr Blair said he was ‘content’ with the decision by ministers to say sorry and pay out £500,000 after years of legal wrangling. Earlier this month Theresa May apologised to Mr Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar over claims that Britain was involved in their rendition to Libya 14 years ago.” – Daily Mail

Sturgeon to launch summer independence offensive

“First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a summer independence offensive, with the SNP hosting a series of National Assemblies to promote its economic blueprint for leaving the UK. The SNP leader made the announcement as one of her key lieutenants admitted he was unable to say what currency Scotland would be using over the next ten to 15 years. Economy secretary Keith Brown made the admission just before Ms Sturgeon last night finally received the report commissioned by the SNP to make the economic case for independence. The 354-page report by the SNP’s Growth Commission, chaired by former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, will be published on Friday. Titled Scotland – The New Case for Optimism: A Strategy for Inter-generational Economic Renaissance, it will look at growth, public finances and currency in an independent Scotland.” – The Scotsman

  • SNP warned that new currency would cost £300 billion – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Trump is being outwitted by Kim Jong-un at every turn – Ashold Krushelnycky, Reaction
  • Switzerland offers some valuable lessons for Brexit – Pieter Cleppe, CapX
  • The genius of constitutional monarchy – William Shawcross, The Spectator
  • Why did union leaders abandon the workers? – Paul Embery, UnHerd