Brexit: May pledges not to compromise on Northern Ireland’s place in the UK…

“Theresa May will promise today to never “dislocate” Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, despite European plans to put a customs border in the Irish Sea. After her first visit to the Irish border since the Brexit vote in 2016, she will give a speech in Belfast to reassure the province that it will remain tied to the mainland economically and constitutionally after Britain leaves the EU. The prime minister will suggest that the onus is now on the EU to help to solve the border question rather than rely on a “backstop” stipulating that Northern Ireland will remain in “full alignment” with Brussels unless an alternative is found. “It is now for the EU to respond. Not simply to fall back on to previous positions which have already been proven unworkable, but to evolve their position in kind,” she will say.” – The Times

  • Sinn Fein criticise Ulster visit as ‘too little, too late’ – Daily Mail
  • Barnier stresses urgency of border deadline to Raab – The Guardian
  • Varadkar branded ‘mad’ for threat to block British planes – The Sun
  • Province is close to recession, CBI warns – The Guardian


  • Nobody will impose border checks, let’s stop pretending it’s an issue – Andrew Lilico, Daily Telegraph
  • Flexible EU thinking is needed on the backstop – Chris Giles, FT


  • The Irish prime minister is a fool, but reveals Brussels’ intentions – The Sun

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Soubry calls for government of ‘national unity’… with the separatists

…as Barnier warns that the Chequers plan breaches ‘fundamental EU principles’

“Theresa May was warned by Michel Barnier last night that her Chequers blueprint for Brexit breached “fundamental” European principles and that she would need to make further concessions to reach a deal. In pointed remarks before his first meeting with Dominic Raab, the new Brexit secretary, the EU’s chief negotiator said that any deal would have to “respect” the integrity of Europe’s single market. He said that it would be a “challenge” to find common ground between the fundamental principles that defined the EU and the UK’s white paper. His comments come as European ministers meet today in Brussels for the first time to discuss the white paper. Privately Mr Barnier is understood to be “unimpressed” by the document, claiming that it failed to set out significant new ground to address EU concerns that the UK was “cherry-picking” market access.” – The Times

  • Public ‘to be warned every week’ over no deal – The Times
  • Plan would ‘saddle small businesses with £700 million bill’ – The Sun
  • McVey refuses to publicly support proposals – Daily Express


  • Raab ‘faced ridicule’ on first trip to Brussels – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit Secretary promises ‘new energy’ in talks – FT
  • May approved a £20,000 bonus for Robbins – Daily Mail


  • ‘No deal’ would have big costs for consumers and businesses  – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: New snap survey. We asked after the Chequers summit. Now we do so again: what’s your view of May’s new Brexit policy?

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Dear Conservative Party member, you are now an important person

Fraser Nelson: Downing Street’s secret no-deal plan could save Brexit

“A fortnight ago, Tory Brexiteers saw the Chequers agreement as abject capitulation. Now, they see it as a trap laid for Michel Barnier. All that’s needed is for him to take the bait, reject the plan, demand something outrageous and: bingo! Mrs May will have been given a casus belli. “Chequers is the most cherry-picking deal imaginable,” says one Cabinet member. “We’re asking for free movement of goods, but not people. Frictionless trade but not the payments.” Mr Barnier might demand more on immigration, welfare for EU citizens, or more money for Brussels… Every negotiator ought to leave some wiggle room. Mrs May now has none. If anything, she has already gone too far and needs to make her Chequers plan less generous to stand a chance of it getting through Parliament. No 10 is even considering a plan to do this: if Mr Barnier rejects her offer, she then returns to him with a less generous one.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Political divisions make a ‘government of national unity’ impossible – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Don’t worry, a no-deal Brexit won’t be permitted – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • Extending Article 50 would avert ‘no deal’ – Jonathan Portes, Times Red Box

>Today: Helen Thomas in Comment: The missing actor in the Brexit drama is set to move centre-stage – the markets.


Brexiteers divided on whether or not to oust May as Davies calls for her resignation

“A row has broken out between Brexiteers as hardliners demand Theresa May is ousted now, The Sun can reveal. Arch Eurosceptic backbencher Philip Davies became the latest to formerly demand the PM get the boot yesterday – ignoring advice from senior Leavers to wait until October in order to “protect Brexit”. The Shipley MP said he had been in touch with members and voters in his own constituency, and no longer had trust in the Tory leader after she released her controversial Chequers blueprint. The Yorkshire Post revealed that he had written to his constituents and told them that the proposals are “unacceptable”.” – The Sun

  • Redwood suggests Hammond might have ‘deliberately slowed growth’ to hurt Brexit – Daily Express
  • Chancellor criticised for ‘sexist’ insult aimed at Jenkyns – The Sun
  • Baker warns against ‘half-in, half-out’ Brexit – Daily Telegraph

Smith under mounting pressure to quit over broken pair

“Chief Whip Julian Smith faces intense pressure to resign after being accused of deceiving the PM in a cheating row. Tory and Labour MPs united to call for the Cabinet Minister in charge of government discipline to quit after he was accused of lying and skulduggery to win a crunch Brexit vote. During the showdown on Tuesday night, eight Tory MPs were paired with opposition MPs to stay away from the Commons so they would cancel each other’s votes out… But fearing Theresa May would fall if the customs union vote was lost, The Sun has established that Mr Smith gave orders to as many as five Tory MPs to break their pairings – deemed a serious breach of Parliamentary honour.” – The Sun

  • Tories admit Chief Whip deliberately broke deal – The Guardian

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Lewis didn’t deliberately break a pairing arrangement this week


Ministers 1) Bradley criticised by Lewis for failing to protect ex-servicemen

“A decision to rule out protecting ex-troops from being hounded over decades-old allegations has been condemned as ‘closed-minded’ by a group of MPs. Members of the Defence Committee have criticised the Northern Ireland Secretary for issuing a ‘blanket rejection’ of their call for a time limit on allegations. The proposals were intended to protect former members of the Armed Forces from allegations of wrongdoing during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Up to 1,000 ex-soldiers, many in their 60s and 70s, are potential murder or manslaughter suspects over historical killings at the height of the IRA’s campaign… Responding to her letter, the chairman of the Defence Committee Dr Julian Lewis said it appeared that ‘a cycle of further investigation and re-investigation’ was favoured and criticised her ‘blanket rejection’.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 2) Sajid Javid: I’m determined to right the wrongs of Windrush

“I am regularly meeting Caribbean high commissioners to keep them updated on the work we are doing, and I have also commissioned an independent lessons-learned review to make sure something like this does not happen again. But it is clear there is more we need to do to ensure we right all the wrongs that have taken place. That is why I also announced that we would be setting up a compensation scheme to reimburse members of the Windrush generation – who have built a life in the UK and contributed so much – for the losses they have suffered. Today is a key milestone towards that commitment. It is always important for the government to listen, and the consultation we have launched will give people the opportunity to shape the design of the compensation scheme we introduce. I want a scheme that is fair, comprehensive and accessible – and am eager to hear from as many people as possible about how it should work.” – The Guardian

Ministers 3) Hancock pledges £500 million to health service technology

“Barcodes and mobile apps will be used to track patients in an NHS revolution. In his first speech since becoming Health Secretary, Matt Hancock will tomorrow vow to invest £500million on technology to make the Health Service the most advanced in the world. Barcodes on wristbands will allow patients to be tracked as they move through different hospital departments and wards. Other advances include apps to monitor blood pressure and other vital signs at home – allowing patients to be discharged more quickly. Mr Hancock, who took over from Jeremy Hunt two weeks ago, will promise to bring NHS technology up to date. Last week surgeons warned that many hospitals still relied on fax machines and 15-year-old computer systems.” – Daily Mail

  • Government advisers support allowing prescriptions for medical cannabis – Daily Mail


  • How depressing to think that taxes are the only way to fund spiralling health costs – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

Ministers 4) Esther McVey: Why we need a modern, agile welfare system

“Since 2010 we have set out to significantly transform our benefit system to reflect the changing world of work and to best use the technology available to us. This has resulted in record employment and the lowest rates of unemployment since the 1970s. At the heart of this transformation is making the system work for the individual, it is about creating a personalised system. When we began these changes Labour said 1 million more people would be made unemployed, how wrong they were, over three million more people are now employed, one thousand more each and every day since 2010 and with employment rising right across the country. The old system, to which Labour cling, stifled opportunities through barriers and ‘cliff edges’. The ‘16 hour rule’, as its commonly known, deterred individuals from taking up further working hours, trapping them on benefits and locking them out of work.” – Times Red Box

Ministers 5) Gauke wants prisons to ‘change lives’…

Prison should “change the lives” of criminals instead of being used solely as a tool for “punishment” and “retribution”, the Justice Secretary has said. David Gauke says inmates should be given “hope” to help rehabilitate them and stop the cycle of re-offending, as figures show 60 per cent of those handed short sentences go on to commit more crimes when they are released. His warning comes as new figures show crime is rising and police claim they cannot cope because of shrinking officer numbers. Knife crime offences have risen by 16 per cent to the highest level recorded, while the number of murders has risen by 12 per cent and robberies were up by almost a third, according to police recorded crime figures out on Thursday. Mr Gauke’s vision marks a sharp departure from the traditional tough approach favoured by previous Tory justice secretaries, but he believes he has the backing of most of his party and the country to change the way criminals are treated.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Justice Secretary: it’s time to put rehabilitation before retribution – Daily Telegraph

…as May faces ‘day of shame’ over crime

“Theresa May suffered a “day of shame” yesterday as Britain’s crime wave was laid bare by shock figures revealing a surge in knife attacks, murders and robberies. At the same time, damning figures revealed the number of police officers was at a 36-YEAR low and fewer than one in ten crimes led to a suspect being charged or summonsed. The Office for National Statistics said knife crime hit a record high in the year to March with 40,147 offences recorded by cops – equal to nearly 5 every hour. Homicides soared 12 per cent to a ten–year high while the number of robberies leapt 30 per cent with almost half of all of them in London. Rape was up 30 per cent and sexual offences 24 per cent.” – The Sun

  • Police record 16 per cent rise in knife offences – FT


  • Soaring crime could be what sinks the Tories – Rob Wilson, Daily Telegraph

Prime Minister ‘declares victory’ with energy price cap

“Theresa May yesterday declared victory over the ‘Big 6’ energy giants as the Government’s Energy Price Cap was passed by Parliament. The PM vowed the cap on 12 million bills would be in place by the winter – protecting households from “unfair price rises”… The price cap will set a regulated price for customers on Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs) for gas and electricity. It will last for a minimum of two years with the option of an extension until 2023. Business Secretary Greg Clark promised action in October 2016 when he accused the Big Six of “milking” loyal customers on rip-off SVTs to fund cut-price online deals for internet savvy households.” – The Sun

Corbyn ‘draws up plans for entering Downing Street’…

“Labour is stepping up its plans for entering government as the odds shorten for a general election this year. Jeremy Corbyn will host an away day on Monday where his shadow cabinet will discuss manifesto proposals in the event of an imminent vote. An emergency budget and a draft Queen’s speech, which includes up to 35 bills, will be formulated in coming weeks, according to The Guardian. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and other senior party figures have sought advice from Gordon Brown, the former prime minister. A senior party source said: “We don’t want to repeat the mistake Brown made where he was only prepared for the first 100 days and then was faced with calls for an election.” Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, has also been meeting senior Labour aides to help them understand how best to navigate Whitehall and to prioritise their objectives in government.” – The Times

  • Opposition prepare for first hundred days – The Sun

…as Hodge threatens to sue her own party over disciplinary action

“Labour grandee Dame Margaret Hodge is threatening to sue her own party after it opened a formal probe into her for labelling Jeremy Corbyn an “anti-Semite”. She received a letter from Labour’s General Secretary today announcing the party had opened disciplinary proceedings against her. Dame Margaret told The Sun she is talking to lawyers before deciding on her next move. But she vowed: “They won’t shut me up.” The party launched the investigation after her extraordinary bust-up in the Commons chamber with Mr Corbyn on Tuesday night, when she called him an “anti-Semite and a racist”. Yesterday the Labour leader’s spokesman said Dame Margaret – an ex-minister and granddaughter of a Holocaust victim had brought the party into “disrepute”.” – The Sun

  • I can’t tolerate antisemitism, so I’m leaving Labour – Jane Merrick, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Left Watch: The case of Margaret Hodge reveals a troubling double-standard as to what Labour finds unacceptable

Khan launches legal challenge to Heathrow expansion

“A legal challenge to block expansion of Heathrow has been launched by a group of councils, London mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace. The coalition formally notified Transport Secretary Chris Grayling of its intention to seek a judicial review of the Government’s decision to support a third runway at the west London hub. Their letter sets out the grounds of their case and requests key documents from Mr Grayling. The local authority group comprises five councils whose residents would be affected by expansion: Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, Hillingdon, and Windsor and Maidenhead. They claim the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Local Government: Conservative Mayoral candidate interviews: Andrew Rosindell

Vaz ‘still under investigation’ over prostitutes

“Labour MP Keith Vaz is still under investigation nearly two years after a newspaper exposed his involvement with male prostitutes. He stood down as chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee in September 2016 after The Sunday Mirror reported he had discussed buying cocaine with a rent boy… In December 2016, police dropped an investigation into the MP over the allegations. But the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner launched a probe into whether Mr Vaz was guilty of a conflict of interest because he had been leading a review of vice laws at the time of the allegations. The investigation was put on hold from December until March this year due to unknown medical reasons after the MP claimed he was ill. During that time the married father of two visited India and Saudi Arabia.” – Daily Mail

MPs criticise director of prosecutions for over collapsed rape trials

“Britain’s top prosecutor was criticised by MPs yesterday for failing to tackle the fiasco that led to the collapse of dozens of rape cases. Alison Saunders, outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions, did not spot the ‘extent and seriousness’ of failures to disclose vital evidence to defence lawyers, a damning report said. The failures led to innocent people being locked up but even then the Crown Prosecution Service underestimated the depth of the crisis. A review was ordered after several rape cases collapsed when it emerged that police and prosecutors had failed to pass key evidence to defendants’ lawyers. In some instances, the accused were days away from trial when they were told that texts, emails or messages on social media had been uncovered which proved their innocence. The CPS reviewed 3,637 cases in England and Wales between January and mid-February and identified disclosure failings in 47, all of which were halted.” – Daily Mail

  • No charges for 90 per cent of crimes as violence soars – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Brexit is a symptom of a traumatic realignment in our politics – Robert Tombs, Reaction
  • Why the recess won’t solve May’s problems – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Dublin’s threat over Irish airspace could lead to dangerous brinkmanship – Tom Gallagher, Brexit Central
  • He may defend free speech now, but Obama’s record speaks for itself – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • Why does the left still think it’s acceptable to be a communist? – Ben Ramanauskas, 1828

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