Grant refers Corbyn to watchdog over comments about Zionists

Jeremy Corbyn was last night reported to the Parliamentary watchdog after he was widely condemned for claiming that British Zionists “don’t appear to understand English irony”. The Labour leader, who on Friday night admitted he is now more careful when using the term “Zionist” as he sought to clarify his position, now faces being investigated over the disparaging remarks after he provoked outcry among the Jewish community and even his own MPs. Helen Grant MP, the Conservative Party vice chairman, has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards urging her to investigate whether Mr Corbyn has brought the House of Commons into disrepute. In her letter, seen by The Daily Telegraph, Ms Grant said that the comments have been denounced as “xenophobic and anti-semitic” by Jewish campaign groups, adding that Mr Corbyn had “undoubtedly” breached the members code of conduct. It came just 24 hours after footage emerged of Mr Corbyn speaking at an event in London in 2013.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Senior Labour MP brands Corbyn a ‘racist antisemite’ – Daily Mail
  • Feldman claims many Jews are considering leaving the country – The Times
  • Berger claims comments make her feel ‘unwelcome in her own party’ – Daily Mail
  • Far right comes out for Labour leader in antisemitism row – The Times
  • We are all scared now, claims blogger who provoked Corbyn’s remarks – The Times
  • Corbyn says he used ‘Zionist’ in ‘accurate political sense’ – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Corbyn has demolished the firewall between his ‘personal views’ and antisemitism

Tom Harris: This could be what finally prompts Labour to split in the spring

The patience of Labour’s moderate MPs has finally been tested beyond endurance. After three years of increasingly provocative anti-Semitic tropes and comments from Jeremy Corbyn’s followers, a speech by the man himself could persuade them to make the long-anticipated final break with the party. Corbyn’s comments that British Zionists, “having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives… don’t understand English irony” (made in 2013 but only coming to light this week) would, in any normal, functional party, lead to the immediate resignation of the leader. But in Labour, this is the new normal. For three years, moderates have tolerated mockery and abuse from Corbyn’s far-Left supporters, as well as an unprecedented level of anti-Semitism – a disease that until recently was confined to the extreme leftist outfits of the political fringes, but which has come to find itself comfortable in the Labour Party since Corbyn’s elevation to the leadership.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Bitter lessons of the SDP show why Labour must not split – Andrew Adonis, The Guardian


Lidington defends Hammond from Brexiteer backlash…

“David Lidington defended Philip Hammond today amid a furious onslaught from Brexiteers over his warning that no-deal Brexit could wipe up to 10 per cent off the UK’s national income. The Cabinet Office minister moved to shore up the Chancellor after his dramatic intervention reopened the bitter splits in Theresa May’s senior team. Just hours after the government unveiled a slew of papers designed to kill off ‘scare’ stories about the consequences of crashing out of the EU, Mr Hammond issued a letter saying no-deal scenario would have ‘large fiscal consequences’ and could mean an extra £80billion of borrowing. Incandescent Tory Eurosceptics accused Mr Hammond of a ‘concerted effort’ to undermine the government’s position, while Downing Street made the PM’s frustration clear by the letter was not cleared with her before being published. But Mr Lidington tried to cool the flaming row this morning, insisting that Mr Hammond had merely been highlighting ‘provisional analysis’ that the Treasury had released earlier this year.” – Daily Mail

  • Boles insists that Tory MPs will block no-deal departure – FT
  • Deadline for deal delayed by four weeks – Daily Express
  • Coveney attacks Brexiteers over border plans – The Times
  • WTO warns of disruption if no deal is found – FT


  • Here’s to the success of the Brexit headbangers – Matthew Parris, The Times
  • Government lacks conviction in this game of chicken with the EU – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • The Project Fear gang have staggered back to life – Brendan O’Neill, The Sun

>Today: Jake Berry MP in Comment: What I found on my Northern Powerhouse tour. Resilience, skill, innovation and success. Plus an appetite for Brexit.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Treasury donkey

…as McDonnell hints at shift in Labour’s Brexit stance

“John McDonnell fueled speculation of a big Labour shift on Brexit today as he backed calls for a second referendum to be kept ‘on the table’. The shadow chancellor, Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally, refused to rule out the prospect of another national vote. The comments echoed the views of shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer – but contrasted sharply with those of frontbench colleague Barry Gardiner who suggested re-running the referendum could spark civil unrest. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr McDonnell said: ‘It’s not Labour Party policy to have another referendum, we respect the past referendum. ‘But we recognise that when the Government comes forward with its proposals, if it does I’m worried we might be in a no-deal situation, but when the Government comes forward with its proposals, Parliament will decide the next step. ‘So we’re not saying any options (are) off the table when that debate happens.'” – Daily Mail

  • Shadow Chancellor backs claim second vote would lead to unrest – The Guardian


  • Farage claims Barnier has ‘scared the establishment into surrender’ – The Times
  • Umunna denies campaign for second vote is basis for new party – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Steve Bell in Comment: I’m a former President of the National Convention. And I oppose Chequers. It’s Brexit in name only.

Special Forces veterans criticise May and Williamson

“Special Forces veterans facing court for battling the IRA are being failed by Theresa May, their official bodies say. In a damning letter, they blast her for empty words in ending the witch-hunt. The letter, seen by The Sun, also slams Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen Sir Nick Carter – Armed Forces head. It says: “Despite warm words from CDS, ministers and the PM, we continue to see a huge gulf between words and reality. The resources, chiefly legal, and commitment from Government are not tangible as yet. We’ve no confidence our members’ interests are being given anything like the consideration and support they require.” The missive — by the president of the Special Reconnaissance Regimental Association and backed by ex-SAS men — was sent to all Special Forces heroes of the 30-year Troubles.” – The Sun

  • Government accused of appeasing IRA over Troubles investigations – News Letter

>Today: ToryDiary: When the Conservative-DUP pact is renegotiated, both parties must be bold

Hunt praised for progress in Iran

“The husband of British mother jailed in Iran Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is their ‘lucky charm’ after her three-day release. Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, was locked up in Tehran in April 2016 after being accused of spying on the Islamist regime and jailed for five years. Her husband Richard, of north London, has fought an uphill battle and was overjoyed when she was released on a three-day furlough yesterday. Speaking on TV this morning he credited the new Foreign Secretary with ‘making strong noises’ to get her released. He said ‘there was baggage’ with his predecessor Boris Johnson, who was forced to apologise after he accidentally referred to the charity worker as a spy. He told This Morning: ‘The Government has been making some quite strong noises. Jeremy Hunt, the new foreign secretary was very clear yesterday in saying that this should be permanent, that she should be coming home and that she’s innocent. That gives hope. But she’s still in Iran. Until it’s all over, it’s not all over.'” – Daily Mail

Ministers plan to double and extend plastic bag charges

Shoppers are facing a doubling in the price of carrier bags to 10p as part  of a plan by Theresa May to escalate the war on plastic, The Daily Telegraph understands. Ministers are in favour of hiking the levy in order to accelerate the clampdown on one-use and disposable bags and encourage more consumers to  take up recyclables. The proposals will be included in a Government paper due to go out for consultation later this year, according to a retail industry insider with knowledge of the plans. The charge has been hailed by environmentalists for achieving a 85 per cent reduction in plastic bag since October 2015, when the scheme was first introduced in England. Last year the charge raised £58million for charities and good causes in England. Currently only retailers with more than 250 employees have to charge shoppers a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide. But under the plans the charge will be extended to all retailers in a move which could be fought by convenience stores who are desperate to gain competitive advantage over supermarkets.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We are paying for neglecting the Conservative grassroots – Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph


  • Tories must end this fetish for piling taxes on consumers – The Sun

Osborne’s stamp duty rises ‘paralysing the housing market’

“Stamp duty increases introduced by George Osborne are paralysing the housing market and costing the Treasury hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenue, figures suggest. The number of property sales has fallen by up to 65 per cent in parts of the country as house-hunters baulk at the size of the taxman’s bill. The fall in transactions is now hitting Treasury coffers, with stamp duty receipts down 7.9 per cent so far this year. At that rate of decline, the total amount raised by the duty over the full year would fall by nearly £1.1billion, leaving Mr Osborne’s successor Philip Hammond with less cash to pay for vital services. The Chancellor has already scrapped stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes under £300,000 in an effort to help them get on the housing ladder. Experts have now said the tax should also be abolished for so-called ‘last movers’ – elderly homeowners looking to downsize – to get the market moving again. Others said the tax should be scrapped altogether.” – Daily Mail

  • Survey finds scrapping stamp duty for pensioners would free up millions of family homes – Daily Telegraph

Davidson calls on the Conservatives to elect more Muslims

“Tories must elect and promote more Muslims to make the party more representative, Ruth Davidson will say tonight. The Scots Tory boss will argue that her party needs to look more like Scotland, in a swipe at Boris Johnson after his row over the burka. The ex-Foreign Secretary sparked a furious party row after he compared women wearing burkas to bank robbers and letter boxes. But tonight Ms Davidson, who is seven months pregnant with her first child, will say she will make sure more candidates from diverse backgrounds stand for office… Boris now facing an investigation after he was referred to party bosses over the row. But his allies said party chief Brandon Lewis was just trying to weaken him ahead of a possible leadership challenge.” – The Sun

>Today: Book Reviews: Davidson, the best hope of the Stop Johnson campaign

Tories urge SNP to investigate pro-independence Facebook groups after Iranian hack

“The SNP have been challenged to look into the online activities of pro-independence Facebook groups after the social media giant shut down a pro-Yes page it found to have been backed by Iran. A senior Scottish Tory has urged Nicola Sturgeon’s party to investigate the issue to determine whether other pro-independence groups operating on social media are potential fakes. ‘Free Scotland 2014’, a page which was followed by 20,000, was removed from Facebook this week after the site’s moderators found it was funded in Iran. It was among over 600 accounts and pages linked with Governments for ‘co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour’. Murdo Fraser MSP told the Courier: “The revelation that the Free Scotland 2014 page – which had more than 20,000 followers – was a fake account backed by the Iranian state is incredible, and deeply worrying.” – The Scotsman

>Yesterday: Jonathan Deb in Comment: How the Scottish Conservatives can make Davidson First Minister

Salmond says he’s ‘no saint’ as he fights harassment claims

“Alex Salmond has admitted he is “no saint” but fiercely rejected claims that he sexually harassed two civil servants when he was first minister of Scotland. Mr Salmond, for many years the most well-known and recognisable figure in Scottish politics, faces a potential police investigation into allegations dating from December 2013. “I have made many mistakes in my life, political and personal,” Mr Salmond said. “But I have not sexually harassed anyone and I certainly have not been engaged in criminality. I am no saint, I have got flaws, I understand that.” Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, who was Mr Salmond’s deputy when he was first minister, admitted that the allegations had been difficult to cope with but insisted that they would not be “swept under the carpet”. She said her relationship with her predecessor “makes this an extremely difficult situation for me to come to terms with”, but added that due process must be followed.” – The Times

  • Expensive gamble as former First Minister takes his own government to court – The Scotsman


  • How ‘Mr Scotland’ lost his influence, and his protege – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Imagine if Salmond had won the Scottish independence referendum – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • How the populist era could revive liberal democracy – Henry Olsen, UnHerd
  • Anti-Semitism: the socialism of fools – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • How Macron is reviving Marine Le Pen’s fortunes – Gavin Mortimer, The Spectator