Macron backs cross-party coalition against no-deal Brexit…

“Emmanuel Macron is backing a controversial move by Tory and Labour MPs to join forces to counter the risk of Brexit fuelling a rise in UK extremism. The French President has endorsed a bid by Theresa May’s former No 10 policy chief to forge a new cross-party ‘coalition’ of MPs opposed to a ‘no-deal Brexit’. Tory MP George Freeman says the UK faces a ‘Black Monday’ economic meltdown if, as an increasing number of politicians predict, it withdraws from the EU without an agreement in March… Mr Macron has sent a letter of support to a ‘Big Tent’ political rally being hosted by Mr Freeman in Cambridge next month. Mr Freeman, head of the Conservative Policy Forum, denies it is part of a plan to build a new centre party. He says the aim is to produce ‘inspiring new ideas’ to ensure post-Brexit Britain is a success.” – Mail on Sunday

…as Raab plays down the prospect

“Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, last night claimed that securing a deal with the European Union is “still by far the most likely outcome” as he played down the prospect of “no deal”. As he prepared to release the first batch of technical notices detailing contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit, Raab said they would show that Britain was prepared for the “unlikely event” that no agreement was reached with the EU. The government has been toning down its rhetoric on no deal after being accused of a new “project fear”. The papers cover everything from farming to cigarette packets. Information on how the government intends to stockpile medical supplies and vaccines is expected in the first documents, to be released on Thursday. “Securing a deal is still by far the most likely outcome, but we want to ensure we clearly set out the steps that people, businesses and public services need to take in the unlikely event that we don’t reach one,” Raab said.” – Sunday Times

  • Party launches ‘project no fear’ as no deal preparations are set out – Sunday Telegraph
  • The 84 areas the Government is planning for – Sunday Express
  • No-deal Brexit should prompt rethink of vote, claims Kerslake – The Observer
  • Anger at bonuses for Brexit civil servants – Mail on Sunday

>Today: ToryDiary: How Chequers seems to have bled the Conservative vote

Tobias Ellwood: The EU is reducing our defence contribution to a bargaining chip

“It beggars belief that Britain’s ability to contribute to European defence could be reduced to a bargaining chip on the Brexit negotiation table with a threat of limiting our participation in a series of programmes and prohibiting UK businesses from bidding for contracts. The Galileo positioning navigation project has become the totemic example. Britain pioneered this project and, with our military providing a quarter of Europe’s total defence force, we will arguably utilise its functionality more than any other nation. Yet we are to be demoted to “observer status”. We may now be obliged to go it alone and to build our own system. The Russians must find this all extremely amusing. It is only with a united voice that we can influence global events.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Brexit has given people hope, if it fails they won’t forgive us – Lee Rowley MP, Sunday Telegraph

McVey plans crackdown on overseas benefit claimants

“Ministers have vowed to hunt down Britons who cheat the taxpayer by wrongly claiming British benefits while living abroad. Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey warned benefit cheats overseas that international anti-fraud teams were coming for them. Her pledge came as her department revealed that about 5,000 fraudsters were convicted and a further 5,000 given ‘administrative’ penalties last year – and that the blitz recovered a record £1.1billion at home and abroad. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) officials said that, with an estimated 3.8 million British citizens now living outside the UK, the Government’s international fraud network was playing an increasing role.” – Mail on Sunday

Tories hit out at council spending on trades unions

“Cash-strapped town halls are spending tens of millions a year on trade unions activists, it can be revealed. The union officials, who carry out duties on behalf of members, cost local government £26 million in “facility time” last year… The Tories have reduced the level of facility time in the Civil Service from 0.26 of the total bill in 2012 to just 0.05 per cent in 2018 – which is seen as the benchmark. It’s understood the total bill for the facility time scheme is around £200 million a year. But Transport for London spend £5 million on union staff with a huge 692 individual workers being paid to do union duties. All public authorities were required to report by the end of July but some have failed to meet the deadline.” – Sun on Sunday

Brokenshire clashes with committee over vaping

“A Tory Cabinet Minister who has just recovered from lung cancer has clashed with the MP behind moves to relax rules on e-cigarettes. Communities Secretary James Brokenshire – who had a third of his lung removed earlier this year – said more evidence was needed on the effects of vaping. It may cause less damage to health than cigarettes but it was ‘not necessarily harmless’, he warned. But his comments led to an extraordinary rebuke from ex-Health Minister Norman Lamb, chairman of the Commons committee which last week called for e-cigarettes to be made available on prescription to people trying to quit smoking. Lib Dem Mr Lamb told Mr Brokenshire that if he had his way, more smokers would die.” – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: Georgie Callé in Comment: How I lost nine stone. And the missing element in the obesity debate – the role of mental health.

Campaigners want to change leadership rules

“Conservative grassroots activists are planning to pressure the party’s ruling board to change the leadership election rules to make it easier for a popular candidate like Boris Johnsonto succeed Theresa May. John Strafford, a campaigner for greater democracy in the Tory party, is writing to the party’s board urging it to change the rules so that any MP with the support of 20 Parliamentary colleagues can go forward to the final ballot among the party’s members. The current rules allow MPs on the party’s backbench 1922 committee to nominate just two candidates to go forward to selection which has prompted concerns that an MP popular with the grassroots – like Mr Johnson – will not go forward to the final run-off. The plans would be a boost for Mr Johnson who is said by friends to be mulling when to launch his bid for the leadership of the party.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Johnson’s Facebook page ‘mobbed by racists’ – Sunday Times

Baker blasts A-Level ‘fudge’ which ‘rewards underachievers’

“A former Tory education secretary has launched a blistering attack on his party’s education record, including this summer’s tougher A-level exams, which he compared to an Alice in Wonderland world in which “no one lost and everyone got a prize”… He also attacked the return of three-hour written exams and the scrapping of coursework: “We are the only leading country that depends exclusively on three-hour written exams that are basically a test of memory . . . We are going back to the exams of the 1940s.” Baker’s intervention is a sign of Conservative unease about the party’s record on education since 2010. The biggest exam shake-up in a generation was the brainchild of Michael Gove during his time as education secretary. It was designed to drive up standards and identify high-flyers for top universities, but teenagers panicked over this summer’s exams.” – Sunday Times

  • Ten things wrong with our education system – Kenneth Baker, Sunday Times

Ghani talks about ‘poison pen’ stalker

“It is the virtual world’s equivalent of the poison pen letter — an email campaign in which the perpetrator harasses the victim by contacting everyone they meet. Nusrat Ghani, a Conservative transport minister, has told The Sunday Times of her “incredibly draining” ordeal when she was stalked for two years by a man who hunted her by contacting hundreds of people she had dealings with. Speaking for the first time of her experience, the MP for Wealden in East Sussex said the man eventually made it clear that he had targeted her because she was a female MP, Asian and a Muslim. The man would email all those around Ghani, trying to piece together every detail of her itinerary and her life and promoting conspiracy theories about her.” – Sunday Times

Wright may deliver conference speech ‘by hologram’

“Jeremy Wright, the new culture secretary, is being lined up to give his speech to the Conservative Party conference as a hologram under plans to make this year’s event “less dreary”. The idea was hatched by his predecessor at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, before he was promoted to health secretary. Now Wright, a reputed technophobe, is deciding whether to embrace the idea. A source close to the cabinet minister, whose record of engaging on digital subjects is almost non-existent, said: “He understands the need to embrace this kind of developing technology.” Hancock, who has been ridiculed for launching his own app, told friends he was keen to use hologram technology in his conference speech and had discussed the plan with Brandon Lewis, the Tory party chairman.” – Sunday Times

Sir Peter Tapsell dies

“The veteran former Conservative MP Sir Peter Tapsell has died aged 88, the chairman of his former constituency party has said. Craig Leyland, the chairman of the Louth and Horncastle Conservative Association, said that Tapsell had served the constituency loyally and had never been afraid to speak his mind. Tapsell first entered parliament in 1959 as MP for Nottingham West in 1959 and is one for the few MPs to have sat for more then 50 years. He was Father of the House from 2010 until he finally stood down at the 2015 general election. The former party chairman Lord Pickles paid tribute, saying he had been a “formidable contributor” to the Commons chamber. “I doubt we will see his like again,” he wrote on Twitter. Tapsell began his political career as a 25-year-old speech writer to prime minister Anthony Eden.” – The Observer

Corbyn ally accused of trying to kick out 20 Labour MPs

“The Left-wing MP who defended Jeremy Corbyn over the Palestinian terrorist wreath-laying row has been accused of touring Britain in a bid to sack up to 20 ‘saboteur’ Labour MPs who have criticised the Party leader. Derby North MP Chris Williamson ignored eight attempts by BBC Newsnight’s Evan Davis last week to say if Mr Corbyn laid a wreath at the graves of Black September terrorists linked to the 1972 Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes. Moderate Labour MPs have accused ‘menacing’ Mr Williamson of attempting a ‘Stalinist-style purge’ to pave the way for more hardline Left-wing MPs. He is promoting his Corbynista ‘mandatory reselection’ tour with a video of him on a Harley-Davidson motorbike and the Hell’s Angels rock anthem Born To Be Wild soundtrack.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Trump and Corbyn have both turned political tribes into fanatical cults – Daniel Hannan MEP, Sunday Telegraph

Police probed Labour leader’s links to pro-IRA group

“Jeremy Corbyn came to the attention of police after becoming involved with Red Action, an ultra-left group that expressed its “unconditional and uncritical support” for IRA atrocities and included members of an IRA bombing team. Patrick Hayes, a Red Action leader, and another member, Jan Taylor, were convicted of an IRA bombing campaign in England and sentenced to 30 years in jail. A third member, Liam Heffernan, was convicted of stealing explosives for another republican terrorist organisation, the INLA, and sentenced to 23 years. Corbyn spoke at at least three Red Action meetings between 1985 and 1992 and the group sometimes met at his then constituency office, ex-members said. Red Action’s journal, seen by The Sunday Times in an archive, says it provided security for Corbyn and others in their work with two other IRA-sympathising organisations, Troops Out Movement and Labour Committee on Ireland.” – Sunday Times

  • Corbyn facing questions over whether he broke parliamentary rules – Sunday Telegraph
  • Friends of violence with whom he is happy to share a platform – Sunday Times


  • Corbyn’s foreign affairs are wounding Labour – Stephen Bush, Sunday Times

Shadow Cabinet ‘in despair’ over the state of the Opposition

“Five members of the shadow cabinet have formed a “self-help group” and have been meeting in secret to share their despair over the state of the Labour Party and its leadership. The move comes amid growing tension at the top, including claims that Jeremy Corbyn and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, are barely speaking as a result of the anti-semitism row rocking the party. A source close to McDonnell said the pair’s relationship had “hit rock bottom”. Last week McDonnell was forced to deny that he had contemplated resigning over the way Corbyn’s office had bungled an investigation into Dame Margaret Hodge after she accused the Labour leader of being anti-semitic. Now a wider rift is emerging, including claims that a shadow cabinet splinter group is meeting in private to discuss the travails of the leadership. A source close to a participant in the meetings said the faction had formed a safe “self-help group” to discuss the party and its leadership without fear of retribution.” – Sunday Times

  • Yet Corbyn takes his Party to a three-point polling lead – Sun on Sunday
  • Former Labour MP suspended over antisemitic comments – Mail on Sunday