May 1) She says “no deal” would not be “end of the world” and that Hammond’s figures are “work in progress”

“Theresa May has said that leaving the EU without a deal will not be the “end of the world” as she appeared to dismiss the Chancellor’s dire warnings about a no-deal Brexit. The Prime Minister refused on two occasions to endorse Philip Hammond’s claims that a no-deal Brexit would lead to billions in additional borrowing and a slowing of economic growth by up to 10 per cent over the next 15 years. Mr Hammond made the remarks in a letter to the Commons Treasury committee last week, just hours after Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, sought to play down fear-mongering over a no-deal scenario. His intervention is believed to have incensed aides close to Mrs May, while also threatening to reignite a long-running row between the Treasury and Downing Street, which is said to be concerned that the Chancellor’s pessimism is hindering efforts to secure a good deal with Brussels.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She restates that “no deal” is better than bad deal – FT
  • And “sides” with Raab – The Sun
  • She “downplays” Hammond’s fears about borrowing and growth – Guardian
  • And “slaps down” his warnings – Daily Express

May 2) On tour in Africa, she commits to using development spending “in our own national interest” as well as for “global challenges”

“The prime minister says that fostering “healthy” African economies and the jobs they create is a matter of national interest. Failure will only increase migration flows and undermine faith in capitalism, she argues, saying that Britain will increasingly use aid cash to foster private enterprise. “I am unashamed about the need to ensure that our aid programme works for the UK. So today I am committing that our development spending will not only combat extreme poverty, but at the same time tackle global challenges and support our own national interest. This will ensure that our investment in aid benefits us all, and is fully aligned with our wider national security priorities,” she says.” – The Times

  • She’s on a three-day tour of South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya – Daily Mail
  • Her announcement is a “nod to right-wing Tories” – Guardian
  • It’s a commitment to “tacking how budget is spent” – The Sun
  • She says Britain should be “unashamed” to promote business – Daily Telegraph
  • And that she wants to “boost” British trade with African nations – Daily Express
  • She’s trying to “match Macron’s influence” – FT
  • Meanwhile, FO and Treasury working on “avoiding US sanctions on Iran” – The Times


  • The Africa trip is May’s “return to the political frontline” – Heather Stewart, Guardian


  • The announcement is a good move by the Prime Minister – The Sun

May 3) She’s in “disagreement” with Treasury over bag-tax hike

“Theresa May’s plans to double the plastic bag tax to 10p is being opposed by the Treasury amid concerns that it looks like “profiteering”, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. The Prime Minister is this week expected to unveil proposals to hike the levy in order to accelerate the clampdown on one-use and disposable bags and encourage more consumers to take up recyclables. The charge has been hailed by environmentalists for achieving an 85 per cent reduction in plastic bags since October 2015, when the scheme was first introduced in England.  However a senior Treasury source told The Daily Telegraph that the additional levy is unnecessary: “The 5p tax has already worked and dramatically reduced the use of plastic bags. If it’s raised to 10p it looks like profiteering.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She wants to double it. HMT sees this as “profiteering” – The Sun 

More May

  • I doubt she thinks about things like the functions of government – Norman Tebbit, Daily Telegraph
  • She needs to uncover torture cover-up – Sonya Sceats, The Times

Macron speech shows lack of support for Chequers and that France will prioritise integrity of EU over UK’s future

“President Macron rejected Theresa May’s appeals for help to unlock Brexit talks as he insisted yesterday that EU unity trumped close ties with Britain.“France wants to maintain a strong, special relationship with London but not if the cost is the unravelling of the European Union,” he said in his annual foreign policy speech. Britain’s decision to leave the EU was “a sovereign choice, which we must respect, but it cannot come at the expense of the European Union’s integrity”. Mr Macron said he hoped that an arrangement could be found with Britain by the end of the year, but his remarks confirmed that France does not accept Mrs May’s “Chequers” scheme for a seamless flow of goods with the continent and an open Irish frontier while Britain imposes controls on the movement of Europeans.” – The Times

  • He calls for French contingency planning – Daily Express
  • But “secret” EU “no deal” plans are focused on making UK departure “smooth as possible” – The Sun 

>Today: Priti Patel in Comment: We must chuck Chequers, or disillusioned voters will reject mainstream politics

Behr: Unchaining Britannia has “uncoupled” the Tories from “economic reality”

“… I recently found myself browsing one such volume, Britannia Unchained, co-authored by five Conservative MPs in 2012 who immodestly described themselves as “rising stars” on the sleeve. One, Dominic Raab, has risen to be secretary of state for Brexit, which is reason enough to revisit his back catalogue. … Of all the nonsensical Brexit ideas to have acquired respectability through sheer force of repetition by Tory MPs, perhaps the flimsiest is this false dichotomy of “global” trade and EU membership … This is the sad island where a generation of Tories find themselves intellectually discredited and marooned. They wanted to unchain Britannia and they ended up uncoupled from their own history, unmoored from basic geography, and adrift from economic reality.” – Guardian

Rees-Mogg criticised for pre-referendum border-check “Troubles” comments

“Jacob Rees-Mogg has sparked controversy after a video emerged of him suggesting the UK could introduce Irish border checks like ‘we had during the Troubles’. The Tory Brexiteer made the comments at a town-hall style meeting in April 2016 – just two months before the EU referendum. His remarks contradict Theresa May who has repeatedly said that there will not be a return to a hard Irish border amid fears this could reignite the bloody violence that plagued the region for decades. Simon Coveney, the Irish deputy Prime Minister, furiously tore into Mr Rees-Mogg’s  remarks which he said were ‘ill-informed’.” – Daily Mail

Wallace: Stay calm and recognise the benefits of a “broader, larger Conservative membership”

“Membership worries have long occupied the Conservative Party. Numbers halved between 2005 to 2013. From unreplaced natural attrition to the Cameroon habit of displaying modernity by insulting the grassroots, the figures fell and fell. … Viewed calmly, it is obviously silly to object to centre-right Eurosceptics joining the Conservative Party. That isn’t a “blue Momentum”, that’s a rise in membership, which is what Tories of all stripes have spent years saying they want. If some MPs worry that the new members are too Leaver-ish for their tastes, then there is a positive and productive solution: go out and sign up new members with views they prefer. All Tories benefit from a broader, larger Conservative membership.” – The i

  • Ten percent of post-2015 Ukip councillors have “defected to the Tories” – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: The Conservative infiltration debate is all the wrong way round

>Yesterday: Ryan Jacobsz in Comment: To win the next election, the Conservatives must make better use of their activists

More Conservatives

  • IDS calls for “zero tolerance” on gangs – The Sun
  • Hunt praised by Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband – Guardian
  • Burns called “racist” for travellers’ camps comments – Daily Mail
  • Candidate interview panel topics include Love Island – The Sun


  • The party needs to focus on the economy, stupid – Sebastian Payne, FT
  • Don’t forget the risks of Corbyn’s domestic agenda – Clare Foges, The Times


  • Hattersley writes to Corbyn warning of split risks – Guardian
  • Siddiq asks her Bangaldesh prime minster aunt to release artist – The Times
  • Watson wants to know if NCA is looking into Russian “interference” with referendum – Guardian
  • Brussels square to be named after Cox – The Times
  • Scottish Labour gains support for Edinburgh tourism levy – Guardian
  • Mahmood “used taxpayers money” to deal with discrimination claim – Daily Mail

Other parties

  • Challoner pulls out of Green deputy leader race – Guardian
  • What did Sturgeon know about Salmond? – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

“Frustration” all round as Northern Ireland equals world record for “longest period of time without an elected government”

“A DUP MP has said he shares the “frustration” of those planning to take part in a series of protests across Northern Ireland today over the lack of government. Today marks 589 days since Northern Ireland last had a functioning power-sharing government, equal to the world record set by Belgium in 2011 for the longest period of time without an elected government. A series of protests have been planned across Northern Ireland today, largely via social media, to mark the occasion under the heading ‘#WeDeserveBetter’. DUP MP Sammy Wilson told the News Letter he shares the frustration of those planning to take part, but put the blame on Sinn Fein “intransigence”. The protests emerged after an online campaign started by Dylan Quinn, a father of four who runs a dance studio in Co Fermanagh, with a video message that went viral. In the video, Mr Quinn said: “Enough is enough and we deserve better.”” – Belfast News Letter

McKie: Low turn out for Pope is emblematic of Catholic church’s problems

“…Naturally, attendance is just one measure, and other Christian denominations (with a few notable exceptions) have seen similar declines. But the Catholic Church faces two different problems, both very clearly apparent in Ireland, which affect it more than other religious groups. The first is the huge change in social attitudes over the past decades. In Ireland, that tendency has been amplified by the relative youth of the population: the 1970s saw the population grow by more than 13 per cent, and there are a million and a half more people now than there were in 1979. Attitudes on issues such as abortion, contraception, divorce and homosexuality have not merely liberalised, they can almost be described as the polar opposite of what was the norm half a century ago and, in many cases, enshrined in legislation.” – Herald

UN report calls calls for Myanmar genocide charges

“Aung San Suu Kyi has been blasted by UN investigators for failing to stop a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims which they have called a genocide.  The UN report called today for six of Myanmar’s top military bosses, including the head of the army, to face genocide charges in an international court after a campaign which has seen 700,000 Rohingya flee the country.  Today’s developments prompted Facebook, which has been criticised for allowing hate speech against the Rohingya to flourish, to ban the army chief and remove other pages tied to the country’s military. The report took aim at Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s civilian leader, for failing to use her position to stop the crackdown.  She had ‘not used her de facto position as head of government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events,’ the report said.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief