Leadership 1) “I never want to be PM,” declares Davidson…

“Ruth Davidson has ruled out ever running for the Tory leadership, revealing that she values her mental health too highly to seek the role of prime minister. In an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine, the head of the Scottish Conservatives today reveals that her teenage years were plagued by self-harm, suicidal thoughts and bouts of depression that resembled a “smothering black blanket over my head”. During the interview, she pulled up her sleeve to reveal her arms were crisscrossed with a lattice of self-harm scars. Ruling out an attempt to succeed Theresa May, Davidson said: “You have to want it, and I don’t want to be prime minister.” – Sunday Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Davidson says “I will not be a candidate.” Where does the Tory left look for a leadership contender?

Leadership 2) May is “irritated” by the speculation

“Theresa May has said she gets “irritated” by the ongoing speculation over her position as prime minister. In an interview to mark the six-month countdown to Brexit, Mrs May told the BBC the debate should be about the country’s future rather than her own. The prime minister’s comments came days after Conservative MPs opposed to her Brexit plan met to discuss how and when they could force her to stand down. The PM also criticised ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Mrs May said his language was “completely inappropriate” when he described her Brexit strategy as putting the UK in a “suicide vest”.The UK is leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019, and the government’s plan – agreed at Chequers in July – has sparked criticism from Brexiteer Tories as well as the EU.” – BBC

  • PM vows to continue being a “bloody difficult woman” – Sunday Times
  • MPs offer to call off leadership challenge if she promises to stand down before the next General Election – Sunday Express
  • Nick Robinson: my backseat interview – Sunday Times

Leadership 3) Johnson is “digging his own grave” says Harri

“Boris Johnson could have been an “inspiring” prime minister but is “digging his own political grave” with controversies such as a jibe about suicide vests, a former key aide said yesterday. Guto Harri, who was Mr Johnson’s communications director while he was mayor of London, said the former foreign secretary was using his “humour, charm and intellect” in a “self-destructive way” that was “doing enormous damage to him as well as to the country”. He also claimed Mr Johnson anticipated the country voting against Brexit and, once the Leave vote transpired, “didn’t know how to see it through”.” – Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: Nick Hargrave on Comment: Yes, I compiled an attack dossier on Johnson. But at best, there’s a real purpose to opposition research.

Leadership 4) Hodges names the “four men who hold the PM’s fate in their hands”

“It was called The Quad. The executive committee of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Danny Alexander that ran the coalition government between 2010 and 2015. Three years, and a lifetime later, a new and powerful quartet is emerging. And the fate of Brexit, the May government and the nation itself now rests on their capacity to perform in perfect harmony. ‘It’s basically Michael [Gove], Saj [Javid], Dom [Raab] and Matt [Hancock]’ a government insider tells me. ‘They’re not holding meetings with minutes or civil servants, or anything like that. But they’re working closely together now. They’re the fulcrum of the Cabinet.’ ” – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

Carney briefed the Cabinet on a Canada-style free trade deal

“Today, Priti Patel, the former cabinet minister, and Steve Baker, who ­resigned as Brexit minister in July, ­accuse Theresa May’s officials of selectively leaking sections of a separate presentation by Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, in order to create fear over the consequences of voting down Mrs May’s Chequers plan.  Hours after the meeting it was ­reported that Mr Carney had warned ministers house prices would fall by 35 per cent after a no-deal Brexit. The Telegraph has learnt that Mr Carney also briefed the Cabinet on the implications of a Canada-style trade deal with Brussels, of the kind advocated by David Davis and Boris Johnson.” – Sunday Telegraph

Khan backs calls for a second referendum…

“I’ve decided the people must get a final say. This means a public vote on any deal or a vote on a no-deal, alongside the option of staying in the EU. As mayor, I wouldn’t be doing my job standing up for Londoners if I didn’t say now that it’s time to think again about how we take this crucial decision. I don’t believe it’s the will of the people to face either a bad deal or, worse, no deal. That wasn’t on the table during the campaign….It’s time to take this crucial issue out of the hands of the politicians and return it to the people so that they can take back control.” – Sadiq Khan, The Observer


…but Archer warns it would be like the 1997 Winchester by-election

“I voted remain, and I lost,” he begins, “so I thoroughly disapprove of the idea of being asked to vote again… the British people would vote the same again.” By way of evidence, he quotes the 1997 Winchester by-election, in which he played a significant role as a senior Tory in the re-run, ordered by the High Court, after Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten’s general election victory by just two votes. “It was the same then as it would be if we held a second referendum now. The people had made their mind up and they wanted us to get on with it. We lost the by-election by 21,000 votes.” – Sunday Telegraph

Rees-Mogg: The danger of a “triumph” in Salzburg

“The British Government seems desperate to agree something on almost any terms…This desperation means it will be important to watch carefully what comes out of Salzburg. Any deal will be hailed initially as a triumph because of the hostile comments made not only by Mr Barnier but, in his recent state of the Union speech, by Jean-Claude Juncker. Overcoming these obstacles will be portrayed as a triumph for British diplomacy. Those who hope that Brexit will continue to mean Brexit will need to stay awake.” – Jacob Rees-Mogg, The Sun on Sunday

Hammond battling with officials over Budget date

“Philip Hammond is battling with civil servants to hold the Autumn Budget as early as possible – because he fears that Brexiteers could use it as an opportunity to bring down the Government in protest at Theresa May’s Chequers plan. Senior Government sources say that the Chancellor wants to hold the Budget in early October, to allow the resulting legislation to clear the Commons before a crunch Brussels summit on Brexit at the end of that month. But officials are trying to force him into a late November slot –when debate will be raging in the party over the nature of the deal Mrs May has signed up to.” – Mail on Sunday

Sunday Telegraph praises Javid’s call for tax cuts

“Finally, someone around the Cabinet table has shown that they get it. At last week’s infamous Cabinet Brexit meeting, Sajid Javid suggested to his fellow ministers that Britain should respond to any no-deal outcome by cutting taxes, building infrastructure and attracting top global talent. In fact, it would be wrong to characterise these policies as emergency measures: they’re what real Conservatives ought to do whenever possible as a matter of principle. These sorts of supply side ideas show how a no-deal scenario could be turned into an opportunity for the radical reform of the economy that Britain has needed for years. The only question is, why does it take a Home Secretary to explain to the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor of the Exchequer how to conduct economic policy?” – Leader, Sunday Telegraph

Mordaunt calls for inquiry into surge in gender reassignment requests

“An investigation has been ordered into why so many girls are seeking gender reassignment after the number referred for treatment rose by more than 4,000% in less than a decade. The equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt, has instructed her officials to look into the cause. Official figures show the number of girls being given gender treatment has risen from 40 in 2009-10 to 1,806 in 2017-18…Last month the junior equalities minister, Victoria Atkins, was criticised by transgender rights campaigners for expressing caution about those undergoing “serious and life changing” gender reassignment treatments.” – Sunday Times

Agent Boot 1) Haines doubts that Foot gave anything in return for the money

“It is true that he was on the far-Left, and that he consorted with people who were suspected agents of the Russians. But I don’t believe Michael Foot was ever a paid agent of the Soviet Union…The only plausible reason that he would ever have taken money from the Soviets would have been to support the perennially hard-up Tribune, but if he did I doubt he gave anything in return. The KGB files on which Russian double agent Oleg Gordievsky based his allegations have to be treated with caution.” – Joe Haines, Mail on Sunday

Agent Boot 2) Intelligence services did not intervene despite libel action

“Although Britain’s intelligence agencies believed Gordievsky, they did not intervene when Foot sued The Sunday Times for libel, eventually winning “substantial” damages that were also donated to the left-wing newspaper, Tribune, and paid for a new kitchen at his home in Hampstead, north London. Charles Moore, the former Daily Telegraph editor who interviewed Gordievsky for his authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, said he had found the Russian double agent “credible and consistent”. Moore said the evidence that the former Labour leader had been paid by the Russian state “reflects very badly on Michael Foot’s judgment”.” – The Sunday Times

  • How MI6 rescued Gordievsky – Sunday Times
  • The boot is on the wrong foot when it comes to libel – Leader, Sunday Times
  • Senior Labour figures reject the claims – The Observer
  • Foot flirted secretly with Russia. Jeremy Corbyn is blatant – Sarah Baxter, Sunday Times

McDonnell’s allies plot to ditch Corbyn

“Allies of the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, have been secretly sounding out senior Labour figures about whether to ditch Jeremy Corbyn as the party’s leader. According to sources who have spoken to The Sunday Times, people close to McDonnell have been floating the idea with supportive members of the shadow cabinet and senior trade union figures. The revelation comes amid claims that the relationship between McDonnell and Corbyn has deteriorated in recent months.” – Sunday Times

Labour frontbencher tabled lobbyists’ questions

“A Labour frontbencher who railed against companies “exploiting” homeowners with costly “ground rent” charges went on to ask a series of questions in Parliament on behalf of one of the investment firms behind the scandal, The Telegraph can reveal. Kate Osamor, the shadow international development secretary, submitted six questions drafted by a lobbying firm coordinating an industry campaign against a crackdown on leasehold costs imposed on flat owners. The firm, Pagefield, said it was acting for Long Harbour, an investment firm that runs a “ground rent fund”.” – Sunday Telegraph

Abortion vote could strain Government’s relations with the DUP

“Decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland will move a step closer next month when MPs are given their first opportunity to vote on the contentious issue. The Labour MP Diana Johnson will introduce a 10-minute rule bill that will seek to make it possible for women to have a termination…It is likely to create yet another political headache for Theresa May, who has to balance support for reform among her own MPs with the risks involved in upsetting the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is against any change to the law in Northern Ireland.” – Sunday Times

Russian secret services “in crisis” over Salisbury attack

“The Russian secret services are in crisis over the fallout from the “botched” chemical weapons attack in Salisbury, British intelligence officers believe. The GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, is being accused by rival agencies of “crossing the line” over the way the attempted killing of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was carried out, senior Whitehall sources claimed last night. British officials told The Telegraph they believe the two suspects accused by Scotland Yard of the attack were wheeled out on Russian state-sponsored television as punishment for leaving a trail of evidence during the operation to target Col Skripal.” – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: Richard Risby on Comment: The gathering debate about whether to deploy NATO troops to Romania and Bulgaria

Hannan: Students are rejecting the enlightenment

“Social media encourage young people to think of opposed opinions, not as an intellectual test, but as a form of moral contamination. This is far more worrying than “political correctness gone mad”. We are turning our backs on the central idea of the Enlightenment. Over the past four centuries, at least in the West, we have absorbed a set of precepts that do not come naturally. We have taught ourselves that someone can disagree with us without being wicked; that people whose ways seem strange might yet possess wisdom; that we don’t know everything, and that listening to new ideas broadens our understanding…We are abandoning the empiricism and tolerance that underpin the Enlightenment, and returning to the older notion of judging an idea on the basis of whether the speaker is from our own tribe.” – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph

Lawson: Welby and May should swap jobs

“Theresa Brasier in other circumstances would have followed her father into the church. But she couldn’t. The idea of women as vicars, not to mention bishops, was heresy in the Church of England when she was growing up ..For young Theresa, becoming prime minister was at least possible; becoming the Rev Theresa wasn’t, let alone Archbishop of Canterbury. To add to the strangeness of it all, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, comes from a deeply political background. His mother was Winston Churchill’s private secretary in Downing Street…Perhaps this background helps explain why Welby is (unlike the prime minister) comfortable engaging in the cut and thrust of political debate.” – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

News in brief

  • 43 per cent of voters would consider backing a new centre party – Independent
  • Social Democrats are losing ground across Europe – and will take another hit at 2019’s European Parliament elections – Brexit Central
  • Khan reselected as Labour’s candidate for Mayor – George Eaton, New Statesman
  • Brexiteer MPs “in despair” after challenge backfires – Alex Wickham, Buzzfeed