Stalemate in Salzburg. May makes her case. The EU wants concessions.

“Theresa May told EU leaders last night that she would never countenance calling a second Brexit referendum as she warned them that they had a choice between her proposals and a mutually damaging hard Brexit. In a short address over dinner at the Salzburg summit the prime minister called on the EU 27 to “respond in kind” to the “serious and workable proposal” she had put forward in the Chequers white paper. She warned that if agreement could not be reached she would not ask for an extension to the Article 50 process or go back to the public in a second vote. “Delaying or extending these negotiations is not an option,” she said. “I know that for many of you Brexit is not something you want but it’s important to be clear: there will be no second referendum in the UK.” Mrs May’s stance was contradicted in London, however, as a Treasury minister suggested that a second referendum could be possible if the Chequers deal was voted down by MPs.” – The Times

  • Raab demands Labour ‘clarify position’ on second referendum – The Sun
  • Czech and Maltese leaders urge May to call another vote – The Times
  • German MEP’s aide exits Downing Street with notes on a ‘general election’ – The Sun

More Salzburg:

  • EU leaders ‘unimpressed’ by Salzburg speech – Daily Mail
  • Chequers needs to be ‘reworked’, says Tusk – FT
  • Britain is willing to walk away without a deal, Prime Minister warns – Daily Telegraph
  • May’s plan opens rift between EU leaders – The Times
  • Salzburg’s ‘cautious welcome’ for May – FT
  • Kurz urges EU leaders to shift in order to secure a deal – Daily Express

>Today: Video: WATCH: “Like a round-table of Bond villains.” To staccato drum beats, May arrives with other leaders at the EU summit dinner.


…as loyalist joins ERG in revolt against Chequers

One of Theresa May’s most loyal allies has said her Chequers plan is “dead as a dodo” as he accused the Prime Minister of trying to “blackmail” her own MPs into supporting it. Former minister Sir Mike Penning, who helped to orchestrate her 2016 leadership campaign, said Mrs May was “deluded” if she thought she could persuade Tory Eurosceptics to vote in favour of any Brexit deal based on Chequers. It came as a secret memo circulated among Tory MPs suggesting backbenchers will force Mrs May from office in April, as soon as Britain has formally left the EU. In an interview with The Telegraph, Sir Mike said Mrs May is playing “Russian Roulette” with the country and treating her own MPs “like children who belong on the naughty step” over Brexit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Davis suggests May is ‘bigger menace to British voters’ than the EU – The Sun
  • Brexiteers face fresh scrutiny over referendum spending – FT


  • Leaked memo reveals ‘secret plan’ to replace May in April – Daily Telegraph
  • Momentum won’t block Labour conference vote on second referendum – The Guardian
  • European airports warn of ‘major disruption’ if no deal reached – Daily Mail


  • Chequers is an attempt at a hybrid which Britain could accept – Anand Menon, Times Red Box
  • We need a royal commission to abandon May’s red lines – Catherine Barnard, The Guardian
  • Our democracy is not fit for dealing with Brexit – Alexandra Runswick, Times Red Box


May criticises Facebook for hosting ads encouraging migration to Europe

“Facebook is hosting adverts encouraging migrants to make the journey across the Mediterranean to Europe, Theresa May told EU leaders last night.The adverts show different prices and routes – while one even offers a discount for children. They make no mention of the perils of the journey which claims hundreds of lives each year. Instead they suggest that the crossing will be made on well fitted-out ships, or even luxury yachts. The Prime Minister briefed leaders in Salzburg on British operations which have identified more than 500 adverts posted by people smugglers on the social media platform in the last year. British sources said human traffickers were using Facebook to advertise ‘travel agent-style’ services. In reality, thousands have died in recent years while trying to make the crossing on overcrowded, badly maintained boats, which often lack the most basic safety equipment.” – Daily Mail

  • Davidson says Twitter risks becoming somewhere women ‘fear to tread’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Social media drawn into regulatory and political net – FT

Nick Timothy: We need to stop trying to ‘manage’ migration and simply cut it

“If in aggregate, a policy brings about even the tiniest benefit, policymakers believe it should be pursued, regardless of its effects on particular groups of people, such as low-paid workers, or certain communities, such as those that have to contend with great change. No matter that mass immigration can push down wages for the lowest paid or force some people out of work altogether, no matter that its social and cultural costs and benefits are unquantifiable – if the impact assessments show an increase in the size of the economy, then the policy must be followed. And who contributes towards these assessments? Well-meaning officials with liberal beliefs and partisan campaigners masquerading as neutral experts, like Mr Portes. But as he once said, the referendum presented a clear choice and delivered an unquestionable mandate. After Brexit, there can be no excuses: immigration must be cut.” – Daily Telegraph

  • At last, a rational approach to immigration Labour can get behind – Diane Abbott, The Guardian


  • An independent report offers welcome recommendations – FT

Tax rises will be needed to fund NHS boost, Prime Minister claims

“Tax rises will be needed to pay for the £20billion-a-year spending boost for the NHS, Theresa May said yesterday. But she vowed the extra revenue would be raised in a ‘fair and balanced’ way. Her comments come despite a pledge before the general election that she intended to reduce the taxes on working families. To mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS earlier this year, Mrs May said it would get an extra £20billion-a-year by 2023. ‘We’ve said we’re putting a significant sum of money into the NHS – we believe that’s right,’ she told a national newspaper… Chancellor Philip Hammond will set out how the extra spending will be paid for in the Budget later this year. He has already faced a backlash from Tory MPs after he suggested that fuel duty freeze could be axed after eight years.” – Daily Mail

  • Companies also face possible business rates increase – Daily Mail


  • We’re already over-taxed, why does a Tory leader want to soak us again? – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Tax reform could extend the life of North Sea oil – Ross Thomson MP, Times Red Box

Trump ‘turned down May’s request for help’ over Salisbury

“Donald Trump turned down Theresa May’s request for help over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal because she was at first only ’95 per cent sure’ that Moscow was behind it. He told the Prime Minister she had to be ’98 per cent’ certain, a book claims. The President’s attitude meant it took days for the US to expel 60 Russian diplomats. The Apprentice: Trump, Russia And The Subversion Of American Democracy’ by Washington Post journalist Greg Miller, also claims that Vladimir Putin has Mr Trump under such control that he ‘whispers conspiratorially’ to him on the phone. President Putin plays to Mr Trump’s fears that he is being undermined by a secret ‘deep state’, the book says.” – Daily Mail

  • President ‘afraid of angering Russia’ – The Times

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft in International: What my poll of six thousand voters tells us Americans think about Trump

Landowners face higher planning bills…

“Theresa May hinted at forcing owners to hand over more of their profits when their land is given planning permission. Agricultural land increases in value from £21,000 per hectare to £1.95 million on average when councils allow it be used for new homes, according to government figures. Campaigners say that the windfalls should be shared more equally between owners and the state. Reforms to so-called land-value capture are understood to be part of a wider review into housebuilding by Sir Oliver Letwin. Mrs May told the National Housing Federation that the demand “for more of the value generated by public investment and the planning system to be captured and invested in affordable homes, public services and local infrastructure” was an important issue.” – The Times

  • Reform will help families escape the leasehold trap – The Times


  • Britain needs more homes, and failure is not an option – James Brokenshire, Daily Telegraph
  • May must make housing a priority or lose to Corbyn – Robert Colvile, The Sun


…as Brokenshire announces retreat from plan to sell valuable council properties

Ministers have reversed plans to sell off the most valuable council houses to pay for cheaper social housing after admitting the policy was a bad idea. James Brokenshire, the Housing Secretary, said the Government would no longer “take forward” the plan announced under David Cameron in 2015, as officials admitted it was acting as a brake on development. It comes after Theresa May signalled a major shift in housing policy by saying people should feel “proud” to live in a state-owned home in a departure from the Tories’ traditional emphasis on right to buy. Mr Brokenshire said the Government had decided on a “shift” in housing policy which meant scrapping a plan contained in the 2016 Housing and Planning Act to raise money by selling off the most valuable council housing assets.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Housing Associations welcome ten-year funding deals – FT
  • May praised for ‘total step-change’ in approach – The Guardian
  • ‘Boring’ Housing Secretary banned from Good Morning Britain – The Sun


  • Home ownership is a Conservative value May should not abandon – Daily Telegraph
  • This Tory housing revolution is pitiful – The Sun

>Today: Alex Morton’s column: A Commons with no majority – so no radical Conservative measures? You’ve forgotten about EVEL.

Damning new report on railways puts pressure on Grayling

“Passengers are routinely being failed by a chaotic rail industry, a damning official report concludes today. Bosses, ministers and regulators are all blamed for the thousands of cancellations and delays that followed the release of a new timetable in May. The rail watchdog’s report said the debacle highlighted systemic weaknesses, poor leadership and a lack of accountability. ‘It was unclear who was responsible for what,’ it said. ‘Nobody took charge. The present industry arrangements do not support clarity of decision making.’ The interim report into the timetable fiasco will heap pressure on Chris Grayling, who today launches yet another review into the railways, admitting they are ‘no longer fit for today’s challenges’. The Transport Secretary has been criticised repeatedly for refusing to accept any blame for the chaos.” – Daily Mail

  • Former BA chief called to lead rail review – FT


  • Don’t bet on significant change – Graeme Paton, The Times


  • Review needs to make convincing case for reform – The Times

Hinds promises ‘zero tolerance’ for county lines gangs

“Gangs using child foot soldiers to flood the streets with heroin and crack cocaine will be met with ‘zero tolerance’, the Education Secretary said yesterday. Damian Hinds attacked the ‘vile’ criminals preying on youngsters as he promised the vulnerable would be given protection. He spoke out as the Department for Education unveiled a £2million ‘county lines’ unit to support councils in protecting those most at risk. The hub will provide funding and resources to local authorities to help children trapped in drug gangs, as well as those at risk of sexual exploitation. Due to open next year, the unit will run until 2022. It will provide advice and deliver additional staff with experience and knowledge of county lines operations. There will be an online forum for professionals.” – Daily Mail

Johnson faces ‘reprimand’ over burqa jibe

“Boris Johnson is likely to reprimanded by Conservative headquarters on the eve of the Tory conference over his comparison of women wearing burkas to “letter boxes”. The former foreign secretary wrote in the summer that he was against bans on face-covering veils in public places but that it was “ridiculous” people chose to wear them, prompting a backlash. The Muslim Council of Britain accused him of “pandering to the far right”. Mr Johnson’s comments are being investigated by a panel at CCHQ to see if he broke the Tory code of conduct. A result is expected next week. Sources claimed that Mr Johnson was thought unlikely to receive a formal sanction but could receive a “ticking off”.This could provoke an aggressive reaction from his friends, who are likely to blame Brandon Lewis, the Tory chairman.” – The Times

Watson calls for new restrictions on gambling adverts

“Television and online gambling adverts should be banned during live sporting events, a new Labour policy suggests. Under a major overhaul of gambling laws, adverts would be outlawed from up to five minutes before kick off and five minutes after the final whistle. The report, by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, follows a year-long review of problem gambling. It states the ‘explosion’ in online gambling was ‘unforeseen’ by the 2005 Gambling Act, passed by the last Labour government, which liberated gambling laws. As well as a ban on sport adverts, the report calls for a ban on credit card betting and a new tax on gambling firms of 1 per cent of revenues, used to fund treatment of addicts. There would also be new rules to allow addicts to tell their banks to block debit card transactions, and a ban on free-to-play gambling games for under-18s.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Government should rein in its miserable obsession with banning things

McDonnell told to pull out of conference event with antisemitic union boss

“John McDonnell was told to pull-out of a Labour conference event next week with a union boss accused of anti-Semitism. Jewish campaigners warned that failure to withdraw would risk reigniting Labour’s bitter anti-Semitism crisis. The Shadow Chancellor – Mr Corbyn’s closest friend in politics – is scheduled to speak alongside controversial PCS union leader Mark Serwotka at an event organised by the Corbynista campaign group Momentum in Liverpool next week. It comes just days after Mr Serwotka sparked fury by claiming anti-Semitism “does not exist” in the Labour party and suggested it was a story “created” by Israel. The Labour Against Anti-Semitism group demanded Mr McDonnell pulled out of the event – branding Mr Serwotka’s slur an “undeniable promotion of an Anti-Semitic trope”.” – The Sun

  • NEC backs plan to speed handling of antisemitism allegations – The Guardian
  • MPs shun conference over ‘sickening’ crisis – The Sun

Police re-open investigation into assault claims against Labour MP

“Police have reopened an investigation into assault claims against the deputy leader of Welsh Labour. Carolyn Harris, shadow minister for women and equalities, was accused of pulling the hair of her assistant, Jenny Lee Clarke, so hard that clumps of it were torn out. South Wales police dropped the inquiry in 2016 but officers are re-examining the allegations after Ms Clarke, 42, complained about the handling of the initial investigation. She believed that the allegation was not taken further because of Mrs Harris’s position. Ms Clarke claimed that she had not been offered support from Labour and that Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, had not replied to her emails. “If it wasn’t for [Mrs Harris’s] position I would have had justice by now,” she said. “I’ve been treated differently because I’m a layman and she’s an MP. I just wanted the same treatment as everyone else when they have reported a crime.”” – The Times

  • Labour must take abusers as seriously as harassers – Labour Too, Daily Telegraph

Corbyn adviser claims MI5 is conspiring against Labour

“An advisor to Jeremy Corbyn has suggested MI5 is conspiring to stop the Labour leader winning power. Andrew Murray, a former communist, said he had detected the workings of the ‘deep state’. As evidence, he pointed out he had been denied House of Commons security clearance for over a year. He said his suspicions were raised when the Mail on Sunday revealed at the weekend that he had been barred from Ukraine for allegedly being part of Vladimir Putin’s ‘global propaganda network’. Mr Murray was in the Communist Party of Britain before joining Labour in 2016. He works for Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and for Mr Corbyn part time. In the New Statesman magazine he wrote: ‘The denial to me of Commons security clearance and a raft of hostile stories suggests the intelligence services may be working to block the election of a Labour government.’” – Daily Mail

  • Deputy leader suggests Murray is peddling ‘fake news’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Split amongst leader’s allies – The Times

Long Read:

  • Has Corbyn missed his moment? – FT


  • Labour’s plans for democracy must begin at home – Owen Jones, The Guardian

Swinney orders schools to proceed with controversial tests despite Holyrood defeat

John Swinney has ordered schools to carry on with controversial primary one tests in defiance of a Holyrood vote for them to be halted. The embattled Education Minister refused to confirm he would respect the will of parliament, saying instead he would consider the motion that was passed. He said he will make a parliamentary statement on the next steps following the vote, but in the meantime schools should continue with the standardised assessments. In a sign he does not intend to capitulate, he insisted that the tests still have “an absolutely fundamental role to play”. But all four of Holyrood’s oppositon parties demanded he comply with the symbolic vote by issuing new instructions to headteachers to cease the tests.” – Daily Telegraph

Paisley survives recall vote

“Ian Paisley, the Democratic unionist, will hold on to his seat after Westminster’s first recall petition fell narrowly short of the 10 per cent needed to force a by-election. A total of 7,009 constituents in North Antrim – 9.3 per cent – signed the petition over the past six weeks. The 10 per cent threshold was 7,543. The first stage of the recall process, created in the wake of the Westminster expenses scandal, was triggered after Mr Paisley’s suspension from parliament for failing to declare tens of thousands of pounds worth of hospitality from the Sri Lankan government. Three centres were opened in North Antrim in August to give voters the opportunity to sign the petition. Constituents were also able to register their support via post. The result was announced in the early hours of this morning. “The petition has not been successful,” said Virginia McVea, Northern Ireland’s chief electoral officer.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Politicians must stand up to a culture of rent-seeking – Thomas Aubrey, CapX
  • Forget hard and soft Brexit – we’re heading for a blind Brexit – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Brexit is about much more than trade – it’s about self-government – Mark Fox, Reaction
  • Thatcher’s prophetic Bruges speech sparked the debate that led to Brexit – Conor Burns MP, Brexit Central
  • How political correctness ate itself – Bruno Maçães, UnHerd