May will tell MPs today that a Brexit deal is “95 per cent” complete. But she faces Cabinet tomorrow, a summons to the 1922 Committee on Wednesday – and claims that only two more letters are needed for a leadership challenge

“Her planned statement — sections of which Downing Street released on Sunday evening — comes after a weekend of heightened speculation about her future, fuelled by briefings by mostly anonymous Conservative MPs threatening to trigger a vote of no confidence in her leadership. The statement will update MPs on the prime minister’s view of events at last week’s Brussels summit. She will tell MPs that, since September’s disastrous Salzburg summit, the government has successfully reached agreement on a series of difficult issues, including a dispute resolution mechanism for a future relationship, relations between Spain and Gibraltar and arrangements for the UK’s sovereign bases in Cyprus.” – Financial Times

Javid, McVey, Cox “revolt during 90 minute Cabinet phone call with the Prime Minister”

“Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is said to have told the Prime Minister that she was “devastated” by plans to extend the Brexit transition period in a bid to strike a deal with the EU. Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, warned the Prime Minister there must be a time limit on her customs backstop amid concerns that it could leave Britain indefinitely tied to Brussels. He is said to have directly asked the Prime Minister if she had “explicitly threatened the EU with no deal” amid mounting concerns that Mrs May is making too many concessions to secure a breakthrough.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit Rebellion One: Baker and up to 40 Conservative MPs plan a vote this week to help make a border in the Irish Sea illegal.

“Downing Street has commissioned urgent legal advice to determine whether the prime minister must face down new demands by the European Research Group that could scupper a key part of the Brexit negotiations. Steve Baker, a leading officer for the group, has put down amendments to government legislation that would stop Northern Ireland being placed in a different regulatory and customs territory from the rest of Britain without a vote in the Stormont assembly. Sources in the research group said that the move was a conscious attempt to see off the backstop, the insurance policy demanded by the EU to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.” – The Times

Brexit Rebellion Two: Ross warns that an extended transition would breach Scottish Tory pledges over fisheries

Douglas Ross, Conservative MP for Moray, said a three-month extension would be unacceptable to him and indicated he and his Scottish ­colleagues would abstain in a vote on the deal. He said: “I was disappointed when the implementation period was extended until December 2020 and I think it’s important that we give a very clear message. “I’ve given that in Moray to my constituents in coastal communities such as Buckie that I cannot support a deal that keeps us in the common fisheries policy any longer than December 2020.” Asked whether there is unanimity among Scottish Tory MPs on the issue, Mr Ross added: “That is my understanding.” – Scotsman

  • Will May face the 1922 Committee on Wednesday? – Daily Express
  • Weird Tory MPs brief that the Prime Minister faces “a killing zone”, a “noose” and a knife that “gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted” – Daily Mail
  • Raab twists on backstop time limit but sticks on unilateral escape clause – The Sun
  • Morgan wants Norway – Daily Mail
  • Hammond will relax spending plans if deal is reached with EU – The Times
  • Global Britain report claims that Chequers means the Single Market by another name – Daily Express
  • Heads you lose and… (Britain could be forced to adopt permanent summer or winter time during transition – Daily Mail)
  • …Tails you lose: (Ireland could adopt permanent summer or winter time during transition, putting Northern Ireland in a different time zone) – The Times
  • Labour MPs tilt at the province’s abortion law – Belfast Telegraph

In the wake of Saturday’s march in London, second referendum campaign moves to target Tory MPs

“The group is setting aside a six-figure sum for constituency polls designed to show whether certain Tory MPs are out of step with public opinion. On Saturday 700,000 people turned out for the biggest anti-Brexit demonstration since the referendum in 2016. A few Tory MPs — Anna Soubry, Guto Bebb and Sarah Wollaston — openly back a second referendum. However, the People’s Vote suggests that up to 50 might consider a second referendum, particularly if they come under pressure from their constituencies. The campaign also says that some members of the shadow cabinet are privately interested in the idea. Yesterday the Brexit department said: “We have been clear that there will not be a second referendum.”” – The Times

  • Starmer sits on the fence over second poll as London Labour pulls one way and Corbyn’s circle another – The Guardian
  • German economy minister praises second referendum marchers – Daily Telegrap
  • Poster mocking suicide used at march – The Sun
  • Clegg is risking his reputation by taking Facebook job, says Ashdown – Daily Mail
  • As a Remainer, I believe that a second referendum is a bad idea – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

May: There will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK

“What became clear at last week’s meeting in Brussels is that the very last stages of the talks are going to be the hardest of all. This includes dealing with the so-called “backstop”: making sure that, no matter what our new relationship with Europe looks like, there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. I’ve been very clear that this must be achieved without creating any kind of border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK – doing so would undermine our precious Union and put at risk the hard-won peace. So I am working closely with my counterparts in Europe to explore every possible solution to the border issue.” – The Sun

> Today:

> Yesterday:

Ministers 1) Opposition parties unite to press Hunt over Khashoggi

Foreign affairs representatives from five parties have written to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt after the Gulf kingdom finally admitted Khashoggi had been killed.  Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens said it was ‘hard to imagine what crime the Saudi government would need to commit’ to earn a rebuke from the UK Government, the Guardian reported.  Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said it was a ‘terrible case’ but the UK government was ‘not throwing our hands in the air’ because thousands of jobs depended on relations with the country.  Saudi Arabia is the UK’s key ally in the region and also a significant trading partner and Britain rolled out the red carpet when the Crown Prince visited in March.”   – Daily Mail

  • The murder mimics the Salisbury killings – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

Ministers 2) Trump accuses Russia of breaking nuclear weapons treaty. Williamson says that Britain stands “resolute” with America.

“Mr Trump explained his decision on Saturday by claiming Russia had been violating the key arms control treaty for years, a charge Moscow denies. “We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” the US president said, giving no timeline for withdrawal. “We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to,” he said in reference to the INF accord. Gavin Williamson, UK defence secretary, blamed Russia for the breakdown, insisting that Britain stood “resolute” behind the US.” – Financial Times

  • Navy chief vows to send ships through South China sea – Financial Times

> Lord Ashcroft on Comment: “We’re no longer Democrat and Republican. We’re socialism against conservatism.” My new pre-midterm election focus groups from America.

Ministers 3) Gyimah to lower rankings of universities that inflate results

“Sam Gyimah, the Universities Minister, will today announce that the latest pilot of Government’s university ranking system will include specific criteria for assessing whether academics are doing enough to curb grade inflation. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph last night, Mr Gyimah warned that if assessors found universities to be deliberately inflating grades, their rating would inevitably suffer and their “reputation will also take a hit”. It comes amid growing concern that a surge in firsts, up by 400 percent at some universities from the Nineties, is undermining the value of a British degree and forcing graduate employers to look at alternative selection criteria.” – Daily Telegraph

Ministers 4) Hammond under Budget pressure from the Conservative social justice caucus over universal credit

“[Lord Farmer’s] call was backed by 30 members of the party’s parliamentary social justice caucus, who had written to Philip Hammond, the chancellor, demanding additional funding, according to The Sunday Telegraph…Iain Duncan Smith, the former work and pensions secretary who designed the scheme, was understood to have signed the letter. It said that universal credit, which is midway through being introduced, was “changing lives for the better” but work allowances, removed by George Osborne, the former chancellor, should be reinstated.” – The Times

  • MPs call for tougher action on domestic abuse – The Guardian
  • Chancellor to target offshore gambling in Budget – Financial Times
  • Public sector pay rises to be linked to performance – Daily Telegraph
  • Resolution Foundation urges freeze on income tax and inheritance tax thresholds – The Guardian
  • Hammond mustn’t raise taxes – Mark Harper, The Times
  • He should leave pensions alone – Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • Make this Budget his last – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun

Ministers 5) Wheeler to announce clampdown on rip-off mobile home park landlords

“Site owners will be banned from ramping fees on 85,000 families who live in the 2,000 sites across Britain. Some have been forced to suffer 50 per cent hikes to monthly charges, leaving them having to pay as much as £300 a month. Councils will be granted new powers to act against dodgy owners, from fines to outright bans from the business for the worst offenders. How mobile homes are sold will also be looked at to make sure residents are not left out of pocket.” – The Sun

  • Adam Smith Institute calls for more council house sales – The Sun

Ministers 6) Javid slams “sick Asian paedophiles” after mass rape convictions

“In comments that triggered a storm on social media, Mr Javid described the gang members as ‘sick Asian paedophiles’ – leading one Twitter user to accuse him of trying to appeal to ‘far-right extremists’. Twenty men were found guilty on Friday of belonging to a grooming gang that raped and abused young girls in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. The men were convicted of more than 120 offences against 15 girls. The victims were plied with drink and drugs during a seven-year campaign of rape and abuse between 2004 and 2011.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 7) Gove’s ban on plastic straws could be in place within a year

“The Environment Secretary reveals a speedier timetable than expected for his latest clampdown on pollutants as he begins a six The Environment Secretary reveals a speedier timetable than expected for his latest clampdown on pollutants as he begins a six week consultation on the plan. Aides say he is determined to beat the EU’s twin track move to enforce it with a new law to come into effect between October 2019 and October 2020. But Mr Gove also reveals he will allow some exceptions to the ban on single use plastics for medical reasons and to help the disabled.” – The Sun

Plaid Cymru join Rees-Mogg, Johnson, McVey and others in questioning HS2

“Plaid Cymru Transport spokesman and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards MP said: “We are asking for nothing more than our fair share as set out in the devolution deal. Just the £5bn we are owed from Westminster spending £100bn on an English railway line… Like a black hole, London-focused infrastructure projects continue to suck-up every last penny of Westminster spending…The controversy over HS2 funding comes in the wake of last year’s cancellation of the electrification of the Great Western line from Cardiff to Swansea.” – Wales Online

Pressure on Leadsom, the Commons Commission and Bercow over Commons bullying

“More than 80 serving and former Commons staff who have experienced or seen bullying or harassment by MPs are asking the authorities in Westminster to change the complaints system. The group, including Sarah Ioannou, a senior clerk, and Chris Shaw, a clerk on the business committee, have written to the House of Commons Commission demanding that MPs stop deciding the outcome of bullying cases…On Wednesday the commission will decide on the outcome of a report published last week by Dame Laura Cox, a retired judge, who found that staff had been harassed by MPs and colleagues.” – The Times

Trevor Phillips: The equality I fought for is being put at risk by trans activists

“I can only imagine that many of those supporting this insanity believe that they are displaying empathy for a group of individuals who have suffered genuine anguish. But this is certainly not what I had in mind when, along with the other authors of the 2010 Equality Act, we fought to include transgender as a protected characteristic in anti-discrimination law. The truth is that, far from encouraging empathy, extreme trans activists and their allies are adding a new layer of cruelty by raising false hopes that changing gender could become as easy as changing a name.” – The Times

News in Brief

  • What has changed with Tory leadership plotting? – James Forsyth, Spectator
  • Don’t bet on May winning a no confidence vote – Stephen Bush, New Statesman
  • Where the negotiations have got to – Tom McTague and Charlie Cooper, Politicos
  • The Conservatives should deselect MPs using violent language against May – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • This is how Choudary created a playbook for extremism – Buzzfeed