Hammond warned he won’t get Budget tax rises through the Commons…

“Philip Hammond is being warned that he does not have support in the Commons for a tax-raising budget in what is a sign of the government’s paralysis over Brexit. The chancellor made clear yesterday that he wanted to raise taxes in this month’s budget in the face of Tory opposition. He said that tax breaks for pension saving, which benefit millions of middle and high earners, had become “eye-wateringly expensive”. His comments immediately irritated his colleagues and started a row among MPs and business leaders, prompting some of his allies to concede that bringing the date of the budget forward may have been a mistake. One said: “I think the Treasury thought it would be clever to have the budget now rather than December, close to the vote on any Brexit deal. But it turns out they’ve just rescheduled to slap bang in the middle of another Brexit mess.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Graham Brady on Comment: Air Passenger Duty remains a tax on trade, so let it be cut in the Budget

…as he insists he will keep any such increases to an “absolute minimum”

“The chancellor has opened the door to tax rises in the Budget, saying the government “may have to raise a little more tax” to pay for the NHS. Philip Hammond told the BBC he wanted to “minimise” any impact on the economy if taxes had to rise to cover the £20bn spending boost pledged for the NHS. “We may have to raise a little more tax in order to support the NHS and deliver on our pledge,” he said. However, he added, “I am a low-tax Tory.” – BBC

Brexit 1) Transition period could be extended by another year

“The Brexit transition period could be extended by another year to help Theresa May find a solution to the Irish border problem, The Telegraph has learnt. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, proposed the move, which would also buy Mrs May more time to strike a trade deal with Brussels. It would mean Britain remaining tied to the EU until the end of 2021, rather than December 31, 2020, which is the current agreement. Tory Eurosceptics reacted with fury, saying the move would add up to £17 billion to the Brexit bill and could also cost the Conservatives the next election because none of the benefits of leaving the EU would have been felt by the time of the poll in 2022.” – Daily Telegraph

  •  PM’s ‘Rasputin’ Oliver Robbins charms Brussels and splits Tories – The Times
  • Short-term Brexit fix creates serious long-term problems for Britain – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Eurostar “could be disrupted” – BBC
  • Plans to “roll over ” trade deals are not sufficiently advanced – The Scotsman
  • “I’m not going to blink – Interview with Jacob Rees-Mogg, Financial Times
  • UK risks losing nearly £1bn of EU funding, say councils – BBC


Brexit 2) UK would still lose EU budget rebate if we changed our minds and decided to stay in

“Brussels has threatened it will strip Britain of its £4 billion budget rebate if a second referendum overturns the Brexit vote. Eurocrats said the UK’s discount, which was hard won by Margaret Thatcher then squandered by Tony Blair, will be chopped if we stay in the bloc.Their verdict, delivered by budget chief Gunther Oettinger yesterday, will deal a hammer blow to Remainers agitating for a referendum rerun. The German official said Britain’s “mother of all rebates” was “something that’s no longer appropriate” now that we’ve has voted to leave. He said: “Even if in the improbable but pleasant case that the UK were to remain then the gradual exit from the rebate would still be kept.” – The Sun

  • The people’s vote campaign needs to ditch the celebs – John Harris, The Guardian

Brexit 3) Forsyth:The UK and the EU are still far apart

“The UK and the EU are still far apart on crucial questions, and the Government hasn’t decided what to do next. A Brussels smash-up looks more likely than an agreement at this point. One member of the inner Cabinet who attended its ­discussion on Thursday night tells me that the meeting “didn’t really settle anything”.I am told that “the PM chaired as opposed to opined”. What the meeting was discussing was whether the so-called backstop should have an end date to it. This backstop would keep the UK in a customs union with the EU until and unless a trade deal is signed between them.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

  • A deal would boost The Treasury says the Chancellor – The Guardian

Brexit 4) Moore: The DUP are right to object to May’s plans

“Under her more recent plans, we shall stay in for a transitional period, losing our voting powers but still bound by the rules and still paying heavily. At the EU’s insistence, which Mrs May has failed to shift, there is no certain date to end this transition. Indeed, the transition cannot be accomplished at all unless we agree now that Northern Ireland must forever remain part of the single market and the customs union. If that were to happen, and the rest of this country were to leave, that would defy the Good Friday Agreement, since the status of Northern Ireland would have been changed without the consent of its people… (In Brussels this week, the DUP leader Arlene Foster was angry to find out from Michel Barnier that his plans for the province were worse than Mrs May had told her.) The EU would thus have achieved what the IRA killed for over decades. The United Kingdom would have been broken up.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • Don’t make same error as Thatcher, Foster warns PM on Brexit – Belfast Telegraph
  • May could dump DUP – The Times
  • Why are ‘patriotic’ Brexiteers risking the break-up of the UK? – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

Brexit 5) Portillo warns Customs Union membership would mean Tories would face “massacre”

“Former Conservative MP Michael Portillo has warned Theresa May faces a “massacre” of support if the Prime Minister continues with backstop plans which could leave the UK in the EU indefinitely. Speaking on BBC political programme This Week where he is a regular contributor, Mr Portillo said Theresa May could find herself without party support if she continued with her proposed plans on the customs union. He said: “Remaining in the customs union massacres support in the Conservative Party. I don’t know who in the Conservative Party could support that apart from rabid Remainers. Even quite moderate opinion will be outraged by staying in the customs union. The fact that it’s not time limited is outrageous. It would imply the continuing jurisdiction of the ECJ.” – Daily Express

>Today: ToryDiary: A candidate shortage strikes Conservative target seats

Growing rebellion over Universal Credit

“Dozens of Tory Eurosceptics have joined calls for the Chancellor to reverse a £2 billion cut to Universal Credit, The Sun can reveal. Arch Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees Mogg are teaming up with Europhile Tory backbenchers like Heidi Allen to demand action to shore up benefits for some of the poorest people in the country….The calls for a u-turn are being led by Iain Duncan Smith – the former Pensions Secretary who is a key member of the Tory European Research Group of Brexiteers. One source told The Sun: “Iain commands a big following and almost everyone in the ERG is now backing his call.” – The Sun

  • McVey’s bid to silence benefits critics condemned – The Times
  • The government’s reform of welfare benefits will fail unless funded properly – Leader, The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Universal Credit where Universal Credit is due

Bailey warned that abortion was being used as contraception

“The Conservative London mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, said children used abortion services as contraception, in newly unearthed comments that have put him under further pressure. Labour has urged Bailey to give assurances that he would not campaign to reduce the abortion time limit, after remarks in a 2007 Guardian interview were highlighted in which he expressed concern that terminations were being used flippantly by underage girls and said the limit should be reduced to 22 weeks.”- The Guardian

Oxford University Conservatives ban Bullingdon Club members

“Members of the infamous Bullingdon Club have been banned from holding positions in the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA). The body has put the Bullingdon, whose past members included David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson, on its list of proscribed organisations. The male-only club became notorious for the riotous, drunken antics of its often wealthy, privileged members. OUCA president Ben Etty said it had “no place” in the modern Tory party. The Bullingdon started life in the late 18th Century as a sporting club, dedicated to cricket and horse racing.” – BBC

  • RIP the Bullingdon Club: I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see you go – Jenny McCartney, Daily Telegraph

Johnson signs up with an agency to give speeches at £30,000 a time

“Boris Johnson has signed up to give £30,000-a-time speeches on the after-dinner circuit as he seeks to raise cash to fund his divorce. The former foreign secretary has joined JLA, an agency which supplies celebrity speakers for business dinners and corporate events. It comes just weeks after Mr Johnson announced plans for a potentially costly divorce from Marina Wheeler, with whom he has four children. Mr Johnson was banned from holding second jobs while in the Cabinet and is known to have complained privately about having to manage on his £141,405 salary, telling friends it was not enough to cover his ‘extensive family responsibilities’.” – Daily Mail

  • Rachel Johnson on Celebrity Big Brother and her own big brother – The Times

Fracking to start again in Lancashire

“Fracking for shale gas will start in the UK for the first time since 2011 after an environmental campaigner lost a High Court bid to block it. The energy company Cuadrilla said it hoped to start the process of forcing water, sand and chemicals down a well to shatter rock at a site beside Preston New Road in Lancashire tomorrow morning. However, high winds might mean the equipment will not be ready until Monday.” – The Times

  • ‘Why is fracking such a bad idea . . .   do we really want to rely on Putin?’ Interview with Claire Perry, Energy Minister – The Times

Democrats look to Pennsylvania for gains

“Donald Trump won her vote two years ago but she is likely to back a Democrat this time around. In one of the most evenly divided states in America, swing voters like Tobie Pasco hold the fate of Congress in their hands. Pennsylvania, the state that carried Mr Trump over the line to the White House when he unexpectedly took it with a 1.2 point margin from Hillary Clinton, is once again in the national spotlight. It sent 13 Republicans to the House of Representatives from 18 districts in 2016, but a bitterly fought redrawing of boundaries by the state’s supreme court is contributing to a much closer contest, forecast to hand nine seats to both parties.” – The Times

Samuel: We should teach children the truth about the British Empire

“Despite Mr Corbyn’s correct assertion that we need more of our imperial past in the classroom, however, he is the last person I would trust to deliver on such a pledge…For example, the press release accompanying Mr Corbyn’s comments states the following: “Labour’s Emancipation Educational Trust will tell the story of how slavery interrupted a rich African and black history.” The word “interrupted”, presumably intended to convey the unwelcome arrival of the transatlantic slave trade, is revealing. It is the kind of word one would use about human interference in a perfectly enclosed biosphere and therefore connotes, rather weirdly, that African history was in some kind of natural state to which slavery was ahistorical and artificial interruption. In fact, as we know, slavery was endemic throughout most of human history, including in Africa.” – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Hastings: Dons must not give into the mob

“Students have a right and almost a duty to be foolish. Those who teach them have a mirror right and duty sometimes to tell their crass charges to take a cold bath. Social media arms dissidents with new weapons of anonymous abuse and even persecution, as terrible in their way as the firearms that pollute US society. If institutions of learning succumb to intimidation by adolescents, they cease to fulfil the purpose for which they exist. We are witnessing the evolution of a historic threat to civilised values. The “knowledge revolution” is in danger of drowning under a tsunami of misinformation, matched by a rejection of open debate….Today the West has acquired its own mullahs, peddling political and cultural doctrines that threaten rationality.” – Max Hastings, The Times

News in brief

  • Theresa May’s Brexit conundrum: Satisfy the DUP, the Tories or the country – Alex Massie, CapX
  • Shrinking pizzas and pies isn’t the way to tackle obesity – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • May is under pressure from all sides – Alex Wickham, Buzzfeed
  • My unexpected continental adventures on the road out of the European Union – David Jones MP, Brexit Central
  • Conservatives should stop fighting against the liberal elite and starting fighting for the moderate majority – Peter Franklin, Unherd