May “gains partial reprieve” from party “opponents” with rejection of backstop that would divide NI from rest of Britain…

“Theresa May dismissed Brussels’ demands yesterday for a backstop that would divide Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain, relieving pressure from Tory Brexiteers but increasing the chance of a no-deal exit. The prime minister secured a partial reprieve from her internal opponents with a categorical rejection of the EU’s insistence that the province remain subject to its customs and regulations until a final trade deal is struck. Downing Street sources said that she would not countenance such a backstop being contained in the withdrawal agreement that she is negotiating.” – The Times

  • Eurosceptics “abandon bid” to make it illegal – Daily Telegraph
  • EU “ready to break impasse” with “backstop tweak” – FT
  • Meanwhile, IDS and others criticise “violent language” attacks on May – The Times
  • As does she – Daily Telegraph
  • There are calls for whip to be removed over it – Guardian


  • May’s going round and round and round – Patrick Kidd, The Times
  • This is her Brexit alone – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Backstop stop stop stop please stop

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: May – “We must make the commitment to a temporary joint customs territory legally binding”

…She unveils a “four-point plan”, and claims deal is “95 per cent done”, as she’s charged with “surrender” by Eurosceptic colleagues

“Theresa May has attempted to quell a mounting Tory rebellion over Brexit by unveiling a new four-point plan to break the deadlock with Brussels. … The first will be to make her plans for a joint customs territory between the UK and the EU “legally binding”, avoiding the need for a Northern Ireland-only customs backstop. She confirmed that the second step will be to ensure there is an option to extend the two year transition period after Brexit, a move which has triggered a furious Cabinet backlash. She insisted it will only be for a “short time”. The third step will be to ensure that the extended transition or backstop is not extended “indefinitely”, while the fourth step will be continued access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to Great Britain. It will raise concern that there could be regulatory checks in the Irish Sea.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She says Brexit will all be done by next election – The Sun
  • And that extending transition “could help with impasse” – Daily Telegraph
  • Her new plan includes possibility of extension to 2021 – FT
  • More details on the plan – Guardian
  • Backbenchers “voice their anger” – Daily Express
  • Johnson joins Stand up 4 Brexit – Daily Express
  • Bradley says Leave would win second referendum by more – The Sun
  • Meanwhile, Raab tells departments to move further on “no deal” planning – FT

>Today: Audio: The Moggcast. “You’ve got to be careful of how permanent ‘temporary’ can become.”

Not long ago, the Mail called Remain campaigners “saboteurs”. Now it turns the phrase on Leavers

“Enough is enough. The time is over for griping, self-promotion and peacocking across the political stage by Tory MPs determined to undermine their leader. Don’t these posturing rebels understand they are sabotaging the Prime Minister at the most crucial point in our history since the Second World War? The fact that her own party members should be trying to stop her striking a deal intended to safeguard Britain’s future prosperity is not only deeply disloyal – it is profoundly dangerous. And if they continue with their wrecking tactics, they could force an election that no one wants and may well usher an unreconstructed Marxist into No 10, with all the ruinous consequences that would wreak on the nation.” – Editorial, Daily Mail

  • Paterson and IDS criticised for “going over May’s head” in Barnier meeting – The Sun
  • They say they didn’t “undermine” her – Daily Mail
  • Rudd calls for unity – Daily Express

May will discuss the negotiations with the cabinet today

“… The Prime Minister was on Monday accused by Eurosceptic Tory MPs of “surrender” as they suggested in the Commons that she does not have a Brexit plan and “know where we’re going”. Tory MPs said that they and their constituents were increasingly “frustrated” as the Prime Minister insisted the UK will leave before the next election in May 2022 – six years after the Brexit vote. Mrs May will on Tuesday discuss Brexit negotiations with her Cabinet, where ministers are expected to warn that there must be a time-limit on any customs backstop amid concerns it could leave Britain indefinitely tied to the EU.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She will tell them she’s “doubling down” against EU backstop plan – Daily Mail

Khan claims Labour will oppose May’s “bad deal”

“Sadiq Khan has sent a message to the EU that he believes Labour will be forced to oppose the “bad” Brexit deal that is emerging from their negotiations with Theresa May. The mayor of London’s comments come ahead of his meeting this week with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, in which Khan will emphasise the need for far closer economic ties. He will also point to Saturday’s People’s Vote march as evidence of a shift in public opinion in favour of a vote on any agreement reached in Brussels. Khan, who joined calls for a second referendum at the weekend’s demonstration, when almost 700,000 people marched through central London, is to meet Barnier on Friday.” – Guardian


  • Corbyn’s absence over Brexit is damaging – The Times


Cochrane: Don’t underestimate Scottish Conservatives’ strength of feeling about the CFP

“That Scottish Tories regard any extension of the transition period of Britain leaving the EU as a major threat both to their constituents and to any further advance in their party’s fortunes has been confirmed again and again in recent days.  Perhaps the most outspoken, but also probably accurate, assessment came from Douglas Ross, the MP for Moray, who predicted that all 13 Scottish Tory MPs would vote against any such extension because, unless we’re told differently, it would include the Common Fisheries Policy’s remit being similarly extended.  And last night that rebellion looked all the more likely thanks to Theresa May’s failure to give the Scots the commitment they are demanding. Any extension of the CFP’s rule over the British fishing grounds is simply unacceptable to all of the fishing communities in the North East of Scotland and those who represent them and, increasingly in recent years, those are Tory MPs.” – Daily Telegraph

  • May “fails to reassure” Scottish Conservative MPs with fishing promise – Herald

Meanwhile, only 71 of the almost 1000 pre-Brexit legislation changes have been put before parliament

“Of the more than 800 changes to legislation needed before Brexit only 71 have been put before parliament, a report has found. The government has said that between 800 and 1,000 statutory instruments (SIs) are required to ensure that British law is functional before Britain leaves the EU on March 29. But even though almost half the time available has passed, 9 per cent of the necessary SIs have been put before parliament, leading to fears that the Commons faces an impossible task in scrutinising them in time. Ministers use SIs, also known as secondary legislation, to change laws without going through the full legislative procedure.” – The Times

More Brexit

  • We mustn’t let the EU control our tax – Norman Tebbit, Daily Telegraph

Hammond to say OBR has revised down deficit. This “should allow him” to avoid tax hikes

“Philip Hammond is set to get a £13bn annual windfall for his Budget because public finances are significantly better than expected. The Office for Budget Responsibility, the economic watchdog, has revised its forecast of the deficit, the Chancellor is expected to say in his Budget speech on Monday. The OBR has underestimated the recent strength of tax receipts and therefore revise down the country’s deficit for the 2018-19 year by about £13bn. The watchdog previously said the deficit would be £25bn this year. It is not expected to cut its borrowing forecasts until 2022, according to the Financial Times.” – Daily Telegraph

  • This will “reduce NHS strain” – FT
  • Meanwhile, Conservative MPs protest against “beer tax hike” – The Sun


  • Hammond needs to “make the rich pay” – Polly Toynbee, Guardian

>Today: Andrew Lilico in Comment: Next week, Hammond must present a Budget for Brexit

All five main opposition parties write to Hunt about continued ties with Saudi Arabia

“The government is facing renewed pressure over its continued ties to Saudi Arabia following the death of Jamal Khashoggi and the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, after all five main Westminster opposition parties signed an unprecedented joint letter calling for a change of stance. The foreign affairs representatives for Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens wrote to Jeremy Hunt saying it was “hard to imagine what crime the Saudi government would need to commit” for the UK government to condemn it. The letter to the foreign secretary, shown to the Guardian, says reports that the dissident journalist was tortured and murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul constituted “the latest in a litany of charges that have been laid before the Saudi regime by the international community”.” – Guardian


  • Khashoggi death “must change our approach” – Daily Express

More parliament 

  • Women and Equalities committee say pornography is “public health issue” – Daily Telegraph 

More Conservatives 

News in Brief

  • May is trying hard – Katy Balls, Spectator
  • She just keeps on surviving – Tom Harris, CapX
  • Stay away from Chequers, kids – Brian Monteith, Reaction
  • Watch out for McCaskill – Nicholas Lemman, New Yorker