Brexit and the Union 1) May under siege from the DUP over border in the Irish Sea…

“A Brussels plan to put a customs border in the Irish Sea if there is no Brexit agreement will be included in a divorce deal, a leaked letter from Theresa May suggests. The prime minister was accused last night of breaking her promise to the Democratic Unionist Party that she would never sign up to a deal that could allow Northern Ireland to be divided from the rest of the United Kingdom. The European plan, known as the “backstop to the backstop”, would leave Northern Ireland tied to the single market and customs union if Brexit talks collapse. Brussels wants this insurance policy to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Mrs May has previously said that no UK prime minister could ever agree to such a plan. The five-page letter, leaked to The Times, was sent on Tuesday from Mrs May to Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, and Nigel Dodds, her deputy. In it, the prime minister says that the EU is still pushing for the “backstop to the backstop” but insists that she would never allow a divide between Ulster and Great Britain to “come into force”.” – The Times

  • Raab accuses Lidington of going behind his back on Ireland – The Sun
  • Extracts from the leaked letter – The Times
  • DUP warns May over backstop ‘betrayal’ – FT
  • Brexit to dominate discussions at British Irish Council summit – News Letter
  • ECB warns Ireland to prepare for a no-deal Brexit – Daily Express


  • Fox says UK must be able to leave backstop – FT
  • Crucial legal advice should be made public, says Hancock… – Daily Telegraph
  • …and Gove demands to see it too – Daily Mail
  • Brexiteers plan to reject deal come what may – The Guardian


  • How to solve the legal advice row – Robert Courts MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Law probably says what May wants it to – Catherine Barnard, The Guardian
  • We can bin the backstop – David Campbell Bannerman MEP, Daily Telegraph


  • Advice should be published, but it will leave politicians confused – Daily Telegraph


Brexit and the Union 2) …and Scottish Conservatives over EU fishing rights

“European Union fishing fleets must be given wide-ranging access to British coastal waters as the price of agreeing an all-UK Brexit divorce deal, the Telegraph can reveal. Senior EU diplomats have warned that any plan to grant the UK a temporary customs union to solve the Irish backstop problem must come with cast-iron guarantees that EU boats will be free to fish in UK waters. The EU demands threaten to re-open a fierce row inside the Tory party over the potential size of the Brexit dividend for coastal and fishing communities. Fishermen warned Mrs May that she must not “squander” the chance to claw back valuable quotas for British fleets, while MPs representing fishing communities said extending the current arrangements would be “totally unacceptable”… The Scottish Tories, who won a series of coastal seats from the SNP in last year’s general election, warned the long-awaited Conservative revival in Scotland would be destroyed if the party does not make good its promises to the country’s fishermen.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministers play down talk of an imminent deal… – Daily Telegraph
  • …but Tusk says one will be done within a week – The Sun
  • Deal in seven days ‘pushing it’, says Hunt – Daily Express
  • How May plans to cajole ministers into backing plan – FT
  • Davis says no-deal departure is ‘not intimidating or frightening’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Sturgeon says May is offering ‘all things to all people’ – The Scotsman


  • Hunt says departure won’t damage Anglo-French relations – FT
  • Raab ‘failing to grasp the basics’ of Brexit – The Times
  • Brexit Secretary admits importance of Dover to EU trade – FT


  • Will the Tories stand and fight for Brexit? – The Sun

Fraser Nelson: How the Prime Minister plans to sell her deal

“So how to navigate through this barrier reef of Conservative mutineers? Until recently, her plan was to warn that a no-deal Brexit would unleash all kinds of mayhem, with pets imprisoned for months in quarantine and Eurostar carriages mothballed in Gare du Nord. But these arguments strike many Tories as another implausible “Project Fear”. If Brexiteers were daunted by predictions of havoc, they would not be Brexiteers. So Mrs May instead intends to win them over with a political argument. That no-deal would unleash the anti-Brexit rebels who would then start to hijack legislation: perhaps voting to force her government to stay in the Customs Union, to hold a “people’s vote” referendum or even stay in the EU. So this, she will say, is the real choice. Her deal, with the admitted risks and defects – or a “no deal” that might lead to no Brexit at all. Take the bird in hand: this is the message from No 10.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexit has plenty of unexpected bonuses – Ed Conway, The Times
  • We already know the economic effects of a Brexit deal – Chris Giles, FT

>Today: Eamonn Ives in Comment: No, Brexit will not threaten all creatures great and small

May pushing for overhaul of workers’ rights in the ‘gig economy’

“Theresa May is pressing ahead with plans to boost the rights of workers in the gig economy on areas including flexibility and pay as part of a package of measures to overhaul employment laws, the Guardian has learned. The prime minister plans to end a legal loophole that allows companies to pay agency workers less than full-time staff for doing the same job as she attempts to demonstrate that she understands concerns about inequalities in the world of work. Ministers are proposing repealing the so-called Swedish derogation rule even though the Treasury would be cautious about upsetting business, which reacted with alarm when it was first floated, when they are already facing Brexit uncertainty. Business secretary Greg Clark has told cabinet colleagues that he hopes to implement several key recommendations from a review by Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the RSA and a former senior policy advisor to Tony Blair, that was commissioned by the government last year.” – The Guardian

Ministers 1) Hunt pushes for sanctions against Russian spies

“Britain is pushing for new EU sanctions on senior figures in President Putin’s military spy network responsible for the Salisbury poisoning in March. Members of the GRU senior leadership are on a draft list of individuals to be sanctioned under a new EU regime aimed at curbing the use of chemical weapons, say diplomatic sources. The UK hopes to secure the backing of France and Germany for the sanctions. It is pressing for other foreign ministers to approve freezing assets and banning travel for the named senior Russian spies within weeks. Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, met ministers from former Soviet states, including Hungary, in London last month to discuss new sanctions. Half a dozen named individuals involved in the novichok attack on Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, and his daughter Yulia, are likely to be targeted, according to a minister.” – The Times

Ministers 2) Javid says police will get new stop-and-search powers to tackle knife crime

“Police are to get enhanced powers to stop and search suspects in an attempt to combat the surge in violent crime and knife attacks, Sajid Javid has revealed. The Home Secretary said he wanted police to be more confident to use stop and search, sweep away bureaucracy and make it easier to deploy powers that senior officers say are vital in the fight against crime. Some police chiefs say constables have become reluctant to use the power as they fear being accused of racism. The approach represents a significant departure from Theresa May’s legacy as home secretary. She placed restrictions on stop and search after discovering young black men were seven times more likely to be stopped by police. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Javid said: “I want to make sure that police have the powers they need and the tools. “With stop and search I want to make sure it is easier for police to be able to use it and reduce the bureaucracy around it. My aim is to make police officers much more confident in using stop and search.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Security minister fears that axing train guards could boost gangs – Daily Mail
  • Drug busts at lowest level in 14 years after curb on searches – The Sun

Ministers 3) Hancock puts NHS trust in special measures

“A hospital trust where 100 babies are feared to have died or been harmed by poor care has been placed in special measures. Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust in Shropshire was already reporting weekly to the care regulator over its maternity and emergency services but yesterday NHS Improvement said the trust could no longer run itself. The watchdog announced that it was placing the trust in special measures as a result of poor management, workforce issues, problems in maternity care and whistleblowing concerns that meant “patient care could be at risk”. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, wrote to local politicians yesterday to inform them of the move. He said that the trust would benefit from “enhanced oversight”, extra funding and increased support from NHS Improvement. The decision comes two days after the Care Quality Commission warned over staffing levels in critical care and concerns over practice on some medical wards.” – The Times

  • Hold Skype appointments to save time, hospitals told – The Times

Ashcroft call puts pressure on ministers over Cenotaph service

“Ministers came under mounting pressure last night to reverse an “outrageous” ban on Zimbabwe from attending the Cenotaph to remember southern Rhodesians killed in the two world wars. More than 34,000 young men from southern Rhodesia – both black and white – served in the world wars with an estimated 1,800 losing their lives. But no official from present day Zimbabwe is allowed to attend the wreath-laying at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday in a ban that dates back more than 50 years. The sanction was first put in place in response to Ian Smith’s unilateral declaration of independence from the UK in 1965. Zimbabwe was banned again in 2003 after it withdrew from the Commonwealth as Robert Mugabe’s regime grew more tyrannical. Although Zimbabwe has now applied to rejoin the Commonwealth after Mr Mugabe was forced out of office, its officials will remain barred from Sunday’s emotional service that will mark 100 years since the end of First World war… Lord Ashcroft, the former Conservative party  deputy chairman and owner of the world’s largest collection of Victoria Crosses, called for the urgent lifting of the ban in an article in the Daily Telegraph at the weekend.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister to mark sacrifices with wreaths – The Sun


  • Chief of Defence Staff ‘uncomfortable’ about Ulster investigations – Daily Telegraph

McDonnell considering an inquiry into a four-day working week

“John McDonnell is in talks with Robert Skidelsky, the economist, about heading an independent inquiry for the Labour party into a four-day week. The shadow chancellor hinted at the review in a television interview a month ago, saying that Britain worked the longest hours in Europe but was less productive. This week Mr McDonnell told the Financial Times that he hoped to be in a position to say more on the issue in the “next couple of weeks”. Lord Skidelsky admitted he had held discussions with the shadow chancellor about the idea of an independent inquiry into “the feasibility of a shorter working week”. For now, however, he said he had “nothing definite to say”. Lord Skidelsky is a prominent economic historian who has belonged to Labour, Conservative and the Social Democratic Party – although he currently sits in the Lords as a cross-bencher. In 2015 he endorsed Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership, accusing the “political elites” of complacency for trying to dismiss him.” – FT

  • Shadow Chancellor says Labour would reverse child benefit cuts – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Backstop to the future – David Shiels, CapX
  • Scruton scandal shows that British public life can’t handle difficult ideas – Mark Fox, Reaction
  • The National Student Survey is having a terrible effect on academia – David Butterfield, The Spectator
  • Why global English is a force for division – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • Dyson’s five-year legal battle reveals the crony capitalist corruption at the heart of the EU – Matt Ridley, Brexit Central

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