Brexit: Corbyn signals intention to block ‘no deal’…

The prospect of Brexit being delayed moved a step closer last night after Jeremy Corbyn signalled Labour will join Remain Tory ministers and MPs in blocking no deal. Mr Corbyn is expected to give his support to a backbench bill that will force the Government to request an extension of Article 50 after meeting its backers. The Telegraph has learned an alliance of 19 Tory ministers, including five members of the Cabinet, has also been holding secret meetings to discuss plans to stop a no-deal Brexit. Several of them are prepared to quit over the issue. In a bid to save her deal Theresa May is now considering plans to withhold part of the £39billion Brexit divorce bill to ensure that Britain does not become permanently trapped in the Northern Ireland backstop. The plan, which is one of nine options for breaking the deadlock sent to the Prime Minister by her chief Brexit negotiator on Sunday, is designed to win over Tory Eurosceptics and trump the rebel’s bid to extend Article 50. Yvette Cooper, a senior Labour MP, has tabled a cross-party backbench bill which will force the Prime Minister to request an extension of Article 50 if no deal can be reached by February 26. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said that it is “highly likely” that Labour will back the amendment. Mr Corbyn, the Labour leader, yesterday met Ms Cooper to discuss the plans.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour leader trying to avoid association with ‘Remaniacs’… – Daily Express
  • …as he prepares to whip MPs to back Cooper’s bill – The Guardian
  • Extending Article 50 is not a solution, MPs told – FT
  • May has a week before the Commons takes control – The Times
  • Prime Minister to meet trades union leaders – Daily Telegraph
  • Airbus issues stern warning over no-deal Brexit – FT


  • Put aside differences and stop chaotic no-deal, urges Barnier – The Times
  • Spain bids to use negotiations to ‘steal’ Gibraltar – The Sun

More Labour:

  • Labour MP received threatening messages over opposition to second referendum – The Sun
  • Corbyn accused of breaking rules over Abbott appointment – Daily Express
  • McDonnell seeks to reassure City over capital controls – FT
  • Khan calls for rent caps as re-election bid begins – The Sun



…and ‘secret club’ of Remain ministers prepare to do the same…

“Nearly 20 ministers have been secretly meeting in Parliament to discuss plans to stop a no-deal Brexit, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. The group of ministers, which includes five members of the Cabinet, has held discussions on the best way to avoid the economic damage of a no deal Brexit. One member of the group jokingly referred to it as the “hairshirt club” because there is no “pizza or alcohol” at the meetings. The group last met on Tuesday last week for discussions on an amendment tabled by Yvette Cooper, a senior Labour MP, to take no deal off the table by extending Article 50. Cabinet ministers who attended Amber Rudd, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, Greg Clark, the Work and Pensions Secretary, David Gauke the Justice Secretary, and Claire Perry, the energy minister. The 13 ministers include two from Ms Rudd’s Department for Work and Pensions and two from Mr Clark’s department. It comes after Ms Rudd warned the Prime Minister that as many 40 members of the Government could quit if they are forced to vote against Ms Cooper’s amendment on Tuesday next week. Sources suggested that the number prepared to resign over the issue is likely to be significantly lower because Labour is poised to back the amendment.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister ‘privately resigned’ to delay – Daily Mail
  • Fear of March madness looms over Davos – FT
  • Brussels backtracks on threats of a hard border in Ireland – The Sun


  • Only one way to outsmart the wrecker Remainers – Frank Field, Daily Telegraph
  • I’m leaving the Conservatives, and other liberals should join me – Nick Mazzei, Times Red Box


  • If Parliament can’t resolve Brexit, a new referendum is needed – FT
  • Tories will see Brexit through, Labour will destroy it – The Sun

…whilst Rees-Mogg urges May to consider the ‘nuclear option’

Jacob Rees-Mogg has told Theresa May she must use the nuclear option of ending the parliamentary session early if a bid by MPs to delay Brexit looks likely to succeed. The leading Brexiteer said the Prime Minister should prorogue Parliament if a plan being led by Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP, to extend Article 50 gets close to becoming law. Prorogation would mean the end of the parliamentary session and therefore all draft laws currently making their way through the Commons and Lords would fall. Ms Cooper has tabled a draft bill which would force the Government to delay Brexit by nine months beyond March 29 if no deal has been agreed by February 26. Mr Rees-Mogg said the Government would have to stop the passage of such a bill and that it would have to use any and all constitutional methods to do so… Meanwhile, Mr Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, said he would only support Mrs May’s deal if the controversial backstop protocol was removed from the Withdrawal Agreement.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Fox hits out at MPs seeking to block ‘no deal’ – FT
  • McVey launches new campaign to make the case for no-deal exit – The Sun
  • Gove accused of dropping fishing targets – The Times
  • Brexiteer opposition to the deal appears to soften – Daily Telegraph
  • ERG leader ‘narrows opposition’ to May’s plan – FT
  • Is Rees-Mogg starting to panic that ‘kamikaze’ Europhiles will box him in? – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

Johnson given £10,000 before JCB speech

“Boris Johnson received a £10,000 donation from JCB three days before giving a Brexit speech at its headquarters. The former foreign secretary mentioned the construction company four times in his speech on the factory floor in Staffordshire on Friday, urging Theresa May to “emulate the spirit of JCB” as she tries to change the Irish backstop. The donation had been registered with House of Commons authorities. It has also emerged that David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, took up a job advising JCB on January 1. He will be paid £60,000 for his one-year contract as an “external adviser”. In his declaration Mr Davis said that he expected to work about 20 hours a year for the company. An MP’s basic salary is £77,379 a year, although ministers also receive a separate salary. Mr Johnson’s speech, which lasted more than 25 minutes, was a thinly veiled leadership pitch designed to enhance the Conservative appeal to blue-collar workers. He spoke at a lectern emblazoned with the JCB logo in front of a branded digger… Lord Bamford, the company’s chairman, has donated millions to the Conservative Party and backed Leave in the 2016 referendum.” – The Times

  • Davis earns almost £100,000 through part-time work – The Guardian


  • Hammond to announce £100 million of investment in Davos today – Daily Express
  • Bank of England’s chief economist warns that Westminster stalemate casts economic shadow – Daily Mail
  • Why Dyson is shifting its HQ to Singapore – FT
  • Is Sir James deserting Britain? – Daily Mail
  • Dutch try to lure 250 UK-based companies over Brexit – The Times


  • We are determined to invest in Britain post-Brexit – James Dyson, Daily Telegraph
  • Dyson’s move is pragmatic, not ‘pluto-populism’ – Matthew Vincent, FT
  • World trade is our future – Ross Clark, The Sun
  • Move shows that Thatcher’s dream of a free-market Britain is dying – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit champion goes from hero to zero – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • Wealthy Brexiteers such as Dyson are jumping ship… why might that be? – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian


  • Dyson’s move is not hypocrisy – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Jobs miracle, jobs mystery

Johnny Mercer: With courage and determination, we can see Brexit through

“Values, ethos, judgment, self-sacrifice, classlessness, relentless pursuit of excellence – these are not just soundbites, they make the system work, and are the real reason why we as a country have the most effective and professional fighting forces on earth. Contrast this with the House of Commons today. At perhaps the moment of greatest political challenge the country has seen for 50 years, we see perhaps the greatest political collapse in 50 years – of leadership on both sides. It must not be allowed to happen. Everyone knows my views thus far. There is no point repeating them, but safe to say my assessment in November may have been a little optimistic. I voted against the deal because the PM signed us up to different arrangements for Northern Ireland when she promised for so long she wasn’t going to. I think it’s genuinely dangerous – both blundering into being a junior partner in an international relationship we cannot unilaterally leave – and going against what you have said previously. No British PM could ever do, and treat Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK. Trust, leadership, values – we must uphold them to the British people. The deal did not. What is required now is quite simple – we need some of those values back again, particularly courage and leadership, and I would encourage our PM and my colleagues to show it. Are we brave enough to face down the prospect of leaving the European Union without a deal if that’s what it takes to keep the promise that has been made to the British people?” – Daily Telegraph

  • The only compromise I can see coming is a bad one – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • Remainers have sabotaged May’s hopes for a compromise – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • Why the Cooper amendment matters – James Blitz, FT
  • We in Calais are ready for no deal, but is Britain? – Xavier Bertrand, Daily Telegraph
  • For the EU to prosper, Britain must leave – Eoin Drea, The Guardian
  • Your hair colour and bookshelf say quite a lot about your politics – Mark Wallace, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Nick Boles MP in Comment: Like all revolutionaries, once-reasonable Brexiteers slide towards ever greater radicalism

May rejects Sturgeon’s call for second independence referendum

Theresa May has issued her most strident rejection yet of allowing another “divisive” Scottish independence referendum, saying it was the “last thing” the country wants. Speaking ahead of a Downing Street meeting with Nicola Sturgeon over Brexit, Mrs May said the SNP’s demands for a rerun of the 2014 vote were “out of touch” with the Scottish people. A furious Ms Sturgeon hit back by accusing the Prime Minister of being “scared” of defeat and insisting she has a “cast-iron” mandate for another separation referendum. But Mrs May pointed out the SNP lost 21 seats and almost 500,000 votes in a massive voters backlash against the plan in the 2017 general election. The Prime Minister and David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, are understood to have ‘war-gamed’ their response to an official request from Ms Sturgeon, which is expected shortly. She responded to a 2017 demand from the First Minister by arguing “now is not the time” but it is understood she intends to use tougher language this time to issue a more categorical rejection. Mrs May also used her Downing Street meeting with Ms Sturgeon to offer her a place on a new Cabinet sub-committee charged with preparing for Brexit “spanning both deal and no deal outcomes.”” – Daily Telegraph

Chaos in courts blamed on Grayling’s ‘nihilistic’ legacy

“The IT failures that have caused chaos in the courts date back years to Chris Grayling’s “nihilistic legacy” at the Ministry of Justice, lawyers have said. Thousands of cases have been disrupted, with trials adjourned and delayed, after the main computer system in England and Wales went down at hundreds of courts. Yesterday Lucy Frazer, the justice minister, faced warnings that the system was reaching crisis point as politicians and lawyers questioned how a planned £1 billion courts modernisation programme could proceed after the failings with the existing network. Mr Grayling, now the transport secretary, was lord chancellor for three years until 2015, during which time the introduction of the present IT system began. Chris Henley, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, which represents about 4,000 lawyers, said: “The unrealistic planning has all the hallmarks of a Grayling project. He has repeated the trick everywhere he has been. We’ve seen it with the probation contract, private prisons and more recently the railways. We are living with his destructive, nihilistic legacy in all areas of legal aid and the courts.”… Sir Simon Hughes, the former justice minister, defended Mr Grayling. “The court reform IT programme was part of a hugely important, necessary and urgent part of a several hundred million-pound investment in the Courts and Tribunal Service,” he said.” – The Times

UK to pay France for Channel surveillance

Britain is to pay the French £6m for drones, CCTV cameras and night-vision equipment to mount 24/7 surveillance of the North France coast in a new bid to prevent migrants crossing the Channel. Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, will unveil the extra measures on Thursday after a meeting in London with his French counterpart interior minister Christophe Castaner. They will also agree to coordinate and step up patrols by Border Force and French boats to ensure there is round-the-clock coverage  of key areas in the Channel at any given time. The introduction of 24/7 surveillance has been demanded by MPs alarmed that the current measures have so far failed to deter migrants continuing to try to cross to the UK. This week 39 more suspected migrants crossed the Channel in small boats and reached the UK in less than 24 hours over Sunday and Monday. More than 200 made the crossing in the last two months of 2018. Britain currently has two Border Force cutters patrolling the Channel backed by a Royal Navy patrol vessel. Two extra cutters on their way back from the Mediterranean will not be deployed until next month. Under the agreement to be signed off today, the UK will pay 7m Euros, including 3.4m Euros already committed under the Sandhurst Agreement signed last year to boost border security, plus another 3.6m Euros.” – Daily Telegraph

MPs move to block rapists’ access to children

“An attempt to deny parental rights to men who father a child through rape has won cross-party support from dozens of MPs. The campaign was started after a survivor of the Rotherham sex-grooming scandal learnt that her jailed abuser had been invited to stake a claim in care proceedings involving their son. Arshid Hussain is serving a 35-year prison sentence for multiple sex offences against nine underage girls, including Sammy Woodhouse, whom he made pregnant at the age of 15. He has no parental responsibility for her son but was notified of court proceedings in 2017 when Rotherham council, with the support of Ms Woodhouse, applied to take the child into care. Hussain would have been entitled to seek to become a party in the case and to argue for visitation rights or for the child to be placed in the custody of his relatives. Under existing rules it is mandatory for a local authority seeking a care order to serve notice of proceedings on any parent, even if they have no responsibility for the child. A council can seek exemption in exceptional cases but such requests are rarely approved by the family court. Rotherham council made no such application.” – The Times

US puts ‘full weight’ behind Venezuelan regime change

“Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, has secured significant international support after declaring himself interim president in a bid to force out Nicolás Maduro as two nights of unrest gripped the country, leading to the deaths of 14 people. Guaidó was quickly recognised by the US, Canada, Brazil, Colombia and other US allies in the Americas, while the European Union said the voice of the people “cannot be ignored”. Donald Trump warned that “all options are on the table” if Maduro – who has overseen the country’s slide into authoritarianism and economic ruin – responded with force against the opposition. Vice president Mike Pence later made clear the US would use “the full weight of our diplomatic and economic pressure. US officials said the US would look at ways to transfer Venezuelan assets and oil revenues to Guaidó and the opposition-run national assembly. Maduro responded with defiance, cutting off relations with the US and ordering all US diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours… Guaidó issued his own statement, urging foreign embassies to keep their diplomats in the country. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, later said the US would abide by Guaidó’s directive and ignore Maduro’s order to withdraw its diplomats.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Either the Tories deliver Brexit, or suffer a permanent loss of trust – Patrick O’Flynn MEP, Brexit Central
  • The war on meat has begun – and vegans are winning comfortably – Jenny McCartney, The Spectator
  • The backstop has backfired – Owen Polley, CapX
  • Northern Ireland is not on the brink of war – Jason Walsh, Reaction
  • How intensive parenting causes inequality – Peter Franklin, UnHerd