May scraps the £65 fee for EU citizens planning to stay in the UK

‘EU nationals who want to stay in Britain after Brexit will not have to pay the controversial £65 application fee, Theresa May revealed. The Government was bombarded with criticism after producing a video telling European they will be slapped with the fee if they planned to stay in the UK. But the Prime Minister revealed she is dropping the controversial fee – as she desperately tried to woo MPs with her Brexit Plan B. She told the House of Commons she decided to make the screeching U-turn after MPs spoke ‘powerfully’ against the plan…She said: ‘Having listened to concerns from members and organisations like the 3 Million Group I can confirm today that when we roll out the scheme in full on 30 March the Government will waive the application fee so that there is no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. And anyone who has or will apply during the pilot phase will have their fee reimbursed. More details about how this will work will be made available in due course.” – Daily Mail

  • She hopes to buy time and goodwill – The Times
  • Robbins texted Hammond during Cabinet conference call to undermine the Prime Minister’s plan – Daily Telegraph
  • Barnier rebuffs backstop renegotiation plan – FT
  • May offers Sturgeon a greater say over Brexit ahead of meeting – Daily Telegraph
  • Ferry company alters bookings to accommodate No Deal plans – The Times
  • Border Force presentation warns of lower Calais trade – The Times

Opinion and Editorial

>Today: Henry Newman’s column: Norway Plus, Common Market 2.0. Call it whatever you like, it could basically leave us as a non-voting EU member

>Yesterday: WATCH: May hints at revisiting and revising the backstop

Labour creeps closer to supporting a second referendum

‘Jeremy Corbyn has endorsed a plan to force a second EU referendum as he bowed to pressure from Labour party members and MPs. Mr Corbyn wants the Government to give MPs the final say next week on a second referendum. If a majority back a referendum, Parliament could force Theresa May to hold a new in/out public vote that could lead to Brexit being reversed. Supporters of the so-called “People’s Vote” were jubilant tonight, describing Labour’s new policy as a “momentous” move that brought a referendum a “massive” step closer. It came after Mrs May warned MPs that a fresh referendum would “damage social cohesion” because it would “undermine faith in democracy”.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Opposition amendment proposes to make the Commons choose between customs union and second referendum – The Times
  • It might happen, but it would be a disaster for everyone if it did – William Hague, Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn is failing the test of Brexit – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • Barclay reminds those hoping for an Article 50 extension that the EU might not agree – The Guardian
  • The Prime Minister’s deal is now the best hope of ensuring Brexit happens – Bob Seely, Daily Telegraph
  • Dorries says she will support the Withdrawal Agreement due to ‘Europhile kamikaze MPs’ – Daily Mail
  • The DUP might be wavering, too – FT

Rudd threatens fellow Remainer ministers will resign if they aren’t allowed to vote to forbid No Deal

‘Up to 40 members of the government will resign next week if Conservative MPs are banned from voting for a plan to stop a no-deal Brexit, No 10 has been told. Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, has demanded that all Tory MPs are allowed a free vote on plans that would clear the path for extending Article 50 — the mechanism by which Britain leaves the European Union. Richard Harrington, the business minister, confirmed yesterday that he would resign if the government pursued a no-deal Brexit. Margot James, the culture minister, and Tobias Ellwood, the defence minister, were among those said to be considering their positions. Mr Ellwood used Twitter yesterday to call for an extension to Article 50. Ms Rudd’s intervention suggests that her position could be in doubt if she is barred from voting for the amendment, although her office refused to say whether she would regard it as a resignation issue.’ – The Times



Poland breaks ranks by proposing a five-year limit to the backstop

‘Poland’s foreign minister today called for the Irish border backstop to be scrapped after five years – as cracks emerged in the EU’s united front. Jacek Czaputowicz floated the compromise as Theresa May struggles to break the deadlock at Westminster. He also suggested that the EU’s position was being held hostage by Ireland, and Dublin had overplayed its hand. The intervention offers a shard of hope for the PM, after the EU signalled a hardline stance despite the rising threat of the UK crashing out in March.’ – Daily Mail

  • Other member states are displeased – Daily Express
  • Varadkar’s stubborn stance is endangering jobs in his own country – The Sun Says
  • Tusk claims Cameron told him he would never have to actually hold the promised referendum – Daily Mail
  • The UK needs a deal, the IMF says – Daily Mail
  • Infrastructure investors put money on hold – FT
  • Civil service grows to tackle new Brexit responsibilities – The Times
  • House prices fall in most expensive postcodes – The Times
  • Pets at Home considers stockpiling – FT
  • The EU plans to mine on the moon – Daily Mail

Patrol ships won’t be on duty in the Channel until February

‘Two Border Force cutters ordered to return from the Mediterranean to patrol the English Channel are still in port in Malta and Gibraltar, and are not expected back for another two weeks. The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, declared a ‘major incident’ in December, as more than 300 suspected migrants landed in the UK at the end of last year, but the two ships he ordered back are undergoing “routine maintenance” and are not expected to be operational until early February – five weeks after they were sent for. The delay has been met with dismay by MPs as as 39 more suspected migrants crossed the Channel and reached the UK in less than 24 hours over Sunday and Monday. Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said: “It’s now getting on for a month since we were told the cutters would be brought back from the Med. Now we learn they may not return for another few weeks. That is completely unacceptable – they are needed urgently to secure our borders and protect lives.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • British citizen jailed in France for his part in people smuggling ring – The Times

Hinds backs strict uniform policies as a ‘leveller’ among children

‘The Education Secretary yesterday backed schools that enforce a strict uniform policy to stop pupils who don’t have expensive trainers or gear being bullied. Damian Hinds told a global education conference uniform rules were an “important leveller” to stop “footwear competitiveness” for less advantaged pupils. He was questioned whether strict policies should be in place to help poor children who go to school to find their classmates wearing designer shoes or coats. Mr Hinds said: “Uniform itself is an important leveller and I think does play a really important role in that sense. Schools of course can, and in some cases do, have rules to make sure that you don’t get some of the kind of ‘footwear competitiveness’ – more likely to be trainers I think, than black school shoes. Whatever policy a school individually sets, I think for someone in my role the most important thing is to support them whenever they are doing that in a reasonable way.”’ – The Sun

Osamor wrongly used Commons letterhead and her frontbench title in clemency letter to judge

‘A Labour MP could face a parliamentary inquiry for using House of Commons notepaper to plead with a judge not to jail her “beautiful son” for serious drug offences. Kate Osamor stated her position at the time on Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench when she wrote to the judge who spared her son a jail term in October for possessing drugs including cocaine and ecstasy with intent to supply. Her letter was released yesterday after the judge agreed with an application by The Times and other newspapers, which argued that the public interest demanded transparency in the sentencing process. Ms Osamor is understood to be facing a parliamentary standards investigation over her conduct and may have broken rules stating that official stationery is “provided only for the performance of a member’s parliamentary functions”. Despite her use of official notepaper, Ms Osamor continues to insist that her son’s conviction “was and remains a private family matter”.’ – The Times

  • ‘Corbynite Teen’ whose attack on Eton went viral wins place at Eton – The Times
  • Protesters rally against Maduro in Venezuela – The Times
  • The hard left is trying to bully Fiona Bruce – Daily Telegraph
  • In classic misogynist style, they’re trying to get at her via her husband – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • This is organised intimidation – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Abbott rejects BBC’s apology – The Sun
  • Opposition Chief Whip borrows Kitkat signal from Gordievsky – The Times

Lipstadt: Corbyn is fuelling anti-semitism

‘It is doubtful that Corbyn deliberately seeks out anti-Semites to associate with and to support. But it seems that when he encounters them, their Jew-hatred is irrelevant as long as their other positions — on class, race, capitalism, the role of the state, and Israel/Palestine — are to his liking. Alan Johnson, the former moderate Labour MP, aptly described Corbyn as someone who does not ‘indulge in anti-Semitism himself. It is that he indulges the anti-Semitism of others’… in answer to the question: Is Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite? My response would be that that’s the wrong question. The right questions to ask are: Has he facilitated and amplified expressions of anti-Semitism? Has he been consistently reluctant to acknowledge expressions of anti-Semitism unless they come from white supremacists and neo-Nazis? Will his actions facilitate the institutionalisation of anti-Semitism among other progressives? Sadly, my answer to all of these is an unequivocal yes.’ – Deborah Lipstadt, Daily Mail

  • The Chief Rabbi says Labour still doesn’t take the issue seriously enough – The Times

Garton Ash: The West needs its own Perestroika

‘The financialised capitalism that spread after the triumph of 1989 has brought startling levels of in­equality in the US and UK. Only the combined efforts of business, government and civil society can address this injustice with the means of a free society. As challenging is the cultural dimension of populism. Here, a big responsibility falls on the media to report with imaginative sympathy the sometimes crudely expressed frustration of the left-behind in our societies. For an “inequality of respect” has compounded the in­equality of wealth. Our universities, which are in danger of looking like institutions that reinforce the divide between haves and have-nots, need to find better ways to help overcome it. Not least, there is the troubled transatlantic alliance that we used to call “the west”. As a geopolitical actor, the transatlantic west has been weakening since the disappearance of its common enemy, the Soviet Union. With an American president now reportedly fantasising about the US leaving Nato, the challenge has become acute.’ – Timothy Garton Ash, FT

Hijacking alert in Londonderry following car bomb

‘Two vans were hijacked by masked men in Londonderry yesterday amid heightened security after a car bomb in the city on Saturday. Security alerts were issued after three men hijacked a cargo van at about 11.30am before abandoning it. Homes were evacuated and a controlled explosion was carried out on the vehicle. At about 1.45pm a delivery driver’s van was hijacked by four men, one of whom was armed. The van’s two occupants were ordered to drive it to a particular road and leave it there, police said. At 8.20pm a third security alert was issued when an abandoned Asda van was left blocking a road. Homes in the area were evacuated. Another alert was issued in north Belfast at 8.36pm when a suspicious object was found. Theresa May told MPs in the Commons yesterday: “This House stands together with the people of Northern Ireland in ensuring that we never go back to the violence and terror of the past.”’ – The Times

  • Bradley warns against trying to take political advantage from the attack – FT
  • It’s about Brexit – The Guardian Leader

News in Brief