The ‘Malthouse Compromise’ hopes to unite Leaver and Remainer backbenchers

‘Tory Brexiteers and Remainers have thrashed out an “olive branch” solution to the impasse which was presented to Number 10 last week, involving an extension of the 21-month transition period with a reworded backstop clause. However the new idea, which has the backing of Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker and Remainers Nicky Morgan and Stephen Hammond, is likely to be held back as a plan C if Mrs May fails to win a breakthrough on Tuesday evening…There was some good news for Mrs May, as she staved off a Cabinet rebellion over a vote on a no deal Brexit. Amber Rudd had warned that as many as 40 members of the Government could resign if they were not allowed to vote for an amendment tabled by the Labour MP Yvette Cooper that would postpone Brexit by nine months if no deal had been agreed by February 26. Instead, they agreed to vote against the amendment.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: The Moggcast. “The backstop has to go.” Rees-Mogg sets out his red lines.

The ERG says it won’t support Brady’s amendment

‘Mrs May threw the Government’s weight behind Sir Graham Brady’s call for the current Irish backstop to be removed to keep her deal alive as Parliament tries to seize control of Brexit. Giving it a majority in today’s vote would “give a very clear message around what Parliament wants” and deliver her a mandate to take it back to Brussels, Mrs May insisted. But minutes earlier, arch-Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg declared his hardline European Research Group of Tory MPs would refuse to the unity plan. Instead, he demanded the PM spell out exactly what changes she would press the EU for. But that sparked a major split inside the ERG itself and a vicious bout of insults, as other members defied Mr Rees-Mogg to declare they would vote for the Brady plan. Boris Johnson also tried to pin down Mrs May during the tense meeting, several times yelling at her: “But what do YOU want to do Prime Minister?” The PM would only reply that she’ll continue to “battle away”.’ – The Sun


>Yesterday: WATCH: Jenkin – “The Brady amendment is very vague”

Labour’s support for the Cooper/Boles amendment is still uncertain

‘Several Labour MPs have said they have been reassured that the leadership will whip to support the amendment that Cooper devised with the Tory MP Nick Boles. A spokesman said no final decision had been made and the leadership was studying the proposal closely. Doubts were raised on Monday when Jon Trickett, the shadow Cabinet Office minister,said voters in his constituency would regard support for the measure on Tuesday as a failure to respect the result of the 2016 referendum. “Over the weekend, I was speaking to some people in my constituency. They weren’t actually people who voted for leave, though the majority of people in my constituency had voted for leave. What they said was: people have struggled for the vote, people have died pursuing the vote. Other people have been sent to Australia or put in prison – and the vote actually is a precious thing,” Trickett said. “What they said is: look, we voted remain, but we’ve had a vote; get on with it. And I think that probably does capture a large swath of opinion in the country. That’s how I feel about this amendment. I feel that it may look to people as if we’re trying to somehow remove the earlier decision, which was to Brexit.”’ – The Guardian

Tax and regulatory policies hit the rest of the Union harder than London

‘Recent UK government policy has imposed a heavier burden on small businesses in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland than in London, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. The federation’s annual assessment of the cost of regulation and tax for small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK found an increase in all devolved regions in 2017 — but a small drop in London. UK-wide, the average SME faced an annual cost of £481,000, the same as last year, but up by £61,000, or 14.5 per cent, since 2011. Businesses in Wales (15.2 per cent) and Northern Ireland (14.9 per cent) and Scotland (14.7 per cent) have borne a higher increase in the cost of doing business because of government policy measures analysed in the index. In London the rise was 13.7 per cent. The annual Impact of Government Policy Index has maintained a record high thanks to rising business rates and government policy in areas such as pensions and insurance. These more than offset reductions in corporation tax.’ – FT

Stevens bids to scrap the NHS’s four-hour emergency treatment target

‘Sick Brits may face longer delays for emergency treatment under NHS plans to axe the four-hour target. Health boss Simon Stevens claims the current “administrative” standard is outdated. And he hinted the existing target will be replaced with a two-tier system that could see life-threatening cases, such as heart attacks and strokes, prioritised. But A&E patients with less serious ailments, such as broken bones or minor cuts, may be forced to wait much longer than four hours. Emergency units have been expected to treat 95 per cent of people within this time — yet hospitals have failed to meet this for the past three years. A panel of experts is now reviewing the targets, with recommendations due in March. But Mr Stevens, boss of NHS England, told the Commons Health Committee that new deadlines will be trialled next year.’ – The Sun

  • The UK leads the way on anti-microbial resistance – FT Leader
  • Concern over NHS gene tests – The Times
  • Extend Freedom of Information to private companies delivering public services, watchdog proposes – The Times

Police accused of trying to silence Conservative Tees Valley mayor

‘Ben Houchen, the mayor of Tees Valley, accused Cleveland of trying to stop him from publicly expressing his concern after Mike Veale became the fifth chief constable to leave in six years…Mr Veale resigned on January 18 after allegations of inappropriate behaviour were referred to the police watchdog by Barry Coppinger, the area’s elected police and crime commissioner. Mr Houchen last week described Mr Coppinger, who hired Mr Veale despite his controversial handling of abuse claims against the late prime minister Sir Edward Heath, as “inept and useless”. He said in a radio interview that he was aware of details of the allegations against Mr Veale but did not elaborate. In response, Cleveland police complained to the Tees Valley Combined Authority that Mr Houchen’s comments were “detrimental” to the Veale complainants because they were entitled to confidentiality and anonymity…Mr Houchen yesterday said that he would not be silenced by the force and had done nothing that would jeopardise the anonymity of the complainants. He said that he was wrongly warned by the force’s lawyers that he risked contempt last year when he called publicly for more information about an officer accused of sexual misconduct.’ – The Times

  • Rise in victims refusing to support prosecutions – The Times
  • A majority of young inmates are from an ethnic minority background – The Guardian
  • Civilian security guards trained to handcuff suspects in the Lake District – The Sun
  • Former prison inmate sues the MoJ over Wormwood Scrubs rats – The Guardian
  • US brings criminal charges against Huawei – FT

McDonnell and other Opposition frontbenchers oppose Venezuela action

‘John McDonnell and other shadow cabinet members have signed a letter telling the “far-right” President Trump to stay out of Venezuelan politics. They are part of a group who attacked “the US attempt at regime change” but their position was lambasted by a government minister, who said the letter should “be pinned on every wall as a list of signatures of shame”. Writing to The Guardian Mr McDonnell and Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secretary, and Dan Carden, the shadow international development secretary, said: “The far-right governments of Trump and Bolsonaro [the Brazilian president] offer no hope to Venezuela or to the majority of people in Latin America. Whatever views people hold on Venezuela, there is no justification for backing the US attempt at regime change under way, which, if successful, could go the way of the disastrous interventions in Iraq and Libya. Instead the way forward is the call for dialogue from the Mexican and Bolivian presidents.”’ – The Times

  • Chris Williamson, the Nosferatu of Derby North, supports Maduro in the Commons – Daily Telegraph
  • If Trump wants him gone, he needs a plan for what happens next – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • The US imposes sanctions of state-owned oil group – FT
  • Board of Deputies condemns Labour readmitting a string of anti-semites – The Sun
  • Corbyn gives the impression of not liking Jewish people, Carey says – Daily Mail
  • Onasanya’s sentencing, today, could spark a by-election – The Guardian

Facebook to tighten rules on political advertising

‘From March, the social networking giant will vet entities that buy political adverts across Europe and build a database of campaigns, the former deputy prime minister, who is now Facebook’s chief spin doctor, said. Some of the rules apply already in the UK and US. Sir Nick said Facebook was creating a team at its international headquarters in Dublin to oversee electoral monitoring. In future, only registered organisations will be allowed to buy adverts deemed to be political or addressing controversial topics such as immigration. In a move that he said would increase transparency, a new database will show who paid for political promotions, what they cost and how many users saw them as well as their demographic profiles.’ – The Times

  • It’s natural progression to allow the Electoral Commission powers to prosecute – Bob Posner, The Times
  • Clegg claims self-harm images can be helpful to people – The Sun
  • Children spend more time on YouTube than with friends – Daily Mail
  • Social media companies cannot escape responsibility – The Guardian Leader
  • Ofcom warns of bullying increase – The Guardian

Mallet: French protesters are united primarily by their dislike of Macron

‘Many of today’s gilets jaunes are not student anarchists or leftwing trade unionists but middle-aged, rightwing conservatives from country towns. They want lower taxes. They frequently express their distaste for immigration and are suspicious of globalisation. Ms Le Pen’s National Rally party has so far gained the most political capital from the protests. The gilets jaunes typically have more in common with contemporary supporters of President Donald Trump in the US, Brexit voters in the UK and the Italians who propelled the anti-immigrant League and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement to power in Rome. They live in one of the richest societies in history, but feel neglected and insulted by an out-of-touch metropolitan elite. Mr Macron’s advisers sparked the crisis by failing to appreciate how their lofty environmental and road safety goals would hit the pockets of the millions of workers who commute by car.’ – Victor Mallet, FT

>Yesterday: International: Six cautionary lessons from Macron’s France

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