May says ‘no deal’ is more likely after Commons defeat…

Theresa May has said a no-deal Brexit is “more likely” after Tory Eurosceptics condemned her to another humiliating Commons defeat. The brief Tory truce over Brexit was shattered as 66 Conservatives – including Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab – abstained in a vote over the Government’s way forward, which Mrs May lost by 303 votes to 258. The result was a serious blow to Mrs May’s chances of winning concessions from Brussels over the Brexit deal. Mrs May had told the EU that a vote in favour of her Brexit strategy last month gave her a “stable majority” for the deal she is trying to broker, but that majority was wiped out at a stroke by her 45-vote defeat. Brexiteers from the European Research Group had refused to back a Government motion which followed a day-long Brexit debate because they believed it meant no deal was being taken off the table.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister suffers defeat on ‘Plan B’… – FT
  • …but doesn’t even turn up for ‘grim result’ – Daily Mail
  • May concedes UK will settle for ‘assurances’, not changes – Daily Express
  • Coveney says EU won’t ‘sacrifice’ Ireland – News Letter


  • European Research Group denies holding the Government to ransom – The Guardian
  • Baker warns that Government could collapse if deal passes as-is – Daily Express



…as Harrington urges Brexiteers to quit the Tories

“Hardline Conservative Brexiteers were accused of treachery by a minister as the party’s fragile truce crumbled again yesterday. Richard Harrington, a business minister, told the European Research Group (ERG) of backbenchers that they should quit the party and join forces with Nigel Farage instead… Mr Harrington, who voted to Remain in the EU in 2016, has emerged as one of the most passionate ministerial opponents of a no-deal Brexit. Last month he praised Airbus for “telling it like it is” after the company said the government’s handling of Brexit had been a disgrace, and said he would be “very happy” if Mrs May sacked him for his opposition to leaving the EU without a deal. But yesterday Mr Harrington, MP for Watford, said he would not countenance resigning and nor should other Remainers, because it would give the ERG “pleasure”.” – The Times

  • Grieve plans mass Remainer walkout to ‘bring down May’ – Daily Express
  • Pro-EU MPs vow to ‘take control of the Government’ and delay Brexit – The Sun
  • The Tories’ Brexit tribes – FT


  • Public won’t forgive Labour if we support the deal, warns Lewis – The Times

>Today: MPs Etc.: Nearly a quarter of Conservative MPs failed to support the Prime Minister yesterday


Brussels should trust UK on clearing, says Bank of England

“EU regulators should drop ambitions for greater direct supervision of London clearing houses after Brexit, to avoid imposing potentially “conflicting requirements” on institutions that play a key role in global markets, according to a top official at the Bank of England. London’s clearing houses, which manage the risk around trades if one side defaults, have become ensnared in Brexit politics because they handle the bulk of the €660tn market for derivatives cleared in Europe. While EU authorities have a “valid interest” in monitoring the City’s clearing houses, they should defer to UK regulators, David Bailey, director of markets infrastructure at the BoE, said in an interview. “We have lots of experience co-operating with overseas regulators, making sure where they have a valid interest in a UK clearing house, they have the relevant input they need,” he said.” – FT

  • EU asset managers could move to UK after dual-trading ban – FT
  • Process ‘has cost UK £80 billion’ since vote – The Guardian
  • Dutch leader starts row by saying Britain is ‘on the wane’ – The Sun


  • Carney’s ‘canary in the mine’ moment – Patrick Jenkins, FT

Mark Harper: To fix the backstop, May must press ahead with the Malthouse Compromise

“We risk putting ourselves in a very difficult situation. However, some calm, sensible decision making at this critical point can avoid such a mistake. There are three options to deal with the backstop. First, the ability for the UK to unilaterally exit from it; second, a short time limit which ensures it would come to an end before the 2022 General Election or third, replace it with something better. The solution must be something that can be carried in Parliament primarily by the Conservative Party and our DUP allies. We know that this is possible because on 29th January, the House of Commons voted – by a majority of 16 – to require “the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border; supports leaving the European Union with a deal and would therefore support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change.” For a backstop to have the reassurance required by the EU and Ireland, it needs to be capable of being permanent but for the UK, if it were to be permanent, it would need to be acceptable for all parts of our country – both Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The meaningful vote process has failed us – Jack Simson-Caird, Times Red Box
  • Brexiteers have given Brussels a great excuse not to give ground – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • Six weeks to go and we’re none the wiser – Henry Newman, Times Red Box
  • Britain needs more time, but May can’t be trusted with it – Gary Younge, The Guardian
  • This desperate Government doesn’t know which way to turn – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

Javid will try to block return of ISIS bride

“The family of the London schoolgirl who ran away to join Islamic State appealed last night for her to be shown mercy as the home secretary tried to shut the door on her hopes of returning to Britain. Relatives of Shamima Begum, 19, pointed to her youthful innocence at the time when she was groomed online to join Isis in February 2015… Sajid Javid declared, however, that he would use all available powers to prevent Ms Begum coming back to Britain and would seek to try her for terrorism offences if she did return. “We must remember that those who left Britain to join Daesh were full of hate for our country,” the home secretary told The Times. “My message is clear — if you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return. If you do manage to return you should be ready to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted.”” – The Times

  • MPs take hard line on pleas to come home – The Times
  • Taxpayer could face huge costs from ‘dozens’ of brides – Daily Mail
  • US plans to jail British jihadis in Guantanamo – Daily Telegraph


  • Don’t underestimate the role of female jihadis – Raffaello Pantucci, Daily Telegraph
  • Begum deserves to return to Britain – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Jihadi bride voluntary shacked up with killers, this is not her home – Brendan O’Neill, The Sun
  • She made her bed and should lie in it – Alison Pearson, Daily Telegraph
  • Britain should be strong enough to take her back – Richard Barrett, The Guardian

>Today: Bob Seely MP in Comment: The rule of law is an absolute. It cannot be dispensed with when we deal with ISIS terrorists.

May urged to back fracking

“Theresa May is today urged to back the fracking revolution as new tests signal the East Midlands is sitting on “30-years’ worth of gas”. Ineos, Britain’s biggest private company, claims drilling results from its field in Nottinghamshire suggest “US levels” of shale gas under the soil. Tests found an average level of 60.7 standard cubic feet per tonne of gas – compared with an average 39 (scf) at a vast shale field in Texas. Ineos Shale chief operating officer Tom Pickering claimed it was the most significant drilling result so far in the short history of Britain’s shale industry. He told The Sun: “It’s obviously early days but these are the highest readings in the UK we have ever seen.” Geologists believe there could be 436 trillion cubic feet of gas in this part of the Bowland Basin. This test is consistent with that.” – The Sun

McDonnell stands by Churchill jibe

“John McDonnell has defended his description of Winston Churchill as a villain over his role on the Tonypandy riots, saying he was just being honest. Mr McDonnell did acknowledge that Churchill was a war hero but said there was “another side” to him that should be taught more often. Chris Williamson, another Labour MP, agreed that Churchill was a “villain” who had been “in the right place at the right time” during the Second World War. Mr McDonnell has come under pressure to withdraw comments he made on Wednesday when he was asked at an event hosted by the Politico website whether Churchill was a hero or villain. “Tonypandy: villain,” he replied. Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, said that Churchill “saved this country and the whole of Europe from a barbaric fascist and racist tyranny and our debt to him is incalculable”.” – The Times

  • Tories need to wise up to his plans – Iain Martin, The Times
  • That the left think hating Churchill is rebellious shows how little they know – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Blunder adds to doubts about his patriotism – Ian Austin MP, Times Red Box
  • Shadow Chancellor has lost his grip on history – Boris Johnson MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Row is part of glib approach to history that gave us Brexit – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Were it not for Churchill, McDonnell might be speaking German. And so could the rest of us.

>Yesterday: Phil Taylor in Comment: In its bid for bleakness, Labour’s broadcast is both glib and deceptive

Khan promises to help low-earners scrap diesel cars

“People with low incomes and polluting cars will be given grants to scrap them under a plan by the mayor of London. However, the programme is not expected to start until months after charges of £12.50 a day in the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) begin in London. Sadiq Khan, the mayor, has pledged £25 million for the scheme, which will pay for a fraction of non-compliant cars to be scrapped. Recipients will be able to use the money to help buy a cleaner car or pay for a greener form of transport. About 1.5 million diesel cars registered before 2016 and 500,000 petrol cars registered before 2006 entered the area covered by the Ulez at least once last year and will be liable for the charge if they enter again from April 8. Mr Khan has yet to set the amount of each grant but if it was £2,000, as suggested yesterday by the UK100 city leaders’ group that he supports, then his £25 million fund would pay for scrapping only 12,500 cars.” – The Times

  • Berry to be Green mayoral candidate again in 2020 – The Guardian


  • Fund to tackle polluting cars won’t go far – Steve Gooding, The Times

SNP advisor calls for ‘softest possible’ model of independence to try to win vote

“A key economic adviser to Nicola Sturgeon has called for the “softest of all” forms of independence in order to win a Yes vote. Andrew Wilson, who penned the recently revised economic blueprint for an independent Scotland – the Sustainable Growth Commission – says this is the way to “win big.” But the ex-SNP MSP’s comments prompted criticism from pro-union parties who insisted there is “no such thing” as soft independence. Ms Sturgeon has pledged to set out her timetable for a second referendum in the coming weeks. The pro-independence campaign has faced increasingly awkward questions over the practicalities of leaving a centuries old union, in light of the turmoil engulfing the UK over its looming departure from the EU. But Mr Wilson sought to play down such concerns in his weekly column for the national newspaper today.” – The Scotsman

  • Think the unthinkable: Sturgeon is on the way out – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman


At least 100 MPs will go ‘on holiday’ despite recess being scrapped

“At least 100 MPs will go on holiday next week – despite their “half-term” break being scrapped. They had been ordered to stay in Parliament to tackle the Brexit deadlock and sort through masses of crucial legislation. But sources say Tory and Labour politicians are being “paired off” for hols so they don’t have to be at votes. Staff are still required to work in the Commons and staff its canteens next week. PM’s Questions could now see one of the lowest attendances in modern times. Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom cancelled the break last month amid fears about how ready the UK is for a March 29 Brexit. Some MPs demanded refunds for booked holidays, but Parliament’s expenses watchdog refused. Chief whip Julian Smith then promised those who want to “spend time with families” or who had arranged trips abroad could carry on unhindered.” – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Why Hong Kong will never be just another Chinese city – Lucy Cotillon, CapX
  • Zimbabwe: three reasons why it’s going so wrong for Mnangagwa – Stephen Chan, Reaction
  • Macron vs Salvini is a battle over a continent’s soul – Christopher Caldwell, The Spectator
  • In praise of Nimbys – Ben Cobley, UnHerd
  • People’s Vote campaigners know they’re championing a lost cause – Chris Bradford, Brexit Central

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