May faces ministerial revolt over no-deal exit…

“Theresa May is facing the most serious cabinet revolt of her premiership next week, with as many as 25 members of the government ready to vote for a Brexit delay unless she rules out “no deal” – in a move that will challenge her to sack them. Rebel Conservatives believe there are now enough MPs across the House of Commons to pass an amendment that would require May to extend article 50 rather than allow the UK to leave without a deal. At least four cabinet ministers, almost a dozen junior ministers and many others on the government payroll are understood to be prepared to back the motion proposed by the Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Yvette Cooper, due to be debated on Wednesday. A senior source close to those plotting the rebellion said there was no way the members of the government would resign voluntarily and May would have to sack them.” – The Guardian

  • Rebel ministers will make Cooper/Boles a ‘done deal’, claims defector – Daily Telegraph
  • Mundell claims SNP want no-deal Brexit to break up Britain – The Scotsman
  • No-deal threat ‘focusing minds’, says Hammond – FT


  • Britain too late to secure Japan and Turkey trade agreements – The Times
  • Downing Street delays tariff report to avoid outrage – The Sun


  • No Cabinet future for Mundell unless May rules out ‘no deal’ – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph


…as Brexit Delivery Group join the rebellion…

Theresa May has been warned by a group of 100 moderate Tory MPs that they are prepared to rebel against the Government to force her to delay Brexit if she cannot reach a deal. The Brexit Delivery Group, which represents both Remain and Leave MPs, has called for a free vote next week on a backbench bid to take no deal off the table. Simon Hart and Andrew Percy, the leaders of the bloc, say in a letter leaked to The Daily Telegraph that “numerous” members of the group have become “deeply troubled” by the prospect of a no deal Brexit. Earlier this week four members of the Cabinet – Amber Rudd, David Gauke, Greg Clark and David Mundell – told the Prime Minister that they will support the backbench amendment, effectively challenging Mrs May to sack them. They said more than 20 members of the Government were prepared to quit unless the Government pledges to extend Article 50.” – Daily Telegraph

…Eurosceptic MPs threaten to ‘end the Government’…

“Eurosceptic Conservative MPs have warned they will seek to “end the government” if Theresa May delays the UK’s departure from the EU, as the House of Commons prepares to vote on proposals to try to avert a no-deal Brexit. Members of the European Research Group of Tory MPs said that should Britain’s exit be pushed back, they will no longer vote for government legislation – in a move that could paralyse the prime minister’s administration. ERG members fear that MPs could next Wednesday back a proposal by former Labour minister Yvette Cooper to stop a no-deal Brexit by extending Article 50, the EU process under which the UK is meant to leave the bloc on March 29. Ms Cooper’s chances of success on February 27 have increased because some Europhile ministers are willing to support her amendment. Should Ms Cooper’s amendment be approved by MPs, it could force Mrs May to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50. But some members of the ERG, which consists of as many as 90 Eurosceptic Tories, have warned that Mrs May can no longer count on them turning out to vote for government legislation if she delays Brexit.” – FT

  • Three ERG MPs set out their case on ConservativeHome – The Guardian


  • Why May could still get her deal through the Commons – Oliver Wright, The Times
  • Backstop so damaging to the Union it cannot be borne for one day – Jim Allister MLA, News Letter
  • Tories can still be winners if ERG vote for May’s Brexit – Iain Martin, The Times

>Yesterday: Priti Patel, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and Maria Caulfield in Comment: The Government must honour the Brady Amendment

…and Brussels says deal will not be struck until after next week’s vote

“A new Brexit agreement with the European Union will not be agreed, even in principle, until after MPs have voted on a move to rule out no-deal next week, senior Brussels sources have warned. Talks between Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, broke up yesterday with both sides saying that more work needed to be done to resolve the Irish backstop issue. The two sides are due to meet again next week for further “technical discussions”, with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, admitting that he was suffering from “Brexit fatigue”. He was “not optimistic” that Britain would leave the EU with a deal, he said. A senior European source said that even if agreement could be reached on the legal guarantees Britain is seeking to prevent the backstop becoming permanent this would not happen until March at the earliest. The delay means that Theresa May will be unable to present MPs with concrete proposals when the Commons next debates the Brexit deal on Wednesday.” – The Times


  • No deal sets the stage for Britain’s biggest negotiations – FT
  • Ireland steps up efforts to shield economy – The Guardian

Austin quits Labour – but doesn’t join the Independent Group

“The Dudley North MP Ian Austin has said he is quitting the Labour party, telling the Express and Star newspaper he has no plans to join the Independent Group. He told the newspaper there was a “culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance” in the Labour party. Austin said he left the party because of his constituents, saying: “I always tell them the truth and I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister. His resignation follows those of eight other MPs who quit Labour and formed the Independent Group, joined by three Conservatives earlier this week. But Austin told his local newspaper that he had not spoken to the Independent Group. “I think the Labour party is broken and clearly things have to change but that’s not what today is about, and I’ve not talked to them about that,” he said.” – The Guardian

  • Independent Group ‘could replace DUP’ in propping May up – The Sun
  • Tory defectors insist Umunna must lead new group – Daily Telegraph
  • Grieve and Greening could be next – The Guardian


  • May promises to stop ‘Brexit extremists’ infiltrating the Party – Daily Telegraph
  • Cameron texted defector urging her to rethink decision – The Sun
  • Prime Minister seeks to prevent further resignations – FT


  • Labour in turmoil as Corbyn faces fresh defections – Daily Express
  • Opposition report Ryan over alleged data breach – The Guardian


  • They are the Thelma and Louise of British politics – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian
  • A heavyweight ponders joining the Independent Group – Henry Mance, FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Blukip! Purple Momentum! But…the big problem with Tory entryism claims is that there’s no evidence that they’re true

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The defectors are wrong. The Conservatives aren’t shifting to the right. They are mired in the mixed middle.

Philip Collins: How the Independent Group can become a party

“That said, if the Independent Group in parliament is to metamorphose into a new political party – and I hope and expect that it will – then it will not be enough for us to know that it is against Brexit… What it needs instead are signature policies, to give us a flavour of who they are. The Labour Party makes a lot of its plans for water nationalisation and the abolition of tuition fees which, although not a full policy menu, nevertheless give a meaningful impression of what the party stands for. The mission of a new party should be a common wealth, which will require a significant redistribution of power in Britain. In the range of income and wealth, in the variety of opportunities, in the receipt of varying standards of public services, people in Britain enjoy vastly different levels of power. The task of government is to let people choose their own lives, consistent with good lives for all others, and then ensure that everyone’s power to live as they choose is as potent as anyone else’s.” – The Times

  • Why I left Labour, and why others will follow – Angela Smith MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Umunna just proved me wrong about him – Jim Duffy, The Scotsman
  • Independent MPs should not face by-elections – Lord Taverne, Times Red Box
  • May must strangle TIG at birth by calling a general election – Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph
  • TIG will be doomed without a vision of life after Brexit – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • We warned CCHQ over these defections but they failed to act – Owen Meredith, Times Red Box
  • TIG spells electoral ruin for Corbyn and offers hope to the Tories – James Bartholomew, Daily Telegraph
  • Forget populist correctness, grown-up politics are a virtue – John Kampfner, Times Red Box
  • Centrism is dead, and resuscitating the corpse won’t fix the system – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph


  • Any Tory who quits the whip must understand there’s no going back – Daily Telegraph
  • Democracy and conscience – The Times
  • The centre strikes back – FT

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Welcome to the Monster Raving Soubry Party

Labour 1) Back second referendum or face mass revolt, Corbyn told

“Jeremy Corbyn has been warned that he faces another exodus of MPs unless he backs a plan to put Theresa May’s Brexit deal to a second referendum. His office has been told that dozens of MPs, including shadow ministers, are prepared to join the new Independent Group in parliament or resign the whip, in defiance over the party’s EU policy. They are demanding that he support a proposal by two of his backbench MPs in which Labour would agree to pass legislation underpinning Mrs May’s deal in return for a public vote. If the deal were rejected by the electorate, the government would be obliged to withdraw Article 50 and remain in the EU. One MP, who considered quitting the party this week, said: “If Jeremy ends up not supporting it, it will have a dramatic effect and people will go.” The Conservative and Labour leaderships are attempting to shore up their respective support after defections from both to the Independent Group this week.” – The Times

  • Leader sends hints on vote in bid to heal rift… – The Sun
  • …but sends defiant message to splitters – Daily Mail


  • Corbyn shuns ‘listening exercise’ as Chairman slams quitters – Daily Telegraph
  • Levy reveals plot to ‘deal with’ leader after split – The Sun

Book Reviews:

  • The Labour leader is no ‘red devil’ – David Aaronovitch, The Times

Labour 2) Call for Begum to be allowed to return to Britain

Jeremy Corbyn has said Jihadi bride Shamima Begum should be allowed back into Britain and get the “support she needs”. Claiming the decision by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, to strip her of British citizenship was a “very extreme manoeuvre”, the Labour leader said Ms Begum had a “right to remain” in Britain despite fleeing the UK to join the ISIL terror group. Mr Javid has maintained he only used his powers to revoke her citizenship because she posed a threat to the UK, that it was “conducive to the public good” and that her dual British-Bangladesh nationality would not make her stateless, which would be illegal under international law. He is, however, facing the prospect a legal battle if her family challenge the decision, a diplomatic row with Bangladesh who are refusing to accept her as they say she is not a citizen and criticism from two senior former advisers on terrorism legislation.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Taxpayers face £310 million bill for Windrush scandal – The Sun


  • We should show we’re not afraid of schoolgirls – Mark Garnier, Daily Telegraph


  • The case for jailing jihadis for life – The Sun

>Today: Mike Yeomans in Comment: Why Begum’s return to the UK would help, not harm, our counter-terrorism plans

Hammond slams Williamson for China trade blow

“Philip Hammond has publicly slammed Gavin Williamson for threatening to send an aircraft carrier to China’s backyard. He blasted the Defence Secretary for overstepping his authority by vowing to deploy HMS Queen Elizabeth. And he accused his fellow Cabinet minister of imperilling Britain’s relationship with China by making the threat. He stormed: “It’s a complex relationship and it hasn’t been made simpler by Chinese concerns about Royal Navy deployments in the South China Sea.” Earlier this month The Sun exclusively revealed China axed trade talks with Britain worth billions in fury at the threat. Just hours earlier, Mr Williamson had publicly lashed China and said Britain must be prepared to boost its “lethality”. In a sign the furious Cabinet row is still raging, Mr Hammond launched a withering attack on his colleague.” – The Sun

Ministers warned that NHS is curtailing patient choice

“Patients’ right to choose where they are treated is being threatened by radical plans to scrap competition in the NHS, ministers have been warned in leaked documents. Plans to abolish the health service’s internal market are being resisted by Whitehall officials who have told Matt Hancock, the health secretary, that they would quietly reverse 30 years of policy, according to a Department of Health briefing seen by The Times. Mr Hancock is understood to be ruling out any changes that would prevent patients selecting the NHS hospital or private provider where they are sent for treatment. But he has been told that if he blocks new laws the NHS could blame the government for the failure of a £20 billion reform plan that was expected to save 80,000 lives a year. The confidential briefing reveals for the first time the scale of changes proposed by health chiefs, which officials believe amount to another major reorganisation of the NHS.” – The Times

  • What cancer taught me about the UK-US healthcare debate – Joshua Chaffin, FT Magazine

Davies charged with expense fraud

“A Tory MP has been charged with making false claims for parliamentary expenses. The Crown Prosecution Service said Christopher Davies, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, is accused of two counts of making a false instrument and one of providing false or misleading information in relation to allowance claims. He will appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on March 22. In a statement, the CPS said it had received a file of evidence from the Metropolitan Police relating to allegations that Mr Davies falsified two invoices in support of parliamentary expenses claims. Mr Davies, 51, won his seat from the Liberal Democrats in 2015. It had already been reported that Mr Davies was interviewed by police last year after being referred by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa). He has previously said he made an “honest mistake” in the way he submitted a claim, but insisted he did nothing wrong.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • The Independent Group’s new politics isn’t so new – Owen Polley, Reaction
  • How potent will ‘Cox’s codpiece’ be? – Christopher Howarth, Brexit Central
  • Tories must temper their Brexit passions – or pay the price – James Forysth, The Spectator
  • Why does our expert class fear democracy? – Salvatore Babones, UnHerd
  • The radicalisation of Begum is a problem made in Britain – Sunder Katwala, CapX

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