Brexit 1) Labour MPs warn May they can’t be ‘bought’ on Brexit

Theresa May has been warned by Labour MPs she cannot buy them off to back her Brexit deal with the promise of extra funding for their constituencies. Downing Street is reportedly preparing to offer Labour MPs in Leave-voting areas a cash injection to persuade them to support the Prime Minister. But some Labour backbenchers have said the offer of cash would be “pointless” if Mrs May does not also soften her Brexit deal as they told her she must choose between them and hardline Eurosceptic Tories. Meanwhile, Remain-backing Labour MPs said any colleagues who supported the deal after being offered more cash would be seen as “cowards”. At least one Labour MP welcomed the prospect of more funding, with John Mann telling the Government: “Show us the money.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • A bomb dropped into Labour’s civil war – The Sun
  • Prime Minister mulls extra spending to win over Opposition – FT
  • ‘National Renewal’ fund for seaside towns and Labour heartlands – The Sun
  • Labour MPs branded ‘cowards and facilitators’ by colleagues – The Times

More Labour:

  • ‘Hard left purge’ as activists prepare for deselection push – The Sun

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Corbyn says May has ‘listened’ to his backstop concerns

Brexit 2) Has recess been cancelled? Whips accused of ‘PR stunt’

“Plans to force MPs to work on the Brexit crisis during their half-term recess descended into farce last night – after they moaned about having to cancel their ski trips. Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom announced yesterday that Parliament would effectively cancel this month’s ten-day break to help push through Brexit-related legislation. It came after Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned Britain may need to delay its departure from the EU to get all the relevant laws passed in time. But the move sparked an extraordinary outcry from MPs, who often use the break to hit the slopes or soak up some winter sun… As a result – despite the precarious state of Brexit negotiations – the Government quickly relented, with Chief Whip Julian Smith emailing all Tory MPs to say that anyone who had booked a trip could still take their holidays.” – Daily Mail

  • Smith’s email suggests holidays are safe – Buzzfeed
  • MPs still get a break from Brexit – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Self-indulgent Remain Ministers, self-deluded ERG MPs

Brexit 3) Javid warns that exit day may be delayed

“Sajid Javid warned a Cabinet colleague that Brexit is likely to be delayed, a source told The Telegraph as it emerged that nearly a third of the Cabinet now believe Article 50 may have to be extended. The Home Secretary is said to have raised concerns with another minister during the last fortnight that Theresa May will run out of time to pass legislation needed for Brexit. One source claimed that during the conversation Mr Javid questioned the Prime Minister’s strategy of publicly insisting the UK will leave on March 29. The Telegraph understands that nine Cabinet ministers believe Brexit may have to be delayed if extra time is needed to finalise the terms of a deal. Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the Commons, warned the Prime Minister at Cabinet earlier this week that she may be “timed out” if she returns to the Commons with her deal on February 14.” – Daily Telegraph

  • As does Hunt – FT
  • May has ‘until mid-March’ to win MPs support to leave on schedule – The Sun
  • EU fears short extension will mean ‘no deal’ in June – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Immigration policy must be made for everyone – not just for bigger business

Brexit 4) Robbins retains ‘central role’ despite Eurosceptic pressure

“Olly Robbins, Theresa May’s chief Brexit adviser, is not being replaced ahead of the coming diplomatic push with the EU, the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday following media speculation. “The negotiating team is going to change, but with Olly Robbins still in his central role,” Mr Hunt told Radio 4’s Today programme. In the interview, Mr Hunt also said it was possible that the UK would seek a minor delay to its exit date from the EU, currently March 29, in order to allow legislation to be passed. Mr Robbins, a civil servant, has become a bogeyman figure for Eurosceptics, who want a stronger break with the EU. Some Eurosceptics have suggested replacing him with Crawford Falconer, the New Zealand trade negotiator who is the second top civil servant in the Department for International Trade.” – FT

  • Germany puts huge pressure on Brussels’ red lines… – Daily Express
  • …as Selmayr insists no-deal ‘isn’t the end of the world’ – The Sun


  • ECJ would ‘block lawsuits against Britain’ over divorce bill – Daily Telegraph
  • IoD warns that one third of firms may relocate – The Guardian
  • Anger in London over ‘Crown Colony’ designation for Gibraltar – FT
  • Schools could lose right to check EU database of banned teachers – The Sun


  • Ireland runs to the US for Brexit backup – Daily Express
  • Rees-Mogg tells DUP ‘no deal’ need not mean a hard border – Daily Mail
  • Unionist MP says sending back negotiators ‘pointless’ – News Letter

>Today: ToryDiary: The EU doesn’t understand – or claims not to understand – the way our country works

>Yesterday: Richard Tice in Comment: Robbins must go – the EU negotiations need a fresh face

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: German unease over ‘no deal’ is mounting

group of top German economists has told the EU to tear up the Irish backstop and ditch its ideological demands in Brexit talks, calling instead for a flexible Europe of concentric circles that preserves friendly ties with the UK. Brussels must “abandon its indivisibility dogma” on the EU’s four freedoms and come up with a creative formula or risk a disastrous showdown with London that could all too easily spin out of control. A joint report by the influential Ifo Institute and universities across Germany and Europe warned that Brussels may be deluding itself in thinking that the EU has the upper hand in all respects or that the British will inevitably capitulate before March 29. “In a standard game of chicken, the actor who loses the most will dodge first. Can the EU really be sure that losses are sufficiently asymmetrically distributed that it ‘wins’ this game?” the report asked.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Of course May is running down the clock, it might save her deal – Rob Wilson, Daily Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister is in a stronger position than you think – Philip Collins, The Times
  • If May is robust with Brussels, she may finally get Brexit right – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexiteer MPs aren’t the problem, it’s the rest – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • Accept it, we’re done with the People’s Vote – Iain Martin, The Times


  • Stable economy has allowed politicians to run wild – Chris Giles, FT
  • Ailing Europe can learn a lesson from Britain – Ed Conway, The Times
  • Five steps to a better deal with the EU – Shanker Singham, Daily Telegraph
  • Nothing wrong with poorer Brexiteers voting on their values – Gary Younge, The Guardian


  • Ireland is in the grip of Anglophobia – Eilis O’Hanlon, Daily Telegraph
  • Forget the DUP and remember that Ulster voted Remain – John Kampfner, Times Red Box


  • Backstop is Brussels’ golden ticket – The Sun

Gauke defends paying legal aid to on-the-run criminal

Stopping the fugitive Jack Shepherd receiving tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money to pay for his defence and appeal could inadvertently encourage other criminals to evade justice and flee the country, David Gauke has said. The Justice Secretary has been criticised for refusing to intervene over Shepherd, who is receiving legal aid to appeal his manslaughter conviction for killing his date, Charlotte Brown, 24, during a champagne fuelled late-night jaunt on his defective speedboat. It is thought to be first time a convicted killer has been granted taxpayers’ funding to appeal while still evading justice. Shepherd, 31, absconded last March while on bail after a pre-trial hearing but was found guilty in his absence of manslaughter of Miss Brown by gross negligence in July.” – Daily Telegraph

Penning calls for tougher laws against jailed MPs

“New laws are needed to automatically boot out MPs who are jailed in wake of the Fiona Onasanya scandal – an ex-Policing Minister claimed yesterday. Sir Mike Penning said the former Labour whip had brought Parliament into “disrepute”by refusing to quit as an MP despite being jailed for three months for lying to police to avoid a speeding charge. Speaking in the Commons yesterday he blasted: “My constituents and other constituents around the country do not understand how anybody can be convicted of a crime and still be a member of this House and be in prison. “The police officers that protect us here, they lose their pensions, they lose everything. Something is seriously wrong.” He called on the Government to “change the law that allows the public to believe what we do is right and if you go to prison you shouldn’t be in this House”.” – The Sun

Morgan leads charge against business rates

“MPs are increasing pressure on the government to consider scrapping the system of business rates that many retailers blame for the decline of the UK high street. The influential Treasury select committee on Friday launched an inquiry into the impact of recent changes to business rates policy, asking whether alternatives, including a tax based purely on land values, could help high street retailers survive the rise of online competition. Property-based taxes constitute an unusually large proportion of overall business taxation in the UK, with many businesses paying more in business rates than they do in corporation tax. “Business rates can represent a substantial financial burden on the high street,” said Nicky Morgan, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee. “Unless action is taken, closures could continue and job losses may soar.”” – FT

  • MoD urged to scale back to fix shortfall – FT

Farage-backed ‘Brexit Party’ has both cash and candidates, founder claims

new Brexit party backed by Nigel Farage has received pledges worth more than £1million and is lining up a slate of candidates to fight in elections. Catherine Blaiklock registered the Brexit Party on Jan 11 with the Electoral Commission and is hoping it can stand candidates in the May European Parliament elections if Brexit is delayed past that date. She told today’s Chopper’s Brexit Podcast – which you can listen to easily by logging in or subscribing below – that more than 200 “highly professional people” have come forward offering to stand at the European Parliament elections if they take place. The prospect is likely to raise concerns in Conservative central office which will be worried that the new party could take away votes and stop its attempts to defeat Labour.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Meanwhile, UKIP leader urges Queen to suspend Parliament – The Guardian

McDonnell challenges Whitehall chief over ‘snub’

“John McDonnell is demanding that Britain’s most senior civil servant opens talks about a Labour government in an early test of wills between what would be two of the most powerful figures in such an administration. The shadow chancellor wrote last November to Tom Scholar, the Treasury’s permanent secretary, asking that he and his most senior officials meet him and his team to discuss a first Labour budget. Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, formally refused that request the following month but Mr McDonnell was informed only a week ago in what the Whitehall chief has said was an “administrative oversight”. Mr McDonnell has now written to Sir Mark demanding that he review the decision in consultation with Theresa May. He warned Sir Mark not to repeat what he said was the civil service’s failure to prepare for the outcome of the Brexit vote two years ago.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Will Tanner in Comment: Labour’s war on free schools would be a direct attack on social mobility

Scots facing higher council tax in SNP budget

“Scots face paying hundreds of pounds to park at their workplace and higher council tax increases, under a Budget deal unveiled by SNP ministers that prompted a fierce business backlash. Derek Mackay, the Finance Minister, announced that local authorities will be given the power to introduce a workplace parking levy for everywhere except NHS sites. He also said the cap on council tax increases this year will rise from three per cent to 4.8 per cent, breaching a key SNP’s 2016 Holyrood election manifesto promise. The average bill for a Band D property is on course to increase by £58 in April, rising to £142 for those in the largest Band H properties. Taking into account his income tax plans, announced before Christmas, the Tories said the blueprint amounted to a “triple tax bombshell” inflicted upon Scottish workers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Edinburgh ‘tourist tax’ given go-ahead by the Scottish Government – The Scotsman


  • Greens have nothing to offer, but Nationalists let them call the shots – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn’s Brexit strategy is a gift to the SNP – Ayesha Hazarika, The Scotsman


News in Brief:

  • Tory grassroots expect the Government to ensure we leave on time – Dinah Glover, Brexit Central
  • The backstop is built on a colossal delusion – Ian Acheson, CapX
  • Corbyn on buses shows Tories badly need to change leader and direction – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • The story of Salmond is (far) stranger than fiction – Ian Rankin, The Spectator
  • Why aren’t illiberal universities challenged? – Nigel Biggar, UnHerd

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