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May delays second vote until 17 days before exit

‘Theresa May was told last night to rule out no-deal or face ministerial resignations after it emerged that she would make MPs wait until 17 days before Brexit for the crucial vote on her revised exit plan. The prime minister revealed yesterday that she would not ask the Commons to ratify an amended divorce agreement this week, setting a new deadline of March 12. The latest delay means that Downing Street will now spend the start of this week desperately attempting to head off cabinet resignations before MPs are given the opportunity to vote on Wednesday on a motion forcing Mrs May to delay Brexit if she cannot get her deal through by March 13. Some ministers are now privately pressing Mrs May to rule out a no-deal break with the EU in tomorrow’s Commons statement or face the likely success of an amendment put forward by the Labour MP Yvette Cooper.’ – The Times

  • Might the Prime Minister actually need Cooper? – The Times
  • Malthouse is the way forward – Marcus Fysh, The Times
  • Mundell accuses the SNP of cynically pursuing party interests before Scotland’s – Daily Telegraph
  • The IoD says businesses ‘have lost all faith in the political process’ – The Times
  • Gove warns that food prices could go up under No Deal – Daily Mail
  • She is filmed playing pool with the Italian President – Daily Telegraph

Opinion and editorials

>Today: Nicky Morgan’s column: Downing Street needs to tell us clearly this week what it wants from the EU

>Yesterday

Downing Street considers postponing Brexit Day for two months

‘Brexit will be delayed for up to two months under plans being considered by Theresa May to extend Article 50, The Telegraph has learned. Downing Street officials have drawn up a series of options in a bid to avoid resignations by ministers determined to support a backbench bid to take no deal off the table this week. The Prime Minister said she will delay a meaningful vote on her deal by up to two weeks… The Telegraph understands that the plans drawn up by Downing Street officials, which were circulated at the weekend, include making a formal request to Brussels to delay Brexit if she cannot secure a deal by then. It came as the Prime Minister failed to secure a breakthrough “deal in the desert” during talks with European leaders at an EU-Arab summit in Brussels. She said that leaving by March 29 is “still within our grasp”, a far more downbeat assessment than her previous insistence that Britain will leave the EU on Brexit day. While the Downing Street plans do not specify the length of the extension, ministers believe it will be no longer than two months.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The motion backing Brexit that every Conservative Association should pass during this AGM season

>Yesterday: WATCH: Gove – “It is Government policy to leave on the 29th of March”

Ministers prepare a No Deal ‘hardship fund’

‘A leaked document from the cabinet committee dedicated to preparing for a chaotic rupture with the European Union reveals the extraordinary scenarios being prepared for in Whitehall. Other measures under consideration include using “tax and benefits policy” to offset rises in the cost of living, protection for parts of the country “geographically vulnerable” to food shortages and sourcing alternative food for schools, prisons and hospitals. The plans were drawn up at a meeting this month of the EU exit and trade (preparedness) committee, which is chaired by Theresa May and attended by almost every cabinet minister. One of the “actions arising” circulated after the meeting says that “officials and ministers” in several government departments, including the Department for Work and Pensions and the Treasury, will “work on the detail of a possible hardship fund”. Projections of a no-deal Brexit have forecast surges in unemployment. In the Bank of England’s modelling of a no-deal Brexit last November unemployment would rise to 7.5 per cent.’ – The Times

  • Banks are divided on the scale of possible defaults – FT
  • Taxpayers’ bill for redundancies rises – Daily Mail
  • The rise in paupers’ funerals should shame us – Clare Foges, The Times
  • City of London police receive £29 million from banks and insurers – The Times
  • Frankfurt’s art scene eagerly awaits an influx of bankers – FT
  • The American shale gas revolution has proved more sustainable than its critics expected – Nick Butler, FT

Today: Stephen Booth on Comment: Brexit and the economy. There are ups, there are downs. But whatever happens, our fundamentals remain strong.

£200 million of UK aid for Yemen

‘Theresa May has handed over another £200 milion in aid to help the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Nearly 10 million people are facing starvation in the poor Arab country as the four year-long civil war continues to rage. A total of 24 million need humanitarian assistance, such as clean drinking water. Britain’s fresh aid handout came as the PM arrived at the first summit of EU and Arab leaders yesterday, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. Mrs May also uses the meeting to heap pressure on Saudi Arabia to end the bitter conflict, after its jets joined the Yemeni regime’s war against Houthi rebels. Mrs May said: “The situation in Yemen cannot go on”.’ – The Sun

  • Bright Blue calculates that debt, pension liabilities and spending promises now total £6,600 billion – The Sun
  • Saudi Arabia appoints first female ambassador – The Times
  • King Salman tries to win back international standing after Khashoggi murder scandal – Daily Mail

EHRC identifies under-achieving white working class boys as a group needing special attention

‘Some white working class boys are so far behind classmates they should get special treatment like traveller children and the disabled, says the equalities and human rights commission… In education it cites attainment gaps and high exclusion rates among “children sharing certain protected characteristics including boys, disabled children and gypsy and traveller children.” A commission spokeswoman said: “Attainment is an issue particularly for white boys on free school meals or from disadvantaged backgrounds whereas exclusion rates are higher for Gypsy, Roma, Traveller boys and black boys.” Official data shows white boys on free school meals are 13 points behind disadvantaged black pupils in key phonic literacy skills when they start school. By 16, the average GCSE score for white boys on free school meals is just 29.5, compared to 40.5 for Asian disadvantaged boys, based on their score for eight GCSEs.’ – Daily Telegraph

Littlewood: Gender pay data fuels outrage but fails to inform us

‘Last week there was this year’s first batch of gender pay gap statistics released by big British companies. This is yet another area of our economic life where we seem to believe that the precise measurement of something has real merit. The underlying idea is that the collection and processing of data will effectively and accurately expose the level of sexism that exists in the labour market. Initially, those companies with “bad” or “worsening” data can be named and shamed across the media. But be in no doubt that it will not be long before there are suggestions of legal sanctions for employers whose statistics do not match up to the sort of society which central planners believe they should design. The concerning feature of the debate about gender pay is that the data falls well short of imparting the actual information we would need if we wanted properly to analyse where sexism or misogyny exists and how we can tackle it.’ – Mark Littlewood, The Times

  • Stonewall founder condemns the organisation’s ‘extreme’ position on self-identification – The Times
  • Chief Executive of the pressure group resigns – Daily Mail
  • NHS Trust director quits amid ‘serious concerns’ about gender clinic that treats children – Daily Mail
  • Petition to debate new sex education curriculum passes threshold for Parliamentary debate – The Times
  • One in four men says they are ‘failing’ in life – Daily Mail

Bullying and harassment ‘endemic’ in NHS hospitals

‘Hundreds of doctors have been accused of bullying and sexually harassing colleagues in the past five years, prompting concern that a culture of intimidation is thriving in the NHS. Data shows that reports of bullying and harassment in England rose from 420 in 2013-14 to 585 in 2017-18. The figures, obtained by the Guardian using a freedom of information request, showed that only a fraction of these cases led to dismissal or disciplinary action. Leading doctors were troubled by the findings. Speaking anonymously, one surgeon from London said he had experienced racism in his job. He said bullying was endemic in some hospitals… Dr Anthea Mowat, British Medical Association representative body chair, said: “This is further evidence of the scale of bullying taking place in the NHS and it is essential that solutions are put in place immediately to eradicate unacceptable behaviour.”’ – The Guardian

  • A mild winter aids the health service but systemic issues are all-too visible – FT
  • Veterans are made to wait up to a year for mental health treatment – Daily Mail
  • One GP covers out of hours visits for half a million people in Shropshire – Daily Mail
  • Female barristers urged to stand up to bullying judges – The Times

Consider the security threat posed by Huawei, GCHQ urges

‘Britain must consider the “threat” posed by Chinese telecoms such as Huawei before deciding whether to bar them from providing our next generation mobile network, the head of GCHQ will warn today. Earlier this month intelligence chiefs concluded that the security risk around Huawei supplying critical infrastructure for the 5G network is “manageable”. The US, Australia and New Zealand have all barred Huawei from involvement in building their telecoms infrastructure amid concerns that it could be used by Beijing for spying or mounting cyber attacks. However in a speech in Singapore today Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, will emphasise that a final decision about Huawei’s involvement has yet to be made.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Rushdie fatwa came about due to request from British Muslim activist – The Times

Watson directly challenges Corbyn over antisemitism

‘Tom Watson has directly challenged Jeremy Corbyn over his party’s anti-Semitism crisis, as he revealed he has handed the Labour leader a dossier of 50 complaints made by parliamentary colleagues. Laying down a “test” of Mr Corbyn’s sincerity on eradicating anti-Jewish hatred, Labour’s deputy leader said he would now be required to stage a “personal intervention” if he was to have any chance of becoming prime minister. His stark warning comes less than a week after eight MPs quit the party to found the breakaway Independent Group, citing institutional anti-Semitism as one of the main factors behind their defection. They were followed out of Labour by Ian Austin, the son of a Holocaust survivor and personal friend of Mr Watson, who said he would have been unable to “look my dad in the eyes” if he had chosen to stay in the party under Mr Corbyn. With Dame Louise Ellman last night on the brink of joining them, Mr Watson said the situation was “so grave now” that Mr Corbyn had to take a personal lead or risk an exodus of more MPs, peers, councillors and activists.’ – Daily Telegraph

Venezuelan troops block aid from entering the country

‘The Maduro regime has been branded “criminal” and may face outside military intervention after troops blocked humanitarian aid in violent stand-offs at the country’s borders in which four people were killed and hundreds injured. At least 100 members of the Venezuelan armed forces and police defected at the weekend, according to Colombian officials. On Saturday, as the attempt to deliver aid was beginning, two armoured vehicles from the national guard were driven across the Simón Bolívar Bridge near the city of Cucuta towards Colombia. Three men emerged with their hands in the air and declared that they were deserting. A priest who took one of the defectors to meet Juan Guaidó, 35, the internationally recognised interim president, told The Times that they had crossed “with nothing but their uniform” and the Colombians were struggling to find them safe places to sleep. During chaotic scenes at the country’s frontiers with Brazil and Colombia thousands of protesters tried to deliver at least 600 tonnes of aid on Saturday. They were blocked by Venezuelan security forces, backed by heavily armed pro-government paramilitaries.’ – The Times

  • Defectors fear their families may be targeted – Daily Mail
  • Before the country can heal, the tyrant must go – The Times Leader
  • The military might be about to unseat him – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Charles and Camilla urged to cancel Cuba trip as the dictatorship is aiding Maduro – Daily Telegraph
  • How Putin drove his country off the path to democracy – FT

TIG MPs think about keeping the name once they become a party

‘The 11 breakaway MPs could keep the name the Independent Group for their new party, after a surge in public support. The eight former Labour MPs and three former Tories are due to meet today for their first formal discussions since quitting their parties last week. They are due to focus on dividing responsibilities and whether there should be a leader when it becomes an official political party. It was expected that the new party would have a new name and logo but the response to their unusually straightforward temporary name has prompted a rethink. Insiders have also been struck that the shortening of the name to TIG, with members dubbed Tiggers, has also chimed with voters. One member of the group said: “I have been struck by the number of people who, unprompted, have said they like the name. We have been surprised by the warm response to that. Maybe we should keep it?”’ – The Times

>Yesterday:

News in Brief

  • The tangled web of Arron Banks’s finances – Bloomberg
  • The cult of modern monetary theory – New Statesman
  • Man arrested in Leeds on suspicion of plotting far-right terrorism – Huffington Post
  • Twitter user trolls MP after she commemorates the death of her son – Daily Mail
  • The dark secrets of Netflix – Unherd

3 comments for: Newslinks for Monday 25th February 2019

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