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Javid and Truss talk down early election…

“Two cabinet ministers have dismissed the prospect of an early election after reports that preparations were being made for a June poll. Sajid Javid, the home secretary, said that voters would “never forgive” the Conservative Party if it called an early general election before or after Brexit. Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, who described another poll as “the last thing we need”. Reports suggested that Downing Street strategists had considered the prospect of an election in June. Under the plan, reported in The Mail on Sunday, Theresa May would ask to delay the Article 50 Brexit process beyond the end of next month, win Commons support for her deal in April and go to the country on the back of getting the deal through… The Sunday Times said that Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, had been contacting permanent secretaries at Whitehall departments to tell them to prepare for an election. It said that one of the prime minister’s senior political aides emerged from a meeting on Tuesday to say that a June election would be needed to “cement her position”. Downing Street last night denied that it was planning for an early election.” – The Times

  • Johnson dismisses talk of going to the polls as Downing Street scare tactic – Daily Telegraph
  • Top civil servant urging election – The Sun
  • ‘D-Day election’ planned to ‘cement May’s premiership’ – Daily Express

More:

  • Home Secretary insists UK will be safe even in the event of ‘no deal’ – The Sun
  • Sturgeon says Britain is ‘not remotely prepared’ for Brexit – The Scotsman

Editorial:

  • Tories must give no thought to a June election – The Sun
  • Brexit has exposed the state of British politics – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. Next Tory leader. Stasis as Johnson carries on leading amidst little expectation of change.

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Javid insists UK will be “a very safe country” in the event of no deal

…as Tory truce ‘starts to split’ over backstop back-pedalling…

“The fragile Tory truce brokered by Theresa May over her plan B for Brexit appeared to be fracturing as Eurosceptics voiced suspicion that she will sell them short. Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers, said Mrs May was heading for “a further substantial defeat” in Parliament if she fails to honour her commitment to re-open the EU Withdrawal Agreement. Members of the ERG suspect Mrs May is preparing to accept a legal annexe to the Brexit deal rather than rewriting the deal itself to remove or alter the Northern Ireland backstop. They have made clear to her that anything other than a rewritten deal would not be acceptable. Last week Mrs May won the backing of a majority of MPs to return to Brussels and demand a revised deal with the backstop removed or watered down. It followed a 230-vote defeat for her original Brexit deal – the biggest in history – and Mr Baker said on Sunday that unless Mrs May sticks to her promise she can expect another huge reverse.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Hardliners are ‘setting the Prime Minister up to fail’ – The Times
  • MPs fear May has gone back on her promises – The Sun
  • Hard Brexiteers insist removal is the only way forward – The Guardian
  • Varadkar beset by backstop worries – FT
  • Sinn Fein leader insists her party has no business in Westminster – News Letter

More:

  • Brexiteers and Remainers in ‘Plan C’ talks – Daily Mail
  • European Research Group members join taskforce in ‘May climbdown’ – Daily Express

>Today: James Bundy in Comment: A Department for the Union would strengthen our United Kingdom

…and Clark calls Nissan u-turn a ‘warning sign’

“Greg Clark, business secretary, has warned Theresa May that Nissan’s decision to cancel production of a new model at its Sunderland plant is “a warning sign” of the damage that could be wrought on the British car sector by a no-deal Brexit. Mr Clark said the company’s decision to make the X-Trail sport utility vehicle in Japan instead was “very bad news” and urged the prime minister to rule out a no-deal exit this month before more harm was inflicted on British manufacturing. “It’s obviously a big disappointment,” Mr Clark told the Financial Times. He said that Nissan’s senior management in Japan had told him that a no-deal exit would “cast a shadow over their future in Britain”. He added: “They said it was a warning sign.” Nissan promised Mrs May in 2016 it would produce the X-Trail at the Sunderland site after receiving British government assurances that its operations would be protected from the impact of Brexit. But on Sunday it reversed that decision.” – FT

  • Manufacturer faces lossing £60 million Brexit sweetener – The Times
  • Nissan blames Brexit as it shifts production to Japan – Daily Mail

More:

  • Cable ‘sparks fury’ with claim second referendum is realistic – The Sun

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Fox – Customs Union “would not fulfil the promise we made to leave the European Union”

Iain Duncan Smith: Royal evacuation story is ‘Project Fear’ on steroids

“Another day and another story on how, after Brexit, the UK will face Armageddon. From queues stretching miles back from Dover to vast job losses across the economy, carefully placed stories, (often from – I am sad to say – Government sources) litter our papers and are seized on with glee by the broadcast media. The latest one actually left me laughing as I read about the plans to evacuate HM the Queen and the Royal family in the event of a no deal Brexit. This, it turns out, is because they are worried about civil disorder as people may take to the streets to vent their anger. Actually, I fancy there is a greater likelihood of anger from the public if they find out their vote to leave has been rejected by Parliament or if they are forced to delay or hold a second referendum. But even in such an event I do not believe for one moment that it would spill over into threats against the monarchy. Yet the civil contingencies bunch have dusted off the Cold War plans which were expressly drawn up in the event of a nuclear threat, yes, that’s right – a nuclear threat. How ridiculous is that?” – Daily Telegraph

  • May must play her cards right, or we all lose – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • How to play a winning Brexit game – Wolfgang Münchau, FT
  • An orderly Brexit depends on a united Tory Party – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
  • Is all this talk of a June election just a bid to scare us? – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
  • MPs must compromise before they tear the country apart – Lisa Nandy, FT
  • Brexit-blocking peers and MPs have received millions from the EU – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • Tories must be firm but fair in deselecting Remainers – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Ministers 1) Mordaunt wants ‘aid apprenticeships’ to offer gap years to the disadvantaged

“Disadvantaged young people are to be offered a gap year-type experience working in a developing country under plans to align parts of Britain’s aid budget with the government’s domestic agenda. Successful applicants would work as apprentices learning skills such as engineering, project management and accounting through a volunteering overseas programme funded by the Department for International Development. The International Citizen Service (ICS) launched by David Cameron to give less well-off young people a chance to see the world while doing voluntary work was criticised for failing to reflect the wider British population. A National Audit Office report in 2017 said that the service had missed some of its targets for diversity and had expanded without clear evidence of its impact on development. Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, who has been shifting the focus of the £13.9 billion aid budget to support other government programmes, has been in talks with Whitehall ministries to turn the ICS into a way to help disadvantaged young people find a path to employment.” – The Times

  • Legalising civil partnerships would ensure the law reflects Britain today – Penny Mordaunt, Times Red Box

Ministers 2) Gauke allows Parole Board members to stay anonymous

“The Justice Secretary is allowing Parole Board members to remain anonymous despite the outcry over the John Worboys scandal. Revealing the outcome of a sweeping review yesterday, David Gauke said that officials on the three-person case panels would not be revealed – to protect them. Last year the Ministry of Justice signalled they would keep their anonymity in a blow for open justice over fears they could be blackmailed. Campaigners wanted them to be made available after the bungle that almost saw black cab rapist Worboys released back onto London’s streets a year ago. In March The Sun won a landmark legal bid to have parole hearing details made available to the press and public. But the board said they feared online trolls would attack them if the names of the decision makers were also released.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Bailey says London is now more dangerous than when he grew up

Ministers 3) Hammond’s taxes threaten small music venues, industry warns

“Britain’s small music venues face “wipe out” because of the Chancellor’s high street tax bombshell – industry chiefs claim. UK Music is demanding a meeting with Philip Hammond – claiming he is “discriminating” against clubs and venues across the country. They want him to extend a £1.5 billion business rate relief scheme available for pubs and small shops to music sites. Some 35 per cent of grassroots venues have shut in the past decade. The Stranglers earlier this month said the industry faced a “catastrophe” as they launched a campaign to save a site in Guildford where they first played in 1974. The Beatles famously started out at Liverpool’s tiny Cavern Club. UK Music chief Michael Dugher told The Sun: “Britain’s role as a world leading exporter of music depends on giving our artists somewhere to start their career, learn their trade and build an audience. That’s all at risk because the Treasury discriminates against venues.” – The Sun

  • Women need to be less squeamish about earning money, Truss insists – Daily Telegraph

Ministers 4) Wright could set deadline for deleting harmful online content

“Social media companies will be forced to remove harmful and offensive content within a set time limit under government proposals to protect young people online. Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, is to publish a white paper at the end of this month laying out plans under which companies such as Facebook and Twitter would have to sign up to a code of practice and would face fines from a regulator if they did not take down harmful posts swiftly enough… The government is also considering requiring companies to reveal how many complaints they receive about offensive content or harmful behaviour such as online bullying or rape threats. There is growing concern about the impact of online content on young people. Damian Hinds, the education secretary, told The Sunday Times that social media companies had a “moral duty” to act.” – The Times

  • May urged to throw weight behind social media crackdown – The Sun
  • Hancock tells Instagram to purge self-harm and suicide posts – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • We’re changing Instagram to support suicidal people – Adam Mosseri, Daily Telegraph

Deben in row over green payments

“A Tory peer is under pressure to resign as chairman of an influential climate change quango after his private company was paid hundreds of thousands of pounds by green businesses. Lord Deben, the former agriculture minister John Gummer, is chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), a statutory body set up by the government that has supported spending billions of pounds subsidising environmentally friendly technology. He and his family own Sancroft International, a sustainability consultancy that has received more than £600,000 from businesses that have benefited from these subsidies. A newspaper investigation alleged that Sancroft’s clients have included several companies and campaign groups that have benefited from policies pushed by the CCC, which Lord Deben has chaired since 2012.” – The Times

  • A shaky claim to the moral high ground – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

Labour centrists planning to split from Corbyn…

“A group of Labour MPs are discussing plans to split from the party and set up a centrist political group in opposition to Jeremy Corbyn. One Labour MP, who is among those discussing the move, told The Times that such a split was inevitable but not imminent. “There is an incredible amount of unhappiness that has led to these conversations,” they said. “It is not just Corbyn’s position on Brexit, it’s Venezuela, antisemitism, immigration, asylum. Then there is the sense that anyone who is not a purist is going to get thrown out of the party before the next election anyway. I think we’re all looking to the next set of Commons Brexit votes at the moment. That is the main focus of our activity.” The Observer claimed that at least six MPs have been drawing up plans to resign the whip and leave the party soon. It named an initial breakaway group including Angela Smith, Chris Leslie and Luciana Berger.” – The Times

  • Furious MPs give leader a week to get on top of antisemitism crisis… – The Sun
  • …and talk up concerns over Labour’s ‘ambiguity’ on Brexit – The Guardian
  • Cable talks up ‘significant number’ of defections – The Sun
  • Drop in Labour membership part of political cycle, Glasgow MP says – The Scotsman

Comment:

  • I’m sick of being tainted by Labour’s antisemitism – Luciana Berger, Times Red Box
  • Corbynistas have taken over, so time to build something new – Jane Merrick, Times Red Box

Editorial:

  • Rebels appear motivated by Brexit derangement syndrome, not principle – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Cable won’t rule out starting new party with breakaway Labour MPs

…as he’s attacked for defending the Venezuelan dictatorship

“Murdered MP Jo Cox’s widower has accused Jeremy Corbyn of “defending a dictator” over his stance on Venezuela. Brendan Cox, a former chief strategist at Save the Children, spoke out after the Labour leader opposed “outside interference” in the socialist South American country. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s leadership has left the country in the grip of a social and economic collapse that has triggered a humanitarian crisis and protests. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for sanctions on the regime as the EU joined the US in recognising its opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president on Thursday. Mr Cox, whose Labour MP wife was murdered by neo-Nazi killer Thomas Mair in 2016, tweeted yesterday: “The future of Venezuela has been taken out of the hands of Venezuelans by an increasingly corrupt and totalitarian state. By all means call for dialogue but if you don’t strongly condemn the subjugation of democracy it sounds like you are defending a dictator.”” – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Chakrabarti says situation in Venezuela is ‘unacceptable’

News in Brief:

  • Anywhere but here: voters’ strange doublethink on housing – Matt Singh, CapX
  • Brexit scaremongering is backfiring in the country – Maggie Pagano, Reaction
  • We shouldn’t lower our expectations for white schoolchildren – Toby Young, The Spectator
  • I’m young, metropolitan, educated and multilingual – but proud to have backed Brexit – Lewis Feilder, Brexit Central
  • How Parliament disdains the people – Giles Fraser, UnHerd

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