Three Cabinet ministers threaten to back rebels to ‘help’ May…

“Three Cabinet ministers go public with their threat to delay Brexit if Tory hardliners vote down Theresa May’s plan for a new EU deal. In a joint statement, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke issue a thinly veiled signal that they will side with backbench rebels next week to stop Britain tumbling out without a deal on March 29. The Business Secretary, Work and Pensions Secretary and Justice Secretary make it clear they would defy No10 to vote to extend Article 50 exit talks. That would see Britain stay in the EU for several more months under a deal can be struck. The bombshell move – ahead of a ‘high noon’ showdown in the Commons next week – is a major challenge to the PM’s authority. But allies of the three ministers insisted it is designed to help Mrs May in her titanic battle with Tory arch-Eurosceptic group, the ERG. To stave off their rebellion, the three senior ministers also want the PM to promise to extend Article 50 herself.” – The Sun

  • Prime Minister told there will be a mass revolt if she pushes for no-deal exit – The Scotsman
  • Brexiteers prepared to stage their own rebellion over the backstop – Daily Express
  • Has May finally exhausted her colleagues’ patience? – The Guardian


  • Barnier says May will use threat of delayed departure to push deal over the line… – The Times
  • …but says there is a high chance of an ‘accidental’ no-deal exit – The Guardian
  • Tusk urges the Prime Minister to choose more talks over no deal – The Sun
  • Juncker ‘not optimistic’ that a deal will be struck – Daily Mail
  • EU Parliament rejects Spanish demands to brand Gibraltar a ‘colony’ – Daily Express

Home Nations:

  • Wilson claims Dublin’s no-deal preparations undermine backstop case – News Letter
  • Scottish independence negotiations would be even harder, report finds – The Scotsman

…as she’s told to step down after the local elections

Theresa May must stand down after the local elections in May to allow a new leader to deliver the next stage of Brexit negotiations, Cabinet ministers have warned. Ministers said that the Prime Minister will have to leave after the first phase of Brexit negotiations are concluded or she will face defeat in a vote of no confidence at the end of the year. Cabinet ministers believe that should Brexit be delivered on time for March, the party may be able to secure good results at the local elections in May. The Prime Minister pledged to Conservative MPs in December that she would stand down before 2022, although she did not specify when. Ministers want the Prime Minister to announce her departure before the spending review in Autumn, which is expected to set out the Government’s economic priorities for the next three years.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministers set to bin Parliament’s Easter holiday to sort Brexit laws – The Sun

TIG 1) Leslie rules out pact with the Lib Dems, as new group aims ‘to run the country’

“Britain’s band of breakaway MPs ruled out a deal with the Lib Dems as they declared: We’re aiming to run the country. Ex-Labour MP Chris Leslie said that while the new ‘Independent Group’ would work with parties on certain issues, they were “creating something different” to the current political system. And in a dismissive swipe at the Lib Dems run by Vince Cable, he told The Sun: “They do have this issue of trust hanging over their history. “I don’t think we should let the existing parties continue to carve up the country.” The comments came as ex-Tory Heidi Allen revealed the staggering ambition of Britain’s newest political force. Speaking two days after defecting from the Conservatives, she said the so-called TIG want “ultimately to be in Government”… One Labour source said: “Have no doubt, Chuka Umunna wants to be Prime Minister, and he wants to field candidates in all 650 seats at the next Election.” Vince Cable called for a “partnership” with the Independent Group both in Westminster and across the country.” – The Sun

  • Donors to ‘abandon major parties’ to back Independent Group – The Times
  • Farage claims he also plans to poach Tories for Brexit Party – Daily Express
  • Quitting MPs leave constituents confused – The Times


  • Soubry says it was inevitable she’d leave the Tories – FT
  • One third of Labour MPs are unhappy, says Umunna – The Times



TIG 2) Labour could back second vote ‘within days’ to staunch defections

“Labour could back a second referendum on Brexit within days as Jeremy Corbyn battles to stop more MPs quitting. Party bosses are considering backing a Commons motion which would trigger a so-called “people’s vote” on whether to stay in the EU. It comes as pro-Remain MPs warn Mr Corbyn they’ll walk out and join the Independent Group if he doesn’t endorse a second referendum, that could sabotage Brexit. Dozens of Labour MPs are reportedly considering resigning over Corbyn’s approach to Brexit. They’ve told the party leader they will join up with the 11 members of the Independent Group – who are hugely pro-Europe – unless he gets behind a referendum. Official party policy is to push for a General Election and a new Brexit deal which keeps Britain in the customs union – but if that fails, Labour is open to “all options”.” – The Sun

  • Party hijacked by hard-left clique, claims Leslie – The Guardian
  • Corbyn claims he has ‘huge support’ after resignations – Daily Telegraph
  • Latest resignation caps difficult week for Corbyn – FT
  • ‘Scabs’ will regret walking out, says left-wing MP – Daily Express


  • Lord Bragg urges Labour leader to quit – The Sun
  • Falconer to handle antisemitism allegations – The Times


  • Austin’s departure show Labour’s problems run deeper than Brexit – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour MPs must stay and fight – Clive Efford, The Guardian
  • Labour will survive but must remember its past – Nick Pearce, FT
  • Crumbling Labour has left Corbyn quaking – James Forsyth, The Sun
  • Odds are against them, but these MPs could change our politics – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian


  • Dedicated, principled Austin had no place in today’s Labour – The Sun

>Today: Book Reviews: This hatchet job on Corbyn fails to explain why so many people voted for him

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Austin leaves the Labour Party, but doesn’t join the Independent Group

Charles Moore: Brexiteers must hold the line against the Remainers’ last push

It is now much too late in the day to persuade many people to change their minds either way on the issue of Brexit itself. But it should at least be obvious that when anti-Brexit MPs hum and haw about what they want and don’t want, they relieve Brussels of any need to make its own hard choices. You will have seen pictures this week of M Juncker with Mrs May. He was plastered (literally – wearing a bandage on his cheek where, he told her, he had cut himself shaving), and he looked happy. Well he might: all he needs to do is sit there, concede nothing and watch the House of Commons run away with Sir Oliver’s faultlessly loopy logic. It cannot be said often enough that if MPs want a good deal for Britain they have to convince the EU that, if we don’t get one, we shall leave anyway. Mrs May, in her heart of hearts, cannot face this. Uncoincidentally, she has got a very bad deal so far.” – Daily Telegraph

  • First skirmishes in the Tory civil war – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • May is the Death Star of British politics – Matthew Parris, The Times
  • Tory defectors are just getting involved in a Labour tussle – John Redwood, The Guardian
  • The political deadlock may finally be breaking – Camilla Cavendish, FT
  • Politicians must stop sugaring the hard Brexit choices – Sir Ivan Rogers, The Times

May takes a swipe at male Tory culture

“Theresa May has described social media trolls who abuse women MPs as the modern equivalent of the sad man sitting at the ‘end of the bar muttering into his beer’. The Prime Minister also blamed male chauvinist Tories who ‘think they are the greatest’ for keeping women out of Parliament. And she claimed her refusal to take part in the ‘clubby culture’ of male MPs in the Commons Smoking Room held back her career. Mrs May made the candid remarks in a new book on sexism in politics based on interviews with women MPs… When she entered the Commons in 1997, she decided to boycott the Commons Smoking Room. Her ‘disavowal of clubbishness’ was one of the reasons she fell out with ‘David Cameron’s Eton-educated male cabal’, according to the new book, Women of Westminster: The MPs Who Changed Politics by Labour MP Rachel Reeves.” – Daily Mail

Javid drawing up new ‘Treason Act’ to tackle ISIS fighters

“Said Javid is drawing up plans for a new Treason Act to jail ISIS fighters who have betrayed Britain, The Sun can reveal. The Home Secretary has tasked officials to work on the major new criminal offence to close down current legal loopholes. It would also be used to prosecute foreign spies on espionage missions in the UK, such as agents of Russia’s infamous GRU intelligence agency. The first Treason Act was passed in 1351 for crimes against the monarch. The modern day definition would be an act of betrayal by anyone using violence, or attempting to, against the people of the United Kingdom. Punishable by a maximum term of life imprisonment, it would fill the current legal loopholes that have allowed dozens of returning jihadis to walk free because there is too little evidence to prosecute them. The original proposal for it was made by Tory MP and Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat in an academic paper in July last year.” – The Sun

  • McDonnell once called for anybody fighting for Israel to lose their British citizenship – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Ultimately, Begum is a distraction. The main issue is not terrorists’ brides, but terrorists themselves. Where are they?

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

Brokenshire mulls crackdown on help-to-buy housebuilder

“Britain’s most profitable housebuilder faces being stripped of its right to sell Help to Buy homes after allegations of poor standards and punitive hidden charges. James Brokenshire, the housing secretary, is reviewing Persimmon’s participation in the government scheme, which accounted for half of the homes it built last year, The Times has learnt. Since Help to Buy was introduced, Persimmon’s profit per house has almost tripled, rising from £22,114 in 2012 to £60,219 in 2018. Half of the 16,000 homes the company built last year were sold under the scheme, which is designed to boost home ownership… Critics say the scheme has subsidised huge profits and multimillion-pound bonuses across the housebuilding industry while inflating property prices. An investigation by The Times last year found that homes available under Help to Buy cost an average of almost 15 per cent more per square metre than comparable properties that were not eligible.” – The Times

Hancock warns May against costs of social care cap

Theresa May has been warned by her Health Secretary that plans for a £100,000 care cap will cost billions and lead to significant tax rises, The Telegraph can reveal. Matt Hancock has told the Prime Minister he is “concerned” that the cap, which he says could cost up to £3.4billion, is being included in a forthcoming green paper. The cap would see people pay a maximum of £100,000 for their care over their lifetime, excluding the cost of accommodation. In a letter to the Prime Minister this week he said it “confers a significant benefit to the well-off at the expense of the general taxpayer”, adding that “raising taxes is likely to be the most promising choice to fund this”. His stark warning highlights the scale of the divisions at the highest level Government over its social care policy, the issue that nearly lost the Conservatives the last election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Health Secretary backs Mak plan to scrap pagers in the NHS – Daily Telegraph

DUP in fresh row over 50/50 police recruitment in Northern Ireland

“A DUP MP has branded 50-50 PSNI recruitment “institutionalised sectarianism” following calls for the policy to be re-instated to address nationalist confidence in policing. East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell was speaking after calls from both the SDLP and Sinn Fein for a return to the controversial policy introduced for a period of 10 years as part of the Patten policing reforms. Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein want the policy to be re-instated, citing a lack of nationalist confidence in policing. Dolores Kelly, an SDLP policing board member, raised the PSNI’s failure to disclose information to the police ombudsman’s office on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday afternoon as she called for a return to 50/50 recruitment. Earlier this month it emerged the PSNI had failed to disclose information about a mass shooting carried out by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters at a bookmakers in south Belfast 27 years ago.” – News Letter

News in Brief:

  • Is the Conservative Party really irredeemable? – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • Austin’s refusal to join TIG shows the party is Continuity Remain – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • Why Britain needs a loud and proud liberal party – Jack Powell and Matt Gillow, 1828
  • Deliver Brexit and the Tories can stay in power – Ben Kelly, Reaction
  • Why won’t Remainers talk about family? – Giles Fraser, UnHerd

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