Cross-party alliance to mount another bid to take control of Brexit…

“A cross-party group of MPs determined to prevent a no-deal Brexit will make another attempt to wrest control from Theresa May next week, sympathetic ministers have been told. The alliance, led by Yvette Cooper, the Labour chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, and Nick Boles, the former Tory minister, is expected to ask MPs to vote to put parliament in charge for three days at the end of this month. That would give Mrs May two weeks to get her deal through the Commons before MPs forced her to delay Brexit by asking the European Union for an extension to Article 50. Under parliamentary rules only the government can propose the legislation needed to extend Article 50. The Cooper amendment would suspend those rules for three days. Ministers who had threatened to resign to block a disorderly Brexit have been told that their votes are not needed for the Cooper amendment to pass. “We’ve been told to sit it out,” one said. Another cabinet minister agreed that it was not yet “high noon”.” – The Times

  • Rebels in retreat: May to be ‘offered even more time’ – Daily Mail
  • Major tells Brexiteers he won’t ‘move over’ – The Times
  • France might veto any British bid to extend Article 50 – The Sun


  • Corbyn scrambles to stop Labour imploding over Brexit – Daily Mail
  • McDonnell warned Labour MPs not to back May’s deal – The Sun


  • UK ‘not ready to leave’, warns O’Donnell – The Times
  • No-deal ferries in doubt as Irish firm pulls backing – Daily Telegraph
  • Government cancels shipping contract with no-ship firm – The Guardian
  • Risk of no-deal rises as UK-Japan talks stall – FT
  • Dutch businesses fear Netherlands has much to lose – Daily Telegraph
  • Hauliers fear EU lockout over missing permits – The Times


…as May is warned sceptics won’t be won over with ‘tweaks’

Theresa May has been warned by a group of Tory MPs attempting to break the Brexit deadlock that the Northern Ireland backstop is a “monumental” issue that will not be resolved with a “few cursory tweaks”. Three former Cabinet ministers who helped draw up a Brexit “Plan C” known as the “Malthouse compromise” say it appears the Prime Minister has “forgotten” the fact that her Brexit deal was defeated by 230 votes in the Commons last month. Writing in The Telegraph, the Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson join Remainer Nicky Morgan in warning the backstop “in anything like its present form” is “never” going to pass in the Commons. They also warn that supporting Labour plans to keep Britain in the Customs Union will be a breach of the Conservative Party manifesto, leave the UK tied to the EU’s trade policy and “renege” on the result of the referendum. The article suggests that the fragile truce between the Prime Minister and her backbenchers is under significant strain.” – Daily Telegraph

  • British and Irish attorneys general to meet for talks – The Guardian
  • Varadkar ‘refuses to discuss Brexit’ during May’s Dublin visit… – The Sun
  • …but hailed Corbyn’s ‘interesting’ proposal – The Scotsman
  • Irish leader throws Prime Minister’s efforts back in her face – Daily Express


  • Brexiteers are rejected precisely the Brexit they used to want – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • Make the case against Brexit right now – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • Why ‘pro-Brexit’ MPs like me back Corbyn’s customs union plan – Gareth Snell, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour MPs in leave-voting constituencies must make a choice – Jack Doyle, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Varadkar – “Today is not a day for negotiations”

Brexit Party predicts ‘thousands’ of Tory defections

Thousands of Conservative members are likely to defect to a new Brexit party which was officially recognised on Friday by the electoral regulator, its backers claim. The Electoral Commission on Friday formally recognised the Brexit Party as an official organisation which will allow it to field candidates at elections. Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader who is supporting the party, said “the engine is running” and he stood “ready for battle” to fight the Tories and Labour if European Parliament elections are held on May 23. Political space for a new anti-EU party has been created by the lurch to the right by the UK Independence Party, which has been adopting more strident anti-Muslim policies. The timing of the official recognition will be a wake-up call to Theresa May, the Prime Minister, of the electoral risk to the Tory party of agreeing a softer Brexit deal over the next few weeks.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Farage ‘bemused’ that May has not been toppled – Daily Express
  • Tories risk wipe-out at local elections if Brexit delayed, party told – The Sun
  • Brexiteers join social club to escape hostility – FT


  • My new party stands ready to defend democracy – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Book Reviews: Why Britain wants to leave this European Union of failed nation states

Iain Duncan Smith, Nicky Morgan, and Owen Paterson: May cannot back out of ditching the backstop

“Following the PM’s speech in Belfast on Tuesday, she said, a deal would only pass Parliament if, “…changes are made to the backstop.” Yet the Brady amendment did not call for “changes”. It called for the Backstop “to be replaced”. It is almost as if the Prime Minister has forgotten the scale of the original Withdrawal Agreement’s defeat (by 230 votes) or how unacceptable the Backstop proposals remain to significant numbers of MPs on both sides of the House. They believe it would keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and Single Market, creating a new political entity called “UK(NI)”. Northern Ireland’s elected politicians (unlike those in Dublin) would have no say over significant areas of this new entity’s policy; Northern Ireland’s constitutional status would have been fundamentally altered in breach of the Belfast Agreement’s Principle of Consent and the requirement to consult the NI Assembly.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Not insoluble: a Brexit plan to please everyone – Roland Alter, The Guardian
  • My legal fight to prevent a hard border and protect the Union – Lord Trimble, Daily Telegraph
  • Overlooked concession could lead to future border dispute – Sam McBride, News Letter
  • Prime Minister faces a Herculean task to deliver Brexit – James Forsyth, The Sun
  • Juncker’s Irish card another insult we have had to endure – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Hunt and Williamson drive crackdown on Chinese firm

“New laws on foreign investment in the UK will block Chinese firm Huawei from sensitive state projects, The Sun can reveal. The tech giant is among a handful of firms to have developed the next generation of mobile internet – known as 5G… Senior Cabinet ministers and Britain’s most senior civil servant Mark Sedwill fear Huawei’s involvement in such critical infrastructure could jeopardise national security. They are planning reforms to allow the Government to ban Chinese firms like Huawei from future involvement in “strategically significant” UK tech projects… Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson are among those concerned about the Chinese firm’s reach.” – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Effective web regulation will not be easy, and ministers must take the time to get it right

Mordaunt says ministers will do what’s necessary to avoid misuse of gagging clauses

Ministers will take all “necessary steps” to prevent employers using Non-Disclosure Agreements to cover up allegations of “disgusting and illegal” behaviour, the Minister for Women has said. Penny Mordaunt said NDAs were being used to “intimidate victims into silence” and vowed to act in the wake of the Sir Philip Green case. Last year Theresa May pledged to end the “unethical” use of NDAs and laws could now be changed to force employers to explain workers’ rights to them if they are asked to sign NDAs. But victims’ campaigners said the Government needed to act faster, as it still cannot say when workers can expect to see action on NDAs… Although NDAs will not be banned, as many employers use them legitimately to protect intellectual copyright, Mrs May has promised to improve the way NDAs are regulated to make it “absolutely explicit” when they cannot be used.” – Daily Telegraph

  • It’s time Parliament stopped abuse by the rich and powerful – Daily Telegraph
  • Tories have tasks to attend to beyond Brexit – The Sun

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “The biggest cash boost in the history of the National Health Service” – the latest Conservative broadcast

Scottish Tories claim victory in bid to thwart Johnson’s leadership hopes

“Boris Johnson’s bitter rivals in the ­Scottish Conservatives have declared victory, saying their campaign to discredit him as a future Tory leader has been a “great success”. A senior Scottish Tory source said the former foreign secretary was no longer considered a serious contender to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, thanks in part to behind-the-scenes lobbying to convince colleagues a Johnson premiership would seriously damage the party in Scotland. The whispering campaign against the leading Brexiteer – dubbed “Operation Arse” – burst into the open at the Conservative Party conference last year, when a Scottish Tory source said senior figures were “going to do everything we can” to stop Mr Johnson from becoming leader. Five months on, with the Prime Minister having survived votes of confidence within her party and in the Commons, a source said of the plot: “It seems to me that it was a great success. But should it ever need to be reactivated, it certainly can be.”” – The Scotsman

Thompson demands inquiry into allegations

“A Conservative MP spoken to by police after claims of men being groped in a parliamentary bar has referred himself to an internal party inquiry and insisted that allegations against him were untrue. Police were called to Strangers’ Bar on Tuesday night and Ross Thomson was spoken to by officers, who did not arrest him. Witnesses had said that he was very drunk and had ignored repeated requests to go home. One said that he had been bothering a man in her group before police arrived. Yesterday Mr Thomson, the MP for Aberdeen South, tweeted: “I would like to state that these allegations from anonymous sources are completely false.” He said that no complaint had been made against him to the police, parliamentary authorities or his party but that in the interests of transparency “I am referring myself to the Conservative Party’s disciplinary panel of the code of conduct”.” – The Times

  • MP faces discipline over conduct in bar – The Sun
Chope condemned for blocking FGM bill

Shield“A Conservative MP was accused of “appalling” behaviour by one of his colleagues yesterday after he blocked a bill designed to protect children from female genital mutilation. Sir Christopher Chope, who faced widespread condemnation last year for objecting to a law to ban upskirting, caused the termination of a debate on a cross-party attempt to toughen the law on FGM. As he had done before, the Tory backbencher shouted “object” when the bill was presented to the Commons for its second reading. Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP who sponsored the backbench bill, said afterwards that FGM campaigners had “begged” Sir Christopher not to block the proposal at second reading. After the draft legislation was blocked, Mr Goldsmith tweeted: “As anticipated, Chope objected to the FGM Bill. Just appalling.” He added in another post: “In case anyone is tempted to believe he has a principled objection to private member’s bills, please note that once again he did NOT object to those put forward by his friends.”” – The Times

>Today: Ross Ewing in Comment: Let’s face it. In practice, Chope was wrong about this FGM Bill. But in principle, his broader point is right.

Labour women accuse leadership of bullying Berger

“Jeremy Corbyn faces a backlash from Labour’s most prominent women after his top team were accused of bullying a heavily pregnant Jewish MP. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, caused outrage after suggesting that Luciana Berger should declare her loyalty to the party to see off a no-confidence vote tabled by local members a day after she challenged Mr Corbyn over his handling of antisemitism. Harriet Harman, the former acting leader, Dame Margaret Hodge, a former select committee chairman, and Dame Louise Ellman, a former chairwoman of Jewish Labour, all called for Ms Berger, 37, not to be hounded out. The emergency motion, due for discussion on February 17, two weeks before Ms Berger is due to go on maternity leave, was dropped yesterday. Labour sources suggested that Mr Corbyn’s team feared a walkout by Labour MPs fed up with the leadership’s stance on Brexit and antisemitism.” – The Times

  • Shadow Chancellor said to offer ‘tacit approval’ to hard-left activists – Daily Telegraph
  • McDonnell criticised for seeking ‘loyalty pledge’ from MP – FT
  • Fury as Shadow Chancellor indulges group which claims antisemitism scandal is smear – The Sun
  • Corbyn’s dissatisfaction rating now highest-ever for Opposition leader – Daily Telegraph


  • Row has stayed with Corbyn from the start – Francis Elliott, The Times
  • Whatever Berger’s politics, Labour members must stand with her – Owen Jones, The Guardian
  • Moderates now have no choice but to leave the Party – Jane Merrick, Daily Telegraph


Cable calls for assisted dying to be legalised

“Vince Cable has called for assisted dying to be legalised, becoming the first party leader to back the move. In a moving article that will reopen the debate around the emotive subject, the Liberal Democrat leader called for Parliament to introduce new laws. His change of heart emerged as Geoffrey Whaley, a terminally ill man who ended his life at Dignitas in Switzerland on Thursday, said police inquiries about his wife’s role had marred his final weeks. Writing for the Mail, Sir Vince said nursing his first wife Olympia as she died of breast cancer had strengthened his opposition to assisted dying. But a decade on, he had been convinced a change in the law was needed by the moving stories of constituents who chose to end their lives. ‘When Parliament finally lifts its gaze beyond the all-consuming Brexit debate, it will have to think about some of the big ethical and political issues out there,’ he writes.” – Daily Mail

  • This ethical minefield is not just a matter for personal choice – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Sinn Fein MPs failed to register Venezuelan trip

“Trips to Venezuela by two Sinn Fein MPs were never registered with Parliament, the News Letter has discovered. The DUP has said the republican party should now “consider the position” of Mickey Brady and Chris Hazzard, given the past strong stance it has taken on the issue of “integrity”, which has seen it launch attacks on Ian Paisley over not registering his own overseas trips. The news comes after the News Letter revealed earlier in the week that Sinn Fein was refusing to provide details of a trip taken to Caracas last month by its general secretary Dawn Doyle and IRA explosives convict-turned-MLA Conor Murphy. They were attending the inauguration of president Nicolas Maduro Moros, after he was elected to power a second time following a vote which was widely condemned as unfair.” – News Letter

News in Brief:

  • Farage’s new Brexit party should scare the living daylights out of the Tories – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • Tories will struggle to win an election without a clearer domestic agenda – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • I’m a Brexit-backing Liberal who rejects the remote politicians’ project that is the EU – David Green, Brexit Central
  • Tory MPs face a test of nerve over the Irish backstop – Stephen Booth, CapX
  • Why is the hard-Left so conservative? – James Bloodworth, UnHerd

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