Cabinet splits deepen as May considers pulling key vote…

“A vicious cabinet war erupted last night over a plot by senior ministers to delay Brexit, as Theresa May looked certain to shelve plans for a Commons vote on her deal this week. Five cabinet colleagues rounded on Amber Rudd, calling for her to be sacked after she publicly threatened to defy the prime minister by voting to delay article 50. The work and pensions secretary was singled out by cabinet colleagues as the ringleader of a cross-party campaign to stop Brexit. She was accused of seeking to further her own leadership ambitions. The party was plunged into fresh bloodletting after May was warned she could be forced to quit within weeks should her Brexit deal go through… In comments that are likely to escalate the row, Phil Wilson, a Labour MP, told The Sunday Times that he has held secret talks with cabinet ministers to gain their backing for an amendment that would open the door to a second referendum.” – Sunday Times

  • Brexit delay ‘elephant trap that we can’t escape’, ministers warn – Sunday Telegraph
  • Rudd accused of ‘cynical plot’ to bounce Brexiteers into backing the deal – Mail on Sunday
  • Prime Minister advised that she cannot sack rebel ministers – The Observer
  • May told to hold her nerve to secure 11th-hour concessions – Sunday Express
  • Rebels accused of ‘taking sledgehammer’ to deal – Sun on Sunday
  • Support for a second referendum grows in the Commons – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: Salvatore Murtas in Comment: Brussels’ arrogance is undermining the Union across Europe

…and she assures grassroots Brexit will not be delayed

“The Brexit vote must not be frustrated and the government needs to maintain an “absolute” focus on delivering it, Theresa May has said. In a speech to Tory activists the PM said, as her negotiations with the EU reach their final stages, the “worst thing we could do is lose our focus”. It came as three pro-EU cabinet members warned they could vote to delay Brexit to prevent a “disastrous” no-deal. But Mrs May said there must be no party “purges” over MPs with differing views. Ahead of crucial votes in the Commons next week, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke told the Daily Mail they would be prepared to defy the prime minister and vote for a delay. The intervention led to calls for their resignations by Tory Brexiteers. The UK remains on course to leave the European Union on 29 March. However, the government has repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility of the UK leaving without a formal deal, in the event that Mrs May cannot get MPs to approve the deal she negotiated with Brussels in time.” – BBC

  • Campaign for Conservative Democracy thinks its time has come – Sunday Times
  • Tories are not a party of ‘purges and retribution’, says May – Sunday Telegraph
  • Prime Minister vows that Brexit ‘must not, will not’ be blocked – The Observer

Nikki da Costa: Remainer rebels preparing to cripple the Prime Minister must think again

“Oliver Letwin, Nick Boles, members of the Cabinet and a raft of junior ministers seem to want to take the Prime Minister’s legs out from under her in the next round of Brexit votes on February 27. Just when the EU27 have said they will provide “legal assurances” on the backstop and provide a “guarantee” on its temporary nature, these MPs are arguing that the time has come for decisive action to take no‑deal off the table… And for this uncertain chance of a vote on March 14, and for an extension with no plan, MPs will seek to “fundamentally realign the relationship between civil service, Government and Parliament” and undermine the final stage of negotiations. Mr Letwin and Mr Boles have embraced accusations that they are stripping the Government of its power. They explicitly state that they wish to take on the “responsibility of government of our country”, forming a new government – founded on Labour votes – which will direct Brexit policy, intervening at will to pass new legislation to get its way, while the old government struggles on, or not.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • It’s time to come together, we’re so close to the finish line – Andrea Leadsom MP, Sun on Sunday
  • Delay might be our last chance to prevent an historic mistake – Oliver Letwin MP, The Observer


>Today: ToryDiary: Even a Conservative election victory wouldn’t sort out this mess

Ministers 1) Clark could offer Honda public money to stay in Britain

“Business Secretary Greg Clark has launched a last-ditch attempt to persuade Honda to stay in the UK – and may offer the Japanese car giant millions of pounds of taxpayer cash. Sources told The Mail on Sunday that Clark informed unions, local politicians and automotive industry figures that he could be willing to ‘reach into his pocket’ to try to save 3,500 jobs in Swindon. The sweetheart deal, if agreed, could be similar to the controversial £61 million package offered to Nissan in 2016 soon after the referendum… Coming just over a month before the UK is due to leave the European Union, the news turned into a fierce political debate as politicians argued over whether Brexit was to blame. Honda bosses said the closure of its Wiltshire hub was not a ‘Brexit-related issue’.” – Mail on Sunday

Ministers 2) Hammond attacks May over housebuilding

“Theresa May had a Cabinet bust-up with Philip Hammond after the Chancellor attacked her for not building enough houses on the Green Belt – and called on her to concrete over golf courses in her constituency. The row at Tuesday’s meeting came after Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government was not giving the green light to enough new housing and called for more than 300,000 homes to be built every year. He said: ‘We have to build more houses to stop prices from spiralling out of everyone’s reach.’ The Prime Minister said that new-build houses were ‘not very good quality’ and people needed ‘housing with a bit of space for a garden, like in my constituency’. At that, Mr Hammond, right, just ‘rolled his eyes’, according to a Cabinet Minister present and said testily: ‘If you want a garden, you need to have more land released for building, if you want it your way.’” – Mail on Sunday

Ministers 3) Javid prepares to ban Hizbollah in the UK

Sajid Javid is preparing to ban Hizbollah, the Iran-backed militant group, as soon as this week, The Sunday Telegraph understands. The Home Secretary is expected to proscribe the entire Shia organisation as a terrorist group, preventing supporters from parading its flag through the streets of Britain. The move will have to be approved by Parliament, raising the prospect that it could be opposed by Jeremy Corbyn, who once referred to members of the group as “friends”. It follows warnings by MPs that the UK had created a false distinction by proscribing the military wing of the group but failing to outlaw its political side. The distinction allows demonstrators in the annual Al Quds Day protest to march through central London waving the Hizbollah flag, which features an assault rifle.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Begum’s father backs Javid on decision to revoke citizenship – Mail on Sunday
  • Jihadi bride claims Government is ‘making an example of her’ – Sunday Telegraph


  • Begum is a product of a country that doesn’t believe in itself – Daniel Hannan MEP, Sunday Telegraph
  • The Home Secretary has shot himself in the foot – Sarah Baxter, Sunday Times

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

Ministers 4) Hinds says children will be taught about FGM in schools

All pupils in England are to be taught about female genital mutilation under Government plans to introduce compulsory sex education classes. Children in secondary school will learn about the physical and emotional damage caused by the practise, as well as other kinds of honour-based violence such as forced marriage. The topics will be covered as part of relationship and sex education (RSE) lessons, which will become a statutory requirement for all schools to teach from September 2020. Pupils will taught how about the perils of social media and how to stay safe online, as well as about well-being and healthy living as part of classes. Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said that pupils must be given “all the facts” about FGM at school in order to challenge any assumption they might otherwise hold about the practise.” – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: Mark Harper MP in Comment: Here are the reforms we need to make to the Apprenticeship Levy, Further Education and student funding

Ministers 5) Hunt criticised for calling Slovenia a one-time Soviet vassal

“The UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has incorrectly claimed Slovenia was a Soviet vassal state during his visit to Ljubljana to discuss the Brexit negotiations with his counterpart Miro Cerar. Slovenia was in fact the wealthiest state within the former Yugoslavia, which was outside the iron curtain and formed part of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Yugoslavia had a chequered relationship with the Soviet Union. Its leader Josip Tito defied Moscow’s hegemony and promoted what he called independent roads to socialism… The former speaker of Slovenia’s national assembly Milan Brglez criticised Hunt for “arrogantly lecturing” his country and rebuked its own politicians for not picking up on the gaffe. He said they may not even have noticed the “insult”.” – The Observer

Council defectors start to align with the Independent Group

“Labour councillors in more than a dozen local authorities have resigned to become independents because of anti-semitism and bullying. The news comes after eight Labour MPs defected to a new centrist grouping, the Independent Group (TIG), last week. In Brighton and Hove, three independents intend to align formally with TIG as soon as this week. Warren Morgan, the former Labour leader of the council, is leading a plan that would see TIG hold the balance of power ahead of local elections this spring. Labour representatives from 10 councils wrote a joint letter to The Sunday Times last night declaring they had defected. “Having witnessed the hard-left takeover of Labour, we believe that their harsh, uncompromising and dogmatic approach to politics poses a genuine threat,” their letter read.” – Sunday Times

  • One of Labour’s biggest private backers has donated to new group – Sunday Telegraph
  • Ellman tipped as next to defect – Mail on Sunday
  • Another 20 MPs on the brink of quitting – The Observer
  • How TIG thwarted a rival breakaway group and are trying to recruit – Sunday Times


  • Rudd denies offering Soubry help to block Brexit – Mail on Sunday
  • Allen claims May has Stockholm Syndrome with her Brexiteer captors – Sunday Times
  • Umunna hits out at Tories for becoming ‘Blukip’ – Mail on Sunday


  • Thornberry mocks Umunna as bullying row deepens – Sun on Sunday
  • Campaign Group attack ‘lightweight serial conspirators’… – Sunday Telegraph
  • …as Corbyn claims they have ‘no problem with austerity’ – The Observer
  • Umunna calls the police after threats from angry activists – Sun on Sunday


  • This is no SDP re-run, but a younger socialist could still take Labour to power – Lord Owen, Sunday Times
  • TIG may have the establishment on side, but the masses will decide their fate – Douglas Carswell, Sunday Telegraph
  • We need a genuinely new party, not a rabble of Blairites – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • ‘Noble’ quitters desert their ships, but what’s sinking fastest is Brexit – Rod Liddle, Sunday Times


  • A welcome moral stand against Labour’s leadership – Sunday Times


Labour wracked by antisemitism in Liverpool

“It is the secret investigation of a Liverpool constituency Labour group that was never published. A devastating report on bullying – or “uncomradely behaviour” – reveals why the party in this former Militant-run city is in the grip of its worst infighting in 30 years. Written by senior party staff, it states that a female Jewish MP was “physically threatened”, called a “JLM [Jewish Labour Movement] bitch” and made to endure “obsessive interrogations” about Israel-Palestine at every meeting. It found members “feared for their own or others’ physical safety”… Instead it was Louise Ellman, 73, also Jewish, whose Liverpool Riverside constituency adjoins Berger’s. A former Open University lecturer, Ellman has represented its people for more than two decades. Now Ellman, like several other Merseyside Labour MPs fighting a resurgent left, faces a decision: should she follow Berger in Wavertree and Frank Field across the Mersey in Birkenhead and leave the party – or face deselection.” – Sunday Times

  • Pressure mounts as MP give leader ‘shape up or ship out’ ultimatum – Mail on Sunday
  • Corbyn ‘urged to change course before its too late’ – The Observer
  • Leader’s aide is ‘national security risk’, ex-MI6 head warns – Mail on Sunday
  • Half of voters think Corbyn has made Labour toxic – Sun on Sunday


  • More evidence we’re losing the fight against antisemitism – Daniel Sugarman, Sunday Telegraph
  • Yet Corbyn still thinks he’s our leading anti-racist – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Devastating that Jews don’t think Labour will fight antisemitism – Sadiq Khan, The Observer
  • The exit is open, now every decent Labour MP must leave – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

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

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