Rebel remainers mull ‘Valentine’s Day exodus plot’…

“Election talk has grown louder since the prime minister won a key victory on Tuesday. After a last-minute pact between Brexiteer hardliners and Tory moderates, MPs voted to demand a new deal from Brussels that would seek to ditch the controversial “backstop” plan for Northern Ireland. That has bought May two weeks of relative peace. But, under the radar, rivalries are set to explode. The Sunday Times can reveal that: Philip Hammond, the chancellor, summoned MPs to discuss how the government could call a new EU referendum; Tory and Labour MPs are plotting to resign their party whip on February 14 if they do not get a referendum — dubbed the “St Valentine’s Day break-up”; [and] an “unholy alliance” has formed to force through a deal consisting of May’s allies, a member of the shadow cabinet, the trade unions and Labour MPs, with Jeremy Corbyn’s tacit approval.” – Sunday Times

  • Letwin tells stunned local members he didn’t believe in manifesto – Sunday Telegraph
  • Tory mutineer Boles faces deselection – Sunday Times


  • People’s Vote draws up ‘hit list’ of Labour MPs who voted with May – Sun on Sunday
  • Rebel Labour MPs to ‘form breakaway centrist party’ – The Observer
  • Labour MPs who backed Brexit dubbed ‘snakes’ by Corbynites… – Sun on Sunday
  • …as McDonnell claims they ‘sold’ their votes – The Observer

More MPs:

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The ‘Meaningful Vote’ is yet another backfiring constitutional innovation

…as May invokes Corbyn’s support and vows to ‘battle for Britain’ in Brussels…

Theresa May has invoked the support of Jeremy Corbyn to insist the EU must offer concessions on her Brexit deal, as she pledges to “battle for Britain” when she travels to Brussels to re-open negotiations. Writing in The Telegraph, Mrs May states that although the Labour leader refused to support her in the Commons last week, he also believes that the controversial Irish backstop “needs to be addressed with Brussels”. Mrs May suggests that she will seek either an “alternative” to the backstop, or a time limit or unilateral exit mechanism to prevent the UK from being trapped in EU’s structures indefinitely – both of which have already been publicly rejected by Brussels. But pledging that she will return to the city with “new ideas and a renewed determination” Mrs May also calls for unity in the Commons, stating: “If we stand together and speak with one voice, I believe we can find the right way forward.”” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Prime Minister appeals to Baltic states for support – Mail on Sunday
  • Harrington warns that voters would never forgive no-deal ‘disaster’ – The Observer
  • Exasperated EU leaders prepare to hold line until March 29 – Sunday Times
  • Brussels will offer ‘substantial concession’ – Sunday Express


  • Williamson will order Navy to replace ferries – Mail on Sunday
  • French employers warn of no-deal ‘chaos’ – FT
  • Plan to ‘evacuate Queen’ after no-deal Brexit – Sunday Times


…and the party ‘considers a possible election’

“Britain could go to the polls on the anniversary of D-Day as Downing Street considers plans to cement Theresa May in power. No 10 strategists have discussed a scenario under which the Prime Minister would delay the Article 50 Brexit process beyond the end of March, win Commons support for her deal in April – and then go to the country in the following weeks on the back of her success. The first Thursday in June – the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Europe from the Nazis – is one option on the table. In a major boost for Mrs May’s Brexit strategy last night, a new poll showed the Tories have opened up a seven-point lead over Labour in the past two weeks. The Opinium survey put the Tories on 41 per cent – up four percentage points – and Labour down six to 34. It comes as the Tory Party’s HQ has moved on to a ‘war footing’ by block-booking printing plants and hiking its spending on digital advertising.” – Mail on Sunday

>Today: John Strafford in Comment: The Conservative Party no longer belongs to its members. No wonder it faces an existential crisis.

>Yesterday: Nick Hargrave’s column: Conservative moderates need to help change our Party. Here’s how to start doing it.

Theresa May: I will battle for Britain in Brussels

“This week the leaders of the campaign for a second referendum had the chance to put their plan before the House of Commons – but they recognised there is no majority in this Parliament to hold another vote. Indeed, I believe there never will be. When the House of Commons refused to support the withdrawal agreement, I listened – I pledged to think again, and go back to Brussels to secure a plan that Parliament can stand behind. Now it’s time for MPs demanding a second referendum to do the same – listen to the House and instead put your efforts behind securing a better Brexit for all of us. Because the UK is leaving the EU. The clock is ticking, and negotiating the changes MPs want to see will not be easy. But if we stand together and speak with one voice, I believe we can find the right way forward. I’m determined to deliver Brexit, and determined to deliver on time – on March 29, 2019. So let’s put aside our differences and focus on getting the deal over the line. Brexit offers great opportunities for our country. It’s up to all of us at Westminster to make it work.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Brussels should listen to the Prime Minister to help pass her deal – Nick Herbert, FT
  • I have lost Remainer friends for backing compromise – Nicky Morgan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Delaying Brexit will wreck any lingering faith in politicians – Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sun on Sunday
  • We must rule out a hard exit, business is at breaking point – Richard Harrington, The Observer


  • May can soldier on now both sides know total victory is out of reach – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times
  • Tories should heed Letwin: they won’t be forgiven for no deal – Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer
  • EU is taking hardest possible line in hopes of derailing Brexit – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph


  • Twelve reasons the backstop makes no sense at all – Henry Newman, Sunday Telegraph
  • May’s quest to get the EU to drop the backstop is daft – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • The backstop is about peace, Britain must stand by it – Simon Coveney, Sunday Times
  • It’s a massive failure of civic unionism that the backstop got so far – Ben Lowry, News Letter


  • MPs must respect the will of the electorate and carry Brexit through – Sun on Sunday

Javid cuts funding to knife crime programme

“The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has secretly reduced funding for a scheme to help children escape knife crime, despite a sharp rise in the number of murders and stabbings. In July, Javid had said that he was doubling the £11m that was allocated to the early intervention youth fund to £22m. This was part of a “public health” approach to combating knife crime and other offences. While on a recent visit to the West Midlands, however, the policing minister Nick Hurd quietly announced that the funding had been reduced to £17m. Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow policing minister, described the move as “shameful”… The Home Office said: “As well as taking immediate action to curb knife crime, we need a longer-term approach to prevent young people from getting drawn into a life of crime in the first place.”” – Sunday Times

  • Home Secretary reveals boy who inspired new Knife Crime Prevention Orders – Sun on Sunday

Lidington warns that fewer trains harms case for HS2

Theresa May’s deputy has warned that a proposed reduction in the number of trains running along High Speed 2 will “seriously undermine” the case for continuing with the project. David Lidington has asked HS2 Ltd, the government-owned firm behind the scheme to set out the “current business case” for the £56 billion project, after The Sunday Telegraph revealed that the company had suggested it could cut the hourly number of trains by a fifth to prevent costs from spiraling out of control. His intervention came as Lord Darling, the former Labour chancellor, claimed that the Y-shaped route, from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, “is never going to get to the North” in his lifetime. Speaking in the House of Lords, the 65-year-old, suggested that it would be better to spend the funds on “more manageable, more deliverable projects rather than something that might be a grandiose vision but we may not live to see”.” – Sunday Telegraph

Hinds orders social media companies to ‘do good’

“Social media companies have a moral duty to do more to remove content that promotes suicide and self-harm and should use their technical genius to do “social good”, the education secretary has declared. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Damian Hinds said he would unveil plans this month to ensure that teenagers had lessons in how to deal with the pressures of social media to stem the rising tide of self-harm. Lessons will include ways of coping with the “perfect lives” others depict on sites such as Instagram and Facebook and how to deal with body image problems. Tomorrow the education department will launch a pilot scheme in some schools to promote mental health. Hinds said action was required because social media apps had “changed the way human beings interact with each other” and that means company bosses “absolutely have a responsibility”.” – Sunday Times

  • Watchdog demands halt to Facebook political ads – Sunday Times


  • Facebook has to face up to the damage it does – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: Holly Whitbread in Comment: Promoting parental responsibility is the key to addressing anti-social behaviour

Mordaunt floats foreign aid ‘gap year’ apprenticeships

“Teenagers could be offered apprenticeship gap years in developing countries, as part of an overhaul of Britain’s aid programme, The Telegraph understands. Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, has drawn up proposals to use the aid programme to provide professional training in fields such as accounting, engineering and project management. Ms Mordaunt is understood to be concerned that current “gap year” schemes are a “pipe dream” for many school leavers. Sources said she wanted to transform the existing International Citizenship Service, (ICS) a volunteering service for 18-25 year-olds funded by her department, into “a pathway to employment for young disadvantaged British people.” The proposed scheme was first suggested by Robert Halfon, a former Tory skills minister, who said it would provide a “ladder of opportunity” for young people.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • International Development Secretary says Brits must be able to invest in overseas schemes – Sun on Sunday

Corbyn splits with adviser over transgender women

“Jeremy Corbyn is at odds with his own domestic policy adviser, Lachlan Stuart, who has said that trans women remain “biologically male”. The Labour leader’s adviser said that a trans woman could not identify as a woman until she is “subject to the same structural oppressions (sexisms) as are all women”. Even then, he clarified, she would be a woman only in a “limited socio-cultural sense”. Stuart’s comments on Twitter, which were made in January 2017 while he was employed in his current post, directly contradict Corbyn. In October last year Corbyn told the PinkNews Awards that “Labour supports reform of the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act to allow for self-declaration”. Stuart is not the first Labour figure to wade into the gender debate, which has divided the party. Last year 300 women resigned from the party over the inclusion of trans women on the all-women shortlists.” – The Times

Scottish business ‘humiliated’ and ‘dismayed’ by SNP budget

“Business leaders in Scotland say they have been left “humiliated” and “dismayed” by the Scottish Government over the suite of new taxes unveiled in last week’s budget. They are now demanding face-to-face talks with the Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, amid growing concerns of a breakdown in relations between industry leaders and Holyrood. The SNP Government is accused of jeopardising economic growth at a time of deep uncertainty over Brexit to strike a political deal with the Greens which secured passage of its £34 billion budget last week. A new tourist tax, workplace parking levy, increased plastic bag charge and levy for disposable cups were all announced, along with powers for town halls to axe rates relief on empty commercial properties. There are fears that Scotland’s £11 billion flagship tourism industry could suffer under the new visitor levy, possibly £2 a night on hotel.” – Scotland on Sunday

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