Published:

Prime Minister faces defeat on ‘no deal’ vote…

“Theresa May’s claim that she is ready to take Britain out of the EU without a deal appeared increasingly tenuous on Wednesday, as the prime minister’s allies admitted that a slew of ministerial resignations could force her to abandon the strategy. Mrs May wants to keep the prospect of a chaotic Brexit on the table as a way of putting pressure on Brussels to finalise a revised exit deal after the House of Commons emphatically rejected her withdrawal agreement last month. But Mrs May’s advisers admitted that a move led by former Labour minister Yvette Cooper and Conservative grandee Oliver Letwin to take a no-deal Brexit off the table was likely to win the backing of MPs in a key vote on February 27. Downing Street is taking seriously the threat that a number of Europhile ministers will finally make good on their threat to quit and support the initiative by Ms Cooper and Sir Oliver. “This will definitely be high noon,” said one cabinet minister. “We can’t wait any longer.”” – FT

  • Brexiteers vow to defeat plan to take ‘clean Brexit’ off the table – The Sun
  • Up to 80 Tories threaten revolt in Commons showdown – Daily Express
  • MPs accuse May of ruling out ‘no deal’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Blackford repeats claim that Prime Minister lied over analysis – The Scotsman

More:

  • Delay or make clean break, industries tell Brussels – FT
  • Ford warns that no-deal would be ‘catastrophic’ – Daily Mail
  • Government must pass over 450 laws before exit day – The Sun

Ireland:

  • Varadkar insists that no-deal exit can be averted – FT
  • Sinn Fein insists it would lead to border poll – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Europe must offer concessions or risk disaster – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • Project Fear is an insult to voters – Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, The Sun
  • Does Robbins’ blunder hint at a conspiracy? – John Longworth, Daily Telegraph

>Today:

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hannan – The EU’s lack of goodwill shows why Britain must not accept the backstop

…and is urged to reform trades union law to woo Corbyn

“Theresa May is being urged to rip up the Trade Union Act and allow fast-track strike votes to win Labour MPs’ support for her Brexit deal. Union bosses are demanding the Government drop all opposition to the e-balloting of their members – something the Tories have bitterly opposed for three years. Downing Street is understood to be considering the request, one source said. It comes as ministers continue to thrash out a workers right package with the TUC and Unite chief Len McCluskey as well as over a dozen of Labour MPs in the bid to win wider support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal. On Tuesday the PM signalled she was preparing to offer other concessions such as rules on agency workers. These include repealing the so-called Swedish derogation, which allows employers to pay their agency workers less.” – The Sun

  • Labour leader blasts May over ferry ‘fiasco’…- FT
  • …and she fires back on his ‘flip-flopping’ – The Sun
  • Trust in Corbyn plummeting, new poll suggests – Daily Express
  • ‘Shadow Cabinet revolt’ if leader doesn’t back a second referendum – The Sun
  • Corbyn could face up to ten resignations – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Remainers must hold their nerve – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • Britain is hostage to May’s vanity – Philip Stephens, FT

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Corbyn presses May on Brexit preparations at PMQs

May warns BBC not to cut free licences for the elderly…

The BBC must not end free TV licences for over 75s, Theresa May has warned. The Prime Minister said many elderly people would lose out if they don’t have the “connection” with the world which watching television brings. People over 75 are entitled to a free TV licence under a government-funded scheme which is due to end in 2020. A public consultation on the subsidy closed this week. It had five options under consideration: continuing the scheme; scrapping it; raising the threshold to 80; giving over-75s a 50 per cent discount; or means-testing the payment by linking it to pension credit. MPs and campaigners have warned that hundreds of thousands of over-75s will be worse off if the free scheme is ended.” – Daily Telegraph

  • …and pledges to reintroduce FGM law blocked by Chope – The Sun
  • Food Standards Agency casts doubt on Prime Minister’s call for food economising – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Leadsom warns that restoration of Parliament may be at risk

“The restoration of Parliament could never happen unless necessary legislation is passed by May – Andrea Leadsom has warned. Allies said the Commons Leader fears the £4 billion project will never get off the ground if it doesn’t reach the statute book before the end of the current Parliamentary session. She believes a new Government after a possible General Election could drop it altogether given the spiralling costs, a source said. They added there are fears the Lords could try once more to dilute the project. Under current plans, MPs and peers will have to “decamp” within five years so essential works can take place to safeguard the Palace of Westminster. In a separate interview yesterday, Ms Leadsom hinted at her concerns by saying she was “desperately keen” to “crack on” with introducing legislation to establish independent statutory bodies to oversee the restoration.” – The Sun

Defence Secretary accused of blowing Chinese trade talks ‘worth billions’

“A furious Government row has erupted after Gavin Williamson was accused of risking Britain’s chances to access Chinese markets worth billions. Chinese deputy PM Hu Chunhua was due to hold trade talks with Philip Hammond this weekend. But he dramatically cancelled the meeting on Monday afternoon – just hours after the Defence Secretary publicly lashed China’s military ambitions. In a fiery speech, Mr Williamson said Britain must be prepared to boost our “lethality” as he threatened to deploy a British aircraft carrier to China’s backyard… China had been expected to lift their bans on British poultry and cosmetics which have not been tested on animals. The agreements would have opened up access to markets worth an estimated £10.2billion over five years.” – The Sun

  • Williamson says gay members of the Armed Forces should be able to wed on bases – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The most pro-intervention speech by a Defence Secretary since the Iraq War

Freeman requests review of Green’s knighthood

“Theresa May’s former policy chief has asked a Whitehall panel to review Sir Philip Green’s knighthood. The formal request from Tory MP George Freeman means the Honours Forfeitures Committee will now have to consider stripping the billionaire of his gong over explosive sexual harassment allegations. Last night Lib Dem chief Vince Cable said he was likely to file a request of his own. The Committee previously ruled that ex-banker Sir Fred Goodwin should lose his knighthood. Speaking in the Commons Mr Freeman urged Theresa May to “stand up for decent standards” and take action against the Topshop mogul. He said Sir Philip should be stripped of his knighthood for “bringing the system of honours and business into disrepute”.” – The Sun

ISIS bride has ‘right to come home’, says Wallace

“A jihadi schoolgirl who ran away to Syria to join Isis has the “right to come home” but could face years in jail, the security minister has revealed. Ben Wallace said as a British citizen, heavily pregnant Shamima Begum, 19, can come back into the country but can expect to face prison when she gets here. He told Sky News this morning: “As a British citizen she has the right to home here.” But he added: “Anyone who goes to fight for Isis, a dreadful, horrendous group, should expect to be interviewed and potentially prosecuted.” Last night the teen, who fled from East London to join fighters abroad when she was just 15, said she wants now to come home to have her third child. But she said she didn’t regret her decision to go out there, and wasn’t bothered by seeing the sick crimes of the terror group.” – The Sun

  • Their defeat is an example of successful intervention – Michael Fallon MP, Daily Telegraph

James Brokenshire: Like Macmillan, we can deliver a housing market which works for future generations

Since we set the bold ambition to deliver 300,000 properties a year by the mid-2020s ministers, including myself, have noted the important connection with Harold Macmillan. Super Mac took up the challenge of rehousing the nation after the Second World War and within three years had managed to gear an industry up to achieve record levels of performance. We rightly look back at this era in awe at the scale of ambition and mine it for lessons we can use today. A recognition of the interconnection between state and industry at a time of significant building was a central theme of the 1950s mass building, and in that spirit I am proud today to announce £250 million of new housing deals to build almost 25,000 much-needed properties across the country. Similarly, there was an approach which brought government together where different parts of the state worked in support of a common political goal. Fast forward to today and under an innovative agreement our housing accelerator Homes England will help deliver more than 10,000 properties on Ministry of Defence sites.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour centrists ‘prepare to form breakaway party’

“Moderate Labour MPs are plotting to form a breakaway political party within weeks if Jeremy Corbyn refuses to back an amendment calling for a second referendum. At least half-a-dozen backbenchers have been holding regular conversations about splitting from the party and forming a new, pro-EU centrist group. They say Labour has tacked too far to the left under the leadership or Mr Corbyn, a life-long Eurosceptic who spent decades on the party’s fringes. Some MPs say February 27, the date of the next round of voting on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, could be the point of schism if, as expected, Mr Corbyn does not support an amendment backing a so-called people’s vote. “I’ve talked to them [the moderates] lots of times and they are just so angry. They aren’t listening any more. It sounds like nothing will stop them breaking away,” said one Labour MP.” – FT

  • McDonnell brands Churchill a ‘villain’ – The Guardian

Teachers demand taxpayer refunds from SNP’s new tax

“Teachers will demand the taxpayer refunds them if they are forced to pay the SNP’s workplace parking levy at Scotland’s schools, union leaders have warned as the public outcry intensified. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest teaching union, said it would fight for “compensation” in the next round of pay negotiations for any members who were hit with the levy. Assuming the levy is set at around £500 per year, as happens in Nottingham, the Tories calculated that the refund to Edinburgh’s teachers alone would cost the public purse £1.7 million. They said there would also be “huge” rebates for teachers in Glasgow (£2.6 million), Aberdeen (£818,000) and Dundee (£660,000) should their respective city councils implement the levy.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • The Corbyn crack-up – Nick Cohen, The Spectator
  • Still looking for love? Blame the planning system – Ben Ramanauskas, CapX
  • To make a success of Brexit we need an outward-looking foreign policy – Ben Kelly, Reaction
  • What happened to solidarity on the right? – Max Young, 1828
  • The UN’s sexual abuse shame – Julie Bindel, UnHerd

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