Brexit 1) Brexiteers stage fresh rebellion against May’s Brexit plans…

More than 100 Tory MPs have rebelled against the Government as Eurosceptics refused to back Theresa May’s plans to give the Commons a vote on extending Article 50. The Government imposed a three-line whip on an amendment tabled by Yvette Cooper, a Labour MP, which enshrined the Prime Minister’s commitment to give MPs a vote delaying Brexit if a deal cannot be reached. However 20 hardline Eurosceptic Tory MPs voted against the amendment including Esther McVey, former work and pensions secretary. A further 88 predominantly Eurosceptic Tory MPs abstained including Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leading Eurosceptic Tory MP. Others who did not vote included Priti Patel, the former  international development secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader and Sir Graham Brady, the head of the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs.” – Daily Telegraph

  • May survives showdown as hardliners start to yield – Daily Mail
  • Ministers tell the Prime Minister to use delay to forge consensus – The Guardian


  • EU could insist on extension of two years if May’s deal falls – Daily Mail
  • Germany and France battle over British budget rebate – FT
  • EU leaders threaten to block Brexit delay – The Sun
  • World’s largest wealth funds places big bet on post-Brexit Britain – The Times


>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hannan says the one response to Brexit you won’t see in Brussels is self-reflection

Brexit 2) …and confirm that the DUP are key to winning support for the deal

“Downing Street insiders say that, despite last month’s record 230 vote defeat for Mrs May’s agreement, they can win a vote on a revised deal, which will be held by March 12. The DUP’s ten MPs are believed to hold the key to victory… Eurosceptics loathe the backstop, which they say could “trap” the UK in a customs union with Brussels. But one member of the pro-Brexit Conservative European Research Group said: “If the DUP back the deal, so will we. We would be in a ludicrous position if we were seen as more unionist than the unionists.” Despite Mr Macron and Ms Merkel’s repeated opposition to any reopening of the 585-page withdrawal treaty, both the DUP and senior ERG members say they are open to other legal mechanisms to guarantee that the backstop is temporary.” – FT

  • Rees-Mogg ‘softens position’ on the backstop – The Sun
  • ERG leader ‘gives up’ on March 29th departure – Daily Express


  • I’d be delighted to back May, with a tweak to the backstop – Jacob Rees-Mogg, Daily Mail


Brexit 3) Costa forced to quit over citizens’ rights amendment

“A ministerial aide was forced to resign over an amendment he tabled on EU citizens’ rights, despite having government support for the measure. Downing Street announced that Alberto Costa had quit his unpaid role as parliamentary private secretary to David Mundell, the Scottish secretary, after tabling the amendment the previous evening. David Lidington, the cabinet office minister, said the government would accept the amendment in the Commons, which is aimed at protecting the rights of EU citizens living in Britain in case of a no-deal Brexit. His announcement was greeted by Labour MPs asking: “Why has he been sacked then?” A Tory source said that it was the convention that members of the administration should not table amendments to government motions. Mr Costa, the MP for South Leicestershire, called himself a “very loyal Conservative member” who had “never rebelled” and “scarcely spoken out of turn”.” – The Times

  • May accused of ‘double standards’ over sacking – Daily Telegraph
  • EU nationals could stay even if they don’t register, Javid suggests – The Sun
  • British expatriates haunted by uncertainty – The Times


  • That I had to seek this guarantees is a sad state of affairs – Alberto Costa MP, Times Red Box

Brexit 4) Clark ‘woos left’ with promise of easier strikes

“Greg Clark is poised to make it easier for unions to strike as he steps up efforts to woo Labour MPs to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Ministers have long resisted a union demand to allow ballots on industrial action by email or text, claiming that they risk being hacked. Unions complain that requirements on postal ballots together with higher turnout thresholds introduced two years ago unfairly limit their capacity to win enough backing to call workers out on strike. Labour MPs in talks with the government over their possible support for the Brexit deal say that Mr Clark, the business secretary, has promised he will introduce electronic balloting. Last night, the department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) confirmed that it was preparing to hold a long-delayed consultation on the issue. However, the concession does not appear to have been sanctioned by Downing Street.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister vows poorer areas will be ‘transformed’ by fund – The Sun
  • MPs criticise decision not to reveal Nissan deal – FT
  • Truss warns ministers against pandering to big business – The Sun


  • May should use the deal to give Britain a new start – Henry Newman, The Sun

>Today: Interviews: Sharma – “Every foreign investor I met thought leaving the EU would present significantly more opportunities for bilateral trade.”

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: May claims Corbyn would cause “a run on the pound” and “capital flight” as he attacks her economic record

Brexit 5) Labour push for Commons vote on second referendum

Labour will push for a vote on calling a second referendum as soon as Theresa May brings her Brexit deal back to the Commons. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour would take the first opportunity to test whether MPs will back a public vote. But he stressed that Jeremy Corbyn’s party would also continue to press for its own Brexit vision and was still calling for a general election. Labour’s Brexit blueprint was defeated by 240 votes to 323 in the Commons on Wednesday night and Mr Corbyn confirmed Labour would now back a referendum if faced with a “damaging Tory Brexit” or a no-deal departure from the European Union. But he insisted that Labour would also continue to support “other available options” to prevent either the Prime Minister’s deal or the UK crashing out without an agreement.” – Daily Telegraph

  • McDonnell sets out plan for new vote – The Times
  • Corbyn’s Brexit vision emphatically rejected by MPs – News Letter


  • Could the Independent Group block Brexit with Lib Dem alliance? – Daily Express
  • Jailed MP skips string of Brexit votes – The Sun


  • Tories have an historic chance to destroy Labour – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

Robert Halfon MP: Why, despite its imperfections, I’m voting for the deal

“People are now facing genuine anxiety about how Brexit will affect them, their families and their country. Small and medium-sized businesses from my constituency have been getting in touch as well. All of them have expressed concern about the impact that uncertainty and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is having on the future of their investment, workforce and trade. Bigger businesses may be able to weather the storm but smaller ones do not have the same margins and buffers. For these reasons, I have come to the conclusion that, whatever the imperfections of the Prime Minister’s deal, I have to vote for it. I did vote against it the first time because of reservations about Britain drowning in EU bureaucracy without a vote, a voice or a veto. I was also wary about Northern Ireland being in a different regulatory regime, which, to me, seemed to weaken our Union.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The EU has shown it can smooth the path to ratification – Henry Newman, Times Red Box
  • The fate of the deal is in Cox’s hands – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • Britain still has a chance to think again – Philip Stephens, FT
  • Time is on the side of Remainers – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Javid says son of jihadi bride could return to Britain

“The son of Jihadi bride Shamima Begum could be returned to Britain, Sajid Javid has indicated as he defended his decision to strip his mother of her citizenship. The Home Secretary told MPs the boy, Jerah, would be entitled to British consular help to come to the UK if he could be taken out of Northern Syria with the consent of his mother, who fled the UK four years ago to join the terror group ISIL. Mr Javid admitted it was “evident” the boy was a British citizen because he was born before his 19-year-old mother’s citizenship was revoked but could not be helped if he remained with her in Northern Syria where there is no British consular presence. “If it is possible for a British child to be brought to a place where there is British consular presence – the closest place might be Turkey – then in those circumstances it’s potentially possible to arrange some sort of help with the consent of the parent,” he said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The Home Secretary is finally talking tough – Henry Deedes, Daily Mail
  • Why it’s OK for young Muslims to be radical – Ali Nobil Ahmad, The Guardian

May announces new fund to support bereaved parents

“Grieving parents who cannot afford burial fees will no longer have to give their kids a pauper’s funeral, the PM yesterday announced. After almost a year’s delay, Theresa May said a Government fund to waive the costs of burying or cremating a child will finally come into force in the summer. She had come under mounting pressure to set a date for the scheme to come into force after originally announcing it last April. It came after a campaign by Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who had to take out a bank loan to pay for the funeral of her eight year-old son, who died in a car accident. The PM told the Commons it is not right that grieving parents has to worry about how they would find the cash to give their child a proper send-off.” – The Sun

  • Prime Minister vows to protect aid budget – The Sun

Burns ‘under scrutiny’ over Thatcher Centre fundraising

“An appeal raising funds to create a visitor centre dedicated to Baroness Thatcher has instead spent much of its fortune encouraging young people to support right-wing beliefs. The Tory MP Conor Burns is under scrutiny by the Charity Commission over his involvement in the British wing of a transatlantic campaign that was supposed to build a museum and library devoted to the former prime minister. An investigation by The Times has found that most donations to the Margaret Thatcher Centre’s US fundraising vehicle came from the billionaire Robert Mercer, President Trump’s top donor. He set up Cambridge Analytica, the consulting company that controversially became involved in data mining, and bankrolled Steve Bannon, the alt-right activist… The Margaret Thatcher Centre, due to open this year to mark the 40th anniversary of her becoming prime minister and 60 years since she was elected to parliament, has made little progress.” – The Times

  • Money spent before a brick is laid – The Times


  • No way to recall public service to the nation – The Times

Justice ministers announce change to compensation laws

“Up to 4,000 crime victims who have been denied compensation for decades because they lived under the same roof as their attacker will be able to claim the awards after the Government scrapped a 55-year old ban. Justice ministers will today (Thursday) announce they are abolishing the 55-year-old “same roof” rule, which has prevented victims of violent crimes that took place before 1979 from receiving compensation if the perpetrator was someone they lived with at the time of the incident. The bar was introduced in 1964 to ensure offenders did not benefit from financial awards made to victims they shared a home with. The arrangements were changed in October 1979, so victims could claim compensation if they no longer lived with their attacker and were unlikely to do so again. The change will be retrospective which means an estimated 4,000 victims could benefit, with a maximum claim of up to £500,000, according to the Ministry of Justice.” – Daily Telegraph

Williamson suspended in antisemitism row

“Jeremy Corbyn bowed to pressure from his deputy, Labour MPs and a union leader to suspend one of his most prominent supporters in an antisemitism row last night. Chris Williamson, 62, the Labour MP for Derby North, had the whip withdrawn and his membership suspended for saying that the party had been too apologetic over antisemitism. Mr Corbyn’s team spent 24 hours fending off calls from Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, and other MPs to eject Mr Williamson. He had told a meeting of the activist group Momentum in Sheffield: “We have backed off too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.” A video obtained by The Yorkshire Post on Monday night showed activists responding with loud applause to his complaints. Mr Williamson responded to the controversy by saying that he regretted his “choice of words”.” – The Times


  • An MP made for the worst aspects of the digital age – Oliver Kamm, The Times
  • If you think there’s an antisemitism problem now, just wait – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph


  • Watson is transformed into a voice of reason – Daily Telegraph
  • If Williamson’s behaviour is a sacking offence, what about Corbyn’s? – The Sun

India demands release of pilot as war with Pakistan looms

“India has demanded the release of a fighter pilot shot down by Pakistan warplanes in a major escalation between the two nuclear powers over Kashmir. Video showing the pilot – blindfolded and with blood on his face – was shared by Pakistan’s information ministry. India described the images as a “vulgar display of an injured personnel”. Social media users in India have hailed the pilot as a hero. Others are urging both countries to show restraint, with the hashtag #SayNoToWar. The recent aerial attacks across the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Indian and Pakistani territory in Kashmir are the first since a war in 1971. The incident, in which Pakistan said it had shot down two military jets, has escalated tensions between the two nations, both of whom claim all of Kashmir, but control only parts of it.” – BBC

>Today: ToryDiary: Nuclear powers, spiralling tension – and Kashmir’s fallout in urban Britain

News in Brief:

  • Williamson and a second referendum could push more Labour MPs towards the exit – Alan Lockey, CapX
  • Meet the eight lawyers who will judge whether ‘Cox’s codpiece’ cuts the mustard – Jonathan Isaby, Brexit Central
  • Can either Labour or the Tories survive Brexit? – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • PMQs: The Tiggers are having an impact for the better – Finn McRedmond, Reaction
  • Is cancer screening doing more harm than good? – Tom Chivers, UnHerd

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