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Brexit 1) Extension U-turn today? Prime Minister “willing to seek a delay if her deal is voted down”

“Theresa May is ready to rule out a No Deal Brexit after an extraordinary mass revolt by ministers, the Daily Mail can reveal. A group of 23 dissidents met secretly at the Commons last night to discuss how to stop Britain leaving the EU without an agreement on March 29, with as many as 15 said to be ready to resign. In an article for the Mail today, three of the ministers involved say they are prepared to back a Commons move by rebel MPs tomorrow to force the Prime Minister to seek a Brexit delay if her deal is voted down. Industry minister Richard Harrington, digital minister Margot James and energy minister Claire Perry ‘implore’ Mrs May to say that if there is no deal agreed by Parliament by March 13 then she must seek a way to extend Article 50.” – Daily Mail

  • May is marching on but doesn’t have a map – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  •  The PM must hold her nerve – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • Britain needs to stop playing the EU’s game and take a harder line – Yanis Varoufakis, Daily Telegraph
  • “Offer to take no-deal exit off the table” aimed at quelling Europhile rebellion – Financial Times
  • Option of No Deal “alive for later in the year” – The Sun
  • EU officials “plotting to delay Brexit until 2021” – Daily Express

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Brexit 2)  About-turn faces challenge in Cabinet

“The prime minister is also expected to face fierce opposition from Brexiter ministers at Tuesday’s cabinet; some ministers claim the country could flourish after a no-deal exit, in spite of some early disruption. Mrs May’s allies hope that business leaders will rally behind the prime minister as she rules out a cliff-edge exit on March 29; the prospect of a disorderly exit has alarmed and infuriated corporate Britain. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get this far,” said one cabinet colleague. “We need a wall of support for the PM to get this through the cabinet.” Another minister said that an “explosion is guaranteed” from Tory Brexiters when they are confronted with Mrs May’s new strategy, which will ramp up pressure on Eurosceptics to back the prime minister’s tweaked exit deal. Under Mrs May’s plan, to be presented to cabinet, MPs would be given a “meaningful vote” on a revised exit deal by March 12. Mrs May is trying to win assurances from Brussels that a contentious “backstop” plan for the Irish border will not turn into a permanent UK/EU customs union.” – Financial Times

Brexit 3) Labour backs a second referendum (but on what terms?)

“Jeremy Corbyn has announced that Labour will back a second referendum as he attempted to stem the tide of defections over Brexit. The Labour leader told MPs that he will commit to a second vote to prevent a “damaging Tory Brexit” after nine MPs quit his party. He also said Labour will support a backbench bid to take a no-deal Brexit off the table by forcing the Prime Minister to request an extension of Article 50. Peter Kyle, a Labour MP who is leading a backbench bid to force a second referendum, said on Monday night that there was “no turning back for Jeremy now”. However, Mr Corbyn’s attempt at unity appeared to immediately prompt a new split amid a backlash from Labour MPs in Leave constituencies. Caroline Flint, the MP for Don Valley, warned that there will “never be unity in the party” if it backs a second referendum.” – Daily Telegraph

  • A sickening betrayal of Leave voters and reversal of his manifesto pledges – Leader, The Sun
  • Labour policy has more questions than answers – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • A wake-up call to Tory Brexiteers to get behind Theresa May’s deal – Leader, The Times
  • It could definitively end Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of becoming PM – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • It’s a diversion tactic – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 4) A deal could prompt early elections in Ireland

“Cracks in the alliance that underpins Leo Varadkar’s minority government in Ireland have raised the prospect of an early election if a resolution to Brexit is agreed. The taoiseach’s Fine Gael party signed a pact in 2016 with the largest opposition party, Fianna Fáil, enabling Mr Varadkar to conduct difficult Brexit talks — which present multiple dangers for Ireland — without the risk of his administration falling. But a hospital spending row has soured ties between the two parties, leading government and opposition figures to say that an election could be called if there is clarity on Britain’s EU exit.” – Financial Times

Brexit 5) Costa may be sacked as a PPS

“Theresa May faces a new government departure today and a rebellion involving dozens of her own MPs. Her plans for EU citizens in a no-deal Brexit scenario has been criticised by Alberto Costa, a loyalist MP who works as a parliamentary private secretary for David Mundell, the Scottish secretary. Mr Costa will table a motion to protect the right of three million EU citizens in the UK and one million UK citizens in the event of no deal.” – The Times

  • Rebellion to force the Government to recognise legal rights of EU nationals in UK – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 6) Government plans to pay over billions even if there is “no deal”

“The Government is making plans to pay billions of euros to Brussels to settle large parts of the £39bn Brexit divorce bill even in the event of a ‘no deal’, the Telegraph can reveal. Ministers signed off the in-principle decision on Monday at a meeting of the Brexit ‘no deal’ preparedness cabinet committee, according to senior Whitehall sources. Under a plan agreed on Monday, the Government will table an executive order, or Statutory Instrument, in the final days of the Brexit negotiations to create the legal foundations for future payments to Brussels.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 7) Hub in Belgium to maintain medical supplies

“The government has created a logistics hub in Belgium where vital medical supplies will be stockpiled to stop the NHS running short of equipment if there is a no-deal Brexit. Stents, implants and other products needed to ensure that patient care is not disrupted will be stored at the hub, the exact location of which has not been disclosed. The Department of Health and Social Care has also arranged to get NHS supplies – including drugs – into Britain using seven new ferry routes, to bypass the chaos that is widely expected in and around Dover in the event of no deal.” – The Guardian

Brexit 8) SNP want control of EU development funds

“The SNP has accused the UK Government of preparing the ground for a nine-figure cash-grab from the Scottish Parliament in a growing row over the future of EU investment funds after Brexit. UK ministers plan to replace EU development funds worth £800 million to Scotland over six years with a ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’. However, a consultation on the new system, which will come into force in 2021, has not been published despite a commitment to seek views by the end of last year.” – The Scotsman

Brexit 9) Poll shows boost for independent Group

“Labour’s support has fallen below the combined total for the new Independent Group and the Liberal Democrats. A YouGov poll for The Times asked people how they would vote if they could support the Independent Group (TIG) in their constituency. The poll found the Tories on 36 per cent, down two points from last week and Labour on 23 per cent, down three points. TIG received a four-point boost, at 18 per cent, with the Lib Dems on 6 per cent, down one. The result means that TIG and the Lib Dems, which support a second referendum, are on a combined 24 per cent, one point ahead of Labour, underlining the potential scale of the challenge to Labour from pro-referendum parties.” – The Times

  • Breakaway group of MPs have dinner at Nandos – The Sun
  • Shuker is elected as ‘convener’ – BBC
  • The Lib Dems should join the Independent Group – David Boyle, The Guardian

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Can Labour out-Europhile The Independent Group with this second referendum pledge?

Brexit 10) Hague: The Tories need to stick together

“The best approach for a cohesive governing party in this situation is to keep its collective nerve for another few weeks, extract a change to the legal durability of the Irish backstop allowing the deal to be voted through, and delay Brexit for only as long as needed to pass the legislation to implement it. That unity may actually be easier to achieve now that the opposition seems to be discussing a second referendum more seriously. We could then proceed to deliver Brexit, enter the transition period, open negotiations on a free trade agreement with the EU, and provide the country in the meantime with a steady government.” – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Stephen Booth on Comment: Brexit and the economy. There are ups, there are downs. But whatever happens, our fundamentals remain strong.

Davis hints at bid to succeed May

“David Davis today fired the starting gun on the race to succeed Theresa May – hinting he will run to be PM. The ex-Brexit Secretary suggested he is the best candidate to lead the country as he declared himself “the last of the great romantic radicals”. Mr Davis is the first candidate to publicly express an interest in taking over since Mrs May announced she’ll quit in time for the next election. He has previously run for the Tory leadership twice – losing to Iain Duncan Smith in 2001 and David Cameron in 2005. In an interview in the April issue of Tatler, Mr Davis said he has the right qualifications to take over from Mrs May. He said: “If this were an application for a job as a chief executive, I would probably win it. But it isn’t. And that isn’t the way the decision is done.” Mr Davis added that he was the PM’s “favourite minister” before he resigned over Brexit last year.” – The Sun

Poulter wins libel damages over assault claims

“The Conservative MP Dan Poulter has won substantial libel damages from the Sunday Times after it published claims that he had sexually assaulted three female MPs. The newspaper accepted there was no truth to its claims that the politician, who is also a practicing doctor, had put his hand up the skirts of colleagues. The allegations were made in two Sunday Times articles published at the height of the #MeToo scandal in late 2017, during which several MPs were accused of inappropriate behaviour. The articles were based on accusations made by Andrew Bridgen, a fellow Conservative MP, who alleged he had gone to the Tory whips office about Poulter in 2010 and that no action had been taken.” – The Guardian

Javid announces ban on Hezbollah

“All UK supporters of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group will face up to 10 years in prison from next month after Sajid Javid announced a new blanket ban. Currently the political wing of the Lebanese extremist group – who Jeremy Corbyn has branded “friends” – is not on the list of banned terror groups. But it was among a handful of Islamist groups Home Secretary Sajid Javid included in a new list of proscribed organisations in the UK. If approved by Parliament, the step will bring Britain in line with countries including the US in regarding the whole of Hezbollah as a terrorist group. From Friday, membership will be a criminal offence carrying a maximum sentence of up to 10 years.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: Natasha Hausdorff on Comment: The proscription of Hezbollah is welcome – though overdue

Protest over “state takeover” of sex education

“Ministers have mounted a “state takeover” of relationship and sex education in schools that denies parents a choice, according to the organiser of a 106,000-strong petition calling for parents to have an automatic right to opt out of the lessons. Kate Godfrey-Faussett, a chartered psychologist, said the government was “increasingly taking over and encroaching into parenting.” She added: “We are talking about intimate relationships and personal education for which it is a fundamental right of parents to take responsibility.”…In the Commons, a number of Tory backbenchers also challenged education secretary Damian Hinds on the opt out rights.” – Daily Telegraph

Loss of support from ethnic minorities threatens Tories’ electoral prospects

“Sharp rises in support for Labour among minority ethnic voters at the last general election and the increasing diversity of Conservative constituencies mean the Tories face a tough challenge to maintain power the next time Britain goes to the polls, research published on Monday suggests. Labour increased its traditionally loyal support from minority ethnic voters in 2017, with 77% of those who voted choosing Jeremy Corbyn’s party, up from two-thirds in 2010, according to research by Runnymede, a race equality think tank. By contrast, the Conservatives managed to win only 16 seats where 30% or more of the electorate were from an ethnic minority, losing support it had gained in 2010 when it won 27 such seats.” – The Guardian

MP could sit in Parliament with an ankle tag

“Disgraced MP Fiona Onasanya will reportedly be freed today after less than a month in jail — and could sit in Parliament with an ankle tag. The politician, 35, has spent just 28 days behind bars for lying to dodge a speeding ticket. She is set to be freed from HMP Bronzefield in Surrey under an early-release scheme. The ex-solicitor, who has refused to resign her Peterborough seat, could return to Parliament for tomorrow’s Brexit vote.” – The Sun

Watson to personally monitor anti semitism cases

“Tom Watson has said he will take personal charge of antisemitism and bullying complaints made by MPs to bring them to the attention of the Labour leadership, telling colleagues he will hold the party’s management of the complaints to account. In a separate attempt to stop further defections, the Guardian understands that Labour could delay the start of re-election battles. Labour is set to put back the start of the formal MP selection process, due to begin in a few weeks, which could have led to vast numbers of MPs facing deselection.” – The Guardian

Kim arrives in Vietnam for summit with Trump

“North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in Vietnam ahead of a summit with US President Donald Trump. The second US-North Korea summit follows a historic first round of talks last year in Singapore. Ceremonial guards and flag-waving crowds had lined a red carpet laid out for him as he arrived at Dong Dang border station in the morning. He then took a car in the capital city of Hanoi where heavy security and flag-waving crowds were waiting for him.” – BBC

Sandbrook: Labour’s threat to school standards

“Jeremy Corbyn has promised that if Labour win power, he will ban future academies, scrap free schools and grammar schools, and take all existing academies back into full state control. In effect, Mr Corbyn wants to turn back the clock to the state-mandated ‘progressive’ chaos of the Seventies. And as so often, he and his friends do not care whom they hurt, and how many children’s lives they blight, in pursuit of their perverted ideological ambitions. No wonder, then, that in an interview yesterday, Alan Johnson admitted that he does not want Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister. For as his radio series shows, the casualties would not merely include Britain’s wealth creators, savers, homeowners and taxpayers. They would also include the children betrayed by Mr Corbyn’s dogmatic hatred of authority, order and high achievement.” – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

News in brief

  • The dramatic shift in the prime minister’s no-deal Brexit position – Robert Peston, The Spectator
  • Only genuinely free markets will save capitalism from the far left – Douglas Carswell, CapX
  • Delaying Brexit with an extension to Article 50 means Remaining in the EU -Steven Woolfe MEP, Brexit Central
  • The chances of another referendum are slim – Stephen Bush, New Statesman
  • The trading relationship between Britain and the EU is flourishing. No Deal shouldn’t change that – Daniel Johnson, The Article

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