Published:

EU leaders give May three weeks to come up with a plan if her deal isn’t passed…

“European Union leaders last night handed Theresa May a three-week lifeline to come up with an alternative Brexit plan if her withdrawal deal is not approved by MPs. After nearly seven hours of wrangling the 27 leaders agreed to give Mrs May an unconditional extension until April 12 to “indicate a way forward”. If her deal is passed, Brussels will give the government until May 22 to pass the legislation that would implement Brexit. If the deal is not agreed by the April deadline, however, Britain will be forced to choose between a no-deal Brexit or agreeing to hold European elections in return for a longer extension to the Article 50 process.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister’s appeal falls flat as EU ‘seizes control’ of exit date – The Guardian
  • Pound firms after May is allowed more time – FT
  • Cracks emerge as Brussels squabbles over ‘inevitable’ no deal – The Times
  • EU leaders open door to long delay – The Scotsman
  • Merkel angry at Macron and Tusk for risking hardest Brexit – Daily Express
  • Varadkar thinks EU should cut UK some slack – FT

More:

  • Truss urges May to embrace no deal instead of delay – The Sun
  • How May decided she was prepared to accept a no-deal departure… – FT
  • …and wrecked her strategy to win over Brexiteers – FT
  • Ministry of Defence’s bunker plan – The Times

>Today:

>Yesterday:

…as Remain ministers launch fresh bid to block ‘no deal’

“Remain ministers have warned the Prime Minister that they are prepared to quit unless she gives them a free vote on a new backbench bid to stop no deal. A cross-party group of MPs is on Friday expected to table a new amendment that will force the Prime Minister to accept a longer extension to Article 50 if her deal fails. The amendment, which will be voted on next week, will mean that if Mrs May’s deal is defeated Parliament – rather than the Prime Minister – will decide whether to accept any offer of a longer extension of Article 50 from Brussels. A group of eight Remain ministers met Julian Smith, the Chief Whip, on Thursday to demand a free vote on the amendment to avoid the threat of mass resignations.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Petition to cancel Brexit hits 2.5 million signatures – Daily Mail
  • TUC and CBI unite to sound alarm over ‘no-deal’ – The Times
  • Prime Minister ignores rising calls to rule out cliff-edge exit – The Sun
  • Rudd takes aim at May’s plan in letter to resident – Daily Telegraph

Labour:

  • Corbyn won’t rule out revoking Article 50… – The Times
  • …and he will meet Barnier before summit – The Guardian
  • Audience mock Labour leader’s walkout on Question Time – Daily Express
  • Backbenchers carry party torch at second referendum march – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Zombie May and her Zombie Cabinet

>Yesterday:

May apologises to MPs…

“Theresa May has conceded MPs are as frustrated by the Brexit process as she is after yesterday’s accusatory Number 10 speech sparked fury in the Commons. The Prime Minister was blasted for pitting the public against MPs after she claimed, ‘I am on your side’ and that the public were fed up of ‘political games.’ Mrs May referred to her televised speech in Brussels on Thursday night, saying: ‘I expressed my frustrations and I know that MPs are frustrated too – they have difficult jobs to do.’ Parliamentarians on both sides of the House had slammed the PM’s speech, to the extent that Speaker John Bercow was prompted to reassure MPs, ‘None of you is a traitor.’… Mrs May was warned that her remarks had put them in danger of physical attack by angry members of the public.” – Daily Mail

  • Chastened leader seeks to make amends after ‘cataclysmic’ 24 hours – FT
  • Bercow orders Leadsom to sit down in fresh spat – Daily Express
  • Hague warns that UK is heading for another election – The Sun

>Today: Video: WATCH: U-turn! May offers an apology to MPs. More or less. (After all, her deal needs their votes.)

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Bercow implores MPs to “raise the level” of debate… then orders Leadsom to sit down

…as Chief Whip ‘joins parliamentary revolt’ against May’s speech…

“Theresa May’s chief whip has joined a full-scale revolt against her effort to turn voters’ anger on parliament that left her almost without allies. Julian Smith told Conservative MPs he agreed that her effort to deflect Brexit chaos was “appalling”. Tory whips are furious that Mrs May’s address has wrecked efforts to gain enough support for her Brexit deal to have a chance of it passing after it was defeated by 391 votes to 242 at a second meaningful vote last week. They say that the gap had been at its narrowest before her statement. Mark Francois, a hardline Brexiteer, told Sky News: “If you’re trying to persuade numbers of MPs to back a proposition, you don’t do that by insulting them.” Philip Lee, a Conservative MP who supports a second referendum, said that MPs deeply resented being cast as “the enemies of the people”.” – The Times

  • Has the Prime Minister cracked her whips? – ITV

Comment:

  • This offensive speech set the country on a dangerous path – Andrea Jenkyns MP, Daily Telegraph
  • May has trashed our democracy and put MPs in danger – Lisa Nandy MP, The Guardian

Editorial:

  • May’s furious attack on MPs is justified – The Sun
  • Strategic failure – The Times

>Yesterday:

…and Brady tells her MPs want her to quit

Theresa May has been told by the most senior Tory backbencher that MPs want her to stand down because of her handling of Brexit, The Telegraph can reveal. Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory MPs, visited the Prime Minister in Downing Street on Monday afternoon and made clear that a growing number of Tories believe she has to go. The visit by Sir Graham to Downing Street on Monday came after he was “bombarded with text messages” by colleagues and urged to confront the Prime Minister with demands that she should quit. Sir Graham imparted their calls in a “neutral” manner in his role as chairman of the 1922 committee during the meeting in Downing Street.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Trevelyan and Crouch amongst MPs who approached the whips – The Sun

Comment:

  • For country and party’s sake, she must step down – Stewart Jackson, Daily Telegraph

Philip Collins: MPs share much of the blame for the current impasse

“I am bored beyond words at hearing MPs demand, yet again, a solution for which there is not enough support. Rather they should ask themselves the question with which I began. If it were your job to find a viable solution, in this parliament populated by this set of people right now, what is it? If you find that there is a large distance between your answer to this question and the political Ponzi scheme you are selling in public then I am afraid you are part of the problem. It is a fake nobility to carry on proclaiming your principled status as, all around you, consensus crumbles. It might be convenient to ascribe all the blame to Mrs May but it is a fundamental error of attribution. The problem with Brexit has so many more multitudes than are contained in Mrs May.” – The Times

  • Britain now has two choices: no deal, or a long delay – Bernard Jenkin MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Macron’s harsh words make no-deal more likely – Iain Martin, The Times
  • What the EU should do next about Brexit – FT
  • Offering to quit might be what it takes to get May’s deal through – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister is making a hideous gamble – Martin Wolf, FT
  • No-deal would trigger huge battle over the future of the economy – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit is not the cause of Britain’s political breakdown – Gary Younge, The Guardian

Gove, the ‘silent assassin’, being tipped to replace May

“He was famously banished to the backbenches and told to learn about loyalty by Theresa May, but now Michael Gove could prove to be the Prime Minister’s ‘silent assassin’, according to Tory sources. Following a stellar Commons speech in which he eviscerated Jeremy Corbyn, a different kind of momentum is gathering behind the Environment Secretary as a potential ‘unity’ candidate to succeed Theresa May… The latest Conservative Home leadership poll put Johnson well ahead of the pack with 26 per cent of the vote, compared to Raab on 13 per cent and Gove on 10 per cent – up a percentage point on the month before.” – Daily Telegraph

Johnson digs in for leadership battle with new financial support

Boris Johnson has received another £15,000 donation from JCB, the construction company, as he prepares for a potential Conservative Party leadership contest. The former foreign secretary has received £31,000 of donations since mid-February, according to the register of members’ interests. In January The Times revealed that Mr Johnson had received £10,000 from JCB three days before giving a speech about Brexit at its headquarters. Lord Bamford, the company’s chairman, is a longstanding financial supporter of the Conservative Party and backed Leave in the 2016 referendum. He has said that “there is nothing to fear” from leaving the European Union without a deal. In addition to the £15,000 Mr Johnson received from JCB, he also accepted £16,000 from Johan Christofferson, an investment banker. Mr Christofferson previously gave Mr Johnson £20,000 in January.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Johnny Mercer MP in Comment: Reform the leadership rules. MPs should present members with a final four candidates, not two.

Ex-Labour donor gives big boost to The Independent Group

“A former minister in Gordon Brown’s government has made a “significant” donation to the Independent Group. Lord Myners, who was City minister in the Treasury from 2008 to 2010, said the political centre had “lost our voice”… Lord Myners, 70, a former chairman of Marks and Spencer and the Guardian Media Group, was appointed to the upper chamber as a Labour peer but now sits on the cross-benches. He donated £12,700 to Mr Brown’s Labour leadership campaign in 2007 and also helped Labour Tomorrow, a group set up in 2016 to oust Jeremy Corbyn. In January he was one of more than 150 business figures who called for a second Brexit referendum in a letter to The Times.” – The Times

MPs ‘clueless’ about technological change, warns adviser

“MPs are “clueless” about the impact of robots and new technology on workers, the Government’s gig economy adviser has warned. In a model of the workforce in 2035 Matthew Taylor says the rapid trend towards automation will trigger more inequality, put the workforce under “constant surveillance,” push down wages and deepen regional divisions across the UK. These will have a bigger impact on workers than simple job losses, he warns. A survey of MPs by his RSA think tank found that less than half of them “feel they have the expertise to make sound judgements about tech policy”. Only 15 per cent said MPs were doing enough to prepare workers for new technologies.” – The Sun

Riley says some in Labour see Jews as ‘the enemy’

“Countdown star Rachel Riley yesterday warned that some Labour members see Jews as “the enemy”. The maths whizz said Labour has become institutionally anti-Semitic under Jeremy Corbyn. The star is Jewish and has suffered a torrent of vile abuse online for speaking out on the racism. And she was met with a fresh barrage of hate from trolls at the weekend for tweeting her sympathies for the victims of the New Zealand terror attack. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, she said “beyond a shadow of a doubt” Labour is anti-Semitic… Miss Riley said a Labour member told her of a party meeting where ‘other Labour people say that tribalism can drive the Labour party by giving them an enemy, which at the moment is the Jews’.” – The Sun

  • Opposition launch local election campaign with focus on cuts – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Corbyn won’t attend a meeting with Umunna. But here’s who he will meet.

Sturgeon ‘to reveal independence plan’

“Nicola Sturgeon has said she will set out her plans for a second Scottish independence referendum after “this phase of the Brexit negotiations”. The First Minister said in January she was going to set out her timetable for another vote in a “matter of weeks” but has since refused to give further details against the backdrop of Brexit chaos at Westminster. Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament independence is the only solution to the “broken government” of Westminster after the chaos of Brexit. It came as the pro-independence Greens heaped the pressure on the SNP leader to set out her plans for a second independence referendum in response at First Ministers Questions today.” – The Scotsman

Progressive Unionists join attack on Sinn Fein over sectarian banner

“The Progressive Unionist Party has added its voice to those challenging Sinn Fein over a banner calling for England to ‘get out of Ireland.’ Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald was pictured holding the banner at the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York on Sunday. PUP chairman Brian Lacey said Ms McDonald’s actions – just weeks after she told a gathering of ‘civic unionists’ in Belfast that those who “want to refight old battles” are hindering reconciliation – laid bare Sinn Fein’s strategy to “perpetuate division and separation”… Earlier this week, the Republic’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the banner was “offensive” and “divisive,” while the Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey said the slogan on the banner “calls into question her genuine commitment to equality and rights”.” – News Letter

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Tory MPs lead backlash against decision to prosecute Ulster veteran

News in Brief:

  • In defence of May – William Wellesley, Reaction
  • Who does the public blame for the Brexit mess? – Matt Singh, CapX
  • The EU has just given parliament more time to take control of Brexit – Cindy Yu, The Spectator
  • Brexit has exposed our education apartheid – Matthew Goodwin, UnHerd
  • Why calls for a meat and dairy tax are misguided – Ben Ramanauskas, 1828

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