May faces ‘day of reckoning’ but hopes aren’t high for winning vote

“Theresa May will face a day of reckoning on Friday as she tables one last vote on her Brexit deal despite warnings from her closest aides and ministers that she is destined for yet another defeat. The Prime Minister has promised to resign if she gets a deal through Parliament, but Eurosceptic MPs have insisted she must announce the timetable of her departure on Friday regardless of the result. On the day that Britain was supposed to have left the EU, the vote marks a final roll of the dice for Mrs May after two years of Brexit negotiations. In a move described as “desperate” by critics, Mrs May announced on Thursday that she will ask MPs to vote on only one part of the Brexit deal – the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement – in the hope that the whole deal will be agreed at a later date.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister tries to buy time for her deal – The Guardian
  • MPs asked to vote on ‘blind’ Brexit – FT
  • Battle of the flags outside Parliament – The Times
  • Labour ‘hypocrites’ threaten to wreck split deal plan – Daily Mail

If she loses?

  • UK could be locked in for another year if deal falls… – The Sun
  • …or is that five years? – Daily Mail
  • EU demands £39 billion to restart talks – Daily Express
  • Germany warns of no-deal medical supply shortage – The Times
  • Crisis mode as block prepares – The Guardian
  • May could pull trigger on election – Daily Express
  • England could become independent ‘by default’ – The Scotsman

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Does May have a secret plan to lead the Conservatives into a snap general election?


Iain Duncan Smith: If we don’t back the deal, the EU has us over a barrel

“My concern is that if we don’t approve the Prime Minister’s EU withdrawal deal, Brussels will have Britain over a barrel. Westminster would be obliged to come up with an alternative exit proposal by April 12. If that happens, I am convinced that the overwhelmingly Remainer majority in the Commons would try to force through a much softer Brexit, and possibly no Brexit at all. Not only that. The other 27 national EU leaders now have the power to respond by making it tougher for Britain by demanding an extension to Article 50. This could mean us staying in the EU for another two years and British voters taking part in the European Parliament elections in May.” – Daily Mail

  • We must resist this wretched deal – Owen Paterson MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Faustian pact to save a wretched Brexit – Philip Stephens, FT
  • MPs should back the deal, we can still prosper – Shanker Singham, Daily Telegraph
  • Now MPs have a taste for rebellion – Matt Bevington and Alan Wager, Times Red Box
  • What the ‘separation’ of the vote means for Brexit – Tom Kibasi, The Guardian
  • Resignation makes consensus around May’s deal impossible – Stephen Bush, Daily Telegraph



Customs union plan ‘could sway DUP and Nationalists’

“Supporters of a soft Brexit are in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party and Scottish Nationalists about keeping Britain in the customs union and single market after the country leaves. Before another round of voting on alternative Brexit proposals in the Commons on Monday, supporters of the so-called Common Market 2.0 proposal have been asked into meetings with both party leaderships. Talks are also continuing with the Labour leadership, which encouraged its MPs to vote for the proposal on Wednesday night but stopped short of whipping for it. One source claimed that Labour MPs supporting a second referendum had put pressure on the leadership not to fully endorse the rival proposal to reduce its chances of gaining a majority.” – The Times

  • Foster urged to save Brexit by backing deal – The Sun


  • Tory MPs scent victory in bid to keep UK inside customs union – Daily Telegraph
  • MPs tailor indicative votes to maximise support – FT
  • Ministers devised ‘secret plan’ to frustrate first round – The Sun
  • Labour backs ‘indefinite delay’ – The Sun
  • Businesses voice ‘utter frustration’ with stalemate – FT


  • Even as a Remainer, I see a customs union deal is a total sham – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • Parliament is inching towards a solution – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • Don’t blame the DUP for the EU’s trickery on the Border – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • How did we allow these narrow-minded bigots to wreck Brexit? – Leo McKinstry, The Sun
  • Unionists who faced down the IRA won’t crumble for May – Eilis O’Hanlon, Daily Telegraph


Grieve deselection bid led by former UKIP opponent

“The effort to deselect Dominic Grieve as a Conservative MP is being led by the man who stood against him as the Ukip candidate two years ago. The former Tory attorney-general faces a vote of confidence today from party members angry at his support for a second referendum. His opponents are being organised by Jon Conway, who stood as the Ukip candidate in the Beaconsfield constituency in 2017. Mr Conway, a pantomime producer, said that he was recruited to the party after serving as a regional organiser for the official Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave. In an email to Beaconsfield Conservative members sent last Friday he acknowledged his past affiliation but insisted that claims of mass entryism were unfounded.” – The Times

Rivalries harden as infighting plagues ‘Spartans’

“Some call them Spartans, others have cited Tacitus’s history of doomed British resistance to the Roman invasions — there have been insults relating to the relative merits of Eton and Winchester colleges. The dwindling band of diehard Tory opponents of Theresa May’s deal are staging their last stand with the weapons they know best. Tempers ran particularly high at a meeting of the European Research Group immediately after the prime minister announced she would stand down if her Brexit deal passed on Wednesday night… As resistance dwindles so old methods of communication are abandoned. “We don’t use WhatsApp any more to be honest,” one of the remaining Tory opponents said. “It’s like reformed smokers being the most likely to give you a lecture.”” – The Times

  • Lilley latest ‘no deal’ advocate to back deal – The Sun
  • So-called ‘Spartan’ in hot water over comments – Daily Mail


  • Beware the anger of frustrated Brexiteers – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Public deserves to know how the negotiations went so wrong – Frank Field, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Mark Francois MP in Comment: The Government is bluffing. Why I and many others will vote against the Withdrawal Agreement later today.


Leadership 1) Rees-Mogg hints he’ll back Johnson for leader

“Jacob Rees-Mogg has given his strongest hint yet that he backs Boris Johnson to replace Theresa May as Conservative party leader, saying he is a “formidably able candidate”. It is the most explicit endorsement of Mr Johnson by Mr Mogg since Mrs May announced on Wednesday night that she will stand down as Tory leader and Prime Minister if her Brexit deal is voted through by MPs. In an interview with Chopper’s Brexit Podcast, which you can watch by logging in or subscribing below, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I will not be PM. I’m not going to be a candidate – that I wouldn’t have any support among MPs, though I might have some support amongst the party and the country.” Asked to confirm Westminster rumours that he will throw his weight behind Mr Johnson, he said the former foreign secretary “is a formidably able political figure”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Trump ‘backs Johnson’ – Daily Mail
  • Dark horses in the leadership race – The Times
  • ‘At least ten Cabinet ministers mulling bids’ – The Guardian

Leadership 2) Raab tells May to go and renegotiate a better deal

“Dominic Raab told the prime minister to return to Brussels and negotiate a better deal yesterday as potential leadership candidates sought to appeal to the Brexit-supporting membership of the Conservative Party. The former Brexit secretary declined to fall into line with Boris Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary last year, and endorse Theresa May’s withdrawal deal. Instead he sought to present himself as the champion of vigorous Brexiteers and urged Mrs May to secure a legally binding exit from the Irish backstop, which she has previously been denied. Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, also set out her preference for no-deal rather than no Brexit as she declined to rule out running for the leadership.” – The Times

  • He positions himself as the no-deal candidate – Daily Telegraph
  • Truss hints at run after backing Canada-style deal – The Sun


  • Raab knows his plan won’t fly, but is catnip for members – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

Leadership 3) Hunt ‘claims support of 100 MPs’ as Javid ‘eyes joint ticket with Gove’

“Jeremy Hunt has reportedly told Cabinet colleagues he can secure the backing of 100 Tory MPs, as Sajid Javid has begun”operation stop Boris” in his bid to be the next Tory leader. Mr Hunt has privately told ministers he has “75 MPs locked down” to back him, and another 25 “on his maybe list”, a government source told the Daily Telegraph… Mr Hunt denies making the claim about the 100 MPs’ support. The Foreign Secretary has been lining up support in the Commons for months, including holding face-to-face meetings with backbenchers… Meanwhile Mr Javid has been sounding out allies of Mr Gove to run on a joint ticket, with the Home Secretary aiming to occupy Number 10 with Mr Gove next door as Chancellor.” – Daily Telegraph

  • ‘Brutal’ race already underway – FT
  • Gove edges into the lead – Daily Mail

Philip Collins: The Tories could once again become the ‘nasty party’

“The temptations of two particular doctrines have made the Tories all but ungovernable. The first is the appeal of sovereignty-based nationalism. There is a breed of Eurosceptic in the Conservative Party that loathes the European Union so much that they are not even prepared to vote to leave unless they can stick their fingers up to it as they go. Their vision of national sovereignty in a world of alliances, treaties and trade and capital flows is a century out of date and their assumption that taking back control from Europe is the answer to the problems Britain faces is simply fatuous. Yet they have got religion and cannot be reasoned with. The second doctrinal temptation is hang-over Thatcherism.” – The Times

  • The future of Conservatism is up for grabs – Daily Telegraph
  • Voters don’t think Gove and Johnson have what it takes – Keiran Pedley, Times Red Box
  • We must all have a say in replacing May – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: They’re off! (Well, perhaps.) Twelve questions for leadership candidates.

Corbyn urged to discipline Brexit rebels

“Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure to discipline frontbenchers who defied the party whip over a second Brexit vote. Ian Lavery, the party chairman, Andrew Gwynne, shadow communities secretary, and Jon Trickett, shadow Cabinet Office minister, all rebelled and abstained for the vote on Wednesday night. Melanie Onn, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby, stood down as shadow housing minister to vote against another referendum. No action has been taken against the other three, despite Labour MPs being ordered to vote for the proposal. A row has erupted within the party as angry MPs call on the leadership to act. Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour minister, warned that if no action was taken it would be “very hard on those shadow ministers who had to go for defying the whip on the same issue” earlier this month.” – The Times

  • Why did the People’s Vote campaign waste time wooing the Labour leader? – Layla Moran MP, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Obviously Conservative discipline is in tatters. But, intriguingly, Labour’s isn’t looking great either.

Activists with Labour links held over antisemitic conduct

“A one-time Labour council candidate and a former party activist are among three suspects arrested after a dossier of alleged antisemitic social media activity was leaked to police. Roy Smart, 50, and Patricia Sheerin-Richman, 72, were arrested last week along with a man from Birmingham in his fifties on suspicion of distributing material likely to stir racial hatred. Both Mr Smart, who was expelled from the party after disciplinary proceedings while standing in council elections, and Ms Sheerin-Richman have previously been accused of Holocaust denial in social media posts. Allegations of antisemitism have engulfed Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.” – The Times

  • McDonnell group backs controversial expelled member – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Why I’ve reluctantly concluded that MPs need to vote for Theresa May’s deal – Jonathan Isaby, Brexit Central
  • As an ex-Brexit minister I can tell you – May’s ‘plan’ was built on sand – George Bridges, The Spectator
  • Remainers must stop their generation blame game – Philip Patrick, Reaction
  • Will decoupling the Withdrawal Agreement end the impasse? – Dom Walsh, CapX
  • How I overcame my class stigma – Roger Scruton, UnHerd