Brexit 1) Defeat looms as Downing Street concedes talks are deadlocked

“Downing Street admitted on Monday that Brexit talks in Brussels are deadlocked, leaving Theresa May facing a heavy defeat if she presents her largely unchanged deal to MPs for a “meaningful vote” tomorrow. Mrs May spoke to Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, on Sunday night but made no headway in her efforts to amend the treaty to ensure that Britain could not be “trapped” indefinitely in a customs union. The prime minister had been ready to travel to Brussels on Monday to meet Mr Juncker to finalise changes to the deal, but that trip now looks in doubt. Talks at an official level are continuing. Mrs May has promised MPs a vote on her deal by Tuesday and Downing Street has insisted that she will honour that pledge: “We want people to have their say,” said one ally of the prime minister.” – FT

  • Duncan Smith says Brussels is ‘laughing’ at Cox – Daily Express
  • Hammond says deal would unlock billions to ‘end austerity’ – The Times
  • Claim that no deal would boost Britain’s economy by £140 billion – The Sun


  • Europhile MPs could be two-thirds of the way to blocking Brexit, warns Hunt – Daily Telegraph
  • Civil servants ‘reveal what they think of Brexit voters’ – The Sun
  • SNP will make Commons push for independence vote if Brexit goes ahead – The Scotsman


Brexit 2) MPs urge May to delay second meaningful vote

“Theresa May has been urged by senior Conservative MPs to pull tomorrow’s meaningful vote on her Brexit deal if she fails to secure significant concessions from Brussels. In phone calls with Downing Street, leading Tories in the Commons warned that the prime minister could face another three-figure defeat if she went ahead with her plan. They have advised her to halt the vote and replace it with a motion setting out the kind of Brexit deal that would be acceptable to Tory MPs to keep the party together and put pressure on Brussels. “As it stands her deal is going to be defeated,” a senior party source said. “It has been made clear to Downing Street that it would be eminently sensible to avoid that by proposing a motion that the party can support. Whether they listen or not is another matter.”” – The Times

  • Ministers claims only two Cabinet members support the deal – Daily Telegraph
  • Gove tells rebels to save Brexit by backing the deal – The Sun
  • Tory Eurosceptics prove impervious to May’s warnings – FT
  • Europe will demand billions in exchange for extension – Daily Telegraph
  • Voters demand MPs get on with it – The Sun


Brexit 3) Is the Prime Minister in danger? Pressure mounts to quit to save deal

“Theresa May faced mounting pressure to quit on Sunday as Conservative Eurosceptic rebels claimed she might have to sacrifice her premiership to win them over ahead of a crucial Brexit vote this week. Several cabinet ministers have said Mrs May should announce her plans to resign to win the support of Tory Brexiters, who believe that a change in Number 10 would signal a more robust approach to talks on a future UK/EU trade deal. Nicky Morgan, former education secretary, said that if Mrs May lost the latest vote on her Brexit deal on Tuesday her time would be up. “I think it would be very difficult for the prime minister to stay in office very much longer,” she told the BBC.” – FT

  • Deliver Brexit on March 29 or resign, Prime Minister told – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Cox is out of line with Downing Street on the backstop

Brexit 4) McDonnell backs ‘open-ended’ Article 50 extension

“Labour sparked fresh fears of a lengthy delay to Brexit yesterday as John McDonnell said he backed an open-ended extension. The Shadow Chancellor said we should delay our departure for “as long as necessary” to strike a new agreement or hold a second referendum. He claimed Labour’s Brexit plan could be passed in a “matter of weeks”. It marks yet another Labour split on Brexit – coming just a day after Shadow Foreign Secretary said any delay must last no longer than three months. She said it would be “inappropriate” for Britain still to be an EU member state in July because it would require us to stand in May’s European Parliament elections. And Labour’s Brexit chief Sir Keir Starmer also backed a three-month extension yesterday – saying that time-frame would be “doable”.” – The Sun

  • Starmer holds fire on support for second referendum – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish Labour avoids split with UK party on Brexit – FT
  • Unions attack May’s workers’ rights pledge – The Guardian
  • Blair secretly advising Macron branded ‘unacceptable’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Starmer says three-month extension of Article 50 would be ‘doable’

Brexit 5) Michael Gove: Only backing the deal can bring our country together

“Forty-eight per cent of the country voted to remain. Their voices need to be listened to, their hopes incorporated in our plan for the future. That doesn’t mean giving in to the much smaller number who want to overturn the decision and frustrate Brexit. But it must mean that none of us Leavers should try to make our perfect Brexit the enemy of the common good. Which is why I hope that everyone who believes in our democracy – in the importance of delivering Brexit and in the critical need to unite our country – will get behind the Prime Minister’s deal this week. It is, of course, a compromise. But so many of the great British traditions and institutions I and many others value are the result of compromise.” – Daily Mail

  • Brussels has treated Britain with condescension bordering on contempt – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
  • May should resign a year after Brexit date – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Amoral Brexiteers are blackmailing the Prime Minister – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Her leadership has left Britain facing the abyss – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • May’s bungling has pushed our economy to the edge of chaos – John McDonnell, Times Red Box
  • Norway shows the UK a better way to Brexit – Wolfgang Münchau, FT
  • Britain needs an Article 50 extension of up to 21 months – Andrew Adonis, The Times
  • Our stubbornness in the face of Brexit scare stories is heartening – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph


  • Voting down the deal leads to no Brexit – The Sun

Hunt says UK is working on plan to rescue jihadis’ children

“Officials are working out how to rescue British children born to foreign fighters, Jeremy Hunt said, as it emerged that two more jihadist brides had been stripped of their citizenship. Reema and Zara Iqbal, sisters who between them have five sons under the age of eight, have had their British citizenship removed since marrying Isis fighters in Syria. They married into a terrorist cell linked to the murder of western hostages, according to The Sunday Times. The comments by Mr Hunt, the foreign secretary, came as Sajid Javid, the home secretary, faced continued criticism after the death of Shamima Begum’s baby in a Syrian camp. Ms Begum, 19, who fled Bethnal Green in east London four years ago, had pleaded to be allowed back to Britain with her son, having already lost two children. Mr Javid revoked her passport in the belief that she had citizenship of Bangladesh through her parents.” – The Times

  • Playing politics with Begum’s baby shamed us all, Javid – Jess Phillips, The Guardian

Knife crime damaging Tories’ perception as party of law and order…

“Public concern about knife crime has wiped out the Conservatives’ reputation as the party for law and order, a poll has revealed. Only one in four people thinks that the Tories are the best for dealing with crime, the lowest proportion recorded by YouGov in the 14 years that it has been asking the question. Concern about crime has risen sharply in the past month, overtaking the NHS to become the most significant issue for voters apart from Brexit. There have been 100 killings in the UK already in 2019, including 41 stabbings. Theresa May’s record as a cost-cutting home secretary has been severely criticised, including her decision to scale back stop and search and accusing the police of “crying wolf” when they complained of falling officer numbers. Last week the prime minister caused controversy by claiming that there was “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers”.” – The Times

  • McVey insists some foreign aid money should be spent on policing – Daily Express
  • Khan accused of prioritising self-promotion over tackling crime – The Sun
  • Thousands of troublesome youths to be sent to new schools – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Local Government: Conservative candidate selections are progressing for Police and Crime Commissioner elections

…as Raab sets out stall for ‘second-chance society’

“Ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab will kick-start his pitch for the Tory leadership by setting out his vision for a “second chance society”. In a major speech to the Tory think tank Onward Mr Raab will lay out radical new policies to tackle inequality and halt Britain’s decline in social mobility. In a sign of the detailed planning he is already putting into a future leadership challenge he will call for radical new policies such as paying high-performing teachers bumper salaries to teach in Britain’s roughest schools… The speech will be seen as a clear pitch for the Tory leadership, with Theresa May expected to stand down later this year. Mr Raab catapulted to become one of the favourites to replace her after his short stint in the Cabinet last year.” – The Sun

  • We need to scrap the aid target and spend the money on policing – Esther McVey, Daily Telegraph
  • May and company have brought back the ‘nasty party’ – Jane Merrick, Times Red Box
  • Unless the Government focuses on education, crime will rise – Michael Wilshaw, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hancock says the NHS must play its ‘full part’ in stopping knife crime

Small businesses urge Hammond for reprieve over tax digitisation

“Small firms have begged Chancellor Philip Hammond for a reprieve over digitising their tax records. The new Making Tax Digital rules from next month will force all firms with revenues over £85,000 to keep online records and submit tax returns four times a year. But half of business owners told the Federation of Small Businesses they will not be able to comply from April 1. A fifth have received software quotes but not yet bought any. The move will cost small firms about £564. Just three per cent said they took part in the pilot. HMRC found one in five firms that will be affected by MTD had never heard of it.” – The Sun

Opponents of Heathrow expansion claim Grayling ‘ignored facts’

“The government faces a court challenge today over a third runway at Heathrow amid warnings that the project will subject millions of people in London and the home counties to higher levels of noise and pollution. The High Court action is an attempt to scrap the £14 billion plan to expand Britain’s biggest airport, for which 800 homes would need to be demolished. Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, is claimed to have “ignored crucial facts” over the impact of the project when he pushed ahead with legislation needed for construction of the runway. Lawyers will cite a failure to clearly identify the new flight paths before outline approval for the scheme was granted. They will say that Mr Grayling was “required by law to identify all the areas that might be affected” by aircraft.” – The Times

Watson ‘gearing up for leadership battle’ with McDonnell

Tom Watson is preparing for a head-to-head battle with John McDonnell over who should succeed Jeremy Corbyn after the Labour leader was rocked by a probe over anti-Semitism. The Equality and Human Rights Commission last week announced a formal inquiry into the party’s handling of anti-Semitism cases amid claims it may have broken equalities law. Labour MPs critical of Mr Corbyn believe the EHRC investigation will result in “heads rolling” within the party and could potentially force him to stand down. As a result, Mr Watson, the deputy Labour leader who recently said sometimes he no longer recognised the party under Mr Corbyn, is reportedly readying for a showdown with the shadow chancellor over the top job. Mr McDonnell is a long time ally of the Labour leader and is viewed by many in the party as the candidate most likely to continue with Mr Corbyn’s socialist blueprint for the country.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Corbyn accused of snubbing anti-racist campaigners with Jewish links – The Times


  • We exclude the Labour left from politics at our peril – Andy Beckett, The Guardian
  • I’ve quit Labour, and other young activists should too – Ollie Middleton, Times Red Box


>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: McDonnell ‘hopes’ Labour will get a “get a clean bill of health” from antisemitism investigation

Ulster Unionist leader ‘fiercely criticises’ DUP

“Unionist unity seemed a distant prospect on Saturday, when the Ulster Unionist leader fiercely criticised the DUP. Robin Swann spoke to members at the party annual general meeting at the Park Avenue Hotel in east Belfast, weeks before the council elections. Mr Swann said that reform of councils should have been “to deliver better, more effective services more efficiently”… In a speech that was often interrupted by applause, he added: “The DUP and Sinn Fein wrecked all round them at Stormont, we cannot let them wreck local government too and bring the country to its knees.” Mr Swann said: “At the party conference in October past, I said that there was a battle to save the Union from the DUP. I cannot say my view has changed. With the DUP at the helm, pro-Union politics lies in the gutter.”” – News Letter

News in Brief:

  • Five reasons why Ireland should back a time-limited backstop – Pieter Cleppe, CapX
  • Collapse of Cox’s codpiece clears way for an epic crisis – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • If May’s Brexit deal passes, then her troubles really begin – Alex Massie, The Spectator
  • Neoliberals must pitch to the heart as well as the head – Tom Westgarth, 1828
  • Shocking proportion of voters think MPs put the EU’s interests first – Mev Brown, Brexit Central