Brexit 1) May ‘defies calls’ to name departure date

“Theresa May has resisted pressure to set a date for her departure in return for support for her EU divorce deal after a threatened cabinet coup fizzled out. After meeting prominent Brexiteers at Chequers yesterday, the prime minister is instead expected to allow parliament to move towards a softer exit from the European Union. The strategy is designed to scare hard Brexiteers into line and steer them towards her deal while seeing off an attempt by MPs to seize control of Commons business. Mrs May summoned Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith, Dominic Raab, Steve Baker, David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg for one last effort to persuade them to support her deal. Downing Street would say only that it was a “lengthy” meeting. The Brexiteers declined to speak publicly about its contents but it is understood that they asked Mrs May to set out a timetable for her departure.” – The Times

  • ‘Frank’ Chequers summit where the Prime Minister held the line – Daily Telegraph
  • Squabbling plotters save May – The Times
  • Ministers rally behind leader – FT
  • She faces her Cabinet – The Scotsman
  • Gove and Lidington deny plans to step up as replacement – Daily Telegraph
  • Emergency plan to evacuate the Prime Minister over health fears – The Sun


  • Brexiteers say departure date is price of their support for the deal – The Sun
  • Leave-backing MPs pile on the pressure – The Guardian
  • Prime Minister endures, but struggles to win over rebels – FT
  • Sturgeon says May is ‘effectively out of power’ – The Scotsman


  • May must go to save her deal – The Sun


Brexit 2) Barclay warns that voting for a soft Brexit could lead to an election

Voting for a softer Brexit could lead to a general election, the Brexit Secretary has warned as  MPs prepare to vote for a series of “indicative votes” this week. Stephen Barclay said rejecting Theresa May’s deal while also taking no deal off the table could result in the Conservative party breaking its manifesto promises. Indicative votes allow MPs to decide on a series of options designed to see what can command a majority in Parliament. Supporters of the plan believe it could provide a way out of the current political deadlock. Mr Barclay said “the risk of a general election increases” if the Commons goes down this path. Although the vote itself would “not be binding”, he said Parliament choosing a different Brexit option would “potentially collide with fundamental commitments the Government has given in their manifesto”. On Monday an amendment tabled by a cross-party group of MPs, led by Hilary Benn and Sir Oliver Letwin, will aim to pave the way for indicative votes.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexiteers won’t support a Government u-turn, minister says – The Sun
  • Johnson brands Government ‘chicken’… – Daily Telegraph
  • …and demands assurances the Prime Minister won’t fight another election – Daily Mail
  • It’s my deal or soft Brexit, says May – Daily Express
  • Labour could fight snap election promising second vote – The Guardian
  • May warned failure to introduce hundreds of policies will harm poll prospects – Daily Telegraph


  • May has abandoned constitutional precedent by extending Article 50 – Martin Howe QC, Daily Telegraph
  • A no-deal Brexit remains highly likely – Wolfgang Münchau, FT
  • Why I fear we may see French-style civil unrest – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
  • ‘Black Wednesday’ shows how Brexit would be a release for the economy – Roger Bootle, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Paul Bew in Comment: Merkel has let alternatives to the backstop out of a bottle. So there’s no putting them back in.

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: We “take note” of people choosing to march, but “what matters is 17.4 million at the ballot box”, Barclay argues

Brexit 3) Hammond backs vote on a second referendum

“Philip Hammond added to the pressure on Theresa May yesterday to allow votes on an alternative to her Brexit deal. The chancellor said that MPs should have the right to vote on the “perfectly coherent” option of putting the Brexit question back to the public in a second referendum, saying that people were desperate for a way forward. Options for a softer Brexit include the UK committing to join a customs union and remaining in most of the single market… He also distanced himself from Mrs May’s opposition to a second referendum, saying it was a “perfectly coherent proposition” in a further sign that her red lines are being washed away in the effort to avoid a no-deal exit on April 12, the deadline set by the 27 nations remaining in the EU for the UK to agree a way forward if MPs do not vote to support Mrs May’s deal this week.” – The Times

  • Sandbach calls for pro-EU entryism into the Conservative Party – The Sun
  • Field is first Tory MP to back revoking Article 50 – Politics Home
  • Starmer increases pressure on Corbyn over second vote – The Times
  • May fights for life as MPs consider indicative votes – Daily Express
  • Petition to revoke Article 50 passes five million signatures – The Times
  • Fears set alarm bells ringing for financial services – FT


  • The only way forward is to come out of the EU now – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
  • How a knockout contest could break this shameful deadlock – Ken Clarke and Helen Goodman, Times Red Box
  • The week Parliament takes back control of Brexit – Nick Boles, FT
  • As a former Commons clerk, I think these votes would be terrible idea – Eliot Wilson, Times Red Box
  • Why Norway Plus gives the UK space to sort out this mess – Yanis Varoufakis, Daily Telegraph
  • Revocation doesn’t reduce the chances of a Scottish referendum – Lesley Riddoch, The Scotsman

>Today: Nicky Morgan MP’s column: Indicative votes. If the Commons can’t reach a Brexit decision, beware a second referendum.


Charles Moore: Whatever happens, Lidington is not the man to succeed May

David Lidington is being touted as the right “caretaker” Prime Minister to succeed Theresa May suddenly and soon. I have known him slightly for more than 40 years, from Cambridge University days. He is a moderate, intelligent person, who would be a competent member of any British Cabinet. But Mr Lidington is also an unrepentant Remainer. His role in the recent Brexit contests has not been that of peacemaker, but of trying – mostly successfully – to persuade Mrs May to stick with the Remain side of her Cabinet from which she comes. He has largely succeeded. It was he who protected the recent Cabinet rebels – Amber Rudd, Greg Clark, David Mundell and David Gauke – the week before last. They defied the government whip by abstaining on a no-deal motion. As a result, a parliamentary vote to prevent no deal was passed. Thus they helped the Government disintegrate and break its promise to the electorate. So if Mr Lidington becomes “caretaker”, of what would he take most care? Not of government unity; certainly not of delivering Brexit. He would be busy advancing the cause of the six or seven members of the Cabinet, led by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, who are trying to frustrate it. How would that bring peace and harmony?” – Daily Telegraph

  • Gove may yet rise from the dead to replace the Prime Minister – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • It’s a shootout between him and Lidington – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • A caretaker is the only hope of stability – Jane Merrick, Times Red Box
  • May’s time is up, she must make way for a successor – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
  • Why she would find it unbearable to leave Downing Street – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail
  • Why it’s time for May to name the date – Katie Perrior, Times Red Box
  • Johnson is charming, but he’d make a pointless Prime Minister – Clare Foges, The Times

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Duncan Smith – The leadership must be chosen by Party members, not in a “stitch-up” by a “cabal”

Cleverly denies institutional Islamophobia as Tory councillors reinstated

“More than a dozen Conservative councillors who were suspended over posting Islamophobic or racist content online – with some describing Saudis as “sand peasants” and sharing material comparing Asian people to dogs – have had their membership quietly reinstated, a Guardian investigation has found. The chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Mohammed Amin, called on the party to publish a set of formal disciplinary processes after the Guardian found 15 examples of politicians who posted content that was deemed objectionable. The findings come amid growing concerns over the Conservative party’s attitude to reports of Islamophobia in a febrile wider climate, with the number of hate crimes against Muslims reported to have risen by 593% in the week after the attack on two New Zealand mosques… James Cleverly, the deputy Tory chairman, has said he disagrees “deeply” with claims from within the party that it is institutionally Islamophobic.” – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: The Conservatives and anti-Muslim prejudice. A role for the Extremism Commissioner.

DUP MP wins applause for saying Ireland should rejoin the Commonwealth

“DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has told the Fine Gael party conference he would like to see Ireland join the Commonwealth. Sir Jeffrey received a round of applause when he mentioned the idea in Co Wexford on Saturday. “This won’t get agreement with everyone here,” he said… The Republic of Ireland was a member of the Commonwealth until April 1949 when The Republic of Ireland Act 1948, came into force, severing all formal ties with the British Crown. The idea of Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth has been prominently supported by Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan, who Sir Jeffrey referenced a number of times. Mr Feighan argues membership would promote Ireland’s values on a global stage and strengthen economic relations internationally.The event, hosted by Young Fine Gael, brought Sir Jeffrey as well as Alliance Party leader Naomi Long and SDLP MLA Claire Hanna to discuss north-south relations.” – News Letter

  • Why the Democratic Unionists’ hard Brexit stance is popular with voters – FT
  • Varadkar rules out coalition with ‘toxic’ Sinn Fein – News Letter

Liberal Democrats divided as leadership hopeful reveals she assaulted an ex

“A Lib Dem leader hopeful has revealed that she was detained by police after slapping her ex-boyfriend in a fight. In a shock admission yesterday the Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran confessed she lashed out after getting into a row with her former partner. Her revelations shocked and divided the party – with some praising her as brave while others demanded she stand down. The 36-year-old wrote in a statement online she was coming clean about the domestic violence incident in response to “rumours” that had been circulating about an incident at a party conference in Glasgow…  Others said her admission should force her to reconsider running altogether, and some called on her to quit as an MP too.” – The Sun

Trump claims ‘total exoneration’ over Mueller

“Donald Trump and his campaign team were cleared yesterday of conspiring or co-ordinating with Russia to swing the 2016 presidential election after an inquiry that hung over him for two years. The long-awaited report by Robert Mueller made no judgment on whether President Trump obstructed justice but William Barr, the US attorney-general, said in a letter to Congress that Mr Trump would not face any charges. Mr Mueller, 74, found that Russia sought to influence the election through misinformation pumped out on social media by a “troll farm” based in St Petersburg and by stealing and releasing emails from senior Democrats. However, his central findings, released in a summary by Mr Barr yesterday, were given an unequivocal reception by Mr Trump, who had called the inquiry a witch-hunt. “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” a triumphant Mr Trump tweeted.” – The Times

  • Investigation finds no collusion between the President and Russia – FT
  • Attorney-General’s summary of the findings – The Times

News in Brief:

  • The specious stance of Labour’s soft Brexiteers – Alan Lockey, CapX
  • Failed coup could bring down the Government – Robert Peston, The Spectator
  • Brexit is being betrayed by the political class – Gerald Warner, Reaction
  • How Cambridge flunked the Peterson test – Douglas Murray, UnHerd
  • No Deal is the only way to seize the freedom to decide how to make a success of Brexit – Tim Hammond, Brexit Central