Brexit 1) Cabinet ministers urging May to accept “no deal”

“Cabinet ministers will attempt to take control of Brexit by telling Theresa May it is “time to embrace no deal” after her EU Withdrawal Agreement was rejected by MPs for a third time. Mrs May will hold a conference call with ministers on Sunday night amid calls for a Cabinet vote on how to proceed. Senior backbenchers said the Prime Minister had reached the end of the road and should now quit, but Mrs May stood firm and wants to put her deal to a Parliamentary vote for a fourth time next week. She hinted that if MPs refuse to follow her she might call a general election to break the impasse, warning MPs: “I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House.” – Daily Telegraph

  • EU leaders declare that leaving without a deal on April 12th is a “likely scenario” – Financial Times
  • Ask for another six months to prepare better suggests Lord King – The Times
  • European leaders react with shock and fury – Daily Telegraph
  • Raab backs “no deal” – Daily Mail


Brexit 2) Plans for a fourth vote on the Withdrawal Agreement

“Theresa May and her cabinet are looking for ways to bring her EU withdrawal agreement back to the Commons for a fourth attempt at winning MPs’ backing. The PM said the UK would need “an alternative way forward” after her plan was defeated by 58 votes on Friday. MPs from all parties will test support for other options during a second round of “indicative votes” on Monday. But government sources have not ruled out a run-off between whichever proves most popular and the PM’s Brexit plan.” – BBC

  • Johnson, Rees-Mogg and Raab support deal but it isn’t enough – The Times
  • I’d rather stay in EU than back Theresa May deal, says the DUP’s deputy leader – The Guardian
  • The deal is dead – Leader, The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Three cheers for the Commons for the way it is conducting the necessary argument on Europe

Brexit 3) “Growing risk” of an early General Election

“Theresa May put MPs on election alert yesterday after her Brexit plan was defeated a third time by dozens of Conservative rebels….Despite No 10’s attempt to put on a brave face, though, Mrs May acknowledged that time was almost up for her plan. After yesterday’s defeat, on the day when Britain had been scheduled to leave the EU, she told MPs: “I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House.” – The Times

  • PM confronts choices she hoped never to face – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times
  • Party bosses rally ground forces – The Times
  • It would be the third election within four years – Daily Mail
  • Snap poll could mean Labour wipeout in Scotland – The Times
  • Who would win? – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 4) Local association passes “no confidence” motion in Grieve

“Dominic Grieve suffered further humiliation after his local Conservative association approved a no-confidence vote in him. The Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association voted against Mr Grieve, who represents the area as MP, on the grounds of his views on Brexit. The former Attorney General holds a 24,543 majority in Buckinghamshire and is a staunch supporter of the European Union. Although the BCCA passed the no-confidence vote, it does not automatically mean he will be deselected.” – Daily Express

>Today: MPsETC: Grieve and Griffiths lose association confidence ballots

Brexit 5) Farage tells demonstrators there has been a “betrayal”

“Nigel Farage spoke after yesterday’s Brexit march in an attempt to inspire Leave supporters despite Brexit not taking place on March 29. Mr Farage insisted he was more determined to “fight back against this political class” after what he described as a Brexit “betrayal.” The LBC host began by saying: “I believe that what has happened over there has not just turned this day, that should have been one of great celebration, into a day that history will mark as a day of betrayal.”…The crowd then exploded into cheers of support as chants of “Nigel” can be heard from the Brexiteers.” – Daily Express

  • Pro-Brexit supporters take over Parliament Square – Financial Times
  • A British sense of disgruntlement – Patrick Kidd, The Times
  • Rage at the gates against the elites who ignored the people – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail

Brexit 6) Leadership rivals scramble to secure backing from Rudd

“Theresa May’s defeat intensified calls for her departure as potential Brexit-supporting replacements scrambled to secure the backing of Amber Rudd. The work and pensions secretary has made clear that she will endorse potential Tory leadership candidates with strong one-nation credentials, rather than those who necessarily share her view on Brexit….The backing of Remain-voting Ms Rudd is emerging as a prized endorsement for Brexiteer candidates, given that she appeals to parts of the Conservative party that many Leave candidates do not. Ms Rudd is unlikely to run herself although friends say it is “not inconceivable”.” – The Times

Brexit 7) Moore: The Conservatives must now be led by a Leaver

“Despite its inadequacy, the Conservative Party remains the only available home for Brexit as an organised cause, and most of its membership agrees. From the Sixties until now, even under Mrs Thatcher, the Tory establishment has been pro-European and has forced the eurosceptical rank-and-file to lump it. Now that Mrs May has failed, and people like Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd and Greg Clark have actively sabotaged everything, this has to end and I believe it will. Instead of burning party cards, Brexiteers should be joining up.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • May is one of the least successful PM’s in history – Andrew Roberts, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 8) Oborne: My money is on Hunt to be the next Tory leader

“In my view, the next Tory leader must come from the Centre of the party. It is a shame that Chancellor Philip Hammond is so bland. Otherwise he would be a steady-the-ship candidate. The TWO ministers with the best chance are Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Some time ago, I put money at long odds on Mr Hunt becoming leader. He is now a favourite, but by no means a certainty. Such is the current chaos that the field is open for someone talented from the younger generation of politicians to come through the ranks and show that they can end the rancid sectarianism which has done such damage to the Party.” – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

  • The next Tory leader faces a challenge to save the party – Camilla Cavendish, Financial Times
  • Do any of them have what it takes? – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph
  • “People have come forward and said they’d support me.” – Interview with Esther McVey, The Times

Brexit 9) Forsyth: If MPs backs a Customs Union it would be hard for the Government to pursue it on negotiations

“If a customs union is what wins on Monday, the call is the most finely balanced. Negotiating one would, in the words of a Cabinet minister, “be an enormous breach” of the Tory manifesto. But fighting a whole Election on a customs union would be hard, if not impossible. “You might want it to be a single-issue Election,” this Cabinet minister admits. “But it is going to cover a multitude of sins.” For this reason, he concludes that a “surprisingly small number of Cabinet members would have the courage to say, ‘go for an Election’.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Brexit 10) Parris: Remainers must not compromise

“And now the real battle begins. It’s a battle Remainers can win, and these next few days may be critical. I see the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, has been calling for the spirit of compromise. Compromise? Compromise with these tinpot Brexiteers who would destroy Britain’s links with our biggest trading partner? Compromise with the gang who cheated voters with the lie of a Brexit that would offer all the benefits and none of the obligations of EU membership? Compromise with the bullies who called judges “enemies of the people” and accused Remainers of (in Mrs May’s words) “subverting democracy”? Compromise with the skulduggery of politicians who, offered the half-loaf of relinquishing our seat at the EU’s top table while remaining subject to its rules, would take the half-loaf, and within days — days — start whipping up public anger at the arrangement? Compromise be damned.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

Other comment

  • Our political class is beneath contempt – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • May got the DUP wrong yet again – Jonathan Powell, The Times
  • The PM must step down – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • A delay is needed to get out of the impasse – Leader, The Times
  • The UK is in a profound crisis – Leader, Financial Times
  • Shames on our MPs – Leader, The Sun
  • Policies should not be decided by officials behind closed doors – Douglas Carswell, Daily Telegraph
  • Not a word Labour says can ever be trusted again – Stephen Pollard, Daily Mail
  • We need a year long extension – Gordon Brown, The Guardian
  • A missed opportunity – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Javid launches stop and search blitz to fight knife crime

“Sajid Javid will declare war on knife thugs next week by launching a ‘Stop and Search’ blitz to end the bloodshed on British streets. The Home Secretary will rip up reforms instigated five years ago by Theresa May and give police far more power to challenge gang members. The Tory leadership contender is also expected on Monday to unveil a new ‘Prevent-style’ public health programme that will treat would-be knife thugs like jihadi extremist. Under the changes to Stop and Search, cops in seven regions will no longer have to prove “reasonable grounds” are needed before stopping a suspect. Sources said the push will likely last for six months and be billed as a ‘pilot scheme’ to spare the blushes of the PM. As well as London, South Yorkshire is one of the areas expected to be included in the pilot.” – The Sun

Gove’s plan to make cat owners microchip their pets

“Cat owners could soon be required by law to microchip their pet, Michael Gove has suggested. A plan to give moggies the “same treatment as dogs” — whose owners have had to chip them since 2015 — was warmly welcomed by the cat-owning Environment Secretary.MP Rehman Chishti said he met Mr Gove after tabling a Bill seeking to ensure “certain cats” are microchipped. But there are no details of which breeds from the 11 million-strong cat population are affected.” – The Sun

Independent Group launch themselves as a political party

“The Independent Group of MPs has launched its plan to be a political party in a bid for votes should a general election follow the Brexit impasse. The 11 MPs who split with their parties said yesterday that their new party would be called Change UK. They also revealed that it will be led, for now, by the former Tory MP Heidi Allen rather than the group’s spokesman, Chuka Umunna. A long-term leader will be elected in September. The group is understood to be trying to keep its platform as open as possible, in order to attract more defections from both Labour and the Tories.” – The Times

News in brief

  • Why I decided to vote for Theresa May’s deal – Michael Tomlinson, Brexit Central
  • A no-deal Brexit or general election are now likelier than ever – Robert Peston, The Spectator
  • Pointless and counter-productive – let’s call time on Earth Hour – Eamonn Ives, CapX
  • A General Election is inevitable – Stephen Bush, New Statesman
  • At this rate we may never leave – John Rentoul, Independent