Cabinet at War latest: Leadsom and Hunt hit back at Rudd, Clark and Gauke

“Those who wish to embrace no-deal are turning their backs on a far more attractive option in the PM’s deal – avoiding disruption and uncertainty for businesses and our people.  On the other hand, the active pursuit of a delay to Brexit – with no purpose beyond frustration – is a betrayal of the referendum result. It would lead to an irretrievable breach of trust with those who are already cynical about the will of Westminster to deliver on the result to begin with. The uniting factor of these two options is the ruptures they will each cause. We will face more uncertainty, more debate, and deepen the distrust that the public have in politicians…We remain energised to deliver on Brexit – and with the collective efforts of our colleagues who want to work in the national interest, resolution is within our grasp.” – Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday: WATCH: Ellwood – “If it was the European Research Group’s intent to take us to no deal we will stop that…Whenever.”

ERG keeps options open…

“In a significant intervention, eight ERG lawyers, chaired by veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash, have drawn up a document spelling out their demands, the clearest sign yet that they are prepared to fall into line. Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, is seeking a new deal that would make clear that the Northern Ireland backstop, which locks the UK into a customs union with the EU, is only temporary. In private talks with Cox the Brexiteers demanded a legally binding “mechanism” to escape the backstop, with a clear “exit route” and an unambiguous rewrite of the “language” in the government’s legal advice.” – Sunday Times

  • “Michael Tomlinson explained: “There is a spectrum and a range of options that the attorney-general has, but I’m not going to say protocol, good; codicil, bad; letter, very bad; because that would be prejudging it. We are waiting to be convinced.” – Sunday Times
  • Cox has drawn up a codicil – Mail on Sunday
  • Brady, Vickers ready to back deal. Lewis says Tory MPs supporting it won’t be deselected. May backs Gyimah – Mail on Sunday
  • Gibraltar’s British status ‘to be protected under tax deal which will apply even in the event of a no-deal Brexit’ – Sunday Express
  • Farage speaks in America – Sunday Express
  • Glenda Jackson admires May – Mail on Sunday

> Today: ToryDiary – Our survey. Seven in ten respondents are opposed to a Commons vote on Brexit extension

> Yesterday:

…As Barnier says: there will have to be an extension – deal or no deal

“Barnier backed up the private positions of many of the Remainers in Theresa May’s Cabinet by saying she does not have time to make a deal. Theresa May has threatened MPs in recent weeks to back her ‘meaningful vote’ on March 12 or risk further delaying Brexit or a no-deal scenario. Barnier told Spain’s El Mundo that Brussels would not green light a Brexit deal on March 29 even if Parliament reached an agreement. Mr Barnier suggested a ‘technical extension’ of up to two months would be needed.” – Mail on Sunday

Dan Hodges: “Cox is the Cabinet’s Walrus of Love”

“Cox’s lyrical interventions at Cabinet meetings have already earned the admiration of his colleagues. ‘I could listen to him for hours,’ swoons a female Minister. ‘He’s the Cabinet’s Walrus of Love. Our very own Barry White’…He must convince the reluctant Eurocrats to go as far as they can on breaking the Brexit deadlock. According to Government insiders, he’s having some success. ‘They like him,’ a Cabinet Minister tells me. ‘He fits their idea of what a British Minister should be. They feel they’re negotiating with David Niven.’” – Mail On Sunday

  • I’m ready to back May’s revised deal – Graham Brady, Mail on Sunday
  • I will vote for the deal – writes Rob Halfon again, this time in the Sun on Sunday
  • Where better to look to solve the Brexit backstop problem than Ireland’s history with the EU? – Henry Newman, Sunday Telegraph
  • It may be only a pledge by May to quit this year will save her deal – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Brexit mood is brightening – Macer Hall, Sunday Express
  • “As we negotiate our departure, the habit of denial and deceit goes on. Officials have approached the whole project as a damage limitation exercise” – Iain Duncan Smith, Sunday Telegraph
  • May’s bluff has been called again – Sunday Times Editorial
  • “If Theresa May can win sufficient concessions from Brussels to allay genuine fears over the Northern Ireland backstop, MPs must unite behind her.” – Sun on Sunday Editorial
  • An extension must lead to a second referendum – Tony Blair, Observer
  • Yes, we must back May’s deal – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • No, we mustn’t back May’s deal – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • My GCSE French wouldn’t get me a sandwich in Paris – Rachel Wolf, Sunday Times

Bloody Sunday row: Williamson seeks ten year limit on the prosecution of soldiers

“Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, is expected to bring forward the proposed legislation in this year’s Queen’s speech after growing pressure on the government to address the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The disclosure comes amid claims that four army veterans are expected to be charged with murder over the deaths of Bloody Sunday protesters almost five decades ago…Williamson, who has previously described cases against ex-servicemen as a “witch-hunt”, said last night the case relating to Bloody Sunday “completely turns the stomach of the British people”. He also said the government “had to do something to make sure our soldiers and veterans have the protection they deserve” – Sunday Times

  • Mordaunt says that British police will be sent to trouble hotspots in Africa to stop terrorism threat – Sun on Sunday
  • Navy has more admirals than warships – Sun on Sunday

Truss suggests May is responsible for Corbynism

“The Chief Secretary to the Treasury – a leading contender to succeed Mrs May – told a private dinner last week: ‘We need to confront Corbynism, not tack towards him.’ Her intervention comes amid mounting anger on the party’s Right wing over Mrs May’s ‘Corbyn-lite’ policies, including a price cap on energy bills, billions of extra NHS investment and the targeting of ‘fat cat’ company bosses over pay and perks. During her speech, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, the Cabinet Minister claimed ‘the Right’ had been ‘asleep at the wheel in the battle of ideas’ since the end of the Thatcher government. “ – Mail on Sunday

Gibb says that children should be taught to read aloud

“Children should be reading books without an eye on exams, Gibb insists, but rather to be “gradually introduced to some of the great literature of our country and the world”. He remembers being made to read one of CS Forester’s Hornblower novels in an English class, and loved it. “I would have just continued reading Agatha Christie without that exposure.” He goes on: “One of my worries is that children in secondary schools are not reading a wide enough array of English literature in English literature lessons.” – Sunday Telegraph

Peter Hitchens: Hinds’ sex education plans betray Conservative values and break a Tory pledge

“Mr Hinds has openly broken a clear pledge given two years ago by a Tory government. The genuinely conservative MP Edward Leigh asked him a quietly devastating question in Parliament: ‘All previous Conservative Governments… have given an untrammelled right to parents to remove their children from sex education but here, in certain circumstances, that right has been transferred to the head teacher – a fundamental shift of power to the State.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Hancock pro-statins intervention – Mail on Sunday
  • “The — supposedly Conservative — government has swallowed all the tendentious liberal bilge from the jabbering victimhood pressure groups and is determined to instruct primary school children in the joys of being transgender or gay” – Rod Liddle, Sunday Times

Falconer: “We have totally lost the confidence of the Jewish community and we have to get it back”

“Lord Falconer warned Jeremy Corbyn that he has no prospect of becoming prime minister unless he stamps out the conspiratorial world view that fuels Jewish hatred on the far left. He also said that non-disclosure agreements gagging former party staff from speaking out would be bypassed so that he can conduct his inquiry. Falconer said he does not believe Corbyn is “personally anti-semitic” but warned that British Jews feel they are “not safe” with Labour and its leader. “We have totally lost the confidence of the Jewish community and we have to get it back,” he said.” – Sunday Times

What’s Watson up to?

“Allies of Jeremy Corbyn fear that Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, is orchestrating a coup that could see him take over the opposition party and gain access to its public funding. Sources close to Corbyn say the Labour leader has become increasingly concerned by Watson’s behaviour. They fear that the deputy leader is recruiting Labour MPs for a new “party within a party” that could eventually take control of its MPs and finances. Corbyn is far more worried about a breakaway group led by Watson than he is about the eight Labour MPs who left the party last month to form the Independent Group, many sources said.” – Sunday Times

  • 100 Labour MPs could join Watson’s army. He us said to be planning a guerrilla operation to establish a centre-Left ‘party within a party’ – Mail on Sunday
  • He says Robinson should be banned from YouTube – Sun on Sunday
  • He is on manoeuvres – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times

The Independent Group will open talks with the Electoral Commission on Tuesday about forming a new party

“MPs from the group will open talks with the Electoral Commission on Tuesday to discuss what moves they must take to register as a party that can put up candidates nationwide if the current political turmoil over Brexit leads to a snap election. Following the dramatic decision by eight Labour MPs and three Tories to split off from their parties less than a fortnight ago, the group believes it must be ready at the earliest opportunity to offer voters a new option on the centre ground of British politics.” – Observer

  • New party will target pro-Remain Conservative seats such as Richmond Park and St Albans – Sunday Express

News in Brief

  • Parliamentary watchdog faces £3m compensation claim after blundering officials post salary details of 3,000 staff online – Mail on Sunday
  • Conservative councils attack Grayling over Heathrow – Sunday Times
  • Murphy wanted Labour indyref in 2008 but was blocked by Gordon Brown – Scotsman
  • Ridley claims HS2 plans to sign sweetheart wind farm deals would breach procurement rules – Sunday Telegraph