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Finally, May says she will quit if her deal passes

“Theresa May offered last night to quit to get her EU divorce deal over the line as Brexit looked set to claim a second Conservative prime minister in three years. In a highly charged address, Mrs May told Tory MPs that she accepted they wanted new leadership to negotiate Britain’s future relationship with the bloc. She did not name a departure date but No 10 said later that she would call a leadership contest within weeks of the withdrawal agreement’s ratification. Boris Johnson announced that he was falling into line within an hour of her promise to quit. However, the Democratic Unionist Party declared that it was still opposed to the deal, casting doubt on a third Commons vote tomorrow.” – The Times

  • Behind the scenes at the 1922 Committee – Daily Telegraph
  • Voice cracking, she finally got her party on side – The Times
  • Supporters accuse rebels of being sexist – The Sun

More:

  • How her moment of victory sowed the seeds of her downfall – Daily Telegraph
  • When she realised her resignation was the price – The Sun
  • Party facing cash crunch as pressure grows on leader – FT

Editorial:

>Today:

Daniel Finkelstein: The Prime Minister’s choices and character sealed her fate

“So she is resigning because of her two big decisions. And also her political character. Critics regard Mrs May as stolid, silent and lacking entirely in flair and imagination. A more generous interpretation is that she is self-contained, shy but also driven, very stubborn and with a strong sense of duty. This robbed her of the ability to free herself with one brilliant stroke of the sword. But her single-mindedness means that she is willing to do almost anything, put up with almost any humiliation, to succeed in the end. Whether this is remembered as extraordinary dedication or lamentable lack of creativity will depend on something we don’t know yet. Whether, finally, she gets her deal through.” – The Times

  • How will history judge her? – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • Time for a pro-Brexit Prime Minister – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • Quiet composure as the end looms – Henry Deedes, Daily Mail
  • She has put her country ahead of herself – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Welcome departure a last chance to save Brexit – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • Europe does for yet another Tory Prime Minister – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
  • Departure won’t halt UK’s slow drift into a kind of civil war – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Bercow Blockage 1) Will the Speaker allow a vote on the deal in the first place?

“The prime minister’s plan to put her Brexit deal to a third meaningful vote hit a fresh obstacle in the shape of John Bercow yesterday. The Speaker angered No 10 when he reiterated that he would not allow a tactical ruse to be used to enable the same plan to be brought before the House again and that the only circumstances in which he would allow another vote on Theresa May’s deal would be if it were “substantially” changed. He did not rule on whether the conclusions of last week’s EU summit would count as a substantial change to the deal. However, ministers fear that he would rule another meaningful vote out of order. One senior government aide described the Speaker’s move as “outrageous” while it also drew criticism from outside experts. Hannah White, deputy director of the Institute for Government, described the Speaker’s ruling as “very surprising”.” – The Times

  • Bercow sparks fury with controversial ruling – The Sun
  • Speaker ‘shares limelight’ with May in European press – Daily Telegraph
  • Will he have the final smirk? – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Letwin’s coup has driven him to his boldest move yet – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Bercow Blockage 2) Will May bypass him by cutting the agreement in half?

“Theresa May is considering a dramatic move to bypass a blockade on her Brexit plan by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, by splitting her deal in two and presenting only one half to MPs for a vote. The prime minister is looking at holding a vote only on the 585-page draft withdrawal treaty — the legally binding divorce agreement with the EU— while spinning off the 26-page non-binding political declaration on future relations with the bloc. The idea has been circulating in Downing Street all week, but has been given greater urgency by Mr Bercow’s renewed warning on Wednesday that he would not accept a third meaningful vote on substantially the same exit package that MPs have already voted down twice.” – FT

Comment:

  • We must not fail our Brexit voters – Ben Bradley MP, Daily Telegraph
  • If this last gamble wins, May will depart in triumph – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Deal may not be dead, but it’s killing us – Esther Webber, Times Red Box

>Today: Ashley Fox MEP in Comment: May’s deal. We will be dragged into the disaster of European Parliamentary elections if it doesn’t pass.

>Yesterday:

DUP show no sign of budging

“More than 20 Tory MPs who voted against the Brexit deal earlier this month said they would now back the deal, but Mrs May must still convince the DUP and a hard-core of Eurosceptics to change their minds to have any chance of it passing. The deal was voted down by a majority of 149 earlier this month, meaning 75 MPs need to switch sides to get it over the line. Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, dealt a hammer blow to Mrs May’s hopes by saying the Northern Ireland backstop was an “unacceptable threat to the integrity of the UK” and “we cannot sign up to something that would damage the Union”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Resignation gambit thwarted by Unionist opposition – FT

Johnson and Rees-Mogg panned over u-turn…

“However, several of Mr Johnson’s colleagues in the European Research Group still aren’t on board, which could put the next meaningful vote on a knife edge. In a highly-charged meeting of the Brexiteer ERG group last night MPs tore into each other as they split down the middle over whether to back the deal. An ERG source said after their meeting – “There is no way enough votes are coming out of that room to put the Withdrawal Agreement through.” Deputy Steve Baker delivered an extraordinary speech attacking the PM – describing her pledge to quit as a “pantomime” and said it had been “consumed with a ferocious rage”. Mr He told colleagues he was even considering quitting the party over the deal.” – The Sun

  • Up to 30 ERG ‘Spartans’ won’t back the deal – The Guardian
  • May’s delight at rebel ‘implosion’ – Daily Express
  • Raab must choose whether to back deal to boost leadership hopes – The Sun

Comment:

  • May plays her last card, but the House fails to fold – Robert Shrimsley, FT

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hannan argues that delaying Brexit is better than the deal

…as Morgan backs soft Brexiteer plot for ‘national unity’ Cabinet with Cooper and Watson

“Rebel Tories have drawn up secret plans to offer Labour deputy leader Tom Watson a Cabinet post in a ‘national unity government’. It would be formed to force through a ‘soft Brexit’ if Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement is rejected for a third time. She would be replaced by a stand-in Conservative prime minister with Mr Watson and Labour moderates such as Yvette Cooper given Cabinet seats. They would create a coalition with the rest of the Cabinet and negotiate exit options to avoid cancelling Brexit altogether. Tories behind the plan say it would avoid the ‘nightmare’ of a general election being won by Jeremy Corbyn.” – Daily Mail

  • Brexiteer MPs are falling into a trap – Patrick Robertson, Daily Telegraph
  • Our broad-church parties have ceased to function – Alistair Carmichael MP, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Letwin explains why the official Government will follow his orders in Brussels

Deadlock as MPs reject all options…

“Parliament is deadlocked on a way forward to resolve the Brexit crisis after a series of Commons votes showed that there was no option commanding majority support. MPs rejected an option for the softest possible Brexit of keeping the UK in both the European Union’s customs union and single market by a majority of 95. However, the result was much closer on the proposal by Ken Clarke, the former chancellor, to keep Britain in a customs union only. It was defeated by only eight votes. Thirty-three Tory MPs backed the plan including Damian Green, Theresa May’s former deputy, and Rory Stewart, the justice minister.” – The Times

Comment:

>Today: MPs Etc.: MPs cast their ‘indicative vote’ against [roll of drums]…everything

>Yesterday:

…but Cummings rallies troops to fight referendum rematch. (Or is it a psyops operation?)…

“The guru behind Britain’s vote to leave the EU has warned activists they must get ready for another referendum NOW – but this time it’ll be even easier to win. Dominic Cummings, the mastermind behind Britain’s vote to leave the EU back in 2016, told activists today to start rebuilding their grassroots army. The ex-chief of Vote Leave said today: “Start rebuilding our network now. We will try to grow super fast. And it looks like we will need to.”… Next time “we will not close down” after winning the vote, he vowed. The campaign will make sure that the “votes are respected”. “Spread the word among those you know,” he stressed. And he urged Brits not to worry about the hated Northern Ireland backstop because it probably won’t be permanent anyway.” – The Sun

  • Leave chief in tirade at ‘narcissist-delusional’ Brexiteer MPs – The Times

>Yesterday:

…as Corbyn suffers yet another resignation over the prospect of a second poll

“Jeremy Corbyn suffered a fresh blow to his authority as another frontbencher quit over Labour’s Brexit stance. Melanie Onn, the MP for Great Grimsby, stood down as shadow housing minister to vote against a second referendum, putting her at odds with the party leadership. Hours earlier the Labour leader had tried to head off resignations with a series of assurances for MPs from Leave-voting constituencies that the party would still seek Brexit concessions from the government, but it was to no avail. Three shadow cabinet ministers, Ian Lavery, the party chairman, Andrew Gwynne, shadow communities secretary, and Jon Trickett, shadow Cabinet Office minister, also rebelled against the Labour whip and abstained on a second referendum.” – The Times

  • Labour wracked by fresh rebellion – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn orders his MPs to ‘betray Leave voters’ – The Sun

Leadership candidates flex their muscles

“Britain’s ruling Conservative party is set to hold a leadership contest to determine the country’s next prime minister now that Theresa May has announced she will resign if she gets her Brexit deal through the House of Commons. If Mrs May stands down, at least 12 cabinet ministers are likely to run in the contest, with no certainty of the outcome. The result could determine Britain’s future relations with the EU and much besides. Under the party’s leadership rules, Conservative MPs select two figures from their ranks who then go through to a run-off in which the 150,000 Conservative activists are allowed to vote The contest is likely to take place no later than this summer, with late May pencilled in for the formal start of the election. But the jockeying for position has already begun.” – FT

  • Fresh faces and old foes prepare for marathon contest – The Times
  • Fifteen candidates will run – The Sun
  • May sends would-be successors into frenzy – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Don’t let MPs stitch up the contest this time – Andrea Jenkyns MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Who should the Tories choose to win them the next election? – Stephan Shakespeare, Times Red Box

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

Labour expel McDonnell ally over antisemitic comments

“Labour has expelled a party activist who claimed that Jews were the “chief financiers” of the slave trade. Jackie Walker had been suspended by Labour after the claims, but the party was accused of dragging its feet and taking more than two years to decide on her case. Joe Glasman, of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said it came as no surprise the “institutionally antisemitic” Labour Party “waited almost three years to finally expel Jackie Walker. “During those three years she has toured the nation, openly supported by leading Labour MPs, claiming the case against her was trumped up,” he said… Ian Austin, one of the MPs who resigned from Labour over antisemitism last month, welcomed the expulsion, but said too many members were being “let off with a trivial warning”.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • How the UK lost the Brexit battle – Tom McTague, Politico
  • On the referendum: actions have consequences – Dominic Cummings, Blog
  • Lord Protector Letwin is destroying our democracy – Gerald Warner, Reaction
  • Brexit, Scottish independence and the dangers of interminable debates – Tom Harris, CapX
  • Foreign aid can be popular with taxpayers – but only with reform – Jeremy Hutton, 1828

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