Brexit 1) “Constitutional crisis” as Bercow blocks vote on the deal

“John Bercow has plunged Britain into a “major constitutional crisis” after banning Theresa May from holding a third vote on her Brexit deal, the Solicitor General has said. The Speaker – a Remain voter who has faced repeated accusations of anti-Brexit bias – invoked a convention last used 99 years ago to stop the vote taking place. His unexpected announcement was greeted with fury in the Commons, as ministers accused him of being “interventionalist” and failing to “respect” MPs. With just 10 days to go until Brexit day, Mrs May is weighing her options to get round the Speaker’s ruling. The Solicitor General, Robert Buckland, said the decision would have “huge reverberations” for the Brexit process and said the Prime Minister could now ask the Queen to cut short the current Parliamentary session and start again.” – Daily Telegraph

  • A look back at Bercow’s past outrages – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • The Commons could change its Standing Orders to overturn the ruling – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexiteer “hardliners” welcome the decision – The Times
  • Take the chance to get off the hook, Labour MPs tell the PM – The Times
  • Nine month extension is most likely outcome – Peter Foster, Daily Telegraph
  • Minister likens The Speaker to Humpty Dumpty – Daily Express


  • The Speaker had the air of a psyched-up vandal – Quentin Letts, The Times
  • The twitchy windbag was at his despotic worst – Henry Deedes, Daily Mail
  • Latest twist in the drama – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Bercow’s bombshell – Leader, The Times
  • Speaker’s most destructive abuse of power yet – Leader, The Sun
  • The deal is not dead yet – Nicki de Costa, Daily Telegraph
  • Blame May, not Bercow, for this catastrophe – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • The vanity of one deluded man must not be allowed to override the wishes of 17 million people – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Bercow’s ruling has breathed new life into the people’s vote – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

>Today: Columnist Henry Newman: Bercow has demonstrated he will do anything to frustrate Brexit. So it’s time for MPs to smell the coffee.


Brexit 2) Cabinet to meet to consider options

“Prime Minister Theresa May will meet her cabinet later as she considers her next steps on Brexit, after her plans were thrown into doubt by the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow. Mrs May had been considering a third vote on her Brexit deal, which has already been rejected twice. But in a surprise ruling on Monday, Mr Bercow ruled out another vote, unless substantial changes are made first. One minister said the government was now looking at its options. Nadhim Zahawi, Children and Families’ minister, told BBC Newsnight that one of the options was for MPs to vote on whether to ignore the 400-year-old convention that Mr Bercow had cited in making his ruling. Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng earlier told the Commons the government was now hoping to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit.” – BBC

  • EU could hand May lifeline with formal offer of new Brexit date – The Guardian
  • The Civil Service is trying to sink Brexit – Anonymous civil servant, Daily Telegraph
  • The UK civil servants under a fog of uncertainty – The Guardian
  • Time is running out – Financial Times

>Today: ToryDiary: What will the EU do now?

Brexit 3) Wallace: I dislike the Withdrawal Agreement, but would vote for it to avoid being stuck in the EU

“Though I would like to be able to hang up my sword, 13 years after co-founding the Better Off Out campaign with the support of just one MP, that evidently will not be allowed. Forced to choose between fighting to get us out of a bad deal, but from outside the EU, or restarting the 40-year battle to leave from scratch, I opt for the former. After the shameful performance of so many MPs, I expect that if we stay in they will do stop at nothing to lock us in forever. The cost – economic and democratic – would be vast. Some people will be aggrieved by my choice. I feel that way about having to make it. Eurosceptics should exact a price for being forced into such a corner. Those who made this happen – the Prime Minister, as well as those Cabinet ministers and MPs who promised one thing then did another – should be turfed out. The Speakership should be given to someone who values it. Eurosceptics must harshly scrutinise our own errors which allowed us to be outmanoeuvred. And the campaign to escape the deal should begin on day one.” – The i

  • Perhaps no Tory leader could have done better, but few would have done worse – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times
  • Merriman and Sandbach consider backing a second referendum – The Sun
  • Kawczynski says the mood in his constituency has changed – Daily Express
  • Better to roll the dice, fail, than wreck the EU from within than nationally self-mutilate ourselves by passing May’s pathetic deal – Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Interview: Davies & McVey. They back May’s deal. “I don’t try to persuade Esther that she shouldn’t do something, and she doesn’t persuade me that I should do something.”

Brexit 4) Poll shows more support for “no deal” than for a delay

“Nearly half of the British public is confident that the UK will ultimately thrive if it leaves the EU without a deal, according to a new poll. The exclusive ComRes survey for The Daily Telegraph found that 46 per cent of adults think leaving without a deal would “briefly cause some uncertainty but ultimately work out OK”, compared with 40 per cent who support extending Article 50. Three in 10 adults (30 per cent) think leaving the EU without a deal on March 29 will be the best possible outcome, according to the poll, compared with more than two in five who disagree (43 per cent). ComRes also asked on behalf of Leave Means Leave if taking no deal off the table has weakened our negotiating hand. Half (50 per cent) say yes, and 24 per cent no.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “No-deal” Brexit could mean £130m hit to research budgets – The Guardian
  • The Swiss people are teaching us how to deal with an EU trade ultimatum  – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph


Brexit 5) Offer to DUP to scrap Air Passenger Duty on Northern Ireland flights

“Government ministers have offered concessions in a last-minute attempt to persuade the Democratic Unionist Party to back Theresa May’s deal. Talks involving Philip Hammond, the chancellor, David Lidington, Mrs May’s deputy, and Julian Smith, the chief whip, took place throughout the weekend and continued into yesterday. Among the concessions that are understood to have been proposed by the government is an offer to scrap air passenger duty for flights originating in Northern Ireland. The tax has long been unpopular in the province, with business and politicians arguing that it puts Northern Ireland at a competitive disadvantage with the Republic, which does not impose the £13 standard ticket charge for short-haul flights.” – The Times

Brexit 6) Emergency Euro Elections planned

“The Cabinet Office has stepped up plans for Britain to take part in this year’s European parliamentary elections. Whitehall officials and regional returning officers ran through contingencies for a poll to take place on May 23 at a meeting yesterday…Political parties have already been warned that their spending is being monitored by the Electoral Commission under rules that set an expenditure cap during campaigning. The Conservatives have consistently denied making any preparations for the polls. Labour’s Emily Thornberry has said that her party would oppose any extension that would require the “inappropriate” elections to go ahead. The SNP, however, is selecting provisional candidates.” – The Times

Brexit 7) ERG threatens to “go on strike”

“Hardline Tory Brexiteers have threatened Theresa May they will go on strike if she carries out her vow to delay Brexit by a year. No10 on Monday set a deadline of late on Tuesday for MPs to agree the PM’s exit deal before Thursday’s European summit.But instead of buckling to the pressure, diehard Tory MP Leavers raised the stakes back on the PM with a pledge to withdraw their cooperation. As many as 20 members of the hardline European Research Group have told whips they will carry out “vote strikes” – a move that would push Mrs May’s minority government to the verge of collapse.” – The Sun

Brexit 8) Johnson and Raab “making leadership calculations”

“Mrs May’s hopes of reducing Tory opposition to manageable levels will be hugely bolstered if she can win round Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, the two most prominent Brexiters jockeying to succeed her as party leader and prime minister. Both men are eyeing each other cagily, insisting they are acting in the national interest. But many Conservative MPs say both are calibrating their vote against a simple calculation: is it better to back the deal now and sell themselves as a unifying candidate? Or hold out until the bitter end to harvest hardline Brexiter votes?” – Sebastian Payne, Financial Times

Brexit 9) Hague: Leave MPs will be responsible if we have a long delay

“It cannot therefore be generally true that refusing to pursue either of two options if they are both undesirable is a morally correct stance, particularly when the welfare of other people is involved. Voting down all options is an active choice, and the consequences that result are the responsibility of those who make that choice. MPs who ensure that the Withdrawal Deal is defeated, if it can be brought back to the Commons for a third time, will be responsible for what happens instead. That seems likely to involve a long delay for Brexit, and it is worth thinking about what that would mean.” – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

Truss sets out call for better value for money from public spending

“Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss will call for an end to Government “nanny state vanity projects” in a direct challenge to Theresa May. The Cabinet minister will insist there must be a major shake-up in the way taxpayers’ money is spent to ensure it goes on voters’ priorities….In a speech to the think tank Onward, Ms Truss will say: “Core public services like roads, police, education, NHS and defence are where public want to see their money go. They don’t want their hard-earned taxes spent on announcements designed purely to get column inches. Or on billboards that brag about the government’s generosity. They don’t want to hear that their money is used for corporate subsidies. Or to prop up zombie industries. Or to be told exactly how much to eat or how much to exercise.” – The Sun

Norman proposes to allow electric scooters on the roads

“Electric  scooters could be allowed on Britain’s roads for the first time. Transport Minister Jesse Norman on Monday said the Government would look at drafting regulations and updating the 1835 Highway Act to make it legal for e-scooters to be used.Any change would also cover segways, insiders said. The Government also wants to update legislation to pave the way for driverless cars in the “biggest review into transport for a generation”.” – The Sun

Jewish Labour group consider no confidence vote in Corbyn

“Labour’s official Jewish affiliate will debate a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn next month. The Jewish Labour Movement this month signalled its determination to fight antisemitism within the party rather than seceding. It has been formally tied to Labour since 1920. However, the final decision will be made at its annual meeting on April 7, when delegates will also debate the motion about Mr Corbyn. The motion notes “Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to adequately respond to the legitimate and reasonable demands from the JLM and the community’s representative bodies”, as well as “the multiple, documented attempts by the leadership to deny Jews the opportunity to define the very prejudice we face”.” – The Times

  • Claims that “tired” Corbyn is ready to quit – Daily Mail

Convicted MP pleads to be allowed to continue

“Shamed MP Fiona Onasanya has begged voters to let her keep her job after she was jailed for lying about a speeding ticket. The Peterborough politician, 35, faces a recall petition which starts tomorrow and could see her kicked out of Westminster.The former Labour MP was found guilty of perverting the court of justice and had a short stint in jail earlier this year. Her constituents will have the chance to oust her if 10 per cent of them opt to boot her out – around 7,000 people.In a bizarre video message today in front of a New York skyline, she again protested her innocence and begged them to let her stay as an MP. She said: “Just like a coin has two sides, so does a story.” …Polling from YouGov earlier this year found that 81 per cent of the public think she should resign her seat.” – The Sun

News in brief

  • Conservatives suspend members for posting anti-Muslim comments on Facebook – Alex Wickham, Buzzfeed
  • It’s absurd to blame the Christchurch attack on toxic masculinity – Toby Young, CapX
  • Who should we blame for the New Zealand atrocity? – Douglas Murray, The Spectator
  • The case for a World Trade Brexit on 29th March is now stronger than ever – Steven Edginton, Brexit Central
  • Bercow’s ruling is mistaken – John Rentoul, Independent