Published:

Cabinet ‘plot’ to stop May’s bid for long Article 50 extension…

“Cabinet ministers are seeking to block Theresa May from agreeing a Brexit delay of up to a year. The prime minister has not yet secured cabinet support for a long extension but ministers fear that she will press ahead anyway. Mrs May is due to set out her intention to delay Brexit in a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, in the next few days. No 10 has declined to say whether she will consult the cabinet before the letter is sent. EU leaders will meet to decide whether to give Britain an extension – and how long it could be – on Wednesday night. Cabinet members were in open revolt yesterday.” – The Times

  • Ministers mull mass walkout as ‘death by a thousand cuts’ isn’t working – Daily Telegraph
  • Leavers try to filibuster lengthy extension in the Lords – The Times

Welfare:

  • Halfon warns MPs are having a ‘collective breakdown’ – The Sun
  • Civil servants handling ‘no deal’ planning offered mental health support – The Guardian

Comment:

  • I’m backing the Cooper Bill, warts and all, to avert No Deal – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • Long extension offers a chance to think again – Martin Wolf, FT

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Something has changed this week. Since May announced talks with Corbyn. I can smell it.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Lords sketch: Peers warn that the Cooper Bill threatens the constitution

…whilst soft Brexit ministers reportedly discuss a second referendum…

Theresa May’s ministers have discussed the possibility of giving MPs a vote on a second referendum during talks aimed at agreeing a Brexit deal with Jeremy Corbyn, it has emerged. A team of four ministers led by David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, held four and a half hours of talks with their Labour counterparts on Thursday during which the idea of offering a second referendum was discussed as an option. Labour’s Keir Starmer is believed to have said that a second referendum had to be one of the options put to MPs in a series of so-called indicative votes which will take place next week if a cross-party deal cannot be agreed. Government sources played down the idea that such a plan had been agreed, as Downing Street rebuked Philip Hammond for suggesting that Parliament should have another chance to vote on a second referendum.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministers and backbenchers ready to walk away over another vote – The Sun
  • Cox warns of long delay if talks break down – Daily Express

More:

  • Deal has customs union in all but name, Tories tell Corbyn – The Times
  • Talks with the Opposition make little progress – FT
  • Labour leader urged to cut deal by 25 MPs – The Sun

EU:

  • Tusk offers UK ‘flexible’ extension – FT
  • German Chancellor hails MPs who forced May’s hand – The Sun

Analysis:

  • May clutches at straws as options fade – Oliver Wright, The Times
  • Cross-party deal not certain to pass the Commons – Henry Mance et al, FT
  • A briefing from the no-deal bunker – Anonymous, The Guardian

>Today: Graham Gudgin in Comment: If the EU delivers No Deal after all, there will be little to fear – and much to gain

>Yesterday: Rory Stewart MP in Comment: Corbyn is wrong about almost everything – but we can find common ground with him on Brexit

…amidst reports the voluntary party is repelled by talks with Corbyn…

“Grassroots Conservative activists are “quitting in their droves”, it has been claimed, as new polling shows that more than 90 per cent disagree with Theresa May’s decision to open talks with Jeremy Corbyn. Don Porter, a former head of the Tory party’s grassroots body National Conservative Convention, said Mrs May’s talks with the Labour leader were doing “lasting damage” to the Tory party. Mr Porter said volunteers, members and candidates were quitting, with real fears that he way has been cleared for Mr Corbyn to become Prime Minister. The news came as Tory MPs spoke out against the strategy. Johnny Mercer told The Specator magazine: “We’ll get top-sliced and bottom-sliced by those who don’t want any Brexit – and those who want a Ukip version of Brexit. We’ll just get left behind and Jeremy Corbyn will be prime minister.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Local Conservative leaders stand by May – The Times
  • Officials warned of ‘infiltration’ ahead of deselection – The Times

>Yesterday:

…and as Merkel ‘sides with Ireland’ after talks

“Angela Merkel has said Germany will stand with Ireland “every step of the way” after her meeting with Leo Varadkar in Dublin yesterday. The German chancellor’s visit for talks with the Irish prime minister at such a crucial point in the Brexit impasse is seen as a significant intervention with a week to go before a potential no-deal scenario unfolds. Before their meeting the pair had a round-table discussion with a panel of 15 people from Protestant and Catholic communities, made up of unionists and nationalists, from both sides of the border. The border issue has remained a bone of contention amid the Brexit stand-off between the British parliament and the European Union.” – The Times

  • She compares a hard border to the Iron Curtain – Daily Mail
  • Varadkar rejects calls to negotiate with MPs – Daily Express
  • EU ‘uneasy’ about Dublin’s no-deal readiness – FT

More:

  • Historian says Republic played key role in backing IRA – News Letter

Comment:

  • Backstop would drastically alter the 1800 Act of Union – Jeff Dudgeon, News Letter

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: DUP attack decision to ‘contract out’ Brexit to Corbyn

Fraser Nelson: Don’t write the Tories off, a new leader could swiftly restore their fortunes

The Conservative Party seems to be engaged in a slow but spectacular suicide, determined to confound anyone who thinks things cannot possibly get worse. Its obituary could be written now: that this once-great party hadn’t won a convincing election victory since 1987 and seemed to abandon conservatism once in government. It then clung on to Brexit, having little else to say. And when even this project was botched, it sought Jeremy Corbyn’s help – and, in so doing, filed for intellectual bankruptcy. Westminster is full of Tories offering such gloomy analysis… But there’s another way of looking at all this. Brexit need not be a Tory Calvary. Things are pretty bad, but most great political revivals begin in such crises. And a leader capable of providing hope and direction may be able to turn things around rather quickly.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexit has sounded the Conservatives’ death knell – Iain Martin, The Times
  • May’s path leads to personal failure and loss of power for the Party – Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn could have the last laugh – Philip Collins, The Times

May ‘belatedly’ moves to fill ministerial vacancies

“Theresa May belatedly filled six junior ministerial posts on Thursday evening, having lost more ministers to date than any other prime minister in modern times, according to the Institute for Government think-tank.  Mrs May has shed more members of her government over “policy and political differences” in just two years than Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown combined lost over the 22 years they spent in Downing Street.  One surprise appointment on Thursday was James Cleverly, previously deputy chairman of the Conservative party, who becomes a new minister at Dexeu, the Brexit department… One problem for Mrs May is that the pool of loyalist backbenchers has become increasingly small, with only 25 MPs left who have not rebelled against Mrs May. Of those 14 have already been ministers.  ” – FT

  • Hancock drops huge hint he may join leadership race – The Sun

>Yesterday:

Ministers 1) Hunt appoints celebrity ‘free speech ambassador’

“Jeremy Hunt today reveals he has appointed Amal Clooney as a media freedom ambassador to fight for free speech across the globe. The human rights lawyer wife of Hollywood legend George Clooney has campaigned to free jailed journalists abroad. Mr Hunt has made it one of his missions as Foreign Office boss for Britain to be a global champion for the cause. The UK is hosting an international conference on media freedom in London in July, alongside Canada. Ms Clooney, 41, will join Mr Hunt today at a meeting of G7 foreign ministers… Mr Hunt dubbed a free media in any country as “the thin line that separates a free country from an oppressive one”.” – The Sun

Ministers 2) Williamson seeks protection for gay British troops in Brunei

“The defence secretary has asked Brunei for assurances that gay British troops in the state will not be affected by its draconian new anti-LGBT laws. Gavin Williamson said yesterday that the UK was intervening at the “highest levels” after the southeast Asian sultanate made adultery and gay sex offences punishable by death by stoning. “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has immediately started discussions with the government of Brunei to discuss this because we want to ensure that they do not affect our service personnel in any way whatsoever,” Mr Williamson said. The UK has had a contingent of Gurkhas in Brunei since the 1960s. About 2,000 personnel are based there as part of a five-year agreement that expires next spring.” – The Times

  • Why are crack Army troops protecting this bigot? – Richard Pendlebury, Daily Mail

Ministers 3) Rudd unveils cash boost for Universal Credit

“Amber Rudd is preparing a near £2billion spending spree on benefits for low-paid Brits to tackle a shock rise in child poverty. The Sun can reveal the Work and Pensions Secretary is demanding a small fortune to top up child benefits and housing allowances. The money would be paid out from April 2020 – after the end of the current four-year benefits freeze. Initial meetings have been held with Treasury officials ahead of the Chancellor’s Spending Review later this year. It comes just days after ministers were humiliated by official figures showing a shock 200,000 rise in the number of children living in absolute poverty – to 3.7million. The number – the government’s preferred poverty measure – had been falling since 2012.” – The Sun

  • Study finds welfare system was causing hardship 18 months ago – The Guardian

More:

  • Tory MPs queue up to attack controversial loan charge – FT

Labour retain Newport West in by-election

Labour has retained Newport West in a by-election marred by low turnout and held against a background of Brexit chaos. The battle for the Commons seat saw turnout slump with Labour’s Ruth Jones taking 9,308 votes, giving her a majority of 1,951 over the Tories. Ukip’s Neil Hamilton took third place with 2,023 votes as the party saw support increase from its showing at the 2017 general election. The contest was triggered by the death of veteran MP Paul Flynn… Voter turnout was 37.1%, down from 67.5% in the 2017 general election, with parties blaming poor weather and dissatisfaction as a result of the Brexit chaos in Westminster. Mrs Jones, who campaigned for Remain in the lead-up to the EU referendum, said the country should not accept a “damaging Tory Brexit” or a no-deal outcome.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Just one in three voters go to the polls – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Newport West’s by-election. Where is the voter uprising against establishment elites?

Sturgeon ordered not to delete records by Salmond probe

Nicola Sturgeon has been  ordered not to delete phone records, emails or text messages related to her government’s botched inquiry into allegations against Alex Salmond. A Scottish Parliament inquiry into the debacle wrote to the First Minister telling her to keep both hard copy and electronic documents, including any personal communications with her predecessor. The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints told her she must preserve any data which would otherwise be deleted “in the ordinary course of business.” She was also ordered not to delete details of any employees or SNP members involved “directly or indirectly” with the complaints made against Mr Salmond. In a second letter to the Scottish Government, the committee asked whether documents had already been deleted and what steps were being taken to recover them.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • The major parties’ Brexit divides are only getting wider – Tom Harris, CapX
  • May has betrayed all who believed what she said about No Deal – Matt Ridley, Brexit Central
  • What we can expect from Corbynomics – Maggie Pagano, Reaction
  • If there’s no deal, there’s no Brexit – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Why does the Left sneer at the traditional working class? – Paul Embery, UnHerd

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