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Tories ‘could lose over a thousand councillors’

The Tories are braced to lose more than 1,000 seats in the local elections this week, as the party’s deputy chairman admits that polling day is “going to be a difficult night for us”. Voters are expected to abandon the Conservatives on Thursday amid mounting anger over Brexit, with new polling indicating the party will suffer huge losses across the country. Senior party officials are now preparing for an electoral wipeout, with two separate analyses by Sky News projecting that the Tories could lose between 400 and 1,100 council seats. Asked about the gloomy forecasts on Sunday, Helen Whately, deputy chair of the Conservatives, admitted “there is no doubt…the local elections are going to be difficult”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Worst results for a Conservative government in 20 years – The Times

>Today: Local Government: Local elections: The Conservative/Labour battlegrounds

>Yesterday:

Tim Bale: Could Britain’s new parties upend the status quo?

“Ultimately, then, there is more than a touch of populism about the outfits that seem to be succeeding right now. As such, they constitute a potential challenge not just to the “political class” they love to target but to representative democracy itself. As new parties in this country have found before, of course, first past the post, the system that delivered Thatcher two even bigger majorities despite her party’s declining support, can prove a very cruel mistress. But if Brexit continues to blow apart traditional political identities, and if the poor handling of the issue by both main parties continues to alienate even the kernel of their core support, we may well find the UK’s political system is rather less resistant than many imagine to the shock of the new.” – The Guardian

  • Don’t take out your frustrations on hard-working Tory councillors – Boris Johnson MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Party obsesses over Brexit whilst the nation decays – Clare Foges, The Times
  • Climate of hysteria could finish the Conservatives – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • The myth of betrayal fuels Farage – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
  • Failing to deliver Brexit could destroy both major parties – John Redwood MP, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Tories and Labour are both on the defensive – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: For a long time, the polls were scarcely worth watching. Not any more.

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Lewis – “I fully appreciate the huge frustration” of councillors, members and voters over Brexit

May ‘clogging Commons with bills’ to delay Queen’s Speech

“Theresa May is scrambling to find legislation to keep MPs busy over the summer so that she can delay a potentially fatal Queen’s Speech until the autumn. The parliamentary session is already on course to be the longest in postwar history but the prime minister lacks the authority to start a new term. Passing a Queen’s Speech is a minimum constitutional requirement of a viable government. Cabinet sources admit that the bill that implements Brexit is the last significant piece of legislation in the locker. Mrs May dare not introduce it, however, as she fears that it will be rejected by MPs, forcing her to end the session.” – The Times

More:

  • Prime Minister warned new definition of ‘Islamophobia’ could ‘cripple war on terror’ – The Sun

>Today: Richard Walton in Comment: This Islamophobia definition would, if adopted by Ministers, pose problems for national security

Hunt goes public with concerns over Huawei…

Britain should be cautious about allowing Huawei to help build Britain’s 5G network because it is legally-obliged to co-operate with the Chinese intelligence services, Jeremy Hunt has warned. The Foreign Secretary, seen as a front-runner for the Tory leadership, became the first Cabinet minister to publicly express concerns about the Prime Minister’s decision to allow Huawei to supply technology for “non-core” parts of the 5G network… The Telegraph revealed last week that the National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, had agreed to allow the Chinese telecoms firm limited access to help build “non-core” parts of the network such as antennae.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Cost of MoD nuclear projects set to soar – The Times

Comment:

  • We must be cautious about China – Tobias Ellwood MP, Daily Telegraph
  • What it’s like being investigated by a leak enquiry – Katie Perrior, Times Red Box

…as he launches ‘charm offensive’ in Africa

“Jeremy Hunt launched a new Brexit charm offensive in Africa in a direct challenge to French President Emmanuel Macron. The Foreign Secretary unveiled £750 million of export finance to support UK trade and investment in Senegal. And it came at the start of a five-day charm offensive across ‘francophone’ sub-Saharan African which will also see the UK open new embassies in Niger and Chad. Mr Hunt – a long-time Tory leadership contender – is also funding a £4 million English language programme in French and Portuguese African countries. Insiders said the move was based on trying to challenge France’s dominance in the region.” – The Sun

  • A £750 million trade and investment bundle – Daily Express
  • Foreign Secretary hopes to burnish both Britain’s credentials and his own – The Guardian

Leadership 1) Davidson rules out bid as she returns to frontline politics

Ruth Davidson has ruled herself out of the race to succeed Theresa May as she prepares to return from maternity leave, saying that her son is her top priority. Although she pledged to give her job “100 per cent”, the Scottish Tory leader said it was “now very much secondary to Finn” and she was dreading leaving him when she goes back to work this week. The 40-year-old, the UK’s first political party leader to give birth in office, said the post of Prime Minister was “astonishingly punishing” and it was “not where my ambitions have ever lain.” With the Tories descending into civil war over Brexit, Ms Davidson said she had found the situation “very frustrating” since she has been off and sympathised with public thinking it was an “absolute mess.”” – Daily Telegraph

Leadership 2) Johnson warned MPs could quit if he wins

“Tory MPs could quit the party if Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister, the Brexiteer was warned today. Theresa May fears she is entering “the death zone” where leadership rivals will ramp up their campaign to kick her out of office. Boris is the favourite to replace her – but some MPs are threatening to storm out of the party if he does become the next PM. Leading moderate Rory Stewart, the Prisons Minister, today suggested he would quit if Mr Johnson adopted a hard Brexit strategy… Previously Europhile MPs such as Dominic Grieve have said they’d resign if Boris became leader.” – The Sun

  • Sturgeon tries to use Johnson as a bogeyman – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Green calls for new tax to fund elderly care

“Tax rises should be introduced to fund a system that provides a standard level of social care for all elderly people in England in the same way as the basic state pension, a senior Conservative has said. The Tory MP and former minister Damian Green added that older people should be encouraged to top up their care by paying for additional elements. In a report for the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, Mr Green calculated that introducing a free entitlement to basic care at home or in a residential home would cost about £2.5 billion extra a year. To pay for this he suggested that the winter fuel allowance, a tax-free payment of between £100 and £300, be withdrawn from pensioners who pay higher rate income tax.” – The Times

  • Provision could be modelled on the state pension – The Guardian

Comment:

  • How we can push people to pay for their own care – Damian Green, Times Red Box

Editorial:

Hancock orders tech firms to do more to protect young people

“Web giants have been told by Government to meet with the Samaritans over plans to rid the internet of self-harm videos and other content. Health Secretary Matt Hancock will today urge tech giants such as Google and Instagram to commit to developing ways that might identify and tackle harmful content, including that promoting suicide. And he will also demand they stamp out anti-vaccination messages. The summit in Whitehall comes three weeks after the Government announced plans to make tech giants and social networks more accountable for harmful material online.” – The Sun

  • Hinds accuses social media of fuelling teenage disorders – The Sun

Hammond changes tack on scrapping 1p and 2p coins

Philip Hammond is expected to announce that 1p and 2p coins will not be scrapped – a year after he described them as “obsolete”. The Chancellor is this week expected to confirm that plans to take the coins out of circulation have been shelved, following a review into their usage. In last year’s Spring Statement Mr Hammond announced a Treasury consultation on their use amid a surge in non-cash payments such as contactless and digital spending. He also questioned the future of the £50 note amid claims that it is predominantly used in transactions associated with criminal activity. The announcement fuelled speculation that the coins were due to be scrapped, with research suggesting that 60 percent of 1p and 2p coins were only used once before being put in a jar or discarded.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexit ‘threatens Sterling’s status as global currency’ – FT

More:

  • Secret checks spark fear of fresh sin-tax squeeze – The Sun
  • Chancellor woos donors at Dorneywood – Daily Mail

Malthouse could back ‘hedgehog highways’ in new developments

“A top Tory could force builders to create “hedgehog highways” in new developments. Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said the country should be doing more to “make space for nature”. Under the plan, a legal requirement would force new housing schemes to include a 13cm hole in the bottom of a fence – allowing hedgehogs to move between gardens to find food and a mate. The proposal is in a petition that has already gathered 520,000 signatures… The Sun in February revealed Transport Secretary Chris Grayling wants to unveil new traffic signs to warn motorists about hedgehogs. Britain is thought to have lost a third of the animals over the past decade.” – The Sun

Gyimah attacks plans to raise fees for EU students…

“Plans to charge EU citizens the same as other overseas students to study in England after Brexit were described as short-sighted by a former universities minister. It would mean a sharp rise from 2021 for EU students, who now pay the same tuition fees as home students. Internal government estimates suggest that the number of students from the bloc studying in England could be reduced by two thirds, according to the Financial Times. Sam Gyimah, who quit as universities minister in protest at Brexit policy, said: “It’s short-sighted. There is no sense of what is strategic, what is in our interests, including in terms of promoting the English language.”” – The Times

  • Campus complaints rise as students seek value for money – The Times

Comment:

  • These plans are short-sighted – Miranda Green, FT

…as Corbyn faces ‘revolt’ over second referendum

“Jeremy Corbyn is facing an open revolt by his deputy Tom Watson after he publicly called on Labour activists to bring about a change in party policy on a second referendum.  In a bid to ratchet up pressure on the Labour leader, Mr Watson singled out members of the party’s governing body and urged activists to lobby them into backing a second referendum under all circumstances. He was backed by Momentum founder Jon Lansman, who said: “At [Labour conference] we agreed: if the Government is confident in negotiating a deal that working people, our economy and communities will benefit from they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public. “So surely we too can all agree to a confirmatory vote on any government deal in our manifesto!”” – Daily Telegraph

  • MP warns that failure would be ‘Iraq moment’ for Corbyn – The Sun
  • Opposition descend into ‘civil war’ – Daily Mail
  • Party’s NEC will not agree a new policy – The Times
  • Farage vows to bring down Labour ‘flip-floppers’ – The Sun

More:

  • Labour backs ‘pop-up protest’ at Barclays – The Times

Fracking tsar quits Government over ‘paralysis’

“Ministers were accused yesterday of deliberately undermining their own fracking tsar before she resigned in frustration at their “paralysis”. Natascha Engel quit seven months after she was appointed shale gas commissioner by the energy minister. The former Labour MP said that the government had caved in to pressure from campaign groups and had “instituted a de facto ban” on extraction. The row revolves around the government’s rule that fracking must be suspended every time tremors of magnitude 0.5 and above are detected, which companies say makes drilling all but impossible. Ms Engel, 52, said that ministers had come close to reviewing the rule this year but had backed away.” – The Times

  • It has a crucial role on the road to renewables – Natascha Engel, The Times
  • The Kremlin must be howling with laughter – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

Editorial:

  • Ministers are in thrall to the green lobby – Daily Telegraph
  • A wake-up call to this flip-flopping Government – The Sun

Scotland 1) Mundell signals that Tories may never back another independence vote

“Theresa May’s Scottish Secretary has signalled that a Conservative Government would never agree a deal that would allow Holyrood to hold another independence referendum. Asked by the Herald on Sunday whether he could “ever” imagine a Tory Government agreeing to transfer this power to MSPs, David Mundell said: “No, I can’t envisage that circumstance.” Mundell also said that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Government was Nicola Sturgeon’s “only” route to a second referendum. Sturgeon last week updated MSPs on her plans for indyref2, which involved the introduction of a framework bill to set the rules on a potential referendum. She wants to hold the vote within two years.” – The Herald

  • Interview with the Scottish Secretary – The Herald

More:

Comment:

  • Scotland’s case for breaking away is stronger than ever – John Harris, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: May wants devolved government restored in Northern Ireland. But her No Deal policy creates an obstacle.

Scotland 2) Dugdale to quit Labour over Brexit policy

“Kezia Dugdale, the former Scottish Labour leader, is expected to quit frontline politics after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the party’s stance on Brexit. It is understood that Dugdale, who headed the Scottish party for two years until suddenly resigning in 2017 after months of tension with UK leader Jeremy Corbyn, has found another job outside politics. She is expected to confirm her decision within the coming days, the Sunday Times reported, and to formally quit as an MSP at the end of the current Scottish parliament session in June. Dugdale, a member of Labour’s centrist wing, has made little secret of her unhappiness with Labour’s stance on EU membership and has demanded Corbyn campaigns for a second vote on any Brexit deal.” – The Guardian

Scotland 3) Sturgeon defeated by SNP members on currency plans

“Nicola Sturgeon has urged SNP members to “get your jackets on” and sell to Scots their new policy of dumping the pound as soon as possible after independence. The First Minister used her keynote speech to the SNP’s spring conference to announce the “biggest campaign on the economics of independence in our party’s history.” Her address was overshadowed by her conference defeat the previous day when SNP members voted to fast-track the introduction of a new currency in a separate Scotland. Ms Sturgeon, who has previously warned against dumping the pound, did not explicitly mention her party’s new policy in her speech at the Edinburgh gathering.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Nationalists will now ditch pound after separation – Daily Mail

More:

  • First Minister courts critics with social justice commission – FT

News in Brief:

  • Disintegrating Tories need a leader who can get the Brexit Party to fold – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • Will Vox call the shots in Spain? – Sebastiaan Faber, UnHerd
  • Heretics like me should not be silenced by mobs – Sir Roger Scruton, Standpoint
  • Britain just became the world’s top investment destination – Ewen Stewart, Brexit Central
  • Derailing Brexit isn’t Leo Varadkar’s only aim – Terry Smith, The Spectator

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