Brexit 1) Javid’s proposal for a digital border “blocked by The Treasury”

“Sajid Javid has drawn up a detailed technological plan to do away with the Irish backstop but it has been suspended by the Treasury to the fury of Brexiteers. The Home Secretary commissioned Border Force officials to work up a plan using Swiss-style technology to manage trade and tariffs and so avoid a hard border in Ireland. The work was submitted to HMRC but allies of Mr Javid claimed officials were “incredibly dismissive of it and were not interested”. “We tried to talk to HMRC about it for eight months,” the source said. “We said there were big hurdles to get past but we didn’t think they were insurmountable.”…Mr Javid, who is seen as a potential successor to Mrs May, will on Monday deliver a speech setting out his vision for addressing the root causes of crime. His allies say he has the support of around 25 MPs and his prospective campaign is being run by Matthew Elliott, the former chief executive of Vote Leave. If Mr Javid were to run in a Tory leadership contest or be elected leader his plan to stop a hard border would likely form a key plank of his agenda.” – Daily Telegraph

  • It’s time to focus on other things, declares Hammond – BBC

Brexit 2) Talks with Labour are claimed to be “positive”

“The government and Labour have held further talks aimed at breaking the deadlock in Parliament over Brexit. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said discussions with cabinet ministers David Lidington and Michael Gove had been “positive” and “constructive”. He added that a timetable was being worked out for more meetings over the next seven to 10 days. EU leaders have agreed to delay the UK’s departure date from 12 April to 31 October, to avoid a no-deal Brexit. But Prime Minister Theresa May has said the UK can still leave before 22 May, if Parliament backs the withdrawal agreement she reached with the EU. This would avoid the UK having to take part in European Parliament elections, currently scheduled for 23 May.” – BBC

  • Enshrine future relationship in law, says Labour – The Times
  • The Tories are made to continue with the talks – Leader, The Sun
  • Starmer accused of “obstructing negotiations” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 3) Farage launches new Party – with backing from Annunziata Rees-Mogg

“Nigel Farage unveiled his new Brexit Party yesterday, announcing that Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister would be a European election candidate after she quit the Tories. Annunziata Rees-Mogg, 40, told the party’s launch in Coventry that she had been a Tory since 1984 when, too young for the Young Conservatives, she had managed to sign up to the party itself. She had now decided to defect because Brexit was a “fight we must win”. In a direct attack on Theresa May, she said the prime minister was not listening “not only to her membership, but . . . to the people of her country . . . I can’t sit by and let her do it.” Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs, praised his sister as “brilliant” yesterday and said he was sorry she had defected.” – The Times

  • “My brother and I are very close, but we have different views” – Interview with Annunziata Rees-Mogg, Daily Telegraph
  • Call for a “democratic revolution” – BBC
  • Poll shows the Tories down to 16 per cent for the Euro Elections – The Times
  • Huge support from our readers – Daily Express

>Today: ToryDiary: What proportion of Tory members will vote for the Brexit Party?


Brexit 4) Johnson censored over “no deal” polling claim

“Boris Johnson was wrong to claim there was polling evidence that a no-deal Brexit was the public’s preferred option, the press regulator has ruled. Ipso ordered the Daily Telegraph to print a correction after finding the MP’s column was inaccurate. The claim was made in a piece headlined “The British people won’t be scared into backing a woeful Brexit deal nobody voted for” in January. The Telegraph had argued it was “clearly comically polemical”. The column appeared a week before MPs rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal for the first time, by a historic margin. The Commons went on to reject the withdrawal agreement in a further two votes.” – BBC

  • He won’t campaign in “preposterous” Euro Elections – The Times
  • Johnson “back in the running” for Leader due to Pizza Club dithering – The Sun

Brexit 5) Green Party, Lib Dems and TIG will not form pacts, but will compete for Remain votes in the Euro Elections

“Pro-EU parties, including the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Independent Group, will not form pacts or alliances at the forthcoming EU elections, hoping to use the poll as a “soft referendum” to show a surge in support for remain. If no Brexit deal is passed by parliament, the UK will be required to hold the poll on 23 May. The Lib Dems, the mainstream party hoping to capitalise most on anti-Brexit discontent, has almost finalised its manifesto and plans a huge operation of ground campaigning targeting remain voters. “We want to use the momentum from the locals, which very few other parties will have, as a springboard for European elections,” a party source said. “Voters across all of Great Britain want to vote for a pro-remain party. We’re going to give them all the chance to vote Lib Dem.” The TIG MP Chuka Umunna claimed his new party – Change UK – would be “the leading option on the ballot paper” arguing for a second referendum.” – The Guardian

Brexit 6) Jenkin suggests boycotting Euro Elections

“A Tory MP yesterday suggested the party should boycott the looming European Parliament elections amid predictions of a bloodbath at the polls. Sir Bernard Jenkin warned that he is finding it “very difficult” to convince Tory voters to back his party.He stormed: “I wonder if we should bother running candidates. “I don’t expect the Conservative Party to do particularly well in the European elections.”…Another senior Tory MP told The Sun: “My activists are seeing a huge amount of anger on the doorstep. People are furious.” – The Sun

Brexit 7) Howard: We still could persuade the EU to drop the backstop

“Just a few days ago Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, told the Dail that under no circumstances would there be a border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. An identical assurance was given to the European Parliament by Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission. And, on Tuesday of this week, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that EU and Irish officials would find operational solutions to solve the problem of checking goods while maintaining an open border. Since the UK Government has said it would not introduce any new checks on goods moving from Ireland into Northern Ireland, it is clear that the fears which have been long expressed about the dangers of a hard border are no longer credible…These statements completely undermine the entire case for the backstop. If it is removed we would be left with an Agreement which, for all its imperfections, has already secured a majority in the House of Commons. And we could leave the EU without having to take part in elections to the European Parliament.” – Michael Howard, Daily Telegraph

  • Macron’s call for sort extension betrays splits between allies – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 8) Forsyth: Get ready for a third extension

“Emmanuel Macron wanted to give Britain a short extension to force a decision, Angela Merkel favoured one long enough to give the UK time to come up with a new path. In the end, they compromised on this medium-length extension. “Two potential routes out and they went to the middle one that delivers us to nowhere,” laments one Cabinet Minister. There is a real danger that the Brexit drift continues for another six months. This useless Parliament knows what it doesn’t want, but can’t say what it would actually accept. If this happens, Britain will end up back at the EU Council in October asking for a third extension.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Brexit 9) Parris: Leavers should back a second referendum

“The fetishising of compromise proposed by archbishops, royalty, scared business leaders and most of the really nice people in British public life bids fair to prolong these agonies indefinitely. All seem blind to a great truth: there is no sustainable half-in, half-out solution to be had. For the British, satellite status will never bed in….Remainers should vote for a confirmatory referendum in hopes of revoking. Leavers should do so in hopes of staying in the game. Then let the electorate settle it. I see now that there’s no other way.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

Other comment

  • Nobody will listen to a word the Tories say until they honour the referendum result – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • A longer extension offers time to plot a course to a sensible destination – Camilla Cavendish, Financial Times
  • The system is broken – prepare for a European-style realignment of politics – David Goodhart, Daily Telegraph
  • Tory choices – Leader, The Times
  • The Conservatives face a reckoning at the polls if they stick with Theresa May – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Abandoning no-deal planning proves there was a stitch-up all along – Owen Paterson, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Tom Hulme on Comment: Conservative support is growing for a second referendum. It’s time to commit to one.

Leadership 1) Stewart could enter the race

“Every Sunday night, Rory Stewart draws a multi-coloured flow chart mapping out the possible Brexit scenarios. “It begins with six or seven immediate paths but then each one divides and subdivides,” he explains. ….Now Mr Stewart is talked of as a possible Tory leader. Unlike some of his colleagues he doesn’t obfuscate when we ask him about this. “There’s only any point somebody like me standing for the leadership if I can win. I wouldn’t do it as an academic exercise, I’d do it because of the cause,” he says. “The question is finding a standard bearer for the cause of the middle ground of British politics. . . It could be me.” His priority is to ensure that the Commons uses the six-month Brexit delay, granted by the EU this week, to agree a deal.” – Interview with Rory Stewart, The Times

Leadership 2) Johnson “offers to make Rudd the Chancellor of the Exchequer”

“Boris Johnson is ready to make Amber Rudd Britain’s first female Chancellor if she backs his leadership bid, sources said last night. The former foreign secretary is ‘wooing’ Miss Rudd in a bid to broaden his appeal beyond the party’s Eurosceptic wing. But Miss Rudd, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has told friends she cannot support Mr Johnson while he keeps the door open to a No Deal Brexit. The pair have clashed repeatedly over Brexit, with Miss Rudd instrumental in persuading the Prime Minister to rule out a No Deal departure.” – Daily Mail

Deputy chief whip is accused of trying to ‘dig dirt’ on Mercer

“The deputy chief whip is at the centre of an extraordinary row after being accused of mounting a smear campaign against a rising Tory star. Former Army captain Johnny Mercer this week claimed party whips had tried to persuade fellow ex-servicemen to provide ‘dirt’ on him. Now the Daily Mail can reveal that Chris Pincher, the number two in the whips’ office, is the person accused of seeking damaging information on Mr Mercer. Mr Pincher is alleged to have ‘asked for dirt’ after meeting a former Army colleague of Mr Mercer for a drink in February.” – Daily Mail

Abbott challenged over her backing for Assange

“Diane Abbott was criticised for her defence of Julian Assange yesterday as she backed Jeremy Corbyn’s demands for Britain to resist his extradition to the United States. Ms Abbott, shadow home secretary, appeared to play down allegations of rape and sexual assault against Assange. Labour MPs accused the party of sacrificing justice for women. The Wikileaks founder originally claimed asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning on the allegations. Ecuador withdrew its asylum and invited the police to arrest him this week.” – The Times

  • We shouldn’t be surprised by Assange’s hard-Left apologists – Julie Lenarz, Daily Telegraph
  • This case proves just how gullible do-gooders can be – Stephen Pollard, Daily Express
  • Call to give Sweden priority – BBC
  • Extradition to the US must be opposed – Owen Jones, The Guardian

Plot to remove Bercow amidst fears that will refuse to go

“MPs are plotting to unseat Speaker John Bercow amid fears he will not step down as planned this summer after Brexit was delayed until October 31. Contrary to reports that Mr Bercow still intends to make way for a successor this June after 10 years in the post, a senior Tory source told the Telegraph: “Bercow is going nowhere. He is determined to see Brexit through.” Another source close to the Speaker also appeared to indicate he was planning to stay put, saying: “He’s coming under quite a lot of pressure to stay in the chair while Brexit remains so uncertain.” A moderate Tory MP has quietly started collecting signatures in support of a no confidence motion in the Speaker should he decline to quit in the coming weeks.” – Daily Telegraph

Oborne: Sacking of Scruton is a mistake

“I am troubled by Sir Roger Scruton’s sacking from his role as a housing adviser to the Government….there are suggestions that some of his words in the Left-wing New Statesman may have been distorted and taken out of context. Even so, while I disagree strongly with some of the views he apparently expressed, I cannot for the life of me see what they have to do with his role as chairman of the Government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. On a personal note, I and countless others have deepened our understanding of conservatism — and much else besides — through Sir Roger’s writing. His Dictionary Of Political Thought is by my side as I write my columns.” – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Labour’s defence of Assange is risible, reprehensible and revealing – Alex Massie, CapX
  • The Roger Scruton row brings shame on the Tories – Stephen Horvath, The Spectator
  • Anti-feminist YouTuber selected as Ukip election candidate – Independent
  • Exit Sir Roger, pursued by Tory Lefties – Robert James, Conservative Woman
  • From the arrest of Assange to the fall of dictators, we cannot evade eternal moral truths – Daniel Johnson, The Article