Brexit 1) Tory activists go “on strike” over the further delay

“Conservative activists are refusing to campaign for the party and donations have “dried up” because members feel that Theresa May has betrayed them over Brexit and the Government has “completely lost touch with voters”, council candidates have warned. In a letter to the Prime Minister, more than 100 current and would-be Tory councillors state that they are unable to muster the volunteers needed to effectively fight next month’s local elections because “belief in the party they joined is gone”. The stark warning came as Mrs May was forced to insist that she would maintain her pledge to take back control of the UK’s borders after Brexit, after Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, said the Government had “no red lines” in its talks with Jeremy Corbyn over a potential compromise Brexit deal. Tory activists reacted with fury after Mrs May signalled last week that she could agree a deal involving remaining in a customs union with the EU – a move explicitly ruled out in her 2017 manifesto and which she has repeatedly insisted she could not countenance.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • The Conservatives’ bad decisions on Brexit are hurting chances of our would-be councillors – Simon Clarke, Sunday Telegraph
  • UKIP “returns from the dead” – Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Inviting Labour into Downing Street has proved costly, and benefited only Corbyn

Brexit 2) PM defends talks with Corbyn

“Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted she had to reach out to Labour in a bid to deliver Brexit or risk letting it “slip through our fingers”. In a statement on Saturday night, Mrs May said there was a “stark choice” of either leaving the European Union with a deal or not leaving at all. Some Conservatives have criticised her for seeking Labour’s help after MPs rejected her Brexit plan three times. Three days of talks between the parties ended without agreement on Friday. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “waiting to see the red lines move” and had not “noticed any great change in the government’s position”. He is coming under pressure from his MPs to demand a referendum on any deal he reaches with the government, with 80 signing a letter saying a public vote should be the “bottom line” in the negotiations.” – BBC

  • Party management is being put ahead of the national interest – Leader, The Observer
  • Gove told the Cabinet: “You can say that you want lobster thermidor but if the only things in the canteen are corned beef and cabbage you’ve got to make a decision.” – Sunday Times
  • May is closer Corbyn than you might think – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday

Brexit 3) Tory MPs threaten to oust May if the Euro Elections take place

“Theresa May is being warned by her mutinous MPs that they will move to oust her within weeks if the UK is forced to take part in European elections next month and extend its EU membership beyond the end of June. Tory MPs are increasingly angry at the prospect of voters being asked to go to the polls to elect MEPs three years after the Brexit referendum, in an election they fear will be boycotted by many Conservatives and be a gift to the far right and Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party. Senior Tories said one silver lining of a long extension would be that it would allow them to move quickly to force May out, and hold a leadership election starting as soon as this month…Conservative MP Nigel Evans, an executive member of the 1922 committee of backbenchers said last night that, if May failed to deliver Brexit and all she could do was secure a long extension at an EU summit on Wednesday, she would face overwhelming pressure to step down.” – The Observer

  • How do European elections work? – BBC
  • Split between UKIP and the Brexit Party could limit impact – Sunday Times
  • Farage says he will recruit “big names” to his new party – Sunday Express
  • The Independent Group looks to European elections for breakthrough – The Observer

>Today: ToryDiary: Does the Conservative Party have enough money to fight a European election campaign?

Brexit 4) EU officials worry that a long extension to cause disruption from the UK

“Hardliners, most notably France, are wary of granting the UK a long extension without conditions. Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, voiced concerns, as did Belgium and Spain. Their worst fear is a rogue Britain that lives up to the caricature sketched in the TV series Yes Minister. “We tried to break it up from the outside, but that wouldn’t work,” the fictional Sir Humphrey told Jim Hacker in a lesson on Britain’s then-EEC strategy. “Now that we’re inside we can make a complete pig’s breakfast of the whole thing.” Brussels cannot impose conditions on the UK that would restrict its rights as a member. The UK could promise not to take part in crucial votes, but there would be no legal method to hold the UK to this promise.” – Sunday Times

  • Attempt to secure delayed departure from EU could leave UK on course for no deal Brexit, senior lawyer warns – Sunday Telegraph
  • France, Spain and Belgium ‘ready for no-deal Brexit next week’ – The Observer

Brexit 5) PM offers to make concessions “Boris proof”

“Theresa May is preparing to offer Jeremy Corbyn a legally binding soft Brexit deal with a “Boris lock” that would make it difficult for a future Eurosceptic prime minister to tear up after she leaves No 10…Under the new plan, the prime minister would offer to rewrite the government’s withdrawal bill to enshrine a customs arrangement in law. That is designed to satisfy Labour fears that any deal reached with May would be ripped up by her successor. The “Boris lock” would mean a Eurosceptic leader taking over would have to overturn primary legislation to get a hard Brexit.” – Sunday Times

Brexit 6) Government willing to conde Customs Union “if it’s called something else”

“Theresa May was last night poised to mount a humiliating climbdown over a customs union as the price of winning Labour support for her Brexit deal. According to senior sources, Tory negotiators have told Labour that the Government would accept UK membership of a customs union – a ‘red line’ for Brexiteers – but on condition that they ‘call it something else’ to avoid inflaming anger among Eurosceptic Conservatives….Said one source: ‘It must look like a duck and quack like a duck, but it doesn’t have to be called a duck.’ ” – Mail on Sunday

Brexit 7) Dale: The Conservatives face an electoral backlash

“The local elections will likely show a net loss of hundreds of Tory councillors, who will lose through no fault of their own. I did a random phone-around of Tory MPs, candidates and activists on Saturday. With the exception of one MP, I found not a single one of them who would be voting Conservative in the European elections. To a man and woman, they all said they would be voting for The Brexit Party. Interestingly none mentioned Ukip, a party which is now identified with rampant Islamophobia, rather than Euroscepticism. The European Elections will be a kind of second referendum. The political classes will be sent a very clear message by the electorate: You have betrayed us, and we won’t stand for it.” – Iain Dale, Sunday Telegraph

Brexit 8) Cleverly: The PM’s deal can be adapted over time

“We need decisions, not inertia. We need to realise that there is no such thing as a perfect Brexit. If five years ago Brexiteers could see that we were now so close to leaving the EU, deciding and controlling our own immigration policy, keeping those billions of pounds, controlling agriculture and fisheries, making our own laws, we would have jumped at the chance to secure it. And to the MPs who say “it’s not quite right” I remind them that our new relationship with the EU is not set in stone. It will evolve. Future Governments will be able to make changes to policy just like we do in other areas of government.” – James Cleverly, The Sun on Sunday

Brexit 9) Raab: Step out of the failing Eurocracy and walk tall in the world

“There is now a danger that Brexit could be lost and that the Government could fall – handing the keys to Downing Street to Corbyn…As Brexit Secretary, between July and November last year, I warned the Prime Minister we could end up in this position. I urged her to take a firmer line with Brussels, insisting on an ability to exit the now-notorious ‘backstop’ – a regime of laws to be imposed on the UK without us having any say. My efforts were undermined by others within Government…If the EU continues to seek to humiliate our country, the Government must not cower. Instead, buoyed by the self-belief and courage of the British people, we should step out of the failing Eurocracy and walk tall in the world.” – Dominic Raab, Mail on Sunday

Brexit 10) Davis: How we could still get a deal agreed

“Encouragingly this week, we hear noises from Jean Claude Juncker, Leo Varadkar and others that they will do whatever is necessary to avert a hard border whatever the circumstances in which the UK leaves. If they believe this is possible under the circumstances of “No Deal” it is clearly possible in the event of a deal….Which is why the comments of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer are so important.  It is very likely that she reflects the real opinion of Angela Merkel. If the Prime Minister took her at her word, and sent Steve Barclay and the British negotiating team back to Brussels, perhaps backed up by David Trimble, with clear instructions to present the alternative arrangements for Northern Ireland, then we have a decent chance of getting a response that will get her over the line in the House of Commons.” – David Davis, Sunday Telegraph

Other comment

  • The Brextremists are right to tremble: we could be on the path to staying in – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times
  • If we stay in a customs union like Labour’s demanding, it’ll be a betrayal to Brexit and shackle us on the world stage – Leader, The Sun on Sunday
  • The Prime Minister takes her begging bowl to Brussels again – Leader, Sunday Times
  • How Sir Oliver Letwin went from arch Thatcherite to King of the Remainers – Simon Heffer, Sunday Telegraph
  • Moves to stay in the customs union — and the cosying up to Corbyn — are an insult to voters – Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Sunday Times
  • If we want Brexit, Theresa May must go – Leader, Sunday Telegraph
  • Corbyn’s plan is worst of all worlds – John Whittingdale, Sunday Express
  • Embrace a long extension, kick out Theresa May, and get ready for a real Brexit – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • You cannot cancel Brexit forever, however hard Remainer MPs might try – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph

>Today: James Arnell on Comment: A second referendum is now Brexiteers’ best chance of getting what they want

Leadership 1) Rudd “poised to back Johnson”

“Amber Rudd is preparing to back Boris Johnson to be the next Tory leader after MPs approached her allies urging the work and pensions secretary to join a “dream team” alliance that they have dubbed “BAmber”. Rudd thinks Michael Gove is the most “attractive” candidate and Jeremy Hunt is best placed to succeed Theresa May. But she believes that Johnson is the one who can win a general election. Allies say Rudd will not make a public declaration about who she is supporting until the contest is under way, after she moved early to back Johnson in 2016, only to see his campaign implode. Instead she will wait to see whether anyone runs from the pure remainer wing of the Conservative Party who could represent the new group of One Nation Tories.” – Sunday Times

  • Candidates seek support from MPs with military backgrounds – Mail on Sunday

Leadership 2) We must attract the young, says Hancock

“Matt Hancock, the health secretary, today calls on Tories to change their “tone” towards modern Britain or watch Jeremy Corbyn drive the party from Downing Street, as he sets out his stall to run for prime minister. In the clearest signal yet that the youngest minister in the cabinet intends to run for the leadership when Theresa May steps down, Hancock, 40, says the Tories face a “generational challenge” because they are haemorrhaging the votes of young people. The Sunday Times can also reveal that he is now consulting Ameet Gill, David Cameron’s former director of strategy, about how to put together a leadership campaign team.” – Sunday Times

  • Change our tone, reach out and we can save the young from a red disaster – Matt Hancock, Sunday Times

Whittingdale warns against internet censorship

“A government clampdown on social media risks ‘giving succour to Britain’s enemies’ such as Russia, a former Culture Secretary warns today. Sajid Javid has warned that a government clampdown on social media risks giving help countries such as Russia. Javid prepares to unveil plans to tackle extreme content on the internet in a White Paper tomorrow. Tory grandee John Whittingdale spoke out as Home Secretary Sajid Javid prepares to unveil in a White Paper tomorrow plans to tackle extreme material on the internet, including images of terrorism and child abuse. A new online regulator would make the bosses of companies such as Facebook or Instagram personally liable to be fined, prosecuted or even blocked from operating in Britain.” – Mail on Sunday

Morgan calls for a return to civility

“Hysterical MPs have been ordered to cut out the insults and show more respect to their colleagues. Senior figures are alarmed by the angry and offensive language used by politicians on social media, TV, radio and in the Commons….Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has called for them to adopt a calmer tone….Ms Morgan, who co-chairs One Nation Caucus, said: “We are living through unprecedented times, with many Members unable to spend as much time with the families as they would like to and it’s not at all helpful to everyday hear people – albeit a minority – competing to be the loudest and boldest. “So today the One Nation Caucus will pledge that all Members will engage only in constructive, polite and respectful discourse. We hope this is the beginning of a change in tone at Westminster and invite all Members to sign our pledge.” – The Sun on Sunday

Leaked dossier shows Labour’s failure to act on anti-semitism complaints

“The Labour Party has failed to take disciplinary action against hundreds of members accused of anti-semitism under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, according to internal documents leaked to The Sunday Times. A hard drive of emails and a confidential database last updated on March 8 reveal how the party’s system for dealing with such complaints is bedevilled by delays, inaction and interference from the leader’s office. They reveal members investigated for posting such online comments as “Heil Hitler”, “F*** the Jews” and “Jews are the problem” have not been expelled, even though the party received the complaints a year ago. A sitting councillor in Lancashire was let back into the party after fuming about “Jewish” media attacks and the Rothschild family. She told party investigators she meant “Jewish” as a “blanket term of description without any racist connotations”. In Manchester, a trade union official was readmitted despite sharing material saying “Jewish Israelis” were behind 9/11. Corbyn’s office has been involved in approving, delaying or blocking at least 101 complaints.” – Sunday Times

  • September 11 attacks ‘an inside job’, claims would-be councillor – Sunday Times
  • Half of complaints made by MPs unresolved – Sunday Times
  • PM’s ‘bomb plot’ accuser, Pam Bromley, returns to Labour Party ranks – Sunday Times
  • Official blocked bid to bar Labour candidate accused of abuse – Sunday Times
  • Labour can’t sweep this anti-semitism under the carpet – Leader, Sunday Times
  • May vows to expel anti Muslim racists – The Sun on Sunday

Netanyahu promises to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank

“Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if he is re-elected. Israelis go to the polls on Tuesday and Mr Netanyahu is competing for votes with right-wing parties who support annexing part of the West Bank. The settlements are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. Last month the US recognised the occupied Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967, as Israeli territory. Israel has settled about 400,000 Jews in West Bank settlements, with another 200,000 living in East Jerusalem. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.” – BBC

Mitchell: Why genocide in Rwanda still haunts Britain

“Once the killing stopped, those responsible for these appalling events fled the scene of their crimes. Many escaped over the borders into neighbouring countries. But the richer and better connected — the bigger fish — escaped to Europe and North America, often with the active support or passive acquiescence of the French government. Over the intervening years most have returned voluntarily to Rwanda to be tried in the gacaca courts. Some have faced justice in the countries to which they fled and others have been extradited to Rwanda — including from the US, Canada, France, Belgium and Sweden (some of whose governments were, at the time, close to the genocidal regime). Britain, sadly, is a glaring exception. In 2015 and 2017, a British district judge and our own High Court in London ruled that even though there was a prima facie case of genocide made out against five individuals living in the UK, none could be sent back to Rwanda because such action could breach their human rights.” – Andrew Mitchell, Sunday Times

News in brief

  • Are both May and Corbyn prepared to risk splitting their parties? – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • The messages MPs will be getting from their local Market Square – Alastair MacMillan, Brexit Central
  • 55 per cent say any deal that left the UK subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice would be “unacceptable” – Independent
  • Why I won’t be knocking on doors for May’s quislings – Conservative Woman
  • The Prime Minister is hoping to present a long extension as something done to her, rather than by her. Her plan may backfire – Stephen Bush, New Statesman