Brexit Party takes early poll lead

“Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has surged into the lead for the European elections, according to two opinion polls. Having formed only in January, the party has leapfrogged Labour and the Tories and eaten into Ukip’s support. A YouGov poll for The Times put the Brexit Party on 23 per cent, Labour on 22 per cent and the Conservatives on 17 per cent. Last week it was on 15 per cent, Labour was on 24 per cent and the Tories were on 16 per cent. Many former Ukip voters appear to have followed Mr Farage away from the party he had led in three separate stints. Ukip has languished in seventh place on 6 per cent since the launch of the Brexit Party. The polling was less positive for Change UK. The breakaway group of former Labour and Conservative MPs was on 8 per cent in The Times’s European elections poll, up just a point.” – The Times

  • Disunity to cost Remain parties seats – FT
  • Beckett says Farage will win unless Labour backs Remain – The Guardian
  • Stanley Johnson rejected as Tory MEP candidate – The Sun


  • Remain MPs can delay legislation to ensure we take part in Euros, warns da Costa – Daily Telegraph
  • Britain left in charge of Brussels over Easter – The Sun


  • How the details of PR could stymie Remainers – Miranda Green, FT
  • Britain will have its second referendum… on 23 May – Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian
  • The Tories face annihilation – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph


>Yesterday: Daniel Hannan MEP’s column: Brexit. Vote Conservative in the European elections to help us deliver it – and finish the job.

Skidmore and Ellwood demand universities do more for military families

“Ministers have told universities to help more people from military backgrounds. Just 24 per cent of young people with parents in the services go on to higher education, compared with 43 per cent in the general population. And veterans who want to apply are often hindered by having served rather than studied. Now Universities Minister Chris Skidmore and Veterans Minister Tobias Ellwood have written to all universities demanding that they sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant. Just 57 of 136 have so far committed to the pledge that the Armed Forces community will not be disadvantaged. The two ministers are also calling for military experience and qualifications to count towards course entry requirements.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Potemkin legislation

Hunt ‘sets out leadership stall’

“Jeremy Hunt has set out his credentials for the Tory leadership as he warned that the Tories must restore their reputation as the “party of aspiration” and overcome claims that they “don’t care” about young people. The Foreign Secretary told the New Statesman that the Tories need to find some “big social issues” to show that “it’s not all money for money’s sake”. He said the Tories need to show that they are not only the party of “wealth creation” but establish themselves as the party of “prosperity with purpose”. He insisted that he is just as radical as Michael Gove, who is seen as another leadership contender, and that the reforms he introduced in the NHS were as significant as those introduced in schools.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Express readers ‘back Johnson’ (on Twitter) – Daily Express


  • Pray the next leader isn’t in this cowardly Cabinet – Allison Pearon, Daily Telegraph

Government to force pupils to take a foreign language GCSE

“All schools will be ordered to sign their pupils up for foreign language GCSEs from September – and will be marked down if they don’t, The Sun can reveal. In a bid to boost Britain’s bilingual skills Schools Minister Nick Gibb has set a target of getting three in four of all pupils studying and taking a foreign language GCSE by 2022. Currently just under half of kids in England and Wales sit a foreign language GCSE. But from September all secondary school starters will be expected to study one and take the exam. And to get the numbers up schools will be assessed on the proportion of pupils studying foreign languages. As well as being held to account by Ofsted inspections, schools will also be judged on their foreign languages take-up in league performance tables.” – The Sun

  • Method to the madness of Labour’s ban on primary testing – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Schools which off-roll pupils need to be named and shamed – David Laws, The Times

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Abolishing SATs is a policy designed to please teaching unions, not help school pupils

Tory MPs preparing ‘fresh push’ against Bercow

“Conservative MPs are to launch a further attempt to prise John Bercow from office amid anger over what they claim is the Speaker’s bias against Brexit. The backbencher behind the move, who says it has support from the government front bench, warned Mr Bercow yesterday that “enough is enough”. There have been reports that the Speaker wants to stay in his post beyond the summer if Brexit is not resolved. Crispin Blunt, former chairman of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, is canvassing support among MPs for an early day motion expressing no confidence in Mr Bercow. He hopes to table the motion when parliament returns on Tuesday, after the Easter recess.” – The Times

Merriman puts pressure on Javid over ‘climate extremists’…

“Sajid Javid was last night under mounting pressure for failing to reclaim Britain’s streets from eco-extremsists after a third day of traffic carnage. Tory MPs turned their anger on the Home Secretary over how cops were often standing by while Extinction Rebellion protesters continued to barricade major roads in central London. Parliament Square yesterday began to resemble a music festival, as the climate change warriors graffitied the tarmac and held sing songs in the middle of it. Government aide Huw Merriman MP branded the scenes “a national embarrassment”. Mr Merriman told The Sun: “Our economic and democratic hub has been closed off by these protesters, while the police just stand by watching them do it.” – The Sun

  • Fury over Scotland Yard’s ‘revolving door’ – Daily Mail


  • Why haven’t these anarchists felt the full force of the law? – David Blunkett, Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: And then they shall see Robin Boardman-Pattison coming in a cloud with power and great glory

…as police accuse Khan of ‘aggravating’ protests

The Mayor of London has been accused by rank and file police officers of “aggravating” climate protests as demonstrators brought havoc to the capital. Sadiq Khan was criticised by policing and business leaders after activists from Extinction Rebellion were able to disrupt major transport routes for a third day. Hundreds of arrested protesters even cited the Mayor’s support for their cause to police in a bid to escape criminal charges, The Telegraph has learned. It came after another chaotic day in which three protesters glued themselves to a train, while Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square were brought to a standstill.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Corbyn refuses to speak to protesters outside his home – The Times
  • Labour leader targeted on day three – The Guardian


  • They’re making a laughing stock of London – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail


  • Londoners deserve better than their grandstanding mayor – Daily Telegraph
  • Time for cops to clear the middle-class morons – The Sun

>Today: Rachel Wolf’s column: Brexit agonies? Twitter pile-ons? Fanatical protesters? Put them in perspective. For all our troubles, we’re happier than ever.

Burgon antisemitism video ‘contradicts libel evidence’

Labour’s shadow justice secretary came under mounting pressure on Wednesday after it emerged he had told a judge under oath that it was not his “view” that Zionism was the “enemy of peace”. Richard Burgon twice declined to say in court if he had made such remarks, insisting he had already answered the question “on the television”. The Leeds East MP was forced to apologise on Tuesday after a video surfaced online appearing to prove that he had described Zionism as the enemy of peace and of “the Palestinian people”. He said he did not recall making the remarks but acknowledged it was “now clear I did and I regret doing so”. However, a transcript circulated on Wednesday shows that Mr Burgon appeared to avoid directly answering questions about the comments when asked about them in court just three months ago.” – Daily Telegraph

Sturgeon faces SNP row over transgender rights

Three female SNP MSPs including a Scottish Government minister have criticised Nicola Sturgeon over her support for transgender rights in a leaked conversation suggesting she was “out of step” with the party. Gillian Martin, Ash Denham and Ruth Maguire expressed their frustration at a tweet in which the First Minister was quoted as saying she did not see “the greater recognition of transgender rights as a threat to me as a woman or to my feminism.” The trio hit out at Ms Sturgeon after her comment was highlighted by Emma Ritch of the Engender organisation, who said: “So glad to hear Nicola Surgeon powerfully articulate this positive feminist analysis of trans rights.” But Ms Martin told her two colleagues that Ms Sturgeon was “a bit (out) of step with the feelings of her own group” of MSPs over the controversial issue.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ex-Labour leader wins defamation case against nationalist blogger – The Guardian

Claim of ‘democracy deserts’ over hundreds of uncontested local elections

“Hundreds of thousands of potential voters will be denied a choice in England’s local elections next month as 300 council seats go uncontested. According to an analysis by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) some 300 councillors are guaranteed success in the poll on May 2. Darren Hughes, the campaign group’s chief executive, said it had estimated that 850,000 voters would not be granted a say over who is elected in what he called “democracy deserts”. It was “frankly a disgrace in the 21st century for parties to have landed 300 seats without a single ballot being cast”, he said.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • Jeremy Hunt: the last Cameroon – Jason Cowley, New Statesman
  • The real reason Jeremy Corbyn wants to scrap SATs – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • Catalan question dominates ahead of wildly uncertain Spanish election – Caroline Gray, Reaction
  • The long road to Brexit – Pieter Cleppe, 1828
  • Should I forgive the journalist who got me fired? – Sir Roger Scruton, The Spectator