Brexit 1) Indicative vote proposals defeated

“MPs failed for a second time last night to agree on an alternative to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, handing the initiative back to Downing Street to find a way out of the impasse….The Commons rejected a customs union with the European Union by only three votes last night. MPs also rejected a motion calling for a second referendum by 12 votes and Nick Boles’s Common Market 2.0 plan by 21 votes. The defeats came after Labour MPs supporting a second referendum failed to heed calls by their leadership to support softer forms of Brexit. There was also an informal whipping operation on the Tory side to prevent any of the alternatives to Mrs May’s deal from gaining a majority. None of the motions voted on by MPs yesterday won more votes than Mrs May’s deal did when MPs voted on it last Friday.” – The Times

  • Second referendum and Common Market 2.0 backers blame each other – The Guardian
  • Naked protesters disrupt proceedings – Daily Telegraph


>Yesterday:  MPsETC: Indicative Votes. Bercow selects four motions. All back either a Softer Brexit, a second referendum – or No Brexit at all.

Brexit 2) Cabinet members split over Customs Union v No Deal

“The Cabinet, like the Tory Party, is increasingly split between those who want a no deal Brexit and those who want a customs union, with both factions holding meetings yesterday to cement support for their positions. Mrs May is under immense pressure from both wings of the party to make a choice, but has been warned that ministerial resignations will be “unavoidable” if she picks either no deal or a customs union. Yesterday Jeremy Hunt became the latest minister to back a no deal Brexit, meaning no deal is now favoured by 14 out of 27 members of the Cabinet. The Conservatives promised in their general election manifesto that Britain would leave the customs union – a promise that Mrs May has repeated countless times since. However, 10 Cabinet ministers now prefer a customs union to no deal, with three undecided.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Hammond will push for a second referendum – The Times
  • Will May try to arrange a run-off? – The Sun
  • Is she planning another fudge? – The Times
  • Gove would “reluctantly” accept softer Brexit – Daily Telegraph

>Today:  Dominic Walsh: What a customs union does and doesn’t do – and how it compares to the backstop.

Brexit 3) Boles resigns the Conservative Whip to cross the floor

“Tory MP Nick Boles sensationally resigned from his party moments after the votes were announced – blaming the Conservatives’ refusal to compromise for the failure to find a way forward. His plan for a Norway-style soft Brexit was defeated 282 to 261 – having won just 33 Tory votes.  In what may become an historic moment during the Brexit crisis and on the brink of tears, Mr Boles admitted his plan to find a consensus had ‘failed’ and announced he could no longer stay in the party. Announcing his shock resignation, Mr Boles said: ‘I have given everything to an attempt to find a compromise that can take this country out of the European Union while maintaining our economic strength and our political cohesion. ‘I accept I have failed. I have failed chiefly because my party refuses to compromise. I regret therefore to announce I can no longer sit for this party.’ One MP could be heard saying: ‘Oh Nick, don’t go, come on.’ ” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: WATCH: Boles quits – “I can no longer sit for this Party”

Brexit 4) Drax apologises for voting for May’s deal

“Richard Drax, another Tory who backed Mrs May’s deal last week, said it had been “a mistake” to do so, as other Brexiteers also hinted they might reverse their decision to back the deal. If Mrs May does not think she can win a fourth “meaningful vote” this week she will have to switch to a plan B, which will be discussed at Cabinet on Tuesday.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: WATCH: “I made the wrong call on Friday.” Drax apologises for not voting against May’s deal.

Brexit 5) May “threatens to call an early General Election”

“MPs once again failed to agree on a way forward for Brexit on Monday as Theresa May prepared to use the threat of a long delay or a general election to persuade her party to back her deal. Parliament voted on four alternatives to Mrs May’s deal, including a customs union and a second referendum, without reaching a majority for any of the options on offer. The Tories will now push Mrs May to pivot to a no deal Brexit, but the Prime Minister will hold a marathon five-hour session with her Cabinet on Tuesday in attempt to create unity around her EU Withdrawal Agreement. She will use Monday’s results to impress on ministers and backbench MPs her belief that her deal is the only way to avoid a worse outcome, such as a long delay, a general election or a customs union.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 4) Lidington approves contingency plans for Euro Elections

“Ministers kick-started plans to hold European elections in May – with MPs poised to force through a lengthy delay to Brexit this week. De-facto deputy PM David Lidington gave councils the green light to start preparations for holding the elections on May 23rd as a “contingency” measure. Britain will have to take part in the European Parliament elections if it is still a member of the EU. The UK Government has to decide whether to take part in the elections by the end of next week.” – The Sun

Brexit 5) Rees-Mogg defends AfD tweet

“Conservative British MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended his tweet of a speech made by the co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party….
Mr Rees-Mogg posted the video of the speech, writing: “The AfD leader asks ‘Is it any wonder the British see bad faith behind every manoeuvre from Brussels?'” In the speech, Ms Weidel said former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s attempt to renegotiate UK membership of the EU was “a great opportunity to reform the EU into a leaner organisation” and attacked the EU’s Brexit negotiating strategy…Speaking on LBC radio on Monday morning, Mr Rees-Mogg said he was not endorsing the party. “I’m not supporting the AfD. But this is a speech in the Bundestag of real importance because it shows a German view of Brexit.” He added: “I don’t think re-tweeting is an endorsement of things that other people stand for. It’s just pointing out that there’s something interesting that’s worth watching.” – BBC

Brexit 6) Germany will allow the British to stay even if there is “no deal”

“Berlin has announced emergency plans to allow all Brits living in the country to stay even if there’s a no deal Brexit. Germany’s interior ministry has called on regional authorities to guarantee the rights of 100,000 expats and their families. Officials have asked local parliaments to provide immigration services with the “necessary resources” to process Brits’ applications. Their advice includes setting up new hotlines that UK citizens can call to ask for advice on how to gain permanent residency.” – The Sun

Brexit 7) Sedwill warns of doomsday unless agreement is reached

“Britain’s highest-ranking civil servant has issued a doomsday analysis of how the country would be affected by a No Deal Brexit, as MPs yet again failed to break the deadlock last night.  The House of Commons rejected all four alternative Brexit plans in another series of votes last night, leaving Britain with no clear plan just 10 days before a possible cliff-edge exit…Sir Mark’s bombshell letter to ministers, extracts of which have been leaked to the Daily Mail, comes ahead of a five-hour Cabinet showdown today. In the letter, the Cabinet Secretary says leaving the EU without a deal would hamper the police and security services and lead to the return of direct rule in Northern Ireland.” – Daily Mail

  • 57 per cent back leaving on World Trade terms – The Sun

Brexit 8) Sylvester: UKIP infiltrators will tear the Tories apart

“Dozens more Tory MPs who backed Remain at the EU referendum and now oppose a no-deal Brexit are being targeted as part of a campaign backed by Leave.EU, the organisation funded by the businessman Arron Banks. Senior Tories including Sir Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan, George Freeman, Sam Gyimah and Antoinette Sandbach are pictured on its website under the headline “Deselect the Tory traitors”, along with detailed instructions on how to organise a local coup and links to the registration page on the party website. Many MPs have noticed a sudden influx of new members with hardline Eurosceptic views in recent months. One former minister says the hard Brexiteers are engaged in “guerrilla warfare” to purge the moderates.” – Rachel Sylvester, The Times

Brexit 9) Gardiner: The Americans would love a “no deal”

“For the United States, it’s a no-brainer. A no-deal Brexit would be infinitely preferable to Britain being stuck inside the EU. As National Security Adviser John Bolton recently said: “People who worry about the UK crashing out of the European Union – they are going to crash right into the United States. We are standing here waiting to make a trade deal with a United Kingdom independent of the EU.” Bolton, who has the ear of President Trump, has been a robust critic of the EU and is a strong believer in national sovereignty. His pro-Brexit sentiments are widely shared across the administration, and stand in stark contrast to the lacklustre approach taken by officials in Downing Street. In the US, Brexit is widely viewed as a huge positive. At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, America’s biggest annual gathering of conservatives, support for Brexit was overwhelming, with loud applause for pro-Brexit speakers.” – Nile Gardiner, Daily Telegraph

Other comment

  • A government of national unity is a fantasy – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times
  • The voters got it right – Nigel Dodds, Daily Telegraph
  • Politicians must come together – Leader, The Guardian
  • Another farcical stalemate – Leader, The Sun
  • No Solution – Leader, The Times
  • A broken cabinet behaving like they’re in House Of Cards – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • This is no time for compromise – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • Jon Snow’s ‘white people’ jibe reveals the contempt so many of his type have for millions of their fellow countrymen – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Perhaps May’s deal isn’t so bad after all – Janet Daly, Daily Telegraph

Hague: The next Tory leader could find the Party in ruins

“The internal situation in the Conservative Party is much worse than it was in 1997. The ruin I moved in to as the new leader was, at least, intact. We had many differences, but we resolved them without talk of leaving altogether, opposing our own party on a vote of confidence, or deselecting tranches of MPs. We all joined together in the long task of rebuilding. By contrast, some of today’s leadership candidates may find themselves sitting in a small ruin on their own.” – Daily Telegraph

  • May is the worst PM since Eden, declares Widdecombe – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Columnist Howard Flight: We need a new leader with the vision, commitment and bravery of a Thatcher

More police powers won’t solve the issue of youth crime, warns May

“Violent crime is an issue that cannot be solved solely by increasing police powers, Theresa May has warned. Speaking at the start of a youth violence summit at Downing Street, the prime minister said the issue needed a “great cooperated long-term effort” from numerous bodies. “We cannot simply arrest ourselves out of this problem,” she added. The summit comes after the Home Office announced proposals for teachers and NHS workers to help tackle youth crime. Unions are resisting the plans, and say making teachers and nurses responsible for spotting and reporting youth violence is impractical, and could make the problem worse.” – BBC

Hinds: We want to introduce a home schooling register, so no child can fall between the cracks

“The register should in no way be seen as anti-home education. We are all a product of our upbringing and I for one am supremely grateful to the enlightened and gifted families that indirectly gave us Narnia and computer programming, not to mention the lightbulb. But there are many other children not in school and we cannot continue to let vulnerable children vanish under the radar, where their potential is left untapped and instead they are likely to be drawn into a spiral of underachievement or worse.” – Damian Hinds, Daily Telegraph

Independent Group MPs back tax rises

“Britain’s breakaway MPs plan to raise income tax on the country’s biggest earners – new leader Heidi Allen signalled yesterday. The ex-Tory – interim leader of ‘Change UK: the Independent Group’ – said more money should be raised to pay for public services.She told the BBC: “Well I want a sweet spot where it covers our public services that we need to spend on – the NHS and education.”…Earlier this month Ms Allen said the group would also axe the four-year benefits freeze.” – The Sun

Merger creates largest ever district council

“The country’s biggest non-metropolitan district council, by population, has come into being after a merger. East Suffolk, made up of the former Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils, will serve 246,913 people. A second new authority, West Suffolk, has taken over from St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils. West Suffolk will serve a population of 179,248 and the number of councillors to be elected for both new authorities in May will be halved. The mergers have taken two years of negotiating and will have fewer elected representatives.” – BBC

News in brief

  • Why a customs union is the worst of all worlds – Greg Hands, CapX
  • All Brexit options fail again. So, what happens now? – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • By defying 2017 manifesto commitments, Brexit-blocking Labour MPs are risking the party’s credibility – Fawzi Ibrahim, Brexit Central
  • Asia, not Brexit, is Europe’s biggest challenge – David Howell, The Article
  • Soft Brexit is at risk – Andrew Grice, Independent