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Anger as the Conservative Party plans for new European elections

‘The reality of Mrs May’s plan to seek another Brexit delay began to sink in on Monday night as the Conservative party rushed to find candidates to contest the European elections, telling applicants to put their names forward by 5pm on Tuesday. In an email sent out to the Conservative candidates list, the party’s head of candidates Gareth Fox, said: “Due to the current situation we will be contesting the European elections on May 23.” The party later issued a statement saying that although Mrs May placed an order on Monday night to allow the elections to take place, she still hoped to ratify a Brexit deal before polling day next month, allowing her to cancel the elections at short notice. Eurosceptic anger increased as Mrs May confirmed that ministerial talks with Labour would resume on Tuesday.’ – FT

>Yesterday:

The EU will demand silence and obedience in return for a further extension

‘Britain will lose its say in future EU budget talks and trade deals as the price of another Brexit delay, Theresa May is to be told today. The prime minister will visit Angela Merkel in Berlin and President Macron in Paris today as she tries to avoid humiliation at an EU summit tomorrow. Mrs May wants another Brexit extension to June 30 but European leaders have started to spell out the price for agreeing to the delay. They will insist that Britain does not block or disrupt EU decisions during an extension period that is likely to be much longer than Mrs May’s request — possibly to March 31 next year. Any such extension would be brought to an end if the withdrawal agreement were approved by MPs…After speaking to Mrs May yesterday, Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said that agreement to another delay “hinges . . . on assurances from UK on sincere co-operation”. That assurance is expected to take the form of a letter that, in effect, commits the government always to vote with the majority of other member states.’ – The Times

The Letwin-Cooper Act receives Royal Assent

‘Backbench MPs have passed historic legislation to delay article 50, forcing the government to set out its timetable for the length of the Brexit delay in order to prevent the UK exiting the EU with no deal. In extraordinary circumstances, the bill devised by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and the Conservative Oliver Letwin passed its final stages in the House of Lords on Monday night and was approved by the Commons that evening. The swift passage of the bill, which took just three sitting days to complete, was made possible by the success of an unprecedented amendment which allowed MPs to seize control of parliamentary business on particular days, meaning the government could not block its progress.’ – The Guardian

>Today: James Frayne’s column: Cross-party co-operation over Brexit is initially popular, but it will swiftly sour in practice

May ‘sat in silence’ as ’22 executive told her she has become ‘the problem’

‘Theresa May is facing demands from her own MPs to stand down immediately after senior backbenchers told her she is now “the problem”. A delegation of executives from the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers met Mrs May in Downing Street on Monday and said the mood among party supporters had turned against her over the weekend. Mrs May sat in stony silence and refused to discuss her future as the MPs made clear the “damage” she is causing the party, sources said. The meeting will draw comparisons with the final days of Margaret Thatcher’s reign when she was visited by “the men in grey suits” and prevailed upon to resign for the good of the party.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The Cabinet must tell May to go

Wallace: MPs should rein in their self-pity about how hard it is to be a politician

‘There is one thing likely to annoy voters even more than the Commons’ indecision: the sound of MPs complaining about how hard their job is. First there were complaints about the prospect of longer hours… Then there were objections to the prospect of Parliament sitting for five days a week. After that, the idea of cancelling the Easter recess drew further grousing. In recent days we’ve heard complaints from MPs about the pressure and tiredness they are experiencing from the ongoing drama. Others have talked of preferring to stay indoors, or even to flee their seats and return to London, rather than face their constituents. I don’t doubt that these feelings are real. But you’ve got to wonder at the wisdom of those who choose this moment to air them…Making decisions about the governance of our country is an MP’s job. It is what they are paid to do, the task which they choose to put themselves forward to do on the people’s behalf. And currently, they are collectively failing. Have they forgotten that day-to-day existence for millions of people in this country involves huge pressure and tiredness?’ – Mark Wallace, the i

>Today: David Willetts on Comment: There are ways for Conservatives to win over younger voters – but they aren’t easy

Hancock urges doctors to make use of new freedom to prescribe medicinal cannabis

‘The Health Secretary vented his deep “frustration” at medics for not using new laws to give the drugs to help severely epileptic kids. He spoke out after mum Emma Appleby had her three-month supply of cannabis for her daughter Teagan, 9, confiscated at Southend Airport at the weekend. Her daughter has a rare chromosomal disorder and suffers from around 300 seizures a day. Summoned to the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Hancock said: “We changed the law to make sure medicinal cannabis is available on a mainstream basis. When that’s the case we need clinical sign off. The problem is that clinical sign off has not been forthcoming. That’s a source of immense frustration to me as I hope you can imagine, and that is what we are trying to resolve.”’ – The Sun

‘No fault divorce’ reform announced

‘The Government has unveiled a new ‘no fault divorce’ law to prevent children from being damaged in a bid to “end the blame game” and “mudslinging” between parents under the current system. The new legislation, to be announced Tuesday, aims to overhaul divorce law and reduce family conflict. It comes following overwhelming pressure from senior judges, lawyers, politicians and members of the public amid calls for reform. Writing in The Telegraph , David Gauke, the justice secretary, said that under the current 50-year-old divorce law, there is a legal requirement to find a ‘guilty’ party which “leads to children being caught in the middle of a fractious and upsetting process”. “Hostility and conflict between parents leave their mark on children and can damage their life chances.”’ – Daily Telegraph

Thousands of council staff are paid more than £100,000

‘Anger erupted last night as it emerged that 2,454 town hall employees across Britain are being paid salaries of more than £100,000 a year. The highest-paid council employee, an interim chief executive, has received an eye-watering pay and perks package of £595,077 – almost four times the Prime Minister’s salary. Some 608 workers pocketed more than £150,000 and 28 received £250,000 or more. Meanwhile, families struggle to pay sky-high council tax bills with services slashed to the bone. Bills in England will rise by an average 4.7 percent this month, the second highest rise in ten years.’ – Daily Express

  • Something to remember when the tax bill goes up – The Sun Says
  • British Gas chief gets pay rise despite rising costs for consumers – Daily Mail

Javid says social media platforms are ‘complicit’ in murder and abuse

‘Sajid Javid blasted the industry as he unveiled a blitz on the web’s role as a “hunting ground for monsters”. He said the likes of Facebook and YouTube were “quite happy” to profit from material on their sites. Yet chiefs “dodged and evaded” responsibility for it. Mr Javid blasted: “We can’t allow leaders of tech ­companies to look the other way and deny their share of responsibility — even as content on their platforms incites criminality, abuse and even murder. To be a bystander is to be complicit. And I am not prepared to let them stand by any longer.” His Online Harms white paper proposes some of the world’s strictest web laws. He plans an internet watchdog that could be funded by tech firms and would impose tough rules.’ – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Be cautious when a watchdog bites its rivals

Jewish Labour members plan ‘work to rule’ in protest at antisemitism

‘Activists from Labour’s Jewish affiliate could refuse to campaign in upcoming elections unless the party takes radical steps to tackle antisemitism allegations. The new chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, Mike Katz, and the Labour MP Ruth Smeeth have backed moves by members to give a scorecard to Labour politicians based on their action on antisemitism. Katz, who was elected on Sunday at the movement’s AGM, where a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was passed, said the JLM could still consider breaking links with the party entirely. The group is the party’s oldest Jewish affiliate and has 2,000 members. He said members had been diligent campaigners in local and general elections but that “solidarity cuts both ways” when it came to which MPs it would support. Smeeth, a former trade union official, said the group would “work to rule” when it came to campaigning, as agreed in a motion passed at the AGM.’ – The Guardian

  • The PLP will vote on a motion proposing a new complaints process – The Sun
  • How can anyone stay in this institutionally racist Labour Party? – The Sun Says
  • Corbyn joked about tearing down Balfour’s statue – Daily Mail

Israel goes to the polls

‘Israelis are voting in the country’s most closely-fought general election in years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud Party, is seeking a fifth term in office. But he is facing corruption allegations and a strong challenge from former military chief Benny Gantz. Mr Gantz, head of the centrist Blue and White alliance, is challenging Mr Netanyahu on the key issue of security and is promising cleaner politics. Israel’s Labour Party, which sealed a breakthrough peace deal with the Palestinians in the 1990s, has lost favour with voters in recent years.’ – BBC News

News in Brief

  • The problem with apologising for Amritsar – The Spectator
  • Britain’s everyday drug problem – The Tortoise
  • Is there any hope the local elections might be about bins? – New Statesman
  • In defence of big pharma – 1828
  • The sinister trend for fake Hitler paintings – Prospect

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