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Macron warned by other EU leaders not to ‘humiliate’ May

“European leaders have urged President Macron not to “humiliate” Theresa May as the price of granting her a long Brexit extension. In an appeal before tonight’s critical summit, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, called on EU leaders to treat Britain with respect or risk poisoning future relations. Mr Tusk warned that the French president’s favoured approach of an extension with “good behaviour” review clauses would create “constantly shifting” no-deal cliff edges and continued uncertainty for European businesses and citizens. Instead he appealed to the 27 member states to offer Mrs May a “flexible extension” of up to a year, which would come to an end as soon as Britain had ratified the withdrawal agreement. This, he argued, would allow Britain to rethink its exit strategy and would not damage long-term relations with London.” – The Times

  • Tusk recommends EU insists on year-long delay… – Daily Telegraph
  • …which dashes May’s hopes – The Guardian
  • Brussels seeks UK promise not to be disruptive – FT
  • Commentators latch on to Merkel’s failure to greet May – The Times
  • DUP’s Dodds brands talks ‘humiliating’ – News Letter

Comment:

  • Long delay could leave EU playing no-deal chicken… with a Brexiteer – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • The harsh reality of any extension – David Allen Green, FT

>Yesterday:

Hammond suggests MPs will revoke Article 50 rather than allow no deal

“Philip Hammond raised the prospect that MPs will revoke Article 50 this week rather than allow Britain to leave without a deal if Brexit talks collapse. The Chancellor warned on Tuesday that the value of the pound could fall significantly if Theresa May fails to reach agreement on a Brexit delay with Brussels. He suggested that the impact of uncertainty on the markets could encourage MPs to vote to reverse Brexit by revoking Article 50. David Lidington, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, is said to have warned that the Government would no longer be in control and that Parliament and the Speaker would determine how to proceed. Mr Hammond and Mr Lidington made the comments during a meeting on Tuesday morning in which ministers including Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, James Cleverly and Chris Grayling “war-gamed” a series of scenarios for this week.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministers mull ‘nuclear option’ of tabling Withdrawal Agreement Bill – The Sun
  • ERG ‘in chaos’ after rebel group splits – Daily Express
  • May’s last gambit to bounce MPs into backing her deal – Daily Express

Comment:

  • ‘Deep state’ was never going to allow such an outcome – Philip Johnstone, Daily Telegraph
  • The ERG are putting Brexit in jeopardy – Daniel Kawczynski, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Both sides must avoid a no-deal exit – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: The Spartans. Will they escape Tory gravity, and soar to another planet? Or sink back into Celestial Body Conservative?

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Merriman backs a second referendum – “If I get fired, so be it”

May and Corbyn ‘as far apart as ever’ after talks stall

“Theresa May’s hopes of persuading European Union leaders that she can reach a deal with Labour to break the Brexit deadlock appeared doomed last night after cross-party talks broke down without progress. Sources on both sides of the negotiations said that four hours of detailed discussions yesterday had served only to show “just how far away” the two parties were.Labour said that ministers had failed to offer any further concessions to break the deadlock and feared that Mrs May was being prevented from compromising by cabinet hardliners. Meanwhile, senior Conservative sources questioned Labour’s sincerity in wanting to come to a deal, pointing to division among Jeremy Corbyn’s backbenchers on a second referendum.” – The Times

  • Extending uncertainty ‘not an option’, ministers say – Daily Telegraph
  • Fox says customs union would be ‘worst of both worlds’ – The Sun
  • Leadsom says Merkel could re-open the Withdrawal Agreement – FT

More:

  • Barnier urges UK to accept customs union – Daily Telegraph
  • Talks founder on proofing deal against hard-Brexit successor – FT
  • Johnson won’t be able to fix the deal, Eurocrats vow – The Sun

Comment:

  • There is still time to change tack to a better deal – Shanker Singham, Daily Telegraph
  • Reinventing politics won’t solve this mess – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

>Today: Robert Halfon MP’s column: Labour, Corbyn – Kim Jong-un, for that matter. I’d talk to anyone, anywhere to ensure that Brexit takes place.

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

Tugendhat signals exit from upcoming leadership contest

“The Conservatives will be finished if they become only a party of Brexit, one of the likely candidates to succeed Theresa May said yesterday. Matt Hancock, the health and social care secretary, said the party needed to demonstrate more optimism to justify continuing in power… Mr Hancock was joined by Penny Mordaunt, the development secretary, and Tom Tugendhat, 45, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, to discuss a new report showing the potentially ominous prospects for the Conservative Party. Ms Mordaunt, 46, and Mr Hancock, 40, are both expected to run when Mrs May steps down. Mr Tugendhat told The Times Red Box podcast after the event that he would not be standing, despite previously indicating an interest.” – The Times

  • Tory contenders try to appeal to younger voters – FT
  • Grassroots could pass motions calling on May to quit… – Daily Telegraph
  • …as MPs say she’ll be out after local elections ‘bloodbath’ – The Sun

>Today: Priti Patel MP in Comment: It’s time to stand up for Britain and to trust our members

>Yesterday:

Mark Wallace: Anger at May will cost Tories dear in local polls

“But even Tory veterans are shocked at the response they’re getting when out campaigning for the local elections on May 2. Doors have been slammed in faces — and by people who voted Conservative not just last time but at every election on record. Others barely get past “hello” before they are bombarded with a volley of four-letter abuse, sparked simply by the sight of a blue rosette. Several local Conservative offices have had their own leaflets back by return post, torn to pieces or scrawled with the word “Traitor”. “Utterly horrendous” is how one long-serving volunteer in a true blue area described it this week. The reason for this unbridled fury, disgust and loss of trust is obvious.” – The Sun

  • The Prime Minister has destroyed our electoral hopes – A Conservative Councillor, Times Red Box
  • Who can blame young voters for ditching the Tories? – Madeline Grant, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: The Conservative Local Election Broadcast goes big on the B word: bins

Johnson’s father to bid to be a Euro candidate

“Boris Johnson’s father has thrown his hat into the ring to be a Conservative candidate in the event Brexit is delayed so long that the United Kingdom ends up holding elections to the European Parliament this year. Stanley Johnson confirmed to The Telegraph that he had lodged his application to be a candidate in London after Conservative party chiefs announced in a call-out to parliamentary hopefuls that they “will be contesting the European Elections on 23rd May 2019”. Mr Johnson, who served as an MEP from 1979-1984, called for British politicians to take an “absolutely positive” approach towards engaging with the European institution due to the “tremendous impact” its activities can have.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Voters are looking to the extremes – Ana Nadibaidze, Times Red Box
  • Idea of serving another term is shocking – Patrick O’Flynn, Daily Telegraph
  • To be, or not to be, an MEP – Ian Duncan, Times Red Box
  • Don’t boycott the election, spoil your ballot – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: The practicalities of fighting a Euro election look no more appealing than the principle of holding one

Ministers 1) Hinds says LGBT lessons are a matter for heads, not parents

“The education secretary has weighed into the row about LGBT lessons in primary schools, warning that parents should not be given a veto on what schools teach. Damian Hinds said it was right that parents were consulted and involved in developing how schools deliver relationships education, but insisted “what is taught, and how, is ultimately a decision for the school.” His intervention was welcomed by headteachers who have been calling for more support from the government in the face of spreading protests against relationships lessons that teach primary school children about LGBT families. Protests began earlier this year at Parkfield community school in the Saltley area of Birmingham, but opposition has since spread to other schools in the city and further afield, with some parents demanding that the lessons should be halted.” – The Guardian

Ministers 2) Truss announces £95,000 cap on public-sector ‘golden goodbyes’

“A £95,000 cap on “golden goodbyes” in the public sector will be introduced to stop huge exit payments, the government has announced. Local councils will be banned from handing out six-figure payouts as part of a new clampdown. More than 1,600 employees received payments of more than £100,000 in 2016-17, at a cost of £198million. Local government payouts accounted for half of this amount. In total exit payments across the public sector amounted to £1.2billion in 2016-17… The government has launched a consultation outlining how the government will introduce the £95,000 cap. The civil service, local government, police forces, schools and the NHS are included in a first round of implementation which will cover the vast majority of public sector workers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Five thousand public employees receive six-figure payoffs – The Times
  • Government slammed over way aid budget is spent through charities – The Sun

Comment:

  • We must crack down on public sector waste – Liz Truss MP, Daily Telegraph

Ministers 3) Hammond faces fresh fury over fuel duty

“Fury erupted Tuesday night as Philip Hammond raised fresh fears that he will scrap the fuel duty freeze to find more money for public services. In a challenge to The Sun’s ‘Keep it Down’ campaign, the Chancellor told MPs he will have to balance savings for motorists “against the costs of the exchequer” when he draws up the spending review later this year. He complained last year that keeping the price of petrol down had cost the Treasury £46billion since 2011. And his latest comments suggest he is once eyeing up a tax raid on hard-pressed families and businesses on the forecourt. Mr Hammond told the Commons on Tuesday that lorry drivers would have had to pay an average £23,000 extra on fuel since 2010 in added fuel duty, had the freeze not been introduced.” – The Sun

Labour suspend another candidate over antisemitism…

“A Labour council candidate has been suspended after The Timespresented the party with social media posts he made about Israel and Jews. Harry Virco, a candidate in next month’s local elections for Fylde borough council in Lancashire, wrote on Twitter last year: “Has Israel & the Jewish people learned nothing from their persecution under Hitler? Yes they have! They now know how to persecute other people & especially children.”… Mr Virco has been suspended by Labour pending an investigation. A party spokeswoman said that it took “all complaints about antisemitism extremely seriously”. A party source added that although it was too late to remove Mr Virco from the ballot paper, he would sit as an independent if elected.” – The Times

SNP facing ‘grassroots challenge’ over currency plans

“SNP bosses are facing the prospect of a grassroots challenge over controversial changes to its currency proposals after independence. Party activists who want to see an immediate switch to a new Scottish currency are to oppose the leadership’s plans to retain the pound for an indefinite period after a Yes vote. This is line with the recommendations of the party’s recent Sustainable Growth Commission and means a new currency would only be adopted after six key fiscal tests are met. Finance secretary Derek Mackay is leading the push for this, along with party deputy leader Keith Brown. They have a joint motion at the party conference later this month to make a new Scots currency official party policy after independence after the tests are met, replacing the idea of retaining the pound as part of a currency union with the UK.” – The Scotsman

Dodds defends donation from unionist donor group

“DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds has defended is party accepting a further £13,000 donation from a pro-Brexit campaign group in the months after the EU referendum, it has been reported. The Constitutional Research Council (CRC) had previously donated £435,000 to the DUP during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, most of which was spent by the party on pro-Brexit advertising. The information on the latest CRC donation are contained in internal Electoral Commission documents, which were published by the campaign group the Good Law Project, an anti-Brexit campaign group. The CRC is reported to be a group of pro-union business people chaired by Richard Cook, a former vice chairman of the Scottish Conservatives.” – News Letter

Netanyahu on course for fifth term in Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu looked on the brink of securing a fifth-term as Israel’s prime minister on Wednesday, seeing off a centrist challenge despite facing criminal corruption charges. With nearly all votes counted, Mr Netanyahu’s Likud had won the same number of seats as Blue & White, a centrist coalition run by led by former general Benny Gantz, but the prime minister had a much clearer path to forming a coalition. “This is a night of tremendous victory,” Mr Netanyahu told his cheering supporters in Tel Aviv. “I am very moved that the people of Israel again put its faith in me, for the fifth time”. If the final tallies are confirmed, it will cement Mr Netanyahu’s reputation as the most successful election-winner in Israeli history and prove that his brand of divisive Right-wing politics is the country’s dominant political force.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Right-wing bloc heads towards narrow victory – FT

News in Brief:

  • A deal with Corbyn would blow up the Government, and might not pass – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • Can the government nudge us towards a better internet? – Alex Krasodomski-Jones, CapX
  • Millennials: winning over a generation badly let down – Mark Littlewood, 1828
  • The problem with no-fault divorce – Melanie McDonagh, The Spectator
  • How the idea of advocating a principled (if unpopular) political position was lost – Robert Wilton, UnHerd

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