May turns to Corbyn to decide the way forward on Brexit

‘Theresa May will put a soft Brexit on the table in talks with Jeremy Corbyn in a dramatic switch of tactics to get her deal through parliament. In the face of cabinet opposition the prime minister announced that she was seeking to secure Brexit with help from Labour after a tense seven-hour meeting in which she was repeatedly challenged by her ministers. Mrs May’s aides suggested that she was willing to agree a form of customs union and close single market alignment as the price of getting a Brexit deal through the Commons. A No 10 aide said that she would approach the issue of a customs union, which the Tories promised in a manifesto commitment to leave, in a “constructive spirit”. Such a strategy will prompt fresh hostility from the Tory party and last night her overture was condemned as a capitulation by leading Brexiteers.’ – The Times

  • He will likely ask for customs union (for starters) – The Times
  • He hasn’t mentioned a second referendum yet – Daily Mail
  • Williamson warned against the idea – The Times
  • Brexiteer MPs are furious – The Guardian
  • Labour is sceptical – FT
  • The DUP criticises ‘sub-contracting out’ Brexit to Corbyn – Belfast Newsletter
  • Sturgeon accuses May of ‘kicking the can’ – The Scotsman
  • What happens if it doesn’t work? – Daily Mail




The Prime Minister seeks a further extension – though the EU may exact a price

‘The EU is preparing to offer Theresa May a long Brexit delay with strict conditions attached, including the need to hold European Parliament elections and a possible “gentleman’s agreement” over Britain’s future conduct as a member state. With an emergency Brexit summit of EU leaders planned next Wednesday — two days before Britain’s scheduled departure on April 12 — the new offer is part of plans being drawn up by diplomats and officials to cope with an increasingly unpredictable UK government and parliament. Measures under consideration in Brussels include the EU postponing Brexit to January or April 2020… Mrs May is still holding out hope of a short delay that would avoid holding European Parliament elections. After a seven-hour cabinet meeting on Tuesday, she admitted she would require another extension, but would only need a short one if her Brexit deal is passed.’ – FT

  • Macron said yesterday only a long postponement should be on offer – The Times
  • Tusk suggests they might be willing to agree – Daily Mail
  • If they insist on a long extension, Brexit might never happen – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • Williamson, Mordaunt, Truss and Grayling reported to be open critics of further delay – The Sun
  • Post-Brexit Britain should emulate Trump’s regulatory bonfire – Ben Riley-Smith, Daily Telegraph
  • Attempt to disrupt railway, purportedly by disgruntled Leavers – The Times


Angry seven-hour Cabinet meeting sees MPs denounced as ‘nutters’

‘A minister called hardline Tory Brexiteers ‘nutters’ and ‘right-wing extremists’ while Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was slapped down for ‘mansplaining’ leaving the EU to a female colleague in Theresa May’s extraordinary seven-hour crisis cabinet meeting, it was revealed today. Mrs May lurched towards a softer Brexit after her summit yesterday which saw 14 ministers oppose a Brexit delay while 10 spoke up in favour. Remainer ministers including Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond joined Brexiteer colleague Michael Gove in speaking up for a long extension. But they were outnumbered by ministers including Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox who preferred a short delay or none at all.’ – Daily Mail

  • Allegations that ministers opposed her plan but were ignored – Daily Mail
  • A majority, it is claimed, urged her to keep No Deal on the table instead – Daily Telegraph
  • They were kept locked away until after her statement – Daily Mail
  • MPs fear May will split her Party – FT
  • This is the worst Cabinet ever, charges Boles – The Times

Letwin arranges another day of indicative votes, as Cooper plans a rushed Bill to block No Deal

‘Supporters of the so-called indicative votes process, under which MPs put forward different options to Mrs May’s Brexit deal, said it could yet produce a Commons majority for one proposal. They intend to hold another round of voting on Monday, when composite parliamentary motions, such as one involving a referendum on Mrs May’s deal plus a customs union, are likely to be presented. But with just 10 days until Brexit, Ms Cooper opted to concentrate on securing a long extension to the Article 50 process rather than another round of indicative votes this week. She presented a bill on Tuesday calling for an extension, and aims for it to speed through all of its Commons stages on Wednesday.  Mrs Cooper received a boost from the Commons speaker John Bercow, who said it was “not particularly unusual at all” for bills to pass several stages in a single day.’ – FT

>Today: Daniel Hannan’s column: We are shuffling towards a deal that is worse either than remaining or leaving

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Positions on both sides of the Commons are hardening, despite (or because of) the crusade for consensus

Wallace: Many in Westminster are horrified by the idea of Tory members holding MPs accountable

‘There is plenty of talk of participatory democracy and valuing the grassroots membership. But when members actually try to use their democratic powers the reaction is one of horror… Voting against – or, god forbid, heckling – an MP was treated as if it was an act of extremism, rather than an expression of pretty widespread opinion… It’s clear that what some in power really want of Tory members is silent obedience. We said we wanted a broad church, but we meant that you should swallow our views, not that you should express yours. We said we wanted more members, but we meant to pay up and campaign, not to influence the Party. We said we wanted to be a democratic organisation, but that doesn’t mean you should actually expect to have a choice. Such contempt is not new – remember the senior figure in the Cameron years who sneered at Tory members as “swivel-eyed” – but it is becoming more shameless.’ – Mark Wallace, Daily Telegraph

NATO at 70: Russia warned off further aggression in Eastern Europe

‘Nato will strengthen its presence in the Black Sea region to counter a Russian military build-up as a new arms race develops on Europe’s eastern flank. The 29-nation western alliance will mark its 70th anniversary by unveiling a package of measures aimed at supporting Ukraine and Georgia amid concern over Russian aggression and Moscow’s apparent deployment of nuclear-capable bombers in Crimea, the territory it seized in 2014. Russia’s capture of three Ukrainian naval vessels in November increased tensions, which were fanned when Russian officials claimed that Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic bombers were being deployed in response to US missile defence systems installed in Romania. Nato is also preparing to fund a new £260 million weapons store at an airbase close to Powidz in central Poland, reducing the time it would take to deploy reinforcements there in case of Russian incursion.’ – The Times

  • Not a single head of government will attend the celebrations – The Times Leader
  • Moscow will keep pushing regardless – The Times
  • Stoltenberg’s term in charge of the alliance is extended to avoid a Trump nominee – The Times
  • Europe questions America’s commitment – FT
  • Restore the NATO Russia Council – George Robertson, The Times
  • Delays in scrapping decommissioned submarines have cost £900 million – The Times
  • Campaign to raise Army literacy – Daily Mail
  • Man who fought ISIS with the Kurds is charged with terrorism – The Times
  • Back door on Huawei laptops leaves them vulnerable to spies – The Times

Mordaunt allocates funding to combat child abuse tourism

‘The National Crime Agency (NCA) will get £3 million in aid funding to investigate British paedophiles who travel to “high risk destination countries”, including the Philippines. Britons are among the most frequent foreign offenders in the Philippines and an increasing number in the UK pay to watch child abuse over the internet. Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, said the funding was part of a new approach to aid spending and was “firmly in our national interest”. “This is the latest example of how we are using the aid budget to disrupt organised global crime groups and help the most in need,” she said. The money is from the £1.28 billion conflict, stability and security fund, the strategy for which is set by the National Security Council. Half of the fund comes from the aid budget.’ – The Times

All eyes on the voters of Newport West

‘Early on Friday morning, people across the UK will be looking at Newport West and wondering what on earth the city has done. As everyone obsesses about Brexit , the only people who can make some kind of a statement on it at the ballot box will be the residents of the west side of a traditionally Labour city who on Thursday go to the polls to elect a successor to the late Paul Flynn. But will they be thinking about Brexit at all – or will disillusionment with Jeremy Corbyn, frustration with the M4, prostitution in Pill or something else entirely be on their mind?’ – WalesOnline

  • UKIP and Remain parties hope to get a look-in – The Times

NHS performs record number of amputations due to rise in diabetes

‘More people than ever are having parts of their legs amputated because of diabetes complications, figures have revealed. More than 27,000 toe, feet and lower leg amputations were carried out by the NHS between 2015 and 2018. This is 3,000 more than in the three years prior and is down to cases of type 2 diabetes – a weight-related illness – soaring. The number of patients suffering from the illness has doubled since the mid-90s, putting hundreds of thousands at higher risk of stroke and heart disease.’ – Daily Mail

  • BMA sexism scandal – The Times
  • Health service struggles to fill jobs – Daily Mail
  • Don’t blame NICE for relying on facts rather than emotion – James Kirkup, The Times
  • Rate of heart disease deaths falls faster than almost all other western countries – The Times

News in Brief