Leadership 1) May agrees to set a timetable for a new PM

“When the moment she had been dreading finally came, Theresa May raged against the dying of the light. The Conservative Party’s most powerful backbenchers had just made it clear that her premiership was at its end, but the Prime Minister pleaded with them to be given more time. Tears welled in her eyes as she made her argument for just a little longer in Downing Street. She dabbed at her nose with a handkerchief. Yet the sympathy and patience of the 1922 Committee had run out. “She voiced her view about Brexit, which she regards as a debt of honour,” said one of those present. “She was emotional – a lot more emotional than I have ever seen her before.”..In practical terms, it means that Mrs May must resign by the end of June to allow enough time for the leadership election to run its course before Parliament rises for the summer. She would stay on in Downing Street until her successor was appointed, giving the new prime minister the whole of the summer recess to organise and plan before the Conservative Party Conference at the end of September.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Nightmare of never ending departure – Janet Daley, Daily Telegraph
  • Rivals to be the new leaders see advantages in delay – Financial Times
  • It is in the national interest for May to stand down – John Whittingdale, The Guardian
  • The country hasn’t the patience for another enigma – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The Conservatives need a new leader by the end of July


Leadership 2) The PM resists setting a date before another Commons vote on the Withdrawal Agreement

“The attempt by Downing Street to delay a contest appears to be an effort to preserve Mrs May’s room for manoeuvre even after a fourth defeat for her deal. Although Mrs May controls when to start the race, its structure and length will be decided by the 1922 Committee and the party’s ruling board. However, even her allies concede that it will be difficult for her to remain in office beyond July if she loses another Commons vote. No 10 has yet to decide whether to publish the Withdrawal Agreement Bill before MPs leave parliament on a ten-day recess that starts next Thursday, the day of the European elections. To meet that deadline Mrs May would have to have struck a deal with Mr Corbyn by Tuesday. She could introduce the bill when the Commons resumes on June 4 but that would give MPs little time to study it before the vote on whether to give it a second reading.” – The Times

Leadership 3) Johnson confirms that he will stand

“Boris Johnson today confirmed he will join the battle to be the next Tory leader – as Theresa May faces being ousted potentially within weeks. The former foreign secretary confirmed he was ‘going for it’ as he was grilled during an appearance at a business conference in Manchester. Mr Johnson has been effectively running a shadow campaign for months, after resigning from the government in protest at Theresa May’s Chequers plan for Brexit. But until now he has not publicly confirmed his intentions…His trademark mop of blonde hair has become a more manageable mane and the keen runner and cyclist has managed to lose a noticeable amount of weight.” – Daily Mail

  • Impulsive bid catches his team off guard – The Times
  • It’s hard to imagine what he believes in apart from himself – Jonathan Maitland, The Times
  • He is the only leadership contender with mass backing among the Tory party members who will ultimately choose the next occupant of No 10 – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Mundell hits out at SNP ‘demonising’ of Johnson – The Scotsman

Leadership 4) Malthouse and Cleverly set up campaign teams

“Two rising star Tory MPs have launched leadership bids after being urged to take on “failing” Cabinet big beasts. Housing minister Kit Malthouse and Brexit minister James Cleverly are discreetly setting up campaign teams to challenge for the nation’s top job, The Sun can reveal. Both are mainstream Leavers who were only first elected four years ago in 2015, and will run as unity candidates untarnished by the Tories’ bitter Brexit civil war….Their entry into the already overcrowded race takes the number of serious contenders who are organising bids to a massive 17.” – The Sun

Leadership 5) Duncan Smith: Departure plans are too vague

“The lowest moment of all, however, came with the bizarre announcement of an agreement between Sir Graham Brady and Mrs May to set out “a timetable” for her departure after that vote has been held. This is deeply unsatisfactory not least because the wording is so vague. What the party and the country is crying out for is clarity. We need to know whether a leadership contest can be concluded before parliament rises for the summer recess in late July. This has to be the deadline for a new leader taking office if anything is to be achieved on Brexit over the summer.” – Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph

  • Another General Election is all but inevitable – Julian Harris, City AM

Brexit 1) Cross party talks “to be abandoned”

“Brexit talks between the Conservatives and Labour are about to close without an agreement, the BBC has learned. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will now move to a second phase, aimed at agreeing on a process for Parliamentary votes designed to find a consensus…The UK was due to leave the EU on 29 March but the deadline was pushed back to 31 October after MPs rejected Mrs May’s proposed deal – the withdrawal agreement that was negotiated with the EU – three times. That prompted attempts to find a way to end the impasse through cross-party talks between Labour and the Conservatives. But BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt said Tory whips had given up hope of finding agreement with the Labour leader on a Brexit deal. He said on the other side of the negotiating table “Labour has fears about the durability of a deal agreed with a weak prime minister”.” – BBC

  • Most Europeans expect the EU to fall apart within 20 years – The Sun
  • If the deal doesn’t go through we risk a Corbyn Government – Leader, The Sun
  • Stop blaming Brexiteers for Brexit and ask yourselves why, Lord Falconer tells Remainers – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Tom McLaren on Comment: Labour’s Brexit policy almost guarantees a second referendum

Brexit 2) Lee faces a no confidence vote

“Rebel Tory MP Philip Lee is to face a no confidence vote by local party Brexiteers trying to oust him, The Sun can reveal. The outspoken MP for Bracknell resigned as a justice minister last year to back a second referendum.He is the latest in a series of pro-EU Tories to face deselection attempts. The vote will be held on June 1, after 53 members signed a petition calling for one.Last night outspoken Dr Lee said the move was “not wholly unexpected” and blamed entryism by UKIP supporters.” – The Sun

  • Hollobone warns Tory MPs could resign en masse – Daily Express

Euro Elections 1) Conservatives fall to nine per cent in the latest poll

“The Liberal Democrats have overtaken Labour while the Tories are pushed to fifth place, according to a poll for The Times before the European elections. The Lib Dems appear to be picking up support from Labour and Green voters after Sir Vince Cable argued that opponents of Brexit should vote for his party. YouGov interviewed 7,192 British adults between Sunday and Thursday this week. When asked whom they would support in the European elections, 35 per cent said the Brexit Party, up 1 point on the week before. Lib Dems were on 16 per cent, up 1, Labour on 15 per cent, down 1, Greens on 10 per cent, down 1, Conservatives on 9 per cent, down 1, Change UK unchanged on 5 per cent and Ukip unchanged on 3 per cent.” – The Times

  • Media outnumber the public at Change UK Rally – The Guardian
  • Labour’s Brexit tactics are failing spectacularly – Peter Kellner, The Guardian
  • On the stump with the Brexit Party – Daily Telegraph
  •  These elections are tailor-made for a major SNP triumph – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph
  • The results “will force Conservatives to back a No Deal Brexit” – The Sun

>Today: John Redwood on Comment: Why populists reject the establishment – and no longer believe what it tells them

Euro Elections 2) Tory MEP candidate “using his own money” to fight campaign

“Inside Conservative campaign headquarters, the strategy is that minimum exertion will give Theresa May an excuse for doing so badly after the results of the polls come in on 26 May. Centrally, the party is resigned to losing half their MEPs, and possibly coming fifth. But one of the more energetic campaigners is Sajjad Karim, an MEP for 15 years, who is a remainer topping the Conservative list in the Brexit-backing north-west, and expects to just about keep his seat. However, he is fighting his campaign virtually single-handedly, with no staff and using his own money. “It’s crazy. I’ve had more support when I’ve fought council elections in one ward in Lancashire than I’ve had to fight the entire north-west of England,” he says, alone on the campaign trail in Manchester.” – The Guardian

  • Arron Banks gave ‘£450,000 funding to Nigel Farage after Brexit vote’ – The Guardian
  • Brexit Party may back tax cuts – Daily Telegraph
  • Better to leave the EU than make a hero of Farage – Philip Collins, The Times

Cameron’s memoirs to be published in September

“David Cameron will finally hit back at his legion of critics over Brexit this September when he publishes his long-delayed autobiography. In an explosive intervention, the ex PM is bringing out his tell-all memoirs, pointedly titled “For The Record”, the week before the Tory party conference.Mr Cameron will reveal in “intimate and frank” detail what really went on in No 10 when he decided to call the EU referendum, his publishers said.His book will lob a hand grenade into the Brexit debate just when Tory leadership contenders scramble to woo the grassroots at their annual get-together. Mr Cameron has repeatedly delayed publishing the book after promising Theresa May he would not “rock the boat” while she was trying to negotiate Brexit.” – The Sun

Skidmore demands universities take action over anti-Semitism

“Universities in the UK must do more to stamp out campus anti-Semitism, says a government minister. In a letter to vice-chancellors, universities minister Chris Skidmore said it was “unjust” that some Jewish groups had been asked to pay up to £2,000 for their own event security. He urged universities to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. The move comes amid ongoing concern about university free speech.” – BBC

  • Hamas thanks Corbyn for his support – Daily Mail

Corbynistas want the Shadow Defence Secretary removed

“Labour’s defence chief is facing a Corbynista plot to sack her after she backed new laws to protect veterans from legal witch hunts. Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said she plans to bring in laws to stop ex-troops being charged after a time limit of 10 years unless overwhelming new evidence comes to light.Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith appeared to back the move, saying she supports “measures to deal with false or vexatious claims”. But she is facing a furious backlash from leftie activists who have demanded Jeremy Corbyn boot her out. In an open letter, over 100 Corbynista activists – including Momentum boss Jon Lansman – demanded her sacking.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: Columnist Henry Hill: Mordaunt signals support for extending legal protection to Ulster veterans

A billion pounds wiped off the value of the National Grid, due to Labour’s renationalisation plan

“Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Venezuela-style’ plot to renationalise utility firms would leave millions of pension savers out of pocket, experts warned last night. Nearly £1 billion was wiped off the value of National Grid yesterday as Labour outlined plans to snatch Britain’s energy network out of the hands of shareholders at below market value. Shares in the FTSE 100 giant – which are held in the pension pots of millions – fell by more than 3 per cent. The slide reduced the value of National Grid by £965 million, leaving it worth £27.8 billion.” – Daily Mail

  • Don’t fall for Labour’s tea and sympathy – Iain Martin, The Times

Trump proposes “merit based” immigration system

“US President Donald Trump has outlined plans for a new US immigration system designed to favour younger, better educated, English-speaking workers. In an address at the White House, he proposed moving away from the current system that favours applicants with family ties to the US. He said border security would be beefed up and a tougher line taken on asylum seekers. Senior Democrats dismissed his ideas as “dead-on-arrival”. They say the proposed new system fails to offer a route to citizenship for so-called “Dreamers” – hundreds of thousands of people brought to the US as children but who still have no legal right to remain.” – BBC

  • Conrad Black pardoned – The Times
  • Ban on Huawei will not sway UK decision making, says Culture Secretary – Daily Telegraph
  • It is dangerous to allow Huawei to be involved in the UK – Ross Clark, Daily Express

>Today: Columnist Iain Dale: God help the UK Conservatives – so to speak – if they become religious fanatics. Like the American Republicans.

Nelson: Banning “Islamophobia” would suppress debate

“In the interview that got him sacked, Sir Roger Scruton described his admiration for Muslims who “settle into the Meccan way of life”, saying they were perfect citizens with “inner serenity”. “We ought to learn to appreciate that,” he said, “and encourage it.” That he could then be fired as a suspected Islamophobe – by a minister who hadn’t properly read what he said – showed the Government had itself succumbed to a kind of mania. That it was time to for a step back and a long think. Perhaps in a reaction to the Scruton debacle, the Government now appears minded to reject the new Islamophobia definition. “Legally problematic,” it says. Morally problematic too. Anyone ought to be at liberty to examine, discuss and disagree with any religion, just as anyone should be free to practise one without harassment. This ought not to be a difficult case to make.” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Theresa May is clinging on, but not for much longer – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • The simple tax reform that would help small business thrive – James Heywood, CapX
  • The Conservative Party’s attacks on honourable Brexiteers have driven me to quit its Candidates’ List – Adam Lake, Brexit Central
  • “More runners and riders than the Grand National” is exactly what we need in this leadership race – Harry Phibbs, The Article
  • Childlessness won’t save the world, it will destroy it – Will Jones, Conservative Woman