Fox backs May on customs union…

“Theresa May won the crucial support of leading Cabinet Brexiteer Liam Fox yesterday for her plan to offer Jeremy Corbyn a temporary customs union. The Trade Secretary said he would swallow Britain staying in a customs union until the 2022 General Election, which has been offered to Labour in the cross-party talks – even though it would restrict his ability to sign new trade deals. But he warned the PM not to go any further by offering Mr Corbyn a permanent customs union to win over Labour support. He said it would put Britain in an even worse position than our current EU membership because it would make Britain a “commodity” for the EU in its future trade talks.” – The Sun

  • Defiant May wants new votes on Brexit deal – The Times
  • Brexiteer would have taken us out, says Leadsom – The Sun


  • Britain’s chief negotiator sought Euro citizenship – The Times
  • Walker predicts UK will not leave the EU – The Sun
  • UK and Ireland agree post-Brexit common travel area – FT
  • Burnham blames Brexit on ‘London-centric decision-making’ – The Guardian
  • Verhofstadt ‘blows up’ after meeting with Rosindell – Daily Express

>Today: Richard Kelly in Comment: Brexit has exposed the age-old clash between liberalism and democracy

…as Tories brace for sixth-place finish in European elections…

The Conservative Party is bracing itself for a devastating sixth-placed finish at the European elections because of voter anger over Brexit as leadership contenders jostle for position in the race to succeed Theresa May. Tory figures privately fear the party could receive less than 10 per cent of the vote on May 23 because of the Government’s failure to take the UK out of the EU on March 29… It comes after Mrs May rebuffed Tory Eurosceptic demands to set out a timetable for her departure from Downing Street with the Prime Minister now readying for a last ditch Brexit vote within the next two weeks to get a deal agreed by MPs before the elections.” – Daily Telegraph

  • CCHQ fears Party could poll less than ten per cent – FT
  • Party won’t even have a manifesto – Twitter
  • Brexit Party set for ‘crushing victory’ – Daily Express


  • Vote tactically to stop Farage – Gina Miller, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Justine Greening MP in Comment: The only way out of this mess is a referendum – with Remain and No Deal on the ballot paper too

…and the Sun picks up Halfon’s anti-Downing Street ConHome column

“Theresa May has stared down Tory rebels today to insist she won’t quit as PM until Brexit has been delivered. Tory Brexiteer Andrea Jenkyns insisted she had “failed” to get us out of the EU and must quit now. Tory backbencher Robert Halfon also vented his fury. He wrote in ConservativeHome: “What a s**t show. Our failure to deliver Brexit, broken promises to properly address burning social injustices, our continued Party disunity and a lack of strong leadership brought about this disaster.” He also attacked the choice to ignore the thousands of councillors who lost seats last week – and party activists who were battling for the soul of the party.” – The Sun


Tom Harris: Corbyn should beware a huge Tory comeback after their leadership bloodbath

“But what if – and please bear with me, here – what if Theresa May’s successor is pragmatic, articulate, emotionally intelligent and in possession of a sharp political instinct? What if he or she is actually good at campaigning – enjoys it, even? What if our new prime minister relishes the chance to confront Corbyn in a head-to-head televised election debate instead of avoiding such an event at all costs, as Theresa May did? It is true, of course, that the new Tory leader will face exactly the same difficult parliamentary arithmetic as exists right now. But only until after the next general election. This scenario is hypothetical only in regards to the personal qualities of the new leader; the fact that Theresa May will be replaced shortly is an inevitability. And that event will have consequences beyond the Conservative Party.” – Daily Telegraph

  • For the country’s sake, she must set a date – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Tories are the real raving loony party – Quentin Letts, The Sun
  • May’s refusal go is reducing politics to a farce – Owen Paterson MP, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: No change, no chance

Mercer goes ‘on strike’ over military prosecutions

The Conservative MP Johnny Mercer has gone on strike until the Government puts an end to historic prosecutions of service personnel. The MP for Plymouth Moor View wrote to the Prime Minister tonight to tell her he would not vote with the Government until she ended the “macabre spectacle” of elderly veterans being pursued by police investigating events that happened in Northern Ireland decades ago. Mr Mercer, a former Army officer who has campaigned for an end to the historic investigations, said the prosecutions were “personally offensive” to him and “week after week I am consoling people going through this process”.” – Daily Telegraph

Rudd sets out ‘leadership vision’

“Amber Rudd will flirt with a leadership bid as she sets out her big vision to turn the Tories into the party of the 21st Century worker. The Work and Pensions Secretary will call for the Government to do more to support Brits of all backgrounds “outperform” expectations and get well-paid jobs. She will say the Tories must take advantage of the opportunities of the rise of artificial intelligence rather than “hark back” to the past like Jeremy Corbyn. Ms Rudd has already publicly said she is considering taking a run at the Tory leadership when Theresa May is finally ousted.” – The Sun

  • …and takes a ‘swipe’ at Johnson – FT

>Today: Profiles: The unusual Rory Stewart, self-declared contender for the Tory leadership

Atkins under pressure over knife crime

“A Home Office minister was forced to admit she does not know how many young people are at risk of knife crime as she was accused of failing to “get a grip” on the problem. Victoria Atkins was asked at least six times at the Home Affairs Committee whether she knew how many young people were at risk but was unable to provide a figure. Yvette Cooper, the chair of the committee who asked the questions, said she was “baffled” at the failing when knowing the scale of the problem was critical to assess if the Government’s serious violence strategy was effective.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministers to take action over Grenfell-style cladding on tower blocks – The Sun

Labour faces staff strike over pay deal

“Labour’s staff could go on strike after rejecting a pay deal. A majority of them voted against a pay offer yesterday, despite the party’s trade union representatives urging that it be accepted. In a “final offer” every member of staff would receive a flat-rate increase of £800, plus a guarantee of five non-bank holiday days off at Christmas. But for some the deal would work out as a pay cut in real terms. Last year Labour staff were given proportional pay rises across the board slightly above the rate of inflation — the party has not offered a below-inflation pay rise for at least a decade.” – The Times

  • US finds Corbyn’s support for Venezuelan regime ‘disgusting’… – The Times
  • …and invokes Thatcher to urge hard line on China – FT

Cable stakes Lib Dems’ claim to be major party of Remain

“Vince Cable has staked the Liberal Democrats’ claim to be the leading remain party in the European elections, as he unveiled a forthright new slogan for the campaign: “Bollocks to Brexit.” The phrase, previously plastered on stickers and T-shirts by ardent remain supporters, is now emblazoned across the Lib Dem manifesto for the 23 May poll – though more squeamish candidates will have the option of one that just says “Stop Brexit”. Buoyed by strong results in last week’s local council elections, and unencumbered by the nuance of Labour’s position, Cable insisted the Lib Dems were the best-equipped party to challenge the message of Nigel Farage at the poll later this month.” – The Guardian

  • SNP launch campaign with dig at the Tories – ITV

Police investigate anti-Semitic attack on Brexit Party candidate…

Police are investigating a suspected anti-Semitic attack on a Jewish Brexit Party candidate after a 30-foot swastika was sprayed on his business headquarters. The incident happened at the London factory owned by Lance Forman, head of Britain’s oldest salmon curer H.Forman & Son, late on Tuesday night. Mr Forman, whose father is a Holocaust survivor, told the Jewish Chronicle: “The fact that we have been targeted in this antisemitic way is quite horrific and sick. “The police have images of the culprits on CCTV and I sincerely hope they are tracked down.” Last month, Mr Forman announced he would stand in the upcoming European Elections for the Brexit Party in the London region, praising Nigel Farage as “formidable”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Lifelong Tory supporter to be their candidate in Peterborough – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Down by the frozen fen. The Peterborough by-election test.

…as they warn of huge rise in threats to MPs

“MPs have become so concerned for their safety after a huge surge in threats and intimidation that they have started taking taxis over Westminster Bridge, senior police were told yesterday. Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan Police, admitted that the force had been too passive in the past but said that it had been taking a more robust approach to the abuse after a 90 per cent increase between January and April this year. Scotland Yard revealed that 152 crimes were committed against MPs or their staff in the first four months of the year — a rate of more than one a day… The 90 per cent increase on the same period last year is on course to treble the figure of 151 crimes reported by MPs in the whole of 2017.” – The Times

Plans for the temporary Commons take shape

“The green benches of the House of Commons, facing each other across the floor with the Speaker’s chair at one end, might look familiar. But they are in a new, modern debating chamber a few hundred yards away from their current home. The Palace of Westminster is about to undergo major surgery, a £4bn restoration and MPs are being moved into a new building on Whitehall. Or, at least, mostly new. The temporary House of Commons will be behind the stripy retained façade of Richmond House, the former health ministry building designed by architect William Whitfield. Its neo-gothic front will become the public face of a dramatic glass-roofed, three-storey-height lobby with roughly the proportions of the medieval Westminster Hall. Details of the new premises were unveiled on Wednesday.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • The war on vaping and the irresistible urge to ban – Matt Ridley, CapX
  • Britain’s leasehold economy: we need to start thinking much bigger – Walter Ellis, Reaction
  • At last, a Tory leadership contender talking about policy – James Kirkup, The Spectator
  • Is there a right way to write? – Nick Cohen, Standpoint
  • Post-Brexit we must foster a sense of belonging – Paul Embery, UnHerd