Brady, nine former Cabinet Ministers and four ex-Ministers unite to write to May and say: don’t concede to Corbyn on customs – or you’ll split the Party

“Thirteen of Mrs May’s former cabinet colleagues as well as Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, have written to her with a plea to reject Jeremy Corbyn’s key demand for a cross-party agreement to secure ratification of her Brexit divorce deal. The group includes Gavin Williamson, who was dismissed as defence secretary this month, and the two leading Brexiteer candidates to replace Mrs May: Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab. Also included are Maria Miller and Sir Michael Fallon, who supported Remain in the referendum. The group points out that they all voted for her deal on March 29. They warn Mrs May that she could lose more Tory MPs than she gains Labour backers if she breaks her “solemn promise” to leave the EU’s customs union, in an intervention timed to coincide with a cabinet meeting today.” – The Times

  • Those signatory names in full: Brady, Duncan-Smith, Johnson, Davis, Raab, Fallon, Williamson, Miller, McVey, Whittingdale, Harper, Shapps, Hands and Halfon – The Times
  • Cabinet meets today as Labour says talks are close to collapse – Financial Times
  • Downing Street pondering STV or AV indicative votes… – Daily Express
  • …And publishing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – The Guardian
  • Leadsom and Barclay want No Deal fallback, Rudd wants indicative votes – The Sun
  • This is now the longest session of Parliament since the English civil war – The Sun

> Today:

ConservativeHome says: the ’22 must tell May to go

“The ConservativeHome website, an influential voice within the party, said the powerful 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers should be prepared to signal the end of Mrs May’s leadership by changing the party’s rules to allow a fresh challenge to her position. The Prime Minister is due to meet the committee’s executive later this week and the website’s editor Paul Goodman, a former Tory MP, said they must act.” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Tory Diary – Why the ’22 Executive must tell May to go this week

  • Gove appeals for the Prime Minister not to be forced out – Daily Mail

Meanwhile, Brexit confusion engulfs Labour

“During a mammoth meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, MPs from both sides of the debate turned on their leader, questioning his lack of a clear stance on Brexit and his ability to become Prime Minister. It came as party deputy leader Tom Watson added to Labour’s confusion over Brexit by declaring it was now the party of ‘remain and reform’. At the party meeting, second-referendum campaigner Peter Kyle told Mr Corbyn: ‘Jeremy, I urge you to simplify our policy so people realise we are talking with absolute sincerity.’ Brexiteer John Mann said: ‘We are losing votes in the North and Midlands. If you cannot get this right, you cannot be Prime Minister’.” – Daily Mail

Comment –

  • This dysfunctional Opposition is in no state to capitalise on a government in trouble – Times Editorial
  • We’ll all pay a price for Corbyn’s politics of envy – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • Labour would not have been so dishonest about Brexit under Smith – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • May serves no-one by clinging to power – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times
  • Corbyn must get off the fence and fight Farage – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

Farage on tour. He says he will stand for Parliament at the next election – and would back a No Deal Conservative Government

“In a rally in Hemsworth, near Pontefract in West Yorkshire, a constituency held by Jon Trickett, a shadow cabinet minister, Mr Farage was asked if he would keep a Tory government in power in another hung parliament. “If we can save £39 billion, come out of the customs union, come out of the single market, come out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and be a genuinely independent, self-governing democracy that can choose its own future, I’d do a deal with the devil to get that,” he replied at an LBC event. Mr Farage also said that it was his “duty” to stand for parliament at the next election.” – The Times

  • He says that the Party will unveil policies after the Euro-elections – The Guardian
  • He claims May has banned him from meeting Trump – The Sun
  • Allen challenges him to debate – The Guardian
  • Senior Brexit Party official “defended Tommy Robinson” – Daily Mail
  • Bishop of Leeds attacks “violent bile” over Brexit – Yorkshire Post

Sketches and comment:

  • Widdecombe goes bonkers and Farage is on the wagon – Henry Deedes, Daily Mail
  • “Farage said that he is “pretty much off the beer — but I’ll be back on it when we leave the EU”. “ – Quentin Letts, The Times
  • The Brexit Party is terrifying – John Crace, The Guardian
  • Farage is dangerous but he’s not racist – Trevor Phillips, The Times
  • BBC bias bias bias bias – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph
  • Brian Walden’s death and the lost art of the TV interview – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Farage’s latest row with the BBC suits both sides

Leadership contender 1) Hunt calls for higher defence spending

“The foreign secretary made the case for increasing investment in military capability beyond the current benchmark for Nato countries in a speech to diplomats at Mansion House. The call for extra cash — which cuts across Penny Mordaunt’s brief as the new defence secretary — was framed as part of a three-part post-Brexit national renewal. In what will strike many as part of a leadership manifesto, he said the country would also have to overhaul its economy and democratic institutions after divorce from the EU. Mr Hunt echoed Donald Trump in saying that it was not sustainable that the US spent more than twice as much per head defending the West as most other members of the alliance.” – The Times

Leadership contender 2) Javid wages war with the Treasury over asylum seeker jobs

“One idea being looked at is to end the long standing ban on foreign nationals who have claimed asylum taking jobs. The controversial move – which could be pushed through as part of new post-Brexit immigration rules – would save the Treasury a fortune in paying out handouts as well as bringing in extra income tax. But it is being strongly opposed by Mr Javid and his officials. A Home Office source said: “We will resist this. How can we allow people to work in any job that involves a degree of trust when we are yet to establish exactly who they are?” – The Sun

  • Collins’ DCMS committee says try martial arts and group singing to stop knife crime – Daily Mail
  • 56 Northern Ireland murder attempts kept from public – Belfast Telegraph
  • Cameron-backed chaotic charity boss pleas to be spared court appearance – Daily Mail

Leadership contender 3) teaming up with Leadership contender 4) Gove backs calls for driver air pollution fines…

“Drivers who leave their car engines running while parked could face instant fines under Government plans to tackle air pollution. Environment Secretary Michael Gove yesterday backed calls to give councils the power to automatically hit drivers in the pocket if they are repeatedly caught idling. Under existing rules, drivers can only be fined up to £80 if they ignore an initial warning from enforcement officers. Mr Gove’s backing came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was a ‘massive supporter’ of local authorities banning cars left running outside schools.” – Daily Mail

  • Environment Secretary steps up scheme to cut food waste – The Times
  • Gove: eat shepherd’s pie, bubble and squeak and oxtail soup to Save the Planet – The Sun
  • Weird petition to Number Ten demands that large Pot Noodles come with additional sauce – The Sun
  • Brokenshire hasn’t just got two ovens, they’re double ovens – Daily Mail
  • Tory wars on climate change – Rachel Sylvester, The Times

Leadership contender 4) teaming up with Leadership contender 3) …as Hancock commissions investigation

“The Government’s Department of Health and Social Care will produce an in-depth review of how bad air pollution is for people’s health, it has announced. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has commissioned the investigation which will reveal the true dangers of dirty air and how they will affect people in the future. His announcement comes just two months after Public Health England – also a government department – released its own report on how to improve air quality. And Mr Hancock and Environment Secretary Michael Gove released their Clean Air Strategy just five months ago in January, which promised to cut down on pollution.” – Daily Mail

Leadership contender 5) Truss rejects internet sales levy as a “tax on familes”

“However Liz Truss rejected the call for an internet surcharge despite the growing clamour for measures to help smaller shops. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said she was prepared to reform business rates – but was adamant that an internet sales levy would be a ‘tax on families’. Miss Truss, who is expected to run to be the next Tory leader, said it would lead to price hikes and hit small UK-based internet retailers as well as the global giants.  But she did back calls for cuts to business rates, and proposed a ‘simpler, flatter tax system’ paid for from cuts to subsidies to businesses.” – Daily Mail

Sturgeon limbers up for Euro-elections

“Speaking to the media this morning, the first minister said that a strong performance from the Nationalists at the May 23 poll would send “the strongest possible message that Scotland does not want Brexit”. The SNP leader added that legislation would be brought forward later this month as part of the intitial steps required to stage a possible IndyRef2. But the Scottish Conservatives said it was time to deliver a “sensible Brexit”. Ms Sturgeon told MSPs last month that she wanted to stage a second referendum by 2021 if Brexit takes place.” – Scotsman

Kate Andrews: Johnson is wrong to want to pour more and more public money into the socialist NHS

“Why the sole emphasis on spending, when countries like Australia spend roughly the same overall on their healthcare as Britain, and produce better patient results? We already know the answers. No amount of money will be able to get this fundamentally outdated system functioning to the standard we deserve. Like any socialist experiment, more and more resources must be soaked up by the state, to produce increasingly mediocre and often dangerous results. If Johnson is serious about tackling the perils of socialism, the NHS is nothing to glorify. In fact, it would be the perfect place to start a campaign of reform.” – Daily Telegraph

Independents dig in after last week’s local election wins

“Pacing around his mayoral office at Middlesbrough civic centre, sweeping clutter off a shelf as he speaks, Mr Preston gives a clear sense of the scale of his ambitions to remake local politics as party loyalties fade away throughout the UK. The 52-year-old previously belonged to both the Labour and Conservative parties in turn. Now, as the town’s newly elected Independent mayor, he is, he insists, “freed up to say and do whatever is best for Middlesbrough”, vowing to bring in jobs and investment, make the streets safer and end town hall secrecy. He is just one of a legion of Independents making similar promises across the country and who now face the challenge of living up to the hopes they have inspired.” – Financial Times

> Today: Judy Terry in Local Government – Suffolk is no longer a safe haven for the Conservatives

> Yesterday: Greig Baker in Local Government – Reflections from Canterbury on the local elections. Trust is evaporating.

News in Brief

  • Labour List ConHome-style Shadow Cabinet League Table and survey – Labour List
  • Definitive Labour Party MPs meeting row write-up – Paul Waugh, Huffington Post
  • My manifesto for a post-Brexit Britain – Ruth Davidson, UnHerd
  • US-China trade war sends US markets into free fall – Maggie Pagano, Reaction
  • The danger of letting children transition gender too early – Leyla Sanai