The Cabinet meets today to mull an EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Is May preparing to concede to Corbyn on the Customs Union? And is Fox willing to walk if necessary?

“During a Cabinet meeting today, ministers will debate whether to allow Labour’s demand for the UK to continue to accept new EU laws on workers’ rights and environmental standards after Brexit. Theresa May is expected to warn ministers they may have to agree to a temporary customs union, which would hamper Britain’s ability to strike trade deals with non-EU countries, to secure enough Labour votes to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill next month.  Allies of the PM fear the potential concessions are so significant that Leave ministers such as Liam Fox could walk out in protest if they are approved.” – Daily Mail

  • Hammond breaks cover to lead push against No Deal… – The Guardian
  • …But Barclay will push back for more No Deal preparations – Financial Times
  • The Commission says there will be no changes to the Withdrawal Agreement – Daily Express
  • Hancock woos Remainers over vote, Davis switches back to oppose the deal, Green urges alternative arrangements – The Sun
  • Juncker denies drink problem – Daily Mail
  • Thatcher: a very British revolution review – Daily Telegraph


  • Democracy must not become a fight to the death – William Hague, Daily Telegraph
  • Teach them a lesson – Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail
  • If politicians ignore voters, they shouldn’t be surprised what comes next – Stephen Pollard, Daily Express
  • What a pointless charade these elections will be – Daily Express Editorial

> Yesterday: Anthony Browne on Comment – Policy Gains from Brexit 1) We need more debate about what to do when we take back control

Could Labour abstain in the vote?

“Senior Conservative sources believe that Mr Corbyn could be persuaded to support the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at second reading or abstain, especially if Labour performs poorly in Thursday’s European elections. However, backers of a second referendum dismissed the proposals, arguing that they were being put forward by Brexiteers. They added that it would be hard even for hardline prime minister to secure a no-deal Brexit without holding an election or a second vote.” – The Times

  • Ashworth says second referendum is likely – The Times
  • Labour won’t investigate Geoffrey Robinson over spy claims – The Times
  • Former Minister Jane Kennedy says party is broken to the core – The Guardian
  • Labour in Birmingham 1) Khalid Mahmood insists that the Trojan Horse plot was real – Birmingham Post
  • Labour in Birmingham 2) Phillips row with Muslim protestors over LGBT education – Daily Mail

Heseltine has the whip removed (but he isn’t expelled)…

“The chancellor drew the battle lines of the leadership contest as the former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine had the Tory whip removed for saying that he intended to vote Lib Dem at the European elections on Thursday. A Conservative spokesman said: “Lord Heseltine has given more than half a century of service to the Conservative Party . . . but, with his long experience, he will know that publicly endorsing the candidates of an another party is not compatible with taking the Conservative whip in parliament.” Lord Heseltine said: “They can take away the whip, but they cannot take away my integrity, or my convictions, or my experience.” – The Times

…As Farage is milkshaked

“The leader of the Brexit Party arrived in the city on Monday lunchtime as part of a whistle stop tour of the country ahead of polling day on May 23, taking in Exeter, Newcastle, Wakefield and Bolton. Video footage of the footage showed a local man, Paul Crowther, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, waiting for Mr Farage as he crossed a road in the city’s main shopping district, and then throwing the milkshake at him.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Conservative councillor targeted in firebomb attack – Scotsman
  • Brexit Party facing money check from Electoral Commission today – Daily Express
  • Farage gives Remainers cause to fear second referendum – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times
  • This milkshake attack will only recruit more Farage fans – Sun Editorial

Now Change UK backs tactical voting on Thursday

“Sarah Wollaston, who resigned the Tory whip to join the new party, said that she supported voters backing whichever candidates had the most chance of success across the country even if that meant not necessarily supporting Change UK. Tactical voting websites are recommending that voters support Change UK in London and the South East but not in other parts of the country. Ms Wollaston told the Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4 that it was sensible to “maximise the total unequivocal Remain vote” as well as the number of Remain MEPs.” – The Times

It’s Morgan v McVey as the One Nation Caucus and Blue Collar Conservatives pronounce on the same day

At an event in parliament attended by some 30 MPs, One Nation called for every household to be given a regular update on its financial health. “People’s personal and household financial security is extremely important — and we should put it front and centre of a One Nation Conservative party,” said Nicky Morgan, a co-chair of the group… Meanwhile the new Blue Collar group, led by former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, launched its prospectus and her de facto leadership bid, also at the House of Commons. The group called for the UK’s foreign aid spending to be cut and channelled into schools and policing. A committed Brexiter, Ms McVey hopes to shed the party’s elitist image and outlined policies aimed at the blue-collar voters the Tories have struggled to win over in recent years.” – Financial Times

  • One Nation Group hasn’t ruled out giving thumbs-up Johnson but has ruled out giving it to Raab – The Times
  • Raab promises 5p income tax cut – Daily Telegraph
  • McVey backs No Deal – The Sun
  • Bill Grant supports her proposed aid budget cut – Scotsman
  • “Esther is what diplomatic types might describe as ‘forthright’. She is not afraid of straight talk. The Tories, she said in that beguiling Cilla Black lilt, were in the doldrums after failing to deliver Brexit.” – Henry Deedes, Daily Mail
  • Weird claim that Johnson lawyers say MPs must put him into the final stage if the members want him – The Sun
  • Tory members have no right to be angry if he doesn’t get through – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson will pivot away from a hard Brexit if it suits him – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • He will sell out Leavers if it suits him – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • I support Leadsom – Brian Binley, Daily Telegraph

> Today: ToryDiary – Today’s One Nation Conservatives are as dreary as Baldwin, not as exciting as Disraeli

> Yesterday:

Nick Timothy: This rush to declare a climate crisis will hike taxes, close businesses, hit workers and wreck jobs

“Unsurprisingly, environmental policies feature prominently in the declaration. Battling climate change must “be given equal standing with counter-terrorism,” they say. But unlike the fight against terrorism, they want Britain to fight climate change on its own. Not content with having already unilaterally forced up domestic energy bills and industrial electricity prices, closing down factories and destroying good jobs, they want Britain to go further, by fully de-industrialising to save the planet. But try telling the rest of the world to do the same. As firms such as British Steel go under, carbon emissions in Asia go on rising, while European countries including Germany burn coal and keep their factories open.” – The Sun

> Today: Anthony Browne on Comment: Policy Gains from Brexit 2) Cutting VAT on domestic electricity

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The Australian Liberals know who their target voters are. The Conservatives don’t seem to have a clue.

Leadership Contender 1) Javid floats new treason law

“Sajid Javid said the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal by Russian intelligence agents showed Britain needed tougher rules to deal with ‘hostile states’. Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats in the wake to the attack, but Mr Javid said the incident had revealed ‘real gaps’ in existing laws. He announced that the Government is preparing the way for a new espionage Bill. In a speech at Scotland Yard, Mr Javid said: ‘Since the Salisbury attack, the Home Office has been reviewing the laws we have around hostile state activity.” – Daily Mail

  • Ministers delay Huawei decision until after Trump’s visit – The Sun
  • Bradley accused of emotional blackmail over abuse victims – Belfast Telegraph
  • Two-thirds of criminals given short prison sentences go on to offend again – The Sun
  • Prison is necessary – Daily Telegraph Editorial

Leadership Contender 2) Hunt appoints first human rights ambassador

“The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has appointed Rita French, formerly his principal private secretary, to take on the task of promoting the UK’s work at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and the cause of human rights internationally. The role is the first of its kind for the British government, although a clutch of other countries including France, Germany and the Netherlands have had the role, some for more than a decade, often taking outspoken positions with countries such as China and Saudi Arabia…The Foreign Office said French’s role would be to act as an advocate for human rights inside the government, as well as a global champion for human rights across the globe.” – The Guardian

Mercer rounds on May over “army witch hunt”

“Tory backbenchers who served as soldiers rounded on the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, accusing her of being ‘complicit’ in a witch-hunt. Former Army captain Johnny Mercer said it was ‘genuinely shocking’ that Mrs May had said terrorists and veterans should be given ‘equal’ treatment. His comments came in a debate triggered by a petition signed by 146,000 people, calling for soldiers to be granted immunity. Mr Mercer, who earlier this month said no longer ‘shared the values or ethos’ of the Tory Party under Mrs May, said: ‘There has been a clear moral failure by this Prime Minister and the Northern Ireland Office to deal with this situation.” – Daily Mail

  • Defence industry calls for clarity over “buy British” policy – Financial Times
  • Mordaunt pledges torture review in despatch box debut as Secretary of State – The Times
  • “She is correctly gripped of the gravity of her office but as a communicator she is, ahem, methodical. The speaking clock sounded perkier. Can Sub-Lieut Mordaunt signal ship-to-electorate?” – Quentin Letts, The Times

Rees-Mogg: Let’s complete the mission of the welfare state – and use it to cover social care

“Residential care and in-home care should be paid for almost entirely by the Government, the prominent Conservative MP argues, to end the “deep unfairness” of pensioners losing their homes and their life savings to pay for care costs. Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Rees-Mogg argues that “it is far better to pool risk” by paying for social care out of general taxation, rather than imposing “ruinous” costs on people when they are at their most vulnerable. The Government has yet to publish a long-overdue green paper on its plans for funding social care, but Mr Rees-Mogg’s suggestion is at odds with ministers’ current thinking.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Old age should not have to cost a lifetime of savings – Jacob Rees-Mogg, Daily Telegraph
  • Could nanny love his book on the Victorians? – Craig Brown, Daily Mail

LISTEN: The Moggcast – Rees-Mogg suggests that he may switch back – and oppose the Withdrawal Agreement Bill

Hannah Davies: Health is the key to the productivity gap between North and South

“We in the North take the brunt of inequalities. No one would deny that inequalities exist across the UK but in the Northern Powerhouse they exist on a scale unseen in the rest of England. The Treasury, the Department of Health and Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry cannot ignore this fact. When looking at how to deliver local Industrial Strategy, the Northern Powerhouse strategy refresh and the Spending Review, North/South inequalities must be taken into account. Health is key to the dramatic and growing inequalities between North and South. We know there is a productivity gap between the North and South of England – what’s less known is that a third of that is because of health.” – Yorkshire Post

News in Brief

  • How’s that Customs Union thingy working out for Turkey? – Politico
  • Our poll says Johnson is the biggest threat to Corbyn – Labour List
  • Heseltine: you can voice support for other parties and not be expelled. But don’t campaign for them – Jonathan Isaby, Brexit Central
  • We arrange People’s Vote donation from Putin – Guido Fawkes
  • Ten visitors more terrible than Trump – Peter Franklin, UnHerd