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Letwin and fellow Remainers demand a chance to delay Brexit in return for time to renegotiate

‘The PM will try to convince the Commons on Tuesday to give her another fortnight’s grace for talks with Brussels for changes to the Irish backstop. She faces a fresh vote on Thursday for Parliament to authorise her plan to offer MPs another say on February 27 if there is still no deal… One minister told The Sun: “Just kicking this down the road another two weeks to give us another vote on February 27 is not going to be enough.” The latest rebellion has been devised by former Tory minister Sir Oliver Letwin. Under his plan, rebel Remainer Nick Boles will agree not to re-table his amendment with senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper for a Brexit delay to avoid No Deal on Thursday. Their revised plot would see a new law rapidly passed that allows Parliament to order the Government to ask for an Article 50 extension… Around 25 Tory ministers who have vowed to block a no-deal Brexit met in secret in the Commons on Monday afternoon to agree a joint line ahead of the showdown. None pledged to resign on Thursday if their demand is refused… But Industry Minister Richard Harrington is one who is still determined to resign then if Mrs May hasn’t offered the reassurance, telling allies that it’s now “a matter of personal credibility” for him.’ – The Sun

  • The Prime Minister will urge MPs to hold their nerve – FT
  • No Deal is now May’s fallback plan – Paul Waugh, Huffington Post
  • It’s now a likely outcome – Robert Peston, ITV
  • Leave voters’ attitudes are hardening – FT
  • Ministers will act if the Prime Minister continues to sleepwalk – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Government accused of ‘ignoring’ small businesses in No Deal preparations – FT
  • Criminals could abscond without a data agreement, police chief warns – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn pledged to ‘defeat’ the EU, on camera – Daily Mail

>Today: Chris White on Comment: Time is getting extremely tight to pass all the required withdrawal legislation

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Boles fights back against rulebook warfare with a loophole of his own

Brexiteers warn the Prime Minister not to negotiate with Labour over customs union

‘Senior Conservative Brexiteers warned Theresa May yesterday that she must never negotiate with Labour on the party’s proposal for Britain to remain in a customs union with the European Union. Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, described Labour’s plan as a dangerous delusion and warned that it was “not workable”, while Boris Johnson accused Jeremy Corbyn of trying to trap the government in a toxic Brexit. Other Brexiteers accused the prime minister of “grinding miserably on” with a “rubbish” Brexit deal that could leave Britain unable to forge meaningful new trade deals with the rest of the world. The comments reflect concern among Leave-supporting Tories that Mrs May is preparing to concede too much ground to Labour in an attempt to win cross-party backing for her deal with Brussels.’ – The Times

  • She is expected to rule the option out – Daily Telegraph
  • Don’t be too purist, Leadsom warns – The Guardian
  • Fox signs Swiss trade deal – FT
  • Port operator can ‘quickly’ raise capacity by 30 per cent – FT
  • No more concessions, Barnier says – Daily Mail
  • The Commissions’ negotiator insists ‘something has to give’ on the British side – The Times
  • We all want a positive deal – Theresa Villiers, Daily Express
  • A time limit on the backstop could secure Johnson’s support – Daily Mail
  • Bank warning over European regulators’ licence backlog – FT

>Today: The Moggcast. He is “very concerned” delaying Brexit would allow “Tommy Robinson to win the European elections”.

May ‘plans to go in the summer’

‘Under the suspected plan, Mrs May would call time on her Premiership shortly after finally delivering Brexit. She will then set out a timetable for a new Tory leadership contest to end at the party’s annual conference in October. At least two senior figures in the Cabinet have come to that conclusion from hints the PM has personally given them, The Sun has been told. Mrs May’s suspected thinking is that by going at a time of her own choosing and in a position of relative strength, she will be able to have some say over who the next Tory leader will be. Her move will widely be seen as a plan to stop Boris Johnson, her long standing enemy, who wants a significantly different future trade deal with the EU with less links to Brussels.’ – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Conservatives should take their Scottish colleagues’ fears about Johnson seriously

Rudd concedes that Universal Credit problems increased food bank use

‘Welfare reforms are partly to blame for greater use of food banks, Amber Rudd admitted yesterday. After years of official denials, the Work and Pensions Secretary said the roll-out of Universal Credit was one of the causes of growing hunger… Miss Rudd replied: ‘We’re committed to a strong safety net where people need it. It’s absolutely clear there were challenges with the initial roll-out of Universal Credit and the main issue that led to an increase in food bank use could have been the fact that people had difficulties accessing their money early enough. We have made changes to accessing universal credit so people can have advances.’ Pushed again on the issue by Labour’s Stephen Timms, Miss Rudd added: ‘I have acknowledged that people having difficulty accessing the money on time as one of the causes of the growth in food banks, but we have tried to address that.’’ – Daily Mail

The economy is slowing

‘Britain’s economy has stalled due to the paralysis over Brexit, Philip Hammond admitted yesterday. Grim new official figures out yesterday revealed growth went into reverse in December as output declined by 0.2%. All four major sectors – services, manufacturing, construction and agriculture – shrank, as worried companies sit on their money. With just 45 days to go until Brexit and still no deal in place, bosses are waiting to see what happens with EU talks before investing, analysts said. Growth also slumped in the final three months of 2018, leaving the economy to expand by just 0.2%, with more grim figures for January expected. The disappointing end to the year meant growth for 2018 was down to just 1.4%.’ – The Sun

  • Treasury Select Committee tells Hammond the deficit pledge has lost credibility – The Times
  • And they accused the Chancellor of misleading claims in the Budget – FT
  • He is £5 billion short of ‘ending austerity’ – The Guardian
  • Spend more, please – The Guardian Leader
  • Consumer confidence is down – Daily Mail
  • Clogged, ageing roads cost £8 billion in lost productivity – The Times
  • Cut time for planning appeals – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit is already raising people’s wages – Steven Woolfe, Daily Telegraph
  • Hancock says Tesco knows us better than the health service does – The Times
  • ‘Snail mail’ NHS uses 1.9 billion pieces of paper a year – The Sun
  • The big data revolution is here, we just need to work out how to cope with it – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Extensive curbs on media giants proposed to give traditional and local media a leg-up

‘The BBC, Facebook and Google face new curbs on their power over news online following a landmark review to safeguard quality journalism. The economist Dame Frances Cairncross suggested limits on the BBC website to stop it competing with commercial outlets on “soft” stories which are not clearly in the public interest. She also said Facebook and Google should be regulated with a “news quality obligation” to ensure they “give more prominence to public interest news”, to improve trust in the media and public engagement in democracy. Dame Frances’ review was commissioned by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, amid concerns about the future of quality journalism in the face of declining newspaper sales and the stranglehold of Facebook and Google over online advertising. She recommended that the tech giants should face detailed examination of their commercial clout by competition watchdogs.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • She proposes to open up their advertising businesses, and investigate them on competition grounds – Daily Mail
  • And a review of the BBC News website, to see if it is killing local papers – The Sun
  • Local papers are vital for democracy – Jeremy Wright, Daily Telegraph
  • Exempt digital papers from VAT – The Times
  • We must stand up against social media leviathans – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Disinformation campaigns are distorting global news – Tony Hall, FT
  • Hit big tech hard, but don’t police free speech – Hugo Rifkind, The Times
  • NSPCC proposes prosecutions and unlimited fines – The Sun
  • Broadcasters avoid ‘taboo’ immigration debate, Sergeant writes – Daily Mail

Editorials

Wallace: British politics is remarkably resilient – just look at France and Italy

‘Even Germany, Europe’s solid, dull, but technically competent heart, with its solid, dull but technically competent Chancellor, has started to wobble. The Greens on the left and the AfD on the far right are jostling their way up the poll ratings. The German economy avoided recession by the alarming margin of just a single day last quarter. In this country, we love a dose of self-doubting miserablism. Isn’t Britain just awful, we think to ourselves in a mixture of performative wokeness and tantalising masochism. We are always eager to beat anyone else to the punch when bemoaning our own performance on the world stage. Sure, the UK isn’t perfect. It has all the challenges I listed above and more. But when you consider how quickly things have unravelled for several of our neighbours, a thought presents itself. Whisper the heresy, but maybe we aren’t doing all that badly after all.’ – The i paper

Hunt: The battle against ISIS is not over

‘Islamic State has not been defeated and Britain must “press on” with fighting it in Syria, the foreign secretary has said. Jeremy Hunt’s position places him at odds with President Trump, who announced last year that he would pull US forces from Syria, declaring: “We have won against Isis — we have beaten them, and we have beaten them badly.” Mr Hunt warned yesterday that the world should not “mistake territorial defeat for final defeat” and that forces fighting Isis should not claim “victory too quickly”.’ – The Times

  • RAF to get ‘drone swarms’ – The Sun
  • Cargo vessels will be converted into warships – The Times
  • The UK does essential work preventing children from becoming soldiers – John Lamont, The Times
  • Williamson is rightly ambitious for our country, but do his colleagues agree? – Daily Telegraph Leader

>Yesterday:

Grayling faces the Commons over ferry contract

‘Taxpayers face a bigger No Deal bill after the humiliating collapse of a £14million ferry contract, Chris Grayling signalled yesterday. The Transport Secretary admitted a contract with Seaborne Freight to bring essential NHS supplies into Ramsgate had collapsed – meaning the Kent port is unlikely to play a role. And the Government will instead likely have to rely on “longer” North Sea routes from the Continent to make up the capacity – meaning higher costs. It came as Labour MPs lined up to demand Mr Grayling resign over the disastrous Seaborne deal. The Department awarded Seaborne – a company with no ferries – one of three deals to ship supplies into the UK in the event of border chaos at Calais in December. But over the weekend an Irish backer pulled the plug on financing the business.’ – The Sun

  • Battered by the storm, but he is still afloat – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • He ‘ignored’ warnings about the firm – The Times
  • Questions grow over HS2’s future – FT
  • The project is essential to northern growth – Gary Neville, FT
  • The Transport Secretary is symbolic of all Britain’s woes and should resign – Seb Payne, FT

The CBI criticises ‘anachronistic’ GCSEs

‘GCSEs have come under attack, with big businesses asking whether the exams “are even necessary any more”. Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, told The Times that GCSEs were “intrusive and intensive” and left little space to teach the broader skills that employers looked for. In a speech today at the Royal Society Business Forum, she will ask: “In a world where few employers even ask for GCSE results and there are better ways of assessing schools, why should we require pupils to cram for a set of exams which feel increasingly anachronistic?” Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, will use the event to call for an independent review of A levels, which he says are far too narrow.’ – The Times

New aid definition could free up £1.5 billion

‘Britain currently spends far more than its 0.7 per cent target of national income on aid-related projects, according to the study. The Global Britain report said a broader definition of ‘international development’ would lead to savings of up to £1.54billion. Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who wrote a foreword to the report, backed calls for a radical overhaul of the overseas aid budget.Money spent which does not meet the criteria of aid includes £270million on peacekeeping missions. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spent £575million on overseas projects in 2017/18 but that did not count towards the 0.7 per cent. The report was drawn up by Tory MP Bob Seely.’ – Daily Mail

Only 12 expulsions from 700 alleged cases of anti-semitism in the Labour Party

‘Almost 700 Labour members have been reported for antisemitism in the past ten months, with 12 expelled from the party. Another 44 quit when presented with evidence of the allegations against them, Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, said last night. Dame Margaret Hodge, a senior Labour MP who has been a victim of antisemitism, said that she did not believe the figures and that she had submitted nearly 200 complaints of serious abuse by party members since October. Other members said the data showed that the leadership had been too slow to deal with the crisis. The figures were released hours before a parliamentary Labour Party meeting that MPs had set as a deadline for more information. One MP accused Ms Formby and Jeremy Corbyn of cowardice for failing to attend the meeting.’ – The Times

  • A new low in relations between the left and British Jews – Charlotte Henry, The Times
  • Holocaust denial is a grim reality – Olivia Marks-Woldman, The Times
  • Corbyn ‘won’t be able to deliver’ on promises, Labour MP warns – The Sun
  • The story behind Abbott’s car crash police interview – Daily Telegraph
  • Despite the stereotypes, millennials are relaxed about others’ wealth – The Sun Says
  • Forty years on from the revolution, Iranians chant ‘Death to Theresa May’ – The Times
  • Maduro launches massive military drills – Daily Mail
  • Venezuelans desperately seek medicines – The Times
  • Hungary exempts mothers of more than four children from income tax for life – Daily Mail

Chope: Why I did it

‘The sponsors of most bills to which I have objected have understood the importance of requiring debate at a Second Reading. Indeed, last Friday the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill and the Rivers Authority and Land Drainage Bill were debated and approved at Second Reading and will now go to Committee. Supporters of two other government-approved bills which I blocked on similar grounds have chosen to vilify me, using social media to orchestrate a campaign of intimidation against my family and staff. ..I fear for the future of my party as a champion of free speech and open debate. The Private Members Bill process faces sustained challenges from single issue pressure groups, each of which wants their own bill to take priority. One way of ensuring that this does not come at the expense of proper scrutiny would be to give top priority each session to the PMBs which attracted greatest support among MPs. Yet this recommendation from the Procedure Committee, of which I am a member, has so far been rejected by the Government.’ – Christopher Chope, Daily Telegraph

‘We’re building the wall anyway’, Trump declares

‘A deal that would finance new barriers on America’s southern border and avert another US government shutdown was agreed in principle by Congressional leaders last night. Negotiators were said to have signed up to a tentative agreement that falls far short of funding President Trump’s border wall but which, if supported by the White House, would finance the government from Friday when temporary funding lapses. Appearing at a rally last night after the deal was struck, Mr Trump gave no firm indication of whether he would back it. “They said that progress is being made with this committee,” he told a crowd in El Paso, Texas. “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.” He said he had had no time to study the details.’ – The Times

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