Brexit

A leading Brexiteer has changed his mind, reports the Express.

JACOB REES-MOGG has said he “made a mistake” in believing Theresa May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” mantra after the Prime Minister forced the UK into a six-month extension in order to avoid a no deal Brexit this month.
The leading Brexiteer said he showed a “degree of naivety” in believing Theresa May would support a no deal Brexit. Channel 4’s political editor Gary Gibbon said Mr Rees-Mogg had “underestimated” how resistant the Prime Minister was to a no deal Brexit. In response, the leading Brexiteer said: “Oh, absolutely. You are absolutely right.
“That was my miscalculation.
“I made a mistake of believing the British Prime Minister, which actually historically can often be a mistake.
“I am making a criticism myself of a degree of naivety.”
The Government had spent £12.4million between mid-November and mid-January on external consultants’ fees and £700,000 more in a PR push publicising Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement and her hard Brexit plans.
The consultants were asked to draw up alternative plans to the Irish backstop, against which MPs had already announced in December they would oppose.
They also had to prepare the country for a no deal Brexit if the British Parliament failed to reach an agreement by March 29.
But these costly efforts turned out to be ineffective, as the Prime Minister’s deal was overwhelmingly defeated on January 15 by a record 220 votes.

And hardliners are totally determined to reject the PM’s WA, reports the Times.

The resurgence of Nigel Farage has left hardline Conservative Brexiteers even more determined not to vote for Theresa May’s deal.
Two polls this week put the former Ukip leader’s new Brexit Party in front of Labour and the Conservatives for the European parliament elections, due to take place on May 23.
“Whatever happens we cannot have these European parliament elections,” one senior Conservative told The Times. “The referendum was supposed to kill Ukip — what May’s done over the last two weeks has dug up the corpse and put Farage’s face on it.”

Conservative Party

Businesses are being drafted in to prevent BoJo becoming the next Prime Minister, reports the Times.

Amber Rudd and other leading Tory moderates have issued an open letter to business owners urging them to join the Conservative Party so they can vote to prevent a hard Brexiteer from becoming the next prime minister.
In a move designed to combat the influence of the hardline leavers of the European Research Group (ERG), the new One Nation group of Conservatives urged those who want a closer relationship with the EU to sign up and fight.

Labour Party

The Labour Party has accused the Tories of nicking its policies, reports the Telegraph.

The Conservatives have stolen 16 policies from Labour under Theresa May’s leadership, having “run out of any vision or ideas”, the opposition has claimed.
Labour officials highlighted a series of announcements by ministers that echoed earlier pledges by the party’s front bench.
They included a new levy on purchases of homes by foreign buyers, a proposed law to  ban restaurants from keeping tips intended for staff, and planned restrictions on junk food advertising.

And the Mirror calls for Labour to back a second referendum.

Labour must back a second Brexit referendum in order to respond to the electoral challenge posed by Nigel Farage, the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson said.
He said the party could not “sit on the fence” on the biggest issue facing the country, in comments which appear aimed at putting pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to make a second referendum a red line issue in Brexit talks with Theresa May .
A “confirmatory” referendum on any deal was “the very least” that voters should expect, Mr Watson said.
Writing in the Observer, the Labour deputy leader said: “Labour won’t defeat Farage by being mealy-mouthed and sounding as if we half agree with him.

BBC News also reports the deputy leader’s comments.

Labour must promise another Brexit referendum to counter the electoral challenge posed by Nigel Farage, the party’s deputy leader has said.
Writing in the Observer, Tom Watson said his party could not “sit on the fence” about the biggest issue to face the UK for a generation.
But ex-UKIP leader Mr Farage said a new referendum would be “a total insult” to five million Labour Leave voters.
The UK has been given an extension to the Brexit process until 31 October.
This means the UK is likely to hold European Parliament elections on 23 May.

The Guardian challenges the party to get off the fence.

Labour will never defeat Nigel Farage if it continues to “sit on the fence” over Brexit and offers only “mealy-mouthed” support for a second referendum, the party’s deputy leader says today.
In an extraordinary intervention that exposes the tensions at the top of the party over Brexit strategy, Tom Watson warns that Labour will lose to Farage’s new “far right” Brexit party in May’s European elections if it continues to give the impression that “we half agree with him”.
Writing in today’s Observer, Jeremy Corbyn’s deputy argues that Labour needs to give much clearer and more enthusiastic backing to another referendum and also spell out a positive, radical vision of how a Labour government could advance socialist values by working with other centre-left parties inside the European Union.

TBP

The Telegraph has given Nigel Farage a column.

The rapid rise of the Brexit Party in the polls just days after we launched formally has sent a shiver down the spine of the Conservative Party. This sense of apprehension is well deserved, as far as I am concerned. The omens for Theresa May do not look good.
Take Councillor Barry Lewis, the Conservative leader of Derbyshire county council. On Friday, he confirmed that his group recently supported a motion not to take part in the European elections on May 23.
Just think about that. The faithful servants of one of the oldest political parties in the world are on strike.

But is The Brexit Party a resurgence of UKIP?  The Express reports:

BREXIT-BACKING Tory MPs have accused Theresa May of “digging up the corpse of Ukip” with her withdrawal agreement as Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party surges in European election polls.
Hardline Brexiteers in the Conservative Party are rallying against the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal by pledging to vote it down for the fourth time. One senior Tory MP told The Times: “Whatever happens we cannot have these European Parliament elections. “The referendum was supposed to kill Ukip  — what May’s done over the last two weeks has dug up the corpse and put Farage’s face on it.”

CHUK

Boris in No. 10 could mean a lot of defections, reports the Independent .

Boris Johnson taking over at No 10 would be “the end of the road” for several Conservative MPs who would defect to the new centrist Change UK party, its leader says.
Heidi Allen, a former Conservative, predicted “a number” of her former colleagues would follow her across the Commons if the arch-Brexiteer – or someone like him – succeeded Theresa May as prime minister.
She also played down fears that the failure of Change UK to agree a joint slate of candidates for the European Parliament elections with the Liberal Democrats and Greens would damage the anti-Brexit cause.
Ms Allen said she had studied the workings of the proportional voting system to be used on 23 May, adding: “I don’t think there’s a risk of that.

The new pro-EU party is to launch its euro elections candidates, reports the Guardian.

The anti-Brexit party Change UK will this week unveil its list of 70 candidates for next month’s European elections after receiving more than 1,000 applications from former Labour, Tory, Liberal and Green party activists.
The party’s interim leader, the former Tory MP Heidi Allen, who yesterday challenged other leaders to a TV debate, claimed that the exodus from established parties showed Change UK was now the “natural home of the ‘Remain Alliance’” and of people who wanted a second referendum.
The party said that, of 3,700 people who had applied to stand under the Change UK banner in the 23 May poll, 895 were former Labour activists, 105 were ex-Liberal Democrats and 92 ex-Greens. Dozens of other applicants had been active in the Tory party, including former MPs. Of the Labour defectors, 32 were either former MPs, or had previously been parliamentary or council candidates.

Euro elections

The Sun claims Tories are defecting to TBP in the euro elections.

A GROUP of Tory councillors have proposed to back Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, according to reports.
A survey found 40 per cent of them will back the former UKIP leader’s new party in the European Elections next month.
And at least three quarters of them are hoping she will resign, with almost half are calling for her to quit immediately, according to The Mail on Sunday.
The newspaper surveyed 781 Conservative councillors and found that 65 per cent of them would vote for Conservatives if Boris Johnson became the party leader.
But some 40 per cent would reportedly back Farage’s new party if the Tories remained under their current leadership.

Voters are about to give the PM a bloody nose, says the Sun.

ANGRY voters today warn Theresa May she has five weeks to deliver Brexit — or face a giant backlash in the Euro elections.
Two-thirds want the PM to get the UK out of the EU by any means to avoid the cost and humiliation of having to field candidates on May 23.
They make clear they are ready to desert the Tories in droves if she misses her third departure deadline.
The emphatic “get out now” message is delivered in an exclusive OnePoll survey for The Sun on Sunday. The majority believe it is a waste of £109million to fight the elections when we should have left a month ago.
Nearly a third — 29 per cent — think we should leave without a deal to avoid any further delay. But 19 per cent are prepared for her to strike one with Jeremy Corbyn even if it means staying in the Customs Union.

If we have to go to the polls on May 23, the MEPs elected will make life difficult for the rest of the European Parliament, reports the Telegraph.

The EU will end up with 50 “disruptive and resentful” British MEPs if it forces the country to take part in elections to the European Parliament next month, Liam Fox has warned.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the pro-Brexit International Trade Secretary pointed out that the parliament, which is due to elect the next European Commission president later this year, “will have an effect on the formation of the next commission”.
“The last thing our European partners want are 50 disruptive and resentful UK MEPs,” he added.

GE

Will there be a General Election any time soon?  If the polls are anything to go by, a lot of Tories could lose their seats, says the Telegraph.

Prominent Leavers including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith face losing their seats at the next general election as Brexiteers prepare to punish the Conservatives at the ballot box with voters threatening to boycott the local and European elections over the UK’s delayed departure from the EU.
New analysis by ComRes suggests the Tories stand to lose 41 seats, with 29 Leave MPs set to be ousted as voters switch to Labour, the Liberal Democrats and SNP following a public backlash against Theresa May in Conservative heartlands.

Conservative leadership

Meanwhile, speculation continues as to when Mrs May will stand down, says the Times.

Theresa May will be told this week that she must step down as prime minister by the end of June or her MPs will change the Tory party leadership rules to force her out.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the back-bench 1922 committee, is set to visit May to tell her that 70% of her MPs now want her to resign for botching Brexit and presiding over a collapse in Tory support.
MPs on the executive of the committee will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to tear up the rules to allow a new vote of no confidence in May before December. Insiders say “swing voters” are leaning towards changing the rules unless she agrees to go by June 30.

HS2

The high speed rail link is a white elephant, says the Telegraph.

Conservative supporters are repulsed by High Speed 2 and would be more likely to support a leadership contender who pledged to scrap it, according to a secret memo circulating among senior Tories.
A briefing produced by Frank Luntz, the veteran US pollster, states that Conservative voters view the £56 billion rail line as an “expensive extravagance”. Any candidates backing the scheme would face questions in the minds of Tory supporters about what else they would “waste our money on”, according to the research.

The Guardian claims the subject will destroy the Tories.

Tory leadership contenders have been warned that opposing the HS2 line will destroy the party’s prospects in key seats for decades, amid concerns that the project will be targeted in the race to replace Theresa May.
Senior figures inside Whitehall, industry and across local government are worried that leading candidates could back either scrapping or seriously scaling back the £56bn scheme in an attempt to win support from wary Tory MPs and fund campaign pledges.
Boris Johnson, one of the favourites to replace May, has raised doubts about the costs of the project. Sources close to Dominic Raab, another leading candidate, said he would look at “getting value for money” for the taxpayer.

Calais

The problems the other side of the Channel haven’t gone away, reports the Independent.

The number of child refugees languishing in Calais in the hope of getting to the UK has surged amid warnings that conditions at the border are reaching “breaking point”.
Hundreds of unaccompanied minors are sleeping rough on the northern French coast, with numbers almost doubling in the past three months, according to charities who warn the situation is only getting worse.
While figures show a rise from about 150 to 281, aid workers say the true numbers are likely to be higher as many displaced people, including lone minors as young as 12, are being pushed out of visible areas and further into the “margins of society” due to ramped-up security measures introduced as part of the UK and France’s response to a rise in migrant boat crossings last year.

Internet

The World Wide Web is a danger to children, reports the Times.

Internet safety watchdogs and intelligence agencies are holding crisis talks about a new version of Britain’s most popular web browser, which they fear will endanger children.
They say Google’s plans to encrypt Chrome will make it harder to block harmful material, including child-abuse images and terrorist propaganda. The new version will bypass most parental control systems and undermine the government’s attempts to stop under-18s viewing pornography.
At present, internet safety in Britain relies on broadband companies such as BT, Virgin, Sky and TalkTalk identifying harmful or age-inappropriate material. An encrypted browser makes it impossible for companies to detect and filter out offensive or illegal material.

NHS

The service is to fund a new procedure for deaf children, reports the Telegraph.

Pioneering brain surgery that allows children who are deaf to experience the sensation of hearing for the first time is to be funded across the NHS.
Specialist teams will provide the radical surgery for under-fives who are unable to use conventional hearing aids or implants because their inner ear or auditory nerve did not develop properly.
Health officials said the “life-changing” auditory brainstem implants will now be offered by specialist teams at hospitals in Manchester and London for children across the country.
The Health Secretary said he was “in awe” of the extraordinary medical advances which will allow young children to hear.

Education

Teachers’ unions are warning that their members work too hard, says the Guardian.

Teachers in the UK run the risk of “dying in their classrooms” if they are forced to work through serious illnesses, a teaching union conference has been told after a member revealed dramatic evidence.
Neil Jeffrey, a secondary school teacher, opened his shirt to show the scars left by a triple heart bypass operation he underwent 10 weeks ago, during a debate on a motion about age discrimination against older teachers.
“The longer teachers have to work, the greater the chance of them ending up with unwanted body art like this,” said Jeffrey, 49, who told delegates at the NASUWT annual conference in Belfast that he was expected to return to work at the start of May.

And if they get too old …  The Independent reports:

Ageing teachers are at a serious risk of dying in their classrooms if they are not given the support they need, a union has been warned.
The warning came from a member of the NASUWT  teaching union who called on its national executive to “investigate the incidence of serious ill health” among older teachers who are working longer.
Neil Jeffery, a teacher at The Oxford Academy, who recently had a triple heart bypass after having a heart attack last year, warned that school staff could die in the classroom amid an ageing working population.
Following a debate at the conference in Belfast, teachers backed a motion that condemned a culture of “work until you drop” in schools and called for the teachers’ retirement age to be lowered.

The Morning Star claims teachers have to respond to parents’ mails.

TEACHERS are being made to feel guilty if they do not reply to “how dare you” messages from parents, a union has warned.
A survey of over 1,500 teachers, published today by teachers’ union NASUWT, found that only 5 per cent of teachers did not receive work-related emails outside of school hours.
Teachers told the union they often receive work-related emails, including from parents and school management, when off sick or on maternity leave.
Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) said they got emails in the evening, and 55 per cent before the school day began. Fifty-eight per cent received work-related messages at the weekend, and 45 per cent during school holidays.

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