Brexit

Mail
Spartan Tories insisted today they would never vote for Theresa May‘s Brexit deal and said staying in the EU for longer was a better solution to the impasse. The hardline intervention is a fresh blow to the Prime Minister’s hopes that sending MPs away from Westminster for a week of Easter holidays would cool tempers. Mrs May herself is in Snowdonia trying to find a new strategy for getting her deal through Parliament after it was crushed three times by MPs. At the last vote she was still defied by 28 Tory Brexiteer rebels in the hardline European Research Group. Since the vote, the number of rebels has if anything gone back up. One of them, former Cabinet minister David Jones, said a long extension inside the EU was better than signing up for the deal. He said delay allowed time for a new deal or better preparations for No Deal.  He was backed by Stewart Jackson, a former Tory MP and chief of staff to David Davis when he was Brexit Secretary.

Guardian
Jeremy Corbyn is to be urged by a group of Labour MPs not to “torpedo” the prospect of a Brexit deal with Theresa May by insisting on a second referendum. The MPs, including Stephen Kinnock and Gloria De Piero, are set to send the  Labour leader a letter early next week setting out their “deep-seated reservations about a second referendum”, which they believe would be “divisive but … not decisive”.

EU

Breitbart
Britain should use the six-month delay before Brexit to “cool down” and reverse its decision to leave the EU, Frans Timmermans has said. The globalist vice-president of the European Commission — who recently declared that uniting Europe with Africa was “a matter of destiny” — expressed hope that Britain would use the time before its delayed Brexit departure date of October 31st to decide to stay in the bloc.

Reuters
Britain should use the next few months to “cool down and rethink” its decision to leave the European Union, the socialist candidate to head the next European Commission, Frans Timmermans, said on Wednesday. Last week EU leaders gave Britain an extension of its departure date until Oct. 31, with the possibility of leaving sooner if parliament ratifies a divorce deal Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated with the EU. Lawmakers have already rejected the deal three times.

BBC

Conservative Woman
ON March 29 last year, one year before non-Brexit day, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a day-long series of programmes called Britain at the Crossroads which the Corporation’s PR hype said was designed to examine the steps towards Brexit. At its heart was the first of a multi-part series presented by Mark Mardell called Brexit: A Love Story? which purported to give a history of the love-hate relationship between the UK and the EU. Predictably, it proved very one-sided. There was a deluge of pro-EU/EEC comment – from both presenter and contributors – but much less from those who were anti-EEC/EU.

Conservative Party

Sun
MINISTERS blew more than £13m in two months on failing to persuade MPs to vote for Theresa May’s Brexit deal and a hard exit that never happened. The splurge was carried out between mid-November to mid-January, in the run up to the first Meaningful Vote on January 15. A total of £12.4m was spent by the Cabinet Office on external consultants’ fees. The vast sum paid for external experts to drum up alternative plans to keep the Irish border open as well as prepare for a No Deal exit.

Independent
Theresa May could face an unprecedented no-confidence vote among grassroots Tories, as the prospect of a crushing defeat in European elections looms. Local party chairs have been circulating a petition that is on course to force the National Conservative Convention to hold an extraordinary general meeting where members could pressure the prime minister to resign. The plot emerged as a poll showed Nigel Farage‘s new Brexit Party had stormed into the lead ahead of EU parliament elections next month.

Mail
Two MEPs campaigning for a second referendum have been re-selected as candidates for the Conservative Party. Sajjad Karim, a former Liberal Democrat who has described Brexit as ‘madness’, will be top of the party’s candidates list in the North West of England.  While Charles Tannock, who co-founded the Conservatives for a People’s Vote campaign, will be on the ballot paper in London.

Local elections

Telegraph
Tory councillors are refusing to mention Theresa May’s name on doorsteps ahead of next month’s local elections because voters associate it with “betrayal”. Conservative Associations across the country are finding that Mrs May’s name is so toxic with voters that the mere mention of the Prime Minister gets in the way of campaigning. Tory councillors fear that voter backlash against Mrs May’s handling of Brexit will cost them their seats, and are desperately trying to keep conversations focused on local issues to avoid being tainted by events in Westminster.

TBP

Mail
Nigel Farage revelled in the ‘very good start’ enjoyed by his new Brexit Party today as a new survey showed it topping the polls for the EU elections. Mr Farage said it was clear the ‘public are warming to us’ and he moves to crush both the Tory party and his old force Ukip. A new YouGov survey – the third in a week – for the Times today again shows the Brexit Party on top, leading Labour 23 per cent to 22 per cent. The lead is smaller than yesterday’s sensational results which showed the Brexit Party on 27 per cent.

Express
THE Labour EU elections list is so remain heavy left-wing Brexiteers are throwing their lot in with Nigel Farage, including George Galloway. The May 23 European Parliamentary election are already throwing up some strange bedfellows and none more stranger than the firebrand former Labour and Respect MP and the Brexit Party. Mr Galloway took to Twitter to explain his position after seeing the Labour list of candidates for the EU elections.

UKIP

Mail
Ukip leader Gerard Batten has sparked fury by sharing a platform today with an election candidates who sent a ‘rape’ tweet to an MP. The right wing leader appeared at the party’s EU election launch in London alongside Carl Benjamin – also known as YouTube personality Sargon of Akkad. Benjamin, 39, has nearly 1million subscribers and hit headlines when he tweeted ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’ at Labour’s Jess Phillips, prompting Batten to defend it as ‘satire’.

Guardian
Gerard Batten, the Ukip leader, has insisted his party is the true voice of leave voters as he sought to counter an existential threat from Nigel Farage. At a press conference to launch Ukip’s European election campaign, Batten, whose party has been reduced to a rump in the European parliament after defections to Farage’s new Brexit party, insisted Ukip still had a future.

Sky News
UKIP’s leader has dismissed Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, telling Sky News it is “not a proper political party”. Gerard Batten said the former UKIP leader’s new venture was a “vehicle for one man” and added: “All you get from Nigel is rhetoric.” One opinion poll predicts the Brexit Party could win next month’s European elections, with suggestions many UKIP voters are switching to the new party.

Huffington Post
Ukip leader Gerard Batten walked out of a TV interview on Thursday after he was questioned over his defence of a party candidate who made a comment about raping a Labour MP. In 2016, Carl Benjamin, who wants to be the Ukip MEP for the South West, tweeted at Jess Phillips that he “wouldn’t even rape you” and that “feminism is cancer”. Batten has previously defended the Tweet as “satire”.

Parliament

Times
Theresa May has told ministers to finalise their plans for legislation to feature in the Queen’s Speech in a move that will inflame tensions with Tory MPs who are demanding that she leave Downing Street this summer. Whitehall departments were told last week that the prime minister would “actively consider” proposals for the speech — which outlines the government’s legislative plans at the beginning of a new session of parliament — after the Easter recess ends on Tuesday.

Guardian
Theresa May could put off the Queen’s speech until later this year, with government sources saying there were no immediate plans to bring one forward while parliament had not yet approved a Brexit deal. May had been widely expected to schedule a Queen’s speech setting out the government’s legislative agenda within weeks, because she announced a two-year parliamentary session in mid-June 2017.

Tory Party leadership

Independent
Boris Johnson has grabbed himself a highly prized new Commons office in a move designed to help him win a Conservative leadership contest. The leading  Brexiteer is moving into spacious rooms big enough to accommodate a campaign team at the heart of the Westminster estate, The Independent has learnt. The switch will allow the former foreign secretary – still the bookies’ favourite to succeed Theresa May – to better coordinate efforts to win the backing of Tory MPs in the looming contest.

Sun
BORIS Johnson would win the Tory leadership contest if Theresa May is toppled in the next few weeks, his key allies now believe. A dramatic surge in the last four weeks has seen the former London Mayor rapidly sign up almost as many MPs as race frontrunner Jeremy Hunt. Both senior Tories are now counting on the votes of more than 50 Conservatives MPs, from a total of 313. But BoJo’s campaign team are convinced he will trounce his successor as Foreign Secretary in phase two of the campaign, a head-to-head run off between the two leading candidates in front of all 150,000 party members.

Bercow

Mail
A hardline Tory Brexiteer is to make a fresh attempt to boot out Commons Speaker John Bercow, accusing him of ‘bias’ in favour of Remainers that has helped delay the Uk’s departure.  Former minister Crispin Blunt, a member of the European Research Group of Tory eurosceptics, said he intended to table an early day motion (EDM) of no confidence when MPs return to Westminster on Tuesday. EDM’s – which are not allocated any time in the parliamentary timetable – are rarely debated or voted on, but are used by MPs as a vehicle to express their views on a particular issue.

Express
BREXITEERS have launched a fresh attempt to oust Commons Speaker John Bercow over his shameless Remainer bias. Former minister Crispin Blunt has been rallying support for a motion of no confidence over Mr Bercow’s handling of laws taking Britain out of the European Union. The Tory MP wants to pile pressure on the Speaker to quit after speculation he will stay in post until after the Brexit deadlock is resolved. “Even his most partisan supporters for the positive changes he has delivered as Speaker do not now seriously dispute his bias in the conduct of our affairs,” he said.

Yahoo News
Furious Brexiteers are said to be preparing a motion of no confidence in Speaker John Bercow because of his apparent ‘bias’ over Brexit. Former minister Crispin Blunt, a strong Leave supporter, is seeking support for an early day motion (EDM) when MPs return to Westminster on Tuesday following the Easter break. EDM’s – which are not allocated any time in the parliamentary timetable – are rarely debated or voted on, but are used by MPs as a vehicle to express their views on a particular issue.

Guardian
John Bercow is facing another attempt to oust him as Speaker after a leading Conservative MP began collecting signatures for a no-confidence motion. Crispin Blunt, a former chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, wrote to fellow MPs saying he wanted to table an early day motion saying Bercow was no longer impartial. In the letter, he claimed to have some frontbench Conservative support for the move against the Speaker, who has enraged the government in recent months by refusing to let MPs vote repeatedly on Theresa May’s Brexit deal after their rejections of it.

Climate change protest

Guardian
Sajid Javid has called on police to use the “full force of the law” against Extinction Rebellion protesters causing disruption in London to draw attention to the issue of climate change. The home secretary, who is positioning himself for a run at the Conservative party leadership, made a series of tweets condemning “any protesters who are stepping outside the boundaries of the law”. He called on the police to “take a firm stance” against protesters who were “significantly disrupting the lives of others”.

Times
Sajid Javid demanded that police crack down on climate change activists yesterday as Scotland Yard was criticised for failing to stop the protests that have left parts of London paralysed. The home secretary urged the police to use the “full force of the law” after footage emerged of two officers dancing to music at an illegal roadblock at Oxford Circus and of another using a skateboard on Waterloo Bridge.

Mail
Eco-warriors are plotting to bring misery to Easter holidaymakers today. They plan to ‘shut down’ Heathrow and disrupt traffic for families planning a bank holiday getaway. The mainly middle-class protesters have already caused chaos by blocking four major routes through London for four days. Now they have vowed to ‘raise the bar’ by targeting hundreds of thousands of tourists jetting off for the weekend. More than 1,000 police are being deployed each day but have failed to restore order – leading to claims they are surrendering the streets.

Morning Star
EXTINCTION REBELLION protesters are planning to disrupt Heathrow airport tomorrow, their fifth consecutive day of action. The anti-climate change campaign group confirmed today that it plans to occupy runways at London’s main airport over the Easter weekend as part of an “escalation” of ongoing protests. Extinction Rebellion, whose protests have brought major routes in central London to a standstill this week, has sent out an appeal to members to take part in an “arrestable action” at the airport.

ITV News
Climate change protesters have revealed they plan to “shut down Heathrow” on Good Friday and disrupt the Easter holiday plans of thousands of travellers. However Scotland Yard has warned the protesters face a “robust response” if they target Heathrow and added it has ”strong plans” in place. Heathrow added it is “working with the authorities” to address any threat of mass disruption, while Home Secretary Sajid Javid urged police to use the “full force of the law”. Eco-activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) have been causing large-scale disruption in London since Monday as they campaign against climate change.

Times
Holidaymakers have been warned to expect chaos at Heathrow today as climate change campaigners vowed to shut down the airport. Extinction Rebellion activists may try to block access roads, including the tunnels to the airport. In a leaked Whatsapp message the group said: “Many of you have expressed a desire to disrupt Heathrow — and so we wanted to share this action with you. For the bank holiday we are halting swarming disruption and turning our focus on to the aviation industry. We want you to join us.”

Mail
Emma Thompson arrived at Marble Arch yesterday afternoon to support climate change protesters and urged others to join their numbers. What she might not have mentioned to them is that she had just flown back to Heathrow Airport from Los Angeles the day before. Many of the protesters have demanded that the Government limit how many times individuals can fly each year. Extinction Rebellion ringleader Robin Boardman-Pattison declared during a television interview this week that flying ‘should only be used in emergencies’ – despite his own apparently extensive travels.

Telegraph
Dame Emma Thompson joined climate protesters in London on Thursday to declare that she wants to be among those demonstrators arrested by police. However, it has emerged that the Oscar winning British actress was photographed a day earlier arriving at Heathrow Airport after apparently flying from Los Angeles where it is believed she had been celebrating her 60th birthday. The Extinction Rebellion group, which is calling for flights to be used only in emergencies, insisted that any flight she had taken was an “unfortunate cost in our bigger battle to save the planet”.

NHS

Telegraph
First, health chiefs warned of the perils of Easter eggs – which stood accused of fuelling Britain’s obesity crisis. Now millions of DIY- enthusiasts are being cautioned to take care before indulging in another bank holiday tradition – the home improvement. Health officials today urged those tempted to pick up their power tools this weekend to think twice, in case they end up in hospital. And they warned that men are far more likely than women to end up suffering injuries from powertools, lawnmowers, or toppling off ladders.

Times
If you’re planning a spot of DIY over the bank holiday weekend, NHS chiefs would appreciate it if you could do so as carefully as possible. In the past year there have been 4,764 hospital admissions caused by injuries from drills and other power tools, 6,372 after falls from ladders, 3,190 involving contact with a non-powered hand tool and 519 related to lawnmowers. Falls involving furniture accounted for 4,319 admissions. NHS England said that the number of injuries from power tools had gone up by 7 per cent in three years.

HS2

Times
Almost £600 million has been spent buying up property to make way for the HS2 high-speed rail link amid warnings over soaring costs. Figures released under freedom of information laws showed that HS2 Ltd, the government-owned company behind the programme, has purchased 902 homes, farms and other properties over the past eight years. Analysis of the figures shows that the taxpayer-funded company paid out more than £1 million for 130 of the properties. This includes £6.8 million for Whatcroft Hall near Northwich, Cheshire, which was owned by the comedian John Bishop.

Notre Dame

Mail
The Duke of Rutland has offered to donate mature oak trees grown on his estate at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire to help restore Notre Dame.   The 850-year-old cathedral in central Paris lost its spire and much of the ornate timber roof during Monday’s devastating blaze.  French cultural heritage expert Bertrand de Feydeau said France no longer has trees on its territory big enough to replace Notre Dame’s ancient wooden beams, which were cut in the 13th century from primal forests.  But the Duke of Rutland and a number of other owners of historic British estates have now offered to provide some of the oaks.

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