Brexit

Guardian
Tory Brexiters are to demand at least two days to scrutinise any new offer from Brussels on the Irish backstop mechanism, warning the prime minister not to “bounce” the group into an early vote on her Brexit deal. May has pledged that a vote will take place on her proposal, including any changes agreed in Brussels, by 12 March, though it is possible that Downing Street will seek to bring the vote forward to this week if changes can be secured. The EU has suggested that progress has been minimal and a No 10 source said there was little optimism about putting any deal to a vote this week, despite rumours in Westminster that the prime minister could attempt two votes before the 12 March deadline, after which she has promised to hold a vote on a no-deal exit and on delaying article 50.

Times
Conservative Brexiteers have said that they are still some distance from being able to back Theresa May’s deal despite a softening in their stance. Their continued resistance comes as Brussels prepares to refuse changes to the backstop being sought by the prime minister and Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, agreeing instead to legally binding language on its temporary nature most probably in the form of a protocol or interpretive instrument.

Reuters
A group of Brexit-supporting lawmakers who rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s European Union exit deal in January have set out the changes they want to see to her agreement in return for their support. With Britain due to leave the bloc on March 29, May is seeking assurances on the so-called backstop arrangement aimed at preventing a return to hard border controls between EU member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland. Concerns over the backstop led to parliament overwhelmingly rejecting May’s deal in January, with critics saying it could leave the country tied to EU rules indefinitely.

BBC News
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox welcomed a new offer from Tory Brexiteers as “a genuine attempt” to find “common territory”. The Brexit-backing European Research Group has set out three tests it wants Theresa May to pass to secure its support for her deal with the EU. They still want a time-limit to the Irish backstop – but they say they don’t mind how that is achieved. Mrs May has promised MPs a vote on her deal on or before 12 March. The three tests, drawn up by eight Brexit-backing lawyers, including Tories and a DUP MP, is seen as a softening of the ERG’s previous stance on the backstop, which is meant to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Westmonster
The Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, has apparently given up on the prospect of the UK having the ability to unilaterally exit the hated backstop in a deal with the European Union.  In what is devastating news for the government just as it looked like Brexiteer MPs could back a tweaked deal second time round, the Telegraph report that Cox has abandoned the prospect of a time-limit or unilateral exit from the Irish backstop. Without it, the UK could find itself trapped in a position wrapped fully inside the European Union’s regulatory orbit until Brussels decide the UK can leave

Telegraph
The Attorney General has abandoned attempts to secure a hard time-limit or unilateral exit mechanism from the Irish backstop, The Telegraph has been told. Ministers briefed on Geoffrey Cox’s approach said those aims, which represent the central demands of Eurosceptics, are considered too “blunt” and have been rejected by the European Union. Some Cabinet ministers are already resigned to the Prime Minister losing a second meaningful vote on her deal amid concerns that changes to the backstop secured by Mr Cox will not be sufficient to win round Brexiteers.

Conservative Party

Westmonster
A new survey of Conservative Party members has revealed that more than 60% of them oppose MPs being given a vote in Parliament to block a No Deal, WTO Brexit.  ConservativeHome’s panel found that 62% disagree with Theresa May’s decision to allow MPs to vote on No Deal if her deal is rejected for a second time. Until May made this ridiculous decision, No Deal was the default policy of the government on 29th March, putting much more pressure on Brussels. Instead, the government have now given the Remainer Parliament the ability to reject an EU exit on WTO terms, destroying the UK’s leverage in negotiations.

Breitbart
Cabinet ministers Andrea Leadsom and Jeremy Hunt — the former a Leave-supporting party leadership runner-up, the latter an ex-Remainer and party leadership hopeful — have penned a joint article extolling the supposed merits of Theresa May’s deal with the European Union, and denounced efforts to delay Brexit as “a betrayal of the referendum result”. “[T]he active pursuit of a delay to Brexit — with no purpose beyond frustration — is a betrayal of the referendum result,” they wrote in the Telegraph, adding that such a delay “would lead to an irretrievable breach of trust with those who are already cynical about the will of Westminster to deliver on the result to begin with.”

‘Bribery’

Sun (by Theresa May)
THE day after the referendum, The Sun led the calls for investment to be made into the communities who felt ignored by successive governments, for whom getting out of the EU was a chance to send an instruction for change. With great passion, The Sun argued that – while the economy had worked well for some places – wealth was not always spread fairly across the country.  I agreed with this analysis. In my very first speech as Prime Minister I committed to serve the interests of ordinary working class families like yours for whom life is much harder than many politicians realise.

Times
Theresa May was accused last night of trying to bribe Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal in the Commons after she announced a £1.6 billion fund for struggling communities. The prime minister declared that “prosperity has been unfairly spread” as she revealed details of the Stronger Towns Fund, which she claimed would create jobs, help to train local people and increase economic activity. Her comments triggered a backlash from across the political spectrum.

Mail
Theresa May will today pledge to funnel nearly £1billion to ‘left-behind’ towns in the North and Midlands as part of a package of ‘bribes’ designed to persuade Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal. The Prime Minister will unveil details of the new Stronger Towns Fund as she launches intensive efforts to woo Labour MPs in pro-Brexit seats. The proposals will see £1billion allocated directly to towns in England. Details of the towns involved were not available last night, but 90 per cent of the cash is being allocated to areas in the North and Midlands.

Express
SHADOW Chancellor John McDonnell has dismissed a £1.6billion Government initiative to boost run-down towns as a ‘Brexit bribe’ while Anna Soubry labelled the move ‘desperate’. The Prime Minister’s political opponents claim the move is trying to influence Labour MPs in Leave-supporting areas to back her Withdrawal Agreement in crunch Commons votes. Mr McDonnell said: “This towns fund smacks of desperation from a Government reduced to bribing MPs to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation.

ITV News
Theresa May has been accused of offering Labour MPs “Brexit bribe” funds for run down towns amid reports the Government has abandoned attempts to put a time limit on the Irish backstop. As the Prime Minister promised a £1.6 billion package for “left behind” communities in predominately Leave areas, hardline Brexiteers continued to insist on major concessions from Brussels in order to back Mrs May’s deal.

BBC News
A £1.6bn fund is being launched by the government to boost less well-off towns after Brexit. Prime Minister Theresa May said: “For too long in our country prosperity has been unfairly spread… but we want it to work for all communities.” More than half of the money will go to the north of England and the Midlands to bring jobs and stimulate growth. Labour says it is a bribe to influence MPs in Leave-supporting areas to back Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

Sky News
Theresa May is being accused of “bribing MPs” in “a desperate measure to buy votes” as she launches a £1.6bn fund for pro-Brexit towns. The new “Stronger Towns Fund”, with cash handouts for constituencies that voted Leave, is being unveiled just days before MPs are due to vote again on the prime minister’s deal. The government claims it will boost growth and give communities a greater say in their future after Brexit and will be targeted at less prosperous parts of the country.

Mirror
Theresa May on Monday will launch a £1.6bn fund for “left behind” towns in a bid to win support for her Brexit deal. Much of the cash will be distributed to Leave-voting Labour heartlands to give communities a boost after leaving the EU.  But angry Labour MPs accused the Prime Minister of offering a “shameless bung” to try to woo them to back her plans ahead of another vote. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell branded it a “desperate bribe”.

Guardian
Left-behind towns in England are to get a £1.6bn funding boost as part of a package of measures to win support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal among Labour MPs, who said the new cash would not buy their votes. Labour MPs including Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell who have signalled they might back May’s deal criticised the approach and said the cash would do little to tackle the effects of austerity. The communities secretary, James Brokenshire, denied the money was a Brexit bribe and said it would be enough to have a “transformative” impact on areas that felt left behind.

Independent
The government has been accused of “bribing” MPs to back Theresa May‘s Brexit deal after announcing a new £1.6bn fund to help deprived towns. The “Stronger Towns Fund“ will offer investment to places that have not benefited from economic growth as much as other parts of the country, ministers said.  The government said the money would be used to create jobs, train local people and boost investment, but critics said it was an attempt to convince Labour MPs in Leave-voting areas to back Ms May’s withdrawal agreement, and was not enough to offset the impact of Brexit.

Telegraph
Theresa May has launched a £1.6billion fund for deprived towns in Labour strongholds in what has been called a “Brexit bribe” to win over opposition MPs. The “stronger towns” fund will be used to create new jobs, provide skills training and improve infrastructure such as road and rail links. Communities will have a say on how the money is spent. However the move risked a backlash by Tory MPs. Grant Shapps, a former chairman of the Conservative Party, said: “Whilst money for deprived areas is welcome it’s important that the Government remembers that deprivation isn’t confined to Labour constituencies.

Fisheries

ITV News
Retaining fishing quotas and supporting a discard ban in principle are two key aspects of a Scottish Government paper on the future of fisheries. Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing launched the discussion document and urged those in the industry to have their say on fisheries management in Scotland. The paper sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for the future of fisheries, and priorities include ensuring the UK Government does not trade away access to Scottish waters and fishing opportunities.

Second referendum

Mail
Labour will risk a massive rebellion by MPs in Northern leave-voting areas by ordering MPs to back a vote calling for a second Brexit referendum. John McDonnell suggested today said today that the party was likely to ‘whip’ in favour of a second vote when they are asked to decide on it next week. Jeremy Corbyn has already been warned he faces a revolt by as many as 70 Labour MPs in Leave-voting areas in those regions who warned that the party faces a catastrophe at ballot box if they fail to deliver Brexit.

Sky News
Labour whips will order its MPs to back the party’s bid for a second Brexit referendum, John McDonnell has hinted, amid warnings up to 70 of them are opposed to another public vote. After months of speculation, the party has declared its support for another public vote on the issue. The shadow chancellor claimed in an interview with Sky News that Labour had been left with no choice but to back a second referendum. Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr McDonnell said: “We’ve been forced into this by Theresa May delaying, running down the clock and not coming up with a compromise that we could all support.”

Mirror
Labour members would be ordered to vote in favour of a new Brexit referendum, John McDonnell has suggested. It could put the party in the unusual position of having to sack frontbenchers for both supporting and opposing the same policy within a few months of each other. Owen Smith was sacked as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary last march for calling for a second referendum.

Anti-semitism

Times
John McDonnell has rejected claims by Labour’s top official that it is impossible to get rid of antisemitism in the party amid calls for an independent ombudsman to be appointed to examine cases. Jennie Formby, general secretary and a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, told a meeting of MPs and peers last month that antisemitism could not be eradicated from Labour.

Mail
A Labour peer drafted in to put out the flames of its hugely damaging anti-Semitism crisis has warned ‘clear-cut’ cases where no action was taken will be reopened. Lord Falconer, a former lord chancellor and flatmate of Tony Blair, said that he was prepared to dive into the party’s old cases to boot out anti-Semites who deserved it. It came as his prospective appointment caused fresh controversy in the row threatening to tear the party apart. The party claimed on Friday he had agreed to scrutinise disciplinary procedures, while he said taking on the role was still subject to agreement on the terms of his brief and it was ‘not a done deal yet’.

UKIP

Guardian
A surge in Ukip membership is shifting the party decisively towards the far right, as long-standing moderates are replaced by entrants attracted by an anti-Islam agenda based on street protest, a Guardian investigation can reveal. Membership has risen by about 50% over the 12 months from a low point a year ago, rapidly reshaping the party in the image of its leader, Gerard Batten, who describes Islam as “a death cult” and has appointed the anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson as an adviser.

Investment

Westmonster
In very welcome news, Jaguar Land Rover look set to invest hundreds of millions of pounds into advanced manufacturing at UK plants. It is all part of their strategy to focus on electric power in its range of cars moving forward. The BBC have been told that JLR are “preparing to make a major investment in advanced manufacturing in the UK”. And The Telegraph seem to confirm the rumours, saying: “Jaguar Land Rover plans to pump hundreds of millions into UK plants as part of its strategy to electrify its range of cars.”

Telegraph
European investors are taking major bets on the UK economy, more than doubling investment in Britain over the past three years. Uncertainty around Brexit has not stopped companies on the continent from embarking on a major deal spree in the UK, indicating faith in the economy’s long-term prospects among foreign money managers. Buyers in the EU have snapped up 553 UK assets through mergers and acquisitions and private placements in the past year, according to S&P Capital IQ data.

Migrants

Breitbart
Dozens of migrants stormed a ferry in Calais, France, in a bid to break into Britain on Saturday night, in what police called a “co-ordinated attack” on the French docks. Between 9:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., more than 50 migrants managed to board a Calais Seaways ferry which had just sailed in from Dover, England, with 211 passengers and 75 crew members on board, local media reports. State representative for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais department, Jean-Philippe Vennin, said a high tide enabled the horde of migrants — whose nationalities are reportedly not yet known — to board the DFDS Seaways vessel using a maintenance ladder.

Times
French police have brought down the last migrants who tried to stow away in the funnel of a cross-channel ferry. Sailings from Calais were delayed overnight as hundreds of officers tried to clear the ferry and port after the migrants broke through security barriers. About 50 reached the ferry as she was about to dock. A total of 63 people were arrested. Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, blamed a lack of police for the incursion and said that it was endangering users of the port.

Breitbart
Spain’s government says that unauthorized immigration by sea has dropped in the last month, falling to 930 people arriving in February compared to over 4,000 in January. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska says while on a visit on Saturday to Spain’s northern African enclave of Melilla that “the upward trend of recent months has been broken.” Spain became the leading entry point into Europe for illegal migrants last year, when it received over 57,000 people by sea compared to 21,000 in 2017.

HS2

Sun
THERESA MAY urged by thousands of motorists to axe HS2 – and splash the cash on Britain’s crumbling roads. Campaigners warned the PM that Government risked looking radically “out of touch” if it presses ahead with the £60billion high-speed rail link.  Fair Fuel UK said over 64 per cent of 12,000 members want the “vanity project” axed – and nearly 90 per cent want a significant increase in investment on roads, repairs and potholes. The survey comes just months after a damning report claimed Britain’s roads have fallen behind Chile, Cyprus and Oman for quality – despite motorists paying some of the highest taxes in the world.

Train travel

Times
Parts of the railway could be closed for a week at a time under proposals to speed up engineering work and keep trains running at the weekend. The blockades of entire lines common at Christmas may be introduced during the year as part of a Network Rail plan to complete a huge inventory of upgrades to the Victorian railway. Andrew Haines, the company’s new chief executive, told The Times that one lengthy closure was often less disruptive and cheaper than multiple overnight or weekend shutdowns over the course of many years.

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