Queen’s Speech

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. However, some within the government believe May is prepared to ignore demands for a programme of new laws, even though parliament has run out of business to discuss apart from Brexit legislation, which is currently stalled. A Downing Street source said it would not be fair to say the Queen’s Speech was being delayed, because no official date had been set for one. “There’s no obligation to have one at a fixed point and there’s no immediate plans to bring forward a Queen’s speech,” the source said. There is usually one Queen’s speech each year, and it has taken place in May or June in recent years, but Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, announced a two-year session after the last election in order to “build the broadest possible consensus for our Brexit plans”.

The polls

Westmonster
Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party have surged to an astonishing first place in the latest opinion poll for the European Elections.  A YouGov poll has Brexit leading on 27%, with Labour on 22% and the Tories third with 15%. Incredibly, the YouGov poll shows that 55% of Leave voters are already planning to vote for the Brexit Party, as are 49% of Conservative 2017 voters. Just 34% of 2017 Tory voters are planning to vote Conservative at the EU Elections, whilst 10% of Labour voters are planning to vote Brexit as well.

Independent
Nigel Farage‘s new Brexit Party has surged ahead in opinion polls for next month’s European Parliament elections, with a new survey suggesting it is on course to leave Labour and the Conservatives trailing in its wake. The YouGov poll placed the party on 27 per cent within a week of its launch, putting it well ahead of Labour on 22 per cent and the Conservatives on 15 per cent, just weeks before the 23 May elections.

Times
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has surged into the lead for the European elections, according to two opinion polls. Having formed only in January, the party has leapfrogged Labour and the Tories and eaten into Ukip’s support. A YouGov poll for The Times put the Brexit Party on 23 per cent, Labour on 22 per cent and the Conservatives on 17 per cent. Last week it was on 15 per cent, Labour was on 24 per cent and the Tories were on 16 per cent.

Telegraph
Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party has surged into first place in opinion polls ahead of the European Parliament elections next month. The party, which was only formally launched on April 12, is now favoured by 27 per cent of voters. The Brexit Party was third in YouGov’s poll in the week of its launch on 15 per cent, with support for the new group almost doubling in a matter of days.

Mirror
Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party could win elections to the European Parliament if they go ahead a pollster has claimed. A survey by pollster YouGov shows that the ex-UKIP leader’s party could beat both Labour and the Conservatives with its simple message – Leave the EU with No Deal. The survey shows support for the  Brexit Party at 27 percent of the vote, far ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives.

Mail
The Brexit Party has surged into the lead in the race for the European Elections after a top pollster predicted Nigel Farage’s new party could win its first election. A second YouGov survey on the state of the party’s ahead of EU Parliament elections shows the Brexit Party rising dramatically from 15 per cent to 27 per cent. Most of the gain comes at the expense of Ukip – which when led by Mr Farage won the 2014 contest – which plunged from 14 per cent to 7 per cent.

Breitbart
The Brexit Party, which only officially launched last weekend has already surged past the two main legacy parties in a new poll and is now rated as the lead party in voting intentions for the May European Union elections. The new poll by major UK pollsters YouGov shows Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party surging by 12 points in a week, from 15 per cent to 27 per cent as of yesterday, the most recent figures available.

Sun
NIGEL Farage’s new Brexit party could WIN the European elections as voters punish the Tories for the ongoing chaos around Leaving the EU. Fresh polling from YouGov puts the top Brexiteer’s new party ahead of Labour and the Tories on 27 per cent. Labour are on just 22 per cent, down several percentage points, and the Tories slumped down to 15. Ukip have had a boost to seven per cent too.

Guardian
Nigel Farage’s Brexit party, which is currently leading in the polls for the EU elections, will win the contest unless Labour can portray itself as the natural home for remain voters, Margaret Beckett has claimed. Polling commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign suggested the former Ukip leader’s new party was on course for a five-point lead, with remain voters split between Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National party, the Green party and Change UK.

Order-Order
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is polling on 27%, up from 15% in the last poll and nearly double the vote share of the Conservative Party. 49% of people who voted Tory in 2017 currently plan to vote for the Brexit Party in the EU elections, only 34% actually plan to vote Tory. The Brexit Party’s 12% jump is sending a shockwave around Westminster, meanwhile the explicitly anti-Brexit parties have only mustered 25% between them…

Conservative Party

Westmonster
Fury within the Conservative Party continues to build, with party activists now looking to force a vote of no confidence in Theresa May. The situation appears increasingly dire.  Tory Association Chairmen are looking to use a petition that will trigger an Extraordinary General Meeting, which can then be used for a vote of no confidence against May. It requires the backing of 65 local Chairmen. So far between 40 and 50 have signed, according to The Telegraph. The letter in circulation reads: “Almost three years since we voted to leave and after two extensions to the original departure date, we no longer feel that Mrs. May is the right person to continue as Prime Minister to lead us forward in the negotiations.

Express
EXPRESS.CO.UK readers have shared who they want to be the next Conservative Party leader after a new plot to oust the Prime Minister by grassroots Tories was revealed. A petition was launched by the National Conservative Convention (NCC), the senior body of the Tory Party’s voluntary wing, calling an Extraordinary General Meeting to pass a vote of no confidence in Theresa May, which received between 40 and 50 signatures from party chairmen this evening.

Mail
Senior Tory activists are petitioning for an emergency general meeting of party bosses in a new bid to force out Theresa May as leader, it emerged today. An emergency meeting will be called if 65 Conservative Association chairmen sign a petition demanding one. Between 40 and 50 are thought to have done so.  The petition blames Mrs May for Brexit being delayed twice and says she is the wrong person to lead the negotiations with the EU onward.

Guardian
Grassroots Conservative activists will try to press Theresa May to stand down as prime minister by forcing an extraordinary general meeting to allow a vote of no confidence from party members. The vote would not be binding on the prime minister, but the National Conservative Convention (NCC) would be obliged to hold the meeting if more than 65 Tory association chairs called for one to be held. The attempt, first reported by the Telegraph, has been organised by the Conservatives’ London East area chairman, Dinah Glover.

Mirror
Fed-up local Tory chairmen are plotting to force out Theresa May sooner than planned by using little known powers in the party rule book. An emergency meeting of the Conservatives’ National Convention, which represents the party’s grassroots, can be called if 65 local association chairmen agree, paving the way for a no confidence vote in the Tory leader.  The signatures are already being gathered, with Brexit-leaning grassroots Tories furious at the Prime Minister’s handling of the UK’s departure from the EU.

Westmonster
An MEP who attacked the prospect of Brexit in the run up to the referendum and has since vowed to push for a “soft” exit and Single Market membership has apparently been selected as a lead candidate for the party. Sajjid Karim has today claimed that he will be the number one candidate on the Conservative list for the North West of England in the European Elections. So where does he stand?

Labour Party

Independent
Senior Labour MPs say Jeremy Corbyn must back a fresh Brexit referendum unequivocally within weeks or Nigel Farage will snatch a shock European elections victory. Worried backbenchers piled pressure on the Labour leader to shift his stance before the 23 May poll, after the former Ukip leader was revealed to be on course to triumph at the head of his new Brexit Party.

Lib Dems

Independent
The Liberal Democrats have accused other anti-Brexit parties of damaging the chances of success in the European elections by refusing to fight on a joint ticket. Vince Cable lashed out at The Independent Group and the Greens for rejecting his pleas to stand joint candidates on 23 May, to boost the number of MEPs demanding a second referendum. The Lib Dem leader revealed that his party proposed fighting together – a move that one election expert has predicted could have delivered an extra six seats in Brussels.

Mirror
Anti-Brexit parties should have forged a non-aggression pact for European elections, Vince Cable admitted. The outgoing Lib Dem leader claimed there was “not a great deal” of difference between his party and the fledgling Change UK group. He wanted an agreement which would have ensured the pro-EU vote was not split when the country goes to the polls on May 23. He told the BBC: “It would be better I think from the point of view of supporters of British membership of the European Union.

Bercow

Times
Conservative MPs are to launch a further attempt to prise John Bercow from office amid anger over what they claim is the Speaker’s bias against Brexit. The backbencher behind the move, who says it has support from the government front bench, warned Mr Bercow yesterday that “enough is enough”. There have been reports that the Speaker wants to stay in his post beyond the summer if Brexit is not resolved.

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.

BBC News
A Conservative MP is making a fresh attempt to remove John Bercow from his position as House of Commons Speaker. Crispin Blunt has said he will table a motion expressing no confidence in the Speaker when the House of Commons returns from recess on Tuesday. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Reigate MP accuses Mr Bercow of bias over Brexit and overruling precedent on “a number of key votes”. The Speaker’s office did not provide a comment on the motion.

EU

Express
A NO DEAL Brexit could be forced on the UK by European leaders according to a dramatic intervention by Sir Ivan Rogers, formerly the UK’s Permanent Representative to the European Union. Sir Ivan claimed European powers could refuse to grant an additional Article 50 extension, meaning Britain leaves without a deal on October 21. The UK had been due to depart on March 29, but this was delayed twice.

Telegraph
Google, Amazon and eBay will be forced to tell companies exactly how they rank their services online after tough new rules to avoid unfair competition were approved in Europe on Wednesday.  Internet sites that advertise other companies’ products and services will have to make their terms and conditions “fairer and more transparent” after tougher measures were backed by the European Parliament.

Climate change

Telegraph
As statements go, it did little to dissuade climate change protesters hellbent on wreaking havoc across the streets of London. Reiterating his “passion” for peaceful protest as “the cornerstone of our democracy”, Sadiq Khan could barely disguise his glee at the idea of Extinct Rebellion taking aim at the Government’s supposed inaction on climate change – while diverting attention from criticism of his response to London’s knife crime epidemic.

Times
Climate change protesters arrested and then released have been returning to bolster numbers at roadblocks in London as police warned of a drain on resources before the Easter weekend. Hundreds of officers in high visibility uniforms last night marched on one protest at Parliament Square to begin clearing demonstrators as the protests threatened to cause a fourth day of disruption in central London.

Morning Star
POLICE arrested more than 300 Extinction Rebellion protesters in London today while demonstrations continued in their “uprising” against the government’s inaction over climate change. Three protesters glued themselves to a Docklands Light Railway train, causing minor delays at Canary Wharf station. Extinction Rebellion warned the day before that they would “non-violently disrupt Tube services” if no government minister met a representative of the group.

Mail
Hundreds of arrested eco-activists are being released without charge to rejoin protests bringing London to a standstill, as furious business leaders blasted the Met and the Mayor demanding someone ‘take control’. The demonstrations which have inconvenienced 500,000 people and cost businesses £12 million since Monday, brought further chaos to the capital’s today as the protesters superglued themselves to tube trains. Despite the police having issued a public order notice 48 hours ago demanding protesters on Waterloo Bridge disperse and regroup at their Marble Arch protest site, the bridge remains closed to traffic in both directions as the protesters there continue to be arrested.

Press freedom

Times
Britain ranks below Ghana, South Africa and Jamaica in a new league table of press freedom because of “heavy-handed” media restrictions. The UK is 33rd in the latest annual World Press Freedom Index, published by the Reporters Without Borders campaign group. This is seven places higher than last year but the country remains one of the lowest-ranked in western Europe, behind Germany (13), Spain (29) and France (32).

Education

Huffington Post
Most secondary school heads have been forced to cut teachers to save money, a new poll underlining the scale of the education cash crisis has revealed.  Over two-thirds (69%) of secondary school leaders said they had no choice but to shave teaching staff numbers, the Sutton Trust’s survey of 1,678 teachers found.  Around a quarter of heads (27%) have also redirected pupil premium cash – money targeted specifically at disadvantaged children – to pay for teaching staff and to plug gaps elsewhere in their budget.

Telegraph
Schools are spending money set aside for their poorest pupils to pay teacher salaries, a survey has found. More than a quarter (27 per cent) of secondary school head teachers and 22 per cent of primary heads admitted using their pupil premium fund to “plug gaps” in their budget, according to a poll of teachers. Of these, most said they used the extra funds – which are designated for boosting the attainment of children from deprived backgrounds – to pay for teachers and teaching assistants.

Times
British universities have spent about £87 million since 2017 on gagging orders to stop staff who have been paid off going public with the dispute. Figures obtained by the BBC show the scale of non-disclosure agreements. The deals were designed to stop staff sharing trade secrets if they changed jobs. Lawyers say, however, that they are being misused to protect employers who could be guilty of misconduct. Ministers say that they want to tighten the rules.

Mail
Universities have paid £87million in the past two years in compensation to academics who complained about bullying, sexual misconduct or discrimination. The payments, which average more than £22,000, all included non-disclosure clauses which prevented the individuals talking about their cases. The settlements covered about 4,000 cases in which academics had made allegations in 96 institutions, according to freedom of information responses collected by the BBC.

Housing

Times
House prices grew at their slowest pace in more than six years in February as the southeast of England dragged down the rest of the market with its first fall in prices since 2011, according to official figures. Average house prices in Britain rose by 0.6 per cent to £226,000 in the year to February, according to the Office for National Statistics. This was slower than the 1.7 per cent growth in the year to January and the lowest annual growth rate since September 2012, when the economy was contracting.

Mail
For decades, they have made far more from their bricks and mortar than anyone else in the country. But now home-owners in the South East are losing money on their homes – after prices there fell for the first time in eight years. Meanwhile, properties in the North gained in value, according to the latest official figures. The average South East property’s value fell 1.8 per cent during the year to February, dropping to an average of £315,000.

Christianity

Times
Britain must act urgently to save Christians around the world from persecution that is “unprecedented in many centuries”, the Church of England and Roman Catholic church have said. In a rare joint statement, the churches demanded extra training for diplomats and asylum for Christian refugees. Britain had provided only “piecemeal” support to those facing discrimination, and even “mass killings” on account of their faith, the churches warned in their submission to a Foreign Office review.

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