Conservative Party

The party’s income is in jeopardy because of its leadership, according to Express.

TORY donors are refusing to hand over money to the party after revealing their ‘disgust’ at Theresa May’s leadership and her handling of Brexit, it has emerged.
The businessmen, who have previously funded the party with millions since Mrs May was elected, have refused to fund the possibility of a snap election with Mrs May still in leadership, according to reports. Several donors have announced they will be staying away from the party’s infamous annual fundraising event. The secretive Black and White Ball sees Tory millionaires splurge hundreds of thousands of pounds on an exclusive auction selling access to ministers which in previous years has included a shoe shop with Mrs May herself.
The Midlands Industrial Council, whose 33 members gave £5million to the Tories before the 2017 election, are among those withholding money from the party.

The Telegraph also has the story.

Major Conservative donors are refusing to give money to the party because of “disgust” at Theresa May’s leadership and her handling of Brexit, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
The businessmen – who together have given millions of pounds to the party since Mrs May became Prime Minister – do not want to fund a potential snap general election with Mrs May still in post.
Several said they were planning to stay away from next month’s glittering Black and White Ball, one of the party’s biggest annual fundraising events, when access to ministers is auctioned to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds.

And the Mail reports a threat by the chancellor to quit.

Theresa May is facing a fresh Cabinet meltdown after Philip Hammond today refused to rule out quitting if there is a no-deal Brexit.
The Chancellor underscored his warnings about the huge economic damage from crashing out of the EU – after causing a storm yesterday by saying it would be a ‘betrayal’ of the British people.
As tensions between ministers broke into the open, Mr Hammond admitted some of his Remainer colleagues in Cabinet viewed Tuesday’s Commons votes, which could pave the way for a Brexit delay, as ‘high noon’.

The Independent also reports Hammond’s threat.

Philip Hammond has refused to rule out resigning from the government if Theresa May decides to pursue a no-deal Brexit.
Pressure is mounting on the prime minister to take a disorderly exit off the table, as the chancellor ramped up his warnings of a “significant hit” to the economy if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.
It comes after Amber Rudd, the pro-EU work and pensions secretary, also hinted she could resign from the frontbench to thwart a no-deal exit from the bloc.
Asked repeatedly whether he would remain in No 11 under that scenario, Mr Hammond told the Today programme: “I’m not going to speculate because a lot depends on the circumstances, what happens.

The Sun claimed he dodged the question.

PHILIP Hammond has today refused to rule out quitting if Theresa May took the UK out of the EU with No Deal.
The Chancellor repeatedly dodged questions on his political future, as he insisted that the EU COULD be prepared to budge its “red lines” over the Brexit deal.
When asked by the BBC and Sky today he would only say: “I’m not going to speculate”. But he later told ITV: “I am not going to threaten to resign.”

WA

So it’s not dead yet, as some of us thought.  The Express claims the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement could be resurrected.

DOWNING Street is frantically battling to convince MPs to keep Theresa May’s floundering Brexit deal alive by backing an amendment to the controversial Irish border backstop.
Chief whip Julian Smith is reportedly urging backbenchers on both the Leave and Remain sides to support a move backed by senior Tory Sir Graham Brady which would see the backstop terms replaced by “alternative arrangements”. Mrs May’s allies in the Democratic Unionist Party are preparing to throw her a lifeline by backing the amendment, according to the Daily Telegraph. The contentious Irish backstop is a major sticking point for Brexiteers who fear the terms could trap Britain in a customs union with the EU indefinitely.

Brexit delay

We’ve all pencilled 29th March into our diaries but could we be a bit premature?  The Independent says maybe.

Brexit could be delayed by a “couple of weeks” in order to get crucial legislation through the Commons, a senior minister has said.
Andrea Leadsom has become the first of Theresa May’s top MPs to publicly acknowledge Britain may have to extend the process of leaving the European Union.
The prominent Brexiteer insisted it would be “feasible” to remain in the bloc for a short time after the scheduled exit date of 29 March.

BBC News reports the Leader of the House’s comments.

Andrea Leadsom has said that the EU may be prepared to grant the UK a “couple of extra weeks” beyond the 29 March deadline to finalise preparations for Brexit.
The Commons leader said that in light of the UK’s strong relationship with its “EU friends”, the UK could be allowed more time for an approved deal to pass all its parliamentary stages.
But Ms Leadsom accused the EU of being in denial about the unease in the UK over the Northern Ireland backstop.

And the Express claims the delay will be alarming.

COMMONS leader Andrea Leadsom has admitted Brexit could be delayed to allow a divorce deal to be secured.
Britain may need an extra “couple of weeks” to push new laws through Parliament, Mrs Leadsom said. The shock admission from one of the most senior Brexiteers in government will set alarm bells ringing that Britain’s departure from the EU on March 29 is increasingly fragile. “We can get the legislation through,” Mrs Leadsom said.

Meanwhile, BBC News reports a comment by the chancellor that the EU could be ready to bend.

The EU could be ready to drop some of its “red lines” from the Brexit deal it struck with the UK to “help” save it, Chancellor Philip Hammond has said.
He did not believe the EU would scrap the backstop plan to keep the border open between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
But some EU leaders were “looking at what they can do” to change it.
Andrea Leadsom has, meanwhile, said the EU would delay Brexit for a “couple of weeks” to help get a deal through.
She told the BBC’s Newsnight that due to our “very strong relationship” with the EU, a short extension would be “feasible”.

And some Brexiteer Tories are also on the verge of supporting her WA, says the Independent.

Senior Conservatives have offered Theresa May a glimmer of hope by rallying behind attempts to modify her Brexit plan, amid hints the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) could soften their opposition.
Sir Graham Brady, the influential Tory backbench organiser, has backed a bid to salvage the prime minister’s deal by removing the controversial backstop element, a move also supported by Ms May’s long-time ally Damian Green and a group of Tory grandees.
The new amendment, which would see the backstop replaced with “alternative arrangements”, would compel Ms May to return to Brussels to seek changes to her deal, if backed by MPs in the Commons on Tuesday.

If the WA is ‘toughened up’, Arlene Foster’s people could back it, says the Sun.

THE DUP have privately decided to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal next week when she toughens it up, in a major breakthrough for No10.
The Sun can reveal that delicate deliberations are now ongoing  between the Ulster unionist party’s leaders and the PM.
They are close to agreeing an amendment to another showdown Commons vote on Tuesday that would curtail the unpopular Irish backstop – an insurance policy that divides the UK into two different legal regimes if there is no EU trade deal in place by 2021.

Labour Party

Corbyn still has his problems, reports the Times.

Jeremy Corbyn is battling to stem an exodus of rank-and-file members who are leaving Labour because of its stance on holding another EU referendum.
The party’s position on Europe is cited as the primary reason why many members have decided to leave the party, The Times understands.
Some local parties have lost a third of their membership since 2016, amid claims that up to 150,000 people have deserted the party in the past year.

It seems his MPs are revolting, reports the Independent.

Jeremy Corbyn faces a revolt from Labour MPs backing a new Brexit referendum, who will launch a drive to rewrite his proposals for the next phase of withdrawal.
The move from three MPs to redraft his strategy, so it ties Labour unambiguously to giving Britain a Final Say  referendum, once again thrusts the party’s deep Brexit divisions into the spotlight.
Hours earlier four other Labour MPs had joined Tory counterparts at a press conference, with one accusing Mr Corbyn of “standing in the way” of a people’s vote.

No deal

The call for the PM to rule out ‘no deal’ is likely to be passed in the Commons on Tuesday, says the Times.

Ministers have been warned that they will be unable to defeat a cross-party move to rule out a no-deal Brexit in the Commons next week.
Senior government sources said they had all but given up trying to stop a crucial amendment to the government’s motion being passed on Tuesday.
The move, which has the backing of more than 200 MPs, calls for Theresa May to rule out a no-deal Brexit. It is being proposed by the former Conservative cabinet minister Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour’s Jack Dromey.

And there’s another plan to be debated, this to delay our exit if no deal has been reached by the end of February.  The Guardian reports:

A backbench plan to ward off a no-deal Brexit by extending article 50 is in the balance amid concerns from Labour MPs in leave-voting seats, who fear it could be seen as an attempt to frustrate Britain’s departure from the EU.
It appears likely that the Labour front bench will support the amendment to the government’s Brexit deal tabled by Yvette Cooper. Cooper’s amendment has already won the backing of more than 70 cross-party MPs, among them a number of Conservatives.

EU

The French government is worried, reports Westmonster.

The penny has finally dropped with the French government as to potential consequences of a No Deal Brexit, with the French fishing industry set to take a huge hit if the UK leaves without an agreement.
As Westmonster’s Michael Heaver wrote about earlier today, the EU have now proposed ‘reciprocal’ fisheries access in the event of a No Deal Brexit. Of course they have – EU fleets land eight times more fish from UK waters than the other way round. The UK taking back control of an exclusive 200-mile zone would devastate the French fishing industry and mark an economic revolution for Britain’s long-suffering fishermen operating in coastal towns.

And the little Napoleon has been strutting his stuff, reports the Sun.

FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron launched his most vicious attack on Brexit last night – declaring that it “can’t be delivered” and had “torn society apart” in Britain.
He compared the violent ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters in France to Brexit voters as he addressed an audience near Lyon in south France.
He blasted: “Be aware of people who sell you dreams, that tell you all your anger can be solved by a referendum. I’m scared of people who manipulate you with miracle ideas.”
Mr Macron told them: “Take the British. They voted for Brexit. There were people who, in good faith, were sometimes as angry as you are, and they said that the source of all their ills was Europe. It’s rubbish.”

The Express calls it a ‘tirade’.

EMMANUEL Macron has continued his tirade against Brexit, branding Leave campaigners liars as he tried to stop a revolt against his own government.
The French President said Brexit has “torn British society apart” and “can’t be delivered” when talking to yellow vest protesters who want France to leave the European Union. Speaking to an audience in Bourg-de-Peage, south of Lyon, as part of his ‘national debate’ tour following months of unrest, he deemed Brexit “rubbish”. He said: “Take the British. They voted for Brexit. There were people who, in good faith, were sometimes as angry as you are, and they said that the source of all their ills was Europe.
“It’s rubbish.”
He said the Brexit Britons voted for would not happen.

Westmonster describes it as ‘disgusting’.

French President Emmanuel Macron has launched another disgusting attack against Brexit, telling an audience in Bourg-de-Peage: “Be aware of people who sell you dreams, that tell you all your anger can be solved by a referendum. I’m scared of people who manipulate you with miracle ideas.”
Macron, who has a disapproval rating of around 75% and has governed whilst there have been nationwide anti-government ‘Yellow Vest’ protests, said that Brexit has “torn a society apart” and “can’t be delivered”. That’s news to us given the support for a No Deal Brexit on 29th March clearly seems to be surging.

The Irish prime minister has joined the ‘Project Fear’ brigade, says Sky News.

Soldiers may be required to man the Irish border in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit, the Irish prime minister has warned.
Leo Varadkar said that at the moment the frontier between the Republic and Northern Ireland was “totally open”, but “if things go very wrong it will look like 20 years ago”.
When asked to detail what a hard border would look like, he told Bloomberg: “It would involve customs posts, it would involve people in uniform and it may involve the need, for example, for cameras, physical infrastructure, possibly a police presence or army presence to back it up.

ITV News also reports the ‘worst-case scenario’.

The Irish premier has warned that soldiers may return to the border if Brexit goes “very wrong”.
Leo Varadkar said that in a worst-case scenario there could be a return of armed customs posts after the UK leaves the EU.
Mr Varadkar told Bloomberg TV the border at present was “totally open” but that if things went “very wrong” it would “look like 20 years ago”.
Asked to describe what a hard border would look like if the outcome of Brexit was a worst-case, Mr Varadkar said: “It would involve customs posts, it would involve people in uniform and it may involve the need, for example, for cameras, physical infrastructure, possibly a police presence or army presence to back it up.”

Order-Order describes it as a farce.

The EU’s calamitous attempts to maintain even a semblance of unity on the Irish backstop have reached farcical new levels today with Leo Varadkar now threatening to put Irish troops back on the border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, despite having again dismissed the need for a hard border just three days ago. There is no way Varadkar will allow himself to become the Irish Prime Minister who put troops back on the Irish border. Momentum is starting to shift firmly against the backstop and the EU are losing the plot. This is a desperate attempt to talk tough, instead the EU just look like headless chickens.

The French ports are ready for a WTO Brexit, says Breitbart.

The head of France’s most strategic port for UK shipping has said that his region is ready for a WTO Brexit.
President of the Calais region Xavier Bertrand told Sky News on Friday, “Calais, Boulogne, Dunkirk, will be ready at the end of March. And you? Are you ready?”
“The UK is leaving the EU — that’s its choice, it’s democratic choice. Now, it’s important to remember when the UK leaves it will be outside the EU, but it won’t be alien.”

Migrants

There are still migrants pouring into the country, says the Mail.

The number of asylum claims from newly-arrived migrants has surged, leaked documents suggest.
Last year saw the highest number of asylum claims since 2015, the BBC reported, when 32,733 applications were made.
The documents say the numbers have become ‘unacceptably high, [risking] reputational damage to the Home Office and the asylum process’.
The BBC report carried footage from over the Channel showing migrants trying to get on to the back of lorries bound for the UK – without challenge by police.

Health

The NHS is trying to collect more information about us says the Times.

The NHS is to charge healthy people to map their genetic code under controversial plans to amass data on millions of Britons.
Ministers are to compete in the fast-growing market for DNA testing by offering to sequence a person’s whole genome for an estimated few hundred pounds.
The test promises to predict the risk of cancer, dementia and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s. It is offered free to seriously ill patients but the government intends to open the scheme to paying customers within a year.
Each will receive a personalised health report but will have to share their genetic data with researchers in the hope that it will improve understanding of diseases.

Universal credit

The dreaded benefit could result in claimants losing out, says the Mirror.

Hundreds of thousands of Universal Credit claimants are set to lose out on a week’s rent next year thanks to a major glitch, housing associations have warned.
Campaigners demanded action from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to close the loophole after it was branded “bizarre” and “unfair”.
The problem hits council and social housing tenants who pay rent once a week.
Many will make 53 rent payments in 2019/20 because the financial year has 53 Mondays. Yet they are due the same amount of Universal Credit as if they paid 52 weeks, because the six-in-one benefit is calculated differently.
DWP officials insisted today there are “no plans” to change the system because it would be too “complicated”.

High streets

An online tax could be introduced to help the country’s fading high streets, says the Mail.

EU rules could block moves to impose an ‘Amazon tax’ – amid mounting fears online giants are killing Britain’s high streets.
There are growing demands to introduce a new ‘online sales tax’ after it emerged Amazon paid a meagre £1.7m – despite profits hitting nearly £2billion.
The 20 per cent tax would be slapped on companies which make at least 20 per cent of its sales on the internet.

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