Brexit

The Telegraph carries a warning about the possible delay in Brexit.

Delaying Britain’s departure from the EU is an “elephant trap” that could kill off Brexit altogether, senior ministers warned on Saturday night.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, John Penrose, the Northern Ireland minister, said an attempt to remove the option of a no-deal departure on March 29 “could torpedo Brexit completely” by leading to further temporary extensions that “would become permanent”.

And in the Express, the PM has been warned against Remainers who want to keep us shackled to the bloc.

THERESA MAY has been told to hold her nerve against the “enemies” of Brexit as she enters a defining week of her leadership.
The Prime Minister is facing pressures on all sides with MPs defecting, Cabinet ministers threatening to vote to delay the departure and Brussels refusing to shift on the Irish backstop. She will be urged to take no-deal off the table this week, with the threat of a ministerial rebellion and the risk of more MPs quitting to join newly formed The Independent Group. But senior Brexiteers insist the Prime Minister must keep her cool and not throw away a key negotiating card by ruling out a no-deal exit.

Well, at least they have finally come out and admitted their objective, says Westmonster.

A group of Conservative MPs are warning the government that they are prepared to help stop a No Deal Brexit and delay the UK’s EU exit, in a move that would hugely weaken Britain’s hand in negotiations.
The so-called ‘Brexit Delivery Group’ include Simon Hart and Andrew Percy who have sent a letter to the Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith. The Telegraph have the letter which reads:
“The reputation for competence of both the party and the government depends on our ability to deliver an orderly exit, in line with the existing timescale.

‘Project Fear’

It’s all could, might and maybe from civic serpents.  The Times says:

Thousands of corpses awaiting repatriation to their homelands would pile up across the country in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to Cabinet Office projections.
Senior Whitehall officials are concerned that any disruption to the free flow of goods, planes and ships would have a knock-on effect on the ability to repatriate the bodies of non-UK nationals who die in Britain.

The Guardian claims the government is making plans.

The government is expected next week to spell out its plan to mitigate a potential £9bn food-price shock from a no-deal Brexit, as analysts predict the cost of staples such as beef, cheddar cheese and tomatoes could soar.
With just over a month until the Brexit deadline, the Department for International Trade is expected on Monday to publish a list of new import taxes, or tariffs, that will apply to 5,200 products, including food and clothing, should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal.

The Independent Group

The MPs who have split off from the two main parties have big ideas, says the Express.

BRITAIN’s new Independent Group of MPs has vowed to “run the country”, planning to completely transform UK’s political system.
Ex-Labour MP Chris Leslie has insisted the breakaway party, known as TIG, will be “creating something different” for British politics. The MPs revealed their ambitions to “ultimately be in Government”, with plans to register as a political party later this year.
MP Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston resigned from the Tory party this week, joining eight former Labour MPs led by Chuka Umunna and Mr Leslie to form The Independent Party (TIG).

And the Telegraph claims the new group is attracting financial backing.

One of Labour’s biggest private backers has donated to the new breakaway grouping of MPs, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.
Sir David Garrard, a property tycoon who gave £1.5 million to the party under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, was approached to fund The Independent Group, after abandoning Labour over Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to anti-Semitism.
He is the first major Labour funder to donate to the new grouping, to which eight of the party’s MPs defected last week, along with three Conservatives who will sit alongside them in the Commons.

So we’re in for a new kind of politics, are we Chuka?  The Mail reports:

Chuka Umunna has vowed to ‘forge a new kind of politics’ with The Independent Group – hitting out at tribalism, ‘Blukip’ and ‘disgraceful antisemitism’.
The Streatham MP, who defected from Labour to found The Independent Group, said that it was now clear ‘for all to see’ that ‘politics is broken’, warning of the dangers of tribalism and incompetence.
Writing for The Mirror, Mr Umunna said: ‘Where the established parties are out of touch and remote from people’s everyday lives, we’re a group of ordinary people who are seeking to do something which Westminster has forgotten how to do – represent modern Britain.’

But pundits are less sure, says the Independent.

Pollsters and political experts have cast doubt on the potential popularity of the Independent Group with voters, as the group of breakaway MPs considers whether it can mount a serious challenge to Britain’s established parties.
The eight defecting Labour and three defecting Conservative MPs have not formally established a political party yet, but are thought to be looking at the option, depending on support.

Conservative Party

Back with the government, BBC News reports the PM saying she will not allow Brexit to be ‘frustrated’.

The Brexit vote must not be frustrated and the government needs to maintain an “absolute” focus on delivering it, Theresa May has said.
In a speech to Tory activists the PM said, as her negotiations with the EU reach their final stages, the “worst thing we could do is lose our focus”.
It came as three pro-EU cabinet members warned they could vote to delay Brexit to prevent a “disastrous” no-deal.

And there could still be plotters within the party, says the Mail.

Amber Rudd was last night at the centre of claims that she was part of a cynical ‘plot’ to force the capitulation of Tory Brexiteers over Theresa May’s deal with Brussels.
The Work and Pensions Secretary faced fury after she joined fellow Remainer Cabinet Ministers, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Justice Secretary David Gauke, in signalling publicly that they would force a delay to Brexit to stop a ‘disastrous’ No Deal.
While some leading figures in the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) said the three Ministers should resign as they were in breach of Cabinet collective responsibility, others said they suspected it was a ruse to scare MPs into backing Theresa May’s deal.

She and her co-conspirators have threatened Mrs May, reports the Express.

A TOTAL of three Cabinet ministers have threatened to delay Brexit if Tories vote down Theresa May’s new EU deal.
Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke have signalled that they will side with backbench rebels. The Business Secretary, Work and Pensions Secretary and Justice Secretary have said they will challenge the Prime Minister’s authority in the Commons vote next week. If Parliament does not agree on a deal in the vote, the default position would be a no deal Brexit.

Westmonster also reports the plotters.

A group of senior Remainer MPs in government have told Theresa May that they are willing to block a No Deal Brexit and delay the UK’s EU exit altogether.
Ministers Amber Rudd, Greg Clark, David Gauke and David Mundell are prepared to rebel against the government in an attempt to kill off a WTO Brexit.
MPs are pushing for a delay to Brexit if a UK-EU deal isn’t passed by Parliament. An unnamed Minister has told The Telegraph that: “She knows what she needs to do.

The Sun says Mrs May’s plans have come under a ‘sledgehammer’.

THREE Cabinet rebels were accused of taking a sledgehammer to Theresa May’s hopes of a Brexit deal last night.
Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke sparked fury after vowing to force a delay to Britain’s departure.
Their threat weakens the PM’s hand as she flies to an EU summit in Egypt today in a bid to win last-ditch concessions from Brussels chiefs.
And it leaves in tatters any hope of her sealing a deal in the desert to put before MPs in a “high noon” vote on Wednesday.

The Times describes the cabinet war as ‘vicious’.

A vicious cabinet war erupted last night over a plot by senior ministers to delay Brexit, as Theresa May looked certain to shelve plans for a Commons vote on her deal this week.
Five cabinet colleagues rounded on Amber Rudd, calling for her to be sacked after she publicly threatened to defy the prime minister by voting to delay article 50. The work and pensions secretary was singled out by cabinet colleagues as the ringleader of a cross-party campaign to stop Brexit. She was accused of seeking to further her own leadership ambitions.

But the Tories could win a good majority if May went to the country, says the Mail.

The Prime Minister would storm to a 34-seat majority if a General Election was held tomorrow, according to the first authoritative opinion poll to be taken since three Conservative MPs defected to The Independent Group.
After a week of drama in which both of the main parties lost MPs to the new grouping, The Mail on Sunday poll puts the Conservatives on 39 per cent and Labour on 31 per cent.
Behind them come The Independent Group (TIG) on 11 per cent, with the Liberal Democrats on 5 per cent and Ukip on 4 per cent.

Labour Party

The Labour Party is in turmoil too, says the Telegraph.

A campaign group headed by John McDonnell has launched an attack on the MPs who left Labour last week, labelling them “lightweight serial conspirators” who were “eaten up with rancour.”
The Labour Representation Committee (LRC), of which the shadow chancellor is president, criticised Luciana Berger for having not “presented any evidence” to prove that online anti-Semitic abuse she suffered came from Labour members.

And the Momentum chief claims in the Independent that the so-called TIGgers are a threat.

Momentum founder Jon Lansman has admitted that parliament’s new Independent Group of MPs is a threat to Labour, as his organisation’s Corbyn-backing activists mobilise in a bid to force by-elections in defectors’ seats.
In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Mr Lansman said that while he believes the new group is guaranteed to fail under its own shortcomings, Momentum will seek to minimise the political cost to Mr Corbyn by accelerating its downfall.

The Labour leader is under fire in the Mail.

Jeremy Corbyn faced an open ‘shape up or ship out’ challenge from one of his own MPs over the mounting anti-Semitism and Brexit rows engulfing Labour.
Neil Coyle confronted the Labour leader and bluntly told him to consider standing aside for someone capable of resolving the crisis.
The challenge came amid angry scenes at last week’s private meeting of the party’s parliamentary committee, held in the wake of the shock defection of eight Labour MPs to a new Independent Group.

The Sun reports the party is now ‘toxic’.

JEREMY Corbyn has turned Labour “toxic” and should step down, a damning poll has found.
More than half of voters think it is time for him to make way for a stronger, more tolerant leader.
They overwhelmingly reject Mr Corbyn’s denials that his party is plagued by intimidation – and blame him directly for most of its problems.
The devastating verdict comes after a week in which nine MPs quit the party in protest over his leadership style.
Nearly half of Brits – 47 per cent – say Labour is “toxic, bullying and anti-Semitic”, according to exclusive OnePoll research for The Sun on Sunday.

EU

On the Continent, the Brexit negotiator has opined about the PM’s plans in the Express.

THERESA May is planning on using the threat of delaying Brexit to garner support for her deal, Michel Barnier has suggested.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator told ambassadors the Prime Minister would use the threat to push MPs to vote for the withdrawal agreement once attorney-general Geoffrey Cox had finished negotiating legal-binding changes to the contentious issue of the Irish backstop. The Times quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying: “Postponing Brexit is one of the levers she has. “If the withdrawal agreement is not over the line by the deadline there will be a long extension and probably a softer Brexit.”

Mrs May is going to be disappointed this weekend, says the Times.

Theresa May’s hopes of a Brexit deal in the desert evaporated even before she left this morning for Egypt, as EU diplomats dismissed talk of progress as a mirage and warned that her strategy risks failure within weeks.
Officials briefed by the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday emerged with their bleakest assessment yet of May’s plan to deliver Brexit by March 29. They now expect a deadline extension or a catastrophic no-deal departure.
There is no consensus among the 27 EU members on how long an extension to grant the UK.

Sky News also claims her journey will be fruitless.

Brussels has ruled out striking a “deal in the desert” when Theresa May heads to a summit of European and Arab leaders this weekend.
A senior EU official confirmed its Council President Donald Tusk will meet the prime minister on the fringes of an event in the luxury Egyptian resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh.
Mrs May was hoping to secure a breakthrough on the Brexit impasse during the 5,000-mile round trip this Sunday.
But the EU official ruled out any “deal in the desert”, because it is an EU-League of Arab States summit, not all the EU member states will be there.

Meanwhile, campaigning for the Euro elections has started, reports Fox News.

Across the European Union, a three-month campaign has begun ahead of May’s election for the European Parliament, a massive exercise in democracy that spans 27 nations and close to half a billion people.
This year could be a tipping point in post-war European politics. Some traditional political powerhouses might start to crumble and extremist, populist parties might gain more clout to throw a wrench into the EU’s political machinery.
The next parliament will have 705 seats, since Britain is due to leave the bloc in March and won’t be taking part in the May 23-26 vote.

Second referendum

Money is being donated for a second referendum, claims the Independent.

The new march for a People’s Vote has already attracted more than £250,000 in donations, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to attend next month.
In just six days since the march was announced, with support from the Independent’s Final Say campaign, organisers said they had been overwhelmed by the response.
One group of activists from the West of England has even paid for an entire train – which has been branded “The People’s Vote Express” – to bring people to the march in London.

And the LibDems are still working towards another vote, adds the Independent.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has said his party will next week make a fresh drive to give MPs the chance to back a second Brexit referendum.
Sir Vince asked members of the new Independent Group for support as he sought backing for a motion aiming to lock a new public vote into law.
As it stands it is unclear whether any other group will try to bring forward or support a bid for a fresh referendum this Wednesday.

Foreign aid

There are still queries over allocation of foreign aid, says the Guardian.

Charities have sounded the alarm over the way ministers are spending the multibillion-pound aid budget, saying some is being diverted from the poorest countries to promote commercial and political interests.
In a letter to the chancellor, Philip Hammond, which has been leaked to the Observer, 23 agencies warn that some aid is no longer being used “effectively and efficiently” and that taxpayers “are not getting maximum value for money”.

Education

FGM is to be put on the education syllabus, say the Telegraph.

All pupils in England are to be taught about female genital mutilation under Government plans to introduce compulsory sex education classes.
Children in secondary school will learn about the physical and emotional damage caused by the practise, as well as other kinds of honour-based violence such as forced marriage.
The topics will be covered as part of relationship and sex education (RSE) lessons, which will become a statutory requirement for all schools to teach from September 2020.

The Mail claims pupils will be taught the ‘horrors’ of FGM.

Every secondary school in England will have to offer lessons on the horrors of female genital mutilation in a bid to stamp out the brutal practice.
Children will be taught about the ‘physical and emotional harm’ caused by FGM as part of new relationship and sex education classes to begin in September 2020.
They will be told that the practice is illegal and will be given information about the support available.

And pupils will also be taught about gay and trans people, reports the Times.

Compulsory lessons to teach children from the age of five about gay and trans relationships will be outlined in guidance to head teachers to be published tomorrow.
The controversial new statutory guidance will also spell out for the first time the end of parents’ right to opt their children out of sex and relationships education classes in secondary school. The change will guarantee all children receive at least a term of lessons by the time they are 16.

Church of England

Gypsies could be housed next to churches, reports the Telegraph.

The Church of England should make land available for gypsies and travellers, the General Synod has voted, despite concerns that they bring “a lot of upset and fear”.
Members overwhelmingly supported a motion calling on the Church to donate land from its notoriously large portfolio to the traveller community, just five months after Government ministers revealed they were considering making trespass a criminal offence to stop them moving onto private land.

And the church will turn its attention to discrimination against travellers, says the Mail.

The Church of England is to give more support to tackling racism and discrimination directed towards the travelling community, with a bishop declaring it is ‘still tolerated’.
The church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted in favour of a motion on Saturday to speak out publicly against racism and hate crimes directed against Gypsies, Irish Travellers and Roma.

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