Newslinks for Sunday 24th March 2019

The coup: Cabinet Ministers set to tell May it’s over

‘Theresa May was at the mercy of a full-blown cabinet coup last night as senior ministers moved to oust the prime minister and replace her with her deputy, David Lidington. In a frantic series of private telephone calls, senior ministers agreed the prime minister must announce she is standing down, warning that she has become a toxic and “erratic” figure whose judgment has “gone haywire”…The plotters plan to confront May at a cabinet meeting tomorrow and demand that she announces she is quitting. If she refuses, they will threaten mass resignations or publicly demand her head. Last night, the conspirators were locked in talks to try to reach a consensus deal on a new prime minister so there does not have to be a protracted leadership contest…One cabinet minister said: “The end is nigh. She won’t be prime minister in 10 days’ time.” A second said: “Her judgment has started to go haywire. You can’t be a member of the cabinet who just puts your head in the sand.”’ – Sunday Times

  • How she lost Leavers, Remainers, the Whips, the ’22 and even Number 10 staff – Sunday Times
  • And association chairmen – Sunday Telegraph
  • EU leaders no longer have any faith in her either – Sunday Times
  • Whip accuses the Prime Minister of betraying Brexit and destroying her Party – Mail on Sunday
  • Johnson pressed her to pledge not to lead the Party into an election, but she would only repeat her 2022 promise – Mail on Sunday
  • Downing Street eyes a third vote later this week – Mail on Sunday
  • The Shadow Cabinet is set to clash in debate between second referendum and ultra-soft Brexit – The Observer
  • Grieve faces confidence vote – The Sun on Sunday

Opinion and Editorial

>Today: ToryDiary: Coronation (headless) chicken

Contender 1) Lidington

‘Pro-Remain Cabinet Ministers, led by Mr Hammond and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, have been backing Cabinet Office Minister Mr Lidington to take over as temporary Prime Minister… On Friday evening, David Lidington, the pro-EU Cabinet Office boss and de facto deputy PM, was said to be in the ‘advanced stages’ of a plot to force Mrs May from office and herald a long Brexit extension as an interim leader who could build a cross-party Brexit deal…Cabinet sources have told The Mail on Sunday that Mr Lidington was initially ‘reluctant’ to step into the role of ‘caretaker’ but was told it would be a ‘four-month job with a three-pronged mandate: to negotiate a long extension, to oversee testing of what Parliament wants and to ensure a fair Tory leadership contest.’ A source said: ‘David is 60. It would be his last job in politics and what a way to go out. The key players are on board. It’s just a matter of when.’’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Ministerial critics warn he would deliver a soft Brexit – The Observer
  • His allies argue Brexiteers dislike that he knows the topic “inside out” – Mail on Sunday
  • “It has to be her deal or no deal”, Cabinet minister says – Mail on Sunday
  • Who is David Lidington? – Sunday Times

Contender 2) Gove

‘Those close to Gove have for months been mapping out a formal leadership bid and discussing policy ideas for his premiership, but he has kept this activity under wraps as he sought to rebuild a reputation for loyalty. The 51-year-old is the cabinet’s most senior Brexiteer and restored his status as a favourite to succeed May with a passionate 10-minute defence of her after Labour’s vote of no confidence in January. Mel Stride, a Treasury minister, has hosted dinners at his home in recent weeks during which he has made the case for Gove, gathering a cadre of supporters from different wings of the party should he decide to run…In a leadership contest he would seek to appeal to MPs who want a combative leader with a proven history of delivering complex and eye-catching policies. He would hope to win the votes of moderate Eurosceptics who appreciate his efforts to seek a pragmatic Brexit and senior figures on the Tory left such as Amber Rudd.’ – Sunday Times

Contender 3) Hunt

‘Mr Hunt is believed to be backed by among others, Brexiteer Daniel Kawczynski and former chief whip Andrew Mitchell. Another Tory MP said: “He needs to get support across the board – he has got to be the healing hands that bring the wounded factions of the party – and the country – back together. And that’s no mean task.” The number of Tories being touted as possible leaders has grown as pressure increase on Mrs May. Former education minister Robert Halfon said: “It seems everyone including the owner of my cornershop is going to run. We’re going to be like the Ben-Hur movie – it will be a cast of thousands.”‘ – Sunday Express

  • Or could Nicky Morgan take over? – Sunday Express
  • The paralysis of Government is expected to harm Tory election prospects – Sunday Telegraph
  • Royal College ‘considerably reassured’ about medicine supplies – Sunday Telegraph

Stuart: Leavers should hold their noses and back the deal

‘Many of us find ourselves brought to a position we would not and did not choose. The draft withdrawal agreement has many problems. It is the result of negotiations that were badly conceived and poorly led. The concessions secured at Strasbourg have improved the deal but it is a long way from ideal and a huge compromise on what many leave supporters will feel they were promised. ..It is not the deal we want but it is the only deal we have. This outcome was not inevitable, and the Tories must be held accountable for that by voters, many of whom will be feeling a deep sense of anger that we have been brought to this. But right now we have to make a decision. If I were still a Labour MP today, with the conditions set out above, I would hold my nose and vote for the withdrawal agreement.’ – Gisela Stuart, Sunday Times

>Today: Andrew Smith on Comment: Whatever indicative votes produce, let it not be Norway Plus

The Speaker is accused of using his position to promote ‘Brand Bercow’ before departing

‘One said: ‘MPs are saying openly that he’ll be gone within three months. The more outlandish his behaviour gets, the nearer he’s getting to the exit.’ And last night, Tory MP David Morris said: ‘The Speaker is shamelessly using the Brexit crisis as a launch-pad for his future “Brand Bercow” career as a celebrity speaker and after-dinner entertainer. His attention-grabbing antics, culminating in his decision to block the Prime Minister from having a third vote on her deal, are all proof of that. What our divided House of Commons desperately needs is a scrupulously impartial chairman. Instead, we have a partisan, openly Remain-supporting Speaker who wants to go out in a blaze of glory by doing his best to thwart the referendum. It is an absolute disgrace.’’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Mandarins and peers plot a public inquiry, and draw up lists of those they hope to blame – Sunday Times

ISIS loses the last of its territory

‘ISIS has lost its final stronghold in Syria according to the US-backed forces in a desperate stand which saw women deployed, but its leader remains elusive. Syrian Democratic Forces declared a ‘total elimination’ of the jihadist group on Saturday morning after flushing out suicidal jihadists from the holdout in Baghouz, eastern Syria. The terrorist group’s bloody last stand saw male and female fanatics hiding in caves as US-backed forces rained down an overnight barrage on Thursday. The world’s most wanted man Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared himself the tyrant of the regime in 2014, was apparently not among their number.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • The danger has not passed – The Sun on Sunday
  • Evidence emerges of their plan for sleeper cells in the Middle East and Europe – Sunday Times
  • Female ISIS members riot in their internment camp – Sunday Times
  • 3,000 British children go to ‘extremist’ madrassas in Pakistan – Mail on Sunday
  • Police and security services expect a new wave of far-right terrorism in the UK – Sunday Times
  • Twitter and YouTube under fire for hosting promotion of neo-Nazi radio outlet – Sunday Times

Headteacher calls for Hinds’ support in the face of protests against same-sex relationship education

‘Hewitt-Clarkson said Damian Hinds, the education secretary, must support head teachers caught up in protests over new government guidance that makes relationships education compulsory in primary schools and make it clear that the schools are obeying the law, including the 2010 Equality Act, when they teach children about the existence of same-sex families. She said parents with children at Anderton Park were last week called names such as “bitch” and told they were “not a proper Muslim” by campaigners. Some were told they would “burn in hell” if they refused to sign a petition against the teaching. She said one campaigner had described himself as a general, with an army, who was ready to fight. “The situation is awful,” said Hewitt-Clarkson. “It’s an attempt to exert power and control over schools and British law.’ – Sunday Times

McDonnell warns Treasury officials of his emergency budget plans

‘The letter, obtained by The Sunday Times, details plans by the shadow chancellor to shake up the way the Treasury runs the economy and ensure it focuses on delivering Labour’s main policies, including nationalisation in the energy industry and other businesses. In what amounts to the most radical shake-up of a key department for a generation, McDonnell outlined plans to: Demand that the Treasury “widen the range of economic theories and approaches in which its officials and those in the rest of government are trained”, a move likely to pave the way to rewrite economic models to include more left-wing economic theories. Bring back public service agreements — created by Gordon Brown and scrapped by George Osborne — between the Treasury and other departments. The move will be billed as a means of safeguarding taxpayers’ money but would also hand McDonnell widespread control of public spending across Whitehall. Make Treasury officials consult members of the public and trade unions in “listening exercises” around the country.’ – Sunday Times

Pension tax bombshell threatens to drive senior NHS staff to retire early

‘Two hundred thousand oblivious savers are too late to avoid pension tax bills of up to 55pc, and at least a million more are sleepwalking into the same problem. Telegraph Money has previously reported that front-line health, police, fire service and Armed Forces personnel are for the first time being penalised by lifetime limits on pension savings after successive governments cut the allowance from £1.8m to £1.03m. Researchers have now calculated the number of savers affected. More than a million face losing hundreds of thousands of pounds from their savings when they retire. Healthcare unions expect an exodus of senior staff from hospital wards and a decline in patient care if the Treasury fails to intervene. Analysis by Royal London, a pension firm, found that salaries of £60,000 to £90,000 a year could trigger rules that previously hit only the highest earners.’ – Sunday Telegraph

  • Bankers pursued over bonuses paid as tax-free loans – Sunday Times

The construction industry is enjoying a jobs boom

‘Builders, brickies and carpenters are relishing a work bonanza – with 175 new jobs created every day. New figures reveal the construction industry are among the biggest winners as Britain enjoys an employment boom. Hotel, restaurant, shop and IT workers also top the list of job generators. An average of 1,000 people move into work each day as the employment rate hits the highest level since World War Two. Staggering numbers of women and under-16s are joining the world of work as the jobs market defies Brexit chaos.’ – The Sun on Sunday

  • Grayling’s team tried to ‘smom’ runway noise warning – Sunday Times
  • Scrap HS2, Treasury official who signed off its funding says – Sunday Telegraph

MPs’ expenses claims are higher than at the time of the scandal

‘MPs are claiming 22% more in taxpayer-funded expenses than they did a decade ago when the scandal was first exposed. A Sunday Times investigation reveals that the total claimed by MPs has risen by more than a fifth to £116m since details first emerged about parliament’s corrupt expenses regime. That 2009 crisis led to a collapse of public faith in politicians, which some critics argue was a catalyst for Brexit. One of the claimants is Britain’s richest MP. Richard Benyon, the Conservative member for Newbury, should be able to afford to spend a few pennies, but he has come under the spotlight after he submitted parliamentary expenses for a £6.80 lavatory seat from Wilko in August 2017 — only to buy another one a month later for £10.87. Defending his modest claim, Benyon stressed that the items were for his Newbury office. “I don’t claim for any housing expenses or many other costs that I could entirely legitimately claim for,” the MP said. “I hope you will make that clear. I’m sure your readers don’t expect to pay for their office loo seats . . .” The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is also a claimant. He spent £180 in March last year on artwork for a “Jeremy Corbyn MP calendar”.’ – Sunday Times

America awaits its first sight of the Mueller report with baited breath

‘America waited with bated breath on Saturday for the next stage in the Trump-Russia drama: the communication to Congress of the “principal conclusions” of special counsel Robert Mueller. By the early afternoon, it was clear they would have to wait a while longer. Multiple news outlets cited justice department officials saying Attorney General William Barr would most likely enlighten Congress on Sunday. Donald Trump did not offer comment. He was said to be feeling “good”, after playing golf at his course in Florida. If and when Mueller’s conclusions do become public, they will feed into a frenzy of Republican claims of vindication and Democratic attempts to hold the president to account. The special counsel was appointed in May 2017, in the aftermath of the firing of FBI director James Comey. He investigated Russian election interference, links between the Trump campaign and Moscow and potential obstruction of justice by the president. Having indicted three entities and 34 individuals including close advisers to Trump – among them campaign manager Paul Manafort and lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, both sentenced to jail – Mueller handed in his report late on Friday afternoon.’ – The Observer

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