Today’s political headlines include the stalled attempt to topple May, DUP abandoning the Government in Budget votes, Hunt condemns rebels and May’s secret plan to abandon the backstop.
Attempt to topple May stalls
The Daily Telegraph says that Conservative Brexiteers have admitted their attempt to remove Theresa May as leader has ‘stalled’ and that ‘bitter in-fighting’ has broken out among them, with it now appearing unlikely that enough support will be received for a confidence vote in the Prime Minister before her Brexit deal is voted on next month. The paper adds that the ‘gang of five’ Brexiteer cabinet ministers has also broken up, after they were unable to reach a united position.
DUP abandons Government in Budget votes
The Times says that the Government was abandoned by the DUP in votes on the Finance Bill last night, which the paper claims has ‘all but killed off’ the deal between the two. The DUP abstained on three votes and voted with Labour on a further one. The DUP has claimed that the deal between the two parties is not dead, although party sources linked the decision to its displeasure with May’s Brexit deal, and the Government has not commented.
Rebels risk causing ‘the most appalling chaos’, Hunt says
The Guardian says that Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned that if rebels succeed in toppling Theresa May, they risk causing ‘the most appalling chaos’. He said that the Prime Minister had an ‘incredibly challenging’ job and was ‘by far the best-placed person’ to carry out. He said that he was in talks with European counterparts to ‘clarify both sides’ intentions’ in the political declaration on the future UK-EU relationship.
May’s ‘secret plan’ to abandon the backstop
The Sun claims that Theresa May has a ‘secret plan’ to abandon the Irish backstop through a clause in the Withdrawal Agreement which says that ‘alternative arrangements’ can be agreed to keep the border open, such as the use of new technology. A delegation of Brexiteers including Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson, Lord Lilley and Lord Trimble discussed the plan with the Prime Minister yesterday.
Spain demands veto over Gibraltar
The Guardian reports that Spain will reject the Brexit deal unless it is given a special veto to prevent any future UK-EU trade agreement from covering Gibraltar. Spain’s Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell, said that future negotiations on Gibraltar must be ‘separate’ from those between the UK and the EU.
Rudd condemns UN poverty report
According to The Guardian, Amber Rudd, who was appearing in the Commons as Work and Pensions Secretary for the first time, has condemned a UN inquiry into poverty in the UK because of the ‘extraordinary political nature’ of its language, which she described as ‘wholly inappropriate’. The Times adds that Rudd used her debut to indicate that she would need more funding to fix problems with Universal Credit.
Hunt seeks to repay Iran £400m to free prisoner
The Times reports that Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is trying to get approval to repay £400m owed to Iran for four decades in a bid to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, currently imprisoned in Iran. A previous attempt to do so by his predecessor Boris Johnson was blocked by Downing Street to avoid breaching sanctions or being seen to pay for a hostage’s release.
Labour to scrap civil servant degree requirement
The Financial Times reports that Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner is to announce that the party would remove the requirement for civil servants to have higher academic qualifications unless they are genuinely relevant to the role in order to tackle ‘snobbery’ and establish a ‘genuine parity of esteem’.
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