Tony Blair accuses Labour and Tories of being ‘leaderless’

Ex-PM also says there is time to find way out of Brexit crisis, at meeting with EU ambassadors

Tony Blair has told European ambassadors that the UK does not have a leader either in the Labour party or the Conservative party, but insisted that parliament could still meet the 12 April deadline for a new proposal on Brexit.

Speaking to the ambassadors for the third time in recent months over breakfast on Friday, Blair said he believed but was not certain that Theresa May would be defeated next week if she put her proposal to a third meaningful vote. He said the key development would be whether parliament can come to an agreement on what form of Brexit it favours in next week’s planned indicative votes.

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Secret Cabinet Office document reveals chaotic planning for no-deal Brexit

Exclusive: paper says ‘critical phase’ could last months as fears rise over disruption to transport and food supplies

The extent and range of the impact of a no-deal Brexit is revealed in a confidential Cabinet Office document that warns of a “critical three-month phase” after leaving the EU during which the whole planning operation could be overwhelmed.

The classified document, seen by the Guardian, sets out the command and control structures in Whitehall for coping with a no-deal departure and says government departments will have to firefight most problems for themselves – or risk a collapse of “Operation Yellowhammer”.

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Tories cling on to tax exiles’ right to vote for life despite bill delay

Anti-corruption campaigners denounce overseas electors bill as ‘representation without taxation’

The government has said it remains committed to passing a law that could allow tax exiles the right to vote and donate to political parties for life, after it failed to pass through the House of Commons.

MPs, including the serial filibusterer Philip Davies, tabled dozens of amendments to the overseas electors bill for debate on Friday, resulting in it being dropped after parliamentary time to discuss it ran out.

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Libby Squire death potential homicide, police say, as Hull boosts student support

University puts extra safety measures in place as campus reels from news of student’s death

Students and staff at Hull University have been devastated by the death of Libby Squire, according to the vice-chancellor and the president of the student union, as police said they were treating her death as a potential homicide.

The university has put in place extra measures to support students and keep them safe following the news, including organising students to walk in groups or with security staff if they want to.

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YouTuber accused of triggering rape threats could stand for Ukip

Carl Benjamin lined up for potential EU elections, despite ‘rape’ tweet sent to Labour MP

Ukip is expected to choose a controversial YouTube activist, who has been accused of triggering rape threats against a Labour MP, as a candidate if Britain takes part in the European elections, it has emerged.

A party selection process this weekend is likely to confirm the candidacy of Carl Benjamin, a self-styled free speech activist who has been banned from Twitter and some other platforms because of his views, Ukip sources said.

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For Theresa May, ‘I’m a tin-eared lunatic’ seems to be the hardest word | Marina Hyde

Shame the soon to be outgoing prime minister couldn’t apologise when she realised she needed the MPs she’d insulted

Arriving at the EU summit this week, Theresa May had that purposeful air of a school superintendent walking up the drive to the Addams family mansion, determined that Wednesday and Pugsley should be enrolled in a conventional educational establishment without delay. Some long hours later, May staggered back down the drive much as that school superintendent might, short of having no shoes and an actual bat in her electrocuted hair.

And so to the latest scenes in the Brexit farce. The formula for successful farce-writing, as laid down in the 19th century, is to get your character up a tree in the first act, throw stones at them in the second, then get them down in the third. As far as Brexit goes, the UK went up the tree voluntarily, and has now been throwing human waste at itself for two and a half years. Does anyone want to come and get us down? Sorry, it’s quite … disgusting up here now.

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UK asylum system compounds trauma of torture victims | Letter

Vulnerable people are being wrongly detained and without adequate safeguards, says Sonya Sceats, chief executive of Freedom from Torture. Judith Daniels argues that the Home Office needs an urgent overhaul

The significance of the home affairs committee report on immigration detention should not be underestimated (MPs scathing over ‘cavalier’ treatment of migrant detainees, 21 March). For years, Freedom from Torture has been highlighting how vulnerable people are being wrongly detained, for no good reason, and without adequate safeguards. In addition, our research shows that even where detainees are identified as being “vulnerable and at risk”, only 6% are released.

We see the devastating impact of detention on torture survivors – how it compounds trauma and can severely hamper recovery. The report highlights that inhumane treatment and poor decision-making – a hallmark of the hostile environment – continues to operate at all levels of the asylum system.

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‘Unbelievably dull’ parenting and school runs | Letters

Val Spouge disagrees with Fiona Sturges that looking after children is all-consuming and boring. Kate Dillon advocates walking to school

Fiona Sturges says “for most of us, looking after children … is unbelievably dull” (Talking about the pram in the hallway, Journal, 21 March). Speak for yourself. I was rearing my two children in the 1960s when it was still regarded as the wife’s job. I stayed at home until they reached school age.

Watching children grow and helping them to develop their skills is fascinating. There are so many things to do! Playing with water, making collage, going to the library and choosing books, going on walks to look at hedgerows and find out which plants are edible and which are poisonous, keeping pets, and just playing – even inventing new games.

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Think no-deal Brexit has been taken off the table? Think again | Jonathan Freedland

Theresa May now appears to believe that crashing out might be acceptable. MPs have to work together to stop her

The cliff-edge has moved a tiny bit further away, but it’s still there. Britain will not crash out of the European Union next Friday, thanks to a last act of clemency by the 27 nations we’re about to leave behind. But crashing out remains a possibility, even a likelihood. It might not be a deliberate choice made by the people of these islands, but rather an accident – the product of a series of decisions that were taken and, more often, not taken. Just as the imperial powers stumbled into a war no one wanted in 1914, so the risk remains that we will not jump off the cliff that looms ahead of us, but stumble over it.

Related: The EU knows it, so do our own MPs – Theresa May is finished | Rafael Behr

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May tells Johnson: I won’t step aside to solve Brexit crisis

Prime minister makes clear in private meeting with potential successor she plans to stay put

Theresa May told Boris Johnson that she had no intention of stepping aside to help resolve the Brexit impasse, in a high stakes meeting with the man seen as the favourite to replace her earlier this week.

In the meeting, the former foreign secretary, who remains opposed to May’s Brexit deal, demanded to know how the prime minister would change approach, which was interpreted as a coded message that he believed she should quit.

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