Corbyn and May fail to land punches in PMQs bar brawl | John Crace

Labour leader and PM resembled two drunks fighting outside pub over who cared most about the NHS

Same as it ever was. After two weeks in which he had cruised to easy victories at prime minister’s questions simply by standing up and asking: “How’s Brexit going?” – something to which Theresa May has no convincing answer – Jeremy Corbyn instead went back to plan A.

Related: PMQs verdict: Jeremy Corbyn fails to press home advantages on NHS

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Brexiters’ customs model ‘could cost £20bn for UK business’

‘Max-fac’ option could result in huge annual hit for firms, according to head of HMRC

The post-Brexit customs model favoured by Boris Johnson, David Davis and other leading cabinet Brexiters could cost business as much as £20bn a year, the head of HMRC has said.

Jon Thompson told the Treasury select committee that the “max-fac” model, which relies on technology and trusted trader schemes to minimise border checks, would be substantially more expensive than the alternative.

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Want a second Brexit referendum? Then stop talking about it | Michael Segalov

Demanding a second vote is futile without altering the attitudes that underpinned the result

The votes in the 2016 EU referendum had not been cast, let alone counted, when some were already calling for the public to take to the polls for a second time. The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, penned a column in the Telegraph to this effect just days after Brexit got the go-ahead. Labour’s David Lammy was less pragmatic: “We need a second referendum at the very least,” he proudly declared, encouraging the British electorate to sign a petition that went on to receive more than 4m signatures. On Tuesday Tony Blair continued to echo this sentiment.

At first it was understandable, given that the leave campaign was characterised by foul play and a xenophobic undercurrent, and evidence suggested leaving the EU would be a disaster for Britain. But in the two years that have followed, many of those once wedded to the idea of remaining have taken time to reflect on how the vote came to pass. A vocal minority have failed to do so, preferring to repeatedly hound the Labour leadership for not demanding another referendum before the terms of Brexit materialise, and despite the British public, including many Labour voters, backing leave.

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UK might have to pay £39bn Brexit bill before trade deal agreed

Suella Braverman’s comments cast doubt on government’s insistence that paying withdrawal bill is linked to agreeing a future trade deal

A Brexit minister has admitted there is no legally enforceable link between Britain’s £39bn divorce bill to the European Union and future trade under current plans.

Suella Braverman, who was previously chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of MPs, suggested that paying the withdrawal bill and any trade deal could only be enforced by a “duty of good faith”.

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The Irish border problem – Brexit Means … podcast

Are we anywhere near a solution to Brexit’s most concrete problem?

Acast, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Audioboom. Join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter and email us at

A survey this week showed that Northern Ireland - which voted 56% to remain and 44% to leave in the 2016 referendum - would now vote 69%-31% in favour of staying, with substantial support for staying in the customs union and single market. The study also showed “intense opposition” to north-south and east-west checks, plus “significant” support for illegal or extreme protests against any border controls.

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Labour suspends activist challenging gender self-identification policy

David Lewis stood for women’s officer role claiming that he was ‘a woman on Wednesdays’

Labour has suspended an activist who attempted to stand as women’s officer while claiming he identified as a woman “on Wednesdays”, as the party’s ruling body reaffirmed transgender women were eligible to stand on all-women shortlists.

Party sources said David Lewis, who was a candidate to be Basingstoke Labour party’s women’s officer, had been suspended pending an investigation.

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The NHS is suffering from repetitive change injury | André Spicer

It affects Swedish trains and US business. Now the poor British health system is catching another dose of reform mania

During the past few decades, people working in the NHS have noticed the rise of a puzzling yet dangerous new syndrome. It cannot be found in any medical textbook, but the symptoms are more obvious each year. They include delusional behaviour, stress, memory loss, anxiety. Unlike most syndromes in the NHS, this doesn’t infect individual patients. It contaminates entire organisations. The experts call it: repetitive change syndrome.

It was first noticed by two professors working on different sides of the Atlantic. In Sweden, Nils Brunsson, of Uppsala University, had spent decades trying to understand how public sector organisations worked. He and his team spent years following the fate of reform programmes in city councils and railways and standard-setting bodies. They noticed a puzzling pattern: the media would point out some serious failings in a government service; politicians would cry out that something must be done; civil servants and consultants would come up with a plan, announced with great fanfare; the plan would be passed on to managers; and the politicians and consultants would make hay.

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Brexit ministers give evidence to MPs on EU withdrawal talks – Politics live

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs

John Whittingdale, a Conservative, goes next.

Q: The EU says ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. Does that apply to the future relationship? What conditions might be contained in the withdrawal agreement?

Hilary Benn goes next.

Q: How is it satisfactory that, nearly two years after the referendum, the cabinet is still trying to work out what customs arrangements it wants?

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Michael Gove attacks Philip Hammond over Brexit legislation defeats

Environment secretary’s letter to fellow ministers blames Treasury for Lords defeat in fresh cabinet division

Fresh cabinet tensions over Brexit came to the fore on Tuesday as it emerged on Tuesday that the environment secretary, Michael Gove, had launched a stinging attack on the chancellor, Philip Hammond, in a letter to fellow ministers.

Gove, a senior Brexiter who has been seeking to rebuild his political career after failing to secure the Tory leadership in 2016, blamed Hammond for the government’s Lords defeat over its flagship Brexit legislation, the Guardian understands. He accused the Treasury of a “short-sightedness” that led to the “avoidable” defeat over the European Union (withdrawal) bill.

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UK threatens to name and shame state backers of cyber-attacks

Attorney general says internet cannot be allowed to descend into a ‘lawless world’

Britain will name and shame foreign states that hire hackers to carry out cyber-attacks or interfere via the internet in national elections, the attorney general is to warn.

In a speech referring to Russian and North Korean “campaigns of intrusion”, Jeremy Wright QC will call for international sanctions to be applied against countries that exploit cyberspace for illegal purposes.

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Get into Trump’s mind? Gavin Williamson can’t even get into his own mind | John Crace

The defence select committee gave up trying to probe Williamson on Britain’s role in Nato after his series of banalities

There are some politicians to whom there is a great deal more than first meets the eye. And then there are others to whom there is a great deal less. Not so much Russian dolls as fragile shells of low self-worth and giant egos. People very much like Gavin Williamson.

“I have a lot of sleepless nights,” Williamson admitted half-way through a hearing of the defence select committee on Britain’s role in Nato. But not nearly so many sleepless nights as the rest of the country has in knowing that he is our defence secretary. The idea that the safety of the country has been entrusted to someone so clearly unqualified for the job is a terrifying prospect.

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