Tories scrabble for new Brexit vision in place of May’s ‘doomed’ plan

Chancellor argues no-deal Brexit would betray leave vote, as chances of PM’s bill fade

The expected demise of Theresa May’s Brexit plan has sparked open lobbying over an alternative Tory vision, with the chancellor, Philip Hammond, arguing that proponents of a no-deal Brexit are betraying the referendum result.

The cabinet will on Tuesday discuss the final details of what Downing Street call a “new and improved deal” to be presented to the Commons, expected to include reassurances on areas including the Irish backstop, workers’ rights and environmental protections.

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Ryanair loses altitude but O’Leary retains his cheek | Nils Pratley

Last year’s 13% profit margin was pedestrian by Ryanair’s standards

It was cheeky of Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary to declare that full-year profits of €1.02bn (£0.9bn), down 29%, were “as previously guided”. He updates his guidance every few months so that, by the time of the big reveal, it’s hard to miss. The past year still included two profits warnings, let’s not forget.

Related: Ryanair profits slide due to lower fares and Brexit uncertainty

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Boris Johnson in No 10 will be a fitting finale to this dark decade | Polly Toynbee

He’s likely to be prime minister by autumn. To defeat him at the polls, Labour must unambiguously back remain

Armageddon awaits. Boris Johnson is heading for No 10 and there is nothing dishonest, disreputable or even scandalous enough that he can do to stop his party choosing him now. They know of his lies, laziness and narcissism, but they don’t care. After a crushing humiliation at the polls in Thursday’s EU election, where the Tory vote may fall to single figures, this drowning party will clutch for the straw-headed showman to save them from triumphant Faragists. Well, Prime Minister Johnson would provide a fitting finale to this ever-darkening decade.

A measure of the demented state of the Conservatives is the number of hats in the ring for this most poisonously impossible job. Who would want to lead a paralysed government with no majority and a party that is a nest of vipers? Anyone applying should be disqualified on grounds of diminished responsibility.

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‘Politics isn’t going to wait for you’: has Change UK missed its moment?

Fighting an election sooner than intended, it is struggling in the polls – but Chuka Umunna insists the new party is on the up

When Chuka Umunna and his six Labour colleagues dramatically resigned from their party in early February, Umunna said he intended to move quickly and form a new party by the end of the year. But like so many ideas that have been formed around the Brexit process, that plan had to change even faster than intended.

When Theresa May conceded that an extension to the Brexit process would require British participation in European elections, Umunna and his fellow MPs found themselves needing to set up a new party, Change UK, in just two days.

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‘Blue Collar Conservatism’: Esther McVey launches Tory leadership bid

‘It has to be somebody who believes’ in Brexit, says former work and pensions secretary

Esther McVey has launched a campaign to reconnect the Conservatives with working-class voters by promising to slash the overseas aid budget and use the money saved on schools and police.

At an event also widely seen as the unofficial start of McVey’s personal push to replace Theresa May, the former work and pensions secretary said delivering Brexit alone would not be sufficient to arrest the party’s current slide.

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Brexit has torn Britain in half. Only Labour can bridge that divide | Lisa Nandy

Those who argue the party must back remain for the European elections are wrong. We cannot abandon leave voters now

The European elections have polarised the Brexit debate into two camps: those who want to remain and discard the verdict of the 2016 referendum, and those who want a “clean” or “no-deal” Brexit. Labour is urged to pick a side in this ongoing tug-of-war. That is a dead end for the party and for a very divided country.

The pollster Peter Kellner argues that Labour must come out unambiguously for remain. His reasoning is that two-thirds of 2017 Labour voters backed remain in 2016, that a greater proportion of Tory leave voters are now backing Nigel Farage’s Brexit party, and that there is a migration of Labour remain voters to the Liberal Democrats.

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London is still the UK’s golden goose – and that needs to change | Jack Brown

Remove London from the UK’s economy and the nation would fold. Decentralisation would benefit everyone

London could be justified in feeling a little unappreciated right now. Britons outside the capital think of its residents as “arrogant” and “insular”, an investigation by the Centre for London has found; London itself is seen as expensive and crowded. Pride in the capital decreases with distance from it, and appears to be declining over time. And while over three-quarters of Brits agree that London contributes to the national economy, just 16% feel it contributes to the economy where they live.

There is a long-held and persistent sense that London is too dominant in national life. Some also perceive its success as coming at the expense of the rest of the country – an idea that has re-emerged periodically throughout history, most famously in the 1820s when parliamentarian William Cobbett described the capital as a “Great Wen”, a gigantic cyst draining the life out of the rest of the nation.

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MPs have a duty to pass Theresa May’s Brexit deal, says Hancock

Minister insists withdrawal agreement bill is only way to deliver on referendum result

MPs have “a duty” to pass Theresa May’s Brexit deal in the House of Commons and ensure the UK leaves the EU, the health secretary has said, as the prime minister and her team prepared for a final push to persuade MPs to back it.

In a round of broadcast interviews on Monday morning, Matt Hancock insisted the long-awaited withdrawal agreement bill (Wab) was both a new measure and the only way to deliver on the referendum result.

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Unions lobby investors to press Amazon over UK working conditions

GMB tells shareholders that warehouse workers endure targets that cause suffering

Trade unions are lobbying City investors to put pressure on Amazon to improve conditions for its workers in the UK.

At a meeting at the TUC’s head office this month the GMB union made presentations, including one from an Amazon employee, to a dozen leading fund managers and pension funds that own stakes in Amazon including Legal & General, Baillie Gifford and Aberdeen Standard.

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The Tories have forgotten their pro-EU voters. And they’ll pay for it | John Harris

In my home town, I’ve see how middle-class angst over Brexit is creating an existential threat to the party which could once count on their votes

In a seemingly endless season of Tory nightmares, this week looks set to mark the most dreadful phase so far. The Conservatives are about to endure a set of elections that they never thought they would face. Only four years ago, the party won a general election; now, there is talk of them finishing fifth, or even sixth. With every Tory moan of pain, Nigel Farage’s nicotine grin grows ever larger. And out in the country, there is an overlooked Conservative crisis: one bound up not with the part of the population that voted for Brexit, but with the liberal, pro-remain swathe of the country without whom the future of Conservatism looks bleak indeed.

I come from somewhere still understood as one of the most Tory places there is. Wilmslow, in Cheshire, has a population of 25,000 and is a dormitory town on the southern edge of the sprawl around Manchester. Part of the Tatton constituency, it was once represented by George Osborne, and these days is the adopted home of the zealous Brexiteer Esther McVey. Though slightly more mixed class-wise than its reputation might suggest, it remains a byword for suburban affluence, and McVey sits on a majority of 15,000. But in the referendum of 2016, Wilmslow was part of a wider Tory-supporting area that voted 54% for remain.

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Brexit party’s funding must be investigated, says Gordon Brown

Former PM is concerned ‘dirty money’ from foreign donors could reach Nigel Farage’s party

The Electoral Commission is under mounting pressure to launch an investigation into the funding of Nigel Farage’s Brexit party because of concerns that its donation structure could allow foreign interference in British democracy.

Before Thursday’s crucial European elections, Gordon Brown has written to the Electoral Commission calling on it to urgently examine whether the party has sufficient safeguards on its website to prevent the contribution of “dirty money”.

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Theresa May prepares ‘bold’ last-ditch offer to MPs on Brexit bill

Prime minister will ask her cabinet to sign off on concessions this week

Theresa May will ask her cabinet to sign off a package of Brexit concessions this week, as she gears up for one last bid to win over MPs and salvage something concrete from her troubled premiership.

With the Conservatives on course for a drubbing in Thursday’s European elections, the prime minister hopes the results will focus the minds of her own MPs and persuade them to support the long-awaited withdrawal agreement bill (WAB).

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The Guardian view on Theresa May’s Brexit options: stark – and getting starker | Editorial

If there is no majority for the prime minister’s bill next month, the chances of a Brexit outcome in this parliament look remote

Theresa May’s plan to bring her Brexit deal back to parliament for a vote at the start of June has generated weary indifference at Westminster and beyond. In many ways it is, of course, easy to see why. Her Brexit deal was defeated in January, and then twice more in March. The deal hasn’t changed much. Her own authority is vestigial. So what is the point of trying for a fourth time, or of treating the attempt seriously?

The parliamentary arithmetic hasn’t altered since the last failure. Talks with Labour have been and gone. The mood in Brussels is hardening against the UK. The Tory party, meanwhile, is expecting another electoral kicking and is increasingly obsessed with the succession, as is the media. Is it any wonder that both are acting as if Mrs May’s government no longer exists?

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It’s not difficult to define Islamophobia. So why does Britain struggle with it so much? | Nesrine Malik

From the Tory party to the police, senior figures raise problems which are simply irrelevant. It says a lot about their willingness to confront this prejudice

Last week it became clear that, according to senior police, the Tories and some non-Muslim public figures with some Muslim friends, the term “Islamophobia” is undefinable in any meaningful, actionable way. The working definition, put forward by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims, is not legally binding; yet Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said it was “too broad as currently drafted, could cause confusion for officers enforcing it and could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical or theological actions of Islamic states”. This is either ignorant or consciously misleading. There is no legal implication in the definition whatsoever.

Last week the government also rejected the definition, which in full reads: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” The communities secretary, James Brokenshire, said that accepting the definition had “potential consequences for freedom of speech” and that the combination of race and religion would cause “legal and practical issues”. Already adopted by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, the definition was turned down because it needed “further consideration”. So just how much more information will it take for ministers to consider such a short single sentence?

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If I were Jeremy Corbyn I’d be praying for a Boris Johnson victory | Matthew d’Ancona

The Tory party is in trouble. Having a rightwing populist incompetent as leader would quickly trigger an election

“This isn’t a TV reality contest!”. So declared defence minister Tobias Ellwood, when asked by Sky News’ Sophy Ridge about the forthcoming Conservative leadership race. To which there is only one honest response: that’s precisely what it is. Even as the new Brexit deadline draws closer, the Labour-Tory talks collapse, the Commons prepares to reject Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement for the fourth time, and the Conservatives face disaster in Thursday’s European elections, senior contenders for the top job merrily parade themselves, their spouses, and their kitchens in a grotesque bid for support in a contest that has not yet officially begun.

They can’t run the country, pass the legislation it needs, or arrange its departure from the European Union. But they’ll do a mean photoshoot for you at the drop of a hat. To govern is indeed to choose.

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‘Future of Britain is in Europe,’ the Queen told Germany in 1988

Diplomatic cables reveal the monarch also appeared to back the creation of a single market

The Queen confided to the German ambassador that she believed the future of Britain lay in Europe, newly released diplomatic cables from 1988 have shown.

“Some have not realised this yet,” the monarch allegedly said of her subjects. She also appeared to back the creation of the single market.

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Corbyn defends Labour’s bid for both leavers and remainers

Polls suggest his party could be squeezed into third place in the European elections

Jeremy Corbyn has given a robust defence of Labour’s decision to try to appeal to both leavers and remainers in this Thursday’s European elections.

With an Observer poll suggesting Labour could be squeezed into third position behind Nigel Farage’s Brexit party and the pro-remain Liberal Democrats, Corbyn said he still wanted to bring the two sides of the Brexit divide together.

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