Theresa May faces another catastrophic three-digit defeat on her Brexit deal, claim Brexiteer Tories: Brexit News for Thursday 16 May

Theresa May faces another catastrophic three-digit defeat on her Brexit deal, claim Brexiteer Tories: Brexit News for Thursday 16 May
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Theresa May faces another catastrophic three-digit defeat on her Brexit deal, claim Brexiteer Tories…

Brexiteer Tory MPs claim Theresa May is on course for another catastrophic three figure defeat on her EU deal. Losing the new make or break Commons showdown – set for two weeks time – would be the PM’s fourth drubbing a row and end her Premiership. One senior Eurosceptic Tory MP claimed “dozens” like him who had reluctantly backed Mrs May’s agreement with Brussels in earlier votes now plan to switch back again, as anger boils over about her decision to try to do a deal with Labour. They were lead by ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who told The Sun: “It’s over for this deal, I’m not going to support it and I’m not the only one. The Government has no intention of trying to replace the backstop, in which case all reason to vote for this deal has gone.” At the same time, Leave-backing Labour MPs are also refusing to bail out the PM, with one telling The Sun that the PM “will be lucky to get 10 of us”. – The Sun

…as Brexit secretary Steve Barclay admits May’s deal won’t survive another defeat

Theresa May’s Brexit deal will finally be dead if MPs reject it for a fourth time next month, the Brexit secretary has admitted. Steve Barclay acknowledged that the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill would mark the end of the road for the deal struck between Mrs May and the European Union last year unless the government could muster a majority. Labour sources played down the idea that the party was considering abstaining. Downing Street announced yesterday that the prime minister would put the deal to another Commons vote next month because it was imperative for the government to do so “if the UK is to leave the EU before the summer parliamentary recess”. Defeat could land the fatal blow to the prime minister’s fragile grip on office and No 10 sources said that the significance of a defeat would not be underestimated. The legislation writes the Brexit agreement into law and is another attempt to secure parliament’s support for a deal that has been rejected three times by MPs, including the heaviest defeat ever suffered by a government. – The Times (£)

May to be told by 1922 Executive this morning: give us your leaving date or you’ll be gone in a month…

Theresa May will be forced from office within a month if she does not set out a timetable for her departure when she meets senior backbench MPs on Thursday. The Prime Minister will be told she faces the prospect of a confidence vote of her own MPs on June 12 if she does not agree to quit before the summer. Mrs May has already promised to stand down once Britain has formally left the EU, but the executive of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories will tell her today that she must agree to resign regardless of whether her Brexit deal is passed by Parliament. There is growing unease within Tory ranks about the swift rise of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which now has more than 100,000 paying supporters and is expected to dominate next week’s European elections. Nick Timothy, Mrs May’s former joint chief of staff, says it is “beyond time” for the Prime Minister “to accept that the game is up”. – Telegraph (£)

…but May loyalists threaten to oust the 1922 grandees if they try to topple her

Loyalist Tory MPs have threatened to oust their own backbench grandees if they press ahead with a new coup against Theresa May. The parliamentary Conservative party was on the brink of outright civil war Wednesday night ahead of the PM’s showdown meeting with senior MPs Thursday morning. Its 1922 committee executive, lead by Sir Graham Brady, has demanded their embattled leader lays out a timetable to resign with or without a Brexit in place when they grill her at 11.30am. If the PM refuses, Brexiteers on it have pledged to try again to change party rules to allow an immediate confidence vote to oust her by ripping up a 12 month grace period after December’s failed coup. But in an extraordinary new turn in the long running saga, May loyalists have also vowed to then force a vote of confidence in the 17-strong executive itself. – The Sun

Loyalists threaten to oust backbenchers if they try to overthrow PM – Express

Leaving the EU customs union by the General Election must be a Brexit red line, says Liam Fox

Leaving the EU’s customs union by the next General Election must be a red line, leading Brexit Cabinet minister Liam Fox has said. The International Trade Secretary said uncertainty over Britain’s membership of the customs union was proving a major obstacle in his department’s efforts to strike new trade deals with non-EU countries. He also signalled he would quit if Theresa May commits to a permanent customs union, saying a deal over future EU customs must be “done and dusted” by the next General Election, currently scheduled for 2022. Mr Fox told an Institute for Government event yesterday: “There would be a major disincentive for other countries to want to negotiate with us in a period where they didn’t know when the end of our customs union with the European Union would be, and it’s likely therefore, we would delay those discussions. That’s not something I want to see.” – The Sun

Pressure builds on Jeremy Corbyn to commit to vote against May’s withdrawal bill

Jeremy Corbyn is coming under pressure to rule out Labour MPs abstaining in a crunch Brexit vote, after the minister in charge of EU withdrawal said defeat could kill off Theresa May’s plan altogether. Supporters of a Final Say referendum have accused the Labour leader of offering a lifeline to the prime minister as she prepares her fourth attempt to force the plan through parliament. Meanwhile, Ms May is expected to resist demands to set out a timetable for her departure as PM as she meets Tory grandees who have called for “clarity” on her intentions. The PM will meet the executive of the backbench 1922 Committee on Thursday amid speculation that failure to name a date could prompt a rethink of their decision to block an early confidence vote among MPs. – Independent

Conservative Chairman concedes MEP candidates have no chance in European elections

The Tories are facing a total wipeout at the European Parliament elections in just eight days time after the Conservative Party chairman is said to have conceded its candidates have no chance of winning a seat. Brandon Lewis has reportedly told Tory candidates if “you are not an MEP already you aren’t winning” a seat in Brussels, when the UK goes to the polls on May 23. Tory MEPs are set to face the consequences of Theresa May’s failure to deliver Brexit on time following an extension to Article 50 until October 31. Meanwhile a party insider acknowledged the Tories were not “under any illusion” of the task at hand to win back support from angry Brexiteers. – Express

 

> Rupert Matthews MEP on BrexitCentral today: The omens are not good for we Conservatives at the European election, but we have a good story to tell

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson says party must ‘fight harder’ in Euro elections to beat the Brexit Party

Defeatist Tories panned by Ruth Davidson for failing to campaign for the Euro Elections — and told to “fight harder”. The Scottish Conservative leader said it was “pretty disappointing” that some MPs — faced with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party — had decided not to expend any effort on the contest. And she cited the party’s comeback north of the border as a reason why they should “do their duty”. It came amid reports party chairman Brandon Lewis had told Conservative MEP candidates they had no chance of winning a seat on May 23. Separately Downing Street refused to say whether Theresa May would do any campaigning before next week’s poll. But Ms Davidson — who helped the Tories bag 12 seats from the SNP in the 2017 General Election — said the party should attack the Euro campaign with “vim and vigour”. – The Sun

Brexit Party closes in on Tories as supporter registrations surge through the 100,000 mark…

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is laying claim to be the fastest growing party in modern British political history as the number of registered supporters surged through the 100,000 mark for the first time. The Brexit Party has eight more rallies planned between now and election day on Thursday next week. Mr Farage said seven of the venues – each holding between 1,500 and 3,000 people – were now sold out. “There is a pent-up demand for this,” he said. On a visit to south Wales Mr Farage hailed the surge in numbers of registered supporters for the Brexit Party and said he hoped that by the time of the European Parliament elections next Thursday the party would have overtaken the Conservatives. – Telegraph (£)

…leaving Nigel Farage in a buoyant mood as his roadshow arrives in South Wales…

Nigel Farage has a problem. But it is a nice one to have. His Brexit Party is riding high and now he has run out of space at his rallies. Eight more are planned between now and election day on Thursday, each holding between 1,500 and 3,000 people, and seven are full. “They are sold out,” he says. It seems that outside of the Westminster bubble, voters cannot get enough of a party which he founded just five weeks ago. The party is leading in the polls and has just surged through the 100,000 mark for registered supporters. “There is a pent-up demand for this,” he says. Farage spent Wednesday in south Wales, starting in Cardiff and finishing up at a rally in front of his battle bus in the evening sunshine in a supermarket car park in Merthyr Tydfil, the heart of old Labour country. – Telegraph (£)

…and a Brexit Party group is formed in the Welsh Assembly

Nigel Farage has visited Cardiff Bay to meet a number of assembly members who have defected to the Brexit Party. The leader of the Eurosceptic party, which was announced in January of this year, met with Mark Reckless who announced he would be leaving the Welsh Conservatives group in the assembly to join the party earlier this week. ITV Wales’ Political Editor Adrian Masters said Reckless will be the likely leader of the group in the Welsh Assembly. Former UKIP members Mandy Jones, Caroline Jones and David Rowlands, who announced he would be leaving UKIP earlier in the day, along with Reckless, have formally requested to be recognised in the Welsh Assembly. Mr Rowlands’ departure means that UKIP will lose its status as an Assembly group, with guaranteed slots for questions and debates in the Senedd and places on committees. – ITV Wales

Nigel Evans: If the Prime Minister can’t deliver a clean Brexit, she must make way for a successor who will

As an ardent Brexiteer, I campaigned ceaselessly in the 2016 referendum to persuade as many people as possible that leaving the EU was in all our interests. It was a hard-fought battle with families and work colleagues divided and friendships destroyed. Claims were made on both sides of the campaign over a period of many months, and the electorate had to discern what they thought was the most credible argument – and they voted. I remember the excitement when it became apparent that the UK had told its elites that they were not buying into the incredible string of scare stories which filled news agendas on a relentless basis. Project Fear backfired big time and the people decided to leave. This was a great victory. Sadly, it turned out to be the last one that the Leave campaign achieved. – Nigel Evans MP for Conservative Home

Allister Heath: The Tories are deluded if they think the Brexit Party can’t supplant them

Nothing to see here: risibly, that remains how many senior Tories view the remarkable rise of the Brexit Party. To them, Nigel Farage’s return is a spectacular but ultimately meaningless final act, a last howl of rage by an angry minority exercising its right to protest at an irrelevant election. But a real, serious, game-changing threat to the political duopoly that has governed the UK for so long? Don’t be ridiculous. There is something in the Conservative psyche that breeds this kind of deranged complacency: the conceit that theirs is the “natural party of government” is especially toxic. Many of the candidates for the party leadership, and not just the Remainers, genuinely believe that the ongoing political earthquake is in fact nothing more than a minor tremor. – Telegraph (£)

Tom Harris: How did it all go so terribly wrong for Change UK?

Whether it’s the announcement of a new policy or even a resignation – politics, like comedy, is all about timing. And founding a new political party is such a haphazard and difficult venture that timing becomes even more important. Many were surprised when Chuka Umunna defected from the Labour Party along with six of his colleagues back in February. No one seriously doubted that such a move was on the cards and many considered it the right thing to do, given the reported unhappiness of most Labour MPs with a leadership that simply cannot be ousted or changed. But I doubt if I was alone in feeling that the occasion lacked a certain punch, like waiting eagerly for the last season of “Game of Thrones” and then… watching the last season of “Game of Thrones”. My first observation was, “Is that all?” When the SDP officially launched on March 2, 1981, four former Cabinet ministers were joined by eleven former Labour colleagues. This eventually swelled to a total of 28. – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

Anna Nadibaidze: Eurosceptics should look to national leaders, not MEPs, to show their influence in the EU

Ahead of this month’s European Parliament elections, there is much focus on the performance of Eurosceptic parties across the EU, notably the expected success of the Brexit Party in the UK. In total, various Eurosceptic parties are predicted to win between 25 to 29 per cent of the Parliament’s seats – often portrayed as a breakthrough success for anti-EU forces. However, it is worth keeping in mind that many of these parties also did well in the last European elections five years ago. Indeed, seven of the 11 member states set to have a Eurosceptic party finish in the top two saw the same result in 2014. This would represent a consolidation of Eurosceptics’ previous successes, rather than a populist ‘surge.’ Despite the ambitions of some of the Eurosceptic parties’ leaders, like the Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Lega leader Matteo Salvini, anti-EU forces will not take over the Parliament. – Anna Nadibaidze for the Telegraph (£)

Katy Balls: What the Brexit Party’s success means for the Tory leadership contest

As Theresa May promises to bring her Withdrawal Agreement back next month for a fourth vote, few in Government believe it has much – if any – hope of passing. However, May’s decision to announce its return has increased speculation that she will be forced to stand down next month – whether her deal passes or not. When that time comes, the contest to find her successor will begin. Cabinet ministers have been minded to put off that contest for as long as possible, in part due to the fact that a Brexiteer like Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab is likely to fare best if the contest occurs before the UK has left the EU. As I say in today’s i paper, the success of the Brexit Party has only enhanced that view in recent weeks. MPs are now looking more favourably at Brexiteer candidates who could compete with the Brexit Party. Both Boris Johnson and former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab are seen as politicians who have the potential to reunite the party with disillusioned Leave voters. – Katy Balls for The Spectator

Max Jeffrey: Positive and populist, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is out to get as many voters as possible

“Remain, fifty-two thousand.” Nigel Farage stopped momentarily, before excitedly pumping his fists in the air and shouting, “Leave, eighty-three thousand!” The elated crowd took to their feet, with some erupting into applause, and others waving their “Change Politics for Good” signs. I was in Sunderland at the Brexit Party rally, watching Farage recite the Returning Officer’s declaration in the 2016 referendum. The North East city shocked politicians and commentators with a vote to leave the European Union far larger than expected. The rally on Saturday (the party’s twelfth in its nationwide tour) was packed with these moments. Many attendees spent more time standing and cheering than they did listening; photographs show a sea of smiles. These events take place alongside the party’s positive digital campaign. Short clips on social media, for example, have shown Farage and MEP candidates laughing with their potential constituents. Those inside the party say it has been a deliberate effort. – Max Jeffrey for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Reply from the Brexit Secretary and my response – John Redwood’s Diary
  • The PM’s legacy could soon be the Conservative Party’s destruction – Owen Paterson MP for the Telegraph (£)
  • Why do some remainers think ageism is acceptable? – Douglas Murray for The Spectator
  • Every day that Mrs May clings on makes things harder for successor. She has to go now – Nick Timothy for the Telegraph (£)
  • Brexit creating ‘gold rush’ for private firms as Whitehall spending on consultants soars to £1.5bn – PoliticsHome
  • Brexit energy drink denied EU trademark after claims brand was ‘offensive’ – Telegraph (£)
  • Has the rise of the Brexit party blown away Ukip? – Guardian
  • Chuka Umunna’s Change UK Party humiliated as MEP candidate pulls out and defects to the Liberal Democrats – The Sun