‘Brexit will happen’ and UK ‘can get a deal’, says EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker after Boris Johnson sends him ideas for a draft deal: Brexit News for Friday 20 September

‘Brexit will happen’ and UK ‘can get a deal’, says EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker after Boris Johnson sends him ideas for a draft deal: Brexit News for Friday 20 September
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

‘Brexit will happen’ and UK ‘can get a deal’, says EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker after Boris Johnson sends him ideas for a draft deal…

Jean-Claude Juncker said tonight “We can have a deal” and “Brexit will happen” in a major boost for Boris Johnson. The EU boss warned a no-deal Brexit would have “catastrophic consequences” and said he was doing “everything to get a deal”. Speaking to Sky News, he said he was prepared to get rid of the so-called backstop from a withdrawal agreement as long as “the objectives are met – all of them”. The EU Commission president told Sky’s Sophy Ridge he’d been sent documents by the British PM outlining draft ideas for a new Brexit deal. Mr Juncker said they’d arrived late on Wednesday night and is yet to read them. He had spoken to Mr Johnson on the phone “without knowing the content of the British proposals”, he said. – The Sun

…and sterling climbs as Juncker says a Brexit deal is possible

Sterling climbed back over the $1.25 mark in a rally sparked by comments from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who offered confidence the EU and UK can reach a Brexit agreement before the October deadline. The pound gained as much as 0.7 per cent on Thursday afternoon in New York trade after Mr Juncker, in an interview with Sky News, said he was “doing everything to get a deal” and would be willing to remove the controversial Irish backstop from a withdrawal agreement if the two sides agree on an alternative. – FT (£)

Downing Street rejects Macron’s two-week deadline for Brexit plan

Downing Street has refused to commit to tabling its Brexit plans for replacing the backstop within two weeks, branding it an “artificial deadline” despite a warning from the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, of the urgent need to bridge a wide gap between the two sides. A UK government spokesman said it would not recognise France and Finland’s joint request for a deadline of the end of September and would only table firm proposals when Boris Johnson was ready. The prime minister was previously challenged in mid-August by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to come up with a solution within 30 days but the UK has not tabled anything concrete in the last month – with just six weeks to go before the UK is due to leave the EU. – Guardian 

Sir John Major hints Parliament could bypass Boris Johnson and authorise someone else to ask Brussels to delay Brexit

Sir John Major today hinted that Parliament could bypass the PM and authorise someone else to ask Brussels to delay Brexit. He said Boris Johnson’s ‘prorogation’ had prevented MPs from passing legislation which could have charged “somebody other than the Prime Minister to communicate the United Kingdom’s intentions to the European Union”. ‘Remain’ MPs last night conceded it could be an option if Parliament is recalled – given the looming Brexit deadline of October 31. It came as the former Tory PM took the extraordinary step of panning Mr Johnson to the Supreme Court via a Europhile lawyer Lord Garnier. In a bombshell written submission, he demanded judges wade in British politics by ruling on the issue of prorogation. – The Sun

People’s Vote campaign tells Labour MPs not to back a Johnson Brexit deal…

The People’s Vote campaign has issued a warning to Labour MPs tempted to vote for any Brexit deal struck by Boris Johnson that they would be held responsible for a rightwing assault on Britain’s public services and economy. The campaign circulated a dossier warning that a Johnson deal would lead to a “bonfire of rights”, as it emerged that two Labour MPs, Stephen Kinnock and Caroline Flint, had led a delegation to meet EU negotiator Michael Barnier on Thursday to discuss their potential support for a withdrawal deal. The warnings were led by Margaret Beckett, the co-chair of People’s Vote and former foreign secretary, who said MPs voting for a Johnson deal would be facilitating the “stuff of rightwing Tory dreams”, including deregulation and dependence on Donald Trump’s America. – Guardian

  • Labour MPs tempted to vote for a Boris Johnson deal warned it will be ‘stuff of right wing dreams’ – Independent

…as Labour activists push the party to campaign for Remain in any second referendum

Labour is heading for a row at its annual conference on Saturday over its Brexit policy as activists vow to force a vote on making the party campaign in favour of remaining in the EU, regardless of Jeremy Corbyn’s personal stance. Pro-remain activists said they intended to fight for a vote on Labour becoming a clear party of remain, insisting that in the event of a second referendum its staff, data, money and efforts must be deployed towards campaigning to stay in the EU. The activists said they wanted Labour to commit to campaigning to stay in the EU, even if Corbyn wants to be an “honest broker” between the two sides, while letting the public decide. They said their negotiating “red line” was that the party itself had to commit to campaigning to stay in the EU, and prepared for a battle with those who want Labour not to commit to either side. – Guardian

Rory Stewart to address fringe meeting at Conservative conference…

Rory Stewart will launch a defence of his Conservative values at the party’s annual conference later this month, despite having the whip withdrawn for rebelling over Brexit. The former international development secretary will still attend the four day get-together in Manchester even though he is no longer being allowed to sit as a Conservative MP. He will take part in an one-on-one interview with Conservative peer Lord Finkelstein on the opening day of conference, in what a spokesperson for the event organiser described as “a wide ranging conversation.” Another high-profile rebel attending is former justice secretary David Gauke, who will take part in a Brexit debate on Tuesday October 1 in an event organised by the Conservative Home website. While Mr Stewart and Mr Gauke are set to make an appearance, the majority of the other rebels are shunning the showpiece event. – Telegraph (£)

…as Brexit rebels stripped of the Tory whip claim they ‘can’ stand for election as Conservatives

Brexit rebel MPs expelled by Boris Johnson say they have received new legal advice that will allow them to stand for election as Conservatives again. The 21 MPs were stripped of the Tory whip for backing a bid to delay Brexit under No Deal in a key vote two weeks ago. Brexit rebel MPs expelled by Boris Johnson say they have received new legal advice that will allow them to stand for election as Conservatives again. The 21 MPs were stripped of the Tory whip for backing a bid to delay Brexit under No Deal in a key vote two weeks ago. One of the rebels planning to appeal said: “Our legal advice says a confidence vote is one in which the Government falls if it’s lost.” – The Sun

David Cameron fuelled Leave support by blaming the EU, says George Osborne

George Osborne has blamed David Cameron for stoking Eurosceptic fears ahead of the EU referendum as he claimed everyone has “paid the price” for the former prime minister saying “Brussels was to blame”. In a swipe at his long-time ally, the ex-chancellor said Mr Cameron was among a string of Tory prime ministers who had sought to blame the EU for problems at home. Meanwhile, Mr Cameron himself said that a second EU referendum should not be ruled out, and hinted that he would again vote to Remain. In a new BBC documentary lifting the lid on Mr Cameron’s premiership, Mr Osborne said he felt “responsible” for the Brexit chaos due to his role as chancellor, saying the referendum “should never have [been] held”. He said: “I feel very sorry for what happened, and I feel responsible, I was the chancellor of the exchequer in that government.” – Independent

Austria blocks EU-Mercosur trade deal with South America

MPs in Austria have dealt a blow to the EU’s landmark trade deal with South America’s economic bloc, by demanding a government veto on the deal. The draft free trade agreement took 20 years to complete and the EU has described it as its biggest so far. France and Ireland have already warned they will reject the deal if Brazil does not do more to curb fires in the Amazon rainforest. Austrian groups say the deal must do more to tackle environment issues. All but one of Austria’s main parties rejected the deal in a parliamentary sub-committee, from the far right to the centre left. Mercosur includes four South American economies – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. A fifth member, Venezuela, is currently suspended. Without backing from every government in the EU, the Mercosur deal cannot go through. – BBC News

North Devon Lib Dem candidate resigns over inflammatory Brexit comments

A Lib Dem candidate has resigned after claiming people in her constituency voted Brexit because they were “white and don’t know people from other countries”. Kirsten Johnson, a pianist and composer, made the comments in an interview with BBC Radio 4 on Sunday afternoon, where she said North Devon voted for Brexit because it was “98 per cent white” and that “people aren’t exposed to people from other countries, they don’t travel a lot”. “I think there is a slight disconnect that North Devon being isolated, being rural and low income perhaps hasn’t appreciated the advantages of being in the European Union,” she said. Ms Johnson came under fire from Peter Heaton-Jones, the Tory MP for North Devon, who said many people “will be extremely offended by the suggestion that they support Brexit because they’re white and don’t get out much”, while Dawn Westcott, the candidate for the Brexit Party, said she thought there was “something running through the Liberal Democrats with an intolerance and desire to run rush over the will of the British people”. – Telegraph (£)

Remainer lawyer Jolyon Mauham loses latest court case against Darren Grimes

Notorious Twitter lawyer and ‘#FBPE‘ cult leader, Jolyon Maugham, has lost yet another court case against Darren Grimes. The appeal was heard by the highest judge in the land who maintained Darren’s BeLeave campaign was separate to the Vote Leave campaign, the Electoral Commission was wrong, and the house of cards they built on their error has collapsed. The latest defeat for Jolyon, which was heard on the July 4, coming only two months after Jolyon tweeted about Darren saying “I feel sorry for him”… repeatedly attempting to litigate against him is a funny way of showing it… – Guido Fawkes

Jonathan Isaby: Sir John Major should stop trying to derail Brexit

It’s shocking how Sir John and so many of his fellow EU-enthusiasts now refuse to accept the verdict of the people. But then Sir John has something of a mixed record when it comes to facing the voters. He may have scored a surprise victory at the 1992 general election but in the ensuing years, under his leadership, the Conservatives lost thousands of council seats and were humiliated by Labour’s landslide majority of 179 at the 1997 election. That agonising period was of course punctuated by regular rows about Europe, following Sir John’s signing of the Maastricht treaty and embracing the newly rebranded European Union. If only he’d put that treaty to a referendum and given the public a chance to put the brakes on Brussels’ integrationist intentions, we might be in a very different situation today. – Jonathan Isaby for The Times (£) 

Nigel Farage: Jacob Rees-Mogg knows the only way to deliver Brexit is with a clean break, not another fudged deal

I like Jacob Rees-Mogg and believe that many people underestimate his commitment to public life. But I was dismayed when I read in the Daily Telegraph his plea to wavering Conservative Party voters to return to the fold. His view is that a vote for the Brexit Party would be, in his words, “a vote, effectively, for Jeremy Corbyn.” This is nonsense. By peddling this line, Rees-Mogg is merely echoing what a lot of Tories are saying at the moment: that Britain is going to leave the EU ‪on October 31‬ and there is nothing to worry about. I find this optimism premature. The Conservatives have a long history of saying one thing and doing another when it comes to the EU. Think back to the 2001 general election when then-leader William Hague said: “If you believe in an independent Britain, then come with me, and I will give you back your country.” Granted, Labour won that election, denying Hague the chance to put his vision into practice, but 15 years later Hague backed Remain in the referendum! – Nigel Farage MEP for the Telegraph (£)

James Kirkup: David Cameron knew the EU didn’t matter to voters

When Cameron became prime minister in May 2010, the Europe figure had ticked up to 6 per cent. That was also the number in January 2013 when Cameron pledged the referendum that destroyed his premiership and possibly his party and injected poisonous rancour into the arteries of our politics. Think about the mess that is Brexit and consider those numbers again: all this for a fringe issue. The most recent Ipsos Mori tracker shows 60 per cent of people now name Europe as the nation’s most pressing concern. They’re right, too: whatever form it takes, our relationship with the EU will be the priority for governments for the foreseeable future. There will be no quick way out of the maze Cameron chose to enter. – James Kirkup for The Times (£) 

Fraser Nelson: David Cameron has unwittingly written the best ever case for Brexit

If you voted for Brexit, your optimism might be wavering right now. I can propose just the remedy: David Cameron’s memoir. It is, unintentionally, the most convincing case for Brexit that you will ever read. For The Record was written as political tragedy, a 700-page apology to the nation for the former prime minister’s role in what he regards as a calamity. But it’s also a candid account of how he pursued an idea – that the EU can be reformed – and tested it to (his) destruction. We see him making allies, drafting strategies, threatening and begging – but his story ends in failure. He expected diplomacy, but encountered a bureaucratic Death Star whose hunger for power is matched only by its intransigence. From the former Remainer-in-Chief, it’s quite a story. – Fraser Nelson for the Telegraph (£) 

Henry Hill: Belief that DUP are softening their position raises hopes of Brexit deal

The Irish Government have confirmed that they are engaged in “secret Brexit talks” with London, today’s Daily Mail reports, amidst mounting speculation that a deal might yet be struck. Simon Coveney, the Irish deputy prime minister, put this on the record as other EU leaders, led by Finland, revived the prospect of a no-deal exit at the end of next month by threatening to veto a further extension of the negotiations. At the same time, the Democratic Unionists have fuelled fresh speculation that they are softening their opposition to Northern Ireland-only solutions to the challenges posed by the Irish border. Having previously insisted that the Province must depart on exactly the same terms as the mainland, Arlene Foster is now saying that the DUP will merely oppose anything which challenges Ulster’s ‘constitutional status’ inside the UK. – Henry Hill for ConservativeHome

Tom Harwood: The EU’s leaders are trying to humiliate Britain, not negotiate with us

Earlier this week, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel stood grinning on a podium, while a baying crowd of fanatical Remainers attempted to turn what was billed as a press conference into an anti-Brexit campaign rally. Boris Johnson was right to avoid their trap. Instead of holding the presser indoors, as he did with Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, Bettel reportedly refused Number 10’s request for a civilised event and insisted on playing to the galleries by “empty chairing” the PM. This was a naked attempt to stitch up Britain’s Prime Minister, and a vanity parade for Luxembourg’s premier in front of the world’s media. – Tom Harwood for the Telegraph (£) 

John Redwood: Parliament cannot govern

It is always the case that Parliament has the ultimate power to vote down a Treaty or international agreement it dislikes. This does not usually arise because the government  normally has a majority it can rely on, or has taken sufficient soundings to know it speaks for a majority. It is particularly important when negotiating with the EU that Parliament does not undermine the government’s negotiation. Ruling out leaving without signing the Withdrawal Agreement does undermine the government position, and is particularly bizarre given Parliament’s justified dislike of the Withdrawal Agreement as drafted. When opposition forces in Parliament say they do not trust the government to conduct the negotiation they do our country harm. Parliament has the power to remove the government if it really does lack confidence in it to negotiate well. It is a clear case of put up or shut up – either sack the government or allow it to conduct the negotiation as it wishes, with Parliament judging the results. – John Redwood’s Diary

Asa Bennett: How much damage could the Supreme Court do to Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans?

At last, the Supreme Court has received an answer to a question that had been increasingly vexing its members: what would the Government do if it loses this week’s prorogation challenge? The response has been distinctly chilly, with judges urged not to outlaw prorogation and order an early recall of Parliament due to the “very serious practical consequences” in organising a Queen’s Speech at short notice. Representing the government in court this afternoon, Lord Keen warned that Gina Miller, Joanna Cherry and her fellow litigants were “inviting the Courts into forbidden territory and an ill-defined minefield” by making such demands. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£) 

The Sun: Unelected judges blocking Brexit isn’t a noble defence of our democracy but reckless constitutional vandalism

Let no one pretend that this week’s Supreme Court charade is some noble defence of our democracy. It is a stunt by rich Remainers whose only concern for democracy is that it must always deliver what they want. Failing that, their money, fancy QCs and our courts must do so instead. This weekend our top judges will ponder whether Boris Johnson suspended Parliament unlawfully, not to set up a new programme for Government but to avoid scrutiny of his Brexit strategy. But courts should have no veto over political decisions. Not unless we want to be ruled by unelected judges and unelected millionaire litigants, on top of unelected peers and unaccountable Speakers. And if these judges do now demand Parliament’s recall, what will Remainer MPs do with all their new sitting time? They have already passed their law to “prevent No Deal”. And they are too ­terrified of voters’ rage to topple the Government and face an election. What else is there? Unless they intend to go for broke and deploy their own Bercow-backed pseudo-Government to revoke Brexit entirely. – The Sun says

Brexit in Brief

  • We can’t work it out: Paul McCartney says Brexit referendum ‘probably a mistake’ – Politico
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg mocks Remainer Lord Heseltine as Brexit feud erupts – Express