Boris Johnson goes on the attack against the EU and Corbyn on Commons debut as PM: Brexit News for Friday 26 July

Boris Johnson goes on the attack against the EU and Corbyn on Commons debut as PM: Brexit News for Friday 26 July
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Boris Johnson goes on the attack against the EU and Corbyn on Commons debut as PM…

Boris Johnson on Thursday demanded abolition of the hated Irish backstop to avoid a No Deal Brexit. He used his first appearance in the House of Commons as Prime Minister to deliver the ultimatum to Brussels. And he declared he had already given orders to turbo-charge preparations for a No Deal exit in 99 days if his call was not met. Mr Johnson told MPs: “If an agreement is to be reached it must be clearly understood that the way to the deal goes by way of the abolition of the backstop.” The threat delighted Eurosceptic Tory MPs but was met with dismay in the EU, where leaders branded his remarks unacceptable. The new PM spent two-and-a-half hours fielding 129 questions in his first appearance before MPs. – The Sun

  • Boris Johnson orders Michael Gove to ‘turbo-boost’ no-deal Brexit planning – Politics Home

> WATCH: Boris Johnson’s first statement on priorities for the Government as Prime Minister

…after announcing he will refuse to appoint a new EU Commissioner to prove his commitment to Brexit on October 31st…

Boris Johnson has warned Brussels he will not nominate a European commissioner to show he is serious that the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU on October 31. The Prime Minister signalled he will snub the European Commission’s demand to nominate a British candidate to join president-elect Ursula von der Leyen’s top team. In his first address to the House of Commons, he also spelled out his Brexit plan to ensure Britain quits the EU on Halloween. Mr Johnson, who has appointed a Brexiteer cabinet, claimed he is willing to pursue a no-deal divorce unless he can replace the controversial Irish backstop and renegotiate his predecessor’s draft withdrawal agreement. In a swipe at Brussels, he said: “We will not nominate a UK commissioner for the new Commission taking office.” – Express

…while promising to let existing EU nationals in Britain stay for good after Brexit

Boris Johnson today pledged to protect Europeans living here after Brexit in a bid to establish his liberal credentials. The new Prime Minister said the rights of EU citizens would be “guaranteed in law” as early as possible. He also pledged a massive overhaul of the UK’s migration system following the end of free movement. In his first Commons statement, the PM was challenged by Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson on the issue. She said: “The three million EU citizens are our family, our friends, our neighbours, our carers. Yet, for three years, they have been made to feel unwelcome in our country. They deserve better than warm words and more months of anxiety. They deserve certainty now. The Prime Minister has made assurances, so will he back the bill of my Lib Dem colleague Lord Oates to guarantee in law the rights of EU citizens or is he all talk and no trousers?” – The Sun

Steve Baker turns down Brexit minister role as it would leave him ‘powerless’ over negotiations

Hardline Brexiteer Steve Baker turned down a ministerial post at DexEu last night as he claimed it would leave him “powerless” over the Brexit negotiations. Mr Baker, a self-styled “Brexit hard man” and “Spartan,” was an implacable opponent of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement and played a key role in its defeat in the House of Commons.  He announced on Twitter: “With regret, I have turned down a ministerial job. I cannot repeat my experience of powerlessness as a junior minister with the work done in [the Cabinet Office]. I have total confidence in Boris Johnson to take us out of the EU by 31 Oct. Disaster awaits otherwise.” It came after the Tory MP who united the party behind an alternative to the controversial Irish backstop was appointed as a Home Office minister, as Boris Johnson continued to fill his government with Brexiteers. – Telegraph (£)

  • Conor Burns named minister for state in Department for International Trade – Bournemouth Echo
  • Latest middle-ranking ministerial appointments announced – BBC News

EU will not renegotiate Brexit deal, Jean-Claude Juncker tells Johnson…

The European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has told Boris Johnson that the EU27 will not give in to his demand to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal agreement. On Thursday in his first telephone call with Johnson as prime minister, Juncker called the existing deal “the best and only agreement possible”. Johnson has insisted the agreement to leave the EU and arrangements regarding the Irish border are not good enough and should be renegotiated. Juncker said the EU would analyse any ideas put forward by the UK provided they were compatible with the withdrawal agreement, his spokeswoman Mina Andreeva tweeted in a readout of the phone call. – Guardian

  • Juncker flips Boris Johnson his private phone number – Politico

…while Michel Barnier rejects Johnson’s ‘unacceptable’ Brexit plan

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has flatly rejected Boris Johnson’s “unacceptable” call for the removal of the Irish backstop in the Brexit deal, as he warned the Prime Minister was taking a “combative” approach to negotiations. In an email to EU officials, Mr Barnier wrote: “PM Johnson has stated that if an agreement is to be reached it goes by way of eliminating the backstop. This is of course unacceptable and not within the mandate of the European Council. As suggested by his rather combative speech, we have to be ready for a situation where he gives priority to the planning for ‘no deal’ partly to heap pressure on the EU.” It came as Mr ​Johnson has announced that his government will give EU citizens living in the United Kingdom “the absolute certainty of the right to live and remain”. – Telegraph (£)

  • Brussels lashes out at Boris Johnson’s ‘unacceptable’ Brexit plans as EU talks tough – The Sun
  • Boris Johnson’s backstop demands are unacceptable, say EU leaders – The Times (£)

Leo Varadkar says there’ll be no EU trade deal without the backstop and that No Deal ‘is a British threat’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned Boris Johnson that Britain will get no future trade deal with the EU if there is no backstop after Brexit. Mr Varadkar also said he was not sure whether the new British prime minister was “bluffing” with his threats to crash Britain out of the EU without a deal. Speaking at special Cabinet meeting in south Donegal, he said: “It is going to be a matter for the United Kingdom to decide whether or not it is a member of the European Union in 2026. They had the referendum and we respect the result. No deal is a British threat. The only people who can cause a no deal is the United Kingdom government. The backstop is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement. Without the backstop, there is no Withdrawal Agreement, there is no transition phase, there is no implementation phase and there will be no future trade agreement until all those matters are resolved. So I hope the prime minister hasn’t chosen a no-deal, but that will be up to them.” – Irish Examiner

President Macron to discuss Brexit with Johnson in coming weeks

French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss Brexit with Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whom he has invited to visit in the next few weeks, an official from Macron’s Elysee office said on Friday. The two leaders spoke on Thursday, and Macron’s talks with Johnson would be in regard to the demands of the European Union about Brexit, the official added. On entering Downing Street on Wednesday, Johnson set up a showdown with the EU by vowing to negotiate a new deal and threatening that, if the bloc refused, he would take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 without a deal. One of the main areas of contention between Britain and the EU over the terms of Brexit has been the Irish backstop. – Reuters

Tory right’s anger over Dominic Cummings’ job as senior aide to Johnson

Boris Johnson’s attempts to lock in the support of hardline Tory Eurosceptics suffered a serious blow last night after one of the most senior Brexiteer MPs angrily turned down a ministerial role. In the first rift between the new prime minister and the faction that backed him for the leadership, Steve Baker told Mr Johnson that a job in the Brexit department would have left him “powerless”. Tory Eurosceptics accused Mr Johnson of “binning off” the European Research Group of Brexiteers now that he was in power. They blamed Dominic Cummings, the former head of Vote Leave, who has been appointed the most senior adviser in Downing Street. Mr Cummings has made little secret of his disdain for some members of the ERG, describing them as a “narcissist delusional subset” and a “metastasising tumour” that needs to be “excised”. – The Times (£)

New Scottish Secretary dismisses no-deal Brexit warnings

The new Scottish Secretary has said he does not believe a no-deal Brexit would be seriously damaging if “we prepare for it properly”. Alister Jack, the MP for Dumfries and Galloway who has replaced David Mundell in the Scotland Office, said he wanted to see a strong deal with the EU, but believed the country could do “great free trade agreements elsewhere”. He added: “There may be some bumps if we end up with no deal, not my preferred option, but I do think as the fifth strongest economy in the world we can do great things.” He also dismissed Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that leaving Europe on October 31 without an agreement would be “catastrophic” for Scotland and cost thousands of jobs and rejected her calls for a new independence referendum. – Telegraph (£)

Lib Dems urge Labour to table no-confidence motion in new PM Boris Johnson

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson has urged Labour to table a no-confidence motion in new Prime Minister Boris Johnson – accusing Jeremy Corbyn of “aiding and abetting” the Conservatives by failing to challenge his new administration. Ms Swinson wrote to the Leader of the Opposition, who is the only person who can trigger such a parliamentary showdown, calling for him to move against the Government. Referring to Mr Corbyn, the newly elected Lib Dem leader said: “It is time he stops aiding and abetting this Conservative Brexit and act.” It came after Mr Corbyn somewhat cryptically said on Tuesday that he planned to “surprise” Mr Johnson with a no confidence motion “at the time of their choosing”, saying: “It will be an interesting surprise for all of you”. – Telegraph (£)

Conservatives launch online blitz of Boris Johnson adverts to test election messaging

The Conservatives have mounted an online blitz of hundreds of political adverts to promote Boris Johnson, test election messages and profile voters. An estimated 500-plus versions of the adverts began appearing on the day he was elected Conservative party leader on Tuesday. Some asked voters to identify the issues they were most concerned about and register details including email addresses and postcodes so the party could direct mail them and contact them with further ads. Mike Harris, chief executive of 89up, a communications agency specialising in online campaigns, said it had all the hallmarks of message testing adverts for an election, each with minor differences to establish which were the most effective. – Telegraph (£)

Henry Newman: Dominic Cummings’ appointment may be divisive, but it will prove an inspired choice in the tough months ahead

Boris Johnson has hit the ground running. Within just a few hours of arriving in Downing Street, he had already announced his entire Cabinet and set the Government full speed ahead for Brexit by October 31. But amid that flurry of activity, perhaps his most important decision was to appoint a man who won’t even sit at the Cabinet table – Dominic Cummings. To say that Cummings is a divisive character would be putting it lightly. To his detractors, the Vote Leave mastermind is a dangerous ideologue who will stop at nothing to smash the system. His appointment was greeted with horror and outrage by some hardcore Remainers who blame him for dishonestly tricking voters into supporting Leave. He’s not much more popular among a certain sphere of pro-Brexit MPs. – Henry Newman for the Telegraph (£)

Dia Chakravarty: This diverse Cabinet exemplifies the global-minded spirit which drove Britain to vote Leave

Boris Johnson has announced his Cabinet and mapped out the course of his premiership. Like Theresa May when she first entered Downing Street, he declared that his Government’s key priority is delivering Brexit. Unlike May, Boris has fewer than 100 days to accomplish this task. If he fails, he will have had a shorter honeymoon period than Anne of Cleves – very few can see how he can survive in his role a day beyond 31 October if the UK isn’t out of the EU by Hallowe’en. – Dia Chakravarty for the Telegraph (£)

John Redwood: A more prosperous UK outside the EU

One of the important wins will be to resume our full voting membership of the World Trade Organisation. Once out we will decide our own tariffs for imports into the UK. We can exercise this freedom to take all tariffs off products we do not make or grow for ourselves, providing cheaper food and clothes for UK consumers. The EU imposes average tariffs of 5%, with an average 11.8% tariff on food. Dairy products are charged at a high 38.1%, fruit and vegetables at 11.5% and sugar and confectionery at 23%. Why shouldn’t we enjoy cheaper oranges and lemons from countries like South Africa, and cheaper wines from Australia and New Zealand? The UK government has already set out a provisional tariff schedule, and has decided to abolish all tariffs on imported components, providing a welcome boost to UK manufacturing. The EU will decide whether the UK must pay the external tariffs it charges the USA, China and others on their exports to the EU, or whether to negotiate a free trade agreement to avoid tariffs both ways. – John Redwood’s Diary

Ruth Dudley Edwards: By remaining resolutely pro-Union, Boris Johnson may yet unravel the torturous Irish backstop conundrum

There are, as yet, precious few signs of either the Dublin establishment or Northern Irish nationalists sharing Prime Minister Johnson’s sunny optimism about a renegotiated withdrawal agreement that can make everyone happy. For now they’re continuing to cling to the belief that he is a disorganised buffoon, as they would a comfort blanket. But that’s not to say that this position will not change. The Prime Minister so far has done exactly what is required of him in trying to solve his pressing problems in Ireland, which is to speak softly and carry a big stick. If he can maintain the early momentum he has set in realigning the British Government towards Brexit at all costs, then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and others will soon have to revise their positions. – Ruth Dudley Edwards for the Telegraph (£)

The Sun: Boris Johnson is off to a flying start as PM after crushing Jeremy Corbyn during their first meeting in Parliament

The glum faces of Labour MPs said it all as Boris Johnson faced Jeremy Corbyn for the first time and crushed him underfoot. The new Prime Minister’s utter dominance was a stark reminder of the ­feeble debating skills of every main party’s leader before his arrival in No10. Corbyn winced as Boris machine-gunned his record. He had grown ­comfortable with Theresa May’s faltering defence and joyless, scripted snark. Boris’s many tedious critics may roll their eyes at his ambition for Britain as “the greatest place on Earth” by 2050. But how much more powerful it is than Mrs May’s cautious defeatism. – The Sun says

Comment in Brief

  • Will he give Scottish fisheries back to EU? Boris demolishes SNP’s Blackford over Brexit – Express
  • May and gang attend cricket as Johnson offered chance to bat for Britain – The Times (£)