Boris Johnson pleads with EU leaders to shift on Brexit after making big money offer to Ireland to seal eleventh hour deal: Brexit News for Friday 4 October

Boris Johnson pleads with EU leaders to shift on Brexit after making big money offer to Ireland to seal eleventh hour deal: Brexit News for Friday 4 October
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Boris Johnson pleads with EU leaders to shift on Brexit after making big money offer to Ireland to seal eleventh hour deal…

Boris Johnson has pleaded with disapproving EU chiefs to shift on Brexit as it emerged he made a big-money offer to Ireland to seal an 11th hour deal. Laying out his new Brexit compromise offer today to MPs, the PM insisted his plan was a “genuine attempt to bridge the chasm”. But his “two borders” blueprint for Northern Ireland was met with hostility across Europe. EU Council president Donald Tusk earlier told Mr Johnson that Brussels “remains open, but still unconvinced” and challenged him to improve his offer. And Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the plan “falls short in a number of aspects” before staggeringly suggesting the British people want a second referendum. – The Sun

…with the PM to embark on a whirlwind tour of EU capitals to sell his Brexit plan…

Boris Johnson is set to launch a whirlwind round of talks in European Union capitals as he tries to sell his new Brexit proposals to sceptical EU leaders, while also keeping intact an emerging if fragile House of Commons majority for the plan. The prime minister had been expected to head to Berlin for talks with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Friday. However, scheduling difficulties mean discussions are more likely to begin at the weekend, Downing Street sources said, with trips planned to “several” capitals. However, no face-to-face talks have yet been confirmed, with Emmanuel Macron’s office saying that the French president was not due to see Johnson at the weekend or next week. – Guardian

…as he suggests he might give MPs a vote on it before the crucial EU summit…

MPs could be given a vote on the Government’s new Brexit proposal on the eve of a crunch meeting of European Union leaders in a fortnight’s time, Boris Johnson said on Thursday. The Prime Minister said he was considering the vote as MPs who had been strongly critical of Theresa May’s Brexit plans lined up to say they would vote for Mr Johnson’s revised proposal. During a debate in the Commons about the plan, Mr Johnson was asked by veteran MP Frank Field for “a vote on it before he goes to the European summit” on Oct 17/18 to try to get the offer agreed. Conservative MP Bob Blackman, a vice chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 committee, added that vote would “to test his negotiating strategy, to demonstrate to our European Union friends that we’re behind him”. – Telegraph (£)

…while he scraps Theresa May’s pledge to the EU that Britain will abide by ‘level-playing field standards’ after Brexit

Boris Johnson has scrapped a promise to the EU that Britain will abide by “level-playing -field standards” after Brexit. Ex-PM Theresa May had agreed with Brussels that the UK would stick to similar rules in areas such as competition and state aid plus workplace and environmental protections. The EU’s 27 leaders insist it is part of any future trade deal in the hope of stopping Britain from undercutting them. But the passage has been stripped out of the new version of the Political Declaration. A Cabinet source told The Sun: “The level-playing-field promise has to go, and Boris is very clear about this. It would seriously restrict our ability to deregulate and to do trade deals with other countries.” – The Sun

Jean-Claude Juncker calls on Johnson to publish his Brexit plan in full…

Jean-Claude Juncker has called on the British government to publish its Brexit plan in full after Boris Johnson was accused by Ireland’s prime minister of misleading parliament over the impact on the Irish border. Juncker’s call came after the European commission president spoke on the phone to Varadkar. He then issued a statement saying the two men agreed that the UK should open the legal text tabled on Wednesday to public scrutiny. The UK has so far only made public a seven-page explanatory document on its proposals. The government has insisted that the full 44-page legal text given to the European commission be kept confidential. “Both the president and the taoiseach agreed that they would be in favour of the UK publishing the legal text of their proposal,” a statement from the commission said. – Guardian

…as leading MEPs describe it as ‘not even remotely acceptable’ and promise to veto it

The European parliament has said it would veto Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals, warning that they are not “even remotely” acceptable as a solution to the Irish border problem. It comes as the Irish government warned that it “cannot possibly” support the plan in its current form, and encouraged the UK to come back with something “fit for purpose”; while the European Commission said it was down to the UK to fix a number of “problematic points”. Speaking after a meeting of the parliament’s Brexit steering group, coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said the plans were “mainly a repackaging of the bad ideas that have already been floated in the past”. In a joint statement released on Thursday afternoon, the cross-party committee of MEPs charged with setting parliament policy on negotiations – including the use of its veto – warned that it has “grave concerns about the UK proposal, as tabled”. – Independent

  • MEPs express ‘grave concerns’ with Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan – ITV News

Irish PM Leo Varadkar sparks anger by claiming the British people want a second Brexit referendum…

Irish PM Leo Varadkar has sparked fury by claiming the British people want a SECOND Brexit referendum – as he rejected Boris Johnson’s deal. Mr Varadkar blasted the PM’s five-point plan to break the deadlock and said it “falls short on a number of aspects”. The Taoiseach’s comments come after Mr Johnson told the Commons he believed his efforts had made a “genuine attempt to bridge the chasm” between No10 and the EU. Addressing the House, Boris said “we’re ready” to leave the bloc and it was his deal or no deal – much to the anger of Jeremy Corbyn and Remainer MPs. – The Sun

  • Leo Varadkar accused of attempting to derail Brexit deal by claiming Britain wants to stay in the EU – Telegraph (£)

> Sir Paul Marshall on BrexitCentral today: It’s time for some statesmanship from Leo Varadkar

…and his deputy Simon Coveney also rejects Johnson’s proposal…

There will be no deal if the latest Brexit plan put forward by the UK is the “final proposal”, Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney has said. The UK’s offer to the EU would replace the Irish border backstop through a number of different arrangements. The Irish government is concerned about customs checks and a review mechanism for the devolved NI government. DUP leader Arlene Foster described Mr Coveney’s remarks as “deeply unhelpful” and “obstructionist”. Speaking on Thursday, Mrs Foster said she believed the Irish government was not interested in an alternative to the backstop. The Irish deputy prime minister said giving Stormont a say on a single market deal coming into force could not be approved. – BBC News

…provoking DUP leaders to launch a bitter attack on the Irish Government

Party leader Arlene Foster and her deputy, Nigel Dodds, issued angry statements denouncing comments by Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his foreign minister, Simon Coveney. Dublin has insisted that Mr Johnson’s proposals for replacing the Irish backstop are unacceptable and must be redrawn. In particular, the Irish government is unhappy at plans to effectively give the DUP a veto over whether Northern Ireland remains aligned with EU customs rules. Mr Coveney said: “If this is the final proposal, there will be no deal.” But hitting back, Mrs Foster said: “Simon Coveney’s remarks are deeply unhelpful, obstructionist and intransigent.  The Irish government’s majoritarian desire to ride roughshod over unionism was one of the reasons why the withdrawal agreement was rejected. Mr Coveney’s rejection of a reasonable offer is paving the road for a no deal exit because unionism will not allow Northern Ireland to be trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU. We will not buy that.” – PoliticsHome

No Labour MP could support Johnson Brexit plan, claims Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has claimed that no Labour MP could support Boris Johnson’s alternative to the backstop, amid a growing No 10 campaign to woo his backbenchers. The opposition leader told parliament the prime minister’s plans were simply unworkable and part of a cynical attack upon workers’ rights. “Deal or no deal, this government’s agenda is clear,” he said. “They want a Trump-deal Brexit that would crash our economy and rip away the standards that put a floor under people’s rights at work. No Labour MP could support such a reckless deal that would be used as a springboard to attack rights and standards in this country.” But, behind the scenes, Downing Street figures have approached Labour MPs in the hope of persuading them to vote for Johnson’s proposals. – Guardian

Nicola Sturgeon accused of wanting a Brexit ‘neverendum’ as she confirms SNP deal opposition

Nicola Sturgeon wants a “neverendum” on Brexit rather than a deal for the UK to leave in an orderly manner, the Tories have said after she confirmed she would oppose any agreement to leave the EU. Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservative interim leader, contrasted the First Minister’s rhetoric that she would “do everything possible” to stop no deal with the SNP’s refusal to back any agreement presented to the Commons. He claimed she would “happily” crash out with no deal as the SNP confirmed it would “never consent” to Boris Johnson’s new Brexit blueprint, which would leave Northern Ireland in a special relationship with the EU for four years. Referring to the First Minister’s saying she was open to Jeremy Corbyn becoming interim Prime Minister, he said this outcome was “much more damaging to us all than getting the matter sorted now.” – Telegraph (£)

Boris Johnson could declare a national emergency to force no-deal Brexit, says Vince Cable

A senior UK opposition MP voiced concern that Prime Minister Boris Johnson could declare a state of national emergency in order to bypass legislation aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit on October 31. “My worry at the moment is that the government might try to fabricate an emergency situation as a pretext for pushing through changes around a no-deal Brexit that they otherwise cannot secure in parliament,” Vince Cable, former business secretary and leader of the Liberal Democrats, told Politico Thursday. “There is a risk that we get an agent provocateur … which the government uses as a pretext to obtaining emergency powers.” – Politico

EU chiefs call for start of membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania

Leaders of the EU’s main institutions on Thursday put pressure on member states to start accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania “no later” than this month In a letter, the current and future presidents of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and Ursula von der Leyen, as well as European Council President Donald Tusk and European Parliament President David Sassoli said the two Balkan nations have done “what we asked them to do.” They wrote that the EU faces a “strategic choice. Whether the EU decides now to open accession talks … is a test of the Union’s ability to deliver on its promises and look to the future.” – Politico

Nigel Farage: Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan is an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. Far better to walk away now

The Prime Minister’s long anticipated offer to the EU is a commendable effort to improve on a deeply flawed document, namely Theresa May’s disastrous “deal”. It contains some positive aspirations which, if agreed by Brussels, should take our country nearer to the intended goal of Brexit. To my mind, however, it still resembles nothing so much as an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. The masterstroke of the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, was to get Mrs May to agree to the Irish backstop. Convincing an avowed Unionist like her that it was acceptable to trap part of the UK inside the EU rulebook with no voice, no vote and no veto required a certain type of political nous. I think our nation owes a debt to the 28 “Spartans”, the Conservative MPs who quite rightly rejected her surrender document. Without them, Northern Ireland was to have been sold down the river. – Nigel Farage MEP for the Telegraph (£)

Daniel Hannan: All Brussels ever wanted was to keep the UK captive… a ‘colony’ for their exporters

I am not optimistic. Boris Johnson has made a fair and generous offer to the EU. He can get a majority for it in the House of Commons. It makes big concessions – on money, on treating Northern Ireland differently, on following some EU rules after leaving. But my hunch is that Brussels will still say no. Why? Because, for the EU, the aim was never to avoid a hard border in Ireland — something these proposals plainly achieve. The aim, rather, was to keep Britain in a subordinate position, still subject to EU law and trade policy. russels was reluctant to spell this out in so many words — at least publicly. A fly-on-the-wall documentary caught the staff of the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, cheering when Theresa May’s Cabinet accepted the backstop. – Daniel Hannan MEP for The Sun

Pat Leahy: Ireland is playing the long game and will not buy into Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

Boris Johnson’s big and bold, first and final offer to the EU – “constructive and far-reaching . . . good and creative” was the advance billing – was hailed by Conservatives in Manchester as the way to break the Brexit deadlock. But in Dublin it is viewed as nothing like that. Leo Varadkar seems to have struck up a better personal relationship with Boris Johnson than he endured with Mr Johnson’s predecessor. That can help things, but it won’t butter any parsnips on its own. The fact is that the Irish and EU position is miles away from the British one, and Johnson’s proposals won’t close it. Mr Varadkar gave his initial response to the British proposals at Government Buildings yesterday afternoon, and while a full formal response won’t come until the formal proposals are fully digested, it is pretty clear that the new plan isn’t going to fly with Dublin or with Brussels. – Pat Leahy for the Telegraph (£)

Linda Yueh: How Brexit Britain can become a global trade hub for services

The 21st century global economy is characterised by a number of trends, including the growth of cross-border trade in services, among others such as e-commerce. For Britain, focusing on services plays to its strengths as a largely services-based economy. Global trade in services is not as open as manufactured goods, which means that there is scope to liberalise services trade between countries. Capitalising on this gap would help position the UK for the decades to come. The GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) does cover trade in services, but more needs to be done. The 2013 launch of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) by the EU, US, and other economies together representing 70% of global trade in services was intended to further open up the global market for services, helping these countries export what they specialise in. – Linda Yueh for CapX

Fraser Nelson: If the EU rejects Boris’s offer, it’s full steam ahead for a no-deal Brexit

Something very strange is happening in the House of Commons. The hardline Brexiteers who refused to back Theresa May’s deal seem to be in agreement with the 21 rebels expelled from the Tory party. Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan, they say, is something they can vote through. Similar noises are coming from the more level-headed Labour MPs; ditto Arlene Foster’s DUP. Suddenly, we have something entirely new: a majority in parliament for a specific Brexit plan. Those fighting hardest in their respective trenches can see a chance for peace. “It’s a massive sea-change,” says Nigel Dodds, who like all other DUP MPs refused to back Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. “If the EU 27 support it, then so will I,” says Labour’s Ruth Smeeth. Steve Baker, the hardball-playing head of the European Research Group of Tories, says the Boris plan could turn into “a deal that I can proudly vote for.” Stephen Kinnock, who put together a group of 25 “Labour MPs for a deal”, says even his group is ready to defy Jeremy Corbyn if there’s a breakthrough. “If Dublin and Brussels are happy,” he says, “then we’re happy.” – Fraser Nelson for the Telegraph (£)

Sherelle Jacobs: When the EU crushes Boris’s chaotic Brexit plan, his only way out is no-deal

The strength of the Conservative Party is that it doesn’t know its own weakness. After three years spent on life support, the Government is almost supernaturally resurrecting: Theresa May’s botch-up has become an establishment stitch-up. An extension no longer necessarily spells Boris Johnson’s extinction. And the ease with which the Tories have swapped the sallow benevolence of austerity for the warm glow of Brexit populism has left Corbynistas incredulous. Still, the natural party of government seems dangerously close to squandering its recovery in a fit of typical Tory complacency. No 10’s mindboggling proposal for a divorce deal is already a serious communications problem. The PM’s vow in his speech closing Conservative Party conference to deliver Brexit “come what may” has now been lost in the maelstrom of debate about checks on animals and customs borders. His quips comparing Parliament to the pizza wheel of doom were submerged beneath vaporous claptrap about ensuring “renewable democratic consent” in Northern Ireland. – Sherelle Jacobs for the Telegraph (£)

David Trimble and Roderick Crawford: The Government’s new proposals meet the EU’s original aims better than the backstop

Michel Barnier insists on “legally operative solutions that meet all the objectives of the backstop” as the key tests the UK’s proposals must pass. The European Commission currently views the backstop as the only proposal that meets the core criteria for Ireland/Northern Ireland. But there is a problem with its view of this: it is not true. As has been argued on ConservativeHome and elsewhere, the backstop fails the test of the EU’s original negotiating mandate and the backstop’s stated raison d’etre — set out in its Article 1(3) — because it fails to protect the Belfast Agreement and undermines the foundation of North-South co-operation. That means that the backstop is not a “legally operative solution”. – Lord Trimble and Roderick Crawford for ConservativeHome

The Sun: How tediously predictable Remainers would trash Boris Johnson’s Brexit offer even before Brussels did

How tediously predictable that Parliament’s Remainers would trash Boris Johnson’s Brexit offer even before Brussels did. Somehow they had every confidence the EU would join in the barrage of ­negativity and, hours later, so it proved. This is a choreographed assault. The last thing Remain diehards want is for Boris to actually pull this off. He would then win an election by a mile. Forget their affected concern about No Deal. Remainers don’t want any deal. Look at Labour: Corbyn has some “Labour Brexit” fantasy in his head — but has even vowed to campaign against THAT. These MPs are not honest brokers. We doubt some actually read Boris’s deal — much like the European Parliament vice-president who admitted she hadn’t, even as she attacked it on radio. – The Sun says

Brexit in Brief

  • Boris Johnson presented his Brexit plan… and John Bercow was (almost) speechless – Michadel Deacon for the Telegraph (£)
  • These Brexit rebels have indicated they could vote for Boris Johnson’s proposals – Buzzfeed

And finally… John Bercow withdraws application to become member of the All England Tennis Club after members’ concerns about his Brexit outbursts

As a young man, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s 5ft 4in height prevented him from pursuing his passion for tennis. But in recent years his political stature has helped make him a Wimbledon regular, where he is often to be seen quaffing Pimm’s in the Royal Box. Indeed so keen is Bercow to join the tennis elite, I can reveal he even made a bid to become a member of the All England Croquet And Lawn Tennis club. But now I understand that Bercow’s, application has been quietly withdrawn after a hostile volley from some of the membership committee. ‘Some members are so angry about his perceived anti-Brexit shenanigans it was made clear his application would not be looked on favourably,’ – Daily Mail