Boris Johnson says 'I'd rather be dead in a ditch' than ask for a Brexit extension from Brussels: Brexit News for Friday 6 September

Boris Johnson says 'I'd rather be dead in a ditch' than ask for a Brexit extension from Brussels: Brexit News for Friday 6 September
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

Boris Johnson says ‘I’d rather be dead in a ditch’ than ask for a Brexit extension from Brussels… 

Boris Johnson has said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than return to Brussels and request an extension. Speaking at an event in West Yorkshire the Prime Minister made the comment when speaking of his disdain at the idea of returning to Brussels to ask to delay Brexit. While briefing journalists, during which he repeatedly fielded questions about the resignation of his brother, Mr Johnson answered “yes” when asked if he could make a promise that he would not return to Brussels asking for a delay. The Prime Minister refused to rule out resigning as he said: “It costs a billion pounds a month, it achieves absolutely nothing, what is the point of further delay. I think it’s totally, totally pointless.” It comes after his brother, Jo, resigned from Government after he said he has been “torn” between family loyalty and the national interest. – Telegraph (£)

> WATCH: PM Boris Johnson’s Brexit speech in West Yorkshire

…as the Government announces a second attempt to trigger a general election next Monday…

The government is to make a second attempt to secure an early general election, after Boris Johnson’s first bid to trigger a 15 October poll was humiliatingly rejected by MPs. Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs that an election motion will be put forward in the House of Commons on Monday next week. And Downing Street made clear that the prime minister will again seek a poll ahead of the crunch EU summit on 17 October, to allow the new PM to go to Brussels with a clear mandate from voters to negotiate Brexit. Mr Johnson hopes to place maximum pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to agree to a snap election. Labour’s support is needed because the Fixed Term Parliaments Act requires a two-thirds majority in the Commons to authorise an early poll. – Independent

…although the SNP and Labour consider a pact to stop Boris Johnson calling early election

Boris Johnson’s election hopes have been hit by an emerging deal between Labour and the SNP to block a poll before the next Brexit delay. Jeremy Corbyn met Ian Blackford, the Scottish nationalists’ Westminster leader, today to agree that the election must take place only after Britain has secured another extension from the European Union. The pact, which could lead to the parties uniting to call a confidence vote on Mr Johnson as soon as Monday, came after the resignation of his brother. – The Times (£)

‘Hypocrite’ Jeremy Corbyn holds SNP talks to push General Election back to November to kill No Deal Brexit – The Sun

PM’s Remainer brother Jo quits as a minister and MP over Brexit…

Jo Johnson, the younger brother of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is resigning as an MP and minister, saying he is “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”. The business minister and Tory MP for Orpington, south-east London, cited an “unresolvable tension” in his role. BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was “unbelievable timing”. Mr Johnson voted Remain in the 2016 EU membership referendum, while his brother co-led the Leave campaign. Mr Johnson’s resignation follows the removal of the Tory whip from 21 MPs this week for supporting moves to prevent a no-deal Brexit. – BBC News

…despite Boris begging him not to quit during a tense phone call

Boris Johnson begged his younger brother Jo not to quit as a Tory MP during a tense phone call last night – before admitting today that Brexit “divides families”. Remainer Jo, 47, who served as a sciences minister in his brother’s cabinet, announced he was resigning this morning saying he was “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”. The Sun can reveal Boris, 55, urged his brother to reconsider his resignation overnight during a long conversation. But when Jo – who has always been anti-Brexit – decided to push ahead, the PM said nothing about it to even his most senior aides. Dropping the bombshell, the younger Johnson said: “It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for 9 years & to serve as a minister under three PMs.” – The Sun

Sir John Major demands Boris sack top aide Dominic Cummings…

Sir John Major has demanded Boris Johnson sack his top aide Dominic Cummings – claiming the Tories are becoming a “mean minded sect”. He said it defied belief 21 Tory MPs had been booted out of the party for failing to “parrot the views of a Prime Minister influenced by a political anarchist” who doesn’t “care a fig” for the Conservatives. It came in an astonishing attack where the ex-PM accused Ministers of “playing fast and loose with the future of our United Kingdom”. – The Sun

…and urges him to reinstate rebel MPs stripped of the whip…

Sir John also pressed Mr Johnson to reinstate the 21 Tory MPs who have been stripped of the Tory whip after rebelling against the Government to try and block a no-deal Brexit. He claimed their “long and loyal service to the party” appeared to be worth nothing and warned excluding them would mean the Tories being seen as a “mean-minded sect” instead of a “broad-based national party.” Arguing the new Cabinet has “no majority and no mandate”, he dismissed it as a “faction of a faction” composed of hard-line Brexiteers, “with no counter-balance of opinion to hold it back.” – Telegraph (£)

…at least 12 of whom are preparing to run as independents in the next general election

A series of Tory rebels are preparing to stand as independents in a snap general election in a fresh blow to Boris Johnson’s plan for a majority. At least 12 of the former Conservative MPs are contemplating a run in their seats against any official new party candidate, The Sun has been told. They are Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Dominic Grieve, Ed Vaizey, Sam Gyimah, Alistair Burt, Steve Brine, Caroline Nokes, Antoinette Sandbach, Rory Stewart, Margot James and Stephen Hammond. Even if the rebels fail to win them, the move could split the Tory vote and hand the seats to opposition parties, diminishing the PM’s chances of a majority. – The Sun

France tells Remainer MPs they won’t automatically get another extension to stop a no-deal Brexit

France has warned Remainer MPs the EU won’t automatically grant another Brexit extension just to help them stop No Deal. Emmanuel Macron’s Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin questioned why the bloc would agree to a further delay “without changing anything”. Her remarks came after Michel Barnier told EU ambassadors that talks with Britain are now “in a state of paralysis” due to the turmoil in Westminster. Separately, the EU Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt blasted Boris Johnson for claiming it was “surrender” to opposing No Deal. – The Sun

European Commission warns EU27 that Brexit divides with Britain are widening

A senior European Commission official has warned EU diplomats that rather than moving closer towards an agreement as the no deal Brexit deadline looms, British and EU negotiators are drifting further apart. “She said the divides between the two sides were widening,” an EU diplomatic source said on Thursday, the day after David Frost, Boris Johnson’s top Brexit official, met with commission officials for two and a half hours of talks in Brussels.  Mr Johnson has repeatedly insisted that British Brexit negotiators are making good progress towards an agreement before the Brexit deadline of October 31. Mr Frost meets with the Article 50 taskforce again on Friday. – Telegraph (£)

Michael Gove denies that Brexit talks are stalled

The U.K.’s Cabinet Minister Michael Gove hit back at suggestions that no meaningful Brexit negotiations are taking place between the government and the EU. Appearing in front of the Commons Brexit committee Thursday, Gove insisted that genuine talks are happening. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told EU27 diplomats on Wednesday that the talks are stuck in “paralysis” due to the U.K.’s failure to provide any alternative arrangements to replace the Irish backstop. – Politico

Leo Varadkar warns that Brexit will haunt the UK even after it leaves EU

The U.K. will not achieve a “clean break” Brexit and deep division over the EU will dominate British politics for “many years to come,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told a business audience in Dublin Thursday. “The story of Brexit does not end if the United Kingdom leaves on 31st October or even January 31st — there is no such thing as a clean break,” Varadkar told the British Irish Chamber of Commerce. “Rather, we just enter a new phase.” Even in the best-case scenario that a deal can be done between London and Brussels, the next phase of agreeing a trade deal will be much harder, he said. – Politico

Johnson warns US Vice President the NHS is ‘not on the table’ after being told ‘Trump is ready for a deal’

Boris Johnson has warned Donald Trump’s administration the NHS is “not on the table” during any post-Brexit trade deal with the US. The Prime Minister played it tough with US vice president Mike Pence as he welcomed Mr Trump’s right-hand man to Downing Street for talks. The PM said he would not allow the health service to be carved up in trade talks with America and added that Britain was “not too keen on that chlorinated chicken”. In a dig at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his decision to block a general election, Mr Johnson added: “We have a gigantic chlorinated chicken of our own on the opposition benches.” He made the comments at Number 10 before being told to “shut up” by aides, with journalists whisked away to allow the pair to continue their bilateral talks. The meeting with Vice President Pence came shortly after the PM’s brother announced he was quitting as a minister and an MP. – ITV News

Former Labour MP Luciana Berger joins Lib Dems in bid to stop no-deal Brexit

Former Labour MP Luciana Berger has joined the Liberal Democrats in a boost to the pro-European party’s ranks. The Liverpool Wavertree MP dramatically defected from Jeremy Corbyn’s party earlier this year in protest over its handling of antisemitism complaints, joining up with a number of disaffected Labour and Tory MPs to co-found Change UK. Ms Berger then left the group in June in the wake of the party’s disastrous showing in the European parliament elections. She became the third independent MP to join the Liberal Democrats, after ex-Labour MP Chuka Umunna and former Tory Sarah Wollaston joined up. – Independent

Asa Bennett: The Brexit election is Boris Johnson’s chance to win a new Parliament and Tory Party

In the last days of Theresa May’s premiership, her supporters tried in vain to placate critical Tories by warning that there was little point changing the leader when they would still face the same tricksy House of Commons. The recently-defenestrated prime minister and her allies will feel bitterly vindicated after seeing this week Boris Johnson suffer a string of defeats in his first four parliamentary votes. Mrs May seemed to enjoy some schadenfreude, sitting on the backbenches next to Ken Clarke on Tuesday afternoon as he mocked her successor’s “obvious strategy” to pile blame on the EU and MPs before fighting “a flag-waving general election before the consequences of no-deal become too obvious to the public”. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Robert Peston: Will Boris Johnson goad MPs to impeach him by refusing to ask EU for Brexit delay?

A conspicuously rattled and tired Boris Johnson – flanked surrealy by the police in Wakefield – just said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than obey the expected new law that would force him to ask the EU for a Brexit delay. Which carries only two implications. Johnson could quit as Prime Minister before the EU summit on October 17 and bequeath to some other temporary prime minister the gift of suing the EU for a Brexit delay. That could happen, but honestly I don’t believe Johnson will ever voluntarily quit Downing Street. He’s waited for this moment too long. – Robert Peston for ITV News

Robert Taylor: Failing to deliver Brexit will inflict on Britain a national humiliation worthy of the Suez crisis

In the tumultuous 20th century, one defining moment eradicated Britain’s self-confidence and prestige, and blew apart the notion that it was a still great power. After all the sacrifices of two world wars, it was the Suez crisis of 1956 that finally revealed Britain’s humbled status in world affairs. We are now on the verge of our 21st century Suez moment. If anything, it’s even more significant than that. Yes, in 1956, after being humiliated by our closest ally, the United States, Britain could no longer pretend to its former global importance. But even that will pale into insignificance alongside our failure to leave the EU on October 31, having begged for yet another extension to Article 50, or, worse, revoked it altogether. – Robert Taylor for the Telegraph (£)

Frederick Forsyth: Now it’s time for Britain to stand up to the bullies from Brussels

As our ill-run country shuffles into the month of September, year of grace 2019, utter chaos prevails among the ranks of those supposed to be governing us. For us mere observers it is like watching not one but a series of slow car crashes about which we can do nothing. But certain clarities do stand out. One is the defection from the ranks of loyal Tory MPs of 21 renegades. What caused them to betray their party, its leader and their constituents? The only answer appears to be their insistence that “No Deal must be taken off the table”. First things first. No Deal is not a presence, it is an absence. – Frederick Forsyth for the Express

Rosa Prince: Jo Johnson’s brotherly betrayal is a heavy blow for a PM already feeling the heat

“The family avoids the topic of Brexit especially at meals…” So once revealed Rachel Johnson, sister of both the Prime Minister and now former-minister, Jo Johnson. Following the latter’s dramatic departure from government, it’s easy to see why Europe might well be off the menu at Chez Johnson. The current battle over Brexit has been described as a second English civil war; like its 17th century predecessor the issue has the capacity to rent families asunder and turn brother against brother. And it seems the fratricide has reached the very top of our body politic. The Johnsons have always been a competitive bunch. Rachel’s amusing anecdotes about growing up in a peripatetic family of four siblings with distant, often absent parents describe endless contests for who could be the sportiest, smartest, funniest. – Rosa Prince for the Telegraph (£)

Tim Wallace: Banks’ ‘Project Fear’ Brexit forecasts were commercially driven ‘propaganda’, economists say

Doom-laden warnings of economic catastrophe before the Brexit referendum were driven in part by commercial worries by economists at the banks that stood to lose the most from a ‘leave’ vote, economists have found. Analysts at institutions that faced the biggest potential losses from the referendum typically issued worse economic forecasts than those with less financial incentive to campaign to remain, according to Davide Cipullo and André Reslow of Uppsala University in Sweden. Voters often have little economic expertise and so may look out for expert forecasts of the impact of different vote, even while those expert economists have big incentives to seek to influence the referendum through their projections, leading to a “propaganda bias” in their warnings over the impact on the economy. – Tim Wallace for The Times (£) 

The Sun: The anti-Brexit Remainer MPs have broken politics more than the expenses scandal

We thought MPs’ stock hit rock ­bottom with the expenses scandal. We were wrong. Voters are now violently repulsed by their sickening parlour games. They cannot believe what they’re witnessing. It was bad enough that millions were systematically lied to by Remainer MPs promising to respect the Brexit verdict, then refusing to fulfil on it. Now, outside of Boris Johnson’s Tory ranks, almost every politician seems bent on cancelling 17.4million votes they disagree with, apparently oblivious to the potentially terrible consequences. They have crippled our pro-Brexit Prime Minister but refuse to replace him. They will make him beg Brussels for yet another humiliating delay. And, since this PM refuses, every witless Tom, Dick and Harriet in Parliament is branding him a liar, dictator and worse. – The Sun

Brexit in Brief

  • Dominic Cummings isn’t mad, like Donald Trump, he wants to rewrite the rules of politics – Daniel Capurro for the Telegraph (£)
  • Brexit can’t pose threat to Belfast Agreement… the document does not even refer to EU membership – Nelson McCausland for the Belfast Telegraph