PM claims there is 'bags of time' for EU to compromise on deal: Brexit News for Monday 12 August

PM claims there is 'bags of time' for EU to compromise on deal: Brexit News for Monday 12 August
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PM claims there is ‘bags of time’ for EU to compromise on deal…

Boris Johnson has claimed there is “bags of time” for the EU to compromise on a Brexit deal ahead of the Halloween deadline. With just 84 days until exit day, the prime minister said he was confident that Brussels would show “common sense” and agree to strip the controversial Irish backstop from the withdrawal agreement. The EU has repeatedly said it will not reopen the Brexit deal negotiated by Theresa May, which has been overwhelmingly rejected by parliament several times. Boris has repeatedly refused to entertain opposition demands to hold a general election before October 31. However, No 10 aides have indicated polling could take place just days later if he is forced to go to the country by a no-confidence vote by MPs. – Independent

…and accepts an offer from Irish PM Leo Varadkar to meet to try to break the Brexit deadlock…

Boris Johnson has accepted an offer from Irish premier Leo Varadkar to meet to try to break the Brexit deadlock as the European Union president insisted the UK would be the loser from a no-deal exit. UK Government sources have told The Sunday Telegraph that dates for a bilateral meeting are now being discussed, raising hopes of a breakthrough in agreeing a deal for the UK to leave the EU with a deal on Oct 31. Mr Johnson has been insisting that he wants the 27 EU countries including Ireland to drop the Northern Irish backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement because it would keep the UK closely tied to the EU after Brexit. The UK source said: “The UK has accepted Varadkar’s offer to meet and dates are being discussed.” The hope is that any meeting can happen before the meeting of the G7 major advanced nations in France in a fortnight’s time. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

…but Varadkar says backstop renegotiation will not be on agenda for the meeting…

The border backstop will not be up for renegotiation at a planned meeting between the Prime Minister and Taoiseach, the Irish government has insisted. While the encounter between Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar, which is set for early September, will focus on the Brexit impasse and Northern Ireland issues, Dublin was keen to stress that changes to the Withdrawal Agreement would not be countenanced. Brussels and London remain at loggerheads over the prospect of fresh Brexit negotiations. The UK Government has said any new negotiations must focus on developing an alternative to the Withdrawal Agreement. EU leaders insist the deal cannot be reopened but will engage on potential amendments to the Political Declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the bloc. Last week, Mr Varadkar said the invite to Mr Johnson to join him in Dublin for talks on Brexit and other issues had “no preconditions”. A spokesman for the Taoiseach said on Sunday: “The Taoiseach has invited the British Prime Minister to Dublin for talks on Northern Ireland and Brexit. Their offices are in contact to agree a date for these talks in the coming weeks. Such a meeting would give both sides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of their respective positions. As has repeatedly been made clear, the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop are not up for negotiation. Any discussions on changes to the Political Declaration would occur between the UK and the EU.” Mr Johnson has insisted a Brexit deal is only possible if the backstop is scrapped. – Belfast Telegraph 

  • Irish PM refuses to back down over the backstop ahead of talks with Boris Johnson – Telegraph (£)

Jean-Claude Juncker claims British will be the ‘big losers’ in a no deal Brexit…

Britain will be the “big losers” if there is a no deal Brexit, Jean-Claude Juncker has warned. The British government was pretending that the EU would be just as harmed by the disorderly Brexit on October 31, the president of the European Commission said. “If it comes to a hard Brexit, this is in no one’s interest, but the British would be the big losers. They pretend it’s not like that, but it will be,” he said in an interview with an Austrian newspaper, which was published on Saturday. Mr Juncker insisted that the EU was prepared for no deal, despite accusations from some in Britain that Brussels would be caught on the hop on Halloween. “We are at maximum preparation, though some British authorities say we are not well prepared for a no-deal. But I do not participate in this summer game. We are prepared and I hope the British are too,” he said. Mr Juncker added, “Secretly, of course, I hope that we do not need a no-deal.” The veteran politician, who steps down on November 1 the day after a possible no deal Brexit, said the EU would never agree to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

…as Tory MEP hits out at EU’s Brexit demands…

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan has hit out at the EU over the Irish backstop as Brexit negotiations remain deadlocked. The Tory MEP insisted the controversial backstop is an attempt by the EU to control the UK’s trade policy after Brexit. Mr Hannan said: “The backstop has nothing to do with the Irish border. “It is about allowing the EU to control the terms of Britain’s trade with countries like the US and India even after we have left. No self-respecting nation could ever have signed up to that.” It comes as London and Brussels are at an impasse over fresh Brexit negotiations. But the EU is insisting the Withdrawal Agreement, which includes the backstop, cannot be reopened and will only make changes to the Political Declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the bloc. The backstop is aimed at preventing a hard Irish border after Brexit but critics fear it could be used to permanently trap the UK in the EU customs union and prevent Britain striking its own trade deals. – Sunday Express

…and Trump’s former trade adviser says panic over no-deal ‘unjustified’

The “level of panic” in the United Kingdom around Brexit is “not justified”, a former top trade adviser to Donald Trump has warned. Stephen Vaughn, who served as the President’s acting trade representative before becoming general counsel on trade, told the BBC that the British have “enormous amount of leverage” in a potential trade deal with the US. This comes as ministers hail official figures showing that America has leapfrogged Germany to be he biggest single supplier of goods and services to the UK.  In the last year, imports from the US increased by 14% and are now worth £78.2bn, with British consumers purchasing goods from the US at record levels. At the same time, exports to the US have also reached new heights in the last year. British overseas sales totalled £121.6bn as trade between the two countries reached £199.7bn – a record high. – Telegraph (£)

Boris Johnson eyes election in ‘days after’ Brexit…

Boris Johnson would hold a general election in the “days after” the UK has left the EU on October 31 if he is forced to go to the polls should a parliamentary no-confidence vote succeed against his government, senior aides to the prime minister have said. Mr Johnson has said he does not want to hold an election before Brexit, but his advisers expect him to face a confidence vote soon after parliament returns from its summer break. Senior figures in the Labour party have said they are planning to try to topple his government in early September.  On Thursday, Downing Street stepped up its efforts to persuade MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit, particularly Conservatives, that bringing down the Johnson government would not derail its Brexit strategy. The prime minister is similarly keen to disabuse EU leaders of the notion that parliament can thwart leaving without a deal. “We can’t stop them forcing an election but we control the timetable so we will force the date after October 31,” said a senior Downing Street official. “If there must be a general election, then it will be days after October 31.” Another close aide to Mr Johnson did not deny that any election would be held in the first few days of November. – FT(£)

  • Boris Johnson ‘could hold snap election immediately after no-deal Brexit – Telegraph (£)

…as No 10 cancels staff leave…

Boris Johnson’s chief of staff cancelled all leave for government advisers until 31 October in a missive on Thursday night, raising further speculation the government is planning for a forced snap election in the aftermath of the UK leaving the EU with no deal. Special advisers were emailed by Johnson’s senior adviser Edward Lister on Thursday night, saying there was “some confusion about taking holiday”. They were told none should be booked until 31 October, with compensation considered “on a case by case basis” for those who had already booked leave, though the email said advisers were free to spend their weekends “as you wish”. “There is serious work to be done between now and October 31st and we should be focused on the job,” the email said. The directive angered many recipients, who say staff are exhausted and are facing an unprecedented workload in September and October. – Guardian

…but PM could lose over half of 20 key marginal seats between Tories and Lib Dems at early election

An early general election could result in Boris Johnson losing more than half of 20 key marginals in Conservative and Liberal Democrat battlegrounds, according to a new analysis. Highlighting the risk of heading to the polls at a snap election for the prime minister, the survey shows the unequivocally anti-Brexit party could swipe seats from the Tories, predominately in the south of England. It comes amid heightened speculation of an early election in the autumn, either called by Mr Johnson himself or forced upon him by MPs voting to topple his new administration in a vote of no confidence after the summer recess. In a letter to the entire civil service on Friday, Mr Johnson said it was now No 10’s “top priority” to prepare the country for leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October, adding he “recognised” a new Brexit deal may not be achieved. The polling by YouGov for the People’s Vote campaign – covering 20 constituencies with the smallest Tory majorities where the Lib Dems came second in 2017 – shows 11 of them of could fall from Tory control. – Independent

  • Boris Johnson set to lose 50 seats at election unless he forms Brexit Party alliance – Sunday Express

Labour MPs told to cancel September travel plans as Jeremy Corbyn prepares to table no confidence vote

Labour MPs have been told to cancel all travel in early September in anticipation of Jeremy Corbyn tabling a motion of no confidence in the Government. The Telegraph has learned that Labour has suspended the process known as “slipping” for two weeks, which allows Labour MPs to be absent for votes, in order to maximise the chances of toppling Boris Johnson’s administration. The move appears to confirm that Labour will attempt to bring down the Government within days of MPs returning from their summer holidays, in order to provide enough time to try and block a no-deal Brexit. Until now, Mr Corbyn has refused to say when he will table a no confidence motion, stating that the crunch moment will come “at a point when we can win it”. The earliest a no confidence vote can be held is believed to be September 4, the day after recess ends. Should Labour succeed, Mr Johnson is likely to spark a constitutional crisis, with Downing Street sources indicating he will refuse to resign and instead attempt to call a general election after the Brexit deadline of October 31. – Telegraph (£)

Johnson tells MPs to ‘get on and deliver’ Brexit as Tory rebels and Labour plot anti No Deal coup…

Boris Johnson has ordered MPs to “get on and deliver” Brexit as Tory rebels and Labour plan a coup over No Deal. The PM said remainers were standing in the way of “what this country voted for” after reports Labour could create a constitutional crisis. Speaking while visiting a Science centre in Abingdon, Johnson said: “We are going to leave the European Union on October 31 which is what the people of this country voted for, it’s what MPs voted for, and that’s what I think parliamentarians of this country should get on and do. I think that MPs should get on and deliver on what they have promised over and over and over again to the people of this country, they will deliver on the mandate of 2016 and leave the EU on October 31.” – The Sun

> WATCH: MPs should get on and deliver on what they have promised over and over again

…and will throw intimate dinners at No10 to convince Tory MPs not to block Brexit

Boris Johnson is throwing a series of intimate dinners at No10 to convince Tory MPs not rebel to block a No Deal Brexit. The PM will warn the politicians their plan risks toppling the Tories and handing the keys to Downing Street to Jeremy Corbyn. He is launching the charm offensive as he orders Whitehall mandarins to ramp up No Deal planning. Several Tory MPs including Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve have threatened to go nuclear and join Labour in voting to oust Boris if it blocks a No Deal. Mr Johnson has a working a majority of just one, meaning any backbench revolt risks evicting him from No10 just a couple of months after he was voted in. The Sun Columnist James Forsyth reveals in today’s newspaper that the series cosy soirees will kick-start on Monday night. Downing Street insiders said the PM will use the dinners to win round Tory MPs who are worried a No Deal Brexit will damage Britain’s economy. Boris will reassure his wobbly backbenchers that he wants a deal. – The Sun

UK to fast-track visas for researchers post Brexit

The U.K. plans to fast-track visas for researchers to encourage “the very best minds” to continue to work in the country after Brexit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Thursday. Johnson said he instructed the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to work with the scientific community to develop the new simplified system, which he aims to launch later this year. The announcement comes amid calls from lawmakers and academics for a streamlined, less costly visa scheme amid concerns that Brexit could hurt the country’s ability to attract top scientists from the Continent. The House of Lords’ science committee urged the government earlier Thursday to ensure post-Brexit immigration rules don’t hinder researcher recruitment and retention. – Politico

Trucks full of food and medicines could be flown into UK on cargo planes as part of ministers’ no-deal Brexit plans

Trucks loaded with food and medicines could be flown into Britain on cargo planes as part of ministers’ plan to beat queues at Dover after a no-deal Brexit. New tendering documents for a £300 million no-deal contract show that the Department for Transport wants firms to supply planes to air-lift vital supplies if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal. Civil servants want a company to provide “aircraft that can be used for the provision of capacity for the transportation of freight vehicles” into the UK after October 31. The contract asks for companies who can ensure that goods that are “identified by the Government as being critical to the preservation of human and animal welfare and/or national security” continue to come into the UK. It says the Government “is seeking to put in place a framework of operators of vessels, trains or aircraft that can be used for the provision of capacity for the transportation of freight vehicles (meaning wheeled goods vehicles including vans, trucks, lorries, HGVs and other equivalents) or wheeled trailers or semi-trailers … between the UK and the EEA and/or between Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

No-deal lorry mayhem at Dover and Calais? ‘C’est la bullsh**’ replies French ports chief…

The head of the French channel ports has dismissed warnings of Brexit chaos on the Dover-Calais trade route as irresponsible scare-mongering by political agitators. “The British authorities have been doing a great deal to prepare. People say they are asleep but I can assure you that they are highly professional and they are ready,” said Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of Port Boulogne Calais. “There are certain individuals in the UK who are whipping up this catastrophism for their own reasons. This has provoked a lot of concern but basically ‘c’est la bullsh**’. Nothing is going to happen the day after Brexit,” he told The Telegraph. “Britain will be a third country, that’s all, and there is no reason why this should lead to any problems. If both sides do their homework traffic will be completely fluid,” he said. Mr Puissesseau, an anglophile and horse-race afficionado, said alarmist stories of thirteen-mile lorry jams across Kent are based on twisted assumptions by people who do not know what they are talking about, or in some cases the result of distortion by particular interests with an axe to grind. – Telegraph (£)

…as Michael Gove takes on Brexit fake news with rapid rebuttal unit to quash no-deal ‘myths and half-truths’

Michael Gove will launch a new ‘rapid rebuttal unit’ at the heart of Government on Monday to provide instant responses to “media myths and half-truths” about the risks of a no-deal Brexit. The new Response Unit will be run by civil servants in the Cabinet Office and will ensure that “the public and businesses are not being alarmed by scare stories or falsehoods”, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose. Senior Government figures are known to have become frustrated over the anti-no deal stories aired by the BBC in recent days, notably one about cows being slaughtered in Northern Ireland after a no deal exit. Last week BBC2’s Newsnight programme reported that 45,000 dairy cows could be culled in Northern Ireland, in the event of a no-deal Brexit if new higher tariffs were applied to British milk despite Defra saying that a cull is “absolutely not something that the government anticipates nor is planning for in the event of no-deal”. Individual departments will be tasked by the unit – which is overseen by Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who is coordinating no deal planning in the Cabinet Office – with rebutting articles that officials feel exaggerate or misrepresent the dangers of leaving the European Union without a deal on October 31. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Jeremy Corbyn asks Cabinet Secretary to block Boris Johnson from forcing no deal during election…

Labour LeaderJeremy Corbyn has called on the Cabinet Secretary to rule that Boris Johnson cannot force through a no-deal Brexit in the middle of a general election campaign. Mr Corbyn has written to Sir Mark Sedwill warning it would be an “anti-democratic abuse of power” if the Prime Minister was to deny voters a choice on Britain’s EU future in an election campaign. The move comes amid reports Mr Johnson could seek to hang on long enough to ensure Britain is out of the EU before going to the polls if he is defeated in a vote of confidence when MPs return in September. As it stands – under the latest extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process by the EU – Britain is due to leave on October 31. But with a wafer-thin Commons majority of just one, Mr Johnson is vulnerable to defeat if, as expected, Labour table a no-confidence motion early next month. If that happened, under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, he would have 14 days to win another vote of confidence or, if no other government could be formed, face a general election. His top adviser Dominic Cummings is said to have argued that would still allow him to set an election date after October 31, by which time the UK would be out of the EU with nothing a new government could do to stop it. In his letter to Sir Mark, Mr Corbyn said such a course of action would be “unprecedented” and “unconstitutional”. He said the Cabinet Office’s election “purdah” rules make it clear that policy decisions on which a new government “might be expected to want to take a different view” should be postponed until after polling day. – ITV News

…as think tank says Remainer MPs are fast running out of time and options to block a no-deal Brexit

MPs attempting to block a no-deal Brexit may have run out of time and options to prevent Britain leaving the European Union on October 31, a respected think tank has said. The Institute for Government has claimed that “time is running out” for the Remainers who are attempting to delay Brexit, and that “simply voting against” no-deal cannot stop Boris Johnson. In a new paper, the think tank concludes that many of the previous avenues to stopping no-deal are no longer available to MPs, with Downing Street simply able to “ignore” their opposition in Parliament. Whilst a group of cross-party rebels have previously frustrated the Government’s plans by amending key Brexit Bills, the paper points out that there is “very little” additional legislation required to deliver Brexit by Hallowe’en. The IfG added that even if MPs succeeded in “amending or voting down” new laws, “it would only limit the government’s powers” rather than achieving their aim of preventing “no-deal itself”. Joe Owen, the IfG’s Brexit programme director, said: “MPs looking to force the Government into a change of approach face a huge challenge when Parliament returns. Even if they can assemble a majority for something, they may find few opportunities to make their move – and time is running out.” – Telegraph (£)

  • MPs opposing no-deal Brexit will ‘need new tactics’, report says – Guardian
  • Voting on Brexit: Parliament’s role before 31 October – Institute for Government

…and Boris Johnson’s allies convinced Supreme Court hasn’t got time to block Brexit

Remainers threatening legal action to block a No Deal Brexit were warned last night: “Nothing can stop us now.” PM Boris Johnson’s pals believe there is barely any time to win a court ruling. There are just 81 days until Britain leaves the EU and the wheels of justice move so slowly we would be out before judges give their decision. The PM’s senior allies say the only person able to halt Brexit is Mr Johnson himself. Anti-Brexit tycoon Gina Miller has vowed to launch a Supreme Court challenge to prevent BoJo from suspending Parliament to drive a No Deal departure before October 31. She has assembled the same legal team that forced Theresa May to grant MPs a vote before triggering Article 50 to leave in 2017. But No 10 aides say she has too little time to pull it off again. MPs can vote against No Deal but cannot prevent it. A vote of no-confidence in the PM would only leave time for an election to be held after Britain has left. A senior No10 source said: “All this huffing and puffing means nothing now that we have a Prime Minister who is determined to deliver Brexit.” – The Sun

…but leaked paper exposes plot to block Boris Johnson’s ‘do or die’ no-deal Brexit…

MPs are drawing up plans to compel Boris Johnson to break his “do or die” pledge and force him to request an 11th-hour Brexit extension from the European Union. A leaked strategy document reveals that Mr Johnson’s opponents believe they can thwart his plans to push through a no-deal Brexit and compel him to hold an election with Britain still in the European Union. They also intend to launch a campaign accusing the prime minister of driving through an illegitimate “scorched earth (no-deal) policy on the British people” that has no democratic mandate. Under the proposals set out in the document, which has been circulated to Labour and Tory rebels, MPs plan to: block any attempt by Mr Johnson to call an election before October 31 unless the prime minister agrees to a Brexit extension for the poll to take place, use a vote of confidence in the days leading up to Brexit to take control of the parliamentary timetable and change the law to compel Mr Johnson to request an Article 50 extension from European leaders. MPs believe that they have an opportunity in the Fixed-term Parliament Act which governs what happens if a prime minister loses the confidence of parliament. It stipulates that before an election can be triggered MPs have 14 days in which to try to establish a new government that can command majority support. – The Times (£)

…as former UK parliament adviser warns legal loophole could lead to no-deal Brexit

Boris Johnson could shut down parliament after a vote of no confidence to prevent MPs blocking a no-deal Brexit, a former House of Commons clerk has warned. Robert Rogers, now Lord Lisvane, who served as the most senior constitutional adviser to the House between 2011 and 2014, was scathing about the reported plans by Johnson to ignore a vote of no confidence and delay an election until after the Brexit date. He said that while it would be possible to suspend the Commons through a “Sittings of the House Motion” to force a no-deal departure from the EU, the tactic would be an “open subversion” of the laws governing parliamentary terms, and “constitutionally destructive.” Downing Street has refused to rule out the prospect of Johnson ignoring a no-confidence vote aimed at stopping a no-deal Brexit. Under the Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA), MPs would have 14 days after a no-confidence vote to pass a vote of confidence either in the existing government or a newly formed one, otherwise a general election would be triggered. It means a prospective successor to the prime minister would need to have formed a government at the request of the queen before a second confidence vote is held. – Politico

Jeremy Corbyn could be defied by as many as 100 Labour MPs preparing to commit to a second referendum 

As many as 100 Labour MPs are preparing to defy Jeremy Corbyn and commit to a second referendum if a snap election is called in the Autumn.  Anti-Brexit MPs are organising across party lines to agree to run on policies to support a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. The idea is that if there is a snap election this Autumn, the pledge for a second referendum will be contained on their personal election addresses on leaflets which are sent out locally to voters in constituencies. The wording and policies on these addresses is set by the individual candidate in each constituency. Last month Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged the next Tory leader to hold another referendum before taking Britain out of the EU, saying Labour will campaign for Remain. Mr Corbyn said the party will take this position to stop “no deal or a damaging Tory Brexit” but he did not say what he would do if he won a general election and was placed in charge of the Brexit process. If scores of MPs run on personal commitments for a second referendum on Brexit it could be highly embarrassing for Mr Corbyn. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Labour Party spokesman Clive Lewis backs remain alliance…

The shadow minister Clive Lewis today declares his support for a “remain” alliance as he urges the Labour Party to put up “paper candidates” in dozens of Liberal Democrat target seats to stop Boris Johnson winning a majority. To maximise support for pro-remain parties at the next general election, Lewis suggests that Labour, the Lib Dems, Greens and Scottish National Party (SNP) agree to a “non-aggression pact” and turn their fire on the Tories. “Every bit of air time the parties get should be aimed at the Tories and the Brexit Party rather than each other,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.” Amid speculation that Johnson is preparing for an autumn election, Lewis said: “Because the Lib Dems are predominantly targeting Tory seats, it becomes quite simple for the Labour Party. These are seats the Labour Party has no chance of winning . . . so what we should do is to stand a paper candidate in those seats, which means you put up a candidate by name only and don’t do any actual campaigning.” In the small number of seats where Labour and the Lib Dems were serious rivals, the parties should go “head to head”. The Lib Dems are mainly competing with the Conservatives for seats lost to a David Cameron-led party in 2015. There are only two Labour–Lib Dem marginals — Leeds North West and Sheffield Hallam, where a by-election will be held after the disgraced MP Jared O’Mara announced he was resigning. Lewis’s intervention follows the Lib Dems’ win in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election this month after the Greens and Plaid Cymru agreed to stand aside and give them a free run at the Tories. – Sunday Times (£)

…and Tory Remainer Lord Heseltine says imposing no-deal Brexit ‘intolerable’ attack on democracy…

The Conservatives will lose significant votes to the Liberal Democrats or other remain parties if they force through a no-deal Brexit against the will of parliament, the party stalwart Michael Heseltine has warned. Imposing a no-deal departure without MPs’ consent would be “an intolerable position for democracy”, said the former deputy prime minister, who is heavily critical of Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s lead adviser and Brexit enforcer. “It is absolutely central that parliament should be able to call to account people who represent them as ministers, and at the moment we’re being told by a particular figure, who’s proud of it, that he’s more or less running the show,” Lord Heseltine said on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show. – Guardian

> WATCH: Former Deputy PM Lord Heseltine discusses Brexit on Sophy Ridge on Sunday

…as Green MP Caroline Lucas calls for all-female emergency cabinet

Caroline Lucas has asked 10 female politicians from all parties to join her in forming an “emergency cabinet” in a bid to stop a no-deal Brexit. Writing in the Guardian, the Green Party MP said the all-women cabinet could “bring a different perspective”. Ms Lucas, whose party wants another Brexit referendum, said the aim would be to force a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Boris Johnson. She would then hope to form a “national unity government”. This arrangement – when a group of MPs of multiple parties choose to work together and form a government – has not been seen since the Second World War. In her Guardian comment piece, Ms Lucas – who used to be the Green Party leader – wrote: “We need an ’emergency cabinet’ – not to fight a Brexit war but to work for reconciliation. And I believe this should be a cabinet of women. Why women? Because I believe women have shown they can bring a different perspective to crises, are able to reach out to those they disagree with and cooperate to find solutions.” Under her proposals, the national unity government would “press the pause button” and organise another referendum offering a choice between Remain or the government’s Brexit plan, whether that is an agreed deal or no deal. She added: “This is not an attempt to replace one coup with another. A small group of us should not be deciding on Britain’s future and that is not what lies behind my initiative. “But we need to find a way forward that allows the British people to decide which course they want to take.” – Guardian 

Brexiteers urge Chancellor Sajid Javid to slash air passenger duty to give Brexit a flying start

Tory Brexiteers want the Chancellor to give Brexit a flying start by slashing air passenger duty. They believe it would give a much-needed break to business chiefs travelling to drum up international trade. New analysis shows that tax accounts for 40p in every pound spent by UK passengers on a one-way economy ticket. But those visiting more important trade destinations often pay more, according to research by A Fair Tax on Flying. A staggering 56 per cent of the cost of a ticket from London to New York is tax. Fares to Toronto account for 42 per cent, Tel Aviv is 60 per cent and Dublin is 72 per cent. Senior MPs are urging Sajid Javid to show the UK is open for business once we leave the EU by slashing duty in his first Budget this autumn. Tory Henry Smith, who chairs the all-party group of APD reform, said: “It is unacceptable that we are hitting UK passengers with such an exorbitant tax on trade, when we should be increasing support to British businesses looking to trade internationally. “The Chancellor must take action and cut air passenger duty to give Britain a flying start to our post-Brexit future. – The Sun

Buckingham Palace and Downing Street plan to keep the Queen out of looming constitutional crisis over Brexit

Buckingham Palace is in talks with Downing Street about how to keep the Queen out of the looming constitutional crisis over Brexit, The Telegraph can disclose. Sir Mark Sedwill, the Government’s most senior civil servant, and Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, spoke in the past few days on the phone about 
the increasing calls for Her Majesty to step in. The conversation was prompted by growing speculation that politicians will try to force the Queen to get involved if Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, loses a no-confidence vote early next month. The Labour Party and some Remainer Tory MPs are concerned that Mr Johnson might refuse to resign quit Downing Street if he loses a vote. – Telegraph (£)

Dominic Raab: A truly global future awaits us after Brexit

As we strive for a better deal with the EU, we need to view that relationship in the context of our wider vision for the UK after Brexit. Fifteen years ago, when I was posted as a Foreign Office lawyer to The Hague, I remember my counterparts from Japan, Australia, South Korea and Brazil lamenting the introverted perspective of the EU and the UK – at the expense of the rest of the world. It was a salutary warning. Today, the UK wants a strong relationship with our European partners. But Brussels isn’t the only game in town. It’s time we broadened our horizons, and my first visits as Foreign Secretary – to the US, Canada, Thailand and Mexico – have shone a light on the opportunities for a truly global Britain. Wherever I travel, I take the Prime Minister’s message of optimism. We will remain strong European partners. But there is a wider world out there for us to re-discover. By the end of my first fortnight as Foreign Secretary, I have met the foreign ministers of 22 countries across the world. I am struck by how much they want to strengthen their ties with us. They too see the great benefits offered by Brexit to deepen our partnerships around the world. Together there is more that we can and will do to enhance global prosperity and stability and defend our shared values of freedom, democracy and tolerance. So, let’s raise our game, rediscover our national self-confidence, and grasp the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead. – Dominic Raab MP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Ray Bassett: Ireland has every reason to worry about Brexit – because they’ve played it so badly from the start

The Taoiseach and the Irish establishment are getting increasingly anxious about the Brexit intentions of the new British administration under Boris Johnson. They have every reason to worry. Ireland has played the whole Brexit process very badly, right from the outset, and now finds itself in a very difficult situation. The demise of Theresa May and the routing of the pro-EU elements of the Conservative Party was in large measure caused by the Taoiseach and his insistence on an unfair backstop. The Irish strategy was to do the work of Brussels, which essentially was to either reverse the outcome of the referendum or tie the British so close to the EU that it made no difference. The weapon used was the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, which we, as the UK’s neighbour and supposed partner under the Good Friday Agreement, should never have endorsed so enthusiastically. Now the outcome of local and EU elections in Britain, followed closely by the arrival of Mr Johnson as PM, has put paid to any realistic prospect that their strategy would work. The appointment of a fully committed set of pro-Brexit ministers has emphasised the seriousness of Mr Johnson’s intent about leaving, with or without a deal, on Halloween. While official Irish spokespersons continue to articulate the mantra about the Agreement being the only show in town, in private they are fully aware they may have missed the boat by failing to compromise on the backstop. – Ray Bassett for The Sun

Daniel Hannan: Theresa May gave the EU all it could have hoped for – now it risks losing everything

Are Eurocrats, I wonder, starting to feel the tiniest batsqueak of doubt? A year ago, they had the UK where they wanted it. Our officials were pledging to adopt EU social and employment laws unilaterally and to pay for the privilege. Had any other country made such an offer, Brussels negotiators would have snapped its hand off like ravening hounds. But, still bruised by the referendum result, they instead demanded more. Result? A change of management in Britain, and the sweeping away of concessions that the previous administration placed on the table. Theresa May approached the talks as a supplicant. The EU laid down the terms, set the preconditions and ordered the protocols. Every meeting took place at the European Commission rather than in London: a token attempt to hold one press conference on British soil at the Brussels embassy was rejected out of hand. Desperate to come back with something that could technically be labelled “Brexit”, the former PM signed up to every EU request. Here was Britain asking the EU to set its technical standards, promising to contribute to the military security of the continent, swearing never to be more competitive than its neighbours. Yanis Varoufakis, the raffish former Greek finance minister, called it “a deal that a nation signs only after having been defeated at war,” though it reminded me more of the ultimatum issued by Austria-Hungary to Serbia in 1914 – a provocative demand to control the internal affairs of another state. I have never wanted a no-deal outcome. It took a freakish combination of Brussels intransigence, Theresa May’s hopelessness and the loss of a parliamentary majority to bring us to this point. But at least, following such a break, it will be clear that neither side has any intention of installing infrastructure at the Irish border, and that that whole issue was a cover for the attempt to keep us in the customs union. We can then negotiate on honest terms. In the meantime, we would keep our dignity and our democracy intact. – Daniel Hannan MEP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Gisela Stuart: It’s not extreme to want to leave the EU on 31 October, come what may

The paths we have chosen in the past three years are ones no one would have anticipated. Neither, quite frankly, are they ones anyone would have wished for. Mistakes were made. But let’s be clear about one thing: the voters’ decision to leave the European Union and how politicians have gone about implementing the result are two distinct issues. Criticising the process of leaving is not the same as questioning the referendum outcome. Leave had a clear majority on a high turnout. Whichever way anyone voted, we can probably agree that the paralysis of indecision of this period has been corrosive and damaging. It has entrenched divisions and undermined confidence. Liberal democracies need political structures that are capable of governing. It is not sustainable for political parties to have their frontbenchers in disagreement with the backbenchers. In the same way, MPs being out of step with their voters on a major issue rarely ends well. Restoring trust and confidence won’t be easy and it will take time. But we don’t have much time, so clarity of purpose and seeing beyond narrow party politics must be the starting point. The government has a clear and unequivocal commitment to implementing the referendum. The prime minister and his cabinet have not framed their work as being a case of making the best of a bad decision, but as one of looking ahead with optimism and determination. – Gisela Stuart for the Guardian

Douglas Murray: Just look at the chaos across the Channel and it’s blindingly obvious we are right to leave the EU

For all the warning and carping that goes on about the internet there is one gift that always gives. I refer of course to YouTube. True, much of the site is tweeny “vloggers” updating their millions of followers about what they ate for breakfast. But it is also reliably, addictively informing. Perhaps its finest attribute is the frequency with which historic videos are “recommended” at just the right moment. Users will be aware of the YouTube holes you can fall down for hours after one such video is pushed on you. And this week I happily fell into one of these vortexes when some videos of Margaret Thatcher speaking about the EU were once again being promoted on the channel. If anyone worries about the dumbing down of our time they should witness the millions of views such videos get. Why would it be that videos of Margaret Thatcher “totally destroying the EU” keep going “viral”? Simply because they are the greatest possible reminder that this country’s present struggle to get out of the EU is just the latest phase of a struggle we have gone through for the duration of some of our lifetimes. Just this week Guy Verhofstadt was on Twitter celebrating a new “poll”. It claimed that a majority of people in Europe “consider themselves to be citizens of the EU”. A finding which ought to be a statement of fact was greeted by Verhofstadt as “great news”. And what did he conclude? “It’s high time we set up a real pan-European democracy with transnational lists… we owe it to them!” More than a quarter of a century ago Mrs Thatcher saw this direction of travel, and saw that it was one that Britain did not want to be on. Her words come back to us now because the truth she spoke to has not gone away. And if the history books of the future end up relating that Britain spent the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries enmeshed in this question, then what would be wrong with that? There is no shame in having spent these years attempting to ensure that we remain a sovereign, self-governing nation, with a Parliament elected by and accountable to the people. Indeed, what question should better occupy a nation? – Douglas Murray for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Patrick Minford: The UK economy has not been damaged by Brexit, but by our failure to deliver it

Negative growth in the second quarter has been hailed by the continuity Remain camp as evidence of Brexit damage to the economy. It is instead evidence of a Brexit ‘failure bounce’. The first quarter bounced up with a lot of pre-Brexit stocking-up. When Brexit failed to happen, it duly bounced down again. To get a reading on the underlying growth rate, it is best to average the two quarters and compare them with a year ago; this gives an annual growth of 1.3%. This tells us the economy has slowed down recently. But so has the world economy and this has had a negative impact on the euro-zone too, as it has on China and many others. Year-on-year growth in the first quarter- all we have for others- was 0.7% for Germany, -0.1% for Italy, 1.2% for France and the same for the eurozone.  The story is simple enough: the world has slowed and so have we. Of course we need to end the Brexit uncertainty and get Brexit done, so that policy can move on to the necessary reforms Brexit will make possible- whether in freeing up our trade, improving our regulative environment, modernising our tax system, or much else. Uncertainty about Brexit has undoubtedly held back some investment plans; but these will come back into action once Brexit is done. Meanwhile, because investment is a small part of GDP, this effect has not dented the UK’s remarkable jobs boom, with new jobs being created at record rates. Unemployment is at an all-time low, the employment rate has never been higher; there is also record participation by women, older people and the self-employed. All of these are signs that the economy’s main engine, the job market, is in good shape. – Patrick Minford for the Telegraph (£)

Telegraph: Time to correct the Brexit fake news

Economic confidence is key to a successful Brexit, deal or no deal. If the public is fed a diet of negative stories, those tales of woe will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, driving away investors and discouraging consumers. Obviously, news organisations have a duty to report the facts and, yes, to provide a fair assessment of hopes and fears. But some of the information floating around is just fake news. Some viewers of Wednesday’s edition of BBC Newsnight felt that its claim that 45,000 dairy cows could be slaughtered in Northern Ireland if Britain leaves the EU without a deal was somewhat speculative. The Department of Agriculture says it has no such plans. The head of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, which is a critic of a no-deal Brexit, called the BBC’s story “scare tactics”. He said the figure of 45,000 appeared to have been “plucked out of the air”. The BBC was quoting industry figures. Michael Gove intends to set up a response unit run by civil servants to monitor the media for half-truths or myths and offer rebuttal – and it’s a commonsense part of Brexit planning. An official response is necessary to disseminate correct information and reassure the world that Britain is open for business. If any Remainers complain, we would remind them that during the referendum the Government splashed £9 million on a leaflet making the case for EU membership. Fake news has become a problem more widely, undermining truth and trust. It is our view that social media platforms, so often the host for wild misinformation, should be held responsible for what they publish. – Telegraph (£) editorial

Angus Dalgleish: No, of course Brexit won’t damage British science

Boris Johnson has pledged to make it easier for scientists to settle in Britain after we leave the EU. You’d assume that a fast-tracked visa system would be welcomed by Britain’s scientific community. Wrong. Establishment figures queued up to criticise the proposal. Nobel laureate Professor Sir Andre Geim accused the PM of “taking scientists for fools”, adding that his longtime collaborator Konstantin Novoselov had already left the UK to work in Singapore. “I think that tells you everything you need to know.’’ But why would Novoselov decide to move to the Far East, rather than, say, France or Germany, if the EU were such a centre of enlightened thought? Singapore has gone to great lengths to attract the best and brightest – an approach Mr Johnson and his team are thankfully aping. Geim’s defeatism perfectly embodies the europhile dogma that has captured the scientific community. Such is their Stockholm Syndrome-level commitment to the Project that they cannot bring themselves to praise even something clearly in their interests, simply because it emanates from a pro-Brexit government. Practitioners of the scientific method analyse the facts before arriving at judgments. Yet many of my fellow scientists seem woefully unable to apply this process to the EU debate. They downplay Britain’s illustrious scientific record and conflate a bloated bureaucracy with the principle of collaborating with colleagues around the world. We have much to gain from shaking off the EU’s anti-innovative precautionary approach, which more often serves the interests of lobbyists than consumers. – Professor Angus Dalgleish for the Telegraph (£)

Nick Timothy: Shelving the Backstop will not be enough – we must also avoid the fatal trap of the Political Declaration

The European Union has trade agreements with countries as distant as Canada and Korea, as small as Panama and Peru, and as poor as Ecuador and El Salvador. Yet for the United Kingdom – on the EU’s doorstep, the world’s fifth-largest economy, and the continent’s most capable military power – Brussels refuses to negotiate a trade deal unless it can control our laws. This is the reality of the humiliating Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May. The backstop – or the “anti-democratic backstop”, as Boris Johnson calls it – is effectively a customs union. It can be applied to the whole of the UK, killing off an independent trade policy, or it can be applied only to Northern Ireland, imposing an internal border between the province and Great Britain. Together with its requirement for Northern Ireland to follow EU rules for goods, the backstop would give Europe’s capitals – Dublin included – more say than London or Belfast over swathes of laws in Northern Ireland. The backstop is therefore not only anti-democratic, it is a monstrosity that would make us a European colony and quite possibly destroy the Union. Until now, everybody has focused on the backstop, but if it is ever signed the Political Declaration will be every bit as problematic. If the UK seeks to negotiate a future relationship along lines different to those in the Declaration – such as a Canada-style free-trade agreement – the Europeans will insist we are breaching our commitment to negotiate in good faith. And our only alternative will be the backstop, from which we will have no legal means of escape. We need to bin the backstop,  tear up the treaty and ditch the Declaration. Otherwise, as Boris knows, lasting subjugation awaits us. – Nick Timothy for the Telegraph (£)

The Times: Boris Johnson’s Brexit battle – No Deal, No Dice?

The odds of a no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson said in June, are a million to one. They must have got a little shorter since the European Union derided as “unacceptable” his main renegotiation demand: to scrap the Irish backstop, the part of the Brexit deal that would keep the UK in a customs union with the EU and Northern Ireland in parts of the single market. The country appears to be motoring towards a no-deal exit on October 31. Yet, as The Times reveals today, Remain-supporting MPs think they have found a way to stop it. A parliamentary majority will only coalesce around a move to stop no deal, they reason, once it becomes unambiguously clear that the government’s renegotiation is doomed, and MPs who oppose no-deal are forced to stare straight into the abyss. At that point, Remain supporters intend to throw their weight behind a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s government, hoping to win it with the help of Remain-minded Tories such as the former chancellor Philip Hammond, former justice secretary David Gauke and Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general. If they did succeed, the country would enter waters that have been uncharted since the passage of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in 2011. This provides for a fortnight of parliamentary chaos in which different political factions would try to secure the confidence of a majority of the Commons, and so prove themselves able to form a government. Boris Johnson would be expected to remain prime minister as a caretaker for those two weeks, in office but not in power until he could demonstrate that he had the support of MPs. During that fortnight, Remainers hope to apply to John Bercow, the Speaker, for an emergency debate on Brexit. They are counting on Mr Bercow — thought to have sympathies with the Remain side — to find a creative interpretation of parliamentary rules, allowing them to use the debate to wrest control of parliament’s time from the government. They would then use that time to pass legislation which compelled the prime minister to seek an extension of the Article 50 negotiation period from the EU, delaying Brexit and averting a no-deal exit on October 31. Theresa May never had a strategy to manage the politics of Brexit, so she kept postponing it. Mr Johnson says he will postpone no longer. It will soon be clear whether he has the plan she lacked. – The Times (£) editorial

Brexit in Brief

  • Boris Johnson is no Churchill, but if he saves us from the EU empire, this will be his finest hour – William Shawcross for the Sunday Times (£)
  • The PM must reform taxes to turn Britain into the thing the EU fears the most: a magnet for talent and wealth – Telegraph (£) editorial
  • Why a no-deal Brexit would weaken the case for Scottish independence – Jeremy Warner for the Telegraph (£)
  • Three cheers for Theresa Villiers – the unsung heroine of Brexit – Daniel Hannan MEP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)
  • The very idea of a united kingdom is being torn apart by toxic nationalism – Gordon Brown for the Observer
  • MPs must thwart this bid to subvert parliament – Lord Heseltine and Betty Boothroyd for the Sunday Times (£)
  • UK to stay in Interrail scheme after U-turn – BBC News
  • Millions of Brexit 50p coins to be minted in time for October 31 – Sunday Telegraph (£)