Sir Keir Starmer says a cross-party Brexit deal is unlikely to pass without a guarantee to put it to another referendum: Brexit News for Monday 13 May

Sir Keir Starmer says a cross-party Brexit deal is unlikely to pass without a guarantee to put it to another referendum: Brexit News for Monday 13 May
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Sir Keir Starmer says a cross-party Brexit deal is unlikely to pass without a guarantee to put it to another referendum…

Keir Starmer has expressed doubts that any cross-party Brexit deal lacking a confirmatory referendum could pass parliament, warning up to 150 Labour MPs would reject an agreement that did not include one. The shadow Brexit secretary said he feared the party risked losing its remain voters after worse than expected losses in the local elections, but he warned Labour remainers tempted to vote for the Liberal Democrats or Change UK that only Jeremy Corbyn’s party could deliver a fresh referendum. In his first major interview since talks with the government began almost five weeks ago, Starmer: Suggested a referendum must be part of any package agreed with the government. said Labour could call time on the cross-party talks within days if it became clear no new offer was forthcoming, warned Theresa May would further damage the prospect of any deal if she set an imminent departure date from No 10,  and said the option was “on the table” to face Nigel Farage or Tommy Robinson in an EU elections debate. Starmer, a human rights lawyer for 20 years, is to be the key face of Labour’s EU elections campaign, which will be framed as a battle of values. He said the poll on 23 May would be a fight Labour “cannot sit out” for tolerance and internationalism against populists such as Farage and Robinson. Ahead of another crunch meeting of both sides on Monday, he expressed serious doubts a compromise plan could command a stable majority without a confirmatory referendum as part of the main package. “A significant number of Labour MPs, probably 120 if not 150, would not back a deal if it hasn’t got a confirmatory vote,” he said. “If the point of the exercise is to get a sustainable majority, over several weeks or months of delivering on the implementation, you can’t leave a confirmatory vote out of the package.” – Guardian

…as Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson claims John Smith would have backed a “People’s Vote”…

Margaret Beckett, who served as Smith’s deputy, is a strong supporter of a second referendum. Watson will say Smith would have agreed. “If John was alive today, to witness the great damage this process is wreaking on country and our public debate, I have no doubt that he would have taken a stand very similar to that of his deputy, Margaret Beckett, and backed a People’s Vote as a way out of this destructive mess,” he will say. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which backs a no-deal Brexit, has secured a comfortable lead in the European election polls. Watson will argue Smith would have “exposed” Farage and far-right MEP candidate Tommy Robinson for their “plastic patriotism”. “There are only two forces that can win this election – that nasty nationalism of the Farage Brexit Party, or the tolerant, compassionate outward looking patriotism of the Labour Party. I can only plead with Labour supporters- don’t stay at home, don’t put that cross elsewhere, don’t let them win,” he will say. “Anti-EU sentiment, whether of the right-wing independent trading nation variety, or the left-wing ‘socialism in one country’ variety, as equally wrong-headed.” – Huffington Post

…which further piles the pressure on Jeremy Corbyn…

Jeremy Corbyn is under fresh pressure after two of his most senior frontbenchers demanded a second referendum on the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union. Tom Watson, his deputy, will on Monday call on the party to live up to its values by offering a clear commitment on a second Brexit referendum. That came as Sir Keir Starmer, his shadow Brexit secretary, said a second ballot  had to be part of any cross-party agreement to get Theresa May’s Brexit deal agreed with the Tories through the House of Commons. Sir Keir told The Guardian on Sunday night: “A significant number of Labour MPs, probably 120 if not 150, would not back a deal if it hasn’t got a confirmatory vote. “If the point of the exercise is to get a sustainable majority, over several weeks or months of delivering on the implementation, you can’t leave a confirmatory vote out of the package.” The interventions push the talks between senior Conservative and Labour figures- which have been going on for five weeks – ever closer to collapse. – Telegraph (£)

…but one shadow minister admits the cross-party talks ‘are not getting very far’

Cross-party talks to break the Brexit deadlock are “not getting very far”, a senior shadow minister has said, dealing a further blow to hopes of a breakthrough. Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, claimed the government was refusing to agree to Labour’s demands for a customs union with the EU and accused Theresa May of being “unprepared to compromise”. The comments contradict claims made by those involved in the negotiations, who have repeatedly said that talks have been “constructive” and made progress. Government ministers have been meeting with senior Labour figures since the start of April in an attempt to find a cross-party solution to the current impasse. Mr Ashworth told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “What we are trying to do is say we want a Brexit deal on a permanent customs union basis, something that secures rights for workers and environmental protections and a single market relationship. “That is what we have been negotiating with the government – we’re not getting far, by the way, but that is the basis of our negotiations.” He added: “We’ve always said that we accept the result of the referendum, we’ve put forward our alternatives and we’re trying to negotiate that with the government. As I say, it’s not getting very far but we’re still engaging in those negotiations in good faith.” Asked whether Labour was trying to help deliver Brexit, he said: “We’re in negotiations with the prime minister. They’re not getting very far but we’re trying our best.” – Independent

> WATCH: Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth on The Andrew Marr Show

May and Corbyn face ‘brutal defeat’ if they try to do a deal

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn face “unprecedented humiliation” with a majority of MPs planning to vote against any joint Brexit deal – even before one is agreed. The warning comes amid rumours that ministers may try to bring the Withdrawal Bill before Parliament as early as Thursday. Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned the Prime Minister that trying to strike a deal with the Labour leader in ongoing talks has reunited the Brexiteer European Research Tory MPs in opposition to any deal. Remainer Conservative MP Phillip Lee, the first minister to resign over Brexit, said that the 14 or so Tory MPs on his side of the debate were set to oppose the deal. And a Labour MP organising Remainer opposition to a deal believes “upwards of 150 Labour MPs” will oppose the deal unless it guarantees a second referendum. The SNP, DUP, Lib Dems, Plaid and the Greens’ Caroline Lucas also plan to vote down a compromise deal that would potentially tie the UK to EU rule through a customs union. And they number more than the 320 MPs needed to defeat it. A senior Government source said that failure to agree a Brexit deal by the October 31 deadline will mean “there will be no Brexit”. French President Emmanuel Macron’s spokesman and European Council President Donald Tusk last week implied there would be no further extension to Article 50 invoked by Britain to leave the European Union. The Westminster source said: “Given a choice Parliament would be more likely to vote to revoke Article 50 than go for no deal.” But last night Brexiteers made it clear that the decision to go into talks with Mr Corbyn and his hard-Left party had reunited them in opposition to the deal. – Express

Cabinet ministers urge May to pull the plug on Brexit talks with Labour…

Theresa May was under pressure from cabinet ministers last night to scrap formal Brexit talks with Labour and launch a final attempt to secure a compromise in parliament. Supporters of a deal with the European Union are preparing to use tomorrow’s cabinet meeting to urge the prime minister to set a timetable for indicative votes by MPs after the European elections. The move comes amid growing criticism from Conservatives of the talks, which are due to begin again today, as ministers who previously supported them lose faith. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, is understood to have told colleagues that, while “amiable”, they are being held on the “false premise” that a politically acceptable deal could ever be struck. Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said that while he hoped the talks would “find progress”, an alternative would be to try to find a “stable majority” through a government-backed process of allowing MPs to vote on different Brexit options. – The Times (£)

  • Theresa May urged to ditch Labour talks and move to more votes – Mirror

…while pressure mounts on her to quit as Tory support collapses…

Theresa May is coming under increasing pressure to quit as prime minister as new surveys highlighted the scale of the threat to the Conservatives of the new Brexit party, both in this month’s European Parliament poll and a possible general election. Ministers admitted on Sunday that the European elections on May 23 would be difficult for the Tories, with some Conservatives privately predicting a meltdown because of a surge in support for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. Mrs May will meet the executive of the Tories’ 1922 committee of backbench MPs on Thursday, when she is expected to face fresh pressure to name a departure date. If she does not provide clarity, the committee may seek to change its rule book to allow MPs to force a Tory leadership election sooner than the current permitted date of December 12. A substantial number of Conservative MPs and activists want Mrs May to make way for a new leader quickly because of her failure to get her Brexit deal approved by the House of Commons. The prime minister has only said she will step down once her deal is passed by parliament, and MPs’ rejection of the EU withdrawal agreement has forced Brexit to be delayed from March 29 to as late as October 31. One of the Conservative party’s candidates for the European Parliament elections described the mood on the campaign trail as “absolutely terrible”, saying “the problem is the PM personally. Not her deal or her policies — her”. – FT(£)

…with opinion polls making grim reading on Downing Street

Theresa May will be under fresh pressure to quit this week after a new opinion poll put the Conservative Party in third place – after Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. The ComRes survey of Westminster voting intention put Farage’s group on 20% and the Tories on 19% – their worst opinion poll rating since 1995. Labour was on 27%. The pollster’s chairman Andrew Hawkins branded the result a “disaster”, adding: “If the Conservative leadership contenders are not careful, there will be no party for them to lead.” A second poll by Opinium put the Tories on 22%, one point ahead of the Brexit Party, in a theoretical general election. Mrs May will put a brave face on the saga tomorrow by resuming talks to find a Brexit compromise with Labour. Her Chief Whip, deputy, Business Secretary, Environment Secretary and Brexit Secretary will hold the talks on Monday evening. Labour is expected to send Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Brexit chief Keir Starmer, business chief Rebecca Long-Bailey and environment chief Sue Hayman. But privately sources were not expecting a breakthrough after Mrs May refused to accept Labour’s demand of a permanent customs union. – Mirror

May’s husband ‘will persuade her to resign’ if she fails to secure a Brexit deal within a month

Theresa May’s husband Philip will persuade her to resign if she fails to find a majority for a Brexit deal within a month, ministers now believe. Even No10 loyalists think the PM will find it impossible to overcome “such a head of steam” against her from Tory MPs and activists if the crippling deadlock continues into June. Her closest confidante, financier Mr May, will instead step in and talk her into standing down rather than risk the public humiliation of losing a vote of all 800 senior activists on June 15. The prediction gives her less than five weeks to prove she can pass the Brexit bill or face a No10 exit ahead of the party’s emergency general meeting. It comes after two opinion polls spelled fresh disaster for the Tories as they slumped to fourth place on just 11per cent for the euro elections on May 23. Pressure was also growing on the PM last night to draw Labour talks for a cross party Brexit deal to a close by setting a deadline. One loyal senior minister told The Sun: “Such a head of steam is now building to just get anyone in instead of her now that it’s close to becoming inevitable. “If she can’t find a majority for Brexit in the next couple of weeks, does she really risk abject humiliation at the national convention on June 15? “Or does Philip sit down with a whisky and tell her it’s time. I suspect he’ll tell her not to put herself through that, and knowing her, she won’t want to put the party through that either.” – The Sun

  • Philip May ‘to spare wife from public humiliation as he persuades her to quit in 5 weeks’ – Express

Failure to deliver Brexit has fuelled support for Nigel Farage’s party, admits Barry Gardiner

The shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner, has said parliament’s refusal to deliver Brexit has led directly to the surge in support for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party, and is allowing him to dictate what the departure terms should be. Gardiner, who is among those on the Labour frontbench most sceptical about the idea of a second referendum, criticised the former prime minister Tony Blair for recommending in an Observer opinion piece that voters could opt for anti-Brexit parties in the European elections on 23 May. “People in this country are angry, they’re angry that the referendum result has not been delivered on by a incompetent government,” Gardiner told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, pointing to polls indicating major support for the Brexit party. “And there’s a protest that is being signalled by those figures, 34% saying they would go for the Brexit party. There’s no policies in this party, just one.” – Guardian

  • Cross-party deal must include confirmatory vote – Sir Keir Starmer – BBC News
  • Sir Keir Starmer demands new referendum ahead of cross-party Brexit talks – Sky News

> WATCH: Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardner on Sophy Ridge on Sunday

For some, the European elections are the second referendum, says Education Secretary Damian Hinds

The European Parliament elections will be seen as an opportunity for the ultimate protest vote, Education Secretary Damian Hinds has said. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme the elections would be difficult for the Conservatives and that “for some people this is the second referendum”. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told the show there had been a breakdown in trust between people and politicians. Elections for 73 MEPs to the European Parliament will take place on 23 May. The UK had been due to leave the EU on 29 March, but the deadline was pushed back to 31 October after Parliament was unable to agree a way forward. The government is continuing to talk to the Labour party about progress in the Brexit process, and those cross-party talks are due to continue on Monday. Mr Hinds said: “I don’t think anyone is in any doubt these are going to be difficult elections for us – that much has been clear from the very start. “For some people this is the ultimate protest vote opportunity. Actually, ironically this is, in a sense, for some people, this is the second referendum,” he added. Mr Hinds said he would have preferred the government “didn’t have to go into talks with Labour” but asked: “What’s the alternative? “I disagree with Labour on many things… but there is some commonality of interest here. “This is about our democracy, about our system and to repay the trust that people put in us we need to get things done for our constituents.” – BBC News

> WATCH: Education Secretary Damian Hinds discusses Brexit on The Andrew Marr Show

Conservative MPs furious as party produces election leaflet urging voters to lobby Brexiteer MPs who oppose Theresa May’s deal

Conservative in-fighting has broken out after the party produced a European Parliament election leaflet which tells people to lobby directly Brexiteer MPs who have voted down Theresa May’s Brexit deal. A leaflet – seen by The Daily Telegraph and titled “How to show you want a Brexit deal delivered as soon as possible” – says that “for a deal to pass it needs the support of more than half of all MPs”. It includes a photograph and quote from Mrs May saying: “At this critical moment for our country, parties should not be playing politics – or acting for their own personal gain. We need to come together, stay the course, and deliver Brexit in the national interest.” The leaflet, sent out from Conservative Central Office in Westminster, says: “How can these elections be stopped? If a majority of Members of Parliament back a deal in time, we could cancel the elections and get on with leaving the European Union – and all the other important issues facing our country.” “How can I tell my political representatives to get on with it? If the European elections take place on 23 May, the only party which supports leaving the EU with a deal as soon as possible is the Conservative Party.” The leaflet adds “find out if your Member of Parliament has backed the Brexit deal yet at”. The website urges constituents to “write to your MP to tell them to back a Brexit deal. Check how your MP voted on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in Parliament here”. – Telegraph (£)

Nigel Farage accuses May of ‘wilfully deceiving’ the people over Brexit…

Nigel Farage has accused Theresa May of “wilfully deceiving” people over her negotiated EU deal. The Brexit Party leader told the BBC’s Andrew Marr the PM’s proposed Brexit deal was a “new European treaty”. In a tense interview, Mr Farage said he would demand his party became part of the government negotiating team if it was successful in the forthcoming European elections. Elections to the European Parliament take place on 23 May. Asked why he did not advocate a no-deal Brexit at the time of the EU referendum in 2016, Mr Farage said: “Because it was obvious that we could do a free trade deal. “The problem is the prime minister never asked for it, so we finished up in the mess that we’re in,” he said. “She chose to go for this close and special partnership. Basically right from the start she was happy for us to be kept very close to the customs union. “So where we are now, the only way the democratic will of the people can be delivered is to leave on a WTO (World Trade Organization) deal.” – BBC News

> WATCH: The Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage on The Andrew Marr Show

…as he clashes with Andrew Marr over questions about his views on Putin, immigration and gun control

Nigel Farage lashed out at the BBC after one of its star interviewers repeatedly questioned him on his historic views on global warming, Russian president Vladimir Putin, the National Health Service and immigration. The leader of the Brexit Party denied he wanted to be Prime Minister as he clashed with BBC presenter Andrew Marr and became the focus of attack from rival parties just days before next week’s European Parliament elections. He was speaking as weekend polls forecast that the Brexit Party could end up with a bigger vote share than the combined support for both the Tories and Labour at the elections. The Opinium poll for the Observer forecasts that the Brexit Party will win 34 per cent of the vote next week, more than Labour (21 per cent) and Conservatives (11 per cent) combined. Another ComRes poll in The Sunday Telegraph put the Brexit Party on 27 per cent, Labour on 25 per cent and the Tories on 13 per cent. In the interview on BBC1, Mr Farage was asked if he was “uncomfortable with foreign languages being spoken on trains” following a remark he made to that effect in 2014. Mr Farage replied: “You are just not interested, are you? Let’s talk about democracy, let’s talk about trust, let’s talk about competence in politics. This is ludicrous.” A question about his comments from 2015 about replacing the NHS with a system of private health insurance led to Mr Farage replying: “This is all very boring, isn’t it? All you want to do is go back to stuff from years ago. Why don’t we talk about ‘now’ in British politics?” – Telegraph (£)

  • BBC is now the enemy, declares furious Farage after TV grilling – The Times (£)

Tony Blair warns a no-deal Brexit would spark a ‘silent revolution’

Tony Blair has warned of a “silent revolution” in politics if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal. The former prime minister told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday that under those circumstances, Labour and the Conservatives would be “swept away” at the ballot box by angry voters. He said: “People talk about how you have to avoid those who feel strongly pro-Brexit, you have to avoid them rioting on the streets and this outburst of populism. “Okay, I understand that. And that’s why you’ve got to handle this issue, I agree, very, very carefully. “But let me just tell you this: if we go ahead and tumble out of the European Union with a no-deal Brexit of the sort that Farage and Boris Johnson and these people want, you are going to get a silent revolution in this country as well. – Sky News

  • Labour’s Brexit fudge is ‘destructive’ and voters should consider other parties, Tony Blair claims in anti-Corbyn tirade – The Sun

> WATCH: Former PM Tony Blair discusses Brexit on Sophy Ridge on Sunday

David Lidington in talks about a second Brexit vote, says Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson

Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington is in talks about holding a second referendum on leaving the European Union, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats has said. Iain Dale told the Lib Dem deputy that any second referendum between Remain and Theresa May’s deal would feel ‘rigged’ to a lot of people. Jo Swinson replied: “That, to me, seems the most obvious choice. What my bottom line is that there needs to be no unicorns on that ballot paper. “There can’t be anything that can’t be absolutely delivered, and we need to have Remain.” But she took Iain by surprise when she revealed that she had met with the de facto deputy Prime Minister David Lidington. “I think these types of suggestions are some that the government has considered in terms of how that could be done,” Jo said. Iain said: “So they are talking to you about a second referendum?” Jo replied: “We went to make the case, to say if you want a way out of this mess to have a ‘People’s Vote’.” – LBC

Brexit talks will tie up Whitehall for years, warns ex-mandarin

The next stage of the Brexit negotiations are going to make the current mess look like a simple affair and will tie up the civil service for years, the former national security adviser and head of Britain’s diplomatic service has warned. Peter Ricketts’ remarks will alarm those who believe the Brexit cloud hanging over the country will evaporate if only Theresa May can get the EU withdrawal agreement passed in parliament. A gathering of experts on Brexit and trade negotiations concluded that the bumpiest ride is yet to come, with Britain’s negotiating hand already weakened and EU unity to be tested in trade talks as member states jostle for position. At an Institute for Government seminar, Lord Ricketts said the next phase of Brexit would be so complex and time consuming that it would make Theresa May’s current crisis look like “a relatively simple, straightforward affair”. Ricketts is a former Downing Street national security adviser, former ambassador to France and a member of the House of Lords EU select committee, which has just published a report called Beyond Brexit: How to win friends and influence people. He predicted negotiations are likely to go on for years and “encompass pretty much the entire of Whitehall”, with detailed negotiations expected in everything from trade and financial services to data transfer, transport, fisheries and nuclear and gas supply. – Guardian

Bank of England Deputy Governor warns over risk to British businesses of Brexit delay

Bank of England deputy governor Ben Broadbent has warned over the damaging impact of further Brexit delays as Britain faces the longest run of falling business investment since the Second World War. Speaking to the Press Association, Mr Broadbent said pushing back the Brexit deadline has left firms in limbo over investment decisions and major projects. He said business investment has already been “feeling the consequences” and cautioned that delaying Brexit further means prolonging the uncertainty for hamstrung companies and risks hitting the wider economy. The deputy governor for monetary policy, who sits on the Bank’s interest rate setting committee, also sought to assure borrowers that any interest rate hikes would be “gradual” after Governor Mark Carney said last week that increases would need to be “more frequent” than financial markets expect. His comments come as Britain’s EU withdrawal deal remains elusive, with hopes of any progress in cross-party talks fading fast. Mr Broadbent said: “It’s pretty clear that investment has been feeling the consequences of the uncertainty about Brexit and particularly the possibility of a bad outcome.” He said it “makes sense for firms to wait for news if they expect the news to come soon”. “If you continually expect news to arrive imminently – a resolution – then that can have quite a depressing effect on investment,” he added. The Bank’s latest set of forecasts last week showed that the UK is heading for the longest run of falling investment in the post-war era, having already declined for four quarters in a row. If this continues indefinitely, it could spell bad news for the economy, said Mr Broadbent. – ITV News

  • Brexit delay will harm long-term economic outlook, says Bank – Guardian

Post-Brexit reconciliation could take a generation, says Gordon Brown

The divisions in the UK are so deep and pervasive that reconciliation could take a generation, Gordon Brown has said. The country was facing competing visions of its future: isolated, inward-looking and disengaged, or open, outward-facing and internationalist, the former prime minister said. Speaking at the launch of Christian Aid Week in Westminster on Sunday morning, Brown set out a passionate defence of the international aid budget and the importance of the fight against global poverty before addressing the themes behind the Brexit debate. The UK had endured three years of “almost internecine division”, he said. The debate triggered by the Brexit referendum raised a fundamental disagreement about what it means to be British. “And I’ll be honest, my worry is that the divisions in our country are now so deep and so pervasive that it could take a generation for us to reconcile these differences, bring people together and find a unifying vision of our country and a sense of purpose and direction that takes us forward into the modern world,” – Guardian

  • Britain’s Brexit divisions are so deep it will take a generation to heal – iNews

Martin Daubney: Let’s fight back to win the Brexit 17.4 million voted for

A couple of weeks ago I took one of the boldest (and possibly most reckless) decisions of my life. I decided to stand as an MEP candidate for the Brexit Party. Half my family think I’m mad. My dad, perhaps the second most committed Brexiteer I’ve met (after Mr Farage), told me: “Don’t do it, son.You’ll get death threats. What about your kids?” He had a point. To do this, I’ve had to surrender all my other work as a journalist. I’m doing this for free, out of pure conviction. It’s terrifying. My missus, a Remainer, had a 1,000-yard stare for days. But my mum decided it when she said: “You’ve got to do it, son. Who else is going to speak up for ordinary folk like us? Not any of that bloody lot in Westminster!” Mum always did know best. Life-long Labour and Tory voters are jumping ship to the Brexit Party – where they will find a welcome home. On June 23, 2016, we thought we’d won. But, ever since, the political establishment has placed a boot to our throats and formed a treacherous cross-party coalition to deny Brexit. Truly, Brexit broke our democracy. Now, it’s time to take back control. If they won’t let us Leave, perhaps it’s time for our politicians to leave Westminster? In what other occupation could you fail to do one thing in three years and still expect to have a job? Brexit broke British politics. Now it’s time to fix it, and only the Brexit Party can do that. The 17.4 million who voted to Leave can be silenced no longer. On May 23, I’m praying they fight back – and vote for the Brexit Party, to help change British politics for good. – Martin Daubney for the Express

Dan Boucher: I’m a committed Leaver. But the Brexit Party offers only protest. Here’s why I’m standing in the Euro-elections as a Tory

Given that I campaigned vigorously for Brexit, some have questioned why I have not sought to join the Brexit Party and why, instead, I am standing in the European elections for the Conservative Party, which has so far failed to deliver Brexit. My response to this includes, among other things, the following considerations: First, in the context of minority government, the failure to deliver Brexit is really the failure of Parliament rather than a failure of the Conservative Party (although division in the ranks has not helped), something I wrote about in a recent Conservative Home article. Parliament has had the option of delivering Brexit but, to date, has chosen not to. Second, delivering Brexit is only the beginning. In some ways the bigger question for me is” what will we do with it? How will we make it deliver for the people of the United Kingdom? This is not just a question of how we get free, but of how we use our new found freedom. My difficulty with the Farage vision is that it seems to be very much a short-term vision of protest, of wanting to leave the EU (which is important) – but what then? – Dan Boucher for Conservative Home

Nick Ferrari: EU negotiators dumbfounded by crass stupidity of UK Brexit team

Out of time, out of touch and out of their minds. This has been the week that finally showed (if there was any doubt) just how wide the gap is between us, who expect some form of political leadership, and those charged with doing just that but have proved woefully unable to provide it and are also stunningly deaf to the nation’s mood. In less than two weeks, elections that should never have taken place and were effectively deemed irrelevant almost three years ago, will go ahead. Even late last month Theresa May asked what the public “would make of being asked to vote” in the European elections and warned it was “unacceptable” and could sow increased unrest. She’s right about one thing at last! But putting aside the political posturing, the cost of these (hopefully) utterly meaningless elections is vomit-inducing. Just how dare this government lecture us about austerity measures and budget control as it allows up to £150million to be spent on Euro elections. If the latest government target for Brexit is met – admittedly as likely as bumping into Julian Assange down your local tonight – the exit date could be as soon as August 1. That would mean these newly-elected MEPs would serve for a matter of a few weeks. We are consistently told the Government is working “urgently” and “flat out” to take the UK out of the EU – assurances like pie-crust promises from Mary Poppins: easy to make, easy to break. – Nick Ferrari for the Express

Brexit in Brief

  • It’s time for Theresa May to choose her resignation date before the Tories are damaged further – The Sun says
  • Political parties who fail to respect democracy will suffer the consequences – Telegraph (£) editorial
  • Brexit Party and Change UK will fade within a decade, poll suggests – ITV News
  • Three-quarters of voters think the Government has spent too much time on Brexit – Independent