Boris Johnson ramps up his war of words with Brussels as he demands EU negotiator reopens Brexit deal: Brexit News for Monday 5 August

Boris Johnson ramps up his war of words with Brussels as he demands EU negotiator reopens Brexit deal: Brexit News for Monday 5 August
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Boris Johnson ramps up his war of words with Brussels as he demands EU negotiator reopens Brexit deal

Boris Johnson has dramatically ramped up his war of words with Brussels by demanding that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier reopens the Brexit deal – because he no longer has the authority to impose terms on the UK. As part of a new ‘shock and awe’ plan by Downing Street to put the EU on the back foot, Mr Johnson’s Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay warned that Mr Barnier should be given new negotiating orders by the EU or face the inevitability of No Deal. In a hard-hitting article for today’s Mail on Sunday, Mr Barclay argues that the European elections in May reconstituted the EU – meaning Mr Barnier’s mandate to insist on the harsh terms of the Withdrawal Agreement is no longer valid. Mr Johnson is embroiled in a high-stakes, last-ditch effort to persuade Mr Barnier to drop the controversial Northern Irish backstop from the agreement in time to pass the measure through the Commons – a process he refers to as a ‘backstopectomy’. – Mail on Sunday

  • UK tells EU to renegotiate or face no deal – BBC News

Ten Singapore-style Freeports to be created after Brexit

As many as 10 Singapore-style tax-free zones will be created after Britain leaves the European Union, the International Trade Secretary has said. The UK’s ports and airports will be able to bid to become “freeports” after Brexit, or tax-free zones where goods can be landed in the UK but not be subject to any duties. The hubs would be “free of unnecessary checks and paperwork” and benefit from liberalised planning rules under new plans that will be announced on Friday. Liz Truss said the government aims to create “the world’s most advanced free port model” and “transform” ports and airports. Ahead of her visit to Teesside, she said: “We will have a truly independent trade policy after we leave the EU on October 31.” – Telegraph (£)

  • Liz Truss to announce ‘freeports’ in plan to boost post-Brexit trade – FT (£)
  • Trade Secretary announces Freeports Advisory Panel will ensure UK is ready to trade post-Brexit – GOV.UK

> Previously on BrexitCentral:

Dominic Cummings tells MPs they’ve missed their chance to stop a no-deal Brexit…

MPS are too late to prevent a no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson’s most senior aide has said.  Dominic Cummings told ministers and officials that the Prime Minister will honour his October 31 pledge even if Jeremy Corbyn and pro-Remain Conservatives succeed in forcing a general election. In a series of explosive briefings last week, Mr Cummings suggested that the Labour leader had missed his opportunity to secure an election before the UK’s intended departure date from the EU. If Mr Johnson loses a no-confidence vote when the Commons returns in September, potentially leading to a general election, the Prime Minister would have the power to schedule the poll for after Hallowe’en, Mr Cummings disclosed. He also claimed that an election would lead to a Conservative majority. The Telegraph has pieced together Mr Johnson’s Brexit strategy based on numerous accounts of Mr Cummings’s briefings and interventions, as he set out to government staff and ministers how Mr Johnson would deliver Brexit on Oct 31 even if the EU refuses to drop the Irish border backstop agreed by Theresa May. In one meeting, Mr Cummings warned that EU leaders such as Emmanuel Macron, the French president, “think we’re bluffing” or believe that “MPs will cancel the referendum”, according to two sources familiar with the discussion. “They don’t realise that if there is a no-confidence vote in September or October, we’ll call an election for after the 31st and leave anyway,” he said. Mr Cummings instructed staff to prepare for a no-deal exit on the basis that EU leaders “won’t realise the Prime Minister is not bluffing until October” when it could be “too late”. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

…while Labour claim a no-deal Brexit could still be averted…

Downing Street would be wrong to think it is too late for MPs to stop a no-deal Brexit, Labour has said. The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said on Sunday he did not accept a claim, attributed to Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s key adviser, that even if MPs were to pass a vote of no confidence in the prime minister in the autumn, the electoral timetable means any general election would not take place in time to stop the UK from leaving the EU on 31 October. “There will be opportunities for us when parliament returns in September to stop no deal,” Ashworth told Sky News. The issue of what is or is not possible in September is crucial because Johnson has said he is determined to take the UK out of the EU at the end of October come what may. A majority of MPs oppose a no-deal Brexit, but opinion is divided as to whether they can mobilise in September to stop this happening. According to the Sunday Telegraph (£), Cummings has told colleagues it is too late for MPs to use a no-confidence vote to deliver a change of government before 31 October. “If there is a no confidence vote in September or October, we’ll call an election for after 31 October and leave anyway,” Cummings has reportedly said. – Guardian

> WATCH: Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth discusses Brexit on Sky’s Ridge on Sunday

…and Remainer Tory MP Dominic Grieve says there’s still time to block no-deal on 31st October

There is still time to block a no-deal Brexit, despite claims to the contrary, senior Tory rebel Dominic Grieve says. According to the Sunday Telegraph, top No 10 advisor Dominic Cummings has told MPs even losing a no-confidence vote could not stop Boris Johnson taking the UK out of the EU on 31 October. He reportedly said the PM could call an election for after the deadline, with Brexit taking place in the meantime. But Mr Grieve told the BBC Mr Cummings was a “master of misinformation”. He said that if Mr Johnson lost a no-confidence vote, MPs would have 14 days to form an alternative government. “[Mr Cummings] has a point, but he may also be missing the point,” Mr Grieve – a former attorney general who has repeatedly called for a further referendum – told Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme. – BBC News

Boris Johnson will only secure a Commons majority in an election if the UK leaves with No Deal on October 31st, finds poll…

Boris Johnson will only secure a Commons majority at the next election if he goes to the country after a no-deal Brexit, a poll has revealed. The Conservatives would have a seven-point lead over Labour and neuter support for the Brexit Party if the Prime Minister held an election after a no-deal Brexit, according to the ComRes analysis. In all other scenarios – including an election before Brexit or after extending the deadline or after leaving with an agreement similar to Theresa May’s – the Conservatives would be left without a majority. Ben Walker, founder of Britain Elects, which commissioned ComRes, said: “The polling does show how in the event of a no-deal Brexit Leave voters would coalesce around one party, uniting the Leave brand whereas the Remain side would stay split, gifting the Conservatives a majority.” – Telegraph (£)

  • Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party ‘will stop Boris Johnson winning an election’ – unless he goes for a No Deal Brexit – The Sun

…as he reportedly prepares for a ‘People v. Politicians’ election…

Boris Johnson is ready to face down a challenge from pro-EU MPs who may seek to topple his government this autumn by quietly preparing for a “people versus the politicians” election after the UK has left the EU on October 31, with or without a deal. The British prime minister, who has a working majority of just one in the House of Commons, has consistently said he would not call an election before Brexit. But Downing Street officials are making preparations in the event of losing a confidence vote when parliament returns in September. If the government falls, senior aides — including Mr Johnson’s most influential adviser, Dominic Cummings — are confident that Brexit cannot be delayed or halted by parliament. Officials believe that MPs manoeuvring to stop a no-deal Brexit — notably the former attorney-general Dominic Grieve — have underestimated the prime minister’s determination to ensure the UK leaves “by any means necessary” at the end of October. “Someone put Grieve’s idea to Cummings on Friday that if we lose a vote of no confidence the PM will have to resign — he spat his drink out laughing,” said a senior No.10 official. “The idea we will hand over to a new government rather than leave with an election after October 31 is laughable.” – FT(£)

…and the new Tory Chairman refuses to rule out the prospect of a general election this year

The Conservative party chairman has refused to rule out the possibility of an election this year amid growing speculation that Boris Johnson is gearing the party up to go to the country. James Cleverly said the Government would not “initiate” an election despite only having a working majority of one, leaving open the possibility of ministers being forced into a poll. Challenged on Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday that the near-£4 billion pledged by Mr Johnson to no deal and NHS were electioneering, Mr Cleverly said: “We are not going to initiate a general election. We have elections all the time. What we have got here is a new Prime Minister who during the leadership campaign made a number of specific commitments. He is setting about delivering on those commitments.” His comments came after The Sunday Telegraph revealed that Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s most senior aide, said the Prime Minister will honour his pledge to leave the EU by  October 31 even if Jeremy Corbyn and pro-Remain Conservatives succeed in forcing a general election. – Telegraph (£)

> WATCH: Tory Party Chairman James Cleverly discusses Brexit on Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Boris Johnson’s Brexit stance is winning back public confidence, poll shows

Boris Johnson’s hardline stance on Brexit is winning back the confidence of many voters, polling shows. A survey by ORB found that one in three voters now approve of the way the Government is handling negotiations with the European Union – an increase from one in ten under Theresa May. Some 43 per cent also believe that Mr Johnson is so far performing better than they had expected as Prime Minister, according to the poll. The survey suggests that Mr Johnson’s insistence on leaving the European Union on October 31 is winning back support from voters disaffected with Mrs May’s approach to Brexit, which saw the UK’s departure date extended twice. Almost half of those surveyed (46 per cent) said that if the EU was unwilling to re-open negotiations on the deal agreed with Mrs May then the UK should leave the bloc without a deal. And it follows multiple polls showing a “bounce” in support for the Conservatives since Mrs May’s departure – despite the party  losing the Brecon and Radnorshire Commons seat to the Liberal Democrats on Thursday. ORB’s poll found that 30 per cent of voters now approve of the way the Government is handling the Brexit negotiations – the highest rating in the pollster’s monthly survey since before Mrs May’s controversial Withdrawal Agreement was published in November 2018. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson calls on pro-EU Tories to ‘stand up’ and block no-deal…

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has urged the so-called “Gaukeward squad” of pro-European Tory former ministers to “stand up and be counted” on Brexit – because she fears not enough of them will try to stop Boris Johnson crashing the UK out of the EU without a deal. Ms Swinson said the coming weeks represent a “big test” for Conservative MPs who recognise the risk of no deal but have so far held back from rebellion. Without naming names, she made clear that the group included not only those walked out of the cabinet rather than serve under Mr Johnson (Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart) but also others who took ministerial posts despite previous misgivings about EU withdrawal (Amber Rudd and Nicky Morgan). Speaking to The Independent less than two weeks after being elected Sir Vince Cable’s successor, she confirmed that she has been in contact with Tory former ministers who quit on Mr Johnson’s election. She has also held discussions with potential defectors who could eliminate his single-seat working majority at a stroke by crossing the floor in the run-up to the scheduled date of Brexit on 31 October. With pro-EU Tories such as Phillip Lee and Margot James openly mulling quitting the party over Mr Johnson’s leadership, many in Westminster expect defections timed for maximum impact during conference season. – Independent

…after her party wins the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election…

Boris Johnson’s majority has been cut to one after the Liberal Democrats by-election win, as Jo Swinson says the party is “open” to future election deals. The Brecon and Radnorshire by-election win for Jane Dodds saw her secure a tight majority of 1,425 over the Conservative candidate Chris Davies, overturning his 2017 majority of 8,038. The win will be seen as vindication for the “Remain alliance” pact which saw the Greens and Plaid Cymru not stand candidates. Speaking after the win this morning, Jo Swinson, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, would not rule out doing further deals, particularly if faced with an Autumn general election.  “We are very open to these conversations … I think some of this will happen,” she told the Today programme. – Telegraph (£)

…while Remainer Tory MP Phillip Lee threatens to defect to the Lib Dems

A Tory MP is threatening to wipe out Boris Johnson’s majority altogether by defecting to the Liberal Democrats. Dr Phillip Lee, who supports a second EU referendum, suggested he will ‘spend the summer’ deciding whether to cross the floor. Mr Johnson suffered a hammer blow last night when the Conservatives lost the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election, slashing his effective majority to just one. But Dr Lee switching sides would reverse the numbers – meaning that Opposition parties have one more MP than the government. Speaking on a podcast with fellow Tory Remainer Sam Gyimah, Dr Lee was asked whether he could defect to the Lib Dems under new leader Jo Swinson. ‘The party I joined was the party of John Major and John Major, I think, is probably feeling like this judging by his contributions in recent weeks,’ he said. ‘I’m really not comfortable about my party pushing for no-deal Brexit without proper consent of the public. Purely on the national interest, I think it’s wrong to do this. But party politically I think it’s narrowing our base in a way that I don’t see how we win elections. ‘And if you don’t win elections in a democracy you don’t have power and you can’t do things you want to do. It’s just simple reality. I’m sort of sitting here, looking on and – yeah – I’m going to spend the summer thinking a lot.’ – MailOnline

Boris Johnson will get a Brexit deal with the EU sorted and it will smooth out the economy, predicts Mark Carney…

Boris Johnson will get a Brexit deal sorted which will stabilise Britain’s economy and see the pound pick up, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney predicted today. As the Bank published a set of economic forecasts for the year ahead, he said he was still working on the assumption that the new PM would reach an agreement with the EU. However, it comes on the same day that Boris has plugged an extra £2billion of cash into No Deal preparations, including more money for borders, vital medical supplies and a PR campaign to get Britain ready for whatever outcome. The chances of a No Deal Brexit have spiked in recent days, and minister in charge of it Michael Gove has admitted they are working on the “assumption” that the EU won’t budge and we’ll have to leave on World Trade Organisation Terms. – The Sun

…although the Bank of England Governor is accused of reviving Project Fear with his no-deal Brexit ‘shock’ warning

Mark Carney has been accused of undermining Brexit negotiations and failing to move on from Project Fear after issuing a stark warning about a no-deal Brexit. The Governor of the Bank of England said leaving without a deal would bring an “instantaneous shock” to the British economy and could sink the pound to a 34-year low. As the Government “turbocharged” its no-deal preparations, the Bank warned the UK had a one in three chance of the economy shrinking – even if the UK leaves with a deal. Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, said the comments should be taken with a “massive pinch of salt”. Mark Francois, the vice chairman of the Brexiteer European Research Group, said: “The situation has fundamentally changed. We now have a Prime Minister in Boris Johnson who is totally dedicated to leaving the EU by Hallowe’en and is now negotiating with our European partners to that end.” – Telegraph (£)

Leo Varadkar rejects Arlene Foster’s ‘Project Fear’ claim, saying all should be afraid of a no-deal Brexit

Leo Varadkar has said everyone in Ireland and the UK should be afraid of a no-deal Brexit. Mr Varadkar was responding to criticism from DUP leader Arlene Foster who claimed he was involved in “Project Fear Mark Two”. “I think we should be afraid of a no-deal Brexit,” he said. DUP leader Arlene Foster said the Taoiseach needed to “dial down the rhetoric”. Last week Mr Varadkar said moderate unionists and nationalists could question being part of the UK if they were forced into a hard Brexit. Mrs Foster accused him of behaving “crassly” towards victims of the Northern Ireland conflict in the past. “He needs to dial down the rhetoric, he needs to recognise the mandate of the Prime Minister and he needs to engage. He needs to get engaged and he needs to find a way forward.” – Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump hold second phone call on bumper Brexit trade deal in a week…

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have held their second phone-call in a week where they discussed an upcoming bumper Brexit trade deal. The White House said the two leaders held another chat on “trade, 5G and global security” in a call yesterday, as they discussed how to thrash out a new partnership. The news comes just seven days after the pair’s first phone call when Boris became PM. Boris spoke to the President last Friday on the phone and discussed their wish to sort out a bumper trade deal as soon as possible. The two world leaders used their first phone call to discuss the “unparalleled” opportunities Brexit will bring to the Special Relationship. – The Sun

…and US senators back a British trade deal…

A group of 45 American senators have signed a letter to Boris Johnson pledging to back a trade deal with Britain whether or not the UK leaves the EU with a deal. In an unprecedented show of support for the new prime minister, the Republican senators say they will come to Britain’s aid if Johnson is forced to leave with no deal. They also vow to maintain full co-operation on intelligence through the “Five Eyes” alliance — also including Australia, Canada and New Zealand — and Nato. The letter, put together by Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas, congratulates Johnson on his election as leader and compares him to his hero Winston Churchill, urging him to “roar” for Britain as Churchill did during the Second World War. The senate intervention is a boost for Johnson, who has faced warnings from Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, that the lower house of Congress would block a trade deal if Britain left the EU in a way that left a hard border between Northern Ireland and the republic. Both houses of Congress would have to agree a trade deal for it to be ratified. – Sunday Times (£)

…although the US warns that a tax on tech giants would rule out a trade deal

Donald Trump’s administration is warning Britain that it will not get a free trade deal unless a new tax affecting US tech giants is dropped, The Telegraph can reveal. US officials are demanding that the so-called digital services tax, affecting the likes of Amazon, Google, Facebook and Twitter, is ditched before it becomes law in the autumn. The threat has been communicated to the UK Government “at multiple levels” and has emerged as one of the most significant hurdles to Boris Johnson’s hopes of a speedy agreement. Key members of the US Congress, which needs to approve any deal, have also echoed the warning, going a step further to suggest it could even block formal talks from starting. “The message was, ‘If you go ahead and introduce this tax, we will not begin free trade negotiations with you,’” said one source familiar with the exchange. The 2 per cent tax on all UK revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces was announced by Philip Hammond, the former chancellor, in his October 2018 budget. It is due to be written into law in the autumn 2019 budget and come into effect from April 2020. – Telegraph (£) 

  • US says ‘no free trade deal with UK unless digital tax scrapped’ – Sky News

The Brexit Party reveals its first 50 parliamentary candidates…

A snooker player, a footie club chairman and a barrister – these are just three of the Brexit Party candidates hoping to become MPs in the future. Nigel Farage’s party has revealed the first 50 names of the people vying to become MPs at the next election, whenever it might come. The rest are set to be unveiled officially in the coming days. They have managed to select 650 candidates over the summer, meaning they can fight in every single area of the UK. Several of them are already MEPs for the Brexit Party, or were former councillors under Ukip. Mr Farage said today: “With Boris Johnson already watering down Brexit, and looking to bounce the country into an early general election, trust is now the key issue in British politics. Our great candidates will not stand for Mrs May’s treaty being repackaged, it is still the worst deal in history and a betrayal of leave voters. That’s why we are ready to fight in every seat to secure the Brexit that 17.4m voted for.” And Brexit Party Chairman Richard Tice added: “Our experienced, highly competent parliamentary candidates are just what we need at this crucial time in our country’s history.” – The Sun

  • Brexit Party selects ex-Labour stalwart Tom Bewick in bid to oust born-again-Brexiteer Amber Rudd – MailOnline

…as one of its MEPs blasts the Tories for demanding they step aside…

Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox hit back at claims suggesting her party should step aside on the political scene due to Boris Johnson now being in charge of Brexit. The resurgence in the poll of the Conservative Party since Boris Johnson was elected last week prompted political analysts to suggest the Brexit Party had played its role in helping deliver Brexit. But Claire Fox, who only two months ago became one of the 29 MEPs the newly-created party delivered to the European Union’s parliament, insisted the Brexit Party is not stepping aside. Speaking to Sky News, Ms Fox said: “There’s something peculiar and actually really offensive about the idea that you have a party that says, ‘ok Brexit Party, you can stand down now.’ “We now got a kind of Conservative Party that’s now talking the good talk on Brexit – if the Brexit Party didn’t exist, Theresa May would still be running the Conservative Party. You have to say that the role of the Brexit Party continues to be to argue for a clean Brexit, to carry on arguing for democracy and remember that that democratic mandate was about to be thwarted.” Ms Fox welcomed the arrival of Mr Johnson at the helm of the country but admitted to still feeling unsure on whether he will succeed in seeing Brexit through by October 31. – Express

> WATCH: Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox’s interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday

…and Boris Johnson is said to have ‘no intention’ of making a Brexit Party pact

Boris Johnson has “absolutely no intention” of forming a pact with the Brexit Party, despite suffering his first electoral defeat after Remain parties made a pact. The Liberal Democrats won Brecon and Radnorshire by a margin of 1,425, securing 43.5 per cent of the vote and the Tories 39 per cent. The Brexit Party came in third at 10.5 per cent. Labour suffered a humiliating result, falling to fourth place and scraping just over 5 per cent of the vote. Jane Dodds defeated Chris Davies, who ran again after being ousted as an MP after he admitted submitting false expenses claims. James Cleverly, chairman of the Conservative party, attacked the Lib Dems for making “dirty backroom deals” with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party.  The parties had agreed to stand aside to boost the chances of a Remain-backing MP being elected. – Telegraph (£)

Steve Baker set to replace Jacob Rees-Mogg as ERG chairman

Steve Baker who refused to accept a job in the Brexit department is set to be made chairman of the hardline European Research Group next month. Mr Baker – who held the job before Mr Rees-Mogg – said that he will seek to replace him next month when MPs return to Parliament after their summer break. Mr Baker’s likely election to the role could be a headache for Boris Johnson if he seeks to bring back Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement before Oct 31. Mr Rees-Mogg insisted that there was “no conflict of interest” in him staying on as ERG chairman for a few weeks because the policies of the ERG and Government were aligned. – Telegraph (£)

SNP Westminster leader calls for cross-party summit to stop no-deal Brexit

The SNP’s Westminster leader has urged his counterparts in the opposition parties to join him in a cross-party summit to stop a no-deal Brexit. In his letter to the Westminster party leaders Ian Blackford said: “Time is short and we must act to prevent the Prime Minister destroying the futures of citizens up and down the country.” He wrote to Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts, the Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson, Caroline Lucas from the Greens, and Anna Soubry from the Independent Group for Change, calling on them to “coalesce against a no-deal Brexit” and the “unmitigated damage” it will cause. The SNP MP said: “The past three years of Tory Brexit chaos has pushed Scotland and the UK to the brink, and with Boris Johnson ramping up the rhetoric of a no-deal exit there is a very real risk of being pushed over the cliff edge. – Sunday Herald 

Councils will share £20m extra to fund no-deal tsars

Councils across England have been ordered by the government to appoint no-deal tsars to lead local preparations for Britain’s departure from the European Union. In a letter to all local authorities Robert Jenrick, the communities and local government secretary, said it was imperative that councils “step up vital preparations” ahead of October 31. He announced that local authorities would share an additional £20 million to pay for the extra work preparing for no deal on top of the £58 million allocated by the Treasury in January. Council leaders welcomed the money but said extra help would be needed in parts of the country likely to be most affected by a no-deal. These include port areas where council staff will be responsible for many of the new regulatory checks that will be needed. – The Times (£)

People’s Vote campaign targets 100 marginals in case of a snap election

The campaign leading the push for a second EU referendum has drawn up a hit list of 100 marginal seats in which it will tell Remain supporters to vote tactically at an early general election. The aim is to boost the number of MPs who favour putting the Brexit issue back to the people. The People’s Vote campaign is planning to blitz marginals across England, Scotland and Wales before a widely expected early poll, urging Remainers to ditch their traditional party loyalties where necessary in order to help install pro-referendum MPs or defeat MPs or candidates who oppose a second public vote. Supporters of another referendum believe that if they can boost the number of MPs who support putting the issue back to the people, they can then win a Commons vote to trigger a second vote and reverse Brexit. An internal strategy paper written by the director of the People’s Vote campaign, James McGrory, predicts that “tactical voting will be a bigger factor than in any previous election fought in the UK”. It says that while alliances between Remain parties may be formed in some areas and be helpful, his organisation’s priorities will be “more about individuals than political parties”. – Observer

Steve Barclay: You don’t have a mandate now, Monsieur Barnier. Go back to your EU masters

It is more than three years since the British people voted to leave the European Union in the biggest democratic exercise in our history, only to reach an agreement that Parliament just could not accept. The Irish backstop led to deadlock, the machinery of Government gummed up with the same arguments we had in 2016. We needed a fresh approach and we’ve got one. With a change of Prime Minister, we have the combination of determination and optimism we need to end the impasse. I am honoured Boris Johnson has asked me to stay on as Secretary for Exiting the European Union to help finish the job of delivering Brexit. We have a clear and unambiguous position – we will leave the EU on October 31, whatever the circumstances. We would prefer to leave with a new deal, but will be ready to leave without one, having made all the necessary preparations. The facts are unchanged. Parliament will not accept the withdrawal agreement as it is. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is telling us his instructions from European leaders mean he cannot change it. As he told me when we spoke last week, his mandate is his mandate – he can only negotiate what the Commission and leaders of member states have agreed. But the political realities have changed since Mr Barnier’s instructions were set. Since the last mandate was agreed, 61 per cent of all the EU states’ MEPs have changed. Such a fundamental shift illustrates the need for a change of approach. Mr Barnier needs to urge EU leaders to consider this if they too want an agreement, to enable him to negotiate in a way that finds common ground with the UK. Otherwise, No Deal is coming down the tracks. – Steve Barclay MP for the Mail on Sunday

Robert Jenrick: Every council should ready itself for Brexit – deal or no deal – at the end of October

In just 89 days, we will be leaving the European Union. We would prefer to leave with a deal, and we will work in an energetic and determined way to get that better deal. This will, of course, require movement from the EU on the anti-democratic backstop. If it is not possible to reach a deal we will still leave on 31st October, which is why we are making all necessary preparations to do so. Local government has a vital role to play in helping to make Brexit a success so it’s right that as planning for a No Deal Brexit ramps up across central government, we see this replicated at the local level. From Whitehall to the town hall, Brexit preparations must be intensified in every community. To that end, as Secretary of State for Local Government, I am asking all local councils in England to appoint a Brexit lead, who will work hand in hand with me and my team in central government to plan for our exit on 31st October, with or without a deal. Because taking back control doesn’t just apply to Westminster; we are going to thrive after Brexit and it will mean local people taking more responsibility for their communities. Beyond 31st October we will have the opportunity to shape how prosperity is created and shared across the United Kingdom. I stand squarely behind the Prime Minister in his ambition to unite our country and level-up, by ensuring that power, opportunities and wealth aren’t just concentrated in London and the big cities. The benefits of leaving the EU must be felt far and wide. But the first step in realising this vision must be to fulfil the democratic mandate we were given over three years ago in the referendum. With renewed focus and intensity at every level of government, we will be ready to leave the EU on 31st October. Councils across the country will be receiving further guidance from me next week and I will be holding regular opportunities to question me on our plans – in person and online. I’m looking forward to working with you. – Robert Jenrick MP for ConservativeHome

Iain Duncan Smith: The Reformation was the making of modern Britain. Brexit is a similar opportunity

In the early hours of June 24, just after the result of the referendum had been announced, I stepped out on to Lambeth Bridge. The sun was just rising over the city into a clear blue sky. I can still remember, as I basked in its early warmth, just how optimistic I felt. I allowed myself a smile as I thought how bright Britain’s future looked. Free at last after all those decades from the bureaucratic tyranny of the EU, I had no doubts that the UK would thrive. Sadly what instead followed was the aggressive and utterly negative attitude of some who voted Remain. Project Fear has continued relentlessly to describe its dystopian view of a post-Brexit UK. The Bank of England has yet again been carrying the torch for the “gloomsters”. That we now have a Government striking such an optimistic tone about our future and the opportunities of Brexit only made Mark Carney’s downbeat demeanour seem all the more remarkable. I am intrigued that despite the number of time our institutions have got their forecasts wrong (including, how they missed the banking crash in 2018) these fearful predictions just keep coming. As with them all, the Bank’s record doesn’t bear much scrutiny; for example in August 2016 they forecast that UK exports would fall by 0.5 per cent in 2017, yet they increased by nearly 8 per cent. Business investment was forecast to be down 2 per cent, whereas it was up approximately 2 per cent. Housing investment in 2017 they said would be down 4.75 per cent when it went up 5 per cent. The sad truth is that after 40 years of membership the EU has eaten into the soul of so much of the establishment, from the Trade Unions to the BBC. Just reflect on how many people, who were once believers in democracy, are now determined to disregard the biggest vote in our history. For the establishment not a day goes by but that those who voted to leave are to be sneered at and disparaged as too stupid, too poor, too old and too ignorant to understand what they voted for. Yet despite this, I, and many like me, remain positive about the future. I am not alone as seeing this moment in a similar light to the Reformation. It is time to lift our heads up and focus on the opportunities our freedom will bring. – Iain Duncan Smith MP for the Telegraph (£)

Liz Truss: ‘Gateways to prosperity!’ Brexit can transform our port cities

Once home to the ships that took British ingenuity and commercial zeal across the world, London docklands is now once again at the centre of global trade, thanks to new freedoms making it possible to encourage enterprise and investment to the area. We will do for Britain’s port cities now what we did for the Docklands then, while also boosting the competitiveness of great British exports. We all know that Liverpool grew rich from trade to the USA, about Teesside’s close links to the Pacific, and the rich fishing trade that is the lifeblood of Peterhead. And it is also true that ports around the country are already seeing record levels of goods embark for distant markets as our exports go from strength to strength. But our port cities are the gateway to our future prosperity, and we need to give them the backing they deserve. Ultimately, Freeports will mean lower prices for British consumers, more jobs in exports and Britain taking a more central role on the world stage as a major player on the world stage. They will bring out the best in Britain – a place where our go-getters, job creators, innovators and entrepreneurs can call home. As International Trade Secretary, establishing Freeports is one of my top priorities as part of our work to get the country ready for Brexit. And more importantly, we are already delivering on it. This is a government that will deliver on its promises. We promised to create Freeports and we are now creating Freeports. We promised to leave the EU. And, finally, we will leave the EU. – Liz Truss MP for the Express

Iain Martin: Boris Johnson has refused to be a prisoner like Theresa May

One of the most impressive aspects of Boris Johnson’s opening spell as prime minister is his determination not to be pushed around. Whereas his predecessor allowed herself to be held hostage by parliament, shuttling back and forth to European capitals to be patronised and let down by foreign leaders and bureaucrats, Johnson refuses even to travel to see them. Rather than going on a humiliating European tour in his first week, Johnson visited the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. Inevitably, there have been some jeers and protests along the way. In Edinburgh, the Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon looked at her most chippy and displeased to see him: think Maggie Smith’s Miss Jean Brodie crossed with Alex Salmond after he lost the Scottish independence referendum. – Iain Martin for The Times (£)

Richard Tice: The Tories must form an electoral pact with the Brexit Party – or else they risk being annihilated

After the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, one thing is very clear: the two-party political system has failed this country. Friday’s results showed just how much electoral trouble both the Conservatives and Labour are now in. Labour almost lost their deposit, coming fourth, only just ahead of the Monster Raving Loony Party. That this could happen in Wales, a bastion of Labour support for a century, is extraordinary. The Tories had the arrogance to field the same candidate whose recall by constituents for wrongdoing caused the by-election in the first place. It’s hardly surprising that he blew an 8,000-vote majority. We are now into new territory, with four parties – Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats (more properly named the Liberal Antidemocrats, since their new leader declared that she would not even accept a Leave vote in a second referendum) and the Brexit Party – appealing to different voters across the country. The first-past-the-post system is brutal and unpredictable in these circumstances: in June, the Tories came third, well behind the Brexit Party, because a vote for the Conservatives there meant a seat for Corbyn. It’s no wonder that even the most experienced political commentators have no idea which way it’s likely to go. The simple fact is that the Conservatives – riven internally as they are – now have to deliver on Boris Johnson’s promise to leave with a proper Brexit on October 31. If not, they are finished in their current form, as the main governing party of the past 100 years. – Richard Tice MEP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Camilla Tominey: Dominic Cummings is direct and decisive, but he’s not the devil’: the verdict from inside No 10 on the PM’s chief strategist

The Downing Street press office was bracing itself for drubbing when Dominic Cummings stood up to address the spinners on Thursday afternoon. As a man who has spent years detailing his low opinion of everyone in “SW1” and with a fearsome reputation for raging against the Westminster machine, they prepared for the speech by Number 10’s resident ‘svengali’ with trepidation. Yet since the former Vote Leave boss arrived in Downing Street in his trademark leisure wear last Wednesday, Boris Johnson’s chief strategist has been surprisingly reluctant to play the blame game. “He basically stood up and said that there was no monopoly on good ideas,” said one insider – bravely breaking Cummings’ own diktat that there should be ‘no more leaks’ from behind the black door. “All the focus on Dom is a bit ironic when you consider that he’s the one who is trying to empower the whole team. He’s very keen to ensure that everybody can say what they think because he knows that good ideas can sometimes come from someone completely random. – Camilla Tominey for the Telegraph (£)

  • Dominic Cummings aims a wrecking ball at Whitehall – The Times (£)

Charlotte Gill: No Deal has become a revenge tool in the stand-off between somewheres and anywheres

What does “No Deal” actually look like? Perhaps it’s a little too late to be asking this question, but there’s nothing like the distinct possibility of WTO terms in 91 days to focus minds. When I asked my Twitter followers, the most common responses were “it’s a fresh start” and “life will go on as it always will”. Will it, I wondered? Even as a journalist who follows politics closely, I struggle to picture the day-to-day reality. What will a trip to Sainsbury’s entail? What will paracetamol cost? Boris Johnson’s team is allegedly to spend £100m on a No Deal information blitz, but even they cannot foresee every banality. As a Brexiteer, I did not vote for No Deal, believing that our government would come together after the referendum result – to deliver something dazzling. These dreams were, of course, dashed by Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. So now we find ourselves veering towards the legal default. Remainers are terrified of No Deal, yet there is a growing Brexiteer romanticism about the idea. – Charlotte Gill for the Telegraph (£)

Ayesha Hazarika: It’s game over for Remainers like me – a no-deal Brexit feels inevitable

It’s been a tough ten days if you’re a leftie, a liberal, a progressive, or even someone who just likes your politics competent and not clinically insane. But despite people like me (and I don’t even like quinoa) feeling pretty grim about things, Team Johnson has got off to a flying start, apart from being booed in Scotland and Wales. It reminded me of that scene in Blackadder where the prince is convinced his public adore him “Listen – they’re saying we hail Prince George…” Blackadder replies, “No, your highness, they’re saying we hate you…” Johnson has ruthlessly Marie Kondoed his Cabinet and Downing Street of any pesky Remainers apart from Chancellor Sajid Javid who of course, now hearts Brexit so hard, it’s painful – nothing like the zeal of the convert – and is splashing cash which, could go to hospitals and schools, on imaginary border police and leaflets on how to forage for food and fight bears in November. Because right now, there is only one show in town for Team Boris and that’s a crashing out on Halloween with no deal. That is their political and moral mission. Do or die – let’s hope the insulin can make it folks. Their strategy has been simple but effective. Our information channels are saturated with the words “no deal.” We learned at the weekend about a No Deal war cabinet (with no girls allowed). Michael Gove said that the government was working on the assumption of a no deal Brexit. It feels like no deal is inevitable. And it feels its game over for Remainers. – Ayesha Hazarika for iNews

The Sun: Britain is stronger than the EU and should fear a No Deal Brexit far less than Brussels and Dublin

Britain’s confidence about a No Deal Brexit is growing, and no wonder. Each day we are becoming better equipped than the EU, and Ireland in particular, to weather the turbulence. It’s not just that Boris Johnson’s new and united Government has a laser-like focus on preparing for it and spending where necessary. It’s that our economy remains fundamentally strong, defying all predictions of gloom. Unemployment, tipped to soar within months of a Brexit vote, did the opposite, with a million jobs created. Growth, forecast to collapse, has instead ticked along — slowly, but no slower than across the EU. Inflation and interest rates are low and look stable. The amount of venture-capital investment in UK startups, most of it foreign, is set for a record year. Billions more will pour in once we are out, even with No Deal, and uncertainty finally lifts. Remainers leap on any dip in the Pound as an existential disaster. But our free-floating currency gives us a huge advantage over the eurozone. It’s a balancing mechanism in troubled times. The same falling Pound that’s bad for Brit holidaymakers abroad and can fuel inflation also boosts our exports, creates jobs and attracts more tourists. And while Bank of England chief Mark Carney is still full of chuntering pessimism about No Deal, it’s nothing compared with the terrifying warnings for Ireland from its Central Bank. Germany, its car-makers in dire straits, may be heading for recession. Italy is struggling. France’s growth has almost stalled. The EU economy is in trouble, with few defences left. A No Deal — which they can still choose to avoid — could be a mortal blow. – The Sun says

Andrew Lilico: To nail No Deal, this is what Chancellor Sajid Javid now needs to do

October 31 is approaching rapidly. Chancellor Sajid Javid has announced £2 billion more to “turbocharge” no deal planning. But what are the key economic preparations the government should be making? Let us think of five key areas: taxes, tariffs, trade deals. spending and regulations. First, taxes. If we leave with no deal there should then be an emergency budget (perhaps announced on November 1). The budget should cut various taxes, on a temporary basis, partly to offset the short-term impacts of no deal and partly to prefigure some longer-term structural changes in taxation to reflect the post-Brexit world. That could be done by a one-off one-year cut of £10 billion in each of corporation tax, VAT and employers’ national insurance (NI). That’s equivalent to cutting corporation tax by around five per cent, VAT by around 1½  per cent and employers’ NI by around 1¾ per cent. – Andrew Lilico for the Telegraph (£)

Camilla Tominey and Edward Malnick: How Boris Johnson bulldozed into No10 and took the Brexit fight to Brussels in first days as PM

Harold Wilson famously said a week was a long time in politics and Boris Johnson’s first days as Prime Minister have not disappointed. Today, it appears more than ever that Mr Johnson and his team’s eye-catching first steps have been laying the groundwork for the twin possibilities of a no-deal Brexit and a general election. Having declared himself ‘undaunted’ by the prospect of delivering Brexit on October 31 in ‘a new spirit of can-do’, Mr Johnson vowed to energise the country in his first speech as a ‘dude ‘ of a Tory leader. His arm-waving oratory took on a more serious tone when he took to the steps of Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister, declaring a desire to “change the country for the better” with more money for schools, 20 hospital upgrades and 20,000 more police officers on the streets. To some, the bold pledges appeared to resemble the types of promise a party leader might make as they geared up for a general election. And, indeed, The Telegraph can reveal that Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s combative lieutenant in Number 10, has privately identified the NHS, police and schools, as key areas in which the Conservatives could “neutralise problems” having secured a majority in an election after delivering Brexit on October 31. Mr Johnson promised to defy “the doubters, the doomsters and the gloomsters’, insisting: “The buck stops with me” as he declared that the Halloween deadline would be met “no ifs, no buts”. Yet he faces significant resistance. – Camilla Tominey and Edward Malnick for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Douglas Murray: Grief-stricken Remainers have unforgivably poisoned our politics with their Brexit despair

According to the Swiss-born psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five stages of grief. They are – in chronological order – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. If there is a reason why the last three years in British public life have been not just so tumultuous but so vicious, it is down to the simple fact that a portion of this country has not yet progressed to that final stage. Indeed, they seem nowhere near it. As a Leave voter I don’t blame them for the feeling of grief. I simply think they should have got over it. I had a tiny portion of the experience myself more than three years ago as I watched the early referendum results come in from Gibraltar and elsewhere. “Oh well,” I thought, as I ran a bath, “That’s a shame.” I was slightly glum that night. Morose even, as I prepared for an early bed. But at no point during those brief hours did I descend into a speckle-flecked rage. At no stage did it occur to me that I should call for the referendum to be recast or declared invalid. I did not start choosing to pretend that it was not clear what we had been voting for. Nor did I start to prepare a cull of my friends, cleansing from view all those who had voted Remain. I did not start pretending that half of the country were racists or otherwise bigoted. The spectre of Russian bots did not dance around my retinas. The only thing I thought was: “Well, perhaps we’ll get another vote in another 40 years.” In the meantime, I remember thinking very clearly, we should probably make the best job we can of this. Of course, as the referendum night progressed, the results went the way I had voted but not expected. Yet the shock of that 2016 vote cannot be the only reason why our public and political life remains so tempestuous. There is another reason for that: which is that over these three rage-filled years, there have been constant reinjections of hope into Remainers. This poisonous drip-drip holds out the possibility that the result might be reversed or otherwise thwarted. – Douglas Murray for the Telegraph (£)

The Sun: Boris must deliver Brexit so the EU needs to ditch the backstop or we’ll leave with No Deal

The Government has one job: Get us out of Europe. And if the EU wants us to do that with a deal, it needs to ditch the backstop. No ifs, no buts. No time limits, no get-out clauses. The only way we leave with an agreement is if the backstop is consigned to the dustbin of history. It’s worth remembering why this Brussels-laid trap would be so damaging to Britain. It would come into force if we couldn’t sign a free trade agreement with the EU in the second phase of negotiations. And if it was signed into the first agreement, the EU would have absolutely no interest in working with Britain on the second phase. We’d be tied to EU rules, unable to sign trade deals with other countries, and forced to choose between leaving the EU and keeping the Union together. – The Sun says

James Forsyth: Boris Johnson has his head on the blockers — until he shuts down efforts to block No Deal, the EU won’t take his threats seriously

Ten days into Boris Johnson’s premiership, the big change is that the Government machine now thinks No Deal really might happen. Those involved in No-Deal planning meetings say there is now an intensity to them there never was before. Rather than querying whether No Deal is desirable, officials are getting on with preparing for it. Ministers are bound into this strategy. One of those who served in both Theresa May’s Cabinet and the new one says that under the previous Prime Minister, Sunday’s Cabinet conference call would have led to a long discussion about the merits of No Deal. But now all ministers are signed up to leaving on October 31 whether there’s a deal or not, that is not how the call turned out. “People don’t realise how far down the line to No Deal we are,” says one Government insider. These No-Deal preparations serve two purposes. The first is to get the country ready for leaving the customs union and the single market. The second is the hope that showing the EU the UK is prepared to walk away will pressure Brussels into proposing a better deal. “We’re making the prep in order to get a deal,” says one Boris confidant. The PM remains confident the EU will offer up concessions rather than see the UK leave without a deal. Within No10, “Boris is the most optimistic” person about this, I am informed. At the moment, there is little sign of the EU coming to the table. When Boris told Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, a willingness to drop the backstop was a prerequisite for talks, Juncker made very clear they weren’t willing to negotiate on that basis. If the EU did make an offer, though, it would cause divisions in Downing Street and the Cabinet. Boris’s view is that the EU must make the first move if the Brexit talks are to resume. But even if they do, the Government will carry on with its No-Deal planning. Boris is determined to have that option. – James Forsyth for The Sun

Charles Day: Why the onus is on the EU to do a Brexit deal

In the run-up to the referendum, a common argument against Brexit went like this: “We should not leave the EU, because if we try, the EU will be capricious and irrational, it will not prioritise the welfare of its people, it will instead punish us, we must be afraid of that wrath, forget any merit, we must be prudent”. A similar argument is often discussed at length by Sir Ivan Rogers, and repeatedly published in The Spectator. It is both right and wrong. The people who believe it are not ‘Remoaners’, as some might claim: they are patriots. But I disagree. And for me, this argument is why I voted to leave. I am an autonomous and free human being. I am also a citizen of a society. I surrender my freedoms in order to make that society function. This is a trade-off I make every day. The EU superimposed itself on that trade. It took from me the powers I had loaned to someone else. It did so ‘for my own good’ in 1992. But it has used those powers poorly. I would like Britain to have a formal free trade agreement with the United States. I know that the special relationship might not mean a good deal, but I’m pretty sure the UK could reach a fair negotiated settlement with these decent human beings. But Britain wasn’t allowed to; the EU told us it would do that for us. But it didn’t. The EU messed up. Yet I doubt now whether anyone – let alone the 33 per cent of unemployed young people in Italy – would number this incident among the EU’s top ten blunders. But we should. Because the EU that messed up the America deal – and that hasn’t ratified the Canada trade deal – is going to mess up ours too. Any lawyer can tell you this now, because Article 50 says this: “2.  A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State”. The key words here are ‘the Union shall’. Not the UK ‘shall’. Not the Brexiteers ‘shall’. The EU ‘shall’. The legal duty has always been on the EU to conclude a Withdrawal Agreement with us. There’s no legal duty on the UK. Let me be very clear: there is a binding legal obligation upon the EU to provide us with what the media call ‘a deal’. Not only shall they negotiate, but they shall “conclude” one. – Charles Day for The Spectator

Simon Heffer: Mark Carney needs to keep his mouth shut and let the Government get on with delivering Brexit

When the Governor of the Bank of England predicts that sterling, already sliding, could fall further in response to “a real economic shock” – such as Brexit without a deal – is he engaging in a nakedly political act, or is he simply doing his job? Given Mark Carney’s regrettable record during the 2016 referendum, when he avidly supported George Osborne’s pitiful “Project Fear”, we must discount the latter possibility. His intervention last week, as the Government prepared actively for no-deal, was susceptible to only one interpretation. It is as if Mr Carney remains so affronted by the British people’s insolence in not doing what they were told in 2016 that he is determined to make our flesh creep for a second time, in the hope that now we might listen (albeit to one whose record of forecasting has hardly been foolproof) and demand, by means he cannot specify (another referendum? An election?), a change of course. Mr Carney leaves the Bank next January. Given his addiction to political grandstanding, he cannot go too soon. He gives what one hopes is inadvertent succour to Philip Hammond, who, with various other anti-democratic politicians appears to seek the revocation of Article 50, abandoning the Brexit process. These are dangerous waters for public servants to swim in, for if Brexit were abandoned, more than our economy that would suffer. It would signal the wreck of our political values, and quite possibly provoke civil unrest. Mr Carney should let the Government govern, advise it in private, and in public keep his mouth shut. – Simon Heffer for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • The Boris Bounce is real, but the lesson from Brecon is: ‘Vote Farage, Get Swinson’ – John Curtice for the Telegraph (£)
  • More than 70 per cent of Conservative Party members believe the UK will leave the EU by 31st October – Mark Wallace for ConservativeHome
  • Man jailed for death threats to ‘anti-Brexit’ MPs – BBC News
  • MEPs treated to chauffeur service, £220 chairs and sparkling water fountains as taxpayers foot the bill – Telegraph (£)
  • Brexiteer ex-Labour MP Frank Field to defend his seat as new social justice candidate – BBC News