Downing Street says the EU will be guilty of a 'historic misunderstanding' if it thinks the Benn Act will delay UK's departure: Brexit News for Monday 7 October

Downing Street says the EU will be guilty of a 'historic misunderstanding' if it thinks the Benn Act will delay UK's departure: Brexit News for Monday 7 October
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Downing Street says the EU will be guilty of a ‘historic misunderstanding’ if it thinks the Benn Act will delay Brexit…

Boris Johnson has warned the EU that his plans are the final opportunity to avert no deal as his hopes of securing a Brexit agreement stood on a knife edge. Ahead of a critical week, the prime minister issued an ultimatum to the French president Emmanuel Macron and said Brussels must not be lured into the mistaken belief that Brexit will be delayed beyond 31 October. A senior No 10 source said it would be a ”historic misunderstanding” for the EU to place its faith in the Benn Act – a backbench law designed to force Mr Johnson to delay Brexit if he has not struck a deal by 19 October. A No 10 source said: “This is the chance to get a deal done: a deal that is backed by parliamentarians and a deal which involves compromise on all sides. “The UK has made a big, important offer but it’s time for the commission to show a willingness to compromise too. If not the UK will leave with no deal. The surrender act and its authors are undermining negotiations, but if EU leaders are betting that it will prevent no deal, that would be a historic misunderstanding.” – Independent

…as Boris Johnson warns Emmanuel Macron not to be ‘lured into the mistaken belief that the UK is staying in the EU’…

European Union leaders should “not be lured into the mistaken belief that the UK will stay in the EU” after the end of this month, Boris Johnson has warned Emmanuel Macron. The Prime Minister made clear to the French President that “we have to push forward” as he prepares to set off on a tour of European capitals this week amid concerns that time is running out to save his new offer. Mr Johnson is expected to meet with Mr Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel later this week in a bid to persuade them to urge the European Union to enter serious talks. However, time is running out to make any headway before a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Thursday and Friday next week. Talks scheduled for the weekend did not take place.  Mr Johnson spoke with Mr Macron by telephone on Sunday to make clear that his offer was the final opportunity to secure a deal and build a new partnership between the UK and the EU. Mr Johnson made clear that if this were not possible, the EU must match the compromises that the UK has made with its new offer to keep Northern Ireland in the single market but take it out of the customs union. – Telegraph (£)

…while Macron says the EU will make a Brexit deal decision ‘at the end of the week’

The EU will decide at the end of the week whether a Brexit deal is going to be possible, French President Emmanuel Macron has told Boris Johnson. President Macron said talks should now proceed swiftly to see if an agreement can “respect” EU principles. Mr Johnson said the EU should not be “lured” into thinking there will be a delay to Brexit beyond 31 October. However, a law requires him to request one if a deal is not agreed by 19 October. As part of a weekend talking to EU leaders, the prime minister told President Macron over the phone he believes a deal can be achieved, but that the EU must match compromises made by the UK. A French government official said President Macron told Mr Johnson “that the negotiations should continue swiftly with Michel Barnier’s team in coming days, in order to evaluate at the end of the week whether a deal is possible that respects European Union principles”. The comments come ahead of a key few days of negotiations as both parties try to find a new agreement in time for a summit of European leaders on 17 and 18 October. – BBC News

Johnson may seek Supreme Court ruling on no-deal Brexit…

Boris Johnson is prepared to launch a legal action in his attempts to ensure Britain can leave the European Union this month with no deal. Several Government sources have told The Daily Telegraph that the Prime Minister is willing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to avoid having to write a letter asking for a delay to Brexit, as set out in the Benn Act. It raises the possibility that Mr Johnson could give evidence in the court case in an attempt to persuade judges in person against forcing him to ask the EU for a Brexit delay. A senior Government source said it was vital that Mr Johnson was forced to write the letter delaying Brexit rather than agreeing to do so voluntarily. The source said No 10 needed to find a legal mechanism to allow the Prime Minister to “at least say five days before [Oct 31] ‘I am literally not going to write that letter’. The plan to take legal action comes a fortnight after justices in the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Mr Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. – Telegraph (£)

…after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox ‘threatens to resign if Johnson doesn’t write to the EU asking for a Brexit extension’…

Boris Johnson has been warned the Government’s chief law officer will resign if he does not write to Brussels to ask for a Brexit extension, The Mail on Sunday has learned. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is understood to have conveyed the threat during a ‘heated’ exchange with the Prime Minister over the Government’s concession to a Scottish court last week that Mr Johnson would comply with the Commons’ order to ask for a delay if no deal is agreed by October 19. The concession came despite Mr Johnson’s public assertion that he would rather ‘die in a ditch’ than make such a request. The revelations come as EU sources revealed last night that an embattled Mr Johnson has been forced to cancel plans to meet Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s President Macron after they refused to change their diaries in order to see him. According to multiple sources, Friday’s Government submission to the Court of Session followed an animated encounter between Mr Johnson and his law officers – including Mr Cox and Lord Keen, Advocate General for Scotland – on Wednesday evening. One source said that Mr Cox and Lord Keen told the Prime Minister that, if the Government did not make clear it would not break the law, the Prime Minister would face ‘resignations’, adding: ‘Boris was absolutely furious but he had to back down.’ – Mail on Sunday 

…while Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick says the Government has ‘no plan’ if Brexit is blocked on 31st October

A cabinet minister has told Sky News the government has “no plan” if it is blocked from taking the UK out of the EU on 31 October. Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick declined to say whether the prime minister would seek a delay to Brexit beyond the current deadline if a deal has not been agreed. Boris Johnson recently revealed his proposals for a new Brexit deal, but they have been met with a cool reception by Brussels. Mr Johnson has vowed the UK will be “walking out” of the EU in 25 days without a deal if Brussels does not compromise. And Mr Jenrick insisted the government still has “no intention” of extending Article 50.  – Sky News

> WATCH: Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick discusses the Government’s Brexit plan

Steve Barclay confirms MPs could be asked to vote to back Johnson’s Brexit offer before next week’s EU summit…

Stephen Barclay has confirmed MPs could be asked to vote for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal before the EU summit on October 17. Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, the Brexit secretary said the government was “considering” the move. The prime minister revealed he was open to the plan when asked in parliament last week. Presenting Brussels with a deal already passed by the Commons could in theory strengthen Johnson’s negotiating hand. Barclay also confirmed this morning, the was government attempting to persuade opposition MPs to back the deal. “We are talking to members of parliament across the House because I think many members of parliament want to avoid no-deal,” he said. – Huffington Post

  • Cabinet members talking to Labour MPs to secure backing for Brexit proposals – iNews

…and hints the UK could rethink ‘DUP veto’ on deal…

The Brexit secretary has hinted that the government could amend its proposal to give the Democratic Unionist party an effective veto over its plan for an alternative to the Irish backstop. With EU leaders not willing to accept the UK’s ideas and talks between the two sides suspended over the weekend when Boris Johnson had been hoping to intensify them, Stephen Barclay said on Sunday that the government would be willing to discuss changes to the mechanism designed to ensure the new arrangements receive political approval in Northern Ireland. He also sounded open to possible further movement on customs, saying the UK was willing to discuss the detail of how its plan might work. In rhetorical terms the government has shifted considerably from what it was saying just before it published its plan for an alternative to the backstop on Wednesday, when it was insisting this would be its “final offer” to the EU. – Guardian

> WATCH: Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay’s interview on The Andrew Marr Show

…while Whitehall draws up Irish no-deal danger list to lean on Dublin

Ireland faces disruption of medical supplies, customs delays, the loss of fishing rights and a ban on the transport of horses to the UK in a no-deal Brexit, a Whitehall paper has warned Michael Gove’s Brexit operations committee has compiled a list of potential issues that may affect the Republic of Ireland to be used as “leverage” if negotiations break down. Ministers are also considering a range of new “sweeteners” to offer Dublin, including a commitment to help to fund any infrastructure needed to enforce customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic. – The Times (£)

Latvian Prime Minister admits a ‘quick and easy’ option for the UK is a no-deal Brexit

The Prime Minister of Latvia, Krisjanis Karins, admitted to Andrew Marr the “easy or quick” way for Brexit to happen is to “simply no deal, hard out”. Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins appeared on Andrew Marr’s BBC show to discuss the EU’s position in Brexit negotiations. The European leader admitted although none of the EU want a no deal is still the “quickest” and “easiest” way for the UK to leave. Mr Karins said: “My message is that this is a club where it’s a little difficult to get in, and it seems to be difficult to also properly find a way to go out.” He continued: “The easiest way to go out is with no deal, but no deal is actually a bad deal for everyone, both within the UK and the EU. “And the difficulty is that it is objectively speaking difficult to find that deal. But the British government and the EU member states have been working towards that for a couple of years. A withdrawal agreement was agreed upon which, for various reasons, has not been acceptable to date to the UK parliament.” – Express

> WATCH: Prime Minister of Latvia Krišjānis Kariņš discusses the Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposal 

MPs urged to ‘alleviate strains’ of Brexit on small businesses by dishing out export vouchers

Ministers have been urged to give small firms a pre-Brexit boost by giving them vouchers to help them sell their good abroad. The Federation of Small Businesses said export vouchers worth up to £3,000 would help small firms deal with costs such as investments in translation services, additional market research, and finding new clients through overseas trade fairs. They said its research suggested that more than half of smaller exporters to the EU believe their business continuity and growth will be negatively affected by a no-deal Brexit on October 31. FSB chairman Mike Cherry said: “Exporting is a critical part of the British economy, especially to small firms hoping to expand and grow their businesses, but in order to succeed, it’s time that the Government stepped in and gave small firms the help that they need in order to realise their exporting ambitions. – The Sun

Alex Chalk and Victoria Prentis: We voted Remain but believe in democracy: now let’s leave

Three and a half years ago we both voted Remain in the referendum. But for us it is no longer about whether we were Remainers or not, but whether we are democrats. In the biggest vote in our nation’s history, the people voted to leave the EU. In doing so they instructed politicians to implement their mandate.Three and half years later, that referendum result has not been honoured. It’s time to get Brexit done so we can move on as a country. Boris Johnson has offered a proposal to the European Union that will enable us to leave by October 31, honour that referendum result and allow us to move on so we can focus on domestic priorities like tackling crime and investing in our NHS and schools. It’s a proposal that will allow us to leave on good terms with our friends and neighbours across the Channel, leave without disruption to businesses and jobs, and will mean that we take back control of our laws and borders. It is a proposal that protects the hard won Northern Irish peace process and, so long as there is consent to this, should mean no additional checks for farmers and for manufactured goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic. It is an offer that works both for us and our European neighbours, maintaining the integrity of the EU single market, a red line for the EU, and the integrity of the UK, a red line for us. We really hope that the EU now considers our proposals in good faith and works with us to get Brexit done with a deal, because we simply cannot have more kicking the can down the road. Delay itself is corrosive — to our constitution, our economy and our international reputation. – Alex Chalk MP and Victoria Prentis MP for The Times (£)

Nick Timothy: Brussels’ behaviour shows it can’t really want a deal – otherwise why would it negotiate in such bad faith?

Boris Johnson’s proposition to Brussels last week might have been rejected, but it succeeded in one important respect. It demonstrated that the European Union is not negotiating in good faith. The EU, it constantly tells us, “is committed to respecting the territorial integrity and constitutional order of the UK.” Yet its response to Britain’s proposal – which would effectively keep Northern Ireland aligned with single market rules but allow it to leave, with the rest of the United Kingdom, the EU’s customs union – shows Brussels is doing little more than keeping up diplomatic appearances. “If we are going to be in two different customs unions,” said Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, “I think that creates a real difficulty that’s going to be very hard to reconcile.” Making himself more specific, he added: “We don’t want to see any customs posts between north and south. Nor do we want to see any tariffs or restrictions on trade north and south.” In other words, according to Ireland and the EU, Northern Ireland cannot be allowed to leave the single market or the customs union. In effect, Northern Ireland – alone, or with the rest of the UK – cannot leave the European Union at all. This is an affront to democratic values in more ways than one. It is an attempt to defy the UK’s decision, three years ago, to leave the EU and its laws and institutions. – Nick Timothy for the Telegraph (£)

Express: EU must compromise or will count the cost

In his excellent comment piece for this newspaper, Boris Johnson says that his government has jumped on to the island in the middle of the river and invites the EU to make a similar leap of faith to join him there from its side. The Prime Minister’s characteristically colourful phraseology sums up the situation we find ourselves in. If a deal is to be done then difficult compromises have to be made. The Government under Mr Johnson laid out a wide-ranging and generous compromise to sort out the Northern Ireland backstop. To their credit, the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionists also compromised in accepting that they would have to agree to some all-Ireland regulations. Even MPs on both sides of the debate in Parliament have compromised to accept this deal. The only people not compromising to make it work are the Brussels bureaucracy and their federalist political allies. – Express editorial

The Sun: The PM has more support in the Commons than Remainers think — and vastly more among the public

When Angela Merkel gave Boris Johnson 30 days to solve the Irish border issue, it looked like mission impossible. “You’ll fail!” squealed the Brexit doom-mongers, as always. Except Boris then produced a credible and workable solution. But, guess what? The EU still won’t resume serious talks. Michel Barnier says we must “fundamentally amend” our position — and that WE will be to blame for a No Deal. Nonsense. Blame will lie with the Remainer elite plotting to thwart Brexit — and the EU which has put its faith in them. As long as they scheme to keep us in, Brussels has no need to compromise. Remainers are now so desperate they are reportedly even considering Ed Miliband, of all people, as PM of their bogus “Government” of Remainer unity. What the voters want seems utterly irrelevant to this cabal threatening our democracy. Barnier will only budge when he grasps that Britain is serious about Boris’s deal. That could yet come if it passes a Commons vote, as it now might. The PM has more support in the Commons than Remainers think — and, as polls show, vastly more among the public. When Remainers say “no one voted for No Deal”, they are in denial about the millions now wanting just to get Brexit done whatever it takes. – The Sun says

Leo McKinstry: The Irish blockade won’t stop Boris Johnson’s Brexit campaign

The Brexit wreckers are starting to gloat. They think that they have cornered Boris Johnson, fatally damaged his premiership and thwarted Britain’s imminent departure from the EU. Due to their ruthless control of Parliament, the Prime Minister may have little choice but to ask Brussels for yet another delay in Brexit if no withdrawal agreement is reached in the next few days – even though such a request would contradict his solemn pledge that Britain would be out by the end of October, “come what may”. Last week, during the Tory conference, a burst of optimism greeted a potential breakthrough by the Government in the Brexit stalemate. Following his exhilarating leader’s speech, Mr Johnson released details of his new compromise proposal to settle the vexed question of the Irish border. His move led to excitable talk a deal could be in sight, with Tory Brexiteers, Democratic Unionists from Ulster, and Labour moderates all indicating their early support for the plan. But since then, those high hopes have largely evaporated. Predictably, many of the Labour dissidents have backtracked under pressure from their party machine, while the EU has expressed its hostility. The anti-Brexiteers are far more divided and fearful than they appear. They sneer at Boris but are scared of his connection with the public. That explains why they will not vote for a general election or hold a vote of no confidence in his Government. They cannot even decide who should be caretaker prime minister if Boris were to be ousted. Jeremy Corbyn, above, wants the job, but his extremism makes that impossible. so other names have been suggested, including speaker John Bercow, the Tory europhile Ken Clarke and even Labour veteran Dame Margaret Beckett, who once called herself a “moron” for backing Corbyn’s leadership bid in 2015. She would be an even bigger moron if she is involved in a Remainer plot to install a misnamed Government of National Unity, whose sole purpose would be to halt Brexit. It is the British public who should choose our Government. – Leo McKinstry for the Express

John Curtice: Delivery rather than detail gives Johnson the Brexit edge over May

The Brexit deal Boris Johnson unveiled last Wednesday has received a better reception from the public than the one Mrs May negotiated but failed to persuade MPs to pass. However, what could well be crucial now is how voters react if, as seems quite likely, the prime minister fails to persuade the EU of the merits of his proposal and, consequently, proves unable to deliver Brexit by the end of this month. According to the first poll — from Opinium — of voters’ reactions to Mr Johnson’s deal, slightly more reckon that the proposal is a good deal (27 per cent) than believe it is a bad one (22 per cent). That said, about a half either say it is neither good nor bad (25 per cent) or that they have not heard enough about the proposal to form a view (26 per cent). Those figures might seem relatively modest. However, they are much better than the ones Opinium was obtaining when Mrs May was trying to get her deal through the Commons. Not long after she first unveiled her agreement, only one in ten voters reckoned it represented a good deal, while as many as a half felt it was a bad one. If so, much could rest on Mr Johnson’s ability to retain that favourable reputation in the potentially stormy two or three weeks ahead. His opponents are anticipating that his appeal for Leave voters will be diminished if, having failed to secure a deal with the EU, he is forced to delay Brexit beyond October 31. However, so far, confidence in Mr Johnson’s handling of Brexit — and indeed his party’s standing in the polls which, according to Opinium’s latest poll, is, at 38 per cent, higher than at any time since last February, before Mrs May failed to deliver Brexit — has not suffered in the wake of what are already diminishing expectations among voters that Brexit will be delivered at the end of the month. – Sir John Curtice for The Times (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • This Government won’t back down on Brexit – Steve Barclay MP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)
  • Brexit is the writing on the wall for our ‘constitution’ – David Davis MP for the Sunday Times (£)
  • Lib Dem torn apart by Brexiteer over Article 50 – Express