Theresa May refuses to resign until her withdrawal deal becomes law: Brexit News for Saturday 11 May

Theresa May refuses to resign until her withdrawal deal becomes law: Brexit News for Saturday 11 May
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Theresa May refuses to resign until her withdrawal deal is passed by Commons…

Theresa May is refusing to set a firm resignation date as she is convinced it would make it impossible to pass her Brexit deal.The reasoning behind the PM’s defiance in her stand-off with party grandees is revealed today by the chairman of the 1922 Committee of all Tory backbenchers. Pinning down her departure date before a deal is approved by the Commons would only see her Brexiteer critics dig in and wait for it rather than vote for her EU agreement, she fears. But despite the PM’s refusal so far, Sir Graham Brady is still insisting Mrs May fulfils his demand for a timetable to leave No10 no matter what at her showdown meeting with his executive team next Thursday. – The Sun

  • Sir Graham Brady considering running to replace Theresa May as Tory leader – The Sun

…as an ex-Tory donor is revealed as major backer of the Brexit Party

A businessman who has previously donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party has been confirmed as a major financial backer of the Brexit Party. Jeremy Hosking was one of a number of donors who have donated large sums of money to Nigel Farage’s new party, a spokesman for the Brexit Party told Sky News. Last weekend, leader Mr Farage told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that a single donor had given more than £100,000 to the party, but did not reveal his identity, saying it would happen after the EU parliament elections later this month.  – Sky News

France does not want repeated Brexit delays…

France is against repeatedly extending the deadline for the U.K. to leave the EU, a presidential advisor said Friday. France was the most vocal among the remaining EU27 countries in pushing for a short Brexit delay at a summit last month after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May asked for a second extension to Article 50. Despite French President Emmanuel Macron’s reluctance, the EU leaders then agreed to extend the Brexit deadline to October 31. “We must not get sucked into repeated extensions, that’s for sure.” – Politico

…whilst Donald Tusk says there is a 30 percent chance of the UK staying in the EU…

Donald Tusk reckons the chances of the U.K. staying in the European Union could be as high as 30 percent. The European Council president said he thinks Brits would reject Brexit if there was a second referendum: “A real debate about the consequences of Brexit wasn’t had during the referendum campaign, but only after the vote. Today the result would probably look different. Paradoxically, Brexit awoke in Great Britain a pro-European movement.” –  Politico

…and Guy Verhofstadt backs the Lib Dems on ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ tour

Remain-backing voters in the U.K. should vote for the Liberal Democrats as “the most pro-European” party, Guy Verhofstadt said on a campaign visit to London. The Lib Dems face a challenge in the European election from new party Change UK and the Greens, which both share their policy of a second referendum on EU membership. But Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), said that Vince Cable’s Lib Dems were the “natural” home for Remainers. “If there is one pro-European party in Britain, it [is] the Lib Dems,” he said. – Politico

  • ‘I’m a Lib Dem’ declares EU’s Brexit co-ordinator – Sky News
  • EU Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt pokes nose into UK politics by campaigning alongside Lib Dems – The Sun
  • Verhofstadt: I don’t know if Brexit will happen – BBC News
  • Smug, puerile anti-Brexit trolls: the Lib Dems and Guy Verhofstadt are made for each other – Asa Bennett for The Telegraph (£)
  • Guy Verhofstadt sprinkles his centrist stardust on the perfect Lib Dem launch – Judith Woods for the Telegraph (£)

Fresh no-deal Brexit proposals set to spark cabinet clash

The UK Brexit secretary is preparing a paper on whether to step up planning in case the country leaves the EU without a deal ahead of its scheduled departure date of October 31, in a move that is expected to trigger a clash among cabinet ministers. Steve Barclay, who backed Leave in the 2016 referendum, is among Eurosceptic Tory MPs who believe it would be prudent for the government to ramp up preparations for an abrupt departure. Government officials said the minister is expected to present his proposals at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. He faces a pushback from Europhile colleagues, including business secretary Greg Clark, who believe it was a mistake for the government to ever consider a no-deal Brexit. – FT (£)

Sajid Javid tells Tories to back May’s deal or risk losing Brexit altogether

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has delivered a fresh warning to Tory Brexiteers that they could lose Brexit altogether unless they back Theresa May’s deal. Mr Javid said it would be an “absolute disaster” if pro-Remain MPs were able to combine to stop the Article 50 withdrawal process. He urged Conservative MPs – and their allies in the DUP – to get behind the Prime Minister’s agreement to ensure Britain leaves the EU in an “orderly way”. Mrs May is expected to try to bring back her deal to the Commons for a fourth time before the European elections on May 23 in an effort to ensure the new British MEPs will not have to take up their seats in the European Parliament. – Press Association

Corbyn ally says Labour ‘doesn’t exist to stop Brexit’

Labour “doesn’t exist to stop Brexit” according to an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, as election campaigning gets under way. Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said the real divide in the UK is between workers and the wealthy, not Leave and Remain. Mr Burgon was speaking on BBC’s Newsnight amid continuing tensions between two wings in Labour, those who support a second referendum on Brexit and those who are less keen. He said: “The Labour Party doesn’t exist to stop Brexit. “Other parties have been formed that think that is their only purpose politically.”  – Sky News

  • The Brexit party is great news for Labour- Paul Mason for The Spectator

Dominic Grieve faces deselection vote next month from Tory activists furious over Brexit

Arch-Remainer Dominic Grieve is fighting for his political career after local Tory activists collected enough signatures to make him to face a deselection vote next month. The news comes after Beaconsfield Conservatives passed a vote of no confidence vote in Mr Grieve in March by 182 to 131 votes. Mr Grieve, the chairman of Parliament’s intelligence watchdog, has been heavily criticised locally for his efforts in the House of Commons to frustrate attempts to take the UK out of the European Union. – Telegraph (£)

How a Merkel-Macron showdown over Juncker’s successor could paralyse the EU

Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel are at loggerheads over who should succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission in a row which threatens to precipitate a major constitutional crisis in the EU. The divisions between the EU’s two most influential member states will further complicate a looming inter-institutional turf war in Brussels over whether the new president should be chosen through the European elections or not. The splits centre on whether the EU should continue to use the Spitzenkandidat system. – Telegraph (£)

May promotes pro-Brexit Conservative MPs not aligned with the ERG

Dr Andew Murrison is taking up ministerial posts at the Foreign Office and Department for International Development, putting an end to speculation that Alistair Burt might return to the role. He is part of what is an important constituency for the Prime Minister: pro-Brexit Conservative MPs who are not, as far as we know, aligned with the European Research Group. As a former minister he will also be able to swiftly get to grips with the role, which is all the more important given the potentially short lifespan of this ministry.  – Conservative Home

Britain’s economy is booming thanks to soaring exports by drug companies

Britain’s economy is in rude health — thanks to soaring exports by drug companies ahead of Brexit. Production was up thanks to a 2.2 per cent rise in manufacturing, the highest output since 1988. The Office for National Statistics said there was evidence firms had been trying to rush out orders and stockpile materials ahead of the UK’s planned EU exit on March 29th. Pharmaceutical firms posted the highest growth, at 9.4 per cent, thanks to increased exports to Europe. Chancellor Philip Hammond hailed the results as “good news”. He said: “It is correct that there has been some stockpiling ahead of the possibility of a no-deal exit in March but the underlying message is one of resilience of this economy – the growth has come across all sectors: services, construction, manufacturing, production – it’s not just in one area.  – The Sun

  • UK economy rebounds in first quarter  – BBC News

UK and EU will agree a free-trade deal, but 31st October Brexit deadline is in doubt, say economists

Britain will eventually leave the European Union and agree a free-trade deal with the bloc, according to the vast majority of economists polled by Reuters who were, however, split on whether the two sides would divorce on Oct. 31… When asked if the latest deadline – delayed from March 29 – would be extended, 17 of 33 economists who answered an extra question in the May 3-10 Reuters poll said it would not. “Failure to come to an agreement runs the risk that the EU will simply lose patience in October and not grant any extension,” said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank. “We are by no means out of the woods.” It’s nearly three years since the June 2016 referendum when Britons shocked much of the world and voted to leave the EU but it is still unclear how, when, or even if it will ever quit the club it joined in 1973. – Reuters

MP complains about noise from Brexit protesters outside Parliament

An MP has complained about the noise from Brexit protesters outside Parliament, which he says is distracting MPs and the police. Tory MP Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) said he was concerned the “incessant loud noise” was interrupting people going about their jobs. He added: “Not only does it cause distraction, particularly in Westminster Hall, but much more importantly it has a huge effect on the police who are guarding the gates and have to be on the alert, as we know only too well, against attack. “There are by-laws about this. I don’t care which side of the EU argument the shouters are on, probably both sides, but it needs to be stopped.” Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said she regularly meets with the authorities at the Palace of Westminster to discuss “some of the challenges” faced with going about their work. – Press Association

Paul Mason: The Brexit party is great news for Labour

This is book launch week. I promised my editors at Allen Lane I would stick to the big themes of Clear Bright Future and avoid trench warfare over Brexit. So I end up on Sky in trench warfare over Brexit with Isabel Oakeshott. She is chipper because Nigel Farage’s new party is on 25 per cent. I am also chipper because, despite my public disagreement with the ‘get Brexit over with’ wing of Corbynism, the bigger picture is becoming clear. If the Conservatives go into any election facing something called the Brexit Party, having delivered a deal that prevents Britain doing independent trade deals, I cannot see them winning it. Sixty-odd key marginals open up for Labour — many in places where Chuka Umunna’s illiberal breakaway stands no chance. – Paul Mason for The Spectator

Ella Whelan: Erdoğan and Remoaners – peas in a pod

A second vote is ‘the best step’ and it will ‘strengthen our will to solve problems within the framework of democracy and law’. Who said this? The New European, perhaps? Chuka Umunna of Change UK? Perhaps it’s a tweet by the anti-Brexit former leftist Paul Mason? In fact, these comments came from Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Following an embarrassing defeat for his Justice and Development Party in local elections in Istanbul in March, Erdoğan called for a do-over. Why? Because, he says, the victory of the opposition Republican People’s Party was down to ‘illegality’ – ‘thieves’ stole the ‘national will’, apparently. In short, the people of Istanbul had been hoodwinked, conned into voting against the status quo. – Ella Whelan for Spiked

Sherelle Jacobs: The only thing that can save the wretched Tory party now is a grassroots guerrilla war

Conservative activists are already mobilising. Fed up by the constipated cautiousness of the 1922 Committee, the National Conservative Convention is holding an extraordinary general meeting on June 15, at which its members are expected to vote no confidence in Mrs May. Local association members are still pushing for confidence votes against their Remainer MPs. Many activists have gone on strike, refusing to post leaflets for the upcoming European elections. Why aren’t the Brexiteers allying with them? At the very least they should go on a parallel voting strike, and help campaigners to up the ante – by, for example coordinating a headline-grabbing no-confidence vote, passed by the hundreds of anti-May local Tory Associations in a single day. – Sherelle Jacobs for The Telegraph (£)

Henry Hill: Amber Rudd may come to regret her cavalier dismissal of ordinary Conservatives

“A certain type of people are supporters of Conservative Home.” These were the words of Amber Rudd, when she was challenged on Question Time about the results of our latest survey showing that grassroots Tories have no confidence in Theresa May. Of course, Rudd is a member of the Cabinet and therefore must dismiss any evidence unflattering to the Prime Minister. Nonetheless her choice of words is revealing, and unfortunate, because the ‘type of people’ who read Conservative Home are… Conservatives. The idea that our survey reflects an unrepresentative subsection of the membership is not a new one. Yet on the rare occasions when the Tory grassroots are subject to scientific polling, our findings hold up very well indeed. Rudd’s suggestion that our panel is somehow predisposed to dislike May is falsified by the fact that she has previously recorded some of the strongest positive ratings we have ever seen in our survey. Given the Government’s position on Brexit and recent performance, the Prime Minister’s lamentable scores need no conspiratorial explanation. – Henry Hill for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • These are the first European elections in history to feel enthusiastic about – Charles Moore for the Telegraph (£)
  • Britain desperately needs a party that can replace Labour, but Change UK’s campaign has been mind-bogglingly bad – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)
  • The UK’s uneasy devolution settlement is feeling the strain of Brexit – Akash Paun for CapX
  • Arrogant Change UK should learn from Lib Dem electoral strategy – Ben Kelly for Reaction
  • How great parties can be destroyed by close association with the EU project – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Euro election pollwatch: How are the parties faring? – BBC News
  • Rudd on our members’ survey showing no confidence in May: “A certain type of people are supporters of Conservative Home” – Conservative Home
  • Brexit ‘stitch-up’ will not ‘break Farage spell’, say People’s Vote campaigners – Press Association