Cross-party talks collapsed by Corbyn as he says he cannot trust 'unstable' May: Brexit News for Saturday 18 May

Cross-party talks collapsed by Corbyn as he says he cannot trust 'unstable' May: Brexit News for Saturday 18 May
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Cross-party talks collapsed by Corbyn as he says he cannot trust ‘unstable’ May…

Crisis talks to broker a Brexit deal between the government and Labour have collapsed. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the negotiations had “gone as far as they can” because “we have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us”. He complained that as a leadership race kicks off in the Conservative Party, the “position of the government has become ever more unstable and its authority eroded”. But Prime Minister Theresa May blamed the collapse in talks on “the fact that there is no common position in Labour about whether they want to deliver Brexit or hold a second referendum which could reverse it.”  – Sky News

  • PM blames Labour’s second referendum split but he says she ‘won’t be PM for much longer anyway’ – Daily Mail

…and Tory Eurosceptics tell Theresa May to quit now after collapse of Labour Brexit talks…

Tory Eurosceptic MPs have told Theresa May she should quit now after compromise talks with Labour collapsed, likely dooming the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal to another defeat. Brexiteers said it would be “pointless” to hold a crunch vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the first week of June because they believe Mrs May has no chance of winning. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, pulled the plug on six weeks of talks on Friday as he told Mrs May discussions had “gone as far as they can” because of “the increasing weakness and instability” of the Government. – Telegraph (£)

  • Brexit talks between Conservatives and Labour collapse – Politico
  • Boris Johnson clear favourite among Conservative members to succeed May – Reuters
  • Pound falls as plug pulled on cross-party talks – Sky News
  • The break-up everyone saw coming – Dr. Peter Hill for The Commentator
  • Theresa May must go immediately after her Brexit deal’s final defeat in June – The Sun editorial

…as Theresa May plans concessions to DUP in a final bid to win support for her deal

Theresa May is ready to put concessions to the DUP and Tory Eurosceptics in her Brexit legislation in a desperate final bid to win support. Senior sources last night claimed the Withdrawal Bill (WAB) going before the Commons early next week will be amended to “build the broadest coalition possible”.One concession will see No.10 commit to alternative arrangements to replace the Irish backstop by the end of 2020. Another will enshrine in law a commitment to regulatory alignment between Britain and Northern Ireland in any trade deal with Brussels. A Government source said: “We’re not just going to bring it back as it was and hope for the best.” The PM will also speak to Cabinet Ministers this weekend before deciding whether to hold a round of ‘Indicative Votes’ on alternative Brexit plans in the Commons before putting the ‘WAB’ before MPs.  – The Sun

Theresa May’s secret plan for indicative votes

I’ve been passed a document headed: ‘Indicative votes before second reading of the WAB’ (Withdrawal Agreement Bill). It is an official summary of what the government is hoping to agree with Labour by way of a Brexit compromise, and how to test the will of the House of Commons on what kind of customs union or arrangement would be appropriate for the UK. Strikingly it shows Theresa May and her cabinet trying to achieve two other things: they want to use so-called indicative votes by MPs in just the next few days to prove MPs do not want a confirmatory referendum, and that they do want to leave the EU on 31 July. If Jeremy Corbyn were to agree to this, he would split the Labour Party. But there are other elements of the proposed cross-party compromise, namely on customs and a proposed ‘package agreed with Labour’, which would tear the Tory Party apart. – Robert Peston’s ITV blog

Andrew Bridgen rejects Farage’s plea to defect

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party attempted to entice a Conservative backbench MP to join its ranks this week but was rebuffed, it can be revealed. Andrew Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire and a staunch Brexiteer, said that he wanted to stay in the Conservative Party and “fight” for its future. However, he urged the two parties to find an accommodation in a general election, which Mr Farage is understood to believe could come as early as October, to secure Brexit. – The Times (£)

Boris only Tory leadership contender winning Brexiteers back to the party

With the Tory leadership race finally starting to hot up, a new Hanbury Strategy poll has looked at how the potential candidates fare with different sets of voters. Boris is the only contender to make 2017 Tory voters more likely to vote Tory next time round. Not a great result for the contenders Hanbury execs are (informally) advising, Raab places fourth while Hancock isn’t even included. The poll found Tory General Election voting intention had dropped to just 21%, well behind Labour on 30% and only just ahead of the Brexit Party on 19% (Change UK surged to 5th place with a whole 6%). Again, Boris was the only contender to make Brexit Party supporters more likely to vote Tory. – Guido Fawkes

  • Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party would still stand even if Boris Johnson became new Prime Minister – James Forsyth for The Sun

Early election will ‘kill Brexit’ warns Health Secretary Matt Hancock…

Theresa May’s successor must not call an early general election because it risks handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Number 10 and “killing Brexit altogether”, Matt Hancock has warned. With the Brexit Party riding high in the polls ahead of Thursday’s European Parliament elections and Labour projected to win the most seats if a general election was called tomorrow, the Health Secretary urged MPs to “deliver Brexit and move forward”. MPs will be given one more chance to vote for Mrs May’s Brexit deal next month, but with Labour formally ending cross-party talks yesterday the vote has little chance of success. Mrs May has agreed to step down regardless of the result of the vote, but Mr Hancock, who is himself expected to run for the Tory leadership, cautioned against the idea of her successor calling an election to seek a new Brexit mandate.- Telegraph (£)

…as Tories lose fifth of their voters to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party

Theresa May’s plea for more time at No 10 was hit today by a bombshell poll showing Conservative support plunging to its lowest level for 17 years. The exclusive Ipsos MORI survey for the Evening Standard revealed the Government’s ratings in freefall and the Conservatives’ vote share in a general election down 13 points in one month to a shocking low of 25 per cent. And the Prime Minister’s dire personal ratings suggest Conservatives need not look far for the reason. – Evening Standard

Anti-Brexit billboards could be huge breach of electoral law

Anti-Brexit campaign ‘Led By Donkeys’ have been busy racking up the FBPE retweets for a fresh swathe of billboards they’ve put up around the country. The billboards are branded as Brexit Party adverts with a fake Brexit Party web address and feature phrases like “Attack the NHS” and “Target Gay People”… Even the first 8 posters which they say were “guerrilla operations” they put up themselves and around a dozen outside England, this means that by their own count they have spent well over £230,000 since January. They put up the 8th “guerilla” poster on January 23 itself, all the others appear to have been put up after this. This puts them over £70,000 over the legal spending limit and in massive breach of electoral law. – Guido Fawkes

Still hope for May, says Taoiseach

Leo Varadkar has said that he still believes Theresa May’s Brexit agreement can be passed, despite the breakdown of talks between the Conservatives and Labour. Sterling hit a four-month low against the dollar yesterday as the Brexit talks collapsed. Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour leader, said they had been “detailed and constructive” but had “gone as far as they can”. Theresa May’s government attempting to find a compromise to get Labour support for her withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons. Speaking in Galway yesterday, the taoiseach expressed disappointment. “This is a very serious development and a very negative development, unfortunately,” he said. The government is reviewing the situation, and European leaders will meet on the Tuesday after the European elections to discuss Brexit developments. – The Times (£)

Scotland won’t be independent within EU, says Farage

Nigel Farage has called on “genuine Scottish nationalists” to vote for his Brexit party in next week’s EU elections, as he described Nicola Sturgeon’s campaign for an independent Scotland within Europe as “the most dishonest political discourse anywhere in the world”. As protesters chanted outside the venue, Farage told cheering supporters at a rally in Edinburgh: “If you’re genuinely a nationalist lend your vote to the Brexit party, let’s get out of the EU and then have an honest debate about independence.” Speaking to the media before going onstage at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange with the Brexit party’s EU election candidates for Scotland, Farage said: “The impression that’s often given by Nicola Sturgeon is that almost everybody in Scotland thinks the European Union is a fantastic idea, when the reality is that 30% of her own voters, because they are actually genuinely nationalists, voted to leave the EU.” – Guardian

Camilla Tominey: Glum faces, a speech to an empty room and a hurried exit as Theresa May’s campaign turns into a wake

As photographs go, it told a thousand words about the beleaguered state of a premiership on the brink. If Theresa May had hoped her unannounced appearance in Bristol would be a pleasant surprise for Tory MEP candidates, then they had a funny way of showing it. With the Brexit Party riding high in the polls and Mrs May under growing pressure to set a timetable for her departure, the glum look on the candidates’ faces appeared to suggest that they would rather the Prime Minister was anywhere else but in their constituency on Friday.  Camilla Tominey for the Telegraph (£)

Tom Lowe: Behind the scenes at a Brexit Party rally: why Labour and the Tories should be terrified

In a small town in the Black Country last night, a political rally took place which should have the two main parties feeling extremely nervous. Willenhall, on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, doesn’t even have a train station. Yet well over a thousand supporters packed out a wedding venue to see the Brexit Party’s latest rally, filling every seat, standing in the aisles and exhibiting a greater enthusiasm than has been seen in British politics since the rise of Jeremy Corbyn.The Brexit Party launched only a few weeks ago but already this is looking like a movement which could have a profound effect on Britain’s politics.- Tom Lowe for The Spectator

Priti Patel: If we don’t radically change course on Brexit, the party I love will not survive

The future of our country is on the line and if we don’t radically change course, the party I love and have worked for all my life will not survive, let alone deliver Brexit. Worse still, we may not be able to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from becoming Prime Minister and his dangerous brand of socialism destroying our country. This is why it is so important to remember why the British people voted to leave the EU. They wanted to take back control of our laws, money and trade so Britain could be an outward-looking country with global reach. They also wanted to take back control of our borders as they were no longer prepared to live with the consequences of free movement and the extra pressures placed on our public services.  – Priti Patel for the Telegraph (£)

  • It’s not just EU policy that’s driving conservative voters towards the Brexit Party – Dr Rosalind Beck for Conservative Home

Sherelle Jacobs: The fraudulent Labour movement will be the first shock victim of the Brexit Party

Farage is so dangerous to Labour, because the grandstanding visceral Thatcherite grasps – instinctively if not quite intellectually – that the northern heartlands are populated by strident individualists who want to control their own destiny, rather than be benevolently manipulated by a remote, enlightened elite. In contrast, metropolitan liberals are in denial about their emotional and cultural alienation from the people they proclaim to speak for (“they were lied to”;”people have changed their minds”), and they can only view Farage through the self-puffing prism of ancient battles between the politics of Right-wing “fear” and Left-wing “hope”. – Sherelle Jacobs for the Telegraph (£)

  • Labour has left Theresa May at sea by concluding no deal is better than a bad Brexit deal – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Comment in Brief

  • Is the Brexit Party bigger than Brexit? – Oliver Wiseman for CapX
  • Where is the Withdrawal Treaty Bill? – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Meet the secret Brexiteers – Claire Fox for The Spectator
  • Brexit must mean a resurgence in our shipbuilding industry – Anne-Marie Trevelyan for Conservative Home
  • Brexit and student fees: Let equality rule  – Joel Casement for The Commentator
  • Eurovision has become as humiliating as Brexit – perhaps it’s time we left, too – Charlotte Gill for the Telegraph (£)
  • Brexit talks fall apart and Corbyn blames Tories – Finn McRedmond for Reaction
  • Sir Roger Scruton on Europe at a Crossroads – Kathy Gyngell for ConservativeWoman

News in Brief

  • Dutch PM Rutte says idea of Brexit is ‘wrong’ – Reuters
  • UK-based Poles call for revolt against having to apply for settled status – Guardian
  • Collapse of Brexit talks a very negative development says Irish PM – Reuters
  • Leave.EU founder confirms he funded Nigel Farage in year after referendum – BBC News
  • Lib Dem leader could make it party policy to revoke Brexit – Sky News
  • General election risks ‘killing Brexit’, minister warns – BBC News