Port of Dover says it is 100% Ready for No Deal: Brexit News for Saturday 21 September

Port of Dover says it is 100% Ready for No Deal: Brexit News for Saturday 21 September
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Port of Dover says it is 100% Ready for No Deal

The Port of Dover — through which a sixth of the UK’s trade in goods flows — can cope with any disruption thrown up by a no-deal Brexit, Chief Executive Officer Doug Bannister said, suggesting some of the direr predictions of chaos are wide of the mark. “The Port of Dover is 100% ready,” he said in an interview in his harbor-side office with views of the town’s castle, its famous white cliffs, its all-important port, and — across the English Channel — France. “Ferry operators: 100% ready. Calais, Dunkirk: 100% ready.” Bannister’s assessment is a boost to the government’s efforts to portray Britain as Brexit-ready, even after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced by Parliament to publish details of “worst-case scenario” projections under no-deal Brexit planning dubbed Operation Yellowhammer. – Bloomberg

  • Dover port is 100 per cent ready for No Deal Brexit, boss insists – The Sun

EU claim UK’s new Brexit papers ‘lack key elements’ for a deal…

A leaked European Commission memo has said the latest draft proposals for a new Brexit deal “fall short of satisfying all the objectives of the Irish backstop”. Yesterday, in a UK exclusive interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed he had been sent documents by Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlining the ideas for a new deal. However, the memo obtained by Sky News tonight said the proposals did not provide “legally operational solutions” to the controversial backstop. – Sky News

  • Leaked memo says UK proposal fails to solve backstop issues – Sky News

…but the Government hits back over leaked EU backstop memo

“Leaks from Brussels on Twitter are par for the course. You can set your watch by them. What we’re focused on is actually getting a deal in the room. We trust they’ll do the same.” Downing Street is expected in the coming weeks to come forward with formal alternatives to the backstop – an insurance policy to stop a hard border returning on the island of Ireland. The memo from the European Commission to the European Council and European Parliament, comes as Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay continues talks in Brussels. “We both recognise that a deal is in the interests of both sides,” Mr Barclay said after his sit-down with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. – Sky News

Steve Barclay warns Michel Barnier that he would be held responsible for No Deal…

Steve Barclay has warned Michel Barnier he will be held responsible for No Deal – as political talks on revamping the backstop resume today. The Brexit Secretary said the Commission will cop the blame for “crystallising” a crash out if it sticks to its “rigid” approach. Speaking in Madrid after meetings with Spanish officials, he said the Irish border fix is unacceptable for four reasons and “has to go”. And he warned eurocrats are imperilling future UK-EU relations “because of a lack of flexibility, creativity and indeed pragmatism”. Mr Barclay stormed: “Great political leaders have always respected the need to take risk. “A refusal by the Commission to accept any risk would be a failure of statecraft. Leadership requires more than remaining within a safety net.” He added: “We risk being trapped in a zero sum game, which will lead to zero outcomes, which I do not want. “The EU risks continuing to insist on a test that the UK cannot meet and that the UK Parliament has rejected three times. – The Sun

…as the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator rebuffs UK request to sort out the backstop later

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier today rebuffed a request from the UK to agree a withdrawal deal and sort the Irish backstop out at a later date. Following a meeting with UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay in Brussels, a spokesman for the EU said it was “essential that there is a fully workable and legally operational solution” to the backstop before Britain leaves the bloc. Barclay had argued in a speech on Thursday that the UK could need another year to have a workaround ready, and suggested the implementation period  following a deal could be used to sort out the backstop. He told an audience in Madrid that “the alternative to the backstop is not necessary until the end of the implementation period in December 2020, and this will be shaped by the future relationship — which is still to be determined.”  – Politico

  • The biggest obstacle to a workable backstop alternative lies not in the EU, but the UK – Katy Hayward for the Telegraph (£)

Leo Varadkar jokes about throwing holy water at Boris Johnson…

If Brexit can’t be sorted out by mere mortals, perhaps the UK and EU need some divine inspiration to break the deadlock. That was perhaps what an Irish priest was thinking when he presented Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with a bottle of holy water this afternoon. But it seems Varadkar had other ideas about what to do with it:Priest: ‘Taoiseach, I know you’re going to New York next week and meeting Boris Johnson, [here’s] a small little bit of added protection for you.- The Spectator

…as his deputy says Ireland won’t be ‘collateral damage’ to a Brexit deal

Ireland wants the UK to be able to leave the EU with a Brexit agreement, but not at the cost of damage to the peace and economy of Ireland, Simon Coveney said. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program this morning, the Irish deputy prime minister said: “We want to find a solution, we want to get a deal, and we want to allow the UK to leave the EU in an orderly and sensible manner, but we cannot allow Ireland to be the collateral damage of that. “I think for Britain to ask us to do that [remove the Irish backstop without an alternative in place] is a very unreasonable request, and it won’t be the basis of a deal. – Politico

  • No-deal Brexit vital freight carriers shortlisted – Sky News
  • Ireland says not close to Brexit deal but mood music has improved – Reuters

Michel Barnier tests Labour rebels’ appetite for a revised Brexit deal…

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator has held a meeting with pro-deal Labour MPs as Brussels seeks to establish whether any agreement it strikes with Boris Johnson can be passed by parliament. Michel Barnier met Stephen Kinnock and Caroline Flint on Thursday amid fears that even if the EU makes further concessions it would still be rejected by MPs. Mr Kinnock and Ms Flint represent about a dozen Labour MPs who would vote for a withdrawal agreement in defiance of party policy. The MPs said Mr Barnier had been interested in the “parliamentary arithmetic” of what it would take to get a deal through and the potential stumbling blocks that might prevent them backing a Johnson agreement. – The Times (£)

…as Labour suggest they ‘will never vote for a Brexit deal negotiated by Johnson’

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, today suggested Labour will never support a Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson.  Mr McDonnell said even if Mr Johnson resolved the controversy over the Irish border backstop there were plenty of other areas in the existing divorce agreement which fell far short of Labour’s demands.  His comments represent a blow to the Prime Minister and make the path to getting a revised deal through the House of Commons much more difficult. Mr McDonnell also appeared to rule himself out of replacing Mr Corbyn at the top of the party as he reportedly said the next leader should be a woman.  – Daily Mail

  • Corbyn faces pressure from party faithful to back Remain – FT (£)

Remain rebel still remains government trade envoy despite losing Tory whip

Rebel ex-Tory MP Ed Vaizey is still employed as a Government trade envoy despite being deselected by Boris Johnson, it emerged. The former minister is set to visit Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos next week to promote trade links between Britain and south-east Asia. The revelation that he still holds the unpaid post has sparked claims the Prime Minister is taking a “casual attitude” towards trade policy. Mr Vaizey was handed the envoy post by Theresa May after she sacked him as a minister in 2016. Earlier this month he had the Tory whip removed along with 20 other MPs in revenge for backing a rebel bill which aims to block Mr Johnson from delivering Brexit. – i News

No-deal Brexit pop-up booths for truckers planned

The UK government will pay £9 million for no-deal Brexit pop-up advice centers for truckers around the bloc — £1 million more than expected. The tender for up to 150 booths to be stationed at roadsides around the UK and EU has been awarded to a company called Identity Holdings, a contract published today reveals.  – Politico

Lib Dem MEPs urge Juncker not to do a deal with Johnson

British Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament have a message for Jean-Claude Juncker: stop trying so hard to reach a Brexit deal. The European Commission president has promised to work day and night with U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his negotiators to reach an agreement ahead of the October 31 deadline for the UK’s withdrawal. But in a letter sent to Juncker by email on Friday, 16 British members of the European Parliament voiced dismay over a Sky News interview, to be broadcast in full this weekend, in which Juncker declared:”Brexit will happen” and “we can have a deal.” – Politico

Rod Liddle: The Lib Dems have revealed the extreme side of modern liberalism

Asked on the BBC’s The World This Weekend to explain why such a large proportion of her constituency voted Leave, the Lib Dem candidate for North Devon reeled off the rote-learned liberal shibboleths: ‘Demographically it’s 98 per cent white. We don’t have a lot of ethnic minorities living in North Devon. People aren’t exposed to people from other countries. They don’t travela lot…’ She then directly linked voting Leave with ‘the rise of hate crimes’. This interview has since been described as a car crash because Johnson seemed so magnificently thick, like a block of Davidstow cheddar cheese with a perpetually yapping mouth. But she was only voicing the opinion that lies behind the extremist Remain agenda: Leave voters are xenophobic, racist and unworldly. – Rod Liddle for The Spectator

Juliet Samuel: Boris knows he needs to win the Brexit blame game

the Tories have to face facts. It’s highly likely that Mr Johnson will fail to strike and ratify a deal in the next month and so he will simply have to write to Brussels to ask the EU for the extension he vowed never to seek. The question is how he avoids being blamed for it. It’s worth pausing to consider what an extraordinary situation this is. One of the defining features of British democracy is that our government is held accountable for its actions. If it messes up, voters turf it out by installing a new set of MPs.  – Juliet Samuel for the Telegraph (£)

Richard Rimkus: Anyone who wants to delay Brexit cannot have the best interests of Europe at heart

Every day, I am bemused by the activities of the assorted groups of UK parliamentarians; especially those pursuing a 2nd referendum, a Brexit extension or trying to revoke Article 50. I hear their arguments and I read their opinion pieces, and I become ever-increasingly convinced that they do not understand democracy or how much they are hurting the UK. The howls of outrage at the time of prorogation from politicians and commentators were out of all proportion and have since largely disappeared. This is because Parliament has only lost the equivalent to 4 days of sitting time due to prorogation, when the time needed for the conference recess is factored in. It also cannot be forgotten that Parliament is not responsible for Brexit negotiations, merely approval and scrutiny, which it has failed to do effectively over the last three years.  – Richard Rimkus for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • My stint on Question Time last night exposed just how out of touch the political elite are with the people they were elected to serve – Camilla Tominey for the Telegraph (£)
  • Like his tiny country, Xavier Bettel has learned to pick his shots – Jacopo Barigazzi and Florian Eder for Politico
  • Diary of a reluctant MEP: Why is it so much easier to get a free cocktail  than a chance to speak in the Chamber? – John Longworth MEP for the Telegraph (£)
  • Forget the Brexit scaremongering: wages are on the rise – Ross Clark for Spectator Life
  • The success of Brexit Britain has left Project Fear on its deathbed – Ben Habib MEP for the Telegraph (£)
  • Dutch PM Rutte: Brexit deal by October 31st is still possible – Reuters
  • Drug and medical suppliers say Brexit freight plans needed – Reuters
  • Boris Johnson to discuss climate and Brexit at UN gathering – BBC News