No. 10 says no new negotiations until EU agrees to reopen Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement: Brexit News for Saturday 27 July

No. 10 says no new negotiations until EU agrees to reopen Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement: Brexit News for Saturday 27 July
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Downing Street says there’ll be no new negotiations until the EU agrees to reopen Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement…

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said on Friday that there would be no new Brexit talks until the EU dropped its refusal to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement struck with Theresa May that includes a backstop, which is intended to prevent a hard border in Ireland. “The withdrawal agreement has been rejected three times by the House of Commons. It’s not going to pass,” the spokesman said. “That means reopening the withdrawal agreement and securing the abolition of the backstop.” As his new government started to ramp up preparations for a no-deal exit on October 31, Mr Johnson conveyed the same message in phone calls with his counterparts in Germany and France, both of whom, like Mr Varadkar, have insisted that the withdrawal agreement cannot be reopened. – FT (£)

  • EU say no Brexit talks have been arranged – Independent

…as Boris Johnson tells EU leaders that the backstop must be scrapped…

The prime minister spoke to Mr Macron yesterday and insisted that the Irish backstop must be scrapped if there were to be a deal between Britain and the EU. His official spokesman said that there were no new Brexit talks scheduled and Mr Johnson was clear that if the EU did not compromise “we will be leaving” without a deal on October 31. The spokesman said: “The purpose of the call was to congratulate the prime minister. They did discuss Brexit. “When the prime minister has these conversations with fellow leaders and the discussion moves on to Brexit, he will be setting out the same message which he delivered in the House of Commons yesterday. He wants to do a deal. He will be energetic in trying to seek that deal, but the withdrawal agreement has been rejected three times by the House of Commons. It is not going to pass. That means reopening the withdrawal agreement and securing the abolition of the backstop.” – The Times (£)

Boris Johnson laid down the law to Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Claude Juncker and Angela Merkel in the last 24 hours as he warned the trio there will be no new Brexit talks until the EU agrees to ditch the backstop.  The new PM made clear his position to the French President in a tense late-night phone call and did the same with the president of the European Commission and German Chancellor. Meanwhile, Dublin voiced alarm over the premier’s ramped up rhetoric, saying Mr Johnson had put the UK on a ‘collision course’ with the EU.  Brussels has dismissed Mr Johnson’s backstop demands as ‘unacceptable’, while French ministers accused the premier of ‘posturing’. – Daily Mail

  • PM Johnson set out Brexit position to France’s Macron – Reuters

…but Juncker tells Johnson to get back to him when he is ready to talk… 

Thought the EU has got nothing for Boris Johnson? Think again. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave the new British prime minister his mobile phone number on Thursday. The exchange of personal telephone numbers appeared to be the highlight of a brief, late-afternoon phone conversation in which the two leaders apparently agreed on absolutely nothing except that they would stay in touch — one way or another. – Politico

…and Germany’s Europe minister tells Johnson to calm down…

Germany’s Europe Minister, Michael Roth, urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “calm down” on Friday and said dialogue rather than provocation should be the way forward on Brexit. “My message to the new British prime minister is clear: ‘Boris, the election campaign is over. Calm yourself down. We should be fair with each other,” Roth told ZDF television. “What do not help are new provocations. Instead, dialogue – one must be able to expect that from the leader of a friendly nation, one that is still a member of the European Union.” – Reuters

…while Ireland says Johnson is on a ‘collision course’ with EU

Boris Johnson has put the U.K. on a “collision course” with the EU and Ireland with his insistence that the backstop plan for avoiding a hard border must be torn up, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said. Speaking in Northern Ireland, Coveney said that the new prime minister’s House of Commons statement, in which he called the backstop “unacceptable” to any country valuing its independence or its “self-respect,” had been “very unhelpful.” “He seems to have made a deliberate decision to set Britain on a collision course with the European Union and with Ireland in relation to the Brexit negotiations, and I think only he can answer the question as to why he is doing that,” Coveney said. – Politico

  • Ireland says Johnson’s approach is ‘very unhelpful’  – Reuters
  • Irish PM wants to meet Johnson to understand ‘real red lines’ – Reuters
  • Backstop could backfire on Varadkar in event of a no deal Brexit – Finn McRedmond for Reaction

> Adam MacCarthaigh on BrexitCentral today Boris Johnson’s appointment should prompt Leo Varadkar to reset the Irish Government’s Brexit stance

Mark Francois says the ERG would again vote down the Withdrawal Agreement, even if Johnson gets rid of the backstop…

Brexiter group the European Research Group (ERG) will vote against any form of the Withdrawal Agreement, even if Boris Johnson succeeds in persuading the EU to remove the Irish backstop, Tory MP Mark Francois claimed. The ERG have set out tough red lines just days in to the new Prime Minister’s time in office. Mr Johnson set out his own position in the Commons on Thursday, arguing that a deal is only possible through the “abolition of the backstop,” which is a measure to keep the Northern Irish border free of customs checks, and is a key part of the existing Withdrawal Agreement. But Mr Francois told BBC’s Newsnight: “If there were any attempt to revive the Withdrawal Agreement, even without the backstop, the ERG would vote against it.” “He said many times during the campaign that the Withdrawal Agreement is dead. I believe him,” Mr Francois said, adding that he believed Brussels would “blink” and agree to talks on a free trade deal instead. – i News

…as Steve Baker says he fears being asked to vote for a ‘compromise’ agreement

Boris Johnson was facing splits among his own Tory Brexiteer MPs just 48 hours after taking office. The so-called Spartans warned the new Prime Minister against negotiating any compromise with the EU over Brexit . It came after self-styled Brexit hardman Steve Baker was snubbed for a cabinet role and offered a “powerless” junior one instead . He warned last night that he would vote against any attempt to bring back Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement by neutralising the backstop. “I fear being asked to vote for a ‘compromise’ withdrawal agreement with a time limit on the backstop. Everything now turns on Boris,” he said. Fellow eurosceptic Mark Francois said it was “serious mistake” not to offer Mr Baker a “meaningful” position in Government. He warned that ultras in the Tory backbench European Research Group, known as the Spartans, would vote against any compromise. And he claimed that the new PM had been “absolutely emphatic” with the group ahead of his selection that the deal was dead. “Any attempt to revive it in any form would be a complete betrayal of what he told the ERG,” he said. – Daily Mirror

Johnson ‘absolutely’ rules out an election before Brexit is delivered

Boris Johnson has “absolutely” ruled out calling an election before Britain has left the EU. “The British people voted in 2015, in 2016, in 2017,” the PM said during a visit to a police training centre in Birmingham. “What they want us to do is deliver on their mandate, come out of the EU on October 31. “They don’t want another electoral event, they don’t want a referendum, they don’t want a general election. They want us to deliver.” In his first address to MPs as prime minister, Mr Johnson said the deal Theresa May agreed with the EU was dead. He reiterated his pledge to take Britain out of the bloc – deal or no deal – at the end of October.  – Sky News

  • Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy hangs on the public’s pressure to leave the EU by October 31 – James Forsyth for The Sun

> Austin Mitchell on BrexitCentral: Boris Johnson should call an early election to wrongfoot Remainers

Trump says the US and UK are already working on a ‘very substantial’ trade deal…

Donald Trump has said talks about a “very substantial” trade deal with the UK are under way. A bilateral deal with post-Brexit Britain could lead to a “three to four, five times” increase in current trade, the US president said. After a phone call with Boris Johnson on Friday, the US president said the new prime minister would be “great”. No 10 said both leaders used the phone call to express commitment to delivering an “ambitious” trade deal. Mr Johnson and Mr Trump said they would begin negotiations “as soon as possible” after the UK leaves the EU, Downing Street said. The phone conversation comes after the American ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, said relations between the US and UK would be “sensational” now Mr Johnson was in Downing Street. – BBC News

…as the US Ambassador says the UK will be at ‘the front of the line’ for a free trade deal with America…

Woody Johnson said Donald Trump was looking to “move the ball forward” with the UK, which he deemed the States’ most important ally in terms of security and prosperity.  “I think the President is going to try to move the ball forward. The UK is our most important ally, both in security and also in prosperity. So it’s very important, and he knows that and he’s made some comments regarding a free trade agreement and putting the UK at the front of the line,” he said. “He’s made this comment many, many times. In fact, when he was over here, a month ago, he talked about the Free Trade Agreement, and how would lift both countries. And so I think that’s what he’s focusing.” On the subject of no deal the Ambassador said: “I think if you had a no deal Brexit, you can still negotiate trade deals with other countries.” – Telegraph (£)

…and that Trump’s relationship with Johnson will be ‘sensational’

As far as the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. is concerned, it’s all water under the bridge. Asked on Friday’s BBC’s Today program what Donald Trump and Boris Johnson’s relationship will be like, the U.S. president’s U.K. envoy Woody Johnson said: “I think it’s going to be sensational.” Pressed on whether the notoriously thin-skinned Trump knew that the new British prime minister had previously described Trump as not fit for office and if he would hold those comments against him, the American ambassador said: “Donald Trump is going to say what he says, what he wants to say … And I think Boris — he respects Boris for the same. I mean Boris is going to call it as he sees it.” – Politico

Steve Baker: Why I rejected the offer of a Ministerial post in Boris Johnson’s glittering new government

Today, with preparedness handed to Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings in the Cabinet Office, it is far from obvious what purpose Brexit ministers would serve, beyond window dressing on top of window dressing. That is why I could not take up what ought to have been a wonderful offer of minister of state there. I simply could not be a Potemkin minister in a Potemkin department. Again. So, I am going to give our Prime Minister and the Government my whole-hearted backing to deliver Brexit by 31 October whatever the circumstances – “do or die” as the Prime Minister memorably put it. I am right behind my colleagues. We urgently need to correct some vital structural problems in our negotiations. The restoration of Cabinet collective responsibility is the first step. Long may it last. – Steve Baker MP for the Telegraph (£)

Asa Bennett: Steve Baker can now embrace his role as Boris Johnson’s grand Brexit inquisitor

The Brexiteers’ archbishop has found his true calling: serving as the Prime Minister’s grand Brexit inquisitor. Mr Baker has already zeroed in on the vacant Treasury Select Committee chairmanship left by Nicky Morgan , now spirited into the Johnson government as Culture Secretary. He already sits on the committee, so will be familiar with how far the committee can roam in its duties – hauling in ministers and officials from across Whitehall to be held to account. As chairman, Mr Baker could no doubt take a keen interest – among other things – in the state of no-deal preparations, which would mean he could give Mr Gove and his colleagues regular grillings.  – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Fraser Nelson: The new Boris machine owes very little to Westminster

Until now, new Prime Ministers have always arrived in 10 Downing Street accompanied by the team they built around them in Parliament. But Boris Johnson is different. He is the creature of two Blair-era inventions: devolution and referendums. The team he is building around him in No. 10 is from City Hall and Vote Leave, where he was able to pioneer a new style of politics and government. I look at this in my Daily Telegraph column today. The changes he is making go well beyond new faces in Cabinet, dramatic though they are. It is about how government is run, what it does and how it works.- Fraser Nelson for The Spectator

  • A guide to Boris Johnson’s key advisers – The Times (£)
  • Dominic Cummings is a man with a plan – John McTernan for the FT (£)
  • Cummings understands the need to drastically reform Whitehall – Henry Newman for ConservativeHome

Charles Moore: At last, we have a Brexit government – and one that is ready to win the battle

The noise of fetters breaking” is the phrase Kipling used. We have begun to hear it this week. Obviously, one must enter the caveats. The Government has virtually no majority and two or three dozen discontented backbenchers. Brussels wishes, as usual, to appear implacable. There could be a split between supporters of the free trade agreement that true Brexiteers demand and the tweaked version of Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement for which wobblier colleagues would settle. Our new Prime Minister has fewer than a hundred days to prevail. But what a difference the events of Tuesday to Thursday have made – better recognised, I think, by people in general than by commentators. First, politics has recovered the power of language. “Action not words”, people like to say. Yes, but the word “parliament” means a place where people speak. The right words open up the possibility of the right action and help people understand why that action is necessary. – Charles Moore for the Telegraph (£)

Comment in Brief

  • EU’s intention to let Ireland waive border checks threatens Remainers’ dream of second referendum or stopping Brexit – The Sun
  • By remaining resolutely pro-Union, Boris Johnson may yet unravel the tortuous Irish backstop conundrum – Ruth Dudley Edwards for the Telegraph (£)
  • Remainers should be frank about their real intention – David Blake for Briefings for Brexit
  • The case for fiscal expansion post-Brexit – Robert Lee for Briefings for Brexit

News in Brief

  • Auto lobbying body claims no deal is ‘not an option’ – City A.M.
  • Who is Michael Gove and what will he do in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet? – The Sun
  • UK has always been prepared for no-deal Brexit says Trade Commissioner – Bloomberg
  • UK plans emergency budget in the autumn, junior minister says – Reuters
  • UK denies emergency budget, after junior minister touts stimulatory plan – Reuters
  • Trudeau and Johnson discuss transition to trade relations after Brexit – Downing Street – Reuters