Law to stop no-deal Brexit passed by Parliament after clearing the House of Lords: Brexit News for Saturday 7 September

Law to stop no-deal Brexit passed by Parliament after clearing the House of Lords: Brexit News for Saturday 7 September
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Law to stop no-deal Brexit passed by Parliament after clearing the House of Lords…

A bill designed to block the Government from forcing through a no-deal Brexit on 31 October will become law after receiving the approval of the House of Lords. Peers passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill, or Benn bill, at its third reading without a formal vote on Friday afternoon. The legislation, spearheaded by Brexit Select Committee chairman Hilary Benn and Tory former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, requires Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline beyond 31 October unless a withdrawal agreement is approved or Parliament agrees to leaving the EU without one by 19 October. The bill made its way through the House of Commons successfully on Wednesday but there had been fears the legislation would stall in the Lords with Eurosceptic peers using the technique of filibustering to delay its progress. But the strategy was abandoned when the Government admitted defeat over the bill. After swiftly moving through its final stages in the Lords without amendment, it is now expected to receive Royal Assent on Monday, thereby completing all stages required to become law. – iNews

…as it emerges Remainer rebel MPs agreed Article 50 extension with EU leaders before the crunch vote

Rebel Tory MPs and opposition leaders received private assurances from European leaders that a request by parliament for a three-month Brexit extension would be granted in one last attempt to break the deadlock. The Times understands that senior figures behind the bill to force an extension on Boris Johnson cleared their plan with EU capitals before it was published this week. They received reassurances that the European Council, which is made up of EU leaders, would not stand in the way of one final extension if it was approved by parliament. One figure in the rebel group, which also includes Labour MPs, said that while President Macron of France had been the “most sceptical” about a further delay, they were told he would not stand in the way. “We don’t think it will be granted — we know it will be,” they said of the EU leaders’ likely response. “Those discussions have already taken place.” – The Times (£)

Boris Johnson set to defy the law rather than ask for Brexit delay…

Boris Johnson would rather defy the law than ask for another Brexit delay, he has indicated, as Labour was accused of plunging Britain into a constitutional crisis. The Prime Minister said he “will not” carry out Parliament’s instructions to seek an Article 50 extension if he fails to agree a new deal, adding he was only bound “in theory” by a law passed on Friday. Mr Johnson also ruled out the option of resigning to avoid asking for an extension, saying he would be staying in office to deliver Brexit and defeat Jeremy Corbyn. On Monday the Prime Minister will make a second attempt to win the backing of MPs for an election on Oct 15, in which he would hope to win a fresh mandate for leading the country out of the EU on Oct 31 with or without a deal. – Telegraph (£)

  • Defiant Boris says he won’t ask for a Brexit extension even if it passes into law – The Sun

…as MPs prepare to go to court to enforce a delay…

MPs, including Tories expelled from the party, are preparing legal action in case the PM refuses to seek a delay to Brexit. A bill requiring Boris Johnson to ask for an extension to the UK’s departure date to avoid a no-deal Brexit on 31 October is set to gain royal assent. But the PM has said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than ask for a delay. Now MPs have lined up a legal team and are willing to go to court to enforce the legislation, if necessary. The cross-party bill – which requires the prime minister to extend the exit deadline until January unless Parliament agrees a deal with the EU by 19 October – was passed on Friday. Although the government has said it will abide by the law, Mr Johnson described it as obliging him “in theory” to write to Brussels asking for a “pointless delay”.  The BBC has learned that a cross-party group of MPs have lined up a legal team and that they are prepared, if necessary, to go to court in order to try to compel Mr Johnson to seek a delay. – BBC News

…while Bullish Boris Johnson mulls using the nuclear option of resigning and risking Corbyn in No. 10 rather than delaying Brexit

Bullish Boris Johnson is willing to take the nuclear option of resigning and risk a Jeremy Corbyn government rather than delay Brexit. Opposition parties yesterday agreed to reject any fresh bid for an October election. But sources said Mr Johnson — who tussled with a bull during a visit to Scotland to see the Queen — would rather quit than extend negotiations with the EU into November. If he resigns, Jeremy Corbyn would have an obligation to try to form a government. Tory chiefs then hope they could force an election if he has delayed Brexit beyond October 31. – The Sun

Opposition parties rule out backing a general election before the October Brexit deadline

Opposition parties are expected to block Boris Johnson’s hopes of a general election before the Brexit deadline as they seek to exert maximum pressure on the prime minister. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and other parties have agreed that they will not vote for an election when Mr Johnson brings the issue back to the Commons on Monday. The move leaves Mr Johnson on course for another defeat as under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act he needs two thirds of MPs to agree to go to the country. Opposition parties are also expected to thwart Mr Johnson’s hopes of an election before October 31, the date Britain is due to leave the European Union. Some said that they could not give Mr Johnson the election he wants until they were sure there was no chance that Britain would leave the EU without an agreement with Brussels. – The Times (£)

Brexiteer Tories in talks with Nigel Farage over election pact

Brexiteer Tories in the European Research Group (ERG) have discussed the possibility of an electoral pact with Nigel Farage, The Daily Telegraph has learnt. It is understood “very tentative” discussions have taken place between the Brexit Party leader and so-called “spartans” amid fears the Conservatives will not secure a big enough majority at a snap election to deliver a clean Brexit. However, Tory leavers fear Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief strategist, will block any pact because as director of Vote Leave, he refused to join forces with Mr Farage and Arron Banks, his businessman backer and co-founder of Leave.EU, in 2016. It comes after self-styled Brexit “hard man” Steve Baker, the new ERG chairman, warned on Tuesday that Brexit would be “lost” without a pact, pointing out that the Tories had been defeated in the Peterborough and Brecon by-elections because the Brexit Party had split the Conservative vote. – Telegraph (£)

Decision to prorogue Parliament ruled lawful by High Court…

A legal challenge over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament has been rejected in the High Court. The case was brought by businesswoman Gina Miller, who argued the move was “an unlawful abuse of power”. Rejecting Ms Miller’s case, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said she could immediately appeal because of the important points of law at stake. The appeal is expected to be heard at the Supreme Court on 17 September. Ms Miller said she was “very disappointed with the judgment”. She added: “We feel it is absolutely vital that Parliament should be sitting. We are therefore pleased that the judges have given us permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, which we will be doing, and they feel that our case has the merit to be handed up.” – BBC News

…but Gina Miller will now take her case to the Supreme Court

A battle over Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament will go to the country’s highest court. Three senior judges this morning rejected a challenge by the businesswoman Gina Miller, who had claimed that the prime minister abused his powers by proroguing parliament for the longest period in 40 years. The case will now go to the Supreme Court for a hearing that has been set for September 17. It is likely to be joined by similar cases from courts in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The three senior judges in the High Court in London did not give reasons for dismissing Ms Miller’s challenge. The panel, led by Lord Burnett of Maldon, the Lord Chief Justice, said that it would produce written reasons in “good time” for the Supreme Court. Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice this morning, Ms Miller, a financier and Remain activist, said that although she was disappointed with their ruling she was pleased that the judges had granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. – The Times (£) 

Labour’s Brexit position is mired in confusion as Emily Thornberry comes unstuck on live TV

Labour’s own Brexit strategy was also at risk of unravelling, after Emily Thornberry came unstuck on live television attempting to explain the party’s stance on a second referendum. Should Labour secure power in a general election, its current policy is to renegotiate a Brexit deal with the European Union which they would then put to a public vote. But when asked how Labour would campaign in that referendum, Ms Thornberry signalled to a BBC Question Time audience that the party could back Remain – even against its own deal. “Personally, I will campaign to Remain. I will negotiate to the best of my ability for a deal that will look after jobs and the economy, but the best way to look after jobs and the economy is to Remain,” she said. Her response was quickly dismissed by fellow panellist Iain Dale, a broadcaster, who retorted: “Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds to everybody else?” – Telegraph (£)

Macron may veto new Article 50 extension because trust with UK has broken down, former French ambassador warns

Emmanuel Macron will be strongly tempted to veto another delay to Brexit because of the “deteriorating situation” in the UK, a former top French diplomat is warning. The French president – who has already threatened not to grant an Article 50 extension – will regard the crisis enveloping Boris Johnson as even “more disturbing” than the preceding events, Pierre Sellal said. “The situation of the UK as a member state becomes every day more awkward and strained,” the former French ambassador to the EU warned. Mr Sellal did not rule out a French veto – if, as expected, the prime minister is legally forced to request one – saying the UK was failing to present “a credible acceptable alternative” to the deal it had rejected. – Independent

Ireland says PM’s agri-food idea is ‘not enough to replace the backstop’…

Boris Johnson’s proposal to solve the Irish border question with a single regulatory regime north and south of the border for food and agriculture will never be enough to replace the backstop, Ireland has said. The country’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, said Ireland will give a “generous” response to the proposal but dampened hopes that it amounted to a major breakthrough after a 90-minute meeting with Michael Gove in Cambridge on Friday night. “I wouldn’t like to pretend that if we can solve the agri-food issue, then technology can solve the rest,” Coveney told a meeting of the British Irish Association also attended by Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal Brexit planning. – Guardian

…although he has boosted Boris Johnson’s push for a tech alternative to an Irish backstop…

Irish premier Leo Varadkar boosted Boris Johnson’s push for a tech alternative to a backstop by admitting Dublin will have to keep its border open if there is No Deal. Ahead of crunch talks on Monday, he said some checks will have to be “near” the border but “as far as possible they will take place in ports, airports and at businesses”. Meanwhile Mr Johnson’s chief negotiator David Frost presented to Brussels the UK’s border plan, first revealed by The Sun. The UK would agree to an all-Ireland market for livestock and agrifood as long as the Northern Ireland assembly has a veto over EU rules. – The Sun

…as Arlene Foster insists there will be no border infrastructure post-Brexit

Mrs Foster was speaking after the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit there will be checks on goods and live animals, which he said would take place “as far as possible” in ports, airports and at businesses. “But some may need to take place near the border,” he said. Responding on Friday, Mrs Foster said: “To be fair to our own Government, to the British Government, when Theresa May was there and indeed our new Prime Minister, they have all made it clear they will not put infrastructure on the border, and I think that is very important to remember that. “There will be a lot of speculation over the coming weeks, I have no doubt about that, there has been a lot of speculation up until now. But what we need to do is to look at the facts, the facts are the Government has said very clearly they will not be putting infrastructure at the border.” – Belfast Telegraph

Priti Patel MP: The choice is simple: it’s Brexit with Boris or not at all

17.4 million of us voted to leave the EU more than three years ago in the biggest act of democracy in our nation’s history. In the weeks leading up to the referendum, people were electrified as they watched Boris Johnson hailing 23 June 2016 as our Independence Day. They believed that, at long last, Britain would be a nation again free to make its own laws and decisions. And just over six weeks ago, after three years of paralysis and frustration, Boris Johnson became our Prime Minister. Boris’ belief in Britain has meant that our friends and allies in Europe are finally willing to negotiate because they know that we plan to leave  on October 31st , deal or no deal. And yet, this progress is now in jeopardy. – Priti Patel MP for the Telegraph (£)

Simon Clarke: Parliament will seemingly stop at nothing to thwart Brexit – a general election is now necessary

A general election is now necessary: it would allow the people to break this ridiculous deadlock and make a clear choice: between leaving the European Union on October 31 (deal or no deal), and more delay, more time wasted, and more begging the EU for concessions and extensions. Remarkably, however, the Labour Party – who only last week were calling the Prime Minister a dictator and demanding a general election to be called– have voted against holding one. In a further display of breath-taking arrogance, Labour have said that they will only allow the people to vote in an election after they have removed the possibility of leaving on October 31. In other words, they are happy to ask you, the electorate, to go out a vote to put them back into office, but not happy to give you the right to decide – at the ballot box – whether we should leave the European Union on October 1 as promised. – Simon Clarke MP for the Northern Echo

Tom Harris: Labour’s ridiculous position on Brexit is now beyond parody

Viewers of the BBC’s Question Time show last night will have got a foretaste of the general election campaign to come. The shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, was left with nothing to say after she was mocked by other panellists – and keenly interrogated by host Fiona Bruce – on her party’s Brexit strategy. Those who missed it had another chance to relish the argument put forward by Thornberry when she appeared just a few hours later on the Today programme. To her credit, the Islington MP did not use those few hours between broadcasts to consider what went wrong with her first appearance or to seek to hone or improve it. She is nothing if not consistent. – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

Stewart Jackson: The Remainers’ scorched earth tactics and premature triumphalism will rebound spectacularly

The Labour frontbench and the Liberal Democrats have committed two great crimes in recent weeks. Not only have they collectively disregarded the ‘irksome’ Leave votes of millions of their own constituents, cast in good faith – and often for the first time – in the 2016 EU Referendum. Their adherence to the theological cult of Brussels and the European Union and its mythology has led them shamelessly to destroy the accepted mores and conventions of our unwritten constitution. – Stewart Jackson for the Telegraph (£)

Alan Lockey: The Farage-shaped hole in Boris Johnson’s election strategy

There is no triter statement about politics than Harold Wilson’s famous observation but seldom can a Westminster week have felt as long as this. Only seven days ago it seemed reasonable to imagine Dominic Cummings dancing through Downing Street assailed only by the congratulatory clinking of his infamous ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ mugs. This week, one suspects, not so much. Indeed, if we must seek refuge in hoary old clichés then the best description of the madness comes from the world of sport. Ruminating on his opponent’s best laid plans, champion heavyweight Mike Tyson famously said “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. Well, the Government has certainly been punched in the mouth and, just for good measure, shot itself in the foot. – Alan Lockey for CapX

Asa Bennett: Denying Boris Johnson an election, Remainers want to see if he will ‘die in a ditch’ for Brexit

Sir Nick Clegg brought in the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act back in 2011 to stop the Prime Minister from dissolving Parliament on a whim if he fancied clobbering his rival parties in an election. While the FTPA did not save the Liberal Democrats from being nearly made extinct by David Cameron four years later, Sir Nick might well enjoy the last laugh on seeing how much of a constraint it is proving to be for Boris Johnson. After failing to stop his Tory colleagues from backing the anti-no-deal Hillary Benn bill, the Prime Minister tried to take this issue back to the people by calling for a general election on Wednesday. But he failed to win the requisite two-thirds majority of House of Commons support required under the FTPA, as Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP members withheld their support. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

John Redwood: The art of the deal

Life requires  a series of negotiations. If you are buying a good or service the negotiation with the provider may be over price, quality, specification or other matters. You may start as a buyer with an idea of the service you want and an idea of a low price. The provider may have to explain that the available service is different and dearer. Sometimes you the  buyer recognise that what you thought was on offer is not. You could decide to buy what is on offer, and accept it is dearer, but you are more likely to decide that as what you want is not available it’s better to save your money or buy something else. – John Redwood’s Diary

Andrew Lilico: Boris Johnson has no choice but to strike a ‘do or die’ pact with Nigel Farage

With Parliament determined to block no deal (and thus any chance of getting a better deal), it will now be challenging for Boris Johnson to fulfill his promise, and get Britain out of the EU by October 31. The big question is: what is Boris’ plan? I now expect that Boris will allow Parliament’s anti-no deal bill to pass. (If he were considering withholding Royal Assent I believe minsters would have mentioned it by now.) His attempts to persuade Parliament to vote for an early general election next week will fail. Parliament will then be prorogued next week until October 14. – Andrew Lilico for the Telegraph (£)

Kai Weiss: As Britain prepares to leave, the EU slides further towards protectionism

While the UK has been engaged in a full-throttle political struggle over Brexit, the EU has had to face up to the fact that one of its biggest member states had decided to leave the bloc. Would the EU realise that endless integration is not the future and revert back to a smaller EU of sovereign states cooperating loosely? Or would it use the opportunity, with the market-orientated naysayers across the channel gone, to speed up the drive towards “ever closer union?” With the new Commission incoming on November 1, the question of the future of the Britain-less EU has resurfaced again. What does Ursula von der Leyen, the next Commission President, have in store along with her colleagues Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager? – Kai Weiss for CapX

The Sun: Labour’s Brexit policy is a national laughing stock and reveals contempt for three million of its own voters

Labour’s Brexit policy, rightly now a national laughing stock, reveals a staggering contempt for three million of its own voters. It sounded improbable when “Shadow Justice Secretary” ­Richard Burgon first uttered it out loud — and, with respect, he is as thick as two short planks. Now, though, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has confirmed it: A Labour Government would “negotiate a better deal” with Brussels, then campaign against it in order to Remain. Even Marxist morons cannot seriously believe the EU would waste a nanosecond on such a nonsense. And that reveals two things about Corbyn’s mob: First, they HAVE finally decided to abandon all their Leave voters. Second, they intend to insult their intelligence too, by assuming them too dim to see through such a transparent con-trick. Labour should simply state: “In power, we would scrap Brexit.” Yes, it would be shameful and, in a country where trust in politicians is already nearly the ­lowest in Europe, insanely dangerous. – The Sun says

Charles Moore: Boris may have to go on strike over Brexit to get past this rebellious Parliament

Is Jeremy Corbyn an idiot or a genius? I suspect that most readers of this column will already have made up their minds on this question. But perhaps we should not rush to judgment. Mr Corbyn has said daily, for what feels like years, that he wants a general election. The Conservatives therefore assumed that if they called one, he would have to agree (his agreement being required by the infamous Fixed-term Parliaments Act, or FTPA, invented by Sir Oliver Letwin and the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 coalition). The Tories liked this idea because they knew that he does not really want one, since he fears – with good reason – that he would lose. – Charles Moore for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • The Establishment Brexit plot is clear: trick the British people with a reheated May deal – Jake Pugh MEP for the Telegraph (£)
  • My Sky News scrap with Kay Burley revealed the anti-Brexit media bias that is harming the public trust – Lucy Harris MEP for the Telegraph (£)
  • Wetherspoon boss cuts 20p from price of pints in stunt to show how profitable Brexit will be – Independent
  • Britain not ‘first in line’ for trade deal, US National Economic Council Director warns after Remainer MPs wreck Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans – The Sun
  • Tory rebel Margot James: I don’t want the Conservative whip back – Telegraph (£)
  • Far-right groups threaten to riot at London protests as Boris Johnson warned over language – Independent