Boris Johnson is planning a Cabinet clearout to beat a Remainer plot to halt his Brexit bandwagon: Brexit News for Sunday 14 July

Boris Johnson is planning a Cabinet clearout to beat a Remainer plot to halt his Brexit bandwagon: Brexit News for Sunday 14 July
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Boris Johnson is planning a Cabinet clearout to beat a Remainer plot to halt his Brexit bandwagon…

Boris Johnson is planning a Cabinet clearout to thwart a Remainer plot to halt his Brexit bandwagon. The PM-in-waiting has been put on guard against ministers pledging loyalty to weasel their way into his top team. One senior ally warned: “He knows his top priority is to deliver Brexit by October 31 — or the wheels will come off the bus. “Over the next few days he needs to pick  ministers who are united in their desire to get us over the line come what may. Fail and we’re stuck in the road — and Boris is finished.” Mr Johnson will begin drawing up his first Cabinet this week as he prepares to move into Downing Street in just ten days’ time. But a split has opened up among trusted advisers — with some demanding a pure Brexit line-up and others urging him to “reach out” to Remainers. Some are suspicious of Amber Rudd dropping her opposition to a no-deal departure that could save her Cabinet career. They fear she may stay on board and throw a spanner in the works if it comes to the crunch on Halloween. Others say Mr Johnson needs a female big-hitter in a senior post to broaden his appeal among women. A source said: “Boris  has made it clear he wants a Cabinet that is 100 per cent behind leaving the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.” Chancellor Philip Hammond is facing the axe along with Brexit-bashers David Gauke, Greg Clark and Rory Stewart. – The Sun

> Jonathan Isaby last week on BrexitCentral: We need a government that believes in Brexit – some advice on ministerial appointments for the new PM 

…but he could face a parliamentary majority of one after becoming PM, Tory MPs warn

Boris Johnson’s working majority in the House of Commons could be reduced to a single seat soon after he takes office if he wins the race to succeed Theresa May, Conservative MPs have warned. And one member of the government admitted the wafer-thin margin which allows the Tories to govern with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party is likely to melt away altogether long before the next scheduled general election in 2022. Mr Johnson has dismissed talk of a snap election, but the member of government said the new prime minister will be lucky if parliamentary arithmetic allows him to hold on for much more than 18 months. Ms May’s successor will face a by-election challenge within days of taking office on 24 July, with Brecon and Radnorshire widely expected to fall to the Liberal Democrats on 1 August, reducing his working majority from four to three. And another by-election could come soon afterwards, with one Tory MP said to be mulling over resigning to return to a career in the City. – Independent

Philip Hammond warns UK cannot control key elements of a no-deal scenario

Philip Hammond has warned the UK will not be able to control key elements of a no-deal Brexit. The chancellor told BBC Panorama that if the UK leaves without a deal, then the EU will control many of the levers – including what happens at the French port of Calais. Ex Brexit Secretary David Davis told the programme that Whitehall never believed a no-deal Brexit would happen. But despite spending £4.2bn on Brexit preparations, Mr Hammond warned that the government has limited influence on how a no-deal scenario might look. Asked if the UK can control Brexit, he said: “We can’t because many of the levers are held by others – the EU 27 or private business. We can seek to persuade them but we can’t control it.” He added: “For example, we can make sure that goods flow inwards through the port of Dover without any friction but we can’t control the outward flow into the port of Calais,” he told Panorama. “The French can dial that up or dial it down, just the same as the Spanish for years have dialled up or dialled down the length of the queues at the border going into Gibraltar.” French officials have previously rejected suggestions they could resort to a “go-slow” policy at Calais if there is no Brexit deal – insisting that closing the port would be “economic suicide”. – BBC News

Nigel Farage plots to take down Labour ‘donkeys’ and Corbyn after he commits ‘historic mistake’…

Nigel Farage has vowed to storm Labour’s northern strongholds as he said it had made a “historic mistake” by backing Remain. The Brexit Party leader told how Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to support a second referendum handed him a “golden opportunity”. Mr Farage spoke out after an exclusive poll for the Sunday Express revealed that Mr Corbyn’s surrender to the Remainers made almost two in five voters less likely to back him. The results have also emboldened Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson, who was the most popular choice as Prime Minister. But with Mr Farage’s Brexit Party still riding high in the polls, he acknowledged it was crucial that Brexit was delivered successfully. Mr Johnson said: “Sunday Express readers know how important it is that we deliver Brexit on October 31st. Another failure would end trust in the Conservative Party and in British Politics. “Only by delivering Brexit can we then unite the Party and the country and turn our guns on Jeremy Corbyn, beat him and his mad Marxist mob and consign them to the dustbin of history.” Meanwhile, with a Remain alliance of parties getting behind the Lib Dem candidate in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, Tory Brexiteer MPs supporting Mr Johnson are privately pressing him to have a pact with the Brexit Party. With Labour racked in civil war over the anti-Semitism scandal the party still topped the poll with 28 percent to the Conservatives’ 24 percent and Brexit Party’s 20 percent. However, the figures showed that the change of Brexit policy has left it open to being wiped out in previously safe areas of the country. According to the poll 37 percent of the 2,025 respondents are less likely to vote Labour as a result of the policy switch while only 22 percent are more likely to back Labour. – Sunday Express

Labour’s backing of second Brexit poll will lose it northern seats, Farage says – ITV News

…as the Brexit Party remains just three points behind the Tories in the latest Westminster polling…

The Brexit Party is the second most popular party in the UK leaving Labour and the Lib Dems trailing behind, a new poll suggests. The Conservatives topped the YouGov poll with 24 percent of the vote, buoyed by the prospect of Boris Johnson as the next Tory leader. Nipping at their heels is the Brexit Party, which secured 21 percent in the opinion polls, despite only being founded seven months ago. Labour took 20 percent of the vote – up from 18 percent – and the Lib Dems were at 19 percent – down one percent. The Green Party was unchanged at nine percent in the poll of 1,671 people between July 9 and 10 and published today. The Brexit Party has seen huge electoral success this year, after winning the European Parliament Elections in the UK back in May, becoming the biggest party in the EU. The party, led by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, won on a ticket of promising to leave the EU without a deal and trade with countries on World Trade Organisations instead. Mr Farage previously said there was “no difference between the Brexit Party and UKIP in terms of policy, but in terms of personnel, there’s a vast difference” after he criticised UKIP’s connections to the far-right. – Sunday Express

…while a Brexit Party link to the Trump leak scandal emerges

The chairman of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party was last night embroiled in the “Trump files” leak scandal as it emerged that he is in a relationship with the writer whose story brought down Britain’s ambassador to Washington. Richard Tice, a Brexit Party MEP, is dating Isabel Oakeshott, who last week published leaked diplomatic cables in which Sir Kim Darroch branded Donald Trump “clumsy and inept”, forcing Darroch’s resignation when the president announced he would not work with him. Security sources said a suspect had been identified for the leaks amid “panic” in Whitehall that a “pro-Brexit Kim Philby” figure has been trying to undermine officials not deemed supportive enough of leaving the EU. Scotland Yard and the intelligence services believe a civil servant with access to historical Foreign Office files mounted a recent raid to steal the material. As police closed in on the mole, friends of Oakeshott, 45, confirmed that she and Tice, 54, had been in a relationship since last year. Tice and Oakeshott both denied he had played any role in the leak or in the handling of the documents. Tice tweeted a denial of claims he was keen to replace Darroch as US ambassador. News of the relationship will fuel the belief of Darroch’s allies that he was brought down by conspirators keen to replace him with a “pro-Brexit businessman”. – Sunday Times (£)

  • Brexit Party sucked into Trump leak scandal as chairman’s lover behind story that forced out ambassador – The Sun

US tells Britain: Fall into line over China and Huawei, or there’s no trade deal

Donald Trump’s negotiators have signalled that the next prime minister’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States rest on his willingness to fall in line with tough American policies against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Whitehall correspondence seen by The Sunday Telegraph reveals that British officials close to transatlantic trade talks believe allowing Huawei to provide equipment for new 5G mobile networks could be a deal-breaker. In one message a civil servant lifts the lid on how the controversy over the alleged threat to security posed by Huawei is intertwined with a web of diplomatic and trade concerns in Washington DC. A British refusal to back curbs on Huawei would be viewed, for instance, as “undermining Washington’s efforts to reinvigorate the World Trade Organisation [WTO]”, the official warns. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

EU citizens ‘denied the vote’ in the UK seek judicial review

The Government is being accused of discrimination against EU citizens living in the UK and denying them the right to vote in May’s European elections. Activist group 3million, named after the number of EU citizens living in the UK, said there was a “large-scale breach” of their rights. Data collated by The Guardian shows as few as one in 10 EU citizens were able to vote in some local council authorities. The 3million has now sent a letter to Divid Lidington, the Conservative party’s de facto deputy leader. Many citizens were deprived of their right to vote because of unlawful systemic flaws in the processes under which the 2019 elections were conducted, the letter said. The3million hopes to raise the funds to take the case forward through a crowdfunder. – iNews

Bernard Jenkin: Blame ministers, not civil servants or diplomats, for the UK’s failure to leave the EU

We are seasoned Whitehall watchers on my parliamentary committee. We will shortly produce another report into the governance and leadership of Britain’s civil service, which is a much criticised and misunderstood institution but one which will serve any government, if that government leads it effectively. Many Brexit supporters seem to harbour a false notion: that the real reason the UK is still stuck in the EU is because the UK is in the grip of some Europhile deep state. There have been many former diplomats and permanent secretaries who have spoken out against Brexit. They have every right to speak their minds but this tendency does, unfortunately, reinforce the impression that our impartial civil service is anything but impartial on the question of Britain’s membership of the EU. The UK’s Washington ambassador, Kim Darroch, who resigned last week, is an archetype of the pro-EU foreign policy establishment. He was Tony Blair’s Downing Street adviser on European affairs and Gordon Brown’s permanent representative to the EU. The furore around his leaked briefings about US President Donald Trump has reinforced the impression to some that the whole of the civil service has an agenda of its own. It may have a “house view”, but that is not the point. The only reason the UK is still trapped in the EU is because of ministers, not the civil servants or the diplomats. Theresa May’s government could have done far more, with much more enthusiasm — and with more transparency — to prepare for leaving the EU on March 29, the scheduled Brexit date. In fact, both former and serving Brexit ministers regularly describe how preparations for leaving are shelved, unannounced and hidden, blocked by other ministers who prefer to spread fear about Brexit rather than reassurance. There was no legal impediment whatsoever to the UK leaving on March 29. Mrs May simply chose not to leave. There is, however, a lesson from all of this for the new Conservative leader and prime minister, entering No 10 for the first time later this month. – Sir Bernard Jenkin MP for the FT(£)

Robert Tombs: It’s the declinist Remainers, not the optimistic Brexiteers, who are the irrational ones

I sometimes ask myself whether I should be feeling more despondent about our present political agitation. The leaking of Sir Kim Darroch’s confidential reports seems only the latest sign of an unravelling of our system of government: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold …” Britain has undoubtedly become a subject of concern, incomprehension and embarrassment to our friends, and of mockery and glee to the others. Yet I do not feel as depressed as many clearly do. So much of our present divide is the hysteria of a culture that seems to have lost the ability to reflect calmly, and which collectively stamps its foot in infantile tantrums. This itself is, admittedly, a cause of concern. That senior figures, even former prime ministers, should be willing to pull the political house down over such a relatively secondary question as leaving a dodgy trading bloc is bizarre, and tells us that something is wrong in our politics. This is not the first time, however, that a significant section of the establishment has taken leave of its senses and refused to see things as they really are. Our economic future depends on many imponderables, above all what we as a country decide, for example by investing wisely in education and infrastructure. But the view that economics must nullify a democratic decision, because “no one voted to become poorer”, does not survive basic analysis. I suppose my lack of despondency is due to the intellectual insubstantiality of the Remain arguments. So many clichés, so little thought. It is an example of the febrile politics of Twitter culture, so quick to whip up emotion, so weak to sustain it for the long-term. After a rational and coherent 
Brexit (preferably a “managed 
no-deal” leading to a free-trade agreement), when the world has not ended, and as the EU’s problems become harder and harder to ignore, it is difficult to imagine more than a tiny minority backing a “Rejoin” movement. Surely we still have enough national common sense, solidarity and not least sense of humour to be able to put the farce of the last three years behind us. – Robert Tombs for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Anthony Browne: Would no-deal Brexit be a disaster? Probably not – and here’s why

How bad would a no-deal Brexit really be? This is now perhaps the most important question in politics, and the one provoking greatest disagreement. The answer will help decide whether parliament allows Brexit to happen, and whether Tory MPs bring down their own government. If they think calamity would follow, patriotic rebels might risk a general election to stop the Tories. But what if it would not be so bad? And is there any way of finding out? Almost everyone accepts it will cause problems, but views range from manageable to ‘national suicide’. It is difficult to predict complex events without historic precedent, but there are other reasons for the divergent views. The first is that there is not a single ‘no deal’, but a whole spectrum. Leaving the EU with no deal (and no preparation) would indeed be ‘crashing out’. But leaving with no deal in, say, 2022, with government and business having prepared meticulously for three years, would be less dramatic. It is a moving target: given the preparations, no-deal Brexit now would be less damaging than a year ago. The government has given conflicting signals about no deal, with parts of it sounding the alarm. ‘It was definitely deliberate to keep all the no-deal planning invisible,’ one former Brexit minister told me. It means the government is better prepared than is recognised — a source of irritation for the planners, who are never given credit for their success. A frustrated civil servant wrote anonymously in the Daily Telegraph in December: ‘Very detailed plans have been proposed, assessed, analysed to death and … are now being executed.’ – Anthony Browne for The Spectator

Brexit in Brief

  • What ails Germany is bad news for its friends and allies – Mark Almond for the Sunday Express
  • My five ideas to turbocharge post-Brexit Britain’s economy – Liam Halligan for the Sunday Telegraph (£)