Ministers secretly restart No Deal plans amid fears trade talks with Brussels will collapse: Brexit News for Sunday 19 January

Ministers secretly restart No Deal plans amid fears trade talks with Brussels will collapse: Brexit News for Sunday 19 January

Ministers secretly restart No Deal plans amid fears trade talks with Brussels will collapse

Ministers have quietly restarted No Deal planning meetings amid fears trade talks with Brussels will collapse, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Whitehall’s EU Exit Operations committee – dubbed XO and chaired by Michael Gove – met on Thursday to begin preparations for a ‘disorderly December’, should Brussels ‘fail to grasp we really are going at the end of the year’, said a Cabinet Minister who was present. Our revelation comes after Dominic Cummings warned that Brussels has not yet ‘woken up’ to Britain’s negotiating position – and would not for several weeks yet. The top No 10 aide told Government advisers at a meeting on Friday evening: ‘We are not bluffing on the no extension.’ The UK Government has insisted that the EU transition phase will end on December 31, but last week Ireland’s EU Commissioner Phil Hogan said that time frame was impossible. Fears are mounting that Brussels’s intransigence and insistence on a settlement of fishing access rights before proper trade talks begin will push the negotiations to collapse. – Mail on Sunday

Boris’s Brexit boom plan of worldwide trade deals by the end of 2020 unveiled…

Boris Johnson has revealed his bold new vision for Brexit Britain, with plans for trade deals around the world by the end of the year. The decision to press ahead with trade talks with the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand underlines the Prime Minister’s vision for a Global Britain. But the move to access international markets worth almost £50trillion is a slap in the face for the EU – which wanted talks to be solely focused on Brussels. With Chancellor Sajid Javid confirming the UK will not agree to demands that Britain aligns with EU regulations, the prospect of a trade deal with the US will put pressure on Brussels to compromise. The major reshaping of British foreign policy also includes efforts to boost trade with Africa. On the post Brexit trade talks, a Downing Street source said: “Downing Street will begin trade deal talks with the USA at the same time as negotiations get underway with the EU. “The Prime Minister has tasked trade negotiators at the Department for International Trade to start discussions with countries including Japan, New Zealand and Australia, alongside the USA.” It is also understood the Prime Minister will be making a set-piece speech in early February to set out his plans for life after Brexit in the UK. – Sunday Express

…with Johnson set to use Trump to win EU concessions…

Boris Johnson and his ministers have agreed a hardline stance on Brexit that will see them play Donald Trump off against EU leaders. The prime minister has approved plans to go “hell for leather” for a trade deal with America, in an attempt to get leverage in talks with the EU. The decision comes as Johnson tries to inject urgency into trade negotiations. A unit of 70 civil servants has been set up in Whitehall to lead the US trade talks, under the command of Oliver Griffiths, who leads the Americas unit at the Department for International Trade. They are finalising demands while David Frost, the chief Brexit negotiator, is overseeing preparations for the EU negotiations. – Sunday Times (£)

PM on collision course with big business groups as aides plan to ditch two-year hiatus before new immigration rules…

Boris Johnson is preparing to impose new restrictions on low-skilled migrants moving to Britain on the first day after the Brexit transition period ends in December, the Telegraph can disclose. Under radical new plans being drawn up by the Prime Minister’s aides, the Government would effectively bring forward its post-Brexit immigration shake-up by two years – removing a temporary extension of the current rules until 2023, that had been demanded by business groups and promised by Theresa May. The proposals are expected to be presented to the Cabinet this week by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, as part of a paper on the UK’s future immigration system. A No 10 source confirmed: “We need to deliver change and businesses need to be prepared for uncontrolled migration of low skilled workers to end this year.” The move will put Mr Johnson and Ms Patel on a collision course with business groups such as the Confederation of British Industry, which has insisted that firms will need “at least two years to adapt to any new immigration system.” – Sunday Telegraph (£)

…while Sajid Javid’s comments on non-alignment with the EU prompt CBI claims of price rises

Businesses have predicted price rises after the UK chancellor, Sajid Javid, said there would be no alignment with EU regulations once Britain’s exit from the European Union was made official. In what is being seen as an opening salvo in the next stage of negotiations, Javid said the Treasury would not lend support to manufacturers that favour EU rules as the sector had had three years to prepare for Britain’s transition. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on Saturday said alignment supported jobs and competitiveness for many firms. The group’s director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, said business “recognises there are areas where the UK can benefit from its future right to diverge from EU regulation” but urged government “not to treat this right as an obligation to diverge”. “For some firms, divergence brings value, but for many others, alignment supports jobs and competitiveness – particularly in some of the most deprived regions of the UK,” she said. The co-executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce, Claire Walker, said that while business communities were prepared to be pragmatic about coming changes to regulation, “uncertainty around the extent of divergence risks firms moving their production elsewhere”. – Observer

Live band to lead Parliament Square crowds in chorus of the national anthem at Brexit Day celebrations…

Brexiteers have booked a live band to lead crowds in Parliament Square in a chorus of the national anthem, as part of celebrations to make the UK’s departure from the EU. The band is due to play God Save the Queen at 11pm on Friday Jan 31, as the centrepiece of a rally, led by Nigel Farage, to count down the last minutes of the country’s EU membership. The rally is being organised by Leave Means Leave, a cross-party campaign. Mr Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, said the evening was intended to mark “a hugely significant constitutional moment in our nation’s history.” However the Greater London Authority is understood to have warned Leave Means Leave that any music must only be “incidental”, between speeches, rather than amounting to a full-blown concert. A spokesman said: “Parliament Square does not have a licence for live music or performances, so this event will be subject to the same conditions as other rallies and marches.” Richard Tice, the chairman of the Brexit Party, who is helping to organise the rally, said: “With over 25,000 registered [to attend], we have been inundated with support and great ideas from the public. Lots of people have suggested an awesome light show and we’re well on our way to making it a reality. We understand No10 hope to put on a similar display and would welcome working together with them to make sure it’s the best possible overall show.” – Sunday Telegraph (£)

…as it is reported that a Cabinet Minister secretly plotted to stop the Big Ben Brexit bongs

A Cabinet Minister secretly plotted with the Commons authorities two weeks ago to kill off the idea of Big Ben bonging for Brexit, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. As public pressure started to mount for the historic clock to break its silence on the evening of January 31, the senior Minister begged: ‘We have to find a way of stopping this. It will be too divisive, Remainers will hate it.’ Earlier last week, the House of Commons Commission effectively vetoed the plan, claiming it would cost more than £500,000 to interrupt huge repair works now under way on the clock and the historic Elizabeth Tower that houses it. They also rejected offers of donations to meet the cost – to the fury of Brexiteers. But the disclosure that a senior Minister had been plotting to achieve the same end reveals the scale of the chaos inside the Government over ‘bong-gate’. – Mail on Sunday

EU’s funding for UK’s poorest areas ‘must be matched after Brexit’, insists Industrial Communities Alliance

The Treasury will need to find almost £2bn a year to fill the hole left when EU funding for some of Britain’s poorest communities ends after Brexit, ministers have been told. A body that represents local authorities in the industrial areas of England, Scotland and Wales said the government needed to match the money currently coming from Brussels and allow for extra EU cash that would have arrived over the next few years. The Industrial Communities Alliance said the new shared prosperity fund – designed to replace EU funding to the regions – needed to be at least as generous as the schemes it was replacing. It urged ministers to take advantage of the freedom provided by Brexit to broaden the scope of the fund so that it could tackle a wider range of problems than allowed under EU rules. – Observer

John Bercow nominated for peerage by Jeremy Corbyn

John Bercow has been nominated for appointment to the House of Lords by Labour. The former Speaker ­appears on a dissolution honours list, compiled by Jeremy Corbyn, the Sunday Times reported. However, the report added that it was unclear whether he would become a Labour peer or cross-bencher. Such a move would be remarkable given that Mr Bercow was a Tory MP, before being elevated to presiding over the main Parliamentary chamber. Mr Bercow was criticised by a number of prominent Brexiteers over the past few years as he was accused of helping support a Remain agenda in the Commons. It was reported that Downing Street was so angered by Mr Bercow’s stance that it took the highly unusual decision not to offer a retiring Commons speaker a place in the House of Lords. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Paul Embery: Leavers, not Remainers, deserted Labour in 2019

Did Labour really lose the support of as many Remain voters as it did Leave voters at the general election? That explanation is being bandied about by some within the party who are anxious to deflect criticism over the suicidal second referendum pledge and create the impression that things would not have turned out any better had Labour stuck to a commitment to honour Brexit. I’m certainly no psephologist, but I’ve had a bash at analysing some data. In absolute terms, the theory may be correct — just. A major YouGov poll carried out after the election showed that Labour managed to hold on to 79% of those who voted Remain at the referendum and then Labour at the 2017 general election, whereas the figure for Leave voters was just 52%. Turning these percentages into hard numbers, and using evidence from the respected British Election Study (BES) suggesting that around 3.9 million Leave voters and 9 million Remain voters supported Labour at the 2017 election, we can conclude that, at the 2019 election, the party lost around 1.9 million Leave voters and — guess what — 1.9 million Remain voters. But to concentrate only on absolute numbers is to miss the fundamental point. The proportion of Leave voters who deserted the party — standing at nearly half — was far higher than the 21% of Remain voters who went elsewhere. And when you consider that the slump in support for Labour among traditional working-class voters — the very kind who voted Leave in such high numbers — is part of a longer-term trend (millions among this group had abandoned the party even before the referendum) and a big factor in why it hasn’t won an election since 2005, you can see why it would be utterly wrong-headed for the party to view the haemorrhaging of Leave voters as in no way more significant than the loss of Remain voters. – Paul Embery for Unherd

Nick Ferrari: Brexit conspiracy that will keep Big Ben silent

Barring the most remarkable of turnarounds, when this nation moves into the next chapter of its illustrious history and finally – more than three years after the public voted for it –leaves the European Union, the momentous event will be greeted with… total silence. Big Ben, the global symbol of parliamentary democracy, will remain mute. The debate over just what would happen concerning Big Ben’s bongs at 11pm on January 31 started last year when the Conservatives were returned to power with both a thumping majority and a clear mandate to exit the EU. It now seems to have reached a dreary conclusion. Big Ben will stay silent. Some might consider this trivial, and indeed compared to soaring knife crime, the challenges facing the NHS and the climate catastrophe of the bush fires in Australia with the ensuing loss of human and animal life, it is. But are we really saying we are prepared to accept that the first moment of the hard-fought independence the majority of this country has finally won against a legion of plotters, chancers and vile self-publicists, will be a global testament to our inability to ring the bell of Big Ben? – Nick Ferrari for the Sunday Express

John Hayes: Liberal left is finished in UK and we will no longer listen to EU

The General Election was without doubt about the UK’s departure from the EU. Or, put another way, about honouring the people’s decision in the biggest democratic exercise in British political history – the 2016 referendum. Not to have done so would have put at risk the democratic integrity of our system of government by undermining – perhaps irreparably – popular faith in MP’s respect for the people they serve and to whom they are accountable. However, the recent General Election – like the referendum before it – was also about something even more significant. For too long the liberal elite that runs too much of Britain has assumed that its politically correct preoccupations are beyond question and that its patronising preaching would always prevail. The December poll represents a wholesale rejection of a political paradigm that has held sway since the dark days of Tony Blair and the hollow triumph of New Labour. Back then, it was the height of fashionable thinking to believe in a ‘progressive’ liberal majority, determined to impose the creed of abstract rights rather than time-honoured duties and proselytise a globalist worldview instead of British traditions and values. I always knew that this was at odds with what people thought and felt, not least from listening to thousands of people I meet in my constituency and across the country. Boris Johnson’s triumph is the final indication, if one were needed, that the liberal left paradigm is at an end. The zeitgeist is where people are, not where bourgeois progressives think it ought to be. The silent majority have rejected the sterile agendas of identity politics and abstract rights. That vast majority do not care one bit about the judgements handed down from on high by the Supreme Court because they know that in a democracy the final say resides with the people, not unelected judges. They take no heed of the pompous pronouncements of foreign potentates, like Donald Tusk and John Claude Junker, knowing that such people have no mandate to govern us. – Sir John Hayes MP for the Sunday Express

Brexit in Brief

  • A post-Brexit visa regime must encourage the brightest and the best to travel to the UK on business – Ali Demirbag for ConservativeHome