Remainer Amber Rudd resigns from the Cabinet and quits the Tories: Brexit News for Sunday 8 September

Remainer Amber Rudd resigns from the Cabinet and quits the Tories: Brexit News for Sunday 8 September
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Remainer Amber Rudd resigns from the Cabinet and quits the Tories

Amber Rudd today announces that she is resigning from the cabinet and quitting the Conservative Party over Boris Johnson’s “purge” of the party and his “failure” to pursue a deal with the EU. In a move that will rock the government, the work and pensions secretary says she is quitting because there is “no evidence” Johnson is really seeking a deal with the European Union – despite claims that it is his priority. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Rudd also attacked the prime minister’s decision to kick out 21 senior Tories last week – including the former chancellors Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond and Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames – as an “assault on decency and democracy”. She vowed to fight the next election as an “independent Conservative” away from her current seat of Hastings and Rye, where she has a majority of just 346. – Sunday Times (£)

  • Amber Rudd interview: my mother said, ‘Judge a man by what he does, not what he says’ – Sunday Times (£)
  • Amber Rudd resigns from the cabinet and Conservatives over Boris Johnson’s ‘purge’ of Brexit rebels – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Boris Johnson plans ‘to break law for Brexit’ and sabotage any Article 50 extension (as he snatches 14‑point poll lead over Corbyn)…

Boris Johnson plans to “sabotage” efforts by MPs to block Brexit, and force an explosive showdown at the Supreme Court that could see him risk a jail sentence to deliver on his pledge to leave the EU by October 31. In a dramatic escalation of the prime minister’s war with parliament, Johnson will ignore legislation passed last week demanding that he seek an extension from Brussels to Brexit negotiations past the Halloween deadline — forcing MPs to take him to court. Johnson will go to the EU summit on October 17 and seek a deal with Brussels — but if one is not agreed he will refuse to demand the extension to article 50 which the rebel legislation demands. A senior No 10 source told The Sunday Times: “If there isn’t a deal by the 18th we will sabotage the extension.” Another source said Johnson’s team was prepared to “take a chainsaw to anything” standing in its way. No 10 believes that its approach will guarantee an emergency judicial review by the Supreme Court in the week of October 21, with judges deciding the fate of Brexit and the government. – Sunday Times (£)

…but Remainer MPs say they are willing to go to court to enforce a Brexit 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. MPs have lined up a legal team and are willing to go to court to enforce the law to avoid no deal, 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”. Downing Street said the British public had been clear that they wanted Brexit done. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told BBC News the party was not taking legal action over the legislation, but said it was “aware of the actions that are being discussed and prepared for”. – BBC News

  • ‘Seek an extension or resign’ Hilary Benn tells Boris Johnson – or MPs will take the matter to the courts – MailOnline

…while a former Director of Public Prosecutions suggests Johnson could be jailed if he refuses to delay Brexit

Boris Johnson could be jailed if he refuses to delay Brexit in the face of court action, the former director of public prosecutions has claimed. The Prime Minister has indicated he would rather defy the law than ask for another delay to leaving the European Union. But MPs have passed a bill, by 327 votes to 299, which prevents the UK from leaving the EU on October 31 without a deal. Lord Macdonald, the director of public prosecutions between 2003 and 2008, told Sky News that a court would order that “the law should be followed” if Mr Johnson refused. He said: “A refusal in the face of that would amount to contempt of court which could find that person in prison.” Dominic Grieve MP, the former attorney general who was expelled from the Conservatives this week for backing the anti-no-deal law, also told Sky News that Mr Johnson would be “sent to prison for contempt” if he defies the law. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

  • Boris Johnson ‘will be forced from power if he defies no-deal law’ – Observer

PM plots scheme to render EU ‘no longer legal’ in desperate bid to escape Brexit trap…

Boris Johnson is threatening to sabotage the EU to make it cave in on a Brexit deal – or reject MPs’ plan to stop the UK crashing out of the bloc. In a dramatic escalation of its battle with Brussels, Downing Street believes it has devised a way out of the crisis to make the EU no longer “legally constituted”, paralysing its decision-making. The extraordinary plan would see the UK refuse to appoint a commissioner, putting the EU in breach of its own legal duty for all 28 member states to be represented on its executive branch. No 10 believes the UK would be “disrupting” Brussels life to such a degree that member states will then make it clear they will refuse to grant an Article 50 extension – even if asked for. A source said: “We will turn the pressure onto the EU to show how difficult it will be for them if the UK is still hanging around.” The aim is to force an acceptable Brexit deal, but the source added: “If they won’t negotiate a deal, it would be ideal if they would kick us out.” – Independent

  • Boris Johnson masterplan: How PM will deliver Brexit by exploiting EU’s own rules – Sunday Express
  • Boris Johnson threatens to ‘sabotage’ the EU’s structures to keep his grip on power and hit Brexit deadline – Mail on Sunday

…as he is told to ‘come up with a Plan B’ and warned of ‘dangerous precedent’ by ex-Cabinet minister David Lidington

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been told to “come up with a plan B” with regards to Brexit, by David Lidington, a former cabinet minister under Theresa May. Mr Lidington told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he would set a “dangerous precedent” if he ignored an incoming law compelling him to seek an Article 50 deadline extension from Brussels if no agreement is in place by 19 October. The proposed law is expected to receive royal assent on Monday. “I understand why the PM is opposed to this [Brexit delay],” Mr Lidington said. “Having talked to him – it is no secret I have differences with him on European policy – I was persuaded that he was serious about getting a deal. He basically said to me, please give me until the European Council to really get in there and negotiate that deal and come back to Parliament. My decision was I would give him that opportunity to get that deal.” – iNews

Revealed: Nigel Farage’s election pact offer to Tories to defeat Corbyn and deliver Brexit

Nigel Farage has set out the terms of his offer of an electoral pact with the Conservatives, even suggesting that he could campaign for Tory Brexiteer candidates if Boris Johnson backs a clean Brexit. The former Ukip leader is demanding that Brexit Party candidates are given free reign to contest Labour-held seats in the North, Midlands, and South Wales that he believes he can win from Jeremy Corbyn. In return, the new party would stand down some of its 600 candidates from potentially dozens of seats where they would otherwise split the pro-Leave vote, as part of a no-deal alliance with the Conservatives intent on securing the UK’s exit from the EU. Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Farage states that he is “100 per cent” sincere in his offer to help Mr Johnson “return to Downing Street. “We are not playing political games,” states the leader of the Brexit Party. “I have spent more than 25 years fighting for Brexit. It is now within our grasp.”  Meanwhile, Jeremy Hosking, a former Conservative donor who was the biggest individual contributor to the official Vote Leave campaign, told this newspaper that Mr Johnson’s “mission is simply too ambitious for a single leap” and urged him to enter into a pact. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

How Theresa May’s deal could come back to life…

Theresa May’s EU deal could be “brought back from the dead” with a cross-party group of MPs primed to push for it to be voted on by Parliament. The group including Labour’s Stephen Kinnock and Caroline Flint, Lib Dem Norman Lamb, and former cabinet minister Rory Stewart is due to be unveiled on Tuesday to push the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament. They believe their hand has been strengthened by the bill aimed at forcing the Prime Minister to seek an extension. This bill saw MPs agree an amendment by Mr Kinnock that mandated the Government to bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Added to that, Michael Gove, who is in charge of no-deal planning, has said he would be prepared to vote for Mrs May’s bill if it were bought back before the Commons. Mr Kinnock and his supporters, who are backed by Mrs May now plan to use parliamentary procedure tomorrow to hold a debate forcing the Government to publish the bill and then allow MPs to vote on it. He said: “As long as an election is not called the Withdrawal Agreement is far from dead. I sometimes look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I should have supported the agreement in the meaningful votes. The key thing was that the negotiations which followed the third defeat meant that the Government made 10 key concessions, including having a vote on a second referendum at committee stage.” – Sunday Express

…as the former PM leads fight to reinstate Remainer rebels as she emerges as the leading critic of Johnson’s ‘brutal’ decision to purge 21 Tories

Theresa May has emerged as the leading critic of Boris Johnson’s ‘brutal’ decision to purge 21 Remainer rebels from the Tory benches, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. The Prime Minister stunned Westminster by calling the bluff of those Conservatives who voted with the Opposition to try to force him to delay Brexit – sparking two formal complaints from his predecessor. Mrs May has raised the issue directly with Party chairman James Cleverly and Chief Whip Mark Spencer on behalf of the group that includes former Chancellor Philip Hammond, ex-Justice Secretary David Gauke and Tory grandee Ken Clarke. She approached Mr Cleverly behind the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening to raise concerns about the legality of blocking any of the rebels from being candidates at the next Election. Last night a Tory source said: ‘It was all very courteous and professional, but there are a lot of angry people and a lot of Chinese whispers doing the rounds about what is really happening.’ – Mail on Sunday

Tories bid to depose Speaker Bercow after Commons revolt

The Conservative Party plans to stand a candidate against Speaker John Bercow for his role in allowing MPs to take control of the Commons agenda. Business secretary Andrea Leadsom accused the Speaker in the Mail on Sunday of “flagrant abuse” of process. Breaching convention, the party plans to oppose Mr Bercow in his Buckingham constituency at the next election. Formerly a Tory, Mr Bercow gave up his party affiliation when he took on the impartial role. As the highest authority in the House of Commons, the Speaker chairs MPs’ debates. In order to be impartial, the Speaker resigns from their party, and – while they still stand in general elections – they are usually unopposed by the main parties, and they do not campaign on political issues. But Ms Leadsom – who has clashed with Mr Bercow in the past – said the Tories would ignore this convention and stand against him at the next election. She said the role of the Speaker was to be “a politically impartial, independent umpire of proceedings” and to “protect the constitution and oversee the behaviour of the House. But last week, the current Speaker failed us,” she said. – BBC News

Leo Varadkar accused of ‘conceding at 11th hour’ on no-deal Brexit

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has been criticised for “conceding at the 11th hour” that there would be border checks in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Sinn Fein slammed Mr Varadkar after he announced during a speech on Thursday that some checks on goods and live animals may need to take place near the Irish border. The Taoiseach was outlining the impacts of a no-deal Brexit to business leaders in Dublin. He said checks would take place “as far as possible” in ports, airports and at businesses. Mr Varadkar added: “But some may need to take place near the border.” – Sunday Express

No Brexit backstop joy in Ireland

Leo Varadkar is planning to yield little ground on the backstop at a meeting with Boris Johnson in Dublin tomorrow. The Irish leader has publicly warned that he does not think the prime minister can get any proposal through the House of Commons under the current parliamentary arithmetic. In a sign that the Irish government expects an imminent general election in Britain, TDs and senators from Varadkar’s Fine Gael party have been told not to attend a conference in Co Louth on alternatives to the backstop organised by Tory MPs Greg Hands and Suella Braverman. Senior Irish government officials have agreed with No 10 that Varadkar and the prime minister will have a tête-à-tête in Dublin’s state guesthouse, Farmleigh, to establish a personal rapport. But Varadkar said he did not expect a breakthrough in his first meeting with Johnson as prime minister but he hoped “to explore where there might be common ground” and to establish a personal relationship with Britain’s third prime minister in three years. – Sunday Times (£)

Rebel former Tory MP expelled by Boris Johnson calls for second referendum

One of the MPs Boris Johnson kicked out of the Conservative Party has called for a fresh referendum as the best way out of the Brexit crisis. Antoinette Sandbach has previously opposed a Final Say vote – but now she has said she believes it is a better way forward than a general election. “I think there should be a second referendum,” said Ms Sandbach, who was among the 21 rebels expelled for paving the way for legislation to block a no-deal Brexit. If it is clear it’s no deal, then the extension should be given for a second referendum and that outcome will then be a decision for the British people – and that’s where the mandate will come from.” – Independent

Mass tactical voting campaign planned to win second referendum on Brexit

Campaigners for a second EU referendum are planning the “biggest tactical voting operation ever undertaken in Britain” in an attempt to secure a majority for another public vote. Voters across England, Wales and Scotland will be given guidance on which candidate they should back at the next election in order to deliver a parliament willing to back a second referendum. Significant extra funds and armies of campaigners will also be directed to key seats as part of the drive to secure a new vote. Organisers of the initiative, overseen by the People’s Vote campaign, are stressing that stress it is a non-partisan project that will endorse individual pro-referendum candidates who are “best-placed” to win. Among its first 20 endorsements, the campaign is asking voters to back the Lib Dem candidate in nine seats and the Labour candidate in 11 seats. Michael Heseltine, the former Tory deputy prime minister, has backed the campaign, saying pro-Remain voters would have to make a difficult choice in an election that would be “like none other”. – Observer

Swiss stock exchange warns Britain: be ready to protect the City against ‘bullying’ Brussels

The stock exchange at the heart of Switzerland’s financial regulation 
battle with the EU has urged Britain to prepare retaliatory measures to protect the City and fight “bullying” Brussels. Jos Dijsselhof, chief executive at SIX Swiss Exchange, the largest in Switzerland, warned that the British “government should be ready to act to protect” post-Brexit. His comments come amid a standoff between Bern and Brussels over “equivalence” rules and access to markets. EU investors were banned from trading on Swiss stock exchanges in July after the European Commission grew impatient with a much-delayed partnership treaty, allowing its “equivalence” status to expire. Bern hit back by banning EU stock exchanges from trading Swiss shares. Investors could be hit with prison sentences if they trade Swiss stocks, such as consumer goods giant Nestlé, outside of the country. “There can be countermeasures and the people in the City have noticed that,” said Mr Dijsselhof. He warned: “There are risks of London losing business. The Government should be ready to act to protect the UK. That’s what the Swiss government has done, quickly put in emergency laws. There should be a law ready to say, if you do this to us, we will retaliate.” “Equivalence” gives foreign companies access to EU markets if their regulations in their home country align with Brussels’. It was the key pillar of the post-Brexit financial services deal agreed by the UK and EU despite fears the City’s access could be suddenly withdrawn and used as a bargaining chip by Brussels. Many saw the spat with Bern as a warning shot to the UK. Mr Dijsselhof said “equivalence” is “one-sided” and was used as a “hostage” by Brussels to bully Switzerland. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Stephen Barclay: The EU is setting a test that is impossible to meet

Attention has focused on Westminster this week, yet in Brussels we have seen serious and significant talks take place between the UK and the EU. On Thursday I spoke to Michel Barnier about the negotiations and in the past few weeks I’ve also visited counterparts in France, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. We are doing everything we can to ditch the anti-democratic backstop and reach a deal. We started this negotiation with both sides committed to finding flexible and creative solutions. Brussels, however, is setting a test that is impossible to meet. It continues to say it is defending three key objectives – avoiding a hard border, protecting the Single Market and preserving the all-island of Ireland economy. But continuing to insist on the inclusion of the backstop means the EU is also insisting on a commitment for the UK to remain in the customs union and parts of the single market. For a country that has voted to leave the European Union, that is a demand that simply cannot be met. – Stephen Barclay MP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Nigel Farage: I am 100 per cent sincere in offering a non-aggressive pact with the Tories

Boris Johnson is to be congratulated for sacking the 21 Tory MPs who voted to block a No Deal Brexit this week. It was a radical move on his part, but contrary to what the moaners and whingers have been bleating about, it was not without precedent in parliamentary history. Furthermore, the rebels knew exactly what they were doing. These self-serving men and women – many of them not proper Conservatives anyway – all received fair warning that their arrogance and disloyalty would have consequences. When you commit an act of political sabotage, you earn your punishment. Johnson’s decisiveness proves something much more significant than just his ability to bring his party to heel, however. For the events of this summer confirm that the centre of gravity in British politics is shifting inexorably in favour of Brexit. A much-needed realignment is taking place. I have been arguing for this for years and I am only too delighted that the swamp is being drained at last. Since mid-August, two Tory MPs, Sarah Woollaston and Phillip Lee, have defected to the Liberal Democrats. This is direct evidence of the sort of repositioning I have in mind. These turncoats were not prepared to honour the Conservatives’ Brexit manifesto pledge on which they stood happily at the 2017 general election, so they have decamped. Johnson should cast his mind back to the European elections in May, in which his party came fifth, and ask himself: does he want the Tories to find themselves in a similarly disastrous position when the results of the next general election come in, or does he want to sign a non-aggression with me and return to Downing Street? I am 100 per cent sincere in this offer. We are not playing political games. I have spent more than 25 years fighting for Brexit. It is now within our grasp – I can almost taste it. – Nigel Farage MEP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Daniel Hannan: Nigel Farage can’t deliver Brexit, but he could yet block it

Having spent two years demanding a general election on an almost daily basis, Jeremy Corbyn has voted to block one. The Opposition parties that accuse Boris Johnson of mounting a coup refuse to let him seek a mandate. MPs are now in the surreal position of propping up a government they have calculatedly undermined for the sole purpose of overturning a referendum whose result they had promised to respect. And they call themselves democrats. With a stunning lack of self-awareness, Labour and Green politicians held a rally at Downing Street today calling on people to “Stop the coup” and “defend democracy”. On Thursday, the same politicians had blocked a dissolution. No wonder MPs are held in contempt. Might the Brexit Party stand aside in constituencies where its candidacy would put a Remainer in? Consider the two most recent parliamentary by-elections. In Peterborough – a town where 61 per cent had voted Leave – the Conservative and Brexit parties won half the overall vote between them, but let in a Labour Europhile on 30 per cent. In Brecon and Radnorshire last month, the Lib Dem candidate squeaked in 1,425 votes ahead of the Tories, while the Brexit Party vote was 3,331. If similar things were to happen on polling day, we would end up with our first ever Marxist prime minister. If Farage is primarily interested in his own career, that might suit him. As long as Brexit is delayed or cancelled, he can dream of being a British Trump, swept on by waves of anger and disaffection. – Daniel Hannan MEP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Dissolution is not a threat to democracy, it is a weapon to protect the rights of voters – Professor Vernon Bogdanor for the Sunday Telegraph (£)
  • Outside Westminster, people are backing Boris over the wrecker MPs – Janet Daley for the Sunday Telegraph (£)
  • Doctor in row with Jacob Rees-Mogg is Remain campaigner who hates Boris Johnson, social media posts reveal – Sunday Telegraph (£)
  • Electoral Commission reported public to police after receiving abuse over Brexit Party inquiry – Sunday Telegraph (£)
  • Labour Leaver MP quits Pa;riament to become antisemitism tsar – Observer
  • Former Change UK and Labour MP joins Liberal Democrats – Independent