Boris Johnson says it would be extraordinary to write the EU a £39 billion cheque before a final deal is agreed: Brexit News for Sunday 9 June

Boris Johnson says it would be extraordinary to write the EU a £39 billion cheque before a final deal is agreed: Brexit News for Sunday 9 June
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Boris Johnson says it would be extraordinary to write the EU a £39 billion cheque before a final deal is agreed…

Boris Johnson today sets out his stall to be prime minister, pledging to deliver Brexit by “retaining” the £39bn demanded by Brussels until he gets a better deal and saying only he can save the country from Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage. In the first interview of his campaign, the leadership frontrunner said he would combine a tough line on Brexit with a full-throated return to One Nation Tory policies at home. Johnson vowed to run the country as he ran London when he was mayor with a “team of stars” in his cabinet and Downing Street enacting policies for “the least well off”. But he warned that the Conservative Party’s survival depended on leaving, with or without a deal, on October 31. Referring to sea monsters from Greek mythology, Johnson said: “I truly believe only I can steer the country between the Scylla and Charybdis of Corbyn and Farage and onto calmer water. This can only be achieved by delivering Brexit as promised on October 31 and delivering a One Nation Tory agenda.” Johnson said: “I think our friends and partners need to understand that the money is going to be retained until such time as we have greater clarity about the way forward. I always thought it was extraordinary that we should agree to write that entire cheque before having a final deal. In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant.”Johnson said: “I think our friends and partners need to understand that the money is going to be retained until such time as we have greater clarity about the way forward. I always thought it was extraordinary that we should agree to write that entire cheque before having a final deal. In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • Boris Johnson interview: As Tory leader I’d play no-deal hardball to win Brexit battle I started – Sunday Times (£)
  • Johnson threatens to withhold 39 billion-pound EU Brexit payment – Reuters
  • Boris Johnson: I won’t pay £39bn unless EU gives Britain better exit terms – Sky News

…as he wins over senior eurosceptics Baker and Patel with ‘clean Brexit’ pledge

Boris Johnson has secured the backing of some of the Conservatives’ staunchest Brexiteers after privately declaring that he would deliver a “clean, managed Brexit”. The former foreign secretary told Eurosceptic grandees last week that Theresa May’s deal was “dead”. The assurances, made in a meeting behind closed doors on Wednesday, have won Mr Johnson the endorsement of Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the backbench European Research Group (ERG) of Eurosceptics, the leader of the group of 28 “hold-outs” Brexiteers who refused to back Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.  In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Baker, who quit as Brexit minister last year, said he would now put his “complete faith” in Mr Johnson rather than stand in the contest himself. Priti Patel, the former International Development Secretary and another leading member of the group, has also decided to back Mr Johnson, saying only he could “deliver Brexit and restore trust in politics”. At least two grandees are preparing to follow suit, having become convinced that Mr Johnson, the current frontrunner, is the best-placed candidate to rescue the Conservative Party from the electoral obliteration they fear it faces if it fails to deliver Brexit. “The only thing that can get us back from the dead is getting us out,” one said. Mr Baker and Ms Patel’s endorsements follow those of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the ERG chairman, and David Jones, another prominent member of the group. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Dominic Raab pulls no punches in bid to save ‘country on its knees’ as he stresses Brexit credentials…

Just a year ago Dominic Raab had never been a member of the Cabinet. Now he is a frontrunner for the Conservative leadership, with 10 former ministers publicly backing a well-advanced campaign to succeed Theresa May. The 45-year-old is, he admits, an “underdog” in the race, but insists his relative inexperience around Mrs May’s Cabinet table is an advantage. “I don’t think that this leadership contest should be a stitch up by the so called big beasts,” he says, presumably referring to rivals such as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt. “I think the approach that got us into this rut and into this mess is not going to get us out of it. And that’s why we need a change of approach, a change of vision.” Brexiteer MPs, whose support all of the main candidates are attempting to court, were furious when Theresa May ruled out a no-deal Brexit taking place on March 29, a move they believe removed any prospect of Brussels making eleventh-hour concessions to her deal. Mr Raab, a former Foreign Office lawyer who was elected in 2010, states: “All of those candidates who are suggesting things that should be taken off the table like no deal, or who are leaving open the possibility of an extension or are saying they won’t do this or they won’t do that, I think are undermining the strength of our negotiating position in Brussels. If you want to get the deal that can allow us to move on, you’ve got to stop weakening our position and weakening our credibility.” – Sunday Telegraph (£)

> Dominic Raab on BrexitCentral: Brexit on WTO terms is far better than leaving the EU with a fatally flawed deal

…and continues to insist that suspending Parliament to force Brexit through should not be ruled out

Suspending Parliament to force Brexit through with or without a deal should not be ruled out, Tory leadership contender Dominic Raab warned. The former Brexit Secretary, in the running for Prime Minister Theresa May’s role, said in shutting down Parliament it would strengthen the UK’s negotiating position with Brussels. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it’s wrong to rule out any tool to make sure that we leave by the end of October.” Referring to the Conservative leadership bid, he added: “The exam question in this contest is: who can be trusted to lead us out by the end of October and end this paralysing uncertainty.” Critics say such a decision to shut out Parliament would need the green light from the Queen as she would be required in the event of a constitutional crisis, the Guardian reports. But Mr Raab said it would not need the monarch’s say as MP’s powers to block a no deal Brexit were limited. He said should he be chosen as the country’s next Prime Minister after Mrs May, who stepped down officially yesterday, he would return to the EU with a “best, final offer”. – Observer

Michael Gove promises to scrap VAT after Brexit to boost the economy

Michael Gove has pledged to replace VAT with a “lower, simpler” alternative and cut business rates if he is elected Conservative leader. Unveiling a radical economic manifesto in The Telegraph, the Environment Secretary pledges to take advantage of Brexit to scrap the 20 per cent tax currently levied on goods and services as a result of EU rules, in a move that could cut the cost of living. Sources also indicated that he would halt construction of the £56 billion High Speed 2 rail line in order to review whether it represented “proper value for money”, amid concerns about its spiralling costs. His intervention, which comes ahead of tomorrow’s formal deadline for the nomination of candidates to succeed Theresa May, is likely to be seen as a dramatic attempt by Mr Gove to shift focus back to his policy plans after a new book revealed that he had taken cocaine in his 30s. Mr Gove’s plans to scrap VAT – a tax required as part of membership of the EU’s single market – bolsters his insistence that he would seek a loose relationship with Brussels after Brexit. The proposals will be seen as an attempt to defy claims by some Brexiteers that he could attempt to keep the UK closely tied to the bloc. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

  • Tory leadership contest: Michael Gove ‘would scrap VAT’ – BBC Politics
  • Gove and Johnson deemed untrustworthy by more than half of voters, poll finds – Independent

Sajid Javid says Britain has a ‘moral’ duty to pay Ireland half a billion pounds to break the Brexit deadlock over the backstop…

Britain has a moral duty to pay half a billion pounds to Ireland to break the Brexit deadlock over the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, Sajid Javid has said. In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, the Home Secretary and Tory leadership contender warned it will take ‘hundreds of millions of euros, no one really knows because it hasn’t been done before’. But he said that a new border arrangement can be found and it is Britain’s job to pay for it as we are leaving the EU. Britain has a moral duty to pay half a billion pounds to Ireland to break the Brexit deadlock over the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, Sajid Javid has said. In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, the Home Secretary and Tory leadership contender warned it will take ‘hundreds of millions of euros, no one really knows because it hasn’t been done before’. But he said that a new border arrangement can be found and it is Britain’s job to pay for it as we are leaving the EU. Mr Javid wants the cash to be used to set up new technology- driven border checks to avoid keeping Britain locked to Brussels rules. He said: ‘I think it’s morally justified to pay for that because we both have signed the Good Friday Agreement, we are both absolutely committed to peace on the island of Ireland and –given that we voted to leave and that’s what’s changing the status quo on the island of Ireland – I think it’s morally right that we say, “look, we’ll pay because we’ve caused this”.’ But Mr Javid said the cost would be more than offset as, ‘if we get a Brexit deal in the next few months there will be a mini- economic boom, it will immediately have an economic impact.’ – Mail on Sunday

…as he bags the endorsement of Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson has backed Sajid Javid’s leadership campaign – declaring him “the real deal.” Ms Davidson has been a longstanding critic of Mr Javid’s rival Boris Johnson, despite stating that she could live with BoJo as the Prime Minister. She said that she backed Javid as the “man for the job” because he embodies “Conservative values”. Ms Davidson added that he had “worked his way to a better life for himself and his family before walking away from a lucrative career in order to give back in public service to the country he loves and which offered his immigrant parents a home.” Javid, who reportedly calls himself “The Saj”, last night told The Mail on Sunday: “Ruth knows a winner when she sees one.” – The Sun

  • Sajid Javid wins backing of Ruth Davidson – Independent

Mark Harper says Johnson should ditch his Halloween Brexit deadline because it could make Nigel Farage even stronger

Boris Johnson is being told by a rival Tory leadership contender to ditch his Halloween Brexit deadline – or it will risk making Nigel Farage even stronger. Former Tory Chief Whip Mark Harper claimed sticking to the undeliverable October 31 exit date would only boost the Brexit Party boss when it failed to materialise. In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, he said that the only ‘credible’ plan was to postpone Brexit, fight for an agreement with Brussels but leave – deal or no deal – by May 2020 at the latest. Taking a swipe at leadership favourite Boris, Mr Harper added: ‘You don’t beat Nigel Farage by trying to be the Brexit Party, you don’t beat him by out-Faraging him – you beat him by governing and delivering on your promises.’ Mr Harper, former Chief Whip under David Cameron, claimed he alone of 11 declared candidates had a ‘credible’ Brexit plan involving a ‘short focused extension’ beyond October but with the promise that deal or no deal, the UK would leave before the May 2020 local elections. He said: ‘One of the lessons of the European elections and Peterborough by-election is politicians should only make promises they can keep. ‘I know what people want to hear but I am not going to tell people what they want to hear if I don’t think it is credible.’ – Mail on Sunday

Justice Secretary David Gauke faces no-confidence vote over Brexit ‘obstruction’

Remain-backing Justice Secretary David Gauke is facing a no-confidence vote over his “wilful obstruction” of delivering the 2016 Brexit vote. The Remainer is under fire from his branch of local Tories. Despite backing Theresa May’s Brexit deal three times, he has called for a customs union with the EU and helped to take No Deal off the table. A vote by members this month will take place on whether Mr Gauke has stuck to his “commitments” made at the 2017 general election. His response to the letter sent by his agent Jeremy Page in the South West Hertfordshire constituency was with a ‘face palm emoji’ on Twitter. The party pledged to exit the single market and customs union but seek a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement. It also stated that no deal was better than a bad deal for the UK. The move follows fellow Tory MP and arch-Remainer Dominic Grieve who is now facing a de-selection battle in his Beaconsfield, south Bucks, constituency. His members voted on Friday night he must apply for re-adoption as the candidate for the next election. Constituency chair Jackson Ng said there were feelings of, “disappointment, anger and frustration” over his views on Brexit. Grieve is calling for a second referendum. But Tory party chair Brandon Lewis last night said: “They’re not actually facing deselection, that’s not what’s happening.” – The Sun

Emily Thornberry may face reshuffle after Labour split over new EU vote

Jeremy Corbyn and his inner circle are considering a frontbench reshuffle that could see the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, moved as a punishment for insisting that the party must back a second Brexit referendum, according to several senior figures in the party. There is also growing support from some of Corbyn’s allies, including union leaders close to the leader’s office, for a new contest to be held that could see Tom Watson replaced as deputy leader, following his persistent backing for a public vote on the UK’s exit from the EU. Sources inside Corbyn’s office said last night that there were “all sorts of mischievous rumours” being put about, but did not confirm – or rule out – imminent changes to the party’s top team. “They are very angry with Emily and are out to get Tom,” said one shadow cabinet source. “That has been incredibly obvious over recent days.” Another senior source said: “There is talk of petitions going round local parties, particularly to rally support for a deputy leadership contest. This would require more than 50 MPs to back it to get off the ground. They may want to do it, but it almost certainly won’t work.” Thornberry was humiliated last week when Corbyn’s office decided to ditch her as the stand-in at prime minister’s questions in favour of shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, who is a close ally of both Corbyn and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. – Observer

Sir Ed Davey rules out ‘Remain alliance’ if he becomes Lib Dem leader…

Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful Ed Davey has ruled out forming any kind of pact with other Remain parties and independent MPs who want the UK to stay in the EU, saying they must join his party and try to influence it from within. The former cabinet minister said the Lib Dems had proved their strength in the recent local and European elections, and that any formal pact would compromise the party and reduce the clarity of its messages. Davey is running against the party’s current deputy leader, Jo Swinson, who is regarded as the favourite, in the race to succeed Sir Vince Cable who is standing down in July. Speculation over whether a new Lib Dem leader would be open to joining some form of Remain alliance at the next election has grown following recent elections, and the decision last week by six of the 11 MPs who had formed Change UK, to split from the fledgling party and sit as independents. Supporters of a pact argue that only by clubbing together can the Remain side prevent its vote splitting, and unite those who want a second referendum under the same banner. But Davey told the Observer that a pact of any sort would not be on offer if he became leader. He said: “I admire these MPs for putting political principles before political careers. But the Liberal Democrats smashed it in the local and European elections, and as Labour tears itself apart over Brexit, we are the only viable party of Remain. “A pact doesn’t cut it. The Liberal Democrats should be very confident about our strength and our values. Anyone on our side who suggests a pact would be selling the Liberal Democrats short. A pact would simply blunt our clear anti-Brexit, pro-environment message. These MPs need to prove their liberal values and join the Liberal Democrats. If they disagree with us on anything, try to change us from within. – Observer

…as it is suggested that ex-Labour/ex-Change UK MP Chuka Umunna wants to continue his battle against Brexit as a Lib Dem in his Streatham constituency

Rebel MP Chuka Umunna is set to continue his battle against Brexit by standing for the Liberal Democrats in his own rock-solid Labour seat. And sources say Mr Umunna will seek to capitalise on his South London constituency’s massive vote for Remain in order to overturn his own 26,000-plus majority. The former Labour MP and five colleagues walked out of the newly formed Change UK party last week – sparking reports they were about to defect to the Lib Dems. And there were suggestions that former Shadow Business Secretary Mr Umunna would inherit the Twickenham seat of outgoing Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable if he stands down at the next General Election. But sources close to Mr Umunna last night insisted he would stay and fight in his Streatham constituency, which recorded a 79.5 per cent Remain vote in the 2016 referendum – one of the highest in the country. An ally said: ‘Chuka wants to do the decent thing and fight his own corner despite the huge Labour majority he built up at the 2017 General Election. ‘The seat voted so heavily Remain in the referendum that a clear, positive Lib Dem message on Europe – plus his own personal following – gives him a real chance.’ – Mail on Sunday

Priti Patel: I’ll back Boris Johnson to be our PM and make Britain greater by delivering Brexit

Over the coming weeks, the Conservative Party will face one of the greatest decisions of our political history. Do we help to elect a new leader who will continue to ignore the British people’s decision to leave the EU and risk undermining democracy altogether? Or do we choose someone who is committed to delivering Brexit this year, and who will raise our standing in the world? As the recent by-election has shown, if we get this decision wrong the Conservative party could soon cease to exist with our supporters already looking elsewhere. The failure to deliver the Brexit we promised in our manifesto has grievously hurt our country and the party. The damage to the party has been self-inflicted as inept ministers and arrogant self-righteous MPs torpedoed us into this crisis. Now the public — and previously loyal Conservative voters — no longer trust us to do what we say we will. In this crisis we have a country desperately wanting to be led by a new Prime Minister with the clarity and conviction to deliver Brexit and restore trust in politics. A new Prime Minister who can inspire the nation by getting the country excited about the success and prosperity that Conservative values can deliver to people, regardless of their background or political beliefs. Right now there is only one candidate who can do this — Boris Johnson. The first task of a new Prime Minister will be delivering the Brexit 17.4million people voted for and leaving the EU by October 31. – Priti Patel MP for The Sun

Adam Boulton: Article 50 has become our Catch-22, but Dominic Raab’s fanatical Brexit plan may just work

A new version of Catch-22, Joseph Heller’s Second World War satire, will be on British TV screens soon, courtesy of George Clooney. The Conservative Party has beaten Hollywood’s greatest living Anglophile to the punch when it comes to the predicament of being trapped by contradictory rules. The Peterborough by-election result made it crushingly clear that the Tories will have to “deliver Brexit” before they can risk calling a general election — let alone hope to win it. But if they are to do so in the orderly fashions proposed by the various prospective next prime ministers, there will have to be a general election, or some other democratic means of bypassing MPs, because parliament as presently constituted won’t allow the government to have its way. Barring accidents or obstruction, Theresa May will have been replaced in No 10 by the end of next month, but nothing will have changed in the arithmetic of the Commons. MPs will still want to block the UK from leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. That’s why the Tory candidate with the toughest pro-Brexit line, Dominic Raab, is openly contemplating shutting the place down. Anyone who thinks Boris Johnson is a shoo-in if he gets into the run-off should remember how Iain Duncan Smith stormed the hustings in 2001, to the shock of those in Westminster. The anti-EU mood of Conservative Party activists and voters is much harder than that of Tory MPs. This leaves the contenders in an uncomfortable position in this summer’s two-stage election contest. The two finalists must first win over MPs and then woo the party membership. Most of the candidates are explaining to their colleagues how they would finesse a Brexit deal. Matt Hancock has even produced a detailed paper. All this would come in handy if they got to hold meaningful negotiations with an amenable European Union. Many natural Tory voters don’t believe this will ever happen and want out now. – Adam Boulton for the Sunday Times (£)

Paul Goodman: Conservative Home’s snap leadership election survey. Johnson puts on ten points – and bestrides our table like a colossus

A gargantuan turnout of over 1500 Conservative Home panel produces a record result. We can’t remember a contender in our Next Tory Leader panel scooping 43 per cent of the total before.  But such is Boris Johnson’s score – up a full ten points from 33 per cent last month. Almost nothing else matters. Michael Gove stays on 12 per cent, but he moves into second place because Dominic Raab drops by five points, and so falls to third. Rory Stewart is fourth, Steve Baker is fifth – but neither manages to get into double figures.  We kept the latter, plus Penny Mordaunt, in the survey because they may stand yet (though we think that’s unlikely). All in all, Johnson is set to cakewalk this contest if his colleagues in the Commons put his name before the members. During the next fortnight, we will finally discover whether or not they will. – Paul Goodman for Conservative Home

Gary Oliver: Change UK, disappearing up its own aspirations

Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats all now miserably fail to live up to their descriptive titles. But no political party has been more inappropriately named at inception than Change UK, formed to keep us in the EU and perpetuate technocratic, corporatist government. Founded to preserve the discredited status quo, its candidates ought to have included Francis Rossi. Earlier this week six of the 11 Change UK MPs returned to being independents, including Chuka Umunna, still searching for a party which shares his own high opinion of himself. It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at this latest splintering; but remaining stony-faced will be the voters who originally returned each of this shower as Labour or Tory, yet still are being denied by-elections in which to make their feelings known. It also is reasonable to assume that before the next general election most or all of the half-dozen defectors from Change UK will seek asylum in the LibDems. Asked that very question, the former interim leader Heidi Allen answered ‘never say never’; from which one confidently can predict that the woman whom South Cambridgeshire returned in 2017 as a counterfeit Conservative will soon be knocking on the door of her spiritual home. Mind you, it would understandable if even the LibDems were to turn away the former leader of what previously was The Independent Group, after this toe-curling performance by the ‘proud TIGger mum’. That was hopeless Heidi at the launch of Change UK, about to introduce some of the well-known names who answered after ‘the call went out from TIGger Towers’. One respondent was journalist Rachel Johnson who, in January 2018 after being evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house, declared: ‘I’m definitely not going to do any reality TV again.’ Yet just over a year later, she volunteered for the political equivalent. – Gary Oliver for The Conservative Woman

Brexit in Brief

  • Farage hasn’t broken the two party system – but he could still deny the Tories a majority – Janet Daley for the Sunday Telegraph (£)
  • Tories have one last chance to save themselves – Sunday Times (£) editorial
  • Could the Tory leadership race end early? – James Forsyth for The Spectator