Boris Johnson to hold last-ditch talks with Leo Varadkar today after EU publicly dismantles his plan point by point: Brexit News for Thursday 10 October

Boris Johnson to hold last-ditch talks with Leo Varadkar today after EU publicly dismantles his plan point by point: Brexit News for Thursday 10 October
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

Boris Johnson to hold last-ditch talks with Leo Varadkar today after EU publicly dismantles his plan point by point

Boris Johnson is to meet the Irish prime minister for last-ditch Brexit talks on Thursday, after the EU’s chief negotiator publicly dismantled his proposals in a comprehensive point-by-point rebuttal. With a make-or-break summit looming next week, high-level talks will also take place in Brussels between brexit secretary Steve Barclay and Michel Barnier – who warned on Wednesday that the two sides were “not really in a position where we’re able to find an agreement”. Following claims from a Downing Street source earlier in the week that talks were on the verge of collapse, Mr Johnson will meet taoiseach Leo Varadkar privately in the northwest of England. No 10 to says the meeting is necessarily for “both leaders and their teams to have detailed discussions” and find a way forward. – Independent

EU and UK ‘not really in a position’ for a Brexit deal, says bloc’s negotiator Michel Barnier…

The EU and UK are “not really in a position” to strike a Brexit deal, the bloc’s chief negotiator has said. Michel Barnier told the European Parliament on Wednesday there were “serious concerns” with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals, which he revealed last week. The EU official told MEPs in Brussels: “To put things very frankly… at this particular point we are not really in a position where we are able to find an agreement.” Mr Johnson has unveiled new plans for the post-Brexit Irish border, having vowed to scrap the backstop arrangement agreed between Brussels and his predecessor Theresa May. – Sky News

WATCH: Michel Barnier updates the European Parliament on Brexit

…while Guy Verhofstadt brands Brexiteers ‘the real traitors’…

The European Parliament’s Brexit chief has branded Brexiteers “the real traitors”, in a significant escalation of rhetoric from Brussels. Speaking in a debate in the EU’s legislature Guy Verhofstadt accused Boris Johnson of blaming everyone but himself for the situation the UK found itself in. “The real reason why this is happening is very simply: it’s a blame game against everybody. A blame game against the European Union, against Ireland, against Mrs Merkel, against the British judicial system, against Labour, against the Lib Dems, even against Mrs May,” he said. “The only one who is not to be blamed is Mr Johnson himself, apparently. But all the rest are the source of our problems. That is what is happening today. All those who are not playing his game are ‘traitors’ or a ‘collaborator’, or ‘surrenderers’.” – Independent

Guy Verhofstadt calls Boris Johnson a traitor after Brexit deal offer rejected – The Times (£)

…as former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warns the EU it is heading for a no-deal Brexit by mistake

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has issued a plea to EU foreign ministers to avoid a “catastrophic failure in statecraft” over Brexit. He has urged them in an open letter to reach a compromise with Prime Minister Boris Johnson while they still can. Delaying Brexit would only increase the chances of a no-deal exit, he warned. “If they think this is bad – just wait until what happens after Boris wins an election,” he told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg in an exclusive interview. Mr Hunt – who lost out to Mr Johnson in July’s Conservative leadership contest – has written to the 27 EU foreign ministers, urging them to show greater flexibility in talks with the UK. – BBC News

Fury as Speaker John Bercow holds secret talks with European Parliament President David Sassoli…

Brexiteers have been left furious after it was revealed the Speaker John Bercow held secret talks with the EU and agreed to prevent a clean break Brexit. Addressing the European Parliament David Sassoli, its president, revealed that he had “a fruitful discussion” with Mr Bercow yesterday, while he was in London to meet with Boris Johnson. Mr Sassoli, whose job is the equivalent of the Speaker in the House of Commons, said he “set out my view that any request for an extension should allow the British people to give its views in a referendum or an election. Speaker Bercow and I were very much on the same wavelength on the importance of the respective roles of our parliaments in managing Brexit,” he said. – Telegraph (£)

  • Remainer Speaker John Bercow holds secret meeting with EU chief about holding second referendum – The Sun

WATCH: President of the European Parliament David Sassoli updates MEPs in Brussels

…who suggests there will be no Article 50 extension without a new referendum or an election

Britain will only be granted a Brexit extension by the EU if it agrees to hold a general election or a second referendum, it emerged on Wednesday night. David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament, set out the condition during a debate in Brussels. Mr Sassoli revealed he discussed the plans directly with John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, in London on Tuesday. Mr Sassoli told the European Parliament: “I had a fruitful discussion with Speaker Bercow in which I set out my view that any request for an extension should allow the British people to give its views in a referendum or an election.” – Telegraph (£)

Brussels braced for possible Boris Johnson walk-out at next week’s Brexit summit…

Brussels is braced for Boris Johnson to storm out of next week’s EU summit on Brexit after the expected failure to secure agreement on a replacement for the Irish backstop. Speculation is rife that the prime minister will walk out of the European Council in Brussels as part of a British strategy to “fabricate a crisis”. EU diplomatic sources warned that the tactic would fail in forcing the bloc to shift its red lines. “You can hit your fists on the table but in the end only the fist will hurt,” one EU diplomat said. “If they want to walk out, they can walk out but if they want a deal they will have to come back to the table,” the diplomat said. – Telegraph (£)

…after which MPs will have an emergency Saturday sitting which could be hijacked by those wanting to force through a second referendum

Parliamentary supporters of a Final Say referendum could hijack an emergency sitting of the Commons on 19 October to force a public vote on any Brexit outcome. The idea is being discussed behind the scenes by MPs who are increasingly confident they have a majority to enshrine a referendum in law before the deadline of the end of this month. The first Saturday sitting of the Commons since the Falklands War in 1982 comes on the same day as hundreds of thousands of people are expected to march through London to demand a People’s Vote under the banner Together for the Final Say. Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to use the recall to stage a vote on a no-deal Brexit, in the hope that his almost inevitable defeat would allow him to blame MPs if he is eventually forced to ask Brussels for a delay. – Independent

Tory Remainers say Boris Johnson has promised them the party won’t automatically back No Deal at the impending election…

Boris Johnson has told Tory MPs today that he will not automatically support a no-deal Brexit in a forthcoming election manifesto. The prime minister met with ex-cabinet minister Damian Green and three colleagues from the 80 strong “One Nation” group, who were warning the PM not to adopt the Brexit policy of Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party. They asked the Mr Johnson to commit to finding a negotiated solution with the EU after any election. Mr Green told Sky News today that the prime minister made that commitment. Mr Johnson was accompanied by Eddie Lister, one of his senior advisors, but not Dominic Cummings, who was a key figure in the Vote Leave campaign. – Sky News

…but Downing Street denies that Johnson has ruled out campaigning on a no-deal platform

Moderate Conservative MPs say Boris Johnson has promised not to campaign in a new election on delivering a no-deal Brexit — but Downing Street says that’s not the case. A Downing Street official had suggested to the Spectator earlier this week that the British prime minister could fight in the next ballot pledging to leave the EU without a deal in order to “marginalize the Brexit Party” and gain more support. This prompted four of the so-called One Nation group of Tory backbenchers — Damian Green, Victoria Prentis, James Brokenshire and Gillian Keegan — to meet Johnson Wednesday and tell him they could not support such a campaign. – Politico

Andrea Leadsom says there could be no backstop of any form in any Brexit deal

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said if the EU does not compromise on the backstop, the UK will be leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. Speaking on ITV’s Peston show, the Conservative MP said there will be no backstop, even a time-limited one, in any Brexit deal. It follows on from Angela Merkel’s conversation with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday in which she is reported to have said there will be no Brexit deal with the UK unless Northern Ireland is in the customs union “forever”. “What they are seeking to avoid in Northern Ireland becomes much more challenging,” Ms Leadsom said. – ITV News

Nigel Farage slams ‘patronising stuck up snob’ MEP who claimed Brexit Brits didn’t know what they were voting for

Nigel Farage slammed a “patronising stuck up snob” MEP who tried claiming 17.4million Brits who voted for Brexit had been misled. The Brexit Party leader became embroiled in a slanging match with Lib Dem MEP Judith Bunting after she tore into him for his Brexit stance. Ms Bunting had asked Mr Farage why he supported “inaccurate facts” in the lead up to the referendum in the European Parliament today. But he fired back: “You patronising stuck up snob! How dare you tell people they didn’t know what they were voting for. They knew exactly what they were voting for. They were voting against 50 years of people like you lying to them. They did it, you promised you would enact it and you, the Liberal Democrats and others have betrayed the greatest democratic exercise in the history of our nation.” – The Sun

> WATCH: Nigel Farage clashes with Lib Dem MEP in the European Parliament

Britain ‘must pay billions’ into EU budget even if there’s a no-deal Brexit, Brussels finance chief warns

Britain must continue to pay in to the EU’s budget even if we leave without a deal, one of Brussels’ top officials warned. Gunther Oettinger, the European budget commissioner, said the UK was signed up to contribute until the end of 2020 regardless of the outcome of Brexit. Eurosceptic politicians responded with anger to the claim and to the revelation that the European Parliament’s president has met John Bercow to discuss how a no-deal outcome could be blocked. Mr Oettinger, who oversees the EU’s income and spending, suggested that in a no-deal Brexit Britain could be forced to pay in too the budget as a condition of starting talks on a free-trade agreement. – iNews

Jeremy Corbyn expected to promise a ‘final say’ Brexit referendum later today in Northampton

Jeremy Corbyn will be in Northampton later – he’s expected to accuse Boris Johnson of “using the Queen” to deliver a pre-election Tory party political broadcast at next week’s State Opening of Parliament. The Labour leader will brand Monday’s Queen’s Speech a “cynical stunt”. Mr Corbyn will insist he is “champing at the bit” for a general election, but would only back one if a no-deal Brexit is taken off the table because the Prime Minister “can’t be trusted not to break the law”. Mr Corbyn will say: “On Monday, we will be treated to the farce of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, amid full pomp and ceremony, setting out an agenda to Parliament that it has no intention or means of delivering. This Government isn’t going to put any legislation before Parliament. “It has a majority of minus 45, a 100% record of defeat in the Commons and is seeking a general election which will end the parliamentary session the Queen is about to open. Holding a Queen’s Speech before an election is a cynical stunt. Johnson is using the Queen to deliver a pre-election party political broadcast for the Conservative Party.” – ITV News

Tony Blair: An election would be ‘the wrong way’ to resolve the Brexit impasse

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has told Andrew Neil a general election would be “the wrong way” to resolve the Brexit impasse. He said the electorate must be asked specifically about the issue of EU membership, not who they want to govern them. “If your problem is Brexit, go back on Brexit,” he added. – BBC News

Philip Hammond suggests new Brexit plan as he slates ‘do or die’ pledge and questions free trade deals

Philip Hammond believes Brexiteers should give up on their dreams of striking free-trade deals around the world after leaving the European Union because of their “very limited” economic value. Setting out his own alternative plan to get Brexit done as talks continued to stall in Brussels, the former chancellor said that the UK should urge the EU to conclude a rapid-fire zero-tariff trade deal with Europe that would do away with the need for a backstop. Mr Hammond – who argued for the UK to remain in a customs union during Theresa May’s government – accepted that his plan, if enacted, would rule out the prospect of the UK independently striking free trade deals. “We all know these trade deals are of very limited potential value and likely to be very hard to negotiate without serious domestic economic and political consequences,” he said in an interview with The Telegraph. – Telegraph (£)

Scottish court delays decision on forcing PM to seek Brexit extension

A Scottish court has delayed a decision on whether Boris Johnson should be forced to ask for a Brexit extension until after the final deadline has passed next week. Anti-Brexit campaigners had asked the three judges, Lord Carloway, who is the lord president, Lord Brodie and Lord Drummond Young, to issue court orders forcing Johnson to send the letter to the EU as required under the Benn act. That legislation, the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act, requires Johnson to write to the EU asking for an extension until 31 January if he fails to get a Brexit deal agreed at Westminster by 19 October. In an unusual move, Carloway said the issues were so significant and time-sensitive that the court could not make a definitive ruling on whether the prime minister had broken the Benn act until 19 October had passed. – Guardian

Two million EU citizens apply to remain in Britain

Two million people have asked to stay in the UK after Brexit under the government’s EU settlement scheme, latest figures show. The number of applications received by 30 September is equivalent to one in six EU citizens in Britain and included nationals and relatives from the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, Home Office data published on Wednesday said. More than half a million applications (520,600) were received in September alone. It is believed the continuing threat of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October has prompted the rush of applications, even though EU citizens and their families have until 31 December 2020 to apply even if the UK crashes out. – Guardian

Nigel Farage: The only way to get Brexit done now is for Boris to back no deal

The war of words with Brussels shows no sign of abating. Aggressive Downing Street briefings following Boris Johnson’s phone call with Angela Merkel on Tuesday morning have led to rebukes from Donald Tusk and to Jean-Claude Juncker accusing the UK of committing the ‘original sin’. To what extent Merkel really did demand the annexation of Northern Ireland is unclear. What this week’s events have proved is that keeping Britain in the customs union was always the EU’s main priority. The proposals put forward by Boris Johnson that have led Britain to this point were an improvement on the previous surrender treaty, but they were never going to be accepted in full by the EU. For one thing, the next few years would have relied entirely on the good faith of Brussels – something that has been in short supply since 2016. – Nigel Farage MEP for the Telegraph (£)

James Forsyth: There’s no deal – so what now?

There will be no last-minute deal. The talks between the UK and the EU have effectively broken down. It isn’t that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s that there’s no tunnel at all. The blame game is now far more advanced than the negotiations. The diplomatic crockery has been smashed even before Boris Johnson and the leaders of the EU27 have arrived in Brussels for this month’s European Council. The question now is whether the talks can ever be resuscitated at a later date —  or if we are in a world where the only options are no Brexit or no deal. – James Forsyth for The Spectator

Ross Clark: No, Brexit hasn’t made the economy £60 billion smaller than if we’d voted to Remain

Another day, another economist trying to rewrite history to convince us that yes, all those forecasts of immediate doom if Britain voted to leave the EU were on the money after all. On the Today programme yesterday, Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), made the ear-catching claim that the UK economy is now £60 billion smaller than it would have been had we voted to remain in the EU – a claim which went unchallenged. The IFS tends to avoid making specific forecasts but this figure could be said to coincide with what Boris Johnson wrote a fortnight before the 2016 referendum: “the immediate impact could be seismic… In the short run a vote for Brexit would create uncertainty. In the immediate aftermath the pound, and probably the stock market, would dive, making us all poorer. Investment and consumption would fall, and the economy would suffer”. – Ross Clark for the Telegraph (£)

John Redwood: Germany insists on the backstop

Germany yesterday we are told asserted herself again as the leader of the EU. In a few harsh words Mrs Merkel effectively said to Mr Johnson he was wasting his time and the time and energy of the UK government in seeking changes to the Irish backstop. As far as she was concerned the EU needed the full backstop, customs union and single market alignment. I doubt Mrs Merkel had phoned round the other 25 member states and checked their view on this. She does regularly clear things with France. I do not think she was formally speaking for the EU, which has entrusted this to their Negotiator in chief. I do think once again she revealed how the modern EU works. Germany is the leader, and Germany feels she can say these things, safe in the knowledge the others will accept them. There was no sudden outpouring of disagreement or protest at her reported words, nor any official denial. – John Redwood’s Diary

Sherelle Jacobs: After daring to face down Brussels, Boris Johnson risks being ‘toppled’ in a ruthless EU plot

It was like watching a hostage bite at their torturer’s dead grip, before making magnificently to flee. A cornered No 10 got the better of a complacent Brussels this week, leaking details of a phone call in which Angela Merkel exposed the bad faith with which Brussels has negotiated for years. This bolshy move has given Mr Johnson a much-needed upper hand in the “blame game” as talks collapse. It has also sent Brussels into paper-shuffling paroxysms of pathological fury. The EU will now deploy every instrument of imperial torture in its toolbox to destabilise Boris Johnson, maybe even topple him. – Sherelle Jacobs for the Telegraph (£)

Liam Halligan: In a choice between Revoke and No Deal, a clean Brexit will triumph

A no-deal Brexit will cause “the collapse” of the United Kingdom, Jean-Claude Juncker claimed this week. Heaping blame on Britain for the lack of a Withdrawal Agreement, the European Commission President dubbed our June 2016 referendum result “the original sin”. The UK’s Brexit negotiations are in turmoil. Boris Johnson endured a telephone drubbing from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and there’s no breakthrough on the vexed Irish border question – ahead of next Thursday’s crunch Brussels summit. Hemmed in by the Benn Act, and with no agreement in the offing, the Prime Minister could be forced to ask the EU for an extension beyond October 31, despite his “do or die” promise. – Liam Halligan for the Telegraph (£)

John Lichfield: Macron’s Brexit plan

A question divides the inner circles of French government. Is Boris Johnson a man with whom you can do business? Some, including Emmanuel Macron, believed until this week that Johnson was an ambitious man driven by self-interest but, ultimately, a deal-maker: someone who would look for a way to reach a Brexit compromise with Brussels and the other 27 EU governments. The elegant, controlled, uptight French President is intrigued by his shambolic, verbose new neighbour. He describes Johnson privately as “a man more serious than he appears but trapped by his own undeliverable promises and falsehoods”. – John Lichfield for UnHerd

Douglas Carswell: The EU’s antagonism proves the backstop was a trap all along

It was all about the peace process, apparently. When Dublin and the European Union Brexit negotiators insisted on there being a separate Northern Ireland protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement, it was to serve as an insurance policy, they said. This “‘backstop”, they proposed, would ensure there was no return of a physical border between north and south – and thereby, they hinted darkly, no risk that we might see a return of the “men of violence”, who’d surely kick off without such guarantees. When you put it like that, who could disagree? Certainly not Theresa May. Despite the fact that it has never been UK government policy to impose any kind of physical border, she signed up to the idea that there needed to be this backstop. – Douglas Carswell for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Berlin on the brink – Liam Halligan for The Spectator
  • Is the EU about to offer a time-limited backstop? – Robert Peston for The Spectator
  • It’s time to set out our positive vision for Scotland outside the EU – Jamie Greene MSP for ConservativeHome
  • Ex-MI6 chief criticises threat to withdraw security cooperation with EU – Guardian
  • Ireland unveiled dire No Deal budget for next year which would see it in deficit as economic growth free-falls – The Sun