Sir John Major says he would fight Boris Johnson in court if he tried to prorogue Parliament to force a no-deal Brexit: Brexit News for Thursday 11 July

Sir John Major says he would fight Boris Johnson in court if he tried to prorogue Parliament to force a no-deal Brexit: Brexit News for Thursday 11 July
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Sir John Major says he would fight Boris Johnson in court if he tried to prorogue Parliament to force a no-deal Brexit…

Sir John Major has vowed to block Boris Johnson through the courts if he attempts to suspend parliament in order to force a no-deal Brexit. The former prime minister told the Today programme that prorogation should be “totally unacceptable” and that he would seek an immediate judicial review if Mr Johnson pursued that course. Mr Johnson, the frontrunner to be the next prime minister, has pledged that Britain will leave the European Union on October 31 with or without an agreement with Brussels. Unlike his rival, Jeremy Hunt, he has refused to rule out suspending parliament to stop MPs blocking a no-deal Brexit. “National leaders must put the interests of the country first . . . not themselves,” Sir John said. “I think the idea of proroguing parliament is utterly and totally unacceptable from any British parliamentarian or democrat.” – The Times (£)

> LISTEN: Sir John Major on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday

…but Johnson brands the ex-PM’s plan as ‘bonkers’

Sir John Major was branded “bonkers” as he sparked an extraordinary Tory bust-up by threatening to sue Boris Johnson if he tries to suspend Parliament. In an incredible intervention, the former PM said he would mount a judicial review to stop the future PM proroguing the Commons to force through a No Deal later this October. He said shutting Westminster down would be “utterly and totally unacceptable.” Boris dismissed the threat as “very odd” as senior Tories hit back by branding Sir John “bonkers” and slamming the BBC Today programme for airing his “clear Remain bias.” – The Sun

  • Major prorogued Parliament in 1997 to suppress Cash for Questions sleaze report – Guido Fawkes

Dublin admits it will have to impose checks in a no-deal scenario – but away from the border…

Dublin has been forced to admit it will have to impose checks on goods and animals arriving from Northern Ireland if there’s a No Deal Brexit. The Irish government said if Britain quits the EU without an agreement then north-south trade can “no longer be as frictionless as it is today”. In a new No Deal plan it warned the backstop is the “only viable solution that avoids a hard border, including physical infrastructure and related checks and controls” while protecting Ireland’s place in the Single Market. Deputy PM Simon Coveney admitted inspections will have to take place but vowed they won’t be carried out “on the border or close to it”. But he said he was “increasingly concerned” over how to “reconcile” Ireland’s EU membership and the need to avoid a hard border. – The Sun

  • Ireland flags need for no-deal Brexit checks, but not at border – Reuters

> Ben Habib MEP on BrexitCentral today: The Irish Government has revealed the bad faith with which the EU has treated the border issue

…but the European Commission President-in-waiting continues to defend the Irish backstop…

The candidate to take over the top post in the European Union has vowed to defend the “precious” Irish backstop and in effect ruled out reopening Theresa May’s Brexit agreement. Ursula von der Leyen, the German defence minister who hopes to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, sent a warning to the next British prime minister as she made her pitch to MEPs yesterday. Dr Von der Leyen, 60, said she hoped that Brexit would “never happen” but charged the UK with a “noble task” to fulfil its side of the exit agreement. “The backstop is of utmost importance and we absolutely know how crucial this non-existent border is for you,” she said in response to a question from an Irish MEP. “Having the backstop in the Brexit deal is precious, important and has to be defended.” – The Times (£)

  • Ursula von der Leyen signals she will not reopen Brexit talks – Guardian

…and warns Britain over ‘tone and attitude’ of Brexit…

Ursula von der Leyen, the woman nominated as the new president of the European Commission, has warned the next prime minister of Britain over the “tone and attitude” of Brexit. Mrs von der Leyen said that a courteous Brexit was vital because it would set the template for the future UK-EU relationship in what will be widely interpreted as a swipe at Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, the favourite to succeed Theresa May. In her first public words on Brexit since her nomination by EU leaders after a July 2 summit, she said, “We all know that we want you to Remain but I know how facts are. I hope for a good development. But in case we’re going to have a Brexit, I’m convinced it is crucial how the tone and attitude is with which Brexit happens because Brexit is not the end of something, Brexit is the beginning of future relations.” Brussels has still not forgiven Mr Johnson for comparing the EU to Nazi Germany or likening the Brexit negotiations to Third Reich “punishment beatings”.  Jeremy Hunt, the other Tory leadership contender, was forced to apologise after likening the EU to a Soviet gulag. – Telegraph (£)

Philip Hammond indicates he will be a ‘nightmare’ opponent of a no-deal Brexit from the Tory backbenches

Mr Hammond also said that he does not expect to serve in the Cabinet if Mr Johnson becomes prime minister, and signalled that he would become a “nightmare” to the front runner in the Tory leadership race over a no-deal Brexit. Mr Hammond insisted he would use the Commons backbenches to “vigorously” battle any attempt at withdrawing from the EU without a deal. Asked if he would jump before he was pushed if Mr Johnson takes the Tory crown in two weeks’ time, Mr Hammond told Peston: “My expectation is that I will not be serving in the next administration. But, I want to say this because I read some stuff in the papers earlier this week about how I would be a nightmare on the backbenches. I will continue to argue vigorously against a no-deal Brexit. And I will certainly do everything I can to prevent a no-deal Brexit without parliamentary approval.” – ITV News

Support for Nigel Farage among Tory members will collapse if Johnson delivers Brexit by October 31st

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party vote would collapse and switch back to the Tories if Boris Johnson succeeded in taking the UK out of the EU by October 31, a poll of Tory party members shows. The vast majority of Conservative switchers to the Brexit Party would come back to the Tories in a subsequent general election, leaving Mr Farage with a tiny rump, according to the survey by pollsters Orb International for the Telegraph. The findings demonstrate how far the Tories’ fortunes at the next general election depend on the next Prime Minister delivering on Brexit by the October 31 deadline. It appears to support the hardline “do or die” approach of Tory leadership frontrunner and former foreign secretary Mr Johson who has said he is willing to take the UK out of the EU without a deal. – Telegraph (£)

Johnson pledges £160 million ‘back payment’ to Scottish farmers

Boris Johnson has pledged that Scottish farmers will get £160 million in “back payments” they claim should have been handed to them instead of distributed across the UK. If he becomes Prime Minister, the Tory leadership frontrunner said they will receive an amount equivalent to the total amount of the “convergence” funding that was allocated to the UK in 2013. Mr Johnson also pledged the Scottish Government will be consulted on ways to deliver this funding to Scottish farmers as quickly as possible. The European Commission announced the extra money six years ago as a “gesture of goodwill” because of the low area payments made to Scottish farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). – Telegraph (£)

JD Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin says the thriving pub chain is all set to break free of the EU…

The economic risks of a no-deal Brexit have been overplayed, the boss of JD Wetherspoon said yesterday as the pubs operator revealed that sales have risen so far this summer. In a trading update, the company said that like-for-like sales had increased by 6.9 per cent, while total sales were up by 6.6 per cent for the ten weeks to July 7, with the difference being a result of closures. Wetherspoons said that like-for like sales were up by 6.7 per cent in the year to date, a revenue performance that continues to outperform most of its rivals. The business has opened five pubs and closed nine under-performing ones so far this year. The disposals contributed to £3 million of losses. – The Times (£)

…as he reveals why he thinks Boris Johnson is the only man for No. 10

Leading Eurosceptic businessman Tim Martin last night backed Boris Johnson to be a “good prime minister” who can lead the country out of the EU at last. The chairman of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, a leading figure in the Leave campaign in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum, made his endorsement when the former foreign secretary visited one of his London watering holes. Mr Martin said: “Boris Johnson would be a good Prime Minister. He’s been elected Mayor of London twice, which is a multicultural city, and I think it’s very important for the country to have a Brexiteer prime minister to take advantage of all the opportunities of Brexit and who believes in Brexit. He’s a hard worker, he’s charismatic, he’s got strong liberal views. I think he’d make a good Prime Minister.” The businessman said having Mr Johnson in Number 10 “could be a useful string to the Brexit bow”. – Express

Pro-EU parties block Eurosceptics from top European Parliament posts

Mainstream, pro-EU political parties in the European Parliament moved aggressively to block Euroskeptic and extremist groups from claiming several prominent committee leadership posts on Wednesday. That blocking effort enraged anti-establishment forces and potentially put at risk an overall deal on the EU’s future leadership. One group leader, Ryszard Legutko of the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), pointedly warned that his MEPs were less likely to support the deal on top jobs agreed by European leaders last week after one of their members — former Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło — was blocked from becoming chairwoman of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee. Anti-establishment forces, including far-right and extremist groups, gained strength in the recent European election. The new Identity and Democracy (ID) group, a partnership between Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, is now the fifth-largest group with 73 MEPs — just two fewer than the Greens. – Politico

Change UK exiles rebrand yet again as The Independents

The former Tory MP Heidi Allen, who quit the fledgling party Change UK after four months, has announced that independent MPs will form another new parliamentary group, to be known as The Independents. Allen said the new group would be a cooperative and she would be coordinating a “remain alliance” of parties against Brexit. Allen left the Conservatives to join the Independent Group, led the successor political party Change UK, which formed for the EU elections, and then quit after a disastrous set of results. The MPs have been through a series of shakeups, both as a collective and in separate groups. At one point they registered with the Electoral Commission as the Independent Group for Change. Allen had been tipped to follow another former Change UK MP, Chuka Umunna, in joining the Liberal Democrats, but on Wednesday she said she and others who had quit the party would remain independent and focus their efforts on forming an anti-Brexit alliance of different parties. – Guardian

Austin Mitchell: My party now loves the EU more than its working class voters 

Hopefully I won’t be expelled for saying this, but after 60 years of being a member of the Labour Party I’m beginning to wonder whether I should ask for my money back… Today, it has become a mob of cosmopolitan meritocrats who love the European Union more than those at the bottom of society’s top-heavy heap. Jean-Claude Juncker’s federalism now means more to Labour than socialism. Nothing demonstrates this better than its clamour for a second referendum. As made clear in Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement that he will support a referendum on a Conservative deal and back Remain, Labour seems intent on prioritising the champagne-drinking population of chi-chi Islington above those it should be helping. – Austin Mitchell for the Daily Mail

Oliver Mundell: Johnson will deliver Brexit and secure the Union

We are in a national political crisis. It’s clear that the Conservative and Unionist Party has a responsibility to deliver Brexit on 31st October and unite our country. That is the only way to stop Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, getting into Downing Street and ease the strain on our communities here in Scotland which have been so deeply divided between Yes/No and Leave/Remain. Boris Johnson is now the only candidate who will deliver Brexit on time on 31st October. In doing so, he will enact the instruction given to us by the voters in 2016 and will restore public trust in our democracy. As one of over a million Scots to vote for Brexit, I know just how important this is to people and I understand why many people wanted to make their voice heard at the recent EU Elections. – Oliver Mundell MSP for ConservativeHome

Nile Gardiner: Donald Trump knows Boris is the man to get Brexit done and resuscitate the UK-US alliance

It is perhaps unsurprising that the British ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, felt the need to resign after Donald Trump’s condemnation of comments he made in leaked diplomatic cables. But the ambassador’s critical views of the White House point to a wider problem. Despite the success of the president’s state visit to Britain, Trump and Theresa May have long been worlds apart in terms of vision, outlook and approach. There is no chemistry between them, and May has shown little interest in building a partnership with Trump, frequently siding with the EU over the US on foreign policy matters. The special relationship has been left weakened. This week’s diplomatic spat will not, however, alter the reality that the alliance will be in a far better place once May steps down. Here in Washington, the expectation is that Boris Johnson will be in Downing Street on July 24, and will immediately be America’s most important ally. For the US, a Johnson premiership represents a powerful opportunity to reignite the special relationship. – Nile Gardiner for the Telegraph (£)

Ruth Davidson: It’s outrageous that Len McCluskey and his Union mates are dictating Labour’s Brexit policy

The Labour Party finally has a position on Brexit. It wasn’t decided by the party leader, or the shadow Brexit secretary. The shadow cabinet didn’t drive a collective decision on the biggest issue facing the country, nor did the parliamentary Labour party take a vote, nor even delegates at the Labour Party conference. No, this week – a full three years after the Brexit vote occurred – Her Majesty’s Opposition was strong-armed into its approach by the secretaries-general of the five largest affiliated trade unions. It’s a position suitably obtuse that you can tell it’s been written by committee. Labour will demand another referendum in which the party shall support Remain if either there is no deal or the deal on the table is negotiated by the Conservative party. In the event Labour magically wins a general election before Hallowe’en, forms the government and negotiates their own Brexit deal, there’ll still be a referendum and the party will then decide whether to campaign for or against the deal they’ve just negotiated. Or, in layman’s terms, Labour will support Remain for as long as people don’t vote for them; but if people do vote for them, they’ll support Brexit. Possibly. – Ruth Davidson MSP for the Telegraph (£)

Nikki Da Costa: Do Remainer MPs really have the power to block No Deal?

Yesterday, MPs – led by Dominic Grieve – launched another attempt to prevent no-deal on 31 October. Targeting the Northern Ireland Executive (Formation) Bill as the nearest available piece of legislation, Dominic Grieve tabled amendments, which were meant to combine to create both rolling opportunities for MPs to intervene in the face of a no-deal scenario and explicitly prevent a new Prime Minister from using prorogation (suspension) of parliament to avoid that threat. The prorogation element was not selected by the Deputy Speaker, and of what remained, MPs only approved – by one vote – a single element; a requirement that the Government must publish regular reports on progress towards the formation of an Executive in Northern Ireland. The first report must be on or before 4 September, a further report is then needed on or before 9 October, and then further reports every fourteen calendar days until 18 December or the formation of an Executive. – Nikki Da Costa for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • John Major’s outburst will only quicken the screeching downfall of our elite – Douglas Carswell for the Telegraph (£)
  • Liberal Democrat councillor stuns colleagues by quitting to join The Brexit Party – just six months after defecting to them from Labour – Manchester Evening News