Michael Gove opens the door to delaying the 'arbitrary' Brexit deadline as Trump flies off without meeting him: Brexit News for Thursday 6 June

Michael Gove opens the door to delaying the 'arbitrary' Brexit deadline as Trump flies off without meeting him: Brexit News for Thursday 6 June
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Michael Gove opens the door to delaying the ‘arbitrary’ Brexit deadline as Trump flies off without meeting him

Michael Gove has said he would be prepared to delay Brexit beyond the “arbitrary” October 31 deadline as he made his leadership pitch to moderate Tory MPs. The Environment Secretary said the current deadline should not be a “totem” as he set out details of his Brexit position for the first time. He said ‘no deal’ should remain “on the table” but it was “not the best option” and if a deal was close by the end of October “are we seriously saying we wouldn’t take a bit more time to get the deal done?” Mr Gove told the MPs he would delay Brexit for “weeks” but a close ally later said Mr Gove would extend Article 50 “for a few months” if necessary. Mr Gove’s stance is in sharp contrast to Boris Johnson’s message that the Tories face “extinction” if Britain does not leave the EU by Halloween. Other leadership candidates have also taken a far more hardline approach, with Dominic Raab becoming the first leadership contender to say he would be prepared to suspend Parliament in order to force through a no deal Brexit. – Telegraph (£)

  • Would-be PM Michael Gove sparks Tory civil war by saying he’d delay Brexit to secure EU divorce deal – The Sun
  • Michael Gove calls October Brexit deadline ‘arbitrary’ – FT (£)

Michael Gove in swipe at Tory rival Boris Johnson over ‘vassal state’ comment

The Environment Secretary – who is running against Mr Johnson to be Tory leader – said it “demeans language” to use such terms as he hit out at Brexiteers who accuse others of being “traitors”. Mr Johnson became one of the most outspoken critics of the Prime Minister’s deal – which would have maintained close economic with the EU after Brexit – after he quit as Foreign Secretary last year. He said the Withdrawal Agreement, which Mr Gove repeatedly voted for – would have left the UK a “vassal state” of the EU, meaning it would have been left a servant of the bloc. At an event organised by The Spectator, an audience member repeated the phrase as they questioned the top Cabinet minister. But Mr Gove said the term was only “appropriate for countries occupied by foreign powers. It demeans language to use words like vassal state,” – Politics Home

Remainer MPs in push to cancel Brexit within weeks as they fear Boris Johnson will become Prime Minister and back No Deal

Remainer MPs are plotting a Commons push to “revoke” Brexit by the end of July – amid fears Boris Johnson is now odds-on for PM. Change UK said the nuclear option was being considered along with a fresh push for a second referendum as a way of stopping a No Deal exit in October. New leader Anna Soubry is understood to be in talks with Plaid Cymru and the SNP about “forcing the pace” on stopping a cliff-edge Brexit before the summer recess. One insider said they believe Labour and Tory MPs would cross the floor to back Revoke if it meant preventing a No Deal. They added the ringing endorsement for Boris Johnson from Oliver Dowden this morning showed the former Foreign Secretary was now all-but guaranteed to make the final two. – The Sun

The next Prime Minister must make an ‘unshakeable’ pledge to exit the EU on October 31st, states ERG paper

The next Prime Minister must make “unshakeable” commitment to leaving the EU on October 31, a report by  the European Research Group (ERG) has said. The paper is backed by senior Brexiteers including Steve Baker, Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg. Mr Baker said: “The Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration have failed absolutely. They are not coming back. The next leader of the Conservative Party needs to know that and act on that basis. Our new Prime Minister will have three months to get this right, or that’s it – for this government, this Parliament and this party.” It comes as Penny Mordaunt said she is “optimistic” that Brussels could agree to changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. The Defence Secretary refused to rule herself out of the Tory leadership race. On Tuesday the 1922 committee tightened the rules to eliminate candidates faster, prompting two – James Cleverly and Kit Malthouse – to drop out. Mr Walker said: “This is quite a fluid situation, one or two may drop out, one or two may enter the race.” – Telegraph (£)

  • Steve Baker vows to stand for Tory leader if no other candidate backs hard Brexit plan – Politics Home

> Christopher Howarth on BrexitCentral today: Steve Baker’s Clean Managed Brexit proposal provides an achievable route to leaving the EU in October

Fresh Tory leadership row as Dominic Raab suggests he could shut down Parliament to secure Brexit

The former Brexit Secretary told a behind-closed-doors hustings organised by the One Nation group of moderate Tory MP that he would be prepared to temporarily “prorogue” the Commons to guarantee the UK leaves the European Union by 31 October. A source close to Mr Raab told PoliticsHome: “His point is that if Parliament won’t rule out what options they will use then why would the executive rule out options?” But the suggestion sparked an angry backlash from fellow leadership contender Rory Stewart. The International Development Secretary told ITV’s Peston programme: “All this talk about no-deal Brexit is a recipe for delay. It can’t be done. “And the reason why Dom Raab is saying he is going to prorogue Parliament, in other words try to shut the doors on Parliament, is because the only way that they could try to get it through is by doing that. That would be illegal, if they did it for the express purpose of getting it through. It would be unconstitutional. It would be undemocratic. And it wouldn’t work.” – Politics Home

Esther McVey vows she would sack Cabinet Remainers if elected Tory leader

Esther McVey has suggested she will sack any Remainers in the Cabinet in a purge over Brexit. The Tory leadership contender announced she would have no Remainers in her Cabinet “for the time being” if she becomes Prime Minister, to “make sure” Brexit happens on time. She would then “absolutely” review her restriction on Remainers after October 31. Ms McVey did not make clear whether she was referring to people who voted Remain in 2016 – which many ministers did – or people who are still Remainers now, a smaller number that’s subjective depending on what you class as a ‘remainer’. However, her comments suggest the most pro-EU Cabinet ministers such as Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart face an uncertain future if she wins the Tory leadership race. – Mirror

Rory Stewart says his leadership rivals’ claims they could negotiate a new deal are ‘misleading’

Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart says his competitors’ claims they could negotiate a new Brexit deal before 31 October are “misleading”. Some candidates say they can agree a plan by the deadline set by the EU, but Mr Stewart said there was “not a hope”. Boris Johnson has warned the Tories face “potential extinction” if the UK doesn’t leave by then. Rival Jeremy Hunt said a revised deal could be done by then under a leader with “the right negotiating skills”. The former foreign secretary told a leadership hustings on Tuesday the party would “not be forgiven” if it failed, and said he was the candidate best placed to beat Labour and “put Nigel Farage back in his box”. The comments came as the Eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) of Tory MPs called on leadership contenders to abandon Mrs May’s Brexit deal and step up preparations for a no-deal exit in October. – BBC News

Donald Trump says Brexit is no threat to the Irish border during visit to Ireland

Donald Trump has insisted Brexit poses no threat to the Irish border, saying before talks with Leo Varadkar that the frontier will be “just fine” after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Although the long dispute over border arrangements helped to topple Theresa May’s leadership of the UK, the US president told Ireland’s premier he was confident a solution could still be found. “I don’t think the border is going to be a problem,” he told reporters at Shannon airport in south-western Ireland. Mr Trump flew into the country on Wednesday evening for a private visit after attending D-Day commemorations in Portsmouth at the end of his state visit to Britain. He held private talks with Mr Varadkar at the airport before leaving to spend the night at a hotel and golf resort that he owns nearby at Doonbeg, Co Clare. – FT (£)

Peterborough by-election promises to be another plague on both houses as Brexit Party prepares for victory tonight

For the last century it has flitted between Labour and the Conservatives at almost every general election – but with both parties conspicuous by their absence on the campaign trail, Peterborough looks set to end Britain’s decades-old political duopoly at Thursday’s by-election. With the beleaguered Tories ‘in hiding’, Labour pushed into second place thanks to its constructive ambiguity over Brexit and the Liberal Democrats predicted to finish third in a constituency that voted 61 per cent leave, Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene is feeling optimistic, with odds of 1/6 to on the six-week-old party winning its first Westminster seat. Dubbed a ‘super marginal’, Peterborough became the first constituency in Britain to launch a successful recall petition to strip Labour’s Fiona Onasanya of the seat she won from the Tories in 2017 after she was imprisoned for perverting the course of justice over a speeding offence. Multimillionaire Greene, who switched from being a lifelong Conservative supporter and donor to becoming the Brexit Party’s first MP candidate on March 29, believes the city is about to make history for the second time in a year. – Telegraph (£)

European Parliament caves on Nigel Farage ultimatum over ‘undeclared gifts’

The European Parliament has been forced into a humiliating climbdown after it set Nigel Farage a 24 hour deadline to attend a hearing into alleged undeclared gifts from Brexiteer tycoon Arron Banks. Sources today revealed that as a result the committee had decided to extend the deadline to next week. The 24-hour ultimatum was dismissed as political motivated by aides to Mr Farage, while the Brexit Party leader branded the committee a “EU kangaroo court”. The parliament investigation focuses on almost half a million pounds worth of donations from Mr Banks, which allegedly include a chauffeur-driven car and rent and bills on a £4.4m Chelsea home. The gifts were exposed by a Channel 4 News investigation but are not declared on the European Parliament’s register of financial interests, which would be in breach of  EU rules. – Telegraph (£)

Heidi Allen: ‘Never say never’ to joining Liberal Democrats after leaving Change UK

Former Change UK leader Heidi Allen has spoken for the first time since leaving the party, saying she left over tactical voting in the European Elections. She said: “It’s more complicated than that but the party was still behaving in the ways of the party triumphing rather than that to protect the country”. When asked by ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston on whether she’d join the Lib Dems she said: “Never say never because they are shifting sands.” She told Peston on his Wednesday evening programme she understands why people might think she’d want to join the Liberal Democrat and added she has always wanted to put “the country first over party”. – ITV News

Michael Gove: The real horror of a Halloween No Deal Brexit? Handing the keys to Number 10 to Jeremy Corbyn

I’m ready to deliver Brexit. Once Brexit is secured, we can deliver a vision that will make this country even greater. We need to improve public services, support the businesses that ensure growing levels of prosperity for all, invest in the infrastructure that the whole of the UK needs so as to flourish, and nurture new technologies so that Britain leads the world in scientific innovation. Above all, Conservatives should be warriors for the dispossessed – the most disadvantaged in our society. Crucially, we can use the money we get back from the EU to invest in our most deserving communities. We can demonstrate that Britain, outside the EU, can be a liberal, progressive and democratic beacon. It’s because I’m an optimist about Brexit and this country’s potential that I’m frustrated that three years on from the referendum, we haven’t delivered on the result. I’ve always been a Eurosceptic. As a teenager, I saw how the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy drove my dad’s small business to the wall and hollowed out coastal communities in my part of Scotland. – Michael Gove MP for the Daily Mail

Asa Bennett: Who’ll champion no-deal Brexiteer Tory MPs? Esther McVey is leading the pack

In a field dominated by Brexiteers who want to seek a better deal than what Theresa May agreed, Esther McVey is one of the only Tory leadership candidates who does not want to bother with renegotiation and “embrace” a no-deal exit. But the former Work and Pensions secretary risks falling at the first hurdle, as the tighter rules around the leadership contest mean that she will need at least 8 MPs to back her campaign in order for it to get off the ground next week. Given that she has not reached that number in public endorsements from MPs, the tighter rule looks “problematic” – as one of her parliamentary supporters acknowledged to me – but I was assured that she “should be okay”. Clearly, she hopes her unabashed support for a no-deal will pay off by bringing enough support from the ERG. And her gambit could well pay off, with Steve Baker citing her today as one of the three candidates that had impressed him (alongside Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab) as he boasted that the party was “spoiled for choice”. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Quentin Letts: Terror in the Houses of Parliament as the Brexit Party steals votes and exterminates them all

Vinegar, squirted liberally, is an effective treatment for flying ants. They really don’t like it. Something similar may be happening in our politics. We will know more overnight, when the Peterborough by-election result will be announced. Can Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party win this core Middle Britain seat? Difficult, but it would be a heck of a result and could do to those insects in Westminster what a dose of Sarson’s does to the winged pests that erupt from house walls on hot days. Even if Farage does not pull off a cup upset in Peterborough, Westminster is starting to get jumpy. About time, too! Theresa May quits the Tory leadership tomorrow and the race to succeed her has begun with almost as many runners as the Grand National. Quite a few of them will end up in the glue factory. – Quentin Letts for The Sun

Allister Heath: Remainer MPs can’t stop a new Tory PM determined to complete Brexit

Boris Johnson is right: the Tories face extinction if Britain doesn’t leave the EU by Hallowe’en. Trust has evaporated: the Conservative Party’s only hope of survival is some sort of real, meaningful and visible Brexit by the end of October. If our departure from the EU is delayed again, or if Eurosceptic voters believe that they are being fobbed off with a Brexit in Name Only, they won’t return to the party, and it will be toast. The rise of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has changed everything. We are therefore at a historic turning point, as the Peterborough by-election will doubtless confirm in the early hours of Friday morning. Thanks to Theresa May’s idiotic mismanagement, there are now four parties at around 20-something per cent in the national opinion polls. Small variations in support and turnout could lead to massively different electoral outcomes. – Allister Heath for the Telegraph (£)

Andrew Lilico: Sorry Boris, but even if you pursue No Deal now it will be too little, too late to save the Tories

Boris Johnson has warned Tory MPs that a failure to leave the EU on October 31, if necessary with no deal, would mean “extinction” for the Tory Party. He’s right about that, but unfortunately for him and his party it’s very implausible that they will choose to leave by then. According to YouGov, Boris is the only potential leader that would make a material difference to voting intention for the Conservative Party – 29 per cent say they would back the Conservatives with him as leader (and 13 per cent would stick with the Brexit Party) versus 20-22 per cent support for the Conservatives (and 20-21 per cent for the Brexit Party) with any of his main rivals, Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt or Michael Gove. Thus, around one third of Brexit Party voters appear willing to give Boris the benefit of the doubt, at least in the short-term. – Andrew Lilico for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Farewell to Change UK – we hardly knew your name – James Felton for the Guardian
  • John Redwood: All change in the leadership election. – John Redwood’s Diary
  • No Deal most popular Brexit choice with farmers, says report – Farmers Weekly