Defiant Theresa May wants a new vote on her Brexit deal before the European election: Brexit News for Thursday 9 May

Defiant Theresa May wants a new vote on her Brexit deal before the European election: Brexit News for Thursday 9 May
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Defiant Theresa May wants a new vote on her Brexit deal before the European election…

Theresa May is to confront MPs with votes on her Brexit deal before the European parliament elections as she fends off calls for her to quit before the summer recess. The prime minister ignored a deadline to set out a timetable for her departure before yesterday’s meeting of the 1922 Committee executive. Instead she agreed to meet the group of 16 senior Tory MPs who represent backbench interests next Wednesday. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the committee, told reporters he expected Mrs May to respond to their demands that she depart whether her Brexit deal was agreed or not. He added that the prime minister intended to bring legislation implementing the EU departure agreement before the Strasbourg polls on May 23. Mrs May has previously held off introducing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to the Commons as she sought assurances from Labour that they would not vote it down. – The Times (£)

  • Fresh Brexit vote could take place next week as PM tries to avoid EU election drubbing – The Sun
  • May promises new vote on Brexit deal in next two weeks – FT (£)

…as she vows to channel Liverpool’s miracle Barcelona win in Brexit talks with Brussels…

Theresa May today vowed to take inspiration from Liverpool’s miracle win in Brexit talks with the EU. The PM paid tribute to last night’s shock defeat of Barcelona in the House of Commons. And she joked that even when it looks like “your European opposition has got you beat” she could still pull off an unlikely victory. The quip came at Prime Minister’s Questions after Jeremy Corbyn called on Mrs May to consult Liverpool’s manager on how to win in Europe. The Labour boss said: “In view of the amazing performance of Liverpool last night, perhaps the Prime Minister can get some tips from Jurgen Klopp on how to get a good result in Europe.” Mrs May hit back: “I actually think that when we look at the Liverpool win over Barcelona last night, what it actually shows is that when everyone says it’s all over, that your European opposition has got you beat, the clock’s ticking down, it’s time to concede defeat – actually we can still secure success if everyone comes together.” Labour’s Justin Madders joked that the PM could also get “tips from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pep Guardiola about getting out of Europe in April”. – The Sun

…and reportedly wins the support of Brexiteer Liam Fox for her plan to offer Jeremy Corbyn a temporary customs union

Theresa May won the crucial support of leading Cabinet Brexiteer Liam Fox yesterday for her plan to offer Jeremy Corbyn a temporary customs union. The Trade Secretary said he would swallow Britain staying in a customs union until the 2022 General Election, which has been offered to Labour in the cross-party talks – even though it would restrict his ability to sign new trade deals. But he warned the PM not to go any further by offering Mr Corbyn a permanent customs union to win over Labour support. He said it would put Britain in an even worse position than our current EU membership because it would make Britain a “commodity” for the EU in its future trade talks. And last night a report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research claimed that staying in a customs union would leave each household £800 worse off and reduce the Treasury’s tax revenue by £26 billion. In a separate speech to the Politeia think tank last night Mr Fox took a swipe at his Remainer colleagues – claiming their “corrosive pessimism damages us at home and abroad”. – The Sun

Britain would be out of the EU by now if we had a real Brexiteer as PM, suggests Andrea Leadsom in thinly-veiled attack on May…

Britain would be out of the EU by now if the UK had a proper Brexiteer as PM, Andrea Leadsom insisted yesterday. The Cabinet minister launched an extraordinary attack on Theresa May – who beat her to No10 three years ago. And she fired the starting pistol on her own leadership campaign, admitting she’s planning to stand for Tory leader again. Mrs Leadsom insisted she backs Mrs May’s compromise deal and said she was “disgusted” by MPs who try to block Brexit. She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I’m an absolutely determined Brexiteer and I’m sticking in Government to try and make sure we do it. The genuine problem is we have a divided country, it was 52-48. On the one hand if we had a determined Brexiteer I suspect things might have been different, we might have been out by now on WTO terms etc – but on the other hand, you would have left the country very divided. The Commons Leader described the PM’s deal as “tolerable” but admitted: “It’s not what I wanted, I really struggled with it.” – The Sun

…while Brexiteer Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns calls on May to quit in Commons clash…

Theresa May has been dealt a fresh blow after a Conservative colleague confronted her in the Commons to demand that she quit as Prime Minister. In a sensational intervention, arch-Brexiteer Andrea Jenkyns said the PM had “failed” following last week’s devastating local election results and amid the current Brexit impasse. The Tories suffered their worst defeat since 1995 after more than 1,300 councillors were ousted from their seats. Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions today, Ms Jenkyns said: “The Prime Minister has tried her best, nobody could fault or doubt her commitment or sense of duty, but she has failed. She has failed to deliver on her promises, we have lost 1,300 hard-working councillors and sadly the public no longer trust her to run the Brexit negotiations. Isn’t it time to step aside and let someone new lead our party, our country and the negotiations?” The PM shot back at her colleague – who has voted down the deal with the EU on three occasions – adding: “This is not an issue about me and this is not an issue about her.” – PoliticsHome

> WATCH: Andrea Jenkyns MP calls on the PM to resign at PMQs

…but the PM wins another stay of execution from her party

Theresa May has been given a stay of execution by her backbench MPs after agreeing to meet them next week to discuss her future as leader. The Prime Minister had been given a deadline of 4pm on Wednesday to set out a timetable for her departure, but she bought herself another week by offering to face the executive of the 1922 Committee. Sir Graham Brady, the committee chairman, agreed to the compromise when he spoke to Mrs May, but some Tory MPs were unhappy with his decision, saying he should “get on with it” and force her hand. It came as Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the Commons, said she was “seriously considering” a second attempt to become leader, after she made it to the final two in the 2016 election before dropping out and handing victory to Mrs May. Backbench frustration with Mrs May’s refusal to resign has been simmering for months, and Andrea Jenkyns, a Brexiteer, became the latest Tory MP to call on her to quit in the Commons. – Telegraph (£)

UK and Ireland sign deal to guarantee rights of citizens after Brexit

The government has signed a Brexit side-deal with Ireland to guarantee Irish and British citizens retain special rights in each others countries in the event of no deal. The Cabinet Office minister, David Lidington, and Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, said the deal reflected two years of work to ensure the existing common travel area (CTA) and associated bilateral agreements were secured whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations.“Our message to Irish citizens in the UK is that your rights will not change. You will still be able to move freely between Ireland, the UK and the islands,” said Lidington. “You will still be able to work, study, draw your pension and access social security and public services in the UK. Above all, you will be welcome. And we welcome the similar commitment the government of Ireland makes to British citizens in Ireland.” – Guardian

Corbyn set to promote Brexit plan at Labour European election campaign launch

Jeremy Corbyn will today launch Labour’s European election campaign in Kent, where he is set to promote his alternative plan for Brexit and blame the current “deadlock” on the government. “No one expected us to be holding these European elections, but the government’s complete failure on Brexit means they are going ahead,” the Labour leader will say. “While the government’s incompetence and division on Brexit has created this deadlock, the injustices in our society are deepening.“ Labour’s European manifesto, Transforming Britain and Europe: for the many not the few, lays out plans to tackle tax avoidance, environmental harm and the far right across the continent. – LabourList

Sir Vince Cable unveils “Bollocks to Brexit” as Lib Dem European election slogan

Vince Cable has staked the Liberal Democrats’ claim to be the leading remain party in the European elections, as he unveiled a forthright new slogan for the campaign: “Bollocks to Brexit.” The phrase, previously plastered on stickers and T-shirts by ardent remain supporters, is now emblazoned across the Lib Dem manifesto for the 23 May poll – though more squeamish candidates will have the option of one that just says “Stop Brexit”. Buoyed by strong results in last week’s local council elections, and unencumbered by the nuance of Labour’s position, Cable insisted the Lib Dems were the best-equipped party to challenge the message of Nigel Farage at the poll later this month. “We are clearly the best organised, we have been leading the People’s Vote argument for three years and we’ve been the pro-Europe party for 50 years. We are credible and people recognise our unwavering clarity and commitment.” – Guardian

Tories mount lacklustre campaign for European Parliament election

The Conservatives are mounting a lacklustre campaign ahead of the European Parliament election on May 23, as Britain’s governing political party edges towards the poll with a sense of dread. Senior party figures admit they could take a hammering as voters turn to Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party to protest against Theresa May and her failure to deliver the UK’s withdrawal from the EU… The Tories are so underwhelmed by its chances in the European elections it is not expected to hold an official campaign launch, or even publish a manifesto. The first of a series of leaflets sent to voters this week includes a photograph of Mrs May and the slogan: “The only party which can get Brexit done is the Conservative party.” The message will be hard for some Leave voting Tories to swallow, given the party is in talks with the Labour opposition to find a compromise after failing three times to pass Mrs May’s Brexit deal in the House of Commons. – FT (£)

Michel Barnier accuses Nigel Farage of lying during Brexit referendum campaign

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, has accused Nigel Farage of telling lies during the referendum campaign. Mr Farage denied he lied and challenged Mr Barnier to, “Tell me one thing I said that was untrue”. Mr Barnier was speaking in Zagreb, Croatia at a “citizens dialogue” ahead of European elections later this month, where Mr Farage’s Brexit Party are expected to triumph. He warned that the MEP and former Ukip leader hopes to destroy the EU. Mr Barnier said on Wednesday that the British people were not told of the risks Brexit would pose to peace in Ireland before they voted to leave in 2016. In contrast, he said, the EU had put the Irish question on the table since the beginning of the Brexit negotiations. Mr Barnier said, “Certain people like Mr Farage did not tell the truth in the referendum campaign. It is almost a banality but when one make an electoral campaign one must tell people the truth and that was not the case for certain people during the referendum campaign in Britain.” – Telegraph (£)

Brexit Party candidate for Peterborough by-election unveiled as lifelong Tory voter and star of Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire

A lifelong Conservative supporter who was an early investor in music app Shazam and appeared on Channel 4’s the Secret Millionaire is the Brexit Party’s candidate for next month’s Peterborough by-election. Mike Greene, a former trustee of Peterborough cathedral and local benefactor, will fight the June 6 by-election in a bid to give Nigel Farage’s party his first foothold in Westminster. Such is the pace of activity in the new Brexit party that Mr Greene only met Mr Farage for the first time on Tuesday night at a rally in Peterborough. All candidates for the June 6 by-election have to be declared by 4pm on Thursday. When he met with The Telegraph in the town on Wednesday, his wife Julia knew of his decision but he had not even told his two daughters – Amelia, 16 and Rosie, 20 – of his decision. But he is no doubt of the need of the Brexit party to have its first MP and start to break the stranglehold of Labour and the Conservatives on British politics. – Telegraph (£)

  • Brexit Party unveil Secret Millionaire Mike Greene as candidate – Express

Former minister who quit over Brexit says he would ‘love’ his job back

Alistair Burt, a former minister who quit the government over Brexit, has taken the unusual step of asking for his Foreign Office job back after the government has delayed filling the post. In March Mr Burt resigned as a junior foreign minister to vote for greater parliamentary control over Brexit. His role in the FCO, which covered the Middle East and Africa, has remained vacant since. In the period since Mr Burt left office, the Algerian president resigned, and the United States announced it is sending an aircraft carrier strike group and a fleet of bombers to the Middle East in response to a “troubling and escalatory indications” of Iranian activity in the region. Mr Burt, who had been praised for his work in the Middle East, told the Times: “I fully accept the responsibility for my resignation lies with me and no-one else – I took a stand (over Brexit). But the situation in the Middle East is such that the government must appoint someone to my old FCO role. I would dearly love to do it myself – although I recognise the delicacy of this and I accept the situation I’m in”. – Telegraph (£)

Tory Brexiteer slams Verhofstadt for ‘double standard’ on Turkey vote

A British conservative member of the European Parliament criticized Guy Verhofstadt Tuesday, saying his condemnation of Istanbul’s election being canceled reveals a “double standard” on Brexit in Brussels. Verhofstadt, the liberal ALDE group’s leader in the European Parliament, said the decision to annul Istanbul’s municipal vote, after an opposition candidate was elected mayor, has pushed the country closer to dictatorship. “This outrageous decision highlights how [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s Turkey is drifting towards a dictatorship,” wrote Verhofstadt, who is one of ALDE’s top candidates in the European election. “Under such leadership, accession talks are impossible. Full support to the Turkish people protesting for their democratic rights and for a free and open Turkey!” In response, Dan Hannan, a British conservative MEP, tweeted: “Holding a second vote in Turkey is ‘dictatorship’. But holding a second vote in the UK is democracy?” – Politico

  • Anger as EU’s Verhofstadt demands Turkey respect the vote – Express

John Longworth: The Tories have brought the Brexit Party tsunami on themselves

The only one of her red lines that the Prime Minister has not crossed is to not ask for help from Nigel Farage in building bridges with the Trump administration, however obviously beneficial it might be for the nation. The only promise the parliamentary Conservative Party appears to have kept (so far) is to maintain Theresa May as leader as was confirmed in last year’s leadership challenge. When you consider these two affirmations together,  it becomes increasingly clear why so many Conservative Party members are saying that they are prepared to back the Brexit Party in the upcoming EU elections and why so many Conservative donors are considering backing the Brexit Party. At the current rate of growth, it could well have more signed up supporters than there are Conservative Party members by EU Election Day. Not only that, it is clear that the new, improved Nigel (“no more Mr Nice Guy”) is directly challenging the vested political interests, calling for Brexit MEP candidates from a winning Brexit Party, to be involved in future negotiations with the EU and suggesting that a future UK Parliament Brexit Party contingent would insist any Brino agreement be torn up, treaty or no treaty. – John Longworth for the Telegraph (£)

Asa Bennett: Westminster is playing into Nigel Farage’s hands with its shabby approach to Brexit

Are Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn secretly recruiting sergeants for the Brexit Party? They would both deny it vigorously, but it is hard not to wonder given how torturous they have made the Brexit process, and how well Nigel Farage’s team is doing in the polls. The Prime Minister insists she has been trying to “get on” with Brexit, but has been thwarted by MPs – such as the Labour leader and his colleagues on the Opposition benches – who repeatedly voted against her deal. In turn, Mr Corbyn has decided – after Labour’s local elections flop – that “a deal has to be done”. So Tory and Labour frontbenchers are busy talking about what they could agree on. But their process of doing so seems modelled on the stereotypical establishment behaviour Mr Farage likes to mock. They have been meeting behind closed doors, in rooms that would be smoke-filled — if it wasn’t for the smoking ban. Both sides have been wrangling in these meetings over the red lines they could rub out. But the Tories and Labour fear the backlash they’ll get from their betrayed supporters if they give too much away, and so they have been stuck. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Barry Lewis: In Derbyshire our message of backing Brexit helped the Conservatives in the local elections

We glimpsed a rare moment of what could have been a ubiquitous story on 3rd May in North East Derbyshire district – a straight council gain from Labour. Across the County (and the city of Derby) we have not fared as badly as some comparable county areas losing just 6.5 per cent of the Conservative seats, 11 seats vs. 51 Labour ones (25 per cent). We now find ourselves in the rare position of having more Conservative councillors in Derbyshire than Labour ones. In Clay Cross Sharley Park Leisure Centre, in Labour’s mining heartlands, a place that played a pivotal role in the formation of the party a seismic shock was unfolding the Returning Officer declared a procession of new Conservative seats, leading, for the first time in the history of the district to a Conservative controlled council – the only one in the country to go directly from Labour to Conservative during the worst local election results for our party since 1995. It seemed perverse to be celebrating such a victory when all across the country we haemorrhaged seats, lost councils and good hardworking people. The only comfort we could take from the day was that it wasn’t good for Labour either. – Councillor Barry Lewis for ConservativeHome

James Wells: Why I resigned from a well-paid job to stand as a Brexit Party MEP candidate for Wales

Two weeks ago I resigned from the ONS so that I could stand as a MEP candidate for the Brexit Party in Wales, because the people of Wales and the UK deserve better. Like England, Wales voted to leave the European Union and it is not good enough for politicians to simply ignore this after voting overwhelmingly to put the decision to the people. This is the first time I have been politically active. I joined the conservative party last year so that I could vote in a leadership contest if one was called, but that is it, and I have watched in despair as Tory MPs have bottled it every time they had an opportunity to remove Theresa May. – James Wells for Centre for Welsh Studies

Owen Paterson: Politics is descending into farce as the intransigent Theresa May still refuses to go

It is now a month since the House of Commons has divided on a motion. To the justified derision of those outside, it has frequently risen in mid-afternoon for lack of anything to do.  On Tuesday, the Government trumpeted as an iconic Parliamentary moment the Second Reading of the Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill. The ban will affect only two circuses and a grand total of 19 animals. This paralysis is the result of the barely believable intransigence of a Prime Minister consumed by the increasingly deluded aim of passing an Agreement which MPs have thrice told her in emphatic terms is a bad deal. Her response each time has been unmoved: “Pass my deal.” Her response to every Brexit question before the Liaison Committee last week amounted to: “pass my deal.” Her response to the local elections which saw 1,330 Conservative Councillors unseated and 44 Conservative Councils lost has been: “pass my deal.” – Owen Paterson MP for the Telegraph (£)

Joanna Williams: Why these Euro elections matter

It’s the election that was never supposed to happen. It’s the election that many didn’t expect to happen. But yesterday it was announced that the UK will indeed be participating in elections to the EU parliament at the end of this month. That’s right. Three years on from the referendum, when 17.4million citizens voted for Britain to leave the EU, the nation will head to the polls once more and elect representatives to an institution to which we should, by rights, no longer belong. This sticks in the craw not just for Leave voters but for all democrats. Leave voters are right to be angry that the UK is taking part in these elections. Yet what’s notable is not the anger of Leavers but the absence of jubilation from Remainers in the UK parliament, in the press and on social media. No doubt some are delighted at this very public signal that, for the time being at least, the UK continues to be very much wedded to the EU project. But their celebrations are remarkably muted. – Joanne Williams for Spiked

Brexit in Brief

  • The only way out of this mess is a referendum – with Remain and No Deal on the ballot paper too – Justine Greening for ConservativeHome
  • The European elections could tell us everything we need to know about Brexit – Independent letters
  • EU’s show of post-Brexit unity at Romania summit exposes old divisions – Telegraph (£)
  • 30ft swastika painted on business belonging to Jewish Brexit Party candidate, as police announce investigation – Telegraph (£)