‘Biased Remainer’ John Bercow announces he will quit as Speaker on October 31st: Brexit News for Tuesday 10 September

‘Biased Remainer’ John Bercow announces he will quit as Speaker on October 31st: Brexit News for Tuesday 10 September
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‘Biased Remainer’ John Bercow announces he will quit as Speaker on October 31st…

Angry Tory Brexiteers have slammed ‘biased’ John Bercow as “nauseating” after the Speaker broke down in tears as he announced he was quitting. Remainer Bercow – known for his eccentric outbursts in the Commons – choked up when he told the chamber he will resign as a Tory MP if Boris Johnson gets a national poll. But while Bercow was treated to a long drawn out goodbye today –  with MPs falling over themselves to pay tribute – there were few tears shed at No10. Boris and his team have become infuriated by what they see as the Speaker’s constant efforts to block Brexit and had planned to oust him. One Government source told Buzzfeed: “Bercow thinks he’ll walk away as a hero, when most people in the country don’t know who he is and those that do think he’s a nauseating w****r. – The Sun

> WATCH: John Bercow to step down as Speaker of the House of Commons on October 31st

…as he is accused of ‘gaming the system’ to ensure his successor is chosen by an anti-Brexit Parliament…

John Bercow, the man who used the office of Speaker to frustrate Brexit, has been accused of “gaming the system” to ensure his successor is chosen by a Remain-backing Parliament. Mr Bercow will stand down on Oct 31 – the day Britain is due to leave the EU – meaning the next Speaker will be chosen by the current crop of MPs, of whom more than two thirds voted Remain. Brexiteers reacted with fury, saying Mr Bercow had once again demeaned the supposedly impartial role of Speaker in order to stamp his own personal politics on the nation’s future. Mr Bercow was also accused of arrogance after suggesting that if he had waited until the next election to stand down, newly-elected MPs would not be “informed” enough to make the right choice. – Telegraph (£)

…amidst speculation he will be the first Speaker in 230 years not to get a peerage when he quits

John Bercow is set to become the first Speaker in 230 years not to be offered a peerage when he quits next month. Yesterday he announced he will finally stand down on October 31 – more than a year later than he promised he would. But Boris Johnson is planning to exact revenge on Mr Bercow for his ‘bias’ over Brexit by denying him a seat in the Lords. Allies of the Prime Minister said he would rip up the convention that Commons Speakers are automatically elevated to the upper chamber when they resign, in the same way Mr Bercow repeatedly ignored parliamentary precedent when dealing with Brexit. A government source said: ‘No one in this Government will be rushing to give Bercow a peerage. He likes to think of himself as a reforming Speaker, yet he’s been dogged by scandals and given up any pretence he is impartial. With bullying claims, his Brexit bias and a willingness to ride roughshod over established procedures, this Speaker has undermined public faith in Parliament.’ – Daily Mail

Boris Johnson’s second bid to call a general election fails…

Boris Johnson’s last-ditch attempt to force a General Election in Parliament in the hours before it was suspended has failed. The Government had the support of 293 MPs, 141 shy of the 434 needed to pass a motion for a General Election under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. The vote followed a heated debate in the Commons that finished shortly before 12.30am. The Prime Minister said Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, had done his “level best to wreck this country’s chances of a successful negotiation” by backing what he called a “Surrender Bill” that would require the Government to seek an extension to Article 50. “I did not want an election, I hoped this step would be unnecessary,” the Prime Minister said. Mr Corbyn said the Labour Party and other Opposition MPs would not vote for a General Election until the Prime Minister asked for an extension to Article 50. “The Prime Minister is running away from scrutiny,” Mr Corbyn said. – Telegraph (£)

…as Labour plot to vote down next month’s Queen’s Speech then topple Johnson with a confidence vote

Labour is considering a bid to topple Boris Johnson on October 22 after ordering its MPs to vote down the Queen’s Speech the day beforehand, The Telegraph understands. With Parliament due to be prorogued for five weeks, allies of Jeremy Corbyn are now focussing their efforts on bringing down the Government when MPs return next month. Under plans being considered by Mr Corbyn’s inner circle, Labour could table a confidence vote 24 hours after the Commons holds a series of votes on the Government’s legislative programme. Labour had previously indicated that a confidence vote could be tabled later this week, but has now been denied the opportunity due to Parliament being shut down. – Telegraph (£)

Johnson tells Leo Varadkar that a no-deal Brexit ‘would be a failure’…

A no-deal Brexit would be a failure that both the British and Irish governments would be responsible for, Boris Johnson has said. The prime minister was in Dublin for his first meeting with Irish PM Leo Varadkar since he entered Number 10. The government has confirmed Parliament will be suspended later after a vote on holding an early general election. Opposition parties will not back the vote, meaning there will be no election in October as the PM had hoped. Mr Johnson said he believed a Brexit deal was still possible by the EU summit in October, but Taoiseach Varadkar said there was no such thing as a “clean break” between the UK and the EU. – BBC News

…as he seemingly softens his stance on the Irish border…

Boris Johnson on Monday signalled a retreat from his hardline Brexit position on the Irish border, as he admitted that a no-deal departure by Britain from the EU would be a “failure of statecraft” that would damage both the UK and Ireland. The British prime minister confirmed he would be willing to see agriculture and food treated as part of an “all-Ireland economy” based on EU rules after Brexit, in a move aimed at ensuring no health checks on produce passing over the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. – FT (£)


> WATCH: Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar’s press conference in Dublin

> On BrexitCentral: In Dublin, Boris Johnson declares the UK could get through No Deal, but it would be “a failure of statecraft”

…while the EU is reportedly ‘losing patience’ over UK failure to present an alternative to the Irish backstop…

The British government has still failed to present any alternative to the Irish backstop in Brexit talks, the EU has said – amid warnings that the bloc is running out of patience with the UK. A spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters in Brussels on Monday afternoon that the British government had not suggested how any replacement could actually work. “At a point enough is enough,” Dutch trade minister Sigrid Kaag told newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad. “At that stage the certainty of deterioration might be better than continuing without perspective. At a certain point there must be clarity. A good reason is needed for a new delay. What? It is difficult to say categorically. “You have to see the context and see if there is a realistic expectation that this will lead to a follow-up phase. But so far, the British have not presented an alternative to the Brexit agreement that is already in place.” – Independent

…but does he have a plan to amend the backstop and seek a Canada-style free trade deal?

Newsnight has spoken to two senior Tories – one from the Remain side and one from the Brexit side – who are convinced the prime minister is genuinely working on a deal. And the two Tories are familiar with his current thinking. The prime minister has persuaded these MPs that he wants a deal by voicing fears about the impact of a no-deal exit from the EU… And so the prime minister is interested in a so-called “Canada Plus” free trade agreement with the EU. Theresa May rejected this option because the EU would only ever offer this to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and not to the United Kingdom as a whole. This is because the EU has insisted that Northern Ireland would have to remain closely aligned to the EU to avoid a hard border. – Nick Watt for BBC News

MPs order Boris Johnson’s aides to hand over secret messages as Dominic Grieve claims he was told Prorogation ‘smacked of scandal’

Rebel MPs last night ordered Boris Johnson’s aides to hand over secret messages they claim prove Parliament was shut down to force through Brexit. The PM has furiously denied the claim and says Westminster was ‘prorogued’ so he can set out his domestic plan. But in a blistering attack on No10, sacked Tory Dominic Grieve said public officials had told him the shutdown “smacked of scandal”. His motion to order nine No10 aides – including Dominic Cummings – to hand over their private emails and texts scraped through by 311 votes to 302. It orders No10 to hand over the messages and secret No Deal plans, known as Operation Yellowhammer, by 11pm on Wednesday night. The motion even asks for any messages, whether formal or informal, on the applications WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger. – The Sun

  • Commons votes for release of prorogue documents – FT (£)
  • Tory MPs expelled by Boris Johnson demand all government communications over parliament suspension – Independent

Legal figures claim a ‘sabotage’ letter to the EU from Boris Johnson ‘would break the law’

Senior judges and lawyers have warned that Boris Johnson would be in contempt of court if he applied for an article 50 extension while simultaneously trying to get the EU to reject it. Reports in the Daily Telegraph suggested the prime minister had drawn up plans to “sabotage” parliament’s efforts to force through a Brexit extension to prevent the UK leaving the bloc without a deal. He was said to be considering sending an accompanying letter to the EU alongside the request to extend article 50, which would say the government did not want any delay to Brexit. Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, warned that such a plan would be breaking the law. He said: “The act is quite clear in what it requires the prime minister to do. If he sends a side letter to the EU that deliberately conflicts with that requirement, he is deliberately in breach of the law.” – Guardian

27 named to new EU Commission, with the UK’s spot unfilled due to Brexit

European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen finalized a list Monday of the people she wants working with her when she takes the helm of the European Union’s executive branch in November. Von der Leyen’s proposed appointments will give the European Commission 27 members, including her – 14 men and 13 women. The commission proposes EU laws and ensures they are put into practice throughout the 28-country bloc. Her team was based on recommendations from member nations. The proposed commissioners must be approved by the European Parliament — generally a formality — then appointed by the European Council. Under EU rules, the commission should have 28 members, including the president, one representing each EU member country. Von der Leyen is a former German defence minister. However, no British commissioner was on her list due to “the assumption that Brexit will happen on the 31st of October,” European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said. – Washington Post

Luxembourg PM: I’ll back a Brexit extension but we need a clear plan

If the U.K. provides a good reason for a Brexit extension, Luxembourg’s prime minister would accept it, but he has “no clue” what the British government wants. In an interview in his office, Xavier Bettel told Politico he doesn’t want to close the door on London, after the House of Commons voted to force Boris Johnson to seek a delay until the end of January if he can’t get a deal approved by October 19 — much to the British prime minister’s annoyance. But if there is to be an extension beyond the current deadline of October 31, there will need to be a good reason, Bettel said. “For the moment, I have just one deal on the table,” said Bettel of the Withdrawal Agreement that has been rejected by the House of Commons three times. “I don’t know why we should have a new delay, why we should have a new deal, this deal is the best possible deal. – Politico

Theresa May accused of ‘rewarding failure’ with honours for Brexit adviser Olly Robbins and Number 10 staff

Theresa May was last night accused of “rewarding failure” by handing out honours to her chief Brexit negotiator and Downing Street aides. Mrs May has also been accused of “abusing the system” by issuing a resignation honours list longer than Harold Wilson’s Lavender List. Olly Robbins, her Europe advisor and chief Brexit negotiator, has been rewarded with a knighthood. Mr Robbins has been blamed by many Tory MPs for Mrs May’s Brexit deal, which was rejected by Parliament three times. Last night it emerged  Mr Robbins will join Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, as a managing director. Sir Kim Darroch, the former US ambassador who was forced to step down this summer following leaked diplomatic cables which showed he called Donald Trump “inept”, has been awarded a peerage. – Telegraph (£)

Liberal Democrats poised to back revoking article 50

The Liberal Democrats are set to officially back revoking article 50 in an attempt to position themselves as the most pro-EU political party. The move would effectively sever the chances of an alliance with Labour at a forthcoming general election. The Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, said she would support the cancellation of Brexit, and the party expected to adopt this policy and write it into its election manifesto. “I relish the chance to take the fight to Boris Johnson in an election and I’m confident we’d make significant gains,” said Swinson, who was elected as the party’s first female leader in July. “Whenever the election comes, our position is clear and unequivocal. A majority Liberal Democrat government would not renegotiate Brexit, we would cancel it by revoking article 50 and remaining in the European Union.” – Guardian

Liam Fox: It is time to quit the hysterics, if not we feed those who thrive on division and chaos

In recent times we have become accustomed to political debate being carried out in increasingly hyperbolic terms. Everything is a crisis, a cliff edge or an existential threat. Politicians seem to speak more in tabloid headlines than in sensible, rational tones. Much of this has been generated by the Brexit debate and, in particular, by the unwillingness of those who were on the losing side to accept the validity of the result. Much of the debate about the state of the Conservative Party has been verging on hysterical. We have been told that we have entryists and usurpers trying to turn the party from a centre-Right broad church into an extreme Right-wing faction. This is presumably a reflection on the level of support among party members for the Prime Minister’s position, which is to leave, without a deal if necessary, in order to fulfil the democratic mandate set by the referendum. Apparently “extreme Right-wing faction” equates to the willingness to accept no deal over no Brexit. Some comments, understandably, are an angry reaction from those who have had the whip withdrawn. – Dr Liam Fox MP for the Telegraph (£) 

Pat Leahy: Is the PM inching closer to a backstop deal with Ireland?

Boris Johnson flew into a rainy Dublin morning for his first meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, exhibiting his trademark bumptious optimism that a Brexit deal could be achieved – but little in the way of specifics about what might it contain, or how he would get it through the House of Commons. It was the Prime Minister’s first meeting with Mr Varadkar, and the two seemed to hit it off alright – they spoke for a half an hour privately and joining their officials for a further half hour of discussions, before the PM had to hightail it back to Westminster. Despite a sharp public statement from the Taoiseach, the private exchanges between the two men were easier than those between Mr Johnson’s predecessor and Mr Varadkar – their strained encounters became the source of endless official hand-wringing, and occasional acerbic gossip. – Pat Leahy for the Telegraph (£) 

John Redwood: What kind of Remain did Remain voters vote for?

Throughout the referendum campaign Remain advocates refused to discuss the current state and the future path of the EU. Many of those I debated with declined even to defend the current EU, saying it had its faults and they wished it to be reformed.  I found few willing to defend the Common Fisheries Policy, the drift to common taxation through EU VAT, company tax rules and special taxes, the policy on animal husbandry, the Maastricht budget rules and austerity and much else of the current EU. Had we enjoyed a proper debate on the current and future EU I suspect more would have voted Leave. For those passionate Remainers who write in  here I am offering them a chance today to write about their favourite subject, why we should stay in the EU. Here are some possible futures of the EU. Which did they have in mind when they voted to keep the UK in membership? – John Redwood’s Diary

Adam Honeysett-Watts: I voted Remain and backed a People’s Vote – here’s why I want Johnson to succeed

I have written before about my early-life journey from picturesque Beverley – one of the North’s best-kept secrets (and where 59 per cent of voters opted to leave the European Union) – to East Anglia (some 69 per cent voted the same way) where, aged 18 I moved to study politics, including European culture and identity. It is a period of my story which made me develop an understanding for my fellow countrymen’s Euroscepticism. Yet, sometime during the ensuing decade, I developed a healthy respect for the EU. I attribute this to working in the City and city breaks in European capitals. And so, in 2016, I joined the 79 per cent of South Londoners in Lambeth by voting to Remain in the EU. I understand, therefore, why some people, including fellow Tory Reform Group members, questioned my early support and subsequent enthusiasm for Boris Johnson – for he, perhaps more than anyone else involved, advocated for Vote Leave. Let me set out why I believe our end destination, under Johnson’s leadership, is more important than the journeys we are on – and how I eventually arrived there. – Adam Honeysett-Watts for ConservativeHome

Leo McKinstry: Boris Johnson has three choices to be able to deliver Brexit

The country is sliding towards an historic constitutional crisis. Our political system in in meltdown, due to Parliament’s determination to delay Brexit yet again. Last week, an unprincipled alliance of opposition MPs and Tory rebels passed legislation that forces the Government to ask Brussels for another three month extension if a new deal is not reached at the next EU summit in mid-October. But the Prime Minister seems resolute in his resistance, declaring dramatically last week that he would “rather die in a ditch” than indulge in further procrastination. This stance is typical of the robustness Boris Johnson has shown since entering Downing Street. To supporters, his ruthless, dynamic strategy is just what the Government needs to finally deliver Brexit after more than three years of drift and dither. To critics, his approach has been counter-productive, galvanising his Remainer opponents and plunging the Conservatives into turmoil. In a dramatic move on Saturday, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd resigned from the Cabinet, describing Johnson’s tactics as “an assault on decency and democracy”. She joins more than a score of Tory MPs who broke with the party last week in protest at the Government’s tough policy, among them Johnson’s own brother Jo. – Leo McKinstry for the Express

Pieter Cleppe: This may well be the EU’s last chance to avoid a no-deal Brexit. But will they take it?

Boris Johnson’s future as PM may hinge on whether he can avoid having to request a three-month extension, as required by legislation passed by a majority in Parliament. As this newspaper has reported, the Tory leader has drawn up plans to “sabotage” any Brexit extension by “send[ing] an accompanying letter alongside the request to extend Article 50 setting out that the Government does not want any delay after October 31”. The EU will require the UK to “indicate a way forward” as a condition to granting an extension. Therefore, the UK hopes Brussels will automatically reject London’s “request”, if it deliberately fails to present a concrete reason for the extension. – Pieter Cleppe for the Telegraph (£) 

The Sun: Boris Johnson’s Leaver Tories must join forces with Nigel Farage…or they’ll wreck Brexit

If the Brexit Party poses a mortal threat to Boris Johnson’s Tories, it is time Nigel Farage ensured it did not. Consider what is at stake. Both men want Brexit “come what may, do or die”. Boris still prefers a civilised deal with Brussels. Fine. But since Remainer MPs have all but killed any chance of that, he’d go for No Deal. It will not be the PM’s fault if the Supreme Court forces Britain by law to beg the EU for a delay instead. But it is assumed Farage’s party will then destroy the Tories at an election. To what end? Farage seems to have few real political ambitions and will never form a Government. Corbyn will, if the Tories are crushed. Which now means No Brexit. Farage wants a pact. The Tories are resisting — but they should rethink. Remainers will act tactically. Leavers must too. Farage should stand only in Leave-backing seats the Tories can never win. He must only target Remain parties: Labour and the Lib Dems. – The Sun says

Brexit in Brief

  • Ireland and Britain remain dangerously locked in mutual incomprehension on Brexit and the border – Elis O’Hanlon for the Telegraph (£)