Unions agree Labour should back Remain in referendum on Tory deal: Brexit News for Tuesday 9 July

Unions agree Labour should back Remain in referendum on Tory deal: Brexit News for Tuesday 9 July
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Unions agree Labour should back Remain in any referendum on Tory Brexit deal

Labour is poised to declare it will campaign for remain in a second referendum on any deal put to parliament by a Conservative prime minister, after trade union leaders including Unite’s Len McCluskey backed a change of policy. The joint position agreed by the unions on Monday would not commit Labour to an explicitly pro-remain position in all circumstances: unions also agreed Labour should seek to deliver a Brexit deal if the party won an election before the UK left the EU. That Labour deal would also be put to a public vote, but the party would not commit to campaigning for remain against its own Brexit deal, throwing into doubt what Labour would offer in any snap election manifesto. – Guardian

  • Union chiefs pile pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to turn Labour into anti-Brexit party – The Sun

> Brendan Chilton on BrexitCentral today: As the unions push Labour in a Remain direction, there is still a glimmer of hope for the party’s Brexiteers

Boris Johnson’s optimism can get Britain a fresh Brexit deal in three months, vows ally Sir Michael Fallon…

Boris Johnson’s optimism and ambition can shake up the Brexit talks and get Britain a deal in 3 months, his ally Sir Michael Fallon has vowed. There’s no reason why he can’t get an agreement ready in the next three months with a “fresh team” and a new outlook, he insisted this morning. Sir Michael, who is backing the Tory for the leadership of the party, dismissed talk of 30 rebels bringing down the Government as “bluster”. He said: “I don’t think there are as many as 30, what they are not going to do is bring down a new government.” He went on: “We’ve got three months to do this. We need some alternative arrangements for Northern Ireland… the right to exit the backstop if negotiations fail and we need some improvements to the political declaration.” – The Sun

> Jonathan Isaby and Matthew Elliott on BrexitCentral today: Why we believe Boris Johnson is the right man to deliver Brexit

…as he is warned that avoiding a no-deal Brexit means a hectic summer of talks

Boris Johnson will have to embark on a whistlestop charm offensive meeting EU leaders over the summer and try to secure an emergency Brexit summit in September if he is serious about avoiding no deal, according to Whitehall sources who have been involved in negotiations. The senior sources said Johnson, if he becomes prime minister, would immediately need to pull out the stops over parliament’s summer holiday with a round of diplomacy with senior politicians in Europe and may even need to consider recalling parliament early if he is to achieve the new deal he claims to want. At the same time, they said, he would need to ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit, with small businesses currently complacent about the risks of this outcome. One senior source who has been involved in talks with Brussels said there were signs there could be some willingness to compromise but Johnson could not afford to wait until a planned summit in October, weeks before the UK is due to leave. – Guardian

Donald Trump launches scathing attack on Theresa May over Brexit ‘mess’ and refuses to deal with UK Ambassador who called his administration ‘inept’

Donald Trump has launched a scathing attack on the British government and its ambassador, a day after leaked diplomatic cables revealed him calling the Trump administration “dysfunctional” and “inept”. In an outburst remarkable even by the standards of the US president, who frequently has little time for the niceties of diplomatic protocol, Mr Trump said on Twitter the US would no longer deal with Sir Kim Darroch, who has served a British ambassador to Washington since January 2016. “I have been very critical about the way the UK and prime minister Theresa May handled Brexit. What a mess she and her representatives have created. I told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way,” he wrote. “I do not know the ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the US. We will no longer deal with him.” – Independent

Remainer rebel Dominic Grieve ‘hopeful’ that MPs will stop a no-deal Brexit…

Remainer rebel Dominic Grieve is “hopeful” that he can club together with other MPs to stop Boris delivering a No Deal Brexit. The Tory MP said the chances of the next PM taking Britain out of the EU without an agreement in place are “very slim” but insisted that he would fight to destroy any chance of it. Speaking to Sky News earlier he said: “I think that the chances of a PM carrying out a No Deal Brexit if there’s a majority of the House of Commons that doesn’t want it are very slim indeed. And removing the poss of proroguing makes the chances even slimmer.” He said that unless the new PM can persuade MPs to go for a No Deal Brexit then it just won’t happen. – The Sun

…as Philip Hammond will reportedly only allow May’s legacy spending if MPs are not whipped in no-deal vote…

Philip Hammond has told Theresa May that he will fund her legacy plans as a trade-off for her allowing Tory MPs free votes on efforts to stop a no-deal Brexit. The chancellor has been locked in a row with the prime minister over her attempt to push through £27 billion of funding for education before she steps down. After weeks of talks Mr Hammond is close to signing off an agreement to boost education funding by about £5 billion. However, he has suggested that his support is conditional on suspending the whip on a cross-party attempt to stop Britain leaving the European Union without a deal on October 31. – The Times (£)

…while Justine Greening accuses anti-No Deal Cabinet ministers of ‘sitting on their hands’ instead of voting to stop it

Justine Greening today tells Cabinet ministers opposed to a no-deal Brexit to stop “sitting on their hands” and to find the strength to stop it, with time running out fast. The former education secretary lashes out at colleagues – including ministers – who she said “talk tough” but who have “spent the past year saying now is not the right time to act”. “It’s like standing by whilst a car crash happens and then expecting thanks for arriving with a first aid bag too late,” Ms Greening protests, in an article for The Independent. It comes ahead of a likely Commons showdown on Tuesday aimed at preventing Boris Johnson – the near-certain next prime minister – from suspending parliament in October, to carry out a crash-out Brexit. Pressure is growing on ministers who have spoken out against a no-deal to back a crucial amendment, tabled by Dominic Grieve – even at the cost of their jobs. – Independent

  • I challenge my fellow Tory MPs to stop sitting on their hands and finally head off a ruinous no-deal Brexit – Justine Greening MP for the Independent 

Former Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris tears apart Remainer ‘fibs’ – and reveals EU’s no-deal bluff

A former minister has attacked Project Fear “fibs” about a no-deal Brexit and said it was time to be confident about the country’s future. Chris Heaton-Harris, who was in charge of preparations for leaving in March without an EU divorce deal in place, insisted government, business and the public are ready and Britain will “thrive”. The former Brexit minister said no-deal was wrongly “demonised” and some opponents were becoming “quite hysterical”. Mr Heaton-Harris, who quit in April in protest over Theresa May’s decision to delay the UK’s departure from the bloc, hit out at “negative” coverage of the option as the BBC aired a Panorama documentary on Britain’s readiness for no-deal. – Express

> Charlie Elphicke MP on BrexitCentral today: The Ghost of Project Fear is back again, but Britain stands ready for Brexit

Irish border Brexit blueprint ‘lacks credibility’, claim British-Irish Chamber of Commerce

Proposals by prominent Brexiteers to use technology to create an invisible border in Ireland after Brexit “lack credibility”, the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce has warned. The Chamber issued a damning assessment of the proposals following a presentation by the Alternative Arrangements Commission, an independent group which has been exploring border solutions but has close ties to leading Brexiteers. Among the lead authors is Shanker Singham, a former adviser to the Trade Secretary Liam Fox who is tipped to have a prominent policy role in a Boris Johnson administration which is expected to use the AAC proposals as a blueprint for the border.  Mr Johnson has said he believes there are “abundant” technological fixes for the Irish border, but one Northern Irish food wholesaler present at the meeting said that it would require 35 vets to be on site each night to make the AAC proposals viable. – Telegraph (£)

> Sir Paul Marshall on BrexitCentral last month: A hard Irish border can be avoided under any Brexit outcome

Ardent Brexiteer Kate Hoey to step down as Labour MP at the next election

Labour’s most ardent Brexiteer has announced she will stand down as an MP at the next election. Kate Hoey, who has been MP for Vauxhall since 1989, has angered local members by her anti-EU stance. In a letter announcing her retirement she said: “I will carry on until a general election serving with the energy, honesty and integrity that I have tried to bring to public service my whole life.” Labour gave all its sitting MPs until today to indicate whether or not they wanted to continue in the role. Liverpool MP Stephen Twigg has said he will not stand again at the next General Election. – Mirror

Andrew Lilico: The civil service is consuming itself with anti-Brexit resentment

It’s widely-understood now that a Boris Johnson government seeking to accept no deal will clash heavily with Parliament. But what about with the civil service? For some time it has been thought that the Treasury civil servants and those in the Bank of England were extremely opposed to no deal. The Bank of England even put out a report suggesting that in a disorderly no deal, GDP might contract by 8 per cent within about six months — the kind of thing that happens in a civil war, rather than from an economic shock. The Treasury has not been much more enthusiastic, suggesting that no deal could induce a contraction in GDP of even more than 8 per cent over a few years and that it is absolutely imperative that there be a standstill “transition period” post-Brexit whilst the UK and EU negotiate a new trade deal. – Andrew Lilico for the Telegraph (£)

James Gray: Prorogue the Commons – for our own good

In all of the hubbub about Brexit, leadership (of both parties), and a virtually hung Parliament, we seem to have lost sight of what the Commons and Lords are actually for. We have two primary functions (alongside a host of subsidiary ones). We are elected by the people to make laws, and to hold Her Majesty’s Government to account for what they are doing. The latter trundles along with Oral Questions every day, and especially through the work of Select Committees. But the former – the making, improvement, or repeal of our laws – has virtually seized up. For on all but a handful occasions since 1900, the Parliamentary session has lasted for as close as possible to 12 months. It starts with the Queen’s Speech, where amongst all of the pageantry Her Majesty reads out a turgid speech produced for her by the party in Government. The speech lays out what the Government will do for the next year, and we then amble back to the Commons to get on with it. – James Gray MP for ConservativeHome

Asa Bennett: Boris will need an ambassador Trump trusts in Washington. Why not send Nigel Farage?

What amazes me about Sir Kim Darroch’s analysis of President Trump is not the fact it was leaked, nor the unflattering remarks he made, but how little insider knowledge he seems able to offer. One must hope the UK’s ambassador to the United States has saved the real insights for memos seen by an even more discrete and narrow group across Whitehall as, judging by what has been leaked, he knows little more about what is going on in the White House than the average political commentator. Apparently, President Trump is a plain-speaking guy who likes glitz. He presides over a “uniquely dysfunctional environment” at the White House, according to Sir Kim, who opines as if no one else might ever reach that conclusion themselves. “The stories about White House knife fights are, we judge, mostly true: multiple sources and confirmed by our own White House contacts,” he warns, a view anyone would reach if they just follow the reports with a healthy scepticism. Perhaps those “multiple sources” are the media outlets he most likes to read. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Julian Jessop: Brexit uncertainty means investment is down, but not out

It’s always a little odd when an economic forecast is presented as fact. On Monday,the CBI managed to pull this off with a prediction that UK business investment will fall sharply this year, which the trade body attributed to fears of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. The Guardian, for example, duly led with “threat of no-deal Brexit causes sharpest investment drop since 2009 recession”. To be fair, the track record of the CBI’s economics team at least is relatively good, and the underlying narrative is broadly correct. But it is hardly news. We already know that business investment has been sluggish since the vote to leave the EU in 2016. Indeed, it began to level off in 2015 when the legislation to hold a referendum was passed. What’s more, business investment had already fallen by 1.5 per cent between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. The CBI’s forecast of 1.3 per cent decline in 2019 is therefore little more than an extrapolation of the weakness over the past year. – Julian Jessop for CapX

The Sun: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt promising Brexit ‘deal or no deal’ is the backbone Britain needs

How much Theresa May’s weak Brexit strategy has cost us is becoming more apparent by the day. Take the Irish government, who have been arguing against any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement ever since the current PM took No Deal off the table. But with Boris or Jeremy about to take over and promising Brexit “deal or no deal”, the Irish have stepped up preparations for a clean break, acknowledged that Ireland would suffer and that the precious backstop would disappear. That fact alone suggests we do have a chance of renegotiating the existing agreement. We, like both candidates, would prefer that outcome. But it’s only by finally showing some backbone that we’ve even a hope of any amendments. – The Sun says

Brexit in Brief

  • Trade deals are being arranged for our exit, and drugs companies still will be supplying us from the EU – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Boris Johnson: I will not sacrifice food standards for US trade deal – Telegraph (£)
  • Minister Margot James insists she’s not part of Remainer plot to stop Brexit – Express & Star