Jeremy Corbyn pledges to 'carry out' the decision made in a second Brexit referendum: Brexit News for Wednesday 18 September

Jeremy Corbyn pledges to 'carry out' the decision made in a second Brexit referendum: Brexit News for Wednesday 18 September
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Jeremy Corbyn pledges to ‘carry out’ the decision made in a second Brexit referendum…

Labour would “carry out whatever the people decide” in another referendum on Brexit, says Jeremy Corbyn. The party leader told the Guardian he would hold a fresh vote if he became PM – offering a Labour-negotiated deal and Remain on the ballot paper.  Mr Corbyn said the pledge made Labour “the only UK-wide party ready to put our trust in the people of Britain”. It comes ahead of Labour’s party conference where he is expected to face increasing pressure to back Remain. According to campaign group Another Europe is Possible, more than 80 motions have been submitted by local Labour groups for debate at conference in Brighton calling for the party to back Remain in a future public vote. A number of high profile members of the shadow cabinet, including shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, have said they would campaign for Remain. Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has called for another public vote on Brexit before any general election. – BBC News

…during which he signals that he personally would stay neutral

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour would offer a “sensible” Leave deal in a new Brexit referendum as he signalled he could remain neutral in such a vote. The comments come just days before Labour’s annual party conference where Mr Corbyn is expected to come under heavy pressure to take a stronger pro-Remain stance. Mr Corbyn said Labour would negotiate a new Leave agreement with the EU if it wins the next general election and then put that to a vote along with a Remain option. Writing in The Guardian, Mr Corbyn said: “A Labour government would secure a sensible deal based on the terms we have long advocated, including a new customs union with the EU; a close single market relationship; and guarantees of workers’ rights and environmental protections. “We are the only UK-wide party ready to put our trust in the people of Britain to make the decision. (Boris) Johnson wants to crash out with no deal. That is something opposed by business, industry, the trade unions and most of the public – and even by the Vote Leave campaign’s co-convener, Michael Gove, who said earlier this year: ‘We didn’t vote to leave without a deal.’ And now the Liberal Democrats want MPs to overturn the referendum result by revoking article 50 in a parliamentary stitch-up. It is simply undemocratic to override the decision of a majority of the voters without going back to the people.” The comments appeared to signal that Mr Corbyn could adopt a neutral position in any future referendum if he became PM. – Telegraph (£)

  • Jeremy Corbyn: I’ll stay neutral and let the people decide on Brexit – Guardian

Remain campaigners broke electoral law during 2016 referendum and are fined by the Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission has found that two Remain campaigns that were set up less than a month before the referendum campaign worked together, breaking electoral law. “We found that the ‘5 seconds campaign’ was a joint campaign run by WUAV and DDB UK Limited. Spending on the campaign was ‘joint’ or ‘common plan’ spending.” Wake Up And Vote (WUAV) and DDB were just two of five campaigns that were all set up less than a month before the referendum, sharing big donors, and in total funnelling more than a million pounds into the Remain cause. The others seem to have avoided proper scrutiny… WUAV and DDB created unbranded videos that was conveniently shared by the official Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, as if it was their content. DDB has been fined just £1,800 for failing to declare joint spending with Wake Up And Vote. This follows a £1,000 fine handed to DDB in March 2018 for other inaccuracies in its spending return. – Guido Fawkes

Boris Johnson steps up plans for all-Ireland economic relationship after Brexit…

Boris Johnson will hold crunch talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders on Brexit policy next week as the UK government fleshes out plans for an all-Ireland economic relationship which seeks to replace the disputed backstop. Despite the EU expressing frustration over Mr Johnson’s failure to table concrete proposals at Monday’s meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Luxembourg, British officials are stepping up ambitious proposals to facilitate trade between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. In recent weeks, Mr Johnson has mooted the idea of reducing the presence of a post-Brexit border across the island of Ireland by promoting a common zone for agriculture and foodstuffs, a common electricity market and maintaining a common travel area. But UK officials are now letting it be known that Britain wants to extend discussions on how to create an “all-island” economic relationship by tackling trickier areas such as customs, value added tax, industrial goods and the remit of the European Court of Justice. – FT(£)

  • Johnson and Merkel discuss Brexit in phone call – Express

> Shanker Singham on BrexitCentral today: Numerous checks on livestock already occur in Northern Ireland – but no additional border checks need be required post-Brexit 

…although the UK is yet formally to table proposals to replace the backstop in order to avoid EU leaks

The UK has put forward ideas to end the Brexit impasse, but is stopping Brussels from keeping hold of written details due to fears the proposals will be leaked, it is understood. As the clock ticks down to exit day on 31 October, the EU has so far said that no “concrete” proposals to replace the Irish backstop have been forthcoming. However, British sources cited by the Press Association have insisted that papers setting out Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s position have been shown to the European Union, even though they were taken back at the end of meetings. It was “the nature of the Brussels system” that any documents shared with the bloc would also be sent to EU member states. Once you share it with 27 countries you are not in control of the document,” a source told PA. Mr Johnson held talks with the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, with the bloc again insisting afterwards that it was up to the UK to come up with alternative options to the backstop. “We are showing them papers,” the government source said. “The difference is we are not leaving them with them.” – Sky News

  • Boris Johnson’s secret Brexit ideas shown to EU, but not handed over amid leak fears – Huffington Post

Boris Johnson’s humiliation by Luxembourg could damage prospects of a deal, EU worries…

Boris Johnson’s humiliation at the hands of Luxembourg will make a Brexit deal harder to reach and could make a no-deal more likely, some on the EU side believe. Norbert Röttgen, chair of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee and a senior MP from Angela Merkel’s party, was among those to publicly criticise the Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel on Tuesday. Mr Bettel had strongly criticised Mr Johnson and the UK government and empty-chaired the British prime minister after he refused to take part in a planned press conference in Luxembourg on Monday. “Xavier Bettel’s speech yesterday did not serve the European cause,” Mr Röttgen, a former minister in Ms Merkel’s government warned. “His public venting ignored that a deal is still in everyone’s interest. Even without a deal there will be a post-Brexit life, which means that right now everyone needs to behave in a way that avoids animosity.” One EU diplomat in Brussels suggested that Mr Bettel had gone too far and “reinforced the us versus them narrative” in the UK. Another accused Luxembourg’s leader of playing into the hands of hard Brexiteers back in the UK who wanted a no-deal. Mr Johnson’s reception in Luxembourg was at odds with the diplomatic approach taken by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to the new prime minister in recent visit to Berlin and Paris. – Independent

…as US Ambassador Woody Johnson says Luxembourg reminded the British ‘why they don’t want to be in Europe’

Boris Johnson’s treatment at the hands of Luxembourg’s prime minister is a reminder of why the UK wants to leave the European Union, the US ambassador said on Tuesday night. In a show of solidarity, Woody Johnson said that having “built the greatest empire” and “held off the Nazis”, the British “didn’t need a lecture from anybody on how to run their country … and that includes Brussels”. He added: “We stand with the people of the UK and we always will.” It came after Xavier Bettel, the Luxembourg prime minister, was accused of “disrespecting” Britain after he tried to force Mr Johnson to hold a news conference in a street full of anti-Brexit protesters, leaving the Prime Minister no choice but to pull out. Speaking at the Carlton Club on Tuesday, the US ambassador praised Mr Johnson’s handling of the situation, 
insisting that “he knew he was walking into a trap”. “He knew this was a set up. Of course he knew, but he’s British. He said: ‘What the hell. I can do this’. “I thought the people in Luxembourg accomplished something that maybe even Boris couldn’t accomplish – show this is not where (the British) want to be, over there, when they treat us like that – your Prime Minister.” Addressing a Conservative Foreign & Commonwealth Council lunch at the private members’ club in Pall Mall, the ambassador said that while “some had cast doubt” on the British people’s decision to leave the EU, “the US administration believes it’s the start of a new golden era for the UK.” – Telegraph (£)

Ministers to overhaul planned tariff plan for no-deal Brexit

Ministers are poised to overhaul the planned tariff schedule for a no-deal Brexit with deep cuts to proposed duties on heavy trucks after opposition from the haulage industry. The government is expected to announce imminently the full set of charges it will impose on various industries in a no-deal departure from the EU, tweaking an earlier draft that was announced in March by the Cabinet Office. The Road Haulage Association complained vociferously in March when the government said it would impose a 22 per cent charge on the cost of importing a new heavy goods vehicle from mainland Europe in the event of Britain leaving the EU without a deal. That “ludicrous” increase would have amounted to an extra £15,000 on a typical heavy goods vehicle, the RHA complained. Now the levy on HGVs is expected to come down significantly, perhaps to as low as 10 per cent, in line with cars. The government is also set to lift the tariffs on bioethanol after the domestic industry warned that low tariffs on imports could threaten its future. Ministers are expected to increase the tariffs charged on imports of textiles when the new schedule is published. – FT(£)

Remain campaigner’s lawyer tells Supreme Court that Parliament was prorogued ‘to stop MPs frustrating the PM’

Boris Johnson sought to suspend Parliament to avoid the risk of MPs “frustrating or damaging” his Brexit plans, the Supreme Court has heard. Lawyers for campaigners challenging the suspension said there was “strong evidence” the PM saw MPs “as an obstacle” and wanted to “silence” them. But a government lawyer said the PM was “entitled” to suspend Parliament, and it was not a matter for the courts. The judges are hearing two challenges relating to the five-week prorogation. Lady Hale, President of the Court, stressed the landmark case would have no bearing on the timing of Brexit. In her opening statement, the most senior judge in the UK said she and her 10 colleagues would endeavour to address the “serious and difficult questions of law” raised by the case, but would not determine “wider political questions” relating to the Brexit process. Mr Johnson maintains it was right and proper to terminate the last session of Parliament in order to pave the way for a Queen’s Speech on 14 October, in which his new government will outline its legislative plans for the year ahead. – BBC News

  • Boris Johnson warns Supreme Court Justices to stay out of the ‘political arena’ . – Telegraph (£)

Corbyn is ‘Brexit by nature’, claims Jo Swinson…

Jeremy Corbyn is “Brexit by nature”, Jo Swinson has said today, as she laid the blame for the 2016 referendum result at the Labour leader’s feet. Speaking at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Bournemouth, Swinson damned both sometime-coalition partners the Conservatives, and would-be ‘government of national unity’ partners Labour. The Lib Dem leader told delegates she was “standing here as your candidate for Prime Minister because people across Britain deserve a better choice than an entitled Etonian or a 1970s socialist”, adding: “When the General Election comes, I cannot wait to take on the collective forces of nationalism and populism that will be standing on that debate stage -Johnson, Farage…and Corbyn.” Swinson said: “If [Corbyn] had campaigned to Remain in 2016 with half of the energy he put into the 2017 election, we may have seen a different result. Then the day after the referendum, he said we should trigger Article 50 immediately. He whipped his MPs to vote for it. And even now, when faced with all the clear and obvious dangers that Brexit brings, Jeremy Corbyn still insists that if Labour win a General Election, they will negotiate their own Brexit deal to take us out of the EU. Nigel Farage might be Brexit by name, but it is very clear that Jeremy Corbyn is Brexit by nature.” – City A.M.

…as she compares a no-deal Brexit to ‘burning your own house down’

Leaving the EU without a deal would be like “burning your house down”, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has told her party conference. After recently announcing her party would revoke Article 50 if it won a majority in a general election, the East Dunbartonshire MP closed the four-day event by reiterating her pledge to stop Brexit. She received a standing ovation and sustained applause from party members as she took to the stage in Bournemouth, standing without a lectern. She opened her speech by paying tribute to the party’s “fabulous squad” of 16 MEPs, seven new MPs and 700 extra councillors, before launching a scathing anti-Brexit message. Prime Minister Boris took a bruising in the speech – in which she attacked what she calls his pursuit of a no-deal Brexit. Mr Johnson has vowed to take the UK out of the European Union by the October 31 deadline “do or die”, deal or no deal. But Ms Swinson told Lib Dem members on the Dorset coast that Mr Johnson’s spending on no-deal preparations is “sickening”. – ITV News

> WATCH: Jo Swinson’s speech to the Liberal Democrat conference

Australia to begin trade talks with UK ‘as soon as possible’… 

Australia is set to begin trade talks with the UK “as soon as possible” after Brexit, the government has said. The Department for International Trade confirmed that the UK and Australia will agree to begin talks when the UK leaves the EU, currently scheduled for October 31. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison had already signalled his willingness to proceed with talks quickly, saying he believed a deal could be done within a year. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss will meet her Australian counterpart Simon Birmingham and other senior politicians in the capital Canberra on Wednesday. Ahead of the visit, Ms Truss said she wanted to see an “ambitious trade deal” which reduces tariffs and barriers for UK exporters. She added: “We cannot afford to wait. Britain is going to be ready to trade after Brexit. That’s why I’m so pleased that today we are reaffirming our commitment to launch bilateral FTA (free-trade agreement) negotiations as soon as possible. It’s good to see that Australia is going to be quick off the mark and it’ll be mirrored by the UK under our new government – a government that takes action. A UK-Australia trade deal won’t just be a good thing it’ll be a great thing, for our businesses, for our consumers, for our workers and for our two great countries.” – Evening Standard

…as Britain reportedly pushes for a freedom of movement deal with Australia to allow people to live and work in both countries without a visa after Brexit

Britain is pushing for a freedom of movement deal that will allow Australians to live and work in both countries without a visa. The proposal was discussed by the UK’s trade secretary, Liz Truss, and Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham in Canberra on Wednesday. ‘It’s certainly something we will be looking at as part of our free trade negotiations,’ Secretary Truss said in a press conference at Parliament House. Ms Truss said the UK would be ‘looking at’ the proposal as part of pre-Brexit trade talks with Australia. ‘We want a fully comprehensive trade deal that reflects our deep, ongoing relationship, the friendship between our two countries, the fact that Australians want to come and live and work in Britain, and Brits want to come and live and work in Australia,’ she said. ‘The reason that I’ve chosen to make Australia one of the first countries I’ve visited as Trade Secretary is this is an absolute priority for me to get on with this trade deal. I would say months rather than years for it to be completed.’ – Daily Mail

Polish ambassador to the UK urges fellow countrymen to ‘seriously consider’ returning to Poland after Brexit

Poland’s ambassador to the UK has told Poles to “seriously consider” moving back home after Brexit, as he revealed that an “alarmingly low” number had applied to stay in Britain, and urged more to do so. In a letter addressed to the 800,000 Poles who live and work in the UK, Arkady Rzegocki wrote: “To date, around 27% of Poles living in the British Isles have applied for settled status. This is an alarmingly low level, meaning that thousands of Polish citizens may be exposed to complications related to the lack of regulating their status. With the dynamically developing situation regarding United Kingdom’s exit from the EU and the relatively low rate of applications for settled status by Polish people, I would like to draw your attention to the need to submit such an application if you want to stay in the UK after Brexit,” he added. Britain is an immensely popular destination for Polish migrant workers, but after Brexit they risk being deported unless they apply to the Home Office for settled status, which grants them permanent residence. Mr Rzegocki added: “I also encourage you to seriously consider the possibility of returning to Poland and to familiarise yourself with the information available…on social benefits in Poland, finding employment and finding places in schools for children.” – Telegraph (£)

Ruth Davidson: I was hopelessly conflicted over Brexit

Ruth Davidson said being “hopelessly conflicted over Brexit” was one of the reasons she resigned her leadership of the Scottish Conservative party. She also criticised the way Boris Johnson has suspended parliament, saying it looks like a politically motivated decision. Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine programme for her first TV interview since stepping down in August, Davidson said she was not told the reasoning behind the decision to close parliament. Asked about the move, Davidson said: “I think it was done in a bad way, but the idea that a prime minister doesn’t suspend parliament in order to bring forward a Queen’s speech and a legislative agenda, up until recently that happened almost every year. I was quite close to David Cameron and Theresa May. I’m not close to Boris Johnson. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve ever been part of his inner circle – I haven’t – so I don’t know why the government chose to do that and that’s one of the things the judges are going to be deciding, and what the Scottish case looked at. They certainly didn’t manage to take the country or the parliament along with them as they did it, and there are questions about that,” she said. – Guardian

Looming election set to delay appointment of new Bank of England governor

The appointment of the next Bank of England governor is set to be pushed back until after the forthcoming election, and Mark Carney could be asked to extend his term in the event of Brexit being delayed again, according to people briefed on the matter. Ministers look increasingly unlikely to hit the government’s deadline of making an announcement on Mr Carney’s successor this autumn. One Whitehall official said the process of choosing the next BoE governor was going “very slowly” and an expected election in November or December made it likely a decision would not be made until a new government was in place. Two officials said that if Brexit was delayed beyond October 31 then the Treasury might ask Mr Carney to extend his term, which is due to end on January 31. A panel of senior civil servants plus an independent member has sent the Treasury a shortlist of candidates to be the next BoE governor after holding interviews with applicants over the summer. – FT(£)

Jeremy Corbyn: Only Labour will give the people a final say on Brexit

Boris Johnson and the Conservatives are threatening to drive our country over a no-deal cliff edge in six weeks’ time. He has no mandate for that and is opposed by a majority of the public. Since he became prime minister in July, Johnson has been defeated on every vote he has put to parliament. Now his undemocratic manoeuvrings and his decision to close down parliament and avoid accountability are being challenged in the supreme court. Johnson’s visit to Luxembourg on Monday was a further humiliation. The prime minister went to Europe with no plan and no proposals, and did his best to hide from scrutiny while he was there. Three years ago Johnson backed Brexit because he thought it would boost his political career – writing one article in favour of remain and another backing leave. Now he’s backing no deal because he thinks it’s politically expedient – to win back votes from the Brexit party and keep his Tory Brexit ultras on board. At the same time he needs to look like he’s trying for a deal to hold his cabinet and parliamentary party together. There is nothing new in Johnson’s shenanigans. Theresa May signed up to contradictory red lines on Brexit to keep the Conservatives from falling apart, and David Cameron called the referendum in the first place to see off the threat from Ukip. The Brexit saga of the past few years has been a litany of Tory failures, as one Conservative prime minister after another has put their own and their party’s interests before the interests of the people and our country. – Jeremy Corbyn MP for the Guardian

Robert Peston: The Brexit deal Johnson wants – and why its success all hinges on Dublin

The shape of the Brexit fix that Boris Johnson wants from the EU’s 27 leaders is now clear. Here it is: In place of the dreaded backstop – that insurance policy for keeping open the border on the island of Ireland hated by most Tory Brexiters and Northern Ireland’s DUP – Johnson is suggesting: A) A unified single market for agriculture between Northern Ireland and the Republic (a single set of what are known are sanitary and phytosanitary rules), so that cross border flows of livestock and food is not hindered; B) Customs and limited unintrusive goods standards checks on the island but away from the border itself; C) No customs union with the EU for either the whole UK or NI alone; D) Where rules for agriculture or even for other limited markets are set for the whole island by Brussels, the principle of a “Stormont lock” – or, in the words of a source, that “the people of Northern Ireland must be able to withdraw consent, with all that entails”. There is lots to say about all this. But the biggest and most important question is whether Brussels and the EU27 will and can ever accept the principle that the citizens of Northern Ireland could unilaterally choose to end the arrangement. This is an absolute must for Johnson I am told. Equally, Brussels has always insisted that any arrangement to keep open the border should not be capable of being terminated by one side only. For what it is worth, Johnson believes he is getting a fair hearing in Dublin. But that is a long way from saying that his Irish counterpart could or would accept Johnson’s plan. – Robert Peston for ITV News

Daniel Hannan: Cameron maligns Brexiteers because he misunderstands them

Everyone agrees that David Cameron made a terrible blunder when he called the referendum. Everyone, that is, except the country at large. Journalists and politicians, civil servants and diplomats, subscribers to the Economist and the Financial Times, half-clever readers who get their opinions downstream from the Davos schmoozefest – all these people tell each other that the Brexit referendum was the worst mistake any British leader has made since the loss of the Americas. All forget how widespread the desire for a referendum was in 2015. The Liberal Democrats, who now say that Cameron’s decision was “unforgiveable”, were demanding an In/Out referendum long before he was. Jo Swinson, along with the rest, told us as long ago as 2008 that only “a referendum on the major issue of in or out of Europe” would do. By 2013, plenty of Labour and Conservative MPs were taking the same line, largely in response to pressure from their constituents. There is no dishonour here: it is how a democracy is supposed to work. Oddly, Cameron appears to have adopted the world-view of his critics. He defends his decision to call a referendum, but he does so…well, defensively. The line he takes in his memoirs is, in effect, that the referendum was forced on him by a combination of public demand and EU inflexibility. He had no choice but to go to the country, though he bitterly regrets the result. He reveals that he phoned EU leaders, as well as Barack Obama, to apologise for the way people voted. He still beats himself up about the whole thing. One thing, though, leaps out of Cameron’s book. He never really got Euroscepticism or Eurosceptics. He sees opposition to European amalgamation as an eccentricity verging on a mild mental disorder. The idea that it might matter to people more than, say, party loyalty leaves him genuinely nonplussed: “Michael [Gove] had backed something he did perhaps believe in, but in the process had broken with his friends and supporters,” he writes, in unfeigned bewilderment. – Daniel Hannan MEP for ConservativeHome

Stewart Jackson: Jo Swinson’s vow to revoke Article 50 is a tremendous own-goal

Despite some big and respected thinkers such as former Coalition Ministers Jeremy Browne and David Laws developing a coherent, mainstream political programme (the ‘Orange Book”) for government in the 2005 Parliament, the party has since morphed into an EU fan club, where senior members travel to Brussels to beg the European Union to “punish” the UK for the calumny of seeking independent self-government and Parliamentary sovereignty. They exult like hormonal teenagers in coarsening our political debate by shouting “Bollocks to Brexit”. What would Gladstone, Lloyd George and Beveridge have made of that? It’s disingenuous in the extreme for Ms Swinson to now decry the decision by David Cameron to hold a plebiscite (She told her conference she wouldn’t “forgive” him for giving effect to her own party’s policy). Presumably, they thought any referendum would lead to the “right” result. Meanwhile the party has become the convenient skip into which opportunists, shape-shifters and malcontents like Sam Gyimah, Philip Lee and Chuka Umunna toss their fag-end careers. However, I believe that they have made some key strategic errors, in pursuit of the silver bullet of eye-catching retail politics and in fear of the dreaded purgatory of media irrelevance and public boredom. – Stewart Jackson for the Telegraph (£) 

Ruth Lea: The British economy would thrive after a WTO “clean break” Brexit

I have long believed that membership of the EU, tied to the EU’s Single Market, with its regulatory straightjacket, and tied to the Customs Union, with the inability to unilaterally negotiate free trade deals and modify tariffs, has been a drag on the UK economy, not an enabler. Crucially, Britain needs to be free of the Customs Union and the Single Market, a “clean break”, in order to have the necessary freedoms to deliver a potential post-Brexit competitiveness boost to the British economy. This is the true post-Brexit dividend. My preference until recently has been for a straightforward trade deal broadly based on the continuation of tariff-free trade for goods and a special arrangement for financial services. In both these areas, these policies would be mutually beneficial. Indeed, arguably, tariff-free trade helps EU exporters to the UK more than UK exporters to the EU, given the EU’s enormous goods surplus with the UK – nearly £95bn in 2017 and 2018. Some claim there is a need for “regulatory alignment” and, of course, British exporters to the EU will have to conform to EU product standards after Brexit, as they have to conform to US product standards when they export to the US. But there is no need to conform to labour market regulations, for example. Post-Brexit we must be able to decide our own regulatory regime as befits the needs of the country. – Ruth Lea for Free Market Conservatives

Stephen Pollard: Thank David Cameron – after all he was the man who freed us from EU

Seeing the reaction to David Cameron’s memoirs has been fascinating. Whatever else our former PM achieved in office – and the list is considerable – his legacy will always be dominated by the referendum. For the chattering classes, this is a damning indictment of the man. And it explains why his book has been met with such relentless hostility. They can never forgive him for destroying British membership of the EU and allowing what they see as uncouth xenophobes to shatter our politics. They are so wrapped up in their own self-righteousness that they cannot see what is obvious to the rest of us – that their reaction exposes the very contempt for democracy and voters that sparked the Leave vote in 2016. Far from being some sort of bogeyman whose name must be damned for eternity, David Cameron deserves praise for giving the British people the chance to tell politicians what we want from them, rather than treating us with the same con- tempt as his predecessors, John Major and tony Blair. Throughout the Major and Blair years – indeed from Mrs Thatcher until Mrs May – the main parties were committed to EU membership, so voters had no way to express their disillusion with it, other than through fringe groups, such as UKIP. Europe was never treated as an important issue at general elections because there was no serious difference between the parties. But the fact it was never a key policy didn’t mean it wasn’t important. Rather, it was a product of the failure of our politics. Because the forces that led to a Leave vote in 2016 did not come out of nowhere. They were real and – as the ballot showed – were shared by a majority of voters. – Stephen Pollard for the Express 

David Shiels: The EU’s rigid attitude to Boris Johnson could yet lead to a no deal Brexit

Until yesterday, few people in Britain had heard of Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, who gave Boris Johnson the ‘empty lectern’ treatment. In the view of some of Johnson’s Remainer critics, Mr Johnson got what he deserved as his host tore into Brexit. Others will be upset that a British Prime Minister could be treated in this way, regardless of how they see Johnson or the Brexit process. Even if other EU leaders have been tempted to do the same thing, they probably see it as bad diplomacy. As the Chairman of the German Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee put it, Bettel’s speech “did not serve the European cause. His public venting ignored that a deal is still in everyone’s interests”. In substance, Bettel did not say anything that contradicted the EU’s official position. Consistent with the recent remarks of other EU leaders, Luxembourg’s leader reminded everyone that Brexit was not the EU’s choice, and stated plainly that the EU27 would not accept the blame for a no deal Brexit. Away from the drama, the most important meeting Boris Johnson had yesterday was actually the one with the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker. The fact that there is still a dialogue is to be welcomed, even if the two sides are saying different things about the progress of those talks. The announcement that Johnson will meet Angela Merkel at the United Nations next week is also significant. Is there a path through to a deal? The initial optimism of the G7 Biarritz Summit in August has gone. The drama at Westminster has been a distraction, and there is confusion about an election and what outcome it might produce. The focus is, as it always was, on the backstop, but it is here that Johnson has the strongest case to make. By confronting the EU with the argument that the backstop is ‘anti-democratic’, Johnson has secured a hearing on a matter that was previously closed. In the end, the EU faces a choice as much as the UK. It can stick rigidly to the line that the backstop is sacrosanct, while preparing the way for a no deal Brexit. – David Shiels for the Telegraph (£)

Polly Mackenzie: By becoming extreme Remainiacs, the Lib Dems are only serving themselves

At my first ever Liberal Democrat conference in 2005 the biggest controversy was a policy pledge to replace antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) with acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs). Acronym substitution was precisely the kind of reasonable, technical, procedural proposal that Lib Dems did best. While Conservatives sipped champagne and Labour factions quarrelled, Charles Kennedy’s party indulged in hours of discussion about whether to take a separate vote on line 43 of a policy motion on the future of local government finance.  But Brexit has made radicals of us all. On the Right, the Conservatives have stopped listening to big business. On the Left, Jeremy Corbyn has abandoned a lifetime of straight talking about his policy beliefs. And in the centre, the Liberal Democrats have decided to stop giving a damn about the rules of our democracy, and start playing dirty like everyone else. Gone is the alphabet soup of policy wonkery. Gone are the socks and the sandals. Now every second delegate is wearing a blue beret with yellow stars. T-shirts emblazoned with “Bollocks to Brexit” are everywhere. The policy will serve the Liberal Democrats well in these febrile political times. It gives them a clear, distinctive and controversial position that will make clear to anyone listening that they are the most Remainiac of the parties. Anyone who wants Brexit to disappear from our political discourse will know that a Lib Dem vote is the best option.  But will the policy serve our country? I fear not – no more than the Prime Minister’s do or die agenda. For three years our Leaver government has disregarded the opinions of the millions who voted to remain. That has harmed our democracy. The damage would only be worsened by a Remain government that disregarded the millions who voted to leave. – Polly Mackenziw for the Telegraph (£)

Philip Johnston: Ultimate sovereign authority lies with the people, not Parliament

Which is sovereign, the people or Parliament? Is the Crown – ie the Government – entitled to interpret the wishes of the former and override the latter? Should the courts intervene in these arguments, something they have been reluctant to do since 1689? Such arcane questions, once the dusty preserve of academic jurists, are now central to our politics. The bedrock of the UK’s constitutional settlement, the separation of powers, has been shaken to its foundations by Brexit. There have been so many unprecedented political events since the referendum in 2016 that is easy to be blasé about the proceedings taking place in the Supreme Court. And yet this is arguably the most extraordinary moment of them all. Here are 11 judges sitting to decide whether the Queen was right to agree to the prorogation of Parliament or whether the advice she received from her Prime Minister was unlawful. Parliament is sovereign only in so far as it derives that authority from the people. It does not exist as a discrete phenomenon. Had there not been a referendum there would not be an issue. The principle that Parliament is supreme and the executive is answerable to it is not seriously questioned. But there must be a source for that sovereignty. When Parliament is preventing the implementation of a majority decision of the people taken in a referendum it is arguable that it is Parliament, not the executive, that is behaving unlawfully. – Philip Johnston for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Dithering Corbyn is right to fear being eclipsed by Jo Swinson’s fanatical support for Remain – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)
  • Jo Swinson told Lib Dem conference she can stop Brexit. Here’s the flaw in her plan – Michael Deacon for the Telegraph (£)
  • Gove’s wife Sarah Vine has not spoken to Camerons for three years after Brexit ‘drove wedge’ between them – Telegraph (£)
  • UKIP leader boycotting his own party conference – Guido Fawkes