May facing Cabinet revolt at Chequers after plan for 'common rulebook' revealed: Brexit News for Friday 6 July

May facing Cabinet revolt at Chequers after plan for 'common rulebook' revealed: Brexit News for Friday 6 July
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Chequers revolt looms with at least six Cabinet ministers set to confront the PM…

Theresa May faces the worst rebellion of her leadership today as cabinet Brexiteers attempt to force her to push for a harder exit from the European Union than she is planning. Last night seven cabinet Brexiteers held closed talks at the Foreign Office to discuss their strategy before today’s meeting at Chequers, at which Mrs May hoped to persuade the whole cabinet to sign off on her Brexit plans… Hardline Leave supporters were horrified to find out this week that Mrs May was preparing to water down her original proposals and in effect keep Britain in parts of the single market… The Brexiteer group intend to confront Mrs May today with a plan for her to stick to her promise to fully leave the single market and customs union and negotiate a Canada-style free-trade deal. “They believe they can shape things,” a senior aide said. However, in the first success for Mrs May, she appeared to peel Liam Fox from the rebels last night. Sources said that Dr Fox was “content” about her plan, having had “personal reassurances” from Mrs May about an independent trade policy after Brexit. – The Times (£)

…following a meeting of Cabinet Brexiteers in Boris Johnson’s office…

Boris Johnson, who led the Leave campaign during the EU Referendum, gathered fellow Brexiteers David Davis, Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt and Esther McVey at his office in the Foreign Office for a crisis meeting to hammer out their response. They are expected to tell the Prime Minister her proposals are “not acceptable” and that if she tries to press ahead she will “destroy the Government”. They may present an alternative plan. Mr Fox and Mr Davis were later summoned to Downing Street as Mrs May tried desperately to keep the Chequers meeting on track, but the mood among Brexiteers was described as “despondent”… Cabinet ministers were also furious after it emerged that Mrs May had shared details of her plan with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, at a meeting in Berlin on Thursday before they themselves had seen them. – Telegraph (£)

  • Top Brexiteers meet ahead of crunch cabinet showdown – Sky News
  • Pro-Brexit ministers plot rebellion over Theresa May’s ‘sell-out’ proposals on goods ahead of Chequers summit – City A.M.
  • Foreign secretary assembles six Eurosceptic ministers on eve of May’s crucial summit as it’s revealed PM wants UK to follow EU Court rulings after Brexit and US trade deal unlikely – MailOnline
  • Davis holds secret strategy talks ahead of Chequers showdown – Express
  • Cabinet has duty to agree Brexit plan, says Theresa May – BBC News
  • Theresa May battles to see off revolt ahead of key Brexit summit – Guardian
  • Eurosceptics in uproar at Theresa May’s Brexit plan – FT (£)
  • Brexiteers’ fury at EU ‘common rulebook’ plan – Express
  • Senior member of Government: Tory Brexiteers ‘will reject soft Brexit proposal’ – Guido Fawkes
  • Davis ‘tells May customs plan is unworkable’ on eve of crunch Brexit meeting – Sky News
  • David Davis says May’s new Brexit customs plan is unworkable – Guardian
  • Remainer Tories urge May to ‘listen to business’ on customs – Bloomberg
  • May shows Merkel customs plan before Cabinet – Guido Fawkes
  • Phones to be seized at Theresa May’s Chequers Brexit talks amid cabinet plotting – Sky News

…after May’s Brexit plan is revealed to keep UK subject to EU rules…

Britain will sign a formal treaty with the European Union after Brexit that will tie the UK to Brussels rules on goods under plans that will be unveiled by Theresa May. The Prime Minister’s “third way” on Customs, now called the “evolved Mansion House model”, crosses clear red lines for Eurosceptics and will be the subject of a furious backlash at Chequers on Friday. It commits Britain to accepting “European harmonised standards” on manufactured goods and removes any right for the UK to diverge in the future by putting forward its own “competing national standards”. It also concedes that it will limit the UK’s ability to strike a post-Brexit free trade deal with the US, and says that British courts “must follow” the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in some areas. The 100-page paper was leaked within an hour of being shared with ministers on Thursday afternoon and has prompted a furious backlash from Eurosceptic MPs who are tonight in open rebellion. – Telegraph (£)

  • Theresa May is daring her Cabinet Brexiteers to defy her – and is confident she will triumph – Fraser Nelson for the Telegraph (£)
  • Resignations at Chequers are a clear and present danger for May – Sebastian Payne for the FT (£)
  • Theresa May’s ‘body bag summit’ – Tom McTague and Charlie Cooper for Politico
  • The people voted to leave and take back control. What we are being offered is a phantom Brexit – Gisela Stuart for the Telegraph (£)
  • Ministers will blow the Brexit opportunity of a lifetime if they embrace zombie ideas on customs and regulation – Shanker Singham and Radomir Tylecote for the Telegraph (£)
  • Brexiteer frog at boiling point – Paul Goodman for ConservativeHome
  • Brexiteers should offer a plan or shut up – Philip Collins for The Times (£)
  • Theresa May has only one option today and it is this – Professor Patrick Minford for the Express
  • On Friday, let’s hope the Brexiteers save Theresa May from herself – Professor David Paton for CapX
  • The time for tough talk is over – now we need compromise and flexibility on both sides – Catherine Neilan for City A.M.
  • A compromise on trade must be reached before May destroys the Tories – The Sun says
  • Chequers summit is a make-or-break moment for Theresa May and Brexit – Telegraph editorial (£)
  • The Chequers Brexit summit: putting party before country – Guardian editorial
  • It’s time for the Cabinet to show a united front – Express editorial
  • The prime minister should tell her cabinet tomorrow that she will pursue a pragmatic relationship with Europe for the sake of the economy – Times leader (£)

…with Brexiteers fearing Theresa May has left a future US trade deal in tatters thanks to her plans to align with the EU on food and agriculture…

Theresa May sparked fears a wide-ranging Trade Deal with the US was in tatters tonight – as the PM vowed to stare down Brexit hardliners to get Cabinet backing for a softer exit. The Prime Minister will on Friday ask her Cabinet to sign up to plans to align with the EU on food and agriculture that they admit “would not allow the UK to accommodate a likely ask from the US in a future trade deal”. Mrs May will use her marathon summit at Chequers to sell a new treaty with Brussels that binds Brexit Britain to a “common rule book” on goods including food, with punishing “consequences” if we strayed. But furious Brexiteer Ministers and MPs said this would tie the country’s hands and vowed to vote down any such measure… Boris is thought to have been persuaded that since the EU are likely to shoot down Mrs May’s plan, it is worth him staying on to influence the next government fight over the shape of Brexit, likely to arrive by the Autumn. – The Sun

…as Downing Street is forced to deny claims the PM has ruled out a Brexit trade deal with US

Downing Street was today forced to deny that Theresa May has ruled out the possibility of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US. Reports claim the PM has told ministers her preferred customs plan with the EU would make it nearly impossible to strike an agreement with America after Brexit. She allegedly said the only way to keep trade flowing freely with Europe is to adopy EU regulations on all goods – adding that that would stop us accepting good from the US which don’t comply with the rules. Brexit-backing Tories reacted with fury, warning the PM the proposed arrangement “is not Brexit”… The PM’s spokesman said: “It’s categorically not true that we will not be able to strike a trade deal with the US.” But she refused to say whether or not the latest customs plan would make a transatlantic trade harder… Tory MP Lucy Allan said of the reports: “This is not Brexit.” Jacob Rees-Mogg, boss of the powerful European Research Group, added: “This common rulebook means that we are essentially a vassal state.” And Nadine Dorries said: “What’s the point if we can’t free trade with global giants?” Ex-minister Owen Paterson accused the PM of breaking her manifesto promises, adding: “We would be Out of Europe but still Run by Europe.” – The Sun

  • Theresa May’s Brexit plans could jeopardise US trade deal, Downing Street suggests – Telegraph
  • ‘This is not Brexit’: Rees-Mogg’s fury as he calls for May to rip up leaked EU plan – Express
  • Fresh fury at Downing Street plan amid claims it could prevent UK-US trade deal – Independent
  • No. 10 plan restricts chances of US trade deal, makes UK rule-taker on goods and agri-foods – Guido Fawkes
  • Theresa May’s Brexit paper could mean no US trade deal – James Forsyth for the Spectator
  • What is the ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ – Oliver Wright for The Times (£)

EU officials say Theresa May’s new Brexit plan would be ‘dead on arrival’ in the EU…

EU officials said any hint that the UK wants to be part of the single market on goods, but not services will be rejected. It is a blow for the prime minister who has spent the last week in meetings with EU leaders, including Angela Merkel, in a bid to prevent Europe dismissing her plans out of hand when they are published next week… But before her ministers have even agreed to the deal, EU officials told The Independent the white paper would be “dead on arrival” in Brussels if, as expected, it proposes that the UK remain in the EU’s single market for goods, but not services. They claimed they had repeatedly warned UK negotiators that this option would not work. They said it had been widely discussed among EU ministers and rejected – including, crucially, by the EU’s two most powerful players, France and Germany. One Brussels source said: “We have been telling the UK for two years that we would not accept a single market a la carte. What do they come with? – A single market a la carte.” – Independent

  • EU has been dishonest about the Brexit options – Bruno Waterfield for The Times (£)

…as Theresa May meets Merkel ahead of Cabinet summit…

Theresa May has said she hopes her cabinet will be able to “discuss and decide on a substantive way forward” on Brexit at their crucial Friday awayday. The UK prime minister told Germany’s Angela Merkel she hoped this would lead to an increase in the “pace and intensity” of UK-EU negotiations. As they met in Berlin, Mrs Merkel said Brexit talks were at a “crucial phase”. She said that a political framework for future relations needed to be clear by October. Downing Street said Theresa May and Angela Merkel had “constructive” talks about Brexit in Berlin and the cabinet’s discussions at Chequers would decide a “substantial way forward which would enable the pace and intensity of negotiations to increase”. – BBC News

  • Merkel and May banter over Brexit and penalties – Politico
  • Angela Merkel warns Theresa May of Brexit time pressures – Independent
  • On show… PM’s note of intent with Merkel – Express

…while German interior minister and Merkel rival Horst Seehofer backs May over Brexit security concerns…

The German interior minister has backed Theresa May and attacked Brussels negotiators for putting “the security of citizens at risk” over Brexit, breaking European Union solidarity. The Times has seen a confidential letter from Horst Seehofer to the European Commission complaining about the consequences of its hard line in talks over Britain’s departure from the EU. It is the first time that European unity on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal has been shattered by such a senior politician. At an EU summit on Thursday last week Mrs May was rebuffed by other leaders and Jean-Claude Juncker, the commission president, when she said the commission risked lives by restricting post-Brexit security co-operation. In the letter, dated Wednesday last week, Mr Seehofer criticised the “stance taken by the commission”. He said: “It is not my intention to comment on the strategy of negotiations. However, in my capacity as German interior minister, I may be so bold as to stress that the security of citizens must have the highest priority. This must not be put at risk.” – The Times (£)

  • EU rigidity on Brexit putting lives at risk, says German minister – FT (£)
  • Germany’s interior minister warns that lives will be put at risk from terrorism if the EU’s approach to Brexit hampers a security deal with Britain – Daily Mail

…and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says EU should “keep negotiating” even if no solution is found to Irish border

The European Union should “keep negotiating” with Britain to avoid a crash out Brexit even if a solution cannot be found to the Irish border question, the Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said. Mr Kurz said that Austria would support Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator on the question of the UK ‘cherry-picking’ the EU single market, adding that Europe must not look to “penalise” Britain and that every effort needed to be made to get a deal on Ireland. Our goal is we reach an agreement with the UK but if that’s not possible we have to avoid a hard Brexit,” he told journalists in Vienna, “Our goal is clear. If not, it’s good to keep negotiating.” Asked if that could mean extending the two-year article 50 process, the Austria leader replied cryptically: “We will see.” – Telegraph (£)

  • Theresa May has an EU ally as Austria’s leader Sebastian Kurz says Britain mustn’t be ‘penalised’ over Brexit and negotiations could be extended – The Sun

Former Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson dismisses Jaguar Land Rover warning over no-deal Brexit

Pro-Brexit conservative MP Owen Paterson has dismissed Jaguar Land Rover’s concerns a hard Brexit would make it unprofitable to stay in the UK because of a sharp rise in tariff costs, claiming instead that JLR would be in a “wonderful position” if the UK left the single market, customs union and jurisdiction of the European courts. Mr Patterson told the BBC Today Programme that businesses warning against a ‘no-deal’ scenario were assuming that automatically meant tariffs would be imposed on goods. “If we go to WTO terms, we set our tariffs and we can choose to have no tariffs,” Mr Paterson said. He went on to claim that if the UK was outside a European customs union, that meant JLR could have access to cheaper components from elsewhere in the world, which in turn would force European suppliers to lower their prices in order to compete. – FT (£)

  • Don’t let business fears bully us into a bad Brexit deal – Ross Clark for the Express

UK opens door to gifted foreign scientists from outside EU

Immigration rules are to be relaxed by the Home Office to allow hundreds of gifted scientists into the UK. Sam Gyimah, the science minister, wants more researchers and technology experts from outside the EU to be allowed into Britain to help boost the economy after Brexit. Sajid Javid, the home secretary, has already announced that the government would lift its immigration cap on doctors and nurses in order to plug labour shortages in the NHS… “There is so much more to do to convince the world we are truly open for business,” Mr Gyimah said in a speech at the Oxford Science Park yesterday. As we think about our post-Brexit immigration system, we should design it in a way that makes Britain a place where the sharpest minds can come to work on the biggest challenges.” – The Times (£)

Gisela Stuart: The people voted to leave and take back control. What we are being offered is a phantom Brexit

For a while, even after last year’s general election, it seemed that we might be able to put Brexit behind us and come together as a country to build a stronger and more prosperous future outside the EU… Only now we are finding it is not quite as it seems. When people said free movement would end it seems free movement as we know it would end, and instead we could have another kind of free movement. The customs union could end, but only to be replaced by a customs union. The single market: we are leaving that but could stay in a new kind of single market. And so it goes on. We voted to leave the EU but unless the Government gets a grip EU membership as we know it could end, only to be replaced by a new kind of EU membership. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose… If reports are right then what we are likely to be told after the Chequers meeting is that the Brexit we voted for may be off the table. If so, the people who voted Leave will have been badly let down by their political class. – Gisela Stuart for the Telegraph (£)

Shanker Singham and Radomir Tylecote: Ministers will blow the Brexit opportunity of a lifetime if they embrace zombie ideas on customs and regulation

Even two years after the referendum, the Government shows little sign of realising what it will take for Britain to become an independent trading nation and unleash the potential of our economy. The real Brexit cliff edge is fast approaching. The Cabinet looks set to be asked, once again, to consider some form of customs union, partnership or partial membership of the single market. We’ve been here before. While the Government claims its “third way” customs proposal will be different from the New Customs Partnership discussed in April, it appears it will still require us to collect money on the EU’s behalf. Staying in a single market for goods, meanwhile, would mean aligning UK regulations with the EU’s, despite the fact regulatory alignment was meant to have been settled at Chequers in February. Like a zombie apocalypse, ideas thought dead seem continually to resurrect themselves… Any relationship that locks us into accepting EU laws means only partial freedom to negotiate with other countries. It means little capacity to improve our own regulations. And that means losing the extremely rare chance to transform our economy. This applies to any combination of EEA or EFTA-type deal… Look under the bonnet, and the mechanism is always that the smaller party must harmonise with the EU, as Brussels aggressively pushes its growth-sapping regulations onto its competitors. Britain must break free not least because, as a non-member, we would have no say over its rules. – Shanker Singham and Radomir Tylecote for the Telegraph (£)

Sir Rocco Forte: Why the prophets of doom have got it so wrong

Two years ago the British people voted by a decisive margin for independence from EU rule. Yet instead of embracing the global opportunities offered by the referendum verdict, too many ministers and mandarins now appear desperate to emasculate Brexit, keeping Britain under the governance of Brussels. Such a fudge would be highly damaging to both the British economy and our democracy. But it seems to be the direction in which the Government is now heading… One of the key arguments used by the politicians to prop up this sort of compromise is that British businesses are terrified of so-called ‘hard’ Brexit and want as close a commercial alignment with the EU as possible… Yet I believe that alarmism is not only unjustified but also unrepresentative of British business as a whole. Many of the corporate lobbyists – used to decades of operating within the EU’s bureaucracy – are only thinking of their narrow, short-term vested interests instead of the long-term future of the UK. They certainly do not speak for me and many other entrepreneurs… For me, the brighter prospects for Britain lie in national freedom, whereas the retention of control by Brussels will mean the shackling of enterprise and global trade. It is precisely my long experience in business that has left me so disillusioned with the EU. – Sir Rocco Forte for the Daily Mail

Bruno Waterfield: EU has been dishonest about the Brexit options

If Britain is ready to sign up to the single market and a customs union on goods and services-related components, EU officials argue, then Brussels should push for the British to go the whole hog. If the EU does not kill the plan at birth, that will be because it is seen as trapping the government in a lobster pot where the only way out is more concessions. The EU is offering only two options apart from the no-deal scenario of a potentially hostile and disorderly Brexit. The first is misleadingly called the “Norway model”, when it is no such thing… Contrary to the rather idiotic slides put out by the commission showing the models available for Brexit, EEA plus customs union is as bespoke an agreement as anything the UK wants and no one has done it before. While the British are often criticised, rightly, for levels of fantasy or dishonesty surrounding proposals, the commission should be more honest too. The EU’s second option — if the UK balks at EEA plus customs union — is the “Canada model”. Again this is very misleading as the Canada-style free trade agreement (FTA) comes with a backstop that will draw a border in the Irish Sea and change Northern Ireland’s territorial status in relation to the rest of Britain. So it is not Canada. When Justin Trudeau signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) he did not commit Canada to draw a border around part of his country’s territory, which would then be treated by the EU under a completely different legal order… If the UK has painted itself into a corner, so has the EU. Is it really viable to offer EEA plus customs union versus FTA plus backstop or else no deal? It is certainly highly dishonest to paint the choice as “Norway versus Canada”. – Bruno Waterfield for The Times (£)

The Sun: A compromise on trade must be reached before May destroys the Tories

Brexit’s fate could be decided today — and it all looks ominous. The Government plan to tightly align with EU rules looks likely to hamper our chances of striking future trade deals. If we aren’t a fully independent trading power, how can we truly claim we’ve left the EU? It is The Sun’s key “red line” alongside ending free movement, which Theresa May is ­adamant she will do. So we share the concern of Brexit-backing MPs and ministers. They must fight their corner… Time is almost up — and Mrs May is now out of compromises. She can go no further without betraying 17million voters and destroying the Tories. – The Sun says

Fraser Nelson: Theresa May is daring her Cabinet Brexiteers to defy her – and is confident she will triumph

Until now, Mrs May has been conciliatory. But she is braced for resignations and, I understand, she has even taken soundings from a party grandee about how she might survive a leadership challenge. How big a majority, she asked, does a Prime Minister need to win a confidence vote? By one solitary vote, came the reply. It doesn’t matter if even a third of the party want you gone: if you have just over half of MPs, you can stay. She said that she fully agreed. So if her enemies wish to move against her, she has a message: she stands ready. They can try. But they’d have to be sure to finish her off… At Chequers today, David Davis is preparing to make his own counter-proposal: a Brexit plan that defends the “red lines” that Mrs May described in happier times. So no to the customs union, no to the single market, no to the European Court of Justice. She will say that her new idea does all of this: he’ll disagree. But she might not even call a vote. Her plan is to reach a consensus – she doesn’t say how – and then find some Brexiteer ministers willing to promote this tomorrow. Most have replied that they have unmovable plans (most involving football), but a few have been more receptive. – Fraser Nelson for the Telegraph (£)

Patrick Minford: Theresa May has only one option today and it is this

It should be a no brainer: the only deal that achieves free trade with the EU and is compatible with leaving is an improved version of the one just signed with Canada known as “Canada+”. If the Government takes the so-called Norway option (the European Economic Area deal) it effectively means we do not leave but lose all EU voting powers. This is clearly beyond the pale. The true “third way” is the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules option or ‘no deal’ which means we have tariff barriers between us and the EU: not a problem for us. It saves us a transition period and the £40 billion we have offered to pay the EU for a deal and is expensive for the EU. They also pay a lot more in tariffs to us. So what is all the argument about? It seems Cabinet ministers simply cannot understand how it works to be a ‘third country’ like so many around the world not in the EU. They and ‘Big Business’ are terrified that it is a lawless world out there beyond the EU’s remit: the EU can suddenly erect borders that do not work properly and create new standards with which our exports are incompatible. And so the Cabinet ministers want a ‘Fourth Way’ whereby we continue to be ‘in’ the EU for purposes of avoiding such barriers and yet also ‘out of’ the EU, so as to achieve Brexit. Even to write this down sounds like Alice Through the Looking Glass. The EU has, rightly, dismissed this Fourth Way as incomprehensible and inconsistent with any known legal status. – Professor Patrick Minford for the Express

David Jones: Now is the time to call the EU’s bluff

If leaks are believed, however, it is hard to see any substantial difference between the Third Way and the New Customs Partnership. Under it, the United Kingdom would remain aligned to the European Union’s external tariffs and regulatory standards for manufactured goods and agricultural produce. The UK would still collect duties on behalf of the EU. In effect, the UK would remain in an analogue of the Single Market and the Customs Union, which we voted to leave two years ago. We would become a rule-taking serfdom, subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and the fiat of the European Commission… We must put forward a workmanlike proposal for a post-Brexit arrangement which maintains our national independence, our judicial autonomy, our border controls and our freedom to trade with the rest of the world. That will be in our mutual interest. But if, for whatever reason, the EU declines our offer, then we must simply tell them that on 29 March next year, we will leave without a deal, hoping to remain on good terms, but keeping the £40 billion plus that we would otherwise have paid. – David Jones MP for Get Britain Out

Telegraph: Chequers summit is a make-or-break moment for Theresa May and Brexit

Britain voted Leave in the hope of regaining control of its courts, borders, laws and right to trade freely with the rest of the world. This position was restated in the 2017 Conservative manifesto, which asserted that a bad deal would be worse than none at all, and it has been debated in Parliament. Therefore, Britain’s offer to the EU on a future relationship has to defer to these national aspirations. Many Leavers are angry about leaks suggesting the Government wishes to bind Britain by treaty to EU regulations. This would theoretically make it difficult to reduce the burden of regulation. It would also make it harder to pursue a US trade deal, particularly if the UK remains aligned with EU rules on agrifoods. And should future parliaments be constrained by a treaty? That’s what our accession to the Common Market did in 1973. – Telegraph editorial (£)

Comment in brief

  • What kind of Brexit do voters want? – Sir John Curtice for BBC News
  • Remainers mock Theresa May’s NHS Brexit boost, but voters recognise she is delivering – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)
  • The Brexiteers have already lost the battle. But with care, they can still win the war – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)
  • What would Churchill have done about Brexit? – Lord Adonis for The Times (£)
  • EU quota talks could be a useful back door to trade deals for Britain – Raphael Hogarth for The Times (£)
  • Dress code for Chequers, and for dealing with the Nats: business suit with chain mail underneath – Alan Cochrane for the Telegraph (£)

News in brief

  • European airports: EU and UK must prepare for no-deal Brexit – Politico
  • EU Ombudsman again finds evidence of “maladministration” over ECB President Mario Draghi’s refusal to cut ties with ‘Group of Thirty’ – City A.M.
  • Nigel Farage’s fury as Brussels lends money to Iran – Express
  • JPMorgan asks ‘several dozen’ bankers to relocate in Brexit plan – Bloomberg
  • Record £1.7m for magic circle law firm partners — thanks to Brexit – The Times (£)
  • Theresa May must play leading role in EU accession of Balkan nations post-Brexit, says MP Committee – Express