Theresa May's chances of striking Irish border deal '50-50', say EU officials...: Brexit News for Monday 5 November

Theresa May's chances of striking Irish border deal '50-50', say EU officials...: Brexit News for Monday 5 November

Theresa May’s chances of striking Irish border deal ’50-50′, say EU officials…

The chances of Theresa May striking a deal with Brussels on the Irish border that she can sell to the cabinet and parliament are said by EU officials to be “50-50” as the fraught talks enter their final stretch. The British negotiating team and the European commission’s taskforce, led by Michel Barnier, are to enter a secretive phase known as the “tunnel” this week, but senior EU figures involved in the talks warned the competing redlines remain “incompatible” in key areas. The British government has set out its stall to make “decisive progress” on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop by Friday, in the hope that Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, could then call an extraordinary Brexit summit for the end of the month to seal the deal. – Guardian

…after Dominic Raab privately demanded the right to pull Britain out of the Irish backstop after three months

Dominic Raab has privately demanded the right to pull Britain out of the EU’s Irish backstop after just three months, the Telegraph has learned, setting back the prospect of clinching a Brexit divorce deal this week. The hardline pitch by the Brexit Secretary to the Irish government early last week is understood to have “stunned” Irish officials and exposed the continued deep divisions in Cabinet over how to prosecute the Brexit talks… The divisions emerged as Theresa May’s top Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, prepares to go to Brussels to clinch an in-principle Brexit divorce deal this week, triggering an extraordinary EU leaders summit later this month in order to cement the deal. – Telegraph (£)
Irish border issue continues to hamper Brexit progress – Guardian

  • Raab demand on Brexit backstop – RTE
  • Raab wants right to scrap Irish backstop after three months – Reuters

Reports of a ‘secret’ Brexit customs deal are speculation, says Downing Street…

Theresa May’s office has dismissed as “speculation” reports she has secured private concessions from Brussels that would keep the whole of the UK in a customs union with the EU. Downing Street said “negotiations are ongoing” and that a Sunday Times report claiming a proposed agreement had been reached on future customs arrangements at the Ireland-Northern Ireland border was “speculation.” However, UK and EU officials have said in recent days that a deal is getting closer and could be sealed this month. –  Evening Standard

…as Cabinet minister James Brokenshire merely acknowledged Brexit talks were ongoing in a TV interview…

The Sunday Times reported that the EU would allow the creation of a whole-UK customs union that would avoid the need for a Northern Ireland border “backstop” that has been at the heart of the impasse in negotiations. At the same time, it reported that the Prime Minister was on course to agree a future economic partnership that would leave open the possibility of Canada-style free trade deal sought by Brexiteers. Mr Brokenshire, appearing on Sky’s Ridge On Sunday, was asked if a deal was close, replying: “Well, we want to get that deal, we’re obviously working hard to see that that happens. “Negotiations are still very firmly continuing, and therefore we are 95% of the way there in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement. – Belfast Telegraph

…while the PM hit the phone to reassure Cabinet Brexiteers…

Theresa May spent yesterday telephoning key cabinet ministers as Downing Street sought to calm fears that she was about to dash to the finishing line of Brexit talks. The prime minister spoke to Leave-supporting colleagues after reports that an agreement was far closer than had been acknowledged. Some fear that she is about to trigger a deal-making summit with the EU later this month without securing political agreement for the final negotiation. She will meet President Macron for Armistice Day commemorations on Friday with the fate of the negotiations in the balance. Beforehand the prime minister will update the cabinet on the state of talks but allies insisted that she would not present ministers with a draft deal already agreed in outline. She is understood to have stressed that reports to the contrary were wide of the mark, both in a conference call and in one-to-one conversations. – The Times (£)

…in advance of a crucial meeting tomorrow

Theresa May will be challenged by cabinet ministers on Tuesday over reports that she is close to clinching a secret Brexit deal. Downing Street played down claims that Brussels had offered major concessions to secure agreement, while the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire insisted that the Brexit negotiations were still continuing. The EU is prepared to allow the creation of a whole-UK customs union to avoid the need for a Northern Ireland border “backstop”. Customs checks would take place in factories and shops to avoid disruption at borders, it was reported. The Sunday Times also that claimed Mrs May was set to agree a Canada-style free-trade deal after the post-Brexit transition period ends. The formula would be designed to appeal both to Remain and Leave-supporting MPs, as well as Labour MPs who fear the prospect of a no-deal exit. – iNews

  • Eyes on Tuesday’s U.K. Cabinet Meeting for Brexit Breakthrough – Bloomberg

May pledges to business she will stick to frictionless trade with Europe

Mrs May made it clear in a series of meetings with business leaders last week that she would stick to her plan to align Britain with EU rules for goods, according to attendees.  “There is a lot of wishful thinking going on by the Eurosceptics,” said one attendee at a meeting. “The prime minister could not have been clearer. She told everyone that she wanted frictionless trade. There was no backsliding whatsoever.” – FT (£)

Boris Johnson urges ministers to throw out Theresa May’s ‘appalling’ Brexit proposals before Cabinet showdown

Boris Johnson issued a clarion call to ministers to turn their back on Theresa May’s “appalling” Brexit proposals – one day before she faces a crunch Cabinet showdown. The Leave campaigner’s powerful intervention came as it was rumoured the PM had made a “secret Brexit deal” that would see the whole of Britain locked in a customs union to avoid a controversial hard border in Northern Ireland. Boris slammed the plans as a “Christmas present of the finest old Brussels fudge”. He blasted: “Even after we leave – according to this so called deal – we will remain in a nonsensical “implementation period” in which we will be effectively non-voting members of the EU. – The Sun

  • £40billion Brexit divorce bill means we’ll effectively become a non-voting EU colony – Boris Johnson MP for The Sun

DUP’s Arlene Foster attacks Remainers using the threat of violence to advance their political argument

DUP leader Arlene Foster last night called for sensible solutions to the ongoing Brexit impasse and fired a broadside at those using a potential return to violence as a bargaining chip. Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Foster stressed that rather than stirring up tensions, all sides should strive to ‘seek an outcome that works for NI, the UK and the EU.’ She also urged: “Those who continue to use the Troubles to advance their political arguments about Brexit should step back and consider their actions. Those of us who lived on the border in those days have very little tolerance for such arguments. There was never any justification for violence. Lofty speeches about a return to the borders of the 70s and 80s are not based on fact and only serve to add succour to men of violence.” – Belfast Telegraph

Shadow Lord Chancellor is latest senior Labour figure to bungle the party’s Brexit tests

Richard Burgon has become the latest senior Labour figure to forget what Labour’s six so-called ‘Brexit tests’ are and make up a completely unrelated set on the spot. Guido is surprised that broadcasters don’t challenge the shadow Cabinet on what they are more often since they love to bring them up in debate but none seem to have a clue what they actually are. – Guido Fawkes

Arron Banks challenged over Leave.EU funds

Businessman Arron Banks has been challenged to explain where the money for his Brexit campaign came from. Mr Banks is the subject of a police probe into claims he was not the “true source” of £8m loaned to his Leave.EU campaign in the 2016 EU referendum. The Electoral Commission referred the case to the National Crime Agency, which said potential criminal offences may have been committed. Mr Banks told the BBC’s Andrew Marr the money came from his UK businesses. – BBC News

  • Marr founders on the Rocks of Arron Banks’s muddy waters – Observer
  • ‘No Russian money’ in Brexit donation, says Arron Banks – FT(£)
    The Arron Banks debacle is a threat to our democracy, and it’ll happen again if authorities don’t act soon – Independent editorial

Remain-backing QC from the House of Lords heads list of lawyers wanting a second Brexit vote

More than 1,500 of the UK’s top lawyers have urged Theresa May and MPs to back a second Brexit referendum, saying that “democratic government is not frozen in time”. Labour peer Helena Kennedy QC, former court of appeal judge Konrad Schiemann, and David Edward, a former judge at the court of justice of the European Communities, are among those who have called for a “people’s vote” on EU membership. In a letter to the prime minister, they say parliament should not be bound by the 2016 vote any more than it should be by the 1975 referendum that took Britain into the EU, especially when there were question marks over its validity. – Guardian

Boris Johnson: £40billion Brexit divorce bill means we’ll effectively become a non-voting EU colony

It’s a deal! That’s the word from the Brexit talks. If yesterday’s papers are right the UK government will soon be rewarded with a Christmas present of the finest old Brussels fudge. If this is indeed the deal that is to be placed before Cabinet on Tuesday, it is an absolute stinker. It means we are proposing to hand over an amazing £40billion for absolutely nothing in return. Even after we leave – according to this so called deal – we will remain in a nonsensical “implementation period” in which we will be effectively non-voting members of the EU. – Boris Johnson MP for The Sun

The Sun says: Boris Johnson is right to be gloomy about the PM’s Brexit plan — it’s a truly dismal prospect

The Sun shares Boris Johnson’s gloom at Theresa May’s reported plan to lock Britain into a customs union. This would be a humiliating capitulation that would end any hope of an independent, free-trading Britain. As the former Foreign Secretary writes in The Sun today, it is “an absolute stinker”. Over 17million people voted to take back control, not for Britain to pay £39billion to exist as a vassal state. – The Sun says

Liam Fox: Investors want to put money and over 70,000 jobs into the UK because they know we will prosper from leaving the EU

New figures from the internationally respected organisation UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) showed that during the first six months of 2018, only China secured more inward investment into their country than the UK. According to the UN, China secured $70billion, the UK $65.5billion and the US $46.5billion. The Netherlands and Spain were the only other EU countries in the top ten. That is some achievement for the UK. And demonstrates that the people who know where to invest, know it should be in the UK. – International Trade Secretary Liam Fox MP for The Sun

Paul Goodman: How a Brexit deal would be done

ConservativeHome is told that there are two Brexit-related items on the agenda for discussion at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting.  The first is the now-weekly deliberation on preparations for leaving itself and for No Deal. The second is a more general exchange and gathering of views. That might seem to provide an opportunity for Theresa May to put a draft deal to Cabinet members.  It looks like a convenient week for Downing Street to do so. This is because the Commons is in recess from tomorrow until next Tuesday, November 12. It would suit Number Ten for MPs to be absent if and when proposals are put to the Cabinet, because this would minimise the opportunities for hostile reaction. – Paul Goodman for ConservativeHome

Brian Monteith: Shedding news light on Prime Minister’s Brexit duplicity

Yet another weekend, so yet another Sunday paper exclusive about a possible Brexit deal about to be signed between, and I choose my words carefully, Theresa May and EU negotiators. All it needs, apparently, is for her Cabinet to sign if off. That eventuality is, however, no certainty for despite the resignation of David Davis and Boris Johnson following the imposition of Theresa May’s Chequers Plan, there still appears to be a handful of Cabinet members who can remember what she committed to deliver in her Lancaster House and Florence speeches – and what they collectively stood for in their party manifesto only last year. Those included two simple statements; that the UK would leave the Single Market, and it would leave the Customs Union. No ifs, no buts, no caveats. – Brian Monteith for The Scotsman

Trevor Kavanagh: There’s one man that is able to save us from May’s Brexit surrender

Ministers fear they are being set up by Theresa May for a “take it or leave it” deal which lands Britain in a BRINO trap – Brexit In Name Only. The half-in, half-out scheme would lock Britain into a customs union which prevents outside trade deals and leaves our £39billion divorce bill as just a down payment. The hopes of many Tories are pinned on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC, the breezy Brexiteer who torpedoed Mrs May’s first botched attempt to seal a deal. – Trevor Kavanagh for The Sun

Daniel Boffey: Why Brexit is just a sideshow for an EU beset by problems on all sides

Foremost on the list of problem zones right now is Italy. “Nothing and nobody, no big or small letter will make us backtrack,” the country’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, and leader of the far-right League, told his followers in a Facebook video made in his office in Rome on Friday. “Italy will no longer be a slave and will no longer kneel down”… The potency of the Italian problem is that it perfectly encapsulates the central, and potentially fatal, issue that the European Union member states and Brussels have repeatedly failed to grapple with in any meaningful sense, either from political cowardice or lack of will. – Daniel Boffey for The Observer

Faisal Islam: PM needs the Brexit equivalent of a Jedi mind trick

To get a deal through parliament the PM and her whips will essentially have to persuade two diametrically opposed cross-party groups of MPs that a vote against her deal will deliver both “no-deal Brexit” and at the same time “no Brexit at all”. Remainer rebels will be told and have been told that voting down the deal will lead to the chaos of no-deal across the economy, with implications for car factories, supermarkets and in the Channel. Conversely, Brexiteer rebels will be told, and have been told by the PM herself, that voting down her deal could lead to “no Brexit at all”. Both cannot be true. – Faisal Islam for Sky News

  • May’s Brexit deal: The Cabinet must stand ready to take back control – Paul Goodman for ConservativeHome
    Britain’s senior royals help UK prepare for life after Brexit – Mail Online
  • ‘May is not a fighter!’ Former Tory minister says Thatcher would never surrender UK to EU – Express
  • Pound set to gain as mood swings toward Brexit divorce deal – Bloomberg
  • Post-Brexit trade deal with US will lead to ‘huge decline in food safety’, says europhile  ex-Environment Secretary – PoliticsHome
  • Politico poll finds Conservative voters unwilling to compromise on Brexit – Politico
  • Six in ten Britons do not back second referendum offering in-out Brexit choice – ITV News