Theresa May braced for another week of battles with Brussels and her own backbenchers: Brexit News for Monday 8 October

Theresa May braced for another week of battles with Brussels and her own backbenchers: Brexit News for Monday 8 October
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Theresa May braced for another week of battles with Brussels and her own backbenchers

Theresa May is bracing for another week of Brexit battles as it faces flashpoints with both Brussels and hardline Tory MPs. Despite key EU leaders sounding more upbeat at the prospects of a deal in recent days, Brussels appears set to reject key aspects of the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposals on Wednesday.However, it was reported that Mrs May hopes to break the deadlock over the Irish border issue by keeping the EU’s present customs arrangements beyond when the transition period is due to end in December 2020. Anti-EU Tory MPs have made it clear to the PM that this option could last no longer than the slated general election in 2022, according to The Times. – Mirror

Government reportedly in talks with 25 Labour MPs to push a Chequers-based deal through Parliament…

Ministers are in talks with as many as 25 Labour MPs to force through Theresa May’s Chequers Brexit deal risking open warfare with the party’s own MPs. The Government’s whips’ office has spent recent months making contact with the MPs as a back-up option for when Mrs May’s Brexit deal is put to a vote in Parliament in early December, The Daily Telegraph has been told. News of the wooing operation has infuriated Eurosceptic Tory MPs who are now threatening to vote against elements of the Budget and other “money bills” to force Mrs May to drop her Chequers plan…The scale of the talks would explain why Cabinet ministers are overwhelmingly confident that the Government can get its Chequers deal through the House of Commons. One Government source said the whips were engaged in an “ingenious plan” to get “25 Labour MPs to vote” for the Chequers proposal when Parliament is given a meaningful vote on it before Christmas. – Telegraph (£)

…while The Times claims some Brexiteers would concede Customs Union membership until 2022…

Brexiteers warned Theresa May last night that she could keep Britain within EU customs arrangements only until 2022 as negotiations with the bloc entered a vital week. The prime minister hopes to unlock talks that have become stuck over the so-called Irish backstop with a commitment to keep all of the UK in the European Union’s present customs arrangements after the transition period ends in December 2020. The concession was condemned by Jacob Rees-Mogg as a “serious breach” of Brexit after it was reported by The Times last week. Yesterday, however, leading Conservative Leave figures said that they were prepared to give Mrs May room for manoeuvre. They warned, though, that any extension could run only until the next election in 2022. “After that we can’t know who will be in charge, so we must be fully out by then,” a senior Brexit supporter said. – The Times (£)

…as others are said to be threatening to withdraw support for the Government if May refuses to abandon Chequers

Hardline Brexiteers were today forced to deny they are plotting to bring down the Government in a bid to wreck the PM’s Chequers plans. Tory MPs are said to be hatching a plan to vote against the Budget if Theresa May refuses to shift her position on Brexit. They have reportedly used secret WhatsApp groups to co-ordinate their attack on the Chequers proposals. Veteran Eurosceptic Bernard Jenkin told fellow MPs: “Make no mistake, a soft/non-Brexit pushed by the Conservative establishment but put through with Labour support will look like we are abandoning our supporters and remove any sense of obligation among Conservative Brexit-supporting MPs to continue to support the Government.” – The Sun

EU diplomats say there has been good progress in most areas of the divorce agreement…

After staring into the abyss, negotiators have found renewed momentum in the Brexit talks. Although obstacles remain, there is now cautious optimism that the two sides are close to wrapping up agreement on all aspects of the U.K. divorce treaty apart from a solution to the Northern Ireland border issue, according to EU diplomats briefed on the talks. Sticking points such as how future disputes about the agreement itself would be handled and the rights of EU citizens living on British military bases in Cyprus, for example, now appear closer to being resolved. – Politico

…as Ireland’s Deputy PM Simon Coveney says a Brexit deal is ‘90% agreed’

Ireland’s foreign minister has told Sky News a Brexit deal is 90% complete – a day after senior EU figures said a deal could be ready within weeks. Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Simon Coveney described the chances of agreeing a Brexit withdrawal treaty as “good”. It came after EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Austrian newspapers the “rapproachement potential” had increased in the last few days and that “it cannot be foreseen whether we will finish [the deal] in October. If not we’ll do it in November”. – Sky News

UK would be welcomed to TPP ‘with open arms’, says Japanese PM Abe

Japan would welcome Britain to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal “with open arms”, said prime minister Shinzo Abe, as he urged compromise to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times at his official residence in Tokyo, Mr Abe said the UK would lose its role as a gateway to Europe after Brexit, but would still be a country “equipped with global strength”. His remarks will encourage Brexit supporters in the UK who see new opportunities for free trade outside the EU while turning up the pressure on Brussels and London to strike a timely exit deal. The TPP is a wide-ranging trade agreement between 11 Pacific countries, including Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and Australia. – FT (£)

Former MI6 boss Sir Richard Dearlove says he’s “happy” we’re leaving the EU

Sir Richard Dearlove told Sophy Ridge on Sunday he is “happy” to see the end of Britain’s membership to the EU, and doesn’t believe it will signal the end of influence in European geopolitics. “I’m personally happy to see us ceasing to be a member of the EU but I don’t think you should see that as leaving Europe, it’s leaving the European Treaty, and we would obviously still have a very close relationship with continental Europe,” he said.”We’ve never been part of continental Europe’s political ambitions to create a more federated union, we’ve always opposed that. I think the EU in its current form – I’m not suggesting it’s going to disappear but it radically needs change, and if it’s going to have an inner core which is politically motivated we’re never, ever going to be an enthusiastic part of that.”I’m absolutely confident that we can survive and thrive outside a continental alliance but still be a major player in European geopolitics.” – Sky News

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s YouTube Channel: Former MI6 boss Sir Richard Dearlove say’s he’s happy to see us leave the EU

Nicola Sturgeon clears the way for SNP MPs to back a second EU referendum…

Nicola Sturgeon has cleared the way for Scottish National party MPs to back a second EU referendum in a Commons vote, regardless of whether her party’s demands for special conditions such as a guarantee of a new Scottish independence vote are met. Speaking on the first day of her party’s autumn conference in Glasgow, the SNP leader and first minister also indicated her party would seek a guarantee that if Scotland voted again to remain in the EU while the rest of the UK voted to leave, it would not be forced to accept the result for a second time. She suggested a “double lock”, which would require the support of all four UK nations before Britain could leave the EU. – Guardian

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s YouTube Channel: Sturgeon says the SNP won’t vote for a deal that doesn’t include Single Market and Customs Union membership

…but former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars say she’s ‘very foolish’ to back a second Brexit vote

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars last night branded Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to back a second European Union referendum as “very foolish”. The First Minister said yesterday the SNP’s 35 MPs would vote in support of a so-called People’s Vote on Brexit if the option is put before the House of Commons. Sillars – who backed Brexit – said Scottish unionists would use the precedent to demand another independence referendum if there is eventually a Yes vote. He told the Record: “If you concede that the EU referendum is not definitive, you also have to concede that any future vote in support of Scottish independence would not be definitive.“By backing a People’s Vote you are giving the game away. That is why I think it is very foolish.” – Daily Record

/*COMMENT*/

The Sun says: Jean-Claude Juncker is everything wrong with the EU — and why we voted to leave

Jean-Claude Juncker says he won’t miss the British Press once we’ve left the EU. The feeling’s mutual. He is everything that’s wrong with the European project — and why it’s so vital that we leave.In his latest rant, he demanded “respect” and delivered a warning that “Press freedom has its limits”. Why?Alas, Luxembourg’s finest is annoyed that the media keep reporting on the persistent rumours that he is half-cut most of the time.He must be to think, as he does, that the UK would have voted Remain if only HE had been involved in the referendum. Fat chance. He’d have doubled the Leave vote. The trials and tribulations of Brexit might have made some wonder if it’s all worth the hassle. So it’s good of Jean-Claude, a puffed-up political pygmy, to remind us why we’re better off out. – The Sun says

Brian Monteith: How Chequers became the white elephant in the room

Five days on and it is remembered more for her Dancing Queen entrance than anything she said. Indeed it is what she did not say that made the most telling point. There had been boos at a closed party-only meeting on the Sunday afternoon when Theresa May had mentioned her Chequers Plan. By Wednesday she had decided not to utter the C-word at all. If the Tory leader cannot talk to the party faithful about the core policy that defines what her Government is doing on the biggest issue facing the nation in a generation, then it must be concluded that the leader has lost her authority and must find a way to change without losing face – or be removed. Her Chequers Plan was the elephant in the room and it is a white elephant at that. The main problem with Chequers is its agreement to a common rule book, which is essentially the EU’s current laws – and any others it cares to come up with, but without our future say in the matter. It is the common rule book that will ensure no free trade deals are possible and how other restrictions to decide our own laws will remain in place. – Brian Monteith for the Scotsman

Nick Ferrari: Take a chance on Theresa to deliver Brexit

She openly mocked Boris and his language concerning views on business and scored well there but she correctly opted not to use the “c” word, as in Chequers. And therein lies the rub for Mrs May with her performance last week. For any other leader at any other time this would be more than enough to ensure she is whisked back through the gates of Downing Street on a cloud of indisputable power and universal approval. But this is not like any other time. There could be at least two more Brexit conferences with the other 27 European leaders before year end and the shine of her dancing and oratorical skills will be dulled totally if she fails to gain ground this time around. She has muffled the raucous right-wing, Brexit-obsessed wing of her party and put to bed the rumblings of revolt. However, she remains a prime minister who will be wholly defined not by how she might dance her way out of a crisis, but rather how she handles the most toxic issue in decades: Brexit. Get that right and she’ll be entitled next time to dance to The Winner Takes It All. – Nick Ferrari for the Express

Raphael Hogarth: There is a solution for May to break the Brexit impasse

Yet even before ministers begin fighting a guerrilla war in Westminster, there are difficulties ahead in Brussels.There will be some stubborn creases to iron out of this backstop. Some member states are queasy about the idea of granting the UK the economic benefits of a customs union, without demanding that the UK signs up to other EU regulations to ensure a “level playing field” between British and EU businesses. More difficulties arise from the prime minister’s insistence that any new “regulatory barriers” between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would require the agreement of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.If Northern Ireland remains in parts of the single market, then Northern Ireland will have to adopt new EU rules as they come into force. Great Britain will not. That means different rules on either side of the Irish Sea, and so real regulatory barriers to trade. – Raphael Hogarth for The Times (£)

Comment in Brief

  • Canadians v Norwegians. How the Cabinet lines up on alternatives to Chequers – Conservative Home
  • A Dad’s Army-style Brexit looms. ‘Don’t panic!’ – Anne Perkins for the Guardian
  • Alan Cochrane: The Nats are on the march, but in which direction? – Alan Cochrane for the Telegraph (£)

News in Brief

  • Brexit not on agenda for Theresa May’s next cabinet meeting – Guardian
  • BBC host shuts down EU Supergirl pointing out big flaw in calls for Brexit rerun – Express
  • Hundreds of dogs and owners march on Parliament to demand People’s Vote in bizarre rally – Evening Standard