Theresa May to trigger full-scale parliamentary no-deal planning ‘within three weeks’: Brexit News for October 25th

Theresa May to trigger full-scale parliamentary no-deal planning ‘within three weeks’: Brexit News for October 25th

Theresa May to trigger full-scale parliamentary no-deal planning ‘within three weeks’

Theresa May will trigger full-scale parliamentary preparations for a no-deal Brexit in less than three weeks with a slew of legislation to prepare the country for a chaotic departure. Ministers have agreed that a schedule of detailed implementation plans drawn up in secret over the past year across Whitehall will be launched in the second week of November. In parliament, routine business will be effectively suspended and replaced with a rolling programme of no-deal Brexit legislation. At least four new bills will have to clear parliament by March 29, the day of Brexit. These include legislation to guarantee the rights of current EU citizens living in Britain and reasserting territorial control over fishing waters. – The Times (£)

  • May sets November date to trigger no-deal Brexit preparations – Guardian
  • James Brokenshire says government is right to prepare for a no-deal Brexit – ITV News

‘There is no other way’ but to continue the Brexit talks, says Donald Tusk…

European Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday said the U.K. made clear at last week’s EU summit that “more time is needed to find a precise solution” to Brexit and that he is confident EU leaders would grant Theresa May an extension if “it helps to reach a deal.” Speaking at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, Tusk told MEPs that if an extended transition would aide the British PM, he is “sure that leaders will accept it.” Last Wednesday evening’s European Council meeting ended in disappointment and little movement on Brexit, particularly on the issue of the Irish border. The British PM had earlier rejected a tentative divorce agreement reached by negotiators at the technical level earlier this month. – Politico

…as Attorney General warns that any deal Theresa May agrees will be almost impossible to get out of

Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU will be almost impossible to get out of, the Attorney General has warned amid mounting Cabinet opposition. Geoffrey Cox is said to have made clear that ministers will not be able to change the customs backstop once the UK is signed up to it. Eurosceptics are demanding an “exit mechanism” that enables the UK to break off the backstop, which will come into force in March 2021 if the UK has still not signed a deal with Brussels. It is designed to avoid a hard border with Ireland, but Eurosceptics fear that it will leave the UK in a state of “permanent vassalage” with the EU. – Telegraph (£)

Brexit deal ‘progress is at 0%’ until Irish border solved, warns Guy Verhofstadt

The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator has rejected Theresa May’s suggestion that a deal is “95 per cent done”, as Brussels warned it will not be bounced into an agreement. Guy Verhofstadt said the withdrawal agreement needed to prevent no deal was “0 per cent done” as far as MEPs were concerned, because of the lack of a solution to the Irish border issue. “Progress on the Brexit negotiations can be 90 per cent, 95 per cent or even 99 per cent,” Mr Verhofstadt said. “But as long as there is no solution for the Irish border, as long as the Good Friday agreement is not fully secured, for us in our parliament progress is 0 per cent.” The European Parliament has a veto on the final Brexit deal and has said it would kill any agreement that does not prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. – Independent

Theresa May does little to reassure her Brexit critics at crunch backbenchers meeting…

The Prime Minister spoke to a meeting of backbench Conservative MPs – known as the 1922 committee – for just under an hour in a bid to win support for her negotiating stance with the EU. May is under pressure to resist Brussels demands to keep the UK in the EU’s customs union indefinitely after Brexit if no trade deal can be brought into force by the end of December 2020. There is also anger her plan to tie the UK to the EU’s rules on goods and agriculture will see the government limited in the type of trade deals it can strike after Brexit. The lead up to her appearance had been dominated by lurid language from unnamed Tories, with one claiming she was going to enter the “killing zone” and another saying May should “bring her own noose” to the meeting. Despite the outcry over the comments from politicians on all sides, one former minister repeated the stabbing metaphor as they entered the meeting. Referring to the practice of MPs banging desks to show support for the PM, the MP said: “They can only bang with one hand because in the other hand they have a knife.” – City A.M.

…while supporters stage ‘love-in’ in a bid to fend off plots to oust her

Loyal Tory MPs put on a love-in show of support for Theresa May last night in a bid to fend off swirling plots to oust her. The PM was forced to rip up her schedule to address all ministers and backbenchers at a tense meeting of the party’s 1922 Committee. Furious Brexiteers had billed the showdown as a final reckoning with her, with one even suggesting she should “bring her own noose”. But in what MPs dubbed a carefully coordinated operation by her whips, Mrs May was greeted with cheers and desk banging which continued through out the 45-minute meeting. And No10 was confident that Mrs May had done enough to see off the threat of a no confidence vote in her this week. One Brexiteer MP, Michael Fabricant insisted the PM had won the room over, emerging to say: “It’s not Daniella in the Lion’s Den, it’s a petting zoo in there. – The Sun

  • May quells dissident Tories with ‘heartfelt’ plea for unity – FT (£)
  • Theresa May ‘wins over’ Tory critics at Brexit meeting – BBC News
  • PM deploys ‘emotional’ speech to see off threat from Brexit critics – Guardian

Theresa May offers EU citizens the lifelong right to stay in Britain in return for free movement for expats

Theresa May has offered EU citizens the lifelong right to stay in Britain, even if they leave the country for years, in return for free movement for expats. The PM told the EU Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt she was prepared to make the trade-off during a meeting at Downing Street last month. Currently, Brussels is only giving Brits on the continent the right to residency for the country they’re living in on our exit day. Meanwhile the UK has said that Europeans in the UK could lose their “settled status” rights if they leave the country for more than two years. Mr Verhofstadt urged EU Council chief Donald Tusk to take up the UK’s offer as the best outcome for citizens on both sides of the Channel. – The Sun

Michael Gove unveils post-Brexit Fisheries Bill, giving Scottish ministers ‘significant’ new powers

Michael Gove has unveiled legislation giving Scottish ministers “significant” new powers over the fishing industry after Brexit. The Environment Secretary said the Fisheries Bill will enable the UK to control who fishes in its waters and create a “sustainable, profitable” industry. He said leaving the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will give the UK Government and devolved administrations the power to manage fisheries more effectively and sustainably. Fishing leaders said the Bill was necessary to set up frameworks outside the “universally detested” CFP and urged Scottish and UK ministers to work together in “harmony” to achieve this. But the SNP administration has repeatedly accused the UK Government of staging a Brexit “power grab” for refusing to hand over all powers repatriated from Brussels in devolved areas like fisheries. – Telegraph (£)

MPs ‘far more likely to reject deal’ if denied the chance to amend it, warns Dominic Grieve

MPs are far more likely to reject any Brexit deal if they are denied the chance to amend it in a proper “meaningful vote”, Theresa May has been warned. A controversial move to only allow the Commons to accept or reject an agreement with the EU – preventing any amendments – will backfire by increasing opposition, Tory rebel Dominic Grieve predicted. “If the government tries to pursue the route they are opting for, it is far more likely that the deal is likely to be rejected,” the former attorney general told an inquiry by MPs. “You are confronted with an all-or-nothing choice – and you will not be able to go on and talk about anything else until you have rejected the deal.” Mr Grieve – whose revolt, last December, won the “meaningful vote” – called for the debate to last 4 or 5 days, to let every MP “have their say”. And he warned they would be “much more hostile” if they were denied the chance to make amendments until after “the guillotine has fallen” and the deal approved. “To go back on this, or to try to avoid it, would be wrong – and it would be a big mistake,” he said. – Independent

Sir Mark Sedwill announced as new civil service chief as Sir Jeremy Heywood steps down

Theresa May has cited the government’s crisis over Brexit to justify installing her longstanding lieutenant as Britain’s most senior civil servant without a formal recruitment process. Sir Mark Sedwill, 54, was promoted to cabinet secretary after it was announced that Sir Jeremy Heywood, 56, who is being treated for cancer, would not return to work. Sir Mark had been acting in the role since June. The prime minister is understood to have argued privately that the emergency of Brexit meant that an appointment was needed straight away. She also said that foreign crises, including that caused by the murder of the Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, meant that Sir Mark should keep his post as national security adviser. Labour said that the decision amounted to “an abuse of process” and urged the prime minister to explain the “extraordinary” move. – The Times (£)

Nicola Sturgeon sees ‘ever greater’ prospect of no Brexit deal

Britain looks increasingly likely to leave the European Union next year with no deal, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday. The United Kingdom is due to exit the EU on March 29 but Prime Minister Theresa May’s talks with Brussels have stalled over a fallback plan for the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. That is stoking concern about a possible failure to reach a Brexit deal, which most economists say would throw the world’s No. 5 economy into disarray. Sturgeon said she believed May’s government was “closing down the negotiating space” to reach a Brexit deal with the EU. “I am increasingly concerned, literally with every day that passes right now, that the prospect of no deal is becoming ever greater,” she told a Scottish parliamentary committee. “We’re in a fluid situation … I think no deal might actually be the most likely outcome, and that is deeply concerning,” she said. “It is staggering incompetence that the government has allowed it to get to this stage.” Sturgeon, whose party supports Scottish independence, has said she will wait to see the detail of any Brexit deal before deciding on Scotland’s own path. – Reuters

Brussels to pay out millions in golden handshakes for British MEPs

Every British member of the European Parliament will be given a golden handshake of at least £45,600 after Brexit with some long-serving MEPs pocketing as much as £182,400 from Brussels. UK MEPs were briefed by officials in Strasbourg, who confirmed each one would get a “transitional allowance” of a payment of £7,600 for each year they have worked at the parliament.  The payment is capped at a maximum of 24 months and a minimum of six months. There are 73 UK MEPs, meaning that even at the most conservative estimate, the total paid out will be about £3.3 million. Other estimates put the figure to be paid after 29 March 2019 as high as £5.3 million. The payment is controversial with Remainers because it will reward long-serving Eurosceptic MEPs such as Nigel Farage, who could be in line for £150,000 in transitional payments. – Telegraph (£)

  • Brit MEPs to get golden handshake pay offs of at least £45k each after Brexit – The Sun

Shipping bosses call out Government ‘dramatics’ about ship shortages in a no-deal Brexit

Shipping bosses have blasted Government “dramatics” about having to hire ships to avoid food and medicine shortages in a No Deal Brexit. Industry chiefs said there was more than enough capacity to cope with any extra demands. It followed incendiary claims that the UK could be forced to charter vessels to bring in supplies if the PM fails to reach a Brexit deal with Brussels. The Sun revealed France could shut Calais if we fail to pay our entire £39billion divorce bill in a No Deal. But UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Bob Sanguinetti told The Sun it was time to “take the drama out of the Brexit debate”. – The Sun

Swedish minister: Longer Brexit transition will cost UK

Any extension of the Brexit transition period would require continuing British payments into the EU budget, Swedish Minister for EU Affairs Ann Linde said Wednesday. Speaking to Politico, she said that a longer transition period would require “clear terms and conditions” to be negotiated. In a statement to MPs Monday, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out “four steps” to break the impasse in the Brexit talks over the Irish border. One of those was “to create an option to extend the implementation period [the U.K. government’s preferred term for the transition] as an alternative to the backstop.” May also raised the possibility of a transition extension in her address to EU leaders at the European Council summit last week. It would mean that the currently agreed transition period — in which the U.K. would continue to follow EU rules and pay into the budget but be excluded from decision-making — would continue potentially for months or years beyond its current end date of December 31, 2020. – Politico

Telegraph: In these chaotic times, the Attorney General has emerged as an unlikely Brexit hero

The Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, has emerged as an unlikely Brexit hero. Before he won acclaim as the surprise star of this year’s Conservative Party conference, where he delivered a rousing warm-up speech before the Prime Minister’s address, he was best known for his considerable earnings as a Queen’s Counsel. Now he is being praised for stiffening the resolve of Cabinet ministers in the final few months of the exit talks. One of the responsibilities of the Attorney General is to act as principal legal adviser on questions of EU law, and Mr Cox appears to have taken to this role with gusto. Applying a lawyerly attention to detail and intellectual clarity to issues that otherwise appear to have sunk into a morass of confusion, he is said to have unnerved some ministers in Cabinet by baldly stating the trade-offs that now confront them in their Brexit decisions. One Brexit route, he reportedly warned, would be like being stuck in Dante’s “first circle of hell”. – Telegraph editorial (£)

Allister Heath: Theresa May’s Alice in Wonderland Brexit will satisfy absolutely no one

In the warped, looking-glass world of our Brexit negotiations, a disaster is a triumph and a victory a failure. We are told that our negotiators are on the verge of a breakthrough because, wait for it, the EU may be willing to “offer” that we can stay in what amounts to the customs union for the foreseeable future. Yes, that’s right, we would be unable to sign trade deals, remain shackled to the feeblest growing continent in the world, and would be debilitated psychologically, with zero control – the opposite of what most Leave voters had envisaged. Forgive me for not whooping with joy at the news that we are supposedly 95 per cent of the way towards such an agreement. Norway and Switzerland control their own trade policies, and much else besides; we wouldn’t – not for many, many years or most likely never. – Allister Heath for the Telegraph (£)

Tony Abbott: How to save Brexit

It’s pretty hard for Britain’s friends, here in Australia, to make sense of the mess that’s being made of Brexit. The referendum result was perhaps the biggest-ever vote of confidence in the United Kingdom, its past and its future. But the British establishment doesn’t seem to share that confidence and instead looks desperate to cut a deal, even if that means staying under the rule of Brussels. Looking at this from abroad, it’s baffling: the country that did the most to bring democracy into the modern world might yet throw away the chance to take charge of its own destiny. Let’s get one thing straight: a negotiation that you’re not prepared to walk away from is not a negotiation — it’s surrender. It’s all give and no get. When David Cameron tried to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership, he was sent packing because Brussels judged (rightly) that he’d never actually back leaving. And since then, Brussels has made no real concessions to Theresa May because it judges (rightly, it seems) that she’s desperate for whatever deal she can get. – Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for The Spectator

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: The EU’s unstoppable showdown with Italy risks a market crash and a euro break-up

Do not assume that Italy’s insurgent coalition will capitulate to EU demands if risk spreads on Italian debt blow through the fatal line of 400 basis points. The European Commission’s strategy of ‘controlled escalation’ relies on tacit collusion with bond vigilantes and hedge funds to ratchet up the pressure. The method is to squeeze the capital buffers of Italian banks and ultimately to set off a deposit run, hoping that such financial vandalism does not set off contagion to Portugal, Spain, and Greece. This is a dangerous game to play unless you can be sure that the Lega-Five Star alliance will back down rather than resort to radical measures in self-defence. The obvious risk is that Italy’s budget fight with Brussels will cause a pan-European financial crisis before either side blinks. – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph (£)

Lee Reynolds: What the Belfast Agreement does and doesn’t say about the UK-Ireland land border – and much else

In the text, it identifies three specific relationships and bodies on EU issues: the Assembly and our national government (Strand One, Paragraph 31); the North-South Ministerial Council, or NSMC (Strand 2, Paragraph 3 (iii) and 17); and the British-Irish Council, (Strand 3, Paragraph 5). The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference works on non-devolved matters with a commitment to work on the ‘totality of relationships’ and ‘promote bi-lateral co-operation at all levels’ (BIGC, Paragraph 1 and 2). Therefore, the institutional framework for managing future relationships already exists in the new context of the UK not being an EU member, and nationalists boycotting the Assembly is preventing two of them from operating properly. Crucially, both the Assembly and NSMC have vetoes and safeguards in their operation. This means the EU proposals on a sea border would breach the Belfast Agreement, as they would effectively end the first mechanism – the Assembly and national government relationship. – Lee Reynolds for ConservativeHome

Mick Hume: The elites are taking back control

The only certainty about Brexit right now is that the establishment is, to coin a phrase, taking back control, as it tries to secure a deal that would best preserve its interests. The millions who voted Leave – and indeed the millions who voted Remain – are being shut out of the elites’ secretive dealing to decide our future. London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan told Saturday’s anti-Brexit stroll, masquerading as a march for a ‘People’s Vote’, that it was an ‘historic moment in our democracy’. Well, he got one thing right at least. It was not history-making and had nothing to do with democracy. But it was a moment, one that has already passed. Even before the placards had been taken away for recycling, the news media had switched focus back to the wrangling of the UK and EU elites in their offices, committee rooms and private clubs. It was as if the mass demonstration had never happened. – Mick Hume for Spiked

Brexit in Brief

  • The Tories can’t help destroying the things they love – Nick Timothy for the Telegraph (£)
  • UK ministers warned of ‘significant legal costs’ if no Brexit deal on data – Politico
  • Brexit calls for radical shift of power to regions, says mayors – Guardian
  • Transport department says post-Brexit EU aviation and rail agreements not certain – Politico
  • Eurostar to run more trains between London and Amsterdam – Independent
  • Tusk to Farage: Irish border issue is ‘100%’ Brexiteers’ fault – Politico