Another Tory minister resigns in protest at Theresa May's EU deal: Brexit News for Saturday 1 December

Another Tory minister resigns in protest at Theresa May's EU deal: Brexit News for Saturday 1 December
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Another Tory minister resigns in protest at Theresa May’s EU deal…

Sam Gyimah, the universities and science minister, has resigned in protest at the Government’s “naive” Brexit plan, saying that any deal we strike with Brussels will be “EU first”. Becoming the seventh member of the Government to quit since Theresa May unveiled the draft Withdrawal Agreement, Mr Gyimah says the plan was “not in the British national interest” and that voting for it would “set ourselves up for failure” by surrendering “our voice, our vote and our veto”. The Conservative MP, who campaigned for Remain, today says that Mrs May should not rule out holding a second referendum. Announcing his departure in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Gyimah cites the EU’s continued wrangling over the Galileo satellite project as the deciding factor in his resignation. On Friday night the Prime Minister said the UK was pulling out of the programme and may now abandon attempts to recoup the £1.2 billion Britain has already spent on the project. – Telegraph (£)

  • What Sam Gyimah’s Brexit resignation means for May – Katy Balls for The Spectator
  • Losing a Remainer minister will be hard for PM to swallow – Kate McCann for Sky News
  • Why I cannot back the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan  – Sam Gyimah MP for the Telegraph (£)

…after it emerged the UK won’t use EU’s Galileo satellites

The UK must build its own satellite system after Theresa May confirmed the country will not be involved in the EU’s Galileo project post-Brexit. The prime minister said Britain would explore other options to build its own system that can guide military drones, run energy networks and provide essential services for civilian smart phones. Experts have predicted it will cost an estimated £3bn to £5bn, and it is unclear whether the UK will get back the £1.2bn it sunk into the Galileo project. The UK will also work with the US to continue accessing its GPS system. Sky News reported on Thursday that government plans to build Britain’s own system could hit the buffers because other countries have already claimed signal space. – Sky News

  • Minister resigns over May’s Brexit deal – Sky News

May not ruling out second MPs’ vote on the deal…

Theresa May has refused to rule out another Commons vote on her Brexit deal if MPs reject it the first time. The PM said she thought she could win the vote on 11 December despite dozens of Tory MPs being against the deal. In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, she urged MPs to “deliver on the vote of the referendum”. EU Council President Donald Tusk warned if MPs rejected the deal, the UK would face a choice between leaving without a deal or not leaving at all. Under Commons rules, the prime minister is not meant to ask MPs the same question twice – she would have to change the contents of her deal. Alternatively, if enough MPs indicate they have changed their minds after voting the deal down, it could be held again, but it would be up to the Speaker to decide whether to allow that. – BBC News

  • Theresa May’s chief whip faces ultimate test over Brexit vote – FT (£)
  • No10 need more time to tell whether full-on ‘no-deal’ preparation is necessary – James Forsyth for The Sun

…as eight Cabinet ministers hold secret talks about ‘pivoting’ to Norway arrangement if the PM’s Brexit deal is voted down

Eight Cabinet ministers have held secret talks about pivoting to a Norway-style “plan B” if the Prime Minister’s deal is voted down in the Commons, The Telegraph has learned. A cross-Brexit alliance of ministers – equivalent to almost a third of the Cabinet – has held discussions about joining the European Free Trade Association amid concern there is “zero chance” of the Prime Minister’s deal surviving. Last week four ministers – Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary – were briefed on the plans.- Telegraph (£)

  • May doubles down on not having a plan B – Robert Peston for Reaction

WTO says its rules would not force EU or UK to erect hard Irish border

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has said that there is nothing in its rules that would force either the EU or UK to erect a hard Irish border after Brexit. The Geneva-based trade body where countries negotiate the rules of international trade would only intervene in a dispute over trade if one of its 164 member countries made a complaint. One expert warned that it would fall either to the UK or EU – not the WTO – to set up border checks in order to protect the integrity of their internal markets from illegal activity and divergent trade rules. Political divisions in London over the draft Brexit agreement have increased the prospect of the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal next March. – Irish Times

Donald Tusk: it’s no deal or no Brexit if UK Parliament rejects May’s deal

European Council President Donald Tusk sought to reassure world leaders that the EU would be ready for a no-deal Brexit scenario if the U.K. House of Commons rejects the Withdrawal Treaty agreed with Prime Minister Theresa May. Speaking at a news conference just before the start of the G20 summit in Argentina, Tusk said he expected questions from leaders about Brexit and wanted to address the issue up front. “The European Union has just agreed an orderly divorce with the United Kingdom,” Tusk said. “A few days before the vote in the House of Commons, it is becoming more and more clear that this deal is the best possible, in fact the only possible one.” – Politico

Theresa May attempts to ‘correct’ Donald Trump over terms of EU treaty

Theresa May has told President Donald Trump he is wrong about her Brexit deal as she used the G20 summit to rebut his claims that it would harm US-UK trade. The Prime Minister said her proposed deal “expressly” states that Britain will be able to strike independent trade deals with the US and other countries, contrary to Mr Trump’s claims earlier this week. Mr Trump had said the Brexit deal “sounds like a great deal for the EU” and “they [Britain] may not be able to trade with us”. But Mrs May, who is in Argentina for the two-day summit, said: “I’m very happy to tell President Trump and others that we will have an independent trade policy, we will be able to do trade deals. – Telegraph (£)

The Government is spending taxpayers’ money promoting its EU deal online

Readers will recall the £9 million of taxpayers’ money which the Cameron government spent promoting the Remain position in the run-up to the EU referendum, over and above the amount spent by the actual Remain campaign itself. It left a somewhat sour taste in the mouth, and is yet to be forgiven by many Leavers. Well, they seem to be at it again. Yesterday I noticed that the Cabinet Office is funding Google adverts to appear beneath searches on terms like “brexit deal”: The promoted link is to a website which offers various videos and, er, inspirational quotes to show how keen big businesses are on the Prime Minister’s offering; “…elements of this deal do go towards a lot of the aspects that we sought”, enthuses the head of BAE Systems. Stirring stuff. –  ConservativeHome

  • Government in Google bidding war with Brexit deal opponents – BBC News

Labour should back May’s Brexit deal, says MP and former Gordon Brown aide Ian Austin…

Labour should think again about its opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, says the MP Ian Austin, one of the party’s few MPs to suggest the deal meets the six tests set by the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer. Austin, a former parliamentary aide to Gordon Brown, represents the marginal seat of Dudley North in the West Midlands, which registered the highest vote to leave of all English regions. Writing for the Guardian, he said that it was easy to see why his colleagues opposed May’s deal but said they should think “long and hard”. – Guardian

…as the Opposition get behind a bid to stop ‘no-deal’

Labour are backing a cross-party bid to ensure the UK cannot leave the EU without a deal. Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the amendment to 11 December’s Commons vote on the PM’s Brexit deal had his “full support”. If MPs back the amendment it will not be binding but Theresa May would find it difficult to ignore. And it could put Parliament in the driving seat if, as expected, MPs vote down the PM’s Brexit deal. Mrs May has repeatedly warned MPs that the only alternative to her Brexit deal is quitting the EU without a deal on 29 March. The vast majority of Labour MPs are expected to vote against the deal on 11 December. However, a source has told the BBC there is a “growing consensus” among all MPs against a “no-deal” Brexit. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told ITV’s This Morning on Thursday that “nobody is going to allow no deal”.  – BBC News

Boris Johnson tells the PM to get a better Irish border deal

Boris Johnson has told Theresa May to go back to Brussels and find a way that Britain can unilaterally abandon guarantees over the Irish border as the price of Brexiteer support. The prime minister is facing hostility from dozens of her MPs over fears that her Brexit plan could leave Britain indefinitely tied to the “backstop”, the Northern Ireland insurance policy designed to prevent a hard border. The guarantee would keep Northern Ireland in the EU single market and customs union and tie Great Britain to many of the bloc’s rules, unless the EU gave consent for the UK to leave. – The Times (£)

Sam Gyimah: Why I cannot back the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan

The Government is finally pulling out of frustrating negotiations over Galileo, the EU’s strategic satellite navigation system. The PM is right to call time on a negotiation that was stacked against us from the very beginning. But Galileo is only a foretaste of what’s to come under the Government’s Brexit deal.Having surrendered our voice, our vote and our veto, we will have to rely on the “best endeavours” of the EU to strike a final agreement that works in our national interest. As minister with the responsibility for space technology I have seen first-hand the EU stack the deck against us time and time again, even while the ink was drying on the transition deal. – Sam Gyimah MP for the Telegraph (£)

Robert Peston: Could Theresa May’s latest attack on Corbyn backfire?

The Prime Minister might have been a bit too clever when attacking Corbyn’s and Labour’s opposition to her Brexit deal. Some four hours in to her 14 hour flight to the G20 leading nations’ summit in Argentina, she told journalists:“What they are doing is advocating rejecting the deal we negotiated with the European Union without having any proper alternative to it.“They say they don’t want ‘no-deal’ but by appearing to reject a temporary backstop they are effectively advocating no-deal, because without a backstop there is no deal”.- Robert Peston for The Spectator

  • May doubles down on not having a plan B – Robert Peston for Reaction

Andrew Green: Immigration. Voters will spurn the end of free movement if it brings no reduction in numbers

This week’s immigration figures have made uncomfortable reading for a government that has pledged a major reduction in immigration. EU net migration is still, despite Brexit, at 74,000 – roughly the size of the British army. Non-EU migration is a quarter of a million – that is, the highest for 14 years.Meanwhile, it is curious, to put it mildly, that the Prime Minister should be majoring on her achievement in bringing free movement to an end just as leaked Cabinet documents suggest that the Government is about to lose much of the benefit by caving in to the employer lobbies. They are planning, it seems, to camouflage their surrender by fiddling the immigration statistics. – Lord Green of Deddington for ConservativeHome

Lee Rowley, Simon Clarke, Suella Braverman, Ranil Jayawardena, Ross Thomson, Ben Bradley and Julia Lopez: Brexit is a moment of tremendous opportunity, and Britain deserves better than the PM’s deal

Brexit presents a profound and complex challenge for our country and our politics. Yet seeing Parliament reduce it (at best) to a problem to be mitigated and (at worst) an existential threat that needs to be blocked has been frustrating and dispiriting in equal measure.That is precisely the wrong outlook to take at this time. For all the policy conundrums it presents, Brexit is a moment of tremendous creative opportunity and renewal for our United Kingdom – an opportunity we do not want to miss. – Lee Rowley MP, Simon Clarke MP, Suella Braverman MP, Ranil Jayawardena MP, Ross Thomson MP, Ben Bradley MP and Julia Lopez MP for the Telegraph (£)

Matthew Goodwin: To the disappointment of Remainers, Britain has no ‘Bregrets’

If Theresa May fails to win support for her Brexit deal, and no alternative deal can be found, one of three things is likely to happen: Britain will drift into a “no deal”, hold a general election or have a second referendum. Given that there is no political will for the first and little Tory appetite for the second, the third option feels most likely.A second referendum would require an extension of Article 50 which, in turn, would require approval from the EU, which would insist that Remain is on the ballot. And here we arrive at the increasingly popular view that Leave would lose and Britain will stay in the EU.But be careful what you wish for. – Matthew Goodwin for the Telegraph (£)

Charles Moore: Remainers like Mrs May still rely on the power of fear rather than hope

The PM thinks alarm over no deal will win her the votes she needs. In RS Surtees’ great comic novel Mr Facey Romford’s Hounds, the not very brave Mr Facey Romford and the lovely, dashing Miss Lucy Glitters ride towards a horrible fence “made up of all the rubbish and refuse of the country”. Mr Romford quails, because he cannot see what is on the other side. – Charles Moore for the Telegraph (£)

Jonathan de Leyser: In praise of comprehensive free trade agreements; and why we must leave the customs union

It is with deference that I reply to Sam Lowe – one of the truly clued-up gatekeepers of the post-Brexit-trade-twittersphere – but his recent CER article on the compatibility of customs union membership with “an effective trade policy” does warrant a response. What constitutes an effective trade policy obviously depends on what one views trade policy to be for – what it is meant to be effective towards. From those in the “pro-trade camp” (as I understand Sam to be), one might expect an answer along these lines: “trade policy is effective wherever it responsibly removes barriers to trade”, therefore enabling economic growth. The main issue with this article is the diminutive extent to which it believes the United Kingdom should be ambitious in its ability to be effective toward this goal. – Jonathan de Leyser for the IFT

Comment in Brief

  • We should be celebrating our freedom from the clutches of the European Union, instead we’re left with a stinker of a deal – The Sun editorial
  • Theresa May and her team are monstrously misleading as they try to pretend Brexit still means Brexit – Graeme Leach for the Telegraph (£)
  • The House of Commons renders the proposed television debate on Brexit utterly superfluous – Andrew Gimson for ConservativeHome
  • Advice to Michael Gove – John Redwood’s Diary
  • My Week: Mark Carney* – Hugo Rifkind for The Times (£)
  • Leave voters are fed up with continuous Project Fear in Parliament and on much of the media – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Spotting the fakery in May’s forthcoming Brexit pledges – Bruce Newsome for CommentCentral
  • Amend this Withdrawal Agreement – John Baron MP for CommentCentral
  • What would happen if Britain held a second EU referendum? – Matt Singh for CapX
  • A cry of rage against the BBC – Andrew Gimson for ConservativeHome
  • Instead of putting the country first, Remainers are plotting to avoid being blamed for no-deal – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

News in Brief

  • Macron threatens to veto EU–South American trade deal – Guido Fawkes
  • May v Corbyn on Brexit: the debate over the debate – Guardian
  • Brussels wants British holidaymakers to pay £6 visa fee when they visit one of 26 European nations after Brexit – Daily Mail
  • “We have had some tough choices to make.” Fox’s speech at Royal Portbury Dock. Full text. – ConservativeHome
  • There are 64 Conservative MPs who are on the record as opposing the deal – ConservativeHome