Cabinet ramp up Project Fear: Brexit News for Saturday 12 January

Cabinet ramp up Project Fear: Brexit News for Saturday 12 January
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Jeremy Hunt suggests no Brexit is increasingly likely…

Mr Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, warned that the chances of Brexit being halted were rising and that Parliament was likely to reject no-deal. He said: “I think it’s now looking much less likely that Parliament would allow a no-deal outcome anyway. We have seen from this week that Parliament has the ability to assert itself and to shape outcomes.” He said John Bercow, the Speaker, was determined to “frustrate the Government at every opportunity” after he handed more control to MPs this week. – Telegraph (£)

  • Reject May’s Brexit deal and we might Remain in the EU, warns Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd – Express
  • Minister warns of ‘Brexit paralysis’ if MPs snub May’s deal – The Times (£)

…and Karen Bradley claims a no-deal Brexit risks a vote on Irish unification…

A no-deal Brexit would increase the chances of an Irish reunification referendum under the terms of the Good Friday agreement, the Northern Ireland secretary has suggested. Karen Bradley is understood to have warned the cabinet this week that a border poll would be “far more likely” if the UK left the European Union without an agreement. On a visit to Belfast today she refused to comment on the remarks but added that she was well aware of her “statutory obligations” under the peace agreement. – The Times (£)

  • As the ‘meaningful vote’ approaches, apply buckets of salt to all Government news – Mark Wallace for Conservative Home

…while Chris Grayling warns that blocking Brexit or watering down May’s deal could cause a surge in support for the far-right

Britain will witness a surge in neo-Nazi extremist groups if MPs block or weaken Brexit, a Cabinet minister warns today. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the 17million who voted to leave the EU would feel ‘cheated’ by any moves to water down Theresa May’s deal or thwart our exit entirely. This would have grave implications for our democracy, he said, ending centuries of moderate politics… In a chilling intervention, Mr Grayling said blocking Brexit could end the 350 years of ‘moderate’ politics Britain has enjoyed since the bloody English Civil War. Doing so would provoke more ‘nasty’ incidents such as this week’s ‘Nazi’ taunts at pro-Remain Tory MP Anna Soubry outside Parliament, he argued. – Daily Mail

Conservatives are considering the possibility of needing for candidates for euro-elections in May…

Senior Conservatives are discussing the possibility of having to field candidates in the European elections in May in the event that Brexit is delayed. On Friday morning, Theresa May’s spokesperson insisted there would not be an extension to Article 50, the process that means the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29. But privately, senior Tories have said an extension of Article 50 is possible if the prime minister’s Brexit deal is rejected in parliament next week. With European parliamentary elections taking place on May 23, the UK could be faced with the awkward situation of having to run candidates if the Brexit date is pushed back beyond then. A senior Tory aide has been tasked with drawing up a contingency plan for the European elections, including a list of potential candidates who could stand. – BuzzFeed News

…as ministers reportedly discuss the need to delay Brexit…

Brexit looks increasingly likely to be delayed beyond the scheduled exit of March 29, Cabinet ministers today revealed to the Standard. A backlog of at least six essential Bills that must be passed before Britain leaves the European Union has left ministers convinced the timetable will be extended. They include the much-delayed Immigration Bill. Even asking MPs to sit at weekends and cancel their half-term holiday in February may not provide enough time to avoid asking for a delay, several sources have disclosed. – Evening Standard

…while party donors express fear that Britain may never leave the EU

Leading Conservative donors who spent millions on the Brexit campaign say they now believe that Britain may never leave the European Union at all. Crispin Odey, a hedge fund manager who has given more than £870,000 to pro-Leave  groups, revealed yesterday that he was betting on the pound to strengthen after Brexit failed. “My view is that it ain’t going to happen,” Mr Odey said. “I just can’t see how it happens with that configuration of parliament.” Another two Tory donors, who between them gave £1.7 million to support the  campaign to take Britain out of the EU, said they too believed that the eventual deal would not represent a real Brexit. – The Times (£)

Boris Johnson accuses Downing Street of treating Brexit like ‘a plague of boils’

Boris Johnson has claimed that Downing Street and the Treasury are being run by the “Remain campaign”, accusing both of treating Brexit as “a scourge” and a “plague of boils”.  The former foreign secretary accused Mrs May of failing to “set out a vision for the country” and spelling out the opportunities leaving the EU presents for “people’s life chances all over the country”. Speaking during an interview on Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy, Mr Johnson called for an expansion of the UK’s foreign embassies in order to take advantage of the “unparalleled” ties with the Commonwealth. – Telegraph (£)

Dominic Grieve tells Theresa May to delay Brexit if her deal is rejected…

Conservative rebel Dominic Grieve has urged the prime minister to delay Brexit if her EU withdrawal deal is rejected by MPs next week. Mr Grieve, who backs calls for another referendum, said she could remove the 29 March date from UK legislation and ask the EU for more time. Cabinet ministers who oppose leaving the EU without a deal had a “duty to resign” if she refused to do so. Ministers warn the UK faces Brexit “paralysis” if the deal is rejected. And the prime minister’s spokesman said on Friday that the government wouldn’t extend Article 50, the legal mechanism taking Britain out of the EU on 29 March.  – BBC News

…as Juncker says there would be Brexit ‘clarifications’ but no renegotiation

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU is in discussions with the U.K. government about “clarifications” over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement but he reiterated the bloc’s unwillingness to renegotiate the deal. It seems almost certain the House of Commons will reject the deal negotiated by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May in a ratification vote on Tuesday, but Juncker refused to speculate about what the EU would do in response to such a defeat. “All I can say is that I am not going to go into speculation and a guessing game,” Juncker said in Bucharest. – Politico

Former Remain campaign chief says “People’s Vote” would be so divisive, and the world’s easiest job for Leave

Sir Craig [Oliver} still believes it is a mistake for Britain to leave the EU, with a “heavy heart” he says he would not advocate a second referendum. “I do think it would be unbelievably divisive. Rerunning the Leave campaign is the easiest campaign in the world. It is ‘Tell them again’ and ‘Can you believe the establishment is so up themselves they think your views don’t matter at all’. ” There has been speculation that Mr Cummings might come back if there is a second referendum but the Remain strategist has no intention of returning to the front line. “I felt very strongly there was a sense of the captain standing on the deck, and the ship going down and I was standing with the captain.” – The Times (£)

Portugal to welcome Brits even without Brexit deal

Portugal’s government on Friday laid out proposals to protect rights of British citizens living in the country if there’s a no-deal Brexit but made clear it expects similar treatment for the around 300,000 Portuguese living in Britain. “We are deciding these things unilaterally and we expect the United Kingdom to respond in the same way,” said Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva, announcing contingency plans to be applied if Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal. – Politico

Fraser Nelson: Mrs May is tormenting Tory MPs with doses of Corbynism because she knows no deal is getting more likely

Brexit was a profound psychological shock for most MPs but for some reason, the grieving process seems to be happening in reverse. Normally, denial comes first – then anger, bargaining, depression and (finally) acceptance. This time, the referendum result met immediate acceptance from all sides, after which depression quickly followed. Then came bargaining with the European Union. This ended in anger, with Cabinet resignations and a botched attempt to depose the Prime Minister. The final stage is denial, which we have now entered. It looks as if it might last for some time. The denial – suffered by all parties – is over a simple fact. – Fraser Nelson for the Telegraph (£)

David Blake: The City of London is strong enough to go it alone post-Brexit

It should never accept being a rule taker from Brussels where they haven’t got a clue about how to run a financial system. The main banks in Italy, France and Germany are insolvent. Whenever the ‘merits’ of aligning UK regulations with those of the EU after Brexit are discussed, the fate of the financial services sector features prominently. I recently gave evidence to the House of Commons Treasury and International Trade Select Committee on the economic effects of trade policy. As written evidence, I submitted ‘Brexit and the City’  which considers various options. The main choice is between equivalence and mutual recognition – and this would cover both the services themselves and the qualifications of those providing them. – David Blake for Briefings for Brexit

Matthew Lynn: The next eurozone crisis has already started

Industrial output is in crashing. Retail sales have stagnated. Business confidence has dropped, and investment is heading south. A sharp slowdown might have been expected for Britain heading out of the European Union, America where the president is busily ripping up half a century worth of carefully constructed trade agreements, or China, which has been on a decade of wild, credit-fuelled growth. But the real slowdown is happening in the one place where few economists expected it. It is now painfully obvious that the eurozone is heading into a sharp recession. Matthew Lynn for the Telegraph (£)

Sherelle Jacobs: Theresa May’s secret Plan B is no-deal

Although those close to the Prime Minister and former colleagues like Nick Timothy believe that the PM would never willingly commit to no-deal, it is arguably one way to both break the stalemate in Parliament and ensure her own survival. True, there is currently no majority for no-deal in Parliament. But the Prime Minister could play a blinder (or write the Tories’ suicide note) by hitting the ‘nuclear option’ button – attaching a vote of confidence in the Government to the no-deal vote. In other words, voting down no-deal would automatically lead to the collapse of the Government. – Sherelle Jacobs for the Telegraph (£)

Guido Fawkes: Britain’s most hypocritical MPs

Guido brings you a list of Britain’s most hypocritical Brexit MPs. Those  who voted for Article 50, but are now determined to stop Brexit, by opposing both no deal, and May’s deal. 123 MPs feature on the list, from Michael Fallon to Keir Starmer, Chuka Umunna to Sarah Wollaston. Curiously, a number of hardcore Tory Remainers are absent from the list – people like Heidi Allen and Antoinette Sandbach currently say they are backing May’s deal. – Guido Fawkes

Brexit in Brief

  • Brexit, the uncivil war, rages on because our MPs continue to ignore the voters – Charles Moore for The Telegraph (£)
  • Softening Brexit further in a desperate plea for Labour votes will be the final nail in PM’s coffin, says The Sun
  • Beware the EU’s attempts to grab tax powers from member states  – Kai Weiss for CapX
  • The idea that this Government has made a habit of ‘constitutional outrages’ is false – Henry Hill for ConservativeHome
  • No Deal: not an end, but a new beginning – David Jones MP for Get Britain Out
    The next eurozone crisis has already started – Matthew Lynn for the Telegraph (£)
  • The rise and rise of the German-inspired EU Superstate – Joshua Mackenzie-Lawrie of Get Britain Out for The Commentator
  • If Parliament votes down the Brexit deal, what could happen next? –  Sherelle Jacobs for the Telegraph (£)
    ‘Rediscovering the power of the Constituent’  – Joel Casement of Get Britain Out for Comment Central
  • Myths of Brexit: The Uncivil War  – Bruce Newsome for CommentCentral
  • We can’t let our future be settled by drawing straws – Robert Oulds for Conservative Woman
  • Brexit: Holyhead lorry backlog plan in case of no-deal – BBC News
  • Parliament security boosted ahead of Brexit vote – BBC News
  • How many MPs are backing PM May? – Reuters
  • Macedonia paves way to EU membership in name change – Telegraph (£)