Brexit Secretary rejects EU’s new proposals over the backstop: Brexit News for Saturday 9 March

Brexit Secretary rejects EU’s new proposals over the backstop: Brexit News for Saturday 9 March
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Brexit Secretary rejects EU’s new proposals over the backstop…

The UK has thrown out the EU’s latest attempt to break the Brexit deadlock over the Irish backstop and accused Brussels of trying to “rerun old arguments”. It comes after the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator revealed the reassurances he offered Britain over the controversial Northern Ireland issue. Michel Barnier said he proposed a “legally binding interpretation” of the Brexit deal. He said it would “give legal force” to commitments made by the EU that the Irish backstop will only ever be temporary.  – Sky News

After weeks of speculation, Michel Barnier has finally revealed the concession Brussels is willing to grant Theresa May on the backstop. The only problem is one could argue it’s not actually a concession. Instead, it’s the Northern Ireland-only backstop the UK negotiating team previously vetoed.This afternoon the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator told ambassadors the EU is willing to give Britain a unilateral exit from the UK-wide parts of the backstop plan for Northern Ireland.- Katy Balls for The Spectator

  • Michel Barnier moves to head off Brexit ‘blame game’ – Politico

…after Theresa May threatens the UK with permanent EU membership if MPs reject her deal…

Theresa May has warned MPs that Brexit may not happen at all if they reject her deal. With three weeks until Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, the prime minister urged parliament to back her on Brexit and “get it done”. Otherwise, she said “no one knows” what will happen in the aftermath of the Commons voting against her withdrawal agreement for a second time on Tuesday. Mrs May’s stark warning, designed to persuade dissenting Brexit-supporting MPs to fall into line, comes as talks with the EU continue. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was a “sign of desperation”. The PM is trying to secure changes to the Irish border backstop, with talks between the two sides expected to continue into the weekend. The backstop is an insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.  – Sky News

  • May claims UK might not leave EU for ‘many months’ if MPs reject deal – Politico
  • May to speak to EU leaders over weekend, no travel plans – Reuters
  • ‘Just one more push’ to get Brexit, May urges EU – Reuters
  • Brexit ‘blame game’ takes to Twitter as British and EU chiefs have ugly spat over who’s to blame for the collapse in talks – The Sun
  • James Forsyth claims Brexit will get softer if MPs won’t back May’s deal – The Sun
  • The Government cannot fool the voters over Brexit – The Telegraph editorial (£)

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s YouTube Channel: Theresa May’s Brexit speech in Grimsby

> Full text of Theresa May’s speech on Brexit in Grimsby

European Parliament President says Brexit date can only be delayed a few weeks

It is crucial to prevent Britain crashing out of the European Union in a disorderly way without a deal, the head of the European Parliament told a German media outlet. In an interview with the Funke group of newspapers, Antonio Tajani added the date of Brexit can be delayed past March 29 by only a few weeks at most. British MPs are due to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan for a second time on Tuesday. May has said that, if her plan is defeated, MPs will be able to vote on Wednesday and Thursday on whether they want to leave the bloc without a deal, or ask for a short delay to Brexit. “It’s a matter now of avoiding the biggest mistake of all – a chaotic Brexit without contractual arrangements in place,” Tajani said in an interview due to be published on Saturday. – Reuters

  • Under which conditions would the EU27 agree to an Article 50 extension? – Anna Nadibaidze for Open Europe

Emily Thornberry says Labour would oppose a long Article 50 delay

Labour will oppose any delay to Brexit that will require Britain to take part in the European parliament elections, Emily Thornberry has said. Theresa May has promised to give MPs the chance to ask Brussels to extend Article 50 if they vote down her agreement on Tuesday. Remaining in the EU beyond July, however, will require the UK to take part in the elections due to be held in May, which the prime minister has said she is determined to avoid. In a rare moment of agreement between the two main parties on Brexit, the shadow foreign secretary said that any extension was likely to be limited to July when the new MEPs take their seats. Most experts say that the date is the latest deadline compatible with EU law. “It would be inappropriate for us to stand for the European parliament,” she said. – The Times (£)

  • Labour amendment supporting second referendum put on hold – Guardian

Judge crushes Remainers’ claims that Referendum result is invalid

In the froth of the last few weeks, the hapless antics of the tiny  remaining cabal of diehard anti-Brexit lawyers have almost been overlooked, as yet another legal challenge to Brexit was crushed. Jessica Simor QC was judged wrong on more or less every argument she tried  to make as she went down in flames Jolyon-style… Simor tried to seek a judicial review of May’s triggering of Article 50, arguing that it was unlawful because it was “based upon the result of a referendum that was itself unlawful as a result  of corrupt and illegal practices, notably offences of overspending committed by those involved in the campaign to leave the EU”. – Guido Fawkes

NI Committee believes a tech solution to border issue possible

A technical solution to the Irish border Brexit issue is possible, a majority of MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee have concluded. They also believe that a system could be “designed, trialled and piloted” in under two years. However, they note that such a system would be a “world-first” and requires a high degree of political trust. Labour member John Grogan did not support the conclusions saying they are “based on a wing and a prayer”. The UK and EU have agreed there should be no hardening of the border as a result of Brexit but remain at odds on how to achieve that. The UK government is seeking changes to the border “backstop” it had previously agreed with the EU. – BBC News

No majority in Parliament for second Brexit referendum – Reuters analysis

There is no majority in Britain’s parliament in favour of holding a second Brexit referendum, according to a Reuters analysis of public comments made by MPs. When May’s deal is brought back to parliament on Tuesday, Labour’s amendment will provide the house with its first explicit vote on whether to back the idea of a second referendum. But while a majority of lawmakers voted to remain in the bloc in the 2016 referendum, a Reuters analysis of public comments found that only 219 have expressed a willingness to support another vote, and a further 65 have not made their views known. This is well short of the 318 votes needed to guarantee approval of the amendment if there are no absences or abstentions. A referendum would need to be approved by parliament and May has ruled out proposing one, saying it would deepen already ugly divisions over Britain’s biggest decision since World War Two and betray the 52 percent – 17.4 million people – who voted to leave the EU. – Reuters

Leaked memo reveals ministers warned of Brexit plot to keep UK in permanent customs union with EU

Ministers have been warned that MPs supporting an amendment to delay Brexit could “politicise the monarchy” and lead to a “full blown constitutional crisis” causing the Government to “lose its ability to govern” according to leaked documents seen by the Telegraph. The explosive memo advising the cabinet as Theresa May battles to win Tuesday’s second meaningful vote – warns that supporting any amendment re-tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tories Oliver Letwin and Nick Boles could pave the way for a bill to change the day of our EU exit and bind the Government into a permanent customs union. – Telegraph (£)

Archive papers reveal Thatcher’s victory over ministers who threatened to resign in order to force her hand…

The government is riven by the question of Europe, the Prime Minister is at odds with key members of her Cabinet and at the same time faces threats to her leadership. Sounds familiar? The handwritten note reveals the conflicts threatening to tear apart the third Thatcher administration. Chris Collins, of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, said: “This event was unprecedented in the history of the Thatcher Governments – the Foreign Secretary and Chancellor, Howe and Lawson, acting in combination to impose a policy on the Prime Minister on pain of resignation. Margaret Thatcher was bitterly angry at the confrontation.  – Telegraph (£)

…as Justice Secretary claims he would quit if ordered to vote for No Deal

David Gauke and his fellow pro-Europeans were apparently labelled “kamikazes” at a tense cabinet meeting. “In the cabinet it has always been very clear there were different views,” he says. But he was not going to let the Tory Brexiteers from the European Research Group allow the country to crash out of the EU at the end of the month. “The key message we wanted to get across to our colleagues who consistently voted against the deal was: don’t assume that just because you don’t vote for the deal we leave on 29th March without a deal.” A no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for the country, he says. In the Ministry of Justice it would mean “an immediate end to co-operation on law enforcement issues”. There could also be a “surge” of criminality that would stretch the police, courts and prisons. “In the worst-case scenario if we had significant difficulties with food supplies no one is going to be left starving but if there are empty shelves, can that result in violence and more criminal cases? Of course it can.” – The Times (£)

  • Beware the europhile fifth columnists – Sir Bernard Jenkin for the Express

Belgium tells companies to halt exports to UK after 29th March

Belgium’s customs authority is advising companies that export to the UK to halt shipments after Brexit day to avoid customs chaos in the event of a no-deal scenario. Kristian Vanderwaeren, chief executive of Belgian customs, called for a “Brexitpauze” after 29 March and said firms should do as much of their exporting as they can before new controls have to come in.  “Who are we as customs to give the business world instructions? But we are still asking the SMEs and all other parties to wait. Do the necessary export to your customers before 29 March,” he told Belgian business newspaper De Tijd. – Independent

Charles Moore: The deal is still bad, and there is no reason for Brexiteers to compromise now

On Tuesday, Mrs May will present a Remainer Brexit for the key parliamentary vote. It lets us “leave”, but makes us stay in the EU trading arrangements, with even less power than now and no opportunity to make our own deals. It ensures, through the backstop, that these vassal arrangements will be permanent. This walking (or rather, staggering) self-contradiction is essentially the same as what she presented at her ill-fated Chequers meeting last July. It is exactly the same as what she agreed with Brussels in November, and ducked a vote on until January this year. In that vote, she lost by 230 votes, the largest defeat for any British government measure ever.- Charles Moore for the Telegraph (£)

John Redwood: Groundhog day

Another Groundhog week looms, when Remain MPs who cannot accept the verdict of the Peoples Vote have another go at derailing Brexit. We know that the first vote will be a reprise of the Withdrawal Agreement. Unless there is a great breakthrough in negotiations with the EU this week-end with the removal of the backstop provision, the government is likely to find plenty of rebels against its three line whip and the proposal will be defeated once again. – John Redwood’s Diary

Andrew Lilico: Remainers might get their way for now, but the EU superstate dream makes Brexit inevitable

Fellow Remainers, let us, just for a moment, indulge in a flight of fantasy. Suppose that the notion the Eurozone were progressing towards much deeper political integration were not the irresponsible lie and anger-mongering, backed by fake news, that we know it to be. (I know, I know. But let’s imagine.) Suppose that, in fact, instead of being nothing more than a fantasy plucked from the fervid imagination of Brexiteers, the pursuit of much deeper political union for the Eurozone were actually the official policy of the European Union, set out in a range of reports by its most senior leaders.  – Andrew Lilico for the Telegraph (£)

David Keighley: ‘Hardline’ Hoey and the BBC at its slippery worst

One of the huge frustrations about the BBC is that they have a defence for every complaint, made up according to their own ever-shifting rules, and adjudicated mainly by their own staff. When David Cameron formally announced that he would hold an EU Referendum, Newsnight reported the development with a programme which included 18 Remainers (one who was said to be a businessman but actually was a Liberal Democrat politician) and just one who wanted Leave. News-watch complained. The BBC’s response? Months earlier, Newsnight had presented an edition which contained someone who put the case for withdrawal. – David Keighley for Conservative Woman

Brexit in Brief

  • How the European Conservatives and Reformists serve Britain and the EU well – Syed Kamall MEP for ConservativeHome
  • Is Philip Hammond’s plan to thwart Brexit about to reach fruition? – Fraser Nelson for the Telegraph (£)
  • Here’s what the Chancellor should do if there’s no deal – Robert Colvile for ConservativeHome
  • Who do these people threatening no Brexit at all think they are? – Gerald Warner for Reaction
  • The British economy has survived so many crises that it can surely survive Brexit – Andrew Gimson for ConservativeHome
  • Macron’s vision of ‘the EU project’ goes down well in Brussels – Ryan Bourne for the Telegraph (£)
  • Next week’s Brexit votes could yet result in the general election nobody wants – Henry Hill for ConservativeHome
  • How to survive – and thrive – after a No Deal Brexit – Caroline Elsom for CapX
  • If Brexiteers reject Theresa May’s deal, it’ll be the biggest gamble of their lives – The Sun editorial
  • How Philip Hammond snookered Theresa May on Brexit – Fraser Nelson for the Spectator
  • Industries could be destroyed by removing all tariffs, warn manufacturers – The Times (£)
  • Pound’s stomach-churning ride to get worse as Brexit vote looms – Bloomberg
  • Chancellor Philip Hammond says he wrecked leadership hopes by seeking a business-friendly EU exit – FT (£)