Theresa May’s Brexit deal crashes as EU ‘turns off life support’: Brexit News for Sunday 11 November

Theresa May’s Brexit deal crashes as EU ‘turns off life support’: Brexit News for Sunday 11 November
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Theresa May’s Brexit deal crashes as EU ‘turns off life support’…

Theresa May has been plunged into a deeper crisis after Brussels rejected her key Brexit proposal, which was intended to avoid the UK being trapped in an indefinite customs union. The prime minister had hoped to unite her cabinet and overcome the final hurdle in negotiations with the EU by offering to create an “independent mechanism” to oversee how the UK might leave a temporary customs arrangement if Brexit talks collapsed. But this weekend senior EU officials sent shockwaves through No 10 by rejecting May’s plan, sparking fears that negotiations have broken down days before “no-deal” preparations costing billions need to be implemented. A Whitehall source described the plan as the government’s “life-support machine”, adding: “By rejecting the proposal, the EU has just turned off the oxygen.” A senior cabinet minister said: “This is the moment she has to face down Brussels and make it clear to them that they need to compromise, or we will leave without a deal.” – Sunday Times (£)

…as she is warned her Brexit plan is set to be blocked by Tory backbenchers with DUP assistance

Theresa May’s Brexit plan will be blocked by MPs even if she is able to “bounce” the Cabinet into signing it off, the Prime Minister has been warned. Senior members of the Eurosceptic grouping of Tory backbenchers and the Democratic Unionist Party figures are publicly uniting to insist they will vote against Mrs May’s proposals unless she backs down. Their intervention came as senior government figures warned that the deal would still fall in Parliament even if it were forced through a reluctant Cabinet this week. A defeat for Mrs May would be likely to spark a leadership challenge. The warnings come amid opposition from across the Conservative Party to a proposed “backstop”, or insurance plan, for the UK’s relationship with the EU if no alternative deal is reached. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Brexiteers unite with the DUP and publicly vow to torpedo Theresa May’s Brexit plan if it threatens the Union as four Remainer ministers ‘prepare to resign’ – MailOnline
  • Tory and DUP Brexiteers threaten May over Brexit proposal – Sunday Express

Jo Johnson hints more ministers could be ready to resign over Theresa May’s Brexit deal…

Downing Street had hoped Mr Johnson could coax fellow Tory Europhiles into supporting the withdrawal agreement – which Mrs May wants to finalise this week. But now there are fears more high profile ministers could follow the Johnson brothers out of the door. The MP for Orpington in Kent suggested more Tories were considering their positions, saying that “many are reflecting hard about the deal that’s looming and how they will respond to it”. Asked whether other ministers should quit over the issue, Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4: “I think this is so important that it’s up to MPs to take a stand. I’ve done so, if others feel that it’s right for them to do so, good on them.” – Telegraph (£)

  • Four UK ministers near quitting government over Brexit – i24NEWS
  • ‘A coup against the PM?’ Fury at Remainer ‘plot’ as Jo Johnson hints at more resignations – Sunday Express
    Jo Johnson accuses brother Boris of making ‘fantasy’ Brexit promises after dramatic resignation. – PoliticsHome

> LISTEN on BrexitCentral’s YouTube channel: Jo Johnson’s resignation interview on the Today programme

…as ex-Education Secretary Justine Greening echoes him in saying May is ‘handing power to EU’ in Brexit deal…

The day after Jo Johnson, the pro-remain brother of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, resigned from the government and called for a second referendum on Brexit, former education secretary Justine Greening launched an attack on the prime minister, saying her plans would leave the country in the “worst of all worlds”. Piling yet more pressure on May, Greening – who resigned from the cabinet in January – backed the former transport minister’s call for another public vote and said MPs should reject the prime minister’s deal. Greening told the Observer: “The parliamentary deadlock has been clear for some time. It’s crucial now for parliament to vote down this plan, because it is the biggest giveaway of sovereignty in modern times.” – Observer

…as Liam Fox admits the UK may not get a Brexit deal

The minister said that Britain would not accept separate treatment for Northern Ireland under a Brexit deal, and dismissed calls for a second referendum. “We may or may not be able to get an agreement in which case we would have to leave the European Union without one, but we’re not going to be bounced into having another referendum,” he said. Prime Minister Theresa May this week faced pressure from her Westminster allies in the Democratic Unionist Party not to allow a customs border to split Northern Ireland from the UK after Brexit. Speaking a day after Jo Johnson quit the government and called for a fresh vote on Brexit, Fox said Johnson was an excellent transport minister. – City A.M.

May faces ‘rejection and resignations’ over her Brexit plan

Theresa May is facing a battle to save her Brexit plan amid claims the European Union has rejected a key proposal. Talks with Brussels have reportedly broken down over the PM’s solution to the Irish backstop. The current proposal would see the whole of the UK remaining in a temporary customs arrangement to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. To allay fears this would leave the UK trapped indefinitely in a customs union, Mrs May had drawn up a mechanism which would allow the UK to leave the backstop. Using the legal expertise of Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, it proposed using an independent arbitration panel. But the EU has reportedly dismissed this plan, dubbed the “Cox compromise”, insisting any arbitration must come from the European Court of Justice. This would be a huge blow for the PM’s hopes of reaching a deal with Brussels by the end of the month. Mrs May had also hoped her solution would bring together her divided cabinet at a meeting this week. Meanwhile speculation grows over the possibility of other resignations, following the departure of transport minister Jo Johnson. Mr Johnson warned Britain was “on the brink of the greatest crisis since the second world war”. – Sky News

Ministers hand May ‘secret’ emergency no-deal Brexit plan’ in case Chequers is voted down…

Senior Brexit-backing ministers have handed Theresa May a secret detailed plan if Britain leaves the EU without a deal. Details around the plan emerged just hours after Jo Johnson, a junior transport minister, resigned over Brexit, according to reports on Sky News this morning. There are now growing concerns within Whitehall that Mrs May’s embattled Chequers proposals will be voted down in the Commons – plunging the Government into crisis. This would leave the Prime Minister with a choice between a second referendum or leaving without a deal. The proposal, which was briefed to Mrs May earlier this month, would see UK pay £18bn and continue to follow EU rules for a further 18 to 24 months after leaving in March. Commenting on the story on Sky News, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “What must be clear to even the most ardent May supporter, or Chequers advocate, is that Chequers won’t go through the House of Commons unless she can convince Labour to abandon their manifesto pledge.” – Sunday Express

…but Sir Keir Starmer says Labour will join Tory MPs in seeking to block a no‑deal Brexit…

Labour will unite with MPs across parliament to stop Theresa May taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal, The Sunday Times can reveal. Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, warns the prime minister that she will not be allowed to blackmail MPs by presenting the deal she comes back to parliament with as the only alternative to no deal. Sir Keir claims it would be “politically unsustainable” for Mrs May to end the Brexit negotiations with no agreement and “deliver no deal without the consent of Parliament”. In an effort to ratchet up the pressure on the prime minister as her Brexit negotiations hit deadlock, Starmer pledges to work with politicians from other political parties to oppose a cliff-edge scenario. – Sunday Times (£)

…while Labour MPs criticise Corbyn for saying ‘we can’t stop’ Brexit

Labour MPs have criticised Jeremy Corbyn after he announced “we can’t stop” Brexit just two months after he declared in his conference speech that “all options are on the table”. In an interview with Der Spiegel published on Friday, the Labour leader renewed his criticism of the EU’s economic policy and called upon the entire country to “recognise the reasons why people voted leave”. This comes after the transport minister Jo Johnson resigned from the government and accused Theresa May of offering MPs a choice between “vassalage and chaos”, prompting renewed calls for a second vote. Asked on Saturday if he could agree with Johnson’s call for a new referendum, Corbyn said: “Not really, no. The referendum took place. The issue now has to be how we bring people together, bring people together around the principles of our economy, our rights and that we don’t turn this country into some kind of offshore tax haven on the lines that Donald Trump might want us to.”

  • Jeremy Corbyn rejects calls for Final Say referendum, despite backlash from his own MPs – Independent
  • Labour MPs criticise Corbyn for saying ‘we can’t stop’ Brexit – Observer
  • ‘We can’t stop Brexit’ – Politico

Sir Bill Cash blasts May’s reluctance to give up on Chequers deal

Speaking to BBC News, the Tory MP blasted the Prime Minister’s approach to the Brexit negotiations as he revealed EU laws – turned into domestic laws in each member state – are decided behind closed doors and based on the premeditated consensus of Brussels eurocrats. Sir Bill claimed that with Chequers, Theresa May had sinned of the same undemocratic process. He said: “By staying in and not going through the current arrangements, what we would be doing would be surrendering ourselves to the problems which exist already, which is in the European Council of Ministers where the laws are made, those decisions are made in a system that is not just undemocratic but it’s deliberately so.” Asked whether the Churchill dictum “democracy is a terrible way of doing it but it’s the least terrible way of doing it” applied to this situation, he replied: “No. This is not democracy. That’s the point I’m making. The decisions are taken behind closed doors, without a transcript”. – Sunday Express

> WATCH on BrexitCentral’s YouTube channel: Sir Bill Cash interviewed on the BBC News Channel yesterday

Priti Patel: Theresa May must grasp Brexit opportunities and fight for good deal

In 2016 17.4 million voted to leave the European Union and the public put their trust in the Government to seize the initiative and transform our country into a self-governing, free-trading nation once again. And at first the Government listened. But with the clock ticking and as the deadline fast approaches, the Government has made its choice and it has chosen to keep our country tied into the EU. The public saw that the Chequers proposal was not a “compromise” or a negotiating position. It was the public face of a ploy to keep the UK inside the EU by tying our hands to EU rules and maintaining the supremacy of European law in our country and the Cabinet all agreed to this. And since then the Government is now begging with the EU to be allowed to stay inside its “customs union” indefinitely. And to make it look like it’s taken the 2016 referendum result seriously, the Government won’t call it customs union membership anymore. They are calling it a “UK-wide backstop”. – Priti Patel MP for the Sunday Express

Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson: Simple rules can keep the Irish border open

It is unsurprising that Jo Johnson, who voted to remain in the EU, chose to resign as transport minister yesterday. Downing Street has been out-thought and outmanoeuvred and is now clutching at an arrangement that leaves the UK as a perpetual rule-taker from the EU, unable to set trade deals with the US and other vital global markets. We will not take back control but hand over control of many of our laws and our borders, and pay £39bn for the privilege. From the start of the negotiations Downing Street allowed itself to be boxed in, and it lost all direction after last year’s election. In December we warned No 10 that the commitment to the backstop and to paying £39bn would take its leverage away. But the prime minister was persuaded that if we signed the December deal, the EU would start talks on trade. It didn’t. So the UK started scrabbling around for an alternative to full membership of the customs union. It came up with the Chequers white paper and said it was certain to open the door to trade discussions. It didn’t. Then the negotiators completed a draft agreement a few weeks ago for us to remain in the customs union, this time with the name “backstop”. –  Iain Duncan Smith MP and Owen Paterson MP for the Sunday Times (£)

Jacob Rees-Mogg: ‘Let’s leave the EU as friends…by giving them £20 billion to achieve a quick and clean break

It is time for the Prime Minister to be true to her mantra that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. It is also time for convinced Brexiteers like me to compromise. So at this late hour in the negotiations, we would like to make a new, generous offer to break the deadlock, to achieve a ‘No Deal Plus’. It would cost us money but it would finally dispel the ‘crash out’ Project Fear nightmare scenarios. It is true that with no withdrawal agreement at all, we legally owe the EU nothing – despite misguided claims from the Chancellor that we do. But we should offer Brussels £20 billion to make our departure as amicable as possible. Under it, we would leave on schedule on March 29. As the PM stubbornly refuses to accept the comprehensive free-trade deal offered by the EU, colloquially known as Super Canada, the final hope must be that when she said no deal is better than a bad deal, she actually meant it. So let us make the preparations now for as friendly and smooth a Brexit as possible. – Jacob Rees-Mogg MP for the Mail On Sunday

Steve Baker and Sammy Wilson: We will vote against a deal that prioritises the EU over the UK

The only plausible outline of a successful UK exit from the EU with a deal is obvious. It is the offer made by the EU, extended to the whole UK. The deal offered would: ensure security cooperation and participation in institutions of research and innovation, culture and education; deal with potential absurdities like any threat to flights, data or the mutual recognition of our driving licences; and result in an advanced free trade agreement covering all sectors with zero tariffs, no quantitative restrictions and including services. The obstacles to this deal are twofold: the border with Ireland must be made invisible and compliant in all circumstances, and the Prime Minister must ask for it. If the EU believes it is entitled to break apart or subjugate the UK, then it is an outrage. But for the UK Government to entertain acquiescence in such an outrage would be a humiliation and a gross insult to people who sacrificed themselves through history to keep power under the consent of the governed. We do not wish to see ‘no deal’ with our EU partners. We share the Prime Minister’s ambition for an EU free trade agreement, but not at any price and certainly not at the price of our Union. – Steve Baker MP and Sammy Wilson MP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Nick Boles: Don’t panic if Chequers gets chucked. What works for Norwegians would work for us

The government would have us believe that the only alternative to the prime minister’s deal is falling out of the EU with no deal — and it is clear that the consequences of that would range from the chaotic to the calamitous. When she seals her agreement with European leaders at a summit in the next few weeks, business leaders and other luminaries will follow No 10’s cue and hail the deal as a triumph of dogged diplomacy. They will declare all other routes out of the Brexit maze to be a mirage. But, in the words of Mandy Rice-Davies during the Profumo affair of the 1960s, they would, wouldn’t they? If parliament votes to reject the prime minister’s deal, there is in fact another course that MPs could still take. We could do what Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, suggested in May and go for what he calls “Norway plus” — membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and a continuing customs arrangement mirroring the EU customs union. Nick Boles MP for the Sunday Times (£)

> David Campbell Bannerman MEP on BrexitCentral on Friday: Why Brexiteers should write off the idea of ‘Norway for now’

Sir Keir Starmer: Labour won’t be bullied into a bad Brexit deal

Jo Johnson’s resignation exposes a fundamental truth: this government is broken. The divisions in the Conservative Party run deep. The three-decade long argument about Europe isn’t over. And the government is in a state of permanent paralysis over the biggest task facing this country in a generation. Sooner or later, parliament will have to decide whether to approve the Brexit deal the prime minister has negotiated with the EU (assuming she has been able to reach an agreement). She will, of course, insist that even if the deal she has negotiated is not the right deal for the UK, it’s her deal or no deal. Labour has never accepted that. To do so would remove any critical analysis and challenge from the entire process. – Sir Keir Starmer MP for the Sunday Times (£)

Martin Howe: Theresa May’s Brexit plan would drop the UK into a legal black hole

This is the advice I would give the Cabinet about the Irish border “backstop” arrangement. Trade treaties normally contain clauses which allow either party to withdraw on notice. I can’t think of a single existing trade treaty which does not contain such a notice clause.  So what the EU is currently asking for – a clause which would allow the UK to terminate the backstop only if it is replaced by a subsequent agreement with the EU – is wholly exceptional in international treaty practice. This would lock the UK into a relationship with the EU which the UK could not escape except with the EU’s permission. Instead of pressing for a simple clause which gives the UK the right to withdraw from the backstop on notice, the government is contemplating a clause under which the UK’s right to withdraw is dependent upon satisfying a ‘joint review mechanism’ or arbitral body – Martin Howe QC for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Charles Day: If Jo Johnson is so worried about financial services, he should back Brexit

Jo Johnson has noticed that Theresa May has managed to unite the country, in that both Leavers and Remainers worry that her deal will let the EU pass our laws and regulate our markets but leave us no say in that process. But why does he think that staying in the EU is a remedy for the problems he outlines? Johnson is right to say that our service sector needs protection. That’s why, should he ever have his way with a second referendum, the result will likely be an even bigger endorsement of Brexit. Here’s what he has to say: “Even if we eventually secure a customs arrangement for trade in goods, it will be bad news for the service sector — for firms in finance, in IT, in communications and digital technology. Maintaining access to EU markets for goods is important, but we are fundamentally a services economy.” – Charles Day for the Spectator

Independent: Jo Johnson’s warnings on Brexit are serious this time – and so are his brother’s

Wolf! Wolf! cried the boyish Jo Johnson. But the villagers had heard it all before, so they paid no more than polite attention. They had been told so many times before that the moment of decision was upon them, and that the catastrophe was about to break around them. But now we really are facing a moment of crisis. Theresa May wanted to have a draft Brexit agreement for the cabinet to approve at a special meeting on Monday or at its regular meeting on Tuesday. It is not clear this weekend that a form of words will be ready in time. If it is not, the timetable might slip again. It would then be too late for a European Union leaders’ summit at the end of this month, so we would fall back to the scheduled summit on 13 and 14 December. This would leave a week for the “meaningful vote” before the House of Commons rises for the Christmas recess on 20 December. – Editorial for the Independent

Toby Helm, Eleni Courea and Amy Walker: How a dismal Brexit deal reunited the Johnsons

Despite all the deep and bitter divisions at Westminster and across the country, and successive resignations from her government (Jo Johnson was the sixth minster to quit specifically over Brexit ), Theresa May has always hung on the belief that, when it came to the crunch moment, when a deal was on offer that would take the UK out of the EU on 29 March next year, her party and the country would unite sufficiently behind her to allow a withdrawal agreement to pass through parliament. The country would rally behind her vision of Brexit. But instead, as people become more aware of what leaving the EU entails, many MPs believe the reverse may be happening. This weekend, with time running out, Tory remainers and Brexiters are increasingly uniting – but in the opposite way to what the prime minister had hoped. More and more are speaking out against what is on offer – from their different sides of the Brexit ideological divide. The Johnson family is split between Brexiter Boris and the remainers in the tribe, his brother Jo, sister Rachel, and father Stanley. But they agree on one thing: that May’s deal would be an appalling one for the country, leaving the UK with a far worse arrangement than if it remained in the EU. – Toby Helm, Eleni Courea and Amy Walker for the Observer

Sunday Times: The prime minister hits her biggest Brexit roadblock

There are circumstances in which Mrs May could manage without DUP support and her deal survive the resignation of Mr Johnson, as she believed it had the departure of his elder brother Boris. Unfortunately for her, Brussels appears to have pulled the rug from under her feet. The plan she thought she had involved independent arbitration of the time Britain remains in a customs partnership with the EU. Now it seems that is not on offer and Brussels says there has been no progress on resolving the Irish border deadlock. The prime minister is in her most serious position so far. She and the rest of the government are determined to avoid a no-deal Brexit, fearing disruption for which the Tories would be punished by voters in the years to come. Despite draft timetables for selling her deal to parliament and the public, she has nothing to sell. The clock is ticking. – Editorial for the Sunday Times (£)

Jenny McCartney: Theresa May and Arlene Foster crash into each other’s hard place

You know a relationship isn’t going well when, instead of simply talking, a couple start writing to each other. It’s an even worse sign when the letters are made public. That is the state of affairs between Theresa May’s government and Arlene Foster’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), stuck in a marriage of convenience that may be moving beyond the help of a therapist. On Friday Mrs May’s leaked letter to the DUP seemingly suggested the government was ready to allow EU regulatory checks on goods entering Northern Ireland, and that — as a last resort — a withdrawal agreement could contain a mechanism for a customs border in the Irish Sea if a UK-wide agreement could not be found. The DUP missive in response can be summed up in one word, historically familiar to Ulster unionists: “no”. The idea of a backstop, a legally binding agreement to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, has long been contentious. It has a tendency to return to the same point: that the north might, ahem, perhaps like to stay on in the EU single market and customs union while the rest of the UK gets its coat. – Jenny McCartney for the Sunday Times (£)

Robert Peston: We are heading towards a constitutional crisis on Brexit

Pity Olly Robbins and Sabine Weyand who are as we speak negotiating a Brexit deal for their respective bosses, Theresa May and the EU27. Because following the resignation of Jo Johnson, it is now clearer than ever that the deal they will probably agree this weekend, to be put to the Cabinet on Monday (or at the very latest on Tuesday), will be rejected by Parliament. They are straining every one of their intellectual sinews to reach an agreement that is almost impossible given the ideological gulf between them on how to keep open the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. And when they succeed through the application of sophistry on a Herculean scale, what then? British MPs will spit on the fruits of their toil and then incinerate it, as an exercise in futility it is Pinteresque. Their putative compact is detested by Leavers and Remainers for almost identical reasons – they see it as giving the EU too much control over our future economic destiny. – Robert Peston for the Spectator

Brexit in Brief

  • The Brexit surrender: May’s Versailles – Timothy Bradshaw for the Conservative Woman
  • Theresa May’s Brexit deal is one slip away from disaster – Caroline Wheeler and Andrew Byrne for the Sunday Times (£)
  • Jo Johnson’s resignation increases the chances of a Final Say referendum by another notch – John Rentoul for the Independent
  • As a doctor and an MP, I believe we need informed consent from the British public on Brexit – that’s why I’m backing a Final Say – Dr Phillip Lee MP for the Independent
  • Project Fear returns: Britons may need to rely on home-grown vegetables in no-deal Brexit – Sunday Express
  • Macron’s awkward attempt to defend insulting call for EU Army as he greets Donald Trump – Sunday Express