‘Stand up to Brussels bullies’, Dominic Raab tells Theresa May: Brexit News for Sunday 18 November

‘Stand up to Brussels bullies’, Dominic Raab tells Theresa May: Brexit News for Sunday 18 November
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‘Stand up to Brussels bullies’, Dominic Raab tells Theresa May

Dominic Raab today warns that Theresa May has allowed Britain to be “blackmailed and bullied” by Brussels and that she should toughen her stance on Brexit or face disaster. In an interview with The Sunday Times the former Brexit secretary called on the prime minister to show greater “political will” and made a veiled pitch for her job, saying Britain would not look like it is — “frightened of its own shadow” — if he was running the negotiations. He called on the prime minister to walk away from the talks rather than submit to the “predatory” behaviour of “dark forces” in Brussels… In a thinly veiled attack on the prime minister’s caution, he said: “If we cannot close this deal on reasonable terms we need to be very honest with the country that we will not be bribed and blackmailed or bullied and we will walk away.” – Sunday Times (£)

Raab thinks May has missed a golden opportunity to land a Canada-style free trade deal and a backstop to protect Northern Ireland that would allow Britain to leave a customs union without having to ask permission. “The frustrating thing is we got close to a deal which would have been acceptable,” he says. “It’s clear that we cannot now exit the backstop without the EU exercising a veto and that could be years and years down the line. It’s the worst of all worlds.” He believes May never really convinced the EU that the prime minister would walk away unless it gave her what she wanted. “There is one thing that is missing and that is political will and resolve in a very clear and evident way for our EU partners. It is about making clear through your actions that you are demonstrably willing to say that if we can’t get a reasonable deal, we would be willing to walk away. I am not sure that message has ever landed.” – Sunday Times (£) interview with Dominic Raab

Andrea Leadsom insists UK must not be trapped in customs union, claiming the deal can still be ‘improved’

There is “still the potential to improve” the draft Brexit deal, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has said. While she backed Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to get the “best possible deal”, she warned the UK could not be “trapped” in an EU customs union. The BBC understands that Brexiteer Mrs Leadsom is part of a group of five ministers hoping to amend the deal. Despite widespread criticism of the draft withdrawal agreement, Mrs May has vowed to “see it through”. The 585-page document sets out the terms of the UK’s departure, including details such as how much money will be paid to the EU, details of the transition period and citizens’ rights. It is due to be finalised at an EU summit next Sunday, 25 November. The publication of the draft text prompted the start of a tumultuous few days for Mrs May, with two senior ministers and several other junior ministers and aides resigning. – BBC News

  • Andrea Leadsom tells PM ‘more to be done’ on draft Brexit deal – Sky News

Brussels warns Theresa May that extending transition period would cost UK £10bn

Theresa May’s hopes of securing her Brexit deal were dealt a new blow on Saturday night as the EU warned the UK would have to pay about £10bn more to Brussels to win extra time for a smooth exit. As May’s allies sprang to her defence and said she was “winning over the country”, Brussels threw a new spanner in the works by saying any extension of the 21-month transition period designed to smooth the UK’s exit must last at least a year beyond the end of December 2020. May told an EU leaders summit last month that she might ask for a “few months” extra time if that was what was needed to complete an EU-UK trade deal and prevent the Irish backstop from coming into force. But on Saturday night Brussels was making clear that if the UK wants an extension of the transition – during which it is tied to the EU economic system but with no say over its rules – it must last at least a further year. – Observer

European Research Group publish the case against the Government’s Brexit deal

Four days after the release of the 585-page draft Withdrawal Agreement for the UK’s exit from the European Union, the European Research Group (ERG) of eurosceptic Conservative MPs today publishes a concise guide making the case against the putative deal. In Your Right to Know, the group – chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg – seeks to put the case against what Theresa May has agreed with the EU in plain English – and BrexitCentral is exclusively publishing the full text of the 7-page document. The publication identifies five key areas of concern over the draft Agreement. – BrexitCentral

Zac Goldsmith becomes the latest Tory MP to go public with letter of no confidence in May

Zac Goldsmith has become the 24th Tory MP to go public with a no-confidence letter in embattled Theresa May – but Brexiteers are still ten short of triggering a vote. The former London mayoral candidate has boosted the rebel bid to topple Ms May as party leader by submitting a letter to 1922 Committee Chairman Sir Graham Brady. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Goldsmith said that under the PM’s plan “in effect, Britain would remain in the EU, but without having any say” He added: “Had that been the choice, I personally would have voted to Remain. “The withdrawal agreement we have been presented with is unacceptable to Leave and Remain voters alike. “It has close to zero chance of making it through Parliament and with only five months remaining, we cannot afford to waste any more time on it.” – The Sun

  • Conservative plot to oust Theresa May nears tipping point as MPs’ rebellion grows – Telegraph (£)
  • Brexiteer MP warns May 90 percent of Tories want her out ” – Sunday Express
  • Prime Minister has my confidence amid Brexit criticism says Scottish Secretary David Mundell – Belfast Telegraph

Moderate Tories warn anti-EU ‘purists’ they could turn against Brexit if Theresa May’s deal is torn down

Moderate Conservatives have warned they will push Britain towards tighter relations with the EU or even turn against Brexit altogether if “purists” in their party tear down Theresa May’s draft withdrawal deal. A string of Tory MPs told The Independent that Eurosceptic colleagues who have begun a sustained push to bring down both Ms May and her Brexit plans, should not be mistaken that a no-deal exit risking the livelihoods of British people is obtainable. The moderates say the only remaining option if Brexiteers block Ms May’s approach will mean being more closely bound to the single market or even revisiting the 2016 referendum result. The pushback from Tory moderates began with pointed words from serving frontbencher Alistair Burt, who indicated that if Ms May’s plans fell, Brexiteers could not expect Remain-voting MPs to continue to go along with the result of the 2016 referendum regardless of the consequences. – Independent

She will split the party, say May’s Tory opponents

After two years of negotiating, infighting and intrigue, it is now only a week until Theresa May intends to head to Brussels to finalise her much-maligned Brexit deal. Unfortunately for the prime minister, however, her own team will be fighting her every inch of the way. “I’m going to the wire to get Brexit,” said one senior minister. “Proper Brexit.” Whatever she signs off with EU officials next weekend, May’s turbulent week has led a growing number of her frontbench to conclude her Brexit plan faces almost certain defeat in the Commons. The ferocity of feeling it has unleashed also has many concerned that the party will be forced into a historic split over the issue. One major donor even suggests a new party may be required to represent disenchanted Brexiters. – Observer

Labour gains three-point lead as May’s Brexit plan hits buffers

Labour has opened up a three-point lead over the Tories as Conservative Leave supporters appear to be deserting Theresa May’s party in droves, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer. Compared with a month ago, the Tories have dropped five points to 36% while Labour has gained three to stand on 39%. The Liberal Democrats have fallen by one point to 7%, while Ukip has gone up two to 8%. Opinium found that the Tory decline was primarily a result of Leave supporters deserting the party. Last month (on 11 October) 59% of Leave supporters said they would vote Conservative. But in Sunday’s poll, conducted entirely after details of May’s Brexit deal were made public last week, the proportion of Leavers backing the Tories has dropped by 10 points to 49%. Labour’s support among Leavers has risen by four points to 26%, while Ukip has surged by six points among Leavers to 16%. – Observer

  • Voters no longer trust the Tories on Europe, leading donor claims – Telegraph (£)

Sinn Fein leader says party will not save Theresa May’s Brexit deal by taking seats at Westminster

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has ruled out any possibility of her party’s seven MPs taking their seats in the House of Commons to vote for Theresa May‘s Brexit withdrawal deal. The prime minister has faced opposition from many within her own party as well as the Democratic Unionists over the draft deal. Ms May faced a tumultuous week that saw the departure of ministers including Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, and Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, and the launch of a high-profile insurrection on the back benches to remove her from office. When the deal is brought before parliament, the vote is expected to be tight. However, Ms McDonald said her party will not “ride in on a white charger” to save the day. Sinn Fein MPs have not taken their seats at Westminster for more than a century in an abstentionist policy. Ireland‘s deputy premier Simon Coveney has urged Sinn Fein to take its seats to vote on the deal, adding that if the Westminster ballot is lost by two or three votes then “people will rightly ask some pretty serious questions” of Sinn Fein. – Independent

  • Sinn Fein will not take seats and ‘save the day’ for May’s Brexit deal  – Belfast Telegraph

> Dr Sheila Lawlor on BrexitCentral today: Brexit, the Irish border and deceitful politics in Dublin and Brussels

DUP and Northern Irish businesses at odds over May’s Brexit deal

A row has erupted between the Democratic Unionist party and Northern Ireland business and farming interests after the Ulster Farmers’ Union gave its backing to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, in the first sign of cracks in support for the unionist party’s policy at home. The union, which represents more than 11,000 farmers, many of whom traditionally vote for the DUP, has called on Arlene Foster to vote for the Brexit deal, telling her a no-deal Brexit would be absolutely disastrous for the region. The DUP has threatened to pull the plug on May and vote against the withdrawal agreement on the grounds it would create a “vassal state” and break up the UK. But the UFU chief executive, Wesley Aston, told BBC Radio Ulster: “We want to make sure we avoid a no-deal situation. No deal for Northern Ireland agri-food and farming in particular would be absolutely disastrous and we have made that patently clear over this last while.” – Observer

Brexit doubt and dismay replace optimism in fishing villages

Fishing communities were among the strongest supporters of the UK leaving the EU ahead of the 2016 referendum, but on Scotland’s north-east coast the Brexit wind is shifting. On a dark November morning in Peterhead, Britain’s largest fishing port, the optimism among fishermen and traders has been replaced by doubt and dismay. “I think we’ve been sold down the river once again. It’s an absolute disgrace. We trusted these politicians,” said Gary Mitchell, an Aberdeen seafood wholesaler bidding for haddock at the Peterhead fish market’s sprawling new building, which opened just last month. Mr Mitchell said the draft Brexit deal unveiled this week had killed his faith in promises that the UK could leave the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy in two years while retaining unimpeded access to continental markets. “Going back 15, 18 months, it all looked good, what they were telling us,” he said. “Now, no, there’s no confidence whatsoever.” – FT (£)

> On BrexitCentral today: Fishermen warn that the Withdrawal Agreement lets the EU seize our waters forever

> Sheryll Murray MP on BrexitCentral yesterday: The Prime Minister’s cave-in to Brussels’ demands on fishing rights is unacceptable

Suella Braverman: This deal is the product of a pro-Remain civil service which doesn’t want Brexit to happen

This negotiation, rapidly acquiring the moniker of ‘the worst deal in history’ is the product of the civil service, not politicians. I must be clear: I have nothing but respect for the men and women with whom I worked at the Department. They were indefatigable, talented and dedicated. But the failure of accountability to politicians was astonishing. Civil Servants would routinely return from Brussels with the fruits of their endeavours, often having strayed beyond Cabinet mandates or setting policy decisions in legally binding text before Ministers had even discussed them… The general approach always seemed to be: Don’t upset Brussels… No wonder this deal cannot command the support of the majority of politicians – remain, leave, left or right. It has been forged, not by those who have a political pulse, but by those who are risk-averse, pro-remain and do not want Brexit to happen. – Former Brexit minister Suella Braverman MP for the Telegraph (£)

Theresa May: How my Brexit deal ends free movement, ends ECJ rule over the UK — and protects millions of British jobs

This week, after thousands of hours of negotiations between the UK and the EU, we have reached an important moment for our country. We have agreed in principle the detailed terms of our exit. And we have also agreed the broad terms of the future relationship we will build for the years ahead. This is a decisive step towards delivering the Brexit the British people voted for. Next weekend, at a special European Council meeting with the heads of the other 27 EU nations, I will fight to strike the very best deal for the UK. I am confident that it will be a deal that works for our whole country and delivers on the result of the historic referendum two years ago. Getting to this point has not been easy and I have had to take some difficult decisions. I did not take them lightly. Some of my government colleagues felt that they could not sign up to them. I respect that, but I passionately believe that the course I have set is the right one for our country. From the very start, I have known what I wanted to deliver for the British people. Honouring the result of the referendum by taking back full control of our borders. – Theresa May MP for The Sun

Martin Howe: Laws signed away, hands tied on trade – welcome to Mrs May’s black hole Brexit

Of this 585 page draft treaty, 175 pages consist of the so-called Northern Irish “backstop” Protocol and its 10 detailed Annexes. This should be called “the whole UK permanent lock-in protocol with extra lock-in for Northern Ireland.” It contains comfort wording that it is “intended to apply temporarily”. But the wording of the articles which govern how the Protocol is replaced or reviewed give the EU a complete veto on the UK leaving the Protocol. The government has surrendered any attempt to secure an independent mechanism permitting the UK to leave, let alone the unconditional right to leave after a period of time which it originally asked for. The government claims this Protocol does not matter because it might not come into effect, if a long term trade agreement is concluded before the transition period ends in December 2020. But the Protocol will have a profound effect even if it never comes into force. Its very existence will mean that the EU will have no reason to offer a trade agreement with better terms than the Protocol. – Martin Howe QC for the Telegraph (£)

Michael Howard: The UK and the EU should be preparing for no deal together

Both the UK and the EU are making preparations for the situation which would arise next March when the UK leaves the European Union in accordance with legislation passed by a large majority in the House of Commons but without a concluded withdrawal agreement. Yet there is no sign, as far as I’m aware, that these preparations are being coordinated. It should be perfectly possible for this contingency planning to be carried out by both sides working together to minimise the dangers of friction at the border if this situation comes to pass. And there’s every reason to put in place a series of ad hoc, strictly time-limited arrangements to ensure that what is sometimes misleadingly called a cliff-edge Brexit can be avoided. I believe that these potential consequences of a “no deal” Brexit have been greatly exaggerated but even if I’m right there’s no doubt that a large measure of apprehension exists; people and especially business yearn for certainty and measures of this kind could go some way towards providing it. I would therefore urge the government to approach the EU with a view to working towards agreement on arrangements of this kind. – Lord Howard of Lympne for the Telegraph (£)

Ranil Jayawardena: Only a good, fair settlement will win back trust of our people

I’ve said for some time now that we’ve got to bring the country back together. To do that, politicians need to win back the trust of the people – and a good and fair Brexit is critical. That is a Brexit that is good for those who have family or business links to Europe and that is fair to those who voted to leave – to take back control of our laws, our borders and our money. The trouble with the deal in front of us is that it continues to undermine trust in politics by claiming to do this, contrary to the underlying facts. That’s not right. The people are tired of politicians spinning a message. The sooner politicians realise that we have to be straightforward and upfront – even when the news is challenging – the better. The so-called “deal” does not take back control of our laws. – Ranil Jayawardena MP for the Sunday Express

Owen Paterson: The PM’s deal would block free trade with the US

It betrays the Conservative manifesto promises to leave the single market, the customs union and the jurisdiction of the European Court. Instead, it offers either an extension (up to any point this century!) of the status quo, or the nightmare of a potentially permanent “backstop”. That backstop would see the whole UK remain in a customs union with the EU, with Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market. So far from protecting the union, the backstop could see the creation of new internal borders within the UK in clear breach of the Belfast Agreement’s Principle of Consent. Worse, the UK would not have the unilateral right to end the arrangement, so we could be locked into it indefinitely as a permanent rule-taker with no say as those rules are made. Who will adjudicate the laws which we receive? This will tie the UK into EU customs, environmental, social, state aid and taxation policies. We will send the EU upwards of £39 billion for the privilege – and the ECJ will even adjudicate our payment of that. – Owen Paterson MP for the Sunday Express

Sajid Javid: This deal lets us take back control of our borders

There were many reasons why the British people voted to leave the European Union in 2016, but one of the defining factors was the ability to choose who can and cannot come to our country. This was a clear message and one that must be respected in negotiating a successful Brexit. The deal that the Prime Minister reached this week delivers on that promise. On the one hand it guarantees the rights of the many EU citizens who live and work in Britain and contribute to our society. But it also enables us, for the first time in generations, to take back control of our borders. We have an incredible opportunity to create an immigration system without being constrained by the EU, and to ensure that it works in the national interest. People wanted control over immigration. As Home Secretary, it is my job to make sure that is what they will get. And I am resolute in that commitment. It will be an immigration system designed in Britain, made in Britain and serving only our national interest. – Sajid Javid MP for the Telegraph (£)

Lee Rotherham: The greatest problem with the Brexit deal? It leaves us with the prospect of greater limbo

So what of this beefy 500-plus-page Brexit agreement that has finally made its way out of the paddock and into the butcher’s yard? It a nutshell, the single greatest problem with this transition treaty is that it doesn’t guarantee the transit. It leave us with the prospect of greater limbo than a Christmas special of Death in Paradise. The single greatest reason behind the current political flap is, ironically, because the draft settlement does not contain a neat equivalent to Article 50, the EU’s escape clause. Eurosceptics on the drafting Convention, that framed what would ultimately become the Lisbon Treaty, challenged whether two years was too long and risked seeing a country’s decision to leave overturned by a determined Establishment rear guard. That was prophetic then, and prescient now. Taken as a whole, it’s a dismal deal. The irony of it all is that the EU itself has passed consumer laws, precisely to prevent dreadful time share schemes like this one. – Dr Lee Rotherham for the Telegraph (£)

> Dr Lee Rotherham on BrexitCentral: There are some nasty surprises in the smallprint of Theresa May’s Brexit deal

Oliver Letwin: Why I’m backing Theresa May’s Brexit deal

Having studied this text and having followed closely the discussions that led to it, I too find it hard to describe myself as ecstatic or euphoric about it. The truth is that this deal is what deals usually are – a compromise. In this case, it is a compromise not only between the two sides that negotiated it but also between the two aims that the Prime Minister had in negotiating it. Will it ever fully satisfy those who believe it was a terrible mistake for the electorate to vote in favour of leaving the EU? No. Will it ever fully satisfy those who are determined to leave behind every last trace of the EU at any short term cost? No. Will it continue to have many critics and few if any enthusiastic proponents? Undoubtedly. But that, dear readers, is what happens with sensible compromises. Oliver Letwin MP for the Dorset Echo

Steerpike: The top 40 horrors lurking in the small print of Theresa May’s Brexit deal

This week, Theresa May’s government teetered on the point of collapse over her proposed Brexit deal. The withdrawal agreement between the UK and Brussels led to Dominic Raab and Esther McVey resigning in protest. However, May’s remaining ministers have since attempted to rally around her at least in the short term. Speaking on Friday, Liam Fox – the International Trade Secretary – gave a speech in which he declared ‘a deal is better than no deal’. This is rather different to May’s old claim that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. Just in case readers don’t have the time to go through the lengthy document themselves, Steerpike has compiled a list of the top 40 horrors lurking in the small print of Theresa May’s Brexit deal. In summary: The supposed ‘transition period’ could last indefinitely or, more specifically, to an undefined date sometime this century (“up to 31 December 20XX”, Art. 132). So while this Agreement covers what the government is calling Brexit, what we in fact get is: ‘transition’ + extension indefinitely (by however many years we are willing to pay for) + all of those extra years from the ‘plus 8 years’ articles. – Steerpike for The Spectator

Henry Hill: A first glance at some of the main points in May’s deal

When Theresa May set out her strategy for the Brexit negotiations, she set out three goals: to take back control of Britain’s money, laws, and borders.  As the talks have progressed, more issues have emerged – not least Northern Ireland and the territorial integrity of the UK. We’re paying the so-called ‘divorce bill’ as part of the Withdrawal Agreement, so won’t be able to use it as leverage during the future relationship. Whether or not an all-UK ‘Canada’ arrangement is possible seems to depend on whether the Government can negotiate to have the EU’s minimal-friction, tech-enabled, and intelligence-led customs arrangements applied to north-south trade from Northern Ireland instead of east-west. – Henry Hill for ConservativeHome

James Forsyth: Conservative MPs will back Theresa May’s soft Brexit deal — but only if she promises to stand down

Right now, Theresa May’s Brexit deal isn’t passing the House of Commons. A sizeable number of her own MPs will vote against it and her Northern Irish allies, the DUP, will reject it too. Even if Mrs May could persuade 25 Labour MPs to back her, an optimistic assumption, that still would not be enough to get this over the line. So what can she do to change the dynamic? Well, she needs to try to separate the question of what the country should do now from how she has handled Brexit since entering Downing Street. Mrs May has made some huge mistakes in her handling of Britain’s departure from the EU. There has been little preparation made for leaving without a deal, weakening the UK’s negotiating hand and sending a message to the EU that we’ll never walk away. She triggered Article 50 without knowing what she wanted, then wasted months and months of valuable negotiating time in internal discussions. She signed up to a joint report on the Irish border without telling her Cabinet how that would limit the UK’s options and end up shaping the entire negotiations. – James Forsyth for The Sun

David Davies: I voted and campaigned for Leave. But here’s why I’m supporting May’s Brexit plan

Ever since I entered Parliament in 2005, I have passionately and sincerely campaigned for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Back in 2011, long before it became policy, I joined the Parliamentary rebellion to support a referendum on the issue. Immediately after the referendum was announced, I began my daily campaign for Leave, both in my constituency and across the UK. I have knocked on countless doors and addressed many meetings in aid of this cause. So I do not think anyone can say I have not done my bit for Brexit. It is precisely because of my longstanding support for Brexit that I will be backing the deal proposed by Theresa May. It is not perfect, and there are many things I would like to have seen done differently in the negotiations. The Government should have begun planning earlier for no deal ,and made clear our willingness to follow this path if necessary. This would undoubtedly have increased our leverage in the negotiations. This deal will take us out of the EU on 29th March 2019, as planned. – David Davies MP for ConservativeHome

Liam Halligan: For all her grit and resolve, the Prime Minister is selling a false prospectus

Theresa May questions in the House of Commons for three hours on Thursday. Amid the onslaught of hostility, I admired her grit and resolve. “This is the best Brexit deal for Britain,” she said repeatedly, parrying criticism from MPs of all parties, Leavers and Remainers alike. Yet, for all her qualities, the Prime Minister is selling a false prospectus. This “deal” is merely a draft. And, as May squanders Britain’s bargaining chips – agreeing to pay £39bn up front, failing to prepare for and present “no deal” as a viable alternative – Brussels will turn the screw and the terms will get worse. It is vital to remember May’s 585-page “withdrawal document” relates almost entirely to the transition period, due to last from next March until the end of 2020 – and, more likely, much longer. The core of this UK-EU negotiation – the “long-term relationship” – has barely been addressed. So May is proposing to take Britain out of the EU, putting us beyond the point of no return, while accepting an agreement under which the EU holds all the cards. For, if we accept this deal, the UK’s ability to extricate itself from the EU’s legal-political orbit lays entirely in the hands of Brussels. – Liam Halligan for the Telegraph (£)

Steve Hilton: Only David Cameron can save us. Yes, you read that right

The nervous breakdown of Britain’s ruling class since June 23, 2016, has been quite something. From David Cameron’s premature evacuation of No 10 to Boris Johnson’s and Michael Gove’s abdication of responsibility for the consequences of the campaign they led and David Davis’s perky naivety about how easy it all would be — plus a senior civil service that has shown itself to be almost comically incapable of living up to its smug self-image as the reliable guardian of the national interest. It’s hard to disagree with Jo Johnson’s characterisation of the Brexit mess as the biggest failure of British statecraft since Suez. What Britain needs above all is a leader with the confidence and the character to command respect and bring people together from all sides of this bruising two-year national meltdown. If there is a Conservative Party leadership election, no doubt many able MPs will throw their hat in the ring. But there’s one name that should also be on the list: David Cameron. – Steve Hilton for the Sunday Times (£)

John Curtice: The polls don’t bode well for the PM, who is struggling to prove her deal is better than no deal

The numbers say that Mrs May has a battle on her hands winning over the public With the ink still barely dry on the Government’s Brexit deal, many voters have yet to make up their minds about Brexit. But the initial opinion polls of attitudes towards the deal suggest that not only does the Prime Minister have a battle on her hands to persuade MPs to back her deal, but she is also struggling to win over public opinion. For all the political excitement of the last few days, Survation found that only 60 per cent of voters have so far seen or heard anything about the Brexit deal. Meanwhile when YouGov asked questions designed to elicit voters’ views of the deal they discovered that around two in five do not know as yet whether they support or back the proposal. So, there are still plenty of voters out there that Mrs May might yet hope to win over. Trouble is, she badly needs to do so. – Sir John Curtice for the Telegraph (£)

Sunday Times: Dogged, certainly; dutiful, yes. But where is the hope?

Whether or not members of the European Research Group of Tory MPs achieve the 48 letters to the 1922 committee needed to trigger a vote of confidence in the prime minister, they no doubt believe they are the guardians of opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement. In this they are wrong. The government has managed to come up with a deal that nobody likes very much and for which support comes only through gritted teeth. It was always going to be difficult to secure a businesslike compromise deal, but our government has shown little finesse and lots of inconsistency. When up against an intransigent EU, Mrs May and her chief negotiator, Oliver Robbins, have delivered an agreement that delivers the letter of the referendum but not its spirit. Mrs May would say having done the hard bit, she should enjoy her own sunlit uplands. Voters admire her tenacity, if nothing else. But while the time for change is not now, the nation needs something, or rather someone, truly inspirational to cheer on. – Sunday Times (£) editorial

Andrew Rawnsley: Mrs May has put her cards on the table. Now it’s everyone else’s turn

The eye is supposed to be the calmest place in a storm. Weird as this may seem, the most tranquil person in British politics this weekend is probably Theresa May. This is not the same as saying that she is in a good place. Bits of her government keep falling off, like a decaying gothic folly shedding masonry. Even discounting for the tendency of the Brexit ultras to brag up their strength, a full-frontal attempt to oust her is more likely than at any time in her beleaguered premiership. A confidence ballot of Tory MPs could happen as early as this week. Her Brexit deal has been brutally savaged from every angle. When she presented it to parliament, more than 60 minutes elapsed before a Conservative MP spoke in her support. Even those that did so could barely muster the enthusiasm of someone recommending a cockroach-infested hotel to a friend on the grounds that it was the only place in town. Theresa May has made her choices. For others, the agonising has only just begun. It will soon be time for everyone else to take responsibility for fateful decisions of their own. – Andrew Rawnsley for the Observer

Dia Chakravarty: Brexit isn’t about race or gender, it’s about ideology

Shailesh Vara, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Suella Braverman, Ranil Jayawardena, Rehman Chishti, reads the list of the seven Conservatives who resigned in nearly as many hours from their various ministerial and senior party roles on Thursday in protest at Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement. None of them felt that the deal they were presented with respected the referendum result. This list of names also goes against the apparently established narrative that the only people kicking up a fuss about implementing the Leave vote are a bunch of old, white men who (given half a chance) would cut us off from the rest of the world. The “little Englanders” hell bent on destroying the country. I have always found the dismissal of “old, white men”, on the grounds that they are apparently selfish xenophobes, rather amusing. As if – even were the ludicrous characterisation to be true – their vote would carry any less weight than that of young immigrant women like me in a democracy. – Dia Chakravarty for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Is it farewell yet, Theresa? Rivals sharpen the knife – Caroline Wheeler and Tim Shipman for the Sunday Times (£)
  • What the Brexit deal means – David Smith for the Sunday Times (£)
  • Isolated and fatigued, but sympathy creeps in for beseiged Theresa May – Anne McElvoy for the Observer
  • The shipping industry faces the next big challenge: Brexit – Nusrat Ghani MP for the Sunday Express
  • Ignore the scare stories: our food is safe, say US officials – Telegraph (£)
  • Theresa May should stay as PM to finish off Brexit deal, say half of Brit voters – Sunday Mirror
  • Farage tears apart key factor corralling UK into ‘worst’ deal – Sunday Express
  • Grassroots backlash against May over Brexit deal – Sunday Times (£)
  • Tory leader in Brexit Secretary’s constituency calls for Theresa May to resign over EU withdrawal bill – Telegraph (£)
  • Radio adverts’ red tape ‘should be cut on day after Brexit transition’ – Telegraph (£)