Theresa May gambles on disaffected Labour moderates to get Chequers Brexit plan through Parliament: Brexit News for Sunday 9th September

Theresa May gambles on disaffected Labour moderates to get Chequers Brexit plan through Parliament: Brexit News for Sunday 9th September
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

Theresa May gambles on disaffected Labour moderates to get Chequers Brexit plan through Parliament…

Theresa May is gambling that she can draw on the support of disaffected Labour moderates in order to push her beleaguered Brexit plan through the House of Commons. Allies of the Prime Minister claimed she would ultimately seek the necessary votes to approve a deal through a combination of Labour MPs angered by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and “peeling off” ambitious Eurosceptic MPs. One claimed that the number of Brexiteers who would vote down her deal at all costs could be as low as 15 or 20 – or just a third of the full membership of the European Research Group (ERG) of Eurosceptic backbenchers. The ally said the votes of disaffected Labour MPs willing to support a “pragmatic” deal could then hand a victory to Mrs May. A senior minister said the votes of Labour moderates would be “crucial”. – Telegraph (£)

…as ministers warn negotiations could collapse…

Brexit talks are at risk of collapse as a planned EU compromise on the critical question of the Irish border has been branded “unacceptable” by British cabinet ministers. The Independent has learnt that EU officials believe they have struck upon “the only way” to bring the two sides together on the Irish border in a bid to secure a withdrawal agreement later this year. But their proposal has already been outright rejected by at least two cabinet ministers, with one going further and branding the EU’s suggestion “bollocks”… The Independent now understands that the EU will try to break the deadlock in negotiations by offering the UK a vague political declaration on the future UK-EU relationship in return for a deal on the Irish border. A well-placed Brussels source said: “This may well prove the only way to respect the EU’s red lines and allow Theresa May to win approval for a deal in the UK parliament. – Independent

…but Cabinet Office minister David Lidington says the UK wants a deal by November at the latest

Britain believes an orderly, agreed exit from the European Union is still the most likely outcome but time is running out and a deal should be done by November at the latest, cabinet office minister David Lidington said on Saturday. Speaking on the sidelines of Italy’s annual Ambrosetti conference on European affairs, Lidington said London wanted a deal that satisfied all EU member states but its contingency plan for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit was well developed. “We remain very much committed to getting a good deal and believing that that is not just the right outcome but the most probable outcome,” he told Reuters in an interview. He said it was important to wrap up negotiations by November in order to give British and European parliaments enough time to review and approve the text of any agreement. “This is not something that can simply be left to the 11th hour,” Lidington added. – Reuters

Boris Johnson makes Brexit ‘suicide vest’ jibe at Theresa May…

Theresa May’s Brexit strategy has put the UK constitution in a “suicide vest” and handed the detonator to Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Boris Johnson has claimed. The former foreign secretary’s extraordinary comments provoked an immediate backlash from Tory critics in the latest sign of the bitter Conservative divide over Brexit and the future leadership of the party.The prominent Brexiteer’s latest assault on Mrs May’s handling of negotiations with Brussels will fuel speculation about his own leadership ambitions. Mr Johnson quit the Cabinet in opposition to Mrs May’s Chequers plan which would see the UK remain closely aligned with EU rules on goods. Writing in the Mail On Sunday, he said: “At every stage in the talks so far, Brussels gets what Brussels wants. “We have agreed to the EU’s timetable; we have agreed to hand over £39 billion, for nothing in return…Mr Johnson said: “We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail. We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier. – Mail on Sunday

Boris Johnson: We have wrapped a suicide vest around our constitution and handed the detonator to Brussels – Mail on Sunday

…amidst further reports of Brexiteer plotting to kill off Chequers and oust the Prime Minister…

Theresa May has survived some brutal moments in two years in Downing Street, but none of those will compare to the ordeal a faction of her own Brexiteer Conservative MPs are planning to put her through. Hardline Tory Eurosceptics arrived back in Westminster this week feeling upbeat and focused after a summer plotting a final assault on the Brexit policy May announced at Chequers, her official country residence, on July 6. Members of the European Research Group — the hard-Brexit caucus whose senior figures include Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, and the former Brexit minister Steve Baker — think they’ve got one last shot at killing off the Chequers plan and replacing May with a prime minister who will, in their eyes, deliver a true Brexit. Most want that to be Boris Johnson. Emboldened by the uprising against Chequers among the Tory grassroots — and by opinion polls suggesting the wider public are also against it — ERG members told BuzzFeed News they’ve lined up more than the 48 MPs required to trigger a vote of no confidence in their leader and will move against her soon, unless she does a radical about-turn. – Buzzfeed

…while Jacob Rees-Mogg reveals his ‘Chuck Chequers’ plan for tax cuts and an NHS funding boost

Details of the alternative proposals that Tory Brexiteers drew up in response to Theresa May’s Chequers plan can today be revealed. The ‘chuck Chequers’ policies drafted by the European Research Group (ERG) led by Jacob Rees-Mogg were due to be published in the coming days – but were dropped at the last minute following rows over how much detail to include. The Eurosceptic MPs, who are deciding whether to unite behind a Boris Johnson leadership bid, were planning to call for the £39 billion Brussels divorce bill to instead be spent on a ‘Brexit income tax cut’, the NHS and even a renewed nuclear deterrent. According to a version of the blueprint seen by this newspaper, the ERG was planning to call for a Canada-style free trade deal with the EU – and if Brussels refused to grant the deal they advocated falling back on a ‘hard Brexit’ governed by World Trade Organisation rules. They called for a significant proportion of the £39 billion ‘divorce bill’ we have agreed to pay Brussels when we leave the EU to be ploughed into the NHS, and for £2 billion a year to be ringfenced for social care. – Mail on Sunday

George Osborne predicts the UK will keep free movement after Brexit

George Osborne has predicted there will still be free movement of people after Brexit, hinting that his close friend Michael Gove supports the idea. The former Chancellor said the “emerging option” was that Britain will remain in the European Economic Area (EEA) after it formally quits the EU in March next year. The EEA is an area where people, services and goods flow freely across borders. All 28 EU countries are in it – apart from Croatia which is in it with provisions – as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Prime Minister Theresa May has promised Britain will quit the EEA when it leaves the EU, saying people voted to “take back control of our borders”. But Mr Osborne said he thought Britain would stay in it – with the support of leading Tory Brexiteers. – Sky News

Poll suggests UK’s three biggest unions back a second referendum…

Members of Britain’s three biggest trade unions now support a new referendum on Brexit by a margin of more than two to one, according to a bombshell poll that will cause political shockwaves on the eve of the party conference season. The survey of more than 2,700 members of Unite, Unison and the GMB by YouGov, for the People’s Vote campaign, also finds that a clear majority of members of the three unions now back staying in the EU, believing Brexit will be bad for jobs and living standards. The poll comes as union delegates gather in Manchester for the annual TUC conference, where Brexit will be debated on Monday, and two weeks before the Labour party conference in Liverpool, where delegates are expected to debate and vote on Brexit policy. They will also consider calls to keep open the option of a fresh referendum on any deal Theresa May may strike on the UK’s exit from the EU. – Guardian

…as Lib Dems call on the SNP to back a referendum on Brexit deal

Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have been challenged to back holding a public vote on the UK’s final Brexit deal. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie demanded Ms Sturgeon and her party “get off the fence” on the issue of a so-called people’s vote. He called on them to “stand up for Britain’s place in Europe” and to “put your voice behind a public vote on the deal”. Mr Rennie made the plea as he delivered his keynote speech to the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party conference in Dunfermline, where he argued the “case for a Brexit deal referendum is growing”. – Evening Express

German Foreign Minister says Germany has no interest in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit

Germany has no interest in a ‘hard’ Brexit but such a scenario cannot be ruled out, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Saturday. Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29, yet little is clear. There is, so far, no full exit deal, rivals to Prime Minister Theresa May are circling and some lawmakers are pushing for a second referendum.“We have no interest in it coming to a hard Brexit,” Maas told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview, using the term widely used to mean Britain distancing itself from the EU by leaving the single market and the customs union.“But that is not to be ruled out,” he added. “We also don’t want it to come to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.” – Reuters

ECB piles pressure on City banks over Brexit

The European Central Bank has ordered financial institutions to reveal details of their plans to shift staff to the Continent after Brexit, ramping up pressure on banks and brokers to explain how they will operate once Britain leaves the bloc. In a hardening of its stance on multi-national banks with a big presence in the City of London, the ECB has stepped up warnings that a “brass plate” presence in the EU — where business is routed through a member state but senior managers remain in London — will be insufficient for serving continental customers. After Brexit, London-based banks will lose so-called “passporting” rights, which grant access to the EU. International lenders with a London hub were given a deadline of the end of June to apply for an EU banking licence, with 20 submitting an application. The ECB is said to be using the application process to demand further details on banks’ Brexit plans. – Sunday Times (£)

‘Irexit’ group seeking to register as political party

Up to 300 people gathered at a Dublin hotel today [Saturday] to hear why Ireland should leave the EU. The conference was organised by Hermann Kelly, a former press officer for Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage. Hermann Kelly, who is from Co Derry, intends to register ‘Irexit Freedom’ as a political party and is seeking 300 registered voters to form the party membership. ‘Irexit Freedom’ wants to field candidates in the European elections and then in national elections The draft political programme for the party states that “an exit from the EU would permit the Irish people to take back control” of citizenship, currency, immigration, sea-fisheries and trade, among other things.. – RTE

Italy could still leave EU, senior government adviser says

The European Union has not learnt the lessons of Brexit and could force Italy to reconsider its membership of the bloc, a senior government adviser has told The Telegraph. Ignazio Corrao, adviser to Luigi Di Maio, the deputy prime minister and leader of the Five Star Movement, attacked the arrogance of the European Commission and EU leaders for making no changes since Britain’s vote to leave the bloc.  Mr Corrao is Mr Di Maio’s right hand man in Brussels and a member of the European Parliament. He was the coordinator for the regional campaigns that ultimately led to a Eurosceptic coalition government in Rome. He said leaving the EU was not in Five Star’s manifesto, “but of course in politics things change. We still believe that we [can] get to a better Europe in the next months and years.”  He added: “If this doesn’t happen we will have to reconsider. If something is not working, it is impossible to continue in the same way.” He is pinning his hopes on next May’s European Parliament elections to bring real reform to Brussels but is keeping the option of “Italexit” open if reform fails. – Telegraph (£)


Dominic Lawson: The new Brexit wheeze gets nul points from me

You’ve got to wonder about the advice the prime minister is getting. When she sprang on the cabinet her Chequers proposals for a deal with the EU, I wrote here the following day that there was “a vanishingly small chance that [Michel] Barnier will accept it, or anything like it”. If anything I overestimated its prospects. Last week the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, described the PM’s proposals as, from the EU’s point of view, “insane”, “not legal” and “an invitation to fraud”. So that would be a no, then.As this column pointed out when Theresa May published her proposals in July, the integrity of the single market is the fundamental theological principle of the EU, so a deal for the UK to remain essentially part of it for goods and agricultural products, but not for services, and without signing up to freedom of movement — all this was the big idea of May’s principal adviser, Olly Robbins — would be dead on arrival in Brussels…There is, however, a problem — one more fundamental than the question of whether the EEA and Efta members Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein would actually welcome us in, if it is clear we have no intention of being other than maximally disruptive by leaving their club as soon as possible.That problem, of course, is freedom of movement. The most busy proponent of this strategy, George Trefgarne, claimed in the Conservative Home website last week: “While we would have to sign up to free movement of workers (my emphasis), we can effectively opt out of it or limit it by invoking articles 28 (3) or 112 [of the EEA agreement]. Liechtenstein has already done so successfully since 1997 and restricts annual immigration from the EU to between 2% and 3% of its population.” – Dominic Lawson for the Sunday Times (£)

Boris Johnson: We have wrapped a suicide vest around our constitution and handed the detonator to Brussels

Why are they bullying us? How can they get away with it? It is one of the mysteries of the current Brexit negotiations that the UK is so utterly feeble. We have a massive economy; the sixth largest in the world. We ought to be able to do that giant and generous free trade deal the Prime Minister originally spoke of. And yet it’s, ‘yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir’. At every stage in the talks so far, Brussels gets what Brussels wants. We have agreed to the EU’s timetable; we have agreed to hand over £39 billion, for nothing in return.Now under the Chequers proposal, we are set to agree to accept their rules – forever – with no say on the making of those rules.It is a humiliation. We look like a seven-stone weakling being comically bent out of shape by a 500 lb gorilla. And the reason is simple: Northern Ireland, and the insanity of the so-called ‘backstop’. We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail. We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier. – Boris Johnson for the Mail on Sunday

Matthew Goodwin: Entryism is part of Britain’s political realignment

For observers of British politics, the so-called silly season that characterises the summer months has been brought to a close by the story that a former Ukip donor and his band of Eurosceptic followers are trying to infiltrate the governing Conservative party. Yet the move appears to be more strategic than silly. In recent weeks, Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore, close associates of Nigel Farage, have concluded that the only way to overturn Theresa May’s Chequers proposals for a softer Brexit is to instruct their Leave.EU network to join local Conservative associations, attend meetings and then vote for any genuine Brexiter who makes it on to the ballot in a future Conservative leadership election. They have branded the exercise “Operation Unite the Right”.British politics thus takes another curious turn. Whether knowingly or not, sections of the radical right are now replicating the tactic of ‘“entryism” that was first pioneered by the Trotskyites in the early 20th century. Leon Trotsky instructed his small band of ideological followers to infiltrate the much larger leftwing parties in order to connect with the youthful revolutionaries inside them and steer them toward Trotskyism. Whereas back then the goal was to foment revolution, today it is to stop a softer Brexit. – Matthew Goodwin for the FT (£)

Janet Daley: Brexiteers risk their own disaster by tying themselves to the doomed Trump presidency

There is a brand of what might be called naive cynicism on the Right in British life which sees Trump as a successful anti-establishment crusader: a People’s Hero who dares to utter the home truths of national self-righteousness which strike a chord with voters who feel “left behind” or despised by liberal elites. Trump apologists are prepared to make allowances for the demagoguery and incoherence – presumably seeing them as transitory steps toward a more genuinely popular politics.It is almost impossible to exaggerate the dangerousness of this view, or to imagine the discredit which, for example, Brexiteers might bring upon their cause by adopting it. To identify the Leave campaign – and its success in the referendum – with Trump’s startling win of the presidency is to suggest that the worst accusations made against Brexit supporters are all true: that they are ignorant, nativist and bigoted. Which is to say, that their reasons for voting to leave the EU were identical to the motives of those who supported Trump. This is precisely the caricature of Brexiteers which their adversaries seek to promote. In truth, the beliefs and values of the Leave campaign were – and should be defended as being – profoundly unlike those of the Trumpist movement. Where Brexit is determined to protect and revive the democratic integrity of Britain’s historic parliamentary tradition, Trumpism defies (or ignores) America’s constitutional order. Anything that interferes with Trump’s own direct connection with the people is a pestilential encumbrance – even when it is the courts or the legislature carrying out their legitimate duty to check the power of the executive. – Janet Daley for the Telegraph (£)

James Forsyth: The biggest obstacle to a Brexit deal

The UK and the EU are playing a dangerous game of chicken over the Irish border, I say in The Sun this morning. There has been almost no progress on this issue over the summer and without a deal on it, there can’t be a withdrawal agreement.One of those involved in the negotiations on the British side tells me, the EU ‘believe we will blink first’. But that won’t happen. One Brexit red line that Theresa May is adamant she’ll never cross is her insistence that no British PM could sign the EU’s proposed text on the Irish border, which would see Northern Ireland become part of the customs territory of the EU.- James Forsyth for The Spectator

Lave K. Broch: We Danes should leave the EU along with you

My goal is that Denmark will leave the EU together with the UK. I hope that our two states could rejoin EFTA. Being a member of EFTA will give us a good platform for co-operation with the remaining EU states. Denmark should also increase the Nordic co-operation and we can have a close co-operation with the UK. The UK, Denmark and the EFTA states can show the EU that there is a more democratic way to co-operate.Brexit gives hope for a better Europe. Yes to democracy and co-operation – No to the EU state! – Lave K. Broch for Conservative Woman

John Redwood: The Lib Dems stake out the undemocratic extreme

There has never been a large market for a pro EU party in the UK. When John Stevens set up the pro Euro Conservatives it gained just 1.4% of the vote in the European elections. It peaked at under 4% in the Kensington and Chelsea by election to Parliament and was disbanded owing to a lack of voter support shortly afterwards. I doubt there would be much of a market on the left for a pro EU Labour party that made its peace with the Establishment on a number of issues where Corbyn is more radical. The pro EU Social Democrats never won new seats in a General Election. The Lib Dem result last time should be a warning to them all that trying to stop Brexit gets you to a very poor third place. What they seek is no moderate centre they can capture. Supporting a new sell out to the EU is far from being a moderate position to adopt. – John Redwood’s Diary

  • Former Tory minister joins calls for public to be given final say on deal amid ‘gridlock in parliament’ – Independent
  • Police fear no-deal Brexit could spark widespread disorder – leaked report – ITV News