Theresa May fails to namecheck “Chequers” in her conference speech: Brexit News for Thursday 4th October

Theresa May fails to namecheck “Chequers” in her conference speech: Brexit News for Thursday 4th October

Theresa May fails to namecheck “Chequers” in her conference speech…

Theresa May warned warring Tories that Brexit might not happen if they do not unite behind her and compromise. The stark threat came as the Prime Minister refused to name check her controversial Chequers plan in her 64-minute conference speech – in a fresh signal she was prepared to think again. And in a dig at Boris Johnson and hard-line Leavers she warned: “If we all go off in different directions in pursuit of our own visions of the perfect Brexit, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all.” Aides later said Brexit was secure under the Tories but could not be guaranteed if Jeremy Corbyn gets into No10 because of bitter government civil war. – The Sun

…warning that pursuing a ‘perfect Brexit’ risks no Brexit…

Conservative MPs like Boris Johnson are putting the U.K.’s exit from the European Union at risk by pursuing their idea of a “perfect Brexit,” Theresa May told her party today. The prime minister, facing a deeply divided party, told Brexiteers she is pursuing a Brexit deal that would protect livelihoods, warning their plan of a more distant, Canada-style relationship could put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. “A Brexit that might make Britain stronger 50 years from now is no good to you if it makes your life harder today,” she said in her speech to the party’s annual conference in Birmingham. – Politico

Tory MP submits letter of no confidence in Theresa May minutes before her big conference speech in anger over Brexit – The Sun

> On BrexitCentral: What Theresa May said about Brexit in her speech to Conservative Party Conference

> WATCH: The passage on Brexit from May’s conference speech

…as she now begins a frantic ten-day push to lock down a divorce deal ahead of the EU summit…

The PM will start phoning leaders across Europe’s capitals this morning in a bid to close gaping gaps. Now that the high risk moment of the Tories’ annual conference in Birmingham is over, senior government figures say she is freer to make more potentially controversial compromises. Despite Mrs May’s demand for Brussels to end the new impasse after the Salzburg summit disaster, The Sun can also reveal that secret talks have already reopened. The PM’s chief negotiator Olly Robbins has been in Brussels this week to try to hammer out a backstop plan to ensure no Irish border. One Cabinet minister involved in the process told The Sun: “We need some very fancy footwork to get the Withdrawal Agreement wrapped up by the October council. – The Sun

Theresa May launches ten day Brexit push amidst fears she will offer major concessions – Express

…with plans being drawn up in Downing Street to rush a Brexit deal through Parliament

Prime Minister Theresa May’s officials are drawing up plans to rush her Brexit deal through Parliament in an attempt to head off a rebellion from her own party, according to people familiar with the matter. May’s team want the final withdrawal agreement ratified by lawmakers within two weeks of signing the terms of the divorce in Brussels. Under that timetable, members of Parliament would vote on whether to accept or reject the divorce treaty by the beginning of December, the people said. May’s office declined to comment. Fast-tracking the deal through the House of Commons is likely to prove contentious. It will open May up to accusations that she’s denying lawmakers the chance to scrutinize the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU, but the payoff for the government will be in limiting the opportunities for rebels to try to block the deal. – Bloomberg

Theresa May dances past Tory troubles — but a Brexit barfight awaits

Despite four days of fireworks at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham, the chessboard for May’s looming Brexit battle is still set much as it has been all summer. The British leader returns to Downing Street stronger, but no more in control of events. After a week that started badly, with a security breach in the party’s conference app and damaging headlines generated by the prime minister’s opponents in her own party, May cemented her position Wednesday with what was quickly seen as the best speech of her premiership. Following an attention-drawing entrance to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” May deftly cast herself as the guarantor of the national interest in contrast to her rival Boris Johnson and his band of Brexiteers who, she warned, risk jeopardizing Brexit altogether. – Politico

Guy Verhofstadt mocks May for boogying at Tory conference after she vows Britain will leave without a deal if Brussels won’t compromise – Daily Mail

Ireland reportedly backing May’s latest plan to avoid a hard border…

Ireland has boosted Theresa May’s hopes of breaking the impasse in Brexit talks by backing her emerging plan for an all-UK customs union with the EU. Ahead of a crucial EU summit this month, the British prime minister is seeking to resolve a dispute over the “backstop” to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. One of the proposals she is working on — to take effect if no other solution to the Irish border issue is found — is for the whole UK to participate in a customs union with the EU. Michel Barnier, chief EU negotiator, has rejected the idea, but officials in Dublin privately argue it could settle the border question and open the way to a deal. “It looks like it would resolve that issue [of the border],” said a senior Irish official involved in Brexit talks. “Whether Europe accept it or not is another conversation.” – FT (£)

…although DUP leader Arlene Foster insist her red line is ‘blood red’ as she issues a stark warning to Theresa May

Arlene Foster warned the Prime Minister the DUP will not “call anyone’s bluff” over the Northern Irish border issue as the UK enters the last phase of Brexit negotiations. Threats about the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has been deadlocking talks with the European Union since the DUP trashed proposals to keep Belfast closely aligned with the bloc after the UK withdraws officially in March 2019. Speaking to the Today programme, Ms Foster said: “This is too important for us to be playing around with things. This is a union, this is what brought me into politics. This is very important we get this right. The red line is blood red, it is very red.” – Express

Ex-minister Steve Baker repeats threat that anti-EU Tory backbenchers would vote down deal based on Chequers

Tory Brexit hardliners will vote down any Chequers-style deal the Prime Minister brings before the House of Commons ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union next March, Steve Baker MP has warned. In an ominous threat to Theresa May, Mr Baker said even if only half the 80 Conservative MPs who suggest they oppose the plan actually voted it down it would be enough to defeat the Government. Mr Baker, a leading member of the pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group (ERG), claimed there needed to be a change in policy, not leadership Speaking on ITV’s Peston programme, he said: “The clock is after all running, the clock is running towards exit day – we need to change the policy, not the person.” When asked if his dissident colleagues would vote for a deal that resembled Chequers, he said: “I am clear I will vote against it.” – Express

May’s Brexit plan would mean lesser Australian trade deal, says ex-High Commissioner Alexander Downer

British leader Theresa May’s beleaguered Brexit plan would still allow Australia to strike a trade agreement with the UK, but it would be a lesser deal, says former high commissioner to Britain Alexander Downer. Mr Downer also said Mrs May’s senior ministers had this week told him Britain would soon become the 12th member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The British Prime Minister is staring down calls from prominent Brexiteer MPs, her grassroots and leadership rival Boris Johnson to “chuck Chequers”, the nickname given to her proposal to maintain regulatory ties with the EU for goods after Brexit. – Sydney Morning Herald

Move over Boris Johnson – the Conservatives have a new Brexit champion: Geoffrey Cox QC

A highly paid barrister who took a pay cut to join Theresa May’s Cabinet earlier this year emerged as the surprise star on the final day of the Conservative party’s conference. Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, delivered a rousing speech about the opportunities for Britain after Brexit, without notes, with confidence and aplomb. The speech drew echoes of David Cameron’s breakthrough speech before he became leader in 2005 and led to the barrister being tipped as an outsider to succeed Theresa May. Mr Cox was only asked by the Prime Minister to deliver her warm-up speech ahead of her speech to the party faithful on Tuesday. Overnight he memorised a 1,000 word speech he had jotted down on an A4 piece of paper and delighted party members with a relentlessly positive vision of the life after Brexit. – Telegraph (£)

France warns it would prefer Britain to crash out of Europe without a deal rather than accept a compromise…

France warned on Wednesday that it would prefer Britain to crash out of Europe without a deal rather than accept a compromise that undermined the integrity of the European Union. The stark warning from Nathalie Loiseau, the country’s Europe minister, came as both sides prepared for a crucial fortnight of negotiation following the close of the Conservative party conference. “No deal would be better than a bad deal,” Ms Loiseau told a French radio station, turning familiar Brexiteers’ own mantra back on the UK, before warning that “time is running out” for Theresa May to strike a deal with Brussels. – Telegraph (£)

…although Emmanuel Macron apparently thinks he can halt Brexit

Theresa May has warned the cabinet that President Macron believes Brexit can be reversed. Mrs May told a meeting of her most senior ministers that the French leader had made clear that he thought Britain’s departure from the European Union could be stopped through a second referendum. France has announced that it will give British residents the right to stay and work on its territory after a no-deal Brexit, providing Britain does the same for French expatriates. Privately, however, senior government figures believe that the Élysée Palace has misread support for another referendum if a deal cannot be struck with Brussels, and is crafting a hardline strategy to achieve its objective. – The Times (£)

Andrea Jenkyns: Theresa May had the opportunity to calm the fears of Brexiteers like me, but she failed

I have to congratulate Theresa May on what was in parts a personal and very moving speech at today’s Conservative party conference. It showed a different side to the prime minister and there were some domestic policies announcements which I know will appeal to my constituents. The freeze on fuel duty and investment in the NHS are greatly welcomed. However, this year’s conference was only ever going to be about one topic: Chequers. ‘Opportunity’ was the slogan for this year’s conference and, as someone who cares much about social mobility in Westminster, I was glad to hear Theresa May speak about the benefits that free markets offer. After all, it is ordinary working people who benefit. – Andrea Jenkyns MP for the Telegraph (£)

Nick Timothy: This is Theresa May as the Prime Minister she always wanted to be

All week, delegates attending the Conservative Party conference searched high and low for inspiration. What is the Tory vision for the future? And who can articulate it? The answer, to the surprise of many, came not from a rising star from the backbenches, nor an ambitious Cabinet minister, but a 62-year-old woman from Maidenhead called Theresa May. Of course, her speech yesterday could not answer every question. She did not, for example, explain what will happen to Brexit when the Chequers Plan inevitably unravels. And it was, after all, only a speech: the detailed policies and their funding and implementation must follow the promises. But, for the first time since the election was called, the Tories were shown the way forward. – Nick Timothy for the Telegraph (£)

Nigel Farage: You can dance all you like, Mrs May, but there was nothing in your words to cheer a traditional conservative

When Theresa May danced on to the stage in Birmingham, part of me pitied her. It’s not just that she looked deeply uncomfortable as she carried out this demeaning stunt. It’s that she’d clearly convinced herself this was the best way of attracting attention after Boris Johnson’s popular performance the day before. Mrs May’s routine stank of desperation, frankly, and I am still cringing at the memory of it. As to Mrs May’s speech itself, she read it out perfectly well. After last year’s disaster, simply getting through it was always going to guarantee it would be well received and therefore labelled a success. And so it has proved. The party faithful seemed to love it and London-based commentators were, apparently, equally happy. No doubt someone will label her the new Mrs Thatcher – strong, tough, resilient and so on. – Nigel Farage MEP for the Telegraph (£)

Asa Bennett: Chuck Chequers? Theresa May wants Tory Brexiteers to chuck their concerns instead

Don’t read too much into Theresa May’s failure to mention Chequers by name at all today. Its omission from her conference speech does not mean there has been a wholesale change of Brexit policy in favour of Canadian-inspired free trade agreement longed for by her Brexiteer critics. The Prime Minister has not chucked anything, referring repeatedly to “our proposal” to the EU. She knows how toxic the C-word has become in her party, and so chose not to risk having her chance to rally party members marred by heckles. By contrast, just a few days ago, she used it constantly in the safety of the TV studio with Andrew Marr. That means the only cabinet minister to have referred to the Government’s Brexit plans directly in this week’s conference is Philip Hammond, who was applauded for declaring that he shared “the Prime Minister’s determination to get the Chequers Plan agreed”. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Sajid Javid: How I will shape our immigration policy

Britain has high expectations of the behaviours, standards and values of which we are all proud, and I am the first Home Secretary in a generation that is actually able to define an immigration system without being constrained by the EU. This is an incredible opportunity. And it falls to us to ensure that these rules are not just a technocratic exercise. But that they are an expression of our values – our British values. We shouldn’t brush aside the legitimate concerns that many people – most people – have had about the way immigration has been managed, especially the anxieties of those on low pay or in low skilled jobs. The irresponsible way Labour increased immigration, without any real mandate, has understandably undermined the public’s trust. They lost faith that politicians will manage immigration sustainably. – Sajid Javid MP for the Yorkshire Post

Jenni Russell: A second referendum would be too dangerous

I have been hoping for a second referendum for months. Brexit is strangling the life out of politics, paralysing the government, stalling the economy, embittering divisions in both parties. Theresa May is impaled like a wriggling fish on a hook, trapped by Eurosceptics menacing her on the one hand and the frustrated, exasperated EU rejecting her compromises on the other. Businesses alarmed by the chaos are voting with their balance sheets, cutting investment or slashing jobs. There is no consensus for any form of Brexit, and the muddle is not remotely the glorious prospect Brexiteers promised. Polls show a faint shift from Leave to Remain as some uneasy voters register the mess. – Jenni Russel for The Times (£)

The Sun says: Theresa May’s conference speech was quite the hit and she did her party proud

She began with Dancing Queen, delivered some good news on Money, Money, Money and invited us to Take A Chance On Me. Against the odds, Theresa May’s speech yesterday was quite the hit. It will be remembered for the shimmy on to the stage, a self-deprecating reminder of her comically robotic jig in South Africa. Then a genuinely decent gag about gluing the letters behind her to stop them falling off like last year. She made a pitch for centrist Labour voters by praising the real heirs to the party’s moderate and patriotic traditions — all now languishing on the backbenches behind the Marxist rabble. And by condemning the online abuse of Corbyn’s sidekick Diane Abbott the PM vividly contrasted her party’s generosity of spirit with a Labour regime fuelled solely by hatred of Tories. – The Sun says

Brexit in Brief

  • Conservative Party needs to show unity over Brexit negotiations — or we’ll end up with Labour’s Diane Abbott and John McDonnell in charge – Rod Liddle for The Sun
  • Theresa May has turned a deaf ear to those wanting powerful leadership on Brexit – Catherine Blaiklock for the Telegraph (£)
  • Our Brexit leaders today must show Winston Churchill’s spirit – Tim Newark for the Express
  • Morbid reason Lord Heseltine demands another Brexit vote – Express
  • More UK no-deal Brexit papers to come – Politico