Downing Street plans last-ditch attempt to sell Chequers plan ahead of Tory conference: Brexit News for Thursday 6 September

Downing Street plans last-ditch attempt to sell Chequers plan ahead of Tory conference: Brexit News for Thursday 6 September
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Downing Street plans last-ditch attempt to sell Chequers plan ahead of Tory conference…

The latest row came as the PM prepared a last ditch bid to sell her troubled Chequers plan to Tory faithful with a tour ahead of her party conference next month. The Sun can reveal panicked Mrs May is to dispatch her Cabinet around the country to try talk down fuming local Tory chiefs and members who hate her soft Brexit compromise offer. Amid deep concern in Downing Street that a row over her Brexit plans is to engulf her party conference next month, Mrs May’s Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell has ordered ministers to “sell Chequers” with a script to take directly to sceptical local party bigwigs. Meanwhile there was fresh anger at Downing Street last night after the PM’s Brexit guru confessed he had let Brussels help shape her troubled Chequers plan before she showed her Cabinet. – The Sun

…as Olly Robbins faces calls to put the plan ‘out of its misery’…

Theresa May’s chief Brexit adviser has insisted her under-fire Chequers plan is deliverable and “respects” both the UK’s sovereignty and the EU’s autonomy. Appearing before MPs, Oliver Robbins was urged to put the prime minister’s blueprint for future relations with the EU after Brexit “out of its misery”. Veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash said it was “completely impossible” to marry the UK and EU’s underlying demands. But Mr Robbins insisted the package remained “credible and sensible”. The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. Both sides are currently seeking to finalise the terms of withdrawal and agree a statement on future economic and security relations. They hope to get agreement before a summit of EU leaders next month but have acknowledged that this might not be possible until November.  – BBC News

  • What’s the Brexiteers’ alternative plan? – Laura Kuenssberg for BBC News
  • Is Dominic Raab the Brexit Grinch? – Steerpike for The Spectator

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s YouTube Channel:

…after Michel Barnier reportedly said Chequers was ‘dead’…

Michel Barnier told British MPs that Theresa May’s Chequers proposal is “dead,” according to a member of the House of Commons Brexit committee. Questioning Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab at a separate committee hearing in Westminster Wednesday, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who was present at the Barnier meeting, reported that the chief negotiator had said in French “les propositions sonts mortes” [the proposals are dead]. A spokesperson for the European Commission did not immediately respond to a request to confirm whether Barnier used those words. Raab, appearing before the House of Commons European scrutiny committee, said he had regular meetings with Barnier and would not take Kinnock’s word for what happened.- Politico

  • French minister rejects Chequers deal – Evening Standard
  • Brussels bans European politicians from talking to UK about Brexit as they fear losing control of the negotiations – The Sun

…and Jeremy Corbyn made the same suggestion during PMQs clash

It was the first Prime Minister’s Questions since MPs returned from their summer break – and to no one’s great surprise Brexit dominated… He used all six of his questions to highlight Cabinet splits over the prime minister’s Brexit proposals – starting with a quote from International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who said the chance of a “no deal” Brexit was 60/40…”The Chequers proposal is dead, already ripped apart by her own MPs, when will the prime minster publish a real plan that survives contact with her cabinet and reality and protects jobs,” he asked.  – BBC News

  • “The Chequers proposal is dead” – Corbyn criticises May’s Brexit policy at PMQs – ConservativeHome
  • A Canada-style Brexit deal might come back on to the table – James Forsyth for The Spectator
  • There is no chance of No. 10 backing down – Robert Peston on Facebook
  • Chequers is toast, and so is Theresa – Laurence Hodge for ConservativeWoman

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s YouTube Channel:

Brexiteers who think negotiations are going badly would still vote to Leave the EU in another referendum, says polling expert

Leave voters who think the Government is doing badly in Brexit negotiations would still vote to leave the European Union in another referendum, a leading polling expert has said. Writing in the Telegraph, Professor Sir John Curtice, senior fellow at the National Centre for Social Research, said: “The many Leave voters who feel that Brussels or London – or both – have been making a mess of Brexit have largely not changed their minds about the merits of leaving. “However, there is one possible concern that has unsettled some Leave supporters and might yet erode support for Leave if it were to become more widespread – that is the perception that Brexit might be bad for Britain’s economy.” More than half of voters expect the UK to crash out of the European Union with a “bad” Brexit deal, a study by the National Centre for Social Research has shown. Only 17 per cent think Britain will get a good deal, down from 33 per cent 18 months ago. – Telegraph (£)

  • Over half of voters now predict a bad deal, but they still believe in Brexit – for now – John Curtice for the Telegraph (£)

Pound endures rollercoaster day as Germany denies claims of Brexit breakthrough

The pound has endured a rollercoaster day of trading on currency markets after Germany dashed earlier hopes of a Brexit breakthrough. The German government insisted that its position on Brexit remained unchanged after a report claimed that the UK and German governments had dropped key demands to ease the path to a deal. The pound initially spiked on foreign exchange markets on hopes that a fudged agreement will break the Brexit deadlock but later pulled back as government officials played down the report. Bloomberg had claimed that Germany is willing to accept a less detailed agreement to push through a deal in time for next March. But Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab also warned that MPs would be apprehensive about approving a deal with a “nebulous and unclear destination point”. After jumping 1pc on Brexit breakthrough hopes, sterling pulled back to a 0.3pc gain against the dollar at just below $1.29. – Telegraph (£)

  • Pound soars as Angela Merkel opens the door to a Brexit deal by backing down on Europe’s red lines – The Sun
  • Merkel says EU, Britain must negotiate Brexit to ensure close ties – Reuters
  • Germany has full trust in Barnier on Brexit – government spokesman – Reuters

Britain draws up 27 different pacts to protect flights if there’s no Brexit deal

Britain is trying to negotiate aviation deals with individual EU countries to ensure planes continue to fly in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling will write to his opposite numbers in the 27 member states, seeking to secure agreements. The move, which attempts to circumvent the European Commission, will anger Brussels officials. The European Union is responsible for aviation laws across the continent, but has resisted efforts by the UK to draw up contingency plans if there is no agreement. Mr Grayling will urge European transport ministers to be practical and prepare for the talks collapsing. It comes ahead of the publication next week of another tranche of ‘no deal’ papers, including those covering aviation. – Daily Mail

No-deal Brexit would have a positive impact on Britain’s dying fish industry, minister claims

A no deal Brexit would spark a boom in Britain’s ailing fishing industry, Fishing Minister George Eustice declared Wednesday. The Tory Brexiteer told MPs that Brussels talks collapsing would give “fishermen a big increase in their fishing opportunities because we will have control of our own resources”. He added that would have a “positive impact” on the industry. And he told the Environment Committee fishermen have “nothing to fear, as fishing is one of the key areas where we would gain” without a deal with the EU. Mr Eustice added that British boats would still have access to European waters as the UK would rejoined the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. He also told MPs that securing a new agreement to end the scallop wars in the English Channel would be “the right outcome”. – The Sun

Jacob Rees-Mogg says Boris Johnson would negotiate a better Brexit deal than May’s ‘muddle’

Jacob Rees-Mogg says Boris Johnson should be the next Prime Minister and says he would negotiate a better Brexit deal than Theresa May’s Chequers “muddle”. The influential backbencher said the former Foreign Secretary is “absolutely first class” – but he added “there is no vacancy” in Number 10 for him to fill.  Mr Rees-Mogg also blasted calls for a second referendum in a phone-in on LBC, calling it “a singularly silly idea”. He was asked by a listener to respond to a poll by the radio station suggesting Brits would prefer Mr Johnson to Mrs May to deliver a so-called “real Brexit”. The MP for North East Somerset said: “Well, two years ago in the Conservative Party leadership campaign, I supported Boris Johnson because I thought it would deliver Brexit extraordinarily well. “I haven’t seen anything that would cause me to change my mind on that.”  – The Sun

  • Our survey. Next Tory Leader. Johnson stretches his lead at the top of the table. – ConservativeHome

> Patrick O’Flynn MEP on BrexitCentral today: When Boris Johnson speaks out on Brexit, he’s standing up for 17.4 million Leave voters

Andy Burnham backs new Brexit vote despite admitting it could cause “social unrest”

A second referendum would be divisive but a price worth paying to prevent the “catastrophic damage” of a no-deal Brexit, Greater Manchester’s mayor has said. Andy Burnham said he would support a fresh vote only as a “last resort” to prevent the UK leaving the European Union with no agreement. He said it could “widen” divisions and even “create social unrest”. The government said it was “confident of a mutually advantageous deal”. Speaking at Westminster, Mr Burnham argued if Parliament was heading towards a no-deal Brexit then the EU should be asked to postpone the March 2019 departure deadline to allow further negotiations. If that fails and a deal acceptable to Parliament cannot be agreed between the UK and Brussels, a second referendum should be held, the former Labour cabinet minister said.  – BBC News

  • Starmer: Labour would vote down Canada-style Brexit deal – Guardian

Vote Leave head Matthew Elliott: “The Brexiteers won the battle but we could lose the war”

“We won a crucial battle but we could lose the overall war,” Elliott, 40, admitted when we met recently at his apartment in Streatham, south London (the second most pro-Remain constituency in the UK). A polite, affable man – who rarely gives in-depth interviews – he explained: “I’m disappointed that the Leave side left the battlefield after the referendum”. May’s initial Brexit stance and the appointment of cabinet ministers such as David Davis led to a false sense of security, Elliott said. “You can understand why groups like Change Britain scaled down their operations but I still think it was a mistake.” – George Eaton for the NewStatesman

Overseas students need easier migration rules, urges universities minister Sam Gyimah

The UK must adopt a more open approach to overseas students, according to the universities minister. Sam Gyimah voiced concern that the immigration regime created by Theresa May in her time at the Home Office had left the UK struggling in the race for global talent. He said that a shift was needed to ensure immigration policy was based on “evidence”, with the economic contribution of international students to “universities, trade and communities” taken into account. – The Times (£)

Trial scheme planned for post-Brexit farm workers

The UK government will test a new scheme for non-EU agricultural workers next year in an attempt to ensure that after Brexit British farmers can recruit the thousands of migrant labourers they currently employ. The National Farmers Union and MPs have called for a special arrangement for workers as concerns mount over fruit and vegetables being left to rot on British farms because of a shortage of labour. Under the old seasonal workers scheme that existed between 1945 and 2013, farmers could employ overseas workers for six months to pick fresh produce via a visa-controlled permit scheme. – FT (£)

  • Post-Brexit migrant farm worker visa scheme announced – BBC News
  • Theresa May’s axed non-EU farmer scheme to re-launch for post-Brexit demands – The Sun

Scallop wars: Breakthrough after UK and France talks

The UK and France have reached an agreement in principle over a fishing dispute that has led to recent violence in the Channel. In a joint statement following talks between the two governments, the UK and France said an agreement on the principles of a deal had been reached. French fishermen have accused the British of unfairly catching scallops in the Baie de Seine during the summer, when French boats are banned by their government from doing so to protect shellfish stocks. British boats don’t face the same restrictions and can legally do so. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the agreement is subject to a reasonable compensation package, the details of which will be defined in Paris on Friday. – Sky News

Laura Kuenssberg: What’s the Brexiteers’ alternative plan?

I hear from Sunday onwards we should expect several days of carefully planned announcements, almost like a government grid perhaps, where the Brexiteers, with their eyes ruthlessly on their short term prize of “chucking Chequers”, will lay out an alternative. A roll out of written papers will begin over the weekend, with a big event expected in Westminster on Monday which, if it comes off, would just by chance coincide with Boris Johnson’s next newspaper column. Plans, which are in this very febrile environment subject to a whole lot of change, are right now for a push on Sunday to make the argument for a free trade agreement, rather than Chequers. The former foreign secretary is among those who want to show there is another way ahead On Monday, we should see an explanation of the Brexiteers’ vision for money and migration, and then on Wednesday for solutions to be presented for the crucial Northern Irish border question and other issues like agriculture and fishing. – Laura Kuenssberg for BBC News

James Forsyth: A Canada-style Brexit deal might come back on to the table

Over the summer, a no-deal Brexit became less likely. Eurosceptic ultras have been forced to be less blasé. The return of Steve Baker to the European Research Group, the lead Brexiteer bloc of MPs, has injected more realism into their discussions on the subject. Baker was involved with no-deal planning in government and has made clear to colleagues that it would present significant challenges. Those intimately involved in the negotiations on the British side say that the EU is also more concerned about the talks failing. As deadlines approach, the focus is on the sheer logistical complexities that would come with Britain crashing out of the European Union. Senior figures on the EU side are alarmed at the challenge of helping Ireland through a hostile no deal. The European Central Bank’s discussions with the Bank of England have been a reminder of the close relationship between the eurozone and the City of London.  – James Forsyth for The Spectator

Graham Gudgin: What you didn’t know about the Irish Border – how technology can resolve the issue of the North/South frontier post-Brexit

The Irish border sticks out like a sore thumb in the Brexit negotiations. The nature of the problem that is proving so hard to solve is never fully clear. Equally unclear is why on earth it is a major issue in the withdrawal stage of the Brexit process rather than later when trade and border issues are decided. The amount of trade done across the Irish border is miniscule even by the limited standards of Ireland, never mind the EU as a whole. The need to avoid any new border infrastructure in Ireland is hardly at the heart of future EU:UK relations and attempts to prevent this border becoming a back-door for either people or goods into either jurisdiction can be effectively managed without recourse to what amounts to constitutional change. – Dr Graham Gudgin for Policy Exchange

Kathrine Kleveland: Here in Norway, we can do much better than the EEA. And so can you in Britain when you quit the EU

The process of Britain leaving the European Union is being watched with great interest in Norway. Norwegians have been debating EU membership for decades, and the situation in Britain could inspire a different relation to the EU than the current association through the controversial EEA agreement. We think a good Brexit is a clean Brexit, with Britain leaving the Single Market, including the Customs Union with the EU. – Kathrine Kleveland for ConservativeHome

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Anything could now happen on Brexit as Barnier bluff goes wrong

Michel Barnier has overplayed his hand on Brexit. By promoting the option of a ‘Canada’ trade deal so pointedly – both in his interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine and in talks with British MPs – he has given the idea a new legitimacy in Westminster. ‘Canada Plus’ is springing back to life. And by trashing the Chequers plan petulantly as “insane, illegal, and fraudulent’, he has thrown Theresa May to the wolves and unleashed forces that the EU may struggle to control. –  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph (£)

Iain Martin: The EU is a racket willing to break any rule

The EU is a benign bureaucratic organisation, we are told. We silly old  Brits misunderstand the legal foundations of the grand European project. When our Brexit negotiators ask it to compromise — on trade, the Northern  Ireland border or migration — we forget that the European Union and the 27 other member states simply cannot bend or break its inviolable rules. This turns out to be hokum, as will be apparent to anyone who has read a  report into Brussels chicanery published this week by the European ombudsman. The EU elite, it is clear, break the rules whenever it suits them and with impunity. Iain Martin for The Times (£)

Asa Bennett: No wonder Chequers is struggling – even our cabinet ministers can’t sell it

There has been so much criticism of the vision Theresa May agreed with her cabinet at Chequers that it’s easy to lose track of who actually supports it. Downing Street still does at least, with a spokesman dismissing Boris Johnson’s criticism of Mrs May’s plan in these pages earlier this week by boasting that the country needed “serious leadership and a serious plan” for the United Kingdom’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union.That theme has been reinforced by cabinet Brexiteers, with Andrea Leadsom urging Eurosceptic critics this week to look “carefully at the Chequers proposal…which is in all our interests”. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • It should be obvious, not controversial, to seek a deep friendship with our EU neighbours – Daniel Hannan MEP for ConservativeHome
  • EU and Macron’s Concentric Circle  – John Redwood MP for CommentCentral
  • Armistice Day calls on us to reaffirm our national mission – Mark Fox for Reaction
  • John Redwood: EU and UK laws – what a different approach to framing them – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Stronger services rescue economy from another slowdown – Telegraph (£)
  • Parliament needs to be able to make informed decision on future EU relationship – May’s spokesman – Reuters
  • Spain sparks protests with ban on Gibraltar athletes  – The Times (£)
  • Irish consumer sentiment falls back as Brexit worries weigh – Reuters