Brexit News for Thursday 7 December

Brexit News for Thursday 7 December
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Michel Barnier says UK has ‘48 hours’ to agree deal or Brexit talks cannot progress…

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has told member states that the British government has just 48 hours to agree a text on a potential deal or it will be told that negotiations will not move on to the next stage. Barnier informed EU ambassadors that Downing Street had told him a potential solution was being worked out that could possibly satisfy both Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party and the Republic of Ireland, but that it had yet to be signed off by any of those involved. Another meeting of diplomats of the 27 member states has been pencilled in for Friday evening, should the UK find an agreement with the DUP on a solution to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.- Guardian

  • Theresa May under pressure to break Brexit talks impasse – BBC

…although Jean-Claude Juncker will extend the deadline to next week over fears for May’s survival…

Jean-Claude Juncker fears Theresa May’s Government could collapse next week if Brexit talks remain deadlocked, The Telegraph has learnt. The European Commission president will extend the deadline for Mrs May to settle a dispute over the Irish border to the eve of an EU leaders’ summit next Thursday to maximise her chances of success. It comes as Mrs May’s own MPs warned her she could be toppled “within weeks” if she comes back from Brussels next week without an agreement that trade talks can begin. Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, revealed on Wednesday night that Mrs May hoped to offer a new version of the Irish border agreement either later that night or on Thursday. – Telegraph (£)

…as the Irish PM says May could present a new text on border deal as soon as today…

Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, revealed on Wednesday that Theresa May hoped to offer a new version of the Irish border agreement either later that night or the following day.  Speaking at a joint press conference in Dublin about the details of a phone call he held with the prime minister earlier that day, Mr Varadkar said: “Having consulted with people in London, she wants  to come back to us with some text tonight or tomorrow.” “I expressed my willingness to move forward as well… because I want us to move onto phase two [trade talks] if that is possible next week.”  – Telegraph (£)

…but the DUP reportedly say ‘no deal this week’ after phone call with May

Theresa May yesterday waged frantic telephone diplomacy between Belfast and Dublin in a bid to save a Brexit divorce bill this year. The PM spoke to the Irish Premier as well as the DUP’s leader Arlene Foster as time ran down to repair an agreement over the border stand off before next week’s crunch summit of EU leaders. But there was little sign last night that either side was willing to give way. Instead, they continued to wage attacks over what the enraged Ulster unionists see as an attempt by the Taoiseach to bounce them into having to continually accept EU rules. After Ms Foster told the PM there is “still a lot of work to be done”, one senior DUP figure told The Sun that there will be “no deal this week”. – The Sun

Downing Street reprimands Philip Hammond over suggestion UK should pay £50 billion Brexit bill regardless

Britain ought to pay the £50 billion exit bill from the European Union even if it does not get a trade deal, Philip Hammond said today. The chancellor appeared to pick another fight with eurosceptics and faced a reprimand from Downing Street after telling MPs that Britain must always honour its obligations regardless of the progress of Brexit negotiations. “I find it inconceivable that we would walk away from obligations that we recognise as an obligation,” he said. The chancellor says that it would be important to pay for the sake of the UK’s international credibility. – Times (£)

  • Hammond admits no “end state” discussions – City A.M.

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s Youtube Channel: Hammond suggests UK will pay Brexit bill even without a Brexit deal

Give MPs power to extend Brexit negotiations, demand Tory rebels

Tory rebels will demand next week that parliament be given the power to try to delay Brexit as their price for supporting the government’s withdrawal bill. Anna Soubry, the former Tory minister, wants MPs to be able to seek an extension to Article 50 negotiations if a satisfactory trade agreement is not reached by March 2019. Her position is understood to be backed by as many as two dozen other pro-EU Conservatives before a vote in the Commons next week. With Labour likely to support the rebels on the “meaningful vote” clause ministers fear the government’s slender majority would be wiped out. – The Times (£)

  • Put the British people back in charge of leaving the EU Anna Soubry MP and Chuka Umunna MP for the Times (£)

19 pro-EU Tories write to May to insist eurosceptics must not be allowed to dictate Brexit terms

Theresa May has been urged not to allow Eurosceptic MPs in her party to “impose their own conditions” on negotiations amid signs of fresh Tory infighting. Nineteen Tory MPs who back a “soft Brexit” have written to her saying it is “highly irresponsible” for anyone to dictate terms which may scupper a deal. It follows some Tories backing the DUP’s decision to oppose a draft deal on the future of the Irish border. The PM has spoken to the DUP’s Arlene Foster to try to break the deadlock. The DUP says there is “more work to be done” if it is to agree to plans for the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit – a prerequisite for talks to move on to their next phase. – BBC

Boris left alone to fight for divergence at Cabinet

It fell to the Foreign Secretary to raise concern over the implications of agreeing to this kind of alignment which could have big consequences for divergence and subsequently the type of free-trading nation Britain could be after Brexit. Ministers were very struck that Michael Gove – Johnson’s supposed Vote Leave ally – did not chip in or back Johnson up. Instead, the Defra Secretary remained silent..- Katy Balls for The Spectator

Jacob Rees-Mogg expresses concern that May’s Brexit red lines look ‘a little bit pink’

Theresa May’s Brexit red lines were intended to keep her backbenchers happy, reassuring them that there would be no backsliding on Brexit. The approach worked. But at PMQs today there were signs that some Brexiteer Tory MPs are starting to worry.Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Prime Minister he was concerned her red lines were ‘beginning to look a little bit pink’. He urged her to ‘apply a new coat of paint’ before she next goes to Brussels.- Steerpike for The Spectator

  • Rees-Mogg favourite to be the next leader of the Conservatives – Express

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s Youtube Channel: Jacob Rees-Mogg ask the PM to apply a new coat of paint to her ‘red lines’


Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Britain almost has to fight its way out of the EU colonial ’empire’

The European Union is best understood as an imperial construction, if not exactly an empire. Once you see it in this light, the moral pretences are unmasked. Belgian historian David Van Reybrouck has set off storm in European intellectual circles by breaking the taboo, and doing so at the heart of the system in Brussels, from the centre-Left. He thinks eurosceptic populism has been badly misdiagnosed, pidgeon-holed too glibly as anti-immigrant, or anti-capitalist, or as a displaced protest against hyper-globalisation. The EU intelligentsia have been quick to hear echoes of the proto-fascist movements of the inter-War years, but they have missed the better parallel from that era: anti-colonial resistance against the Belgian, Dutch, British, or French empires – which by that stage took their “civilizing mission” earnestly. – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph (£)

Iain Duncan Smith: We can’t let the EU shackle us forever. If the price is too high, we must prepare to walk away

lthough it gets harder to remember, eight months ago Article 50 was triggered, initiating the two-year period at the end of which the UK will leave the European Union. With 16 months to go, one would have thought that time was of the essence and that both the UK and the EU would be heavily involved in discussing their future relationship. After all, after we leave, the UK will become the biggest export market for EU goods and services… Sadly, the EU has decided not to proceed with trade discussions but to divide the discussions into two quite artificial sections. I say artificial because if, as is oft repeated, nothing is decided until everything is decided, then we should have been engaged in parallel talks all this time. – Iain Duncan Smith MP for the Telegraph (£)

Laura Kuenssberg: Big ‘end state’ Brexit discussion looming for PM

It boils down to this. Ministers like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove believe that Britain’s future lies in striking out on our own, out of reach of most of the tentacles of the EU’s institutions. It is an over-simplification, but to explain the difference, you can point to the deal that Canada did with the EU, a free trade agreement essentially where there is co-operation and collaboration to make it easy for business. But there is nothing like the current situation – whether that’s on immigration, rules for industry or the legal system. There is a strong and significant faction inside the Tory Party that agrees with them and are extremely well organised and willing to make trouble if they see that possibility being undermined..- Laura Kuenssberg for the BBC

Brexit comment in brief

  • Confused Labour can’t get away with pretending Brexit is easy. How would it resolve the Irish question? – Telegraph editorial (£)
  • The DUP have saved the Union. Now can they please save Theresa May? – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)
  • The Ireland fiasco proves Theresa May cannot be trusted with Brexit  – Brian Monteith for City A.M.
  • Brexit chief’s scandalous security slur against Britain – Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack for ConservativeWoman
  • This latest row is not really about the border – it’s all about regulation – Daniel Hannan MEP for ConservativeHome
  • There’s no turning back now – Jack Tagholm-Child for CommentCentral
  • German Social Democrats present their EU wish list – Leopold Traugott for Open Europe
  • What have we learnt from this week’s Brexit tumult? – Pieter Cleppe  for CapX
  • May the secret chiefs of Leave forgive me for the treachery I am about to utter – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit news in brief

  • EU parliament details UK concessions on rights – Reuters
  • New Czech PM sworn in on anti-EU ticket – The Times (£)
  • Hard Brexit would be ‘infinitely worse’ for the UK than the EU, says Dutch PM – Independent
  • “Impossible” for the UK to secure a deal by March 2019 say Lords report – Express
  • Merkel struggles to lure coalition partners backThe Times (£)
  • 5-year anniversary of the word ‘Brexit’ – The Times (£)
  • CBI threatens jobs will go with no progress on Brexit deal The Times (£)
  • Hermon denies being ‘on Dublin’s side’ over Brexit  – BBC
  • David Davis’ allies plot to kick out Theresa May and install him as PM by Christmas – Sun
  • Impact assessments of Brexit on the UK ‘don’t exist’ – BBC