May urges rebel MPs to back her as EU Withdrawal Bill returns to Commons today: Brexit News for Tuesday 12 June

May urges rebel MPs to back her as EU Withdrawal Bill returns to Commons today: Brexit News for Tuesday 12 June
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

Theresa May urges rebel Conservative MPs to back her in Withdrawal Bill votes today and tomorrow…

Theresa May pleaded with rebellious Conservatives not to undermine her in talks with Brussels as she braced herself for knife-edge Brexit votes in the Commons starting on Tuesday. Facing a bruising 48 hours in which the government will try to overturn 14 defeats in the Lords to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, Mrs May made a rare personal appearance before Tory MPs… Appearing before the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, Mrs May argued that the party had to stay united to strengthen her negotiating position in Brussels. She also told that MPs had a duty to deliver on the 2016 referendum vote in support of Brexit. – The i

  • Theresa May tells rebel Tory MPs to think of the nation ahead of Brexit showdown – The Sun
  • PM warns Tory MPs not to weaken her hand in Brexit talks – ITV News
  • It would be a grave mistake to wound Theresa May now – the Tory rebels must fall in line – William Hague for the Telegraph (£)
  • The EU Withdrawal Bill is about ensuring an orderly departure – Steve Baker MP for the Telegraph (£)
  • Navigating the EU Withdrawal Bill through unamended without a majority is nightmarish – but possible – Henry Newman for ConservativeHome
  • The will of the people who voted for us to leave the European Union must not be betrayed – Nick Timothy for The Sun
  • How defeat on the EU Withdrawal Bill could thwart Theresa May’s Brexit plans and put her premiership at risk – Harry Yorke for the Telegraph (£)

…as a fragile Tory unity is brokered over a new customs amendment…

Theresa May appears to have secured fragile agreement among her MPs to back her ahead of a series of critical votes through an 11th hour meeting and a new customs amendment. The last-minute amendment proposes the government seek a “customs arrangement as part of the framework for the future relationship” with the EU after Brexit. Tabled by Oliver Letwin, it was backed by Remainers including Nicky Morgan and Stephen Hammond as well arch Leavers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Bill Cash. – City A.M.

Crucially, the phrase “customs union” does not appear in the amendment. Ms Morgan said the compromise “buys them time”, though the rebels are still expected to fight the Government by backing hostile amendments to the Trade and Customs Bills when they are debated next month. The rebels have also agreed to back down over the “meaningful vote” amendment as part of the deal with Mrs May. Brexiteers including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Theresa Villiers have made it clear they are comfortable with the compromise. Steve Baker, a Brexit minister, said the Government will go into tomorrow’s votes with “considerable confidence”. – Telegraph

…although numbers reportedly remain tight ahead of today’s ‘meaningful vote’ amendment

There is still a chance of a squeaky moment for the government, or having to rely on votes from some Labour MPs, on a move to give Parliament more power if MPs vote to reject the final Brexit deal. Sources tell me the numbers are still rather dicey for that so called ‘meaningful vote’ amendment that will take place [today]. There are discussions ongoing among potential rebels about whether they should deploy their forces. Some of them believe, as they do on the customs issue, that they have the numbers to beat the government if they decide it’s the right moment. Appeals for party unity in the last couple of days, and the compromise on customs seem to have had some sway. – Laura Kuenssberg for BBC News

  • Dominic Grieve tables new amendment on ‘meaningful vote’ – PoliticsHome
  • The Tories that will (and won’t) rebel – The i
  • The real meaning of the meaningful vote – Paul Goodman for ConservativeHome
  • Great Britain trusted you – now you trust Britain – The Sun says
  • Ignore the will of the people at your peril – Express editorial
  • When voting on the Withdrawal Bill, the Commons should reaffirm what they have already decided – Telegraph editorial (£)

> WATCH: Jonathan Isaby debates Zoe Williams on the EU Withdrawal Bill amendments

Anti-Brexit Labour MPs told to ‘shut up’ over Norway-style Brexit plan and back Jeremy Corbyn…

Rebel Labour MPs who plan to defy Jeremy Corbyn over the EU single market have been told by colleagues to “shut up” and unite the party on more winnable Brexit battles. Backbencher Wes Streeting was heckled by party chair Ian Lavery and others as internal tensions reignited during a heated meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) in the House of Commons. Streeting urged the leadership to back a Lords amendment seeking to make the UK a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) after Britain quits the EU next March. But a string of fellow MPs lined up to condemn the rebels, with Clive Efford saying that those who went on TV to declare Corbyn was betraying the national interest should “shut up” and unite behind amendments that could win. – Huffington Post

…as pro-Brexit Labour MPs further expose the party’s rift over single market membership

Jeremy Corbyn is facing deepening divisions on his back benches after a group of MPs from Leave-supporting constituencies wrote to the Labour leader warning him not to soften his stance on Brexit. In a letter sent ahead of crunch votes on Brexit in the Commons tomorrow, the MPs told Mr Corbyn not to “ignore” public concerns about immigration and claimed that continued continued close alignment with the EU, as championed by others in the party, would result in a “huge democratic deficit”. The letter is a direct response to prominent Labour MPs, including Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie, publicly demanding Mr Corbyn support a softer Brexit that would see the UK stay in the single market. – Independent

  • Labour will plunge into a bitter Brexit split as at least 70 MPs are set to vote for Norway-style EU membership – The Sun

Gloria De Piero, the MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, told the Guardian: “We just want to make sure our voices are heard. In seats like mine, because colleagues who have sincerely held views are very vocal, about their desire not to leave the single market, my constituents often think that we are a remain party. “My constituents aren’t against all immigration, which is how they are sometimes portrayed – they want control of immigration.” – Guardian

  • The EEA isn’t the answer: we can’t lose the trust of Leave voters – Gareth Snell MP for Labour List
  • Labour-backing TSSA union calls for a second referendum – PoliticsHome

New poll shows Labour and Remain voters want full control of trade policy

A new poll from BMG for Change Britain finds that an overwhelming majority of voters – and clear majorities of Remain and Labour voters – say Britain must be completely free to strike its own trade deals after Brexit. 71% of voters agreed that we must be free to negotiate our own trade deals with other countries without involvement of the EU. Keir Starmer should take note, as 64% of Labour voters demanded the freedom to strike new trade deals. 60% of Remain voters agreed. – Guido Fawkes

David Davis challenges Michel Barnier to speed up Brexit negotiations for trade deal…

David Davis has challenged Michel Barnier to speed up work on a new trade deal with Britain. The Brexit Secretary delivered the demand at an hour-long breakfast meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator in Brussels. But whilst Mr Davis championed more work on trade, eurocrats wanted to focus on unfinished withdrawal business including the Irish border and governance. Afterwards a downbeat EU source said: “It’s like we are coming from two different places.” A political declaration setting out the aims for a trade deal between the UK and EU is set to accompany the withdrawal agreement next March. But work on the future relationship has crawled to a snail’s pace, with eurocrats complaining Britain still doesn’t have positions on key issues. – The Sun

…as EU dismisses UK backstop proposals as ‘unworkable’

The EU opened fire on Theresa May’s ‘unworkable’ Brexit backstop plans today as tensions escalated again. Brussels delivered a withering assessment of the proposals thrashed out by the Cabinet last week, warning they would mean the return of a hard Irish border. Eurocrats also complained that the ideas were ‘complex and unprecedented’ – insisting Northern Ireland should just stay within the EU’s customs and regulatory jurisdiction. The blunt dismissal comes as tensions ratchet up again ahead of a crucial summit at the end of this month. – Daily Mail

  • Davis and Barnier talk Brexit ‘backstop’ – BBC News
  • David Davis leaves Brussels empty handed after meeting Michel Barnier – Telegraph

Varadkar moots Brexit delay to give more time to negotiate UK exit

Ireland’s premier has raised the possibility of delaying Brexit to allow more time to negotiate the UK’s exit deal. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said extending the March 29 departure date is one of a number of “different scenarios” that could be pursued if a withdrawal agreement fails to materialise in the coming months. In an interview with Irish broadcaster TV3, Mr Varadkar also raised the prospect of scheduling an extra EU Council summit this year if sufficient progress is not made by October’s crunch meeting. The autumn summit is seen by many as an effective deadline for a withdrawal treaty to be sealed ahead of ratification by member states. – ITV News

Latest figures show Northern Ireland exports booming

Exports by Northern Ireland companies have accelerated to levels “well above” the norm, a new snapshot of the local economy has shown. Aided by a favourable exchange rate, sales to the Republic of Ireland and United States are said to be “buoyant”… The findings are in Ulster Bank’s monthly Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey. – BBC

William Hague: It would be a grave mistake to wound Theresa May now – the Tory rebels must fall in line

The truth is that two institutions would be delighted if the Government is defeated in the Commons this week. One is the European Commission, which is increasingly behaving with a high-handed and unreasonable arrogance towards even sensible British proposals. The other is the Labour Party, which is setting new records in hypocrisy and opportunism with no shred of principle in sight. There is no way that a Conservative MP should use their vote to strengthen the position of either, for the result would be even more arrogance and still greater opportunism. For the Commission and its negotiating team under Michel Barnier, any humiliation for Theresa May in the Commons this week will be confirmation that they can continue to sit back and make no concessions to ideas from the UK. Particularly dangerous in this regard is the amendment carried in the Lords that changes the nature of the eventual, final vote on any Brexit deal – so that if Parliament votes down the deal it can send the Government back with new instructions to negotiate an alternative one. If preserved in the law about to pass, this would severely undermine every UK negotiator every day of the week, for it encourages the EU to stand its ground on any issue on which Parliament might have a weaker or different stance from the Government. – Lord Hague for the Telegraph (£)

Steve Baker: The EU Withdrawal Bill is about ensuring an orderly departure

Collectively, parliament has spent more than 250 hours debating this vital bill, with 1,390 amendments tabled. And throughout those hours and among those amendments have been countless misinterpretations about the bill’s vital purpose. Because this bill isn’t about the politics of our exit, or the decisions taken in the negotiating room or the policy choices Britain faces as an independent sovereign country. It’s about preparing our statute book for exit and ensuring that we have a functioning legal system after we leave. Doing that will mean that our departure is as smooth and orderly as possible for businesses and citizens not only in Britain, but across the EU… What it does not do is try to pre-empt our negotiations with the EU, so there are no substantive policy changes being made in it. That is why the government is opposing the amendments that try to do just that. Aside from the political arguments against them, this bill is not the place for debate on membership of the customs union or the European Economic Area. There will be other opportunities, such as when the trade and customs bills return for report stage next month… As the bill returns to the House of Commons today, I would encourage everyone to remember its essential purpose: to provide certainty and continuity to businesses and citizens as we leave the EU. – Brexit Minister Steve Baker MP for The Times (£)

Telegraph: When voting on the Withdrawal Bill, the Commons should reaffirm what they have already decided

It is the prerogative of the Upper House to revise and improve measures that come before it from the Commons. But it is not the job of peers to change the essence of what MPs have already decided… [W]hen invited to do so today and tomorrow, the Commons should reaffirm what they have already decided. The Bill is not supposed to be the vehicle for a re-run of the referendum debate but to enact the decision of voters to leave the EU. Questions about the UK’s future trade relationship with Europe are matters for negotiation and for separate legislation due to come back to the Commons next month… For now, MPs should focus on what the measure before them is intended to achieve, which is to provide the legal basis for the Brexit to which all sides – including the most die-hard Remainers – claim to be wedded. The main aim of the Bill is to enshrine current EU regulation, from workers’ rights to environmental standards in UK law, thereby providing certainty and continuity for businesses. – Telegraph editorial (£)

The Sun’s message to MPs: Great Britain trusted you, now you trust Britain

Remainer MPs have a simple choice: trust the people of Great Britain… or trigger a shameful betrayal. Today our MPs must return the trust which voters placed in them. We trusted they would deliver on the result of the referendum David Cameron promised would determine our future irreversibly, and which they overwhelmingly backed… In the end MPs must have faith in our great country, our extraordinary talent and our ability to thrive outside the EU. And, if they respect the democracy that has put them where they are, they must trust the decision we took. Today’s “meaningful vote” amendment, if passed, would wreck the Government’s negotiating position in Brussels. – The Sun says

Daily Express: Ignore the will of the people at your peril

While peers might not have received the message, MPs know full well that a “meaningful vote” has already taken place. It happened when 17.4million people chose for the country to break ties with Brussels in the biggest exercise in democracy in our history. Since then, millions more who did not vote for Brexit in the 2016 referendum have come to the conclusion our national interest will be best served by delivering on that verdict and getting the job done. MPs need to remember that meaningful vote when they decide which division lobby to walk into the Commons over the next 48 hours. – Express

Tony Abbott: Brexit is a wonderful moment for Britain and the wider world — but only if leaders make the most of it

If you’re not prepared to walk away from a negotiation you end up accepting dictation from the other side. That’s Britain’s problem. A Brexit that leaves it half in, half out and subject to EU rules it has no say over would be a disaster; but that’s what seeking a deal at any price will lead to. As one of Britain’s many friends abroad, please accept my assurance that you don’t need a customs union to prosper. Without being in a customs union with Europe, and without any free trade deal with it, Australia does nearly $100billion a year in trade with Europe. In the two years of my prime minister-ship, Australia finalised free trade deals with our three biggest export markets: China, Japan and South Korea. So my advice to Britain is: Stop fretting! It IS possible to trade successfully under the WTO rules which already govern 55 per cent of Britain’s exports; and it IS possible to do good deals with your main trading partners once you are free to do so, as Australia’s experience abundantly demonstrates. – Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for The Sun

Helena Morrissey: Think positive: Brexit uncertainty gives us plenty of room for growth

One of the (many) disappointing aspects of the present fractious, Brexit-focused episode in our country’s history is that charming self-deprecation has turned into self-flagellation. The headlines major on economic problems rather than successes, on uncertainties rather than what we know and can control. I started my career in New York, famous for its swagger, and was reminded of the city’s can-do spirit last week. Self-belief doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s a good place to start, for an individual, company or country. Britain is home to world-leading companies in sectors that can drive growth… Britain excels in literature, music, film-making, fashion, broadcasting, publishing, visual arts, theatre, architecture, advertising, media and design. We are leaders in life sciences and academic research and the second most popular university destination for international students. Britain boasts a rich ecosystem that works for companies interested in establishing or building a presence here that Silicon Valley can’t offer… All the biggest US tech companies have decided to invest more in the UK since the referendum. – Dame Helena Morrissey for The Times (£)

Leo McKinstry: There are many reasons we should rejoice at Brexit

For two years the Remoaners have told us, with mounting glee, how impossibly difficult it will be for the UK to extricate itself from the EU. But that argument shows how deeply the tentacles of the Brussels bureaucracy reach into every part of our life. EU membership means that Britain is not a sovereign nation at all but rather a province of the Brussels empire. The obstacles in the path of our departure just prove the point. But the toughness of the job should be a cue, not for surrender, but for greater courage. The potential prize is one of the noblest ideals known to mankind: that of national self-determination. Instead of being intimidated or paralysed by the challenges ahead, ministers should be invigorated by the goal of freedom. – Leo McKinstry for the Express

The Full Brexit academics: Let’s have the full Brexit for political and economic renewal

We write to express our dismay at parliament’s pursuit of “Brexit in name only”. In June 2016 the majority of voters backed the demand to “take back control”. Two years later, government and opposition are together trying to ensure that as much control as possible stays with the European Union. In doing so, parliamentarians risk abandoning a huge part of the electorate to the rightwing populism sweeping the continent. Some of us on the broad left are determined to try to stop this from happening. – Letter from Dr Chris Bickerton, Lord Glasman, Prof Matthew Goodwin, Prof Costas Lapavitsas and Prof Richard Tuck in the Guardian

Sir Keir Starmer: A no-deal Brexit must not be an option

The amendment upon which MPs will vote tomorrow would deliver on the commitment for a meaningful vote. It would provide a safety valve in the Brexit process. It makes clear that – should the prime minister’s proposed article 50 deal be defeated later this year – it would then be for parliament to say what happens next, not the cabinet. It would, in effect, take no deal off the table once and for all. Last Friday the government revealed its plan to water down the Lords’ amendment: to turn the meaningful vote into a meaningless vote. Not good enough. We must stand up for the principle of parliamentary democracy and not allow the government’s failure in the Brexit process to be a licence for the UK to crash out of the EU without an agreement. – Sir Keir Starmer MP for Guardian

Comment in brief

  • The five customs arrangements Britain can apply to get the best deal – Shanker Singham for The Sun
  • No more excuses, time for a proper Brexit plan – Rachel Cunliffe for City A.M.
  • Theresa May must take the blame for mayhem caused by her shambolic Brexit negotiations – James Forsyth for The Sun
  • Poor strategy leaves May scrambling over genuine Brexit – Brian Monteith in the Scotsman
  • We must insist the government walk away from the negotiating table – Communist Party of Britain

News in brief

  • Boris Johnson backs £15billion 14-mile ‘Brexit bridge’ linking Scotland and Northern Ireland – Telegraph (£)
  • Greg Clark approves British Standards Institution’s bid to remain in European standards bodies – City A.M.
  • Rees-Mogg: no need for customs checks at Dover in no-deal Brexit – Guardian
  • Oxford University using peers and lobbyists to block Brexit – Guido Fawkes
  • Victory for Penka the cow as she is spared from slaughter for crossing EU border – Telegraph

And finally… Brussels gravy train finally hits the buffers as hundreds of MEPs are left stranded when service to Strasbourg breaks down

Hundreds of MEPs were left stranded in a French field for several hours after their chartered train broke down. Furious politicians said they had been left in the sweltering heat without water or air conditioning and with overflowing toilets. MEPs are taken by the chartered train every month from Brussels to Strasbourg in what has been dubbed the ‘travelling circus’ because France insists the Parliament must meet there. But today politicians said the drama shows that the ‘senseless’ decision to ferry them between different cities should be scrapped and the parliament based in a single location. – Daily Mail