Theresa May to be warned by eurosceptic ministers that a no-deal Brexit is better than bowing to Brussels: Brexit News for Tuesday 13th November

Theresa May to be warned by eurosceptic ministers that a no-deal Brexit is better than bowing to Brussels: Brexit News for Tuesday 13th November

Theresa May to be warned by eurosceptic ministers that a no-deal Brexit is better than bowing to Brussels…

Theresa May will be warned by senior Eurosceptic Cabinet ministers that leaving the EU without a deal will be better than giving in to Brussels’ demands on Brexit. Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, and leading Eurosceptics including Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox are expected to use a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to warn the Prime Minister that the EU’s demands are “totally unacceptable”. On Monday night they were due to meet for eve-of-Cabinet drinks at Dr Fox’s office to discuss concerns that Brussels is refusing to back down over the issue of a customs “backstop” with the EU. They were expected to be joined by Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General and Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, who all fear Britain could be locked into a customs union with the EU. – Telegraph (£)

  • Senior Ministers are telling Theresa May to go for a No-Deal Brexit if the EU won’t make concessions – Buzzfeed News

…as Michel Barnier is accused of trying to bounce her into a deal…

Theresa May publicly rebuked Brussels last night for forcing the pace of a divorce deal as negotiators worked frantically to conclude an agreement by tomorrow. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, angered Downing Street by claiming that today’s meeting of Mrs May’s cabinet would be shown the parameters of an agreement. In fact talks are still stuck on Britain’s demand for an exit mechanism from the so-called temporary customs union — the backstop under which it would remain aligned to EU rules to prevent a hard border in Ireland. Mrs May dare not yet share any proposed compromise with her senior ministers. Negotiations were expected to continue through last night but Downing Street insisted that the cabinet would not be asked to sign off any agreement today even if there were a breakthrough. Brexiteer cabinet ministers have hardened their opposition to the backstop as Tory Remainers prepare to defeat Mrs May’s deal in the Commons. Both London and Brussels say that tomorrow is the last day on which a November summit can be triggered. Without it talks will slip to mid- December, substantially increasing the chances of a no-deal Brexit. – The Times (£)

…while she declares the Brexit talks to be ‘in the endgame’…

Theresa May on Monday night declared that Brexit negotiations were “in the endgame”. Mrs May said in a speech at the Guildhall in London that EU and UK negotiators were “working extremely hard, through the night” to get a deal, while in Downing Street her officials briefed cabinet ministers on the latest state of talks. Although Mrs May wants to finalise a deal at a special European Council meeting later this month, she said the issues being addressed were “extremely difficult”. Downing Street said there were no plans for discussions on a final text at Tuesday’s cabinet. Mrs May’s Brexit plan has drawn fire from both wings of her Conservative party for being a halfway house to full EU membership, with widespread speculation that she will face a leadership challenge next year. Her comments came after Michel Barnier, chief EU negotiator, told ministers from the remaining 27 member states that “the parameters of a possible agreement are very largely defined”. – FT (£)

  • Brexit talks in endgame, says Theresa May – BBC News
  • ‘I will not compromise’: Theresa May says a Brexit deal is close but ‘significant’ issues with Brussels must still be ironed out although public want her to ‘get on with it’ – Daily Mail
  • Confident Theresa May reveals first location for ‘Brexit trade mission’ – Express

…but Downing Street says reports of an almost done deal should be ‘taken with a bucket of salt’…

The Government sought to play down speculation that a Brexit deal was within reach on Monday, following reports that a draft agreement would be submitted to Cabinet on Tuesday. According to the Financial Times, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told EU ministers at a meeting in Brussels that the deal could be put to the UK side for approval as it was nearly finished. However, a spokesman for No. 10 said the report needed to be taken with a “bucket of salt. I read some quotes attributed to Barnier by some anonymous minister. I have talked about taking things with a pinch of salt before – that applies here – I would apply a bucket of salt to this one. Negotiations are ongoing,” the spokesman said. EU sources said both sides had moved closer to a deal, but fundamental problems remained with the Irish backstop clause. – Telegraph (£)

…but Number 10 still hopes for a deal ‘within 48 hours’…

Downing Street was hoping last night for a deal with Brussels in the next 48 hours amid signs that cabinet unhappiness with the eventual package is growing. British and EU negotiators are closing in on a draft withdrawal agreement as early as tomorrow, possibly giving the green light to a leaders’ summit before the end of this month, but two crucial issues remain outstanding. The first is access to fishing rights during the backstop, the insurance plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland under which Britain would remain aligned with the EU customs union. Senior Brussels diplomats have said that boats from the EU have to be free to fish in UK waters during that time, which would be unacceptable to some Tories. The second is what review mechanism could be agreed to ensure that Britain can leave such an arrangement. – The Times (£)

…although a plan has also been sketched out for a December summit

If a rough deal is not reached by Wednesday night, a summit of all 28 leaders will slip from the end of November into December. The extra delay will mean the Government may lose an already tight race against time to pass all the legislation through Parliament to enact the deal in less than three months. But The Sun can reveal that No10 officials are holding out hope of still persuading EU leaders of meeting on December 4-5 to sign off a deal in time to give MPs a ‘meaningful vote’ on it by Christmas. – The Sun

  • May struggles to win over cabinet and parliament – FT (£)

Fishing rights and environment laws putting the Brexit talks in a tangle

European diplomats were warned today that not enough progress has been made in weekend Brexit negotiations for a deal to be struck imminently. Teams from both sides worked over the weekend and until 2.45am this morning but Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, told European ministers that key differences remained between the British and EU sides that had yet to be bridged. Talks are understood to be focusing on EU demands that Britain follows European environmental and social laws as part of any temporary customs arrangement with the bloc. The EU is also demanding that European fishing fleets have the same access to British waters during this period as they do at the moment. Updating EU member states before returning to the negotiations Mr Barnier said that “intense efforts” were continuing but that “an agreement has not been reached yet”. – The Times (£)

  • Michel Barnier fights EU nation rebellion over fear he’ll grant UK fishing reprieve – The Sun

Dozens of Tory MPs expected to back publication of Government’s Brexit legal advice today

Dozens of Tory MPs will today rebel against Theresa May to force her to publish the full legal advice about any Brexit deal. The hardline Brexiteer European Research Group tabled their own Commons bid late last night to supersede an attempt by Labour to defeat the Government. Jeremy Corbyn’s party earlier pledged to use an ancient Parliamentary procedure, known as a humble address, to exact the promise from the Government. The PM has angered Cabinet ministers by only offering them a summary of Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s legal verdict on any final exit deal. MPs from across the political divide have insisted seeing the full document is vital so they know what obligations the UK is really signing up to. The ERG’s amendment is tabled in the name of Its chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg, his deputy Mark Francois and another Tory backbencher Robert Courts. – The Sun

  • Labour aims to force May to publish Brexit legal advice – Reuters

‘Pizza club’ member Liz Truss was cut out of Budget talks over her Brexit stance

Liz Truss was excluded from key meetings in the run-up to the budget amid claims of tensions with Philip Hammond, who sources said was angry that she attended “pizza club” cabinet gatherings with Andrea Leadsom. Friction has been growing between the chancellor and the chief secretary to the Treasury, his deputy, over her stance on Brexit and her public support for a low-tax, low-regulation Britain. They put on a display of unity at Tory conference, when Ms Truss “was delighted” to introduce Mr Hammond’s speech and a friend said that the chancellor “rates her more than some other cabinet ministers”. Discord escalated, however, between their support teams before the budget. The statement two weeks ago was prepared in greater secrecy than others in recent years with even senior figures in No 10, such as Robbie Gibb, director of communications, said to be out of the loop at times. – The Times (£)

Sir Keir Starmer contradicts Jeremy Corbyn, saying Brexit can be stopped

Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, has contradicted Jeremy Corbyn by insisting that Brexit can be stopped. The Labour leader provoked dismay among Remainers in the party by telling the German magazine Der Spiegel on Friday: “We can’t stop it. The referendum took place. Article 50 has been triggered. What we can do is recognise the reasons why people voted Leave.” He made similar comments to Channel 4 News, when asked whether he could ever agree to call for a new referendum, saying: “The referendum took place. The issue now has to be how we bring people together.” Speaking on Sky News this morning, Sir Keir said Labour had a “very strong policy position” that it would “vote on the deal according to our six tests, and if the deal goes down we’ll call for a general election. If that doesn’t happen all options are on the table, including the option of a public vote.” – The Times (£)

  • MPs can stop no-deal Brexit, says Labour’s Starmer – BBC News
  • Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer contradicts Jeremy Corbyn by insisting ‘Brexit can be stopped’ – Sky News

> WATCH on BrexitCentral’s Youtube Channel: Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Brexit Secretary on Victoria Derbyshire

Gordon Brown becomes third ex-Prime Minister to call for a second Brexit referendum…

Gordon Brown has become the third former Prime Minister to throw his weight behind a second referendum today. The ex-leader risked fury by demanding that Brits have another chance to have their say – flying in the face of the 17 million Brits who voted Leave the first time. In a speech this lunchtime he said that the people were “being asked to deal with a new situation that has arisen” and argued that “none of the major issues are resolved. The world has actually changed since 2016,” he told an audience in London at the Institute for Government. “There will be a referendum at some point… the people have got a right to have a final say.” – The Sun

  • Gordon Brown backs calls for second Brexit referendum – Guardian

> WATCH on BrexitCentral’s Youtube Channel: Gordon Brown: I believe a referendum will happen

…as he warns Westminster will attempt a devolution-defying power grab

Gordon Brown has backed the SNP in its battle with the British government over post-Brexit powers. The former prime minister said Conservative ministers were defying devolution by holding on to European Union powers concerning agriculture and fishing, which he said should immediately be transferred to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments when Britain leaves the EU. SNP politicians have complained of a “power grab” over Westminster plans to share control of two-dozen devolved responsibilities that are administered at Holyrood under EU law. Mr Brown said Brexit posed a “risk to the Union” and echoed nationalist arguments by saying Scotland had been “cut . . . from the European Union against the will of the Scottish people”. – The Times (£)

FA’s Brexit plan to limit overseas players at Premier League clubs

Premier League clubs will be obliged to ensure that at least half of their first-team squads are made up of “homegrown” players under drastic plans put forward by the FA to deal with Brexit. The proposal, which would reduce the number of overseas players in each 25-man squad to 12, will be put to the 20 clubs this week. England’s top tier is under pressure to agree a deal with the FA for Brexit. If the clubs do not do so, they could face a nightmare “no-deal” scenario in which all EU players would have to fulfil the same criteria that non-EU players do now in order to get a work permit. The clubs can have up to 17 overseas players in their squads under existing rules, but The Times has learnt that the FA’s plan would reduce that number by five. That would mean significant changes to a number of squads in the top flight, where 13 clubs have more than 12 overseas players in their first-team squads this season. – The Times (£)

Asa Bennett: Ministers are desperate to show how much they hate Chequers. What’ll they do about it, then?

It’s remarkable that David Davis and Boris Johnson were the only cabinet ministers to quit after Theresa May’s now notorious Chequers plan was unveiled given how many of them want their scepticism of it to be known. At the fateful July summit, we learn today from the BBC that ministers rushed to dub the proposals “worrying”, “disappointing” and “concerning”. Sajid Javid thought that the ‘common rulebook’ binding the United Kingdom to EU rules over goods and agri-food was “very worrying”. And Liam Fox expressed “strong doubts” about how much of an independent trading policy it would leave. Somehow, they managed to swallow their concerns and within days had put their names to an op-ed declaring the “ambitious, effective proposal” a “good deal for Europe, and a good deal for Britain”. They were as effusive in their praise as Andrea Leadsom, who was declaring at the same time that the deal was “good for the UK” and one “which the country must get behind”, going on to declare shortly after that “Theresa is absolutely sticking to delivering the will of the people.” – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

William Hague: Instead of resigning, Remainer ministers should hold their nerve and prepare for No Deal

Left to herself, Theresa May would make a good poker player. Her natural style is to keep her intentions mysterious and not to give away her thinking in advance. She has long mastered the art of maintaining the same facial expression whether on the verge of triumph or disaster. Her negotiations with the EU, however, have been like trying to play poker with a crowd around her shouting out loud “You’ve played your strongest card already” or “Oh no, how can you possibly hold out with such a weak hand?”. Combined with the difficulty of playing against a clock running down, this has made things very simple for the other side. They can be bold because they are confident she has to fold in the end. Sitting in Brussels, they can readily form the view from reading newspapers and listening to Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party that Britain does not have the stomach, the plan or the majority in Parliament to leave the EU without a deal. They can therefore play their own hand with confidence that they can’t lose. Either they will force the UK to accept a difficult deal, or they will cause the Government to collapse, with a new government or second referendum emerging from the wreckage. – Lord Hague for the Telegraph (£)

Tom Harris: Labour could stop Brexit, but it needs to decide whether it wants to first

Sir Keir Starmer is emerging as one of the strongest, independent voices in the Shadow cabinet. That he has not yet been sacked says more about the weakness of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership than his liberal tolerance for the Shadow Brexit Secretary’s views. Remember when former leadership candidate, Owen Smith, was sacked from his Northern Ireland portfolio earlier this year? That was a direct result of Smith’s support for a second EU referendum. Yet Starmer’s position is hardly any different – no one doubts he would prefer to see Brexit halted after the matter is put to another referendum with “Remain” as one of the options (I suspect his preference for the other questions would be “Do you really want to see Britain revert to the stone age by going ahead with Brexit?” and “Are you sure?”). – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

Gordon Brown’s Brexit plan is the former Prime Minister at his worst – Tom Harris for CapX

Gisela Stuart: The EU referendum gave the political class a chance to mend its ways. So far, it hasn’t.

Successful or not, these are the final days of Theresa May’s negotiations and, as with all EU negotiations, they are getting heated as time runs out. So far, so predictable. But as the media focuses ever more tightly on Downing Street and the Commons, and MPs tour studios promoting solutions from second votes with two options or second votes with three options to Norway, EEA, the Customs Union, a customs union, backstops and backstops to backstops, it may be a good time to remember what this is all about. It’s about implementing a direct mandate given to the Government and MPs in Parliament by the people they entrusted with the decision of whether we should remain in the European Union or leave. It was to be a generational decision – accompanied by the promise that whatever they decided, the Prime Minister would implement. – Gisela Stuart for ConservativeHome

Kate Hoey: I won’t vote for a Brexit deal that panders to the Irish government’s hypocrisy

During all my years as an MP, the interest shown by most of my colleagues in Northern Ireland has been minimal. The Labour Party even had to be taken to court by a trade unionist in Belfast before it finally allowed citizens of Northern Ireland to join. Even with over a thousand members there, the party still disallows Labour candidates to stand in elections. So it has been rather ironic that in the Brexit debate Labour MPs have been queuing up to mention Northern Ireland. What happens at the border after we leave the EU has become the ‘big sticking point’ causing the Prime Minister to make commitments to backstops that few understand and even fewer support. – Kate Hoey MP for LabourList

Peter Foster: Theresa May’s Brexit choices are now tactical, not technical

For all the talk of a Brexit deal being done in the next 24 hours, it is worth remembering that the current timetable is being set by the British side, not the Europeans. It is Theresa May who is desperate for a deal that will trigger an extraordinary EU leaders’ summit on November 25, in order that she can have a vote on the deal before Christmas, to leave time to ratify the deal before March 29 next year. Working backwards, that means Mrs May needs a deal text by Tuesday this week, in order to give time for the EU member states to review the text and check that it protects their interests, as Michel Barnier’s mandate says it must. Nathalie Loiseau, the French Europe minister, has already signalled that France will want to have a “close look” at the economic risks posed by writing a UK-EU customs union into the Withdrawal Treaty. This is expected to take at least a week. – Peter Foster for the Telegraph (£)

Paul McGrade: Will Brexiteers realise in time that a ‘blind Brexit’ is their friend?

The government seems on the verge of finalising a Brexit deal, which may fail to get through Parliament because of a misunderstanding about how far it binds the future. MPs of all stripes think of ‘the deal’ as settling the future relationship of the UK and the EU. For Brexiteers in particular, it feels like a once-in-a-century moment of national destiny. But the Withdrawal Agreement will be a much more modest set of exit terms – settling accounts, providing residual rights for EU citizens in the UK and underwriting an insurance policy against a hard border in Ireland. However unpalatable, many Brexiteers could live with that – if they thought it opened the path to a future deal in which Britain could choose a Canada-style arms-length trading relationship with the EU. Increasingly, however, many don’t. At the moment, the biggest threat to an orderly Brexit is probably Conservative MPs who worry that the deal will tie the UK’s future into the EU regulatory orbit. – Paul McGrade for the Telegraph (£)

Oliver Kamm: Investment is needed now to bolster the post-Brexit economy

Output growth in Britain has been picking up. Business investment is not. On the contrary, figures released last week showed that, while the economy expanded by 0.6 per cent in the third quarter, investment (capital spending on such things as machinery and research and development) declined for the third successive quarter. When you consider that growth was skewed towards consumption, and early in the quarter (coinciding with the summer heatwave), this isn’t an especially promising basis on which Britain is set to leave the European Union next year. Indeed, Brexit is part of the problem. Uncertainty about Britain’s future relations with its principal trading partners is having an impact on business planning. Investment can’t be switched on and off like a tap. Hence it makes sense for business to defer investment plans until it can be more confident that demand will make this worthwhile. – Oliver Kamm for The Times (£)

Oliver Kay: Brexit limit on foreign footballers would be liberating, not restrictive

At the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, a local skirmish commanded attention across the world. It is a global game these days: two Manchester clubs, one owned by a Sheikh in Abu Dhabi, the other by venture capitalists from Florida; one managed by a Catalan, the other by a Portuguese; ten different nationalities were represented across the two starting line-ups. Marcus Rashford was one of only two Mancunians to start the game. The other was Anthony Taylor, the referee. How different may that look in the post-Brexit world that the 20 Premier League clubs are now being urged to confront? Manchester City’s Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez, who was cleared to join Leicester City from Le Havre in 2014, would have been far less likely to qualify back then under the tighter regulations brought in since; Arijanet Muric, Manchester City’s third-choice goalkeeper, has a right to work in the UK as a Swiss national now, but his two Montenegro Under-21 caps would be extremely unlikely to land him a work permit post-Brexit. – Oliver Kay for The Times (£)

Henry Newman: A Brexit deal isn’t certain, but it’s within reach – and it could still make it through Parliament

Without a breakthrough on Brexit over the next few days, there may be no November summit, and the prospect of a deal will slip back to December. It will still be possible to get something through Parliament if one is agreed pre-Christmas – and perhaps even into the New Year. But the delay means that some of the Government’s No Deal plans will need to be switched on. I’m told that these are more advanced than is often believed, and that Dominic Raab has taken a particular interest in ramping up preparations since his appointment. Senior figures in the European Commission are concerned that as No Deal plans are activated (on both sides), there’s a danger that we get set on a slippery path towards such an outcome. No Deal could become self-fulfilling. But many of the mitigation measures for No Deal simply can’t be turned on at the last second. – Henry Newman for ConservativeHome

Telegraph: Remainers must not be allowed to hijack the ‘no-deal’ narrative

For more than two years, politicians and – often in fury or despair – British voters have been gripped by the nature of this country’s Brexit deal with the EU. But now the hour is approaching for that deal to be unveiled, something different is being openly discussed: no deal. Lord Hague, in his latest Telegraph column, says that, if it comes to it, Remainer ministers should join in fully preparing the country to leave without a deal. Gordon Brown has weighed in to thwart the 2016 vote. Even Jo Johnson’s Friday resignation was ultimately a reflection on the merits of walking away. That is a profound change. A kind of political omertà has hung over the subject since negotiations began. It was the end game that dared not speak its name. If no deal was spoken of at all, it was written off in monolithic terms: a catastrophe to be avoided at all costs. – Telegraph (£) editorial

Jo Johnson: The way out of this shambles is a People’s Vote

There may be some people who began campaigning for a second referendum on the morning of June 24, 2016, but I am not one of them. For 28 months after I voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, I did my best as a government minister to make a success of our departure from the European Union. All of us want to be able to look our constituents in the eye and say that leaving the EU will work out fine, but more and more of us, including a number in the cabinet, are now convinced we are heading for a poor outcome for the country. – Jo Johnson MP for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Gordon Brown thinks a second referendum on Brexit is a good idea. He must be dreaming – Michael Deacon for the Telegraph (£)
  • The pound bounces around – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Macron tries to take UK’s gold crown as historic rivalry is reborn – Telegraph (£)
  • British Airways asks Spain for help to keep flying if no Brexit deal reached – Express
  • Brexit is happening. The EU has bigger things to worry about – Bloomberg
  • France calls for EU ’empire’ and warns of euro break-up in next crisis – Telegraph (£)
  • London office market still booming despite Brexit – Guido Fawkes
  • The Brexit playbook in the 11 EU countries that will shape a deal – Politico