A dozen ministers will tell Theresa May to ‘stare down’ the EU on the Irish border issue at today’s Cabinet: Brexit News for Tuesday 6th November

A dozen ministers will tell Theresa May to ‘stare down’ the EU on the Irish border issue at today’s Cabinet: Brexit News for Tuesday 6th November

A dozen ministers will tell Theresa May to ‘stare down’ the EU on the Irish border issue at today’s Cabinet…

Senior Cabinet ministers will today tell Theresa May she must “stare down” the EU over the Irish border or see Parliament rip up her Brexit deal. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will lead as many as 12 Cabinet ministers in the defiant stand at the Cabinet’s weekly meeting in No10. They will call on the PM to insist on a mechanism in the Brexit deal for Britain to stay in control of how long it stays in any backstop customs union to keep the Irish border open… One Cabinet minister told The Sun: “We must have control of the backstop. If Theresa doesn’t stare down the EU and win a mechanism that does this, the whole argument is immaterial as there is zero chance of passing the Commons.” – The Sun

  • Theresa May to face Cabinet after being forced to calm Irish anger over border backstop plan – Independent

…with Dominic Raab reportedly furious over being ‘undermined’ on the Irish backstop plan…

Theresa May faces a Cabinet showdown with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab after he privately accused Downing Street of undermining his attempts to solve the Irish border problem. Mr Raab’s office was forced to deny rumours that he was considering resigning after he wrote to the Prime Minister urging a change of tack in the Brexit negotiations. Mr Raab is understood to be furious that David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister and Mrs May’s de facto deputy, visited Dublin last week where he rubbished a new proposal that had been put to the Irish by Mr Raab just three days earlier. The Telegraph has learnt that Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, also aired his own views on the Irish backstop with Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, before Mr Lidington’s intervention, which will add to the tension in Tuesday’s Brexit-focused Cabinet meeting. – Telegraph (£)

…as the Taoiseach insists the UK could not unilaterally end any backstop arrangement…

Theresa May has been warned by the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar that his government will never accept a Brexit deal that gives the UK unilateral power to end a Northern Irish “backstop”. In a phone call Mr Varadkar told the prime minister that Ireland could not agree to any arrangement that allowed a future UK government to walk away from a commitment to maintaining an open border in Ireland. He did offer an olive branch to the prime minister, however, by suggesting that he might consider proposals to write a “review” clause into the agreement providing the outcome of any such review could “not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop”. – The Times (£)

  • Ireland warns UK over post-Brexit border issue – BBC News

…although there is talk of an independent “review mechanism” for the backstop…

Brussels is preparing to back a compromise proposal on Ireland to resolve the last big sticking point in the Brexit negotiations. Senior EU figures have indicated that they are prepared to offer Theresa May an “independent mechanism” by which Britain could end a temporary customs arrangement with the bloc. The move comes before a cabinet meeting today at which Mrs May will attempt to assuage fears among Brexiteers that the so-called Northern Irish backstop will be used to trap Britain into being a “never ending” rule-taker from Brussels. She will, however, also warn that a deal must be sealed by the end of this month if it is to be passed by parliament in time for Brexit day. Yesterday, in a significant gesture, Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, said that Dublin was open to the idea of a “review mechanism” for the backstop that had been put forward by Mrs May in a telephone call. He said also that a proposal last week by Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, for Britain to have a unilateral three-month “termination” notice period would be vetoed by Dublin. – The Times (£)

…with ministers to be shown two options to resolve the Irish border question…

Cabinet ministers expect to be locked in a room to study the latest options for a Brexit deal in strict secrecy on Tuesday… Both options – which would be enshrined in the legally binding exit deal – are politically fraught. They are: The U.K. commits to stay in a customs union with the EU which the country could only leave by mutual agreement. This would be seen as a betrayal by pro-Brexit campaigners in May’s Tory party who want the U.K. to be free to set its own trade policy outside the EU’s tariff regime; and The U.K. joins a temporary customs union with the bloc with the ability to exit the arrangement unilaterally. While this would deliver what Brexit purists want, it would be at a cost of allowing the EU to keep Northern Ireland inside the bloc’s customs territory, even as mainland Britain goes a separate way. May has previously ruled that out, saying separating Northern Ireland in this way would destroy the constitutional integrity of the U.K. – Bloomberg

…and Theresa May is expected to warn that time is running out to agree a deal

The prime minister is expected to warn her cabinet that time is running out to agree a deal and that the government will soon have to tell businesses to start spending money on planning for a disorderly no-deal exit. She is set to tell her pro-Brexit ministers they will have to cede ground to get a deal, after Mr Varadkar said the UK would not be allowed to unilaterally walk away from a backstop deal to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Mrs May’s aides admitted that hopes of a Brexit breakthrough by mid-November had faded. They said Britain was aiming for a special European Council meeting before the end of the month to sign off the country’s exit terms. – FT (£)

  • Theresa May admits to ministers that time is running out to get a Brexit deal – i News
  • May to face cabinet after Varadkar stands firm on Brexit backstop – Guardian

Irish border problem is a ‘red herring’, says DUP MP

The big sticking point in the Brexit negotiations has been described as a “red herring” by one of the 10 Democratic Unionist MPs propping up Theresa May’s minority government. Sammy Wilson told the BBC World Service there was no “real problem”… Mr Wilson, the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) MP for East Antrim and the party’s Brexit spokesman, said: “This is a red herring that’s been thrown in to either string out the negotiations until there’s a change in government in the UK, or to make the price of leaving the EU the break-up of the UK, or to keep the UK in the customs union and the single market”. – BBC News

Immigration Minister admits Britain will have to keep freedom of movement after a no-deal Brexit

Britain will have to keep EU free movement after a No Deal Brexit – the Immigration Minister admitted yesterday in a humiliating U-turn. Caroline Nokes signalled the Home Office would have no way of being able to differentiate between those EU nationals already here and those arriving for the first time after ‘Brexit Day’. She added employers would not have to carry out checks on EU nationals in the event of a No Deal to see if they had a right to work in the UK. In a car crash Commons appearance last week she said they would have to. Speaking yesterday, Ms Nokes said: “We will not be asking employers to differentiate, even if there is no deal.” Challenged that she was saying free movement – allowing unlimited EU immigration – would essentially remain in place, she said: “We are seeking a sensible transition period which will enable the Home Office to make sure these cases can be case-worked clearly.” – The Sun

  • Brexit committee chair insists freedom of movement will continue under ‘no deal’ – Mirror

Philip Hammond warns no-deal Brexit could derail his spending plans

Philip Hammond could be forced to abandon the pledges he made in last week’s Budget, including the bringing forward of income tax cuts for 32 million workers, if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal. The Chancellor raised that prospect this afternoon before the Treasury Select Committee, comparing the “shock” of a no deal Brexit to “the collapse of a banking system in any major country or the “outbreak of a major trade war” as he warned that it would force policymakers to do whatever was necessary to get the economy to a “new equilibrium”. However, Mr Hammond suggested that the £384 million per week promised for the NHS after Brexit would still be safe given that it was pledged “back in the summer” and was a “clear commitment and a statement of the Government’s priorities”. The Chancellor refused to accept suggestions that no deal Brexit could provide an economic boon, declaring that “looking at the universe of respected and regularly cited economic forecasters of the UK, the overwhelming majority of them expect a no deal Brexit would have a negative impact on the UK economy”. – Telegraph (£)

City Minister upbeat about chance of Brexit deal for the financial sector

The UK is close to reaching a deal on financial services which will stave off a hard Brexit next year, according to the City minister. John Glen told an audience of City professionals that negotiations had not concluded, but added: “I am extremely confident that we will reach an imminent deal.” UK negotiators are understood to have won broad agreement from Brussels about the wording on financial services that will be included in a political declaration alongside a withdrawal agreement. Both are contingent on the sides finding common ground over how to avoid a hard border in Ireland. The City and UK financial services employ more than 1 million people and account for 6.5 per cent of GDP. Many in the sector believe they have been overlooked as the government has focused elsewhere, but in recent weeks there has been a growing optimism that progress has been made. Mr Glen said: “There is common ground. That is why we are increasingly positive on the expectation of reaching a deal.” – The Times (£)

John McDonnell confirms Labour would oppose a temporary customs union

Labour would vote against a government plan designed to resolve the impasse in the Brexit negotiations on Northern Ireland, the shadow chancellor said. John McDonnell has told Newsnight that Labour would reject any customs arrangement with the EU unless it was established on a permanent basis. Theresa May hopes to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland through a temporary UK-wide customs arrangement. Mrs May plans to have an agreement with EU leaders by the end of this month. Such a move from Labour would raise the chances of Parliament rejecting her withdrawal agreement. – BBC News

Michel Barnier says UK could reapply for EU membership once it is ‘a third country’

If the U.K. changes its mind about Brexit once it has left the EU, it can reapply for membership “like a third country,” the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Monday. After a speech at a Catholic conference in Brussels, Barnier was asked how the EU would respond if the U.K. decided it wanted to remain in the EU, potentially as the result of a second referendum. “If the U.K. changes its red lines, then we will adapt immediately,” he said, but added that “After [Brexit] it will be a third country, and like a third country it can ask to join the EU.” Barnier’s remarks seem to suggest that any reversal of Brexit would happen only once the U.K. has left. – Politico

The Sun says: If Theresa May fails to deliver Brexit based on UK terms, all hell will break loose

It boils down to this. Does Theresa May seriously intend to allow the EU to dictate whether Britain can leave its customs union? Or will she insist on the national sovereignty 17.4million voted for? Because if she fails to deliver the ­latter, all hell will break loose. It is incredible to see EU leaders demanding, with a straight face, the power to stop us finally leaving without their permission. They know they would never grant it — why would they? Using the trumped-up Irish border “problem”, they would prevent us from ever signing our own trade deals. They would shackle forever the trade policy of the world’s fifth-largest economy. Despite Brexit’s uncertainty, booming Britain has attracted the world’s second-highest levels of investment this year. That is exactly what the EU fears. It is why they want to neuter us as an independent trading power. Just imagine the hoots of triumph — and joyous disbelief — in Brussels if they succeed. – The Sun says

Peter Foster: Why Theresa May’s Brexit negotiation is still trapped by logical incoherence and wishful thinking

For all the talk about a Brexit deal with the EU being “imminent”, the reality is that Theresa May’s Brexit negotiation is still at serious risk of becoming stuck in a doom-loop. Talks took a significant step forward last week when the EU tentatively agreed to include a ‘temporary’ EU-UK customs union agreement in the legally binding EU-UK divorce deal, or ‘Withdrawal Agreement’. This was a ‘win’ for Mrs May it would give her a cast-iron legal guarantee that there will be no customs border in the Irish Sea – something Mrs May has long said is “unacceptable” because it divides the United Kingdom. But as so often in Brexit, one step forward brings two steps back. – Peter Foster for the Telegraph (£)

Laura Kuenssberg: Ten pointers on where we are with Brexit

At the risk of writing what I have written on several occasions here before, we are at the stage in the talks where a deal could all suddenly come together. Or it could all, as a couple of weeks ago, fall apart. Until the phone rings or WhatsApp buzzes to say it’s suddenly on or off, here are a few pointers on the state of play. Sometimes in a confusing situation, there’s nothing better than making a list even though, of course, there’s no way all the complexities can be captured here. – Laura Kuenssberg for BBC News

Matthew Lynn: Another referendum would be huge waste of time and money

Trade barriers will bring exports grinding to a halt. Just-in-time supply chains will freeze up. Foreign investment will collapse, the pound will be turned into charred toast and we’ll lose access to the skilled European workers we need to keep the economy growing. When a new group called “Business For a People’s Vote” is launched later this week we can expect to hear a lot of arguments against leaving the European Union and for a referendum on the final deal that emerges. A wide range of senior industrialists have already thrown their weight behind that and a lot more will be tempted to do so in the next few weeks. After all, most business leaders wanted to remain inside the EU and nothing that has happened since then is likely to have changed their minds. And yet, if they were being honest, they would surely also admit that however much they might regret the decision personally, a second referendum would be very bad for their companies. Why? Because it would prolong the uncertainty; because it would lead to a worse deal; and because there is no reason to think it would change the final decision. Individuals can campaign for a People’s Vote if they want to. But they should admit it would be terrible for the economy. – Matthew Lynn for the Telegraph (£)

Patrick Minford: Theresa May will pay any price for a Brexit ‘deal’

Halloween may be over but fear still stalks the land. As we enter the Brexit endgame, it is apparent that Theresa May plans to terrorise her turbulent troops into supporting the Chequers-style deal she has cooked up with the EU. A deal at any price? That is the Prime Minister’s position. From the very beginning of the negotiations, she has been intent on securing a deal. The lamentable events of the past two years can be traced back to this simple imperative. According to her, success in the talks equalled a deal; failure equalled no deal. – Patrick Minford for The Spectator

Patrick Maguire: For Theresa May, striking a Brexit deal could mean losing the DUP and cabinet Brexiteers

Downing Street talks as if a Brexit deal has never been closer, yet agreement on Ireland – the most significant obstacle left – is as far away as it has ever been. Still stubbornly unresolved is the question of the backstop, the legal mechanism that will effectively keep Northern Ireland in the customs union and in regulatory alignment with the EU in order to prevent a hard border, unless and until a trade deal or another agreed solution does. There can be no deal without it. For Theresa May, this EU insurance policy creates manifold problems. A trade deal that would preclude the need for new infrastructure on the border does not exist, and nor do the bits of technology that Brexiteers insist could. The arrangement would be as good as permanent – anathema to Tory Brexiteers. It would also divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK – anathema to the Prime Minister’s allies in the DUP. – Patrick Maguire for the New Statesman

Brexit in Brief

  • Remainers are so dismayed that a deal is in sight – Leo McKinstry for the Express
  • The ‘Norway’ option means one thing – uncontrolled immigration – Alp Mehmet for The Conservative Woman
  • Brexit was not a posh man’s coup – Tim Black for Spiked
  • Brussels bosses accused of putting EU at risk after Brexit by failing to prepare for No Deal outcome – The Sun
  • Brexit concerns blamed for stunting service sector growth – The Times (£)
  • Pet owners could be hit by £55 health check charge for taking pets to the continental after a no-deal Brexit – Telegraph (£)
  • Nationalists urge Varadkar to stand up for citizens in Northern Ireland – The Times (£)
  • Farage predicts EU customs union deal success – Express
  • Eurosceptic baby boomers gave Leave campaign a one-off boost – FT (£)
  • The UK remains ahead of the game in Europe’s tech sector – City A.M.