Downing Street says there will be no Brexit deal at next week’s summit unless EU leaders concede ‘major ground’: Brexit News for Tuesday 9th October

Downing Street says there will be no Brexit deal at next week’s summit unless EU leaders concede ‘major ground’: Brexit News for Tuesday 9th October

Downing Street says there will be no Brexit deal at next week’s summit unless EU leaders concede ‘major ground’…

Theresa May has called the EU’s bluff by insisting there will be no Brexit deal at next week’s leaders’ summit unless it cedes major ground to her. Europe’s leaders have spent days talking up the chances of an agreement at the Brussels meeting next week, which they have dubbed the “moment of truth”, in a bid to bounce Britain. But in a surprise move yesterday with just nine to go, the angry PM threw talks into go-slow mode and accused the EU of being the block. “Big issues” still remain to be resolved and that still “requires movement on the EU side”, No10 insisted. Mrs May is holding out for “a precise future framework” from Brussels over the shape of the UK-EU trade deal to avoid a ‘blind Brexit’. It has emerged that EU negotiators want to fob her off with a brief list of aspirations as short as three pages long. – The Sun

  • Downing Street warns against Brexit deal optimism and demands ‘precise’ agreement from EU – Telegraph (£)

…as Theresa May warns the EU that she won’t sign up to a £39billion ‘blind Brexit’ deal…

Theresa May last night warned she will not sign a £39billion Brexit divorce cheque unless the EU resolves ‘big issues’ on future trade links. Downing Street played down the prospect of a breakthrough at next week’s Brussels summit, saying there would be no deal without ‘movement on the EU’s side’. And it dismissed the idea that Mrs May could sign up to a ‘blind Brexit’ – saying the terms of a future trading partnership would have to be spelled out in ‘precise’ detail. After months of stalling, senior EU figures have made positive noises about the summit, described by EU president Donald Tusk as the ‘moment of truth’. – Daily Mail

…while Brussels delays publication of its blueprint on future trade

The EU’s lead negotiator is expected to delay publishing the union’s blueprint for a post-Brexit relationship with Britain after signals of new concessions from Downing Street. Michel Barnier had intended to publish an “annotated” draft political declaration tomorrow setting out red lines on a future trade deal. However, amid concerns in London that the document could lead to fresh demands from Brexiteers for Theresa May to abandon her plan for a Chequers-style deal, the paper is being redrafted. EU sources said it was now intended to be a “sort of joint text” that will indicate areas of mutual agreement and disagreement over the outlines of a future trading and security partnership. – The Times (£)

May must switch to Canada-style Brexit to gain support of the Commons, says former Chief Whip Mark Harper…

Theresa May will never get her Chequers deal through Parliament and needs to “chuck” it in favour of a Canada style deal, the former chief whip has claimed. May loyalist Mark Harper, a former immigration minister who served under the Prime Minister at the Home Office, urged her to “evolve” her Brexit proposals, saying she needed to “unite the party around a comprehensive free trade deal that she can actually get through Parliament”. The MP for the Forest of Dean, who voted Remain in the EU Referendum and backed Mrs May as leader in 2016, said the idea of getting Labour MPs to back Chequers had “no prospect of success”, adding: “We are going to have to carry this deal on our own benches. If you’re the Prime Minister you do have to listen to colleagues.” – Telegraph (£)

…as Brexiteers cry foul at No. 10 preparations for hard selling a deal…

Brexiteers warned that another round of “project fear” was on the way after it emerged that analysis of any deal Theresa May secures with Brussels will compare it to a no-deal outcome and ignore other options. As soon as the prime minister emerges with a deal, the Treasury, Cabinet Office and other departments will release an economic study overseen by Number 10 and designed to sell the plan to MPs and voters. It will show that the Chequers plan is better for tax revenue and growth than a no-deal exit. – The Times (£)

…while ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker warns that some inside government could be preparing for the UK to rejoin the EU

Senior government figures could be trying to engineer the softest possible form of Brexit to allow Britain to rejoin the EU, an MP and former minister has claimed. Steve Baker, who quit the Brexit department in July, suggested “powerful forces” were seeking to keep the country in arrangements similar to the single market and customs union. He called instead for an “advanced free-trade agreement” with “practical arrangements” on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. – Sky News

UK’s top trade negotiator: I’ll be redundant if Britain stays in the Customs Union after Brexit

The UK’s top trade negotiator has said he will not have a job if the UK stays in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. In an exclusive interview, Crawford Falconer, the Department of International Trade’s Chief Trade Negotiations Advisor told the Daily Telegraph that he would be redundant if the UK were unable to pursue a fully independent trade policy. This was something he believed to be impossible within any kind of customs union. The remarks come amid continued political tension over the future customs relationship the UK will have with its largest trading partner once it quits the EU. In order to break the deadlock over the Irish border in Brexit talks, the British Government has proposed an all-UK backstop arrangement in the event of a no-deal scenario. This would see the country remain in a time-limited temporary customs union with the EU. – Telegraph (£)

Philip Hammond refusing to increase spending on no-deal planning at the Budget

Philip Hammond is blocking calls to increase spending on No Deal planning at this month’s Budget – as hopes of a Brussels breakthrough grow. The Chancellor has been urged by some in Government to set aside even more funds to prepare for a collapse in negotiations, beyond the £3 billion he earmarked in 2017. But Treasury insiders say he is resisting any increase, even if it strengthened Theresa May’s negotiating hand and is likely the cash will never have to be spent. The issue could come to a head as soon as today as the Cabinet discuss the Budget. One Cabinet told The Sun “it seems like a no-brainer” as Brexit talks go to the wire, as it would send the message to Brussels that Britain really is ready to walk away. And a senior Government source added they “definitely need” more cash to prepare for the doomsday scenario of Britain exiting the EU without a trade deal in place next March. – The Sun

Second EU referendum not possible without delaying Brexit, academics warn

A new Brexit referendum would be impossible without delaying the UK’s departure from the EU, experts have declared. The Constitution Unit at University College London said a fresh poll would require at least 24 weeks – taking the UK right up until the March 2019 exit date. Their verdict is a blow for anti-Brexit campaigners who have been calling for a referendum on the final deal Theresa May strikes with Brussels. According to the UCL team, a second poll would be possible but not without extending the two-year Article 50 process, which would require unanimous agreement from the other 27 member states. – PoliticsHome

  • If there’s to be enough time for a second EU referendum, it would need to start now – Jane Clinton for i News

SNP throw weight behind plans to delay Brexit…

The SNP threw their full weight behind a plan to delay Brexit as they voted to support an extension to the Article 50 process and a second EU referendum. But leader Nicola Sturgeon was accused of rank hypocrisy yesterday for insisting a People’s Vote on Brexit would not set a precedent for another independence vote. The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford also pledged his party’s 35 MPs will cause maximum disruption to UK Tory Government during the party’s annual conference in Glasgow. Ms Sturgeon warned the PM it would be anti-democratic to deny Scotland another vote saying “people have a right to change their mind”. Scotland’s First Minister said she would lay out a planned timetable for a second vote after a Brexit deal is done. But only 24 hours after announcing the Nationalists would back a second Brexit referendum it sparked Tory claims the SNP were now the “Scottish Neverendum Party”. – The Sun

…while Nicola Sturgeon will pursue another Scottish independence referendum regardless of any Brexit deal

Nicola Sturgeon will pursue a second referendum on Scottish independence regardless of whatever Brexit deal is secured by Theresa May. The Scottish First Minister told ITV News that “independence is the best future for Scotland. I think independence is the best future for Scotland is because it means that Scotland can’t have change imposed on us or against our will – as is happening with Brexit.” Ms Sturgeon said the timing of another independence referendum is dependent on the details of the Brexit deal negotiated by the Prime Minister. “The future relationship between the EU and the UK will be the context in which Scotland will become independent. So, the detail of that future relationship will inevitably – whether I like it or not – shape some of the answers to questions people in Scotland would have about the implications of independence.” – ITV News

Dutch King says he regrets Brexit decision and backs Michel Barnier, as Palace announces state visit to Britain

Dutch king Willem-Alexander and his wife, Queen Maxima, will embark on a state visit to London later this month, palace officials announced on Monday, as the monarch admitted that he regretted Britain’s decision to leave the EU.  A spokesman for Noordeinde Palace in The Hague said the visit, which will take place on October 23 and 24, would cement links between the two countries as “North Sea neighbours” with “shared values in the past, present and future.” But Brexit will also be high on the agenda, with the king and his wife, Queen Maxima, due to meet Dutch citizens who are concerned about their business prospects in the UK. – Telegraph (£)

  • Dutch King says he regrets Brexit and backs Michel Barnier to the hilt – Express

Tony Smith: Solving the Irish border question

Having worked in the “borders” business for over 45 years now, I can say with some confidence that any agreement around border transformation is entirely achievable with the collaborative will of the countries on either side of it… The reality is that the days of immigration desks and border checkpoints are coming to an end anyway, regardless of Brexit. At least between friendly countries with like minded values. New methods of intelligence led interventions are developing rapidly, often taking place far away from the physical border, and well ahead of arrival. This opens huge possibilities for governments who need regulatory systems to control the movement of people and goods; but also want to submerge the border check iceberg to the point of virtual invisibility. – Tony Smith, former Director General of the UK Border Force via LinkedIn

John Longworth: Theresa May is failing, by her own criteria, to make Brexit mean Brexit

We are told that the EU and the UK are edging towards an agreement on our withdrawal from the EU. How we will know the quality of this agreement will depend upon the extent to which it satisfies the criteria set during the referendum campaign as to what constitutes Brexit. That is to say, the extent to which the agreement gives the UK control of our borders (including migration), our money (including tariffs and trade) and our laws (including jurisdiction of the courts). These are criteria often repeated in outline by our Prime Minister and measures which she claims to be fulfilling. Based on reports of the deal, sadly it looks like we are heading for a monumental sell-out, a great betrayal of the British people and a fraud on democracy, the ultimate consequences of which are as yet difficult to predict, but unlikely to be good. – John Longworth for the Telegraph (£)

The Sun says: Mrs May needs every ounce of courage over the next fortnight to make sure Britain isn’t railroaded into a bad deal Brexit by Brussels

Theresa May is right to block the EU’s latest stunt — a bid to stampede her into a disastrous deal for Britain. Their strategy is transparent. They are telling the world an agreement is all but done. That it just needs Mrs May to stop mucking about and sign up. But their “deal” is merely their wishlist, much of it utterly unacceptable. Take the idea that, to solve the Irish border problem they blew out of all proportion, we should divide up the UK with customs checks between Northern Ireland and the mainland.Or the suggestion that we stay in the Customs Union indefinitely.The Sun

Mark Brolin: Three reasons the doom and gloom about Brexit is misplaced

What are the greatest myths holding the EU together? Top of the list is probably the “EU = peace” canard, though its power is fading as it becomes obvious that shoehorning diverse nations into a single political entity is actually a recipe for turmoil. When debunked, this is how the EU federalist peace narrative reads: “Let us rip up borders and unite before someone less benevolent enters this dangerous terrain”. Which echoes the narrative of just about every imperialist royal in the past. Nobody should be surprised that as the EU’s powers have grown, so have European divisions. – Mark Brolin for CapX

Robert Shrimsley: A second Brexit poll is a bigger risk than leaving

The only real justifications for a second vote are a massive shift in public opinion or an unpredictable material change in circumstances. Neither has occurred. Opinion polls show a small but clear lead for Remain voters, which suggests some Leavers have changed their minds but also factors in the two years’ worth of young voters (who skew Remain by seven to one) now eligible to vote. In truth, the country is still more or less split down the middle. A close win for Remain will settle nothing. And for all the Remainer confidence — and belief in an energised youth vote — there is no guarantee they would win. Voters rarely take well to being told to try again because they got it wrong… If Remain were to nick it back, where do the former 52 per cent turn next? The phenomenon of populism cannot be wished away and one of its causes was the sense of a political class that does not listen. It is a lesson EU leaders are still failing to learn. Leavers will view a second referendum as a plot by the political class to frustrate their decision. They will not be wrong. – Robert Shrimsley for the FT (£)

Jack Simson Caird: The government is misleading us about how easy the Commons vote on Brexit will be

As MPs return to Westminster today, minds will begin to focus on what will be one of the most significant decisions taken by the Commons in decades: the meaningful vote on the Brexit deal. Ever since the government committed to holding a meaningful parliamentary vote on the final Brexit deal, it has maintained that the choice will be a simple one: deal or no deal. But a recent report produced jointly by the UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law argues that this is simply not the case. – Jack Simson Caird for The Times (£)

Tom Harris: If Mrs May wants Labour MPs to help her deal, maybe she shouldn’t try to scrap their seats

This is a good time not to be a Labour MP. That is an observation, I promise, not made from the perspective of a bad loser at the 2015 general election; rather it is one based on my understanding of, and sympathy with, the realities of those who remain on the opposition benches in the run-up to a Brexit most of them opposed, under the leadership of a man few of them support. And with the revelation that Theresa May depends on at least some of them to rescue her preferred deal with the EU27, the dilemma facing Labour MPs – the devil or the deep blue sea? – has never been more explicit. Momentum and its far left Marxist running dogs are snapping at their heels, desperate for the chance to deselect any MP who doesn’t publicly confess their error of not having complete faith in Corbyn as leader and potential prime minister. MPs’ calculations of the likelihood of their political survival have been further complicated by the apparent determination of the government to press ahead with an arbitrary reduction in the size of the Commons from 650 to 600 after the next general election. – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

James Forsyth: Have the DUP just softened their Brexit position?

The next ten days are key for the prospects of a Brexit deal. By the end of dinner next Wednesday night, we’ll know whether the EU and Britain are getting close enough to strike a withdrawal agreement in November, or if they are heading for no-deal. In the run-up to this, things are going to be particularly febrile. In this climate, it would be all too easy to over-interpret Jean-Claude Juncker’s May-esque dancing or (as spotted by an eagle-eyed FT journalist) Olly Robbins’s early evening glass of red wine. The Irish border still remains the biggest obstacle to a withdrawal agreement. – James Forsyth for The Spectator

Brexit in Brief

  • Yorkshire Post: Brexit and devolution – why they both matter to Yorkshire and the North – The Yorkshire Post
  • Brexit really is in the balance this week. So what is stopping a final deal being signed? – Telegraph (£)
  • Deal or no deal, the big question is: will there be a second Brexit referendum? – The Times (£)
  • What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership and what could it mean if the UK joins? – Telegraph (£)

And finally… Jean-Claude Juncker appears to mock Theresa May’s Abba dance at Tory conference

Jean-Claude Juncker appeared to mock Theresa May by imitating the prime minister’s Abba dance at the Conservative Party Conference when he gave a speech in Brussels on Monday. His aping of Mrs May’s moves to 1976 hit Dancing Queen could not come at a worst time, with Brexit talks at a crunch point over the Irish border and relations strained between the UK and EU… The president of the European Commission, famed for his mischievous sense of humour, was due to give an address to the opening of the European Week of Regions and Cities. As he approached the podium, music struck up, which encouraged a playful Mr Juncker to mimic Mrs May’s dance to Dancing Queen, which was a self-deprecating reference to her stilted dancing on a trip to Africa. – Telegraph (£)