MPs defeat Government with Finance Bill amendment seeking to thwart no-deal preparations: Brexit News for Wednesday 09 January

MPs defeat Government with Finance Bill amendment seeking to thwart no-deal preparations: Brexit News for Wednesday 09 January
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MPs defeat Government with Finance Bill amendment seeking to thwart no-deal preparations…

MPs have inflicted another Brexit defeat on the government in Parliament by backing measures designed to thwart preparations for a no-deal exit. They backed an amendment to the Finance Bill, which would limit spending on no-deal preparations unless authorised by Parliament, by 303 to 296 votes. Jeremy Corbyn urged Theresa May to now rule out no deal “once and for all”. Treasury minister Robert Jenrick said the “simple truth” was the UK would leave the EU on 29 March. He said no-deal planning was “prudent preparation to provide our taxpayers with the certainty they deserve” and all the defeat would do would be to make the UK “somewhat less prepared”. Twenty Conservative MPs rebelled against the government, including former cabinet ministers Michael Fallon, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Ken Clarke and Oliver Letwin. – BBC News

  • Government defeated in crunch vote on Finance Bill as MPs push to block no deal – Telegraph (£)
  • Theresa May suffers Commons defeat over no-deal Brexit – Guardian

> On BrexitCentral today: Anti-No Dealers defeat Government on Finance Bill amendment – How every MP voted

…as a cross-party alliance of MPs claims ‘we will stop no-deal Brexit’…

Theresa May faces a concerted campaign of parliamentary warfare from a powerful cross-party alliance of MPs determined to use every lever at their disposal to prevent Britain leaving the EU without a deal in March. The former staunch loyalist Sir Oliver Letwin signalled that he and other senior Conservatives would defy party whips, repeatedly if necessary, to avoid a no-deal Brexit, as the government suffered a humiliating defeat during a debate on the finance bill in the Commons. Letwin and 16 other former government ministers were among 20 Conservatives who banded together with the home affairs select committee chair, Yvette Cooper, and the Labour leadership to pass an anti no-deal amendment. They defeated the government by 303 votes to 296 – a majority of seven – making May the first prime minister in 41 years to lose a vote on a government finance bill. – Guardian

  • Vote victory gives ‘guerrilla war’ Tory rebels first blood in battle to stop a no-deal Brexit – Telegraph (£)
  • These 42 Conservative MPs have indicated they will try to stop a no-deal Brexit – Buzzfeed News

…and Amber Rudd says that history will take a dim view of ministers if they allow a no-deal Brexit

History will take “a dim view” of Theresa May’s Cabinet if it presses ahead with a no-deal Brexit if the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement is voted down by MPs next week, a senior minister has warned. Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd told fellow ministers that the Government needed to reach out to find what will secure a majority in the House of Commons. Her warning came as Mrs May told the first meeting of Cabinet since the Christmas break that she continues to seek assurances from the EU to address MPs’ concerns over issues like the proposed “backstop”.- Shropshire Star

Debate on the Brexit deal begins again today with a vote next Tuesday…

Downing Street has confirmed that MPs will vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal next Tuesday and that the prime minister will make a last-ditch appeal for votes when she winds up a five-day debate. Mrs May’s deal won new support from the cabinet, with Michael Gove, environment secretary, criticising Eurosceptics holding out for a “perfect Brexit” in colourful terms. “It’s a bit like a load of people in their mid-fifties at a swingers’ party holding out for Scarlett Johansson to arrive,” Mr Gove said. Amber Rudd, work and pensions secretary, added: “Or Pierce Brosnan.” Meanwhile David Gauke, justice secretary, claimed Labour’s Brexit policy was so fanciful it was “like hoping Scarlett Johansson is going to turn up on a unicorn”. Mrs May expects the EU to offer new assurances to help her sell her deal before next week’s vote, Downing Street said. – FT(£)

  • MPs to resume debate on PM’s plan – BBC News

…with Theresa May to close the debate in a last-ditch bid to rally MPs…

Theresa May will make the closing speech in the resumed debate on her Brexit Plan in a last-ditch attempt to rally MPs behind it before they vote next Tuesday evening, Downing St has announced. However, a key bone of contention is likely to be at what point MPs hear of the fresh concession expected from Brussels. The Prime Minister’s spokesman indicated that any new assurances would come before the vote, rather than before the start of the debate, which takes place tomorrow and which will be opened by Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary. Asked if MPs would have a period of time to debate Brussels’ expected new offer, he replied: “I would anticipate that would be the case, yes.” – The Herald

> Greig Baker on BrexitCentral today: If Tory MPs ignore the party membership and back the Brexit deal, they risk losing the activists on whom they rely

…while MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit plot ambush to force a vote tomorrow

A cross-party group of MPs is attempting to launch a parliamentary ambush to force Theresa May to hold the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal this Thursday, because “nothing has changed”. The anti-no deal bloc are plotting to try and speed up the entire Brexit process as they fear the prime minister is attempting to run down the clock towards exit day on March 29, putting pressure on MPs who fear a cliff-edge exit from the EU to back her deal. The group, led by Labour’s Chris Bryant and Conservative Dominic Grieve, are planning amendments to force a vote on Thursday, to block May from delaying it again, and to force her to return to the Commons within three days of her deal being rejected, as is expected, rather than the three weeks currently set out. It is the latest move in a campaign of what sources called “guerilla warfare” designed to stop a “catastrophic” no-deal Brexit, following Yvette Cooper and Nicky Morgan’s move to change the finance bill on Tuesday to make such an outcome more difficult for the government. – Huffington Post

Steve Barclay denies speaking to the EU about delaying Brexit

The Brexit Secretary has cast doubt on claims UK and EU officials are talking about delaying Brexit if MPs reject Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. Stephen Barclay said the UK remained committed to leaving on 29 March.According to the Telegraph, UK officials have been “testing the waters” about an Article 50 extension, to allow time for more talks. But Mr Barclay told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not a unilateral decision for the UK. That is not a decision the UK government could take, it would require the consent of all 27 member states. It would also generate some very practical issues, for example EU parliamentary elections at the end of May.” Mr Barclay said the “real question” facing MPs when they vote on Mrs May’s deal next Tuesday was between leaving with Mrs May’s deal or “no deal”. – BBC News

  • ‘We won’t extend Article 50!’ Minister shuts down MPs’ demands to postpone Brexit – Express

> WATCH: Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay’s full interview on Sky News

EU ready to offer limited support to Theresa May on Brexit deal…

Leo Varadkar, Irish prime minister, has confirmed the EU is ready to provide new “written guarantees, explanations and assurances” to help Theresa May surmount huge opposition to her Brexit deal in the House of Commons next week. Mr Varadkar’s comments will give Mrs May hope, but many MPs are demanding legal guarantees that the so-called Irish backstop— which would create a “temporary” EU/UK customs union to avoid a hard border in Ireland — will not be a permanent arrangement. Mr Varadkar, speaking on a visit to Irish forces in Mali, confirmed that the EU would give Mrs May some political cover ahead of next week’s vote, which he said would help to clear up “suppositions and misunderstandings about our intent as a European Union”. He added: “We don’t want to trap the UK into anything — we want to get on to the talks about the future relationship right away. I think it’s those kind of assurances we are happy to give.” – FT(£)

…but not before the Brexit vote

No means no. No legal guarantees. No enforceable deadline for completing a trade deal. No expiration date for the Irish backstop. No renegotiation. In sum: No more help from the EU for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May before a vote in the British parliament on the Brexit deal. May still seems certain to lose that vote because of extensive opposition from within her own party and the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, whose MPs vote with her government. And in the absence of any substantive political or policy shift in London, speculation has swirled about what, if anything, the EU27 might do to strengthen May’s chances of getting the deal through. The answer is nothing — at least nothing Brussels hasn’t done already, which is to reaffirm the EU’s commitment to the target date set in the Withdrawal Agreement for agreeing a future relationship with the U.K. by the end of a transition period, on December 31, 2020. But senior officials in Brussels and national ministers from across the Continent stressed that there is nothing more the EU could do for May ahead of the Commons vote, which the prime minister’s spokesperson confirmed today would take place on 15 January. – Politico

David Davis suggests EU is planning last-minute renegotiation

The former Brexit secretary spoke after Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was reported saying that the EU would offer the Government fresh assurances on the Withdrawal Agreement. Brexiteer Mr Davis told BBC Today that the EU was “testing the mettle of the British Government. The government is running out the timetable, running out the clock but actually, there are now already signs that the EU knows it needs a deal and it will come back.” He continued: “The simple truth is that they will hold fast to their line – this is the traditional approach of the European Commission, the European Union. “They will hold fast to their line to the last possible minute and then, if we hold fast to our line, then they will actually come back and renegotiate.” When host John Humphrys pressed him as to what the EU would offer us, Mr Davis added that if that occurred we should demand legal assurances and “some sort of undertaking on a free trade deal.” He said: “This will get very, very sticky, very close to the end, that is what will happen. – Express

> LISTEN: David Davis MP interview on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme

Michael Gove pours cold water on the idea of a perfect Brexit deal

Cabinet ministers joked that MPs seeking the perfect Brexit deal were like middle-aged swingers looking for Scarlett Johansson or Pierce Brosnan, during a meeting in which Theresa May confirmed the delayed meaningful vote would take place next Tuesday. During the meeting, the first of the new parliamentary term, one source said the environment secretary, Michael Gove, suggested MPs hoping for a better deal were like “mid-50s swingers” wishing Johansson would turn up to one of their parties. “Or Pierce Brosnan,” said the work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd. Later in the discussion, the justice secretary, David Gauke, compared Labour’s Brexit position to Johansson turning up on a unicorn, one Whitehall source said. Much of the cabinet meeting was dedicated to discussing the difficulties of a no-deal departure from the EU, led by the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay. Concerns about security and illegal immigration were raised by the home secretary, Sajid Javid, and Rudd, his predecessor at the Home Office. – Guardian

Jeremy Corbyn faces grassroots push for Labour to back second Brexit referendum

Jeremy Corbyn is facing grassroots pressure for Labour to come out firmly in favour of a second Brexit referendum. The campaign group Another Europe is Possible has said that unless Labour opposes EU withdrawal, it will lose millions of votes. The group said that 201 constituency Labour parties are set to debate a motion calling for a stronger line against Brexit by the end of this month. As well as calling for opposition to EU withdrawal and a new referendum, the Another Europe is Possible-drafted motion urges a “principled stand in defence of free movement and for democratisation of European institutions”. The move comes ahead of a meeting of the Labour Party’s International Policy Commission on Wednesday, which is set to discuss Brexit. Ana Oppenheim, an organiser for Another Europe is Possible, said: “As the sequence of events unfolds in Parliament, we need to look a the reality. Brexit is an attack on working class people, dripping with imperial nostalgia and migrant-bashing. – Mail Online

> Labour Leave’s Laura Bierer-Nielsen on BrexitCentral today: A second referendum would be an affront to our democracy, pure and simple

Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney criticises ‘hardliners’ ahead of UK vote

Simon Coveney told a Dublin conference it was time for British MPs to cast aside “unrealistic” options based on promises that cannot be delivered. He said he feared in the absence of realism, hardliners would “win” to everyone’s cost, most notably Ireland. The DUP has claimed the Irish border backstop aspect of the deal undermines the union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. But Mr Coveney argued the draft agreement was the best available to protect peace in Northern Ireland and the UK economy. He added that while the EU was ready to provide additional clarifications on the Brexit deal, the text of the agreement could not be reopened. The minister warned the British government that the time for “wishful thinking” was over. – BBC News

France orders Britain to ‘stick to it’ as row erupts over May’s doomed deal…

French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau insisted there is no chance of renegotiation and the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement is the best possible deal on offer. Arriving for an EU summit in Brussels, Ms Loiseau suggested British MPs should back the deal because the non-binding assurances the EU has offered on the contentious Irish border backstop show the bloc considers it a “last resort”. She said: “These are political assurances. But there is nothing more that we can do. “The Withdrawal Agreement is indeed a good agreement, both for the UK and for the European Union. We should stick to it.” Meanwhile, Mrs May has reportedly asked Government officials to plan for a Brexit delay over fears her deal will be roundly rejected by MPs next week. Three separate EU sources said UK officials have been exploring how to extend Article 50, a move which would see Brexit day would put back from March 29. The diplomatic sources said their British counterparts had been “putting out feelers” and “testing the waters” with the intention of extending the negotiating period for the Prime Minister in a bid to secure a deal more likely to pass through Parliament. – Express

…and Emmanuel Macron threatens to block Britain’s booming TV and film industries out of a future trade deal with the EU

The French president said “audiovisual services”, which are worth £15billion a year to the UK economy, will be specifically excluded from the pact. And he insisted he will push for a special mention about protecting the “cultural diversity” of France in any agreement. Mr Macron made the pledge in a letter to the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity. It would mean UK firms facing restricted access to the EU market which is their most important after the US, accounting for 38 per cent of film export earnings. Benjamin Thom, from the CBI, said the news was a “Brexit hammer blow for the UK’s world leading audiovisual sector”. Paris has a longstanding position of demanding that audiovisual services are left out of trade deals to protect Europe’s domestic film and TV industry. – The Sun

Germany demands British MPs ‘be responsible’ and back May’s Brexit deal

Germany has warned British MPs to be responsible and support Theresa May’s Brexit deal in next week’s meaningful vote, as the Irish government said it would not block a “justified” British request to extend the Article 50 deadline yesterday. Simon Coveney and Heiko Maas, the foreign ministers of Ireland and Germany, were speaking in Dublin the day after the Daily Telegraph exclusively revealed that UK officials had “put out feelers” about extending the Brexit deadline beyond 29 March 2019. Mr Maas said now was “not the time” to consider any extension to the two year negotiation period because British MPs could, against all expectations, decide to back the agreement struck by the prime minister and Brussels. He said that a no deal Brexit might hit Germans jobs “and that is something that we intend to prevent at any possible cost”. One way to avoid no deal would be to extend Article 50, which would need a British request and the support of the EU-27. “There is too much at stake to take this lightly. We urge our British friends to act responsibly and unite behind the agreement that we have spent so much time and effort negotiation,” Mr Maas added. – Telegraph (£)

Tory rebel’s Norway plan ridiculed

Robert Halfon has written a report with Labour Remainers calling for the UK to stay in the single market after quitting the bloc on March 29. He says the move, based on the relationship Norway has with the EU, would help to end the deadlock over Brexit. Norway is part of the European Economic Area trade bloc that has access to the EU single market. But Tory Leavers shredded the “pointless” plan and warned it would leave Britain bound by freedom-of-movement rules. Former minister Crispin Blunt said: “It would appear that he doesn’t understand Norway’s relationship with the EU. “The Norwegian model is not one that the United Kingdom should follow, for lots of reasons. It doesn’t deliver the protections the UK needs on trade and immigration and management of our own market in terms of the regulations that apply to that market.- Express

UK launches EU exit preparedness campaign

A smiling construction worker, a grinning farmer and a jolly pensioner: these are the cartoon faces the government is using to try to reassure Britons that the country can cope with a no-deal Brexit. A cheery illustrated banner on a new government website sits atop links to information on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit that critics have said could cause food and medicine shortages, long border delays and widespread economic disruption. On Tuesday, the government launched the site with a low-key public information campaign consisting of adverts on commercial radio stations and tweets from some government departments. A radio advert broadcast on LBC radio at around 0530 GMT featured a range of voice actors asking questions about renewing passports, mobile phone charges, and exporting goods. It directed them to the new website for answers. The site covers all exit scenarios and includes previously published advice on topics ranging from new restrictions on taking pets on holiday, to extra paperwork when importing goods from the bloc. – Reuters

Dutch government assures residency of UK citizens in event of no Brexit deal

British citizens in the Netherlands have been told they can stay in the country in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as the Dutch government became the latest to offer guarantees to worried residents. Any British person who has the right to live in the Netherlands on 29 March 2019 would be able to continue to live, work and study there, even if the UK crashes out of the European Union, according to a statement on the website of the Dutch ministry of justice. An estimated 45,000 British adults in the Netherlands could expect a letter to arrive before Brexit day from the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) that would serve as a temporary residence permit, in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. British nationals, during a 15-month Dutch transition period, would receive a further letter inviting them to apply for a residence permit at a cost of €57, the standard cost for EU nationals. – Guardian

Brexit-bashing so-called experts wrong again as strong housing market confounds economists

House prices rose 2.2 percent, more than reversing a 1.2 percent fall in November and outstripping all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists which had pointed to a tiny 0.2 percent increase. On an annual basis, prices rose 1.3 percent in the three months to December, again topping all forecasts that pointed to a 0.4 percent rise. Still, with other surveys and official data mostly showing a slowing housing market, Halifax cautioned against reading too much into the strength of a single month’s figures. “In 2019, we’re expecting continued stability in house prices with between 2 percent and 4 percent price inflation. This is slightly stronger than 2018, but still fairly subdued by modern comparison,” Russell Galley, the managing director of Halifax, said. “However, this expectation will clearly be dependent on the Brexit outcome, with risks to both sides of our forecast.” Express

70% of MPs think Theresa May has done bad job of negotiating with EU, survey finds

Seven in 10 MPs think Theresa May has done a bad job of handling Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, a new survey has found. Even 47 per cent of Conservatives think the prime minister has managed negotiations poorly, compared with just 34 per cent who think she has performed well. The Ipsos MORI poll also found that a majority of Tory MPs believe the difficulty of reaching an agreement with the EU over the Northern Ireland border has been exaggerated. The findings will come as a fresh blow to Ms May just days before MPs are due to vote on her proposed Brexit deal. The Commons is widely expected to reject the proposed agreement over widespread opposition to the Northern Ireland backstop, which Tory Eurosceptics fear could keep the UK trapped in a customs union with the EU against its will. – Independent

Trump administration downgrades EU mission to US

The Trump administration has downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union’s delegation to the United States, an EU official has confirmed to DW. The demotion happened at the end of last year without notice. The unannounced move by the US State Department, which has not previously been reported, downgraded the EU delegation’s diplomatic status in Washington from member state to international organization… After the delegation noticed that the EU’s Washington ambassador had not been invited to certain events late last year, officials organizing the state funeral for President George H.W. Bush provided final confirmation to EU diplomats that the status of the representation had in fact been downgraded. Diplomats believe the downgrade must have been implemented in late October or early November. At the high-profile event on December 5, as diplomats gathered in Washington to pay their respects, O’Sullivan, was not called up in the usual chronological order from the longest-serving to the newest ambassador, said the EU official. “But he was called up as the last person.” –

  • Trump administration demotes EU ambassador’s diplomatic status without telling him – Telegraph (£)

Mark Brolin: This is why a real Brexit will be a win for Leavers and Remainers alike

The probably greatest political misconception of our time is that the public is insurmountably divided over Brexit. How is this a misconception when the two sides are constantly at each other’s throats? Because when surrounded by negotiation and campaign dust it is easy to forget that both sides are fighting for the same things: international trade, political moderation and an intact democracy. Meaning that what really differs is our perceptions about which side is best at delivering what everyone wants. The EU side is bound to eventually lose this perception battle because all political Megaprojects – the EU included – rely more on mythological promises than on substance. In the end realities on the ground will decide how voters see things. However, due to the massive establishment powers of interpretation, myths can be sustained for quite some time. What we are experiencing now is a transition period marked by – as such periods always are – myth busting. This is when the establishment movers and shakers cling to power by telling voters that disaster will follow if abandoning the old power structure. Which is precisely how right-wingers, during the 1920s, managed to obstruct left-wingers from gaining real influence even after the democratic breakthrough. With roles reversed the 1970s turned into another decade when an establishment used scaremongering to impede excess backtracking. When the establishment finally had to yield powers it benefitted, on both occasions, just about everyone. – Mark Brolin for The Telegraph (£)

Daniel Finkelstein: Buckle your seatbelt, we’re heading for no-deal

Imagine you are selling your house and have agreed a price with the prospective buyer. Then, days before you are about to exchange, you get a call. It’s the buyer. He has, he says, decided not to accept your price after all. He knows it is your final one and there won’t be any more forthcoming. But don’t worry. He has passed a motion. And the motion is clear. He completely rules out failing to do a deal with you. I have attended many boring political meetings and witnessed many fatuous political acts. Student meetings, tiny party branch meetings, national executive meetings of failing political parties, cabinet meetings of governments heading towards landslide defeats. And in all that time I have never participated in, indeed never witnessed, anything quite as fatuous or fruitless as voting to insist that we won’t leave the European Union without a deal. In these circumstances, the chance of us accidentally ending up with no deal are very large. It is irresponsible to hinder any preparations we may need to make. We should be thinking harder about how to manage it. What side-deals do we need on things like air travel? Is there any way of agreeing a short transition (probably not)? What physical preparations are in place? Passing motions against such measures is worse than foolish — it’s positively reckless. – Daniel Finkelstein for The Times (£)

Rory Sutherland: A principled argument for a hard Brexit

It has become commonplace for news reports to refer to almost any civic unrest, or even unusual patterns of voting, as evidence of ‘resurgent nationalism’ — implicitly suggesting a visceral hatred of foreigners and a desire to set the clock back to the glory days of racial homogeneity and casual homophobia. We should be wary of accepting this media trope: for one thing it may arouse far more fear than is warranted. But apart from the needless fear it generates, it is also slightly dubious to suggest that it is the gilets jaunes or the Five Star Movement or the supporters of Brexit or even Donald Trump who are acting intemperately. It is perfectly possible to argue that these movements are a sensible, overdue reaction against governments that have imposed economic globalisation on the world at a pace that is entirely inconsistent with the human lifespan and the speed at which we can adapt to change. The free movement of people, the euro, large-scale immigration, the dissolution of the nation state — for that matter the admission of China to the WTO… all were imposed on the world by ideologically motivated elites with little public consultation. It is to make the perfectly valid point that in a democracy the government should do what people want, not what economic theory says is good for them. Quite simply, economics is anthropologically tone-deaf: it has far too narrow a conception of what people really care about to justify the influence it carries. – Rory Sutherland for The Spectator

James Forsyth: What the government’s ‘no-deal’ defeat in the Commons actually means

The government has been defeated in the House of Commons. Yvette Cooper’s amendment designed to limit the Treasury’s ‘no deal’ powers has passed by seven votes. Now, the Treasury view is that the changes mandated by this amendment are ‘fairly minor’ and won’t stop no deal from happening, or the government continuing to prepare for it. But what this vote does show is that there is a Commons majority to frustrate ‘no deal’. If this coalition wants to stop a ‘no deal’ Brexit, rather than just make one more difficult, and the government really is prepared to go down this route, then they would have to do more than pass amendments such as this. Ultimately, they would have to be prepared to bring down the government if they wanted to be absolutely certain of preventing it. – James Forsyth for The Spectator

Telegraph: Survival seems to be the PM’s only policy ambition, but she must not play for more time on her Brexit deal vote

MPs are due to begin debating Theresa May’s Brexit deal again today, picking up where they left off in December when the Prime Minister peremptorily halted proceedings, fearing she would lose the vote. The plan is for another five days of debate, ending with a vote next Tuesday, but given what happened last time this cannot be guaranteed. Last month, Cabinet ministers were assuring all and sundry that the vote would go ahead just a few hours before it was cancelled. It would be extraordinary were it to be postponed again, but these are extraordinary times in which the normal laws of politics and parliamentary procedure seem to have been suspended. Mrs May’s principal, indeed her only, tactic is to play for time in the hope that something might turn up. Survival seems to be the only policy ambition; and yet hardly anyone believes the Prime Minister’s deal will get through the Commons. – Telegraph (£)  editorial

The Sun: Remainers’ crazy Brexit wrecking clauses could make the chaos they fear many times worse

Not content with ratting on every Brexit promise, some Remainer MPs now hope to starve the Government of its No Deal option while having no viable alternative of their own. It is insanely reckless. Last night’s Commons defeat looks like the first of many. It prevents Chancellor Philip Hammond altering tax rates to fund no-deal disruption. But it is a crazy and dangerous strategy for Remainers. They say they will do anything to avoid a No Deal. But if it does somehow happen anyway — as it currently will by default — they will have crippled the Government’s ability to deal with it. Their wrecking clauses could make the chaos they fear many times worse. We despair at these MPs hell-bent on sabotaging Brexit. They voted overwhelmingly to hold the referendum which voters were assured was binding. They voted overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50 and launch the exit process. They stood for election on manifestos promising to see Brexit through, including leaving the Single Market and, in the Tories’ case, the Customs Union. They intend to honour none of them. – The Sun says

Mark Wallace: Extending Article 50? A clumsy tactic, and an even worse plan

Even if the UK did request an extension to Article 50, why would the EU grant it? There are only a few possible reasons Westminster could give to Brussels to justify the request. If it was to give more time for No Deal preparations, it’s hard to see why the EU would do something it would see as helping to undermine its own internal messages about the dangers of trying to leave. The offer which might tempt the EU – that an extension would provide room to reverse Brexit, perhaps through a second referendum or new election – would hardly be consistent with the promises of the Government or conducive to its survival in office. In short, even if an extension were possible theoretically, it might not be achievable practically. If it proved to be achievable practically, the price would be outrageously high and politically unacceptable to many Leavers. If, somehow, that price was paid, any and all of those who had thought an extension desirable would find their own plan for how to use the time would be consumed either by the EU’s conditions for providing it, or by the free-for-all reopening of the whole debate from square one which the decision would spark. It has reportedly become common for ministers to dismiss Brexit plans they deem fantastical as ‘unicorns’ – if so, this one has bells on it. – Mark Wallace for ConservativeHome

Brexit in Brief

  • What ‘Brexit: The Uncivil War’ got wrong – Sir Bill Cash MP for The Spectator
  • We must not tolerate the protesters intimidating MPs on both sides of the Brexit debate – Tom Harris for The Telegraph (£)
  • Has Theresa May got a Brexit plan B? – Robert Peston for The Spectator
  • Thuggery. Abuse. Threats. Unacceptable everywhere. But no-one came to Brexiteers’ defence when we were victims – Nadine Dorries MP for ConservativeHome
  • Facing chants of ‘Nazi’ and ‘scum’, MPs ask police to act over Brexit abuse – Reuters
  • Brexit campaigners condemn ‘far-right’ yellow vest protesters for abuse of MPs outside Commons: ‘Utterly unacceptable’ – Independent
  • Police to ‘intervene appropriately’ if protesters who barracked MP break law – News and Star
  • PM’s Brexit deal the only orderly way to leave EU, says interim Scottish Tory leader – Shropshire Star
  • Australia comes to UK’s rescue over post-Brexit plain packaging laws – Sydney Morning Herald