EU reject May's backstop plan | Rees-Mogg doubts May's commitment to Brexit: Brexit News for Wednesday 23 May

EU reject May's backstop plan | Rees-Mogg doubts May's commitment to Brexit: Brexit News for Wednesday 23 May
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EU already reportedly rejecting Theresa May’s latest ‘backstop’ customs plan…

Brussels has rejected Theresa May’s new customs proposal less than 24 hours after the prime minister set it out in a bid to placate Brexiteers in her cabinet. European Commission officials told The Independent Ms May’s plan would be unacceptable and would go back on previous commitments made by British negotiators. A day earlier the prime minister had said the “backstop” plan to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland – which keeps Britain in alignment with the single market and customs union if no other agreement is reached – would be time limited. The move was an attempt to assuage Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, who fear that it would become a backdoor way to keep Britain tied indefinitely to the EU through the customs union and single market. – Independent

  • Michael Gove: We don’t know if new Brexit backstop could last ‘weeks or months’ – Telegraph (£)

…as Boris Johnson tells Theresa May to ‘get on with’ taking UK out of the Customs Union…

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson set Theresa May a list of Brexit demands, saying she must “get on with” taking the U.K. out of the European Union’s trading rules as fast as possible. In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg in Buenos Aires, Johnson said May is responsible for ensuring the U.K. takes back control over its tariff regime, and gains the power to break away from EU regulations if it chooses to. If the final Brexit deal doesn’t deliver these conditions, it will fail to give the public the clean break from the bloc that they voted for, he suggested. Johnson, who’s been talked about as a candidate to replace May, declined to say whether he’d resign if she doesn’t meet his conditions. “The prime minister is the custodian of the plan, which is to come out of the customs union, out of the single market and to get on with it, to get on with that project with all convenient speed,”  – Bloomberg

  • Boris Johnson wants his own ‘Brexit plane’ – Sky News

…while Jacob Rees-Mogg admits ‘doubts’ about Theresa May and accuses her of ‘abject weakness’ over Brexit

Jacob Rees-Mogg has admitted for the first time he has “doubts” about Theresa May as he accused her of “abject weakness” over Brexit. The leading Brexiteer and chairman of the influential European Research Group of Tory MPs attacked the Prime Minister’s negotiating strategy as he claimed the Government was “preparing for failure” rather than success. He said Mrs May’s preferred post-Brexit customs arrangement of a customs partnership with the European Union would amount to the the UK “effectively remaining” in the bloc. – Telegraph (£)

  • Rees-Mogg attacks government over Brexit “weakness” – City A.M.

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s YouTube Channel: Jacob Rees-Mogg says “People like me are becoming cautious about what the Government is really trying to do”

Voters think Brexit-blocking House of Lords is outdated and out of touch…

Britons are furious over Brexit meddling by peers in the House of Lords, a damning new poll has shown. Confidence in the Upper House has plummeted as 76 per cent of voters feel peers are ‘out of tune with the will of the British people’. Even more said the Lords is an ‘outdated throwback’. A Daily Mail poll, carried out by ComRes in May revealed some 58 per cent of voters believe peers would be wrong to try to thwart Brexit, with 24 per cent thinking they should do so.  Peers have inflicted 15 separate defeats on the Government’s flagship EU withdrawal bill in recent weeks, including changes designed to keep the UK in the single market – or even prevent the UK leaving. Daily Mail

…as Michael Gove blames ‘short-sighted’ Philip Hammond for latest government Brexit defeat in the Lords

Michael Gove has accused Philip Hammond of being “short-sighted” over Brexit and helping to inflict a “damaging blow” to the Conservative Party’s “environmental credentials”. In a letter to Cabinet colleagues, seen by the Telegraph, the Environment Secretary blames the Treasury for a defeat in the House of Lords last week which could force the Government to retain all EU environmental protections after Brexit. It is understood that the Chancellor blocked plans to give a new post-Brexit environmental watchdog the power to fine the Government and local authorities if they fail to increase recycling and cut pollution. – Telegraph (£)

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney claims Brexit has cost each household £900…

Households are £900 worse off since the Brexit vote, Bank of England governor Mark Carney has claimed. Despite global and European economies being “much, much stronger” than they were when the Bank made its economic predictions ahead of the 2016 referendum, and a “very large stimulus provided by the Bank of England”, the UK’s economy is “up to two per cent lower than it would have been”, he said this morning, adding: “That is a reasonable difference.””If you map that into household incomes – City A.M.

…but his figures were disputed by economists

The Governor’s analysis was disputed by Ruth Lea, economic adviser at Arbuthnot Banking Group. “The truth is, he simply does not know. Put it this way – what do we think of the Bank’s forecasting record? It is very very poor,” she said. “For him to claim this with such exactitude is extremely misleading at best.” She agreed higher inflation from the weaker pound had hit households, but believes the Governor should have mentioned that this also aids exporters. “There has been a much-needed rebalancing of the economy to external sources of growth,” she said. – Telegraph (£)

Fury as Bank of England boss Mark Carney claims Brexit has cost every UK household £900 – The Sun

> Listen on BrexitCentral’s YouTube Channel: Hugh Bennett speaks to LBC about Mark Carney’s anti-Brexit comments

Tory HQ launches online campaign to pile pressure on anti-Brexit Labour MPs in Leave-backing seats

During the 2016 EU referendum, the Conservative Party formally remained neutral, given that the then Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, was endorsing a Remain vote, but allowed his MPs – including, of course, his ministers – to support the Leave campaign. The machinery of the party’s headquarters (CCHQ) was therefore not employed in backing either side. Afterwards, while delivering the result of the referendum then became party policy and was obviously a significant element of the platform on which the 2017 general election was fought, CCHQ has not until now visibly spent a great deal of energy campaigning on Brexit. But in a move that will hearten nervous Brexiteers and again seek to engage those who voted for Brexit in record numbers in June 2016, the party is now focusing campaign energy on Labour MPs who are seeking to obstruct our departure from the European Union. – BrexitCentral

Tony Blair says Labour in ‘worst of both worlds’ on Brexit

Labour is in the “worst of both worlds” on Brexit and will suffer at the ballot box, according to Tony Blair. The former Labour prime minister said the party’s position was not appealing to either Leave or Remain voters. He claimed people now have a “greater understanding” of Brexit and that supporting another EU referendum would win over both sides. Mr Blair is a leading pro-EU campaigner who wants to see the 2016 referendum reversed. He has also been a persistent critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. – BBC News

  • Jeremy Corbyn is alienating both sides of Brexit debate and should start backing second referendum, Tony Blair says – The Sun

> Listen on BrexitCentral’s YouTube Channel: Blair skewered on Radio 4 over lack of evidence

Brussels breaking Brexit bill promises by freezing UK out of Galileo satellite programme

Brussels is failing to honour promises it made during the Brexit bill agreement by shutting British businesses out of the €10 billion (£8.8 billion) Galileo satellite navigation system, the UK has warned. The warning over the €45 billion financial settlement threatens to further sour negotiations over Galileo, which has become a key flashpoint in the Brexit negotiations which reopened in Brussels this week. British ministers are furious over a French-led move to freeze UK companies out of hundreds of millions of pounds worth of contracts for the system, in a move they say contradicts clear assurances given to Britain during the Brexit bill negotiations. – Telegraph (£)

US Senators take lead in seeking post-Brexit trade deal by forming UK Trade Caucus

The United States has taken its first significant step towards a post-Brexit free-trade deal by setting up a committee seeking an “expeditious agreement” with the UK. The Senate UK Trade Caucus, a cross-party congressional committee that was unveiled yesterday, aims to build support in Congress for a US-UK free-trade deal before leading a “unified effort” to turn it into law… The caucus’ formation will provide a boost for Theresa May as she prepares for another round of exit talks with the EU. It also will be seen by pro-Brexit Conservatives as vindication of their belief that America wants to sign a quick deal with Britain. The caucus was formed by Rob Portman, the Republican senator for Ohio, and Chris Coons, the Democrat senator for Delaware. – The Times (£)

Centre-left think-tank Demos urges Australia and UK to strike post-Brexit free-trade deal

Australia and the United Kingdom have been urged to negotiate a high-quality free-trade agreement to help rebuild public trust in trade liberalisation. The agreement should include labour and environmental standards but not a controversial investor dispute settlement clause, says new research from two progressive thinktanks, the McKell Institute in Australia and Demos in the UK. It backs the proposed trade agreement and argues the bilateral deal could be bigger than the sum of its parts, providing a constructive way forward at a time of rising protectionist sentiment. – Guardian

  • EU to enter trade talks with Australia and New Zealand – The Times (£)
  • Boris Johnson demands Brexit plane to help bang the drum for Britain’s future outside the EU – The Sun

German companies back Brexit Britain

Officials in Germany’s economic powerhouse state of Hesse – home to  significant industry and the major financial centre of Frankfurt – say  Brexit has had no negative effect on business. Prof. Mathias Mueller, President of the Frankfurt Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explained: “Exports to the UK totalled 4.1 billion euros in 2017, which was 6.5  percent of Hessen’s exports… The sectors most affected include automobiles and automotive parts, since many Vauxhall automobiles sold in the UK are essentially “Made in Hessen”. – Guido Fawkes

  • No “Brexit shock” for German firms – with financial sector set for boost – City A.M.

The stalled quest for a more democratic EU

So much for the flowering of a European Union demos. When the EU introduced its “Spitzenkandidat” or lead candidate system for selecting the European Commission president in 2014, many hoped it would be a first step towards a genuinely democratic method of selecting the bloc’s most powerful figure. The idea was to get away from opaque appointments of the past where the Commission top job was selected by backroom deals among the 28 leaders of EU states, in favor of a system where lead candidates for the job were selected in advance by pan-European political parties. – Politico

Scotland for Europe campaigners launch bid to stop Brexit

A group of influential Scottish celebrities, academics, charity bosses and business people are launching a campaign to try to halt Brexit. Backers of the push include the actor Brian Cox, the historian Tom Devine, and third-sector umbrella organisation the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. The group will publish a declaration this morning which claims that “the best future for our community is to remain within the European Union”. – The National

  • Scottish court told by Remainers’ QC that Brexit could be unilaterally halted – Telegraph (£)

Matthew Elliott: First Brexit, now Italy – the EU power balance is shifting

Finally, over two months after they went to the polls, we have a new government in Italy, and a candidate to be the next Prime Minister. From a British perspective, 11 weeks might seem like a long time to form a new administration – although the 18 days it took Theresa May to agree a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP also felt like an eternity last year. But the Italian coalition negotiations were actually speedy from a European perspective. – Matthew Elliott for City A.M.

Douglas Murray: Unknown leader of bizarre Italian coalition could be man to derail Brexit

Given the frequent brickbats from all sides over Brexit, some concern is inevitable. But anyone over-worried should study what is going on in the EU. Its troubles are now so severe that whenever I hear Tony Blair or Michael Heseltine’s latest frothingly bonkers appearance I wonder if they study the EU at all. Take events in Italy. That country went to the polls at the beginning of March. And even by Italian standards the results were unusual. Brussels used to think that its biggest nightmare was Italy’s buffoonish ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who it pushed from office. But this year the biggest election winners were the Lega (a party that certainly used to be “far right”) and a party from the wild, anarchist left called Five Star. So now the EU is faced with a hardline Italian Euro-sceptic government led by a party that was founded by an actual joker, called Beppe Grillo. – Douglas Murray for The Sun

Christian Tumble: Eight bonkers things I learned during a year filming MEPs

Spending a year filming UK MEPs slugging it out over Brexit for a new Channel 4 series, Carry On Brussels: Inside the EU has given me a special insight into the European parliament. Here are eight bizarre discoveries: John Major apparently took a lead in the negotiations to keep the parliament yo-yoing between Brussels and Strasbourg. Allegedly, Major agreed to allow the parliament to sit in Strasbourg once a month, but in translation it was noted down as 12 times a year. So now, due to this translation error and the summer recess, MEPs have to schlep to Strasbourg twice in October. – Christian Tumble for The Times (£)

John Baron: The country, the Party, and her own backbenchers expect the Prime Minister to deliver Brexit as promised

It is the Conservative Party which is the Party of Brexit, so if we are to remain competitive it is essential that we deliver a Brexit which works and which is in accordance with their wishes to decisively leave the EU. Remainers are entitled to point out that the exact details of our future relationship with the EU were not on the referendum ballot paper, but they should equally reflect on the fact that over 17 million people did not vote to keep the status quo by another name. – John Baron MP for ConservativeHome

Anand Menon: Both sides want to use the Irish border issue to their advantage

From the not-particularly sublime to the ever-more ridiculous. Tempers are  fraying and the row over Brexit and the Irish border rumbles on. And at the time of writing it has taken yet another twist. It is perhaps emblematic of the pantomime that the negotiations have become  that the latest instalment sees the British government proposing something that it already knows will be unacceptable not only to the EU, but also to the Brexiteers in its own ranks.Gesture politics is front and centre – but behind the political theatre, the “Irish question” is once again shaping choices that will have a profound influence on the long-term future of the British Isles. – Anand Menon for The Times (£)

Comment in Brief

  • Italian crisis looks like last chance for Brussels to get Brexit and the EU right – Mark Fox for Reaction
  • The warning from the local elections to Labour MPs seeking to thwart Brexit – or stay in the Customs Union – Harry Phibbs for ConservativeHome
  • Europe has already moved on from Brexit – Walter Ellis for Reaction

News in Brief

  • Philip Hammond rejects business calls for customs union – BBC News
  • Michael Gove and Ruth Davidson have formed an alliance despite being on opposite sides of the Brexit debate – The Sun
  • German economists slam Emmanuel Macron’s Eurozone reforms – City A.M.
  • How much do you really know about the WTO? – Telegraph (£)
  • Brexit exposes ‘wishful thinking’ of Norway’s EEA foes – foreign minister – Reuters
  • Northern Ireland parties in EU border appeal – BBC News
  • Lloyd’s of London given go-ahead to open Brussels base – FT (£)
  • Michael Spencer hails CME-Nex deal as important post-Brexit symbol – City A.M.
  • Caroline Nokes puts her foot in it, again –  The Spectator

And finally… Is Brexit weighing heavy on minister Steve Baker?

MPs are no strangers to having their private life pored over, but Brexit minister Steve Baker clearly has the stomach to go further than some of his colleagues.The Wycombe MP recently took part in one of his constituency’s oldest traditions – an official “weigh in” – and it seems Brexit might be weighing heavy on him.The ancient event allows residents to see if their local dignitaries and politicians have been overindulging during their time in office. And according to the Bucks Free Press, Baker “was found to have binged in the past year, with the town crier announcing: ‘And some more!'”  – City A.M.