Soubry Accuses May of Having “Personal” Problem With Immigration

Anna Soubry has not held back with her personal criticisms of Theresa May since quitting the Tories and launched into another attack against May on Newsnight last night, accusing her of having a “problem with immigration”. Soubry insisted that it went beyond policy and was “personal”, and even claimed it was the only reason May hadn’t backed the UK staying in the single market. “She just has a thing about immigration”…

While it’s true that May has generally been holding out within Government against more flexible immigration policies favoured by many of her ministers, particularly on students, it’s a bit glib for Soubry to say “I don’t know where the hell it’s come from”. Has she already forgotten about the referendum three years ago?

Soubry’s old comrade-in-arms Dominic Grieve was also on Newsnight, confirming that he would “have to leave” the Tories if they were heading for a no-deal Brexit, although he is clearly not as enthusiastic about the prospect as the three defectors. Between Soubry’s personal attacks on May and Heidi Allen’s comments that there hopefully “won’t be a Tory Party to go back to”, wavering Tories will already be getting cold feet about whether they really want to throw their lot in with them…

Tory Defections: Then and Now

The defection of the three Tory MPs to The Independents Group today has seen an outpouring of comments ranging from sadness to… sadness from their former Tory colleagues. Theresa May is “saddened”, David Cameron is “sad”, Claire Perry is “extremely sad”. All get thanks for their “dedicated service”, with the door being left open for them to return if they change their mind…

So presumably it was the same outpouring of thanks, hugs and condolences all round when Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless left for UKIP in 2014? Don’t be silly…

David Cameron branded Reckless’s decision “senseless and counter-productive” and accused Carswell of helping Labour. Carswell was accused of “betrayal”, “petulance” and “political vanity” by Tory MPs while Reckless was even sued by his former local party. All topped off with Claire “Brexit Jihadis” Perry’s ever classy “Don’t let the door hit your fat arse as you leave”…

Theresa May “Saddened” by Tory Trio Breakaway

Theresa May has put out a statement in response to Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston choosing to quit the Tory Party, saying she is “saddened” by their decision. Many Tory MPs – including Brexiteers – share the same sentiments…

READ: PM’s Letter to Tory MPs

Over the weekend, the Prime Minister wrote to every Conservative MP setting out the timetable of meetings for herself and her ministers with the EU over the next week to secure changes to the Backstop, and urging Conservative MPs to compromise yet further.

Read it in full here…

Corbyn Selling on the Cheap

Corbynista car enthusiasts will no doubt have their eyes on the DVLA today as it holds one of its regular auctions of personalised numberplates – up for sale today is a collector’s item, the numberplate COR87N. So far it’s only garnered the interest of the few, with a modest asking price of only £300 and just a couple of early bids of £500 and £650…

By contrast, Theresa has proved a much more popular choice over the years, with TER355A selling for £2,500 in 2005, THE235A going for £3,800 in 2014, and TRE35A fetching a whopping £5,500 in 2001. At least it’s one transport-related area where Corbyn doesn’t have her on the back foot today…

Robbins Reveals Dishonesty of Government’s Stance

Olly Robbins has ended up in a significant amount of hot water after a sensational scoop from ITV’s Angus Walker in Brussels, who overheard Theresa May’s chief negotiator talking loudly to two colleagues in a Brussels hotel bar on Monday night. His remarks more or less confirmed all of Brexiteers’ worst fears that the wool is being pulled very firmly over their eyes…

Robbins’ revealed his plan to force the deal through by letting it go down to the wire and using the threat of a “long” extension to bully MPs into voting for the deal, saying “… Got to make them believe that the week beginning end of March… Extension is possible but if they don’t vote for the deal then the extension is a long one…” The Government’s long-held position has been firmly against any extension of Article 50. Now Robbins wants to weaponise that possibility to blackmail MPs. Forget the EU, it is clearer than ever that the UK’s own chief negotiator is not negotiating in good faith…

Robbins also boasted about the true nature of the backstop, revealing that it was not intended to be a “safety net” as it has been sold publicly but actually a “bridge” to the future relationship – exactly as his opposite number Sabine Weyand told EU ambassadors the day after the deal was agreed. Robbins told his companions: “The big clash all along is the ‘safety net’… We agreed a bridge but it came out as a ‘safety net’.” This blows another massive hole in May’s key commitments – this time on leaving the customs union. Robbins is answerable directly to the Prime Minister. How can she continue to stand up at the Despatch Box telling MPs one thing while allowing her chief negotiator to run round Brussels saying the complete opposite?

May Keen on Corbyn’s Cop-Out

May’s official response to Corbyn’s soft Brexit offer has not done anything to calm the nerves of jittery Tory MPs, with May adopting a surprisingly conciliatory tone and offering only a lukewarm defence of the benefits of leaving the customs union. May opens the door to offering further commitments on following future EU laws and even says she is happy to “explore” Corbyn’s call to adopt “shared institutions and obligations” of the single market. May again signalling that she would sooner do a deal with the devil than allow ‘no deal’ to happen…

Steve Baker has sarcastically responded “It’s a good thing Corbyn does not realise the PM is already heading into what amounts to the EU Customs Union, or he would have to ask for more unachievable goals”. For a long time May and Corbyn’s positions have been differentiated more by rhetoric than substance, now they really are heading for ever closer union…

 

Friday Caption Contest (Hell Edition)

Entries in the comments…

KFC Trolls Theresa May

You know your negotiating skills aren’t much good when KFC take out a full-page newspaper advert trolling you. Although perhaps KFC shouldn’t be gloating too much given their own embarrassing logistical issues not too long ago…

Corbyn Offers May Faustian Soft Brexit Pact

As Theresa May heads back to Brussels to find out if there’s a special place in hell for her too, it turns out that she has a deal with the devil to consider. Jeremy Corbyn has dramatically come off the fence overnight and given May five new Brexit demands as the price for backing her deal. Unlike the deliberately nebulous and unfulfillable (and unrememberable) six Brexit tests, these are serious suggestions which the Government could conceivably meet. But at what cost…

The five demands would create a Brexit essentially along the lines of ‘Norway Plus’ – staying in the single market and customs union. The first is predictably the demand for a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union” including the Common External Tariff and an “agreement on commercial policy that includes a UK say on future EU trade deals”. This is pure fantasy – the UK will end up like Turkey whose market access is bartered away by the EU in trade deals without Turkey getting reciprocal access in return. The worst possible outcome from Brexit…

Corbyn also calls for “close alignment with the Single Market” which is “underpinned by shared institutions and obligations” as well as “dynamic alignment on rights and protections”. So the UK remains part of the Single Market institutions and has to continue adopting new EU laws. Corbyn laughably claims this will “allow the UK to lead the way” – the reality will be the complete opposite. Brussels will continue to fax over new laws and the UK will have to adopt them all with no say…

The damage May would do to her own position by doing a deal with Corbyn which sells out on all her key Brexit pledges would be irreparable, but given her private opposition to no deal, she may feel that she has no choice as March 29th approaches. There is an argument that since these commitments would be in the non-binding political declaration on the future relationship, a future leader could come in and reverse them provided there is not the looming threat of a permanent backstop, this would undoubtedly be a highly fraught exercise.

This truly is a Faustian pact – May would finally get a deal through but condemn herself to eternal damnation in the eyes of her supporters…

Read the full text of Corbyn’s offer below:

Continue reading

May Sets Out Backstop Alternatives

Another typically turgid exchange between May and Corbyn at PMQs, but it did at least give May the chance to set out a range of alternative arrangements to the backstop. Plenty for the EU to be thinking about…

May Does Not Rule Out Article 50 Extension

This will unnerve Brexiteers…

May Ducks Boris and Nigel’s Questions

Theresa May ducked the opportunity to respond to both Boris Johnson and Nigel Dodds’ questions, as to whether there will be changes to the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement. May’s responses are typically non-committal… 

“There are a number of options”

If there are no legal changes, May can expect a similar result second time round…

May Twice as Popular as Corbyn, Even Ahead With Remainers

The latest YouGov leadership polling isn’t great for Theresa May – she’s tied with ‘Don’t Know’ on 38% for who would make the best Prime Minister – but it’s absolutely dire for Jeremy Corbyn. Despite May’s anarchic premiership, Corbyn barely musters half as much support with only 20% backing him as the best Prime Minister. Corbyn doesn’t even have the support of a majority of 2017 *Labour* voters, only 46% of whom back him now…

May is ahead in every single region of the country, including London and Scotland. Incredibly, she’s even 1% ahead among Remain voters, while she has a comfortable lead among the C2DE voters that Corbyn claims to be speaking for. May shouldn’t get too excited, without the over-65s ‘Don’t Know’ would be comfortably ahead…

Government Wins Confidence Vote

In not so shocking news, Her Majesty’s Government remains in place (for now) after winning Jeremy Corbyn’s confidence vote by 306-325. Nothing has changed…

May Loses Meaningful Vote

Theresa May has lost the meaningful vote. No surprise there then…

The loss is huge. 202-432.

In three Parliamentary days time the Government will have to come back to parliament with their Plan B. Will this deliver more EU concessions to get Tories on board, or more UK concessions to get more Labour MPs on board? We won’t have to wait long to find out…

May to Address Tory MPs Tonight

From: Government Chief Whip
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2019 2:53:33 PM (UTC+00:00) Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
To: Government Chief Whip

Subject: Parliamentary Party Meeting today in the Boothroyd Room, 1900

Dear Colleague

There will be a Parliamentary Party Meeting with the Prime Minister today at 1900 in the Boothroyd Room.

The meeting will be chaired by Sir Graham Brady.

With best wishes

Julian

Rt Hon Julian Smith MP
Government Chief Whip

One last try…

Brexiteers Dismissive of “Facile” No-Brexit Plots

Backbench MPs have spent the weekend busy plotting how to hijack the Brexit process with the help of flagrant constitutional abuses from Speaker John Bercow. Nick Boles has now tabled an amendment this morning which would effectively legislate for a putsch by the 36-member Liaison Committee of backbench Select Committee Chairs. It is heavily Remain-dominated and chaired by Sarah Wollaston…

Wollaston herself and the Committee’s Vice Chair Pete Wishart have already dismissed it as a “daft suggestion” that “appears to have been developed with just 2 other MPs” and “isn’t going to happen”. As Cumberbatch said in Channel 4’s Brexit drama last week, the golden rule of a successful coup is making sure the military is actually on board in advance…

Brexiteers are similarly dismissive, with one senior MP describing the plan as “facile” and ERG supporters pointing out three major obstacles to a backbench coup. Firstly, any government expenditure, which would be necessary to implement any plan, would require a money resolution, which only a Minister can move. Would Bercow dare to tear this rule up too?

Secondly, they say that any effect on Crown prerogative, i.e. the Government’s ability to act as the executive, would require the Queen’s consent at Third Reading of a Bill. Thirdly, even if Parliament did contrive a viable route towards stopping Brexit, under the Fixed-Term Parliament Acts the Prime Minister still retains the power to prorogue Parliament, ending the current Parliamentary session and voiding any legislation in progress, thereby forcing no deal by default. This would be a nuclear option but the power to stop ‘no Brexit’ still remains in May’s hands…

IDS on Theresa May’s Brexit Negotiating Style

“Authoritarian? I wouldn’t actually describe the PM as being authoritarian because she doesn’t exactly have a lot of authority at the moment.”

May Firm on Second Referendum

Theresa May has firmly reiterated her position against a second referendum, even if Parliament tries to play silly games with one.[…] Read the rest

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