Gavin Barwell has invited Labour MPs in for a briefing on the government’s Brexit policy, as he seeks opposition votes to keep Theresa May’s plan alive. Worth remembering what Barwell thinks of Brexit – he tweeted this the day after the referendum result:
Proud that my home town and the great city of which it is part rejected the politics of hate and division yesterday
May appears to want to replace David Davis rather than abolish Dexeu – Number 10 say they will be announcing a new Brexit Secretary this morning. There aren’t many options…
David Lidington: May’s trusty deputy could take over nominally, Dexeu could be rolled into the Cabinet Office, and May and Robbins could officially take control. Lidders is an ultra-Europhile, this would be a red rag to Brexiteers.
Michael Gove: Could a Brexiteer really take over? After his sellout on Marr yesterday, Gove would be the prime Leave candidate. Though with Tory Brexiteers now rejecting May’s deal, if Gove took the job he would possibly be saying goodbye to his dream of being leader…
Liam Fox: Perhaps the only other Cabinet Brexiteer loyal enough to May to take the job. Not doing much at DIT at the moment.
Chris Grayling: Err. Things really are getting that bad.
Dom Raab: Should have been in the Cabinet ages ago. But hard to see why he would want the job now, or how he could do it given the state of the deal.
That’s about the total extent of Fox’s efforts to stand up for Brexit…
UPDATE: Spokesman for Liam Fox:
“Dr Fox has not logged into Twitter today, therefore we are very concerned into how this could have happened and will be asking the appropriate authorities to investigate this urgently. The tweet has been unliked.”
The chief whip has banned Tory MPs from doing media bids on Brexit until they have been briefed fully by Number 10, Guido can reveal. Julian Smith emailed Tory MPs last night ordering them not to carry out any media bids until they had heard Number 10’s side of the argument. May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell is also offering a new emergency briefing tonight, in addition to the previously scheduled one on Monday morning.
From: Government Chief Whip Subject: Further briefing on Sunday evening
You will have seen my emails inviting you to the briefing this morning in No 9 Downing Street and to the briefings on Monday morning. I am keen to ensure that all Colleagues are able to attend a briefing and to be provided with as much information as possible about what the Cabinet has agreed.
The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff is willing to give an extra briefing on Sunday evening at 8pm. If you are interested in attending this briefing, please could you let me know as soon as possible?
I want to stress that Colleagues must ensure they receive a full briefing before carrying out any media bids and you can contact me or No 10 Press Office to arrange this.
Michael Gove gave a full-throated defence of Theresa May’s deal on Marr, blasting those criticising the proposal as being guilty of “fake and mock outrage”. Gove says the two people who most oppose the deal are Clegg and Farage. Err, what about multiple Cabinet members, dozens and dozens of Tory MPs, 60% of Tory members (according to a ConHome poll this morning). And no doubt a huge number of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave. Are they all faking it?
Guido understands that Gove fully backed the PM’s plan from the beginning of the Chequers meeting, to the astonishment of Brexiters in the room. Gove has carefully moderated his position on Brexit over the last year, calculating that his best shot of becoming leader is getting Remain MPs onside. Today he has written a joint op-ed with ultra-Remainer Greg Clark in the Mail on Sunday lavishing praise on the deal. Guido can’t help but wonder if Gove has misjudged this. What will Brexiteer MPs and voters make of his performance over the last 48 hours?
Guido can publish in full a briefing note being circulated by Tory Brexiteer MPs tonight that demolishes the Cabinet’s plan. It was produced by Martin Howe QC, a leading barrister and expert in EU law who has delivered around 10 presentations to the ERG over the last two years. His legal opinion is:
The Chequers proposals would involve the permanent continuation in the UK of all EU laws which relate to goods, their composition, their packaging, how they are tested etc etc in order to enable goods to cross the UK/EU border without controls. All goods on the UK manufactured in the UK for the UK domestic market, or imported from non-EU countries, would be permanently subject to these controls.
There would be a general obligation to alter these laws in future whenever the EU alters its own laws, with a mechanism for Parliament to block such changes which is probably theoretical rather than practical.
This would put the EU in a position to fashion its rules relating to goods so as to further the interests of continental producers against UK competitors, when we will have no right to vote on those rules.
The obligation to follow the EU rulebook for goods would gravely impair our ability to conduct an independent trade policy. In particular, it will prevent us from including Mutual Recognition Agreements for goods in trade treaties and this is likely to destroy the prospect of successfully achieving meaningful agreements with some of the prime candidates such as the USA and Australia.
These proposals therefore lead directly to a worst-of-all-worlds “Black Hole” Brexit where the UK is stuck permanently as a vassal state in the EU’s legal and regulatory tarpit, still has to obey EU laws and ECJ rulings across vast areas, cannot develop an effective international trade policy or adapt our economy to take advantage of the freedom of Brexit, and has lost its vote and treaty vetos rights as an EU Member State.
This is a devastating takedown of the government’s plan by one of the leading Brexiteer experts. What are Brexiteer MPs going to do about it?
The Cabinet has backed the softest form of Brexit, with the UK becoming a rule-taker on goods and agri-foods and facing severe consequences if we ever attempt to diverge on anything. They have also backed Number 10’s rebadged customs plan.
Despite vows from David Davis and other Cabinet Brexiters to fight Theresa May’s Brexit proposal, it appears tonight that they have conceded on every point and that Downing Street has succeeded in forcing through an ultra-soft Brexit as the agreed government policy.
The Sun reports that Michael Gove, Sajid Javid and Gavin Williamson all sold out and backed the PM.
A senior ERG MP tells Guido: “This looks like a total betrayal from both No10 and the Cabinet. We will be total rule takers and our ability to strike trade deals will be severely hampered. Cabinet Brexiters promised us they would fight this. If what Number 10 says is true, this is not Brexit.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg tells Guido: “The devil will be in the detail”. Brexiters have been crushed.
The key point here is that this is the UK’s opening offer to Brussels. The EU will now attempt to force us into an even softer Brexit. How do the government think this is going to play out?
Guido cannot understand how DD and co have accepted this. They said yesterday that they would fight it. Have they achieved any concessions? Not according to Number 10. Allies of Olly Robbins are claiming total victory tonight.
Extremely depressing – this does not look anything like the Brexit 17.4 million people voted for.
Anna Soubry’s Conservative Association chairman has shelved his plot to oust her – for now – and promised to destroy the results of his survey seeking the views of local members about their MP. Guido had revealed maneuvers by Broxtowe Tories chair John Doddy to canvass opinion about Soubs – Doddy claimed that more than 80% of respondents to a survey of her membership said they were unsatisfied with her. Soubry retaliated by reporting her chairman to CCHQ…
Doddy has now written to members:
“Due to outside influences and serious leaks to the media of a variety of information… I am stopping the process… the surveys returned thus far will remain confidential and will be destroyed in due course.”
When news emerged last night that Liam Fox was bottling it and backing Number 10’s Brexit plan, Guido cannot imagine a single Brexiter was surprised. Hiring Fox as International Trade secretary has been one of Theresa May’s few shrewd decisions since taking office. Painfully loyal to his old lunch partner – those must have been a laugh riot – and more interested in having a Cabinet job and jet-setting around the world, Fox has capitulated time and time again as Brexit has been softened by Downing Street. His allies insist he makes representations defending Brexit at Cabinet, but if he has you never hear about them and they haven’t achieved anything. He has not said anything publicly to fight his corner as Number 10 repeatedly emasculated his department. DIT has become a total laughing stock in Whitehall. Number 10’s policy of regulatory alignment and a common rulebook on goods and agri-foods significantly reduces our attractiveness to other countries in terms of trade deals. Yesterday Number 10 refused to deny their proposal would limit scope for a trade deal with the US. In any case, the increasingly likely extended customs union membership means trade deals will not be happening before the next election. This was once a Brexiteer red line, but the International Trade secretary has crossed it. Fox went in to Downing Street last night and came out fully backing the PM. Seemingly no one is happy with the plan apart from Fox, whose job and department become largely redundant if it goes ahead. He is the biggest Brexiteer sellout…
As the Chequers meeting gets underway a new poll reveals voters will turn away from the Tories if they fail to implement Brexit. According to the data from BMG Research commissioned by Change Britain:
32% of voters would be less likely to vote Conservative if the Government agreed a deal which results in UK laws being subject to rulings by EU courts, compared to just 6% who would be more likely to support the party. Amongst Conservative voters, they would be more likely to change the party they back than increase their support by a ratio of more than 4:1 (46% to 10%)…
More than a quarter of the public would be less likely to support the Conservative Party if a deal meant that the EU retained some or substantial control of the UK’s ability to negotiate our own free trade agreements, whilst only one in ten would be more likely to back the party.
27% of voters would be less likely to vote Conservative if the UK agreed to hand over billions of pounds to the EU every year as part of a free trade agreement, whilst just 9% would be more in favour of the party. Amongst Conservative voters, nearly three times as many would be less likely (35%) to support the party than more likely to vote Conservative (12%)…
This is being briefed out by allies of Theresa May this morning, via Jack Blanchard and Sam Coates:
“All set for Chequers. Totally focused and confident of delivering a successful day for PM. Collective responsibility will be asserted at the end of the day. Taxi cards for Aston’s taxis the local cab firm are in the foyer for those who decide they can’t face making the right decision for the country but it will still be a long walk as it is a mile long driveway. A select number of narcissistic, leadership dominated cabinet ministers need to support the PM in the best interests of the UK or their spots will be taken by a talented new generation of MPs who will sweep them away.”
Team May are calling Cabinet Brexiters’ bluff, publicly attacking them as “narcissistic” and threatening to take away their ministerial cars for the 40 mile trip back to London. Why are DD and co taking this?
A senior member of the government tells Guido that a plan for a soft Brexit will be rejected by Tory Eurosceptics. The view among Leave supporting ministers is very low this afternoon, they say this is not the Brexit they voted for. Jacob Rees-Mogg tells Guido: “If the leaks are accurate it would be the vassal state enchained.” And he tells the Telegraph:
“If this correct this is not Brexit. This common rulebook means that we are essentially a vassal state. The Prime Minister should imitate Mr Gove and tear up this paper.”
Leave supporting Tory MP Lucy Allan tweets to Guido: “This is not Brexit.”
Owen Paterson tells us:
“If true, a complete breach of Theresa May’s manifesto commitment, reconfirmed to me at PMQs yesterday, to leave Single Market, Customs Union & ECJ. We could not eliminate tariffs to reduce prices for consumers & businesses, or strike free trade deals.”
What does David Davis think about a common rulebook that sees the UK mirror all EU rules on goods and agri-foods potentially forever, or face “consequences” if we ever try to diverge? Open Europe’s Henry Newman describes this as a compromise too far.
UPDATE:A Whitehall source says that Dexeu considers the government’s own Brexit plan unacceptable and that David Davis and others are fighting it.
What does Liam Fox think about a proposal that restricts our ability to strike a trade deal with the US? What does he think about regulatory alignment’s impact on his ability to strike trade deals with other countries?
Guido can reveal the top lines from Number 10’s proposal laid out to Cabinet:
There will be a “common rule book” between the UK and EU on all goods, including agri-foods
UK will commit by treaty to mirroring EU rules and face “consequences” if we ever seek to diverge on anything
Their plan on regulatory alignment would “not allow the UK to accommodate a likely ask from the US in a future trade deal” re mutual recognition of standards. Number 10 say this does not rule out the chances of a US trade deal.
Theresa May showed Angela Merkel her customs plan before she showed her own Cabinet, it has emerged this afternoon:
Cabinet now have Theresa May’s customs proposal, paper arrived with them at 2pm. But a fair bit of grumbling about how long ministers have been kept in the dark on it and how Angela Merkel was briefed on it before they received the paper
The Cabinet are livid about this – why have Number 10 kept them in the dark while briefing the media and the German government? Who was told first, Dexeu or the Germans? First question for a reporter to ask May during her Berlin trip…
Services sector activity in the UK economy extended its rebound in the month of June, and surprised markets to the upside, services PMI jumped to 55.1 in June versus a 54.0 reading booked in June. Markets expected 54.0 last month. The survey data indicate that the economy likely grew by 0.4% in the second quarter, up from 0.2% in the opening quarter of 2018. Sterling rose against the euro on the back of the news.
Since this issue is in the spotlight again, Guido brings you a reminder that the Remain campaign did exactly the same thing that Vote Leave is accused of, only far, far worse. In the month before the vote the Remainers set up FIVE new campaigns and funnelled a MILLION pounds into them so they could stay under the spending limit:
DDB UK Ltd registered as an independent campaign on 25 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. DDB UK Ltd received £191,000 in donations.
Best For Our Future registered as a permitted participant on 27 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £424,000 in donations
The In Crowd registered on 10 June 2016, less than two weeks before the referendum. It received £76,000 in donations.
Virgin Management Ltd registered as a permitted participant on 3 June 2016, less than three weeks before the referendum. It received £210,000 in donations.
Wake Up And Vote registered as a permitted participant on 24 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £100,000 in donations.
The Remain campaign did exactly the same thing as Vote Leave, only with more money and with five new campaigns…
Europe’s two largest supermarkets, French giant Carrefour and Tesco, will form a worldwide alliance despite warnings from the remain campaign that Brexit would isolate British retail and hit consumers’ wallets. The partnership will reduce costs and increase competition with discounters like Aldi and Lidl.[…] Read the rest