Brexit Deal Resignation Watch

Join Guido all evening for a fun game of ‘Resignation Watch’. Many of the above Cabinet ministers have recently been beefing up their Brexit credentials, with even previously loyal ministers like Grayling and Fox voicing dissent. Key figures to watch include Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom, and Penny Mordaunt…

UPDATE: Gone as of 15:00:

Shailesh Vara Resigns As Northern Ireland Minister Over May’s Deal

In the first Government resignation since the Cabinet agreed to Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement, Northern Ireland Minister Shailesh Vara ‏has resigned in order to vote against the agreement. Vara, who voted Remain and initially supported Chequers, says the draft agreement locks the UK into the “shackles of the EU.” Guido has heard another resignation may be imminent… 

Read the full text of Vara’s resignation letter below:

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Protest Scheduled For 1PM Today Outside Downing Street

A number of Brexit groups including Leave Means Leave and Leavers of Britain are seriously not happy with Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal, and are calling on Brexit supporters to get down to Downing Street at 1pm today to protest the terms of the withdrawal agreement. Some keen (and artistic) protesters have turned up early showing off protest signs that they must’ve been up all night making! Guido hears some big names are minded to turn up this afternoon…

UPDATE: Leave supporters have turned out in healthy numbers to give Cabinet ministers something to think about on their way into the meeting this afternoon…

“Britcoin” to Commemorate Brexit

The traditional purdah and omerta about budget measures seems to have been discarded and everywhere you look there are budget leaks. In a sop to brexiteers The Sun reports that we will get a Brexit commemorative Brit-coin on March 29, 2019. It will we are told bear the inscription “Friendship with all nations”, which appears to be an excerpt from the Thomas Jefferson mantra of Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” Which would on the whole be a splendid policy stance with a few small policy drawbacks like withdrawing from NATO. So you can see why they went for the shorter version of the quotation…

Juncker & Varadkar Guaranteed to the Irish Parliament No Hard Border in the Event of No Deal

The Brexit negotiations are teetering on the brink over the question of the backstop for the Irish border. Some fundamental truths are being forgotten in the froth of the negotiations:

  • If there is no deal, there is no backstop. If the EU collapses the negotiations by insisting on unreasonable backstop conditions, there will be no backstop whatsoever. Would the EU rather have a deal on everything else with no backstop, or no deal at all AND no backstop?
  • The President of the EU Commission and the Prime Minister of Ireland have both already guaranteed no hard border even with no deal. As can be seen in the above video clip, Juncker and Leo Varadkar have all given unambiguous guarantees that they won’t put a hard border under any circumstances – including no deal. So why risk wrecking the negotiations over it?

The fact that Ireland has guaranteed no hard border in the case of no deal means that they clearly have no intention of constructing a hard border in the absence of the EU’s backstop – this is abundantly clear from the Taoiseach’s stated position as forcefully made to the Dáil Éireann

“… we are not drawing up any plans for a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland full stop. Because there isn’t going to be one and I have made very clear to my counterpart in the UK and also to the other EU Prime Ministers that under no circumstances will there be a border full stop.”

If the backstop is genuinely about concern for Ireland, not about trying to force the UK into a certain position, why is Ireland’s own commitment not sufficient? That is the question journalists should be asking.

The current trajectory of the negotiations is unsustainable unless the EU changes its stance on the backstop. Tory MPs have been discussing whether the EEA as a staging post on the way to a Canada-style deal could be a viable alternative – this is unlikely to solve the problem as the EU will simply throw up the same obstacles when the UK tries to leave that. May’s proposed transition extension does nothing to help either. It is simply a very expensive and unpopular way of drawing out the same problems for longer.

Ministers have increasingly been considering the possibility of a mitigated no-deal instead: hand over some cash in exchange for basic legal agreements on aviation, passports, haulage etc. and then negotiate sensible future arrangements outside the cauldron of the Article 50 process. Given the current state of the negotiations, this is starting to look more and more appealing…

UPDATE: Guido’s news editor, Hugh Bennett, reiterates the Irish PM’s “no hard border, even in the event of no deal” guarantee:

Comical Keir: Labour ‘United on Brexit’

Sir Keir Starmer was doing his best impression of Comical Ali on Today this morning as he tried to deny the gaping chasms within the Labour Party over Brexit.

First he suggested that John McDonnell had only ruled out Remain being an option in a second referendum yesterday because he hadn’t had enough sleep:

KS: We finished our meeting about one in the morning and then John was up early doing the media round. I think John, to be fair…

NR: He was struggling with not enough sleep?

KS: No, no, to be fair, John did a number of interviews yesterday…

Starmer tried to move things on to Labour’s upcoming vote on a Brexit motion today, claiming that there was going to be “unity” behind it. In reality the Labour Party rank and file are confused, Guido suspects this confusion is a deliberate continuation of the strategic ambiguity on Brexit that is the party’s only consistent policy…

UPDATE: Starmer has refused to confirm that the UK would leave the EU on March 29th next year under Labour, telling TalkRadio’s Ross Kempsell that Labour could extend Article 50 depending on the circumstances. How is this piece of constructive ambiguity going to go down with Labour’s Brexit voters?

 

UPDATE II: The Tories are keen to point out that Keir Starmer previously said the official position was ‘There’s no dispute that Britain will leave the European Union in March 2019. Labour voted to trigger Article 50 and we did so knowing that we would leave the EU within two years’

Finally May Says Something Pro-Brexit

 

May’s repeated refusal to say whether she thinks Britain will be better off after Brexit has raised questions over her commitment to seeing it through. Brexiteers will have been reassured by her optimism in a clip broadcast on the Today Programme this morning:

NR: “Can you complete the following sentence: ‘Brexit is a good idea because…?'”

May: “It gives the United Kingdom opportunities as an independent and sovereign state to build a better future for all our people.”

NR: “You believe it?”

May: “I believe that our best days are ahead of us.”

As May famously said, “you can only deliver Brexit if you believe in Brexit“…

Chris Green, Grayling’s PPS Resigns


Another one bites the dust, Tory MP who is Chris Grayling’s PPS, Chris Green, says

“The direction the negotiations had been taking have suggested that we would not really leave the EU and the conclusion and statements following the Chequers summit confirmed my fears.”

Not a househhold name, another name nonetheless…

Suella Last Brexiter in DexEU?

Suella appears to be in some kind of “Brexit Minister Protection Programme”. Escorted by Theresa May’s director of communications Robbie Gibb. Is that a thumb screw in Robbie’s pocket?

Hat-tip: Clip via Tom Rayner @RaynerSkyNews

Soubry’s Association Chairman Bottles Bid to Oust Her

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.”

Soubs has won this battle…

Labour’s Chequers Survival Kit

Unusually good banter from Labour…

Poll: Tories Will Lose Votes if They Cross Brexit Red Lines

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%)…

Pressure is on…

Remain Campaign Used Same Spending Tactics as Vote Leave, But Far Worse

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…

Tesco Announces Cross-Channel Alliance #DespiteBrexit

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. This can only be good news for consumers…

Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis said: 

“By working together and making the most of our collective product expertise and sourcing capability, we will be able to serve our customers even better, further improving choice, quality, and value.”

Worthwhile recording all the supermarket bosses who lobbied tirelessly through the campaign claiming the precise opposite (including Tesco). Ex-Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King memorably claimed Brexit would lead to “higher prices, less choice, and poorer quality” at supermarkets. Good news for shoppers…

Financial Services Hiring and Investment Up

The remain campaigning CBI has revealed 70% of financial services firms are increasing spending in the coming years, with the same number saying that they are ‘confident’ they will have plans in place by the end of March 2019. Pre-tax profits in the financial services sector have also risen by 118% to reach £28 billion, a growth of more than £15 billion, credited largely to a strong performance by HSBC. CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said:

“It’s good to see financial firms stepping up hiring and investment, with digital technologies and new services seen as the best way to grow in a fiercely competitive environment.”

Contrary to the CBI’s own previous predictions, banks have ignored Project Fear, and instead focused on increased spending, employment and investment. In 2016, Newton-Smith said in a CBI report:

“The challenges facing the sector have not gone away – they’ve actually grown. Add the uncertainty caused by Brexit to low interest rates, technological change and strong competition, and it’s plain to see why optimism is falling and pressure on margins remains intense.”

More CBI nonsense debunked…

Bang to Rights: Craig Oliver Claimed No.10 Didn’t Write Obama’s ‘Back of Queue’ Line

This morning ex-White House staffer Ben Rhodes told the Today programme that David Cameron and his aides asked Obama to say the infamous “back of the queue” line. A flick back through Craig Oliver’s Unleashing Demons (via @mrharrycole) shows that at the time Sir Craig claimed the opposite was true and briefed the press accordingly. He recalled:

“There’s some weird whingeing from the Leavers that the fact he said ‘queue’ instead of ‘line’ proves it was written by No 10. I slap it down. ‘Nonsense. The President can speak for himself’. 

Who’s lying? Will enjoy hearing Sir Craig spin this one…

Cadwalladr and Collins to Share Platform at Byline Festival

Brexit probe grandstander Damian Collins appears to have gone off the deep end. The DCMS select committee chair is due to appear alongside Carole Cadwalladr next month at the crackers Byline festival in Sussex. The panel is entitled ‘Is Silicon Valley a Danger to Democracy?’. Readers will remember Byline as the conspiracy theory website founded by the tin foil hatted Peter Jukes.

You have to wonder what a select committee chairman is doing hanging around with cranks like Byline. Collins has already lowered the standing of select committees with his disastrous performances so far – even Remainers were protesting at his incompetence after he was humiliated by Arron Banks. Sad.

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Gisela Slaps Down Second Referendum Campaigners

Gisela Stuart sticks it to the second referendum campaigners:

“If your motive for calling for a second referendum is to delay and overturn the decision… you undermine democratic institutions because we were promised a referendum and the Prime Minister said ‘whatever you decide, I will implement it'”

Some remainers like democracy – but only when it goes their way…

Clark: Extend the Transition Period

More posturing from chief Cabinet remoaner Greg Clark as he suggests extending the transition period:

“You need to be aware of the technical requirements and respect them… when it comes to putting in place the arrangements for our permanent relationship we have to be guided by the evidence.”

They never want us to leave…[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Andrea Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today

“He’s made his views on Brexit on the record, and the problem with that of course is that the chair’s impartiality is absolutely essential. … He’s made his views known on Brexit… it’s a matter for him but nevertheless it’s a challenge and all colleagues need to form their own view of that.”

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