Juncker: EU Will Expand and Have Its Own Army

Jean-Claude Juncker has confirmed the EU will pursue a policy of ever-continuing expansion, create its own army, and force constituent countries to open their borders and join the beleaguered Euro in an speech which will only serve to confirm the decision of every Brexit voter. In his ‘State of the Union’ address to the European Parliament this morning, Juncker restated the EU’s commitment to an expansionist set of policies to further erode the sovereignty of member states; a platform which Remainers will find difficult to explain away.

He explicitly re-stated his ambition to see the European Union continue to expand:

“We must maintain a credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans… the European Union will be greater than 27 in number.”

On immigration and free movement, Juncker said the Schengen passport-less area would be extended “immediately” to Bulgaria and Romania:

“If we want to strengthen the protection of our external borders, then we need to open the Schengen area of free movement to Bulgaria and Romania immediately. We should also allow Croatia to become a full Schengen member once it meets all the criteria.”

He confirmed that the EU will create a ‘European Defence Union’ by 2025 – that is, an EU army:

“And I want us to dedicate further efforts to defence matters. A new European Defence Fund is in the offing. As is a Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defence. By 2025 we need a fully-fledged European Defence Union. We need it. And NATO wants it.”

On the Euro, Juncker pushed towards compulsory membership for member states:

“The euro is meant to be the single currency of the European Union as a whole. All but two of our Member States are required and entitled to join the euro once they fulfil all conditions. Member States that want to join the euro must be able to do so. This is why I am proposing to create a Euro-accession Instrument, offering technical and even financial assistance.”

And he called for a single European president (merging his job with Donald Tusk’s) and an end to national vetoes.

He then amusingly went on to say Britain will “regret” Brexit. Remainers wondering why the polls haven’t swung back their way should watch Juncker’s speech this morning…

Lord Bridges: Transition Until End of 2020

In June George Bridges quit as Brexit minister amid reports he had fallen out with Downing Street over strategy. He has spoken for the first time about how he thinks the government should proceed (read in full on Reaction). Many of his suggestions are being welcomed by Tory Brexiteers:

  • Transition to the end of 2020. Shorter than the multiple year transition desired by ex-Remainers.
  • Must be time-limited as an endless transition “would be a gangplank into thin air, increasing uncertainty and fuelling suspicion that it would be a means to stay in the EU permanently by stealth”. Indeed.
  • Keep the existing arrangements we have with the EU during the transition, as far as possible.
  • Continue to contribute to the EU financially during the transition. Surely inevitable.

Theresa May is to give a major speech on or around September 21. The aim is to “reset” the Brexit negotiations and end the impasse – those involved talk of achieving this by offering more clarity, compromise and a conciliatory tone towards Brussels. She will likely talk up how there is almost a deal on citizens’ rights and significant convergence on Ireland. The question is how far May will go in saying what she wants from a transition and if she will commit to contributing financially to the EU during this period. The ball would then be in the EU’s court to show why we should pay more than this. The Bridges proposals are interesting, as he says Number 10 should “make a bolder move and break the impasse”…

MPs Who Voted to Block Brexit in Full

These are the MPs who voted against the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill at Second Reading:

Ms Diane Abbott (Labour – Hackney North and Stoke Newington)
Debbie Abrahams (Labour – Oldham East and Saddleworth)
Heidi Alexander (Labour – Lewisham East)
Rushanara Ali (Labour – Bethnal Green and Bow)
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Labour – Tooting)
Mike Amesbury (Labour – Weaver Vale)
Tonia Antoniazzi (Labour – Gower)
Jonathan Ashworth (Labour (Co-op) – Leicester South)
Mr Adrian Bailey (Labour (Co-op) – West Bromwich West)
Hannah Bardell (Scottish National Party – Livingston)
Margaret Beckett (Labour – Derby South)
Hilary Benn (Labour – Leeds Central)
Luciana Berger (Labour (Co-op) – Liverpool, Wavertree)
Mr Clive Betts (Labour – Sheffield South East)
Ian Blackford (Scottish National Party – Ross, Skye and Lochaber)
Kirsty Blackman (Scottish National Party – Aberdeen North)
Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods (Labour – City of Durham)
Paul Blomfield (Labour – Sheffield Central)
Tracy Brabin (Labour (Co-op) – Batley and Spen)
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Labour – Exeter)
Tom Brake (Liberal Democrat – Carshalton and Wallington)
Kevin Brennan (Labour – Cardiff West)
Deidre Brock (Scottish National Party – Edinburgh North and Leith)
Alan Brown (Scottish National Party – Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
Lyn Brown (Labour – West Ham)
Mr Nicholas Brown (Labour – Newcastle upon Tyne East)
Chris Bryant (Labour – Rhondda)
Ms Karen Buck (Labour – Westminster North)
Richard Burden (Labour – Birmingham, Northfield)
Richard Burgon (Labour – Leeds East)
Dawn Butler (Labour – Brent Central)
Liam Byrne (Labour – Birmingham, Hodge Hill)
Sir Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat – Twickenham)
Ruth Cadbury (Labour – Brentford and Isleworth)
Dr Lisa Cameron (Scottish National Party – East Kilbride)
Mr Alan Campbell (Labour – Tynemouth)
Dan Carden (Labour – Liverpool, Walton)
Mr Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat – Orkney and Shetland)
Sarah Champion (Labour – Rotherham)
Douglas Chapman (Scottish National Party – Dunfermline and West Fife)
Jenny Chapman (Labour – Darlington)
Bambos Charalambous (Labour – Enfield, Southgate)
Joanna Cherry (Scottish National Party – Edinburgh South West)
Ann Clwyd (Labour – Cynon Valley)
Vernon Coaker (Labour – Gedling)
Ann Coffey (Labour – Stockport)
Julie Cooper (Labour – Burnley)
Rosie Cooper (Labour – West Lancashire)
Yvette Cooper (Labour – Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford)
Jeremy Corbyn (Labour – Islington North)
Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party – Inverclyde)
Neil Coyle (Labour – Bermondsey and Old Southwark)
Angela Crawley (Scottish National Party – Lanark and Hamilton East)
Mary Creagh (Labour – Wakefield)
Stella Creasy (Labour (Co-op) – Walthamstow)
Jon Cruddas (Labour – Dagenham and Rainham)
John Cryer (Labour – Leyton and Wanstead)
Judith Cummins (Labour – Bradford South)
Alex Cunningham (Labour – Stockton North)
Mr Jim Cunningham (Labour – Coventry South)
Sir Edward Davey (Liberal Democrat – Kingston and Surbiton)
Wayne David (Labour – Caerphilly)
Geraint Davies (Labour (Co-op) – Swansea West)
Martyn Day (Scottish National Party – Linlithgow and East Falkirk)
Marsha De Cordova (Labour – Battersea)
Gloria De Piero (Labour – Ashfield)
Thangam Debbonaire (Labour – Bristol West)
Emma Dent Coad (Labour – Kensington)
Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Labour – Slough)
Martin Docherty-Hughes (Scottish National Party – West Dunbartonshire)
Anneliese Dodds (Labour (Co-op) – Oxford East)
Stephen Doughty (Labour (Co-op) – Cardiff South and Penarth)
Peter Dowd (Labour – Bootle)
Dr David Drew (Labour (Co-op) – Stroud)
Jack Dromey (Labour – Birmingham, Erdington)
Rosie Duffield (Labour – Canterbury)
Maria Eagle (Labour – Garston and Halewood)
Ms Angela Eagle (Labour – Wallasey)
Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru – Carmarthen East and Dinefwr)
Clive Efford (Labour – Eltham)
Julie Elliott (Labour – Sunderland Central)
Mrs Louise Ellman (Labour (Co-op) – Liverpool, Riverside)
Chris Elmore (Labour – Ogmore)
Bill Esterson (Labour – Sefton Central)
Chris Evans (Labour (Co-op) – Islwyn)
Paul Farrelly (Labour – Newcastle-under-Lyme)
Tim Farron (Liberal Democrat – Westmorland and Lonsdale)
Marion Fellows (Scottish National Party – Motherwell and Wishaw)
Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour – Poplar and Limehouse)
Colleen Fletcher (Labour – Coventry North East)
Paul Flynn (Labour – Newport West)
James Frith (Labour – Bury North)
Gill Furniss (Labour – Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough)
Hugh Gaffney (Labour – Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill)
Mike Gapes (Labour (Co-op) – Ilford South)
Barry Gardiner (Labour – Brent North)
Ruth George (Labour – High Peak)
Stephen Gethins (Scottish National Party – North East Fife)
Patricia Gibson (Scottish National Party – North Ayrshire and Arran)
Preet Kaur Gill (Labour (Co-op) – Birmingham, Edgbaston)
Mary Glindon (Labour – North Tyneside)
Mr Roger Godsiff (Labour – Birmingham, Hall Green)
Helen Goodman (Labour – Bishop Auckland)
Patrick Grady (Scottish National Party – Glasgow North)
Peter Grant (Scottish National Party – Glenrothes)
Neil Gray (Scottish National Party – Airdrie and Shotts)
Kate Green (Labour – Stretford and Urmston)
Lilian Greenwood (Labour – Nottingham South)
Margaret Greenwood (Labour – Wirral West)
Nia Griffith (Labour – Llanelli)
John Grogan (Labour – Keighley)
Andrew Gwynne (Labour – Denton and Reddish)
Louise Haigh (Labour – Sheffield, Heeley)
Fabian Hamilton (Labour – Leeds North East)
Emma Hardy (Labour – Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)
Ms Harriet Harman (Labour – Camberwell and Peckham)
Carolyn Harris (Labour – Swansea East)
Helen Hayes (Labour – Dulwich and West Norwood)
Sue Hayman (Labour – Workington)
John Healey (Labour – Wentworth and Dearne)
Mr Mark Hendrick (Labour (Co-op) – Preston)
Drew Hendry (Scottish National Party – Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)
Mr Stephen Hepburn (Labour – Jarrow)
Lady Hermon (Independent – North Down)
Mike Hill (Labour – Hartlepool)
Meg Hillier (Labour (Co-op) – Hackney South and Shoreditch)
Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrat – Bath)
Dame Margaret Hodge (Labour – Barking)
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Labour – Washington and Sunderland West)
Kate Hollern (Labour – Blackburn)
Stewart Hosie (Scottish National Party – Dundee East)
Mr George Howarth (Labour – Knowsley)
Dr Rupa Huq (Labour – Ealing Central and Acton)
Imran Hussain (Labour – Bradford East)
Christine Jardine (Liberal Democrat – Edinburgh West)
Dan Jarvis (Labour – Barnsley Central)
Diana Johnson (Labour – Kingston upon Hull North)
Darren Jones (Labour – Bristol North West)
Gerald Jones (Labour – Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)
Graham P Jones (Labour – Hyndburn)
Sarah Jones (Labour – Croydon Central)
Susan Elan Jones (Labour – Clwyd South)
Mike Kane (Labour – Wythenshawe and Sale East)
Barbara Keeley (Labour – Worsley and Eccles South)
Liz Kendall (Labour – Leicester West)
Afzal Khan (Labour – Manchester, Gorton)
Stephen Kinnock (Labour – Aberavon)
Peter Kyle (Labour – Hove)
Lesley Laird (Labour – Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)
Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru – Ceredigion)
Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrat – North Norfolk)
Mr David Lammy (Labour – Tottenham)
Ian Lavery (Labour – Wansbeck)
Chris Law (Scottish National Party – Dundee West)
Ms Karen Lee (Labour – Lincoln)
Mr Chris Leslie (Labour (Co-op) – Nottingham East)
Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (Labour – South Shields)
Clive Lewis (Labour – Norwich South)
Mr Ivan Lewis (Labour – Bury South)
David Linden (Scottish National Party – Glasgow East)
Stephen Lloyd (Liberal Democrat – Eastbourne)
Tony Lloyd (Labour – Rochdale)
Rebecca Long Bailey (Labour – Salford and Eccles)
Caroline Lucas (Green Party – Brighton, Pavilion)
Ian C. Lucas (Labour – Wrexham)
Holly Lynch (Labour – Halifax)
Angus Brendan MacNeil (Scottish National Party – Na h-Eileanan an Iar)
Justin Madders (Labour – Ellesmere Port and Neston)
Mr Khalid Mahmood (Labour – Birmingham, Perry Barr)
Shabana Mahmood (Labour – Birmingham, Ladywood)
Seema Malhotra (Labour (Co-op) – Feltham and Heston)
Gordon Marsden (Labour – Blackpool South)
Sandy Martin (Labour – Ipswich)
Rachael Maskell (Labour (Co-op) – York Central)
Christian Matheson (Labour – City of Chester)
Steve McCabe (Labour – Birmingham, Selly Oak)
Kerry McCarthy (Labour – Bristol East)
Siobhain McDonagh (Labour – Mitcham and Morden)
Andy McDonald (Labour – Middlesbrough)
Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Scottish National Party – Glasgow South)
Stuart C. McDonald (Scottish National Party – Cumbernauld)
John McDonnell (Labour – Hayes and Harlington)
Mr Pat McFadden (Labour – Wolverhampton South East)
Conor McGinn (Labour – St Helens North)
Alison McGovern (Labour – Wirral South)
Liz McInnes (Labour – Heywood and Middleton)
Catherine McKinnell (Labour – Newcastle upon Tyne North)
Jim McMahon (Labour (Co-op) – Oldham West and Royton)
Anna McMorrin (Labour – Cardiff North)
John McNally (Scottish National Party – Falkirk)
Ian Mearns (Labour – Gateshead)
Edward Miliband (Labour – Doncaster North)
Carol Monaghan (Scottish National Party – Glasgow North West)
Layla Moran (Liberal Democrat – Oxford West and Abingdon)
Jessica Morden (Labour – Newport East)
Stephen Morgan (Labour – Portsmouth South)
Grahame Morris (Labour – Easington)
Ian Murray (Labour – Edinburgh South)
Lisa Nandy (Labour – Wigan)
Gavin Newlands (Scottish National Party – Paisley and Renfrewshire North)
Alex Norris (Labour (Co-op) – Nottingham North)
Brendan O’Hara (Scottish National Party – Argyll and Bute)
Jared O’Mara (Labour – Sheffield, Hallam)
Fiona Onasanya (Labour – Peterborough)
Melanie Onn (Labour – Great Grimsby)
Chi Onwurah (Labour – Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
Kate Osamor (Labour (Co-op) – Edmonton)
Albert Owen (Labour – Ynys Môn)
Stephanie Peacock (Labour – Barnsley East)
Teresa Pearce (Labour – Erith and Thamesmead)
Matthew Pennycook (Labour – Greenwich and Woolwich)
Toby Perkins (Labour – Chesterfield)
Jess Phillips (Labour – Birmingham, Yardley)
Bridget Phillipson (Labour – Houghton and Sunderland South)
Laura Pidcock (Labour – North West Durham)
Jo Platt (Labour (Co-op) – Leigh)
Luke Pollard (Labour (Co-op) – Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport)
Stephen Pound (Labour – Ealing North)
Lucy Powell (Labour (Co-op) – Manchester Central)
Yasmin Qureshi (Labour – Bolton South East)
Faisal Rashid (Labour – Warrington South)
Angela Rayner (Labour – Ashton-under-Lyne)
Mr Steve Reed (Labour (Co-op) – Croydon North)
Christina Rees (Labour (Co-op) – Neath)
Ellie Reeves (Labour – Lewisham West and Penge)
Rachel Reeves (Labour – Leeds West)
Emma Reynolds (Labour – Wolverhampton North East)
Jonathan Reynolds (Labour (Co-op) – Stalybridge and Hyde)
Ms Marie Rimmer (Labour – St Helens South and Whiston)
Mr Geoffrey Robinson (Labour – Coventry North West)
Matt Rodda (Labour – Reading East)
Danielle Rowley (Labour – Midlothian)
Chris Ruane (Labour – Vale of Clwyd)
Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Labour (Co-op) – Brighton, Kemptown)
Joan Ryan (Labour – Enfield North)
Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru – Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Naz Shah (Labour – Bradford West)
Mr Virendra Sharma (Labour – Ealing, Southall)
Mr Barry Sheerman (Labour (Co-op) – Huddersfield)
Tommy Sheppard (Scottish National Party – Edinburgh East)
Paula Sherriff (Labour – Dewsbury)
Mr Gavin Shuker (Labour (Co-op) – Luton South)
Tulip Siddiq (Labour – Hampstead and Kilburn)
Andy Slaughter (Labour – Hammersmith)
Ruth Smeeth (Labour – Stoke-on-Trent North)
Angela Smith (Labour – Penistone and Stocksbridge)
Cat Smith (Labour – Lancaster and Fleetwood)
Eleanor Smith (Labour – Wolverhampton South West)
Jeff Smith (Labour – Manchester, Withington)
Laura Smith (Labour – Crewe and Nantwich)
Nick Smith (Labour – Blaenau Gwent)
Owen Smith (Labour – Pontypridd)
Karin Smyth (Labour – Bristol South)
Gareth Snell (Labour (Co-op) – Stoke-on-Trent Central)
Alex Sobel (Labour (Co-op) – Leeds North West)
Keir Starmer (Labour – Holborn and St Pancras)
Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party – Glasgow South West)
Jo Stevens (Labour – Cardiff Central)
Jamie Stone (Liberal Democrat – Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)
Wes Streeting (Labour – Ilford North)
Mr Paul J Sweeney (Labour (Co-op) – Glasgow North East)
Jo Swinson (Liberal Democrat – East Dunbartonshire)
Mark Tami (Labour – Alyn and Deeside)
Alison Thewliss (Scottish National Party – Glasgow Central)
Gareth Thomas (Labour (Co-op) – Harrow West)
Nick Thomas-Symonds (Labour – Torfaen)
Emily Thornberry (Labour – Islington South and Finsbury)
Stephen Timms (Labour – East Ham)
Jon Trickett (Labour – Hemsworth)
Karl Turner (Labour – Kingston upon Hull East)
Stephen Twigg (Labour (Co-op) – Liverpool, West Derby)
Liz Twist (Labour – Blaydon)
Chuka Umunna (Labour – Streatham)
Keith Vaz (Labour – Leicester East)
Valerie Vaz (Labour – Walsall South)
Thelma Walker (Labour – Colne Valley)
Tom Watson (Labour – West Bromwich East)
Catherine West (Labour – Hornsey and Wood Green)
Matt Western (Labour – Warwick and Leamington)
Dr Alan Whitehead (Labour – Southampton, Test)
Martin Whitfield (Labour – East Lothian)
Dr Philippa Whitford (Scottish National Party – Central Ayrshire)
Dr Paul Williams (Labour – Stockton South)
Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru – Arfon)
Chris Williamson (Labour – Derby North)
Phil Wilson (Labour – Sedgefield)
Pete Wishart (Scottish National Party – Perth and North Perthshire)
John Woodcock (Labour (Co-op) – Barrow and Furness)
Mohammad Yasin (Labour – Bedford)
Daniel Zeichner (Labour – Cambridge)

238 Labour MPs, 34 SNP, 12 LibDems, 4 Plaid, Lady Hermon and Caroline Lucas… Zero Tories…

Brexit Bill Passes Second Reading 326-290

Majority of 36, comfortable…

Caroline Flint Heckled By Labour Remainers

Worth watching Caroline Flint’s speech on why she is defying Corbyn and refusing to vote against the Brexit bill. Tory Remainers like Anna Soubry have backed Flint and said they also won’t wreck Brexit. Caroline was visibly (and rightly) irritated by Labour Remainers who heckled her and tried to drown her out…

Corbyn’s Single Market Shambles

Corbyn has been on The World at One where he has suggested we could stay in the single market permanently, contradicting what he said in July:

Jeremy Corbyn, July 23: “The single market is dependent on membership of the EU. The two things are inextricably linked.”

Jeremy Corbyn, September 11: “There has to be a trade relationship with Europe, whether that’s formally in the single market or whether that’s an agreement to trade within the single market. That’s open to discussion or negotiation.”

Then 30 seconds later Corbyn then went on to repeat his July position that you can’t be in the single market unless you’re in the EU. A complete shambles. Almost as if he doesn’t have a clue what he is on about…

UPDATE: Once again Seumas has to clarify something Corbyn has got confused about:

EU Experts: Free Movement Reform Ain’t Gonna Happen

The new hope of ultra-Remainers expressed by Blair, Clegg, Adonis et al is that the EU will suddenly change its mind and reform free movement, and thus Britain will be able to stay in the EU. Patrick Wintour in the Guardian speculates optimistically that “if Angela Merkel is re-elected on 24 September, she may… show a new flexibility and might support the idea of an emergency brake on migration”. You don’t need to be David Cameron to laugh at that one – EU correspondents from the Sunday Times and Politico know it ain’t gonna happen:

The doomed focus on free movement reform also shows Remainers still don’t understand the referendum result. Polls have shown Leave voters were motivated more by sovereignty than immigration – how would reforming free movement and staying in the EU honour voters’ instructions to take back control of laws, money and trade? It wouldn’t and it ain’t gonna happen anyway…

Labour’s Brexit Policy Clearly Explained

Corbyn is whipping his MPs to vote against Brexit even though he privately supports it. Caroline Flint says MPs should rebel against the Labour whip. Thanks to Keir Starmer Labour officially want to stay in the single market during the transition, even though Corbynistas think the single market is a neoliberal tool of the bosses and want to leave it. Tom Watson says Labour could stay in the single market forever, yet John McDonnell says we have to leave it to respect the referendum result. Frontbenchers Jon Ashworth and Jenny Chapman say Watson is wrong, Heidi Alexander and Alison McGovern say he is right. Diane Abbott and Clive Lewis say Labour must support free movement, Corbyn and Starmer say free movement will end after Brexit. Barry Gardiner says staying in the customs union would be a “disaster“, yet Starmer says we should remain in “a” customs union during the transition. Watson says we could stay in indefinitely. Tony Blair says we should just stay in the EUGot that?

Blair: Don’t Do Brexit

That’s about the sum of Blair’s contribution to the Brexit debate. Reminder that according to YouGov every section of the British population dislikes Tony Blair…

Fallon: We’re Leaving, Blair Has to Get Over It

As Fallon says of Blair’s newfound desire to end freedom of movement: “It’s a pity he didn’t think of that when all these countries were admitted to the EU on his watch…”

Shadow Cabinet to Attend Anti-Brexit Conference Events

Shadow Cabinet ministers are to attend a host of anti-Brexit events at Labour conference as the party continues to backslide on leaving the EU. Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott is due to speak on a panel organised by the Alliance of Free Movement group titled “Why Labour Must Support Free Movement”. Is Labour’s policy about to shift to backing free movement after Brexit?

Shadow Cabinet member Owen Smith is speaking at an event hosted by Sinn Fein titled “Standing Against Brexit”. We know Owen hates Brexit and wants to reverse the result, though this is pushing collective responsibility to its limits. Not sure what Irish republicans are doing at another party’s conference in Brighton. 

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer will be at the “View From the EU” event hosted by Brexit-hating Eurocrat Glenis Willmott. He will be joined by European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans and French ambassador Sylvie Bermann. Later on Sir Keir is joining ultra Remainers Hilary Benn and Chuka Umunna on a panel organised by the pro-EU think tank Centre for European Reform. Then to cap it all Gina Miller’s anti-Brexit group Best for Britain is turning up for an event called “No Brexit is Better Than a Bad Brexit”. Shadow Cabinet members will be openly discussing opposing Brexit and supporting free movement, is Labour now the pro-Remain party?

Brexiteer Letter Demands Brexit

A Change Britain letter circulated among the European Research Group of Brexiter Tory MPs and leaked to The Times is causing a great deal of excitement. It is being described as a list of red lines from hardline Brexiters insisting Britain doesn’t pay any money into the EU budget and is able to sign trade deals during the transition. The letter is being reported as “a major challenge for Mrs May”, while Anna Soubry says she is “hugely disappointed” that Brexiters want to “bind the government’s hands”. Is that really what Brexiters are trying to do?

The letter was intended to be briefed to a friendly Sunday newspaper as a show of support for the government. Those behind it insist it was supposed to be uncontroversial and simply attack Labour for wanting to remain in the single market and customs union. If you read the actual letter, it largely agrees with government policy…

The letter’s key request is that we leave the single market and customs union – that is government policy. It doesn’t insist that we pay no money into the EU budget during the transition, it simply points out staying in the single market means we “have” to pay in. This is not contrary to the government’s position – when we leave we legally don’t owe anything, but we will pay our obligations and use money as a negotiating tactic. The most awkward “demand” is to be able to sign trade deals during the transition period, currently only an “aspiration” of the government. Crucially, the letter’s signatories tell Guido this is a hope, a desire, not a red line. Obviously Brexiters would prefer us to be able to sign trade deals immediately during the transition, but they are hardly planning to bring down the government if there is compromise on this point…

So is the letter a “major challenge” to the PM? Are Brexiters really worried about the government going soft and trying to “bind their hands”? That isn’t the impression Guido gets from Leave supporting MPs this afternoon. The vast majority of Brexiter MPs insist that they are happy with the government’s plan. They say the letter wasn’t intended to be controversial, and note if it appeared as choreographed on Sunday it would be causing a lot less fuss than it coming out as a leak to The Times. Senior Tories are peeved about the story but relaxed about the situation. Guido urges readers and journalists to look at the actual letter, it is essentially just Brexiters asking for Brexit…

Barnier Eats His Words

Monsieur Barnier was very catty and undiplomatic about David Davis and Britain’s negotiating team in new European Commission minutes released this morning. Barnier is quoted as “observing that the United Kingdom had not really engaged in the negotiations or spelled out its positions” (which is obviously untrue). He says DD “did not regard his direct involvement in these negotiations as his priority” (eh?). Juncker then “questions the stability and the accountability of the UK negotiation and his apparent lack of involvement”. More good-natured behaviour from Brussels…

Barnier seemed a bit embarrassed by all this in his press conference this lunchtime. In fact he (predictably) completely ate his words, praising Davis’ “professionalism” and “the competence of whole of the UK team”. He added a very different review of DD’s work: “I think his attitude is perfectly logical”. Make your mind up…

Labour MP: We Are Committing a Breach of Trust With Electorate

Graham Stringer is the latest Labour MP to speak out against the three line whip to oppose the Brexit bill:

“The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU last year. I think it would be an absolute breach of trust between Members of Parliament and the electorate if one was to try and block the Brexit bill. Nobody during the debates when the referendum was agreed, the debates when Article 50 was passed by a significant majority, nobody stood up and said, “well we’re asking your opinion, we want you to vote on this, and we’ll consider what the decision is and we will vote the other way”. I think it is a mistake and I would certainly say that a mistake is being made.”

As it stands Tory Remainers are on board and the significant sounding number of Labour rebels mean whips will be relaxed about Monday’s vote…

Hoey: Labour Are Betraying the Will of the British People

Labour MP Kate Hoey says her party voting against the Brexit bill is “betraying the will of the British people”…

Owen Jones on Brexit: Then and Now

Back in July 2015 Owen Jones wrote an article for the Guardian headlined: “The left must now campaign to leave the EU”. He argued the left must “reclaim the Eurosceptic cause” and “run its own separate campaign and try and win ownership of the issue”, writing: “Such a populist campaign could help the left reconnect with working-class communities it lost touch with long ago… The case for Lexit grows ever stronger, and – at the very least – more of us need to start dipping our toes in the water”. Like Corbyn and McDonnell before him, Owen positioned himself as a left-wing “Lexiteer” who saw the EU as a bosses’ union…

These days Owen is a strident opponent of Brexit, telling his Twitter followers “I don’t like Brexit” and “I think Brexit is bad”. Today he was on Sky decrying the outcome he promoted just two years ago as a “mess” caused by the Tories:

Owen has form for slippery, career-friendly u-turns, he also pretends to his Corbynista followers that he never betrayed JezHe has more front than Ian Dunt

Labour to Vote Against Brexit Bill

Brave move from Labour to whip its MPs to vote against the Brexit bill. As Anna Soubry said yesterday no Tory MP is going to vote against, which means the bill is going to pass anyway with the effect of Labour looking like it is attempting to block Brexit. Labour MPs in Leave-voting areas faced with the choice of defying the whip or their constituents…

Starmer: Labour “United and Clear” on Brexit

Sir Keir Starmer amusingly told Marr “what’s really important this summer is that Labour has got to a united and a clear position”. Here are those three “united and clear” Labour positions in full:

Keir Starmer: Stay in single market and “a” customs union during transition period, then leave single market. Transition has to be as short as possible, “could” last just two years. Or it “could” go beyond 2022 election.

Tom Watson: Could stay in single market and customs union permanently after the transition period is over.

Caroline Flint: “Totally disagree” with Watson, cannot stay in single market and customs union permanently.

Note that Starmer didn’t rule out the transition period lasting beyond the 2022 election. This is Labour Remainers’ plan for a permanent transition…

Davis: “Nonsense” That We’re Considering Paying £50 Billion

We shall see…

Flint: Labour Colleagues Trying to Disrupt Brexit

Caroline Flint slaps down Tom Watson and Labour colleagues who want to stay in the single market and customs union permanently, insisting she will not try to disrupt Brexit.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

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