A SECRET document has revealed the EU is demanding three major commitments from the UK before beginning fresh talks on Brexit. According to a memo leaked to the Sunday Times, Brussels chiefs want the UK to continue to contribute to the EU budget, new measures on citizens’ rights, and guarantee backstop arrangements to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. Donald Tusk is to call a summit of EU leaders on April 10. The EC president has warned the UK must come up with a clear “way forward” to halt a disorderly exit. To prevent this, Theresa May will need a new plan to push her deal through the Commons, which has to date been voted down on three separate occasions. One un-named official speaking to the Sunday Times said they doubt the UK will be able to deliver. They said: “It depends on whoever is in No 10 next week.” A spokesman for the European Commission said: “A no-deal scenario on April 12 is now a likely scenario. “The EU is fully prepared for a no-deal scenario at midnight on April 12.”
(This was published last night – I don’t think it’s an April Fool – Ed)
JEAN-CLAUDE JUNKER has mocked the Italian populist government, claiming Brussels had “foreseen” Rome’s economic growth would not be as outstanding as announced by Italy and that he “isn’t sure” the country will crawl out of the financial crisis it plunged more than 10 years ago. The President of the European Commission took a swipe at Italy’s government coalition, which has clashed with Brussels over its big-spending budget over the past few months. Mr Juncker told Italian talk show Che Tempo Che Fa: “We believe Italy’s growth will only amount to 0.2 percent, which means zero. We have clashed with our Italian friends throughout the past months over this.
EMMANUEL MACRON is risking his entire political future crushing Yellow Vest demonstrators by force, drawing accusations of “authoritarianism” and parallels with another French leader, Charles De Gaulle, a French politics expert said. Mr Macron is going through a “presidency-defining moment” as a massive wave of protests sweeps across France, according to James Shields professor of French Politics and Modern History at the University of Warwick. The Yellow Vest movement and the way Mr Macron has dealt with it so far could determine the end of his mandate just two years after his election, the expert explained.
Theresa May could ask the QUEEN to step in and prevent a soft Brexit, an eyebrow-raising document has claimed. The suggestion is made in a paper for the Policy Exchange think tank, drawn up by two constitutional experts and passed to Downing Street yesterday. It comes as MPs prepare to hold “indicative” votes on the way forward tomorrow that are expected to favour a softer Brexit – a UK-EU customs union. But that would contradict a key manifesto pledge by the Tories in 2017, and overturn months of promises by Theresa May. So in order to implement the decision, MPs are mulling passing an Act of Parliament and going over the government’s head to do it.
Theresa May was warned last night that she faced resignations and a split in the Conservative Party if she agrees to pursue a “soft” Brexit this week. Ministers including Chris Grayling and Penny Mordaunt have made it clear they would consider resigning if the prime minister bows to the will of the Commons, should it vote for a customs union with the EU tonight. MPs will vote on a range of alternative options to Mrs May’s Brexit deal to see if one can command a majority, with the customs union option thought to be the most likely to succeed.
Theresa May’s government is on the verge of meltdown as cabinet ministers prepare to clash over whether to support plans for a softer Brexit and a possible lengthy delay before leaving the European Union. In a decisive intervention, David Gauke, the justice secretary, said on Sunday that the prime minister would have to accept the possibility of backing a customs union if the measure is supported by parliament this week. This was dismissed by Brexiters, including those in cabinet, who have threatened to resign if May accepts a customs union or submits to a delay that goes beyond 22 May.
Conservative divisions over Brexit have deepened ahead of a string of key votes as cabinet ministers warned Theresa May to change course. The prime minister is being pressured on all sides ahead of another momentous week, with speculation mounting that she would call a snap general election if her fourth attempt to pass her Brexit deal fails. Cabinet minister David Gauke said the UK was facing a “national crisis”. He warned Ms May she could not ignore the will of parliament if MPs unite around a customs union during the second round of “indicative votes” on Monday. But some 170 Brexiteers, including 10 ministers, were piling the pressure on Ms May over the weekend to leave the EU within weeks – with or without a deal.
The government should have made clear after the 2017 election that it would “inevitably” have to accept a softer Brexit, the Tory chief whip has said. In a BBC documentary, Julian Smith – whose role is to maintain discipline among Tory MPs – is also strongly critical of the cabinet’s behaviour. The unprecedented attack comes as the cabinet is deeply split over whether to move to a softer deal. MPs hold further indicative votes later on options to resolve the deadlock. A customs union with the EU is thought to be the most popular of the ideas under consideration.
OPEN CABINET warfare erupted as a leading Cabinet Minister demand the PM drop her red lines to a customs union with the EU. Ahead of a crunch Commons vote on Brexit alternatives today, Justice Secretary David Gauke said No.10 no longer had the luxury to stick to its guns on the best way forward given the “numbers” in Parliament. Theresa May ruled out joining an EU customs union in the 2017 Tory election manifesto – so Britain could strike its own trade deals. But Mr Gauke said: “Sometimes you have to accept your second or third choice to avoid an outcome you consider to be even worse. “I think we have to recognise that my party does not have the votes to get its manifesto position through the House of Commons at the moment.”
THERESA MAY’S bitterly divided Cabinet is on the brink of collapse as ministers on both sides of the Brexit debate prepare to walk out on her. Mrs May is facing revolts from both Remain-backing and Brexiteer members of her top team as she collects herself and plans her next move following a humiliating third defeat of her deal. While those in favour of a hard Brexit or a no deal Brexit are heaping pressure on the premier not to accept a customs union, many of those on the Remain wing of her Cabinet will resign in protest if she backs a no deal option. The Sunday Times reported that while at least six ministers are willing to leave their posts if the UK crashes out of the bloc without a deal, a string of Brexiteer ministers are also warning they are not prepared to stay on if the UK ends up in a soft Brexit.
Plans to keep Britain in the customs union after Brexit could win the backing of a majority of MPs today after a senior member of the shadow cabinet warned that Labour was only likely to support a Brexit plan that allowed immigration reform. Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary, hinted that Labour would again be unable to back the Common Market 2.0 plan, under which Britain would stay in the customs union and the single market, because it meant maintaining freedom of movement. MPs will tonight consider nine alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit plan in a second round of indicative votes.
REMAINING in a customs union after Brexit would mean surrounding power to smaller countries like Lithuania, according to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. Mr Grayling said the country of around three million people would be able to “dictate” the UK’s terms of trade with the commonwealth. He warned of the stark risks of the UK being locked into a customs union with the EU, such as handing over control of trading policy to the 27 EU member states. MPs could vote on staying within a customs union in series of indicative votes today in Parliament. Mr Grayling said: “Are we really going to accept the situation where the government of Lithuania has more power over our trading relationship with the Commonwealth than our government does? “That is the reality of the customs union.”
TORY rebels backing a Norway-style Brexit were on Sunday night on the brink of securing the support of the SNP in a huge breakthrough. Sources close to the Scottish Nationalists said party chiefs were “in ongoing discussions” about whether to vote as a bloc for the Common Market 2.0 proposal set to go before MPs in Monday’s second vote on Brexit alternatives. The party ‘abstained’ in last week’s first round. The SNP’s support would hand a critical 34 extra votes to the plan pushed by Tory MP Nick Boles and Labour’s Lucy Powell, and potentially push the Norway option above a permanent Customs Union.
MPs will have their say today in a second round of indicative votes on alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal. None of the eight options were approved last week after Parliament seized control of the Commons agenda. The options that were rejected by the smallest margins were a so-called “confirmatory referendum” and a customs union, with 268 MPs backing the former and 264 going for the latter. Many of the ideas have returned for a second attempt, but some have been replaced with new alternatives.
MPs are set to take back control of the Brexit agenda in a fresh attempt to find an alternative to Theresa May’s deal that Parliament can support. The Commons will stage a second round of “indicative” votes on Monday on a series of rival proposals tabled by backbenchers to see if any can command a majority. The move comes as Mrs May struggles to contain the rising tensions with her Cabinet as the clock counts down to the latest EU deadline on April 12. Despite seeing her deal again defeated on Friday, the Prime Minister is determined to bring it back to the Commons for a fourth time – possibly as early as Tuesday – in a final roll of the dice to get it over the line.
MPs are once again set to take control of the parliamentary agenda in a fresh attempt to find an alternative to Theresa May’s Brexit deal. MPs will take part in a second round of indicative votes to see if there’s an option that can command a majority. Remainer MP Sir Oliver Letwin submitted the motion last week, which allowed MPs to vote on a number of alternatives at the same time, to try to find a way to break the Brexit deadlock in the Commons.
THERESA MAY would “inevitably” lead the Tories into any snap Election – the party’s deputy chair declared yesterday. Amid fresh claims the PM’s team are pushing for her to go the country, James Cleverly said the party was “not planning” for one. But he admitted “sensible and pragmatic” preparations WERE taking place. And he said that whatever her rivals may hope, it was an “inevitable possibility” Mrs May would be the Tory candidate. Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry separately said Jeremy Corbyn was now weighing up the possibility of another confidence motion in the Government, should it fail to secure a breakthrough on Brexit.
Senior Tories are on manoeuvres to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister. A string of party heavyweights set out their stalls with high-profile media appearances over the weekend. But Boris Johnson remained the frontrunner, with a Deltapoll study placing him on 15% support – a full nine points ahead of nearest rival Sajid Javid. Michael Gove was in third place on 5%. And the Sunday Mirror revealed today that Iain Duncan Smith was considering a second turn at being Tory leader.
Theresa May has made clear that Dominic Grieve will not be deselected despite the vote of no confidence by his constituency association, a minister said yesterday. A string of senior Tories lined up to condemn the vote in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, against the former attorney-general who has led efforts to prevent no-deal, take control of parliamentary business away from the government and push a second Brexit referendum. Footage of him being called a traitor was obtained byThe Sunday Times. Yesterday Victoria Atkins, a Home Office minister, told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC 5 Live: “I was very, very frustrated to hear last night or this morning of Dominic’s experiences on Friday.
Moderate Conservative MPs are preparing to try to stop Theresa May’s successor dragging the party to the right amid signs that Michael Gove could attract support from “one nation” Tories. A new socially liberal Conservative group containing five cabinet ministers and championing “compassionate conservatism” will be relaunched this week. The “One Nation Caucus”, with links to the Tory Reform Group of centreground activists, would seek to host hustings in any future leadership contest and any candidate looking for their support would need to have been clearly against a no-deal Brexit.
THE TORY party must appoint a senior Tory Eurosceptic to lead it through Brexit, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said last night. And he added a full-scale leadership contest should be delayed until 2022. Mr Grayling said it was “more likely than not the next leader will be someone who campaigned for Brexit”. He told the Daily Telegraph: “We are planning two things rather than one. “Planning somebody who has got the experience and resilience to get us through the immediate future. “Then we have got a really good generation of younger politicians in their 40s who can make a real impact, who are going to be the future leadership of the party in the future.”
At least 19 Members of the European Parliament representing Leave-voting constituencies in Britain are actively campaigning to overturn the Brexit referendum vote through a so-called “people’s vote”. Another nine MEPs, from Remain areas, also support the second vote, taking the total number to 28 politicians out of the 73 British seats in Brussels and Strasbourg, analysis carried out by The Sunday Telegraph found. “This shows a chasm of disconnect between self-absorbed Remainer politicians and the people they fail to represent,” said Nigel Farage, a MEP and former Ukip leader.
MEMBERS of the European Parliament in Leaving-voting constituencies have been campaigning for a second referendum. At least 19 MEPs have pushed for a so-called People’s Vote. These members join nine other MEPs from Remain areas who also support a second vote. Overall, 28 politicians out of the 73 British seats in Brussels and Strasbourg, the Telegraph reported. Nigel Farage former Ukip leader told the Telegraph: “This shows a chasm of disconnect between self-absorbed Remainer politicians and the people they fail to represent.”
Thousands of post offices would become branches of a publicly owned bank under a Labour government, the shadow chancellor announced. John McDonnell said that the Post Bank would protect face-to-face services amid concerns that online banking was undermining high street facilities. He estimated that a Labour government would create up to 3,600 branches at a time when post offices, banks and building societies were closing on many high streets. “Finance is the central nervous system of the economy,” he said. “It directs investment, deciding which businesses and projects get off the ground and which fail.”
Jeremy Corbyn set out plans to rebuild Britain as he declared Labour is ready to win a general election – and lead us into Brexit and beyond. The Labour leader is ready to deliver his alternative plan for leaving the EU and to head a government “for the many, not the few”. Labour could press for a vote of no-confidence in the Government as soon as this week, as a poll put it five points ahead of the Tories. It came as pressure increased from within the Prime Minister’s inner circle to call a general election and end the Brexit deadlock. Mr Corbyn told the Mirror: “We’re ready for a general election, whenever it comes.
MOMENTUM members and Labour leaders in Manchester called today for the party to “dismantle” the old economy as part of a radical programme in the face of Brexit — and a looming change of government. More than 400 people attended a rally organised by the Manchester branch of the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting group on Saturday afternoon. Speakers included Labour national executive committee members Lara McNeill and Navendu Mishra, Renewal journal editor Christine Berry and journalist Owen Jones.
Network Rail is not ready to deliver billions of pounds of engineering work needed to keep services moving, a watchdog has said. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said that the government-owned company had detailed designs for just over a third of the work it needed to carry out over the next 12 months. In a report the regulator also said that Network Rail had recruited only a tenth of the 682 extra full-time staff required to deliver a huge inventory of upgrades. The report will raise concerns that the renewal of tracks, signalling and lineside infrastructure, needed to improve reliability on Britain’s ageing and overcrowded railway, may be delayed.
It’s always been seen as an expensive way to spend a penny (or 50). Now Network Rail has succumbed to public pressure by scrapping loathed charges to use the loo in railway stations. The government-owned company is abolishing lavatory charges, which previously stood at up to 50p a visit, from mainline terminals from today. London Liverpool Street, London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley became the last of 20 Network Rail-run stations to scrap lavatory fees. Last month Waterloo, the busiest station in the country, with lavatories used by more than 1.5 million people a year, also scrapped charges.