Tory hard Brexiteers yesterday issued a five-point attack on Theresa May’s plan, claiming that it would amount to Britain handing over £39 billion with “nothing guaranteed in return”. In its first official response to the government’s proposed withdrawal agreement, published last week, the European Research Group (ERG) of ultra-Eurosceptic Tory MPs said that the deal would leave Britain “half in and half out” of Europe. It claimed that the legal agreement would give the EU decisive influence over future British laws on social, environmental and employment policy. It also warned that there was no agreed exit from the so-called temporary customs backstop, which would come into play if no agreement was reached, and would create internal borders between Northern Ireland and the EU.
THERESA May has risked two more Cabinet resignations by refusing to renegotiate the most controversial part of her Brexit divorce deal as a frantic final week of Brussels talks begins. The ‘Pizza Club’ gang of five Leave-backing senior ministers is insisting the PM toughen up the draft withdrawal agreement ahead of a landmark EU summit in seven days time to seal it. They want Britain to have a unilateral way out of the Irish backstop plan that could keep the UK in the customs union for many years otherwise. Allies of Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom say they could both quit by the end of the week unless Mrs May relents.
Theresa May will confront the “gang of five” Cabinet Brexiteers on Monday by saying she will not renegotiate the EU Withdrawal Agreement, in a move that risks prompting fresh ministerial resignations. The Prime Minister will use a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to say the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU have been “agreed in full” and the only thing left to discuss is the future trade deal. Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, is expected to convene a meeting on Monday with Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling and Penny Mordaunt to decide how they can press Mrs May for last-minute changes to the deal.
BORIS Johnson and Dominic Raab are heading for a showdown to bag the big job at Number 10 as calls grow for Theresa May to leave office. The former Brexit Secretary and former Foreign Secretary have emerged as favourites to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader. They both quit cabinet over Theresa May’s botched handling of Brexit, which they claim betrays voters. Mr Raab is expected to run with the backing of David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary who also resigned over Theresa May’s Brexit plans.
Theresa May will today declare that her Brexit deal delivers on the key priority of controlling immigration, as she faces down Cabinet critics who want to reopen negotiations. The cricket-loving Prime Minister will try to get on the front foot in the Tory Brexit war by saying her agreement will create greater opportunities for young people wanting skilled jobs. But she will risk a fresh Cabinet row by rejecting a demand from her Eurosceptic ministers to make last-minute changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.
Telegraph (by Boris Johnson)
Well, it seems my predictions of last week were, if anything, too optimistic. If MPs vote for this deal, we are bowing our neck to the yoke. We are preparing to take colonial rule by foreign powers and courts. We are handing over colossal sums of money for nothing. We are giving up the hope of new free-trade deals. We are giving up the right to vary our laws. We are betraying Leavers and Remainers alike: we are poised to abandon any UK influence in Brussels, and yet we are signally failing to take back control. In fact, we are surrendering control to the EU – and this 585-page fig-leaf does nothing to cover the embarrassment of our total defeat.
Brexiteer Boris Johnson has once again issued a rallying call for the government to abandon Theresa May’s Brexit plan, describing it as ‘surrender’, a ‘betrayal’ of voters and putting forward his own six-point plan on what should happen next. In his weekly hit for The Telegraph, Boris writes of the proposal now on the table: “We are betraying Leavers and Remainers alike: we are poised to abandon any UK influence in Brussels, and yet we are signally failing to take back control. “In fact, we are surrendering control to the EU – and this 585-page fig-leaf does nothing to cover the embarrassment of our total defeat.”
Boris Johnson has labelled Theresa May‘s Brexit deal an ‘appalling sell-out’ saying it would leave Britain facing ‘colonial rule by foreign powers and courts’. The former Foreign Secretary ramped up the pressure on the PM after a chaotic week at Westminster by saying the deal was ‘betraying Leavers and Remainers alike.’ Unveiling a ‘six-point plan’ to ‘get us out of this hole’ Mr Johnson called for scrapping the Irish backstop, refusing to pay some of the £39billion divorce bill and seeking a ‘SuperCanada’ trade deal with Brussels. However Mr Johnson, writing in his weekly column in the Telegraph, did not add his name to the list of MPs demanding a confidence vote in Mrs May as party leader.
Jeremy Corbyn has refused to say stopping Brexit would be better than Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal. Asked whether “no Brexit is better than no deal”, he replied: “I don’t think that’s an option we’re going to be given.” He also said he doesn’t how he would vote if there was a second referendum on Brexit. And he revealed he had not read all 585 pages of Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal, though he has “read a lot of it.” He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “I’ve not read every last word. I’ve read many summaries.”
JEREMY CORBYN described PM Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal as a “one-way agreement” in which Brussels “calls all the shots” today, while her former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab accused her of caving in to the “bullying EU.” The Labour leader said his party could negotiate a better deal that would be in the interests of workers in Britain, pointing out the hollowness of the government’s “vague” Brexit plans during an appearance on Sky News. Mr Corbyn said in the interview on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “We’ll vote against this deal because it doesn’t meet our tests.
Jeremy Corbyn’s team were cheered by the weekend’s polls, which showed voters seem prepared to punish the Conservatives for the internecine squabble over Brexit that has dominated the headlines. They now plan to spend the next fortnight or so, before May’s deal comes before the Commons (if her own MPs allow her to get that far), explaining why they reject her approach. And they will try to use every parliamentary tool at their disposal to make a no-deal Brexit impossible – in part to give comfort to those Labour MPs, including Caroline Flint and Gareth Snell, who are tempted to support the government’s deal for fear the only alternative is crashing out.
Two polls have shown a hit to the Conservative Party in the polls as the backlash against Theresa May’s EU deal grows. Opinium have the Tories down by 5 points, whilst ComRes have them down by 3. Labour are leading in both polls, with UKIP edging back up towards 10%. The Brexiteer backlash is real. As Tory MP Nadine Dorries notes, these numbers would be devastating if replicated in a General Election. A sobering wake-up call for Tory MPs still weighing up what to do next.
The number of Tory MPs known to have submitted letters of no confidence in Theresa May rose to 25 yesterday as hard Brexiteers claimed that they were on target to reach more than 50 in the next two days. The former London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith became the latest high-profile Conservative to declare that he had lost confidence in the prime minister and said that the party needed a “fresh start”. The veteran Eurosceptic MP Sir Bill Cash said yesterday that he had also submitted a formal declaration of no confidence in the prime minister, accusing her of “broken promises”.
Sir Graham Brady has denied ‘sitting on’ letters which could topple Theresa May to give the Prime Minister “a moment to draw breath”. Sir Graham is the only man who knows exactly how much trouble the Prime Minister is in. He’s the chair of the 1922 Committee, and is in charge of counting the number of letters Tory MPs have written calling for a vote of no-confidence in her leadership. And he told the BBC’s John Pienaar even his wife doesn’t know how many letters he’s received.
BREXITEERS were last night scrambling to find at least six more MPs to take them over a threshold to trigger a no confidence vote in Theresa May. An extensive investigation by The Sun revealed that a total of 42 Tory MPs had given firm assurances that they had submitted letters saying they no longer support the PM. Senior Tory MPs Zac Goldsmith and Bill Cash yesterday took the total number publicly declaring they had sent no confidence letters to 25, while a further 17 have privately said they have written to Sir Graham Brady, who collects a list of names anonymously in his role as chairman of the Tory 1922 committee.
THE chairman of the Conservative Party’s powerful 1922 Committee – which represents its backbench MPs – has confirmed he has NOT received the 48 letters needed to trigger a leadership contest which could see Theresa May ousted as Prime Minister. And Graham Brady has also hinted not all those claiming to have sent letters of no confidence to him had done so, suggesting in the past MPs had lied about having done so – while suggesting Mrs May would win a leadership contest in any case. Mrs May is under pressure after the publication of the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement on Wednesday and the consequent resignation of Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions minister Esther McVey.
Theresa May will move to seize back the initiative from mutinous Tory MPs on Monday by promoting her Brexit deal with a defiant speech to business leaders, even as critics in Westminster scramble to trigger a no-confidence vote in her leadership. As she enters perhaps the most perilous week of her premiership, May will insist at the CBI annual conference in London that her deal delivers on the central demand of voters in the 2016 referendum, by allowing the UK to control immigration. “Getting back full control of our borders is an issue of great importance to the British people,” she will say, adding that EU citizens will no longer be able to “jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi”.
MORE than 200 business leaders, including Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin, have put their names to a letter sent to Conservative MPs calling on them to torpedo Theresa May’s Brexit deal, claiming its implementation would represent an “act of national humiliation” which “sold British business down the river”. The letter, organised by former director general of the British Chamber of Commons and co-chair of the Pro-Brexit campaign group Leave Means Leave, is signed by members of the Alliance of British Entrepreneurs.
House of Lords
The House of Lords should axe 200 peers within 11 years and limit the tenure of new arrivals to 15 years, MPs have demanded. The recommendations were made by the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee, which said the growing size of the Lords, which has 800 members, affected its effectiveness. The MPs claimed the cut in numbers could be achieved with a commitment by the Prime Minister to a ‘two-out-one-in’ policy. Committee chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin said: ‘The House of Lords is of vital importance… but it is a problem that the size of the chamber continues to grow exponentially.’
THE House of Lords has been told by a committee of MPs it must urgently axe 200 peers in a move that would see the overall number plummet by a quarter. Sir Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), wants the number of Lords cut and capped at 600 instead of the current 800. The report from the PACAC has called for urgent action and backs previous findings from the Burns report, which laid out proposals on reducing the size of the House of Lords.
Theresa May intends to fly to Brussels later this week for face-to-face talks with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, on Britain’s plans for a future long term relationship with the EU. While the cabinet have signed off the legal Withdrawal Agreement that sets out the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU, negotiations on a framework for a future relationship are still going on. A seven-page summary of the plan was published last Wednesday but the document, thought to run to about 40 pages, is still being thrashed out.
Brussels is set to offer Theresa May a two-year extension to remaining fully inside the single market in order to ensure a smooth Brexit, it emerged last night. The proposal was made by EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier as he met member states while thrashing out the final details of the withdrawal deal. It would give Britain the option of remaining in the single market and customs union until the end of 2022. This would allow negotiators nearly four years to strike a future trade deal and avoid need for the Irish backstop but would infuriate Brexiteers, as it would mean continued freedom of movement and paying membership fees of up to £10billion a year.
Europe’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has raised the prospect of the UK remaining under EU control until the end of 2022, a proposal that would cost billions and infuriate Tory Brexiters. At a special meeting with ambassadors from the EU’s 27 member states, Barnier floated the prospect of extending the Brexit transition until the end of 2022. His idea would allow an extra two years to negotiate a trading relationship, but means the UK would continue to follow EU rules and pay into its budget with no say for six and a half years after the 2016 vote to leave.
BRUSSELS last night raised the possibility of the transition dragging on until the end of 2022 – more than six years after Brits voted to leave. Michel Barnier proposed a maximum two year extension to the window, which will see Britain stay in the Single Market and Customs Union until at least December 2022. During that time we’ll have to accept free movement and pay substantial budget contributions estimated at £10 billion a year. Most EU capitals agreed on New Year’s Eve 2022 as a final end date for the transition.
EU leaders have warned Theresa May that extending the transition period to ensure a smoother Brexit would cost an extra £10billion on top of her £40billion divorce bill. The Prime Minister is preparing for the political battle of her life as she tries to get MPs on both sides to back her Brexit deal next week. But she was dealt another blow by Brussels last night with EU leaders insisting any extension to the transition period would have to be ‘at least a year’, costing the UK even more money.
There is no chance that the European Union will salvage the Brexit deal by going back to the negotiating table, a senior German MP from Angela Merkel’s party has warned. The so-called “pizza club” of Brexiteer cabinet ministers, which includes Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom, is pressing Theresa May to go back to Brussels and win a better agreement. They hope the EU will give way and hand Britain the power to leave the customs union of its own volition. However, Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee and a former minister in Mrs Merkel’s cabinet, said the European side had gone as far as it could to meet the UK’s demands and there would be no further concessions.
Italy’s populist government has escalated tensions with France by saying it will cancel the previously agreed loan of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci paintings to the Louvre for a major 2019 exhibition. Speaking to The Telegraph on Sunday, Lucia Borgonzoni, Italian undersecretary for the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, said the government would block the Louvre from pursuing loan transfers of several prominent artworks from Italian museums. “When I discovered (the agreement), I thought to myself: ‘This is one of the biggest, most shameful acts of the previous government with regard to cultural heritage.’
NHS bosses failed to act over a scandal-hit hospital where there were nearly 300 unexpected deaths, a report has found. According to the report, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), NHS England and NHS Improvement ignored warnings for more than a year. Analysts Deloitte said all three bodies failed to to deal with the crisis, either collectively or individually, at the North Middlesex Hospital. Professor Brian Jarman, an expert in hospital deaths who discovered the high mortality rate at the trust, said: “It is important that the CQC is aware of patient safety issues and inspects concerns.”
The backgrounds of 3,000 foreign doctors are being urgently checked after a conwoman with no qualifications was allowed to work as an NHS psychiatrist for 22 years. Zholia Alemi, 56, claimed to have a degree from the University of Auckland in New Zealand when she came to work in the UK in 1992. In reality, the convicted fraudster had flunked her first year and dropped out. But nobody at the General Medical Council, the watchdog responsible for vetting the background of medics, checked whether her documentation was genuine.
Britain is at the mercy of Russian hackers who are plotting cyber attacks that could bring the country to its knees, politicians have warned. There are ten attacks happening every day, with many aiming to paralyse areas such as the NHS, the national grid and even Parliament. And there is a ‘consistent rise in [Russia’s] appetite for attack’ on these sectors, according to the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy. Such is the severity of the problem that the committee is now calling for a designated cyber security minister.