The most senior Ministers in government will not stand by and allow Theresa May to opt for a soft ‘customs partnership’ with the European Union. Those are the noises coming out about a ‘hybrid’ outcome that wouldn’t deliver a fully independent Brexit Britain that was able to lock in trade deals across the world without EU constraints. A source told The Sunday Telegraph that: “It would be unimaginable for the Prime Minister to press on with the hybrid model after it has been torn apart by members of her own Brexit committee. “Overruling the committee would see many Brexiteers lose faith in the current leadership.” It should serve as another reminder that any sell-out would have severe consequences that would likely take down the government. This is time for the government to be bold and deliver a clean break from the European Union. That’s what people voted for.
Theresa May today vowed she would take Britain out of the EU customs union after Brexit as senior ministers threatened an open revolt over the issue. The Prime Minister is trying to rally support for a unique ‘hybrid’ model of customs ties Brexiteers fear is a back door to tying Britain into EU rules. But after her Brexit war cabinet was deadlocked on the issue on Wednesday, Mrs May repeated her commitment to leaving the current system. Business Secretary Greg Clark was sent out by Downing Street today to advocate for a customs deal that protects jobs, warning on the Marr show that failing in the negotiations meant a hard Brexit with no deal that threatened 3,500 staff at Toyota. Business groups immediately issued supportive statements raising speculation of a coordinated effort by pro-Remain supporters to bolster the customs partnership.
Theresa May has been accused of silencing Eurosceptics while allowing her pro-European Business Secretary to resurrect “Project Fear”over plans for a post-Brexit customs partnership with the EU. Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, suggested that 3,500 jobs at Toyota could be at risk if the Prime Minister bowed to pressure from other members of her Cabinet and dropped the plans. Eurosceptic ministers thought they had “killed off” the plans after a meeting of the Brexit wars Cabinet last week amid concerns that it will lead to Britain staying in the Customs Union.
Thousands of jobs could be put at risk if Theresa May’s plans for a “customs partnership” with the EU are scrapped, business secretary Greg Clark has suggested. Mr Clark, one of the most pro-Remain members of the cabinet, laid bare the party’s deep divisions on the issue as he made the case for the prime minister’s preferred post-Brexit customs plan. The proposals – under which the UK would collect import tariffs on behalf of the EU – have enraged Brexiteers, who see the move as a betrayal of Ms May’s promise to take Britain out of the customs union and the single market. Prominent Tory Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed the warnings as “Project Fear” and said that the customs partnership plan would amount to keeping the UK in the EU.
Theresa May signalled yesterday that she would forge ahead with a new customs partnership after Brexit, as Greg Clark was fielded to defend the model that leading Leavers have opposed. The business secretary declared that the option was still on the table despite running into fierce opposition from senior frontbenchers at a fraught meeting of the Brexit war cabinet last week. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leading backbench Brexiteer, accused Mr Clark of resurrecting Project Fear, a harbinger of the backlash that the prime minister would face as she pressed ahead with the contentious solution. Mr Clark warned on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that thousands of British jobs in automotive and other manufacturing industries were at risk if the UK did not minimise friction in trade.
A new “customs partnership” with the EU – which is fiercely opposed by some Tory Brexiteers – is still on the table, the business secretary says. Greg Clark warned about the effect of border checks on manufacturing jobs, saying whatever replaces the customs union was of “huge importance”. He added whichever option was chosen would “take some time” to put in place. Eurosceptic backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg criticised “Project Fear” warnings about job losses after Brexit. He said if the partnership model was adopted, “we would not in effect be leaving the European Union”. But Mr Clark was supported by former home secretary Amber Rudd, while Remain-supporting Tories criticised pro-Brexit “ideologues”, saying they did not represent the party at large. All EU members are part of the customs union, within which there are no internal tariffs (taxes) on goods transported between them. There is also a common tariff agreed on goods entering from outside.
Theresa May’s preferred post-Brexit customs option remains on the table, the business secretary has insisted. Greg Clark highlighted the threat additional border checks could pose to potentially thousands of jobs as he argued in favour of adopting a customs partnership with the European Union. But eurosceptic Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed the warning was akin to the “Project Fear” strategy Brexit supporters accused the Remain campaign of adopting during the 2016 referendum. The prime minister has put off a decision on the government’s preferred customs option after her Brexit “war cabinet” failed to reach an agreement.
Tory Brexit moderates and business groups have made a last-ditch attempt to push for Theresa May’s preferred customs plan, with the business secretary warning that thousands of jobs would be at risk unless there is frictionless trade. Greg Clark dismissed the idea that the prime minister’s idea for a customs partnership – in which the UK would collect import duties on behalf of the EU – had been rejected at a meeting last week of May’s Brexit inner cabinet. Clark, one of May’s key allies on the issue, said thousands of car industry jobs could be lost unless firms could rely on instant deliveries of parts from the EU. The CBI and British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) then both rushed out supportive statements.
Fresh off an election result for the Conservatives that demonstrated their need to continue to win over the support of Brexiteers, hardline pro-EU Tory MPs are now apparently plotting to effectively lock the UK inside the Single Market. The UK has to exit the Single Market to end open borders – but some Conservative MPs are seemingly looking to work with Labour to block the will of the people. According to The Independent they are looking at pushing Britain into European Economic Area (EEA) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), either of which require EU freedom of movement to continue. Disgracefully, one Remoaner Tory MP admits that the public voted to leave, saying: “It’s more difficult than passing a Customs Union amendment, because the manifesto was clear about leaving the Single Market. “But undoubtedly there are a group of Conservative MPs, now larger than the one who voted for similar amendments in the past, who have concluded maybe it is a way for us to go.”
Influential Tory Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned that Theresa May’s “customs partnership” model would effectively mean the UK would remain in the European Union. The Prime Minister has put forward a hybrid “customs partnership” model which would see Britain collect tariffs on behalf of the EU for goods destined for the block, with firms potentially claiming back a rebate if products remained in the UK on a lower-tariff regime. Mrs May hopes that the model would allow trade to take place with as little friction as possible, and would also not mean a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Yet according to Mr Rees-Mogg, this would not work as “to be effective it would have to keep us in the single market as well,” he told ITV’s Peston on Sunday. He said it would be “odd” for the Prime Minister to back a policy that effectively breached her commitment on leaving both the customs union and single market, two policies she has previously set out.
Labour’s John McDonnell says DUP’s Arlene Foster is the ‘real leader of the Conservative Party’ after she told of sharing a phone call with the Prime Minister over the customs union. The shadow chancellor suggested the phone call gave Mrs Foster – whose DUP party props up the Tories in parliament – to give Theresa may “her orders”. John McDonnell told the BBC’s Andrew Marr “the Conservatives are going to fall apart on this” as wrangling over the Brexit strategy continued. A decision on the Government’s preferred customs option has been postponed after Theresa May’s Brexit “war cabinet” failed to reach agreement. A number of Cabinet ministers spoke out against the Prime Minister’s hybrid customs partnership model, which would see Britain collect tariffs on behalf of the EU for goods destined for the block, with firms potentially claiming back a rebate if products remained in the UK on a lower-tariff regime.
Activist Tommy Robinson has told the #DayForFreedom free speech rally in London that he’s taking Twitter to court, to prove the social media giant is treating “facts” as “hate” at the behest of a censorious British government. Robinson was introduced by Breitbart London editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam, who gave a short speech thanking the police officers on duty at the event, as well as the Antifa activists and mainstream media reporters who had shown up. “Let’s have the arguments — because we can win the arguments; we are winning the arguments here today!” he told the cheering crowd. Greeted by chants of “Oh, Tommy, Tommy! Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy Robin-son”, the activist said it was “unbelievable” to see so many people out supporting freedom of speech. “The people of this country have been silenced for twenty to thirty years with the tag of ‘racist’,” he said.
More than half of British people believe that the Windrush scandal has shone a light on deeper problems in the immigration system, a new poll has revealed. The exclusive survey for The Independent indicated that a majority also want an inquiry into the debacle, which saw British citizens wrongly threatened with deportation by immigration officials. Immigration remains a divisive issue as large numbers of people still believe the UK has a serious problem with illegal migrants, with some 40 per cent showing support for “hostile environment” policies blamed for the scandal. The BMG poll also cast doubt on hopes that Amber Rudd’s resignation would draw a line under the fiasco, as twice as many people hold Theresa May responsible for the policies than blame the former home secretary.
At least 1,000 highly skilled migrants seeking indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK are wrongly facing deportation under a section of the Immigration Act designed in part to tackle terrorists and individuals judged to be a threat to national security, MPs and experts have said. In the latest scandal to hit the Home Office after the Windrush crisis, a range of MPs and immigration experts have criticised the use of the controversial section 322(5) of the act, with two saying the crisis-hit department is truly wicked and abusing its power. Experts say the highly skilled workers – including teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and IT professionals – are being refused ILR after being accused of lying in their applications either for making minor and legal amendments to their tax records, or having discrepancies in declared income. In one case, the applicant’s tax returns were scrutinised by three different appeal courts who had found no evidence of any irregularities. The same figures are nevertheless used as the basis for a 322(5) refusal because of basic tax errors allegedly made by the Home Office itself.
Pressure continued on grow on John Bercow last night after a new bullying claim levelled at him by a cabinet minister emerged. The embattled Speaker of the Commons has been reported to the parliamentary standards watchdog over allegations of aggressive behaviour towards his staff. Last week he was accused of bullying by his former chief of staff Angus Sinclair, who claimed he had been physically intimidated, demeaned and mimicked by Mr Bercow before taking “compulsory early retirement”. The intervention came after Mr Sinclair’s successor Kate Emms said she had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after less than a year working for the Speaker. David Leakey, who was Black Rod for seven years, meanwhile alleged Mr Bercow, 55, had displayed “intolerable” rudeness and “explosive” behaviour.
Under-fire John Bercow has been given support by a former colleague who suggested bullying allegations against the Commons Speaker may have been “people settling old scores”. The Speaker has denied allegations of bullying made against him by two former members of staff, but pressure has mounted on him with some MPs suggesting he should stand down. There have been calls for parliament’s standards watchdog to examine the Speaker’s actions. bullying behaviour from the Speaker. “My dealings with him have always been absolutely wonderful but he does have the reputation that he doesn’t suffer fools gladly,” he said. “It’s always been my experience that if you are dealing with someone who you think may not suffer fools gladly, it’s probably quite a good idea not to be a fool.”
Britain faces restrictions on post-Brexit trade and draconian measures to enforce free-market policies because the European Union fears a future Jeremy Corbyn government. Senior European officials have told The Times that concerns over Labour’s economic policies are the main reason for the EU’s insistence on a tough “level playing field mechanism” in a future deal after Britain leaves. The revelation came as the dispute intensified in senior Tory ranks over the customs arrangement between Britain and the EU after Brexit. Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Greg Clark, the pro-EU business and energy secretary, of promoting “Project Fear” by saying that thousands of jobs were at risk if Britain did not minimise friction in trade.
Moderate Labour MPs have accused Jeremy Corbyn’s office of sanctioning attempts to highlight them as targets for deselection. Andrew Murray, a senior Corbyn adviser who is also chief of staff at Unite, has been accused by party sources of involvement in drafting an article by Len McCluskey, which singled out five MPs for criticism. Unite denied that anyone other than Mr McCluskey, the general secretary of the trade union, was involved in the article and rebutted any suggestion that he had sought approval from Mr Corbyn’s office before its publication. Mr McCluskey warned in his New Statesman article two weeks ago that “promiscuous critics” of the Labour leadership should expect to be criticised and “held to account”.
Students should get free degrees at their local university and face financial penalties for studying in another city, a vice-chancellor has said. Tim Blackman, of Middlesex University, claimed that the culture of leaving home to live in halls was a colonial hangover and a legacy of the boarding school model introduced to educate children of officials working abroad in the British Empire. He said concessionary rail subsidies should shift from pensioners to students, to encourage more undergraduates to study near home. Many in higher education are lobbying for the reintroduction of means-tested maintenance grants, abolished in 2016, but Professor Blackman said he did not advocate their reinstatement as students chose to live away from home rather than commute to their nearest university.
Damian Hinds should “stop choking” schools and threatening them with Ofsted inspections, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has said. Speaking to headteachers in Liverpool, Ms Rayner called on the education secretary to stop “beating schools over the head” with the current inspection regime, and instead to take a collaborative approach. It comes after Mr Hinds announced plans to overhaul measures used to hold schools to account. But schools will still be forced to become academies if they are judged to be inadequate by Ofsted, he said. At the annual conference of National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in Liverpool, Ms Rayner said the current accountability system in schools was unfit for purpose. The Labour MP questioned the climate in which 10- and 11-year-olds are told they have failed Sats exams, which are supposed to only be used to hold schools to account rather than the children themselves.
Labour’s proposals to impose tighter regulation on the press violate the right to free expression and would be struck down by the courts, a leading media lawyer has said. Opposition MPs will try his week to use data protection legislation to bring in stricter press regulation by the back door. One amendment to the data protection bill, tabled by Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, would financially penalise publishers that refuse to join a state press regulator, forcing them to pay the legal costs of claimants even if their reporting is vindicated. However, Antony White, QC, said Mr Watson’s amendment was incompatible with Articles 6, 10 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, covering the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression.