Free trade

Telegraph
Philip Hammond believes Brexiteers should give up on their dreams of striking free-trade deals around the world after leaving the European Union because of their “very limited” economic value. Setting out his own alternative plan to get Brexit done as talks continued to stall in Brussels, the former chancellor said that the UK should urge the EU to conclude a rapid-fire zero-tariff trade deal with Europe that would do away with the need for a backstop. Mr Hammond – who argued for the UK to remain in a customs union during Theresa May’s government – accepted that his plan, if enacted, would rule out the prospect of the UK independently striking free trade deals. “We all know these trade deals are of very limited potential value and likely to be very hard to negotiate without serious domestic economic and political consequences,” he said in an interview with The Telegraph.

Remain alliance

Mail
Jeremy Corbyn has suggested if Boris Johnson loses a vote of no confidence he should automatically be invited by the Queen to form a new government in comments likely to infuriate the Remain Alliance.  The Labour leader said there is ‘no process other than the leader of the opposition being invited to form that government’ in the event that Mr Johnson is toppled. The remarks will almost certainly reignite a bitter row among Mr Johnson’s critics over who should be allowed to try to form a government of national unity. Mr Corbyn is adamant that it must be him but the Liberal Democrats are equally resolute that the Labour leader will never be able to command the support of a majority of MPs.

Second referendum

Independent
Parliamentary supporters of a Final Say referendum could hijack an emergency sitting of the Commons on 19 October to force a public vote on any Brexit outcome. The idea is being discussed behind the scenes by MPs who are increasingly confident they have a majority to enshrine a referendum in law before the deadline of the end of this month. The first Saturday sitting of the Commons since the Falklands War in 1982 comes on the same day as hundreds of thousands of people are expected to march through London to demand a People’s Vote under the banner Together for the Final Say. Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to use the recall to stage a vote on a no-deal Brexit, in the hope that his almost inevitable defeat would allow him to blame MPs if he is eventually forced to ask Brussels for a delay.

GE

Express
BREXIT is due to officially begin in three weeks, but all signs are pointing to the rejection of a deal. Here’s why a general election before Christmas is now more likely than Brexit. Boris Johnson unveiled his proposals to take the UK out of the EU on October 31 and solve the Irish border problem last week. But while MPs at home seemed open to the plans, the reception from Brussels was frostier, and all indications this week are for talks to collapse by the week’s end. If this happens and the EU totally rejects the new Brexit proposals, the Prime Minister is bound by law – the Benn Act – to request an extension until January 31.  While Mr Johnson has said he’d “rather be dead in a ditch” than do so, Number 10 has conceded it will have to apply with the law. If the EU offers a deal, the PM is legally obliged to accept it.

Sun
LABOUR is ready to grant Boris Johnson a general election on Tuesday November 26 if the PM loses his fight to deliver a Halloween Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn will agree to back a new bid by Boris to dissolve Parliament and go to the polls if he tables a vote for it on October 21, The Sun has learned. The date is the first available in the Commons after a now likely Brexit delay would have been enforced with the talks in collapse. Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, an election would then be held 25 full working days later.

Express
BORIS JOHNSON could lead the UK into the most unpredictable general election in decades as almost half of voters may change their lifelong political allegiance, an academic study has claimed. An election is expected to be held before the end of the year, due to another delay to the UK’s departure from the EU looking likely. And the British Election Study (BES), which has closely following elections in the UK since 1964, has analysed the outcomes of the 2010, 2015 and 2017 polls. It has concluded there was “an unprecedented trend of voting volatility” following almost half of voters changing allegiance.

Ireland

Mail
A supposed ‘concession’ by the EU on the Irish border backstop appeared to be dead on arrival today.  There are suggestions that Brussels could offer a ‘time limit’ to show the UK will not necessarily be stuck in the arrangements forever. The proposal would involve Northern Ireland politicians being given a vote on whether to leave the arrangements – which keep the province in the customs union and aligned to single market rules – after a number of years.  ‘A landing zone on consent could be a double majority within Stormont, to leave, not to continue with arrangements after X years,’ an EU source told the Times.

Independent
Boris Johnson is to meet the Irish prime minister for last-ditch Brexit talks on Thursday, after the EU’s chief negotiator publicly dismantled his proposals in a comprehensive point-by-point rebuttal. With a make-or-break summit looming next week, high-level talks will also take place in Brussels between brexit secretary Steve Barclay and Michel Barnier – who warned on Wednesday that the two sides were “not really in a position where we’re able to find an agreement”. Following claims from a Downing Street source earlier in the week that talks were on the verge of collapse, Mr Johnson will meet taoiseach Leo Varadkar privately in the northwest of England.

EU

Reuters
The European Union told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson he must make significant concessions if he wants to strike a last-minute Brexit deal. As the clock ticks down to the Oct. 31 departure date, Brexit descended into a public row between London and Brussels this week as both sides position for another delay followed by an election in Britain or an acrimonious divorce. After a Downing Street source said a Brexit deal was essentially impossible because German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made unacceptable demands, the EU accused Johnson of playing a “stupid blame game”.

Independent
A no-deal Brexit would lead to the “collapse” of the United Kingdom, the president of the European Commission has warned.  Jean-Claude Juncker’s intervention came as relations between Downing Street and Brussels hit a new low, following a row over hostile briefings emanating from No.10. In an interview with a French newspaper Mr Juncker reiterated Brussels’ accusations that the UK was engaging in a “blame game” and warned the consequences could be dire. “I do not accept this ‘blame game’ of pinning the eventual failure of the negotiations on the EU,” he told Les Echos.

Telegraph
Britain will only be granted a Brexit extension by the EU if it agrees to hold a general election or a second referendum, it emerged on Wednesday night. David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament, set out the condition during a debate in Brussels. Mr Sassoli revealed he discussed the plans directly with John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, in London on Tuesday. Mr Sassoli told the European Parliament: “I had a fruitful discussion with Speaker Bercow in which I set out my view that any request for an extension should allow the British people to give its views in a referendum or an election.”

Independent
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has dismantled Boris Johnson’s border proposals point-by-point in a comprehensive speech to the European Parliament. Michel Barnier said that “to put things very frankly … we’re not really in a position where we’re able to find an agreement”. He added that British proposals “have led to three serious concerns”: that they did not prevent a customs border, that they were not actually ready or “legally operable”, and that they could be unilaterally scrapped by Stormont and even never actually come into effect act all. Mr Barnier said the plans represented “a significant risk to the integrity of the single market” and warned: “Time is pressing. We are one week away from the European Council summit and just a few weeks away from the date of October 31”.

Sky News
The EU and UK are “not really in a position” to strike a Brexit deal, the bloc’s chief negotiator has said. Michel Barnier told the European Parliament on Wednesday there were “serious concerns” with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals, which he revealed last week. The EU official told MEPs in Brussels: “To put things very frankly… at this particular point we are not really in a position where we are able to find an agreement.” Mr Johnson has unveiled new plans for the post-Brexit Irish border, having vowed to scrap the backstop arrangement agreed between Brussels and his predecessor Theresa May.

Times
Boris Johnson was branded a “real traitor” by a senior European Union negotiator yesterday as a potential counter-offer to his Brexit proposals was rejected by Tory Eurosceptics. Mr Johnson meets Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, in Cheshire today in an attempt to break the deadlock amid bitter recriminations over the failure to make progress before next week’s EU summit. Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian leader and the European parliament’s negotiator, accused Mr Johnson of seeking scapegoats for a no-deal Brexit. “The only one who is not to be blamed is Mr Johnson apparently,” he said.

Mail
Guy Verhofstadt today labelled Boris Johnson a ‘traitor’ in an incendiary speech in the European Parliament as the EU and UK remained locked in a state of Brexit stalemate.  The  European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator said the proposals put forward by Mr Johnson last week were ‘not serious’ as he accused the PM of ‘pushing Britain’ out of the bloc. Mr Verhofstadt claimed Mr Johnson treated anyone who opposed him on Brexit as a ‘traitor’ or as a ‘collaborator’ before telling MEPs that the ‘real traitor’ was actually the British PM.  He said: ‘All those who are not playing his game are traitors, or collaborators, or surrenderers.  ‘Well, in my opinion, dear colleagues, the real traitor is he or she who would risk bringing disaster upon his country, its economy, its citizens by pushing Britain out of the European Union. That is, in my opinion, a traitor.’

Independent
The European Parliament’s Brexit chief has branded Brexiteers “the real traitors”, in a significant escalation of rhetoric from Brussels. Speaking in a debate in the EU’s legislature Guy Verhofstadt accused Boris Johnson of blaming everyone but himself for the situation the UK found itself in. “The real reason why this is happening is very simply: it’s a blame game against everybody. A blame game against the European Union, against Ireland, against Mrs Merkel, against the British judicial system, against Labour, against the Lib Dems, even against Mrs May,” he said. “The only one who is not to be blamed is Mr Johnson himself, apparently. But all the rest are the source of our problems. That is what is happening today. All those who are not playing his game are ‘traitors’ or a ‘collaborator’, or ‘surrenderers’.

Sun
BRUSSELS chiefs have upped their war of words with Boris Johnson tonight – with the MEPs’ top negotiator branding him a “traitor” over his Brexit stance. Guy Verhofstadt slammed the PM for blaming everyone but himself in an extraordinary personal attack as negotiations teetered on the brink. And EU Council boss Donald Tusk twisted the knife further by mocking the “permanent parliamentary crisis” in the UK. The bitter onslaught came on the eve of a showdown meeting tomorrow between Boris and Ireland boss Leo Varadkar. Their two hours of talks over lunch tomorrow – at a secret location in the North West – are being seen by all in Europe as a final last gasp bid to salvage a Brexit deal before October 31 with negotiations on the verge of total collapse.

BBC News
EU leaders have pulled apart the UK’s Brexit proposals, accusing Boris Johnson of putting forward untested ideas to solve the Irish border crisis. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the EU needed workable solutions “today not tomorrow”. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told MEPs that while he would “not exclude” a deal in the coming days, progress had been limited. Mr Johnson has said he remains “cautiously optimistic” about a deal. He will meet his Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, on Thursday to try and break the deadlock, while continuing to insist the UK will leave on 31 October with or without an agreement.

iNews
Britain must continue to pay in to the EU’s budget even if we leave without a deal, one of Brussels’ top officials warned. Gunther Oettinger, the European budget commissioner, said the UK was signed up to contribute until the end of 2020 regardless of the outcome of Brexit. Eurosceptic politicians responded with anger to the claim and to the revelation that the European Parliament’s president has met John Bercow to discuss how a no-deal outcome could be blocked. Mr Oettinger, who oversees the EU’s income and spending, suggested that in a no-deal Brexit Britain could be forced to pay in too the budget as a condition of starting talks on a free-trade agreement.

Bercow

Times
John Bercow has been criticised for holding private discussions with the head of the European parliament about avoiding a no-deal Brexit. On a day when the Commons Speaker was accused of bias, bullying and stoking intemperate debate by several of the MPs hoping to succeed him when he steps down at the end of this month, he also came under fire from Brexiteers, who said that he had embarked on a freelance diplomatic operation. David Sassoli, president of the European parliament, told MEPs in Brussels that he had held “fruitful discussions” on delaying Brexit so that there could be a second referendum or an election.

Mail
Speaker John Bercow faced allegations of ‘plotting’ today after it emerged he met the EU parliament chief to discuss their ‘shared’ desire to avoid No Deal. David Sassoli revealed he held talks with Mr Bercow in London this morning, telling MEPs they were on the ‘same wavelength’. Mr Sassoli said the pair agreed that the UK and EU Parliaments must have a key role in ‘managing’ the Brexit process. ‘We share an awareness that a chaotic exit of the UK from the EU would work to the detriment of citizens on both sides,’ he said. But the news sparked anger from Eurosceptics including Nigel Farage, who said it was a ‘disgrace’ that the president and the Speaker had ‘agreed to work to prevent a clean break Brexit’. ‘What right does the Speaker have to do this?’ he demanded.

Express
JOHN Bercow has sparked outrage after it has emerged the meddling Speaker of the House of Commons has bypassed Prime Minister Boris Johnson and British Parliament to negotiate with the EU on Brexit for the United Kingdom. Brexit Party chair Richard Tice took to Twitter in a furious rampage against the Speaker of the Commons, arguing the Tory MP has no authority to act on behalf of Mr Johnson. Mr Tice, referring to David Sassoli, said: “Here in Brussels new President Sassoli admits in chamber that he has bypassed the UK PM and Govt and is now in direct discussions with Bercow about Brexit negotiations. He refused to take my urgent question on what authority they had to have these discussions.” It has also been claimed an option Mr Sassoli has agreed with Mr Bercow is a second EU referendum, sparking fury among Brexiteers.

Breitbart
The new President of the European Parliament confirmed he has entered into talks with his British counterpart Speaker John Bercow on how to prevent the UK fully leaving the European Union, a move which has outraged prominent Brexiteers. Speaking to the Parliament plenary session on Wednesday, the newly selected President of the European Parliament David Sassoli revealed that as well as meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday in London, he had also engaged in apparently secret talks with the notoriously anti-Brexit speaker of the Commons, John Bercow.

Extinction Rebellion

Reuters
London City Airport was braced for disruption on Thursday after climate-change protesters Extinction Rebellion vowed to occupy its terminal and shut down operations for three days as part of its action in the British capital. London City is the capital’s fifth-biggest – and most central – airport, popular with business travelers, bankers and politicians for short-haul and regional routes. On Thursday, 18,000 passengers are due to arrive or depart from the airport, with 286 flights scheduled. Extinction Rebellion, which has targeted government buildings over the last few days, said protesters would lie, sit or glue themselves to “nonviolently use their bodies to close the airport.”

Drugs

Yahoo News
Britain’s biggest ever drug smuggling gang has been smashed after billions of pounds worth of narcotics was brought into the UK, the National Crime Agency believes. Officers arrested 13 men aged between 24 and 59 on Tuesday across the country in dawn raids. The NCA seized 351 kilos of cocaine, 92 kilos of heroin, 250 kilos of cannabis and 1,850 kilos of hemp/hashish, with a total street value of more than £38 million, in three consignments in September 2018. Investigators believe more than 50 tonnes of drugs worth billions of pounds were imported from the Netherlands, between February 2017 and October 2018, hidden in lorries carrying vegetables and juice.

Road travel

Sky News
MPs are to investigate if drivers should be charged on a pay-as-you-go basis. The Commons’ Transport Committee said it wants to start a national debate about whether road pricing can play a part in the future of transport. Consideration of such a scheme has not been government policy since the then-Labour administration abandoned proposals in 2007 after an online petition attracted 1.8 million signatures. But experts believe ministers must re-consider it as motoring taxes – worth £40 billion to the Treasury annually – are likely to decline sharply in the coming years as people switch from conventionally-fuelled vehicles.

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