Theresa May today slapped down Boris Johnson after he made an audacious pitch for her job in a fiery resignation speech in the Commons. The former Foreign Secretary launched an excoriating attack on the PM’s ‘dithering’ Brexit strategy in his first Commons speech since quitting. He exploded back into the political fray by lambasting her ‘miserable’ strategy as the Prime Minister struggles to contain open warfare in the Tory party.
Former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson just gave the best and most important speech of his life: the one that might, with luck, save Brexit. It definitely wasn’t his funniest speech or the most fluent. Boris actually referred to notes which, as an experienced debater and master of the off-the-cuff quip, he almost never does. But then he has never made a speech quite like this important before.
Boris Johnson has claimed “it is not too late to save Brexit” in his first speech since resigning from government, where he tore into Theresa May‘s Chequers plan. The ex-foreign secretary gave a resignation statement to MPs, where he claimed a “fog of self-doubt” has fallen over Britain since the prime minister’s Lancaster House speech and claimed her new plan would reduce the UK to “economic vassalage”.
Boris Johnson has used a stinging resignation speech to tell MPs it is “not too late to save Brexit”, but stopped short of a leadership challenge against Theresa May. The former foreign secretary, who resigned from the cabinet last week over May’s Chequers negotiating strategy, said the government had allowed a “fog of uncertainty” to descend since May’s Lancaster House speech in January 2017, which suggested a “comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement” with the EU27.
Theresa May’s Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell, has apparently told Conservative members that further concessions to to the European Union are likely. In news that will seriously disturb already angry Brexiteers, ConservativeHome report that a briefing to Conservative Association Chairmen included Barwell “conceded that further concessions were likely”. Not only that, but there was reportedly little mention of any ‘red lines’ moving forward. Theresa May has previously hinted that she would reject any further move from Brussels to dilute her already weak plan that has seen her and the Tory Party’s ratings tank.
Theresa May is preparing to publish more than 70 papers giving instructions on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. In a clear sign that plans are accelerating to cover the negotiations collapsing, the Prime Minister said the technical notices would tell firms and individuals what to do ‘in the event of a no-deal scenario’. Her comments came as International Trade Secretary Liam Fox warned EU leaders of the catastrophic economic consequences of failing to reach an agreement.
THERESA May has revealed ministers are about to start issuing a raft of advice for Britain to go it alone in a bid to appease revolting Brexiteers. The PM pledged to visibly step up no deal preparations, starting next month with the release of 70 different technical notices to businesses and individuals. The move came as she crossed swords with angry Eurosceptic Tory MPs over her new soft Brexit Chequers plan throughout a day of grillings before Parliament goes on its long summer holiday.
THERESA MAY has revealed that ministers are set to release advice and technical notes to firms telling them how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit while giving evidence to a Parliamentary Committee. Hard Brexit preparations will step up from next month, with the release of 70 advisory technical notices to businesses and individuals. The admission of the Government’s no-deal plans is likely to be music to the ears of some hard-line Brexiteers. Until now, the Cabinet has been keeping quiet on any no-deal contingencies, through fear of companies heading overseas.
Theresa May lives to fight another day after facing down demands from Tory Remainer rebels to commit to entering a customs union with the EU if a frictionless trade deal could not be negotiated by this January. But the audible sighs of relief in Downing Street cannot mask the fact that when it comes to the negotiation with Brussels, the British government has actually moved backwards this week in the eyes of the EU. The UK Brexit white paper was always viewed as a fundamentally tactical and political document in Brussels, designed to open the door to further negotiations (and concessions) rather than a serious blueprint for the future.
The UK’s new Brexit secretary will hold his first talks with the EU’s chief negotiator in Brussels later. Dominic Raab was appointed when David Davis resigned in protest at Theresa May’s plans for post-Brexit trade. It now falls to Mr Raab – part of the winning Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum – to continue negotiations with the EU’s Michel Barnier. Their meeting comes as the European Commission is instructing other EU states to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
Theresa May has refused to say whether her customs plan requires EU border staff to collect duties for the UK after Brexit, prompting an accusation that she is “not being straight”. Under fierce questioning, the prime minister declined – four times – to explain how her “facilitated customs arrangement” will work, even as she seeks agreement in Brussels. Asked repeatedly if payments would have to be collected at borders – something the EU is expected to reject – she would go no further than the need to agree a “tariff revenue formula”.
European Union (EU) Brexit negotiators are not keen on the Prime Minister’s customs plans for a “soft” Brexit and are set to continue hammering the UK on the issue of the Irish border at up-and-coming talks. The bloc’s unelected bureaucrats are still intent on forcing the UK into agreeing to a “backstop” if the border cannot be kept completely open, which would cut the province off from the rest of the UK by locking it in to the bloc’s Single Market. Sources said Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, is not convinced that Theresa May’s Chequers white paper will lead to a final agreement on customs and trade arrangements.
Liam Fox has warned European leaders they risk seriously damaging their countries’ economies if they force the UK into a no-deal Brexit. The international trade secretary told the EU “the ball is in their court” as he called on “Brussels bureaucrats” not to sacrifice the wellbeing of their citizens for the sake of “abstract ideology”. He claimed the economies of European countries would take a hefty hit if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, putting the “prosperity and wellbeing” of EU citizens at risk.
The EU gave the British negotiating team a torrid time at the first presentation of the UK’s white paper on the future relationship during this week’s talks, the Guardian has learned. Led by Michel Barnier’s deputy, Sabine Weyand, the EU’s team of officials picked apart the most contentious parts of the paper as it was presented by Olly Robbins, Theresa May’s chief Brexit adviser, leading to increased concerns on both sides that a no-deal scenario is moving from possible to likely. “The white paper is not going to form the basis of the negotiations,” one senior EU diplomat told the Guardian.
As many as seven million British motorists a year may have to pay for a permit to drive in the European Union after a no-deal Brexit, according to Whitehall’s spending watchdog. The National Audit Office (NAO) said that there was still “considerable work” to do to prepare contingency measures for Britain’s exit from the EU. In a report published today officials said that the Department for Transport (DfT) faced challenges ensuring that key issues such as the future of driving licences and managing traffic flows at Dover were addressed.
Plans are being drawn up to issue millions of permits so Britons can drive on EU roads after Brexit. Up to seven million International Driving Permits could be needed inside a year if the UK and the EU do not agree to mutual recognise of licences, the National Audit Office (NAO) says. The public spending watchdog warned that “detailed delivery plans” had not yet been completed. But the government told it the project was “deliverable”. The NAO report looks at how the Department for Transport is preparing for the UK’s departure from the EU in March 2019.
MPs have called for visa-free travel and permit-free work for skilled workers for up to six months in a challenge to the post-Brexit immigration policy vacuum. In a fresh report, parliament’s science and technology committee claims government delays in confirming how an immigration system will function after withdrawing from the bloc is “deeply damaging” for the science and innovation community. The cross-party MPs on the committee said they were “disappointed” the government had failed to “bring forward its conclusions in relation to the immigration arrangements needed to support science and innovation” in its previous report.
IRELAND is accelerating its preparations for a Brexit no deal scenario due to the “turmoil in Westminster”, Leo Varadkar has revealed. The Irish taoiseach (prime minister) said Theresa May’s collapse in control had made the worst-case no deal scenario more likely. Mr Varadkar, who has been a consistent thorn in the side of hardline Brexiteers in London and Belfast, spoke out after 48 hours of chaos in Parliament. After watching Mrs May suffer a humiliating defeat on one Brexit trade bill amendment and scrape victory in three others, Mr Varadkar said: “It’s not evident or not obvious that the government in Britain has a majority for any form of Brexit, quite frankly.”
Ireland is stepping up contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit as Theresa May prepares to visit the Irish border. The Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said the instability in Westminster meant there was no guarantee that a withdrawal agreement, even if agreed in Brussels, would get passed in London. “We can’t make assumptions that the withdrawal agreement will get through Westminster,” he said. “It’s not evident, or not obvious, that the government of Britain has the majority for any form of Brexit, quite frankly.” Because of this, he said, his government would step up plans for a no-deal scenario.
An immediate threat to Theresa May’s premiership appears to be subsiding after a Tory MP withdrew his letter of no confidence in the prime minister. Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke used an end-of-term meeting of the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee to formally revoke his demand for a new party leader. Other Brexiteers also appeared to be rallying around Mrs May, despite this week’s ever-deepening splits between Tory Leavers and Remainers, with one describing a “warm response” for the prime minister as she addressed the meeting on Wednesday evening.
Julian Smith, the chief whip, urged three Tory MPs to abandon “pairing” arrangements before a knife-edge vote on Tuesday, it has been claimed. Pairing is a parliamentary convention by which pairs of MPs on different sides of the Commons agree not to vote so that an absence such as maternity leave does not count against a member. Mr Smith summoned Brandon Lewis, the Tory chairman, from a meeting to parliament as a crunch vote on customs approached, witnesses claim. The chief whip is understood to have told Mr Lewis that the later votes were going to be close and he needed him to vote.
Theresa May today insisted that her party has learnt lessons after a Lib Dem accused a Tory MP of breaking a promise not to vote in last night’s Brexit showdown so she could stay at home with her newborn. Jo Swinson, who gave birth to her son Gabriel two weeks ago, is on maternity leave so she missed the crucial parliamentary showdown. Tory whips had agreed to ‘pair’ her with party chairman Brandon Lewis – meaning he would also skip the vote so Ms Swinson would not be punished for having a baby. But Mr Lewis flouted the agreement and took part in the knife-edge vote on the customs union last night.
THERESA MAY condemned her own party whips yesterday after a senior Tory shattered Commons convention during a key Brexit Bill. The PM issued a full apology for Tory party chair Brandon Lewis breaking a so-called “pairing agreement” to take part in two crunch votes on Wednesday evening. Under the agreement, the Tory chair had agreed not to vote at all – so Lib Dem Jo Swinson could remain at home and look after her young baby. But he ended up voting and helping Theresa May to avoid a humiliating defeat on Brexit customs plans.
HARDLINE left-wingers are to launch a fresh move to make it easier to deselect Labour MPs, with plans drafted to be discussed at the upcoming Autumn Conference. Momentum are intending to force the issue on to the agenda at September’s annual meeting in Liverpool, it has been revealed. Momentum-backed constituency Labour parties want to propose an extension to the party democracy review, which would mean MPs needing a two-thirds majority vote of local party members to continue to fight for their seat.
LABOUR rightwingers are trying to “bully” the party into adopting a flawed definition of anti-semitism, the Jewish Socialists’ Group charged today. MPs and lobbying groups such as Labour Against Anti-Semitism have attacked the party’s national executive committee (NEC) for adopting guidelines on anti-semitism which do not include controversial examples attached to the International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition. Labour Against Anti-Semitism spokesman Euan Philipps said the NEC’s view showed that “the Labour movement has lost its moral compass [and] appears to have an institutional anti-semitism issue.”
Jewish MP could be ousted from Labour for calling Jeremy Corbyn a “racist” during a furious row over the party’s new code of conduct on anti-Semitism. Dame Margaret Hodge, a former minister, has been told action will be taken against her after she lashed out at the Labour leader over the decision to reject an internationally recognised definition of Jew hatred. The decision has incensed moderate Labour MPs and risks reigniting a bitter row which has for months pitted Mr Corbyn’s allies against those who believe the party leadership has failed to crack down on anti-Semites.
A Jewish MP who called Jeremy Corbyn a ‘f***ing anti-Semite and racist’ has doubled down on her words explaining that her grandparents were murdered by Hitler during the Holocaust and she would not abide the same hatred in her own party. Dame Margaret Hodge accused the Labour leader of standing by and allowing the party to be infected by anti-Semitism and reiterated her desire to fight it. In a moving article in The Guardian, Dame Margaret issued an emotional defence of her attack on Mr Corbyn hours after his office said she would be disciplined for the attack.
Jeremy Corbyn’s office has vowed “action will be taken” against a respected senior Labour MP who called the party leader a “f****** antisemite and a racist”. Mr Corbyn’s spokesman said Labour rules forbade MPs from acting in a way that is disrespectful or brings the party into disrepute, and a disciplinary process had been triggered by Dame Margaret Hodge’s accusation. It comes amid a furious internal row sparked after the party’s ruling executive adopted a new code of conduct that defines antisemitism differently from the more broadly accepted meaning of the word.
The Labour party descended into open conflict as it launched disciplinary action against Margaret Hodge after an angry public confrontation in which the veteran MP branded Jeremy Corbyn an antisemite. The MP for Barking, a secular Jew, defended her decision to confront the Labour leader in the Commons to share her “anger and outrage” over the party’s refusal to ditch a controversial new code of conduct on antisemitism. At the same time it emerged that Corbyn’s allies had privately discussed in the run-up to last year’s general election how to “deal with” John Woodcock and other critics, including Peter Mandelson.
A DECISION on Tommy Robinson’s appeal against a 13-month prison sentence has been reserved by judges until the end of the month – meaning he will stay behind bars.The English Defence League founder was slapped with the sentence in May after be broke reporting restrictions. Today he appealed his sentence, but judges have reserved a decision until the end of July. He had published an hour-long live video to Facebook outside a court where a trial was being held. Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, breached the restrictions by speaking about the case and filming defendants.
Senior British Judges have delayed a decision on an appeal by activist Tommy Robinson against a conviction for contempt of court, with his lawyers arguing there have been procedural “deficiencies” giving rise to “prejudice”. The Court of Appeal is now expected to reveal a judgement on the independent journalist and street organiser’s imprisonment by the end of July. The case sparked huge public interest earlier this year after information about the case was wiped from the British media and reporting banned on the orders of a judge.
Criminal suspects will be able to block the media from reporting their arrests after Sir Cliff Richard’s privacy victory over the BBC, legal experts said yesterday. Senior BBC executives face serious questions about their future after a judge attacked the corporation’s coverage of a police raid on the singer’s home. Editors were motivated by a desire to “scoop their rivals” more than the public interest, Mr Justice Mann said. “They have to carry the can,” Sir Cliff told ITV News last night.
Sir Cliff Richard has revealed the devastating impact of his four-year legal battle with the BBC after it finally came to an end today, saying he ‘won’t go anywhere near children’ again. The popstar said the harrowing toll of the case on his day-to-day life means he will ‘never completely recover’ from the ordeal and he no longer comes into contact with other people’s children for fear of the repercussions. His words came after a High Court judge ruled the BBC had invaded his privacy by broadcasting a police raid of his Berkshire home live on TV after he was linked to a child sex abuse claim.
Theresa May has rejected calls for Cliff Richard’s law which would give anonymity to sex assault suspects until they’re charged. It comes after Sir Cliff has won a High Court privacy battle with the BBC over its coverage of a police search of his home. Tory former minister Anna Soubry raised the case in the Commons – urging the Prime Minister to consider introducing “Cliff’s law” which would restrict the media from naming suspects until they are charged. She said: “Would the Prime Minister look again now at changing the law so that a suspect is not named by the media, except in exceptional cases, until such time as they’re charged?