The Conservative Party’s advocates for a ‘clean-break’ Brexit have published a new plan for a managed ‘no deal’ if the European Union will not substantially renegotiate the thrice-rejected Withdrawal Agreement. The 10-page plan “A clean managed Brexit” produced by Steve Baker, the deputy chair of the party’s European Research Group, is presented as a proposal that a new Tory prime minister should adopt as a “basis for government policy” on taking office. It says the new PM should not seek to revise the existing Withdrawal Agreement while agreeing to “consider proposals” from the EU if it is prepared to redraft the deal to remove the Irish backstop and “any reference” to EU law. However, given that the EU has already repeatedly refused to re-open the deal agreed by Theresa May for even tiny changes, this document essentially amounts to a ‘no-deal’ manifesto.
Eurosceptic Conservative group the ERG have today published a paper demanding an “unshakeable” commitment to leaving the European Union on October 31, deal or no deal. The paper, endorsed by high-profile Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg, Iain Duncan Smith and Steve Baker, the latter of whom insists the Withdrawal Agreement has “failed absolutely”. Baker said: “The next leader of the Conservative Party needs to know that and act on that basis. “Our new Prime Minister will have three months to get this right, or that’s it – for this government, this Parliament and this party.”
Candidates in favour of keeping no-deal alive claim departments are trying to influence the race to become prime minister, but the government insists updates will be routine and “sensible”. Conservative leadership candidates fear ministers will release new details of the UK’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit in the middle of the contest to choose the next prime minister, damaging those who are arguing no-deal should be kept on the table. Raising the alarm about what they see as potential government interference in the race, campaign teams for the candidates open to no-deal claimed they had uncovered plans by ministers across several Whitehall departments to release fresh information about the impact of leaving the EU without an agreement.
Conservative leadership hopefuls have clashed over whether to back a no-deal Brexit, as party bosses tightened the rules to limit the number of candidates to succeed Theresa May. Esther McVey said she would only have “committed Brexiteers” in her cabinet until the UK was out of the EU, which she pledged would happen by 31 October, with or without a deal. But rival candidate Matt Hancock said no deal is “not a credible option” as he pledged to go back to the EU to discuss the Irish border issue.
As of this evening Boris still holds a convincing lead ahead of Michael Gove followed by Jeremy Hunt and Dom Raab – the leading pack’s positions are unchanged. With just five days until nominations close, just over half the Parliamentary Party have declared. Guido hears that some MPs are holding back their public endorsements until the Prime Minister has formally stepped down as Party Leader, meaning the candidates with fewer than eight public endorsements are adamant that they have the numbers to survive the nomination process.
Michael Gove has told Tory MPs in a hustings hosted by the One Nation group that he is ready to delay Brexit beyond October 31 in order to secure a good deal. “If we are making progress and are on the verge of a Deal, and we’ve had a good EU Council in October and we’re 99 per cent of the way there on Halloween,” he reportedly said, “are we seriously saying we wouldn’t take a bit more time to get the deal done?”
Michael Gove launched a thinly veiled attack on Boris Johnson last night as he pitched himself as a serious team leader. In an attempt to claw back ground lost to Mr Johnson in the Conservative leadership race, Mr Gove said: “This is a moment when we need someone who is ready to lead and serious about the job at hand.” The contrast with the former foreign secretary was implied but unspoken.
Michael Gove today warns that Boris Johnson’s stance on Brexit could plunge the Conservatives into a chaotic election this autumn. Firing his opening salvo in the Tory leadership campaign, the Environment Secretary warns that candidates pledging to leave the EU in October ‘come what may’ risk a clash with Parliament that could put Jeremy Corbyn in No 10. Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Gove sets out his alternative Brexit plan and says he would be willing to sanction a short delay to allow ‘a little extra time’ if a deal is close.
Tory leadership hopeful Esther McVey has said she would have a Brexiteer-only cabinet until the UK leaves the EU. Ms McVey, one of 11 candidates jostling to succeed Theresa May, said she would ban Remain-backing ministers from her top team until the official deadline on 31 October. The controversial ex-work and pensions secretary claimed she had enough support from Tory MPs to get onto the ballot paper after party grandees tightened the rules governing the contest.
JEREMY Hunt has claimed he’s “got the plan to deliver Brexit” and suggests a deal could be arranged before the October 31 deadline. The foreign secretary launched his first official leadership campaign video on Twitter this morning under the slogan “unite to win”. Mr Hunt warned the UK could be “stuck in a paralysis” if Brexit is carried out badly, as the EU may block a better deal and UK Parliament could block a no deal. He then went on to compare those who claim “it’s impossible” to pass a deal in this time to the scepticism surrounding the London 2012 Olympics, money for the NHS and the war in Yemen.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has claimed that if Jeremy Corbyn won a general election he would be “the first antisemitic leader of a western nation since the second world war”. Speaking at a private hustings event in Westminster for the Tory leadership, Hancock sought to portray himself as the best candidate to appeal to younger voters and win a general election.
Matt Hancock has compared Jeremy Corbyn to Hitler, saying the Labour leader is an antisemite. Mr Hancock, 40, the Conservative leadership hopeful, urged his party to choose the right successor to Theresa May or “we could end up with the first antisemitic leader of a western nation” since the Second World War. The health secretary is the first Tory politician to accuse Mr Corbyn of being an antisemite.
Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart says his competitors’ claims they could negotiate a new Brexit deal before 31 October are “misleading”. Some candidates say they can agree a plan by the deadline set by the EU, but Mr Stewart said there was “not a hope”. Boris Johnson has warned the Tories face “potential extinction” if the UK doesn’t leave by then. Rival Jeremy Hunt said a revised deal could be done by then under a leader with “the right negotiating skills”.
Committed Brexiteer Steve Baker could join the Conservative leadership race if other candidates refuse to back his Brexit plan, which includes planning to leave on WTO terms. The former Brexit Minister has issued a document privately that calls for the UK to prepare to leave on a No Deal basis before seeking a free trade deal with the European Union, withholding the £39 billion Theresa May committed to in the process.
European Research Group (ERG) deputy chairman Steve Baker has said he could stand in the Tory leadership contest to deliver a no-deal Brexit. Launching a paper on how to rip up the current Brexit deal and achieve a “clean, managed” exit from the EU, Mr Baker said the new leader must be willing to follow its recommendations. Otherwise, Mr Baker said, the group would need to put forward its own candidate – and he was willing to join the race when it officially opens on Monday.
TORY leadership hopeful Dominic Raab has vowed he is will to do whatever it takes to ensure the UK leaves the EU by the end of October – including breaking up Parliament until after the Halloween deadline. At present, the House of Commons is due to break for summer recess in July, but the former Brexit Secretary has said he would be willing to block MPs returning to Westminster in order to deliver on the 2016 EU referendum result.
Veteran Eurosceptic MP Sir Edward Leigh has said that he is “disappointed” by the sounds coming out of the Tory leadership race and has put forward his plan on how Brexit could be delivered: to prorogue Parliament, essentially terminating the current Parliamentary session. Writing on Twitter yesterday, Sir Edward said: “I am disappointed by the lack of radical ideas coming out of this leadership race. Here’s my programme for the new government: “There are only two choices given the EU won’t change the deal and there’s no chance of Parliament passing it. One is cancel Brexit: an intolerable denial of democracy. The other is leave without a deal on WTO terms on 31 October.
WITH 12 candidates declared so far, possibly more by the time this is published, and even though not officially under way until next Monday, the ‘Conservative’ Party leadership contest already resembles not so much a Westminster fight as a Whitehall farce. It’s obvious that most of the candidates aren’t serious leadership prospects, and some will inevitably withdraw. In fact, James Cleverly already has done. Several are clearly either trying to attract enough support for themselves to secure a promise of Cabinet or ministerial office from a genuine contender if they withdraw and switch their support to him/her, or to boost their own profile and lay down a marker for a future contest.
Labour’s brutal civil war over Brexit was brutally exposed today after frontbencher Emily Thornberry was sent into ‘internal exile’ by Jeremy Corbyn. The shadow foreign secretary, who usually deputises for the Labour leader at Prime Minister’s Questions, was replaced this afternoon by shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey during the weekly Commons showpiece. Islington South MP Ms Thornberry has departed from Mr Corbyn’s fence-sitting position on Brexit in recent weeks, calling for the party to move behind a second referendum. And today, she sat on the front bench of the Commons to watch as Ms Long-Bailey, who has toed the party line in support of a Brexit on its own terms, represented the party against David Lidington.
Labour’s Brexit spokeswoman has told Jeremy Corbyn he must come off the fence and commit to a fresh referendum “now”. Jenny Chapman – a long-time opponent of another public vote – said she was now convinced there was no alternative way to “resolve” the crisis. Asked if the Labour leader should make the announcement “now”, Ms Chapman replied: “I think so – I think it should be now.” “We need to take the bull by the horns, we need to explain to people why that is the right decision to take.” The intervention comes as Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, attempts to build a party coalition to force Mr Corbyn to change course, following its European elections disaster.
Boris’ court case
Boris Johnson‘s fightback against a Remainer court case over the referendum campaign was briefly delayed after Ed Miliband’s judge wife was chosen to preside over a hearing. The former foreign secretary lodged a request for a judicial review last week after he was ordered to appear in court over his claim Britain sends EU £350m every week. But the High Court judge on duty was Mrs Justice Thornton, 48, the wife of the former Labour leader, according to the Sun. She immediately ‘recused’ herself from the hearing because of her political connection to the Labour Party.
Turn the telescope around on Brexit. Look back across La Manche. Three years after the Referendum the EU has failed to secure a trade deal or political arrangement with its nearest neighbour. It has failed to lock in a partnership with a country that is arguably Western Europe’s leading defence and intelligence power. It has failed to secure unfettered access to a market that absorbs €400bn of EU exports each year and which could be cut in half by a no-deal Brexit – according to a study by the IW Institute in Cologne. Europe’s supply chains are left dangling. Relations with the UK are terrible. Brilliant.
The government has admitted that a “significant problem” resulted in hundreds of thousands people being told they would get a higher state pension than they were actually due. A massive data blunder meant that 360,000 state pension forecasts handed out online over the past three years were out by up to £1,500, said Guy Opperman, the pensions minister. The widespread error means thousands of people will have planned to fund their retirement based on misleading information. The former pensions minister Steve Webb called for an urgent stop to the incorrect statements.
Health providers will be paid to substitute clinicians with machines as the NHS embraces artificial intelligence to improve patient outcomes and deliver savings, the chief executive of NHS England has said. Simon Stevens said that jobs could be at risk as radiographers and others were replaced by algorithms and digital tools to meet productivity targets agreed in return for the NHS’s extra £20 billion a year it was given in 2018. Providers will be given financial incentives to use AI in areas such as diagnostics, screening and outpatient appointments, which the NHS has pledged to cut by a third.
The European Parliament has been forced into a humiliating climbdown after it set Nigel Farage a 24 hour deadline to attend a hearing into alleged undeclared gifts from Brexiteer tycoon Arron Banks. Sources today revealed that as a result the committee had decided to extend the deadline to next week. The 24-hour ultimatum was dismissed as political motivated by aides to Mr Farage, while the Brexit Party leader branded the committee a “EU kangaroo court”.
Nigel Farage could be temporarily banned from the European Parliament, after he refused to give evidence to an investigation into whether he broke its funding rules. The Brexit Party leader has been summoned to a committee on the “conduct of members” to answer why he did not declare gifts worth £450,000. An MEP who called for the probe says Leave campaign donor Arron Banks gave him the money to “fund a lavish lifestyle”. Mr Farage dismissed the “kangaroo court” and the 24 hours of notice he received, vowing to boycott the meeting.
BRITS face forking out up to a billion pounds to the EU next year even if we leave with a deal – with Eurocrats blaming the weak pound for the hike. The UK’s payout to Brussels is projected to rise from £12.6bn this year to £13.6bn next, according to figures released by the Commission yesterday. That would mark an 8% annual increase in our yearly membership fee – even though overall spending across the bloc for 2020 will only rise by 3.5%.
The European Central Bank is weighing what to do about growth worries and sluggish inflation, just two days after the U.S. Federal Reserve opened the door to more stimulus. Speculation that how the bank could act to boost the economy has grown as market expectations for inflation have sagged, a sign of growing pessimism about the economy. Both the ECB and the Fed have paused efforts to withdraw stimulus deployed in the wake of the Great Recession and global financial crisis. Worries about the global economy are now raising expectations that the Fed could actually cut interest rates as its next step. Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the Fed is prepared to respond if it decides the Trump administration’s trade conflicts are threatening the U.S. economy.
Passengers can look forward to shorter queues to get through security at Heathrow airport under plans to permit liquids and laptops being carried through inside hand luggage. Britain’s busiest airport said that 3D security equipment was being installed throughout the airport in the next three years that would be able to scan bags in more detail. It will be the first time that the equipment has been used in a British airport and it is expected to cut queueing times in terminals significantly.
Air passengers may be able to keep liquids and laptops in their cabin bags when they go through security when more powerful scanners are deployed. Heathrow says the new scanners will be installed by 2022 to detect explosives at a cost of £50million. Computed tomography, which is used by doctors to examine organs and tissues, is already being used to check luggage stored in aircraft holds. Scanners using the technology produce detailed, three-dimensional images at higher speeds than regular X-ray devices.
The government has been accused of trying to “massage” its carbon emissions targets, as Labour criticised the records on climate change of several of the Tory leadership candidates. Ministers are reportedly trying to use the fact that the UK achieved higher-than-expected reductions in emissions in recent years to justify relaxing future targets. After pressure from Philip Hammond, the chancellor, minsters are expected to ease the target for emissions in the period beginning in 2023, despite its advisory panel on climate change urging them not to do so. The Committee on Climate Change has said rules that allow targets to be altered to reflect past and current performance should not be used to allow more emissions, but Greg Clark, the business secretary, is set to ignore the recommendation, according to the Financial Times. Ministers are also yet to accept the CCC’s proposal of a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050, although Theresa May is expected to do so before she leaves office at the end of July.
A review is being carried out into HS2 to ensure that the £56 billion line is “deliverable”, the transport secretary said. Chris Grayling said that Allan Cook, who was appointed as chairman of HS2 Ltd at the end of last year, was analysing the project to make sure that it can be built within the existing budget. He hinted that parts of the scheme could be scaled back in light of the recent Crossrail fiasco which will run up to two years late and cost £2.8 billion more than estimated.