FURY erupted among Tory MPs last night after the EU flatly refused to budge in the deadlocked talks over a Brexit deal. Cabinet ministers Geoffrey Cox and Stephen Barclay returned from Brussels yesterday without any sign of a breakthrough in the wrangle after EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier rebuffed their demands for changes to the so-called “backstop” measures. Their failure to make progress left Theresa May facing a fresh crushing Commons defeat over her Withdrawal Agreement at Westminster next Tuesday. While EU and UK officials were continued the talks, angry Brexiteer MPs blamed the hard-line Tory Remainers pressing the Prime Minister to rule out a no-deal departure for the impasse.
Talks between the UK and the European Union on tweaks to a deal, focusing on the hated backstop, don’t look to be moving in a very productive direction. It seems there is complete deadlock, with the EU Commission and British government both refusing to provide readouts of last night’s meeting, an unusual move. With Attorney General Geoffrey Cox in Brussels, there were strong rumours that the talks are not going well. The EU Commission line is now that “Barnier informed Commissioners that while the talks take place in a constructive atmosphere discussions have been difficult.
The UK has been urged to table fresh proposals within the next 48 hours to break the Brexit impasse. EU officials said they would work non-stop over the weekend if “acceptable” ideas were received by Friday to break the deadlock over the Irish backstop. The UK has said “reasonable” proposals to satisfy MPs’ concerns about being tied to EU rules had already been made.
Efforts by British negotiators to win changes to Theresa May’s Brexit deal are going badly, after talks in Brussels broke up without any progress to report and the EU Commission warned that “no solution” is in sight. Exasperated Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has said he had “no legal texts or draft legal texts to consider” following several rounds of meetings between the UK and EU. A spokesperson for the EU Commission said on Wednesday morning that “while the talks take place in a constructive atmosphere, discussions have been difficult” and that “no solution has been identified at this point that is consistent with the withdrawal agreement”.
Theresa May’s Cabinet is resigned to her Brexit deal being defeated by up to 100 votes next week after talks in Brussels collapsed without progress on Wednesday. Downing Street is already making plans for a third “meaningful vote” on the deal on the assumption that Tuesday’s vote is lost, and Mrs May is considering making a major speech on Friday to plead for support from MPs. One minister said it appeared “certain” that the Commons vote on the Brexit deal will be lost, and that Mrs May’s next move would depend on the scale of the defeat.
Cabinet ministers expect another heavy defeat for Theresa May’s Brexit deal when the Commons votes again next week, after the UK walked away empty-handed from the latest negotiations with Brussels. Talks between EU negotiators and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox ended in deadlock yesterday after Brussels refused to grant assurances over the Irish backstop. The backstop has proved the biggest obstacle to Mrs May’s efforts to persuade her Tory colleagues to back her Brexit deal.
LEADING Brexiteers have warned Theresa May her Brexit deal is doomed to fail when it is put to the House of Commons next week. Chief eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg has said the Prime Minister should ignore any vote to delay Brexit after blasting “the people have spoken”. MPs have been given the option of extending Article 50 if they cannot agree on Mrs May’s altered Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday. They will be allowed to vote on whether to leave with no deal in a further Commons vote the following day.
Downing Street has insisted the meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal will go ahead as promised on Tuesday, despite negotiations in Brussels stumbling. The prime minister’s spokesman repeated the line on Wednesday that the government is determined to secure “legally binding changes” to the Irish backstop, despite the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, returning empty-handed from the talks.
Government ministers could be ordered to back a no-deal Brexit if Theresa May’s agreement is thrown out next week, Liam Fox says. The leading Brexiteer said he expected the prime minister to impose a “collective decision” on Tory MPs – after suggestions of a free vote, to avoid mass resignations. And, asked if that could mean ministers whipped in favour of a no-deal, despite Treasury warnings of huge economic damage, he replied: “Potentially, all things are possible.”
A fascinating report by the German economic group IFO Institute has painted an interesting picture of what a ‘hard but smart’ No Deal Brexit could look like. Unlike many in British politics who have bought into a few doomy Armageddon forecasts, they have ran through several scenarios. IFO set out how under the ‘hard but smart’ strategy “customs duties on all trading partners and extensive controls against the EU and the existing FTA partners are waived”. As they argue, British consumption wouldn’t be burdened by No Deal “because no new barriers would arise; on the contrary, lowering tariffs to zero against other members of the WTO means that consumer prices are even falling”.
Theresa May faces a fresh headache over her Brexit strategy after peers inflicted a defeat on the government in favour of keeping the UK in a customs union with the EU. The House of Lords supported a cross-party bid to keep Britain in a tariff-free trade bloc with Brussels, which means the legislation will bounce back to the Commons for approval. Supporters of the Labour-led amendment to the Trade Bill argued MPs should have the opportunity to “think again” on the issue.
The House of Lords passed an amendment on Wednesday calling for the government to negotiate a customs union with the European Union, giving Prime Minister Theresa May a potential new headache in her Brexit plans. The upper parliamentary chamber backed a cross-party amendment to a trade bill, calling for the government to take all steps to enable the United Kingdom to participate in a new EU customs union after it leaves the bloc.
Remain Tory MPs will meet on Thursday with senior members of Emmanuel Macron’s government to discuss extending Article 50 as a path to a second referendum, The Telegraph can reveal. Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, will hold a meeting with Nathalie Loiseau, the French Europe minister, and other senior French politicians in his office.
A senior Democratic Unionist party MP has insisted the party can only support Theresa May’s revised Brexit deal if the withdrawal agreement itself is amended to make the Northern Ireland backstop time-limited, or allow the UK to withdraw unilaterally. Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, also dismissed worries about the impact on the region of a no-deal Brexit, saying warnings about this on Tuesday from the head of Northern Ireland’s civil service were “politically motivated”.
Expert panels will advise the government on developing alternatives to the Irish backstop in Brexit talks. Three groups will be formed by trade and customs experts, business and trade union representatives, and MPs and peers. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Treasury Financial Secretary Mel Stride will oversee the work. The UK and the EU have agreed to consider a “joint work stream” to develop alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop.
JEREMY Corbyn last night held talks with Tory Remainers plotting to keep Britain shackled to the European Union. The Labour leader and key anti-Brexit MPs in the party discussed proposals that would keep freedom of movement and make the UK follow single market rules in the meeting with Conservative former ministers Sir Oliver Letwin and Nick Boles. The plan would also leave the country bound by future decisions made by Brussels without any power in the process.
Jeremy Corbyn opened talks yesterday with Conservatives backing a Norway-style soft Brexit as peers voted to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU. To the anger of some Labour MPs, Mr Corbyn spent more than an hour with Sir Oliver Letwin and Nick Boles who back Brexit but support remaining in the single market. The discussions coincided with the House of Lords vote in which peers voted by 207 to 141 to demand that MPs “think again” about forming a tariff-free trade bloc with Brussels.
One of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow ministers has admitted to organising a campaign to stop a fresh Brexit referendum, despite Labour’s backing for the policy. Gloria De Piero refused to answer questions about how her campaigning could be squared with her frontbench role as a spokeswoman for justice issues. Critics said Mr Corbyn’s “complete lack of leadership” on Brexit would be underlined if he allowed shadow ministers to openly oppose party policy to push for a second public vote.
Pro-Jeremy Corbyn group Momentum has been fined more than £16,000 for “multiple breaches” of electoral law during the 2017 snap election. Making the announcement, the Electoral Commission said the sanctions were for inaccurate spending returns as well as failures in donation reporting. The grassroots group – set up in the wake of Mr Corbyn’s first leadership victory to support his left-wing policy agenda – was fined £16,700.
JEREMY Corbyn was told by one of his closest allies that he will never become Prime Minister if Labour backs a second referendum, The Sun can reveal. In an explosive Shadow Cabinet meeting on Tuesday Labour party chairman and Corbyn loyalist Ian Lavery tore into his Remainer colleagues for pushing the party to support a second vote. He warned that the move risks losing key votes in the Midlands and northern England.
The website of the pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.EU is likely to vanish from the internet in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as part of a move that will affect hundreds of thousands of other British businesses and individuals with .EU domain names. There are about 340,000 registered British holders of these web addresses, and the government has urged them to make contingency plans as their web addresses will disappear if the UK does not agree a deal with Brussels.
This year’s EU election will be the “last chance” to kill populism, Guy Verhofstadt has warned, calling for sovereignty-destroying “reform” which would transfer national powers to Brussels. In an interview with five influential establishment newspapers from across the continent on Tuesday, the veteran MEP and Brussels’ Brexit coordinator gave his backing to the vision of a federal EU superstate unveiled by Emmanuel Macron earlier this week.
France’s Europe minister, Nathalie Loiseau, has urged Britain to offer fresh proposals to end the Brexit impasse, warning that uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU is affecting its neighbours. Loiseau, who will meet the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, in London on Thursday, said: “Everything we are living through is unprecedented and we clearly don’t want to lecture. But the clock is really ticking and I do think it would have been better for people and businesses to live in more certainty than they are today.”
The British government could slash as many as 90% of trade tariffs if the UK leaves the European Union on WTO terms. Now this is taking back control! In what would be a radical step forward for a post-Brexit Britain, Sky News have been told that the Department for International Trade are likely to seek a cut on between 80%-90% of tariffs on goods if the UK exits the EU without a deal, taking back full and immediate control of trade policy in the process.
Plans to scrap most tariffs on imports after a no-deal Brexit – threatening huge job losses in UK firms – will be kept secret until it becomes a reality, the business secretary says. Greg Clark refused, multiple times, to deny that up to 90 per cent of levies would be removed, on everything except cars, in agriculture and on some textiles. The looming decision has already been criticised as “the ultimate Brexit betrayal” by a trade union and “extraordinarily damaging” by Labour.
The government is under fire over a “secret” plan to cut up to 90% of tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit, after Liam Fox confirmed details would not be released until after MPs vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement next week. The international trade secretary is the second cabinet minister to say the tariff schedule, which will have huge implications for British business, and particularly farmers, has been delayed again. Two weeks ago, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, said the tariff plan would be published within days.
Embracing free trade would limit the damage caused by a “no deal” Brexit, give a bounty of cheaper imports to consumers and strengthen Britain’s hand in EU negotiations, according to top German economists. Slashing all import tariffs after Brexit would cut costs for households and businesses, giving the economy a boost, the Ifo Institute said in a new report, calling this model a “hard but smart” Brexit. At the same time it would rebalance the power around the negotiating table, which is currently based on a “no deal” Brexit harming the UK because it would involve Britain imposing WTO taxes on its own consumers.
Bentley will keep its car production in Britain, not move it to the Continent nor shut its factory in Crewe, and will return to profitability this year, its chief executive has said, despite criticism and warnings from shareholder directors at Volkswagen, its German parent company. Bentley is one of a clutch of heritage luxury British automotive marques, producing more than 10,000 cars a year with prices starting at £150,000, and employing 4,000 workers. It was taken over by VW 20 years ago.
European countries in the event of a no-deal Brexit unless they renew their passports by Friday, a consumer group has claimed. Holidaymakers and business travellers risk falling foul of rules for entering countries in the Schengen zone such as France, Spain and Italy, according to Which?. Visitors usually need at least six months left on their passport from the date they arrive. Until recently, UK citizens who renewed their passport before it expired could have up to nine months of the remaining validity added to their new travel document.
Millions of UK travellers could be barred from entering several European countries in the event of a no-deal Brexit unless they renew their passports by Friday, a consumer group has claimed. Holidaymakers and business travellers risk falling foul of rules for entering countries in the Schengen zone such as France, Spain and Italy, according to Which?. Visitors usually need at least six months left on their passport from the date they arrive.
Police chiefs are drawing up £10m plans for a “surge” of extra officers to tackle knife crime in target areas across the UK after a crisis meeting with Sajid Javid. The move comes as another man died in a stabbing in east London – the 21st person killed in London this year. The emergency package will be submitted to the Home Secretary by Friday with approval for at least £10m extra funding to be sought from Philip Hammond, the Chancellor. Mr Javid is also proposing a rule change to make it easier for police to introduce emergency S60 stop and searches.
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, is set for a further clash with the prime minister after backing demands by police chiefs for an emergency grant, which they believe will be at least £15m, to fund a short-term “surge” of officers to fight knife crime. After chairing a summit with police leaders, he said the government must listen to police demands for more resources, with those present saying he had backed their calls for more money. Police chiefs are drawing up a bid for additional resources, to be submitted by Friday, which senior sources say is likely to be worth at least £15m.
Theresa May is set to reverse her reforms and make it easier for police to use stop and search to combat knife attacks. Police leaders sought extra powers by demanding the removal of restrictions that the prime minister had introduced when she was home secretary. Chief constables also called for more money for an immediate and significant increase in officers on the streets. They are seeking to head off what one Police Federation officer described as a “perfect storm” of a dearth of resources and rise in knife crime in the summer.
The UK armed forces “stand ready” to intervene in the knife crime epidemic, the defence secretary has said. Gavin Williamson said military personnel “would always be ready to respond” to calls for help while the Ministry of Defence “always stands ready to help any government department”. No request has yet been made, Mr Williamson said during a question-and-answer session on Tuesday night. He added: “I know that the home secretary is looking very closely at how he can ensure that everything is done to tackle this problem at the moment.”
Would-be knife thugs will be treated in the same way as potential jihadists as part of a crackdown being drawn up by Downing Street. Under the new regime, councils, schools and agencies would be required to report children considered to be at risk of being dragged into knife and gang crime. They would then be offered support to help turn them away from violence. The system, which could be launched by Theresa May within months, mirrors the Prevent programme used to identify children at risk of being sucked into extremism.
Police forces across the UK have quietly slashed the number of Police Community Support Officers by 5,500 over the last ten years – with knife-crime hit London axing two in every three, MailOnline can reveal. It comes after the capital suffered its 20th murder of 2019 and new figures revealed there were 285 knife killings in the UK in the last year – the highest toll since the Second World War. The number of PCSOs in the Metropolitan Police was slashed 68 per cent from 4,300 in March of 2008 to 1,369 in March of 2018, analysis of Home Office data has revealed.