Senior Cabinet ministers are engaged in secret talks with Labour MPs to secure cross-party backing for a soft Brexit, it has emerged. Some of the most senior members of Theresa May’s team have been discussing how to force the Prime Minister to make concessions on immigration, the customs union and the single market. There have also been discussions of a cross-party Brexit Commission to agree common ground between the parties and ensure an orderly withdrawal from the EU. Labour is expected to use the talks as leverage to demand an end to the public sector pay freeze among a series of concessions in next week’s Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament.
Tory and Labour MPs are reportedly ganging up to try to force through a soft Brexit. They want Theresa May to make concessions with the customs union, immigration and the single market. Apparently they want to set up a cross party Brexit Commission to find common ground between the parties. Scottish Tory boss Ruth Davidson even broke ranks and said: “This isn’t going to be a Tory Brexit”. A senior, unnamed minister is quoted as having told the Standard: “This is no longer a question just for Government. It is clear to me that Parliament will want to assert its role in a way it did not before.” There’s one obvious bit of common ground, though – Britain voted to leave the EU, why don’t they start working towards that? For some MPs, Brexit clearly doesn’t mean Brexit.
Labour and Conservative MPs have reportedly met for secret talks amid growing pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to take a cross-party approach to Brexit in light of the hung Parliament following the general election. Ms May, who is working to form a minority government with support from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), is being urged by many Labour MPs and some members of her own Cabinet to pursue a so-called soft Brexit, where concessions could be made for access to the single market. Scottish Conservatives’ leader Ruth Davidson, whose influence has increased dramatically with the election of 13 Tories north of the border, has broken party ranks to say: “This isn’t just going to be a Tory Brexit”.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson upped the pressure on Theresa May to soften her stance on Brexit today – warning that the PM must ‘reach out’. The comments came as Remain-backing ministers are said to be seeking an alliance with pro-EU Labour MPs. After a meeting of the Tory political Cabinet in Downing Street this afternoon, Ms Davidson insisted the economy should be the top priority in talks with Brussels. She also pointedly stated that the final deal must work for the ‘whole country’. Ms Davidson has emerged much stronger from the election after effectively saving Mrs May by winning 12 more seats from the SNP north of the border.
The Brexit Secretary and Shadow Chancellor have insisted the UK will leave the European Union (EU) Single Market, as Tory and Labour MPs call for a so-called “soft Brexit” after the general election. After returning a hung parliament at the general election, leading Tories such as Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Chancellor Phillip Hammond are calling for less of a focus on reducing immigration after Brexit, The Times reports. They argue the UK should stay in the single market to “protect” jobs. EU leaders have made it clear that free movement and open borders must continue if the UK remains in the Single Market, Brexit Secretary David Davis explained on BBC Radio 4 Monday morning. “During the referendum campaign, the leading lights on both sides – David Cameron and George Osborne… and Boris [Johnson] and [Michael] Gove on the ‘Leave’ side – all said leaving the European Union means leaving the Single Market,” he said.
Brexit Secretary David Davis has said criticism of Theresa May is the “height of self-indulgence” – and signalled the Government would continue to pursue a hard Brexit. The Prime Minister is under increasing pressure after a disastrous general election that saw the Conservative Party lose its Parliamentary majority, and was due for a crucial meeting with Tory MPs yesterday. But the leader received strong backing from Mr Davis, who told the BBC ‘Radio 4 Today’ programme: “Look, I view the stuff in the papers this weekend as the absolute height of self-indulgence, on [the part of] people who speculate on leadership or so on or getting involved in it. “We have been given an instruction by the British people and the decision by the British people is now for us to go back and do the job, not to bicker amongst ourselves whose fault it was or whatever.”
TORY MPs are coming round to allowing Theresa May two more years as PM so she can see Brexit talks through, The Sun can reveal. Her resurrection comes as she narrowly escaped a lynching on Friday following the party’s general election disaster. Yesterday Mrs May faced the fury of all her MPs and lords on their return to Westminster. They crowded into the Commons’ biggest meeting room — Committee Room 14. But in stark contrast to the small amount of desk banging that met her arrival, the PM walked out of the gathering to cheers, and 30 seconds of applause. Earlier she endured another grilling from her Cabinet.
The government should rethink its Brexit strategy, following last week’s election, according to the engineering industry organisation, the EEF. It said without a more pro-business stance, the resulting political instability may force more firms to alter their plans “away from the UK”. The EEF is the latest business organisation to call for a rethink of the government’s Brexit plans. It wants access to the single market to be at the heart of Brexit negotiations. The EEF said even before the election firms were already altering or thinking about changing their business plans because of the Brexit vote. Terry Scuoler, EEF chief executive, said the government had already “wasted a year” and needed to “move away from its previous rhetoric and start repairing relations with EU partners”.
NICOLA Sturgeon has launched a new bid to scupper Brexit despite her Scottish Nationalists being routed at the polls. The SNP leader today attempted to deflect from the humiliating rejection of a second independence referendum in Scotland by launching new demands that the Brexit talks are “paused”. Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP lost 21 seats in a result that saw Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson emerge as the new power broker in Scotland. Ruth Davidson, who masterminded a breakthrough which saw the Tories return an increase of 12 to 13 seats in Scotland, yesterday came to Downing Street for talks with Theresa May in Downing Street. After the meeting, Ms Davidson made it clear she backs Theresa May’s line on Brexit and put taking back control of fishing waters as her main priority after Scottish Tory candidates signed a pledge to end British involvement in the hated Common Fisheries Policy.
The start of formal Brexit talks has been delayed in the wake of the political uncertainty caused by Theresa May’s disastrous election result. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, on Monday met Oliver Robbins, the most senior civil servant in David Davis’s Brexit department, but the two men failed to reach an agreement on a start date for talks. The Prime Minister will on Tuesday evening start trying rebuild her authority when she visits Emmanuel Macron, France’s new President, in Paris. Mrs May hopes to make an ally of Mr Macron before the formal opening of Brexit negotiations, which is expected to take place next week.
BRUSSELS today insisted it is “hyper ready” for the upcoming Brexit negotiations and said early skirmishes on the technical format for the talks could take place as early as this week. Eurocrats said they were “optimistic” that the UK was ready to open up divorce proceedings despite the uncertainty and chaos engulfing Theresa May’s minority Government. One of the prime minister’s top representatives in the talks, Olly Robins, is in Brussels today to meet with EU negotiator Michel Barnier amid confusion over when the talks proper will start. Brussels wanted to begin the negotiations on June 19 – next Monday – but that date has been thrown into doubt despite assurances by the UK it wants to stick to the timetable.
The European Commission’s chief negotiator has warned Britain risks crashing out of the EU with no deal if it wastes any more of the time available for Brexit negotiations. Michel Barnier urged Theresa May to ‘very quickly’ start talks and appoint a negotiating team that is ‘stable, accountable and with a mandate’ with the clock ticking to March 29, 2019, when the UK is expected to leave after the two-year Article 50 process. ‘We haven’t negotiated, we haven’t progressed. Thus we must begin this negotiation. We are ready as soon as the UK itself is ready,’ Mr Barnier warned. ‘Next week, it will be three months after the sending of the Article 50 letter,’ Mr Barnier told the Financial Times and a group of European newspapers.
The European Union’s chief negotiator has said “I can’t negotiate with myself”, as he warned Britain may be running out of time to reach a Brexit deal. Michel Barnier said Theresa May’s government must begin talks “very quickly” as he noted that in three months since Article 50 was triggered “we haven’t progressed” toward reaching a deal before the looming March 2019 deadline. The Prime Minister has talked up her plans to get on with negotiations, due to begin within days. She “has directed that the procedures for preparing the negotiations for the formal withdrawal from the European Union should start as soon as possible,” the Government told the European Commission on Friday. Mr Barnier told the Financial Times: “My preoccupation is that time is passing, it is passing quicker than anyone believes because the subjects we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex.
BRITISH taxpayers may have to foot a £58million bill for the reconstruction of a new European Parliament headquarters ahead of Brexit, according to reports. The current building – which has been used for the last 24 years – has been deemed unsafe by EU safety standards, so MEPs have demanded a more spacious and modern alternative. Defending their demands for a new building, officials insist the current £880million structure needs to be to be expanded so employees of the 751 MEPs can have office space, the Mail reports. Although internal documents reveal the total cost of demolishing and rebuilding the “dilapidated” Paul-Henri Spaak building could reach an astonishing £380 million.
British taxpayers could be landed with a £58million bill before Brexit to demolish the European Parliament base and build another. MEPs want the £880million Brussels headquarters – used for 24 years – to be razed to the ground so a more spacious alternative can be constructed. The plans, which will reignite accusations of outlandish spending by European lawmakers, have been ordered because the building does not meet EU safety standards. Officials have also said it needs to be enlarged to provide more office space for the expanding armies of staff employed by the 751 MEPs. If the project is approved before Britain cuts ties with Brussels in 2019, the UK would be expected to part-fund it.
THE EU is developing a massive army capable of going toe-to-toe with Vladimir Putin in eastern Europe. European nations are working together to finance plans for a combined fighter jet force as the dawn of a new EU super-army draws closer. French aviation giant Airbus has been commissioned to build the deadly new fighters by the governments of Germany and Spain – with France also looking likely to take part. Airbus’ military division head Fernando Alonso said: “We have to work together in Europe. “There is no more space for two or three different systems. “The time is ripe for making and implementing a decision on common defence.”
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said his party should emulate Jeremy Corbyn’s pressure group/faction of the Labour Party, Momentum. Mr Farage has previously called for the party to better utilise the internet and learn from other insurgent populist movements such as Italy’s Five Star Movement. After Labour’s general election campaign, which eroded a 20-point Tory lead, Mr Farage sees the young, internet focused, far-left Momentum as a source of inspiration for UKIP. He said UKIP should restructure itself to empower party members. “In some ways, Labour has done that with Momentum, its campaign group,” Mr Farage told The Sunday Telegraph. “Labour is exceeding in online engagement in the same way. UKIP needs to go in that direction,” he added. Specifically, he argued that UKIP members should be able to vote on whether the party adopts certain policies in the future.
Theresa May is poised to bring to a close seven years of austerity after Tory MPs warned that they would refuse to vote for further cuts. The prime minister spent the day apologising to her cabinet and backbenchers, saying that she took full responsibility for losing the party’s Commons majority and running a poor campaign. “I’m the person who got us into this mess and I’m the one who will get us out of it,” she told a meeting of the 1922 Committee last night. Sources said that she accepted that voters’ patience with austerity was at an end after Boris Johnson, David Davis and a series of Tory MPs told her that she had misjudged the public mood.
Theresa May signalled the end of austerity measures as took the blame for the Tory election disaster at a meeting of furious Conservative MPs . As she battled to cling to No 10 after her gamble on an early election backfired spectacularly, the Prime Minister said: ‘I got us into this mess and I’m going to get us out of it.’ Mrs May was said to have accepted that Britons were fed up with cuts, after top Tory ministers, including Boris Johnson and David Davis, told her she had misjudged how the public felt. The Prime Minister repeatedly apologised to her MPs as she insisted she had served the party since she was 12 and would stay on ‘as long as you want me to’.
The Democratic Unionist Party is expected to seek measures to isolate Sinn Fein as part of any deal to prop up Theresa May’s government. Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, flies to London today for discussions with Mrs May equipped with a list of demands that includes proposals that would punish the Irish republican party. Sources said that the DUP’s blueprint for an alliance with the Conservative Party was based on a document that the Unionist party drew up before the 2015 general election when it expected to be holding the balance of power. The list of 45 things that the party wanted from Westminster was dominated by tax cuts and extra public spending for Northern Ireland.
A senior Labour MP has thrown the party’s Brexit policy into further confusion by claiming the party backs staying in a “reformed” EU single market. Barry Gardiner hinted that Labour could switch to supporting a softer Brexit – one day after John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor, ruled out a rethink on single market membership. “I can’t see it even being on the table in the negotiations, I don’t think it’s feasible,” Mr McDonnell told ITV’s Peston on Sunday. To add to the confusion, Jeremy Corbyn said only, “there will have to be an arrangement made” when asked the same question yesterday. Some senior Tories, in particular Scottish leader Ruth Davidson, are urging the Prime Minister to put single market membership back on the agenda for the talks, following the dramatic election results.
SHADOW trade minister Barry Gardiner has thrown Labour’s Brexit policy into more confusion after claiming the party supports the idea of staying in a “reformed” EU single market – just one day after fellow frontbencher John McDonnell ruled it out. Mr Gardiner suggested the Labour party could back a softer Brexit after Theresa May’s position was weakened when she failed to hold onto her parliamentary majority in last week’s election. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Gardiner attacks Mrs May for “taking single market membership off the table right from the beginning” and insisted he would not have made the same mistake. He said: “We’ve said let’s look at that and see if it can be reformed. But the key thing is not to get hung up on the membership of the single market, but to be assured of the benefits that it can bring for our economy and for our jobs.”
JEREMY Corbyn looks set to finally ditch Diane Abbott in a brutal move intended to unite the Labour party. Diane Abbott has endured a disastrous campaign as Shadow Home Secretary. In the space of six weeks she was involved in a series of toe-curling interview gaffes. And Labour leader Corbyn is now finally set to act, likely replacing Abbott with Yvette Cooper – one of his fiercest internal critics. A shadow cabinet source said: “Diane can’t stay as Shadow Home Secretary – she’s too incompetent for that job. She’ll be replaced probably by Yvette Cooper.” He is expected to make the move later this week to show he is uniting the party after its two-year civil war.