Customs union

Guido has uncovered a government plan to keep us in a customs union. Order-Order says:

The Department for International Trade is interviewing for a ‘Business Support Manager’. The second bullet point in the five “key areas of responsibility” gives away that the department is developing policy about membership of the Customs Union. This directly breaks one of Theresa May’s most important red lines…

“Customs Union: with G7 support, leading BEAT’s [Business Environment Advisory Team] engagement with those developing the policy about the UK’s membership of the Customs Union, as it develops.”

Trade Secretary Liam Fox has consistently said  that “no form of customs union is acceptable after Brexit” and that membership of one would constitute “a complete sell-out of Britain’s national interests.” His department seems to disagree…
UPDATE: The DIT have been in touch to say that the description was “incorrect,” despite the job description referencing the Customs Union twice.


Meanwhile, the October deadline for a deal could be in jeopardy, says the Express.

The deal deadline loomed larger than ever today as Theresa May’s un-official deputy prime minister talked about extending until November.
David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, told BBC Radio 4’s today programme that the EU could easily schedule emergency meetings to finalise the deal after October if talks fail to progress.
Mr Lidington said: “I was Europe minister for six years.
“I lived through enough emergency European council meetings to know that the European council can call additional meetings when it wants to.” 

The Guardian reports that the deadline is still an objective.

Dominic Raab plans to resume negotiations in Brussels next week, as the government insists it has not given up hope of sealing a Brexit deal in October — despite an admission by the Cabinet Office minister, David Lidington, the timetable could slip.
The Brexit secretary has promised to approach the talks with “vim and vigour” and intends to spend more time in direct talks with the EU commission’s negotiator, Michel Barnier, than his predecessor, David Davis.
Raab said on Thursday he believed a withdrawal agreement between Britain and the EU27 was 80% complete and Downing Street sources said both sides were keen to complete the talks “as soon as possible”.

A top businessman has been forthright in his condemnation of scare stories, reports Westmonster.

Brexiteer Wetherspoon’s boss Tim Martin has said Project Fear scare stories about No Deal are ‘bollocks’ and living standards in the UK would actually increase if Britain just walked away.
He said: “Like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, the cyborg assassin, fictional scare stories about food price rises post-Brexit refuse to die. For example, the Sunday Times front-page headline last week (12 August), said: “ ‘No deal’ will hike food prices by 12%.
“As Malcolm Walker, founder of food chain Iceland, said, these stories are bollocks.

The UKIP website gets wordy.

The so-called no deal Brexit guideline documents are a mammoth anthology of acquiescence to Brussels’ demands.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab gave a taster yesterday by announcing the unilateral surrender of Britain’s medicine industry to the European Union in the event of a so-called no deal. Raab said that Britain would accept all medicines produced in the European Union and passed by EU regulators even if Brussels doesn’t reciprocate.
The documents warn that Britons living in the EU could lose access to banking and pension services, that UK organic vegetables could face new issues exporting to the EU, and bizarrely that new warning signs on cigarette packets would have to be created because the EU owns the copyright to the current ones. 

The Spectator has a revealing story about the plans to stop Brexit.

Every Wednesday morning in the House of Commons, about a dozen people can be seen making their way along the committee-room corridor to attend a ‘grassroots co-ordination committee meeting’. Before they get down to business, the group, a mix of MPs and campaigners, are treated to a monologue from their meeting chair, Labour’s Chuka Umunna. This speech varies but the agenda is the same: how to bring about a second referendum and stop Brexit.

Conservative Party

The Morning Star reports a poll on the government’s handling of the negotiations.

CHAOS in the Conservative ranks over Brexit means most people already blame Theresa May’s government for a bad deal before an agreement on Britain’s departure has even been struck, new figures show.
A poll of over 10,000 people by the anti-Brexit People’s Vote campaign, which argues that voters in 2016 did not understand the consequences of leaving the EU and should be made to vote again after Ms May has thrashed out an agreement on terms with Brussels, found that 62 per cent said a bad deal would be “mainly the fault of the government.”

There has been much criticism of the Chancellor’s comments. The Times reports:

Philip Hammond relied on analysis drawn up by Treasury officials in warning of “large fiscal consequences” for Britain of leaving the EU without a deal. Their analysis, he said, indicated that Britain would take a 7.7 per cent hit to GDP over the next 15 years if it were to leave under such circumstances.
The Chancellor’s sombre assessment brought a stinging response from Eurosceptics, with Jacob Rees-Mogg lamenting: “As a dog returneth to its vomit, so a fool returneth to its folly. The Treasury is desperate to stop Brexit.
Everything [it] does has to be read in this light.”

The Independent claims there’s trouble in the Tory ranks.

Tory infighting has erupted again as Conservative Brexiteers accused Philip Hammond  of launching another “dodgy Project Fear” with warnings over the economic impact of a no-deal Brexit.
In a letter published on Thursday, the chancellor reiterated estimates in a government analysis that borrowing could be £80bn higher if the UK crashes out of the bloc and GDP could fall by 10 per cent.
But his remarks came just hours after his cabinet colleague and Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, attempted to reassure the public over a disorderly exit and cited “opportunities” that could arise.

Labour Party

The Independent reports on a fresh row in the party.

Jeremy Corbyn is embroiled in a fresh antisemitism row after he was filmed claiming Zionists in Britain “don’t understand English irony”.
Some Labour MPs reacted with horror when the video footage, from a speech given in 2013, emerged with one describing the comment as “inexcusable” and another saying he was “sickened”.
A leading Jewish charity accused the Labour leader of “unambiguous antisemitic hate” after he was caught on camera making his remarks at a pro-Palestinian  event.

Corbyn is being backed by those in the far right, says the Times.

Far-right leaders rallied behind Jeremy Corbyn  and a senior Labour MP called him a racist antisemite after a film emerged of him giving a speech on “Zionists” in Britain.
Nick Griffin, former head of the British National Party, and David Duke, an ex-grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, issued supportive tweets in response to the video.

The Mail also report the backing.

Jeremy Corbyn has been praised by former BNP leader Nick Griffin as he desperately struggles to contain another anti-Semitism row today.
Mr Corbyn was hit with a wave of condemnation after MailOnline revealed he had complained at a 2013 meeting that British Zionists ‘don’t understand English irony’.
Labour MP Luciana Berger branded the jibe ‘inexcusable’ and said it made her feel ‘unwelcome in my own party’.
But he has received support from an unwanted quarter in the form of a tweet from Mr Griffin. The far-right activist wrote: ‘Go Jezza! I wonder how many Labour activists the hysterical #Zionist media campaign against Corbyn is re-pilling (sic)?’

The shadow chancellor is supporting calls for a second referendum in the Mail.

John McDonnell fuelled speculation of a big Labour shift on Brexit today as he backed calls for a second referendum to be kept ‘on the table’.
The shadow chancellor, Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally, refused to rule out the prospect of another national vote.
The comments echoed the views of shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer – but contrasted sharply with those of frontbench colleague Barry Gardiner who suggested re-running the referendum could spark civil unrest.

Sky News claims he said a second referendum could spark violence.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has cautioned a second EU referendum could provoke far-right violence on UK streets – but confirmed Labour is not ruling out support for another public vote.
The Labour frontbencher agreed with recent warnings by fellow shadow cabinet member Barry Gardiner, who claimed a new referendum could give “succour to the extreme right” and prompt social unrest.
Highlighting how supporters of ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson clashed with police at recent demonstrations over his imprisonment, Mr McDonnell stressed a need to be “extremely careful”.

The Independent also has the story.

Labour is not taking the option of a fresh  EU  referendum off the table, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said, as he also warned about the potential of the far right in Britain to exploit the issue.
The remarks from one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most senior allies came after the party’s  Brexit  spokesman made similar comments but another cabinet colleague argued a second public vote could lead to civil disobedience and social disruption in the UK.

The communist Morning Star reports an upcoming ballot on a second referendum.

MOMENTUM will conduct a ballot of its members on whether to press Labour to back another referendum on EU membership, it announced today.
An online poll of Momentum members has just passed 4,200 signatories and the left Labour organisation says a motion backed by 10 per cent of the membership prompts a ballot of all members.
Pro-EU campaign People’s Vote youth wing For Our Future’s Sake co-founder Amanda Chetynd-Cowieson said: “Momentum are a significantly influential voice within the Labour Party and this shows the ever-increasing pressure on Labour’s leadership to support a People’s Vote.”

BBC News claims the consultation will start at the party’s conference.

The grassroots group Momentum – set up to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party – looks set to begin a consultation of its members on its Brexit stance, ahead of the party’s conference in Liverpool next month.
Momentum’s ruling body will meet next week and will consider a petition, signed by more than 4,000 members, calling for the organisation to canvas opinion in its ranks, including on whether to call for a conference vote on holding a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Will Labour’s problems split the party? The Guardian muses.

The Labour MP Chuka Umunna has sought to scotch rumours that he hopes to use the People’s Vote second referendum campaign as a platform for launching a new political party.
After days of speculation about his future within Labour, Umunna said his priority was to stop Brexit as talks with the European Union reach their decisive stage over the autumn.
“The idea that the People’s Vote campaign is a precursor to a new party is complete and utter bollocks,” Umunna told the Guardian. “Frankly people need to stop spreading false news about this.”


There’s still a problem over the Irish border, reports the Times.

The Irish deputy prime minister has accused Brexiteer Tory MPs such as Jacob Rees-Mogg  and Boris Johnson of launching ill-informed attacks on plans for the future of the Irish border.
Dublin has been pressing the UK to commit to a legally binding fallback plan, known as the backstop, for the north-south border that has resulted in an impasse in Brexit talks with the EU.
Several Eurosceptic MPs including Mr Rees-Mogg, Bernard Jenkin, Iain Duncan Smith and David Davis have questioned the Irish government’s motive in taking this stance.

And our former leader claims the EU’s top negotiator is aiming to restart the troubles, says the Times.

Nigel Farage has claimed that Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, “would like the IRA to become active again”.
The former Ukip leader also accuses the former French foreign minister of “almost encouraging Republican terrorism” in an interview with The Times.
Mr Farage awards a sarcastic “full marks” to the negotiator for exploiting the issue of the Irish border to the EU’s advantage in Brexit talks.
Theresa May says that she softened her Brexit stance and is seeking to keep Britain in parts of the single market to honour her commitment to avoid a hard border and to protect the Union.


The former Scottish leader is facing harassment claims, says the Times.

Alex Salmond has admitted he is “no saint” but fiercely rejected claims that he sexually harassed two civil servants when he was first minister of Scotland.
Mr Salmond, for many years the most well-known and recognisable figure in Scottish politics, faces a potential police investigation into allegations dating from December 2013.
“I have made many mistakes in my life, political and personal,” Mr Salmond said.
“But I have not sexually harassed anyone and I certainly have not been engaged in criminality. I am no saint, I have got flaws, I understand that.”

The Mirror claimed he had been drinking.

A drink-fuelled Alex Salmond ­allegedly asked a female staff member into his bedroom at Bute House before making sexual advances.
In allegations passed to the police, the woman claims that the then-First Minister subjected her to sexual harassment in his official residence in December 2013.
She claims Mr Salmond invited her to enter the bedroom, where he kissed and touched her sexually for several minutes – and only stopped after she repeatedly asked him to.

And the Independent reports the new Scottish boss’s comments that the allegations will be fully investigated.

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed that sexual harassment claims against Alex Salmond  will not be “swept under the carpet”, as she revealed she had known about them for some time.
The Scottish First Minister said her relationship with her predecessor “makes this an extremely difficult situation for me to come to terms with”.
But she added: “I have been clear on many occasions that all organisations and workplaces must make it possible for people to come forward to report concerns and have confidence that they will be treated seriously.


Carrier bags have come under scrutiny in the Telegraph.

Shoppers are facing a doubling in the price of carrier bags to 10p as part  of a plan by Theresa May to escalate the war on plastic, The Daily Telegraph  understands.
Ministers are in favour of hiking the levy in order to accelerate the clampdown on one-use and disposable bags and encourage more consumers to  take up recyclables.
The proposals will be included in a Government paper due to go out for  consultation later this year, according to a retail industry insider with knowledge of the plans. 

The Mail has picked up the story.

The plastic bag charge is to be extended to every shop.
Theresa May will announce the move next week – and consult on proposals to double the levy from 5p to 10p.
She will confirm the charge will affect all stores rather than just large retailers, lifting the exemption on small businesses with fewer than 250 staff. 

The plans are designed to further reduce Britain’s reliance on the plastic poisoning our environment.

The Independent reports that even small shops will not be exempt.

The plastic bag charge is set to rise to 10p and be extended to every shop, according to reports.
Theresa May is expected to announce the changes as part of plans to tackle plastic pollution, 
The Daily Telegraph reported. Currently shops that employ more than 250 people have to charge at least 5p per bag.
Under the new measures, the fee would double to 10p and include all retailers.
Disposable carrier bags issued by the seven biggest supermarket chains have declined by 86 per cent since the charge was introduced in 2015, official figures showed.

Air travel

Ryanair has found another money-making wheeze, says the Mail.

Ryanair passengers will soon no longer be able to take small suitcases with them for free.
In a move described by one industry expert as ‘dangerous if it [Ryanair] wants to remain a key player among budget airlines’ all passengers from November will need to pay for any bag that won’t fit under the seat in front.
The current bag policy stipulates that unless a passenger has paid a nominal fee for ‘priority boarding’, if they turn up to the gate with a bag bigger than 35cm x 20cm x 20cm it is placed in the hold at no extra charge. 

Rail travel

And rail staff strikes are reported in the Morning Star.

Railway workers in the north have announced a wave of strike action throughout September, as today’s planned walkout goes ahead.
RMT members on Arriva Rail North will be downing tools to defend the role of the train guard today.
But a new roll-out of strikes will see train conductors striking on every Saturday in September.
The union says that the threatened expansion of driver-only operations on northern trains poses a threat to jobs, public safety, and the welfare of disabled passengers.


The Mail has uncovered an interesting story about how big cigarette manufacturers are bringing in their product illegally.
Big tobacco has ‘hoodwinked’ governments worldwide and is smuggling cigarettes in ‘one of the industry’s biggest scams’, new research suggests.
Leaked documents reveal the lengths cigarette manufacturers go to in order to undermine the Illicit Trade Protocol; an international agreement that was set up in 2012 to ensure tobacco companies pay their taxes.
The ITP requires all tobacco products are marked so their origin can be traced.
The world’s four major tobacco companies developed their own ‘track and trace’ system and hatched a joint plan to use third parties to promote this system to governments under the pretence it was independent of the tobacco industry.

End of the world

And with the Pope’s visit to Ireland, the Star reports yet another doomsday prophecy.

A PROPHECY predicting the end of the world has resurfaced ahead of the Pope’s historic visit to Ireland.
Pope Francis is due to arrive in Dublin on Saturday for a 36-hour visit.
It will be a whirlwind visit for the pontiff, 81, as he crams meetings, visits and official engagements into the two-day schedule.
But it’s an end of the world prophecy from Irish Saint Malachy that has everyone talking.
The 12th-century bishop of Armagh stated there would be only one more pope after Benedict, and during his reign comes the end of the world.
That would mean the current Pope Francis could be the last.

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