Brexit 1) Fox “hopes” free trade deals with 40 countries will be finalised in time for a “no deal” Brexit

“The UK has yet to finalise agreements to replace existing free trade deals the EU has with 40 big economies if there is a no-deal Brexit. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said he “hoped” they would but it depended on whether other countries were “willing to put the work in”. He said more deals were coming, after signing one with Australia. Concerns have been raised that the UK will leave the EU without a deal that would protect current arrangements. The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March, under the Article 50 process and the UK’s EU Withdrawal Act, with or without a deal – unless the UK chooses to revoke Article 50 and continues as a member of the EU.” – BBC

  • Question Time audience in Derby cheers Oakeshott for declaring we should “walk away” – Daily Mail
  • Abbott accuses BBC Question Time of legitimising racism – The Guardian


Brexit 2) Claims that Ministers have asked their constituency associations to prepare for a snap General Election

“Three Cabinet ministers have warned their local activists to prepare for an election, it was claimed today despite Theresa May ruling out a snap poll. A further six junior ministers have alerted their constituency associations to the risk of a new general election as Westminster is deadlocked by Brexit. Mrs May has insisted she will not call an election for fear of causing even more chaos if the result is indecisive. But after her continued denials turned into a snap election in 2017, few in Westminster feel anything is certain. Britain’s top civil servant told Government departmental heads to be ready in case an election is needed to break the Brexit impasse.” – Daily Mail

  • February 28th named as a possible date – The Sun
  • It’s no more crazy than other scenarios, suggests Shapps – Financial Times

Brexit 3) Facebook accused of pushing out “fake news” funded by Remainers

“Facebook has been accused of “pumping out fake news” after running political adverts claiming endangered animals were being threatened – by Brexit. The social media giant has been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds by Britain’s two most prominent Remain campaign groups to stir up support for a second referendum. Latest figures released by the Facebook show the two organisations – People’s Vote UK and Best for Britain – spent £373,587 on Facebook ads in the run up to the parliamentary vote on Theresa May’s defeated Brexit deal. By contrast, Leave-supporting groups spent a little over £93,000, according to an analysis by the Telegraph of political income disclosed by Facebook.” – Daily Telegraph

  • UK patients stockpile drugs – The Guardian
  • Millennials targeted with warnings that orangutans and turtles will die – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 4) EU’s “disbelief” at unchanged UK demands

“Theresa May has left European diplomats in a state of “disbelief” following a series of phone calls to EU leaders in which she made no change to her demands despite her Brexit plan being voted down by a 230-vote margin this week. Senior EU diplomatic sources said that Mrs May’s unchanged stance was “greeted with incredulity” following a call with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday night. “It was the same old story – the same set of demands – all unchanged despite the defeat,” said the source with knowledge of the calls. Mrs May is understood to have repeated the same performance in conversations with the French president Emmanuel Macron, the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, provoking what one source called “diplomatic eye-rolling” in Brussels.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 5) Boles claims Ministers will quit if they are prevented from backing his Bill to block “no deal” planning

“A Tory MP who has put forward a plan to block a no-deal Brexit says ministers have told him they will quit, if they are ordered to vote against it. His cross-party bill would force Theresa May to request an extension of Article 50 if she can’t get a deal approved by MPs by the end of February. Mr Boles told the BBC his bill had a “broad base” of support from different sides of the Brexit debate. And he said he believed a number of ministers backed his plan.” – BBC

Brexit 6) Delay may be necessary, says Ellwood

“A defence minister has become the first member of Theresa May’s government to break ranks and publicly urge her to delay Brexit if no deal can be reached. As Whitehall stepped up preparations for a possible snap election, Tobias Ellwood argued that extending Article 50 would be preferable to Britain leaving the European Union on March 29 without a deal. Leaving with no agreement would “be an act of self harm with profound economic, security and reputational, consequences for the UK at the very time threats are increasing and diversifying,” he told The Times.” – The Times

Brexit 7) Go back a get a better a deal, urges Johnson…

“Boris Johnson has urged Theresa May to return to Brussels to demand a new deal without the controversial backstop  – and “mean it this time”. The former Foreign Secretary urged her to use the mandate provided by MPs’ resounding rejection of her plan and a threat to withhold half the £39bn from the divorce settlement to secure a new deal without the backstop  designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland. He said the Prime Minister needed to turn her focus on Brussels rather than having politicians “battling each other” or trying to heave MPs back into place behind a “pseudo-Brexit.” Speaking at the headquarters of Tory donor Lord Bamford’s JCB plant in Stoke, he dismissed calls to rule out a no-deal Brexit, saying it was “overwhelmingly likely” Brussels would offer an improved agreement.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: WATCH: Johnson – “It would be shameful, at this late stage, to change that totemic date: March 29th”

….as he is caught out over Turkish immigration claim

“Boris Johnson’s attempts to present himself as a future Tory leader were overshadowed when he falsely claimed never to have mentioned Turkey during the Brexit referendum campaign. A speech yesterday at JCB’s headquarters in Staffordshire was meant to showcase Mr Johnson as a uniting figure for the party, but when asked about his claims in 2016 that up to 77 million Turkish people could come to Britain if the country were to join the European Union, he replied: “Actually, I didn’t say anything about Turkey in the referendum.” Mr Johnson added: “I think anybody who has followed my utterances over the last 20 years would know that I’ve always been in the cap of those who defend and support [immigration].” Pressed by Channel 4 News on whether he was “disowning” his past comments, the former foreign secretary said: “I didn’t make any remarks about Turkey, mate.” In April 2016, two months before the referendum, Mr Johnson, whose paternal great-grandfather was the Turkish interior minister, said: “I am very pro-Turkish but what I certainly can’t imagine is a situation in which 77 million of my fellow Turks and those of Turkish origin can come here without any checks at all. That is mad — that won’t work.” – The Times

Brexit 8) Compromise or risk a split, Watson tells Corbyn

“Tom Watson will rally Labour moderates for a battle to determine the party’s Brexit policy with a warning that it must widen its appeal to avoid a split. The deputy leader will make a speech today challenging Jeremy Corbyn, who is under intense pressure from the party’s backbench MPs and ordinary members to back a second referendum. In his address to the Fabian Society conference in London, Mr Watson says that Labour must “engage intelligently” with Theresa May but stops short of criticising Mr Corbyn’s boycott of cross-party talks.” – The Times

  • Corbyn missed an open goal – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Labour backing Brexit “would lose votes” – The Guardian
  • Interview with Tony Blair – The Times

>Today: Nick Hargrave on Comment: In an age of post-truth politics, moderate politicians must prepare to work across party lines

Brexit 9) Farage would start a new Party if Euro Elections are held

“Nigel Farage says he is ready to fight the European elections in May if Brexit is delayed. The former UKIP leader, who quit his party in December, said he was seeking “the right political vehicle”. As things stand, the European Parliament is axing most of the UK’s seats, with a small number to be re-allocated to other countries…Mr Farage said he believed the UK should “just leave” the EU without a deal, on World Trade Organization terms, but he did not see “the will” to do so from the prime minister and the government.” – BBC

>Yesterday:WATCH: Farage says he will stand for a new party at the European elections if Brexit is delayed Continue to all today’s Newslinks