Brexit 1) Irish border continues to threaten “green light” on trade talks

“Ireland’s European commissioner has urged Theresa May to change her Brexit plans dramatically to prevent a mounting crisis over the Irish border from derailing her hopes of an EU trade deal. The threat of a hard Irish border has emerged as the major obstacle to the prime minister’s aim of securing the green light for Brexit trade talks at a crucial summit only weeks away. She has effectively been handed just days to give stronger guarantees over the issue. Phil Hogan, the EU’s agriculture commissioner, told the Observer that it was a “very simple fact” that remaining inside the single market and customs union, or allowing Northern Ireland to do so, would end the standoff.” – Observer

  • DUP tells May that “using Irish Sea as post-Brexit border” is “non-negotiable” – Mail on Sunday
  • Dodds says Varadkar should “get a grip” – Sunday Express
  • May starts work on new DUP deal – Sunday Telegraph
  • Meanwhile, Foster tells SF “time is running out to avoid direct rule” – FT


>Today: ToryDiary: Brexit. How Britain’s lack of interest in Ireland, and Ireland’s lack of imagination about Britain, bond to threaten disaster

Brexit 2) The “divorce bill” total may “never be known”

“Theresa May has agreed with Brussels that Britain will hand over more than £40bn when the UK leaves the EU — but keep the final bill secret from the public even when the final deal is done in 2019. EU negotiators said the prime minister had provided a clear assurance to fellow leaders that her cabinet has agreed to pay more money after a crunch meeting last week — paving the way for formal talks on a new trade agreement to be approved at a summit in Brussels next month. But insiders said the assurances would mean that the specific British commitments will not be placed in writing at the meeting in December of the European Council to avoid a political row, and that the final bill may never be known either.” – The Sunday Times

Brexit 3) “Government row” breaks out over proposal of post-Brexit “voluntary referral” of cases to ECJ

“Theresa May has been warned not to retreat from a pledge to “take back control of our laws” as she faced lobbying from at least one senior minister for a compromise with Brussels over the powers of European judges after Brexit… Under plans pushed by at least one member of the Cabinet’s Brexit committee last Monday, the UK could offer Brussels an arrangement in which UK judges are able to refer specific cases relating to EU citizens to the ECJ for a “binding interpretation”.” – Sunday Telegraph

Brexit 4) Ministers “expecting showdown” with peers over Withdrawal Bill

“Ministers are preparing for “trench warfare” with the House of Lords over the Government’s Brexit legislation, the Telegraph can disclose. Senior sources said they were expecting a showdown with peers seeking significant changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill when it is debated by the upper chamber in the new year. Influential peers, including Lord Judge, the former lord chief justice, and Lord Pannick, the leading constitutional QC, believe that the legislation will need to be amended to address major issues that have been overlooked in the Commons.” – Sunday Telegraph 


Brexit 5) Starmer implies Labour could trigger no confidence vote in fortnight if no progress made in talks

“Theresa May has been given two weeks to rescue her Brexit negotiations, the economy and her premiership as she is put on notice by Labour to show she has the “authority” to lead the country out of the European Union. Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesman, issues a coded warning to the prime minister today, hinting that his party could trigger a vote of no-confidence in her Brexit strategy unless she succeeds in moving the talks on to trade and transition.” – The Sunday Times


  • But after the budget, things are looking up for the government – The Sunday Times


More Conservatives

>Today: Michael Howard in Comment: Low-carbon wind is set to power Brexit Britain. The work that Thatcher, Major and I undertook is paying off

Brexit 6) Fox heads to Australia and New Zealand today — during row with EU over tariffs

“Dr Fox is due to meet Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and New Zealand deputy prime minister Winston Peters to discuss current and future trade links after Britain breaks with the bloc. However, his week-long trip threatens to be overshadowed by a dispute over the quota-splitting plan, which would see the UK and Brussels divide up the numbers of goods that can be brought in on low or zero tariffs based roughly on current rates.” – Sunday Express


  • How much will cutting tariffs actually help? – Phillip Inman, Observer

More Brexit

  • EU wants control over regulations during transition – Independent on Sunday
  • Duncan Smith and Jones support calls for “end to low-skilled migration” – Sunday Express
  • Controversy over claims about Russia and Legatum “involvement in Brexit ultimatum” – Sun on Sunday
  • Link is drawn to Gove and Johnson – Mail on Sunday


Gauke: Why Universal Credit is at the heart of a pro-work society

“Employment is the bedrock of a strong economy and a fairer society. Our welfare reforms are resolutely pro-work; that means providing the right support for jobseekers, and of course proper care in place for people who cannot work. Universal Credit lies at the heart of this. And this week the Chancellor set out a £1.5 billion package of important changes that will improve our support for people while they transition onto Universal Credit… Yet, despite the package announced by the Chancellor, Jeremy Corbyn still responded by demanding that we “pause and fix” Universal Credit.” – Sunday Telegraph

Second senior Labour member “dies suddenly after being suspended over allegations”

“A second member of the Labour Party has died after apparently taking his own life amid allegations of sexual misconduct. The man, understood to be in his early thirties, died suddenly last week after being suspended from the party and his job at Labour headquarters after claims involving pornography. The revelation plunged Labour into a fresh crisis and resulted last night in calls for an independent inquiry into the party’s handling of recent complaints about sexual harassment and wrongdoing.” – The Sunday Times

More Labour

  • Leonard to “strengthen” Labour links with trade unions – Herald
  • Momentum conference considered “hate campaign” against Philip May – The Sunday Times


  • “Fake news” has joined the “leftist lexicon” – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph

Kiniry: Trump has “caught a lucky break” in the Middle East

“After nearly a decade bereft of real American leadership in the Middle East, a change in the region’s dynamics is overdue. President Obama announced a pivot away from the Middle East and towards Asia in his first term; while this lasted about as long as the “reset” with Russia, it indicated the administration’s distaste for the sort of messy and morally ambiguous choices which define any serious foray into the Middle East.” – Sunday Telegraph


  • The “curious alignment emerging between Saudi Arabia and Israel” – Sunday Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Brexit and Cameron – Ivan Rogers, Prospect
  • The budget wasn’t so important – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • What of Juncker’s legacy? – James Holland, Brexit Central
  • GOP tax strategies – Sheelah Kolhatkar, New Yorker
  • How cricket points up the Anglo-Oz relationship – Simon Barnes, New Statesman