EU rejects Government’s plans for leaving the Customs Union…

The EU has comprehensively rejected British proposals for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland in a move which will cast serious doubt on the UK’s ability to leave the customs union, The Telegraph has learned. Senior EU diplomatic sources said that Mrs May’s plan for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland was subjected to a “systematic and forensic annihilation” this week at a meeting between senior EU officials and Olly Robbins, the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator. “It was a detailed and forensic rebuttal,” added the source who was directly briefed on the meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. “It was made clear that none of the UK’s customs options will work. None of them.” The demolition of the UK’s Brexit customs policy, set out by Mrs May in her Mansion House speech last month, came after five rounds of technical negotiations in Brussels.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Remain Tory MPs to force vote on the Customs Union – Daily Mail
  • Angry ministers urge May to sack pro-EU peers from plum jobs – The Sun


  • Freedom from any customs union is vital – John Longworth and John Mills, Daily Telegraph
  • A second Brexit vote would tear Britain apart – Martin Wolf, FT
  • Lords have cracked the Brexit dam, MPs could burst it – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Henry Newman in Comment: Even if the Government concedes on an EU customs union, membership of it looks unsustainable. Here’s why.

…as UK sets out demands for ‘bespoke deal’

“Britain has set out its demands for a bespoke Brexit deal with “breadth and depth” to be agreed with the European Union by October. In the first meeting between British and European officials on the future relationship, Oliver Robbins, Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator, said that the UK needed a detailed and substantive agreement that set out the future trade and economic partnership. Mr Robbins said that Britain was prepared to negotiate on a labour mobility and immigration regime. Other areas would be a customs partnership and “level playing field” procedures to ensure regulatory alignment in areas such as agriculture.Senior government sources said that ministers were considering whether to publish their own “draft” agreement to outline Britain’s approach and set the agenda.” – The Times

  • Patel warns ministers to stop EU ‘skewing’ financial settlement – Daily Telegraph
  • National Audit Office warns that divorce bill could rise – Daily Express
  • Brexit details are taking too long, warns City chief – FT


  • Expats sue to overturn the referendum – The Times
  • Brexit cases piling up at the Court of Justice – Daily Telegraph
  • European Investment Bank pulls back on UK funding – FT
  • Brussels blow to Gove’s plastics ban – Daily Telegraph


  • In a golden age of political arrogance, Cameron is king – Rafael Behr, The Guardian
  • No regrets? Cameron should be more honest – Jane Merrick, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Sam Hall in Think Tanks: How the UK could lead the Commonwealth on climate change

Cabinet split over Rudd’s handling of the immigration issue

“Amber Rudd is at the centre of a new cabinet row over delays to Britain’s post-Brexit immigration policy. The home secretary is being pressed by Brexit-supporting ministers to speed up a bill that is supposed to settle the new immigration system after Britain leaves the EU in March next year. The dispute comes as the Windrush scandal exposes a faultline between Theresa May and those, including Ms Rudd, who want a softer policy on immigration. Ms Rudd said last month that the immigration bill would not be introduced until early next year – the latest in a series of delays. She also declined to confirm that she was aiming to hit the Tories’ target of reducing annual net migration to beneath 100,000 by the time of the 2022 election.” – The Times

  • Scandal blows post-Brexit immigration plans off course – The Sun
  • Civil service union hits back at Home Secretary over blame – The Guardian
  • Home Office culture grew ‘especially harsh’ under May – FT
  • Gove says UK offers ‘warmest welcome’ to foreigners – The Sun


  • Fury as Kerslake compares UK immigration policy to the Nazis – Daily Mail
  • Migration into Scotland falls after EU vote – The Scotsman


  • Peer who compared UK to Nazi Germany is an idiot – The Sun

Fraser Nelson: May has missed an opportunity to dispel the idea of ‘drawbridge Britain’

“To those in the Windrush generation fearing a knock on the door from immigration police, or to Czech nurses still waiting to be told if they can stay after Brexit, it will seem that a theme is emerging. That the Prime Minister’s real agenda is not to go global but to raise the drawbridge as her country turns in on itself. This week ought to have provided the perfect chance to cast off this image as the heads of the Commonwealth assembled in London. But the newspapers they carried had news of how citizens from the Commonwealth, invited to Britain decades ago, are now being investigated and deported.” – The Sun

  • Home Office’s chaos and incompetence have been a scandal for years – David Millward, Daily Telegraph
  • Are Home Office officials especially anti-migrant? – David Walker, The Guardian
  • Windrush mess will be worse after Brexit – Philip Collins, The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Is the Home Office blunderingly incompetent, or deliberately obstructive? Bad news: it’s a combination of both.

Javid warns housebuilders against taking buyers for granted

“Britain’s biggest housebuilders are taking customers for granted and doing too little to help when things go wrong, the housing secretary has said. Sajid Javid intervened yesterday in the debate over construction standards at new-build developments to say it was “not acceptable” that some companies were “letting down their customers”. The comments follow an investigation by The Times which found that Bovis Homes was misleading buyers and delaying essential repairs to poorly built properties. Hundreds of the company’s customers have complained of springy floors, leaks, missing insulation panels, poor drainage, unfinished gardens and, in some cases, serious structural faults.” – The Times

  • Corbyn woos ‘Generation Rent’ and aims to scrap Right to Buy – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: What a pro-consumer Conservative housing strategy might look like

Fishing firm ‘snubbed by Johnson’ gets judicial review

“A British firm snubbed by Boris Johnson over lucrative fishing licences in the Falklands has been given the all-clear to launch a judicial review. The Sun can reveal a judge believes there are grounds for SG Fisheries to challenge the Foreign Office over its incendiary decision to give six fishing contracts around the islands to firms from Norway, Chile and New Zealand. SG Fisheries chief Rupert Street said he would now be taking the Government to the High Court over the row. “I will be taking this all the way,” he said. The Sun last week revealed the Foreign Office handed out four-year contracts for Chilean seabass or Patagonian toothfish – worth an estimated £75 million to foreign firms.” – The Sun

MPs 1) Tugendhat to lead new group to study threat posed by Russia

“Senior MPs have formed a group on Russia to ensure that the Commons is covering all threats from Moscow. The chairmen of six Commons committees, including foreign affairs, defence, Treasury and the joint committee on the national security strategy, are among the new body’s members. Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, is leading the group, and Bob Seely, a Conservative MP and expert on Russian warfare, will act as secretary. The Russian co-ordination group held its first monthly meeting on Wednesday to try to ensure that all angles of potential Russian hybrid warfare against Britain are examined.” – The Times

  • Kremlin bots spread ‘fake news’ 45,000 times since Syrian gas attack – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: Have no doubt about it – Prime Minister Corbyn would abandon Eastern Europe

MPs 2) Brokenshire joins in cancer tributes to Jowell

“The Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden became overcome with emotion as she joined the many MPs paying tribute to the ex minister’s campaign to improve cancer care. Baroness Jowell sat at the back of the Chamber with her husband David, son Mathew and daughter Jess watching on as the comments were made… In a powerful debate in Parliament, Conservative, Labour and SNP MPs alike united to heap praise on Lady Jowell. Tory MP James Brokenshire, who has recently returned to Parliament after having surgery to remove a tumour from his lung, was among those who took to their feet. Mr Brokenshire said he was moved by Lady Jowell’s emotional speech in the House of Lords in January.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Chris Ham in Comment: A tax rise to better fund the NHS is gaining Conservative support

City spurns McDonnell’s calls for a ‘new start’

“The City has attacked Labour’s call for a “new start” in relations, saying that its previous stance made it hard to believe that the party had changed. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has called on banks and other financial institutions to work with Labour, marking the latest step in his “cup of tea offensive” to convince the money markets that he would not wreck the economy. Despite soothing words, many are unconvinced. “All his previous utterances over the years have been so antagonistic towards the financial sector and the City that it would take a tremendous transformation to believe that he is now thinking quite differently,” Lord Levene of Portsoken, a former chairman of Lloyd’s of London, said.” – The Times

  • Trust me, Labour wants fairness and prosperity – John McDonnell MP, The Times


  • At present, Labour and business don’t mix – The Times

SNP admits to meeting Cambridge Analytica

Nicola Sturgeon has disclosed the SNP’s secret talks with Cambridge Analytica were held shortly before the May 2016 Holyrood election but refused to name who attended on behalf of her party. The First Minister said a meeting with the firm at the centre of the data harvesting scandal took place in February that year and concerned the Scottish Parliament vote, but her party decided “it was not a company we wanted to work with”. Despite previously claiming that the SNP had shown “complete transparency”, she refused to disclose the identity of a party consultant who held the meeting by arguing this would trigger a “witch hunt.” She instead accused Ruth Davidson, who raised the furore at First Minister’s Questions, of peddling “baseless smears” and challenged the Tories to come clean on whether they had worked with the disgraced company.” – Daily Telegraph

  • FMQs: Sturgeon won’t name Nationalist who met scandal-ridden firm – The Scotsman

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Showdown in Cardiff as Jones threatened Assembly with legal action

Foster denies that lack lack of cost controls on failed policy were to favour DUP voters

“Arlene Foster has dismissed suggestions that cost controls were not introduced for the lucrative Renewable Heat Incentive because it was “benefiting DUP voters”. The party’s leader, giving her fourth day of evidence before the RHI Inquiry, also said she was “surprised” that her special adviser Dr Andrew Crawford had sent to his cousin confidential documents showing that the scheme was going to end. In 2012 Mrs Foster was Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) Minister responsible for the botched scheme, which exposed the taxpayer to a huge overspend by paying out more in subsidies than it cost to buy fuel.” – Belfast Telegraph

>Yesterday: Audio: LISTEN: Hill on how devolution has failed Scotland, Wales, and Ulster

News in Brief:

  • A home truth for the Tories: fix the housing crisis or lose power for ever – The Spectator
  • Britain’s tech sector dwarfs the rest of Europe – Matt Hancock MP, Brexit Central
  • Assad is in a weaker position than most think – Oved Lobel, CapX
  • Where have the Lib Dems got to? – Mattie Brignall, Reaction
  • Can journalism survive the onslaught of social media? – Emily Bell, UnHerd