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As ministers prepare for next week’s Chequers meeting…

“Theresa May has summoned her entire cabinet for next week’s meeting at Chequers, fuelling suspicions that she wants to push through a softer Brexit. Downing Street confirmed last night that all cabinet ministers, plus those entitled to attend, had been invited to the meeting on July 6. The decision to invite a far larger group than usually discusses the EU negotiations prompted accusations that the prime minister is trying to sideline her so-called Brexit war cabinet. It was this smaller set of senior ministers that sit on the Brexit strategy and negotiation sub-committee that was summoned to Chequers for the last away day, in February, to try to thrash out differences over how closely Britain should match EU tariffs and rules after Brexit.” – The Times

  • There’ll be a “remain majority” at the meeting – The Sun

Ministers at war 1) Clark accused of “communicating panic” over Brexit

“Business Secretary Greg Clark has been slammed for “communicating a sense of panic rather than a sense of reassurance” over Brexit and of participating in “Project Fear mark two” after he urged firms to keep using their influence to soften the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Speaking at a summit of business leaders in London, Mr Clark claimed the Government should put the interests and concerns of business firms at the heart of Brexit. He said: “In my experience the business voice puts evidence first before ideology. “Brings actual experience of trading whether with Europe or the rest of the world. “Not a theoretical view of what the world will be like. “Not a speculation on how they might operate.” … David Jones, a former Brexit minister, immediately hit back at the Business Secretary’s remarks and accused him of spreading panic and fear.” – Daily Express

  • He’s criticised for restoking “project fear” – Daily Telegraph 
  • He came out fighting against “no deal” – The Times
  • And “urged big business to keep speaking out” against it, too – Daily Mail

Ministers at war 2) Williamson to ask for up to £4bn more per year for forces

“Gavin Williamson will ask the prime minister for up to £4 billion extra a year for the armed forces at a critical meeting set for next week. The defence secretary is to pitch for the money when he meets Theresa May to discuss funding for the future shape and size of Britain’s military. The meeting comes amid tensions between the pair with Mr Williamson accused of threatening to “break” the prime minister if she refuses to increase the defence budget. Yesterday senior defence figures said that the government was putting at risk the country’s status as a global military power by giving the NHS priority over defence. Earlier this month Mrs May announced an extra £25 billion a year for the health service before Philip Hammond, the chancellor, told the cabinet that he had no more money for other areas.” – The Times 

  • The “issues at stake” – Guardian

Comment: 

  • The problems with his approach – Ewen MacAskill, Guardian
  • Has May found a magic money tree? – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph 

>Today: ToryDiary: Should Williamson get the defence spending rise he wants? Plus: introducing Next Tory Leader run-offs. Our monthly survey is out

Ministers at war 3) Truss mocks Gove and rebukes “macho” colleagues

“Cabinet warfare has broken out into the open, with a Treasury minister mocking Michael Gove over rules to protect the environment and attacking “macho” calls for higher spending. Liz Truss launched an extraordinary broadside at Mr Gove for his plan to curb wood-burnings stoves, to improve air quality – ridiculing “hot air and smoke at the environment department”. At the last minute, she dropped a similar attack on attempts to outlaw plastic straws, perhaps after realising the plan has been endorsed by Theresa May.” – Independent

  • Her speech was focused on “spending restraint” – The Times 

>Today: Daniel Hannan’s column: Higher taxes, spending bungs, pay caps, gender quotas. Is this really the brave new Brexit Britain we want?

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: The best case for defence spending is the one least made

May says business is at “heart” of post-Brexit plan

“Theresa May sought to assure company bosses that her Government is listening to their concerns about Brexit following complaints about alleged anti-business outbursts from ministers. The Prime Minister used a speech to a conference of senior executives to insist that business was “at the heart” of her plan for Britain’s future outside the EU. “We want to ensure we are listening to the business voice because business provides the backbone of our economy,” she told the Times CEO summit in London. “It’s right that we listen to the voice of business.” Her remarks follow reports that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson erupted with a four-letter outburst when bosses’ fears about Brexit were raised at a meeting in Whitehall last week.” – Daily Express

  • And that business input has been key to negotiating position – The Times 
  • And that she will “always listen” – Daily Mail
  • Meanwhile Johnson won’t deny his negative comment – FT
  • And he was “given cold shoulder” at cabinet yesterday – Guardian
  • Unions and business organisations join up to call for “urgency” – Guardian

Comment:

  • Sorry, why would Tories oppose business? – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • We must focus on free trade – Tim Martin, The Sun
  • Did Johnson get away with Heathrow avoidance? – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

EU “split” over UK white paper draft

“The European Union is split over Theresa May’s plan for a post-Brexit trading relationship that could mean parts of the economy staying in the single market. A draft white paper circulating in Whitehall is understood to propose binding Britain into Europe’s regulatory framework for goods. The proposal, a key demand of business, will be put to the cabinet at Chequers next week with the white paper being published on Monday. While popular with industry and regarded as key to solving the Irish border question, such an arrangement would hinder Britain from striking new trade deals. … However, even before being agreed in Britain, it is causing splits between the European commission and member states.” – The Times 

  • But Withdrawal Bill gains Royal Assent – Daily Mail

Public Accounts Committee predicts “divorce bill” could be up to £50bn

“Britain’s divorce bill” from the European Union could cost as much as £50 billion, £10bn more than the UK Government has suggested, MPs have warned, while they suggest the promised “Brexit dividend” will take years to materialise. The influential Commons Public Accounts Committee said there was a “risk” that the final financial settlement with Brussels could exceed the Treasury’s “narrow” estimate of £35bn to £39bn. It pointed out that the official figure failed to take account of at least £10bn in costs, which the Government would have to pay to the EU27 as part of the overall settlement, including nearly £3bn in contributions to the European Development Fund.” – Herald

  • They point out unaccounted costs – Daily Express
  • Meanwhile, Blair criticises Brexit yet again – The Sun

Hammond warns America against trade war “disaster”

“…The letter came as Philip Hammond, the UK’s chancellor, warned Trump that triggering a full-blown trade war would spell “disaster” for the US economy. Firing the latest warning shot for Trump as the president ratchets up the pressure on the EU and China by promising higher tariffs on US imports, the chancellor said he still harboured hopes that a full-scale trade war could be averted. However, he also warned a trade war between the US and its traditional allies would be a “disaster for everyone, not least for the United States”. Speaking to the American news channel CNN while on a visit to India, Hammond warned the president against breaking the status quo of recent decades during which the White House acted as a beacon of open markets and free trade. “Now the United States is questioning the value, the fairness of some of our arrangements,” he said.” – Guardian

Stewart calls for end to sentences of less than a year

“Justice minister Rory Stewart was slammed for calling for prisons sentences of under a year to be scrapped. The Tory was accused of giving a “green light” to criminals after telling MPs of his plans to slash the prison population. He even claimed victims would be “better off” given the likelihood of those sent to jail reoffending. Justice Secretary David Gauke last month said prison terms of less than a year should only be used as a last resort. But Rory Stewart’s suggestion sparked uproar among hardline Tories given spiralling concerns over knife crime and moped gangs. Tory backbencher Philip Davies said it was an “idiotic suggestion”. – The Sun

  • He also announces building of two more jails – The Times
  • And Gauke of five new residential women’s centres – Daily Telegraph

More Conservatives

  • Johnson at Prohibition of Chemical Weapons conference – Guardian
  • Fallon, Mercer, and IDS sign letter calling for veteran cases time-limit – The Sun
  • Greening “won’t stand” for London mayor – Guardian
  • Boles calls for Whitehall to fly flag of St George to cheer on footballers – The Sun
  • Might rule change lead to Bercow investigation? – The Sun
  • MCB complain again to CCHQ, Lewis’s ConHome article cited – Guardian
  • Might “May ally” Sedwill succeed Heywood? – FT
  • Johnson needs to get in line – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • Britain should leave UNHRC – Michael Fabricant, Daily Telegraph

Other parties

  • McDonald “says sorry” for IRA’s murder of Orangemen – Belfast News Letter 
  • Sturgeon holds a reshuffle – FT

Warner: Keep watching Italy

“…This is because the liabilities of the leaving country would represent a financial loss to the the national central banks of the remaining Euro area countries. The immediate risk of such a departure comes from Italy, where a populist, eurosceptic coalition government recently assumed power. At around €450bn, Italy has by far the largest Target 2 liabilities. Both Coalition parties – Lega and 5SM – have toned down their anti euro rhetoric, and insist they now want to stay in the single currency. This is pure sophistry; the fiscal expansionism of their domestic agenda throws down a deliberate challenge to the rules that underpin the currency, calling into question Italy’s continued participation.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • On the National Conservative Convention race – Emilio Casalicchio, PolHome
  • On Farage and Morgan – Michael Mosbacher, CapX
  • More Love Island politics – Finn McRedmond, Reaction
  • BoE v committee – Julian Harris, CityAM
  • America is “refusing to normalise” – Nesrine Malik, New Statesman

5 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 27th June 2018

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