Johnson resigns, accusing May of ‘suffocating’ the ‘Brexit dream’

‘Theresa May is fighting for her political life today after Boris Johnson accused her of killing Brexit and his allies backed him to be a ‘brilliant’ PM. Mr Johnson used his decision to quit as Foreign Secretary to declare war on her Chequers plan for leaving the EU. Warning that the UK was heading for colonial status, he said the Brexit dream was ‘dying – suffocated by self-doubt’. He claimed Mrs May was sending negotiators ‘into battle with the white flags fluttering above them’ and surrendering control to Brussels. Following a chaotic day of resignations and rumours, Downing Street is now braced for a potential leadership challenge…in a significant intervention, Jacob Rees-Mogg last night backed Mr Johnson, saying he would make a ‘brilliant’ prime minister…More than 80 MPs attended a meeting of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, which Mr Rees-Mogg leads, in order to attack Mrs May’s Chequers plan. ‘This has got to be killed and it’s got to be killed before recess [in two weeks’ time],’ said one attendee.’ – Daily Mail





Reshuffle 1) Raab takes over a Brexit department focused more on domestic preparation than international negotiation

‘Mr Raab, the new Brexit secretary, will focus more on preparing Britain domestically for leaving the bloc than the negotiations with Brussels, which have been taken over by Theresa May. David Davis’s declining involvement in the meat of the talks was a source of deepening exasperation in the months leading up to his resignation. Mr Raab, 44, joined the cabinet about eleven hours after Mr Davis’s resignation late on Sunday night. Like Mr Davis, for whom he previously worked as an adviser, he campaigned for Leave in the 2016 referendum and is on the right of the Conservative Party. His appointment was welcomed by Eurosceptics who had stayed loyal to the prime minister. Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, said it was a “very welcome” decision.’ – The Times

>Today: Henry Newman’s column: May’s strategy is in crisis – continuing to exclude the Brexit Secretary from the process will only make that worse


Reshuffle 2) Hunt becomes Foreign Secretary, and Hancock takes over at Health

‘Jeremy Hunt has been named as foreign secretary to replace Boris Johnson, one of three men who supported remain during the referendum campaign who were promoted in an evening reshuffle. The health secretary was called to Downing Street to be offered the job by Theresa May after a tumultuous day of resignations in response to her soft Brexit plans. Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, was appointed as Hunt’s successor at health, while Jeremy Wright, the attorney general, is to become culture secretary. The Tory MP Geoffrey Cox was later named as the new attorney general. Hunt backed remain in 2016 and after the vote to leave the EU, considered running for the party leadership vacated by David Cameron on the basis of a Norway-style deal and a second referendum on the exit terms. But he changed his mind and hit out at Airbus for warning about the impact Brexit uncertainty was having on jobs.’ – The Guardian

>Today: MPsETC: Mini-reshuffle: Hunt to Foreign Office. Hancock to Health. Wright to DCMS.

Wallace: Davis no longer ran the Brexit talks, but May is wounded by his loss nonetheless

‘Davis and, among others, his junior minister Steve Baker (who has also resigned) were to be the canaries in the Whitehall mine – so long as they were in the cage and looking perky, everyone could be content that May was keeping her promises. If they started to cough, however, or fell off their perches, then trouble was up: they would not accept backsliding or betrayal. Over the last two years, that symbolic role has come to the fore, largely because the practical role of negotiating Brexit was effectively stripped from the Department for Exiting the European Union, and handed to Olly Robbins…Small wonder that Davis has walked now that the Prime Minister has adopted a plan produced by Robbins, in contradiction of what the Brexit Secretary had thought to be red lines underpinned by “firm agreement” of Downing Street and the Cabinet. He had signed up to ensure Britain left the EU properly, and in return, he loaned his clout to May’s premiership. Once he believed that she was failing to deliver her side of the bargain, there was no incentive to continue to fulfil his. The Prime Minister is undoubtedly wounded by the loss, for the same reason that she was strengthened by his presence at her Cabinet Table.’ – Mark Wallace, the i paper

  • He had good reasons to object to the plan – Marcus Fysh, the i paper
  • And he quit for principle, not power – Iain Dale, Daily Telegraph
  • MPs are concerned that Downing Street is trying to recruit Labour support – Daily Mail
  • Former ministers will continue the battle from the backbenches – The Times
  • Might others go? – The Times
  • May should be most worried about the return of Baker, the Leavers’ general, to the backbenches – Patrick Maguire, New Statesman
  • Tory activists refuse to campaign in protest at the Chequers plan – The Times
  • If Brexit is betrayed, I will come back as UKIP leader – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph
  • Brussels is fantasising that government meltdown means Brexit might be cancelled – The Times
  • The number of people who want to leave the EU has risen, the British Social Attitudes survey finds – Daily Mail


Williamson: We must fund our military properly – and NATO allies must step up to the plate, too

‘Our thoughts and condolences go out to the loved ones of Dawn Sturgess, who tragically died at the weekend after contact with the Novichok nerve agent. And our prayers remain with her partner, Charles Rowley, who is still critically ill in hospital. Police and security officials are now working urgently to establish the full facts, and our armed forces are ready to help as and when required. This week key Nato partners meet in Brussels, and the UK will be doing all it can to ensure our combined military strength receives the funding it deserves. I am proud the UK continues leading by example, spending more than 2 per cent of our gross domestic product on defence. But others too must now step up to the plate. Together, we must make sure the alliance continually adapts to meet the challenges that are ahead.’ – Gavin Williamson, The Times

  • The RAF is running out of funds while politicians ‘bang on’ about cyber, Stirrup warns – Daily Telegraph
  • Novichok victims are thought to have handled vial left behind by would-be assassins – The Times
  • Putin leads a terrorist state – The Times Leader
  • Deeper co-operation with France is on the cards – The Times
  • Trump plays into Putin’s hands by weakening NATO – General Sir Richard Shirreff, The Times
  • Russia builds new military installation on Polish border – Daily Mail
  • German military reduced to using broomsticks in place of guns – The Times
  • Proposal for borderless EU for NATO forces – The Times

MoD explores possible amnesty for Ulster veterans

‘A team has been set up to consider how to protect ex-soldiers from prosecutions for historical allegations, the Defence Secretary announced yesterday. In a fresh bid to end the ‘witch-hunt’ of British troops, Gavin Williamson said the dedicated team will examine the legal protections of former and serving members of the military. The announcement comes amid calls for a statute of limitations, or time limit, to protect ex-soldiers against ‘vexatious claims’ and probes into decades-old allegations.’ – Daily Mail

  • The Defence Secretary is proposing a statute of limitations, too – The Times

More phones in cells to boost prison rehabilitation

‘Prisoners will have telephones in their cells so they can keep in touch with their families, the Justice Secretary will announce today. David Gauke hopes the £7million scheme giving inmates privacy to speak to loved ones will boost rehabilitation. But critics met the plan with disbelief and have likened jails to ‘holiday camps’. Cell telephones are already in place at 20 prisons and there are plans to extend them to another 20 in the next two years, before rolling them out across all jails. They are subject to strict security measures – with all calls recorded and only pre-approved numbers available for inmates to dial.The calls are paid for by prisoners buying phonecards. In a speech in London today, Mr Gauke will say: ‘Decency extends to how we treat prisoners – fairly and consistently, with time out of their cells, activities, and the opportunity to maintain family relationships. Supportive relationships are critical to achieving rehabilitation.” – Daily Mail

  • Civil liberties concerns about new anti-terror laws – The Times

The forgotten ‘calamity’ in local democracy

‘Many authorities are putting up council tax, but that doesn’t come close to easing the economies they have to make. And the results are obvious: less comprehensive child protection, less dependable care for older people, fewer children’s centres, more rubbish in the streets – and yet more dire damage to a social fabric that has been pulled apart for nearly a decade. Why is this national calamity so under-reported? Some of the answer is about the continuing tragedy of Brexit. Political journalists who work themselves into a lather about this or that item of Westminster gossip hear the dread phrase “local government” and glaze over. It is some token of Whitehall neglect that confusion still surrounds the Tory plan to abolish the core grant given from central government to local authorities and make them completely dependent on business rates and council tax. All told, senior politicians routinely treat non-Westminster people as a mere annoyance.’ – John Harris, The Guardian

New rail timetables delayed

‘Rail bosses announced yesterday that a third of operators would not introduce timetables that had been due to be phased in from December. Operators suspending December timetables include Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway, which have been heavily criticised over the recent chaotic changes to schedules. Great Western, London Overground, South Western and TransPennine Express will keep the existing timetables. The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail, said that eight out of 23 companies were not introducing changes at the end of this year. Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, said: “Taking into account recent painful lessons, the industry has scaled back its ambition and tempered it with a more cautious, phased approach to introducing the new timetable.”’ – The Times

  • O’Brien warns Grayling against falling victim to ‘bias’ against northern rail improvements – Yorkshire Post

O’Mara chooses a busy day to apologise

‘The Labour MP Jared O’Mara has said he is “ashamed of the man I was” as he apologised for sexist and homophobic comments he posted on social media in his early 20s. The Sheffield Hallam MP was suspended from the Labour party last year after a series of postings – many dating back over a number of years – came to light, but he was readmitted earlier this month after receiving a formal warning. The disputes panel on the party’s national executive committee ruled earlier this month that the case did not meet the threshold required to be referred for expulsion but that he should undergo mandatory training. In his statement, issued through the party on Monday, O’Mara, 36, said: “I am pleased that this matter is now resolved and that I can focus my attention fully on representing the people of Sheffield Hallam as their Labour MP.’ – The Guardian

Trump reveals Supreme Court nominee

‘Donald Trump has named Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the US supreme court, lighting the fuse of an acrimonious political battle and potentially setting the court on a more conservative course for decades to come. The selection of the federal appeals court judge was the cue for euphoria on the right and confirmed many progressive fears. If rubber-stamped by the Senate, it would represent one of the most consequential decisions of Trump’s presidency. Kavanaugh’s record will come under particular scrutiny for clues as to how he might vote in any future review of Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion. Last year, Kavanaugh decided against a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant in federal custody who sought to immediately terminate her pregnancy, though he was overruled by colleagues. As a special counsel investigation into Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia continues, Kavanaugh could also be the deciding vote in whether a criminal prosecution goes forward. He is likely to be questioned about his past assertions that a sitting president should be protected from indictment.’ – The Guardian

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