Barnier claims there could be a deal in the next two months

‘A Brexit deal with Brussels can be struck in less than two months’ time, Europe’s chief negotiator said yesterday, as Theresa May sent her ministers on a final drive to sell Chequers to her divided party. Amid signs of some optimism on both sides of the Channel, Michel Barnier said that a withdrawal deal was “possible” within six to eight weeks, causing a surge in the pound’s value. With claims yesterday, however, that up to 80 Tory MPs would be prepared to vote down a deal based on the Chequers agreement, Downing Street is to begin a concerted drive to reduce opposition. The prime minister has instructed every cabinet minister to tour the country before the Conservative Party conference this month to hammer home the message that Chequers is the “only deal” on the table. Each minister has been told to visit at least two constituency associations in the next two weeks to make the case for Mrs May’s strategy and counter the campaign led by Boris Johnson to “chuck Chequers”.’ – The Times

  • The threat of Johnson and a Brexiteer revolt appears to be spurring EU leaders to offer May a deal – The i paper
  • Brussels softening its line? Pigs might fly. – The Sun Says
  • Whips on both sides are doing the numbers – The Times
  • Nobody likes the Prime Minister’s plan, and she only has herself to blame – Henry Newman, The Guardian
  • Opponents of Chequers are playing Russian roulette – William Hague, Daily Telegraph
  • Rees-Mogg highlights economic benefits of No Deal – Daily Telegraph
  • Rebels’ blueprint launch cancelled – FT
  • Brexit is good for the EU, argues Verhofstadt – The Times
  • Unions threaten a general strike if they don’t like May’s deal – The Sun
  • Land sale will test the prospects for UK agriculture – FT


Wallace: The pretend outrage at Johnson and Umunna’s use of metaphor is ridiculous

‘Obviously, this is insane nonsense. “Call off the dogs” is a normal turn of phrase. It is not an insult – if anything, it’s a cliche. Indeed, Jones and McDonnell have both used it themselves, apparently without causing “grotesque” offence by “dehumanising” anyone…Nor is the War on Metaphor (not literally a war, no need to duck) confined to Labour…Boris Johnson was denounced by Conservative MPs after describing the Northern Ireland backstop as a “suicide vest around the British constitution”, for which the Prime Minister had “handed the detonator to Michel Barnier.” Whoops, chums. Sir Alan Duncan ignited. The words were “one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics”, he raged, “…this is the political end of Boris Johnson.” His colleague Alistair Burt added that “our country might never heal” if such language was allowed…It’s heady stuff, if fundamentally ridiculous. Does anyone believe that such outrage is genuine, or that the emotions being paraded are really being felt?’ – Mark Wallace, the i paper

>Today: ToryDiary: Unthinking the thinkable

Prominent Brexiteers under threat in the boundary review

‘Yesterday the Boundary Commission published its final proposals, under which the Commons would shrink from 650 to 600 MPs and the electorate in each seat would be roughly equal. Early analysis suggested that if the new boundaries had been in place at the last election the Conservatives would have won an overall majority of 16. Although the party would receive an overall electoral advantage, the plan could unseat a significant number of leading Tory Brexiteers at the next poll…Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, would face a challenge to his majority of 5,034 in Uxbridge & South Ruislip, with the seat losing Tory-leaning wards and gaining Labour areas. The former Brexit secretary David Davis’s Haltemprice & Howden seat would be abolished. Iain Duncan Smith’s Chingford & Woodford Green seat takes in some Labour-dominated Walthamstow wards. Priti Patel, another prominent Brexiteer, would also see her Witham seat go and potentially have to fight another former cabinet Eurosceptic, John Whittingdale.’ – The Times

  • Corbyn’s seat would be abolished – The Sun
  • Don’t hold your breath for it going through – The Times
  • Face down the rebels and do what is right – The Times Leader
  • It’s not a plot, it’s simple fairness – and next we need to cut the Lords – The Sun Says
  • The vote is unlikely to take place until after we leave the EU – FT
  • We are missing the departed big beasts – Chris Bryant, The Times
  • Remainers’ biggest problem is voters just aren’t interested – Rafael Behr, The Guardian

Carter: Councils far more responsible than Northamptonshire are at their financial limits

‘Northamptonshire undoubtedly mismanaged austerity. Planned efficiency savings were not delivered, reserves were plundered and, at the behest of government, council tax was kept low, sacrificing some £24 million per annum. But other county councils recently in the media spotlight are not Northamptonshire. Counties which represent 48 per cent of the population of England have modernised and delivered efficiency savings which have substantially driven down costs to maintain frontline services. But the scope for further efficiencies is minimal and our councils face £3.2 billion of funding pressures this year and next. Some of the decisions needed to balance our budgets will be unpalatable to residents, councillors and MPs, with more reductions to rural buses, less road maintenance, library closures and reduced social care services provided to both young and old…The elastic can be stretched no further. Fundamental change is long overdue.’ – Paul Carter, The Times

>Today: Ben Bradley on Comment: To get the greatest benefit from extra NHS funding, resist the temptation to spend it all on hospitals

Police force asks the public to report ‘non-crime hate’ incidents

‘A police force attracted incredulity yesterday when it asked the public to report “non-crime” hate incidents such as insulting language. South Yorkshire police, the force that failed to take action against prolific sex grooming gangs, was accused of “Orwellian tactics” after calling for people to report incidents of hate that did not pass the criminal threshold. The force used its official Twitter account to spread the message, saying: “Hate can cause a range of emotional responses, including fear, anger and shock. People experience mental and physical wellbeing issues such as problems sleeping, depression, anxiety and paranoia. Hate hurts and no one should have to tolerate it.” The force, which has lost 2,000 officers during funding cuts and has overseen a recent rise in violent crime in Sheffield, acknowledged that “police can only prosecute when the law is broken”. However it said that non-crime hate incidents could later escalate into crime.’ – The Times

  • Cash-strapped cops cut drink-driving tests – The Sun
  • Home Office ordered to get a grip on police budgets – FT
  • They should reform their priorities, not demand more money – Daily Telegraph Leader

>Today: Andrew Boff on Local Government: The rise of violent crime in London is an emergency – here is my plan to tackle it

Hall concedes sprawling BBC digital presence must be pruned back

‘The BBC is planning to streamline its sprawling online presence after internal research found that many digital services were accessed by a tiny number of users. Critics of the corporation have long warned that the “imperial” ambitions of the BBC website went beyond the remit of a licence fee-funded broadcaster, undermining commercial rivals. In a speech to staff Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the director-general, disclosed that six of the BBC’s numerous online platforms accounted for 90 per cent of its audience. In future the BBC will focus on a handful of core services: iPlayer, News, Weather, Sport, Children’s, the study resource Bitesize and the audio and music app Sounds, which will replace iPlayer Radio. The publication of content on less popular BBC digital services will fall “over time”. Lord Hall did not specify which sites, sections and apps might close.’ – The Times

Migration Advisory Committee set to propose the ‘tens of thousands’ target should be scrapped

‘In a report on the benefits of foreign students, the Migration Advisory Committee is expected to recommend an end to the “tens of thousands” goal. A source said: “They’ll say students should still be in the tens of thousands cap but it actually makes sense to axe it.” The report is the first of two expected to be pivotal to shaping Theresa May’s post-Brexit immigration policy. Next week the MAC will reveal the number of EU nationals employed in the UK – hinting at how many will need to stay once we leave the EU. David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May committed to cutting net migration to the “tens of thousands” in 2010. Net migration instead soared to more than 330,000.’ – The Sun

The White House attacks the ICC, as investigators consider probing US veterans

‘The Trump administration has escalated its attacks on international organisations by threatening to impose sanctions on the International Criminal Court if it attempted to investigate American citizens. In a blistering attack, John Bolton, the White House national security adviser, said the US would “not sit quietly” if the court acted against the US, Israel and other allies. He said the administration would act to protect American citizens from the “illegitimate court”. “We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us,” Mr Bolton said in his first speech as national security adviser. The attack on the ICC is the latest move by President Donald Trump to walk away from international institutions and agreements he believes constrain the US overseas.’ – FT

Corbyn will not call off the dogs

‘Jeremy Corbyn has refused to intervene as a Labour MP faces what has been described as “disgraceful bullying” from leftie activists for criticising the party’s leader. He has told a meeting of his Parliamentary party tonight that he “knows what it feels like to be the target of a no confidence vote”. But Mr Corbyn says “it would be wrong” for him to get involved after Rosie Duffield was targeted by his supporters with a “motion of censure”. The Canterbury MP is under fire for attending a Parliament Square demonstration that “groundlessly” accused the party of systemic anti-Semitism. It also attacked her for comments as revealed by The Sun, in which she claimed she and other colleagues had discussed going on strike in protest unless Mr Corbyn backed down in the row. She is just the latest MP to face such a vote by her local party, after a number have had motions of “no confidence” passed in retaliation for their criticism of the anti-Semitism crisis.’ – The Sun

  • Momentum speaker: “bump off” Israeli politicians – The Times
  • Labour has abandoned bingo for quinoa, swing voters say – The Guardian
  • Watson snubs sub-par conference slots and opts to speak on the fringe instead – The Times
  • McDonnell’s plans for compulsory worker-ownership come under fire – FT
  • He plans to hand a swathe of extra powers to unions – Daily Telegraph
  • The unions are already more powerful than any time since 1979 – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Time for a four-day working week – Frances O’Grady, The Times
  • O’Grady’s pay rises take her package to £175,000 – The Sun
  • This is not the time for a new centre party – Robert Shrimsley, FT

News in Brief