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Barnier says EU is prepared to ‘improve’ Irish border offer…

“The EU has revealed it is willing to ‘improve’ its offer to the UK on the Irish border to help seal a quick Brexit deal. Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier has revealed his team is working on a compromise to avoid the return of a hard border and to bring agreement into ‘grasp’.  Theresa May’s will give a speech to EU leaders in Salzburg later today where she will try to kill off any chance of Northern Ireland being inside the EU’s customs union. And last night Mr Barnier admitted he was working on a major concession to ensure the EU respect the territorial integrity of the UK in an attempt to break the talks deadlock. The EU official suggested officials could inspect goods entering the UK via Ireland on ferries and in business premises away from the border… Barnier said that an Irish ‘backstop’ must be legally operationally and respect the UK’s constitutional integrity.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister begins critical 48 hours with plea to EU leaders – The Times
  • Appeal to leaders will ‘bypass Barnier’ – Daily Express
  • Tusk cuts short May’s Salzburg speech – Daily Mail
  • Downing Street takes to social media to sell Chequers – The Times

Comment:

  • Brussels must not ask the unacceptable of Britain – Theresa May, Die Welt
  • Her pitch is clear: give me Chequers, or you get Corbyn – Peter Foster, Daily Telegraph

…as Davis says negotiations will ‘reset’ in the autumn…

“Former Brexit secretary David Davis said on Wednesday he expected negotiations between the UK and the EU to “re-set” as the deadline for agreeing a deal draws closer, and that there would be “other deals on the table” by November. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Davis said both sides were “afraid of no deal” and would “get to a point where neither side can agree,” at which point there would have to be “some sort of re-set.” Mr Davis, who resigned in July as Brexit secretary in protest against what he described as Prime Minister Theresa May’s “soft Brexit” plan, said he did not expect much progress to be made at the two-day informal meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg that begins on Wednesday. He said the EU tended to wait until the “last possible moment” before shifting its negotiating position, and would begin to soften its stance towards the UK in October or November.” – FT

  • Ministers accuse Brussels of re-opening customs row – The Sun
  • Raab says ball is in EU’s court after compromises – Daily Telegraph
  • Eastern Member States push for UK’s ‘voice to be heard’ – The Sun

More:

  • No-deal Brexit would ‘hinder Salisbury inquiry’ – The Times
  • BMW move scheduled closure of Mini plant to avoid Brexit disruption – Daily Mail
  • Scottish Lib Dem leader tears into Chequers – The Scotsman

>Yesterday: Henry Newman’s column: Now the Government must promote Chequers – which, though not perfect, is at least practicable

…and May speaks out against a second referendum

“She also issued a stark warning that demands for a second EU referendum risks shattering trust in Westminster. The Prime Minister added: “We gave people the opportunity to make a choice. They made that choice. “If we as politicians want people to trust us, then we have to deliver for them on that.”… Mrs May was scathing about the People’s Vote and other well-funded campaign groups demanding a fresh national referendum on the Brexit decision. “When the referendum took place, we gave people the opportunity to make a choice. They made that choice. If we as politicians want people to trust us, then we have to deliver for them on that,” the Prime Minister said. “This was probably the biggest exercise in democracy in our country’s history. If we were to go back on that vote, it would destroy trust in politicians.”” – Daily Express

  • ‘Multiple opportunities’ for new vote, campaigners insist – BBC
  • Cable urges Liberal Democrats to listen to Leave voters – The Times

Steve Baker: Ministers are wrong to suggest we could easily re-negotiate Chequers later

“Ministers are now telling EU negotiators that they don’t expect a Chequers-based muddle to last. It isn’t the permanent deal they want. A PM might change it. It’s only the Government’s approach “for now”. That is ridiculous. How can the EU negotiate when our own ministers are suggesting we might chuck Chequers later? The right approach is to chuck Chequers now. Ministers are implying it would be easy for a PM to change a deal later. That’s wrong. There would be an international treaty agreed by the EU and its member states. Such treaties are difficult to secure and to change, just like the treaties binding the UK into the EU. Would we need a new manifesto pledge to renegotiate? Would we need another referendum? And would the EU even agree to open negotiations after we had paid tens of billions in departing?” – The Sun

  • The Prime Minister’s do-what-I-say tactics are undemocratic – Justine Greening, The Times
  • We have one chance to get Brexit right, and ditching Chequers will let us take it – Jacob Rees-Mogg, Daily Telegraph
  • If Labour is serious about power it must back a People’s Vote – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • Young anti-Brexit voters wrong to think they matter more – Naomi Firsht, Times Red Box
  • Single-minded May can scent victory – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • Parliament has a ‘golden moment’ to stop Brexit – Andrew Adonis, The Guardian

Fox and Johnson back Hannan’s plan for US trade deal

“Ministers should allow American healthcare companies to compete with the NHS to run hospitals as part of a free-trade pact after Brexit, a think tank recommends. The Initiative for Free Trade (IFT) said that Britain should also end its ban on imports of products such as chlorinated chicken and accept American environmental and food safety regulations as equivalent to those in the UK. The moves, it claimed, would help clear the way for a UK-US trade deal that would “rewrite the rules” of global commerce and allow Britain to take advantage of trade freedoms offered by Brexit. The IFT has received backing from Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, and Boris Johnson. The report, edited by Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP, was partly written by the trade lawyer Shanker Singham who has been consulted on free trade by Dr Fox, David Davis, Steve Baker and other ministers since the referendum.” – The Times

>Today: Daniel Hannan MEP’s column: We no longer need to imagine a free trade deal with the USA – we’ve written one

Experts propose ending ‘preferential treatment’ for EU migrants

“Theresa May’s plans for a tough new immigration regime were given a boost yesterday after a key report called for an end to low-skilled migration from the EU after Brexit. A year-long independent report by the government’s advisers into the link between migration and the economy recommended a “global” system. This would make EU citizens subject to the same rules as immigrants from non-European countries after January 2021 and could mean that those who want to live in Britain for more than six months would need visas. The Migration Advisory Committee’s call for curbs on low-skilled EU workers prompted warnings from business groups that key industries would be crippled and there would be labour shortages. The report concludes that existing free movement with the EU “has neither the large negative effects claimed by some nor the clear benefits claimed by others”.” – The Times

  • Report argues for radical economic shift – FT
  • Business told to wean itself off cheap imported labour – The Sun
  • Scotland-specific system ‘not justified’ – The Scotsman

Comment:

  • Refusing preference won’t survive contact with Brussels – Stewart Jackson, Times Red Box
  • Liberal monopoly on how to discuss immigration is fanning flames – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph
  • Skills are the key to unlocking immigration’s benefits – Philip Aldrick, The Times
  • The part of Brexit everyone’s been avoiding is finally here – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian

Editorial:

  • Report shows why we need skilled migrants – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Immigration. Brexit simply means regaining control of our border policy. What we do with it then is up to us.

May vows to end social housing ‘stigma’

“Theresa May will today launch an all-out assault on the ‘stigma’ attached to living in a council house. In a marked change of tone on housing policy, the Prime Minister will condemn sneering attitudes towards housing association and council house tenants, who she says have nothing to be ashamed of. Since Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy policy allowed millions of council house tenants to buy their homes, Tory leaders have emphasised the party’s mission of increasing home ownership. Downing Street last night denied the speech meant Mrs May was abandoning this tradition and pointed towards Government efforts to get more people on the housing ladder. A No 10 source said: ‘The central Tory focus on home ownership is absolutely undimmed.’ Mrs May will today say council house tenants are our ‘friends and neighbours’ and ‘not second-rate citizens’, as she announces £2billion for new housing association properties.” – Daily Mail

  • Landowners make record profits by pricing out cheaper homes – The Sun
  • Party are ‘sleepwalking into opposition’, warns former May aide – Business Insider

>Today: Neil O’Brien MP in Comment: New homes. It’s time to make developers pay their fair share for infrastructure.

Conservative MPs prepare revolt against shale liberalisation

“Almost two dozen Conservative MPs are threatening to rebel against the government’s proposal to allow shale gas exploration to proceed without planning permission. In July, ministers launched a consultation on whether seismic surveys and test drilling for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, should be treated as “permitted development” in England, removing the need for planning approval. But Conservative MPs have told the Financial Times that “at least 20” party backbenchers are willing “to destroy the government’s majority” if ministers seek to push the proposal through parliament. The government’s working majority in the Commons is 13, and that is only with the help of Democratic Unionist party MPs. Labour has said it would ban fracking if it wins the next general election.” – FT

Wright raises prospect of taxing tech giants to fund BBC

“A levy could be imposed on global tech giants such as Facebook and Google to fund public interest British journalism, ministers hinted yesterday. Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, said that the government was considering a financial raid on the digital platforms to help combat fake news and support institutions such as the BBC. “The money must come from somewhere. It may be that there is scope to look at some of the other business in this sector,” he told the Royal Television Society (RTS) conference, in response to appeals from Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the director-general of the BBC, for extra funding. The Cairncross review into press sustainability is already investigating whether a levy on web giants could help support local newspapers in the UK. Issues of false narratives on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were raised by the minister, who said that quality journalism was the best defence against dubious reporting.” – The Times

  • Don’t cut BBC Parliament, Bercow urges Corporation – The Guardian

MPs urge ministers to regulate crypto-currencies

“MPs have urged the government to regulate “Wild West” crypto-asset markets, citing concern over investor protection and money laundering, but have said that with appropriate regulation the UK could become a “global centre” for the nascent sector. The Commons Treasury select committee warned on Wednesday that a dearth of regulation around crypto-assets had left investors exposed to a “litany of risks” — without any of the protections usually afforded to consumers, such as access to compensation. These risks include potential heavy losses due to high volatility in the market, or hacks on the cryptocurrency exchanges where some investors hold their assets, the MPs said. In a report, part of an inquiry into digital currencies and the distributed ledger technology underpinning them, MPs said the Financial Conduct Authority should oversee the sector “as a matter of urgency”.” – FT

  • We need proper oversight to protect consumers – Nicky Morgan, Times Red Box

Boff breaks ranks to criticise Goldsmith’s campaign

“One of the three Conservative London mayoral candidates has broken ranks to criticise Zac Goldsmith’s controversial 2016 campaign, after the Muslim Council of Britain wrote to them to ask if they would condemn its racial overtones. Andrew Boff said he believed Goldsmith’s attacks on Labour rival candidate Sadiq Khan were a “mistaken tactic”, while the other two candidates responded with a joint statement that sidestepped the issue by not mentioning the party’s previous campaign. That prompted the MCB to criticise the other candidates, early favourite Shaun Bailey and his lesser-known rival, Joy Morrissey. An MCB spokesman said: “Muslim Londoners would have expected all Tories seeking the votes of Londoners to clearly set themselves apart from this shameful episode, but it is deeply disappointing to see that is not the case for two of the candidates.”” – The Guardian

>Today: Justine Greening MP in Local Government: Why I’m backing Joy Morrissey to be the next Mayor of London

>Yesterday:

Ministers’ speeches will be ‘cut short’ to improve diversity

“Ministers’ speeches in the House of Commons will be cut short so more female and ethnic minority MPs can get their voices heard. Charles Walker, Conservative chairman of the Commons Procedure Committee, said “excessively lengthy” speeches from those speaking for the Government or the Opposition can have a “detrimental” impact on the time available for backbench MPs to contribute to important debates. SNP MP Alison Thewliss backed the change, saying that over-running speeches by senior MPs meant that more junior MPs – who are proportionately more likely to be women or from an ethnic minority – often saw their speeches squeezed. The committee plans to monitor the situation and “will not hesitate” to recommend Speaker John Bercow and his deputies use formal powers to limit all frontbench speeches to 20 minutes, plus up to 15 minutes extra to allow MPs to ask questions through interventions. The committee analysed arrangements for limiting speaking time in the chamber when demand is high.” – Daily Telegraph

Corbyn allies want to limit Watson’s power…

“Left wing allies of Jeremy Corbyn want to severely limit the power of deputy Tom Watson should the Labour leader be forced to quit. Mr Watson, a prominent Labour moderate, would automatically become caretaker boss if Mr Corbyn stood down. Supporters of the opposition leader have put forward proposals designed to stop any attempts to overturn the Corbyn project. Under a draft clause circulated to senior Labour figures, an acting leader would be forced to direct all of their decisions to the party’s ruling National Executive Committee for approval. The NEC is dominated by staunch hard-Left allies of Mr Corbyn – and Labour moderates fear the rule would make the body a kind of Politburo more powerful than the person supposedly leading the party.” – Daily Mail

  • Feud ‘boils over’ in Shadow Cabinet meeting – The Sun
  • Deputy denied conference speaking slot in ‘provocative snub’ – Daily Express
  • Starmer was on ‘brink of resignation’ after clash with Corbyn – The Guardian

…as leader’s plans to transform party postponed by vote defeats

“Labour’s ruling body agreed to park some of the most controversial proposals for party reform at a marathon 10-hour meeting on Tuesday, which saw Jeremy Corbyn defeated in a series of close votes. The national executive committee (NEC) set aside for a year plans for Labour councillors to be forced to defer to new “local government committees” before publishing their own manifesto, and for council leaders to be directly elected by Labour members. Nick Forbes, leader of the Labour group on the local government association, who sits on the NEC, welcomed the decision as “sensible and pragmatic”. He had warned that the plans would risk “endless infighting as groups within the party are pitted against each other”. The NEC also agreed to defer a decision about changing the role of the party’s national policy forum, instead opting to kick off a wide-ranging review of the way Labour makes policy.” – The Guardian

  • Leader’s aide gets a parliamentary pass at last – The Times
  • New book reveals Labour leader’s stunned reaction to 2017 election result – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Undemocratic vendetta is a new low for the Corbyn project – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

Cable calls for fight against ‘illiberalism’

“UK Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has called on his party to lead the “resistance to the forces of illiberalism”, taking aim at the “cynical” and “divisive” politics of US president Donald Trump and former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Addressing the Lib Dems’ annual conference in Brighton, Sir Vince claimed that Brexit could still be averted and called for significant changes to the UK economy, which he said was “unhealthily built on debt”. The former business secretary proposed increasing capital gains tax, supporting greater housebuilding by local councils and replacing business rates with a land value tax. He also raised concerns about the shift towards insecure, “crap jobs” in the UK economy, and the behaviour of Amazon, Facebook and Google, which he labelled “world-class tax dodgers”.” – FT

  • Liberal Democrat leader urges Labour moderates to quit – The Scotsman
  • Lamb says toddlers should get mental health treatment – The Sun

Comment:

  • Without Blair, there is no new centrist party – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Cable: “Exotic spresm” of Brexit “can and must be stopped”

Democratic Unionist will learn tomorrow whether he faces recall by-election

“Ian Paisley will learn in the early hours of Thursday morning whether he will have to fight a by-election to retain his Westminster seat. Polls in the recall petition close at 5pm tomorrow. The boxes from the three centres in Ballymena, Ballymoney and Ballycastle will then be taken to the Electoral Office’s Belfast headquarters. Counting will begin at midnight. Chief Electoral officer Virginia McVea told the Belfast Telegraph she expected the result to be announced at around 2am. It is understood that after the votes are counted at the premises near Writer’s Square, the result will first be recorded with the office of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. Then turnout and the result will be posted on the Electoral Office’s website. It is the first ever recall petition in British parliamentary history and allows voters to have their say on their MP.” – Belfast Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • The Brexit migration report: one step forward, two steps back – John Ashmore, CapX
  • Irish border breakthrough not quite what it says on the tin – Owen Polley, Reaction
  • The unwelcome distraction waiting for the PM in Salzburg – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Windrush and an ongoing culture of unaccountability – Della Reynolds, Comment Central
  • There’s now a US-UK trade deal ready to be signed – Ted Bromund, Brexit Central

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