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EU sources say deal is ‘close’ as Ireland backs May’s customs union plan…

“A Brexit deal is “very close” according to EU sources, it has been reported today. The bloc’s Brexit negotiators told national diplomats in Brussels late last night that a divorce deal was almost there. Reuters UK Bureau chief Guy Faulconbridge this morning tweeted the news, hours after the Irish PM said he was hopeful a deal could be done in two weeks… Theresa May faces a crunch summit with the other leaders of the 27 countries on October 17 and 18, and the clock is ticking to get an agreement signed off in time for our EU exit next March. It is understood that Mrs May is working on new plans for Northern Ireland – which could include a temporary all-UK customs union with the EU after we leave. But this could hamper Britain’s ability to do trade deals with other countries outside the bloc.” – The Sun

  • May pushes for ‘all-UK customs union’ with Irish backing – Daily Express
  • Prime Minister warns Cabinet that Macron thinks Brexit can be stopped – Daily Mail
  • Tusk accused of sexism as he tries to exploit Tory divisions… – Daily Mail
  • …but Johnson greets ‘Canada’ suggestion as ‘superb way forward’… – The Times
  • …and Rees-Mogg agrees with it too – Daily Express

Comment:

  • EU proposals strike at the essence of the British union – Owen Polley, The Times
  • Time to cut this new Napoleon down to size – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

…as Hammond plans ’emergency Budget’ in case of no deal

“Philip Hammond is planning an emergency Brexit Budget in the spring if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal. Sources said the Chancellor has been forced to shelve any major decisions he had hoped to make in this month’s Budget because of the impasse in Brexit talks. They said it effectively means the October 29 Budget and the Spring statement will be switched around in all-but name. The Spring Statement – normally used to publish the latest economic forecasts – would be upgraded to make it a budget-style event. It makes a mockery of Mr Hammond’s big move last year to switch the Budget back to the Autumn. But Treasury insiders say they cannot make big fiscal moves before they know if Britain is leaving the EU next March without a deal – given the huge gulf in economic forecasts between that scenario and getting a deal.” – The Sun

  • Low-skilled men ‘most at risk’ from Brexit – The Times
  • Fears ‘divorce bill’ could grow as EU spending commitments soar – Daily Mail
  • Unilever scraps plans to move HQ from London – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • May’s latest plan would leave us stuck in the Common Market – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Chequers would provoke a constitutional crisis – Patrick Robertson, Daily Telegraph
  • Voters would choose Corbyn to guarantee Brexit – Polly Mackenzie, Times Red Box

May ‘needs £20 billion’ to end austerity, warns IFS

“Theresa May has been told she will have to find at least £20billion to fulfil her conference pledge to end austerity measures. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the cash would be needed by 2022 to fund wage hikes and stop cuts in order to ease financial pressure on workers. The remarks come after the Prime Minister used her keynote address to the Tory conference to say austerity will end after a decade of struggle since the financial crash. Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I don’t know what she means by the end of austerity, but it won’t look like it, of course, if she doesn’t find money for significant pay rises across the public sector.’ He added that with pledges already made to increase health and defence spending, Mrs May had limited room for movement.” – Daily Mail

  • Pledge creates a £33 billion hole in the Budget – FT
  • Praise for woman who inspired cancer pledge – The Times
  • Downing St at odds with Treasury over agency pay – FT

Comment:

  • If it’s time to end austerity do it the Tory way: cut taxes – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • Parties are racing to connect with ‘insecurity Britain’ – Phillip Blond, The Guardian
  • May has struck a blow for polite politicians – Philip Collins, The Times

Editorial:

>Today: ToryDiary: The “end of austerity” must not mean a return to the bad old days of Brownite mismanagement

>Yesterday: Alex Morton’s column: As she prepares to shape her own spending review, May’s influence could last much longer than you expect

Tories ‘unite against the Prime Minister fighting the next election’

“Theresa May faced a pincer movement from both wings of the Conservative Party yesterday as they resisted suggestions from No 10 that she could stay on to fight the next election. Cabinet ministers, MPs and party donors made clear at the party conference in Birmingham that Mrs May was not under immediate pressure to go or to name a date. They suggested, however, that they expected her to depart in good time for the next election. Donors are concerned that the prime minister’s solid conference performance on Wednesday has convinced her aides that she should be given a chance to fight the next election. Key figures indicated that she would not have their support to continue. Sir Oliver Letwin, once an ally of David Cameron, said that Mrs May had the administrative skills and eye for detail to guide Britain through Brexit, but that she lacked the vision to lead the Conservatives into another election.” – The Times

  • Leadsom ‘refuses to back May’ staying in Number Ten after Brexit – The Sun
  • Downing Street ‘offered Democratic Unionists a full coalition’ – Belfast Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Senior Scottish Tories ‘plotting to block Johnson’s bid for Downing Street’

Clark sets aside £10 billion to design regulation for ‘plausible new technologies’

“Jumping in a taxi, we often have our own idea of the quickest route for the driver to take. Soon, all we may need to say is ‘up’ – after the Business Secretary announced a £10million cash injection that will help pave the way to flying cabs. Greg Clark said the money would go towards a series of projects that focus on how to regulate 15 plausible technologies of the future. They range from airborne taxis to ‘robolawyers’ that use artificial intelligence to help streamline the legal services market. Up to £1million will go to the Civil Aviation Authority to support a project to unblock legislative and regulatory barriers to innovations such as flying taxis. And another £700,000 will be spent by the Solicitors Regulation Authority on research into how artificial intelligence could transform legal services for small businesses and consumers.” – Daily Mail

  • Government only paying ‘lip service’ to industrial strategy, says Cable – The Guardian

MPs 1) Cleverly defends Bailey over multiculteralism

“The Conservatives’ deputy chairman has conceded that the party’s newly selected London mayoral candidate “could and should” have made clear he was not singling out Muslims or Hindus when he wrote about the impact of multiculturalism. James Cleverly insisted Shaun Bailey had been misunderstood, and that he was trying to say that because black boys were learning more about faiths other than “their own Christian culture”, they were more likely to drift into crime. Cleverly conceded that “what Shaun did wrong was that he could and should have been better at explaining that he wasn’t blaming anyone” when writing about accommodating British Muslims and Hindus in a paper published 13 years ago. But Cleverly said Bailey would not be reprimanded and that he had the party’s full support to take on Labour’s Sadiq Khan in two years time. “It was ridiculous to suggest he was selected on anything other than quality,” he said.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Emily Barley in Comment: What does the Conservative Party stand for?

MPs 2) Ellwood describes Westminster attack

“Susanna Reid struggled to hold back tears on Good Morning Britain today as hero Tory MP Tobias Ellwood told how he thought he had failed PC Keith Palmer. Mr Ellwood was first on the scene to help the officer after he was stabbed during the Westminster terror attack in March 2017, but was unable to save him. The MP told of his devastation at his death, and revealed how difficult it was to hand over the rescue effort to paramedics… The MP, who served in the Royal Green Jackets, went on to claim Britons had become too ‘risk averse’ and overly reliant on emergency responders in the wake of incidents, including terror attacks. The inquest into the deaths of PC Palmer and four other victims yesterday heard that many onlookers filmed casualties on their phones rather than doing anything to help.” – Daily Mail

May announces that Russia could face fresh sanctions…

“Britain today warned Russia could face fresh sanctions for its chemical weapons cyber attack and warned Moscow ‘they will regret doing this’. Theresa May today tore into Russia for its ‘unacceptable cyber activities’ and vowed to hit back to defend the international order against their strikes. In a joint statement with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, she said the Kremlin is showing flagrant ‘disregard’ for the global values which keep the world safe. While Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned Moscow that Britain and its allies will not take the naked aggression ‘lying down’… And his deputy, Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan, warned that a British power station or a major bank could be next on Russia’s hit list.” – Daily Mail

  • West unites against Moscow as spies ‘caught in the act’ – The Times
  • Cameron gave MI5 agents ‘licence to kill’ – Daily Mail

Comment:

….but Corbyn wants ‘positive relations’ with the Kremlin

“Jeremy Corbyn today said he wants ‘positive relations’ with Russia – but admitted there should be a ‘diplomatic confrontation’ with Vladimir Putin over its cyber attacks. It emerged today that Russian military agents were exposed for trying to hack into the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in April. The foiled strike came as the international body was investigating the Cold War nerve agent Novichok used in the Salisbury poison attack. The Labour leader sparked fury after he took months to admit Russia was behind the attack despite British intelligence saying all the evidence pointed to Moscow. And he even suggested a sample of the Novichok was sent to Russia for testing, despite the state waging a massive disinformation campaign to cast doubt over its role in the attack.” – Daily Mail

  • ‘Dark forces’ could be plotting against the Labour leader, warns McCluskey – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • The Tories are finally taking Corbyn seriously – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

McDonnell joins strikers in Leicester Square

“Labour’s John McDonnell joined dozens of McDonald’s, Deliveroo and Wetherspoons workers in a noisy protest as part of a day of action in disputes over pay and working conditions. Staff from several branches of McDonald’s and TGI Fridays restaurants, as well as two Wetherspoons pubs in Brighton, some Uber Eats and Deliveroo couriers and Uber drivers, took part in protests in Leicester Square, London today. Supported by the shadow chancellor and union leaders, they demanded a minimum wage of £10 an hour and an end to ‘precarious’ contracts. The demands were at odds with 80 per cent of McDonald’s workers who have chosen to remain on zero hours contracts because of the flexibility they offer. Wetherspoons said it has handed out payrises totalling £27million this year. TUC general-secretary Frances O’Grady and shadow chancellor John McDonnell addressed the rally, offering support from the Labour and trade union movement.” – Daily Mail

  • Commuters furious at ‘triple whammy’ of transport strikes – Daily Mail
  • Ultra-rich shift assets as fear of Labour mounts – FT

Comment:

  • Only Labour grasps Britain’s desire for change – Jim O’Neill, The Guardian

Scottish Labour’s left-wing leadership sacks moderates in chaotic reshuffle

Scottish Labour’s hard-Left leader has sacked two of his best-performing MSPs in a chaotic reshuffle and suggested they were responsible for infighting in the party’s Holyrood group. Richard Leonard fired Anas Sarwar, his health spokesman, and Jackie Baillie, his immensely experienced economy spokesman, so the party could “focus on unity and the public, not ourselves and internal battles.” But the move triggered a huge backlash from Labour’s moderate wing, who accused Mr Leonard of a “purge of good, capable and committed people.” An outraged Mr Sarwar, who stood against Mr Leonard for the leadership, claimed to have found out about his sacking from social media as he took part in a health debate in the Holyrood chamber. He left the chamber and returned to the Labour bloc of MSP offices, where he was ordered into Mr Leonard’s room and sacked.” – Daily Telegraph

SNP will support Corbyn’s bid for Downing Street… if he scraps Trident

“Scottish nationalists last night told Jeremy Corbyn they will help him get into No10 if he pledges to scrap Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent. SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald said the prospect of a snap election would be a “historic opportunity” to unilaterally disarm. And he said it was a chance the lifelong anti-nuclear Labour leader would be “mad not to grab”. Mr McDonald predicted his leader Nicola Sturgeon would make scrapping Trident a red line in any post-election pact to put Labour back in power. Current Labour party policy is still to keep Trident amid fears among its trade union backers over the threat to thousands of defence jobs. But Labour last month moved a step closer to officially adopting Mr Corbyn’s favoured unilateral nuclear disarmament policy.” – The Sun

Sturgeon denies that claims against Salmond were ‘swept under the carpet’

“Nicola Sturgeon has indicated her discomfort at dealing with the sexual harassment allegations made against Alex Salmond as she denied being aware of complaints being swept under the carpet. At First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon was asked about last week’s reports suggesting that a harassment claim against Mr Salmond was first investigated five years ago. It was reported that Mr Salmond apologised to the female complainant for a “misunderstanding” following the incident at Bute House in 2013. According to reports, the woman accepted the apology and no action was taken against the then First Minister. Earlier this year, civil servants ordered another investigation into the incident along with a complaint from another woman. The fresh investigation came on the back of a review of Scottish Government policies in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.” – The Scotsman

  • SNP figures ‘pile independence pressure’ on leader – The Scotsman

News in Brief:

  • The Prime Minister is back where she started – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • May should announce at once that she won’t fight the next election – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • Why Labour’s new video should worry the Tories – Jamie Bartlett, The Spectator
  • The Irish Government should ignore Brussels and prioritise their national self-interest – Ray Bassett, Brexit Central
  • Want to end the housing crisis? It’s time to burst the myth of the green belt – Siobhain McDonagh, 1828

10 comments for: Newslinks for Friday 5th October 2018

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