Downing Street denies claim that Brexit deal is already done…

“Theresa May will seek the support of the Cabinet for her latest Brexit proposals on Tuesday before talks with EU negotiators in Brussels. Tonight Downing Street insisted: “Negotiations are ongoing. It is not correct to say a deal has been done.” The document, which emerged in the respected German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, breaks down a provisional timetable for Britain’s departure. Mrs May is already at loggerheads with 11 Cabinet big-guns fiercely opposed to tying Britain to EU customs rules indefinitely…Mrs May’s plan is also fiercely opposed by the nine Democratic Unionist MPs propping up her minority government. DUP leader Arlene Foster described it as a “dodgy deal foisted on her by others”.” – Sun on Sunday

…As a “pizza club” of Brexiteer Ministers prepare to plan their next move. Is the Prime Minister preparing to join a customs union and a backstop with no escape clause?

“The ‘pizza club’ is chaired by Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom in her palatial room and regular attenders include International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling – all staunch Brexiteers. The club has met secretly during moments of crisis in the Brexit negotiations to co-ordinate their approach to Mrs May’s strategy. But with at least three members prepared to quit the Cabinet if Mrs May does not agree to set a strict time limit on the UK’s membership of a customs union at a crunch Brussels summit on Wednesday, tomorrow’s gathering has become critical to the Government’s fate.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Nine Ministers may resign, including Leadsom, Mordaunt, McVey and Mundell. Ruth Davidson might quit too. – Sunday Times
  • Hunt and Gove “voiced concern” in Inner Cabinet meeting – Observer
  • E-mails show Foster is ready for No Deal –  Observer
  • Britain “in talks to extend transition period” – Sunday Telegraph
  • Davis v Johnson. DUP V Foster? – Mail on Sunday
  • James Gray pushing for Davis to be interim leader – Sunday Times
  • Conservative MPs will resist “May snap election if Chequers is defeated” – Mail on Sunday
  • The Northern Ireland backstop: a guide – Sunday Times
  • Fine Gael-Fianna Fail budget impasse – Sunday Express
  • Rees-Mogg joins Farage at rally – Sunday Telegraph
  • Fishermen’s EU message – Sunday Express
  • Sturgeon wants Scotland in the Single Market – Scotland on Sunday
  • Damian Collins v Vote Leave latest – Observer
  • Commons library seeks Brexitese translator – Sunday Times
  • So you think it’s all over for the Prime Minister? Conservatives take four-point poll lead – Observer
  • (She will give people in debt six week’s relief from bailiffs) – Sunday Telegraph

63 Conservative MPs call for Britain to be able to quit the backstop – including Davis, Baker and Rees-Mogg

“On Saturday night Brexiteer MPs sought to dispel claims by allies of Mrs May that they could be railroaded in the Commons with the help of rebel Labour votes.  In a highly unusual show of strength, a letter attacking the Government over its Brexit forecasts was signed by 63 Conservative MPs, including David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic backbenchers, and Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister…Senior ministers have indicated this weekend that they could support a backstop that included a specific mechanism for the UK to withdraw, without relying on Brussels for permission to do so. A source close to one pro-Leave Cabinet minister said: “Based on conversations this weekend there appears to be a glimmer of hope.”

Davis to the Cabinet: rise up and take control

“The cabinet committee that governs EU negotiations has barely met since July. Instead, the decisions seem to have been taken by an ad hoc group. Other cabinet members have been excluded from the decisions and, in some cases, even the briefings. It is time for cabinet members to exert their collective authority. This week the authority of our constitution is on the line. The EU has already offered us a Canada-style, zero-tariffs trade agreement, and Donald Tusk, president of the council, reinforced that offer last week. A good deal is clearly within our grasp. We must reset our negotiating strategy immediately and deliver a Brexit that meets the demands of the referendum and the interests of the British people.” – Sunday Times

  • I fear we will be trapped in a permanent customs union – Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Chuck Chequers – Norman Lamont, Mail on Sunday
  • Her Brexit is the worst of both worlds – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Team Davis is on leadership manoeuvres – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • This deadly cabbage of a leader – Quentin Letts, Sunday Telegraph
  • What part of leaving the Customs Union don’t you get, Prime Minister? – Priti Patel, Sun on Sunday
  • Brexit fanatics go for broke – Nick Cohen, Observer
  • Open Europe’s new analysis shows that No Deal will turn out fine – Simon Wolfson, Sunday Telegraph
  • May’s Brexit dance could be her last waltz – Sunday Times Editorial
  • Labour MPs may have to save us from No Deal – John Rentoul, Independent

> Today:

Hammond prepares to curb pension tax relief in the Budget (again)

“Philip Hammond, the chancellor, has signalled that he is targeting what he has called the “eye-wateringly expensive” perk to fund a £20bn cash boost to the NHS. Steve Webb, who was the Liberal Democrat pensions minister in the coalition and now works for the mutual insurer Royal London, has written a report warning that Hammond is “highly likely” to include measures to “salami slice” pension tax relief again. Since 2010 there have been six cuts to pension tax relief — three to the lifetime limit on pension pots that can be accrued with the benefit of tax relief and three to the annual amount that can be contributed.” – Sunday Times

We will cut emissions to zero by 2050, says Perry

“Claire Perry, the energy minister, will announce the target tomorrow: the transport, aviation, farming and power industries will be ordered to comply. The UK emits about 500m tons of CO2 a year, mostly from using gas, petrol, diesel and coal, so reducing to zero would be a huge challenge. The plan pitches Perry against Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, who wants to expand airports and roads, hoping a surge in construction will create a post-Brexit economic boost. Perry will warn that the threat from climate change is the bigger issue, describing it as among “the greatest global challenges ever faced”.” – Sunday Times

> Yesterday: Simon Clarke on Comment: The UK is well-placed to lead the world in the fight against climate change

Davies exposes knife loophole and Javid fills it

“Thugs who use an offensive weapon to threaten people on private property are, astonishingly, immune from prosecution. The wording of the law as it stands says it is only an offence to do so in a public place, such as on the street. It means that brutal yobs who terrorise family members under their own roof – or even inside a school – with a blade or acid are not acting unlawfully. Home Secretary Sajid Javid ordered the law to be tightened before the Offensive Weapons Bill comes back before MPs tomorrow. The change will means threatening a partner with a knife during a domestic row will carry a sentence of a fine or up to four years in jail. The gap in the law was spotted by Tory MP Philip Davies as the Bill made its passage through Parliament.” – Sun on Sunday

New Putin sanctions pushed for by Hunt

“Plans to impose travel bans and asset freezes on Russian intelligence chiefs and their keyboard warriors will be signed off at a foreign affairs council meeting in Luxembourg tomorrow. Hunt plans to publish a paper detailing plans to crack down on the use of cyber-attacks by foreign states amid fears that the Russians had tried to disrupt the US presidential election and the Brexit vote in Britain. The document, which has been co-signed by Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Holland and Romania, shows how online operations are having an economic impact in Europe as well as attempting to undermine democracy.” – Sunday Times

Mordaunt backs off over trans…

“Mordaunt spoke strongly in favour of the reform when she introduced the proposals in cabinet in late June, according to another minister present. The minister told The Sunday Times: “She said it was the defining moral and cultural issue of our time and that we must get this right now because we have failed to be on the right side of previous controversies. She said this was the equivalent of establishing gay rights in the 1980s. Nobody round the table made a fuss.”..Mordaunt appears to be retreating. She is now expected to shorten the time period for changing gender and keep the doctor involvement. Other ministers, including Liz Truss, Victoria Atkins and Sarah Newton, are said to be concerned by the plans to remove doctors from the process.” – Sunday Times

Last year’s MOD losses

“Top brass in the Ministry of Defence wrote off almost £200 million of taxpayers’ cash last year — including £4.7million for a crashed sub. Costs of repairs on HMS Ambush were allowed to more than double after it hit a tanker off Gibraltar. And £1million of equipment could not be accounted for after a major refit of hunter-killer nuclear sub HMS Triumph. Among other losses buried in annual accounts were debts of £1million owed for training by two unnamed foreign countries. Ration packs worth £363,000 were ditched after changes in plans meant they would not be used before their expiry date. “Lost” gas canisters cost £3million and £1.2million in overpayments to military personnel were written off instead of being reclaimed.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Andrew declares war on initials – Sunday Times
  • “More than 30,000 troops are dangerously overweight” – Sun on Sunday

Brokenshire’s plan to cap ground

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire will tomorrow launch a consultation on plans to improve the leaseholder sector for home owners. He will propose that ground rents for new leases will be capped at just £10. On average leaseholders pay more than £300 ground rent each year, with some paying as much as £700. While flats have often been sold with leases, until recently it was rare for houses to be offered on leasehold terms. But, over the past decade, housebuilders such as Taylor Wimpey, Bovis, Persimmon, Bellway and Redrow realised they could boost profits by selling on freehold rights to third-parties.” – Sunday Telegraph

Latest health data Hancock initiative

“New technology will target patients who wrongfully claim free drugs which costs taxpayers £256 million a year. Pharmacies will use new smart data-matching systems to see if an individual is exempt from charges before their medication is dispensed. Health Secretary Matt Hancock will today outline the tough new measures to halve prescription fraud. It is part of a wider crackdown on fraud in the NHS which should save taxpayers £300million by 2020. He said: “Those who abuse the NHS and choose to line their own pockets with money that should be spent on patients and frontline care will no longer have anywhere to hide.” – Sun on Sunday

McVey v HS2

“Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, told constituents that the final bill for the high speed rail line could exceed £100 billion – compared to a formal estimate of £56bn. Ms McVey is among at least half a dozen cabinet ministers who believe the Government should review the scheme to establish whether its completion would represent value for money, amid mounting concern over its cost, The Telegraph can disclose. She is currently separately believed to be engaged in a battle for additional Treasury funding to ease the roll-out of the Universal Credit benefit scheme. The disclosure of her comments comes after Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, joined MPs calling for HS2 to be scrapped, with the savings spent at least in part on the NHS.” – Sunday Telegraph

Crouch: loneliness can affect anyone

“In an interview with The Sunday Times, Crouch said social media gave the young a feeling of loss when they saw “perfect lives” on Facebook and Instagram. “Loneliness can affect anyone,” she said. “Our statistics show that 16 to 24-year-olds are identifying as lonely as often, or more often, than older people. “When people see what they think is utter perfection behind social media filtering it affects them.” The strategy will feature a pledge by businesses to do more to help staff cope with loneliness. Crouch said: “When I was appointed the loneliness minister [in January] I got thousands of emails and letters but the one that sticks in my mind was from a 30-something single professional who had moved to London for her dream job.” – Sunday Times

Thornberry attacks Hunt over Khashoggi

“Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, writing in today’s Observer, slams the government for days of silence after the journalist’s disappearance. Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt did not comment until 9 October, saying he had demanded “urgent answers” from Riyadh. That was “far too little, far too late”, Thornberry says, comparing it with the government’s rapid denunciation of the apparent killing of Ukrainian journalist Arkady Babchenko in May. “Imagine for one second how the current Tory government would have reacted if… either Russia or Iran had abducted – and in all likelihood murdered – one of their dissident, exiled journalists within the sovereign territory of another country,” she writes.” – Observer

News in Brief

  • Equality committee says that companies are failing to tackle sexual harrassment in the work place – Sun on Sunday
  • Bank of England to print plastic £50 notes – Observer
  • Ban on gagging orders that silence harrassment victims – Sunday Times
  • Anjem Choudary asset freeze and travel ban – Mail on Sunday
  • Worst flooding in 20 years – Sunday Express
  • Royal wedding: official photos – Sunday Telegraph