Brexit 1) Barnier willing to extend transition period by another year

“Michel Barnier has said he is open to the possibility of a one-year extension to Britain’s Brexit transition in return for Theresa May accepting a “two-tier” backstop to avoid a border in Northern Ireland, according to EU diplomats. On the eve of a Brexit summit in Brussels on Wednesday night, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator told ministers from the 27 member states that Brussels was ready to propose fresh ideas to reach a deal by next month. The plan, informally suggested to the UK in talks last week, involves including a one-year extension clause for the 21-month transition period, which ends in December 2020. This would grant more time to agree a new UK-EU trade relationship and avoid special arrangements for Northern Ireland.” – Financial Times

>Today: Columnist Daniel Hannan: The proposed Brexit terms represent a deal worse than either staying or leaving.

>Yesterday: Stewart Jackson on Comment: Mendacity, duplicity, subterfuge and misjudgement. How I saw an establishment coup wreck a clean Brexit.

Brexit 2) Fox says we need “a few more months”

“Theresa May is being urged to consider extending the Brexit transition period to get through an impasse with Brussels, The Times has learnt. Liam Fox, the trade secretary, suggested yesterday that Britain may end up staying in transition for a “few more months” beyond the end of December 2020, according to a source. The 19-month transition period starts after March 29 next year and maintains existing ties with the EU without representation in the European Commission or parliament…Dr Fox suggested one option to avert the crisis might be to extend the transition to give more time for a free trade deal to be concluded. This would avoid the need for the backstop to be implemented in 2021, he suggested.” – The Times

Brexit 3) Gove leads cabinet revolt

“The chief whip, Julian Smith, told ministers that the prime minister would not get House of Commons approval for a backstop that could apply indefinitely. Cabinet Brexiters believe May’s chief negotiator, Olly Robbins, was prepared to sign up to fresh compromises on Sunday, before the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, arrived in Brussels and rejected the latest proposals. Michael Gove reportedly insisted at Tuesday’s meeting that the government must take legal advice on the implications of any fresh backstop text, which will be enshrined in the withdrawal agreement. Complaining that the significance of the backstop had been underplayed by officials in December, Gove told colleagues: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” He warned that if the government accepted getting on the, “customs union train,” it would need to know “when to get off”, according to Tory sources.” – The Guardian

Brexit 4) Robbins attacked for “improper conduct”

“Theresa May’s leading Brexit advisor is “hoodwinking” the public and needs to answer “serious questions of improper conduct” according to ex-MI6 boss Sir Richard Dearlove.Sir Richard accused Olly Robbins, the Prime Minister’s Europe advisor since September 2017, of “covertly working” to keep bits of UK defence policy “under EU control”. The astonishing allegations were made by Sir Richard via a letter to The Times. In the letter, Sir Richard accused Mr Robbins of “covertly working to lock UK defence and security under EU control after Brexit”.” – Daily Express

Brexit 5) Hammond claims that the UK would still have to pay the EU £36 billion even if there is no deal

“Britain will still have to pay the EU up to £36 billion if it fails to agree a trade deal, Philip Hammond has claimed, as Brussels said no deal is now “more likely than ever”. The Chancellor told Cabinet ministers the UK would be unlikely to win any legal battle to withhold large chunks of the Brexit bill, despite previous Government promises that the payment was conditional on a deal. Mr Hammond’s comments angered Eurosceptics, who described his stance as “mystifying”. However, sources close to the Chancellor insisted he was as frustrated as his colleagues with the EU’s intransigence, and was merely setting out legal advice the Treasury had been given…During a three-hour Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that was dominated by Brexit, at least one minister is understood to have suggested to Mrs May that she should now threaten to walk away and keep the £39 billion “divorce bill” that is the price of a deal with the EU. But Mr Hammond told ministers that Britain will only save between £3 billion and £9 billion if it leaves without a trade deal, according to Cabinet sources.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 6) Hunt warns Brexit could be “derailed”

“Jeremy Hunt last night warned Boris Johnson and Cabinet Brexiteers they must back Theresa May ‘to the hilt’…In an outspoken intervention, the Foreign Secretary pointed the finger specifically at his predecessor whose posturing he said had created ‘a real danger’ that Brexit will be ‘derailed altogether’. As the Prime Minister flies to Brussels for a crunch summit today, Mr Hunt said now was the time to unite behind the Prime Minister, adding: ‘We owe it to her to be rock solid in our support as she battles for Britain’. And in a message to EU leaders, Mr Hunt urged them not to repeat the ‘mistake’ they made with David Cameron during his attempted re-negotiation of Britain’s EU member when they failed to give enough ground and the country voted to leave.” – Daily Mail

  • “I am not resigning,” Leadsom tells the Cabinet – The Sun

Brexit 7) Boles: My plan B would work

“I set myself the challenge of devising a workable Plan B, one that would deliver our exit from the European Union next March in accordance with the people’s vote in the 2016 referendum, protect people’s jobs and incomes by securing the benefits of continuing tariff-free access to the Single Market, and – crucially – command the support of a majority of MPs. Very simply, it involves the UK leaving the EU on March 29, 2019, and, for an interim phase only, moving to a position like Norway’s in what is called the European Economic Area (EEA). That’s the Common Market that integrates the economies of countries in the EU with those of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. We would be inside the Single Market (as most businesses want) but outside the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy, and outside the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.” – Nick Boles, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: A Brexit alternative for the Cabinet today

Brexit 8) Major: Leave campaigners will never be forgiven

“I understand the motives of those who voted to leave the European Union: it can – as I well know – be very frustrating. Nonetheless, after weighing its frustrations and opportunities, there is no doubt in my own mind that our decision is a colossal misjudgment that will diminish both the UK and the EU. It will damage our national and personal wealth, and may seriously hamper our future security. It may even, over time, break up our United Kingdom. It will most definitely limit the prospects of our young. And – once this becomes clear – I believe those who promised what will never be delivered will have much to answer for. They persuaded a deceived population to vote to be weaker and poorer. That will never be forgotten – nor forgiven.” – The Guardian

Brexit 9) Finkelstein: The PM’s weaknesses are also her strengths

“It is worth considering the other side of the coin. Not Mrs May’s weaknesses, but her strengths, although oddly these turn out to be related. The very fragility of her government is one of her key assets. Almost every strength she has proceeds from a weakness, but together her strengths might produce compromise between apparently irreconcilable participants…. the hardliners are perfectly well aware that if they did get the letters Mrs May would win the resulting vote of confidence. In other words, the sword of Damocles hanging over her is made of rubber.” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

  • Why won’t Remainers accept Juncker pledge of no hard border under any circumstances? – Eilis O’Hanlon, Belfast Telegraph

Wage growth fastest for ten years

“Wages excluding bonuses have risen at their fastest pace in nearly 10 years, official figures show. Pay rose by 3.1% in the three months to August, compared with a year ago, while inflation for the same period was 2.5%. Last week, Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane said he saw signs of a “new dawn” for wage growth. The latest official data also showed unemployment fell by 47,000 to 1.36 million in the three months to August. The jobless rate remained at 4%.” – BBC


Mordaunt to launch register of aid workers who are sexual predators

“Britain is to pioneer a worldwide register of suspected sexual predators working in the aid sector, the international development secretary will announce tomorrow. The database of suspects is part of the “concerted global effort” to clean up the charity world after The Times’s exposure of sexual misconduct by Oxfam workers in Haiti. The project, which will be kickstarted with £2 million of British aid cash, will harness Interpol’s green-notice system, which issues international alerts over those “considered to be a threat to public safety”. Penny Mordaunt will give details of the programme, named Soteria after the Greek goddess of protection, when she opens an international safeguarding meeting in London.” – The Times

Bercow “will quit as Speaker next summer”

“John Bercow has told friends he intends to stand down as Commons Speaker next summer, the BBC understands. His departure, in June or July, would coincide with his tenth year in office. The news comes after a damning report on the failure of high level figures in Parliament to deal adequately with bullying of staff at Westminster. Dame Laura Cox’s report condemned a culture in which abusive behaviour was “tolerated and covered up”, prompting calls for Mr Bercow to quit right now.” – BBC

  • As the prime tantrum hurler he can’t stop the bullying – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • Putrid politics – Leader, The Sun
  •  Bercow should take responsibility — and go now – Leader, Financial Times


Transgender law reform is flawed says Caulfield

“Senior MPs have called on the government to reconsider plans to make it easier for trans people to have their preferred gender legally recognised to ensure that the reforms are not detrimental to women’s rights. Maria Caulfield, the Conservative party’s former vice-chair for women, said the parliamentary inquiry into transgender rights, which informed the consultation that is due to end on Friday, was “fundamentally flawed” and failed to consider the wider implications of the proposals for women. The MP for Lewes, who sat on the inquiry, said she was writing to the minister for women and equalities, Penny Mordaunt, to ask her to extend the consultation on the Gender Recognition Act to ensure that women’s voices were heard. Mordaunt’s office declined to comment.” – The Guardian

  • The tyranny of the transgender minority has got to be stopped – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph

Labour MEP says he could back Scottish independence

“One of Labour’s most senior parliamentarians has warned a chaotic no-deal Brexit would push him towards supporting Scottish independence, and criticised Richard Leonard’s stand against holding a second independence referendum. Labour MEP David Martin said he feared the UK’s exit from the EU could turn England into “a very insular, inward looking country”, which could also change his mind on Scotland’s place in the Union.” – The Scotsman

Corbyn still “in denial” about anti-semitism says Blair

“Tony Blair has accused Jeremy Corbyn of being “in denial” about anti-Semitism as figures yesterday revealed a surge of attacks against Jews…Speaking to the Holocaust Educational Trust, the ex-PM said anti-Semitism was “back in a way I never considered conceivable or possible”. And the former PM savaged Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that a section of the British Jewry didn’t understand a “British sense of irony”. He said: “For those of us who know what the Labour Party should really be about there is nothing more abhorrent than the notion that anti-Semitism is alive in the party today.” – The Sun

50,000 children in households where they are at risk

“Tens of thousands of babies and toddlers are at “very high risk of severe harm” because they live in households where the “toxic trio” of domestic violence, substance abuse and severe mental ill-health are present. A report published by the Children’s Commissioner for England found 50,000 children aged five and under, including 8,300 babies under the age of one, were living in such households.Just 18,500 of 0-4 year olds are on child protection plans which means there are likely to be more than 30,000 young children living in “extremely high-risk households” without a formal local authority plan in place to keep them safe.” – Daily Telegraph

Trump amasses record war chest for 2020 campaign

“President Trump is using his midterm campaign rallies to amass a record war chest for his 2020 re-election campaign. He has raised $106 million so far through three committees that have also been distributing cash to candidates but still had a combined $46.7 million at the end of September. In contrast, previous presidents back to at least Ronald Reagan had not started fundraising at the same point in their first terms….Mr Trump’s main cash-raising organisation, the Donald J Trump for President campaign committee, has raised $50.5 million since January last year. While Mr Trump’s frequent rallies around the country are free of charge, the campaign committee is the beneficiary of all merchandise sales as well as donations.” – The Times

Pollard: Don’t let mob rule stop fracking

“On Monday, fracking began in the UK for the first time since 2011 when energy firm Cuadrilla started testing in two wells near Blackpool. As they did seven years ago, green campaigners tried to stop the company going about its work…..The greens have cleverly played on fears, so the law now demands fracking must be suspended if a tremor above 0.5 on the Richter scale registers. According to two engineering professors at Glasgow University, this is equivalent to a passing bus or a slamming door. Instead of bowing to ill-founded fears and mob rule, we should celebrate the return of fracking — and thank our lucky stars that the technology exists to solve so many of our energy demands.” – Stephen Pollard, The Sun

Clark: Insanity that the police want to turn all of us into hate criminals

“The promotion of hate crime as a form of offending is part of a disturbing trend in which almost everything comes to be seen through identity politics. We have endless victims’ groups demanding their own special treatment and trying to pigeonhole us all based on ethnicity, religion, sexuality and so on. But now that the Government is trying to extend the definition of hate crime further still, it seems, in future, we are all going to become victims. Maybe that is the point at which the concept of hate crime will become meaningless.” – Ross Clark, Daily Mail

  • Surge in hate crimes recorded – The Times

News in brief

  • How will Theresa May solve her backstop conundrum? – Robert Peston, The Spectator
  • Corbyn told Leave campaign to “keep up the good work” – Independent
  • The European Commission’s negotiating mindset is dictated by emotions rather than pragmatic politics – Jiří Payne MEP, Brexit Central
  • A shameful plot by Remainers to save their Speaker – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • The results are in: Free schools are working – Mark Lehain, CapX