Brexit 1) Merkel to ‘boycott summit’ unless haggling is over

“Angela Merkel has threatened to boycott the European Union summit this weekend in a move that would scupper Theresa May’s plans to conclude a Brexit deal. The German chancellor is refusing to travel to Brussels on Sunday unless all negotiations are concluded in advance. Her demand is aimed at squabbling European governments that want to impose tough new conditions on Britain over fishing rights and “frictionless trade”. She also aims to stop eleventh-hour wrangling by Mrs May. Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, threatened last night to derail the summit unless he won concessions on the status of Gibraltar beforehand. An EU source said that the row was looking “intractable”. Mr Sánchez said: “This is an essential point and if this is not resolved then unfortunately Spain will not be able to vote in favour of it.” Any decision to call off the summit would be a disaster for Mrs May. She held talks last night with Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s lead negotiator. The prime minister said that she would return for further talks on the eve of the summit.” – The Times

  • May rejects EU’s ultimatum to finalise exit deal today – The Sun
  • Disputes over fishing and Gibraltar threaten to derail process – Daily Mail
  • Prime Minister seeks to resolve ‘last blocks’ on deal – FT
  • UK will build own satellite system, defiant Prime Minister tells Brussels – The Times
  • EU hails ‘good progress’ towards finalising treaty – FT
  • Deal ‘hanging by a thread’ – The Sun
  • Sturgeon urged to ‘nail down’ Spain over Scottish EU entry – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: May says Brexit may be “somehow delayed”. How so, if it can’t be without her consent – that’s to say, the Government’s?

Brexit 2) Hunt called May’s Brexit deal a ‘Turkey trap’

“Jeremy Hunt has warned Theresa May that her Brexit deal could put Britain into a “Turkey trap” and will be voted down by Parliament unless it is changed, The Telegraph can disclose. The Foreign Secretary warned the Prime Minister that she risked consigning the nation to a fate similar to Turkey, which has been stuck in negotiations over its status with the EU for 31 years. He is one of six Cabinet ministers who have raised serious concerns about the scale of the Tory rebellion over Brexit, with Mr Hunt suggesting that 66 Tory MPs could vote against it. Also criticising the deal was Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, who said it could leave the UK unable to strike free trade deals after Brexit. The Telegraph can provide a detailed account of last week’s Cabinet meeting, which led to the resignation of two ministers and took Mrs May’s premiership to the brink. The account has been verified by more than a dozen ministers and government sources.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Foreign Secretary warns of 30 years of negotiations – The Sun
  • What each Cabinet minister said at crunch meeting – Daily Telegraph
  • Ministers urge May to demand more concessions – Daily Express


  • Mordaunt sparks fresh fears she could quit Cabinet – The Sun
  • Pro-EU MPs divided over timing of second vote – FT
  • Labour ‘open to compromise’ on May’s deal – The Times

>Today: Dr Sheila Lawlor in Comment: This deal is a challenge to our historic freedoms

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: “…need to be able to count”

Brexit 3) Hammond says backstop is bad for the British economy

“Chancellor Philip Hammond has launched an astonishing attack on a key part of the Government’s Brexit deal, describing it as not “a good arrangement” for either the UK’s economy or the union. The usually quiet Mr Hammond made the comments during an appearance on ITV Peston. According to the provisional deal reached with Brussels, if a long-term agreement can’t be reached between the UK and EU during the transition period, currently set at 21 months, the UK will automatically fall into a European customs union. This would make it difficult for Britain to sign comprehensive trade deals with other countries, as well as meaning the UK would still have to abide by a significant proportion of European legislation. Mr Hammond told ITV host Robert Peston: “I’ve been clear from the outset that I do not like the backstop. I don’t think the backstop is a good arrangement for our economy, I don’t think it’s a good arrangement for our union.”” – Daily Express

  • ‘Time running out’ for the backstop, warns HMRC – The Times
  • Transition would need to be extended to get border systems ready – The Sun
  • Irish parliament overwhelmingly backs Brexit deal – Daily Telegraph
  • DUP vow to ‘fight dirty’ to defeat withdrawal agreement – The Sun


Brexit 4) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: We cannot trust events to free us from May’s unacceptable deal

“The larger fact is that the Prime Minister’s agreement is unacceptable on any terms, ever. We go from being legally sovereign as an EU member, entitled to exit unilaterally under Article 50, to non-sovereign status as a legally-captured adjunct to the EU. Brussels has a veto on whether Britain can leave the Irish backstop and therefore whether we can leave the ‘customs territory’.  Level playing field clauses lock the UK into EU law on labour, the environment, taxation, competition, and state aid, with varying levels of ‘dynamic alignment’ on future law. The European Court will have the final say on disputes. Brussels has no motive to release us from this straitjacket unless we accept comparable terms in any trade deal. It submits Britain to a foreign legislative power run by politicians (Merkel, Macron) who state openly that Brexit must be seen to fail. Those who say we can wriggle out of it later by abrogating an international treaty give dangerous counsel. There is no doubt that the EU weaponised the Irish border to shoehorn the UK into the customs territory, but I strongly suspect that the Cabinet Office, the Treasury, and the Prime Minister were complicit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Corbyn’s Brexit vanishing act won’t work – Jenni Russell, The Times
  • Remainers can’t handle the truth about the EU – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • We overdo our respect for the EU, Britain can flourish outside it – Larry Elliott, The Guardian
  • How dare Spain, of all countries, lecture Britain on democracy – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • The Brexit road to Britain’s national collapse – Philip Stephens, FT

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Ici Londres – Hannan on May’s deal: “If everyone is unhappy, then maybe you’re doing something wrong”

May promises cash injection to cut NHS ‘bed blocking’

“Theresa May has vowed to tackle chronic hospital “bed blocking” by sending in crack 24/7 teams of GPs, nurses and physios into the community and care homes. The PM pledged a £3.5billion ring-fenced cash injection for community care to stop OAPs languishing in hospitals longer than they need to because they can’t get the care they need. She said the bid to cut bed blocking “will mean more people can leave hospital quicker, or avoid being admitted in the first place – which is better for patients and better for the health service.” It’s hoped the radical plan will improve health, cut costs, ease staffing pressures, free up beds and cut waiting times. The plan would see £3.5bn in funding for primary and community care by 2023-24 under the new NHS Long Term plan which will see £20bn invested in the health service. Around a third of people end up staying in hospital longer than they actually need to because they can’t get treatment close to home. And figures show more than a third of hospital admissions from care homes are avoidable.” – The Sun

  • Every death in British hospitals will now be examined, Hancock announces – Daily Mail
  • Winter crisis can be avoided with ambulatory care, say doctors – The Guardian

Ministers 1) Williamson warns soldiers not to expect pay rise despite ‘end of austerity’

“Soldiers should not expect better pay rises despite the Government declaring the “age of austerity” over, the Defence Secretary has said, admitting this is “not ideal”. Doctors and senior civil servants are also not in line for improved pay. Senior ministers have given their pay review recommendations for 2019- 2020, and the Defence, Health and Cabinet secretaries all stress that departments should bear in mind “affordability” when considering giving pay rises. In a letter to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, said “the Government is seeking to continue the approach adopted in the 2018/19 pay round”. “I recognise that this is not ideal,” Mr Williamson said. “Affordability will remain a major consideration for the Ministry of Defence.” It comes despite Theresa May’s announcement last month that austerity is “over”. The Chancellor then declared the “era of austerity” is at an end in his Budget speech. Mr Williamson is said to have clashed repeatedly with the Treasury over defence funding. In 2018-19 the armed forces received a below-inflation 2 per cent pay rise, along with a 0.9 per cent one-off payment. They had previously been capped at 1 per cent.” – Daily Telegraph

Ministers 2) Rudd hints at changes to Universal Credit

“Amber Rudd has hinted she could rip up Universal Credit’s five week wait for payments as part of plans to try get cash to in-need Brits quicker. When asked about whether she would cut the wait for new claimants, the DWP boss said she was “looking at what we can do to get cash into people’s hands earlier”. It comes after she promised to “fix” problems with the flagship benefits system and accepted there were areas in which it wasn’t working. She told the BBC today that the “biggest problem is getting cash into people’s hands as soon as they need it”. Advance payments are available for Brits who can’t wait five weeks for money, but that has to be paid back immediately out of their first UC sum. Ms Rudd said her department would “make it clear to people they can get that upfront as soon as they apply” and then pay it back over 13 months. On a damning report by a UN representative earlier this week, she promised to look at the concerns with women and single mums in particular. But she blasted the findings as being too “political” and implying the system was there to negatively impact Brits.” – The Sun

  • Tomlinson says families to take in lodgers to beat the benefit cap – The Guardian

Ministers 3) Gove ‘helped to oust’ Natural England chief

“The chairman of the agency that advises the government on the environment has admitted it has lost its independence and suggested its chief executive was ousted by its “political masters”. Andrew Sells, who retires as the chairman of Natural England in the new year, acknowledged that the sudden departure of the chief executive, James Cross, earlier this month was “not ideal”. He suggested that Michael Gove, the environment secretary, had been involved in Mr Cross’s departure after four years as head of the government’s independent adviser. Mr Sells told the Commons’ environment, food and rural affairs committee yesterday: “I am disappointed to see James go at this stage but it would also be fair to say that all parties involved thought it was the right time for him to move on… Natural England has 2,000 staff and is responsible for promoting nature conservation, protecting biodiversity, conserving the landscape and promoting access to the countryside.” – The Times

Ministers 4) Labour welcomes Nokes’ comments on high pay

“A Conservative MP has suggested that no one should be paid more than a million pounds a year. Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, told MPs: “I don’t think anybody having a salary of that level is appropriate, whatever business they are in”. She was responding to a question about whether it was acceptable for directors of a company that houses asylum seekers to have been paid a total of £1.2 million, with one earning £872,927. Labour, which has argued for maximum pay ratios between executives and staff, said it welcomed her stance. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said: “I will send her a party membership application. It is quite clear she is on the same page as us on this and we welcome her conversion.” A source close to the minister said that she had simply been making the point that it was an incredibly large amount of money. During an appearance in front of the home affairs committee, Stephen Doughty, a Labour MP, asked Ms Nokes about Clearsprings, one of a number of companies that provide accommodation for asylum seekers.” – The Times

  • UK to shift focus to lower-paid to tackle gender inequality – FT

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Mordaunt: Let’s champion “the invisible women who keep…our nation going.” Her women’s suffrage centenary speech: full text

Former ministers urge Government to abandon rise in rail fares

“Theresa May is being urged by three former Tory Ministers to spare millions of struggling Brits by scrapping plans for an “outrageous” New Year rail fare hike. Michael Fallon, Grant Shapps and Tim Loughton said the Government had to bin plans for a 3.2 per cent rise – which will add an average £100 to annual season ticket prices. They want the Government to “freeze” prices for 2019. An increase would follow one of the worst years for passenger disruption since the industry was privatised – with thousands of services cancelled or delayed across the UK. Mr Fallon, the former x-Defence Secretary, said: “An increase would be outrageous. After having their trains cancelled or delayed, the chaos of the timetabling, passengers would rightly see this as a kick in a teeth. “This year of all years the fares should be frozen.” Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps added: “Given this year’s lamentable performance there’s never been a more appropriate time to freeze fares.” Fares are due to rise in January by 3.2 per cent – based on inflation figures in August. At the time Transport Secretary Chris Grayling called on unions to do more to rein in wage hikes for train drivers and guards.” – The Sun

Rees-Mogg disinvited from donor dinner

“Jacob Rees-Mogg’s popularity with the Tory rank and file was, only weeks ago, an important asset for the Conservative Party’s attempts to drum up funds. But his concerted effort to displace Theresa May means that times have changed, at least if the party’s decision to disinvite him from a dinner without telling him is anything to go by. Mr Rees-Mogg was due to address a dinner for the party’s biggest donors next Tuesday. Yesterday guests were told that Mr Rees-Mogg had been replaced. “Unfortunately Jacob Rees-Mogg will no longer be joining the dinner on Tuesday evening,” an email to the guests said. “But the new secretary of state for exiting the EU, the Rt Hon Stephen Barclay MP, will attend in his place.” Perhaps anticipating disappointment, it added: “Please could you let me know as soon as possible if you would still like to attend the dinner.” Mr Rees-Mogg, 49, learnt that he would no longer be attending only after the email was leaked to the Guido Fawkes website. “This is interesting as they have not told me…” he said on Twitter.” – The Times

Davies accuses transgender activists of cultivating an ‘atmosphere of menace’

“Transgender campaigners have helped to create an “atmosphere of menace” which has stifled debate around gender issues, ministers have been warned. David TC Davies, a Conservative MP, used a Westminster Hall debate to tell ministers that people were “deeply concerned” about the Gender Recognition Act. The Government held a consultation on changes to the legislation in the summer which would make it easier for trans people to get “legal recognition”. Ministers will announce the outcome in the spring. Mr Davies said ministers were “proposing fundamental changes that will have a huge impact on people. That is being done without proper consideration and in an atmosphere of menace”. Mr Davies, who has voiced concerns over self-identification in the past, said the changes “would do away with the checks and the balances which are currently made and to allow people to redefine themselves as any gender they wish… Mr Davies said ministers needed to go back and conduct the consultation with “people outside the M25″.” – Daily Telegraph

Blunt joins calls for action against the UAE

“Britain should threaten to withdraw its defence co-operation from the United Arab Emirates to secure the release of the jailed student Matthew Hedges, a senior Tory said yesterday. MPs also said it was “highly ironic” in light of the espionage allegations against Mr Hedges that the crown prince of Abu Dhabi boasts a former MI6 officer among the senior advisers in his court. Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP for Reigate and a former chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, told Theresa May at prime minister’s questions that if Mr Hedges “is not released, I don’t see why we should be committed to their [the UAE’s] defence”. The two nations have a deep defence and security partnership stretching back to 1996… Mr Blunt insisted that the UK had numerous allies in the Gulf with whom it could strengthen its partnership in place of the Emirates.” – The Times

McDonnell says Queen could invite Labour to govern

“Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has claimed the Queen could invite Labour to form a minority government in the UK without the need for an election if chaos over Brexit left the Conservatives unable to govern. Mr McDonnell said a Labour administration might be better able than the Tories to come up with a Brexit plan that could bring all parties together, but he remained evasive on whether the party would hold a second referendum on an exit deal. Speaking to business leaders at a Reuters event on Wednesday, Mr McDonnell acknowledged it was “difficult” to envisage that an early general election would follow if a Brexit deal was rejected by MPs. He said that since Conservative MPs were unlikely to vote for an election they might lose, they would be reluctant to short-circuit the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, which sets down a date for the next election on May 5 2022. “At the moment that’s difficult to see,” he said. Under the act, Labour could only form a minority government if it first managed to defeat Theresa May in a vote of confidence in the House of Commons.” – FT

  • Labour plot to take power without an election – The Sun
  • Shadow Chancellor called ‘presumptuous’ over Downing Street comments – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • May’s legacy: her Brexit deal could crush the Conservatives – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Rudd gave the game away – Robert Peston, Reaction
  • We just need to prepare for life outside the Customs Union – Marcus Fysh MP, Brexit Central
  • The Brexit deal needs to be renegotiated: here’s how – Pieter Cleppe, CapX
  • It’s in everyone’s interests that our forecasts are more accurate – Tom Chivers, UnHerd

5 comments for: Newslinks for Thursday 22nd November 2018

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.