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Brexit Decision Day 1) May to present deal to Cabinet amidst accusations of ‘betrayal’

“Theresa May will put her future in the hands of senior ministers today as she asks them to sign off a Brexit deal in the face of accusations of betrayal. The prime minister was trying to sell the divorce deal and pact on the future relationship with Europe last night to a reluctant cabinet, which is due to meet at 2pm to agree it. Leave-supporting cabinet ministers were coming under intense pressure to reject the deal as senior Brexiteers and the DUP launched a pre-emptive strike on what they claimed was an abject surrender. Mrs May’s efforts to secure cabinet backing will be further undermined by a leaked diplomatic note seen by The Times spelling out how the EU intends to force Britain to accept a longer-term alignment with its rules. Despite this, she will claim to have won a crucial battle over the so-called backstop, which would come into force after the transition period and before a final deal on the future relationship.” – The Times

  • UK and EU hammer out draft divorce – FT
  • Customs union membership ‘basis for the future’ – Daily Express
  • What the papers say – The Guardian
  • Labour MPs told voters want a second referendum – The Times

Brexit Decision Day 2) Johnson gets in early – and flays the proposal as “vassal state stuff”

“Brexiteer MPs Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have said they will vote down Theresa May’s divorce deal after negotiators reached an agreement in Brussels. A government source confirmed a Brexit agreement was reached between the UK and EU at a “technical level” today. The prime minister will attempt to win over her cabinet in a meeting tomorrow before a “meaningful” vote in the House of Commons. Former foreign secretary Mr Johnson said he would vote against the deal, claiming it was “vassal state stuff”, and urged the cabinet to “chuck it out”. He said he expected the deal to be “pretty much” what had been agreed a few weeks ago. “We are going to stay in the customs union on this deal, we are going to stay effectively in large parts of the single market and that means it’s vassal state stuff,” he told the BBC… He claimed the deal was “making a nonsense of Brexit so I hope the cabinet will do the right thing and I hope they chuck it out”.” – Evening Standard

  • Rees-Mogg rallies rebels for Westminster ‘coup’ – The Times
  • DUP and Eurosceptics attack deal ‘sight unseen’ – FT
  • Rees-Mogg and Campbell agree on ‘humiliating’ bargain – Daily Express

More Johnsons:

  • Public has been duped, says Jo Johnson at rally for new vote – The Guardian

>Today: Daniel Hannan MEP’s column: May’s deal. It leaves us facing colonial rule from Brussels, of the sort imposed on Bosnia following the Yugoslav war.

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Johnson gets in early doors. May’s proposed deal is “vassal state stuff – utterly unacceptable”

Brexit Decision Day 3) Will Brexiteer Cabinet Ministers resign?

“The European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs were putting leave-supporting ministers under intense pressure to resign over the plan, with multiple Cabinet ministers thought to be considering their positions. Reports late Tuesday suggested that Mrs May had won the support of five ‘pivotal’ Cabinet ministers – Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary and Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General. However Cabinet sources suggested Mr Raab was ‘unhappy’ with parts of the deal. Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the Commons, Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary and Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary were said to have significant reservations. Ministers were not entrusted to take a copy of the draft deal home with them but instead given access to a secure reading room in the Cabinet Office, which was open until midnight.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Mordaunt calls on May to waive collective responsibility – Daily Express
  • Who’s likely to stay, who might walk out? – The Times
  • Pill may be hard to swallow, however sugared – Daily Telegraph
  • May’s deal comes at a high price – FT
  • Duncan Smith accuses May of ‘breaking agreed position’ – Daily Express

Editorial:

  • Cabinet must reject deal if we’re not freed from the EU – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Raab, Cox, Gove, Fox, Mordaunt – all these Cabinet members, and others, should prepare to resign today

Brexit Decision Day 4) Government folds on Brexit deal legal advice vote

“Ministers will publish up to 5,000 pieces of legal advice on the Brexit deal after losing a parliamentary battle. In a bad omen for Theresa May in getting the agreement through the Commons, Brexiteers and the DUP joined with Labour to force the concession. Labour used the niche parliamentary procedure of a “humble address” to force a vote on the Queen requiring ministers to let MPs see “any legal advice in full”. Despite last-ditch concessions from David Lidington, the prime minister’s effective deputy, the DUP made clear that they would vote against the government. In the face of inevitable defeat, Conservative MPs were whipped to abstain, but Labour refused to accept Mr Lidington’s undertakings and proceeded with the motion. It passed without a formal vote as no MPs indicated dissent. Mr Lidington criticised Labour’s demands, saying the motion could theoretically require the release of 5,000 documents.” – The Times

  • December 1 deadline for triggering no-deal plans – FT

>Yesterday:

Brexit Decision Day 5) Jacob Rees-Mogg: Brexit has become an issue of trust – and this government has lost it

“Fortunately, it is reported that the Prime Minister has called for the Cabinet to act in the national interest. Now, this patriotic call may be intended to encourage its members to back the Government’s climbdown – the vassalage that is the best our feeble negotiators have been able to achieve. However, the clearer national and democratic interest is to deliver on earlier promises.
Trust in politicians is in short supply. A failure to deliver Brexit would erase the little trust that remains, but a sturdy response would begin to restore it. This may not happen as the Cabinet is selected by the Prime Minister, and is dependent upon her for patronage, but all are answerable to some authority and, ultimately, Mrs May is held to account by Parliament… As this happens, Members must consider their constituents. It is estimated that 406 constituencies voted to Leave, while both the Conservative and Labour parties promised to respect the result of the referendum in their manifestos for the 2017 General Election. The Tories must particularly pay attention to their own manifesto and the promise to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Jo Johnson’s stance is dishonest and dangerous – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • May can’t afford to lose Raab, so he should throw his weight around – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • Prospect of hard Irish border has been conjured by scaremongers – Kate Hoey, The Sun

Opposition:

  • Why is Labour not leading calls for a second vote? – Tony Blair, Times Red Box
  • Britain’s conspiracy of silence over the deal – Peter Mandelson, FT

>Yesterday:

Meanwhile… Merkel calls for EU army

“German leader Angela Merkel has joined the French President in calling for a “real, true” European army. Merkel declared there should be an “integrated European Union military”, recalling the lessons of the First World War and the divisions that led to the conflict. Speaking to MEPs today about the future of Europe, Merkel said the continent should take its “fate fully into its own hands”. Echoing comments made by French leader Emmanuel Macron last week, she said: “We should work on a vision of one day establishing a real, true European army.” Merkel added that such an army would not undermine the US-led military alliance NATO but could be complementary to it. It should include common development of arms industry, she said as well as an EU-wide arms export policy and crucially a “European intervention force”. It came a day after a senior minister from the French Government called for the EU to become a powerful new “empire” to rival the US and China in an interview which will infuriate Donald Trump.” – The Sun

>Today: Damien Phillips in Comment: As Merkel calls for a “real, true” European army, Cabinet members must grasp that this plan threatens our security

Downing Street blocks Mordaunt’s bid to quit UNESCO

“Downing Street has slapped down Penny Mordaunt for suggesting Britain should withdraw funding from Unesco, amid criticism of cabinet “freelancing”. The international development secretary told cabinet colleagues last month that she wants Britain to withdraw from the UN’s cultural and education body. Ms Mordaunt’s request to stop the £11.1 million funding at the end of next year raised concern among colleagues including Theresa May and Michael Gove, as well as in the Foreign Office. Today Number 10 suggested they would block the move… Some in Number 10 think Ms Mordaunt’s move was designed to advertise her leadership credentials to the right of the party. A Whitehall source said: “There is a lot freelancing going on at the moment”. There is deep concern across parts of cabinet about the political symbolism of ending the payments. It would mean Britain following the lead set last year by President Trump and Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.” – The Times

  • Move would be historical and cultural vandalism – Emily Thornberry MP, The Guardian

MPs accuse Foreign Office of appeasing ‘mob’ on Bibi

“Asia Bibi will not be granted asylum in Britain amid fears of violent reprisals on embassies in Pakistan, the Foreign Office has indicated as MPs accused the Government of giving in to the “mob”. Sir Simon McDonald, the department’s permanent secretary, last night said that the threat to staff working in the country had to be balanced with the Government’s desire to shelter those fleeing persecution. Following reports that Justin Trudeau is close to securing an agreement with Islamabad for Mrs Bibi’s safe passage to Canada, Sir Simon added that the UK was prepared to work with allies to ensure she reached a “safe harbour”. It comes amid mounting concern that Mrs Bibi, a Pakistani Christian facing death threats, is at risk of being killed by extremists following her release from death row. The mother of five, who was charged with blasphemy nine years ago after allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad, recently had her conviction quashed by Pakistan’s supreme court.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson’s style left Foreign Office ‘bemused’ – The Times

Housing: Brokenshire to set up ‘housing courts’ for tenants…

“Housing courts are to be set up for struggling tenants to exact justice on bullyboy landlords. Housing Secretary James Brokenshire unveiled the plan last night to significantly speed up disputes between renters and property owners. At the moment, it can take many months to settle rows via county courts, such as over withheld deposits or unfair evictions. Landlords will also be able to use the special courts to ensure bad tenants are evicted more swiftly. Publishing a call for evidence for it, Mr Brokenshire said: “Everyone deserves to live in a safe and decent home, and this government is bringing about real change in making renting more secure… A recent survey revealed one in 10 of all renters whose tenancies ended say they had to move out against their will. The proposals were also welcomed by landlords groups last night.” – The Sun

…as McDonnell wants ‘community land trusts’ to boost housebuilding

“John McDonnell is drawing up plans to encourage more community land trusts — a form of mutual society — to own property and develop low-cost homes. The shadow chancellor wants to publish a report in the new year looking at how to expand the idea further. Mr McDonnell outlined the plan during a speech on Monday evening in north London, when he said he wanted to see “the collective ownership of land”. That phrase raised concerns that the Labour MP, a former Marxist, wants to pursue the communal ownership of land, an idea normally associated with communist regimes. Other influential figures close to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, have issued radical suggestions about land ownership in the recent past. Andrew Fisher, Mr Corbyn’s head of policy, wrote a book in 2014 called The Failed Experiment in which he set out various radical ideas including a ban on private land.” – FT

  • Labour accused of ‘shackling the press’ – The Sun

Government faces more resignations over gambling machines

“Theresa May is set to lose a dozen ministerial aides unless she backs down over a delayed crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals, The Times has learned. Tracey Crouch quit as sports minister earlier this month when a cut in the maximum on the terminals from £100 to £2 was delayed by the Treasury from April to October next year. She and more than 70 backbenchers say they will vote against legislation enacting the budget next week unless the original date is restored. Campaigners describe the machines as the “crack cocaine” of gambling. The scale of the rebellion, which includes Boris Johnson and Nicky Morgan, has taken the government by surprise. Twelve parliamentary private secretaries have written to Julian Smith, the chief whip, saying that they are prepared to quit over the issue. One of the dozen said that Philip Hammond, the chancellor, had misjudged the mood of the party in insisting on a delay. “He has been badly tin-eared on this even for him,” they said.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • The initial leaks of May’s deal suggest an ominous failure to take back control – Jonathan Isaby, Brexit Central
  • Will things in Europe have to get worse before they can get better? – Dalibor Rohac, CapX
  • May’s uphill struggle to sell her Brexit deal – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Getting the deal past cabinet, Commons and country will come down to customs – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • How irresponsible Merkel let populism thrive – Peter Franklin, UnHerd

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