Brexit 1) May urged to call off the ‘meaningful vote’

“Theresa May has been urged to postpone next week’s crucial Brexit vote, with Cabinet ministers warning defeat could collapse the Government. It comes as EU leaders suggest the leave date could be pushed back beyond March if she loses. At least three Cabinet ministers are believed to be trying to persuade the PM to put the December 11 vote off. Labour plans to issue a vote of no confidence if May loses. According to the Daily Mail, one said: “We need to be creative and we need to get the DUP back on board. It can be done, but it can’t be done before next Tuesday.” Another said: “Marching people into the valley of death next Tuesday is a mistake.” May is trying to salvage her deal and win over Conservative dissenters by offering a “lock” on the Northern Irish backstop – giving MPs final say on the arrangement. She could also unveil a new law marrying Northern Ireland’s rules to the rest of the UK during a backstop period. But with the clock ticking, and unrest across Parliament, some senior Tories have suggested she delay the vote.” – The Sun

  • …but she may not be able to without a vote of MPs – Tom Newton Dunn, Twitter
  • Prime Minister vows to push ahead – Daily Mail


  • Back May for the sake of security, urges Javid – The Times
  • Prime Minister gives Gove chance to have final say in debate – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexiteers’ dilemma will be laid bare after May’s defeat – FT
  • Only three voters in ten want their MP to vote against the deal – Daily Mail


  • The real test will be May’s reaction to crushing defeat – Francis Elliott, The Times

>Today: Stewart Jackson in Comment: The Government has the means to deliver Brexit if it has the will – whatever Remainers say in Parliament

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Javid – “No one can pretend that this deal is perfect in every sense”

Brexit 2) Mercer becomes latest Tory MP to pledge opposition, bringing confirmed total to 68

“Rising Tory star Johnny Mercer will today deliver a fresh blow to Theresa May by branding her Brexit deal “a total failure of the political class”. The former Army officer-turned-MP will become the 104th Tory MP to denounce the EU agreement. Speaking on Day 3 of the marathon Commons debate about it, he will reveal that he too has also now decided to vote against it next Tuesday, as he sees it as unambitious and a betrayal of voters’ trust. While praising the PM for having resilience “in spades”, Mr Mercer will tell the Commons: “To force through this deal, crossing her own red lines, speaks to a democratic deficit that I have always spoken out against, and must now oppose in the lobbies”. The deal’s ambitions also fall woefully short of Brexit voters’ hopes for change, the 37 year-old MP will say… Calling for a sea change in honesty in Westminster, Mr Mercer will add: “This deal represents the end of a chapter about total failure of the political class”.” – The Sun

  • Government struggles to quell rebellion as backstop anger grows – FT
  • Watling faces uphill battle selling deal in Clacton – The Guardian
  • Release of legal advice has widened the split – The Times
  • Attorney General has exposed May’s ‘lies’ on the backstop – The Sun
  • DUP will keep May in office… if the deal falls – Daily Mail

>Today: MPs Etc.: Our estimate of how many Conservative MPs oppose the deal. It’s now 68. Mercer has made up his mind – against May.


Brexit 3) Government ‘considering cross-party committee’ to conduct Brexit negotiations

“No 10 stepped up efforts yesterday to win over Tories who have pledged to vote down the deal but Julian Smith, the chief whip, has told colleagues that many appear to be “beyond reason”. Some of those who have been approached have been offered a place on a new cross-party committee, which will help to direct the next stage of Brexit talks if the divorce deal passes. An ally of Mrs May said that the efforts, aimed at unhappy Tories and key Labour MPs such as Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper, would mark a more inclusive approach. “We are not going to try to do everything and to keep it all secret,” a Downing Street figure said. No 10 is also in negotiation with rebels about moves to hand parliament greater control over the backstop, the insurance policy to avoid a hard Irish border. Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, called this into question, telling the Today programme it was something the government “cannot make a promise on because it cannot bind the hands of future prime ministers and governments”.” – The Times

  • Cabinet ministers reach out to Labour to ‘bounce’ May into soft Brexit – The Times
  • Fox lashes out at Remainer rebels – The Sun
  • Hammond says Brexit is ‘a price worth paying’… – FT
  • …but warns that ‘no deal’ means years of chaos – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Nine out of ten Conservative activists are against a second referendum. Our survey.


Brexit 4) EU debating ‘lifeline’ of extending Article 50 if deal falls

The EU is prepared to discuss extending Article 50 if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rejected next week, after her proposal was badly undermined by the Government’s own legal advice. The Prime Minister will travel to Brussels on December 13, two days after the Parliamentary vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, when EU leaders are ready to discuss postponing Brexit. Mrs May insists Britain will leave the EU on March 29 next year, but EU sources have said her fellow leaders would be open to the idea of extending the Article 50 process if it meant avoiding a no-deal Brexit. Mrs May’s chances of winning next Tuesday’s vote were dealt a fresh blow on Wednesday when the Government published its legal advice on the deal, which warned that Britain could be yoked to the EU forever if the Irish backstop came into force. The legal advice, prepared by Geoffrey Cox QC, the Attorney General, also makes it clear that Northern Ireland and mainland Britain would be subject to different customs regimes under the backstop, creating a regulatory border in the Irish Sea.” – Daily Telegraph

  • But EU leaders are united: there’s no time for further negotiations – The Times
  • Europe’s ‘desperate bid’ to save May – Daily Express
  • Brussels could offer ‘tweaks and clarifications’ – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The stark decline of Tory morale, in one chart

Brexit 5) Tom Harris: What a fool I was to think voting Leave would make a difference

“The epiphany I mentioned earlier is my realisation – which I confess should have been clear to me long, long before now – that whereas I was in a majority of voters in June 2016, that does not, and did not, matter. The only majority that counts is the majority of those who make the real decisions, the majority of those who know better than the voters. Yes, I was naïve in believing that voters were ever going to be given the choice as to whether or not to leave the EU. After all, MPs only voted for the Referendum Act itself because they assumed that a Remain result was assured. What’s that old cynical political saying? “Never call a vote unless you know what the result is going to be.” While I have chosen to expunge much of the referendum campaign from my memory, some of it is coming back to me now: the sheer confusion, the appalled looks of disgust on the faces of Remain campaigners who were genuinely aghast at the very notion that anyone would ever seriously consider Brexit. The terms of debate that cast Leavers in the role of small-minded nationalists, imperialist flag-wavers and – inevitably – racists. Yet still they lost. As if that mattered.” – Daily Telegraph

  • At least MPs are acting before its too late – John Kampfner, Times Red Box
  • This was the week that Brexit died – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • Parliament should give voters another say – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • A second referendum could push us over the edge – Jenni Russell, The Times
  • Remainers can only delay Brexit, not stop it – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • Do these arrogant MPs have any idea of the damage they’ll wreak? – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
  • The Prime Minister has lost control of Brexit – Philip Stephens, FT
  • Tories must get rid of May to fix this mess – Steve Hilton, Daily Telegraph


  • MPs must insist on a ‘responsible outcome’ – The Times
  • Remainer MP must be prevented from stealing Brexit – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Drained of authority? Yes. Rudderless? Certainly. Humiliated? Absolutely. But May’s very weakness is becoming a strange strength.

May pledges review of ‘gagging’ charity contracts

“Theresa May has pledged to review the government’s contracts with charities after a Times investigation found that dozens of the organisations had been banned from criticising ministers. In a letter to charities the prime minister said that officials were looking at how their contracts could be rewritten so that there was no doubt that they could speak out against policies. “It is vital that the sector’s independence and freedom of speech are protected to allow charities and social enterprises to continue providing a voice for everyday people,” she wrote. The Times found that 40 charities and more than 300 companies with government contracts worth a total of £25 billion had been gagged. Charities working with people claiming universal credit signed deals saying that they should “not do anything which may attract adverse publicity” to the work and pensions secretary.” – The Times

Hands brings Khan under fire over Crossrail appointment

“The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has come under fire for appointing KPMG to investigate the delays and cost increases on the Crossrail scheme even though the consultancy firm was previously an auditor and adviser on the crisis-hit rail project. Greg Hands, a Conservative MP and former trade minister, has written to the government spending watchdog claiming the mayor had “handpicked” the auditors to deliver a “whitewash”. The latest allegations come amid a growing controversy over the delayed Crossrail project as cost overruns mount. Mr Khan is Crossrail chair in his role as head of Transport for London. KPMG was the independent auditor on Crossrail, the delayed £16bn east-west railway for the capital, until 2015. The consultants were also part of the team that prepared the original Montague Report that promoted the Crossrail project in 2004. It is also advising the mayor on the development of Crossrail 2, a separate project that proposes to build a new north-south rail link for London between London’s Euston, Victoria and Clapham Junction stations.” – FT

  • Corbyn faces probe into undeclared CND trip – Daily Mail

Government suspends ‘gold-plated’ visas

“Oligarchs and the super-rich wishing to come to Britain are to face new curbs as the government suspends “gold-plated” investor visas from midnight. The move is part of a crackdown on organised crime and money laundering. The “Tier-1” investor visas give people who are willing to bring millions of pounds to Britain a fast track to settlement in the country. Investments of £2 million, £5 million or £10 million can be made in gilts, or government bonds, or in British businesses, in return for permission to apply for permanent residence in five, three or two years respectively. Applicants can then apply for British citizenship, which some believe is the ultimate goal for wealthy overseas migrants. Critics of the route say that it can be exploited as a tool to launder the proceeds of corruption and may already have led to substantial amounts of wealth stolen from Russia and China being laundered in Britain.” – The Times

  • Each month hundreds of foreign nationals fail to report to the authorities – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Britain is heading towards a soft Brexit or a second referendum – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • The Brexit legal advice confirms Leavers’ worst fears – Lee Rotherham, CapX
  • How to solve Brexit – stick with the EEA and evolve – George Yarrow, Reaction
  • The myth of frictionless trade – Alastair MacMillan, Brexit Central
  • German irresponsibility threatens Europe – Peter Franklin, UnHerd