Published:

Johnson heads to Ireland amid fears of more resignations

“Against a backdrop of mounting disquiet inside government at Johnson’s gung-ho approach and the combative style of his chief strategist Dominic Cummings, the British prime minister hopes to demonstrate that he is serious about negotiating a fresh Brexit deal. When he returns from Dublin later on Monday, Johnson is expected to make a second bid to trigger a 15 October general election by asking MPs to support a motion tabled under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. But he is almost certain to be rebuffed for a second time, after opposition leaders agreed on Friday to reject a snap poll until a no-deal Brexit has been definitively avoided. The backbench bill aimed at blocking no deal is expected to receive royal assent on Monday. Rudd’s abrupt departure followed that of the prime minister’s brother, Jo Johnson, who resigned last week after 21 rebels lost the Conservative whip for supporting what Downing Street calls “Jeremy Corbyn’s surrender bill”. Rudd’s resignation on Saturday evening sparked fears of a domino effect, with other Tory moderates following suit.” – The Guardian

  • Varadkar plays down prospects of breakthrough – FT
  • Irish PM ‘conscious’ Johnson once voted for Backstop – Daily Telegraph
  • Northern Ireland-only Backstop on menu for meeting – Irish Times
  • Secret Brexit report warns No Deal ‘will cost lives in Northern Ireland’ – Belfast Telegraph
Comment
>Today:

Buckland’s message: the Prime Minister must obey the law. Some Conservative MPs suggest otherwise.

“Tory MPs are urging Boris Johnson to break the law so he can take the UK out of the EU without a deal on October 31, leaked WhatsApp messages seen by BuzzFeed News reveal. The conversation took place in the Conservative MPs’ WhatsApp group over the weekend, with two MPs — Sheryll Murray and Chris Green — suggesting Johnson should ignore new legislation passed by Parliament last week that effectively outlaws a no-deal Brexit. In a sign of the extreme measures hardline Brexiteers are considering in order to force a no-deal, they had to be warned by justice secretary Robert Buckland that the government “observes the rule of law at all times and for all seasons”. There has been speculation at Westminster in recent days that Johnson could try to ignore the anti no-deal legislation, possibly by asking the Queen not to grant royal assent. The conversation began on Saturday evening, when government chief whip Mark Spencer told the WhatsApp group that Johnson is “flat out trying to get a deal”. – BuzzFeed

  • Buckland backs PM after conversation about rule of law – Twitter
>Yesterday:

Will more Ministers resign?

“The hardline stance taken against the rebels by Number 10 has sparked widespread outcry on the Tory backbenches with Amber Rudd citing their treatment as one of her main reasons for quitting the government and surrendering the whip last night. Mr Johnson has said he wants to ‘build bridges’ with his former colleagues but the chances of that happening took a hit today as the rebels and members of the Johnson administration squared off in public. Ms Rudd’s resignation prompted numerous senior Tories to bemoan the decision and to praise her for her work in government. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said: ‘The Conservative party has always been a broad church shaped by those within it. ‘Gutted to see Amber leave – but hope other One Nation Tories will stay and fight for the values we share.’ But Mr Hammond responded to Mr Hancock: ‘Sorry Matt, I’m afraid the Conservative Party has been taken over by unelected advisors, entryists and usurpers who are trying to turn it from a broad church into an extreme right-wing faction. ‘Sadly, it is not the party I joined.’ The former chancellor’s comments prompted Conor Burns, one of Mr Johnson’s closest allies and an International Trade Minister, to hit back and accuse him of talking ‘absolute c**p’.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Smith “warns of Northern Ireland chaos after No Deal”

“The Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith has threatened to quit the government unless Boris Johnson’s agrees to bring in emergency laws to protect the province in a no-deal Brexit. The Times understands that Mr Smith called for emergency legislation to govern Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit at cabinet on Tuesday and a meeting of Mr Gove’s Brexit operations committee on Friday. At that meeting he asked for his interventions to be minuted as he made a series of “apocalyptic” warnings about what would happen if emergency powers were not in place. He said he has been asking the Brexit strategy committee, chaired by the prime minister, to come to a decision on emergency powers for three weeks. Mr Gove was said to be “sympathetic” to his concerns. “He is very, very unhappy,” a government source said. “He’s on the resignation watch list. If you’re a minister and you don’t have the powers you need to govern Northern Ireland in the event of no deal you have to go. He was making apocalyptic warnings about the implications for security and policing in Northern Ireland.” – The Times

Coffey replaces Rudd as Work and Pensions Secretary

“Her campaigns include stopping the A14 toll, improving NHS experience for patients, better broadband, a fairer share of funding, preventing coastal and estuary erosion, rail improvements and improving skills and education. Coffey recommended pensioners should be forced to pay National Insurance in a paper for the Free Enterprise Group. The paper provoked a backlash among older constituents, who claimed that in an already tough economic environment, it was wrong to tax pensioners further. However, she said that she had “no regrets writing about National Insurance” and that it was “a policy proposal – it is by no means, at this stage, anymore than that.” Her website describes her interests outside politics as enjoying watching football, gardening and listening to music.” – The Sun

>Yesterday:

Ministers criticise Rudd’s conduct

“The now former Work and Pensions Secretary kept her decision to walk out of government – and the party – secret from Boris Johnson as she lined up an interview with a Sunday newspaper. Downing Street became concerned that Ms Rudd was preparing a dramatic intervention in the Brexit debate on Saturday afternoon and the Prime Minister repeatedly tried to contact her. Mr Johnson finally managed to speak to Ms Rudd at just after 9pm on Saturday evening, and a senior Government source claims the news of her resignation was made public while the phone call was going on. Ms Rudd’s behaviour – as well as her attack on the Government’s Brexit strategy – were criticised by her former colleagues, with Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi saying: “When Boris Johnson invited colleagues to join his government he was explicit that we had to agree to his strategy of leaving on the 31st Oct with or without a deal.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Raab hits back over Rudd resignation – Daily Telegraph
  • Insults fly as Rudd resignation triggers blue-on-blue warfare – The Times
  • Scottish Tories warn party may become unelectable ‘sect’ after Rudd resignation – Daily Telegraph
Comment
  • Rudd’s departure from DWP is bound to be destabilising, Patrick Butler – The Guardian

Telegraph claims Johnson will defy the extension bill…

Boris Johnson has drawn up plans to “sabotage” any Brexit extension without breaking the law, the Telegraph has learnt. It means Monday’s vote on a general election is the “last chance” for MPs to block a no-deal Brexit, the Government believes. The Prime Minister’s key advisers held a meeting on Sunday to thrash out a strategy to scupper Parliament’s efforts to force a three-month Brexit extension if no new deal is agreed. One plan under serious consideration would see the Prime Minister send an accompanying letter alongside the request to extend Article 50 setting out that the Government does not want any delay after Oct 31. On Sunday night, a Cabinet source told The Telegraph: “There is a prescribed letter that has to be sent… Does that stop the Prime Minister sending other documents to the EU? I don’t think it does. “A political explainer perhaps, as to where the Government’s policy is. It has to make clear that the Government is asking for an extension, but let’s not forget what the next step is. “Once that is done, the Europeans are going to ask: ‘Why? What is the reason?’ [What] if the Government said: ‘We don’t have any reasons for an extension’? “There is a clear path now: the Europeans need to refuse an extension.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson’s cunning plan – Daily Mail
  • As he intends to take fight to supreme court – The Sun
  • And he stokes flames by sticking to aggressive policy – FT
  • Critical day for Johnson as No Deal bill awaits Royal Assent – The Guardian
  • Meanwhile, MPs will seek demand papers on prorogation – The Times
  • And Tories will stand against Bercow – The Times
  • French minister threatens to veto three-month delay – The Times
  • France threatens to veto Brexit extension – The Guardian
  • Poll shows voters prefer Johnson to Corbyn – FT
  • ‘It’s Boris or me,’, what Jo Johnson’s wife told PM’s brother – Daily Mail
  • Stewart leads rebel Tories into election pact with Lib Dems – Daily Express
  • Sacked Tory rebels in shock bid to rejoin party – Daily Express
Comment

…But The Times says that he won’t

“Boris Johnson has signalled to cabinet ministers that the government would have to accept a further three-month delay to Brexit if it is forced on him by the courts. In a private climbdown from his repeated insistence that Britain will leave the European Union on October 31, the prime minister has assured senior colleagues that he will “abide by the law”. The Times understands that Mr Johnson had been warned by several cabinet ministers that their positions would be untenable if he flouted a Supreme Court ruling ordering him to accept an extension. “The prime minister has assured me that we abide by the rule of law,” one said. Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland secretary, threatened to quit over the government’s failure to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.” – The Times

  • What is Johnson’s Brexit strategy now? – The Times
  • Brexit negotiating team shrinks to just four staff – The Times
  • EU talks stall as Westminster descends into chaos – FT
  • KPMG predicts No Deal recession in 2020 – The Guardian
  • Corporate warnings on Brexit soar amid No Deal fears – FT
Comment

Nigel Farage: I am 100% sincere in offering a non-aggression pact with the Tories

“Boris Johnson is to be congratulated for sacking the 21 Tory MPs who voted to block a No Deal Brexit this week. It was a radical move on his part, but contrary to what the moaners and whingers have been bleating about, it was not without precedent in parliamentary history. Furthermore, the rebels knew exactly what they were doing. These self-serving men and women – many of them not proper Conservatives anyway – all received fair warning that their arrogance and disloyalty would have consequences. When you commit an act of political sabotage, you earn your punishment. Johnson’s decisiveness proves something much more significant than just his ability to bring his party to heel, however. For the events of this summer confirm that the centre of gravity in British politics is shifting inexorably in favour of Brexit. A much-needed realignment is taking place. I have been arguing for this for years and I am only too delighted that the swamp is being drained at last.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour
  • Labour could offer May’s deal or Remain in new poll, McDonnell hints – Daily Telegraph
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