Johnson ‘reassures DUP’ amidst fresh talk of separate deal for Northern Ireland…

“Boris Johnson is examining a backstop deal with the European Union that could split Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom behind a new trade border. Senior EU officials and diplomats said yesterday that the “all-Ireland” option appeared to be the prime minister’s plan after preliminary talks over the past week. Phil Hogan, Ireland’s European commissioner who becomes the EU’s trade negotiator in November, said the penny was “finally dropping” in London that the only alternative to a whole-UK backstop was to come up with specific arrangements for Northern Ireland. The plan, which would create a potential trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, is a red line for the Democratic Unionist Party, led by Arlene Foster, which vetoed the idea when it was suggested by the European Commission in 2017.” – The Times

  • Brussels senses London’s shift on the backstop – FT
  • Could ‘All-Ireland’ proposal break the deadlock? – Daily Telegraph
  • Would such a plan sell-out Ulster? – Daily Mail
  • Bridge to Ulster ‘could solve backstop problem’ – The Times


  • Ahern: any deal must be acceptable to the Democratic Unionists – The Guardian
  • Martin launches ‘scathing attack’ on Varadkar over No Deal readiness – Daily Express
  • Hogan: Johnson’s Brexit-hating nemesis – Daily Mail


  • Terrorists will fill Northern Ireland’s power vacuum – Sean O’Neill, The Times

>Today: Lord Ashcroft in Comment: My Northern Ireland polling. Six out of ten voters there accept the backstop. But only one in five Unionists do so.

…as he tells rebels he is prepared for Brexiteer ‘spears at his back’…

“Boris Johnson told Conservative rebels he is preparing for “spears in my back” from party Eurosceptics in a sign he may now try to compromise on a Brexit deal. After a series of defeats for the Prime Minister, he has now hinted he is ready to soften his key demands that Brussels scraps the Irish backstop. Doing so would ignite confrontation with hardline Brexiteers of the European Research Group (ERG), who call themselves the Spartans. The backstabbing remark came during talks with some of the 21 Conservative MPs who were kicked out of the party for voting for a Brexit delay and defying the Government. Mr Johnson pleaded with the Remainer rebels and insisted he would need their support soon. He told them: “The spears in my back won’t be from you, they’ll come from the Spartans.”” – Daily Express

  • Crunch Cabinet talks amidst fears of no Brexit and no election until December – The Sun
  • Delay means UK will need to pick a commissioner – The Times

>Today: Robert Halfon MP’s column: The choice for Conservatives. Back the Prime Minister, or face election oblivion.

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: The former Conservative MPs who have lost the Whip all abstain on the Tory attempt to force an election

…whilst Downing Street prepares to clash with them over communications…

“Downing Street is on a collision course with Remainer MPs after they demanded Number 10 aides grant them access to their personal mobile phones in a bid to prove Boris Johnson suspended Parliament to avoid Brexit scrutiny. MPs voted by 311 to 302 in favour of telling Number 10 advisers to hand over WhatsApp, Facebook and text messages and for ministers to release their No Deal contingency plans in full. The MPs, led by former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve, set a deadline for the material to be surrendered of tomorrow at 11pm but today it appeared unlikely that the government will fully comply. Ministers are willing to publish a ‘revised’ version of their secret Operation Yellowhammer No Deal documents but the request for personal correspondence has sparked fury.” – Daily Mail

  • No Deal will cause resentment ‘on the scale of Thatcher’, says Stewart – Daily Telegraph


  • Polls show public want vote respected and end to uncertainty – Daily Telegraph
  • More than a third of Remainers ‘now want EU exit’ – Daily Express


  • A small window Johnson might squeeze through for a deal – Matthew Lynn, Daily Telegraph
  • He can’t escape the clutches of May’s zombie Agreement – Rafael Behr, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Adam Honeysett-Watts in Comment: I voted Remain and backed a second referendum. But here’s why I now back Johnson.

…and Farage sets his price at ’80 to 90 seats’

“Nigel Farage has spelt out his price for an election deal with the Tories – to give his Brexit Party a free run in 80 to 90 parliamentary seats. In exchange, the anti-EU party chief has told No10 he would not field any candidates against sitting Tory MPs and in the Conservatives’ target seats. The landmark offer has been relayed to Boris Johnson by senior Tory figures after discreet conversations with Mr Farage opened up, The Sun has been told. The seats that Mr Farage wants Mr Johnson to abandon are ones where the Brexit Party or his old outfit UKIP have come second to Labour. They are spread across south Wales, the Midlands and the North East. The veteran MEP believes he can win “40 to 50” of them, giving him a major foothold in the Commons for the first time.” – The Sun

‘Monstrous’ Fixed-term Parliaments Act should go, say MPs

The government is coming under increasing pressure to scrap the ‘Kafkaesque’ Fixed-term Parliaments Act amid mounting criticism it has contributed to the political impasse over Brexit. Described as a ‘monstrosity’ by Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg, the hastily drafted legislation – designed to hold the coalition government together in 2010 – has prevented Boris Johnson from calling a general election to break the deadlock because it requires the agreement of two thirds of MPs. On Tuesday night, former foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan, who tried to repeal the 2011 Act in a ten-minute rule Bill in 2015, said it had “catastrophic constitutional significance”. “We all understand why it came into being—it was to be the glue in the coalition Government after the 2010 election—but it should have had a sunset clause,” he said.” – Daily Telegraph

Daniel Finkelstein: Prime Ministers, not Parliament, must be able to call an election

“The idea of such a reform had been mooted many times by constitutional types and its objective was worthy: to remove from the prime minister what was regarded as an arbitrary power to call a general election at a moment that suited the governing party best. Worthy, but a bit pointless. What was the problem it was trying to solve? I can’t think of an occasion when this power to time general elections has given prime ministers a decisive advantage… Now, however, it is revealing itself as worse than pointless. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act didn’t make the power over elections disappear into thin air. Instead it handed that power to others in parliament. And this has, to say the least, not been an improvement.” – The Times

  • Prorogation? The real coup is how Remainers have tied up Johnson – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

Government to relax rules on overseas students

“International students will be allowed to remain in the UK for two years after completing their university studies while seeking work in a sharp reversal by Boris Johnson of tight controls imposed by his predecessor as prime minister. Mr Johnson said the “new route for international students to start their careers in the UK” would ensure the country was “open to the brightest and the best from across the globe to study and work”. The move followed longstanding warnings from the higher education sector that tough immigration controls were undermining the appeal of studying in the UK at a time it is facing uncertainties over Brexit and rising competition from other countries.” – FT

  • Visa climbdown allows graduates to stay for longer – The Times
  • Johnson accused of opening up ‘backdoor route’ to the UK… – The Sun
  • …as he insists he’s the most liberal Tory premier in decades – Daily Mail


Cabinet 1) New roles for Truss and Goldsmith in mini-reshuffle

“Liz Truss has been made women and equalities minister and Zac Goldsmith promoted to attending cabinet as Boris Johnson conducted a mini-reshuffle on the first day of parliament’s shutdown. Truss was given the portfolio on Tuesday following Amber Rudd’s resignation on Saturday from that role as well as from her seat in cabinet as work and pensions secretary along with the Conservative whip in protest at the direction of Johnson’s Brexit policy. The new equalities minister is a rightwinger and free marketer who was an early backer of Johnson and entered his cabinet as international trade secretary, a role she will continue to hold. Truss voted for same-sex marriage but abstained on a vote to extend those rights to Northern Ireland.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Truss is the new Womens’ Minister, Goldsmith will attend Cabinet. The Government is reshuffled at Ministerial level.

Cabinet 2) Raab hits out at Iran for breaking word over tanker

“Red-faced Dominic Raab blasted Iran after a sanction-busting oil tanker released by Gibraltar turned up in Syria. The Foreign Secretary summoned the Iranian Ambassador to “condemn” Tehran for going back on its word not to flog its crude to Bashar al-Assad. The gaffe is likely to incense the US – which issued a warrant for the seizure of the Adrian Darya ship last month to try and prevent it sailing from the ‘Rock’. Iran’s foreign ministry on Sunday said the tanker had reached its final destination “on the Mediterranean coast”. Satellite imagery revealed it was off the coast of Syria… The tanker was seized by British marines in July when it was moored off the coast of Gibraltar for breaking EU sanctions on Syria.” – The Sun

  • Two British nationals seized by the Islamic Republic – The Times

Corbyn accused of plot to ‘turn the clock back’ with new rights

“Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of wanting to “turn back the clock decades” after vowing to introduce the biggest expansion of workers’ rights in British history. A ministry of employment rights, the return of sector-wide pay deals and a ban on unpaid internships and zero-hours contracts would be introduced under a Labour government. Speaking to the Trades Union Congress in Brighton, Mr Corbyn said that he wanted to put power “in the hands of workers”… Labour would create a secretary of state for employment rights and a workers’ protection agency to enforce rights, standards and protections so every job was a “good job”, he said. Collective bargaining would be introduced for whole sectors, with councils of worker and employer representatives charged with negotiating minimum terms, conditions and standards.” – The Times

  • Fury at proposals which would take Britain back to the 1970s – Daily Mail
  • Activists push for ‘radical’ manifesto – The Guardian


  • Think Johnson bad on the rule of law? Corbyn would be far, far worse – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph


  • His claim the economy is broken is manifestly ridiculous – The Sun


Labour divisions on Brexit ‘back in the spotlight’…

“Labour’s divisions over Brexit have burst into the open again, with Jeremy Corbyn and his deputy publicly supporting different policies on a second referendum. Tom Watson will today call for a fresh referendum to take place before any general election, saying that going to the polls with Brexit unresolved would not be desirable. This is a different sequence of events from Mr Corbyn’s plan, reiterated yesterday, in which the party would back a general election once the UK and the EU had agreed a Brexit delay and then seek to hold a referendum as the government. In a speech to the Creative Industries Federation today Mr Watson will say that a “Brexit election” may “seem inevitable, but that doesn’t make it desirable”, adding: “Elections should never be single-issue campaigns.”” – The Times

  • No appetite for Watson’s second referendum plan, MP admits – Daily Telegraph
  • Deputy Leader to break Labour’s Brexit truce – The Guardian
  • ’50 Opposition MPs’ could vote for May’s deal – The Times


  • Party’s nominees for peerages stood against it in election – The Times

…as the Liberal Democrats promise to revoke Article 50

“The Liberal Democrats have hardened their position against Brexit by pledging to fight the next general election on a promise to cancel Britain’s departure from the European Union — a move that piles the pressure on Labour to shift stance. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has seen his party’s support eroded because of its relatively ambivalent position on the biggest issue in UK politics. By contrast the Lib Dems clear position on remaining in the EU has led to a revival in support after hitting rock-bottom in the 2017 general election. The party overtook Labour in May’s European elections and has seen a surge in membership in recent months. The Lib Dems hope that their new, unambiguous position will allow them to further eclipse Labour in the eyes of Remain voters.” – FT

  • Blair and Mandelson ‘pulling strings’ of ‘Remain Alliance’ – Daily Telegraph


  • Revocation is as undemocratic as the race to No Deal – Stephen Kinnock MP, The Guardian

Bercow criticised for prorogation ‘fracas’

“John Bercow was criticised by his Lords counterpart and a former Black Rod after parliament was suspended amid extraordinary scenes of protest in the early hours of yesterday morning. After Black Rod, the officer in the House of Lords who summons MPs to the upper chamber, arrived in the Commons, MPs held up signs saying “silenced” and shouted “Shame!” as a five-week prorogation began at 1.30am. Others shouted “No!” while Black Rod read out the words to begin the prorogation ceremony. Lloyd Russell-Moyle, 32, the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, who seized the mace at the end of last year, briefly tried to stop the Speaker leaving his chair, forcing doorkeepers to intervene. Other MPs involved in the fracas included the shadow cabinet minister Dawn Butler, the Labour frontbencher Clive Lewis and Caroline Lucas, the sole Green MP.” – The Times

  • Government break with 250-year tradition to deny him a peerage… – Daily Telegraph
  • …but he still gets a ‘gold-plated’ £1 million pension – Daily Express
  • Did he fake his tears during resignation speech? – The Sun


  • Westminster refurbishment takes centre stage in succession race – The Times
  • Harman vows to be ‘scrupulously neutral’ if selected – The Guardian


  • In a crowded field, what was Bercow’s most partisan moment? – Benedict Spence, Daily Telegraph
  • Why I’m standing for the Speakership – Meg Hillier MP, Times Red Box


  • Rowdy scenes bring politics further into disrepute with the public – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: The shocking truth about Commons disorder. MPs during Brexit “have been almost shamefully well behaved”

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: The next Speaker. Will MPs be guided by party or by prejudice?

Former Prime Ministers pay tribute to Ashdown

“Past prime ministers, present-day parliamentarians, diplomats and armed services personnel filled Westminster Abbey to pay tribute to former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, described as “ a man for ideals, not shabby deals”. Former premiers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Sir John Major joined Lord Ashdown’s widow, Jane, their two children, grandchildren and other relatives, at a service of thanksgiving. Ashdown died on 22 December 2018, aged 77, shortly after announcing he had bladder cancer. In an address that traced Ashdown’s life from “boisterous young Marine” to “elder statesman”, Major described him as a political opponent who had become a friend.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • What if Dominic Cummings is right? – Andrew Willshire, Reaction
  • Where will a general election be won and lost? – Matt Singh, CapX
  • Labour will not endorse Remain in a general election – Robert Peston, The Spectator
  • Is conservatism normalising the alt-Right? – Eric Kaufmann, UnHerd
  • Electoral reform should be on the agenda – Ben Ramanauskas, 1828

And finally… Robbie Gibb: my war against caterpillars

“For many months I have been waging a silent war against a determined threat to the British way of life — and it hails from Brussels. On a scale never seen before, our gardens are quite literally being eaten alive by a caterpillar that was imported (accidentally, I am sure) on the leaves of Belgian box hedges. Left unchecked, this invader threatens to destroy the much-loved traditional British garden box. These tight and neatly trimmed hedges shape modern gardens and are the perfect material for that most peculiar of this nation’s pastimes – topiary. But now, hedges and bushes are succumbing to the voracious appetite of the offspring of the box tree moth – a bright green caterpillar with a distinctive black stripe.” – Daily Mail

  • May’s flops did not deserve honours – Quentin Letts, The Sun

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Sir Craig Oliver might be forgiven a certain sense of satisfaction today

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