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Brexit 1) Johnson fights ‘Brexit wreckers’ with three letters to EU

“The prime minister sent three different letters to EU leaders in an effort to circumvent a plot by “Brexit wreckers” to extend the Halloween deadline, branding it “deeply corrosive”. In the first Saturday sitting of parliament since the Falklands conflict 37 years ago, MPs voted by 322 to 306 to withhold support for Johnson’s Brexit deal until the withdrawal bill that would make it law has been approved. This triggered the Benn Act, which requires the prime minister to send a letter to Brussels requesting an extension, ruling out any no deal. In an uncompromising response, Johnson last night refused to sign the letter and sent EU leaders a photocopy of the text instead. He then phoned key power brokers to make clear they should ignore parliament’s request for more time. No 10 officials expressed hope that EU leaders could take until an emergency summit on October 28 to even respond — buying Johnson crucial time to pass the deal. The letter, sent in hard copy and by email, to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, was accompanied by a covering note from Sir Tim Barrow, Britain’s ambassador to the EU explaining that the letter was being sent only so the government could comply with the law.” – Sunday Times

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>Today

ToryDiary: Parliament’s Remainers secure a tactical victory, but are in strategic disarray

>Yesterday:

Brexit2) …..But he may face fresh court action

“Boris Johnson was warned on Saturday that he risks a fresh challenge in the courts after he reacted to a humiliating Commons defeat over Brexit by calling on EU leaders to reject any extension of Britain’s membership of the European Union. After MPs voted by 322 to 306 to withhold approval of his EU exit deal, the prime minister was obliged to write to Brussels by 11pm on Saturday to request an extension until 31 January 2020, in order to comply with the law under the terms of the Benn act. But with the deadline approaching, Johnson wrote to Tory MPs saying he would tell the EU that “delay is not a solution”. A former Tory cabinet minister said Johnson was clearly behaving in a way that was “against the spirit of the Benn act”, which required him to have asked for an extension by 11pm on Saturday if no Brexit deal had been approved by parliament by then, or parliament had not given its backing to a no-deal outcome. The former minister said: “I think this will end up in the courts again. This is clearly against the spirit of the Benn act and is not consistent with the assurances that were given by Downing Street to the Scottish courts about applying for an extension. It will also put government law officers in a very uncomfortable position.” – The Observer

Brexit 3) As cabinet ministers need police escorts after vote

“It wasn’t the end of Brexit, but for those who had come out in their hundreds of thousands to protest against Boris Johnson’s deal Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment was a new obstacle in its path. There were huge cheers from the crowd in Parliament Square as the result of the vote on the amendment was announced. Feelings ran so high that although the march was overwhelmingly peaceful, Jacob Rees Mogg, the Leader of the House, and his son Peter were heckled as they walked home under a police escort. Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom also received police escorts away from Parliament at the end of the first Saturday session since the Falklands War. Police said no arrests had been made by the time the march officially came to an end. Ms Leadsom wrote on Twitter: “Thank goodness for our superb police. Just walked home safely from HoC with their protection – why do the so called ‘People’s Vote’ protesters think it’s ok to abuse, intimidate and scream in the face of someone they don’t agree with? So frightening, and so grateful to the police.” Labour’s Diane Abbott was also given police protection after being harassed by a small handful of pro-Brexit supporters.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Rees-Mogg and son given police escort – Sunday Times
  • Giggling Letwin would not be swayed – Sunday Times
  • Anti-Brexit QC aided Letwin – Mail on Sunday
  • DUP takes its revenge for ‘Johnson betrayal’ – Sunday Times
  • How DUP turned on Johnson before hinting it may back second referendum – Sunday Telegraph
  • Tears as Labour MPs face choice between party and Leave-voting constituents – Sunday Telegraph
  • May’s Brexit stormer! Theresa on fire attacking MPs for ‘con-trick’ – Sunday Express
  • Protestors hail ‘greatest ever march’ – The Observer
  • Deputy speaker suggests Bercow has ‘strayed’ from rule of law – Sunday Telegraph
  • Nicola Sturgeon brands blow to PM’s plans as ‘excellent’ – The Scotsman
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>Yesterday:

Brexit 4) Dominic Lawson: Parliament intent on a path of self-harm

“Exactly 185 years ago last week, in 1834, a great fire burnt down the House of Commons. Apparently, onlookers cheered at the sight (and not because they were aesthetic critics of the perpendicular gothic). If such a conflagration were to occur today, a similar response should be expected. For yesterday, after more than three years of obfuscation, prevarication and wilful obstructionism — principally by a Labour Party, which swore over and again that it would honour the result of the 2016 referendum — a meaningful parliamentary vote on a Brexit deal agreed between the UK government and the EU was, again, denied. But the main facilitator of this latest prevarication, with his motion to delay approval of that deal in such a way as to force the prime minister to ask the EU for yet another extension of our membership, was someone re-elected as a Conservative MP in 2017, Sir Oliver Letwin. David Cameron’s unworldly former problem solver-in-chief is widely regarded as the brainiest member of the House, a former academic philosopher, himself the only child of two professors. Yet only someone as clever as Sir Oliver could do something so stupid. Unlike all the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Scottish National Party MPs who piled in behind his motion, which was ostensibly to stop a no-deal Brexit in possible circumstances he did not elaborate upon, Letwin thinks the prime minister’s deal is terrific.” – Sunday Times

Brexit 5) EU leaders will delay extension decision until after MPs’ vote

“There was frustration and exasperation in Brussels that MPs did not take the chance to ratify the Brexit deal struck at an EU summit last week. “It will be for the UK government to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible,” the European Commission’s chief spokeswoman said on Saturday. The heads of state and government could call another Brussels summit before the October 31 deadline to grant an extension. Any request must first be made by the UK government before being unanimously supported by the EU27. The vote for the Letwin Amendment meant the government cancelled a meaningful vote on the Brexit agreement. Boris Johnson had assured EU leaders on Thursday that MPs would support his deal. “I don’t think we will move before Tuesday,” one EU diplomat told the Sunday Telegraph. The Telegraph understands that the EU-27 could be prepared to grant a short technical extension by “written procedure”, and without holding a summit, if leaders are unified in their decision. But there is nothing in the legislation that can compel the EU to answer before MPs vote again on the Brexit deal next week and Brussels is waiting for Britain to make the first move. Written procedure is likely to be used if an extension is only needed to implement the deal before the deadline if MPs eventually support the agreement. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, will arrange any summit called.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Varadkar suspends belief over Scotland-Ulster bridge – Sunday Times
  • ‘Get ready to be our rival in business’, warns Merkel – Sunday Times
  • Tycoon to quit as head of key Remain group – Sunday Times
  • People’s Vote coup plotters: Campbell and Mandelson use dark arts – Mail on Sunday

Tories try to ‘buy off’ Farage with peerage

“Nigel Farage was approached by a ‘middle man’ to sound him out over accepting a peerage from the Government, it was claimed last night. Allies of the Brexit Party leader say the move appeared to be an attempt to ‘buy him off’ and remove the threat he poses in a General Election. A source said: ‘It seems someone thought that if Nigel was given a place in the Lords, he would call off his dogs and make it more likely the Tories would win a majority at the next Election.’ Polls have indicated that if the Brexit Party, currently polling on about 14 per cent, stood down its candidates, Boris Johnson could win a majority of more than 80 seats. Mr Farage’s party poses a particular risk to the Tories in strong Leave-supporting areas such as Thurrock in Essex, which Mr Farage himself is eyeing as a possible location for him to mount his eighth attempt to enter the House of Commons. The MEP has long been linked with a peerage, with Tory critics mockingly saying it would be only way he would ever get into the Westminster Parliament. Earlier this year, there were suggestions that Theresa May’s Government had missed a trick by not sending him to the House of Lords where he could have served as a Brexit Minister and helped negotiate a better exit deal from Brussels. But Mr Farage, who has nurtured a reputation as an anti-establishment figure, has continued to meet speculation about a peerage by insisting he does not want one.” – Mail on Sunday

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