Published:

European leaders keep Johnson guessing after he tables new backstop proposal…

“Boris Johnson’s chances of a new Brexit deal were hanging by a thread last night after EU leaders withheld approval for formal negotiations on his plans for an alternative to the Irish backstop. The prime minister set out proposals that would in effect keep Northern Ireland in the EU single market for all goods while following UK customs rules. He said the compromise allowed a “meaningful Brexit” without the need for physical checks on the border. Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, said that Mr Johnson’s proposals did not “fully meet the agreed objectives” of the original guarantee against a hard border on the island of Ireland but did not reject them entirely.” – The Times

  • Government files contentious plan to break deadlock – FT

Reaction:

  • Juncker agrees to talks… – The Sun
  • …and Barnier says ‘there is progress’… – Daily Telegraph
  • …although his reaction is elsewhere called ‘scathing’ – The Guardian
  • Northern Irish leaders dismiss proposals – The Guardian

>Today:

…as he indicates he will boycott summit if they’re rejected…

“After laying out his plan, Mr Johnson also threatened to boycott a crunch EU summit in a fortnight’s time if Brussels does not engage seriously, as there would be ‘no point’ in continuing with talks. DUP leader Arlene Foster immediately hailed the five point blueprint as ‘a serious and sensible way forward which ‘allows the people of Northern Ireland a role which they didn’t have’. But after speaking to the PM on the phone tonight, Mr Juncker gave a cool response insisting while there were some ‘positive advances’ in the draft package there were ‘problematic points’ on the backstop.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister to embark on ‘whirlwind tour’ of the EU to sell plan – Daily Telegraph
  • He and Barclay are playing ‘good cop, bad cop’ – Daily Express
  • Johnson’s plan leave big ‘gap to bridge’ – FT

Analysis:

  • What are the details, and will Brussels bite? – Peter Foster, Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson avoids ‘kamikaze’ move to legitimise No Deal – Oliver Wright, The Times
  • Will the EU play ball? – Jack Doyle, Daily Mail
  • He’s looking for an excuse to blame Brussels when talks fail – Philip Stephens, FT
  • Bold plan doomed without a domestic mandate – David Shiels, Daily Telegraph

…whilst MPs signal they may be prepared to support it…

The DUP, which has until now refused to accept any deal that would treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK, made a significant move in backing the plan, which would leave the province in the EU single market for goods for four years. Steve Baker, chairman of the European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs, said that if the DUP backed the deal so would he, while Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP who speaks for about 25 colleagues ready to back a deal, said the EU27 should be given time to assess the proposals, but “if Dublin and Brussels are happy, then we’re happy”. With 21 Tory dissenters who have lost the whip also expected to vote for a deal, Mr Johnson could expect Parliament to support him based on his current plan. The support of Mr Kinnock’s Labour rebels will be crucial, as Jeremy Corbyn made clear he would tell opposition MPs to vote against it.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Numbers finally starting to add up in the Commons  – The Times
  • Eurosceptics welcome Brexit proposals – FT
  • Come on Arlene… talks sway Democratic Unionists – The Times

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Our Moggcast Live: The Commons Leader on the Supreme Court, prorogation, Johnson – and whether the expelled 21 should return

…but Germany and France anticipate fresh delay

“Germany and France hold out little hope that the UK government’s latest proposals on the Irish border puzzle will help to deliver a Brexit deal at a Brussels summit of EU leaders on October 17-18. Rather, with considerable misgivings, the Germans and French envisage a third extension of the UK’s departure date from the EU, after two previous delays in March and April. Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, tweeted on Tuesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s newest Brexit plans were “not serious and violate the law”. Significantly, however, Mr Röttgen added: “#EU should give long extension.”” – FT

  • Brussels ready to ‘bypass Boris’ – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Strangely subdued

Suella Braverman: Nobody will be entirely pleased with this genuine compromise

“I have no doubt that the potential new Withdrawal Agreement will not be perfect from everyone’s point of view. From my perspective, as a former chairman of the European Research Group, the government has gone further than I would like by suggesting that Northern Ireland should remain aligned not only with EU SPS regulations, but also goods regulations, and there should consequently be checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. But, as the prime minister says, we all need to compromise and if the Democratic Unionists support this proposal, subject to the consent of Stormont Assembly, then I believe I can accept it too.” – Times Red Box

  • Brussels should not ignore the mutual benefits of Johnson’s offer – Shanker Singham, Daily Telegraph
  • Northern Ireland deserves better – Doire Finn, Times Red Box
  • Plan does little to break deathly slow-dance with the EU – Peter Foster, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft’s column: Conference Diary: Are the “true Brexiteers” too Brexity to deliver Brexit?

Johnson ‘woos Labour voters’ with conference speech…

“The prime minister vowed to “send Jeremy Corbyn into orbit” as he stepped up calls for an election and appealed to Labour voters on Brexit, the NHS and crime. Boris Johnson used his first address as Tory leader to launch the final negotiations with the EU over a new deal and to rehearse a campaign pitch aimed squarely at Labour’s traditional heartlands. He claimed for the Tories the title “the party of the NHS” saying that only capitalism could guarantee public services as he attacked Mr Corbyn’s “deranged and ruinous plans borrowed from the playbook of Bolivarian revolutionary Venezuela”.” – The Times

  • Tory faithful rallies behind their leader at conference – FT

Comment:

  • Did Johnson deliver a ‘change of tone with inclusive speech’… – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • …or did it show he can ‘no longer claim the One Nation mantle’? – Sam Gyimah, Times Red Box
  • Cowardly speech shows his arsenal is empty – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • What conference lacked in MPs it made up in defiant unity – Tom Harwood, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

…as he prepares to prorogue Parliament again to bring forward Queen’s Speech

Boris Johnson will suspend Parliament from Tuesday evening to hold a Queen’s Speech on October 14, it has been confirmed. Opposition whips were informed of the decision on Wednesday. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House, is expected to announce the short prorogation on Thursday. The government originally attempted to suspend Parliament for five weeks, in what would have been the longest prorogation since the Second World War. That decision was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court last week, prompting MPs to return to Westminster. Despite the ruling from the judges, the original date of the Queen’s Speech – October 14 – has remained the same.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Javid expected to delay Budget until November – FT

>Today:

Patel to order investigation into VIP child abuse investigation

“Scotland Yard faces renewed scrutiny from police watchdogs over its botched investigation into claims of a Westminster child abuse ring. Priti Patel, the home secretary, is to order a public review into the Metropolitan Police’s handling of its £2.5 million Operation Midland, which was based on the claims of a fantasist. Ms Patel will instruct HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services to carry out the inquiry after an independent report by a former High Court judge alleged that officers obtained warrants illegally. A fuller version of the report by Sir Richard Henriques is to be released tomorrow after the Met bowed to pressure from the victims of Carl Beech, 51, who was known to the public only as “Nick” until he was tried for perverting the course of justice.” – The Times

Poll finds the Liberal Democrats overtaking Labour…

“Jeremy Corbyn has suffered a fresh Brexit set back after a new poll showed Labour had been overtaken by the Liberal Democrats. The latest survey conducted by YouGov puts Jo Swinson’s party in second place overall on 23 per cent. Labour has been relegated to third, two points behind the Lib Dems, on a total score of 21 per cent. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party remains way out in front on 34 per cent. The poll findings are likely to spark alarm at Labour HQ because the party would hope to be buoyant after its annual conference in Brighton last week. But it appears that the party’s bitter row over Brexit and resolution to remain neutral on the issue at the next general election may have harmed its popularity with voters.” – Daily Mail

  • Remain parties split on how best to bring down the Government – The Times
  • Opposition plan to ask Queen to sack Johnson – The Sun
  • Anti-Brexit alliance ‘in tatters’ as Labour and Lib Dem MPs squabble – Daily Express

…as Grieve accuses Cummings of running a ‘police state’

“Dominic Cummings was accused of telling “outright lies” by a former Conservative attorney-general yesterday. Boris Johnson’s chief adviser was accused of trying to run a “police state” over suggestions that opponents of a no-deal Brexit were being investigated for colluding with foreign powers. Mr Johnson’s description of a law to block no-deal as “the surrender act” has been credited to Mr Cummings. At the weekend newspapers quoted unnamed No 10 sources as saying that ousted Tory rebel MPs were being investigated over alleged co-ordination with EU governments in passing the so-called Benn act.” – The Times

Labour 1) Abbott makes history at PMQs

“Labour’s Diane Abbott made a landmark achievement in the Commons today by becoming the first black politician to lead a political party at Prime Minister’s Questions. The shadow home secretary squared off against Dominic Raab in the absence of Boris Johnson, who missed the session in order to give his speech at the Tory Party conference in Manchester. Ms Abbott used her appearance to blast the Tories, saying they needed to learn how to treat women ‘less cruelly’. She raised abuse aimed at MPs, abortion rights in Northern Ireland, the so-called ‘rape clause’ connected to tax credits and the plight of workers at Thomas Cook before accusing the Government of ‘letting women down’.” – Daily Mail

  • Creasy to hire first ‘locum MP’ – The Times

Labour 2) Activists bid to oust Jewish MP

“Hard-left activists have mounted a bid to try to oust Jewish Labour MP Dame Louise Ellman – on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. She is the third female Jewish Labour MP to have faced a campaign to kick her out after daring to speak out against Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism. Corbynistas in a branch in Dame Louise’s Liverpool Riversdale constituency are debating a no confidence motion in her next Tuesday. This is on the evening of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. The motion slams the MP for daring to speak out against the Labour leader on anti-Jew hate.” – The Sun

Website blunder suggests SNP may ban fracking in Scotland

“Fracking will not be permitted in Scotland, SNP ministers are expected to finally confirm after bungling officials accidentally posted details of the decision online. Paul Wheelhouse, the Energy Minister, will make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday afternoon setting out the SNP administration’s definitive stance on unconventional oil and gas (UOG) extraction. But a document prematurely posted on the government website stated that “on 03 October 2019, the Scottish Government confirmed its final policy position of no support” for the industry, which includes fracking. It was later hastily removed but it remains unclear whether Mr Wheelhouse will merely announce a continuation of the current temporary moratorium, or an outright legal ban demanded by environmental campaigners.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Johnson about to be revealed as political genius or total muppet – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • McEwan and the radicalisation of Remain – James Snell, CapX
  • The death of civilised debate – Douglas Murray, The Spectator
  • Has Brexit made enemies of us all? – Giles Fraser, UnHerd
  • Environmentalism must be combined with entrepreneurship – Christopher Barnard and Lydia Ibrahim, 1828

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