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Hopes for a Brexit deal rise as last-minute compromises made

“A Brexit deal appears to be taking shape after sources on both sides of the Channel said a positive day of negotiations had yielded a potential solution to the Northern Irish border problem. Sources in Brussels and London told The Telegraph there was “cautious optimism” that a narrow path to a deal could now be appearing – a marked shift in tone from the downbeat assessment from the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Sunday. With talks on a knife-edge, Boris Johnson cancelled Tuesday’s planned meeting of his Cabinet in order to avoid the potential for leaks that could derail the delicate talks. Downing Street sources said the Cabinet meeting had been moved to Wednesday “to allow for a more detailed update of the EU negotiations”, adding that the Cabinet had received its last update in a conference call on Sunday afternoon. It came as Ireland’s foreign minister suggested negotiations could carry on beyond this week’s summit of EU leaders, following reports that an emergency summit could be called to ratify an eleventh-hour deal close to the Oct 31 deadline. Simon Coveney said there was goodwill and determination from both sides to get a deal, but that “it’s too early to say whether it’s possible to get a breakthrough this week or whether it will move into next week”. At the heart of a possible breakthrough is understood to be a hybrid compromise solution on the question of customs checks in Northern Ireland which has bedevilled the talks for more than two years.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Backstop compromise still on, but trade deal could derail talks – Daily Telegraph
  • PM wins more backing from MPs for deal – The Guardian
  • Finnish PM says no time for deal before summit – The Guardian
  • Hopes fade for deal at summit – FT
  • But Brussels suggests Brexit deal could be signed after summit – The Times
  • And Ireland insists deal is still possible – Daily Mail
  • Merkel fears Britain will be major competitor to EU – The Sun
  • Irish PM faces snap election if Brexit deal reached – Daily Express
  • Sinn Fein leader offers solution to Backstop issue – Daily Express
  • Britons in Europe face citizens’ rights ‘lottery’ in Do Deal – The Guardian
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And Johnson will not resign if the Queen’s Speech is voted down

“Number 10 confirmed that the Prime Minister would also introduce all the Bills announced in today’s speech, even if Parliament rejected it. “If MPs do choose to vote against the Queen’s Speech, it will be (for) them to explain to the public why they are voting against greater support for our public services, including police, schools and hospitals,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said. “Why they are blocking legislation which will lead to serious and dangerous offenders spending more time in prison, why they are stopping laws which will lead to longer jail sentences for foreign national offenders, and why they are standing in the way of significant infrastructure improvements that will level up across this country.” He added that such a defeat would not be a matter of confidence. “The terms of a vote of confidence are set down by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act,” he said. It comes after Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed that the Government could use European law to secure a no-deal Brexit if there is no agreement with Brussels. Signalling a potential way around the Benn Act, the Leader of the House said that “it takes two to tango and any extension has to be agreed by the council”. “Theresa May got an extension not through UK law but through EU law and, until the 1972 European Communities Act is repealed, EU law is superior law in the UK,” he said on BBC’s Radio 4 Westminster Hour.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Government risks being first since 1924 to lose vote on Queen’s Speech – Daily Telegraph
  • Queen’s Speech sets out election manifesto – The Times
  • And Queen announces 26 bills – FT
  • Plus, monarch says UK will leave EU on 31 October, plus all the key points – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn hits out at ‘farcical’ Queen’s Speech – The Guardian
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While Javid is to present a Budget on 6 November

“The chancellor, announced on Monday that he is planning to hold a pre-election Budget on November 6, hoping that the UK will have agreed a Brexit deal with the EU and left the bloc by October 31. The Treasury said that, if Britain left the EU without a deal on Halloween, Mr Javid would make a statement before November 6 to outline the government’s approach to supporting the economy and businesses. A Budget would be held a few weeks later. The Treasury was silent on the possibility of Britain not finalising a withdrawal agreement by the scheduled Brexit day of October 31 and the government being forced by legislation to seek an extension to the UK’s EU membership. But the Financial Times understands that if the Benn act has been invoked and Boris Johnson, prime minister, has written a letter to the EU asking for an extension, the Budget is likely to go ahead on November 6. Mr Javid said: “This will be the first Budget after leaving the EU. I will be setting out our plan to shape the economy for the future and triggering the start of our infrastructure revolution. “This is the right and responsible thing to do — we must get on with governing.” The lack of the normal 10 weeks’ notice of a Budget date puts the Office for Budget Responsibility, the UK fiscal watchdog which produces economic forecasts for a Budget, in a difficult position.” – FT

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Sturgeon claims separate Scotland will be bridge with EU

“In a marked about-turn on her previous political narrative, the First Minister will use her keynote speech to the SNP conference in Aberdeen to argue that Brexit will benefit an independent Scotland. She will argue that a separate Scotland would have a “unique advantage” by being in the EU single market while being the “closest” geographical neighbour to the rest of the UK. Ms Sturgeon claimed this would make a separate Scotland a “magnet for global investment” and insisted it could have “the best of both worlds.” But her speech comes only two days after she refused to rule out a separate Scotland having a hard border with England. The First Minister insisted again on Monday that she did not want this and her independence plans would not be to blame, despite a border only being required if Scotland separates. Her “bridge” analogy is also undermined by the SNP’s policy of dumping the pound as soon as possible after independence in favour of a new currency. Economists have dismissed her claim a separate Scotland could unofficially keep sterling on an interim basis, saying this would mean diverting tens of billions of pounds from public spending to funding currency reserves. Ms Sturgeon’s speech this afternoon marks the climax of the three-day gathering, which has been dominated by the prospect of a second independence referendum. The First Minister is to shortly table an official demand to Boris Johnson for another vote but Downing Street made clear her request would be refused.” – Daily Telegraph

Cameron and May “lobbied Bahrain royals for Tory donor oil firm”

“Two former Conservative prime ministers lobbied a Middle Eastern royal family to award a multi-billion dollar oil contract to a company headed by a major Tory donor, the Guardian has established. In March 2017, while in Downing Street, Theresa May wrote to the Bahraini prime minister to support the oil firm Petrofac while it was bidding to win the contract from the Gulf state. Two months earlier, and just six months after stepping down as prime minister, David Cameron promoted the company during a two-day visit to Bahrain where he met the state’s crown prince. Cameron was flown back to Britain on a plane belonging to Ayman Asfari, Petrofac’s co-founder, chief executive and largest shareholder. Petrofac did not ultimately win the contract. Asfari and his wife, Sawsan, have donated almost £800,000 to the Conservative party since 2009. The donations were made in a personal capacity. Documents obtained by the Guardian raise questions about how governments should best manage the perceived potential conflicts of interest generated by donations from business figures to political parties. The government said it was routine for ministers to support British businesses bidding for major foreign contracts. Petrofac said official support had been obtained through entirely proper channels.” – The Guardian

Corbyn’s closest aide ‘next on list’ to be purged

“Labour insiders have told The Telegraph there are now growing calls for Seumas Milne, the former Guardian journalist, to be removed as Mr Corbyn’s director of communications. The warning was issued as it emerged that more than 30 members of Mr Corbyn’s staff have been asked to attend meetings as part of a review into the “management structures” in the Leader’s office. The review, which is being led by Lord Kerslake, a long-term ally of John McDonnell, has led to accusations that the shadow chancellor is attempting to push out key aides in an alleged “power grab”. The controversy was on Monday seized upon by Boris Johnson, who likened Mr McDonnell to Vladimir Lenin and his clashes with Leon Trotsky in the run up to the Russian Revolution. Speaking in the Commons, the Prime Minister said: “We can all see the Soviet era expulsions that are taking place in his [Mr Corbyn’s] circle, as one-by-one his lieutenants are purged as Lenin purged the associates of poor old Trotsky.” The controversy was on Monday seized upon by Boris Johnson, who likened Mr McDonnell to Vladimir Lenin and his clashes with Leon Trotsky in the run up to the Russian Revolution.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Corbyn in turmoil as new poll shows distrust on Brexit – Daily Express
  • Victims’ relatives urge Corbyn to renounce IRA campaign – Irish News
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  • Half of A&E units fail to hit quality standards – The Sun
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