Brexit 1) Withdrawal Agreement is “contradictory” and must be rewritten, the PM will tell the EU

“The Brexit divorce deal is “contradictory” and must be rewritten to protect the Union, Boris Johnson will tell EU leaders on Tuesday. The Prime Minister believes the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement is legally ambiguous and would leave Northern Ireland isolated from the rest of the UK, something that was “unforeseen” when he agreed to it last year. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, arrives in London on Tuesday morning for the latest round of formal trade talks after Mr Johnson said he “will not back down” over his plan to change the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement through legislation being tabled on Wednesday. The move has triggered a major row between London and Brussels, with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, saying the issue was a matter of “trust.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Leaked EU cables reveal growing mistrust of UK – The Guardian
  • Could we yet be heading for a last-ditch Brexit breakthrough? – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The bluffs, gambits, instincts and bottom lines of Johnson’s approach to the EU trade negotiation

Brexit 2) Tory MPs worried that Withdrawal Agreement changes would be “dangerous”

“Senior Conservatives warned Boris Johnson last night that his plans to water down Britain’s obligations under the EU withdrawal agreement were a “dangerous step” that could make a no-deal Brexit more likely. Amid growing unease among Tory backbenchers about the prime minister’s strategy, MPs criticised Downing Street’s plans to unilaterally pass legislation that could limit the need for customs checks in the Irish Sea and new state aid rules in the event of trade talks collapsing. They warned that any move to walk away from the deal signed by Mr Johnson last year would damage Britain’s standing and make it harder to strike trade deals with other countries. Downing Street said yesterday that the plans were only a “safety net” to protect trade across different parts of the UK, but senior European Union figures warned that they could damage trust before the latest round of talks starting today.” – The Times

Brexit 3) Barnier to arrive in London – as he warns trade talks face collapse

“Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, will arrive in London on Tuesday with a stark warning to Boris Johnson that if he redraws last year’s Brexit divorce agreement then talks on a future trade deal will collapse. Mr Barnier, in London for the eighth round of talks on a Brexit deal, will warn Britain that unless it stands by its previous commitments there is no prospect of a free trade agreement by the end of the year. Mr Johnson on Monday tried to contain the fallout from the revelation by the Financial Times that he intends to pass a law overwriting parts of last year’s withdrawal agreement relating to Northern Ireland.” – Financial Times

  • Sorry, Monsieur Barnier – you’re simply not up to the job any more – Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers, Daily Mail

Brexit 4) Frost calls for “realism” from the EU

“The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator has called for “realism” from his EU counterparts ahead of the next round of trade talks beginning in London. Lord Frost said there was “still time” for the two sides to agree a post-Brexit trade deal for next year. But he said the EU needed to recognise the UK’s negotiating position came from that of a “sovereign state”. His words follow a pledge from Boris Johnson to walk away from the talks if a deal isn’t done by 15 October. The EU said it would “do everything in [its] power to reach an agreement” with the UK, but “will be ready” for a no-deal scenario.” – BBC

Brexit 5) Hague: We could still get a deal if the Government was less stubborn on state aid

“The trouble is that on state aid both sides have become irrational. The EU is worried that we will do things that we won’t, and the UK is trying to reserve the right to do things that wouldn’t do us any good. They both need their heads knocking together, but there isn’t anyone to do that. On the EU side, they know full well that Britain has no recent history, outside the global financial crisis, of bailing out individual firms or sectors with billions of pounds…In the last normal year for which figures are available – 2018 – Britain spent 0.34 per cent of our GDP on state aid, compared to 1.45 per cent for Germany and 0.79 per cent for France. Furthermore, the EU has willingly signed up to free trade deals with other countries without trying to fix their state aid and competition rules permanently in advance. Sadly, however, the British position is also at fault. For one thing, the Cabinet has not set out what its policy is on future rules governing state aid, a situation which only exacerbates the paranoia across the Channel.” – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

Other Brexit comment

  • The PM needs to deliver – Leader, The Times
  • Johnson’s Brexit bluster will cost us dear – Rachel Sylvestor, The Times
  • Don’t be bullied by Brussels – Dehenna Davison, The Sun
  • The EU must climb off its Irish high horse – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Brinkmanship could backfire – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • No-deal exit that does not respect UK commitments is worst outcome – Leader, Financial Times

Brexit 6) DUP gives a “cautious welcome” to alterations

“The DUP has cautiously welcomed reports that the Government could abandon commitments it made to Brussels on Northern Ireland in its Brexit deal. The leaders of Stormont’s four pro-Remain parties have said that abandoning elements of the Northern Ireland protocol would seriously undermine the Good Friday Agreement…But on Monday night the DUP said that while it awaited details of the proposed legislation, it appeared to be a positive move.” – Belfast Telegraph

Coronavirus 1) “Don’t kill your granny,” Hancock tells young people – as case numbers rise

“Young people have been urged by the health secretary not to “kill your gran” through spreading coronavirus after an increase in cases led to calls for mass testing of students. Matt Hancock said that “affluent younger people” were behind a sudden rise in infections that has caught ministers by surprise and raised fears over the start of the university year this month. A further 2,948 confirmed cases of coronavirus were announced yesterday after 2,988 were reported on Sunday, a sharp rise from 1,813 on Saturday and up from a low of 350 daily cases in the middle of July.” – The Times

  • Increase in cases a “grave concern”, says Van Tam – BBC
  • Warnings from scientists – BBC
  • Local lockdown to begin in Caerphilly – BBC
  • Government apologises for Covid testing delays at UK care homes – The Guardian
  • Up to £3.5 billion of furlough cash has been lost to fraud or handed out in error – Daily Mail
  • Ministers consider new coronavirus testing methods for holidaymakers to cut isolation time by up to five days – The Sun
  • We must not overreact with more economy-ruining restrictions – Leader, The Sun
  • The Government must do more to encourage a return to normality – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • We must get Britain open again – Professor Sir John Bell, Daily Mail

Coronavirus 2) Scramble to return home after Shapps quarantines Greek islands

“Tens of thousands of Britons have seen flights from seven Greek islands added to the government’s red list treble in price today, as they face a desperate rush back home to beat the quarantine deadline. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed on Monday that Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos are being stripped of quarantine exempt status as of 4am on Wednesday amid fears over a spike in coronavirus cases. Since the announcement, tourists have had to scramble to make alternative plans, with many frantically booking last-minute flights so they don’t have to self-isolate for two weeks once back in Britain.” – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 3) Trump and Biden trade insults

“Donald Trump and Joe Biden have been trading insults over each other’s position on a vaccine for Covid-19. President Trump again hinted that a vaccine might be available before the November presidential election and accused his Democratic rivals of “reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric”. Mr Biden expressed scepticism that Mr Trump would listen to the scientists and implement a transparent process. The US has six million cases of coronavirus, the highest in the world.” – BBC

Jenrick pledges £11.5 billion for “discounted homes”

“The housing secretary pledged £11.5 billion today to build up to 180,000 discounted homes over the next five years to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder. Half will be available to buy using affordable home ownership schemes from 2021. The rest will be discounted or social rentals, which are typically 50 to 60 per cent cheaper than renting privately. The funding, which was announced in the chancellor’s last budget, is part of Homes England affordable house-building programme that is intended to address falling levels of home ownership. The proportion of under 35s who own their own home has dropped from 65 per cent to 27 per cent since the 1990s, according to government figures.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Chris Town on Comment: It’s wrong for Ministers to shift the responsibility for renters in need onto landlords

Williamson proposes Saturday classes so pupils can catch up

“Pupils could have to go to school on Saturdays to catch up on missed lessons after the covid lockdown the government revealed yesterday. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson revealed that extending the school day and “Saturday classes” were options for schools to “help youngsters catch up with the education they have lost.” He said schools will assess the individual needs of their children, adding there is “clear guidance” about what works in the classroom. He told the Commons: “That might mean extending the school day for some, that might mean Saturday classes for others.” – The Sun

Dowden: Digital skills will boost our recovery

“Where do we need to improve? When I visited Ocado last week — a company that has used digital and robotic innovation to great success — I was told by bosses that they had never struggled to attract investment. The difficulty, they said, was finding people with the right skills to fit the business. Skills, skills, skills — it can sound like tired government lingo. But if we want to compete with other digital-led economies such as the United States and China, we need a highly skilled digital workforce that is fit for the modern workplace and all its Zoom-laden realities. My department is working on a new, post-Covid digital strategy that will build that workforce, giving people the tools to digitise their businesses and adjust to the tech-led economy of the future.” – Oliver Dowden, The Times

SNP “hate crime” bill unlikely to be defeated

“An attempt to force the SNP to ditch its controversial hate crime law is set to be thwarted this week by pro-independence MSPs. Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has said that his party will bring forward a motion at Holyrood aimed at forcing SNP ministers to withdraw the legislation, which he described as a “blatant attack on free speech”. However, it is understood that the Scottish Greens will refuse to back the Tory motion, meaning the bid to force an early defeat for the proposals is destined to fail. It is understood that the Greens will instead focus on attempting to amend legislation as it progresses through parliament to address the concerns.” – Daily Telegraph

  • John McDonnell accuses Scottish Labour MSPs trying to oust leader of putting careers above pandemic – Daily Telegraph

Jagger: Press freedom must be defended

“I was born in Nicaragua, where the regime of Daniel Ortega, the murderous dictator, is carrying out brutal attacks on press freedom. Ortega’s regime has occupied journalists’ premises and confiscated their equipment; reporters have been murdered, imprisoned or have had to flee the country for daring to cover the repression. Their horrific treatment is why freedom of the press is sacrosanct to me. My philosophy has always been to reach out and try to persuade those who disagree with my arguments. I don’t like to only speak to the converted; if we don’t engage with people, we will never change their hearts and minds. Restricting freedom of speech is certainly never the way to go about convincing or persuading other people of ones’ arguments.” – Bianca Jagger, Daily Telegraph

  • Patel to tell police to use all available powers to crack down on Extinction Rebellion’s law breaking – The Sun

>Today: Scott Benton on Comment: Why we must win the culture war – and deliver a Blue Collar programme for the economy

Shrimsley: The Government seems directionless

“For decades, British Tories knew what it meant to be a Conservative on economics. You supported a growth strategy built on low taxes, a smaller state, deregulation and attracting foreign investment. Now, Tory MPs are wondering if they missed a memo. One of the party’s smarter young MPs, Bim Afolami, speaks for many: “We need to be clear what and who we are for and show how timeless Conservative principles apply to our new age.” But what are those timeless principles? All see the need for pragmatism in the teeth of a crisis but the Tories look economically unmoored. Are they for fiscal discipline? Not judging by the howls that followed the floating of Treasury ideas for tax rises. Low taxes and a smaller state, then? Opinion is divided. Boris Johnson, the prime minister, says austerity is over and a large part of his electoral base agrees.” – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times

News in brief

  • Unions should seek a new role in promoting civic virtue – John Lloyd, CapX
  • No, Marcus Rashford didn’t ‘slam’ a Tory MP over child hunger – James Kirkup, The Spectator
  • Jenrick has unleashed a backlash over planning — led by local Tories – John McTernan, The Article
  • It’s time to cancel Cancel Culture – Ramsha Khan, Free Market Conservatives
  • How the State Aids Impasse can be resolved – Shanker Singham, Global Vision