David Cameron: UK may need another referendum

LONDON — A second referendum on the U.K.’s membership of the European Union could prove the only way to break the Brexit deadlock, former British Prime Minister David Cameron said.

In an interview with the Times published Friday ahead of the launch of his memoir, “For the Record,” Cameron said a no-deal Brexit would be a “bad outcome” and should not be pursued. Another public vote should not discarded as an option, he said.

“I’m not saying one will happen or should happen. I’m just saying that you can’t rule things out right now because you’ve got to find some way of unblocking the blockage. I think there are certain things you shouldn’t do to unblock the blockage. I think proroguing parliament — pretending it doesn’t exist — I think that would be a bad thing.”

Johnson’s recent decision to take the Conservative whip away from 21 Tory rebels who opposed his Brexit strategy, and his move to shut down parliament “have rebounded,” Cameron said. “I didn’t support either of those things.”

He confessed worrying “desperately” about what is going to happen next, but justified his decision to call the Brexit referendum in 2016 saying it was necessary in order for the U.K. to get its way in the renegotiation of its relationship with the EU.

Cameron also criticized Johnson and Michael Gove, who is currently in charge of no-deal planning, for changing sides during the referendum campaign.

“I say in the book: Boris had never argued for leaving the EU, right? Michael was a very strong Euroskeptic, but someone whom I’d known as this liberal, compassionate, rational Conservative ended up making arguments about Turkey [joining] and being swamped and what have you. They were trashing the government of which they were a part, effectively.”

During a visit to Yorkshire earlier on Friday, Johnson said he was not concerned about what his predecessor would write about him in his upcoming memoirs.

“I want people to be clear, absolutely nothing that David Cameron says in his memories in the course of the next few days will diminish the affection and respect in which I hold him,” said Johnson. “Not least for what he did in turning this country round after Labour left it bankrupt. I think he has a very distinguished record and a legacy to be proud of.”

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Boris Johnson ‘cautiously optimistic’ of Brexit deal

LONDON — The British prime minister claimed Friday that he has made “a good deal of progress” in his pursuit of a Brexit deal with the EU.

Speaking in Rotherham, south Yorkshire — after a speech that was interrupted by a heckler demanding to know why he was not with MPs in Westminster sorting out the Brexit “mess” — Boris Johnson said he felt “cautiously optimistic” over the prospects of getting a deal.

“We are working incredibly hard to get a deal. There is the rough shape of the deal to be done,” he said. “As some of you may have seen, I myself have been to talk to various other EU leaders particularly in Germany, in France and in Ireland, where we made a good deal of progress.”

His remarks come a day after the U.K. presented a long-awaited plan to EU negotiators on how to replace the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, but diplomats briefed on the Brexit talks say the proposals fall short of the reassurance that Dublin and Brussels need.

Johnson is set to travel to Luxembourg on Monday for Brexit talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Afterwards, he will meet with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel.

“We will talk about the ideas that we’ve been working on and we will see where we get,” Johnson said.

Minutes earlier Johnson was heckled over his decision to prorogue parliament as he delivered a speech on giving extra powers to local leaders in the North of England.

The heckler, who was removed by security guards, shouted: “Like our MPs? Maybe get back to Parliament. Yeah? Why are you not with them in Parliament sorting out the mess that you have created? Why don’t you sort it out, Boris?”

Johnson replied he was “very happy to get back to parliament very soon,” adding that “what we want to see in this region is towns and communities able to represent that gentlemen and sort out his needs.”

He insisted that there would be “ample time” for parliament to consider the Brexit deal he hopes to strike with the EU in the coming weeks, and accused opposition parties of trying to frustrate Brexit. “The gentleman who left prematurely — not necessarily under his own steam — that is the answer to his question,” said Johnson.

With his speech, the prime minister sought to focus voters’ attention on his domestic agenda, pledging to spend more public money on education and improving rail connections in the North of England.

“I’m certainly not going to be deterred by anybody from our goal of coming out of the EU on October 31, which I believe many people want us to do … But also I won’t be deterred from getting on with our domestic agenda,” Johnson said.

Earlier in the morning, Johnson visited Doncaster, where he was challenged by a woman who accused him of telling a “fairy tale” by promising more public spending after Brexit.

“People have died because of austerity,” she said. “And then you’ve got the cheek to come here and tell us austerity is over and it’s all good now, we’re going to leave the EU and everything is going to be great. It’s just a fairy tale,” she said.

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Northern Ireland court rejects challenge to Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy

LONDON — A legal challenge to the U.K. government’s Brexit strategy was dismissed by Belfast High Court today.

The claimants in three linked cases argued that a no-deal Brexit on October 31 would put at risk the peace process in Northern Ireland by undermining the cross-border cooperation built up over recent years.

After two days of legal proceedings Lord Justice Bernard McCloskey ruled in the government’s favor, saying that the issues at stake were “political” in nature. In his written judgment, McCloskey said: “I consider the characterisation of the subject matter of these proceedings as inherently and unmistakably political to be beyond plausible dispute.”

“Virtually all of the assembled evidence belongs to the world of politics, both national and supra-national.”

One of the applicants is high-profile victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997.

The ruling comes a day after two of the U.K.’s highest courts issued contradictory rulings Wednesday on Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament. The Supreme Court is to hear appeals to both cases next Tuesday.

Speaking today during a visit to a lighthouse tender, Johnson denied having lied to the Queen Elizabeth II over the suspension of parliament, following a judgment delivered yesterday by judges at the Scottish court of session. They argued that prorogation was “motivated by the improper purpose of stymying parliament” rather than — as the government claims — to bring forward a fresh legislative agenda. Johnson said such claims were “absolutely not” true.

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What court rulings on parliament suspension mean for Brexit

Two of the U.K.’s highest courts issued contradictory rulings Wednesday on Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament.

Campaigners — including dozens of MPs and former Prime Minister John Major — who brought the cases are hoping to force the PM to reopen the doors of the Palace of Westminster. They want parliamentarians to be able to scrutinize the government in the run-up to Brexit, including its strategy for negotiating a deal and its efforts to prepare for a no-deal scenario.

With appeals against both judgments now launched, the U.K.’s Supreme Court will have to adjudicate on whether MPs must be recalled or not. Here’s POLITICO’s guide to what the judgments mean and what happens next:

What did the Scottish court say?

Scotland’s Court of Session, the nation’s highest civil court, ruled that Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament between September 9 and October 14 “was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful.”

The judgment asserts, in effect, that the prime minister misled the queen when advising her to prorogue the legislature. “The Court will accordingly make an Order declaring that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect,” the judgment reads.

Business owner and anti-Brexit activist Gina Miller (center) speaks outside the High Court, London on September 6, 2019 | Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

Anti-Brexit politicians and campaigners have hailed the ruling as “historic” and are demanding that parliament reconvene within the next 24 hours.

They say Scotland’s Court of Session is the highest court in the U.K. to have ruled on the matter, and that parliament should therefore be able to sit again until such time as the Supreme Court, which is expected to hear the government’s appeal next week, may rule otherwise.

Dominic Grieve, a former Tory MP who now sits as an independent, says that if parliament resumes its activity in the next few hours MPs could go a step further and vote to cancel the three-week parliamentary recess linked to the party conference season. That would give extra time for debate ahead of the crunch European Council summit on October 17 and 18.

So that’s settled?

Not so fast. The government is appealing the Court of Session’s ruling. And it has also been buoyed by a contradictory ruling from the High Court of England and Wales in London. Three judges ruled that the prime minister’s decision to shut down parliament is “political in nature” and not a matter for the courts.

According to the House of Commons speaker’s office, any decision to recall parliament “is a matter for the government.”

The claimants in this case, led by the pro-EU campaigner Gina Miller, had argued that Johnson’s real reason for shutting down parliament was to impede MPs from scrutinizing the government on Brexit.

But the High Court judges said Wednesday that even if that were to be true, it would not be a matter for the courts to rule on. A prime minister can suspend parliament for a number of different reasons, “which may, depending on the facts and circumstances, extend to obtaining a political advantage,” they said, adding that “there is no statute, law or convention which requires parliament to sit in constant session.”

And in the full judgment, they point out that prorogation has been used in the past by governments to gain legislative and hence political advantage. So even if the suspension is in reality designed to advance the government’s political agenda regarding Brexit and not — as ministers say — to give time to prepare a fresh legislative program, it would still be legal. “That is not territory in which a court can enter with judicial review,” the judges argue.

Will parliament be recalled?

Not for now. According to the House of Commons speaker’s office, any decision to recall parliament “is a matter for the government.” But it looks unlikely that the government will act before the Supreme Court rules on the cases — despite pressure from opposition MPs who want to get back to work on the green benches.

A hearing in the Supreme Court that will consider the High Court and Court of Session judgments (and a related case launched in Northern Ireland) is due to take place on September 17.

What does this mean for Brexit?

MPs concerned about the U.K. crashing out of the EU on October 31 without a deal argue that extra parliamentary time is needed in order to prevent that scenario.

Before parliament was suspended on Monday, opposition MPs managed to pass legislation forcing the prime minister to request an extension if no deal has been agreed by October 19. But they worry the government may find a loophole that allows Johnson to drag Britain out of the EU without a deal and against the will of the majority of the House of Commons.

The five-week suspension gives Johnson breathing space and an opportunity to discuss his plans with EU leaders without being held accountable by parliament, where he does not have a majority in either of the chambers.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.

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Scottish judges rule UK parliament suspension ‘unlawful’

LONDON — Three judges at Scotland’s highest civil court have ruled that the British prime minister’s decision to suspend parliament for several weeks was “unlawful.”

Around 70 parliamentarians had appealed against a ruling by a judge at Scotland’s Court of Session that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament between September 9 and October 14 was within the law.

Lord Doherty said at the time that the question of suspension is a political issue and not one to be decided by the courts, while noting that the government has not broken any laws.

Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry, who spearheaded the case, said on Twitter that today’s ruling was “historic.” MPs will not be recalled though until the Supreme Court in London has made a final ruling on the issue.

A separate case arguing the prorogation is unlawful, led by pro-EU campaigner Gina Miller and backed by senior political figures including former Tory Prime Minister John Major, was thrown out by judges the High Court of England and Wales in London. An appeal against that judgement will be held later today.

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UK government ordered to release advisers’ messages on suspending parliament

LONDON — The U.K. government was today ordered to release private messages between senior officials relating to its decision to suspend parliament, as well as documents related to no-deal Brexit planning.

MPs voted 311 to 302 in favor of a motion demanding the documentation’s release, in an emergency debate just hours before parliament was suspended until October 14.

The motion, tabled by former attorney general Dominic Grieve, passed amid concerns the government’s decision to suspend parliament was designed to stop MPs from halting a no-deal Brexit.

The documents include all correspondence involving nine government officials since July 23 related to the suspension of parliament — including Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser Dominic Cummings — as well as documents prepared as part of “Operation Yellowhammer” contingency plans.

Number 10 officials said ahead of the vote that “under no circumstances” would they comply with the demands.

“The scope of the information requested … is disproportionate and unprecedented,” a government spokesperson said after the motion passed. “We will consider the implications of this vote and respond in due course.”

The government should provide the information by 11 p.m. on September 11.

If it fails to comply, however, MPs will not be able to get any redress until October 14 when parliament reconvenes.

During the debate, Grieve, a former Tory MP who was thrown out of the party last week for defying the government over Brexit, said officials had told him they believed the handling of the so-called prorogation “smacked of scandal.”

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox questioned the legality of requiring access to Number 10 employees’ private messages and mobile phones, saying Grieve’s request risked a “trespass on fundamental rights of individuals.”

Grieve argued that as government employees, officials should not use private means of communication for official business.

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How Boris Johnson could get a snap election

LONDON — The British prime minister failed in his first attempt to get a general election, but he badly needs one.

He ends his first parliamentary week as leader having lost his majority in the House of Commons — via a combination of defections and expulsions — and defeated in his bid to stop opposition MPs from passing a new law which forces him to ask Brussels for a Brexit extension. Having promised to pull the U.K. out of the European Union by October 31, the prime minister is now in the uncomfortable position of being unable to deliver unless he can win back his majority.

And timing is crucial.

If Johnson fights an election on his preferred date of October 15 he can make a play for Leave voters up and down the country with a promise to put an end to the current Brexit impasse come what may by the end of the month. If he is forced to wait until November, he is vulnerable to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party peeling away voters who may by then have lost faith in the Tories’ ability to deliver on the U.K.’s departure from the EU.

Johnson could try to circumvent the requirement for a two-thirds majority by calling a no confidence motion in his own government.

Opposition parties know this, and on Friday agreed a united position to block an election before they have a cast-iron guarantee that a no-deal Brexit cannot happen. But Johnson still has a few cards up his sleeve.

Johnson asks again

The prime minister will call for an early election again on Monday night, after the bill aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit receives royal assent and is added to the statute book. Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, if Johnson wants to call an election in the middle of the usual parliamentary term, he would need two-thirds of MPs to vote for it. Johnson has three days to persuade the Tory MPs he expelled from the party early this week to back him again — a big ask.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said last week that his party would be willing to vote for an election once the bill became law. But on Friday, Corbyn and other U.K. opposition leaders agreed not to back Johnson’s demand before the European Council summit on October 17-18.

The opposition insists that the priority should be taking the possibility of a no-deal Brexit off the table before an election is held. Labour argues that a re-strengthened Johnson, back from the polls with a majority, could hold votes in parliament to remove any barriers to taking the country out of the EU without a deal on October 31.

Vote of no confidence

Johnson could try to circumvent the requirement for a two-thirds majority by calling a no confidence motion in his own government.

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act appears to allow for this (although it has never been done) and it only requires a simple majority of MPs. That would kick off a 14-day period during which another government can be formed.

If no alternative government emerges, an election is triggered automatically and Johnson must advise the queen about the date.

Some have argued, however, that this would be a step too far for any prime minister to take. Mark Harper, a Conservative MP and former minister for political and constitutional reform, said during the passage of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act in 2011 that it would be “absolutely unconstitutional” for a prime minister to behave that way.

He later stood by these comments in evidence to a parliamentary inquiry, saying that while it would be “legally permissible,” taking this route would be “running against the spirit of the legislation and would not be something that would be appropriate.”

Brigid Fowler, senior researcher at the Hansard Society, said this could open up “another big argument about whether or not the government is abusing the intention of the Act and acting unconstitutionally.”

It would also require the prime minister and his MPs to vote to say they have no confidence in their own leader and government — a difficult sell for voters. At the same time the opposition might try to thwart the move by voting that they have confidence in the prime minister. Strange times.

Change of rules

Johnson could also try to break free of the constraints of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act by passing legislation to override its provisions. This could take the form of a very short bill, which the government should present by Monday night and pass by Thursday at the latest, before Johnson shuts parliament down.

The advantages are two-fold: the prime minister would only need a simple majority, and he could call an election on a date of his choice, which would probably be written in the bill.

The opposition could also maneuver in unpredictable ways, as this bill could be amended in both the Commons and the House of Lords, and the prime minister has no majority in either of them.

November election

Blocked from having an early election in October, Johnson could reluctantly hold a November ballot.

This is not ideal politically because by then he will — assuming he doesn’t resign — have been forced to ask Brussels for a three-month Brexit extension in the event that no fresh deal has been struck by October 19.

Johnson has said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit. Breaking this promise would likely boost the Brexit Party votes and push Corbyn a bit closer to Number 10 Downing Street.

UK NATIONAL PARLIAMENT ELECTION POLL OF POLLS

For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

Resign

The logical conclusion of Johnson’s “do or die” promise on Brexit is that if he fails to “do” he will have to “die” — politically at least.

In stepping down, he would need to advise Queen Elizabeth II on who is most likely to muster the confidence of the Commons to form a new government. The new prime minister would be under the same legal obligation to request a Brexit extension.

Johnson gives a speech to police officers | Pool photo by Danny Lawson via Getty Images

The Tories could try to return to Number 10 shortly after by calling a vote of no confidence in the government — they would just need a simple majority.

Johnson has the coming weekend to consider his options, though none look like an easy win. “Without an election, and unless the government is able to rebuild its majority somehow, it will find it incredibly difficult to make progress on anything at all, Brexit or otherwise,” said Marshall. “This would be an unsustainable position for the government to be in.”

Do a deal

The wild-card scenario would be for Johnson to do something that most observers are highly skeptical he can pull off — agree a fresh deal with the EU that removes the backstop as it currently stands. The lack of detailed proposals from the U.K. government for alternative arrangements for the Irish border suggests that ministers realize there simply isn’t time to work these up and agree them with Brussels by mid-October. But there is another potential way forward.

As Brussels is keen to remind the Brits, the current backstop — which involves keeping all of the U.K. in the EU’s customs territory — was a London invention. The EU’s preferred solution was for Northern Ireland only to remain within the EU customs territory. Theresa May’s government rejected that because it would create a customs barrier down the Irish Sea and would alienate her allies in the Democratic Unionist Party.

Johnson speaking in the House of Commons | Roger Harris/U.K. Parliament via EPA

Johnson might attempt to resurrect the Northern Ireland backstop knowing that the EU would agree to it quickly. He would lose DUP votes, but might hope to make them up elsewhere in the House of Commons.

A long-shot certainly, but set against his other unappealing options, it might begin to look attractive.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.

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High Court rejects legal challenge to UK parliament shutdown

LONDON — A legal challenge to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament was dismissed by the High Court Friday.

Lawyers for pro-EU campaigner Gina Miller, who brought the case, argued that the five-week prorogation of parliament amounted to an “unjustified undermining of Parliamentary sovereignty” that turned constitutional norms on their head.” Her case was backed by senior political figures including former Tory Prime Minister John Major.

But three judges refused to rule the move unlawful. Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said: “We have concluded that, whilst we should grant permission to apply for judicial review, the claim must be dismissed.”

Their ruling comes in the same week the prime minister fought off a similar legal challenge in Scotland.

Speaking outside the court, Miller said she would appeal to the Supreme Court. “As our politics becomes ever more chaotic, we feel it is absolutely vital that parliament should be sitting. We are therefore pleased that the judges have given us permission to appeal to the Supreme Court which we will be doing, as we feel that our case has merit to be handed up.

“To give up now would be a dereliction of our responsibility. We need to protect our institutions. It is not right that they should be shut down or bullied, especially at this momentum time in history.”

A Supreme Court hearing has been pencilled down for September 17.

UK NATIONAL PARLIAMENT ELECTION POLL OF POLLS

For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

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Michael Gove denies Brexit talks are stalled

LONDON — The U.K.’s Cabinet Minister Michael Gove hit back at suggestions that no meaningful Brexit negotiations are taking place between the government and the EU.

Appearing in front of the Commons Brexit committee Thursday, Gove insisted that genuine talks are happening. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told EU27 diplomats on Wednesday that the talks are stuck in “paralysis” due to the U.K.’s failure to provide any alternative arrangements to replace the Irish backstop.

Gove said: “My hope would be that we will secure progress at the talks which are ongoing before the October [EU] Council, but I can’t anticipate every aspect of the future.”

He added it was his understanding that the U.K.’s Brexit envoy David Frost had been speaking with “people in the [European] Commission,” including his counterpart in Brussels Stéphanie Riso, and stressed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains committed to reaching a deal.

“Some people have speculated that the prime minister wants a no-deal above all. I absolutely do not believe that. I know how hard he is working to secure a deal. Had he wanted to deliberately engineer a no-deal outcome, he would have asked for far more than what he’s asked.”

The government’s request to take the backstop out of the Withdrawal Agreement, although “significant,” is “eminently achievable,” he added.

Pressed by the committee’s chair Hilary Benn, who is leading efforts in the Commons to block a no-deal Brexit, Gove said the government would abide by the Benn-Burt bill that was passed by the Commons Wednesday night if it becomes legislation in the coming days. The bill would force Johnson to ask Brussels for a 3-month extension of the U.K.’s EU membership if the government fails to pass a Brexit deal by October 19. Gove said the prime minister has no intention of resigning.

He also denied having asked Johnson to reinstate the 21 Conservative MPs expelled from the party for defying the whip on the Benn-Burt bill, but said their exit from the party was “a cause of personal sadness.”

MPs grilled Gove over the forecasts contained in the Operation Yellowhammer dossier on no-deal Brexit preparations, and how the report made it to the press.

Gove denied having any knowledge of the 10 Downing Street briefing where officials allegedly blamed “a former minister” for the leak of the Operation Yellowhammer report, and offered support to former Chancellor Philip Hammond, who has been blamed by some Brexiteers for the leak. “It seems to me that there is no evidence to suggest that whoever leaked it could have been Philip,” Gove said.

The government expects to announce its plans for potential tariffs under a no-deal Brexit by October 14, he said. The six refineries providing fuel around the country would receive government support “come what may,” he added.

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Boris Johnson’s brother Jo quits as MP and universities minister

LONDON — Jo Johnson, the prime minister’s younger brother, stepped down as science and universities minister and as a Tory member of parliament on Thursday because of “unresolvable tension.”

Johnson had represented the constituency of Orpington in Greater London since the 2010 general election. In July, Boris Johnson appointed him to the role of science and universities minister.

In a tweet Thursday, Jo Johnson said: “It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for 9 years & to serve as a minister under three PMs.

“In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest — it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister.”

His announcement comes as a bill to block a no-deal Brexit makes its way through the House of Lords and his older brother has demanded a general election.

This is the second time Jo Johnson has resigned from a ministerial position. A supporter of remaining in the European Union during the 2016 EU referendum campaign, he stepped down from a transport ministry role in November 2018 to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal and campaign for a second vote on the U.K.’s membership of the EU.

Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Wakefield, reacted to the news by saying that Jo Johnson “can’t stomach his brother’s no deal Brexit plans.”

“The wheels have come off the Boris bus,” she tweeted.

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UK abandons plans to end free movement October 31

LONDON — The U.K. government on Wednesday announced that people from EU countries will have until at least 2021 before they are required to prove their residency rights in Britain.

The announcement by the Home Office marks an acknowledgment by the government that it will be unable to introduce a new immigration system immediately after Brexit.

Instead, temporary restrictions for European migrants would be introduced on October 31 in the event of a no-deal exit from the bloc, the government said.

The move marks a significant climbdown for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had stressed his commitment to ending free movement immediately after Brexit.

The U.K.’s immigration department has been wrestling with the near-impossible task of passing legislation to abolish freedom of movement before the October 31 deadline, as well as the challenge of how to distinguish between EU nationals living in the country before and after Brexit.

The government had until Wednesday not yet commissioned a report into Australia’s migration system, which the U.K. is eyeing as a possible model.

“After careful consideration, myself, the Prime Minister and Cabinet have therefore agreed that EU citizens moving here after a no deal Brexit will be able to access a temporary immigration status, until the new skills-based immigration system goes live at the start of 2021,” Patel said in a statement to parliament on Wednesday.

After a no-deal Brexit, EU nationals arriving in the U.K. between October 31 and December 31, 2020, would continue to be allowed to enter the country just by showing a passport or a national identity card.

Those wishing to stay for longer than three months would need to apply for a new European Temporary Leave to Remain scheme, which would be free of charge and voluntary until the end of 2020 — enabling them to stay for up to three years.

EU citizens would not be required to prove their residency status when applying for jobs or renting a house, however, until 2021.

Once the full immigration system is in place beyond 2021, EU nationals will have to apply for permission to stay, and applications fees would apply, the Home Office said.

However, in updated guidance, the department acknowledged it will not be possible to distinguish between EU nationals living in the country before and after Brexit until at least the end of 2020. Because of that, employers or landlords will not be asked to carry out checks until everyone who is eligible for the EU settlement scheme has had a “reasonable opportunity” to get that sorted.

Beyond December 2020, employers and others will need to check the status of people from the EU but they will not be requested to do this retrospectively.

Steven Peers, professor of EU law at the University of Essex, said the government is effectively proposing “a unilateral transition” of one year to avoid being sued, after ministers were warned by lawyers that an immediate rule change risked legal action.

“It should avoid any serious crisis of large numbers of EU citizens not being able to enter the country again [after a no-deal Brexit],” Peers said. “It seems to be a climbdown because the government had threatened a much stricter scheme, without really explaining it.”

The Home Office insisted that a “crucial difference” between the current and the new immigration system would be that those who do not hold valid immigration permission to be in the U.K. “may be liable to enforcement action.” EU nationals who commit crimes during their stay in Britain would be subject to tougher treatment, and could be deported, the department said.

The plans would apply to people from European Economic Area countries and Switzerland. Irish nationals will continue to be able to settle in the U.K. long-term under a Common Travel Area arrangement.

Earlier Wednesday, the Home Office published a letter asking the independent Migration Advisory Committee to conduct a review of the Australian immigration system to come up with recommendations on how to adapt it to the U.K. after Brexit.

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No-deal Brexit would create ‘prolonged uncertainty,’ says report

LONDON — A no-deal Brexit would push the U.K. toward a recession through a combination of barriers to trade with the European Union, a fall in the value of the pound and increased inflation, a group of academics warned.

In a report published Wednesday, the UK in a Changing Europe research program says that far from drawing a line under Brexit uncertainty, a no-deal scenario would “usher [in] a period of prolonged uncertainty.”

According to the researchers, the EU is unlikely to start negotiating a future relationship with Britain until the three major divorce issues covered by the withdrawal agreement — citizens’ rights, payments to the EU and how to avoid a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland — are all solved.

Brussels could also withdraw or allow to expire any of the measures it has put in place to mitigate the impacts of a no-deal Brexit on, for instance, road and air transport, they added.

The program’s director Anand Menon said that the immediate impact of leaving without a deal might not be as severe as some people claim, but in the longer-term, a recession caused by crashing out of the EU “is highly probable.”

Its depth and severity would depend on a number of factors, including the extent of the disruption to trade with the EU, the impact on consumer and business confidence, and the effectiveness of any policy response by either the government or the Bank of England.

“What our report makes clear is that leaving without a deal will have significant negative consequences for the U.K. economy. Nor will it mark the end of Brexit, merely herald in the start of negotiations that promise to be significantly more difficult than those we have witnessed to date,” said Menon, a professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that he wants to strike a Brexit deal with the EU, but that the agreement must not include the backstop — the mechanism agreed by his predecessor Theresa May and the EU leaders to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Johnson has repeatedly said the U.K. should leave the EU without a deal on October 31 if no agreement is reached by then.

According to the report, a future trade relationship between the U.K. and the EU on World Trade Organization terms following a no-deal Brexit would make the British economy grow at a “significantly slower pace” than if the country had remained in the EU. Income per capita in the U.K. could be between 4 and 9 percent lower in 10 years than it would otherwise have been, the researchers estimate.

A no-deal Brexit could also lengthen the period of time needed to rebuild cooperation in certain areas such as when it comes to Britons’ economic rights in the EU and security, the researchers warn. As an example, they point to the Europol-Norway security agreement, which took seven years to negotiate.

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Dominic Raab: EU must engage in preparations for no-deal Brexit

LONDON — The European Union must engage with the U.K. to mitigate any impacts of a no-deal Brexit, Britain’s foreign secretary told MPs.

Speaking at a House of Commons debate, Dominic Raab said the U.K. government has “strengthened and increased” diplomatic resources in Brussels and other EU capitals to make sure that the government’s Brexit position is explained “very clearly.”

“One of the points that we’ve made to our EU partners … is that we are willing to cooperate on all the no-deal planning and preparations to make sure that we reduce the risks on all sides, but of course that would require the EU to engage to the same level,” said Raab during his first parliamentary appearance as foreign secretary.

Later on Tuesday, MPs will seek an emergency debate to take control of parliament’s agenda with the aim of legislating to stop a no-deal Brexit.

In a speech outside No. 10 Downing Street on Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued an ultimatum to MPs attempting to change the law to prevent the U.K. from leaving the EU without a deal. He said that if MPs begin the process of passing a bill Tuesday forcing the government to request an extension from European leaders in the event of no deal, it would make negotiations “absolutely impossible.” In that case, government officials briefed that Johnson could call a general election for October 14.

Raab said that the draft bill prepared by rebel MPs would “undermine” the government’s prospects of getting a deal with the EU.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.

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Johnson’s claim of progress in Brexit talks is ‘nonsense,’ says Hammond

LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s claim that Brexit talks with the EU are making progress is “nonsense,” said former Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today Program, Hammond rejected Johnson’s claim yesterday that the chances of striking a deal to leave the EU on October 31 had been raising since he arrived in 10 Downing Street.

“There is no progress. There are no substantive negotiations going on. No progress is being made because the U.K. government has tabled no proposals,” said Hammond.

“I suspect the reason is that the U.K. government itself has concluded, as leaks have suggested, that there are no alternative arrangements that would be implementable on October 31 that would meet the EU’s red lines and therefore anything the U.K. government does propose is likely to be rejected as unacceptable.”

In a speech outside No. 10 Downing Street on Monday, Johnson issued an ultimatum to MPs attempting to change the law to prevent the U.K. from leaving the EU without a deal. He said that if MPs begin the process of passing a bill Tuesday forcing the government to request an extension from European leaders in the event of no deal, it would make negotiations “absolutely impossible.” In that case, government officials briefed that Johnson could call a general election for October 14.

The former chancellor told the program he would support the bill to stop a no-deal Brexit despite whips “threatening people, offering inducements,” and that colleagues had come under “immense pressure” to back the government’s position.

He confirmed he intends to stand at the next general election after being adopted last night as the Conservative candidate in his Runnymede and Weybridge constituency in southern England. And he said that Downing Street now had no mechanism to deselect him if there is an election in the next few months. “I don’t believe they do, and that would certainly be the fight of a lifetime if they tried to,” he said. Asked if that could mean a legal battle, Hammond answered, “possibly.”

The former chancellor also took a veiled swipe at the prime minister’s most senior adviser, Dominic Cummings.

“I am going to defend my party against incomers, entryists, who are trying to turn it from a broad church to narrow faction,” Hammond said. “People who are at the heart of this government, who are probably not even members of the Conservative Party, who care nothing about the future of the Conservative Party, I intend to defend my party against them.”

UK NATIONAL PARLIAMENT ELECTION POLL OF POLLS

For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.

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Gordon Brown: Johnson ‘is tearing the country apart’

LONDON — Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused Boris Johnson of  “shredding the constitution” of the U.K. and “tearing the country apart” by suspending parliament.

Speaking at the launch of the Our Scottish Future think tank in Edinburgh, Brown said questions are now being raised not just about what type of Brexit the U.K. wants but also about what kind of Britain will be left.

“Only four weeks into his premiership, Boris Johnson is not only shredding our constitution but tearing the country apart with no plan to bring people together again and no unifying national project to ever do so,” the former Labour leader said.

The suspension could come into effect as early as September 9, and ends on October 14. Critics of Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament say the prime minister is trying to bypass MPs attempting to avert a no-deal Brexit by considerably reducing the parliamentary time available before October 31, when he says the U.K. is leaving the EU. But Johnson said it was “completely untrue” to suggest that Brexit was the reason for his decision.

Brown, who led the U.K. government and the Labour Party between 2007 and 2010, added that Scotland is faced with two “extreme and divisive options.”

“Scotland is now trapped between two nationalisms: Boris Johnson’s, which is anti-European and ignoring Scotland’s interests — and Nicola Sturgeon’s, which is now so hardline that she now proposes to exit the U.K. customs union, abandon the U.K. single market and ditch the U.K. pound,” Brown said.

“This is now about the very survival of the United Kingdom.”

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Irish deputy PM: Not enough time to renegotiate Brexit backstop

The Brexit deal and backstop mechanism can’t be renegotiated in the time left before the U.K.’s October 31 departure date, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said Wednesday.

“The Withdrawal Agreement, including the now famous backstop, cannot simply be renegotiated. Even if we wanted to do that, which we don’t, we can’t do it in six to 10 weeks,” Coveney said at an event in Paris.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked the EU to scrap the Withdrawal Agreement’s so-called backstop mechanism designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. Earlier this week, Johnson’s spokesperson said EU leaders are now willing to listen to any credible alternatives the U.K. proposes to the backstop. Johnson himself said after the recent G7 summit in Biarritz, France that he is “marginally” more optimistic he could seal a new Brexit deal.

But in a speech at a conference organized by MEDEF, France’s largest employers’ association, Coveney said that the existing deal, including the backstop, is the only way to ensure an orderly Brexit and prevent border checks at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“Despite what the U.K. government is now saying about the backstop as part of the Withdrawal Agreement, it is supported by a large majority in Northern Ireland, and let’s not forget they are the people we are all trying to protect here,” Coveney said.

“Nobody has yet come up with credible alternative arrangements or solutions for that matter. We are committed to exploring alternative arrangements in the future or now … But these alternative proposals have got to do the same job as the backstop to fulfill the commitments made to the people of Northern Ireland.”

Speaking later on at the same event, British Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said that the issue of preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should be dealt with in talks on the future relationship between the U.K. and EU.

“We understand the EU’s need to protect the integrity of the single market,” he said. “But it is our firm view that the Irish border issue should be dealt with in the talks on the future agreement between the U.K. and the EU, where they should always have been.”

He added that “in no scenario” would the U.K. erect barriers at the Northern Ireland border that could jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement.

Barclay also urged France to work bilaterally with Britain to prepare for the repercussions of a potential no-deal Brexit on October 31, while criticizing the European Commission for refusing to agree a specific deal on citizens’ rights, and the French government for imposing unnecessary requirements on Britons seeking to continue to live in France after Brexit.

“EU leaders repeatedly tell me how important citizens’ rights are to them but not only has the Commission refused to agree a specific deal on citizens’ rights …­ the offer here in France falls short of what we have set out in the U.K. in several respects.

“I call on the French government and others in the EU to match our offer and provide certainty for U.K. nationals in France,” Barclay said.

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EU migration to UK sinks to lowest level since 2013

LONDON — EU migration to the United Kingdom has fallen to its lowest level in six years, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In the year ending March 2019, 200,000 EU citizens were estimated to have moved to the U.K., the ONS said Thursday. The number of EU citizens arriving in the U.K. has fallen continually since 2016, the year the country voted for Brexit.

This is the lowest figure since the year ending June 2013, when it was an estimated 183,000. The ONS said the recent drop was mostly due to a decline in people moving to the U.K. for work.

Only about 59,000 more EU nationals arrived than left in the year ending March 2019, the ONS said. In the year ending June 2016, EU net migration to the UK stood at 189,000.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said free movement of people from the EU “will end” on October 31.

Matthew Fell, chief U.K. policy director at business lobby group CBI, said that the downward trend in EU net migration, combined with record-low unemployment “means that skills shortages are getting worse.”

Overall, about 612,000 people moved to the U.K. in the year ending March 2019, while 385,000 people emigrated, according to the ONS. This leaves total net migration to the U.K. at 226,000.

The data was released one day after the ONS admitted that long-term migration from the EU to the U.K. between 2009 and 2016 had been underestimated by as much as a quarter of a million people.

The ONS acknowledged there was a discrepancy between migration statistics and population statistics, as the former are drawn from the International Passenger Survey, which asks people arriving in the U.K. about their future residency plans.

“Europeans don’t necessarily know what they are going to do, they can change their mind and they don’t need to answer truthfully,” Jonathan Portes, an economist at King’s College London, said.

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Corbyn calls cross-party meeting to ‘do everything’ to stop no-deal Brexit

LONDON — British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today called for a cross-party meeting of senior politicians, urging them to work with him to “do everything we can to stop” a no-deal Brexit.

Corbyn invited 10 politicians — including Tory backbenchers Dominic Grieve and Oliver Letwin, as well as Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas — to attend the meeting, scheduled for August 27.

He wrote in his invitation letter that the U.K. is “heading into a constitutional and political storm, so it is vital that we meet urgently, before Parliament returns.”

He also cited a leaked U.K. government report, dubbed Operation Yellowhammer, that lays out a “base scenario” for the impacts of a no-deal Brexit. Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists the U.K. will leave the EU on October 31, deal or no deal, and has pushed Brussels this week to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement to discard the backstop mechanism for the Irish border.

“The chaos and dislocation of Boris Johnson’s No Deal Brexit is real and threatening, as the government’s leaked Operation Yellowhammer dossier makes crystal clear,” Corbyn wrote in the letter.

The letter is also addressed to Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party leader in Westminster; Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts; former Tory Nick Boles, who now sits as independent; Change UK leader Anna Soubry, as well as Tory MPs Guto Bebb and Caroline Spelman.

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1 million EU citizens granted right to reside in UK after Brexit

About 1 million of the roughly 3 million EU27 citizens living in the U.K. have obtained the right to reside in the country after Brexit through the British government’s new EU settlement scheme.

According to figures released by the Home Office today, 951,700 citizens from European Economic Area countries and Switzerland had obtained settled or pre-settled status (for those who will have been living in the country for five years by December 30, 2020) as of July 31. Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis said registrations hit 1 million in August.

The British government launched the scheme at the end of March to ensure citizens of other EU countries living in the country continue to have the right to live, work and have access to public services in the U.K. after Brexit. The scheme is set to replace the permanent residency program, and all Europeans who arrive in Britain before Brexit day would be eligible to apply.

Almost 150,000 Europeans obtained settled status in the month of July alone, as the government stepped up its preparations to leave the EU without a deal.

The highest number of applications received were from Polish (179,800), Romanian (141,200) and Italian (121,600) nationals.

The Home Office is urging Europeans to apply to the scheme by December 31, 2020 if the U.K. leaves the EU without a deal, and by June 30, 2021 if a Brexit deal is ratified.

Catherine Barnard, a professor of EU law and employment law at the University of Cambridge, said that low-skilled workers such as fruit-pickers, who work for multiple U.K. employers, are less likely to apply to the scheme.

“The good news is that people are applying to settled status and actually those who have secured work histories are finding it a relatively easy process,” she said.

“The bad side that is that of course the majority still haven’t done it and, in my experience talking with EU nationals, some of them don’t appreciate the significance of having to do it. Others who have got very incomplete work histories are worried about being able to prove that they’ve got settled status.”

A spokesman for the Home Office said that the figures are “very positive” and Europeans still have “quite a long time” to apply.

Lewis said the scheme is designed to make it “straightforward” for Europeans and their family members to stay in the country after Britain leaves the EU.

“EU citizens have made incredible contributions to our country — which is why I’m so pleased that over one million people have been granted status, enshrining their rights in law,” he said.

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UK to fast-track visas for researchers post Brexit

The U.K. plans to fast-track visas for researchers to encourage “the very best minds” to continue to work in the country after Brexit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Thursday.

Johnson said he instructed the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to work with the scientific community to develop the new simplified system, which he aims to launch later this year.

The announcement comes amid calls from lawmakers and academics for a streamlined, less costly visa scheme amid concerns that Brexit could hurt the country’s ability to attract top scientists from the Continent. The House of Lords’ science committee urged the government earlier Thursday to ensure post-Brexit immigration rules don’t hinder researcher recruitment and retention.

“To ensure we continue to lead the way in the advancement of knowledge, we have to not only support the talent that we already have here, but also ensure our immigration system attracts the very best minds from around the world,” Johnson said.

The government will now look into possible changes to current immigration policies, including potentially eliminating caps on certain “exceptional talent” visas, targeted at scientists from outside the European Economic Area who are considered leaders or emerging leaders in their field.

This route, which is capped at 2,000 places per year, is currently under-used, but is expected to become more sought-after post Brexit when European researchers lose the right to move freely to the U.K.

The government will also look into the possibility of expanding the list of research institutes and universities able to endorse visa applicants, and developing criteria to endorse them automatically.

Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society scientific academy, welcomed the announcement and said universities should be trusted “to make the right choices when identifying talented individuals the U.K. needs to guarantee our position among the leading scientific nations.”

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