Boris Johnson: I absolutely did not lie to the Queen over decision to suspend Parliament

Boris Johnson has denied lying to the Queen over his decision to suspend Parliament, dismissing the claims as “absolutely not” true.

The Prime Minister is under severe pressure to recall the Commons after a Scottish Court of Session ruling found his move to shut it down was “unlawful”.

The Edinburgh Court ruled that the lengthy suspension was an “improper” attempt to prevent MPs from discussing Brexit.

It has led to accusations that Mr Johnson had misled the monarch over his reasons for closing down Parliament.

‘Absolutely not true’

Asked whether he lied to the Queen, the Prime Minister said: “Absolutely not. The High Court in England plainly agrees with us but the Supreme Court will have to decide.

“We need a Queen’s Speech, we need to get on and do all sorts of things at a national level.”

He added: “Parliament will have time both before and after that crucial summit on October 17th and 18th to talk about the Brexit deal.”

boris johnson
Boris Johnson during a visit to Dublin (Photo: Getty)

The Prime Minister insisted he was still “very hopeful” that he would be able to secure a deal with Brussels when EU leaders meet next month.

“I think we can see the rough area of a landing space, of how you can do it – it will be tough, it will be hard, but I think we can get there.”

Just how that deal will be agreed still remains a mystery, however.

‘Backstop doesn’t work’

Earlier this week, the EU was encouraged by the mood music from Number 10 on a potential deal, with details emerging that Mr Johnson is exploring an all-Ireland economy for agri-foods to try and solve the backstop impasse.

It had been hoped the Prime Minister would make further moves towards keeping Northern Ireland aligned with EU customs and regulations as part of a Northern Ireland-only backstop.

But speaking during a live “People’s PMQs” appearance on Facebook on Wednesday, Mr Johnson ruled out the prospect.

“We will not accept a Northern Ireland-only backstop. That simply doesn’t work for the UK. We’ve got to come out whole and entire and solve problems of the Northern Irish border, I am sure we can do that,” he said.

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Operation Yellowhammer: Government’s no-deal Brexit plans like preparing for ‘war or natural disaster’

No-deal Brexit preparations revealed in official government documents are more like planning for a “war or natural disaster”, Labour has warned.

Ministers were forced to publish on Wednesday secret documents produced as part of “Operation Yellowhammer” into the potential impact of leaving the European Union without a deal.

The papers revealed the country could face shortages of food, medicines and even outbursts of civil unrest as a result of a disorderly Brexit.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said Parliament should be recalled so the Prime Minister can answer questions in relation to documents.

‘Absolute catastrophe’

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr McDonald said: “It reveals an absolute catastrophe for our country if he continues to drive the ship towards the rocks as he is going to do.”

He added: “This is more like emergency planning for war or a natural disaster. We cannot minimise this. It does not get more stark and we have got to wake up to the issues around us.”

Mr McDonald said Labour wants to stop a no-deal Brexit and gain an extension to Article 50.

Andy McDonald
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald (Photo: Getty)

He said when an extension is obtained, Labour would favour a general election. He also said the public would be offered a referendum with a “credible deal” opposite a Remain option.

His comments came as the chairman of Kent council called for police officers from all over the country to be redeployed to the county to help handle expected traffic disruption.

Paul Carter said he wants “boots on the ground”, and assurances that arrangements are in place for police officers and Highways England staff nationwide to be ready to “man the pumps”.

Boots on the ground

“I want assurance from Highways England and Kent Police that they have got the reciprocal arrangements with other police forces and Highways England officers around the country to make sure that they come into Kent in sufficiency to be able to man the pumps and make sure that the fluidity and the Operation Brock strategy, to keep the road network in Kent open at all times and direct them to where lorries if they are delays at the port, will be held until such time as they can depart from those ports,” he said.

Mr Carter, who leads the Conservative-controlled council, said “accelerated progress” has been made since the Yellowhammer report – released on Wednesday night – was drafted on August 2.

“There are still two or three outstanding matters which I am beating the drum on which need resolving in short order.”

Asked if he was worried about a no-deal Brexit, he said: “As long as we get satisfactory answers and progress on how the operating model for customs clearance is going to work and communicate that to the logistics haulage industry, I am pretty confident that we can avoid disruption in Kent.”

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Northern Irish-only backstop could offer ‘best of both worlds’

Business leaders in Northern Ireland will tell Boris Johnson that a Northern Ireland-only backstop could provide the “best of both worlds” as they warn against a no deal Brexit.

The Prime Minister is due to meet representatives from the Northern Irish business community at a reception in Number 10 on Wednesday evening.

It comes amid suggestions Mr Johnson is softening his stance towards keeping Northern Ireland in closer regulatory alignment with the European Union than the rest of the United Kingdom.

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said the business community does not want a no-deal Brexit, warning it would cause “severe damage” to the economy.

We want to see a deal

Mr Roberts told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “First and foremost we’ll be saying that, right across every section of the business community in Northern Ireland, we want to see a deal.

“A no-deal of the UK, and obviously Northern Ireland crashing out with the rest of the UK, would, according to our own department’s economy, result in 45,000 jobs being lost – that’s 7 per cent of all private sector jobs in Northern Ireland. It would also cause severe damage to our just-in-time supply chain.”

Mr Roberts said there was a need to “get to the detail” of any idea of a Northern Ireland-only backstop.

DUP
Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster leave Downing Street (Getty)

He said: “Well, I think there are pros and cons in that type of scenario. I think, from a Northern Ireland perspective, potentially we could get the best of both worlds, we would have obviously full, unfettered access to the EU market as well as being obviously part of the UK.

“I think that is probably, ultimately, where a solution lies. It may be something very different to that or it may be something very similar to that; what we’ve got to see is the detail.”

DUP opposition

The Prime Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster held talks for over an hour in Downing Street on Tuesday on a way forward on Brexit, fuelling speculation that the UK will propose an alternative backstop arrangement this week.

Mr Johnson’s EU negotiator, David Frost, will hold talks in Brussels on Wednesday and Friday.

Suggestions that a compromise could be made around a Northern Ireland-only backstop were, however, dismissed by Mrs Foster and Downing Street.

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Boris Johnson considering bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland to help to solve Brexit backstop issue, plans show

Government officials have drawn up plans for Boris Johnson to build a bridge spanning from Scotland to Northern Ireland as a potential means of solving problems with the Irish backstop, it has emerged.

Details leaked to Channel 4 News revealed the outline of plans for two options to create a bridge across the stretch of Irish Sea between west Scotland and Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Number 10 has insisted it has not commissioned any work on the project, and that the work was done by the civil service during the Tory leadership election as possible schemes for a new prime minister to pursue.

But the fact the project has been developed shows the lengths the Government is prepared to try to unpick the problems it faces with a potential border between Northern Ireland and the UK post-Brexit.

World War II munitions

According to Channel 4 News, one bridge scheme would run from the Mull of Kintyre to Torr Head in Antrim at a cost of around £15bn, while another possibility would be to link Larne in Antrim to Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway, which would cost £20bn.

Mr Johnson has said he wants to know the risks of the project, which appear sizeable. Engineers have raised concerns about the challenges thrown up by the nature of the Irish Sea, as well as the presence of World War II munitions in that stretch of water.

arlene foster
Arlene Foster’s DUP has previously suggested such a bridge would help to break the Brexit deadlock (Photo: Michael Cooper/PA Wire)

The Democratic Unionist Party has previously suggested a bridge linking Scotland and Northern Ireland would go a long way to breaking the Brexit deadlock, as it would negate the need for a border in the Irish Sea.

In an implicit signal of support to the plan, Lee Reynolds, the DUP’s director of policy, tweeted a link to a news article about China opening the world’s longest sea bridge, which spans 42.4km (26.3 miles) to connect the eastern coastal city of Qingdao to the suburb of Huangdao, in Jiaozhou Bay.

‘Amazing ambitions’

The Scottish National Party is also understood to be warm to the idea.

When asked about the potential plans, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom also did not reject the idea out of hand.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There are amazing ambitions for the future.

“I’m not aware that that is one, but there are certainly a range of solutions to the Northern Ireland border and what’s quite clear is we do not want the UK to be trapped in a customs union with no say on the rules. So we’re working flat out to get a deal.”

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Brexit talks: Boris Johnson’s Irish backstop plan explained, options and what could happen next

Boris Johnson’s failure to force an early general election and push through Brexit on his terms leaves him with precious few options to deliver his promise of leaving the EU on 31 October.

The backbench Bill to delay the UK’s withdrawal from the block in the event of no deal being reached, means his best chance of upholding his pledge is to thrash out a deal. After a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and with talks ongoing with the Democratic Unionists, the Prime Minister spoke of a potential “landing zone”. But is it all just smoke and mirrors?

What might a Brexit deal look like?

The Prime Minister is still insisting that the Irish backstop be abolished from the Withdrawal Agreement. Instead, Mr Johnson has suggested both the Republic and Northern Ireland remain aligned when it comes to agriculture and food standards and regulations, as part of an “all-Ireland economy”. For everything else he is suggesting “alternative arrangements”, including using “abundant” technical solutions, such as trusted trader schemes, exemptions for small traders and special economic zones.

Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson met for the first time on Monday
Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson met for the first time on Monday (Photo: Getty)

Will that work?

Not likely, but it is a step in the right direction. Dublin has said keeping all of Ireland tied to EU rules on agriculture and food solves only around 30 per cent of the problem. There are still huge issues such as customs VAT checks and regulatory checks to protect the integrity of the single market. The Taoiseach ruled out anything other than full regulatory alignment, warning he will not “replace a legal guarantee with a promise”.

Why won’t Dublin accept it?

Just the mention of checks, even those away from the border, by Dublin last week prompted fierce warnings from Sinn Féin about breaking the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Over the weekend a bomb was discovered in the border town of Strabane, offering a stark reminder of what is at stake. If Ireland is to remain part of the single market, it will be placed under considerable pressure by the EU to enforce border checks.

The Prime Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster held talks for over an hour in Downing Street on a way forward on Brexit
The Prime Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster held talks for over an hour in Downing Street on a way forward on Brexit (Photo: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne)

What options ARE left?

It may be that his only option is to bring back the original backstop proposal, that would see Northern Ireland only tied to EU customs arrangements, effectively creating a border down the Irish Sea.

Is this likely to succeed?

Mr Johnson could sever all ties with the DUP and try to scrape a deal through the Commons with a Northern Ireland-only backstop. There are signs that resistance may be softening. Arch-Brexiteer and member of the European Research Group Andrew Bridgen suggested a Northern Irish backstop could be a “runner” if the people of Northern Ireland voted for it in a referendum.

What happens next?

No 10 is refusing to reveal its plan and has said discussions are ongoing.

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Harriet Harman to stand as next Commons Speaker, promising to be a ‘champion for Parliament’

Former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman has thrown her hat into the ring to become the next Commons Speaker as she praised John Bercow’s divisive approach to the role.

Mr Bercow made a tearful announcement on Monday that he would be stepping down at the end of the month, firing the starting gun for candidates to become his successor.

Among the early frontrunners is Ms Harman, who said she would continue to stand up for Parliament against the executive to ensure it has its say.

The former Labour minister said the Speaker should not take sides politically but should allow Parliament to hold Government to account.

Parliament must have its say

Ms Harman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is the job of the Speaker to make sure that Parliament, by its majority, has its say, and I think that’s what John Bercow has sought to do.”

She added: “The Speaker doesn’t vote, doesn’t take sides in debates. But the Speaker is not neutral as between Parliament and the executive.

“The Speaker has to be on Parliament’s side and stand up for Parliament. The Speaker cannot but allow Parliament to have its say on what it wants to do.”

John Bercow
Outgoing Speaker John Bercow resigned in a Commons speech on Monday night (Photo: Getty)

As a prominent Remain campaigner in the EU referendum, she is likely to face accusations of bias from Eurosceptics in the Commons, but she insisted she would be able stand back from political issues if she became Speaker.

She said “I think I would be a champion for Parliament.

“The relationship between the Parliament and the public is very difficult at the moment and I think a really confident, positive voice, speaking about the importance of Parliament with the public, is necessary at this time.”

An exceptional lady

Despite her past support for remaining in the EU, she has already received backing from both sides of the House, with Tory arch-Brexiteer Daniel Kawczynski saying he would be supporting Ms Harman “without hesitation”.

“[An] exceptional lady with experience, dignity and honour,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP, who is calling for a version of Theresa May’s Brexit deal to be voted on, added his voice to her candidacy.

“I will be supporting in her candidacy for Speaker,” he said. “Harriet is a moderniser and a reformer who will help to move the Commons into the 21st century. And her calm, measured, no-nonsense approach is just what we need in these turbulent times.”

Ms Harman is one of the more high-profile hopefuls vying for the Speaker’s chair, but Labour MP and Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is believed to be the favourite.

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France to insist on a ‘two-year’ extension to allow Brexit re-evaluation

France will demand that any extension to the Brexit deadline should be at least two years to allow the UK to “re-evaluate” its departure from the European Union, a senior En Marche MP has said.

It comes after the French foreign minister suggested on Sunday that France could veto any Brexit delay unless the UK can overcome its internal political turmoil.

Legislation due to become law on Monday will demand Boris Johnson ask for an extension until at least 31 January if he fails to secure a Brexit deal by 19 October.

Under the terms of the bill, however, Brussels can insist on a longer delay which must then be voted on by Parliament.

Macron has been clear

Read more:

Sending a second letter telling the EU to ignore extension request ‘would not be legal’

Bruno Bonnell, who is a member of Emanuel Macron’s party, said France would insist on a lengthier time limit to the UK’s exit in order to avoid repeated crises every three months.

“I think that our president has been really clear. Even the last time the UK requested it, it is really the dead-end limit – after the 31 October the game is over,” Mr Bonnell said.

“Now if – and this door was open before – if we’re talking about a long delay like maybe a couple of years, to re-evaluate the whole Brexit situation in light of the truth… because the bottom line is what people are realising is that they have been lied to.”

He continued: “What should have been harmless for the UK and simple to set up and we see after two years of heavy negotiation we still have no agreement, so there comes a time when you need to put a stick in the ground.”

Bad cop

Jean-Yves Le Drian
Jean-Yves Le Drian with President Emanuel Macron

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Irish PM Leo Varadkar tells Boris Johnson he won’t get trade deals after a no-deal Brexit

France has taken it upon itself to be the “bad cop” of the EU when it comes to the UK asking for a Brexit extension.

It had been suggested that senior former Cabinet members, who were last week expelled from the parliamentary Tory party, had received private assurances that an extension to Article 50 would be granted.

But Jean-Yves Le Drian, a senior member of Emanuel Macron’s cabinet, ruled out any further delays due to the ongoing political upheaval in the UK.

“In the current circumstances, it’s no. We are not going to go through this every three months,” Mr Le Drian said.

Let the UK take responsibility

The threat dramatically increases the chances of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October as all 27 EU countries must sign up to any extension.

“The [British] say that they want to put forward other solutions, alternative arrangements so that they can leave,” Mr Le Drian said.

“But we have not seen them and so it is ‘no’ – let the British authorities tell us the way forward.”

And he added: “Let them take responsibility for their situation, they have to tell us what they want.”

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Boris Johnson heading to Supreme Court for crucial Brexit showdown rulings

Boris Johnson is heading for a ­Supreme Court showdown with MPs in the coming weeks under ­government plans to “test to the limit” a new law intended to block a no-deal Brexit.

Legislation introduced by backbenchers opposed to the UK leaving the European Union without a deal is due to be given royal assent on Monday and become law.

Under the terms, the Prime Minister must ask Brussels by 19 October for an extension of the Brexit date until at least 31 January if he is unable to secure a deal.

But Number 10 is adamant that Mr Johnson will not ask the EU to delay Article 50 and will instead trigger an almighty political and constitutional crisis in a bid to ­stymie any Brexit extension by tying it up in a legal challenge.

Ignoring the law?

The news follows a weekend of political chaos. Amber Rudd resigned from Cabinet and quit as a Tory MP; Andrea Leadsom, the Business Secretary, declared war on the Speaker, John Bercow; and Angela Smith became the third MP to defect to the Liberal Democrats in the last week.

Some legal experts questioned Dominic Cummings’ grasp of how the Supreme Court works (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government would abide by the law but would “look very carefully” at its “interpretation” of the legislation. “We will adhere to the law but we will also, because this is such a bad piece of legislation… want to test to the limit what it does actually lawfully require.

“I think that’s not only the lawful thing to do, it’s also the responsible thing to do and again I’ll repeat, that legislation is lousy,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

Under plans drawn up by Mr Johnson’s most senior aide, Dominic Cummings, the PM would essentially ignore the law, forcing MPs to call for an emergency judicial review in the Supreme Court by 21 October.

Mr Cummings is gambling that it would take longer than 10 days for the court to come to a judgement, by which time the UK would have left the EU.

However legal experts questioned Mr Cummings grasp of the Supreme Court’s workings. Dinah Rose QC, said that 10 days “is more than enough time for a simple injunction, and the exhaustion of appeal rights. The courts could do it in 48 hours if they had to”.

‘Obey the law’

Sources suggested Mr Johnson’s team were willing to “take a chainsaw to anything” to ensure he carries out his Brexit pledge to leave on Halloween.

Sajid Javid: ‘We will be consistent with obeying the law but also sticking to our policy’ (Photo: Jeff Overs/BBC)

Suggestions that the PM could “sabotage” MPs attempts to block a no-deal Brexit by ignoring the law has prompted outrage among Conservatives, and has even led to warnings that Mr Johnson could face imprisonment for contempt of court.

Such were the concerns about Downing Street’s stance that Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, felt compelled to take the extraordinary step of reminding Mr Johnson that is was necessary for the government to obey the law. “We have spoken over the past 24 hours regarding the importance of the Rule of Law, which I as Lord Chancellor have taken an oath to uphold,” Mr Buckland tweeted.

Chancellor Sajid Javid  ruled out the idea that Mr Johnson would seek a delay to Brexit, giving a further signal that there could be a legal challenge. “We will not change our policy,” he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show. “We will be consistent with obeying the law but also sticking to our policy, and you will have to wait and see what happens because there [are] a lot of days between now and 19 October.”

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France rules out Brexit delay until UK political impasse is resolved

France will block any attempt to further delay Brexit unless the UK can overcome its internal political turmoil, the country’s foreign minister has warned.

Fresh legislation designed to prevent Boris Johnson from forcing through a no deal exit from the European Union is due to become law on Monday, as MPs battle the Prime Minister over his Brexit stance.

It had been suggested that senior former Cabinet members, who were last week expelled from the parliamentary Tory party, had received private assurances that an extension to Article 50 would be granted.

But Jean-Yves Le Drian, a senior member of Emanuel Macron’s cabinet, ruled out any further delays due to the ongoing political upheaval in the UK.

It’s a ‘no’

“In the current circumstances, it’s no. We are not going to go through this every three months,” Mr Le Drian said.

The threat dramatically increases the chances of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October as all 27 EU countries must sign up to any extension.

French President Mr Macron has been by the most hardline among the EU 27 when it comes to agreeing extensions to the Brexit deadline, as he is eager to push on with his reforms to the EU which will see ever closer relations between the countries.

On Sunday, former work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd quit her government role and the party after criticising Mr Johnson for doing very little to try and secure a Brexit deal.

amber rudd
Amber Rudd

Her comments were echoed by Mr Le Drian, who said there had been no proposals put forward by Number 10 to solve the UK’s misgivings with the Irish backstop.

“The [British] say that they want to put forward other solutions, alternative arrangements so that they can leave,” Mr Le Drian said.

“But we have not seen them and so it is ‘no’ – let the British authorities tell us the way forward.”

And he added: “Let them take responsibility for their situation, they have to tell us what they want.”

‘No evidence of a deal’

The Prime Minister is due to travel to Dublin on Monday to try to seek alternatives to the Irish backstop.

Read more:

Brexit bill: block on no-deal passes Parliament as House of Lords give their approval

But in a damning assessment of the Government’s efforts to secure a fresh Brexit deal, Ms Rudd said there was “no evidence of a deal”.

Stopping short of accusing Mr Johnson of lying, Ms Rudd to the Andrew Marr Show: “I believe he is trying to get a deal with the EU, I am just saying what I have seen in government is that there is this huge machine preparing for no-deal.

“You might expect in the balance between getting a deal and no-deal 50/50 in terms of work but it’s not that, it’s like 80 per cent to 90 per cent of government time going into preparing for no-deal and the absence of trying to get a deal has driven 21 of my colleagues to rebel, and I need to join them.”

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Chancellor Sajid Javid repeatedly refuses to rule out electoral pact between Tories and Brexit Party

Sajid Javid ramped up the chances of the Conservatives entering into a pact with Nigel Farage after he repeatedly refused to rule out brokering an agreement with the Brexit Party.

The Chancellor said it was clear that a general election was necessary due to the impasse in parliament, and was asked whether he would be comfortable standing on a platform with Mr Farage.

The leader of the Brexit Party has called for a “non-aggression pact” with the Conservatives in the next election, which he claims would make Boris Johnson “unstoppable”.

When repeatedly asked if he supported holding a general election despite “sad” timing, saying: “We absolutely now need an election. It is being forced on us because Parliament is trying to kneecap these negotiations.”

He was then repeatedly asked to publicly rule out a pact with the Brexit Party, which Mr Johnson is believed to be privately against.

However the Chancellor said he would only say the Tories do not “need” a pact with another party.

‘We don’t need a pact’

nigel farage
Leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage addresses party members and delegates at Doncaster Racecourse during the Brexit Party Conference tour (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Chancellor Sajid JavidMr Javid told the Andrew Marr Show: “We don’t need an electoral alliance with anyone. We can stand on our own two feet, put our message across.

“The picture our opponents are painting of us, of course they would paint a false picture. We are a proud centre right, moderate, one nation party.”

And he added: “There is nothing extremist about wanting to meet the will of the British people on a simple question which was do you want to leave the EU or not.

“We are not in an election yet. I am clear we do not need an alliance with anyone.”

‘Extreme right wing’

Mr Farage said an alliance between the Tories and the Brexit Party could deliver Mr Johnson “majority of 100 seats”.

Speaking to The Sunday Times he said: “If we get an election, an alliance between Boris and myself done intelligently, with a clear message, I think we’ll be unstoppable.

“If Boris decides the only way forward, to get Brexit delivered, is through a general election offering people a clean break, in those circumstances, I’m 100 per cent behind him wanting to win the election, there would be a non-aggression pact.”

His comments come after former chancellor Philip Hammond, who was last week thrown out of the parliamentary party for rebelling against the Government, warned entryists had turned the party into “an extreme right wing faction”.

‘Tories becoming like Brexit Party’

Shortly later on Sunday, expelled Conservative MP Sam Gyimah criticised his former party for purging moderate MPs as an election strategy to avoid a Brexit Party pact.

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After the Brexit no-deal defeats, Boris Johnson now needs friends in the Tory party

Speaking to John Pienaar on Radio Five Live, Mr Gyimah said: “What tipped Conservative MPs over the edge this week was the realisation that the government was playing games to run down the clock and deliver a no-deal Brexit for which it has no mandate, and that is scandalous.

“I know there is a serious level of disquiet about what the government is doing, not just in terms of no-deal but an explicit attempt to purge the Conservative Party of moderate MPs because they see that as the way to steal the Brexit Party votes from underneath Nigel Farage.

“If the Conservative Party can become more like the Brexit Party, then they hope to be able to get his votes without a pact.”

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Boris Johnson says ‘powers of persuasion’ will be enough to solve Brexit impasse

Boris Johnson has claimed he will be a secure a fresh Brexit deal at the European Union council summit on 17 October by using his “powers of persuasion”.

The Prime Minister is looking increasingly boxed in by Parliament after his attempt to secure an early election and thereby force through the UK’s exit by Halloween was scuppered this week.

Mr Johnson repeatedly warned that by taking a no-deal Brexit off the table would “wreck” the UK’s negotiating position when it comes to thrashing out a new deal with Brussels.

With Labour and opposition parties agreeing to hold off on backing an early election until November once the Brexit deadline has been extended, the Prime Minister is fast running out of options to deliver his pledge of leaving the EU on Halloween.

‘Trying to fudge’

Speaking during a visit to Scotland, Mr Johnson attacked the backbench bill designed to prevent Downing Street from forcing through a no-deal Brexit.

There is talk of reviving ousted Theresa May's deal (Photo: Henry Nicholls/Reuters)
There is talk of reviving ousted Theresa May’s deal (Photo: Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

“We’ve spent a long time trying to sort of fudge this thing and I think the British public really want us to get out. They don’t want more dither and delay,” he said.

Asked how he would deliver a new deal at the EU summit in Brussels next month, he said: “By powers of persuasion. Because there’s absolutely no doubt we should come out. It’s a pointless delay.”

Downing Street has until Thursday before it must prorogue parliament, giving Mr Johnson little time to try and force a general election in time for the EU council.

The Prime Minister declined to rule out resigning if he fails to deliver Brexit on the 31 October deadline. Asked if he would quit under the circumstances, he replied: “That is not a hypothesis I’m willing to contemplate. I want us to get this thing done.

“And I think the people of this country also do. And there’s an opportunity to be so much more positive about this.”

May’s deal could be back

It comes as a cross-party group of MPs – including a former Tory sacked by Boris Johnson – is lobbying for Theresa May’s Brexit deal to be revisited.

Labour’s Stephen Kinnock and Caroline Flint have joined forces with senior Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb and Rory Stewart, the former Tory leadership candidate – who had the party whip removed after voting against the Government this week – to form the group MPs for a Deal.

An amendment put forward by Mr Kinnock was included in the legislation to block a no deal, calling for Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which would include Labour and Tory concessions, to be voted on in the Commons.

He said: “We are not suggesting that the new deal should be a carbon copy of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, rather that it provides a solid and realistic basis on which to build, in order to reach a compromise that can pass in the Commons and avert a no-deal exit.

“Further delay without a purpose will simply add to voter anger. Boris Johnson must therefore use the coming month to secure a deal that he can put to Parliament as soon as we reconvene on October 14.”

Your key questions answered

What will happen on Monday?

The backbench bill to prevent the Prime Minister forcing through a no-deal Brexit will, having been passed by the Lords yesterday, be given Royal Assent and become law. After that MPs are expected to vote on another motion under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA) to hold an early general election. It is expected to be defeated.

Why will MPs decline the chance of a snap poll?

Labour and opposition parties have decided that avoiding a no-deal Brexit is a higher priority than going for an election. Should Mr Johnson win an election with a majority, they fear he could push ahead with a no deal exit under the terms of the legislation. Downing Street believes this is Labour standing against democracy. But Labour believes that forcing the Prime Minister to ask for an extension having previously ruled it out plays to their advantage.

What will Johnson do next?

Having asked the Queen to prorogue Parliament next week, time is now against the Prime Minister to carry out his promise to pull the UK out of the European Union on 31 October. Downing Street has until Thursday before Parliament is prorogued. The Prime Minister could table a single line bill that sets aside the FTPA and allows the Government to call an election by securing a simple majority rather than the two-thirds required under the current law.

Will it work?

Unlikely. The legislation could be amended by Labour to set the date of the election to after 31 October, leaving Mr Johnson once again forced to ask Brussels for a Brexit extension.

What other options does the Prime Minister have?

Mr Johnson could call a vote of no confidence in his own government, which would be hugely embarrassing for a new PM. It would also leave the door open to Mr Corbyn or even one of the recently purged former Tory MPs, such as Ken Clarke, to set up a government of national unity to ensure Brexit is delayed.

Can Mr Johnson just refuse to ask for an extension?

The Prime Minister has said he would rather “die in a ditch” than go to Brussels and ask for an extension. Rumours have swirled in Westminster that he could simply ignore the legislation and refuse to ask for a delay to the deadline. But this is likely to be challenged in the courts and Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, would sign it in his stead.

Would the Prime Minister resign?

Downing Street has repeatedly said Mr Johnson will not ask for extension, but that the government will abide by the law. It suggests he could resign and allow the Labour leader to request the extension. After that he would table a vote of no confidence to end a Labour-led coalition and fight a general election over November.

Is there another final roll of the dice?

Possibly. The backbench bill says the Prime Minister can return from Brussels with a deal for Parliament to vote on. He could bring back Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement but with the original, Northern Ireland only backstop. It would enrange the hard-right of the party, and would throw the Democratic Unionists under a bus but it could deliver on his pledge to secure Brexit by October.

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Boris Johnson reels from brother’s resignation as party ‘looks dreadful and intolerant’

Boris Johnson suffered another hugely damaging blow to his premiership and authority after his brother quit his role in the Cabinet accusing the Prime Minister of not acting in the national interest.

Adding to an already tumultuous week for Number 10, Jo Johnson became the first minister to resign from Cabinet citing tensions between “family loyalty” and his brother’s Brexit plans.

He also announced he would be standing down as an MP for Orpington at the next general election.

Making the decision known via Twitter, Mr Johnson said: “It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for nine years and to serve as a minister under three PMs.

Torn loyalties

Boris Johnson makes a speech during a visit to West Yorkshire (Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Pool/Reuters)

“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 #overandout.”

It is understood he informed the Prime Minister of his intention to stand down over a lengthy telephone conversation on Wednesday night. He was asked to reconsider overnight but ignored the advice.

The Prime Minister kept the news from even his closest aides, who became aware of it when Mr Johnson posted his tweet just before 11.30am on Thursday.

Jo Johnson raised eyebrows in Westminster when he accepted a position in his brother’s Cabinet. As a committed Remainer, he resigned as a transport minister under Theresa May to call for a second referendum.

Asked about his brother’s resignation during a visit to Wakefield, the Prime Minister said: “Jo doesn’t agree with me about the European Union. It’s an issue that divides families and everybody. But Jo would agree we need to get on and sort this out. He said as much this afternoon.”

His decision to stand down follows the brutal purge of 21 high-profile Tory MPs from the parliamentary party after they rebelled against the Government in a vote on Tuesday.

Thanked for his service

Police surround protesters as the Prime Minister visits West Yorkshire (Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Pool/Reuters)

The loss of the universities minister has prompted anger and panic among Conservative MPs, who fear the new government is looking increasingly dysfunctional .

One Cabinet member told i the resignation along with the expulsion of MPs “looks dreadful and intolerant”.

A former Cabinet minister said they were concerned the decision by Mr Johnson to quit the Government citing concerns that the Prime Minister did not have the nation’s best interest at heart will be hugely damaging in a forthcoming general election.

“Clearly it is going to be used against him and us by opposition parties. After the week we’ve had, you couldn’t make it up,” the Tory MP said.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister would like to thank Jo Johnson for his service. He has been a brilliant, talented minister and a fantastic MP.

“The PM, as both a politician and brother, understands this will not have been an easy matter for Jo. The constituents of Orpington could not have asked for a better representative.”

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John Major warns that Dominic Cummings is ‘political anarchist’ who doesn’t care for the Tory party

Sir John Major lashed out at Boris Johnson’s decision to expel more than 20 Tory MPs and demanded the Prime Minister sack his senior advisers for “poisoning” the political atmosphere.

In a damning attack on Mr Johnson’s administration, the former prime minister said there needed to be a “change of tone” from the Government, which he said “routinely insults” half the electorate for their views on Brexit.

He branded Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s de facto chief of staff as a “political anarchist who cares not a fig for the future of the party I have served all my life”.

His comments come as the Tory party continues to tear itself apart over Brexit and the decision to purge 21 high-profile MPs for rebelling against the Government.

‘Character and courage’

Sajid Javid: 'I would like to see them come back at some point' (Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)
Sajid Javid: ‘I would like to see them come back at some point’ (Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

Several Tory MPs, including Chancellor Sajid Javid, have urged the Prime Minister to row back on the decision to deselect the rebels and allow them back into the party.

In a speech to the Scottish CBI on Thursday, Sir John said those that had been thrown out of the parliamentary party were “long-term loyalists”, who had shown “character and courage” by putting the country before their political future.

“The legitimate concerns of those who have been banished from the party; their sturdy independence; their repeated support for a Brexit deal; their long and loyal public service to the party; seem to be worth nothing – unless they become cyphers, parroting the views of a Prime Minister influenced by a political anarchist,” Sir John said.

“We have seen over-mighty advisers before,” he added. “It is a familiar script. It always ends badly. I offer the Prime Minister some friendly advice: get rid of these advisers before they poison the political atmosphere beyond repair. And do it quickly.”

He added it would not be necessary to remove Mr Cummings under armed guard, as he ordered on Mr Javid’s own adviser last week.

Tory MPs ‘really care’

Sir John’s intervention comes as tensions within the Tory party are soaring.

Earlier in the day, the Chancellor told LBC that the Tory MPs “really care” about the UK.

Asked whether there was room for redemption, the Mr Javid said: “I would hope so. I would like to see them come back at some point.”

It came after former Cabinet member Damian Green described the purge of MPs as “monstrously unfair”.

And he added: “It’s terrible practical politics to narrow your appeal just before a general election.

“It’s an early present for the Liberal Democrats if the Conservative Party doesn’t want moderate progressive compassionate conservatives inside it.”

One former Cabinet minister told i that the majority of MPs are “deeply upset” about the decision to expel the rebels, adding that plans were underway to try and force the issue on Number 10.

But one Number 10 insider insisted there would be no return for those who opposed the Government in the crunch Brexit vote on Tuesday.

“They were clearly told the consequences of their actions before the vote was held. There will not be any letting them back in,” the source told i.

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Rebel MPs demand Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings be sacked

Furious MPs expelled from the Tory party by Boris Johnson have levelled the blame at the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser Dominic Cummings.

In total 21 Tory rebels had the party whip withdrawn after they voted against the Government to block the UK from leaving the European Union on 31 October without parliament’s consent.

Mr Cummings, who is widely viewed as the mastermind behind the successful EU referendum campaign, has been criticised for coming up with Downing Street’s hardline Brexit strategy, which led to the purge of Tory MPs.

Margot James, MP for Stourbridge who lost the whip on Tuesday night, described the presence of Mr Cummings as chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “very dangerous”.

Vote Leave influx

Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo: Reuters)

She said of the situation that it was “high time his wings were clipped”.

Read more:

Sajid Javid’s adviser sacked by Dominic Cummings in crackdown on leaking

Asked what she thought of Mr Cummings, Ms James said: “Very dangerous, very dangerous indeed. He is ruthless, he couldn’t care less whether we got a deal or whether we didn’t and he rules with a rod of iron.”

Mr Cummings, who ran the Vote Leave campaign in 2016 has been joined with other prominent figures from the same campaign team.

They include Lee Cain, who now acts as Mr Johnson’s Director of Communications and Robert Oxley, who is the Prime Minister’s spokesman.

No longer Conservative

Ken Clarke, a former chancellor, who lost the whip having served as a Tory MP since 1970, said Mr Cummings’ arrival at Number 10 had led to the Conservatives becoming the Brexit Party.

Mr Clarke suggested he might not even be able to bring himself to vote for the Conservatives at the next election.

Anti-Brexit protesters hold placards depicting Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his special advisor Dominic Cummings (Photo: Reuters)

“I am a Conservative, of course I am … But this leader, I don’t recognise this. It’s the Brexit party, rebadged,” he told the BBC.

“[The party has] been taken over by rather a knockabout sort of character [Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s senior aide] who’s got this bizarre crash-it-through philosophy.

He added: “[This is a] cabinet which is the most right-wing cabinet any Conservative party has ever produced. They’re not in control of events.”

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How Theresa May’s Brexit deal came back – without MPs getting to vote

A vote to block Boris Johnson from pushing through a no deal Brexit on 31 October witnessed bizarre scenes when an amendment to the bill passed by mistake.

The change tabled by backbench Labour MPs, which aimed to bring back former prime minister Theresa May’s final Brexit offer that offered concessions following cross-party talks, was approved without a vote.

A vote was called on the amendment but no tellers for the noes were put forward, resulting in Deputy Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle cancelling the vote and confirming the proposal had been added to the proposed legislation.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill was never put before Parliament, as Mrs May was ousted as leader of the Conservative Party before she was able to put it to a vote.

‘It is a travesty’

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon), moving the proposal, had told the Commons: “It is a travesty that Parliament did not get to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill as it was very different to the former prime minister’s blind Brexit and provided far more clarity on EU and UK relations.”

He continued: “The failure to compromise has played into the hands of the no-dealers, and the legal default is to leave without a deal.”

Mr Kinnock implied that with hindsight, if the Withdrawal Agreement Bill had been voted on by MPs, it may have passed.

He said: “I think many of us wish a crystal ball had been handed out when we first came to this place.”

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Tory Rebels: Ruth Davidson and senior Conservatives attacks Boris Johnson’s purge of 21 MPs

Senior Conservatives lined up to attack Boris Johnson’s decision to expel more than 20 Tory MPs from the party, including two former chancellors and Winston Churchill’s grandson.

The Prime Minister followed through with his threat late on Tuesday night by brutally throwing out 21 Tory rebels, who voted against the Government in a crucial Commons vote.

But the move was roundly criticised by grandees within the party, including the former leader of Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson.

Ms Davidson, who stood down from her role last week, tweeted her clear disappointment.

“How, in the name of all that is good and holy, is there no longer room in the Conservative Party for [Sir Nicholas] Soames? #anofficerandagentleman,” she said.

Astonishing

Rory Stewart, who was among those stripped of the Tory whip, branded the decision on Wednesday morning as “astonishing” adding it was something “you associate with other countries” rather than Britain.

Asked how he received the news, the Penrith and the Border MP said: “It came by text.”

Rory Stewart
Rory Stewart said he received his withdrawal of the whip via ‘text’ (Photo: Getty)

He added: “It was a pretty astonishing moment. Remember, only a few weeks ago I was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party against Boris Johnson and I was in the Cabinet. And it has all gone very quickly in six weeks.

“It feels a little bit like something you associate with other countries – one opposes the leader, one loses the leadership race, no longer in the cabinet and now apparently thrown out of the party and one’s seat too.”

Speaking straight after the decisive vote on Tuesday night, Ken Clarke who was booted out of the party having served as a Tory MP since 1970, suggested he might not even be able to bring himself to vote for the Conservatives.

“I am a Conservative, of course I am … But this leader, I don’t recognise this. It’s the Brexit party, rebadged,” he told the BBC.

Nicholas Soames
Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson, said he had lost the whip after 37 years for rebelling (Photo: Getty)

Brexit Party rebadged

“[The party has] been taken over by rather a knockabout sort of character [Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s senior aide] who’s got this bizarre crash-it-through philosophy.

He added: “[This is a] cabinet which is the most right-wing cabinet any Conservative party has ever produced. They’re not in control of events. The prime minister comes and talks total rubbish to us, and is planning to hold a quick election and get out, blaming parliament and Europe for the shambles.”

Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson, said he had lost the whip after 37 years for rebelling.

He said he would not stand again at the next election.

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Downing Street denies Boris Johnson will use executive power to delay a snap election until after Brexit

Government sources have dismissed Labour fears that Boris Johnson could change the date of a general election once MPs have voted for a snap poll as “tinfoil hat stuff”.

Downing Street has threatened rebellious MPs with a snap election on 14 October if they vote against the Government on Tuesday to block the Prime Minister’s Brexit plans.

But growing mistrust among MPs towards the Prime Minister has led to concerns he could use executive powers to move the election date to after the UK leaves the European Union to ensure he delivers on his Brexit pledge.

While Mr Johnson and his ministers have stopped short of making the threat of a general election publicly, senior government sources have briefed that a snap poll will be called if MPs vote to “chop the legs” from the UK’s negotiating position by blocking a no-deal Brexit.

Locked-in guarantee

Should the Government lose Tuesday night’s Brexit vote, officials have said it will table a motion to hold an early election, which requires a two-thirds majority in the Commons.

Labour has said it would welcome an early election, but has demanded a guarantee that the polling date will not be changed by the Prime Minister to after 31 October.

The Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti said Labour would “need to get the sequencing right” before voting in favour of an election, adding the party would need “a locked-in guarantee that Britain would not crash out of the EU during a campaign period”.

MPs believe Mr Johnson could use prerogative powers to change the date of an election once MPs have voted in favour of a snap election.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson (getty)

There would be a period of a few days before Parliament is dissolved for an election campaign when Mr Johnson could feasibly change the date until after the UK leaves the EU.

But a senior government source dismissed the fears, claiming it was “tinfoil hat stuff”, adding that it was “just nonsense” and being put forward by MPs who fear losing their seats.

Number 10 has repeatedly stated it does not want to hold a general election, insisting to MPs that it could be avoided by voting with the Government on Tuesday night.

Blueprint for purgatory

Downing Street said the rebel Bill set to be table don Wednesday to force a Brexit extension was a “blueprint for legislative purgatory”.

Read more:

Nigel Farage says Brexit Party won’t stand against Tories in general election if Boris Johnson promises no-deal Brexit

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said it would cost “vast amounts”, with roughly £1 billion a month paid to the EU for an extension, and was “very clearly in Brussels’ interests not in the British interest”.

The spokesman said: “The Prime Minister’s mood is determined. He wants to get on with delivering on the result of the referendum and the UK leaving the EU on October 31, ideally with a deal.

“We are opposed to the Bill which is being brought forward because it is about crippling negotiations and chopping the legs out from under the UK position, and making any further negotiation impossible.”

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Boris Johnson’s next move could hand him the mandate he craves – or end his career

The return of MPs to Parliament today promises to usher in a week-long power struggle between Parliament and the Government that could define Boris Johnson’s premiership.

Having had the summer break to himself to ramp up the rhetoric on a no-deal Brexit and announce a flurry of election-friendly policies, the Prime Minister will now come up against a growing alliance of rebel MPs who oppose his plans.

It will reignite the war over Brexit and sets up a showdown that could trigger a general election before the week is over.

Since April, when a defeated and demoralised Theresa May was forced to Brussels to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline, the volume of the debate in Westminster over the UK’s exit from the EU has been turned down low.

‘Today the rebels will attempt to seize control of the parliamentary agenda with the aim of passing a Bill that will force Mr Johnson to ask Brussels for a Brexit extension’

While Mrs May played out her last days as Prime Minister and Tory leadership rivals jostled among themselves to become her replacement, Brexit became little more than background noise.

But this week, the volume around the UK’s EU departure will once again be turned up to 11 as the so-called Rebel Alliance of cross-party MPs seeks to thwart Mr Johnson’s plans. Today the rebels will attempt to seize control of the parliamentary agenda with the aim of passing a Bill that will force Mr Johnson to ask Brussels for a Brexit extension.

Should they succeed then Mr Johnson has said he will be forced to head off their plans by asking MPs to vote for a general election, an offer Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could find too tempting to resist.

The move would be an almighty gamble from a man who has spent the past 20 years working to secure the keys to Number 10.

It could hand him the mandate he craves to head to Brussels and set the terms for the UK’s departure, or it could all but end Johnson’s political career.

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The Tory party has been taken over by Brexit fanatics and is ‘finished’, MP Nick Boles says

The Conservative Party is “finished” having been taken over by “hard right” Brexit obsessives, former Tory minister Nick Boles admitted on Monday.

Mr Boles, who quit the Tories earlier this year after he failed to secure a Brexit compromise, attacked the party over its decision to pursue a hard exit from the European Union, declaring it dead.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if the party is no longer a force, the independent MP said: “Yes. The hard right has taken over the Conservative Party.

“The Conservative Party has fallen prey to an almost religious obsession with the hardest form of Brexit.”

‘Foisting’ no-deal Brexit

MP Nick Boles said the Tory party had been ridden by hard-right Brexit supporters (Photo: Getty)

Mr Boles said Brexit was “not necessarily” a hard-right move but that “foisting” a no-deal departure on the UK was.

He said efforts to legislate to prevent such a departure was not an attempt to “sneak” a second referendum and took aim at Conservatives who have backed down on their former warnings about a no-deal to get jobs in Boris Johnson’s government.

“We’ve seen that there are some people in the Conservative Party who are willing to sell their principles at a pretty low price in exchange for a job in the Cabinet despite what they’ve said previously about a no-deal Brexit,” he said.

Cabinet attack

Read more:

Government planning to hold election on 14 October if MPs block no-deal Brexit

The comments appeared to be aimed at Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, all of whom attacked a no-deal brexit during the Tory leadership campaign.

Mr Boles, who now stands as an Independent MP, dramatically resigned from the Tory party in April after his bid to secure support for a Norway-style Brexit was defeated.

At the time he said he had given “everything to an attempt to find a compromise that can take this country out of the European Union while maintaining our economic strength and our political cohesion”.

And he added: “I accept I have failed. I have failed chiefly because my party refuses to compromise. I regret therefore to announce I can no longer sit for this party.”

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General election 2019: Government planning to hold vote on 14 October if MPs block no-deal Brexit

Boris Johnson has threatened rebellious MPs with a general election on 14 October if they refuse to back down over their bid to thwart his Brexit plans.

Cross-party MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit will launch a bid on Tuesday to seize control of the parliamentary agenda in an attempt to force the Prime Minister to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline.

The move will pave the way for the Commons to pass legislation and take a no-deal Brexit off the table on 31 October.

But a senior government source warned MPs thinking of backing the move they will force the Prime Minister to put forward a motion on holding a snap election to go back to the people on 14 October.

The source added that any Tory MP that votes against the Government will be thrown out of the Conservative Party.

Defying the whip

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (PhotoL PA Wire)

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Jacob Rees-Mogg says doctor who wrote no-deal Brexit planning was ‘fear-mongering’

It dramatically increases the stakes in the battle between MPs and Mr Johnson over a no-deal Brexit, and prompted furious Tory backbenchers to accuse the Prime Minister of hypocrisy.

A source close to the so-called “Gaukeward Squad” of Conservatives opposed to a no-deal departure told i: “It’s a bit rich for the Prime Minister to point the finger at colleagues who plan to defy the party whip – colleagues who voted for a deal three times – while he voted with Jeremy Corbyn to inflict the two biggest parliamentary defeats on a government in British history.

“The Prime Minister seems to be doing everything he can to bring about an election, while claiming it’s the last thing he wants.”

Mr Johnson called an emergency Cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss the snap election plans, which were signed off unanimously.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “I want everybody to know there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay,” he said. And he added: “We are leaving on October 31, no ifs or buts.”

Tory whip to be removed

Just after his short speech, a senior government official said MPs will face a “simple choice” today when voting on whether to block a no-deal Brexit, adding that the vote would be treated as a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s government.

He thinks he’s so f***ing great he’s going to walk an election

Conservative MP

“If they vote tomorrow to wreck the negotiation process, to go against giving Britain the ability to negotiate a deal, then they’ll also have to reflect on what comes next,” the source warned.

“The implication of that for Conservative MPs that voted tomorrow would be essentially, if you vote against a Conservative, if you vote against the PM in a confidence motion, you would lose the whip.”

If MPs ignore the threat and vote in favour of blocking Mr Johnson’s Brexit plans, then a motion will be tabled on Wednesday when MPs will be asked to vote on holding an election.

It will require a two-thirds majority of the Commons for it to be passed.

‘Failed Brexit they can’t deliver’

A gathering of pro-EU supporters hold up flags and placards outside Westminster (Photo: Getty)

But the move has angered Tory MPs opposed to the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Read more:

Boris Johnson calls on MPs to not delay Brexit as general election rumours mount

One Conservative MP told i the Prime Minister was being over-confident: “It’s the emperor’s new clothes. He thinks he’s so f***ing great he’s going to walk an election. But it’s going to be a schism in the party, the way he’s going.”

Another former Cabinet minister said: “I haven’t followed the Brexit whip for ages – what’s to withdraw? It’s all token gesture. They just want to blame everyone else for their failed Brexit they don’t know how to deliver.”

The so-called Rebel Alliance published their bill to block a no-deal Brexit on Monday evening, which will force Mr Johnson to ask for an extension until 31 January if no new exit deal had been agreed by 19 October.

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Downing Street backs down over threat to ignore law hindering no-deal Brexit

Downing Street was forced into a climbdown after ministers suggested the Government could ignore legislation that prevented a no-deal Brexit at the end of October.

MPs are expected to launch a dramatic bid today to pass a bill that will force Boris Johnson to ask the European Union for an extension to the Brexit deadline to prevent the UK leaving without a deal.

Cabinet ministers sparked outrage by suggesting the new law could be ignored by the Prime Minister to ensure he kept his promise to deliver Brexit on 31 October.

In an attempt to play down concerns, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said the ministers’ comments were in reference to trying to find a loophole in the wording of the legislation that might allow the Government wriggle room.

‘Perfectly normal’ to ignore

Gavin Williamson
Gavin Williamson

Earlier on Monday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it would be “perfectly normal” for a government not to enact immediately any new law that was passed by Parliament to block a no-deal departure.

While Mr Williamson insisted every government “adheres to the law”, he added the caveat: “We would be looking at what the impact of the legislation would be on the government’s negotiating position.”

It came after Michael Gove, the Duchy of Lancaster, refused to say whether the Government would uphold any legislation passed by a backbench rebellion.

Shape of legislation

Mr Gove said he would wait to “see what the legislation says” before committing to agreeing to abide by a new law, in comments which prompted fury from MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit.

Read more:

No-deal Brexit: How MPs are planning to stop Boris Johnson taking the UK out of the EU without a deal

Asked repeatedly whether the Government would abide by such legislation, Mr Gove refused to answer – raising fears that ministers are preparing to ignore the will of Parliament.

“Let’s see what the legislation says. You’re asking me about a pig in a poke,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward.”

When asked what Mr Gove meant by waiting to see what the legislation contained, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The point he was making was that he hasn’t seen any legislation yet, and that the Government will need to look at any legislation brought forward to establish what it does or doesn’t require.”

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Former Labour MP Jared O’Mara is arrested on suspicion of plotting fraud

Jared O’Mara, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, it has emerged.

Police raided the backbencher’s constituency office last week, removing computers and documents as part of their investigation.

According to reports, it led to the arrest of Mr O’Mara and his office manager Gareth Arnold on the suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud.

It is understood the two men were released last Saturday pending further investigation, The Mirror reported. South Yorkshire Police declined to comment.

MP to stand down

It caps a miserable two years in the Commons for Mr O’Mara, who won the seat in 2017 snap election, claiming the seat from the former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

By October of that year, Labour suspended him over historic online comments he made, which led to him being accused of homophobia and sexism.

In July 2018, the 37-year-old was readmitted into Labour having been given a formal warning but he quit the party that month, claiming he “not been listened to or given a fair investigation”. He has sat as an independent MP since.

Jared O’Mara winning Sheffield Hallam in 2017

Mr Arnold resigned from Mr O’Mara’s office last month, using the MP’s own Twitter account for an expletive riddled rant.

In April this year, he announced he was suspending his constituency work, while he attempted to recruit new staff.

Stand up for constituents

A recent investigation found staff were running the MP’s constituency office without the proper security clearance required by parliamentary authorities.

A spokesman for Sheffield Hallam Lib Dems said: “We have been calling for the resignation of Jared O’Mara for a long time. With crucial votes coming up in Westminster, the people of Sheffield Hallam need an MP they can count on to fight Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans and to stand up for local communities.”

His decision to step down will trigger a by-election, which the Liberal Democrats are confident of regaining.

A spokeswoman for the House of Commons said it was a matter for the local police to comment on the arrest of an MP.

The usual protocol is that the Clerk of the House would be notified by the Metropolitan Police should an MP be arrested.

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Brexit talks: Jeremy Corbyn calls meeting of opposition leaders to prevent ‘damaging’ exit

Jeremy Corbyn has invited senior MPs from opposition parties to an “urgent” meeting to discuss the options available to Parliament to stop a no-deal Brexit.

The Labour leader called on opponents of a disorderly exit to meet next week to look at “all tactics available to prevent a no-deal Brexit”.

In a letter, Mr Corbyn said: “The country is heading into a constitutional and political storm, so it is vital that we meet urgently, before Parliament returns. “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. That’s why we must do everything we can to stop it.”

The meeting is scheduled to take place on 27 August at midday. A Labour spokesman said that Mr Corbyn has decided to postpone a visit to Ghana next week to help try and stop a “damaging” no-deal Brexit.

Government of national unity

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said she does not think Labour has the numbers to form an emergency government (Photo: Gett)

The letter is addressed to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, Commons Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville Roberts, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Change UK leader Anna Soubry.

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Angela Merkel gives Boris Johnson a 30-day deadline to dodge no-deal and solve Irish backstop

Remain-backing Tory MPs Guto Bebb, Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin and Caroline Spelman are also copied in, as is former Conservative minister Nick Boles, who resigned the whip in opposition to the Government’s approach to Brexit.

The Lib Dems said they will attend the meeting in support of preventing the UK leaving the EU without a deal. But the party made clear that they believe Mr Corbyn will not have the backing of MPs in the Commons to head a government of national unity should Boris Johnson’s government be toppled in a vote of no confidence.

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Boris Johnson accused of launching ‘despicable’ HS2 review for political ends

Boris Johnson is cynically raising doubts over the future of HS2 in order to shore up support ahead of a general election, the country’s former National Infrastructure tsar has warned.

Lord Adonis, who is also a former transport secretary, condemned the Prime Minister’s decision to launch a major review into the high speed rail link, insisting it will lead to “significant delays and added costs” to the scheme.

The Department for Transport announced on Wednesday that it will hold an independent review into “whether and how” the Government will proceed with the 250mph railway connecting London and the North.

Review a ‘despicable decision’

Led by Douglas Overtree, a former chairman of HS2, the review will examine the benefits, affordability and scope of the vast project, who will report back to the Prime Minister in the autumn.

But Labour peer Lord Adonis, who chaired the National Infrastructure Commission until 2017, attacked the decision to stage a review as a piece of “politicking” by Mr Johnson.

“It’s a despicable way to run a major infrastructure project. You can’t write an in-depth review into something like Hs2 by the autumn. It will only add delays and costs to the overall project,” he told i.

“If you look at the make-up of the committee, it is stuffed full of people who are either very pro-HS2 and those who are utterly against it. Johnson is trying to be all things to all people. This is more to do with securing support from his base ahead of a general election,” he added.

Andrew Adonis
Andrew Adonis (Getty)

Lord Adonis said the scheme will likely go ahead once a general election was out of the way, meaning the review would create needless costs and delays to the project.

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Boris Johnson hints he may scrap HS2 over spiralling costs

Mr Johnson has previously called for HS2 to be scrapped, and has come under significant pressure from the Conservative grassroots to abandon the scheme, which runs through swathes of Tory heartlands.

During the Tory leadership campaign, he said it was sensible to have a review but stopped short of calling for it to be halted.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC that the Government would “not just carry on ploughing more money” into HS2 just because it had already spent significant sums on the scheme.

“So we need to have a look at HS2, we need to make sure that it is under control, that the money is being well spent, if that is the way we go,” he added.

‘Uncertainty and confusion’

The review has been supported by Labour, but there are concerns over its terms of reference, particularly suggestions that the line could terminate at Old Oak Common, rather than Euston station.

Latest estimates have placed the expected cost of HS2 at between £75bn and £85bn.

HS2 rail route
HS2 rail route

Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham raised fears the review could add “uncertainty and confusion” to the future of the scheme.

Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said HS2 is a “vital project to help rebalance the economy and make us more productive”.

Joe Rukin Campaign Manager of Stop HS2, said: “If this is to be a genuine review as to whether to go ahead or not with the project, the government must cease all works immediately, because damage to irreplaceable habitats and ancient woodland is happening as we speak.”

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GCSE grades explained: how the new 1-9 grades work, letter equivalents and why the marking system was introduced

For more than half a million teenagers the anxious wait for their GCSE results is over.

This year is the second that students will receive numerical grades in most subjects, following changes to the system that saw more challenging content being brought in and pupils sitting an average of 20 to 25 exam papers.

Here we explain what these (almost) new grades actually stand for, to help you get to grips with the changes.

What do the new number grades mean?

The Government changed the GCSE grading system from A* to G to a numerical system 9 to 1. The top grade is a grade 9 and 1 is the lowest. The new grading system was introduced to bring in more differentiation at the top end of the grading scale, to allow sixth forms, universities and employers to better understand what level young people are working to.

To add confusion, there are effectively two pass marks as schools will be judged by the proportion of pupils that achieve a standard pass and above, a grade 4, as well as being held to account for the proportion of pupils that gain a “strong” pass or above, known as a grade 5.

Is a 9 the same as an A*?

In a word, no. A good rule of thumb for the new grading system is a grade 7 is broadly equivalent to an A in old money, while a grade 9 is above an A*. A grade 4 is similar to an old grade C. Relatively few students will achieve grade 9s as they will effectively be rationed. If you have secured a boat load of grades 7s and 8s you should be very happy indeed, universities and employers consider these to be very good grades.

 

Source: Ofqual

 

I have grades 4s and 5s, what does this mean?

Grade 4s are the equivalent to a grade C, while a grade 5 is roughly the same as a high grade C and close to a low B grade. Securing these grades in English and maths means you will not be required to resit these qualifications, which was a stipulation brought in by the Government in 2015/16. If, however, you have a grade 3 you will be expected to resit these GCSEs until you pass them.

Do I have the grades to get into sixth form?

It very much depends on the sixth form, but generally they do set entry requirements to continue studies onto A-level. You should speak to the admissions officer at your preferred sixth form to check you have the grades to get in. Certain subjects often require certain grades. Subjects such as history or languages may often set higher entry requirements to carry on and study them, but always peak to your school and the admissions officer.

Do I have the grades to get onto a vocational course?

Again it depends on what vocational course you are hoping to go on to. All courses will require you to have at least a grade 4 in English and maths. But if you fail to secure this, you will be able to resit the qualification while you are on your vocational course.

Why were the grades changed?

The grades were changed as part of a complete overhaul of the GCSE system, which was carried out to bring England closer in line with the top performing education jurisdictions around the world. The numerical grades allow for greater differentiation of students at the top end of the scale.

While the grading is no harder than previous years, the GCSE curriculum had more content and some of the questions in the exam papers are indeed harder. Each exam paper has a small number of questions designed to identify students on course to gain a grade 9. The questions set for these students are far harder than those in the old GCSE exams.

According to a survey by the National Education Union, nearly nine-in-ten (89 per cent) teachers believe the changes in how the new GCSEs are assessed have made more students “extremely anxious and stressed”.

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GCSE results day 2019: here’s what to do if you failed maths or English

As of 2016, the Government has required that all students who fail to secure at least a grade 4 in GCSE English and maths will have to resit the qualification.

If you achieved a grade 1, 2 or 3, then do not panic as you will have the chance to retake the exams – whether you want to or not.

When do I resit the exams?

The resits are generally taken at the same time as usual GCSEs around June, meaning students will have to deal with revising to retake their exams on top of their other workload.

It does mean students have plenty of time to prepare for the exam. Students can also choose to resit their exams in November if they are feeling confident they will pass.

Why do I have to resit the exams?

Essentially, it was introduced by the Government to ensure young people had sufficient numeracy and literacy skills for future employment.

Ministers also made it a condition of further education college funding that students who did not manage a grade C or 4 should have to resit the exams.

The move has proved contentious, with FE college leaders calling for a review of the policy as three-quarters of students who did not pass their GCSEs in the two subjects, failed to do so by age 19.

What if I fail again?

Unfortunately, if a student fails a second time, they will have to resit the exam again. Students who managed to gain a grade 3 or D grade will be expected to resit the GCSE.

Those who managed a 1 or 2 grade, may be advised to be put forward for a “stepping stone” subject, such as the functional skills qualification.

What help can I get?

Students should be fully informed by their colleges as to what they need to do and will be taught the GCSE curriculum in a classroom setting just as they did in school.

It will be challenging for students as official figures show that 74 per cent of people who did not pass their English or maths GCSE resit, will not pass the exams at all by the time they are 19.

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No-deal Brexit: Minister James Cleverly refuses to publish full details as public would ‘misunderstand’

Ministers are refusing to publish the full dossier produced by Whitehall in the event of a no-deal Brexit due to fears it would lead to “misunderstandings” among the public.

Planning documents into the Government’s preparations for leaving the European Union without a deal was leaked to the media over the weekend, warning of shortages in fuel, food and medicines.

But Downing Street has dismissed calls from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to publish the report, with Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly suggesting people would misconstrue the purpose of the document.

Mr Cleverly also claimed the document, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, was “out of date” despite his tacit admission that it was produced just three weeks ago.

‘Not predictions’

Conservative MP James Cleverly (Photo: Getty)

Asked why the report should not be made public, he told BBC Breakfast: “Because it’s an internal document for the government. It’s not a series of predictions.

“And the fact that we’re having this conversation shows that people misunderstand the nature of that document.”

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Operation Yellowhammer papers warn of food, fuel and medicine shortages if UK goes for no-deal Brexit

“I think, as he does with many other things, Jeremy Corbyn has misunderstood what this is.”

The Yellowhammer report has sparked significant concern among the business community leading to the National Freight Association to accuse the government of hiding the worst-case scenario from the sector.

David Wells, the FTAs chief executive, said the details that emerged from the documents came as a “complete shock” as he urged ministers to come clean on what a no-deal Brexit would entail.

Worst case scenario

Boris Johnson says the UK will leave the EU by 31 October, with or without a deal (Photo: Getty)

But Mr Cleverly sought to play down the dossier, insisting it was an old document that was based on “worst-case scenarios which the government takes action to avoid and mitigate”.

Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, he twice refused to deny the report was produced on 1 August, making it just three weeks old.

“The document is an internal government document,” he said. “The reason it is out of date is because the government has enhanced its no deal planning.”

Operation Yellowhammer

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Britain to cut almost all diplomatic contact with EU in coming days to focus on Brexit

The dossier, leaked to The Sunday Times, suggested there would be delays at ports for three months, a hard border in Ireland, rising costs of food, fuel and social care due to restricted supplies and higher inflation, as well as the closure of two oil refineries and delays at Gibraltar’s border with Spain.

It also warned that the effects of a no-deal Brexit would disproportionately hit poorer communities because more of their money goes on food and fuel.

Price rises are expected in supermarkets if the UK leaves without an EU agreement, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, mcu of which is imported from the continent and is likely to be hit by delays and shortages.

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Brexit talks: Boris Johnson targets EU leaders directly with fresh deal and ignores diplomatic spat over Irish border

Boris Johnson ignored a growing diplomatic spat in Brussels over his Brexit demands by insisting he could broker a fresh deal directly with EU leaders ahead of crunch talks with Angela Merkel.

Mr Johnson is due to make his debut on the international stage as Prime Minister when he meets the German Chancellor to discuss the UK’s withdrawal from the EU over dinner on Wednesday.

But during a terse exchange of words on both sides of the Channel, Donald Tusk attacked Mr Johnson for being disingenuous over the Irish border.

The Prime Minister shrugged off the criticism by claiming a deal could be struck by appealing over the heads of the European Commission and directly to the heads of the EU member states.

‘Practical solutions’

Mrs Merkel suggested she was open to 'practical solutions' to the backstop
Mrs Merkel suggested she was open to ‘practical solutions’ to the backstop (Photo: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

It came as Mrs Merkel suggested she was open to “practical solutions” to the backstop, but insisted the withdrawal agreement would not be reopened. Speaking ahead of his meeting, Mr Johnson said that there needed to be a “total backstop-ectomy” if there is to be any chance of a Brexit deal.

Mr Johnson laid the blame over the impasse in the talks at the door of the EU, claiming its position on installing a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic was “paradoxical”.

“We’ve made it clear 1,000 times we don’t want to see any checks on the Northern Irish frontier at all, under no circumstances. Let me repeat again: Under no circumstances will the Government of the United Kingdom be putting checks on the Northern Irish frontier,” he told ITV.

And he added: “By contrast it is the EU who currently claim that the single market and the plurality of the single market requires them to have such checks – I don’t think that’s true.”

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EU citizens after Brexit: how the UK’s new immigration system will work

Mr Johnson said he would be speaking to Mrs Merkel and French President Emanuel Macron tomorrow to push his case, stating he would approach the discussions “with a lot of oomph”.

“It may be that for now, they stick with the mantra, rien ne va plus, and they can’t change a jot or a tittle of the withdrawal agreement. Let’s see how long they stick to that, I think there are plenty of other creative solutions,” he added.

Brexit talks breakthrough

The President of the European Council Donald Tusk (Photo: Getty)

Any hopes of an early breakthrough in talks over the insurance policy, which is designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, appeared slim ahead of his Berlin meeting, dramatically raising the prospect of a no deal departure on 31 October.

Speaking during a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland, Mrs Merkel attempted to strike a conciliatory tone, stating: “The moment we have a practical arrangement on how to preserve the Good Friday agreement and at the same time define the borders of the (European Union’s) internal market, we would not need the backstop anymore.”

His comments suggest Mr Johnson believes Brussels will blink first in the Brexit standoff. He will meet Mr Macron over lunch in Paris on Thursday before heading to the G7 summit in Biarritz on Saturday.

Sterling wobbles — Merkel helps reverse fall

The value of the pound against the euro fell before recovering as the fate of sterling remained tied to news on Brexit negotiations.

After European Council President Donald Tusk gave short shrift to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s demand for the EU nations to drop the Northern Ireland backstop, the pound fell to 1.08.

The currency rallied when German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that a solution could yet be found.

“I have always said that when one has the will to find these solutions, one can do so in a short period of time,” she said. Her opinion that “the EU is ready to find a solution” helped sterling slightly rise, to 1.09.

Analysts believe that although a no-deal is still likely, as long as there is any prospect of a deal, currency speculation will remain limited, but the fluctation exposed how sensitive the pound remains to potential negotiations between the UK and EU.

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No-deal Brexit could mean minimum school food standards have to be scrapped, councils warn

Councils could be forced to scrap legal school meal nutrition standards due to food shortages and delays in the event of a no-deal Brexit, local authority planning papers have warned.

Minimum school food standards were introduced to ensure every child is given a healthy meal at lunchtime.

But town halls have raised concerns that an increase in food costs and potential shortages due to supply chains being hit could force them to lower the quality of food on offer if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Amend nutrition standards

The UK imports between a quarter and a third of its food from the EU, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, but this could be significantly disrupted in a disorderly exit.

According to no-deal planning documents seen by the BBC, councils such as North Ayrshire are warning they “might need to amend school nutrition standards” to ensure children are given enough food.

In its own impact assessment, North Tyneside Council said “special dietary requirements may be difficult to meet”, adding that “if fresh produce is difficult to come by” schools should “increase use of tins and frozen goods”.

Hastings Council even raised the prospect of rationing food if the UK leaves the EU without a negotiated deal.

“There might be the need for rationing. The severity would depend on what was available and particularly the duration of any shortages,” its internal report states.

Experts have warned that the timing of the UK’s scheduled departure on 31 October would add further challenges as warehousing space is limited due to stores stocking for Christmas, while the UK is at its most reliant on the EU for fresh food.

Back to the 1700s

Bidfood, which is one of the country’s biggest catering suppliers to the public sector, such as schools, hospitals and prisons, said the UK would have to return to a menu “from the 1700s” if it was going to rely more heavily on domestic produce.

“The key areas that we’re looking at in terms of making sure we have surety of supply is around those key things that we import, like pasta, tuna, tinned tomatoes, olive oil, chips, french fries, rice. These are not exotic commodities, these are staples of everyday life, and we want to make sure that all of our customers can get those,” Andrew Selley, chief executive of Bidfood, told the BBC.

“Because of our changing tastes, unless we’re going to go back to a menu based on the 1700s, we are going to look at imported products and imported tastes and imported flavours,” he added.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was holding regular meetings with industry “to make sure we are prepared for all scenarios as we leave the EU.”

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Operation Yellowhammer: Avoiding no-deal Brexit must be the ‘number one priority’, warns business leader

Avoiding no-deal must be the “number one priority” for the Government, according to Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry.

Ms Fairbairn told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that what Yellowhammer does show is just how incredibly serious for our economy a no-deal outcome would be. It is difficult to predict exactly what the outcome could be but in terms of our conversations with businesses over the years, these feel like plausible outcomes.”

She added: “We would also totally agree with Michael Gove in terms of the importance of preparation. Business does have to prepare but I think, above all else, what this shows is that we must be trying to get a deal. And that must be the number-one priority of Government.”

Ms Fairbairn said that, while the UK has made some preparations, there are things “we can’t be prepared for” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

No-deal preparations

The Yellowhammer documents show what could happen if there's a no-deal Brexit (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/File)
The Yellowhammer documents show what could happen if there’s a no-deal Brexit (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/File)

The Freight Transport Association also reacted with alarm to the idea of fuel shortages, saying these possibilities had not been conveyed to them by the Government.

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Operation Yellowhammer papers warn of food, fuel and medicine shortages if UK goes for no-deal Brexit

“This is the first time the industry is learning of any threat to fuel supplies – a particularly worrying situation, as this would affect the movement of goods across the country, not just to and from Europe, and could put jobs at risk throughout the sector which keeps Britain trading,” a spokeswoman said.

The Brexit Party’s leader, Nigel Farage, said: “I don’t think this [leaked report] is really a Government document at all, I think it’s a civil service document, I call it an Olly Robbins special.”

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