Brexit latest: Tory Brexiteer Nigel Evans claims there are 50 Labour MPs who are prepared to back deal

Tory MP Nigel Evans has claimed that 50 MPs from the Labour Party would be prepared to back a new Brexit deal brought by Boris Johnson.

Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, the Brexiteer claimed that progress is being made by the Government on finding a new solution to the Irish border issue and that members of the Northern Irish DUP are also onside.

Mr Johnson said that a no-deal Brexit would be a “failure of statecraft” during a visit to Dublin on Monday, despite concerns from some MPs that this is his objective.

Under the terms of a new law, which has been imposed on Mr Johnson by MPs, the Prime Minister must seek an extension to Brexit beyond 31 October unless either a new deal, or a no-deal exit is approved by the Commons by 19 October.

‘We can do a deal’

Nigel Evans said a number of Labour MPs would back the deal. (Photo: Sky News)

Mr Evans told Sky News: “Everybody’s been focusing on whether [Mr Johnson will] break the law. Of course, he clearly doesn’t want to do that.

“Nor does he want to disrespect the views of the British voters in that referendum, and so the way we do that is by seeing if there is a way that we can do a deal. ”

“And I talked to Arlene Foster yesterday who was over for discussions with the Prime Minister, I spoke to Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP, who is incredibly pragmatic at looking for all sorts of ways.

“And we all already know that the Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney has been looking at ways of facilitating the integrity of the single market but away from the border.

50 Labour MPs

Caroline Flint is leading the new group (Photo: Getty Images)

“And so there are all sorts of ways that this can happen. But what we need, and this is the one thing that has been lacking, is political will.

“And I spoke to a Labour MP yesterday, and she told me that there are about 50 Labour MPs who are ready to break ranks with the Labour Party, if necessary, in order to vote for a pragmatic sensible deal that’s going to deliver Brexit.”

Labour MPs Stephen Kinnock and Caroline Flint are trying to build a cross-party consensus for a deal, with support from former Tory ministers such as Rory Stewart.

Mr Johnson is focused on trying to negotiate changes to the backstop, a series of measures that keeps the UK in the Customs Union and Northern Ireland aligned to many EU rules, to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

The DUP, who have helped prop up the Tory Government, are opposed to any deal that separates Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK.

‘Economic and constitutional integrity of the UK’

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)

Ms Foster said after meeting the Prime Minister on Tuesday: “A sensible deal, between the United Kingdom and European Union which respects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, is the best way forward for everyone,” she said.

“History teaches us that any deal relating to Northern Ireland which cannot command cross-community support is doomed to failure. That is why the Northern Ireland backstop is flawed.

“During today’s meeting, the Prime Minister confirmed his rejection of the Northern Ireland only backstop and his commitment to securing a deal which works for the entire United Kingdom as well as our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland.”

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Brexit talks: Boris Johnson ‘may be prepared to back down on Irish border’

Speculation was mounting that Boris Johnson could be ready to make a compromise on Brexit. The summit came as a senior EU figure claimed that the “penny is finally dropping with the UK” over a potential solution to the Northern Ireland border that could break the deadlock in Westminster, Dublin and Brussels.

The Prime Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster held talks for over an hour in Downing Street 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.

But there could be movement over a special agri-food area covering Ireland and Northern Ireland, with alternative arrangements for other trade. Before the No 10 talks, Phil Hogan, who was nominated as the EU’s new trade commissioner and is Irish, fuelled speculation that there could be movement on the backstop – which has been the major obstacle to the Brexit withdrawal agreement being passed by Parliament.

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)

Cross community support

Mrs Foster said: “History teaches us that any deal relating to Northern Ireland which cannot command cross community support is doomed to failure. That is why the Northern Ireland backstop is flawed.”

Mr Hogan told the Irish Times: “I remain hopeful that the penny is finally dropping with the UK that there are pragmatic and practical solutions can actually be introduced into the debate at this stage that may find some common ground between the EU and the UK.”

Mr Johnson has expressed interest in an all-Ireland agri-food area, as agriculture accounts for 30 per cent of trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Deal stopper — Agreement key to unlocking progress

The Irish backstop has become the key sticking point in getting a Brexit deal passed by Parliament.

It was written into the Withdrawal Agreement as an insurance policy to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, meaning that during the transition period between the UK’s departure from the EU and a trade deal being agreed, the UK and Ireland would stay inside an EU customs territory. A Northern Ireland-only backstop would keep that nation in a common customs arrangement with Ireland but separate to the rest of the UK, creating a border down the Irish Sea.

While the DUP is opposed to this, it has indicated it would be open to some divergence on trade rules between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

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Justine Greening to stand down as MP at next election as Tory party ‘becomes the Brexit party’

Justine Greening has announced she will not stand as a Member of Parliament at the next general election.

The former education secretary has sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying she will not stand as a Conservative candidate.

She said her concerns of the party “becoming the Brexit party” had come to pass.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today programme she said: “I want to focus on making a difference on the ground on social mobility and I believe I can do that better outside of parliament than inside Parliament. We have seen Parliament gridlocked on Brexit.

“I will continue to represent my community that heavily voted to remain on Brexit and I have no doubt that the person following me for Putney will also represent our community on Brexit.”

No ‘sensible choice’

Justine Greening's constituency voted for remain at the referendum         (Photo: Justine Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)
Justine Greening’s constituency voted for remain at the referendum (Photo: Justine Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

Ms Greening added: “It is very clear to me that my concerns about the Conservative Party becoming the Brexit party in effect have come to pass and therefore my decision is that, if I really want to continue to make a difference on the ground on opportunity and social mobility, I need to do that outside Parliament and that’s what I am prepared to do.”

The MP’s announcements comes the day after a source said the Government is planning to hold a general election on 14 October if rebel Tory MPs block a no-deal Brexit.

She said a general election would not offer people a “sensible choice”.

“I don’t believe the Conservative Party will offer people a sensible choice at the next election. Boris Johnson is going to offer people a general election that faces them with a choice between no-deal  or Jeremy Corbyn.

“That is a lose-lose general election for Britain and I think a far better way of resolving a path forward on Brexit is to give the British people a direct choice between the different options of Brexit themselves rather than a messy general election which I believe will be inconclusive on a route forward on Brexit.”

Ms Greening has been a staunch Remain supporter and was vocal in her opposition to the Prime Minister proroguing parliament last week.

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Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson write to the Queen asking for ‘urgent meeting’ over Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson have both written to the Queen calling for a meeting “as a matter of urgency” alongside other opposition members of the Privy Council to voice their objections to the suspension of Parliament.

The Labour leader said he “protested in the strongest possible terms on behalf of my party” in his letter. Mr Corbyn argued that prorogation would “deprive the electorate of the opportunity to have their representatives hold the Government to account” in the crucial weeks leading up to the scheduled date of Brexit on 31 October. “There is a danger that the royal prerogative is being set directly against the wishes of a majority of the House of Commons,” he wrote.

The Privy Council meeting to sign off Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament has happened at Balmoral on Wednesday afternoon. The Queen approved the order on to prorogue Parliament no earlier than September 9 and no later than September 12, until October 14. Sources said Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg – the Lord President of the Council – Lords Leader Baroness Evans and Chief Whip Mark Spencer attended the meeting with the Queen.

Ms Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, also wrote to the monarch “to express my concern at Boris Johnson’s anti-democratic plan to shut down Parliament and to request an urgent meeting”.

Jeremy Corbyn argued that prorogation would 'deprive the electorate of the opportunity to have their representatives hold the Government to account' in the crucial weeks leading up to the scheduled date of Brexit
Jeremy Corbyn argued that prorogation would ‘deprive the electorate of the opportunity to have their representatives hold the Government to account’ in the crucial weeks leading up to the scheduled date of Brexit (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty)

‘Arrogant attempt’

She said: “This is a crucial time in our country’s history, and yet our Prime Minister is arrogantly attempting to force through a no-deal Brexit against the democratic will. He is outrageously stifling the voices of both the people and their representatives.

“It is appalling that the Prime Minister has forced opposition leaders into taking this action. However, we must take all measures necessary to avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit, for which there is no mandate.”

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Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson says anti-no deal Brexit rebels are ‘looking to act as soon as possible’

The letters were sent shortly after a cross-party meeting of MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit, including Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, to discuss how to counter what has been described as an attempted “coup” by Mr Johnson.

The group is expected to build on their meeting on Tuesday to use the moment when Parliament returns from its summer break on 3 September to work together on a new law to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Ms Swinson said the Prime Minister was embarking on a “dangerous and unacceptable course of action”. However, Mr Johnson’s decision gives them even less time to come up with a plan preventing – or delaying – a no-deal Brexit that will get through the Commons before 31 October.

Other MPs hit out at the position Mr Johnson had put the Queen in. Senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper said he was “trying to use the Queen to concentrate power in his own hands” while fellow ex-Cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw said the move would “drag the monarch into an unprecedented constitutional crisis”.

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Boris Johnson is heading for a showdown with hardline Brexiteers who want more changes to Brexit deal

Boris Johnson is heading for a showdown with hardline Conservative Brexiteers after Downing Street confirmed he will rubber-stamp Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement if it is stripped of the Irish backstop plan.

The so-called Spartans – who voted three times against the former prime minister’s Brexit blueprint – are pressing for more sweeping changes to the document she ­negotiated with Brussels last year.

However, asked whether Mr Johnson was seeking any other amendments to the agreement, a spokeswoman replied: “We have been clear the changes we are seeking relate to the backstop.”

Conservative sources also told i that the Prime Minister was braced for a backlash from members of the European Research Group of anti-EU MPs in the event of any agreement with Brussels. “We know that the ‘Spartans’ are going to accuse us of betrayal at some point,” said one source.

Brexit row

Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel attend the launch of the Boris Johnson Conservative Party leadership campaign in June (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty)

Former ministers Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis, Mark ­Francois and Steve Baker are among ­Eurosceptics who have called for swathes of the agreement to be ditched. They argue that it ties Britain to EU institutions without having any influence over them.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “Simply getting rid of the backstop isn’t enough. Many believe that what the UK really needs is a basic free trade deal with a standstill on regulations and tariffs whilst this is completed after we leave. I share those views – but I am sanguine ­because I am sure Boris understands that the deal Mrs May (inset) struck is a pig’s breakfast, under which the UK would surrender control to the EU far beyond the backstop.”

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Mr Francois has also forecast dozens of Tory MPs would rebel against the government if the rest of the deal was untouched.

Mr Johnson told the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, Britain would leave without a deal unless the backstop was abolished.

A Commission spokesman said Mr Juncker had countered that a no-deal scenario would only ever be the UK’s decision, not the EU’s.

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Brexit talks: Boris Johnson warned that EU will block trade deal if UK does not pay £39bn divorce bill

Brussels has warned Boris Johnson that failure to pay the £39bn divorce bill would create a diplomatic crisis between Britain and the EU and jeopardise post-Brexit trade talks.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly insisted that he would no longer feel legally obliged in the event of a no-deal exit to pay the full sum agreed by Theresa May and Brussels.

Downing Street reportedly believes that the UK could only have to pay between £7bn and £10bn if Britain left the bloc without agreement.

Mr Johnson has been buoyed by suggestions from President Donald Trump and the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during talks at the G7 summit that their countries could strike a trade deal within a year of Brexit day. But EU officials warned the UK was required to stand by the commitments it made as an EU member and hinted at legal action to recoup the money.

Trade talk row

Guy Verhofstadt said the UK's plans would end up 'penalising' EU citizens (Photo: PA)
Guy Verhofstadt said the UK’s plans would end up ‘penalising’ EU citizens (Photo: PA)

Mina Andreeva, the Commission spokeswoman, said: “All commitments that were taken by the 28 member states should be honoured and this is also and especially true in a no-deal scenario where the UK would be expected to continue to honour all commitments made during EU membership.

“Rather than going now into a judicial action threat, I think it is important to make clear that settling accounts is essential to starting off a new relationship on the right foot, based on mutual trust.

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Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, said: “If the UK doesn’t pay what is due, the EU will not negotiate a trade deal. After a no deal, this will be a first condition of any talks. Britain is better than this.”

Mr Johnson has said that there would be “very substantial sums” available from the £39bn tospend on domestic priorities such as the National Health Service if there was a no-deal Brexit.

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

Angela Merkel gave Boris Johnson a deadline of 30 days to find a formula for averting a no-deal Brexit by producing an alternative to the contentious Irish backstop scheme.

She set the clock ticking – and put the onus on Britain to break the Brexit impasse – at talks in Berlin with the Prime Minister.

He responded by saying he accepted her “very blistering timetable” and will have been encouraged that the German Chancellor struck a cautiously positive note in their encounter.

Mr Johnson is braced for a cooler reception when he meets President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday in Paris.

30 days to solve Brexit

Angela Merkel gave Boris Johnson a deadline of 30 days to find a formula for averting a no-deal Brexit
Angela Merkel gave Boris Johnson a deadline of 30 days to find a formula for averting a no-deal Brexit (Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty)

French officials believe a no-deal Brexit on 31 October is the most likely scenario because of Mr Johnson’s demand for the withdrawal agreement to be renegotiated.

Mr Johnson began his drive to persuade European leaders to reopen talks with a message to the European Council President Donald Tusk that Britain would leave without a deal unless the “anti-democratic” backstop was ditched.

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The scheme would keep the UK in a customs union with the EU – and Northern Ireland in some parts of the single market – until a free trade deal was reached with the bloc.

It was proposed, and supported by Theresa May, but rejected three times by MPs, as a way of avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Irish backstop stand-off

Mr Johnson is braced for a cooler reception when he meets President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday in Paris
Mr Johnson is braced for a cooler reception when he meets President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday in Paris (Photo: ALEXEI DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty)

The issue has been as the heart of the stand-off between London and Brussels since Mr Johnson demanded that the backstop plan is abandoned.

Mrs Merkel challenged the Prime Minister to come up with a workable alternative which protected the integrity of the single market within a month.

She said: “If one is able to solve this conundrum, if one finds this solution, we said we would probably find it in the next two years to come, but we can also maybe find it in the next 30 days to come.

“Then we are one step further in the right direction and we have to obviously put our all into this.”

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Boris Johnson sets course for no-deal Brexit after refusing to relent on demands to scrap backstop in letter to Brussels

Mr Johnson replied: “I must say I am very glad listening to you tonight Angela to hear that at least the conversations that matter can now properly begin.

“You have set a very blistering timetable of 30 days. If I understood you correctly, I am more than happy with that.”

A Downing Street source said it was happy with the tone of Mrs Merkel’s exchange.

Brexit compromise

Mrs Merkel challenged the Prime Minister to come up with a workable alternative which protected the integrity of the single market
Mrs Merkel challenged the Prime Minister to come up with a workable alternative which protected the integrity of the single market (Photo: Omer Messinger/Getty)

The government was not briefed beforehand that she would set a 30-day deadline, but Mr Johnson’s team hopes it indicates that European leaders are preparing to renegotiate and compromise.

However, a French presidential aide was far more downbeat ahead of the Prime Minister’s trip to Paris, telling AFP: “The scenario that is becoming the most likely is one of no-deal.”

The official also poured cold water on Mr Johnson’s claim that Britain would not have to pay the agreed £39bn “divorce payment” to the EU if no agreement was struck.

“The idea of saying ‘there’s not a deal, so I won’t pay’ does not work,” the official said.

“We cannot imagine that a country like the UK would back out of an international commitment.”

The official added: “There’s no magic wand that makes this bill disappear.”

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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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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: Chances of Britain having to put contingency plans into effect grow by the day

Boris Johnson has endured two grim days dominated by headlines warning of the disruption, shortages and unrest which could follow a no-deal Brexit.

The dystopian view of the near future was painted in a leaked Whitehall analysis which Downing Street hurriedly dismissed as out of date and failing to reflect recent moves to accelerate planning for a possible no-deal exit.

Within days, the Government will begin spending £130m on an information blitz on the issue. Advertisements on television, radio, newspapers and social media will prepare the country for the prospect of leaving the EU without an agreement.

The media onslaught will differ from previous information campaigns by targeting the public – rather than businesses – with “user-friendly” advice on how no deal could affect their everyday lives. It will for instance give advice to holidaymakers about foreign travel after Brexit.

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)

Huge resources are also being poured into the Government’s website to ensure it can withstand a surge of traffic in the approach to 31 October. Michael Gove, who is in charge of no-deal planning, will brief MPs on developments when they return from their recess on 3 September and is promising to update them regularly after that.

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Boris Johnson rips up Theresa May’s pledge to EU citizens with no-deal Brexit borders crackdown

Mr Johnson acknowledged yesterday that there would be “bumps along the road” to Brexit, but insisted he still believed Brussels would blink first in its stand-off with Britain. However, he is no longer claiming that the odds on failing to reach agreement with the EU are a “million to one”.

The chances of Britain having to put no-deal contingency planning into effect appear to be growing by the day.

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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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End of free movement: Boris Johnson rips up Theresa May’s pledge to EU citizens with no-deal Brexit borders crackdown

Boris Johnson was warned he could trigger a new Windrush-style scandal after he announced plans to impose “much tougher” criminality checks at Britain’s borders following a no-deal Brexit.

Downing Street confirmed that the right of European Union nationals to freedom of movement would end overnight on 31 October if the UK leaves the bloc without an agreement with Brussels.

It is tearing up Theresa May’s intention to keep current freedom of movement rules in place until the end of 2020. The announcement also caused consternation among business chiefs, who protested that ministers were adding to uncertainty and confusion in the run-up to Brexit.

Details of the proposed new immigration regime, which may have be in place in just over 10 weeks, are being rapidly developed by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary.

Borders crackdown

Priti Patel is in charge of immigration overhaul (Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty)
Priti Patel is in charge of immigration overhaul (Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty)

Meanwhile, the Home Office is stepping up efforts to encourage the three million EU nationals living in Britain to apply for “settled status” in advance of Brexit. Two-thirds are yet to request the status, raising fears that up to two million people could be left in a legal limbo when new rules come into force.

Critics claimed that the upheaval could lead to a repeat of last year’s Windrush scandal in which people living in Britain for many years after arriving from the Caribbean were wrongly stripped of benefits, detained or even deported.

Downing Street insisted that EU nationals already in the UK would not be prevented from re-entering the country on 1 November – even if they were yet to receive their new paperwork.

But the3million, an EU citizens’ campaign group, said: “This government is shamefully linking EU citizens to criminality at every turn.

“We demand that the PM delivers on his promises to EU immigrants rather than creating … a large-scale Windrush scandal by treating us as ‘guilty until proven innocent’.”

Shake-up to no-deal plans

Diane Abbott, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “The threat to treat EU citizens settled here as if they may be criminals is a direct product of the Government’s aim to crash out with a no-deal Brexit.

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “The Home Office has proved time and time again that it is simply not fit for purpose. The idea that it will be able to cope with a bureaucratic exercise on this scale after the Windrush scandal is completely untenable.”

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

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the immigration system, which currently places no restrictions on EU nationals wanting to live and work in Britain, would “look different” under the shake-up.

“Freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October,” she said. “We will introduce, immediately, much tougher criminality rules for people entering the UK.”

Josh Hardie, the CBI’s deputy director-general, said: “Announcing that the existing arrangements may end before a replacement has been designed, delivered or tested will only cause confusion.”

‘Race against time’

Ministers face a race against time to avert chaos at Britain’s borders on 1 November in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A complex system needs to be designed and introduced for that moment – just 73 days away – when EU nationals’ right to freedom of movement ends.

All that has been confirmed so far is that the government will conduct tougher criminality checks on new arrivals, although it is yet to provide any detail on how those tests might be applied.

The government insists nothing will change for the three million EU nationals already living and working in the UK – regardless of whether they have applied for “settled status” by the time Britain leaves the bloc.

But critics fear that some of those EU nationals could still fall foul of new immigration rules as they move in and out of the country because they lack the necessary documentation.

The warnings carry echoes of the Windrush scandal when British citizens who had arrived from the Caribbean decades ago faced sanctions and detention because they could not produce the paperwork to prove their status.

How other travellers in and out of the country would be affected following a no deal is also unclear.

As arrivals from the EU will face extra checks, British travellers heading for the Continent could find themselves treated as passengers from a “third country” – equivalent to the United States or Australia – rather than being entitled to freedom of movement.

Even one minute of extra border checks on each passenger could lead to major delays at airports and Channel ports.

UK holidaymakers are also likely to face major changes when it comes to insuring themselves while touring in the EU.

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What is a no-deal Brexit? The consequences of the UK leaving the EU without a deal

A bill designed to block the Government from forcing through a no-deal Brexit is expected to become law today after it receives Royal Assent.

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill, or Benn bill, was approved by the House of Commons and the House of Lords last week.

It requires the Prime Minister to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline beyond 31 October unless a withdrawal agreement is approved or Parliament agrees to leaving the EU without one by 19 October.

Twenty-one Tory MPs rebelled against the Government to support the move, which resulted in them being suspended from the party.

Boris Johnson has criticised the legislation, claiming it will negatively impact the UK’s negotiating power with the EU.

The prospect of a no-deal Brexit became a real possibility after he was elected the new leader of the Conservative Party. His accession to the office of the Prime Minister came after Theresa May stood down over failing to deliver Brexit.

Earlier this year, EU leaders granted Britain a Brexit delay until 31 October. Mrs May requested to extend Article 50 to give herself more time to get her deal approved by Parliament but the pressure on her to quit intensified before she got the chance.

MPs voted down her Withdrawal Agreement three times.

During the Tory leadership race, Mr Johnson said he would attempt to engage in discussions with the EU but leaders in the bloc have insisted there is no room for further negotiations on the deal.

He has pledged to pull Britain out of the EU on 31 October even if it means leaving on no deal terms.

Read more:

No-deal Brexit preparations: these are the steps being taken in case the UK leaves without a deal

What is a ‘no deal’ Brexit?

A “no deal” Brexit does what it says on the tin. It means the UK and the EU has been unable to reach a withdrawal agreement.

If this is the case, it means there will be no 21-month transition period.

Consequently consumers, businesses and public bodies would have to respond immediately to changes as result of leaving the EU. 

“The UK would leave the EU and everything associated with that would come to an end,” according to Dr Simon Usherwood, a reader in politics at the University of Surrey. “[A no deal] doesn’t stop the UK leaving but it means there is absolutely no clarity about what happens.”

While it is a possibility, in reality neither the UK nor the EU would favour a no deal because it signals a poor political relationship, he adds.

One of the key issues with a no deal scenario is the uncertainty it would lead to for life and work in Britain.

So what would actually happen with no deal?

These are just some of the consequences: 

Trade

The UK would revert to World Trade Organisation rules on trade. While Britain would no longer be bound by EU rules, it would have to face the EU’s external tariffs. The price of imported goods in shops for Britons could go up as a result.

Some British-made products may be rejected by the EU as new authorisation and certification might be required.

Manufacturers could move their operations to the EU to avoid delays in components coming across the border.

People

The UK would be free to set its own controls on immigration by EU nationals and the bloc could do the same for Britons. There could be long delays at borders if passport and customs checks are heightened. 

Laws

Relevant EU laws would be transferred over so there would be no black holes in Britain’s lawbook.

Britain would no longer have to adhere to the rulings of the European Court of Justice but it would be bound to the European Court of Human Rights, a non-EU body.

Money

The Government would not have to pay the annual £13 billion contribution to the EU budget. However Britain would lose out on some EU subsidies – the Common Agricultural Policy gives £3 billion to farmers.

It is likely that both the EU and the UK will have to honour financial commitments under the 2019 budget.

The Irish border

The issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would remain unresolved. While physical infrastructure has been vetoed, the border would become an external frontier for the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit. There would be pressure to enforce customs and immigration controls.

But the UK Government has said it would aim to avoid a hard border and, for a temporary period, there would be no new tariffs on goods crossing the border from Ireland into Northern Ireland.

But would Britain be able to broker trade agreements with other countries?

The current deal on the table would allow Britain to start trade negotiations with other countries after it leaves the bloc but any deals would not be implemented until after the transition period of 21 months.

With a no deal, Britain could implement the deals whenever the fine print is ready.

But deals take years, not months or weeks, to broker. Therefore the UK is not gaining anything by having no transition period in this instance.

“It’s worth making the point that trade deals are about agreements with states. If the UK left without a deal showing it was unable to have constructive conversations with close trading partners [the EU], it would not be a great incentive for third parties,” says Dr Usherwood.

How likely is a ‘no deal’ Brexit?

There was a long-standing impasse between Britain and the EU over certain key Brexit issues, which made a no deal very likely.

Mrs May’s initial Chequers plan – which split the Tory Party – was dismissed by EU leaders, who said it “will not work”. In response, the Prime Minister insisted the EU brings fresh proposals for the Irish border and trade to the table.

Then after months of negotiations, Mrs May announced she had brokered a draft deal that offered a future relationship with “a breadth and depth of co-operation beyond anything the EU has agreed with any other country”.

“We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated,” she said.

However the proposed deal was widely criticised across the parties.

Read more: No-deal Brexit: Can MPs actually stop the UK leaving without a deal?

Although the Government has been ramping up preparations for a no deal, Downing Street has always said the “top priority” was to deliver Brexit under the terms of the deal struck by Mrs May with Brussels.

Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal has been rejected by Parliament twice. And the Withdrawal Agreement document – which forms part of the deal – has also been rejected.

To avoid a no deal exit on 12 April, Mrs May asked the EU to delay Brexit until 30 June. This was rejected and instead EU leaders granted an extension until the end of October to allow the UK to “find the best possible solution”.

“Please do not waste this time,” said European Council President Donald Tusk.

But the election of Mr Johnson, a staunch Brexiteer, as Prime Minister has only complicated the withdrawal process and leaves the possibility of a no deal on the table.

He has said Britain will leave the EU on 31 October regardless of whether or not a deal has been secured.

And his decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks ahead of a Queen’s Speech in mid-October has been lambasted by critics as a move to thwart their plans to avoid no-deal Brexit.

Some have expressed concern over whether Mr Johnson, who said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for a further Brexit delay, will abide by the no deal legislation.

Even though it is set to receive Royal Assent, Parliament will be suspended shortly after, leaving MPs with little control over what happens.

Brexit… in brief

Remind yourself of what all the Brexit jargon means… and click the links to read more.

The single market is the free movement of movement of people, goods and services. A customs union is a bloc’s trade and tax agreement – normally free trade within members with fixed export duties with third parties

soft Brexit would leave the UK closely aligned with the EU, with access to the single market and minimal impact on business. A hard Brexit would take the UK completely out of all EU agreements.

A“no deal” Brexit does what it says on the tin. It means the UK and the EU would be unable to reach a agreement and there would be no transition period (or ‘implementation period’).

The notorious sticking point is the Irish ‘backstop’– the insurance plan for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland. One proposed solution has been a ‘Canada-style’ agreement which removes most EU restrictions but would not totally abolish the need for a hard border. Other suggestions have included the ‘Max fac’ plan which would use technology to electronically track goods crossing the border to prevent the need for border checks.

Got that? Okay, now here is what Mrs May’s Brexit deal contains and the next battle she faces is it being passed through Parliament and the row over what consists of a ‘meaningful vote’ which would give MP’s asay on the final deal. 

Meanwhile she has to contend with Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn who is trying to push for his own ‘jobs-first Brexit’ deal AND MPs across all parties who have joined the campaign for a People’s Vote – or second Brexit referendum.

Simple…?

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The post What is a no-deal Brexit? The consequences of the UK leaving the EU without a deal appeared first on inews.co.uk.

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