Newslinks for Monday 26th August 2019

Johnson says UK can ‘easily’ cope with No Deal…

“Britain can “easily cope” with a no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson said yesterday, as Donald Trump pledged that a free-trade agreement with the US would follow within a year. Speaking at the G7 summit in Biarritz, the prime minister said that the prospect of a Brexit deal was “improving” but remained “touch and go” as he warned that the European Union would be to blame if Britain crashed out. Talks with Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, failed to yield a significant breakthrough yesterday. Brussels officials said afterwards that it was “squarely and firmly” up to Britain to find a solution to the Irish border issue, adding that the “brutal fact is there is nothing” in terms of a workable alternative.” – The Times

  • He adds that chances of such an outcome are ‘touch and go’ – Daily Mail
  • It may still cost £39 billion, lawyers claim – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Mr No Deal versus Mr No Brexit

…as Hammond demands apology over Yellowhammer leak…

“Philip Hammond has demanded a public apology from Boris Johnson after Downing Street tried to blame former ministers for leaking secret no-deal planning documents.The former chancellor said that the Operation Yellowhammer dossier, which laid out the potential consequences of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, was dated this month, after Mr Johnson became prime minister. The documents, obtained by The Sunday Times, suggested that there could be a three-month “meltdown” at British ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine in the event of a no-deal Brexit. A No 10 source, Mr Hammond said, had briefed the media that it had been “deliberately leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders”.” – The Times

  • Ex-Chancellor ordered to ‘get behind country’ – Daily Express

…Archbishop considers heading up effort to avoid ‘crashing out’…

“The Archbishop of Canterbury is in talks to chair a series of public meetings intended to stop a no-deal Brexit. The Most Rev Justin Welby is liaising with a cross-party group of senior MPs over holding a citizen’s assembly to make recommendations on Britain’s exit from the European Union. The assembly would be convened next month and be asked to put proposals to parliament aimed at giving the country direction over Brexit and seeking national reconciliation. The initiative is backed by senior MPs on both sides of the debate who hope that it will yield an alternative to no-deal. Frank Field, chairman of the work and pensions select committee who campaigned for Brexit in 2016, told The Times that he supported the assembly as a way of stopping Britain from crashing out.” – The Times

  • Opposition parties ‘in disarray’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Swinson ‘begs’ Corbyn to drop insistence on leading alternative regime – The Sun
  • Lib Dem leader’s refusal to back Corbyn ‘petulant’, says Gardiner – The Guardian
  • Brown denounces Labour leader’s ‘self-indulgent madness’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Gardiner – Liberal Democrats ‘petulant’ for not making Corbyn caretaker Prime Minister

…and Downing Street draws up ‘secret plan’ for deadlock-breaking election

“Secret plans to break the Brexit deadlock by holding a General Election during a critical EU summit have been drawn up by advisers to Boris Johnson. Under the scenario, the PM would go to the country on October 17, win and then head to Brussels to demand 11th-hour Brexit concessions. However the plan – to stop MPs from blocking No Deal – involves first deliberately ‘losing’ a Commons no-confidence vote that the Tories engineer themselves. It would represent an extraordinary gamble that the Labour leader can’t repeat his surprise 2017 Election performance and slash the Tory lead – or even emerge as the winner. The ‘lose-to-win’ strategy – one of several scenarios now being plotted by advisers in No 10 – emerged as Mr Johnson prepares for a possible Labour no-confidence motion next month when MPs return from their summer break.” – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • A bumpy No Deal could turn panicking MPs against Johnson – Isabel Hardman, The Guardian
  • I was wrong to think Downing Street wouldn’t contemplate such measures – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Johnson can’t risk getting side-tracked by Brussels bullies – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • He’s delivered a miraculous change in the political weather – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Remainers have no right to complain now the tables are turned – The Sun

Prime Minister tells BBC to ‘cough up’ for over-75s

“Boris Johnson has said that the BBC must “cough up” and meet the cost of paying for TV licences for over-75s. Up to 3.75 million older viewers will be stripped of their TV licences from next year under a means test. The broadcaster was forced to accept responsibility for funding and running the concession by George Osborne, who was chancellor during the last charter renewal negotiations in 2015. Mr Johnson said: “The BBC received a settlement that was conditional upon their paying for TV licences for the over-75s. They should cough up.” Maintaining the subsidy in its present form would have cost £745 million a year and risked the closure of BBC Two, BBC Four and several radio stations, the corporation said.” – The Times

  • Move comes amidst anger over pay for stars – Daily Mail

More:

  • Aides block Channel 4 interview after ‘liar’ speech – The Times

>Yesterday: Gareth Lyon in Comment: Post-Boris. The Prime Minister is more Lyndon Johnson than his jokey former self.

Ministers ‘wary’ of fuel duty cut

“Boris Johnson’s plans to cut fuel duty for the first time in almost a decade have not been signed off by key ministers amid cost concerns. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s most senior aide, has been pushing for the government to slash the tax, The Times has been told. It was reported at the weekend that Mr Johnson wants to go ahead with a cut. The policy would form part of an emergency budget by Sajid Javid, which could take place in the fortnight before Britain leaves the European Union. But the cabinet, including the chancellor and Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, have yet to sign off on the plans and ministers are understood to have significant concerns about the cost of the policy.” – The Times

  • Shapps ‘at odds’ with policy as he talks up electric cars – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Jenrick announces new cash for high streets

“More struggling high streets will be turned into modern community hubs or redeveloped as 50 more towns have been given the right to bid for a share of a £1 billion Government fund. The 50 towns – from Dudley to Dover and Scarborough to Stockport – will join 50 successful areas already shortlisted to develop plans to reinvent their high streets… The funding could also be used by the towns to improve transport and access into town centres, convert empty retail units into new homes and workplaces, and invest in vital infrastructure. Robert Jenrick, Communities Secretary, said: “High streets have a crucial role to play as we work to grow the economy of all parts of the country. Our £1 billion Future High Streets Fund is key to delivering this.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • More than 50 struggling towns to benefit – The Sun

More:

Patel accused of ‘conflict of interest’ over defence contract

“The home secretary, Priti Patel, has been urged to withdraw from cabinet discussions about a lucrative £6bn defence contract, after it emerged that the US company that paid her £1,000 an hour to advise it plans to bid for the work. Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson, said the fact that Patel had worked for Viasat in the period running up to her appointment as home secretary created the risk of a conflict of interest now she was in government… Home Office sources said Patel had been “through a full process” of examination by the advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba), the body that monitors private sector employment by ministers and ex-ministers, and that “no issues were raised”.” – The Guardian

Lord Caine: We can offer justice to Troubles victims without hounding our troops

“Of course mistakes were made, and where this occurred it is right that the state apologises. It is also the case that some members of the security forces at times acted unlawfully. There is no excuse for this; it should always be investigated and the law should take its course. From my long experience in Northern Ireland, however, including working there during the Troubles, I am in no doubt that the vast majority who served did so with tremendous courage and professionalism… I do not believe in drawing a line in the sand, still less a general amnesty. It would not receive widespread acceptance in Northern Ireland, particularly from the victims and survivors of terrorism who still seek justice for what happened. It would be a brave politician indeed who said to families that, despite new evidence, which does sometimes turn up, no more prosecutions could take place.”- – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The Northern Ireland Office deserves Johnson’s serious attention

News in Brief:

  • A no-confidence vote might help Johnson – Andrew Marr, The Spectator
  • Sturgeon and the illusion of ‘progressive’ Scottish nationalism – James Bickerton, Reaction
  • Why should Boris trust Channel 4? – Douglas Murray, UnHerd
  • High speed fail? – John Ashmore, CapX
  • The ASA shouldn’t be able to play god with social norms – Andrew Lilico, 1828
Read More

Newslinks for Sunday 25th August 2019

Brecow accused of plotting to pressure the Queen into sacking Johnson…

“John Bercow has been accused of plotting to pressure the Queen to oust Boris Johnson as prime minister. The Commons Speaker has told MPs who want to delay or prevent Brexit that he would help them to install a government of national unity if they pass a vote of no confidence in Johnson. Downing Street officials are so concerned about the prospect they have sought legal advice on whether the Queen’s decisions can be challenged in court. Under the rules of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, Johnson would have 14 days to fight on and win another vote if he lost a confidence vote…. Multiple remainer sources say Bercow has privately committed to help pile pressure on the Queen to call someone else to Buckingham Palace to ask them to replace Johnson.” – Sunday Times

  • Tusk says Prime Minister won’t want to go down in history as ‘Mr No Deal’… – Sunday Telegraph
  • …but Johnson hits back – Mail on Sunday
  • Ex-ambassadors say such an exit would shrink Britain’s global role – The Observer

Comment:

  • Johnson’s 30-day reprieve to foil the plotters – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

…who has reportedly sought advice from Cox on suspending Parliament…

“Boris Johnson has asked the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, whether parliament can be shut down for five weeks from 9 September in what appears to be a concerted plan to stop MPs forcing a further extension to Brexit, according to leaked government correspondence. An email from senior government advisers to an adviser in No 10 – written within the last 10 days and seen by the Observer – makes clear that the prime minister has recently requested guidance on the legality of such a move, known as prorogation. The initial legal guidance given in the email is that shutting parliament may well be possible, unless action being taken in the courts to block such a move by anti-Brexit campaigners succeeds in the meantime.” – The Observer

>Today: ToryDiary: Mr No Deal versus Mr No Brexit

…and threatened to cut the divorce bill in the event of No Deal

“Boris Johnson will today throw down the gauntlet to Brussels by vowing to withhold £30 billion of our ‘divorce bill’ to punish the EU for refusing to rip up their Brexit deal. The Prime Minister – making a combative first appearance on the international stage since entering Downing Street – is expected to tell EU leaders at the G7 summit in Biarritz that the £39 billion bill agreed by Theresa May will be cut to £9 billion – or even as little as £7 billion – by the UK… Mr Johnson’s threat over the divorce bill – which was agreed by former Chancellor Philip Hammond, an avowed enemy of the Prime Minister’s Brexit policy – came after No 10’s lawyers concluded that, in a No Deal scenario, the £39 billion bill should be slashed to as little as £7 billion because there would not be any of the costs associated with the transition period agreed as part of the deal.” – Mail on Sunday

  • He puts party on ‘election footing’ with threat to divorce bill – Sunday Times
  • Speculation mounts as he plans first cut in fuel duty for eight years – Sun on Sunday

Comment:

  • Climb aboard Johnson’s white-knuckle election ride – Tim Shipman, Sunday Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Johnson won’t scrap HS2, but his review could make a big offer to the North

Business Secretary says British companies want ‘end to uncertainty’

British companies want the UK to “end the current uncertainty” and “crack on” with leaving the EU, the new Business Secretary has declared. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Andrea Leadsom says that firms she has met across the country are “overwhelmingly positive” about Britain’s post-Brexit future. Distancing herself from the pro-EU outlook of her predecessor, Greg Clark, Mrs Leadsom describes herself as a “truly Brexit-backing Business Secretary” and says the country’s “best years for business” lie ahead. Mrs Leadsom’s intervention is likely to rankle with business lobby groups such as the  Confederation of British Industry which campaigned against leaving the EU and whose director general, Caroline Fairbairn, has likened Mr Johnson’s pledge to leave “deal or no deal”, to threatening to “shoot my foot off”.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Davis claims EU officials still don’t believe Brexit will happen – Sunday Express

More:

  • Mandarin bans Brexit countdown clock from Downing Street… – Sunday Times
  • …whilst Javid uses calendar to spur officials on – Sun on Sunday

Andrea Leadsom: We’ll do all we can to help business grasp the opportunities of Brexit

“It’s clear that business wants us to crack on, leave the European Union and end the current uncertainty. But it should also be very reassuring to business to see that the whole machinery of government is stepping up a gear and accelerating the pace of our preparations. I have been hugely impressed by the work I’ve seen going on here at the Business Department and across Whitehall. More than anything, I want businesses to see a team in the heart of Government that’s helping them to get the best out of Brexit – talking up their trade at every opportunity. The CBI themselves have recently acknowledged that the extent of the UK’s readiness is high.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • No Deal would be an act of vandalism by the Conservatives – Tony Blair, Sunday Times
  • Why I no longer fear No Deal – Lord Wolfson, Mail on Sunday
  • Eurocrats are determined to punish British ‘deserters’ – Daniel Hannan MEP, Sunday Telegraph
  • Opinions polarised over Berlin and Paris responses to Johnson – Jeremy Cliffe, The Observer
  • When Brexit isn’t a disaster, Remainer rage will be awesome – Douglas Murray, Sunday Telegraph
  • Political folly is boosting the New IRA – Leo McKinstry, Sun on Sunday

>Yesterday: Sir Julian Brazier MP in Comment: How Johnson should try to get the backstop dropped

Labour aim to force the Government to publish up-to-date no-deal reports…

“Ministers may be forced to publish up-to-date reports on the expected aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit when parliament returns in September, after last week’s bombshell revelations about gaps in the government’s contingency planning. A document, compiled by the government this month and leaked to The Sunday Times, revealed that the UK faces shortages of food, fuel and medicines, a three-month meltdown at its ports and a hard border in Ireland if it crashes out of the EU on October 31. In response, Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, has revealed that the Labour Party would “not hesitate to use all parliamentary devices available” to compel ministers to publish all the Operation Yellowhammer documents if the government does not do so voluntarily.” – Sunday Times

  • Brexiteers urge Johnson to do ‘mini-deals’ with the EU – Sun on Sunday
  • English police could patrol the Northern Irish border – Sunday Times

…as McDonnell urges the Opposition to block Brexit

“John McDonnell has privately argued that Labour should campaign to prevent Brexit, opening up a new front in Labour’s civil war on Europe. The shadow chancellor has held private conversations with shadow cabinet colleagues in recent weeks in which he has argued that Labour’s position should be to revoke article 50 and stop Brexit in its tracks. McDonnell has been a vocal advocate of Labour backing a second EU referendum. But his private remarks go much further and will put him on a collision course with Jeremy Corbyn’s team, who are still resisting full-blown support for another referendum.” – Sunday Times

  • Labour delay motion of confidence as support from Tory rebels falls – Sunday Telegraph

Comment:

  • Corbyn wants any Brexit deal… except the Tories’ one – Stephen Bush, Sunday Times

Johnson says US tech firms must pay ‘fair’ taxes in Britain

“Big US tech firms must pay a “fair” amount of tax on their UK revenues, Boris Johnson insisted yesterday. Online giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook are all due to pay a two per cent rate from next April, leaving the US furious. America is demanding the so-called digital services tax is ditched — if the UK wants a free trade deal. The levy could raise £400million by 2022, but the White House sees it as a “tax grab” against big US firms.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Prime Minister tells Trump it’s time to help British firms – Sunday Telegraph
  • He adds that Britain won’t be ‘rushed’ into a trade deal – Sun on Sunday
  • Johnson tries to sell President on ‘traditional British produce’ – Sunday Times
  • Call for the removal of US-China trade tariffs – The Observer
  • He praises ‘fantastic’ Trump meeting – Sun on Sunday
  • Trump insists Johnson is ‘right man’ to deliver Brexit – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: Gareth Lyon in Comment: Post-Boris. The Prime Minister is more Lyndon Johnson than his jokey former self.

Rudd accuses Labour of jeopardising benefit payments

Amber Rudd has accused Labour of jeopardising hundreds of millions of pounds worth of benefit payments to severely disabled people. The Work and Pensions Secretary claimed that Jeremy Corbyn was playing politics with the incomes of voters he “claims to represent” after Labour indicated that it will oppose key welfare reforms. In a letter to Margaret Greenwood, her Labour opposite number, and copied to Mr Corbyn, Ms Rudd accused the Opposition of “threatening to take money out of the pockets of benefits claimants with severe disabilities”. Her intervention came after Labour said it was planning to oppose a regulation introducing payments of up to £405 per month for Universal Credit claimants who were previously entitled to the severe disability premium, a benefit for individuals including the registered blind.” – Sunday Telegraph

Wallace announces third warship despatched to the Gulf

“Britain has sent a third Royal Navy ship to the Gulf to protect ships from Iranian attacks. The HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer based in Portsmouth, set sail for the troubled region earlier this month. It will escort British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz, where the Stena Impero was seized by Iranian forces in July. The Royal Navy has already sent HMS Kent and HMS Montrose, both type 23 frigates, on the mission. Confirming the news, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Wherever the red ensign flies around the world, the UK stands by to protect freedom of navigation whenever is it tested. The men and women of HMS Defender will contribute to the International Maritime Security Construct alongside international partners.”” – Sunday Telegraph

O’Mara ‘arrested on suspicion of fraud’

“Jared O’Mara has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, it’s been reported. The ex-Labour politician’s offices in Sheffield are believed to have been raided last week. Police arrested the MP along with his office manager Gareth Arnold last week, the Mirror claims. The paper reported that officers took documents and computers for investigation. The two men were released on Saturday evening pending further investigation. And it claims that concerns were raised about Parliamentary expense claims made by the MP. Mr O’Mara was suspended by Labour in 2017 after a series of offensive comments he made online were revealed.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Suspended activists using fringe union to re-infiltrate Labour – Sunday Times
Read More

Newslinks for Saturday 24th August 2019

Johnson returns from Paris buoyant about deal

“Boris Johnson returned to London buoyed yesterday after President Macron said that a Brexit deal was possible. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, had raised hopes when she told Mr Johnson on Wednesday that it was still possible to avoid a no-deal, challenging him to come up with an alternative to the Irish backstop within 30 days. The French president adopted Mrs Merkel’s suggestion. He said: “No one will wait until October 31 to find the right solution. We should all together be able to find something smart within 30 days if there is goodwill on both sides.” However, he added: “We will not find a new withdrawal agreement within 30 days that will be very different from the existing one.” Mr Macron, speaking alongside Mr Johnson at the Élysée Palace, said that the guarantees provided by the existing backstop were “indispensable” and not about “technical constraints or legal quibbling”. The prime minister wants to make a swift breakthrough as he prepares for a series of meetings with leaders at the G7 summit in Biarritz this weekend. However, Mr Macron’s note of caution was mirrored by a senior Brussels official who told The Times that the prime minister’s proposals for an alternative agreement were not “realistic or feasible”. Luxembourg’s foreign minister also said that a “miracle” was required to solve the impasse.” – The Times

G7 summit
  • What will happen at G7 summit? – The Times
  • Britain will be energetic partner after Brexit, Johnson to tell G7 allies – The Guardian
  • Johnson faces diplomatic balancing act in Biarritz – FT
  • He will tell G7 leaders that Britain’s best days are still to come – Daily Mail
Brexit
  • Tory MPs rally around PM – The Times
  • And ‘the work starts now’ – Daily Mail
  • No Deal Brexit warning from Governor – Daily Mail
  • EU would be ‘laughing stock of world’ if it failed to respect British fishing waters – Daily Express
  • Leave would win referendum by ‘even bigger margin’ – Daily Express
  • ‘British democracy is under assault,’ says top Brexiteer – Daily Express
  • EU panic: Brussels in distress – Daily Express
  • Brexiteer claims ‘No Deal no longer possible’ – Daily Express
Comment
>Today:
>Yesterday:

But Allen warns Tories to join Remain Alliance or face challenge

“An anti-Brexit MP has contacted a group of Conservatives telling them to quit and join a new “Remain alliance” or risk facing a targeted campaign to unseat them at a snap general election. The message was sent to at least 20 pro-European Union Tory MPs by Heidi Allen, a former Tory MP who now sits as an independent. It urges her former colleagues to resign the party whip and stand either as a pro-EU independent candidate or for a pro-EU party. It gives them until next Tuesday to reply – which is coincidentally the day when Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, is meeting with Remain-supporting leaders of other political parties and senior Tories to discuss “all tactics available to prevent no deal”. “After that date we will be making final plans on seat targets and resources, and may have to make certain assumptions as to your seat. If you would like us to help with seat logistics and party registration, we would be very happy to help. The message said: “Time is against us so if you would like to consider joining our #RemainAlliance please contact me urgently to discuss. Tuesday 27th August is our deadline.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tory ‘Remain Alliance’ will delay attempts to stop No Deal – Daily Mail
  • Furious fisherman demands Wollaston fights by-election – Daily Express
>Yesterday:

PM tells Trump the NHS is off the table

“Boris Johnson will tell President Trump that a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States must be “right” for Britain after warning that the NHS would not be “on the table” in any circumstances. Mr Johnson, who is seeking a deal with the US “as quickly as possible” after Brexit, will meet Mr Trump for the first time as prime minister over breakfast tomorrow at the G7 summit in Biarritz. No 10 has been clear, however, that neither the NHS nor animal welfare standards are up for negotiation. There is thought to be growing concern in Downing Street that in a general election Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, could exploit fears about the fate of the health service under a US trade deal. Mr Johnson will also use his first summit since taking office to insist that Britain would not “retreat” from the international stage after leaving the European Union. Speaking before the G7, he said: “Britain will never flinch from the special responsibilities that go with being a pillar and an architect of the international system.” – The Times

  • Johnson takes NHS out of trade deal talks – Daily Telegraph
  • And Trump told NHS is not part of negotiation – Daily Mail
  • NHS ‘not for sale’ – The Sun
  • Prue Leith’s son revealed as key Johnson aide – Daily Mail

And he warns Channel migrants ‘we will send you back’

“The Prime Minister’s comments came after a surge in attempts – with nearly 100 people taking to small boats to try to make the crossing from France to the UK in one day. Home Secretary Priti Patel is to seek talks with her French counterpart, the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, to address the crisis. But the Prime Minister’s comments have been branded ‘inflammatory’ and ‘misleading’ by campaigners. Mr Johnson told reporters: ‘Clearly the most important thing is to stop them coming across from France, so we are working very closely with the French authorities. ‘The point I would just make to people thinking of making this journey – one, it is very hazardous, you may think the weather looks great but it’s a very, very dangerous thing to do. ‘The second thing is – we will send you back. The UK should not be regarded as a place where you could automatically come and break the law by seeking to arrive illegally. ‘If you come illegally, you are an illegal migrant and I’m afraid the law will treat you as such.’ The UK has a legal obligation under what is known as the Dublin Regulation to ensure asylum applications lodged are examined and considered. Campaigners said it was important applications were not ‘pre-judged’. – Daily Mail

  • Migrants warned by Johnson – The Sun

Corbyn accuses Tories of failing generation of children

“Jeremy Corbyn has met children at a lunch club in Swansea to highlight Labour’s policies for young people, in the latest of a series of campaign-style stops as his party gears up for a possible snap general election. The Labour leader claimed the government was “failing a whole generation of children”, and vowed his party would “unlock the potential of every child, not just a lucky few” as he helped to serve lunches, alongside the MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris. He pointed to Labour policies including extending free school meals to all primary schoolchildren, ending the benefits cap, and building 1m affordable homes. Boris Johnson’s government has already made a string of manifesto-ready promises, on everything from boosting police numbers to improving hospital food, fuelling speculation that he is preparing for an early poll, either after Brexit day – or earlier, if he is forced into it. Corbyn meanwhile hopes to tempt back many of those remain supporters who deserted the party for the Liberal Democrats and the Green party at May’s European elections. Labour agreed a more forthright Brexit position before the summer, which has seen Corbyn repeatedly promise a referendum – and allowed key shadow cabinet figures including Diane Abbott and John McDonnell to say publicly they would campaign for remain. Corbyn is poised to table a motion of no confidence in Johnson’s government when MPs return from their summer break in early September. If Johnson lost the vote, there would then be a two-week period for a government that could command a majority to emerge.” – The Guardian

  • This is what happened when Corbyn visited Wales – Walesonline
  • Shock claim that Labour wants special relationship with Cuba – Daily Express
  • Corbyn’s son opens cannabis products shop – Daily Mail
  • Disgraced ex-Labour MP arrested on fraud charge – Daily Mail

Peter Oborne: Corbyn is spineless, tepid and destined to be damned by history

“Jeremy Corbyn is often portrayed as one of the most Left-wing leaders of a mainstream party that Britain has ever had. As evidence, people highlight how he welcomed convicted IRA men to the Commons shortly after the Brighton bombing in 1984. There is also his wish to impose much tougher wealth taxes, to renationalise great swathes of the country’s public utilities, to cancel our Trident nuclear defence system and to introduce rent controls. Clearly such policies struck a chord with some voters as he cut the Tories’ Commons majority in the 2017 General Election. Above all, they saw a man who stuck to his principles, unlike David Cameron and Tony Blair who they regarded as snake-oil salesmen. I believe that voters were right to admire Jeremy Corbyn back then. But ever since he has been a disappointment. This is not because he’s too radical and Left-wing. It’s because he has shown no leadership whatsoever. He’s twisted and turned so often that nobody knows what he stands for. In sum, he’s been tepid and weak. He’s sat on the fence for so long that the iron has entered his soul, as early 20th-century PM David Lloyd George once said of an opponent. I believe Corbyn’s failure to stand up for what he believes explains his appalling position in the polls. They all show Labour lagging well behind the Tories.” – Daily Mail

Ukip leader invokes Nazis in leaked emails

“The new Ukip leader claimed in leaked emails that there was no such thing as a moderate Muslim and appeared to compare the issue to fighting the Nazis. Richard Braine was elected this month to replace Gerard Batten, who was criticised by party members for appointing the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson as an adviser. Mr Braine, 51, told Ukip members and others in emails seen by The Times: “There is no moderate Islam . . . When people talk about moderate Muslims they are making an error. It is like saying Hitler wasn’t such a bad fellow . . . It is to ignore completely the ideology to which the person is religiously wedded.” He added: “You should no more apologise for a moderate Muslim, and wish him to settle in your country, than you should a moderate Maoist or Nazi.” Urged by a correspondent to concentrate on Brexit, he said: “It’s not either / or. Sometimes you have to fight the Nazis and the Japanese simultaneously.” Yesterday Mr Braine said that he was referring to Muslims who took scripture literally. “I totally reject hatred of anyone,” he said, describing his Nazi references as “deliberate exaggeration”. – The Times

More
  • Northern Ireland secretary says ‘no more excuses’ for Stormont impasse – Belfast Telegraph
  • British ambassador Sir Kim leaves Washington – Daily Mail
  • 130,000 families with children live in one-bed flats – The Times
  • Trump lifts tariffs on Chinese goods as stocks tumble – FT
  • Rashida Tlaib on Trump v The Squad: ‘He’s scared of us’ – The Guardian
  • Glasgow University to pay £20m in reparations for its part in slave trade – Daily Mail
Comment
News in Brief
Read More

Newslinks for Friday 23rd August 2019

Johnson orders ministers to come up with fresh Irish proposal…

“Boris Johnson returned to London on Thursday evening and ordered ministers to draw up a new Irish border policy to ensure the UK leaves the European Union with a deal in 10 weeks’ time. The Prime Minister appeared to punch the air in triumph as he entered Downing Street after a Paris meeting with Emmanuel Macron, in which the French president said the Withdrawal Agreement could be amended. Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, and his officials will now be ordered to “turbocharge” work on how to find alternative arrangements to the Northern Ireland backstop. Their work is expected to focus on examining proposals in a 270-page report drawn up by Greg Hands, the former Tory minister, and Nicky Morgan, now the Culture Secretary.” – Daily Telegraph

  • EU is also ‘brainstorming’ alternatives, apparently – The Sun
  • Prime Minister ‘punched the air’ as resistance ‘crumbled’ – Daily Express
  • Brexiteers warn that stripping out the backstop is ‘not enough’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Hard border will ‘fuel extremism’, says Ulster police chief – The Times
  • Ellwood gives Johnson ‘shock vote of approval’ – Daily Express

EU leaders:

  • Merkel ‘backtracks’ on 30 days comment – Daily Express
  • ‘New hope’ as Macron says deal is ‘possible’… – The Times
  • …or has he ‘dashed Johnson’s deal hopes’? – FT
  • Apparently he said the backstop was ‘indispensable’ – The Guardian
  • Paris won’t permit a ‘total reshuffling’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Brexit, Johnson, Merkel, Macron – and 30 days in the wilderness

>Yesterday:

…as Hammond’s rebels to hold their own talks with Brussels

“Tory Remainers who are intent on stopping no-deal are preparing to hold their own talks with Brussels in an attempt to delay Brexit, The Times has been told. The rebels, who are described as the “Remain alliance” and are led by Philip Hammond, have been working on plans to push through legislation that will force Boris Johnson to request an extension of the Article 50 process. However, Downing Street sources have pointed out that Brussels could simply reject any request for an extension, even if Mr Johnson is legally bound to ask for one. One Tory rebel said that the group would hold its own discussions with Brussels and European leaders about the length and terms of any proposed extension to ensure it was accepted.” – The Times

  • Pro-EU Tories delay their plot to thwart No Deal – The Sun
  • Rebels ‘sceptical’ of current plans – The Guardian

More:

  • Soubry u-turns on collaborating with Corbyn – Daily Express
  • Opposition MPs to hijack his talks to demand he backs another interim Prime Minister – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Is Patel’s pledge to “end freedom of movement” merely smoke and mirrors?

Greg Hands: We already have workable proposals to avoid the Backstop

“When I heard German Chancellor Angela Merkel had invited Boris Johnson to put forward new proposals to solve the Northern Ireland backstop in the next 30 days, I was delighted. This might seem a tall order, to produce in just one month a Brexit solution that has eluded others for the past three years. But in recent months, I have been working closely with international technical experts – practitioners in borders, customs, logistics, transit and so on – to produce precisely that: a workable set of ‘alternative arrangements’ to prevent a hard border between the UK and Ireland.” – Daily Mail

  • Brussels’ stand-off with Johnson borders on the absurd – Daniel Hannan MEP, The Sun
  • Parliament has no right to plot a Brexit coup – Robert Tombs, The Times
  • The EU cannot afford No Deal… but has a parachute handy – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • The Prime Minister deserves a chance – The Times
  • Varadkar’s intransigence has made No Deal more likely – The Sun
  • Despite the tough love, a relative success – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: GERS Day – Scottish Government’s own statistics punch fresh hole in the case for independence

Letwin says he will stand down at next election

“Tory rebel leader Sir Oliver Letwin has announced he will stand down as an MP before the next general election. Remainer Sir Oliver has sparked outrage from his West Dorest constituency, which voted to leave the EU with a result of 51 percent to 46 with an 81 percent turnout in 2016. Regardless of his constituents, he has led a continuous and relentless plot to block Brexit and keep the UK shackled to the EU indefinitely. However, he has now announced he will not fight the next general election, which is expected to take place immediately after the October 31 deadline.” – Daily Express

Trump and Johnson to set out trade deal roadmap ‘within weeks’

“Trump and Boris Johnson will agree a roadmap to a trade deal when they meet at the G7 summit in France at the weekend, it has been reported. The pair will agree to start work immediately on drawing up a timetable for negotiations, which will be finalised in the coming weeks and is the first step in getting a post-Brexit trade deal. The timetable will set out a series of deadlines for how trade talks should progress in the next 12 months. Mr Johnson and the US President will then shake hands on the plan when they meet in New York in the last week of September at the UN General Assembly.” – The Sun

  • My deal with South Korea is great news for global Britain – Liz Truss MP, Daily Telegraph

Johnson could prioritise northern elements of HS2

“Boris Johnson is considering building the northern stretch of HS2 first as part of an overhaul of the project, The Times has learnt. The prime minister has announced a review into the multibillion-pound project amid concerns about spiralling costs after it emerged that Dominic Cummings, his most senior adviser, referred to it as a “disaster zone”. The review will also consider whether the line should be “reprioritised”. Mr Johnson is understood to have shown personal interest in the idea of bringing forward the second phase from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds. The move, which would postpone the first phase of the project, would be in keeping with Mr Johnson’s previous pledge to “level the playing field” between the north and the south.” – The Times

  • Britain has a troubled history with railways – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Were the Prime Minister to pull the plug on HS2, would he call time on Heathrow expansion too?

Downing Street hits out at Channel 4 boss after criticism

“Downing Street has expressed anger towards Channel 4 News after their boss labelled Boris Johnson a “known liar” and likened him to the Russian president. Government sources have branded comments made by Dorothy Bryne, Channel 4’s head of News and Current Affairs, as “disappointing”, considering the supposed impartial nature of the channel. During the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival Ms Bryne said broadcasters should be more direct in calling politicians liars. “What we all need to decide: what do we do when a known liar becomes our Prime Minister?”, she said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister ‘aping Putin’s media strategy’, claims TV chief – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Jonny Piper in Comment: Personal, unfiltered – and in your own voice. How politicians can use social media to speak to millions.

Collins says Cummings ought to have been barred from Number Ten

“Boris Johnson’s chief strategist Dominic Cummings should not have been allowed to take up his Downing Street post after being found in contempt of parliament, a leading Conservative MP and Johnson supporter has suggested. Cummings, who is shaping the government’s Brexit strategy in his role as the prime minister’s special adviser, repeatedly declined to appear in front of the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee select committee, chaired by Damian Collins. The committee’s long-running investigation into data misuse on social media platforms helped expose the Cambridge Analytica scandal.” – The Guardian

McDonnell defends Extinction Rebellion protesters

“A judge has expressed surprise as shadow chancellor John McDonnell gave a statement in court in support of three Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists charged with public order offences. The three activists were convicted by Judge Richard Blake of the offences committed during XR’s protests which brought central London to a standstill in April. In the statement read out at City of London magistrates court, Mr McDonnell defended the protests – claimed to be the biggest act of civil disobedience in recent British history – in that they helped to persuade MPs to debate and declare a formal climate and environment emergency. He said he and others had been inspired by the action taken by XR in April, and noted that the Labour party’s policy programme had developed quickly and substantially as a result.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Huge cost of Corbyn’s house sale plans revealed – Daily Express

GCSEs: Gender gaps close in English, maths, and physics

“Teenagers overturned gender expectations in GCSE results yesterday, with girls performing better in maths and physics than in previous years and boys getting more top grades in English. Prominent campaigns led to a jump in entries from girls who wanted to study computing. Boys overtook female classmates in achieving top grades in performing arts and also closed in on girls’ dominance in biology. The significant rise in girls taking computing comes after years of concern that boys dominate the subject… Efforts to break down gender barriers are already paying off across many subjects. The proportion of boys achieving at least a grade 7 in maths fell by 0.1 percentage points to 16.7 per cent, while for girls it increased by 0.6 percentage points to 15.5 per cent.” – The Times

  • Results highlight persistent regional differences – FT
  • Pupils caught with knives ‘doubles’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Ignore the propagandists, the Army offers great opportunities to the young – Colonel Richard Kemp, Daily Telegraph
  • Building jobs are great, and all is not lost if you’ve flunked your exams – Tommy Walsh, The Sun

Royal Mail to ballot 100,000 workers on strike action

“Royal Mail’s main trade union is to ballot more than 100,000 workers on industrial action, as a labour dispute threatens to erupt into the first nationwide strikes since the postal service was privatised. The Communication Workers Union has set out plans to consult its members over a disagreement that it said relates to issues including employment terms and conditions and job security. The move marks a dramatic deterioration of industrial relations at the FTSE 250 company, which averted nationwide walkouts in 2017 over the closure of a retirement fund.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • Free schools are flourishing, but there’s no room for complacency – Daniel Zealander, CapX
  • Sturgeon goes AWOL as GERS report discredits independence – Gerald Warner, Reaction
  • Johnson’s Brain: the Downing Street Policy Unit – The Economist
  • It’s time to talk about what no deal really means – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • How I found God on Twitter – Darren Grimes, UnHerd
Read More

Newslinks for Thursday 22nd August 2019

Brexit 1) Merkel challenges Johnson to find an alternative to the backstop

“Angela Merkel suggested last night that it was still possible to avoid a no-deal Brexit, challenging Boris Johnson to come up with an alternative to the Irish backstop within 30 days. The German chancellor said that the time had come for Britain to put its proposals forward and pledged to “put our all” into solving the impasse. The prime minister praised the “blistering” pace of Mrs Merkel’s timetable at a joint appearance in Berlin before a working dinner and said that he was “glad you have said conversations can now begin”. He agreed that the “onus is on us to produce those solutions” and suggested that Theresa May, his predecessor, had failed to set out alternatives to the backstop.” – The Times

  • German Chancellor ‘holds out prospect of new Brexit deal’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Berlin ‘hopeful’ that deadlock can be overcome – FT
  • ‘Squiggle on map’ shows why backstop ‘won’t work’ – The Sun

Brexit 2) Peter Oborne: Many wanted him to fail, but Johnson triumphed in Berlin

“Last night’s meeting with Angela Merkel in Berlin was Boris Johnson’s first big test on the international stage. It was a test everybody expected him to fail. Many were hoping he would. From his days as a Brussels-based journalist whose motif was his relentless ridiculing of the Eurocracy and their policies, our new Prime Minister has long been a hate figure in Europe. But Mr Johnson passed with flying colours. More than that he pulled off a diplomatic triumph. He was charming, good-humoured, and got on far better than expected with the veteran German Chancellor. What is more important he looked and sounded statesmanlike, a striking contrast to his often bumbling performances as Foreign Secretary.” – Daily Mail

  • There are plenty of solutions to the Irish border problem – Shanker Singham, Daily Telegraph
  • Why meet to discuss something they can’t agree on? – William Cook, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 3) Prime Minister prepares for ‘showdown in Paris’

Boris Johnson is set for showdown Brexit talks in Paris as allies say his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron will be a “discussion”. Mr Johnson was buoyed on Wednesday after comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel which indicated that European leaders could be willing to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement in a bid to avoid a no-deal Brexit. As Mr Johnson travels to Paris today to meet with Mr Macron at 1pm Bruno Bonnell, the president’s friend and investor in his party, said the meeting would be a discussion in which Mr Macron will be “polite but firm”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • French President demands £39 billion even after No Deal – The Sun
  • EU hits out at ‘unelected’ Prime Minister – The Times

More Brexit:

  • ONS admits to missing 240,000 EU migrants – The Times
  • Home Office to assign Border Force roles to agency staff – The Guardian
  • Is business right to still fear No Deal? – FT
  • Cash for ports described as ‘too little, too late’ – The Guardian

Brexit 4) Corbyn scraps overseas trip to convene anti-No Deal meeting

“Jeremy Corbyn has scrapped plans for a four-day trip to Africa so that he can hold urgent talks on blocking a no-deal Brexit with Tory Remainers and other opposition parties. The Labour leader called for a discussion of “all tactics” that could be used to stop Britain leaving the EU without an agreement with Brussels. Boris Johnson has pledged that the UK will leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal. Mr Corbyn urged his fellow MPs to do everything they could to stop this resulting in a no-deal Brexit, which opponents warn would be disastrous for the economy. The Labour leader had been due to make what was described as a fact-finding visit to Ghana, west Africa, next week. Party sources said that he had changed his plans.” – The Times

  • All-party group to discuss ‘tactics’ for thwarting the Government – The Guardian
  • Public ‘dislike election pacts’ – The Times
  • Early election would ‘rip apart’ the Labour Party – Daily Express
  • Johnson delivers Tory poll surge – Daily Mail

Truss to sign continuity trade deal with Korea

“Despite the concerns issued by those associated with Project Fear, it has been reported that the UK will sign a “trade continuity” deal with the Republic of Korea. There had been fears that the UK would be unable to sign any trade deals with leading countries around the world. But this agreement marks a huge development in the UK’s post-Brexit future… The agreement with South Korea will allow businesses to keep trading freely until after the October 31 exit date. The new free trade agreement also allegedly replicates the parameters of the current EU-South Korea trade deal which was signed in 2011. Recently appointed Trade Secretary, Liz Truss will apparently sign the deal with Korean Minister of Trade, Yoo Myung-hee in London.” – Daily Express

  • It will need to be renegotiated within two years – FT

Leadsom next to step into controversial sale of defence firm

“Investment bankers, lawyers and accountants working on the £4 billion takeover of one of Britain’s biggest defence and aerospace companies could earn almost £220 million from the controversial deal. The takeover of Cobham is being opposed by the family that founded it. Yesterday Lady Cobham, 76, whose late husband previously led the business, called the fees “ridiculous”… The deal has raised concerns that one of the country’s leading industrial assets is being sold off. It marks the first serious test of the appetite of Boris Johnson’s government for overseas takeovers of strategic businesses. The government disclosed yesterday that Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, recently met David Lockwood, 57, the chief executive of Cobham, to discuss the deal.” – The Times

McVey urges pupils to take up careers as bricklayers

“Esther McVey today calls on pupils getting their GCSE results to become brickies — as she trumpets their average salaries topping £42,000 a year. In a bid to boost Britain’s capacity to build “homes for the future”, the Housing Minister urged school leavers to go down the construction route… Her remarks echo a report by the Federation of Master Builders which shows the highest-paid bricklayers in London earned £90,000 a year. The latest figures show the average earning for brick layers has eclipsed £42,000- way above the national average salary of around £29,000.” – The Sun

  • Our GCSE reforms are rolling back the effect of grade inflation – Gavin Williamson, Daily Telegraph

Cummings described HS2 as ‘disaster zone’

“Boris Johnson’s most senior aide described HS2 as a “disaster zone” only days before the prime minister announced a review into whether it should be scaled back or scrapped entirely. Dominic Cummings, former head of Vote Leave, raised concerns about the multibillion-pound high-speed rail project on Friday as he asked government advisers to highlight wasteful policies that could be cut. A review into the scheme was announced yesterday and Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said that ministers needed “clear evidence” before deciding whether it was “go or no go”. The review will consider the direct cost of “reprioritising, cancelling or descoping” HS2, which would link London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.” – The Times

  • Government suggests it could be scrapped as it launches independent review – Daily Telegraph
  • Critic of project is given review role – The Guardian

Comment:

  • I smell a rat in this voter-friendly ‘review’ – Daily Mail

Editorial:

  • Britain needs to overhaul our creaking infrastructure – The Sun
  • Government right to see if HS2’s benefits still justify its costs – Daily Telegraph

Scots receive ‘Union dividend’ of almost £2,000 each

“Scots have each received a £1,968 “Union dividend” for staying in the United Kingdom, new figures reveal. Scotland’s national fiscal deficit, if separated from the rest of the UK, would be 7 per cent of total economic output — the largest shortfall anywhere in Europe. Despite the gap reducing year-on-year, £12.6 billion more was spent than was received in revenues north of the border last year. The annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) report, which estimates the level of public revenue raised in Scotland and the level of public spending under the current constitutional arrangements, has been key to the economic battleground over the question of Scottish independence.” – The Times

  • Deficit highlights independence challenge – FT
  • Compared to GDP, deficit is seven times higher than the UK’s – The Guardian

And finally… Cameron prepares to publish memoirs

“Cameron and family are following the recent trend of holidaying at home, taking a break in Rock, Cornwall. It comes as Cameron, 52, is preparing to start publicising his memoirs, For The Record. The long-awaited book is due out on September 19, days before the annual Tory conference. He has repeatedly delayed publishing the book after promising Theresa May he would not “rock the boat” while she was trying to negotiate Brexit. Publishers have said it will reveal in “intimate and frank” detail what really went on in No10 when Cameron decided to call the EU referendum.” – The Sun

Read More

Newslinks for Wednesday 21st August 2019

Johnson tells Brussels that MPs can’t block no-deal exit…

“Boris Johnson will tell Angela Merkel today that parliament cannot stop Britain leaving the European Union without a deal on October 31. Amid an intensifying row with Brussels, the prime minister will warn the German chancellor over dinner in Berlin that there will be no Brexit agreement unless the EU backs down and agrees to scrap the Irish backstop. The tough approach comes after Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, highlighted attempts by Remainer Tory MPs to stop a no-deal Brexit during a one-hour call with Mr Johnson on Monday night. Downing Street believes that Brussels is unlikely to enter into negotiations over a new agreement while parliamentary attempts to stop a no-deal exit and potentially bring down Mr Johnson’s government continue.” – The Times

  • Remainer hopes ‘dealt blow’ as polls show public oppose GNU – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘Just get on with Brexit’, says former Stronger In chief – Daily Telegraph

Labour:

  • Voters prefer Clarke to Corbyn as caretaker – The Times
  • Two-thirds think Leader of the  Opposition is unsuitable – Daily Mail
  • Labour leader would campaign for Remain over No Deal – The Sun
  • Hannan attacks Corbyn’s u-turn – Daily Express
  • Abbott and McDonnell will campaign for Remain regardless of deal – The Sun

Analysis:

  • Five things we can expect from Johnson’s meeting with Merkel – James Rothwell, Daily Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister should remind the Chancellor of these economic facts – Tom Rees, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Johnson – “If you want a good deal for the UK, you must be ready to come out without one.”

…as he accuses the EU of jeopardising peace in Ulster…

The European Union – not the UK – wants to put up border posts in Northern Ireland after a no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson said on Tuesday night, in a move which could jeopardise peace in the Province. Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, has repeatedly warned that the return of a hard border in Ireland could lead to violence reminiscent of the Troubles-era… Mr Johnson’s warning came as he prepared to fly to Berlin for supper on Wednesday night with German chancellor Angela Merkelfollowed by lunch in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday before he meets with G7 world leaders at the end of the week. Mr Johnson has made the removal of the backstop – which will keep the UK in a customs union and the single market after Brexit until a solution is found to prevent a hard border  – a central part of getting MPs to approve a withdrawal deal to take the UK out of the EU on Oct 31.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson wants ‘temporary deal’ to avoid a border – The Sun
  • Prime Minister insists a solution ‘will be found’ – Daily Mail

More:

  • Visit will not change German position, says Merkel ally – The Guardian
  • EU rejects call to rework deal terms – FT

Comment:

  • Johnson’s goodwill is not enough to avoid a hard border – Senator Neale Richmond, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • The Government is shadow boxing with Brussels – The Times
  • We’re talking to a brick wall – The Sun

>Today:

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: “The backstop is anti-democratic” and “risks weakening…the Belfast Agreement”. Johnson’s letter to Tusk. Full Text.

…and prepares to scale back British engagement ahead of departure

“European Union leaders responded with barely concealed anger yesterday to the prime minister’s demand that they abandon the Irish backstop, accusing Boris Johnson of attempting to bluster his way through to a deal. The increasingly bitter row came as the government announced that British officials would stop attending most EU meetings in ten days’ time in order to concentrate on preparations for Brexit. Civil servants and government ministers will now attend meetings of member states only if Britain has a “significant national interest” in the outcome of the discussions, the Brexit department said… The government cited security, international relations and discussions that “directly affect” UK sovereignty and “financial contributions” as meetings that they would still attend.” – The Times

  • Plan intends to ‘free up officials for Brexit’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Hoey demands that Johnson ‘not waste more time’ on fruitless talks – Daily Express

More:

  • Automatic registration for firms to continue trading after Brexit – The Times
  • Prime Minister says NHS not to be discussed in US trade talks – The Sun

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Yellowhammer’s port warnings aren’t even ‘Project Fear’ – they’re pure slapstick

“The Yellowhammer report excited my interest because it makes extraordinary warnings about ports in a no-deal Brexit, and I happen to have been talking to port officials over the past two weeks. These included the Boulogne-Calais chief and the head of the UK’s biggest port complex on the Humber. My conclusion is that the Yellowhammer section on ports cannot be true. The report may have been dated “August” but the material must be months old, or date back to last year when Theresa May’s shadow government in the Cabinet Office was actively sabotaging no-deal preparations. Note that the government of Gibraltar has already put out a comprehensive rebuttal of the passages related to the Rock.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Juggling Brexit and an election is reckless – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • If Johnson can survive September, the EU may rethink – Pieter Cleppe, Daily Telegraph
  • The buildup is making calamity feel inevitable – Rafael Behr, The Guardian
  • Bombastic Boris will betray Britain on Brexit – Anne Widdecombe MEP, Daily Express

>Yesterday: Virginia Crosbie in Comment: A Conservative victory depends on women voters

Patel says EU criminals could be deported post-Brexit

“Low-level EU criminals face being deported from Britain in a new immigration clampdown after Brexit. PM Boris Johnson has ordered the Home Office to draw up the new powers immediately after the October 31 exit date. The PM and Home Secretary Priti Patel want to prove to voters that freedom of movement will have ended and a central referendum campaign pledge has been delivered on. Border officials will be able to enforce the UK’s much tougher criminality rules affecting the rights of EU citizens here — allowing them to be ejected if they have been sentenced to a year or more in prison.” – The Sun

Comment:

  • Patel makes it harder than ever to be an EU citizen in Britain – Marie le Conte, The Guardian

Prime Minister announces an extra £25 million for hospices

“Watching a loved one die “is one of the hardest things a family will ever experience”, the prime minister said yesterday as he announced an extra £25 million to fund hospices. The government says that the cash is intended to keep hospices and palliative care services open, relieve staff pressures and fund new support such as out-of-hours provision and respite care. Robert Peston, the journalist who is also chairman of Hospice UK, welcomed the announcement but said that the money “will not completely alleviate the serious funding problems facing a swelling number of charitable hospices”.” – The Times

  • It’s time to declare a social care emergency – Anonymous, The Guardian

Wallace to investigate US takeover of British defence contractor

“Fear surrounding the takeover of RAF supplier Cobham by a US company will be looked into by the Defence Secretary. The British firm’s founding family had called for the Government to intervene in the £4billion deal. They argued it was not in “the UK’s national interests”. Lady Nadine Cobham wrote to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace amid growing opposition to the buyout by US private equity firm Advent International. He has now told the family in a letter: “Let me assure you that I will look at your concerns and will at all times bear in mind the security and skills needed to best protect this country.” Lady Cobham said: “We are encouraged that the Defence Secretary understands our concerns about the proposed takeover of Cobham, which threatens UK national security, valuable high-tech jobs and this country’s manufacturing capability.”” – The Sun

  • Forget the naysayers, British tech really is world-leading – Nicky Morgan MP, Daily Telegraph

Violence cut at eight prisons, but Stewart’s target is missed

Rory Stewart’s bid to reduce drugs and violence in 10 of Britain’s worst prisons has failed – but he does not have a job from which he has to resign. The former prisons minister who stood for the Tory leadership pledged a year ago that he would quit if he did not reduce violence and drugs in 10 target jails. The results, to be published on Thursday, will reveal violence has risen in two jails but fallen in eight after the Government spent £10 million on extra measures to improve security and conditions. Mr Stewart quit as International Development Secretary when Boris Johnson won the leadership race so will not have to see through his pledge – and would probably have escaped having moved off the prisons brief.” – Daily Telegraph

MPs call for review of council tax bands to plug local government shortfall

“Council tax bands must be reviewed to help plug the £5billion funding gap local authorities face, MPs say. They are suggesting new categories at the top and bottom of the scale in a “long overdue” overhaul. It comes amid claims public services are at breaking point because of funding cuts, changes to the way cash is raised locally and restrictions on increasing council tax. Clive Betts, who heads the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, urged the Government to “get real”… MPs on the committee are also demanding a review of the council tax system, which they called a “regressive tax disconnected from the true value of properties”.” – Daily Express

  • Khan’s team ‘don’t know’ who would benefit from rent control plans – The Sun

>Yesterday: Local Government: Brexit will lose local government an alibi for red tape

Investor who saved shipyard slams Scottish Government over nationalisation

“The investor who rescued the last civilian shipyard on the river Clyde has denounced the Scottish government’s handling of its collapse, claiming the business was “effectively expropriated” and that ministers’ portrayal of it as requiring saving could deter potential bidders.  In his first public comments since the Scottish government took management control of Ferguson Marine Engineering, Jim McColl, whose Clyde Blowers Capital engineering group rescued the Port Glasgow shipyard in 2014, told the Financial Times he was “absolutely furious” about the move.  The Scottish government took control of Ferguson Marine on Friday in a deal with administrators after the yard collapsed because of the soaring cost of a bitterly disputed contract with a state-owned ferry company.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • No Deal issues are real, and solving them is key to a successful Brexit – Douglas Carswell, CapX
  • Macron could be Boris Johnson’s Brexit saviour – John Keiger, The Spectator
  • Beijing may have already lost Hong Kong for good – Adam Ni, Reaction
  • Is the Prime Minister just another ‘reactionary Keynesian’? – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
Read More

Newslinks for Tuesday 20th August 2019

Johnson presents EU with his demands

“Boris Johnson has told Brussels that the backstop must be scrapped because it is “anti-democratic” and would undermine the peace process in Northern Ireland. In a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, the prime minister said that the backstop would jeopardise the Good Friday agreement and undermine Britain’s sovereignty. He called for it to be replaced with a commitment to “alternative arrangements” involving the use of technology to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The demand, which comes before meetings Mr Johnson is holding with European leaders this week, will increase concerns that Britain will leave the EU without a deal on October 31. The letter was released by Downing Street shortly after Mr Johnson had an hour-long conversation with Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, who warned that Brussels would not reopen the EU withdrawal agreement, which contains the backstop. The prime minister will meet Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in Berlin tomorrow and see President Macron of France in Paris on Thursday. On Saturday he will travel to Biarritz for the G7 summit of world leaders.” – The Times

  • The letter in full – The Times
  • He tears up backstop in letter to EU – Daily Telegraph
  • He increases his efforts to ditch backstop – FT
  • He lays down law to EU – Daily Mail
  • He sends EU warning letter – The Sun
  • And he rips up backstop – Daily Express
  • PM will not recall Parliament – The Times
  • EU unconvinced by Johnson’s bid to remove backstop – The Guardian
  • Farage mocks Johnson letter to EU – Daily Express
  • Johnson faces fresh calls to ensure no hard Irish border – Belfast Telegraph
  • Dublin government sources criticise lack of detail in Johnson’s border plans – Irish Times
  • Can Parliament pass a law to stop a No Deal Brexit? – FT
  • Government to launch No Deal PR blitz – FT
Comment
  • EU migrants with criminal record could be banned after Brexit – The Times
  • ‘Reckless’ plan to cut off free movement alarms EU nationals – The Guardian
  • End to free movement under No Deal upsets business – FT

PM prepares to make debut on world stage

“Boris Johnson will make his debut as UK prime minister on the world stage this week, first by travelling to Berlin for talks with chancellor Angela Merkel and also to Paris to meet President Emmanuel Macron, before appearing at the G7 summit of world leaders in south-west France. Senior officials in Downing Street acknowledge it will be a “big week” for Mr Johnson as he presents his vision for the future of Britain. “He will be taking the message of Britain’s new global outlook, a strong stance on the environment and biodiversity. It won’t all be about Brexit, but we’ll be sure to remind people of our accelerated work to leave come what may,” said one Number 10 insider. Mr Johnson will deliver an uncompromising message: ignore the chatter about parliament moving to stop a no-deal Brexit, the UK is leaving on October 31 with or without a deal. Mindful of how MPs undermined his predecessor Theresa May’s negotiating stance on Brexit, the prime minister hopes to leave the EU in no doubt about his determination to leave the bloc. “The key message will be: if you’re watching what’s going on in parliament and think it will stop Brexit and you don’t need to negotiate with us, don’t be mistaken. The prime minister will give a very clear message: we are leaving, we’re gone on October 31,” said a Downing Street official. “Some [leaders] are concluding that Brexit might still be stopped. It won’t.” – FT

  • He meets Macron on Thursday to discuss Brexit – FT
  • He is to confront Macron and Merkel – Daily Express

……….William Hague: Johnson can bring some coherence to the West

“When Boris Johnson arrives at his first G7 summit, in Biarritz this weekend, he will surely reflect on what an odd gathering it is. Recent annual meetings have ended in acrimony. The seating plan will reveal that there are not seven leaders but nine, since the heads of the EU Commission and Council are both permanently invited. Indeed, on this occasion there will be 12 for much of the time, since India, Australia and Spain have all been included, for very good reasons in each case. Most of the world’s media will be focused on whether 12 global leaders can get through 36 hours or so without a diplomatic disaster. Given the laudable themes chosen by the French hosts of fighting inequality, addressing the powers of the big tech companies and promoting biodiversity, can a meaningful communiqué be agreed on these issues with President Trump? Will the new British PM look as if he has any worthwhile relations with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel? Can this group agree on anything about how to handle Iran? In short, there is huge scope for the leadership of the western world to look more divided by the end of the meeting than at the beginning.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

Corbyn warns only wealthy can afford hard Brexit

“The Labour leader and his most important lieutenant, John McDonnell, both cast Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans as a divide between the “wealthy” and the rest of the UK. Speaking in the Tory marginal seat of Corby, Northamptonshire, Mr Corbyn said: “Have no doubt, no deal would destroy people’s jobs, push up food prices and open our NHS to takeover by US private corporations. “That’s a price Boris Johnson is willing to pay, as it won’t be him and his wealthy friends paying it, it will be you.” The framing echoed the shadow chancellor’s attack on Mr Johnson and Michael Gove, the minister overseeing no-deal planning. Mr McDonnell said there was “no risk” for them in that outcome. “They are wealthy people — they won’t be bearing the risk,” he told Today on BBC Radio 4. “I’m worried about if there are food price [rises], there are people out there, it’s bad enough — they’re just struggling to get through.” Mr Corbyn’s speech was marred by heckling of the press, forcing him to urge his supporters to let journalists ask questions. One that suggested Mr Corbyn may not have the cross-party support required to lead a caretaker administration was greeted with shouts of “shame” from some Labour activists. Some also shouted down a reporter who asked Mr Corbyn if he would step aside to allow someone else to oversee any caretaker administration.” – The Times

  • He says Labour will do ‘everything possible’ to stop No Deal – FT
  • McDonnell would back Remain over a Labour deal – The Times
  • Labour may stay neutral in second referendum – The Guardian
  • New blow for Labour as poll shows public prefer No Deal to Corbyn as PM – Daily Mail

Comment

>Yesterday:

Family of Zaghari-Ratcliffe criticise Johnson as her conditions worsen

“The husband of a British-Iranian woman being held in Tehran has castigated Boris Johnson for failing to meet the family since taking office, as it emerged that she faces harsh new conditions in prison. The prime minister has yet to arrange a meeting, despite insisting he felt a “deep sense of anguish” over Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case while campaigning for election to No 10. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, criticised Johnson on Monday, after it emerged that tough new rules had been imposed on his wife and her fellow inmates in the notorious Evin prison. Zaghari-Ratcliffe is no longer allowed to call her husband in the UK and has been told she can see her young daughter Gabriella only once a month, rather than every few days. “It is the job of the government to protect people; particularly when the prime minister promised to leave no stone unturned,” Ratcliffe said. “It remains the case that, since he took office, we have not met with him [and have] not been invited to meet with him or the foreign secretary. I thought that if we were an important issue we would have been invited within the first 30 days. It should not take more bad stuff to happen for this to be important enough to resolve.” – The Guardian

Elton John defends Harry and Meghan over private jets

“Sir Elton John has defended the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over their use of private jets, revealing that he had paid for a flight for them and their son Archie to “maintain a high level of much-needed protection”. The singer hit back at what he called “these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character”, after Prince Harry and Meghan faced mounting criticism for reportedly taking four private jet journeys in 11 days, rather than opting for commercial flights, despite speaking out on environmental issues. Buckingham Palace declined to comment. John tweeted that he had made sure the flight was carbon neutral by making the “appropriate contribution” to a carbon footprint fund. “I am deeply distressed by today’s distorted and malicious account in the press surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private stay at my home in Nice last week,” he said. “Prince Harry’s mother, Diana Princess of Wales was one of my dearest friends. I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death. “After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquility of our home.” – The Guardian

More
  • Murdered PC’s bride pays tribute to her ‘perfect husband’ – The Times
  • 90,000 children to start school without measles vaccine – The Times
  • Jihadi Jack begs Canada to take him in – The Times
  • Elizabeth Warren gathers momentum for US election – The Times
News in Brief
Read More

Newslinks for Monday 19th August 2019

Johnson points finger at ex-ministers over No Deal planning leak…

“Boris Johnson has accused Remain-supporting former ministers of leaking details of no-deal planning in an attempt to damage Brexit negotiations. A secret Whitehall dossier known as Operation Yellowhammer, revealed over the weekend, included warnings that Britain could face shortfalls of fresh food, fuel and medicines. It also suggested that there could be an increase in public disorder, delays at airports and a hard border with Ireland. A Downing Street source pointed the finger at a group of ex-ministers known as the “Remain alliance”, which is led by the former chancellor Philip Hammond.” – The Times

  • Hammond denies he’s the source – Daily Telegraph
  • Downing St ‘furious’ at release of paper – The Guardian
  • Leaked document paints stark picture – FT

More:

  • Business groups admit many are ‘ill-prepared’ – FT
  • Government urged to bring forward PR blitz to counter ‘scaremongering’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Talks underway to stop EU ‘strangling’ Gibraltar – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: A No Deal Brexit. “It’s not going to be the end of the world. But it’s not going to be a walk in the park either.”

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Gove – The No Deal Brexit “Yellowhammer” document covers “absolutely the worst case”

…amidst rumours that up to 40 MPs could be backing them

“As many as 40 Tory MPs are now backing a bid led by ex-Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond and David Gauke to stop Britain leaving the European Union without a deal on Oct 31. Sources in the group – dubbed the ‘Gauke-ward Squad’ – say the numbers of MPs who now support the rebellion has jumped from 21 to nearly 40 after details of the group emerged last week. The size of the potential rebellion will increase pressure on Boris Johnson to avoid putting the question of the UK leaving the EU to a vote of MPs before the UK is scheduled to leave on October 31. Mr Johnson and his team are adamant that the best way of securing a new deal with Brussels is to make clear that the UK is ready and willing to leave without a deal.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Speaker holding talks with anti-Brexit MPs – Daily Mail

Opposition:

  • Labour leader says he will do ‘everything necessary’ to stop No Deal – FT
  • Liberal Democrats to ‘keep options open’ about swift return to the EU – The Times
  • ‘Outcry’ as arch-Remainer Miller vows to fight no-deal exit… – Daily Express
  • …as she claims the Government has accepted it can’t prorogue Parliament – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Now the cost is known, MPs must do whatever it takes – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
  • Brexiteers fear Clarke still has an eye on Number Ten – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • Wake up, Remainers: Brexit is happening – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • Brexit doublethink is blinding us to the facts – Alex Massie, The Times

>Yesterday:

Johnson to take ‘uncompromising’ line with Merkel and Macron

“Boris Johnson will make his debut as UK prime minister on the world stage this week, first by travelling to Berlin for talks with chancellor Angela Merkel and probably also to Paris to meet President Emmanuel Macron, before appearing at the G7 summit of world leaders in south-west France. Senior officials in Downing Street acknowledge it will be a “big week” for Mr Johnson as he presents his vision for the future of Britain… Mr Johnson will deliver an uncompromising message: ignore the chatter about parliament moving to stop a no-deal Brexit, the UK is leaving on October 31 with or without a deal. Mindful of how MPs undermined his predecessor Theresa May’s negotiating stance on Brexit, the prime minister hopes to leave the EU in no doubt about his determination to leave the bloc.” – FT

  • Prime Minister to EU chiefs: we will not back down – Daily Express

Senior Brexiteers urge him to call an election

“Senior Brexiteers have urged Boris Johnson to call a snap election in a bid to head off Jeremy Corbyn and the Remainer MPs preparing to topple him next month. Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, has said that the Prime Minister should call the Labour leader’s bluff and go to the country before opposition MPs and Tory rebels have a chance to bring him down. With Mr Corbyn widely expected to table a motion of no confidence when MPs return in September, Mr Duncan Smith said that Mr Johnson could outflank him by calling a snap election. He told The Sun that calling an election before MPs have a chance to vote down the Government would hand Mr Johnson the advantage and allow him to frame the poll as a vote to save Brexit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Today programme a ‘waste of time’, ministers told – The Times

>Today: Audio: Moggcast Special: Annunziata Rees-Mogg – “The Conservative Party needs to be reminded that Leave won”

Patel signals overnight end to freedom of movement

Freedom of movement by European Union nationals into the UK will end overnight from October 31 in the event of a no deal Brexit, Priti Patel has signalled. Theresa May’s government had wanted to crack down on freedom of movement as soon as possible after the UK left once new legislation had passed through Parliament. This would have meant a new Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination Bill would have had to be on the Statute Book before the curbs could be implemented. However, with time running out before the UK’s expected exit from the EU, the new Home Secretary has made clear that she wants the tough new approach to apply at the UK’s borders as soon as Britain has left the EU.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Plan ‘risks another Windrush scandal’, Home Office warned – The Times

More:

  • Home Secretary calls for tougher sentences for people who assault police officers – The Sun
  • Jihadi Jack’s parents brand Javid a ‘coward’ – The Times

Priti Patel: I’ll make sure officers have the protection they deserve

The brutal and mindless killing of PC Andrew Harper on Thursday was an appalling and sickening act. It has shocked the nation. I have written to Pc Harper’s family to express my condolences and I know his death will continue to cause immeasurable pain for his loved ones and colleagues in the years to come. That is why I have instructed the Home Office to urgently explore what we can do to better support the families of our brave police officers who are seriously injured, or worse, by criminals. Pc Harper began his career as a volunteer police officer. He was the very best of British policing. The bravery he showed by heading towards danger to protect the public is extraordinary. He is a hero.” – Daily Telegraph

Javid ‘backs away’ from stamp duty reform

“The UK chancellor has backed away from the suggestion that he is considering overhauling stamp duty to shift the tax burden from home buyers to sellers in an effort to help people get on to the property ladder. In an interview published on Friday, Sajid Javid said he was looking to create a more efficient tax system and did not deny he was considering major reforms to stamp duty. “I’m looking at various options. I’m a low-tax guy. I want to see simpler taxes,” Mr Javid told The Times. But on Sunday, he appeared to backtrack. The chancellor tweeted “To be clear, I never said to The Times I was planning to put it on sellers, and I wouldn’t support that. I know from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government that we need bold measures on housing — but this isn’t one of them.”” – FT

  • He denies ever planning to shift the burden to sellers – The Guardian

Johnson to tell social media companies to do more to combat anti-vaccination

“The Prime Minister has said social media firms must share the responsibility for the rising spread of measles in the UK as he attacked antivax misinformation. Boris Johnson will on Monday set out plans to improve vaccination rates on a visit to a hospital in the South West, following a rise in cases of measles. In the first quarter of 2019 there were 231 confirmed cases of measles, just three years after the World Health Organisation declared the UK measles-free. Earlier this year Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS, said “fake news” by anti-vaxers on social media had fuelled a tripling in measles cases and added that the promotion of misguided messages on Instagram and YouTube was one of the factors behind the dip in vaccinations.” – Daily Telegraph

Corbyn attacks Johnson in ‘election pitch’

“Jeremy Corbyn will accuse Boris Johnson of being a “fake populist and phoney outsider” in the mould of Donald Trump as he sets out his election pitch to transform the country as radically as Labour did in 1945 with the creation of the welfare state. The Labour leader will give a flagship speech in the key marginal seat of Corby in the east Midlands as speculation grows about an election in the coming weeks. Speaking at a children’s centre on Monday, Corbyn will promise to do “everything necessary to stop a disastrous no-deal Brexit”, although he has so far insisted that he must be the one to lead a caretaker government to extend article 50 if Johnson loses a confidence vote.” – The Guardian

  • Labour leader promises revolution on scale of Thatcherism – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Corbyn wants an election, but is Labour ready to fight one? – Andrew Rawnsley, The Guardian
  • Why is your child voting for this socialist vision? – Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail

Wollaston faces possible with local Lib Dems for her seat…

“For while she may be happy to switch parties to her heart’s content, her arrival has left local activists feeling a tad disgruntled – not least Caroline Voaden, who had already been chosen by the local Lib Dems to stand in any forthcoming election. An understandably miffed Voaden, who was elected as MEP for the region in May, gave no signs of backing down on local radio last week: ‘At some point a decision will be made about whether I fight the seat for Totnes or whether Sarah does, and that is a decision that the party will make, and it has not been made yet.’ With a potential showdown in Totnes already on the boil, might it be easier for Wollaston to simply switch to a fourth party within six months?” – Daily Mail

…whilst Soubry’s Change UK now has ‘zero support’

“Anna Soubry’s breakaway pro-EU party launched in a blaze of publicity six months ago now has “zero support”, a survey of general election voting intentions has revealed. At zero per cent, it is even below Ukip, which has been all but destroyed by multiple, scandal-hit leadership changes and the rise of the rival Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage, yet manages one per cent. There is pressure on the party’s five remaining MPs to after two of their former colleagues, Chuka Umunna and Sarah Wollaston, joined the Liberal Democrats. But a defiant Ms Soubry, The Independent Group for Change’s leader, insisted it remained vital, as the Brexit crisis deepens, saying: “We will carry on.”” – Daily Express

Read More

Newslinks for Sunday 18th August 2019

Johnson to tell EU leaders ‘MPs will not stop Brexit’

The PM will use a two-day trip to the continent to insist the referendum result will not be delayed again beyond October 31. Back-channel conversations are leading European capitals to believe Parliament can stand in the way of the referendum result, government sources say fingers are being pointed at Tory rebels such as Philip Hammond and Dominic Grieve, along with ex-PM Tony Blair speaking to Eurocrats. Senior officials in No10 believe there is likely to be a month of intense negotiations after Westminster’s two-week sitting next month as they realise Brexit cannot be stopped. Mr Johnson has said he wants the EU to get rid of the “anti-democratic” Irish backstop in a new deal. But leaked documents from the German finance ministry say they will reject changes and believe a No Deal exit is “highly likely”. One No10 official insisted that until the EU countries realise the error of their ways they are unlikely to start negotiations “seriously”. Sources insist the EU’s current position could end up being a “historic mistake”. Even if BoJo loses a no¬confidence vote that paves the way for a General Election, he would set the date for after the Brexit date. Mr Johnson is still holding out for a new deal which could be finalised at the two-day EU Council starting on October 17.” – Sun on Sunday

  • And he attacks Philip Hammond for ‘damaging Britain’s interest’ – Mail on Sunday
  • Ministers could be banned from appearing on the Today programme – Mail on Sunday
  • Johnson’s Brexit script is left in a pub – Mail on Sunday
  • Carrie Symonds to meet Queen at barbecue – Sun on Sunday
Comment
>Yesterday:

Bercow ‘plots with MPs’ to stop No Deal

“John Bercow has reportedly held secret talks with MPs plotting to stop Boris Johnson pursuing a no-deal Brexit. The House of Commons Speaker has been “working very closely” with a cross-party group of MPs who are determined to stop the UK crashing out of the European Union without a deal. Bercow promised last week to “fight with every breath in my body” to stop the prime minister suspending parliament to force through a no-deal exit without the consent of MPs. Speaking at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Speaker gave the strongest indication yet that he is prepared to intervene to stop prorogation. A former cabinet minister claims that Bercow has had frequent discussions with MPs as they consider ways to seize control of the parliamentary timetable and pass legislation to block no-deal. “He’s very much part of the discussion,” the Tory MP said. “He has been pretty clear with us that he believes that a decision as momentous as this can only be made with the consent of parliament and that to try to suspend parliament or avoid bringing legislation to parliament in order to take something through against the consent of parliament would be unconstitutional.” – Sunday Times

  • Downing Street slams ‘dishonest’ Tory rebels – Sunday Telegraph
  • Labour and Tory MPs plot ‘radical’ law to stop No Deal – Observer
  • Johnson must fend off wrecking ball from senior Tories to deliver No Deal – Sun on Sunday
  • Humiliating climbdown for anti-No Deal Grieve – Sunday Express
  • New bid to block No Deal could be funded by taxpayers – Mail on Sunday
  • Patel wants borders shut down on 31 October – Mail on Sunday
Comment
>Today:

The 17 Tories who could bring down the PM

“They are the Tory MPs with the power of life or death over Boris Johnson’s premiership – a cabal of anti-No Deal Brexit campaigners that No 10 fears could turf him from office. The Prime Minister’s allies last night launched a bid to ‘smoke out’ the would-be mutineers and stop them backing a no confidence vote in the PM. The list, compiled by Johnson loyalists, reveals 17 potential rebels, including ex-Chancellor Philip Hammond, veteran Europhile Ken Clarke and Brexit critic Dominic Grieve. Tory whips fear that if just seven back a no confidence vote and ten abstain, it would be enough to see the Prime Minister lose. However, the whips hope a handful of ex-Labour and Tory MPs – now Independents – will back the PM. One loyalist said: ‘Unless anti-Brexit colleagues see sense, this will be on a knife edge.’ Last night, some of the ‘rebels’ – including ex-Justice Secretary David Gauke – insisted they would not back a no-confidence motion.” – Mail on Sunday

Whitehall’s secret No Deal preparations leaked

2Britain faces shortages of fuel, food and medicine, a three-month meltdown at its ports, a hard border with Ireland and rising costs in social care in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to an unprecedented leak of government documents that lay bare the gaps in contingency planning. The documents, which set out the most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than worst-case scenarios, have emerged as the UK looks increasingly likely to crash out of the EU without a deal. Compiled this month by the Cabinet Office under the codename Operation Yellowhammer, the dossier offers a rare glimpse into the covert planning being carried out by the government to avert a catastrophic collapse in the nation’s infrastructure. The file, marked “official-sensitive” — requiring security clearance on a “need to know” basis — is remarkable because it gives the most comprehensive assessment of the UK’s readiness for a no-deal Brexit. It states that the public and businesses remain largely unprepared for no deal and that growing “EU exit fatigue” has hampered contingency planning which has stalled since the UK’s original departure date in March.” – Sunday Times

The Yellowhammer Report
  • ‘This is not Project Fear’ – Sunday Times
  • ‘Expect shortages of fresh food’ – Sunday Times
  • ‘Channel ports logjam could make vaccines go out of date’ – Sunday Times
  • ‘Up to 85% of lorries will not have correct documents’ – Sunday Times
  • Halloween, a nightmare day to leave – Sunday Times
  • Leaked No Deal dossier predicts shortages – Mail on Sunday
>Today:

Jeremy Corbyn insists he should still be caretaker PM

“The Labour leader said the electoral process in the last general election needed to be respected, and that it should be the opposition who are invited to form a government if a no-confidence motion in Boris Johnson’s administration succeeds. However, his proposal has been knocked back by the Liberal Democrats and senior pro-Remain Tories who he would need onside to form an emergency government. Conservative former minister Sir Oliver Letwin said he would not be able to support a bid to put Mr Corbyn in Number 10, and that he did not think it was likely that a majority could be formed for the idea. And Tory former attorney general Dominic Grieve said that while he would be willing to bring down Mr Johnson’s administration, he did not think the Labour leader was the right person to lead a caretaker government. Mr Corbyn, speaking on a visit to Bolton, was asked if Labour’s Harriet Harman or Tory former chancellor Ken Clarke could be the sort of leader the country needs in a political crisis, as proposed by Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. He said: ‘What we need is a respect for the electoral process that brought about the results from the last general election. ‘What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don’t have a crash-out on the 31st.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Corbyn pleas with MPs to back him now ‘before it’s too late’ – Observer
  • Public fear Corbyn more than No Deal – Sunday Express

Priti Patel demands crackdown on criminals who assault police officers

“The Home Secretary has demanded a crackdown on criminals assaulting police officers, as new figures showed that the average jail term for the offence is just two months. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph following the “brutal and mindless” killing of PC Andrew Harper, Patel said courts needed to ensure that the law was acting as a sufficient deterrent against attacks on officers. She also announced that that the Government was “accelerating plans” for a new police covenant designed to enshrine protections for officers, and said the Home Office was examining ways to better support the families of those injured or killed by criminals. On Saturday night detectives investigating the death of PC Harper, who married his fiancee, Lissie, just four weeks ago, said he died of “multiple injuries” having been being dragged along a road in Berkshire after responding to a burglary report. They were given more time to question 10 suspects. Ms Patel’s intervention came as figures shows that the average sentence for individuals jailed for the specific offence of assaulting a police officer is just 2.2 months, or less than 9 weeks. The figure has fallen every year since 2007, when the average sentence was 2.8 months – about 11 weeks.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • ‘We’re in bad place,’ says devastated father of PC Andrew Harper – Sunday Telegraph

Jihadi Jack stripped of British citizenship

“Muslim convert Jack Letts, 24, who had held dual UK and Canadian citizenship, declared he was an “enemy of Britain” after travelling from Oxfordshire to Syria at the age of 18 to join the terror group. He has begged to be allowed to return to the UK, insisting he had “no intention” of killing Britons, after he was captured by Kurdish forces in 2017. The Home Office has now stripped Letts of British citizenship, meaning he is the responsibility of the Canadian government, The Mail on Sunday said. It was reportedly one of the last actions of Theresa May’s administration. The decision is understood to have angered officials in Ottawa, prompting fears of a row between Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson when they meet at the G7 summit in France next weekend. Letts, who travelled to the Middle East in 2014, is now among more than 120 dual nationals who have been stripped of their British citizenship since 2016, including Isis bride Shamima Begum.” – Sunday Telegraph

More
  • Raise pension age to 75 says think tank – Sunday Express
  • Full extent of Mountbatten’s role in ‘68 coup against Wilson revealed – Sunday Telegraph
  • Critics slam Lib Dem leader’s plan to not jail as many women – Mail on Sunday
  • Guardian journalist attacked outside pub – Observer
Comment
  • Inequality in the north is about far more than race, Kenan Malik – Observer
Read More

Newslinks for Saturday 17th August 2019

Javid could make sellers pay Stamp Duty

“Sajid Javid is considering a change to stamp duty that would switch the tax burden from buyers to sellers. It would ensure that first-time buyers never pay the tax and also help families buying bigger properties. However, it would result in larger tax bills for those who have benefited from soaring property prices and are looking to downsize. The plan is one of a number of tax changes under consideration for a budget later this year. In his first interview as chancellor, Mr Javid told The Times: “I’m a low-tax guy. I want to see simpler taxes.” He said that he was looking at various options when asked about stamp duty reforms including reversing liability from those buying property to those selling.” – The Times

  • Chancellor says taxes could be cut for middle earners this autumn – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘I’m a low-tax guy’ – Interview, The Times

More housing:

  • Councils are ‘keeping developers waiting’ – The Times
  • Outrage over Labour’s ‘garden tax’ – Daily Express

Comment:

  • This plan could drive up house prices for all – Carol Lewis, The Times

‘Gaukeward Squad’ to meet to plot against Johnson…

The so-called ‘Gaukeward Squad’ of Tory ministerial rebels will meet early next week to plot ways to stop a no deal Brexit. The Daily Telegraph has learned that a meeting has been scheduled between former Chancellor Philip Hammond and his former cabinet colleagues David Gauke, Greg Clark and Rory Stewart to discuss ways to thwart Boris Johnson’s do or die Brexit pledge with other rebel Tory MPs. It comes after they were among 20 remainer rebels who sent a letter to Mr Johnson earlier this week warning him that his demand for Brussels to scrap the Irish backstop had “set the bar so high that there is no realistic probability of a deal being done”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Clarke ‘ready to lead unity government’ – The Times
  • ‘Good chance’ that rebels will get ‘shock opportunity’ from the Speaker – Daily Express
  • Cummings: first we’ll leave the EU, then we’ll smash Labour – The Times

Comment:

  • The best Prime Minister we never had? Remainers want to find out – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Brexit and No Deal. The Prime Minister has a policy, and a plan to deliver it. His opponents agree on neither.

…but key Tories refuse to back Labour leader…

“Splits in the anti-no deal alliance of MPs in parliament threatened to stymie plans to stop a no-deal Brexit on Friday, as Conservatives and independent MPs ruled out backing plans brokered by Jeremy Corbyn… Corbyn’s hopes of forming a unity government were fading on Friday as a number of prominent Conservatives working to stop no-deal Brexit ruled out any mechanism to put the Labour leader in No 10. Dominic Grieve, who has previously suggested he could vote against the government in a confidence vote, said he would not go as far as facilitating a Corbyn government.” – The Guardian

>Today: John Strafford in Comment: The Grieve case raises a question. Do local Associations have the power not to reselect their Conservative MP?

>Yesterday: Iain Dale’s column: Don’t mention the war, please. Why Johnson was wrong to suggest Hammond and company are collaborators.

…amidst rumours that Corbyn is ‘plotting with Sturgeon’ to seize control of Brexit

“Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is plotting to use legislation in a bid to block a no deal Brexit if he fails to topple Boris Johnson’s Government via a no confidence vote. Mr Corbyn is thought to have had discussions with the SNP today about the possibility of passing a law which would extend Article 50, preventing Britain leaving the bloc as planned on at the end of October. A number of senior Labour figures believe the plan could win a majority in the House of Commons, the BBC has reported… BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley cited Labour sources as suggesting a no-confidence motion in Mr Johnson’s Government could run parallel to attempts to extend Article 50, with the latter being a fall-back option.” – Daily Express

  • Labour leader risks ‘blowing up’ anti-Brexit alliance by lashing out at Swinson – Daily Mail
  • ‘Good number’ of pro-Brexit Labour MPs ready to resist delaying Brexit – The Sun

More:

  • Bogdanor claims UK could retroactively ‘not leave’ after October 31 – Daily Express
  • Germany ‘expects No Deal’ and won’t renegotiate – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: The real winners of this abortive ’emergency government’ could be the SNP

Matthew Parris: Any attempt to block No Deal rests on Corbyn

“Unless the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs stay rock solid behind whatever parliamentary procedure is chosen to stop Boris Johnson crashing Britain out of the EU, all is lost. Their solidarity remains a likelihood but not a certainty — and I’m worried that Jeremy Corbynhas this week been trying to muddy the waters. I cannot dispel a suspicion that in the coming struggle Mr Corbyn, or more importantly the tight-knit group who help steer his leadership, have cloudy intentions. On Brexit they have a history of triangulating and this week, by steering the question away from no-deal and towards who should be prime minister, they’re at it again.” – The Times

  • Remain ultras are playing into Johnson’s hands – Stewart Jackson, Daily Telegraph
  • No, the Prime Minister is no de Gaulle – Julian Jackson, FT
  • MPs are wrong to think blocking Brexit will boost their career – Douglas Murray, The Sun

Conspiracy theorist leading bid to reinstate Labour MP

“A controversial British academic who has defended President Assad of Syria against accusations that he used chemical weapons is leading the bid to readmit Chris Williamson into the Labour Party. David Miller, a professor of political sociology at the University of Bristol, is the sole director of Campaign for Chris Williamson Ltd, a company that was incorporated on July 17. He is part of an academic working group on “Syria, Propaganda and Media” that has disputed whether the Assad regime has used chemical weapons and whether Russia was responsible for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury.” – The Times

  • Academics regurgitate pro-Assad theories – Oliver Kamm, The Times

Corbyn plans to ‘give empty shops to start-ups’

“Empty high street shops should be handed to start-ups or community projects, Jeremy Corbyn has said. The Labour leader said that radical action was needed to reverse a “retail apocalypse” and prevent town centres becoming “ghost streets”. Mr Corbyn said councils should be given the power to reopen abandoned shops left vacant for at least a year. On a visit to Bolton today, he will say that the plan will rejuvenate high streets. About 29,000 stores have been left empty for more than 12 months… The Conservatives said that a Corbyn government would mean more empty shops.” – The Times

  • Plan would allow councils to seize properties – FT
  • Owners must accept new tenants ‘free’ – The Sun

Labour leader ‘won’t be a barrier’ to a Welsh independence referendum

“Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he wouldn’t be a barrier to any future discussion of a referendum on Welsh independence. On a visit to Machynlleth Mr Corbyn said he was open to considering all options for Wales’ future. Mr Corbyn was in Wales on Friday visiting the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth to hear about practical solutions which could help reduce the UK’s carbon emissions. Wales voted in for Brexit but Corbyn said that he doesn’t see any benefit for Wales when the UK leaves the European Union in October.” – ITV

SNP criticised over plan to nationalise shipyard

The last commercial shipyard on the Clyde has been taken into public ownership following a long-running dispute over the construction costs of two new ferries amid claims that the contract was “bungled” by ministers. Derek Mackay, the Finance Minister, visited the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow on Friday and said the nationalisation of the facility would enable the completion of the Caledonian MacBrayne ferries… The Scottish Conservatives said the decision by ministers to take over the yard covered up the extent to which they had “messed up this bungled ferry contract”.” – Daily Telegraph

Read More

Newslinks for Friday 16th August 2019

Stop Brexit 1) Tory rebels say they’re open to installing Corbyn as Prime Minister

“Despite scepticism from the Liberal Democrats and hostility from some independents, the Tory MPs addressed by Mr Corbyn said they welcomed his approach and agreed to meet him. The Labour leader was buoyed when another Conservative rebel declared that he would prefer a government led by Mr Corbyn to a no-deal Brexit. Guto Bebb, the MP for Aberconwy who quit as a defence minister last year to back a second referendum, and who had not been approached, said that he was open to installing Mr Corbyn in Downing Street… The Conservatives written to by Mr Corbyn were the former cabinet ministers Dominic Grieve, Sir Oliver Letwin and Dame Caroline Spelman, as well as Nick Boles, who left the Tories over Brexit and sits as an independent. All four said they would meet Mr Corbyn “to discuss the different ways” to stop no-deal on October 31.” – The Times

  • Bebb says Corbyn administration would be ‘less damaging’ – Daily Mail
  • MPs ‘welcome’ invitation to talk – Daily Telegraph
  • Anger at trio for ‘conspiring with Corbyn’ – Daily Express

Government:

  • Johnson tells rebels Brexit vote ‘must be respected’ – Daily Mail
  • Kwarteng insists that rebels don’t have the numbers – The Sun

More:

  • Hammond could face local confidence vote for blocking No Deal – Daily Telegraph
  • The 20 MPs backing up the former Chancellor – Daily Express

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Don’t mention the war, please. Why Johnson was wrong to suggest Hammond and company are collaborators.

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Bebb to defect? He says that a short-term Corbyn government would be better than a No Deal Brexit

Stop Brexit 2) He sets out plan in letter to Liberal Democrats, SNP, and others

“The UK Labour party has set out proposals to form a temporary government in early September that would request an extension to Article 50 in a bid to avoid a no-deal Brexit before calling a general election. Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow business secretary, said on Thursday that the opposition would try to bring down Boris Johnson’s government within “days” of parliament returning from its summer recess on September 3. Labour would then seek to form a “time-limited temporary government” with the aim of calling an election. In a letter to the leaders of other opposition parties and senior backbench MPs on Wednesday evening, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged his counterparts in the Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists, Plaid Cymru and Green parties – along with Conservative MPs opposed to a no-deal departure – to support his attempt…” – FT

  • Labour leader’s plan faces big hurdles – FT

Stop Brexit 3) Swinson tries to tout Harman or Clarke as interim leader

The leader of the Liberal Democrats has claimed Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman are willing to lead an emergency government. Jo Swinson, who has already stated her preference for either of the veteran MPs to take the helm in the event of a caretaker government, said she had spoken to both and they were willing to intervene… Despite a backlash against the Lib Dem leader for saying it was “nonsense” that Jeremy Corbyn could command a caretaker government, she remained adamant the votes did not “add up”… While Ms Swinson is willing to meet with Mr Corbyn to discuss what can be done to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU she does not see him leading a temporary government as the answer.” – Daily Telegraph

  • But Liberal Democrat leader softens her stance and meets Corbyn… – FT
  • …as her party is ‘urged’ to support the plan – The Guardian
  • Wollaston says Corbyn in power would be ‘the lesser evil’ – Daily Mail
  • SNP leader urges Swinson to ‘rethink’ – Twitter

More:

  • Labour MP confirms she’s ready to be ‘caretaker’ Prime Minister – The Sun

Stop Brexit 4) Stephen Bush: Plan for a ‘caretaker’ government exposes Labour and Lib Dem weaknesses

“The row over a government of national unity is pointless – but vitally important at the same time. It’s pointless because a unity government is dead in the water – but it is important because it exposes two vulnerabilities. The first is that it highlights Labour’s difficulty that a large number of people still have doubts about their candidate’s fitness for office, and also brings to light the Liberal Democrats’ own difficulties with balancing their need to appeal to Labour voters who dislike Corbyn and Labour voters who are fond of him. But the second, and more important factor is that if Remainers’ main plan to stop no deal is a government of national unity, you can safely assume that we will leave the European Union on 31 October – with the only question being who gets the blame.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We can’t keep wishing away No Deal – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Labour leader’s offer puts pressure on the Lib Dems – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • If Swinson is serious, she must back Corbyn – Jonathan Lis, The Guardian
  • Tory rebels will do anything to disrupt democracy – Leo McKinstry, Daily Mail

More:

  • Posturing Corbyn is unfit to lead – Stephen Pollard, The Sun
  • Trying to stop No Deal is a betrayal of the people – Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDary: Brexit and No Deal. The Prime Minister has a policy, and a plan to deliver it. His opponents agree on neither.

Johnson ‘delights Eurosceptics’ with plan to repeal European Communities Act

“Boris Johnson is preparing to trigger the end of European law’s supremacy in Britain as he cements his “do or die” pledge to leave the EU on October 31, The Times has been told. Within days Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, is expected to sign an order that will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 after October 31. Senior Eurosceptics said the move would represent a “totemic” moment and put Mr Johnson’s pledge to leave with or without a deal “in black and white”. Theresa May had infuriated them by failing to make the order before the March 29 Brexit deadline and eventually agreed with the EU to delay Brexit until October 31. She had opted to extend the deadline rather than activate the legislation.” – The Times

  • Merkel to reject bid to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement – The Sun
  • Up to 50 Labour MPs prepared to vote for a deal – Daily Express

More:

  • Lewis confirms over a million of EU nationals have the right to stay – The Times
  • Bercow to try to ’embarrass’ Johnson into abandoning prorogation – Daily Express
  • Trump and Brexit boost Politics A-Level applications – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: How not to destroy Trump and Johnson

Patel hits back at Abbott over Home Office scheme

“Priti Patel  has hit back at Diane Abbott’s criticism of the government’s “offensive” campaign to cut down on knife crime by claiming she is “just playing politics”. The Home Office announced a new scheme to cut down on knife crime yesterday. Boxes of chicken in many takeaways now have a hashtag #knifefree after government statistics from April 2018 to March 2019 showed an eight percent rise each year on knife crime. The Home Office said: “We are rolling out our #KnifeFree chicken boxes in over 210 chicken shops in England and Wales, including Morley’s, Dixy Chicken and Chicken Cottage… But the initiative sparked a negative backlash on social media almost straight away.” – Daily Express

  • Row would be funny if it weren’t tragic – Coco Khan, The Guardian

Now Corbyn is accused of betraying Labour voters in Scotland

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused betraying thousands of Labour supporters who back the Union after saying the UK Parliament should not block a second referendum on Scottish independence. He said he did not think a new bid to break-up Britain was a “good idea”, but added that it was not up to Westminster to stand in the way of a fresh vote. His comments follow an about turn on Labour policy that was sprung on the party in Scotland by John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, during an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last week. He plunged the party into civil war when he ignored its 2017 general election manifesto pledge and declared that the Scottish Parliament, which has a nationalist majority, and the Scottish people should decide if they want another vote.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He rows in behind McDonnell on independence – FT

More:

  • Ex-Labour backer says Corbyn is ‘manipulated by fanatics’ – Daily Express
  • Union boss urges leader to protect woman-only shortlists – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Hattersly shows the way for Scottish Labour’s big beasts – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Political leaders request ‘Northern budget’

“Political leaders in the north of England have demanded a “Northern Budget”, including £7bn of transport infrastructure, after the government pledged to invest more in the region. Simon Clarke, the Treasury’s regional growth minister, was lobbied about the demands on a visit to Bolton on Thursday where he promised an “infrastructure revolution”. Mr Clarke, who is MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in north-east England, said he would consider the list of projects presented as part of government plans to improve the fortunes of smaller towns that mainly voted Leave in the Brexit referendum.” – FT

Wollaston accused of hypocrisy after backing by-elections for defectors

“Liberal Democrat defector Sarah Wollaston was tonight accused of hypocrisy after it emerged she had lobbied for automatic by-elections for MPs who switch parties, despite refusing to face one herself. The former Tory MP, who defected to Change UK in February, before joining the Liberal Democrats on Wednesday defied calls to go back the polls in Totnes. She claimed her constituents, of whom only 13 per cent voted Lib Dem at the 2017 general election, did not want a Conservative candidate but a “centrist” MP… The Lib Dems were backed by just a quarter of the numbers of voters who voted for the Tories in Totnes two years ago – although the Lib Dems consistently finished second to the Conservatives in the constituency until their vote share collapsed following the 2010 coalition.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • History holds far fewer lessons for Brexit than both sides think – Robert Tombs, The Spectator
  • A Corbyn-led GNU would be a ridiculous creature – Finn McRedmond, Reaction
  • The battle for the Tory Party’s soul – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • The pointless obsession with food ‘reformulation’ – Blythe Edwards, CapX
  • Corbyn is a threat to basic liberty and democracy – Max Young, 1828
Read More

Newslinks for Thursday 15 August 2019

Corbyn writes to Tory MPs asking them to make him caretaker PM

“In an extraordinary letter to rebel Tories and opposition parties, Mr Corbyn said he was ready to lead a ‘strictly time-limited’ government to secure an extension to Article 50. Mr Corbyn pleaded for support to bring down Boris Johnson with a Commons vote of no confidence, saying he would then stop No Deal before ultimately calling a general election – and campaigning for a new referendum. Embarrassingly for the Labour leader, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson rejected the plea out of hand, saying it was not a ‘serious attempt’ to stop No Deal. In his letter, Mr Corbyn also said there was no mandate for No Deal, and he wanted a confidence motion ‘at the earliest opportunity’. He vowed that Labour would campaign in the ensuing general election for another public vote on Brexit – which would include the option to Remain. Tory MPs reacted with fury to Mr Corbyn’s gambit last night, while Downing Street said it was clear the Labour leader would ‘over-rule the referendum and wreck the economy’.‘This Government believes the people are the masters and votes should be respected, Jeremy Corbyn believes that the people are the servants and politicians can cancel public votes they don’t like,’ a spokesman said. Clear signs that Britain is heading for political turmoil this autumn.” – Daily Mail

  • He writes to MPs in a bid to stop No Deal – Daily Telegraph
  • He calls for opposition pact to topple Johnson – FT
  • He hatches plot to seize power – Daily Express
  • Labour leader urges opposition leaders and Tory MPs to oust Johnson – The Guardian
  • Jez give me No 10 – The Sun
  • Labour MPs plan to back withdrawal agreement – The Guardian
  • Tugendhat 10-day exit plan dismissed by No 10 – The Guardian
  • EU diplomats savage Johnson’s anti-Brexit MP claims – Daily Express
  • Half of UK farms could fail after No Deal, report warns – The Guardian
  • Emergency medical supplies could be airlifted into UK after Brexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Darren Grimes lashes out at Remainers’ ‘misleading’ questions – Daily Express
  • Kezia Dugdale says Labour can’t win General Election – The Scotsman
Comment
>Yesterday:

Hammond used time as Chancellor to block No Deal at every turn

“Philip Hammond discussed seeking advice from the Electoral Commission to help the government prepare for a second referendum while he was Chancellor, a senior cabinet source has claimed. The former Treasury chief was on Wednesday night accused of failing to prepare Britain for no deal as claims emerged he canvassed opinion on overturning the referendum result last September. Six months later, during a cabinet meeting on April 2, Mr Hammond suggested that the government should make a ‘big offer’ of a second referendum to Labour in a bid to push through Theresa May’s beleaguered Withdrawal Agreement. A senior cabinet source told The Telegraph: “When Philip discussed this he was already making the case for delaying the exit date to other cabinet ministers. He didn’t make this plain at cabinet but behind the scenes he was telling ministers that he was looking into the option of a second referendum very seriously.”- Daily Telegraph

  • He plotted No Deal downfall behind scenes – Daily Express
  • Johnson accuses Hammond of collaborating with EU – FT
  • PM says Hammond is collaborating with EU – Daily Mail
  • Revealed: The 20 Tory MPs ganging up with Hammond to take down No Deal – Daily Express
  • Moment Hammond made shock No Deal admission in 2016 – Daily Express
  • Brexiteer MP launches astonishing attack on Remoaner Hammond – Daily Express
  • Poppy Trowbridge on her work as a special adviser in the Treasury – The Guardian
Comment
>Yesterday:
>Today:

Rebel MP joins Liberal Democrats

“Sarah Wollaston has joined the Liberal Democrats as Jo Swinson, the party’s leader, dismissed Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to take charge of efforts to stop a no-deal Brexit. Dr Wollaston, 57, who was elected as a Tory MP in 2010, takes the Lib Dems’ tally to 14 after its victory at the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election this month and the arrival of Chuka Umunna, the former Labour MP, in June. She had, like Mr Umunna, initially joined a new outfit, the Independent Group, before it split after a drubbing at the European elections in May. The former GP said that her desire not to split the Remain vote at a general election was behind her decision to move again. She said: “The new Liberal Democrats under Jo Swinson are leading the charge on unequivocally making the case for Britain to remain in the heart of Europe.” She also supported the party’s wider policies and values, particularly on the NHS and social care, she added” – The Times

  • Totnes MP joins Lib Dems – The Guardian
  • MP Sarah Wollaston joins Lib Dems – her third party in a year – Daily Mail
  • Sarah Wollaston joins Lib Dems in coup for Jo Swinson – New Statesman
  • Yo-yo ex-Tory MP and Change UK MP joins Lib Dems – The Sun
  • Lib Dems eye Tory seat in St Albans – FT

Defence secretary rejects amnesty for veterans of Troubles

“The defence secretary yesterday rejected the idea of an amnesty for parties involved in the Troubles in Northern Ireland, arguing it could let terrorists “off the hook”. Ben Wallace said veterans should be given “the very best legal advice and support” in the face of criminal investigations, but rejected an amnesty as a solution to protect them as it would have to apply to paramilitary forces as well. The amnesty proposal had been backed by Gavin Williamson, a predecessor at the Ministry of Defence, as a way to prevent former troops in their seventies and eighties from facing renewed inquiries. However, Mr Wallace’s misgivings echoed those of the former prime minister Theresa May. He said: “I don’t support an amnesty for terrorists, I don’t support an amnesty for people who went out and killed many of these young men and women who went out to defend us. I don’t think that is a solution. What I do think is that there is a place for reconciliation but . . . we must make sure we don’t let off the hook the murderers that are still out there and need to be hunted down and convicted of the killings that they took part in.” – The Times

US speaker issues trade deal warning

“Britain has no chance of securing a post-Brexit trade agreement with the US if its departure jeopardises the Good Friday agreement, the most senior Democrat in the US has warned. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said that the party would block the deal in Congress if the UK’s departure from the European Union undermined the peace accord in Northern Ireland. Ms Pelosi, whose party controls the House, was reaffirming her commitment after President Trump’s national security adviser said during a visit to London that the UK would be “first in line” for a deal. The chances of the UK’s departure without a deal have been seen as increasingly likely after Boris Johnson made his “do or die” pledge to leave by the October 31 deadline. The US is one of the guarantors of the Good Friday agreement. Ms Pelosi said: “Whatever form it takes, Brexit cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday agreement, including the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Especially now, as the first generation born into the hope of Good Friday 21 years ago comes into adulthood. We cannot go back.” – The Times

Remember how Jo Cox died Tory tells Johnson

“Boris Johnson was accused yesterday of jeopardising MPs’ safety after he claimed they were “collaborating” with Brussels to prevent Britain’s departure from the European Union. The prime minister used a Facebook question-and-answer session to say that parliament was making it harder for him to secure a good Brexit deal. He said it was a “terrible kind of collaboration” and the longer it continued the more likely it was that “we will be forced to leave with a no-deal Brexit”. The comments were met with dismay in Westminster and Brussels where European diplomats said it was the prime minister’s unacceptable demands that stood in the way of a deal, not the House of Commons. Guto Bebb, a Tory MP, called the remarks “absolutely disgraceful”and said it could lead to an increase in threats against MPs. “I knew Jo Cox. Boris Johnson should reflect very carefully on the fact he is using language about us collaborating with the EU when he knows full well of the threats people are facing,” he said. Ms Cox, a Labour MP, was murdered a week before the EU referendum outside a library in West Yorkshire.” – The Times

Dick Braine in Ukip debut

“He has been relentlessly mocked over his name but Ukip’s new leader says that actually he enjoys being teased. Richard Braine, known also as Dick Braine, is Ukip’s sixth leader in three years. He told journalists at his first press conference that he would always respond with good humour to the needling. “Because you know, you have to if your name is Dick Braine,” he said. Mr Braine has been ridiculed since he was elected on Sunday. Among his detractors was George Osborne, the former chancellor, who tweeted: “The new leader of Ukip is called Mr Dick Braine — really.” Mr Braine said: “I have had to go through my life dealing with all sorts of situations.” He likened himself to Giles Corey, an American farmer who was crushed to death with stones during the Salem witch trials: “Before he finally died his last words were, ‘More stones, more stones’. So there’s no amount of throwing that sort of stuff at me is going to put me down. I actually enjoy it.” Ukip lost all its MEPs in the European elections this year and is polling at less than 1 per cent, compared with 15 per cent for its former leader Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.” – The Times

Fraud victims misled and mocked as police fail to investigate

“Call handlers working for the police insult victims of fraud and have been trained to mislead them into thinking their cases will be investigated when most are never looked at again. An undercover Times reporter was among staff who were banned from telling victims that the overwhelming majority of their cases are dismissed, either by low-wage employees at an outsourced call centre or a computer algorithm. Managers in charge of collating police fraud reports also mocked those who lost money as “morons”, “screwballs” and “psychos”. As online and cold calling-scams surge, increasing numbers of people are losing money to fraud. Last year there were an estimated 3.6 million incidents, more than a third of all crimes in England and Wales. Victims are often distraught and have in some cases lost their life savings. However, as few as one in 50 fraud reports lead to a suspect being caught and forces have been criticised for failing to investigate.” – The Times

More
  • Carrie Symonds to carry out first solo event – Daily Telegraph
  • Rail fare increases push cost of average annual ticket to £3,000 – The Times
  • Thames could heat radiators in Parliament – The Times
  • Trump backs China’s Xi Jinping to resolve Hong Kong crisis ‘humanely’ – Daily Telegraph
  • National Grid feels heat after power cuts – FT
News in Brief
Read More

Newslinks for Wednesday 14th August 2019

EU 1) Ex-Chancellor accuses Johnson of ‘betraying the referendum’

“Boris Johnson risks betraying the EU referendum result by allowing “unelected people” intent on wrecking any chance of a deal to “pull the strings” of his government, Philip Hammond is warning. In his first intervention since resigning as chancellor, Mr Hammond accuses Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s most senior aide, of attempting to force through a no-deal Brexit by making demands that Brussels “cannot, and will not, accede to”. Writing in The Times he claims that the suggestion from Brexiteers such as Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, that Leave voters were informed before the referendum of the risks of a hard exit is “a total travesty of the truth”.” – The Times

  • Chancellor’s letter accuses Johnson of wrecking deal – The Sun
  • Hammond happy to give power to ‘unelected’ EU – Daily Express

Johnson:

  • Prime Minister doubles down on exit date… – Daily Express
  • …as he believes EU will offer better deal ‘at the 11th hour’ – Daily Mail

EU 2) Philip Hammond: It is simply not true that people voted for hard Brexit

“So those of us who desperately want to believe this Conservative prime minister is committed to negotiating a deal that will protect our future prosperity need to see evidence that it is happening soon. Because no-deal is not an acceptable outcome and after three weeks in which the government’s narrative has gone more or less unchallenged, it is time for us to explain why — by busting two great myths. The first is that to reject a no-deal exit is somehow to challenge the expressed will of the British people. It is not… The second myth that needs busting is that a no-deal exit will be painless. Some key figures in the government have even absurdly suggested that it will make us better off fiscally and economically. It won’t.” – The Times

  • Remainers lack the courage to defend Brussels’ federalist plans – Liam Fox MP, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Hammond complains about a No Deal Brexit – a policy to which he was signed up if necessary. And undermined.

EU 3) Rudd insists that risks of no-deal exit can be ‘managed’

“Amber Rudd has said she believes the risks of a no-deal Brexit are no more than a challenge that can be countered by government action, going back on her previous assessment in which she said it would cause “generational damage” to the UK. The work and pensions secretary, who kept her job when Boris Johnson became prime minister by renouncing her previously resolute opposition to no deal, said she still believed this would be much less preferable than a managed Brexit… Asked if no deal would bring a further rise in unemployment after new jobless figures showed a rise on Tuesday, “It’s very difficult to tell,” Rudd said.” – The Guardian

  • Tory MP admits bid to block hard Brexit is ‘over’ – Daily Express
  • Next boss says Government has averted risk of ‘gridlock’ – The Guardian
  • Javid hails ‘booming economy’ – The Sun

More:

  • Legal challenge to Johnson’s plan is ‘fast-tracked’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish court to hear case on September 6th – FT
  • NHS told to prepare to charge EU citizens under no-deal exit – The Times

Comment:

  • Jobs boom means the British economy is ready for anything – Amber Rudd MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Calais boss is right to dismiss threat of chaos at ports – Ross Clark, The Sun
  • A million more in work: could Project Fear have been more wrong? – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

EU 4) Bercow vows to prevent Johnson bypassing MPs

John Bercow said on Tuesday that he would refuse to let Boris Johnson take Britain out of the EU by suspending Parliament. The Commons Speaker said he would fight any attempt to prorogue Parliament “with every bone in my body”. He also said that MPs can stop Britain leaving without a deal at the end of October, putting him on a collision course with the Prime Minister’s chief strategist, Dominic Cummings. Mr Bercow dismissed suggestions that he would stand down in the short term as Speaker…  It is unclear how the Speaker could overrule Mr Johnson if Britain were to enter uncharted territory.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Speaker insists Parliament can block a no-deal exit – The Times
  • Readers say Johnson should suspend Parliament – Daily Express

EU 5) Watson urges alliance with the Liberal Democrats

“Jeremy Corbyn must work with the Liberal Democrats to stop a no-deal Brexit, his deputy has warned. Tom Watson, speaking alongside Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, at an event hosted by young campaigners for staying in the EU, said that party allegiances needed to be set aside to obstruct Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans. “Everyone who cares about democracy, our country and our future must work together because there are enough of us — from all parties in parliament — to stop him,” he said… His intervention, and his decision to appear with Ms Swinson, deliberately strikes a different tone from some of Mr Corbyn’s allies.” – The Times

  • A ‘national unity’ government will never fly – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • After the Brexit storm, a new alliance could emerge – Rafael Behr, The Guardian

President to meet Prime Minister in ‘snub to G7’

“Donald Trump is preparing to meet Boris Johnson before seeing any other European leaders to “send a signal” to them at the G7 summit in France next week. The US has said it is prepared to work immediately on sector-by sector trade agreements after Britain leaves the European Union. John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, said on Monday that the chemistry between Mr Johnson and Mr Trump was already better than that between the president and Theresa May. “They’ve already had five or six phone calls,” he said. “It’s off to a roaring start.”” – The Times

  • Johnson says deal with Brussels is ‘more important’ – The Sun
  • USA’s trade offer ‘makes No Deal more likely’ – Daily Telegraph
  • How realistic is a sectoral Anglo-American trade agreement? – FT

>Today: James Arnell in Comment: The conventional wisdom about a trade deal with America is wrong. Trump will want a fair one. Here’s why.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: A UK-US trade deal. Never mind the economics (at least for a moment). Feel the politics.

State should ‘wrap arms’ around problem families, says Johnson

State agencies need to “wrap their arms around” problem families to prevent young people getting sucked into crime, Boris Johnson said yesterday as he toured Leeds prison, one of the previously most overcrowded in England and Wales. The Prime Minister said he wanted improvements in every part of the criminal justice system so that not only were serious offenders locked up to protect the public but that those who needed rehabilitation and support were provided with it. It marked a shift in tone towards tackling the causes of crime after a series of announcements of crackdowns on offenders. “We are putting money into every aspect of the criminal justice system,” he said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Blitz on NHS and crime sees Tories well ahead of the Brexit Party – The Sun
  • Prime Minister ‘fuels election talk’ with Leeds trip – The Guardian

Wallace wants curb on probes into Ulster veterans

“Veterans who served in Northern Ireland should not face any future probes unless new evidence comes to light, the Defence Secretary said last night. Former Scots Guard Ben Wallace, who served in Northern Ireland, said ex-soldiers in their 70s and 80s should be enjoying their retirement – not suffering the ‘trauma’ of investigators knocking on the door. In his first comments on the issue, he said he ‘would not let the history books be rewritten’ when it came to legacy investigations into the Troubles, and troops should be ‘proud’ of what they achieved. Currently, hundreds of veterans face being quizzed over their actions on the battlefield – even if no new evidence has come to light.” – Daily Mail

Tugendhat calls for Hong Kongers to be offered full British citizenship

“The UK should give Hong Kong citizens full UK nationality as a means of reassurance amid the current standoff with Beijing, the chair of the influential Commons foreign affairs committee has argued. Tom Tugendhat said this should have happened to people in the formerly British-ruled territory in 1997, when it was handed back to Chinese control, and that doing so now would reassure Hong Kong’s people that they were supported by the UK. Hong Kong has been gripped by 10 weeks of large-scale and occasionally violent pro-democracy demonstrations, which have been met by a sometimes brutal police response, and increasingly trenchant threats from Beijing.” – The Guardian

  • China accuses US of ‘inciting chaos’ – Daily Mail

A Levels: Teachers blame Gove reforms for slump in English…

English A-level is set for its biggest drop in students in 20 years as headteachers call for an inquiry into whether GCSE reforms are killing the subject. The number of students taking the subject has plummeted by 13 per cent since last year, according to provisional data published by the exams watchdog Ofqual. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, described it as “alarming” and urged ministers to take “urgent action”. English remains one of the most popular A-level subjects, but the drop from 67,865 to 58,870 is the most drastic year-on-year fall since 2000, when the Joint Council for Qualification’s (JCQ) records began.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Subject has ‘become a joyless slog’ – The Times

>Yesterday: Suella Braverman MP in Comment: The momentum for free schools has stalled. Johnson’s new Government should revive it.

…as Labour propose overhaul of university admissions

“Students would apply to university only after receiving their A-level results under Labour proposals. The party said that it would abolish the system of predicted A-level grades determining university offers and end the summer clearing scramble. The move would also end unconditional offers, in which universities offer places to students with no A-level grades required. Head teachers have said that these are damaging education. Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, said predicted grades were “wrong in the vast majority of cases” and that disadvantaged students in particular lost out under the system.” – The Times

  • Proposals ‘take aim at predicted grades’ – FT

Comment:

  • We will make admissions fairer – Angela Rayner MP, The Guardian

Williamson sues Labour over re-admission

MP Chris Williamson is suing Labour over his re-suspension for claiming the party was “too apologetic” on anti-Semitism. The strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn is preparing for potentially embarrassing court action against Labour in a bid to get readmitted to the party. The Derby North MP said he was hoping to “overturn the unconstitutional decision” to reimpose his suspension from the “party I love”. A source close to Mr Williamson told PA that legal papers had already been filed in court. No further information was immediately provided. Labour is understood to be confident its rules were followed and that there will be no successful grounds for a challenge.” – Daily Telegraph

Opposition’s nationalisation plans could produce ‘flood of claims’

“A future Labour government risks provoking a “flood of claims” under international law if it tries to nationalise some of the UK’s key utility companies at below market prices, according to lawyers advising businesses on how to protect themselves. Investors seeking compensation could bring lawsuits under bilateral investment treaties (BITs) between Britain and various territories and countries, including Hong Kong and Malaysia. These pacts are designed to protect investors from state interference and unfair expropriation. Some investors already have these rights by virtue of their nationality, including YTL, the Malaysian group that owns Wessex Water, and Cheung Kong, the Hong Kong-based investor that controls several large UK energy distribution networks.” – FT

  • McDonnell eyes major tax hike for millions of workers – The Sun

Scottish Government paid Salmond over half a million pounds after botched inquiry

The Scottish Government’s botched inquiry into sexual misconduct claims against Alex Salmond has cost taxpayers more than half a million pounds. The SNP administration has paid the former first minister £512,250 to cover his legal costs after he raised a successful court action against the government he once led. Mr Salmond won a judicial review earlier this year when Scotland’s highest civil court found that the way the investigation was handled was unlawful. The case was abandoned in January, on the eve of a Court of Session hearing, after the government admitted it had breached its own guidelines by appointing an investigating officer who had “prior involvement” with two civil servants who had made complaints.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Why Brexiteers have a point about the Backstop – Tom McTague, The Atlantic
  • Beyond Brexit, the EU and Britain will face the same challenges – Nicolas Bouzou, CapX
  • The rush to go green has compromised the UK’s electricity supply – Andrew Willshire, Reaction
  • Could we be heading for a Coupon election? – Isabel Hardman, The Spectator
  • The war against objectivity – James Bloodworth, UnHerd
Read More

Newslinks for Tuesday 13th August 2019

US promises fast-track trade agreements and backs No Deal

“The United States will enthusiastically back a no-deal Brexit and work with Britain immediately on sector-by-sector trade agreements, President Trump’s national security adviser said yesterday. John Bolton, the hawkish White House aide, promised that such a fast-track approach would achieve progress more quickly than a comprehensive agreement. “We are with you,” Mr Bolton said after meeting Boris Johnson. The US would wait until after Brexit before seeking to exert pressure on Downing Street to fall into line over issues such as the Iran nuclear deal and Huawei’s involvement in the 5G network, he added. He dismissed fears that Congress could block a trade deal over the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Ireland, and said he did not understand concerns that deepening trade ties could leave the NHS vulnerable. “We see a successful exit as being very much in our interests,” he said. “Britain’s success in exiting the EU is a statement about democratic rule. The fashion in the European Union when the people vote the wrong way from the way the elite wants, you make the peasants vote again and again until they get it right.” If the government decided to leave with no deal “we will support it enthusiastically”, he said. “President Trump and I were leavers before there were leavers.” – The Times

  • US and Britain could sign sector-by-sector trade deals says Bolton – The Guardian
  • UK will look at Huawei ‘from square one’ according to Bolton – FT
  • Britain will be ‘first in line’ for a trade deal with the US – Daily Mail
  • US promises fast-track trade deals and backs No Deal – The Times
  • Johnson and Trump speak for third time in three weeks – Daily Mail
  • Trump adviser says US backs No Deal – The Sun
>Today:

Court to hear legal bid by MPs to stop No Deal

The legal bid, backed by more than 70 MPs and peers, is seeking to get the Court of Session in Edinburgh to rule that suspending Parliament to make the UK leave the EU without a deal is “unlawful and unconstitutional”. The petition has been filed at the Edinburgh court, which sits through the summer, and was granted permission to be heard by a judge. An initial hearing is due to take place before Lord Doherty at the Court of Session on Tuesday morning to determine how the legal challenge will proceed. A cross-party group of politicians is backing the legal petition, supported by the Good Law Project, which won a victory at the European Court of Justice last year over whether the UK could unilaterally cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50. Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, said: “A man with no mandate seeks to cancel Parliament for fear it will stop him inflicting on an unwilling public an outcome they did not vote for and do not want. “That’s certainly not democracy and I expect our courts to say it’s not the law.” One petitioner, Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray, said: “When Boris Johnson unveiled his vacuous slogan ‘taking back control’, voters weren’t told that this could mean shutting down Parliament. “The Prime Minister’s undemocratic proposal to hold Westminster in contempt simply can’t go unchallenged.” – ITV News

  • Labour planning rapid no confidence vote in Johnson – The Guardian
  • No Deal battle set to come to head in September – The Guardian
  • MPs prepare for Brexit showdown on 9 September – FT
  • Johnson prepares for ‘stunt’ to prevent No Deal – Daily Express
  • Lib Dem leader warns of no good Brexit for Northern Ireland – Belfast Telegraph
  • Irish consumer sentiment sinks to five-year low with Brexit blues – Irish Times
Comment

But poll suggests Johnson has public support to shut down Parliament

“Boris Johnson has the support of more than half of the public to deliver Brexit by any means, including suspending Parliament, according to a poll. The ComRes survey for The Telegraph found that 54 per cent of British adults think Parliament should be prorogued to prevent MPs stopping a no-deal Brexit. The poll suggested the Prime Minister is more in tune with the public’s views on Brexit than MPs, following his promise to deliver Brexit by October 31 “do or die”. Brussels has so far refused to give any ground to Mr Johnson on Brexit, but Government sources said on Monday that the EU had not reopened negotiations because it was waiting to see if Remainer rebels would act to try to prevent no deal. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “I would hope that the EU now fully understands the UK’s determination to leave the EU on Oct 31, no ifs or buts. We stand ready to negotiate.” Government sources think formal talks with Brussels are unlikely to resume before an EU summit on Oct 17.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Majority of Britons back suspending Parliament to get Brexit done – Daily Mail
  • Brits back Johnson plan to suspend Parliament – The Sun
  • Stunning poll shows support for Johnson No Deal plan – Daily Express
  • PM believes EU will cave in at last minute to save Ireland from No Deal – The Sun
  • Corbyn and Johnson ‘must play by the rule book to avoid a constitutional crisis – The Times
  • Carrie Symonds seen inside No 10 for first time – Daily Mail
Comment

Paul Goodman: Keep the Queen out of it? There’s no chance

“Boris Johnson’s new government may face and lose a vote of confidence when the Commons returns in September. And it is reported that Buckingham Palace and No 10 would “bust [their] gut” to keep the Queen out of any decision about the consequences. This sounds extremely painful. It would certainly be pointless. For the reality is that the Queen will be at the very heart of the matter, if MPs indeed pass such a vote. To understand why, it is necessary to turn to the piece of legislation which governs what would follow it: the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. The act is a classic illustration of the law of unexpected consequences. It was driven by short-term political need rather than long-term constitutional thinking, as is so often the case in these affairs. Essentially, it was a mutual insurance policy drawn up in 2010 by the two partners in the coalition government. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats wanted a guarantee that neither would rat on the other mid-term and pull out of government, forcing a general election. The solution was the Fixed-term Act. It made it harder, though not impossible, for a parliament to last less than a five-year term. One of the ways in which an election is still possible within those five years is as follows. The Commons passes a motion of no-confidence in a government. An election does not automatically follow. Instead, MPs have 14 days to find a new administration and endorse it with a confidence vote. An election takes place if they can’t.” – The Times

Johnson planning whirlwind trip to Berlin and Paris ahead of G7 summit

“The plan is believed to be under consideration by Downing Street in order to avoid Brexit dominating the G7 summit set to be held in Biarritz, France, from August 24-26. The EU and the UK are locked in a state of Brexit stalemate after Mr Johnson adopted a hardline negotiating stance as soon as he won the keys to Downing Street last month. Mr Johnson has insisted talks can only begin once Brussels accepts that the existing Withdrawal Agreement must be radically overhauled and the Irish border backstop deleted. But the EU has been adamant that the divorce deal struck with Theresa May cannot be changed and that the backstop protocol is non-negotiable. Despite both sides refusing to budge, government sources believe there would be merits to Mr Johnson spelling out the UK’s position to the French president and German Chancellor personally. They believe it would hammer home that he is serious about his ‘do or die’ pledge to deliver Brexit with or without a deal by October 31. One government source said there would be ‘nothing to be lost from delivering that message face to face’. – Daily Mail

  • UK officials to pull out of EU meetings – Daily Telegraph
  • London to cut back on EU meetings – FT
  • Diplomatic snub to EU is ‘epic stupidity’, Johnson told – The Times
Comment

And PM to unveil £100m prison fund

Boris Johnson goes to prison tomorrow as ministers are forced to deny his justice crackdown is a general election bribe. The PM is expected to become the first British leader in seven years this morning to visit the inside of a medium security Category B jail. He will tour it to unveil another £100million for the Ministry of Justice to upgrade security inside prisons to curb spiralling violence. The fresh cash will pay for more airport-style x-ray machines to stop drugs and weapons smuggling as well as mobile phone jammers. It is part of a jumbo £2.5billion splurge on popular new crime-fighting initiatives, that also include toughening up sentencing and 10,000 more prison places. But it has lead MPs to suspect Downing Street is secretly planning to go to the country in the Autumn to boost the PM’s wafer-thin Commons majority of one. As Mr Johnson also held a criminal justice summit in No10 yesterday, the Justice Secretary insisted the moves were not “election talk”. – The Sun

  • Public overwhelmingly backs greater stop and search powers, Daily Mail
  • Thank goodness we now have a home secretary who wants to terrify criminals, Tim Stanley – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson accused of ‘electioneering’ on crime – FT
>Today:
>Yesterday:

Green MP apologises after naming all-white female cabinet

“As the country’s only Green MP, Caroline Lucas came up with an inevitably very right-on proposal to see off a No Deal Brexit – an all-female Cabinet. But the Brighton MP was given a somewhat painful lesson in political correctness yesterday when forced to apologise for her list of women after it was pointed out that everyone on it was white. Miss Lucas had urged ten high-profile female cross-party politicians to come together in a Cabinet of national unity. Writing in The Guardian – of course – she said it could ‘bring a different perspective’ and force a no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson to prevent No Deal. But she apologised yesterday, admitting she was ‘wrong to overlook’ her ‘women of colour colleagues’. She wrote on Facebook: ‘An all-white list of women isn’t right. I should have reached out further and thought more deeply about who, and what kind of politics, an all-white list represents. I apologise.’ – Daily Mail

  • Caroline Lucas calls for all-female cabinet – The Times
Comment

Ban drivers from using hands-free phones, MPs demand

“Motorists may believe that the function is safer than using a handset but it leads to the same risk of a crash, according to the transport select committee. In a report its members have called for tougher penalties, including the possibility of outright driving bans, and they suggest that existing punishments do not reflect the seriousness of the offence. Under the present legislation drivers who use hand-held mobile phones could receive six penalty points on their licence and a £200 fine. The rules do not cover hands-free devices. However, motorists using a phone, whether directly or in hands-free mode, are four times more likely to be involved in a collision, according to the report to be published today. The cross-party committee acknowledged practical challenges to banning hands-free phone use and enforcing the offence but added: “This does not mean we should not do it.” In 2017 there were 773 casualties on Britain’s roads in which a driver using a mobile phone was a factor, including 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries. The number of deaths or serious injuries in which mobile phone use featured has risen by more than four fifths, from 97 in 2011 to 178 in 2017. Over the same period the number of people facing enforcement action has fallen by more than two thirds, from 162,400 to 53,000.” – The Times

  • Now they want to ban hands-free phones in cars – Daily Mail
  • Using a hands-free phone in car must be banned, MPs say – The Sun

National grid ‘had three blackout near-misses in three months’

“The system operator, already under investigation by the energy watchdog, faces criticism from within the industry that it has not done enough to guard against the risk of blackouts. National Grid blamed the “incredibly rare” nationwide power cut on a severe slump in the grid’s frequency – a measure of energy intensity – following the unexpected shutdown of two power generators. It will face an investigation into its handling of the energy system after the first blackout in more than a decade following the shutdown of a gas-fired power plant in Bedfordshire and the Hornsea windfarm in the North Sea at about 5pm on Friday. It said it would work with the regulator and energy companies to “understand the lessons learned” after two power plants shut down unexpectedly within minutes of each other, causing severe rush hour travel disruption across the country. But industry sources claim National Grid has been aware of the growing potential for a wide-scale blackout “for years”,and has suffered a spate of near-misses in recent weeks.” – The Guardian

  • National grid boss to examine how power supplies prioritised – FT
More
  • Patel questioned child citizenship fees before taking up job – The Times
  • BBC staff pick up 20% pay rises while over-75s lose free licences – The Times
  • Labour accused of ‘class war’ over plan to end badger culling and crack down on fox hunting – Daily Telegraph
  • Flight chaos as Carrie Lam warns of ‘path of no return’ – The Guardian
  • New Ukip leader sparks race row – Daily Mail
Comment
News in Brief
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Newslinks for Monday 12th August 2019

The Prime Minister orders review to toughen sentences for violent and sexual offences

‘Violent and sexual offenders could serve more of their sentences behind bars following an urgent review of sentencing policy ordered by Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister said dangerous criminals must be taken off the streets and punishments ‘truly fit the crime’ if the public was to have confidence in the justice system. The move follows a series of announcements over the weekend in which Mr Johnson promised to ‘come down hard’ on crime… The sentencing review has been instructed to start work immediately and to report back to No 10 in the autumn, just as the country may be going to the polls. Its remit is to look at the rules governing how and when violent and sexual offenders are released from prison.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: So we’ve had NHS, policing and immigration plans from Johnson. Stand ready for a schools spending pledge.

>Yesterday: WATCH: “We need to get the numbers back up”, says Malthouse

Johnson and Varadkar to meet for Brexit and border talks in September

‘Boris Johnson will hold showdown Brexit talks with Leo Varadkar – but the Irish PM insists he will not budge on the backstop. The two leaders will discuss the Brexit row and the Irish border issue during the crunch meeting scheduled in Dublin in early September. Boris has demanded the controversial Irish backstop is torn up before doing any new Brexit deal. And he is braced for a furious row at the showdown after Mr Varadkar’s spokesman last night insisted the backstop is not up for renegotiation. A spokesman for the Irish PM – known as the Taoiseach – said: “The Taoiseach has invited the British Prime Minister to Dublin for talks on Northern Ireland and Brexit. Their offices are in contact to agree a date for these talks in the coming weeks. Such a meeting would give both sides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of their respective positions. As has repeatedly been made clear, the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop are not up for negotiation.”‘ – The Sun

Poll suggests Remain alliance could hurt the Conservatives in Lib Dem marginals

‘A Remain alliance will cause issues for Boris Johnson as polls suggest he is failing to pick up support in key marginal seats. The Conservatives could lose more than half the constituencies they need to defend against the resurgent Liberal Democrats. A YouGov poll of 1,200 voters in 20 constituencies with small Tory leads, where the Lib Dems came second in 2017, shows a 14.1 per cent slump for the Conservatives. It suggests the ‘Boris bounce’ is falling flat in those seats which helped deliver a majority for David Cameron in 2015.’ – Daily Mail

ISIS fighters’ children will not be repatriated

‘Children of British foreign fighters stuck in warzones will be left to their fate, the government has ruled. Sajid Javid made the decision in one of his last acts as home secretary before his promotion to chancellor last month, The Times has learnt. He concluded that it was too dangerous to dispatch military or civilian personnel to rescue babies and minors who have British citizenship from camps in northern Syria. The decision, made after a cross departmental review, is likely to be criticised by children’s charities and opposition politicians, who have put pressure on the government to protect innocent British citizens in Syria. Mr Javid also sought advice about the legal implications of repatriating the British children of jihadists and Isis brides, it is understood. Concerns had abounded that such a move could provide a legal route for parents who have had their citizenship revoked to return under human rights laws.’ – The Times

  • Heroic worshipper tackles gunman at Oslo mosque – Daily Mail
  • The Home Office profits from immigration fees – The Times

Leadsom launches power cut probe

‘The Government plans to launch an investigation into the major power cut that affected almost one million people in England and Wales. The blackout on Friday afternoon brought travel chaos to the rail network, and affected the power supply to Newcastle Airport and Ipswich Hospital. Power had to be restored to more than 900,000 customers after what National Grid Electricity System Operator said was the almost simultaneous loss of two large generators. Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said Friday’s power outage had caused ‘enormous disruption’. She added: ‘National Grid must urgently review and report to Ofgem. I will also be commissioning the Government’s Energy Emergencies Executive Committee to consider the incident.” – Daily Mail

  • National Grid says the incident was beyond its control – FT
  • Shapps doubles funding for electric car charging – Daily Mail
  • BrightBlue proposes public bounties for informing on drivers of idling cars – The Times
  • Rail union bosses accused of hypocrisy – Daily Mail

GP waiting times hit record high

‘Average waiting times to see a GP have breached two weeks for the first time on record, a poll of GPs has revealed. The average wait in England has increased by two days in the past two years to 14.8 days, the research found. It comes amid an NHS staffing crisis that has led to warnings that the entire GP system is ‘beginning to collapse’. One fifth of GPs said waiting lists have soared to over three weeks, while thousands more patients are unable to get an appointment within a month – some even have to wait as long as six weeks.’ – Daily Mail

Trump’s national security adviser is in London for talks on Iran and Huawei

‘Bolton arrived on Sunday night and will hold talks on Monday and Tuesday. They will include a heavy focus on Brexit, reflecting the Trump White House’s attempts to solidify ties with Boris Johnson’s new government after Trump’s strained relationship with his predecessor Theresa May. The hardliner is expected to urge British officials to align policy on Iran more closely with that of Washington, which has pressured Tehran with an increase in sanctions after the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Britain has so far backed the European Union in sticking with the nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last month put pressure on London to consider a tougher stance.’ – The Guardian

  • Businesses must start taking cyber threats seriously – Henry Crumpton, FT
  • The President ‘mocked the voices’ of South Korean and Japanese allies – Daily Mail
  • Vengeful and resentful, Putin is an obstacle to reconciliation – Angus Roxburgh, The Guardian
  • AfD struggles with internal disunity – FT
  • Salvini suggests Gere can take migrants home to Hollywood – Daily Mail
  • Italy’s instability – The Times Leader
  • Undercover police agents beat Hong Kong protesters – The Times

May’s resignation honours: Barwell tipped for a peerage, but Hammond ‘to get nothing’

‘Theresa May is set to snub her chancellor, Philip Hammond, by leaving him off her resignation honours list, while handing a peerage to her chief of staff, Gavin Barwell. The former prime minister is finalising the names on her list, which is expected to see several senior members of her staff elevated to the House of Lords. She is also considering handing honours to some of her closest political allies. As one of her most senior and longest serving ministers, Mr Hammond – a former foreign secretary and defence secretary – would have been eligible for an honour. But in a sign of how their relationship soured during her time in office, he is understood to have missed out entirely.’ – Daily Mail

  • She is more popular than Churchill (in Toby Jug sales) – Daily Mail
  • Farage mocks Royals for right-on views – The Guardian

Labour ‘would ban grouse shooting’

‘Jeremy Corbyn could ban grouse shooting if he comes to power as Labour declares a fresh war on toffs. As the four-month grouse shooting season kicks off today, the party is demanding an “urgent review” into the practice. Labour’s shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said the practice is bad for the environment and cruel to animals. She wants landowners should look at using their grounds for clay pigeon shooting instead. Ms Hayman: “The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife needs to be to properly weighed up against the benefit of land owners profiting from shooting parties. For too long the Tories have bent the knee to land owners and it’s our environment and our people who pay the price.”‘ – The Sun

  • Shooting estates say they are being unfairly targeted – FT
  • Khan supports proposal for a London slavery museum – The Guardian
  • Worrying political polarisation – Alex Massie, The Times

Falling bond yields warn of global recession

‘Debt markets are flashing recession warning signs as sovereign bond yields slide at their fastest pace in years and the value of those in negative territory climbs to record highs. The benchmark US 10-year Treasury yield – the return on American government debt – is already on course for its biggest annual slide in eight years after last week’s surge in trade tensions between the US and China. The yields on UK gilts and German bunds are also dropping faster than at any time since 2014, dragged down by expectations of interest rate cuts by central banks to prop up growth and by investors seeking safety from market volatility… “The extraordinary moves we have seen in bond markets have driven many to speculate that there are a number of hidden messages about an impending credit crisis in China, potential economic recession in the US and a Japanification of Europe,” said Paul Brain, head of fixed income at Newton Investment Management.” Bond yields have been driven lower by rising expectations of central bank stimulus as global growth stutters.’ – Daily Telegraph

In Brief

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Newslinks for Sunday 11th August 2019

Johnson’s summer campaign blitz continues. Today, it’s law and order.  He says that he wants more stops and searches.

“That is why I am announcing today that in all 43 police authorities in England and Wales, we are making clear that the police can and should make use of their stop-and-search powers. We are extending an existing pilot so that 8,000 more officers can decide to deploy stop-and-search across an area without a senior officer needing to give the go-ahead. The operation can be instituted by anyone of inspector rank and above; and the officer can proceed simply on the basis that he or she thinks a crime may be committed…am afraid that as a society we have no choice but to insist on tougher sentencing laws for serious sexual and violent offenders, and for those who carry knives.” – Mail on Sunday

Other law and order and domestic policy news:

  • The Prime Minister announces new 10,000 prison places plan and scraps Gauke’s sentencing plan – Sunday Times
  • Rising cost of locking up old lags – Sun on Sunday
  • Cummings slams “f**king mad” criminal justice system, wants to crack down on foreign prisoners and paedophiles – Mail on Sunday
  • (Adviser’s family farm received EU subsidy – Observer)
  • CSJ urges Patel to raise the proposed minimum salary threshold for migrants – Mail on Sunday
  • Migration rules could be eased to protect care workers – Sunday Times
  • It’s time to get tough on crime – Leo McKinstry, Sunday Express
  • Ditto – Sun on Sunday Editorial

Meanwhile, Gove junks Brexit bills to foil anti-Leave plot

“Theresa May’s Government had previously insisted that five separate Bills – covering customs, immigration and trade – were needed before any kind of Brexit. But a new paper presented by Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has destroyed that notion. Instead, he says a series of ‘statutory instruments’ – legal tweaks done with the flick of a ministerial pen without a vote – would be enough. The stark decree will infuriate MPs of all parties trying to sabotage Boris Johnson’s plan for No Deal, and Downing Street will face accusations that it will leave the UK in a legal limbo.” – Mail on Sunday

Other Brexit news:

  • The most likely gambit of anti-Brexit MPs is a Bercow-aided emergency Bill – Observer
  • Remainers ponder no confidence motion in Johnson – Sunday Express
  • Cargo planes could fly food and medicines into Britain in the event of No Deal – Sunday Telegraph
  • (Gove planning rapid rebuttal unit to counter scare stories) – Sunday Telegraph
  • Johnson “to meet Varadkar” – Sunday Telegraph
  • Britain may not be able to police its own fishing waters after Brexit – Mail on Sunday
  • “The Queen has privately expressed her disappointment in the current political class and its “inability to govern” – Sunday Times
  • Downing Street sees G7 summit in a fortnight as a crucial moment – Sunday Times
  • Millions of Brexit 50p coins to be printed in time for October 31 – Sunday Telegraph
  • Salvini pushes to take control in Italy – Sunday Express

Brexit comment:

  • Johnson is no Churchill, but this could be his finest hour – William Shawcross, Sunday Times
  • MPs must thwart this bid to subvert Parliament – Michael Heseltine and Betty Boothroyd, Sunday Times
  • How bonkers, scruffy Cummings can save the Conservatives – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • No Deal would be a calamity for the Union – Gordon Brown, Observer
  • The EU risks losing everything – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Britain needs a new RAF arm to stop China and Russia colonising space – Tobias Ellwood, Mail on Sunday

The Sunday Times: Javid must guard the Conservative commitment to economic responsibility

“Next month’s spending review looks to be all about preparing the ground for an early election. Mr Johnson has been throwing spending pledges around like confetti and all the signs point to an early election. On this, care will be needed. History is littered with examples of governments splashing the cash before elections and regretting it afterwards…Britain can retain its appeal to international business with the right mix of policies, including low taxes and even lighter regulation. It has, after all, remained the location of choice for the tech giants. But Mr Javid must also take care not to throw away the fiscal progress of recent years, which has re-established the Tory reputation for economic responsibility” – Editorial

  • Johnson and Javid Chequers dinner – Mail on Sunday
  • Javid’s family moves into Number 10 flat. So does his dog – Mail on Sunday
  • Carrie Symonds moves out of Camberwell into Number 11 flat – Mail on Sunday
  • My two operations to rid me of cervical cancer – Marina Wheeler, Sunday Times

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – How Johnson could play the politics of an economic contraction

Raab v China over Hong Kong protests

“Raab spoke to Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and stressed the need for “meaningful political dialogue and a fully independent investigation into recent events as a way to build trust” in the territory, the UK Foreign Office said. The former British colony has seen widespread protests in recent months which began with a campaign against a controversial extradition bill and has gone on to include a push for electoral reforms in the Chinese territory. Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said the days where Britain ruled Hong Kong were “long gone … The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of supervision over Hong Kong.” – Observer

Shapps champions electric cars

“Grant Shapps, the new transport secretary, is to use the Westminster “nudge unit” — a team of behavioural economists that was once based in the Cabinet Office — to steer electric cars to a take-off point of public acceptance. In Norway, 8% of cars are battery powered. In Britain it is fewer than 1%. The nudge unit, properly known as the behavioural insights team, will confront concerns such as anxiety about range by making electric cars seem normal while encouraging the idea that letting petrol and diesel models idle near schools is actually as strange as allowing smoking in restaurants.” – Sunday Times

Talking up your chances 1) The LibDems claims that they are poised to take seats off the Tories in a snap poll

“The new research has also prompted a scramble to raise the resources necessary to fight a more combative campaign. Swinson is understood to have begun a drive to win over new donors, including former Tory and Labour backers. Surrey’s Esher and Walton, held by Raab, is said to be among the most ambitious seats on the radar, even though he has a huge majority of more than 23,000. The party is also searching for high-profile candidates to fight prominent Tories. The actor Emma Kennedy is said to be in the running to take on cabinet office minister Michael Gove in Surrey Heath.” – Observer

  • YouGov poll suggests LibDems could gain half their marginals against the Conservatives – Sunday Times
  • Clive Lewis says that Labour should join a LibDem-led Remain front and stand down some candidates – Sunday Times
  • Labour revolt in Leave-voting seats against party’s second referendum push – Sunday Times
  • Up to a hundred Labour MPs could defy Corbyn over a second referendum – Sunday Telegraph
  • Corbyn’s real fear is of a very British coup – Stephen Bush, Sunday Times
    Blame the SNP if Corbyn gets that taxi to the palace – Nick Ferrari, Sunday Express

Talking up your chances 2) The Brexit Party says that it is positioned…to take seats off the Tories in a snap poll

“Conservative Party will lose 50 seats at a general election if Boris Johnson fails to win over supporters of the Brexit Party, new analysis predicts…It would leave Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour as the biggest party with 288 seats, opening the door for a Remain alliance with the Lib Dems and SNP. The threat to the Tories from the Brexit Party comes as speculation grows there will be another general election following a no confidence vote in Parliament. Brexit Party sources have revealed they have been approached by senior Tory ministers who support leaving the EU, begging Nigel Farage to keep putting up candidates to “keep the government honest on Brexit” – Sunday Express

  • Brexit Party accuses Electoral Commission of anti-Brexit bias – Mail on Sunday
  • Banks investigated over claims that he smuggled diamonds out of South Africa – Mail on Sunday
  • Farage says that he’s sober compared to Juncker – Sun on Sunday
  • At least two Tory donors want a deal with the Brexit Party – Sunday Times
  • Richard Braine is UKIP’s new leader – Mail on Sunday

Why did the power fail?

“The power cuts were triggered when a gas-fired power station’s connection failed at Little Barford in Cambridgeshire at 5pm on Friday. It was immediately followed by the failure of the Hornsea Offshore wind farm off the Yorkshire coast, sparking a wider shutdown. The energy regulator Ofgem has demanded a report into the National Grid failure. It has powers to fine the company up to 10% of its turnover. Lord Adonis, a former chairman of the government’s National Infrastructure Commission, said the failure was a “wake-up call”. “Why wasn’t the system resilient enough to cope with this double failure? National Grid has a lot of explaining to do,” he said.” – Sunday Times

Read More

Newslinks for Saturday 10th August 2019

Prime Minister plans ‘bailout fund’ to support businesses through Brexit…

“Boris Johnson is drawing up plans for a bailout fund to prop up businesses in the event of a no-deal Brexit amid fears that the economy is on the cusp of a recession. Michael Gove, who is leading the no-deal preparations, confirmed for the first time that ministers were working on a package to help companies at risk of collapse. The Times understands that the government has drawn up a secret list of big British employers that are considered most at risk, with the worst affected expected to be in the construction and manufacturing sectors. The prime minister’s Brexit war cabinet is expected to discuss the bailout plans, known as “Operation Kingfisher”, next week amid growing concern that a no-deal Brexit could tip businesses that are “otherwise fundamentally viable” into administration.” – The Times

  • List of employers considered ‘most at risk’ compiled – Daily Mail
  • Johnson reactivates business councils – FT
  • Plan for ports is a ‘game changer’ – Daily Express

…as he plans campaign of ‘intimate dinners’ in Number Ten to persuade MPs to back him

“Boris Johnson is throwing a series of intimate dinners at No10 to convince Tory MPs not rebel to block a No Deal Brexit. The PM will warn the politicians their plan risks toppling the Tories and handing the keys to Downing Street to Jeremy Corbyn. He is launching the charm offensive as he orders Whitehall mandarins to ramp up No Deal planning… Downing Street insiders said the PM will use the dinners to win round Tory MPs who are worried a No Deal Brexit will damage Britain’s economy. Boris will reassure his wobbly backbenchers that he wants a deal. But he will hammer home his belief that his hardball tactics are the only way to force Brussels to finally tear up the hated Irish backstop.” – The Sun

  • Remainers target list of 40 potential rebels – The Sun

More:

  • Civil Service told to make no-deal preparations ‘top priority’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Cummings jokes that anti-Brexit civil servants ‘should be purged’ – The Times
  • Fishing waters under threat due to lack of patrol ships – Daily Express
  • Downing St and Palace plan to protect the Queen – Daily Telegraph

Patrick Minford: Economy has been damaged by our failure to leave

Negative growth in the second quarter has been hailed by the continuity Remain camp as evidence of Brexit damage to the economy. It is instead evidence of a Brexit ‘failure bounce’. The first quarter bounced up with a lot of pre-Brexit stocking-up. When Brexit failed to happen, it duly bounced down again. To get a reading on the underlying growth rate, it is best to average the two quarters and compare them with a year ago; this gives an annual growth of 1.3%. This tells us the economy has slowed down recently. But so has the world economy and this has had a negative impact on the euro-zone too, as it has on China and many others. Year-on-year growth in the first quarter- all we have for others- was 0.7% for Germany, -0.1% for Italy, 1.2% for France and the same for the eurozone.  The story is simple enough: the world has slowed and so have we.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson isn’t Churchill, but de Gaulle – John McTernan, FT
  • Corbyn can’t thwart the Prime Minister’s exit plan – James Forsyth, The Sun
  • No, of course Brexit won’t damage British science – Angus Dalgleish, Daily Telegraph
  • It won’t be a clean break – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

Johnson aims to become ‘first social media PM’…

Boris Johnson is planning to make more Facebook live broadcasts to the nation in a bid to become the first ‘social media Prime Minister’. Following the success of his recent ‘live from my Downing Street desk’ public address, Number 10 is looking at ‘new innovative ways’ to connect with the public – including holding online question and answer sessions dubbed ‘People’s PMQs’. “That was not a one off,” said a Downing Street insider. “This is recognition of the fact the public cannot get enough of the Prime Minister. He is at his best when he is meeting people so we’re trialling digital ways for him to do more of that.” The online project is being pioneered in-house, using a Number 10 tech team that was ‘under utilised’ by Theresa May, said the source.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Downing St cancels staff leave – The Guardian
  • Conservatives gear up for snap election – FT
  • UK heading for ‘two showdowns’, says Curtice – Daily Express

…as he mulls making prisoners ‘earn’ release

“Boris Johnson is considering plans to make criminals ‘earn’ their release from prison as he prepares to announce a crackdown on crime next week. A major report written by a former policing minister proposes a raft of criminal justice reforms including more ‘honest’ sentencing and an end to automatic release from jail. Instead, Tory MP Nick Herbert, chairman of the Project For Modern Democracy think-tank, suggests prisoners should only be let out if they behave themselves, stay drug free and try to mend their ways… Mr Johnson’s intervention follows the brutal stabbing of PC Stuart Outten, 28, in the head by a man armed with a machete in Leyton, east London.” – Daily Mail

  • Boost for jails in law-and-order election pledge – The Times

Javid ‘pledges millions’ for roads, railways, and broadband

“Sajid Javid last night pledged a “step change” in funding for roads, railways and broadband to get Britain match fit for Brexit. The Chancellor said the cash boost – being revealed in the autumn – will unleash Britain’s “growth potential”. The “landmark” National Infrastructure Strategy is expected to pump billions into the country’s infrastructure… Boris Johnson vowed to boost Britain’s infrastructure while on the campaign trail to be Tory leader. The announcement came after bleak figures showed Britain’s economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the last quarter. Team Boris say pumping more cash into the country’s roads and railways will kick-start growth while improving the lives of ordinary Brits.” – The Sun

Comment:

  • Tax imbalance risks dividing the nation – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

Labour call on ministers to return severance payments

Ministers who left the Government after “breaking the rules, resigning for personal ambition or getting sacked for incompetence and repeated failure” should pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds handed out as severance payments, Labour have said. Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jo Platt called for the return of money which was reportedly paid out to ministers and advisers who quit their jobs, were fired, or who lost their seats in the 2017 general election. She accused the Government of rewarding “failure”, and said many of the people who received pay outs are now back in the Cabinet less than a year after receiving “handsome payouts”. The Government says severance payments for ministers are set out in law and, for special advisers, are a contractual entitlement.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson’s sacking spree ‘leaves public with £1 million bill’ – The Times

Comment:

  • Corbyn thinks No Deal a shot at his Leninist revolution – Stephen Pollard, Daily Telegraph

Opposition’s Scottish general secretary quits

“Scottish Labour’s general secretary resigned on Friday, capping a week of turmoil and feuding over whether Scotland should be allowed a second referendum on independence from the UK. The surprise departure of Brian Roy, Scottish Labour’s most senior official, raised new questions about the leadership of the party, which dominated Scottish politics for decades but won just 9 per cent of the vote in May’s European Parliament elections.  Mr Roy said in a statement he was stepping down to move on to new challenges, but the Scottish Daily Record newspaper reported that his resignation came after he was told last week he had lost the confidence of Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.” – FT

Cabinet Secretary ‘in line to be new man in Washington’

“Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, is on the shortlist to become Britain’s US ambassador and is considered the frontrunner, The Times has been told. Boris Johnson is preparing to delay the appointment until after the Brexit deadline of October 31. This could pave the way for Sir Mark to go to Washington and enable Mr Johnson to appoint a new cabinet secretary. The position has been vacant since Sir Kim Darroch quit a month ago after secret diplomatic cables in which he described the Trump administration as “inept” were leaked.” – The Times

Read More

Newslinks for Friday 9th August 2019

Prime Minister unveils plan to liberalise visas for scientists

“More of the world’s top scientists will be encouraged to move to the UK under a shake-up of immigration rules. A new fast-tracked visa system will be launched later this year which could see the 2,000 cap on Tier 1 ‘exceptional talent’ visas abolished in a bid to attract the “brightest and best” to Britain. It comes after the Prime Minister announced that he plans to introduce an Australian-style points system to control low skilled immigration post Brexit… It follows warnings that global talent was being put off applying for the specialist visas for “highly skilled individuals” working in science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology because they felt they needed to be ‘Nobel Prize winning level’.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Proposals may include abolishing permit cap for high-skill workers – FT
  • Don’t take us for fools, says top researcher – The Times

Comment:

  • Points-based immigration system is not one for Britain – Simon Walters, Daily Mail

Editorial:

  • Commitment to global Britain is one in the eye to Remainers – The Sun

Is the Government preparing for a November 1 general election?

Boris Johnson is preparing the ground for a November general election after ministers announced a fast-track spending review to fulfill his multibillion-pound pledges. As the Prime Minister repeatedly refused to rule out going to the country as soon as Nov 1, Sajid Javid, the Chancellor, announced the Treasury would accelerate the Government’s budgeting by bringing forward spending plans. The unexpected announcement led to speculation that Mr Johnson was preparing for an election within days of Britain leaving the EU on Oct 31 by  immediately freeing up funds for 20,000 extra police officers and more money for schools and the NHS.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Spending settlement ‘in sight’ – FT
  • Ministers instructed to ‘rush through budgets’ – The Sun

More:

  • Johnson ‘surges’ in new poll – Daily Express
  • Soames says that Cummings should be put ‘back in his box’ – Daily Mail
  • Fear that Corbyn could ‘drive away richest’ – The Times

Comment:

  • If anyone is unfit to run the economy, it’s McDonnell – Ian Austin, The Times

Gove floats ‘Brexit bank holiday’ to stabilise markets

“Michael Gove raised the prospect of holding a bank holiday on November 1 amid concerns that a no-deal Brexit would cause turmoil on the financial markets. Mr Gove, who is in charge of no-deal preparations, said that the government would consider the idea during a meeting with business leaders yesterday. After details of his comments were leaked to The Times, No 10 made it clear that a November 1 bank holiday was not government policy and would not happen. Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, met business leaders in Downing Street where they raised concerns about the immediate aftermath of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 when the financial markets opened.” – The Times

  • Top banks shift tone over ‘horror’ of no-deal exit – FT

More:

  • Labour leader appeals to Cabinet Secretary to stop Johnson – Daily Mail
  • Sedwill pressed over a no-deal Brexit – The Times
  • Corbyn accuses Johnson of planning an ‘abuse of power’ – The Guardian
  • ‘Too late’ to leave on October 31 with a deal, says Curtice – Daily Express

Comment:

  • How the Commons could thwart a no-deal exit – Vernon Bogdanor, The Times

Raab in North American ‘trade blitz’

“Dominic Raab has travelled 11,309 miles in just three days for a mammoth Brexit blitz. The Foreign Secretary was sent across the world by Boris Johnson to broker new trade deals with the US, Canada and Mexico on a three-day whistle-stop tour. On Tuesday, Raab flew into Toronto to meet foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland, before jetting off for a crucial summit with President Donald Trump in Washington and finally arriving in Mexico City later today. Boris has ramped up efforts to strike new “ambitious” relationships with global partners as the UK prepares for its divorce from EU on October 31.” – The Sun

  • Pound sinks to two-year low against Euro – FT
  • French fishermen threaten to blockade Calais over access to British waters – The Times

Editorial:

  • Free ports are no panacea – FT

Scotland 1) Mundell says separatist majority in 2021 would make referendum hard to resist

David Mundell has admitted it would be “hard to push back” against a second independence referendum if the nationalist parties “explicitly” fight the 2021 Holyrood election on the pledge and they win a majority. The former Scottish Secretary rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s claim she already has a “cast-iron” mandate for another separation vote, arguing the issue was a “subset” of a 2016 SNP manifesto with “ambiguous” wording. But he said the Prime Minister would “have to listen” if the SNP and pro-separation Greens stood on a specific pro-referendum platform in 2021 and they won most of Holyrood’s 129 seats. Speaking at an Edinburgh Fringe-by-the-Sea event in North Berwick, he suggested the pro-Union parties may have to consider cooperating to try and prevent this happening.” – Daily Telegraph

Scotland 2) Labour MSPs call for revolt against McDonnell’s shift on the Union

Labour MSPs have issued an unprecedented joint attack on John McDonnell over his disclosure the party will not block a second independence referendum and vowed to ignore the about-turn. A majority of the party’s 23-strong Holyrood group published a joint statement saying they “deplore any attempts to undermine” Labour’s official stance of opposing another separation vote. They said they had “serious concerns” about the Shadow Chancellor’s volte-face and insisted it was a matter for Scottish Labour to decide, “which the UK Party must accept.” In a direct challenge to Jeremy Corbyn and Mr McDonnell, they said they expected all Scottish Labour MPs and MSPs to vote in line with the previously agreed position to block a vote.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Corbyn condemned by Scottish comrades – Daily Express
  • Labour and the SNP are enemies, but for now they need each other – Daily Telegraph

Scotland 3) Jeremy Warner: Why a no-deal Brexit makes Scottish independence harder

“As things stand, the vast majority of Scotland’s external trade is with the rest of the UK. It relies much more heavily on Britain’s internal market than it does on Europe’s. As long as these two things remain one and the same thing, they act as little impediment to an independent Scotland. But if they separate, then independence immediately becomes a lot more difficult. From an economic perspective, the condition most suited to an independent Scotland would be either no Brexit at all, or something along the lines of Theresa May’s deal – one that kept Britain substantially in the EU’s single market and customs union. Paradoxically, then, May’s deal made break-up of the Union more likely, not less. Boris’s clean break makes it much harder, forcing Scotland to choose between Britain’s internal market and that of the EU.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tories will have to fight to save the Union – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Scottish independence is inevitable, we need to plan for it – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • Even by Labour’s standards, this battle is breathtaking – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Opposition ‘losing members at rate of over 100 a day’

“Labour lost members at a rate of more than 100 a day last year as claims of antisemitism and mixed messages on Brexit eroded the party’s support. The party’s membership fell by 45,784, its annual accounts published yesterday revealed. The exodus is believed to have intensified further this year as the party fell to its lowest level of support in polling history and nine Labour MPs resigned to form breakaway groups or to sit as independents. Labour had 564,443 members at the end of 2017 but the number fell to 518,659 at the end of last year. Party insiders believe that the real membership is about 450,000 at present once lapsed members — those who have simply not paid their subscription — are taken into account.” – The Times

  • Membership ‘falls slightly but remains over 500,000’ – The Guardian

Ex-Plaid Cymru leader criticised over knife comments

“A leading politician has sparked outrage by claiming women carry knives to protect themselves from rapists. Leanne Wood said it was no “surprise” some take a blade with them when the number of men convicted of sex attacks was so low. The ex-Plaid Cymru chief spoke out after figures showed that police recorded 1,509 offences of women carrying blades last year. She wrote online: “Do these figures show that the numbers of women carrying knives is rising, or that more are being apprehended/searched? Women have always carried knives. With the rape and sexual assault conviction rate so low, is it really a surprise?” … Labour MP Chris Bryant was “appalled” at her stance.” – The Sun

Read More

Newslinks for Thursday 8th August 2019

McDonnell says Labour leader will tell Queen ‘we’re taking over’ after confidence vote

“Jeremy Corbyn will go to Buckingham Palace in a taxi to tell the Queen “we’re taking over” if Boris Johnson loses a vote of no confidence, John McDonnell has said. The shadow chancellor said Labour was preparing to bring down Mr Johnson’s government next month and form a “caretaker government” with cross-party support whose mission would be to block a no-deal Brexit. The Times revealed this week that Mr Johnson might refuse to resign if he lost a confidence vote and instead wait two weeks for a general election to be triggered. Mr McDonnell yesterday criticised Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s most senior aide, who raised the idea in Downing Street.” – The Times

  • Opposition threaten to embroil the monarchy in politics – Daily Telegraph
  • Fury at ‘Marxist’ plot – Daily Express
  • Johnson could go for an election ‘the day after Brexit’ – The Sun

More:

  • Study suggests younger voters want ‘strongman leader’ – The Times
  • Third of millenials ‘want martial law’ – Daily Telegraph

Liberal Democrats scotch idea of Corbyn-led caretaker government

“Liberal Democrats have scotched the idea of installing Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street to avoid a no-deal Brexit, thereby thwarting the Labour party leadership’s hopes of forming a caretaker government this autumn. Boris Johnson is expected to face a no-confidence vote in his government soon after the UK parliament returns from its summer recess early in September. If the Conservatives fail to maintain the confidence of MPs, Labour has said it will attempt to form an alternative government. But without support from the 13 Lib Dem MPs, it will be unable to form a majority. “I can’t conceive of any circumstances under which we would put Jeremy Corbyn into No. 10,” said one senior Lib Dem MP.” – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: A Government of national unity is a non-starter – even if its seven prospective leaders take one day of the week each

Remainer MPs ‘plan to scrap conference recess’…

Remainer MPs are drawing up plans to cancel the Autumn recess in order to give themselves more time to find a way of stopping Boris Johnson delivering a no-deal Brexit, it has emerged. In a last-ditch attempt to stop the UK leaving the European Union without a deal on October 31, a group of rebels are exploring proposals to force MPs to sit through the party conference season. They hope to amend a parliamentary motion which gives MPs a three-week period to attend their annual party conferences, which run from late October through to mid-September. According to the Guardian, the MPs intend to use the additional time to seize control of Parliamentary business and force through a backbench bill compelling the Government to request another extension of Article 50.” – Daily Telegraph

  • New rebellion bid amidst ‘fury at Cummings’ – The Guardian

More:

  • Varadkar blames British negotiators for the state of the deal – The Sun

Comment:

  • MPs should vote to revoke Article 50 – Jonathan Lis, The Guardian
  • Johnson should enlist the Queen to foil this Remainer plot – Andrew Roberts, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Geoffrey van Orden MEP in Comment: Why Conservative MEPs voted for von der Leyen, an advocate of an EU army, for Commission President

…as Cummings says they will prove unable to stop Brexit

“Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser has suggested in his first public comments since being appointed that Dominic Grieve, the Tory rebel, will be unable to stop a no-deal Brexit. Dominic Cummings denied claims by Mr Grieve, a former attorney- general, that he was “arrogant” as he insisted that politicians did not “get to choose which votes they respect”. Mr Cummings had told colleagues that Mr Johnson would not resign even if he lost a vote of confidence and would instead push for a general election… Mr Grieve told The Times that the Queen could be left with no choice but to sack Mr Johnson.” – The Times

  • Aide insists Remainers cannot “choose which votes they respect” – Daily Telegraph
  • He adds that no-deal planning is going ‘great’ – The Sun
  • Experts divided on whether Queen could sack Johnson – The Guardian
  • How Osborne, the arch-Remainer, could be the man to save Brexit – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Deal or no deal? It’s not up to Cummings – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • Brussels is too irrational to offer Johnson a workable deal – Pieter Cleppe, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Osborne – Brexit’s saviour?

Raab hails ‘warm’ meeting with Trump

President Donald Trump has indicated a “huge appetite” for signing a free trade deal with Britain once it has left the EU, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said. In his first visit to the US since taking office last month, Mr Raab had a “preliminary chat” with the US President on Tuesday after an impromptu introduction by his son-in-law Jared Kushner. A Downing Street source told the Daily Telegraph the former Tory leadership contender was only supposed to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, when he was ushered into the Oval Office. Mr Raab said Mr Trump had been “effusive in his warmth” towards Britain and had expressed his “high regard” for Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Pompeo says US is ready for trade deal, ‘pen in hand’ – FT

More:

  • Johnson welcomes second foreign leader in 48 hours – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Dominic Walshe in Comment: What would No Deal mean for trade beyond the EU?

Prime Minister pledges £25 million for artificial intelligence

“The government has announced its third successive hand-out to the NHS in as many days with a pledge by Boris Johnson of £250m to be invested in artificial intelligence. The prime minister claimed AI would transform care and cut waiting times as he announced the money for a national artificial intelligence lab, to work on digital advances to improve the detection of diseases by predicting who is most likely to get them. However, health experts warned that the NHS had a poor record with technology and any new systems would need “robust evaluation” to ensure they did more good than harm as well as proper implementation with safety standards and training.” – The Guardian

Judge backs Government over stripping ISIS fighters of citizenship

British Isil fighters can be legally stripped of their citizenship, the High Court has ruled in the first case of its kind. Abdullah Islam challenged the decision by former home secretary Amber Rudd to deprive his son, 22-year-old Ashraf Mahmud Islam, of his British nationality. Mr Islam had wanted is son, who joined Isil aged 18 and is now being held in a Kurdish-run military prison in Syria, brought back to the UK to face justice and to be protected from facing the death penalty. However, his case was rejected on Wednesday by a High Court judge as having “no merit,” a judgement which could set a precedent for other British Isil fighters and their brides who face or have had their British citizenship revoked.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Another supports an inquiry into the VIP abuse scandal – The Times

Shadow Chancellor deepens Labour rift over Scotland

“Labour’s splits over Scottish independence burst into the open again yesterday as John McDonnell reaffirmed his pledge to sanction a second referendum in the face of an intensifying backlash from his party. Despite being told by the leader of Scottish Labour in a meeting yesterday morning that there was “no case” for another referendum and condemned by more than a dozen Westminster candidates, Mr McDonnell refused to back down. The shadow chancellor, who is Jeremy Corbyn’s closest political ally, dismayed his colleagues in Scotland on Tuesday when he made the significant shift of policy at an event in Edinburgh.” – The Times

  • McDonnell offered the SNP more than he had to on independence – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • The hard left has always been prepared to sacrifice the Union for power – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • What Cummings is up to – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • The Kafkaesque nightmare of British justice – Jenny McCartney, UnHerd
  • Remember the ever-changing nature of the EU – Joshua Mackenzie-Lawrie, Brexit Central
  • The UK must welcome Hongkongers with open arms – Ben Ramanauskas, 1828
  • I’m prejudiced against the Oxford comma – Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, The Spectator
Read More

Newslinks for Wednesday 7th August 2019

Labour and SNP ‘hint at pact to oust Johnson’

“Labour and the SNP moved towards a pact last night that would seek to oust Boris Johnson as the parties prepared for an autumn election. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said that Labour would not block a second referendum on Scottish independence, in a significant shift of policy. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister and SNP leader, opened the door to a “progressive alliance” with Labour if the two parties were able to form a majority after a general election. Ms Sturgeon said she was “no great fan” of Jeremy Corbyn, especially on Brexit, but that she would sign up to a pact that “could lock the Tories out of government”. Westminster is on high alert for Labour to table a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson when MPs return next month.” – The Times

  • May’s ‘coalition of chaos’ warning ‘could come true’ – Daily Express
  • Remainers ‘hatch plot calling on Queen to sack the Prime Minister’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Tory europhiles have ‘long-shot’ chance of stopping Johnson – The Sun

More:

  • Rifkind urges Johnson to ignore Cummings’ advice – The Times
  • Miller threatens to take the Government to court if it won’t resign – Daily Telegraph
  • Peston explains why Johnson’s plan ‘won’t be scrapped’ – Daily Express

>Today: ToryDiary: Osborne – Brexit’s saviour?

Fury at Labour’s ‘betrayal of the Union’

“Labour has been accused of betraying the Union after John McDonnell declared the party will not block a fresh Scottish independence referendum – in a naked pitch for a pact with the SNP. The shadow chancellor is facing a massive backlash after making the huge concession to pave the way for a deal with Nicola Sturgeon that could see his party sneak into power after a snap election. The blatant offer came hours after the Scottish First Minister floated a ‘progressive alliance’ with Jeremy Corbyn to ‘lock the Tories out of government’ and block Brexit. But the intervention sparked fury among Labour MPs, who accused Mr McDonnell of ‘betrayal’ by ‘appeasing nationalists’, and ‘dumping’ on the party’s existing policy.” – Daily Mail

  • Shadow Chancellor ‘rules out coalition to block No Deal’ – FT
  • Prime Minister warned his stance could break up the UK – The Sun

Comment:

  • If Johnson can’t win, prepare for Prime Minister Clarke – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • The growing dread of a Scots unionist – Robert Wright, FT

Editorial:

  • Remainers hypocritical to insist Johnson play by the rules – The Sun

Davidson warns him that ‘millions can’t afford a no-deal exit’

“Ruth Davidson has urged Boris Johnson and EU leaders to end their standoff and compromise, warning a no-deal Brexit jeopardises the livelihoods of millions of people. The Scottish Tory leader said even a “very mild economic shock” in the short term would be enough to inflict serious privation on those without savings or who rely on their overdrafts to make ends meet. She lamented how compromise has become a “dirty word” or “sell-out” in politics, with both sides of the Brexit talks becoming increasingly “strident” in their refusal to back down over the Northern Irish backstop. Challenged at an Edinburgh Fringe event over whether she and Mr Johnson were at loggerheads over his Brexit strategy, she insisted they were “not that opposed” as they both want a deal.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Gove says Brussels is blocking the path to a solution – The Times
  • EU stands firm as No Deal looms – FT
  • Varadkar ‘says another delay is coming’ – Daily Express
  • Cummings ‘accuses Hammond’ of refusing to prepare for No Deal – The Sun
  • Senior officer warns it would ‘harm security’ – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The tartan Quebec?

Daniel Finkelstein: My forecast for what such a Brexit will mean

“These are the most important things I learnt from Popper: a worthwhile statement should be capable of being falsified. And that we only make intellectual progress by testing our theories and adapting them. We should not be afraid of being wrong but we should be afraid of persisting in error. These lessons seem pertinent as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit draws near. What do those of us who worry about no-deal really think will happen after October 31? What arguments are we putting forward that can be tested or falsified when the outcome becomes clear? Let me set out some predictions that can be judged, and either vindicated or repudiated, by events.” – The Times

  • Why I fear our country is now in Cummings’ hands – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Nothing undemocratic about the backstop – Mark Durkan, Daily Telegraph

Raab leads trade push overseas

“Dominic Raab said the UK is at an “important historic crossroads” and the country wants to take its friendship with Canada to the “next level” on trade post-Brexit. The Foreign Secretary added the government’s desire to leave the EU on October 31 – deal or no deal – while he was in Toronto… The news comes after Mr Johnson welcomed his first world leader to Downing Street since becoming Prime Minister. He shook hands with counterpart Juri Ratas in the street before heading in to Number 10. Earlier, it emerged EU chiefs are now in “full no deal preparations” after giving up on Mr Johnson’s ability to deliver an agreement.” – Daily Express

  • Trade Secretary says Brexit offers ‘huge series of upsides’ – The Guardian

America:

  • Summers claims UK is ‘delusional’ over prospects of US trade deal – The Times
  • Duncan Smith hits back: Democrats ‘aren’t in control’ – Daily Express

>Today: Dominic Walsh in Comment: What would No Deal mean for trade beyond the EU?

Javid and Hancock pledge to overhaul doctors’ pensions

“Doctors will be given more control over their pensions in an attempt to end a crisis that is said to be creating longer waiting lists. Sajid Javid, the chancellor, and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, plan to overhaul the pensions system for high-earning GPs and consultants after they complained they were being hit with punitive tax bills for working overtime. Boris Johnson vowed to fix the issue after it emerged that about three quarters of GPs and consultants had cut or planned to cut their hours because they said they were being penalised financially the more they worked.” – The Times

  • Move could see complex tax rules lifted for all workers – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Tinkering won’t stop doctors being forced out of the NHS – Chaand Nagpaul, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

>Yesterday: Tania Mathias in Comment: This new Government brings good news for the NHS – and Johnson is proving it

Sturgeon accused of ‘shameful complacency’ over exam results

“Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of “shameful complacency” over the state of the Scottish education system after Higher pass rates dropped for the fourth year in a row. More than 136,000 pupils across Scotland received their results on Tuesday, with pass rates declining for every qualification except National 5. Higher pass rates dropped to 74.8 per cent, a fall of two points compared to the previous year and a decline of 4.4 points compared to 2015 when new exams were introduced. Pass rates for English, maths and all three main science subjects all declined, while there was an astonishing drop of almost 10 points for history.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Capable leaders would admit what has gone wrong in Scottish education – Jim Scott, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • It’s not just the Tories who should worry about the Brexit Party – Harry Phibbs, Reaction
  • The right must cross divides to defeat the danger of Corbyn – James Bickerton, 1828
  • Brexiteers should be careful about setting fire to the constitution – James Kirkup, The Spectator
Read More

Newslinks for Tuesday 6th August 2019

Johnson to defy vote of no confidence

“Johnson would refuse to resign even after losing a confidence vote so he could force through a no-deal Brexit on October 31, under plans being considered by Downing Street. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s most senior aide, told colleagues last week that Mr Johnson would not quit if Tory Remainers voted with Labour to bring down the government. The Times has been told that Mr Johnson could stay on as prime minister even if Tory MPs were able to form a “government of national unity” opposed to a no-deal Brexit. Mr Johnson would ignore the result of the confidence vote and call a “people v politicians” general election to be held shortly after Britain had left the EU. Ministers said that there was an emphasis on “getting stuff out the door” by bringing forward policy announcements before a possible election this year. Constitutional experts confirmed yesterday that Mr Johnson would technically be under no legal obligation to quit if he lost a confidence vote. They warned that it risked the Queen being “dragged into politics” and put in the “invidious position” of facing calls to remove the prime minister herself. Tory Remainers have conceded that there is no “absolutely foolproof” parliamentary mechanism to stop a no-deal Brexit.” – The Times

And No Deal Brexit now expected, as EU accepts Johnson isn’t bluffing

“Brussels believes that Britain will leave the EU without a deal after accepting that Boris Johnson “isn’t bluffing”, the Telegraph understands. EU leaders are now working on “a working hypothesis of no deal” following a meeting on Monday between Commission officials and Brexit diplomats from each of the 27 EU countries, amid mounting speculation Mr Johnson will call a general election after October 31. It comes as all government departments in Whitehall were given a 48-hour deadline to prove their readiness for no deal. The EU-27 is understood to be shaken by reports that Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief strategist, has said it is too late for MPs to prevent a no deal exit on Halloween.EU officials had been confident that Mr Johnson would not force Britain out without a deal, but meetings with his senior adviser David Frost last week have changed their minds along with newspaper articles including a confrontational opinion piece written by Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay. “Our working hypothesis is now no deal,” said an EU source after the meeting, where diplomats agreed they could not rely on MPs to prevent a disorderly withdrawal.” – Daily Telegraph

  • EU told Johnson has no intention of renegotiating deal – The Guardian
  • Diplomats say Johnson will not negotiate new deal – Daily Mail
  • EU accepts No Deal fate – Daily Express
  • No Deal Brexit odds: latest predictions – Daily Telegraph
  • Cummings warns Whitehall it must be ready for No Deal – Daily Mail
  • Hammond deliberately blocked No Deal plans, says Cummings – The Times
  • Vandals target pro-Remain couple’s house – Daily Mail
  • Expect shortage of fruit and veg under No Deal, expert warns – The Times
  • Lorries with wrong paperwork will be barred from ports – The Times
  • Pro-Remain MPs eye national government of unity – FT
  • Documents reveal depth of Irish Brexit crisis – Daily Express
Comment

Johnson says ‘last thing he wants’ is snap general election

Speaking on a visit to Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire, following his announcement of a £1.8billion funding boost for the NHS, the Prime Minister said “the answer is no” when asked if he would be preparing to fight a general election if Labour were to win a vote of no confidence. “The people of the UK voted in the election in 2015, they had a referendum in 2016 and another election in 2017,” he said. “They want us to deliver what they asked for- and that is for us to leave the EU. “The last thing I want to do is call another election.” It comes as Matt Hancock warned MPs they cannot block a no-deal Brexit on Hallowe’en. The Health Secretary, who accompanied Mr Johnson to the hospital in Lincolnshire, told the Today programme that while the “best way” to “deliver on the result of the referendum” was with a deal, he now believed it was not possible that no deal could be blocked by parliament, as he previously thought. “I now don’t think it can,” he said. Mr Hancock said his view had changed due to votes in parliament regarding stopping no deal, just before they rose for the summer, were defeated. “I thought that it could and the votes went differently to how I anticipated, and when the facts changed sometimes even as a politician you have to change your mind.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Paul Goodman: March north can only take Tories so far

“Friends of Dominic Cummings (and, yes, he has some) insist on the following: Boris Johnson will not seek a general election when the Commons returns next month. And if MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government, no general election will take place until after October 31, by which time Britain will have left the EU. Brexit will happen on time. The prime minister’s main adviser may be wrong. It could be that the Commons, empowered by the Speaker, finds new ways to a further extension, or even revocation of Article 50. Perhaps an election will take place before the end of October after all. Or it may be that Downing Street plans a snap poll and is trying a bit of misdirection. Who can tell? But perhaps the question should be less when the election will happen than where it will happen — in other words, which constituency contests will have the most effect on the overall result.” – The Times

>Yesterday:

£1bn of Johnson’s NHS boost ‘not new money’

 

“Downing Street was forced on to the defensive after health experts pointed out that £1 billion of the additional funding would be money that was previously allocated to the health service. It comes from cash surpluses that had been saved by NHS trusts, which had already planned to spend the funds on vital maintenance and repairs — but had been blocked from doing so by the Treasury. This block has now been lifted by Mr Johnson but health experts said that it could not reasonably be classified as new money. “It’s the equivalent of giving someone cash then banning them from spending it, only to expect cheers when you later decide they can spend it after all,” Sally Gainsbury, a senior policy analyst at the Nuffield Trust, said. Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, went further, accusing Mr Johnson of deliberately trying to hide where the money had come from. “Boris Johnson has misled the public and our NHS staff,” he said. “It is now clear this is not new money but funds already earmarked for hospitals which ministers previously blocked. With 4.4 million patients waiting for operations and over 20,000 cancer patients waiting longer for treatment it is a disgrace that Mr Johnson is trying to treat people like fools.” – The Times

  • Experts doubt Johnson’s NHS funding promise – FT
  • How a young Johnson bonded with NHS chief – The Times
Comment
>Today:

Ashcroft poll finds Scottish independence lead

“Nicola Sturgeon has warned Boris Johnson against blocking a fresh referendum on Scottish independence after a poll found a majority would now vote yes. The first minister said it would be “undemocratic and unsustainable” for the Conservatives to oppose one after the poll by Lord Ashcroft put the yes vote at 52%, once don’t knows and non-voters were excluded. The poll, the first since Johnson’s visit to Scotland last week, also found that most Scots want a fresh independence referendum by 2021, once undecideds were excluded. Previous polls had shown only a minority of Scots wanted a second referendum that soon. In a further blow to pro-UK parties, it also found that a majority (52%) believed the yes campaign was likely to win, including a third of voters who rejected independence in the first referendum in 2014. Only 30% believed Scotland would now vote to remain within the UK after Brexit, and 18% did not know.” – The Guardian

  • Majority of Scots back independence as No Deal Brexit looms – The Times
  • Sturgeon gloats over poll backing independence – Daily Mail
  • Johnson warned No Deal risks union – The Sun
  • Sturgeon talks of pain and anguish at separation from Alex Salmond – Daily Telegraph
Comment
  • Why Scotland leaving union would not solve anything, Pamela Nash – The Scotsman

Indiscreet aides will be fired on spot, says Cummings

“The prime minister’s most senior aide told special advisers at a 7.55am meeting yesterday that he would easily be able to get journalists to reveal their sources. He said: “My worth to journalists is far greater than yours. For the right story they will rat you out. You have no rights.” Mr Cummings has previously told aides that there is a “one-strike” policy on government leaks. According to one source he said that if any of them tried to take him to an employment tribunal, “you will be dead to me”. The former chief executive of Vote Leave, who was an adviser to Michael Gove when he was education secretary, told advisers that his own experience meant that he knew “how it worked”. Theresa May’s government was damaged by repeated leaks from cabinet as ministers feuded over Brexit.” – The Times

  • Johnson ushers in new era of special advisers – The Guardian

Farage lashes out at calls to stand aside in election

“The risk of Eurosceptic support being divided was shown as Jane Dodds, the Liberal Democrat candidate won the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. Remain-supporting parties including the Greens, Plaid Cymru, Change UK and the Renew Party, stood aside and supported Ms Dodds. The combined Tory-Brexit vote exceeded the vote of Ms Dodds, and was only 350 votes behind the tally of Ms Dodds combined with fourth-placed Labour, fifth-placed Monster Raving Loony and sixth-placed Ukip. Calls for the Brexit Party to stand aside in the seats of firm Tory Brexiteers and for the Tories to do the same in the traditional Labour heartlands in northern England. As reported by Mail Online, Tory MPs have told Mr Farage he has a choice of delivering Brexit or destroying the Tories as he cannot do both. Mr Farage tweeted: “As Claire Fox says, it is arrogant for the Conservatives to say we should stand aside. They are the very reason we exist. We simply do not trust them to deliver.” Deputy Chairman of the European Research Group, Wycombe MP Steve Baker said: “It is becoming obvious to all now that the Brexit Party standing against the Conservative Party would produce a massive own goal.” – Daily Express

  • Grandson of icon set to be Brexit Party candidate – Daily Express
  • Evelyn Waugh’s grandson to stand for Brexit Party – Daily Mail

Trump blames ‘glorification of violence’ but not guns

“In his first public remarks on the pair of shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Trump also condemned white supremacy as authorities said they were investigating an anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant manifesto allegedly tied to the El Paso suspect. “The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate,” Trump said. “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.” “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.” “Noticeably absent from the president’s remarks was any mention of new restrictions on guns, despite the fact that just hours earlier Trump had urged the US Congress in a tweet to pass some form of background checks. Congress has proven unable to pass substantial gun violence legislation this session, despite the frequency of mass shootings, in large part because of resistance from Republicans, particularly in the Republican-controlled Senate. That political dynamic shows no signs of changing. Shortly after Trump spoke, authorities said another person had died from injuries sustained during the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso on Saturday, raising the death toll in that attack to 22. Speaking from the White House, Trump called for “real bipartisan solutions” but pointedly attempted to steer the dialogue away from firearms.” – The Guardian

  • Social media and video games to blame for mass shootings, says Trump – The Sun
  • Trump barely mentions guns – Daily Mail
  • Piers Morgan challenges Trump to ban guns – Daily Mail
  • Trump to visit El Paso and Dayton – Daily Mail
  • Obama attacks Trump’s rhetoric – Daily Mail

Labour questions Javid’s fitness for office

“Labour has accused Sajid Javid, the chancellor, of being unfit to hold high office over allegations that he avoided taxes and grew rich as a millionaire banker selling toxic assets that caused the financial crisis. In a letter to Boris Johnson, the shadow chancellor said the allegations raised questions about Mr Javid’s “suitability and integrity”, and called for investigations into his past behaviour. “I urge you to reconsider the fitness of Mr Javid to serve in the role of chancellor,” John McDonnell wrote. Mr Javid, 49, was an investment banker at Deutsche Bank between 2000 and 2009, the industry’s go-getting years of huge bonuses before the financial crash led to state bailouts and a global recession. “It will not be lost on those that suffered the consequence of the last nine years of austerity that the newly appointed chancellor profited from the greed that contributed to it,” Mr McDonnell said. Labour’s allegations were drawn from two newspaper investigations into Mr Javid published several years ago. Euromoney reported that the chancellor was responsible for “structuring an emerging market synthetic CDO [collateralised debt obligation] that incurred millions of dollars’ worth of losses for investors”. He told the publication that such arrangements were “very appropriate” as long as investors understood the risk.” – The Times

  • Activists push for people’s vote before conference – The Guardian
  • Corbyn wants to call no confidence vote – The Sun
  • 30 Labour MPs set to ditch Corbyn and back Johnson over Brexit – Daily Express
  • Up to 30 Labour MPs set to vote for new deal with Brussels – Daily Telegraph
Comment
  • Labour MPs fatally distracted by internal squabbles, Tom Harris – Daily Telegraph
>Today:
More
  • Harland and Wolff set to file for bankruptcy – FT
  • No ‘viable’ options to save shipyard says UK government – Belfast Telegraph
  • Record number of adults paying no tax – Daily Telegraph
  • Border poll question heightened, says Shadow Chancellor – Irish Times
  • Royal Navy joins US mission to protect ships – The Sun
  • Jon Snow cleared over ‘white Brexit’ remark – The Times
  • Let fat people die, says presenter – The Times
  • Retiring police could be offered incentive to stay on to help hit target – Daily Telegraph
  • Health secretary rejects calls for her to resign – The Scotsman
News in Brief
  • Could Boris Johnson be the last PM of the UK? Stephen Daisley – Spectator
  • Can a vote of no confidence prevent No Deal? Katy Balls – Spectator
  • How Spain could rule the Eurozone, Peter Franklin – New Statesman
  • If you want Brexit, you must back Boris Johnson, Douglas Carswell – Cap X
  • The Hong Kong protestors have turned militant – and this unnerves Beijing, Amanda Tattersall – Reaction
Read More

Newslinks for Monday 5th August 2019

Downing Street is reportedly planning a ‘people versus parliament’ election campaign…

‘Boris Johnson is preparing for a “people versus parliament” general election campaign as part of plans to stop Remain-supporting MPs from toppling his government. The prime minister will signal his determination today to put the NHS at the centre of any election as he sets out details of a £1.8 billion boost to the health service with a promise of more to come. He will announce a further cash injection when MPs return to parliament next month and another in the run-up to October 31…On a visit today to Lincolnshire, the area that recorded the highest Leave vote in 2016, the prime minister will announce extra money for upgrades for 20 hospitals or NHS trusts in England.’ – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Johnson recognises the importance of instinct and feeling in the Brexit argument

>Yesterday:

…while pro-EU rebels search for ways to avoid one

‘Under the terms of the Fixed-terms Parliament Act, MPs would have 14 days to try to form an alternative government after which Mr Johnson would have significant influence on the timing of a poll. He would likely seek to delay it until November, after which the UK would have left the EU under the terms of Article 50. “Dom [Cummings] has made it very clear that even if Remainers tried to push forward a vote of no confidence in September, there is no mechanism to stop us leaving on October 31,” said a Whitehall official. In response Mr Grieve told the BBC “there are a number of things which the House of Commons can do, including bringing down the government and setting up a new government in its place” — a reference to forming a government of national unity with MPs from several parties. Constitutional experts, however, have pointed out this would depend on Mr Johnson resigning after losing a confidence vote — something Downing Street insiders insist he will not do. Catherine Haddon, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government think-tank, said the prime minister would be “perfectly able, constitutionally” to call an election on a date of his choosing after October 31.’ – FT

  • They hope to make Sedwill obstruct No Deal  – The Times
  • Somehow, Parliament must seize control – The Guardian Leader
  • The EU has misjudged Johnson’s will and Cummings’ capability – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • They need to communicate better with Brussels – Edward Lucas, The Times
  • Concern grows on the Continent about the impact of failing to reach agreement – The Times
  • Maybe the UK and EU could benefit from commercial mediators’ expertise? – FT
  • French government tries to prevent companies advertising with English words – Daily Mail
  • It’s a failed law that should be scrapped – The Times Leader
  • Germany is re-enacting the UK’s Brexit debate – Wolfgang Munchau, FT
  • The EU reviews fund passporting rules – FT

>Today: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead.

Just-about managing households are vulnerable to a new recession

‘Middle-class families are at risk from the next recession, experts warn. Households trying make ends meet are more vulnerable to a hit to the economy than they were at the time of the previous financial crash, according to the Resolution Foundation think-tank. This is because many on low and middle incomes have no savings left for a rainy day – and no money left over once they’ve paid essential bills. Austerity also means there is less of a benefits safety net for all but the poorest in society, while wages took a long time to recover from the downturn a decade ago. The report warns: “When the next recession hits then – as it surely will – there is every chance that it is particularly damaging for those low-to-middle income households that are already close to the edge.”’ – The Sun

  • Debt is lower, but so are savings – FT
  • May’s energy price cap will reduce bills this week – The Sun
  • 300 jobs lost at Spudulike – Daily Mail
  • Pension industry accused of concealing charges – Daily Mail
  • Stocks drop, Government bonds rally – FT
  • Fall in the pound isn’t as bad as people make out – Roger Bootle, Daily Telegraph
  • Is it really so important to get your kids into Oxbridge? – Emma Duncan, The Times

The race is on to chair the Treasury Select Committee

‘Senior Conservative MPs including Justine Greening, Greg Clark and Steve Baker are in the running to fill the vacancy after Nicky Morgan’s appointment as culture secretary last month. The winner is likely to be a key protagonist in the search for the next governor of the Bank of England, with Boris Johnson’s chosen candidate required to face the committee. Mark Carney, the incumbent governor, is due to depart in January. They will also scrutinise Mr Johnson’s Brexit strategy, monitor the conduct of the country’s biggest banks and seek to protect consumers…Mr Baker, the Eurosceptic former Brexit minister who turned down a role in Mr Johnson’s new government last month, hopes to focus the committee on tax, banks’ treatment of consumers and the future of finance. “I am confident the committee will want to continue Brexit scrutiny and I would be delighted to facilitate that,” Mr Baker, 48, wrote in a letter to MPs. Some backbenchers have predicted that, given the arithmetic of the Commons, candidates who have spoken out against no-deal Brexit are more likely to win. “You’ve got to find a Tory who can get a majority of the non-conservative votes,” one opposition MP said.’ – The Times

  • Greg Clark is hopeful – FT
  • Scrap fiscal drag by restoring the automatic uprating of tax thresholds – Paul Johnson, The Times
  • Business rates are under fire as almost one in six businesses is in arrears – FT
  • Do future generations really need a High Street? – Daily Telegraph
  • Councils bring in £200,000 an hour in parking fines – Daily Express
  • Private parking firms rake in a fortune – Daily Mail
  • The roads where you’re most likely to be fined – The Sun
  • New tax raises cost of dying – Daily Telegraph

A total of 793 illegal migrants have been intercepted crossing the Channel so far this year

‘Nearly 40 migrants have been detained by Border Force in just one day after crossing the English channel. Two groups landed on the Kent coast while another – including young children – were found by police on the Sussex coast on Saturday. So far this year, 793 suspected migrants have been caught by British officials. Several men were spotted on the beach at Dungeness early on Saturday after crossing the Channel in a small boat. Border Force officials intercepted 20 people at various locations around Dungeness after they arrived in the small craft.’ – Daily Mail

Conservatives should stand aside for the Brexit Party, Fox argues

‘The “arrogant” Tories should stand aside and let the Brexit Party win seats in Leave-backing areas rather than the other way around, its leading figures demanded. MEP Claire Fox said she liked the idea of electoral pacts with the Conservatives – but on her party’s terms. She claimed that if it hadn’t been for Nigel Farage’s new movement, Theresa May would still be in Downing Street and Britain would not be leaving the EU. Miss Fox told Sky News: “The first job of the Brexit Party is to make sure Brexit’s delivered and if that involves electoral pacts, that might happen. “Maybe the Tory party might, instead of telling the Brexit Party what to do, make an approach to the Brexit Party and say I’ll tell you what, we’ll stand aside in certain areas. That would be a very positive thing for me, let’s work together for a new kind of politics.”’ – The Sun

  • Farage’s party selects former Labour councillor to stand against Rudd in Hastings – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: WATCH: Could a Tory/Brexit Party pact happen? “Of course it could”, replies Claire Fox

A growing number of Labour MPs are battling their members rather than the Government

‘Labour MPs have been notified over the past few weeks that votes on whether they must face potential deselection will take place in the next few months – starting with shadow cabinet ministers and frontbenchers from September. The timing of the vote could mean several shadow cabinet ministers could address the party conference with their future as Labour MPs in doubt. Some MPs have been notified their “trigger” meetings will take place the week after Labour conference, leading them to cancel plans to attend the event in Brighton in order to spend longer campaigning at home. It is unlikely the process will be completed in time for a snap election in the autumn – or even by May next year. Labour MPs have always been subject to a trigger ballot, but rule changes agreed in September last year make it easier for an open selection to take place. If an MP fails to get endorsements from at least two-thirds of the local member branches and two-thirds of local affiliates, such as trade unions, then a full eight- to 12-week selection process will take place – with candidates allowed to run against the sitting MP.’ – The Guardian

  • Corbyn is a ‘total disaster’, Alan Johnson says – Daily Mail
  • My party is heading for catastrophe, frets Hain – The Times
  • McDonnell claims Javid is not fit for office – The Guardian
  • Noel Gallagher attacks ‘communist’ Labour Party – The Guardian
  • Swinson appears to have changed her tune about Rennard – Daily Mail

Lam accuses Hong Kong protesters of plotting ‘revolution’ and ‘trying to destroy Hong Kong’

‘Hong Kong’s leader has refused to resign in the face of a planned general strike and nine weekends of protests, saying in her first public appearance in weeks that pro-democracy campaigners were revolutionaries trying to destroy the territory. Transport across Hong Kong was severely disrupted this morning as protesters blocked rail stations and forced the suspension of the airport express ahead of a general strike and marches in seven districts. More than 200 flights out of the city were cancelled after Cathay Pacific staff staged a walkout…Flanked by her entire cabinet, Carrie Lam said earlier that it was time for the territory to reject violence by groups that she said were intent on revolution. “They claim they want a revolution and to restore Hong Kong, these actions have far exceeded their original political demands,” she said. “I dare say they are trying to destroy Hong Kong.”’ – The Times

  • The territory is brought to a standstill – The Guardian
  • Priest faces down riot police – Daily Mail
  • American tariffs betray a Cold War mentality – FT Leader
  • Russian submarines feared to be in British waters – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

Read More

Newslinks for Sunday 4th August 2019

Johnson: £1.8 billion more for the NHS – and social care is next

‘I am so determined to deliver now on the promises of that 2016 referendum campaign: not just to honour the will of the people, but to increase the cash available for this amazing national institution. It is great that the last Conservative government found another £34bn, and it is the immediate task of this new government to make sure that this cash makes a real difference to the lives of doctors and nurses and above all of patients… It is clear that something has gone badly wrong in the taxation of doctors’ pensions. So this government is listening. We are fixing it… It is thanks to this country’s strong economic performance that we are now able to announce £1.8bn more for the NHS to buy vital new kit and confirm new upgrades for 20 hospitals across the country.’ – Boris Johnson, Sunday Times 

>Today: ToryDiary: Is Johnson aiming for a snap election?

Election 1) No confidence us, and we’ll call an election for after 31st October, Cummings warns

‘In one meeting, Mr Cummings warned that EU leaders such as Emmanuel Macron, the French president, “think we’re bluffing” or believe that “MPs will cancel the referendum”, ­according to two sources familiar with the discussion. “They don’t realise that if there is a no-confidence vote in September or October, we’ll call an election for after the 31st and leave anyway,” he said. Mr Cummings instructed staff to prepare for a no-deal exit on the basis that EU leaders “won’t realise the Prime Minister is not bluffing until ­October” when it could be “too late”. He is understood to have said that meetings of the new “XO” daily ­operations committee had made him “less worried” about a no-deal ­outcome than before his arrival in Downing Street 11 days ago. The remarks indicate that while leaving the EU with a deal is still Mr Johnson’s preferred option, he is ­confident that Parliament cannot ­prevent him from fulfilling his promise to deliver Brexit by Oct 31 “by any means necessary”.’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Election 2) The Conservatives plan a high-stakes campaign to crush Labour

‘In the past year Cummings has conducted numerous polling and focus groups. His intention was to relaunch Vote Leave, the campaign group that won the 2016 referendum, if remainer MPs forced a second referendum. On March 27, Cummings wrote a blog announcing his plan and urging former staff to collect “crucial data” including “name, email, postcode, mobile (full address if possible)” so he could “plug this straight into new data infrastructure’… He will start thinking about how to make the Tory data and digital operation battle ready in the next fortnight. One source predicted that would be the “worst nightmare” for their opponents. It is understood that bosses at Conservative campaign headquarters (CCHQ) have also begun talking to pollsters and data experts who might tender for business. “They’re on a war footing. They’re going out to market,” said one source. Co-chairmen James Cleverly MP and Ben Elliot are seeking to “tool up” for an election by recruiting new officials… Conversations with pollsters have convinced his team there is a path to a majority. A source familiar with some of Cummings’s thinking said: “It’s a two-pronged strategy, which is underpinned by two assumptions, the first of which is that they can kill the Brexit Party, which they are in the process of doing. The second thing, which is not in their gift but determines the success of the strategy, is that by [the Tories] becoming the Brexit party, the Liberal Democrats become the remain party, which takes votes principally from the Labour Party. I think Dom is prepared to give up 20 or 30 existing Tory seats [to the Lib Dems] on the basis that the Labour vote collapses…”‘ – Sunday Times

Election 3) The second referendum campaign draws up plans for tactical voting in 100 seats

‘A leaked document shows the People’s Vote (PV) campaign is mobilising for the biggest campaign of tactical voting ever planned in an attempt to prevent a no-deal Brexit and secure a second referendum. Tories to be targeted include the former leader Iain Duncan Smith, the environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, and Zac Goldsmith — all sitting on small majorities… The leaked strategy paper, drawn up by James McGrory, a former aide to Nick Clegg, details plans to tell voters whom to back in 100 crunch contests… The campaign has identified 133 marginal seats where “a small difference can have a huge impact” from which a final “PV100” hitlist will be finalised… Around half of the PV100 will be “attack” seats where Brexiteer Tories might be ousted, and half “defensive” seats where referendum supporters are at risk from Brexiteers. These will include Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts, Liberal Democrat Layla Moran and Labour’s Rosie Duffield.’ – Sunday Times

Gove redeploys 2,000 civil servants for Brexit preparations

‘Michael Gove will move two thousand staff across Whitehall to aid leaving the EU in October, we can reveal. Senior Cabinet Ministers are re-deploying civil servants from ‘donor’ departments such as education and international aid to ensure a smooth Halloween exit. There are currently already 16,000 government workers working on the UK’s exit from the EU with plans discussed daily. Vital roles need to be filled in Transport, environment and Brexit departments along with HMRC. A similar pattern of staff moves happened into the botched exit day in March. Mr Gove will lead the discussions as part of the Daily Operations Committee – known as XO – who are meeting every weekday in the Cabinet Office.’ – The Sun on Sunday

>Yesterday: Book Review: The life of Gove, Cameron’s Jeeves and Johnson’s stooge

Labour frontbencher funded by campaigner who wants less economic growth

‘The activist handed Shadow Treasury Minister Clive Lewis the cash declaring he was “thankful” there has been a dip in growth. His ideal strategy outlines how some industrial sectors need to decline to meet social justice and climate change “goals”. He wrote: “While the rates of economic growth, as traditionally measured by GDP, have thankfully been declining in most parts of the world over the last 10 or more years…” He adds that: “most governments still claim growth is necessary for the equitable and just society we need”…Manser also laments the transformation from “walking and the horse and cart to car and plane” as a result of “ever growing consumer aspirations”.’ – The Sun on Sunday

Lawson: For Bramall’s sake, we must hold the police to account

‘On Monday I was called by Field Marshal Lord Bramall. The 95-year-old D-Day veteran said how pleased he was that The Sunday Times had devoted such space last week to my interview with him about his appalling experiences at the hands of the Metropolitan police, while they purported to “believe” as “credible and true” the grotesque claims by Carl Beech that Bramall was one of a gang of “VIP paedophiles” who had abused, tortured and murdered young boys in the 1970s. “Please don’t stop now,” Bramall told me: “You must continue to hold the police to account.” He repeated his assertion that the Met had perverted the course of justice and added that Steve Rodhouse, the “gold commander” of Operation Midland (the investigation based solely on Beech’s fantastical accusations) was the man he holds primarily responsible. I told the field marshal I would obey his command, but wondered what more could possibly emerge to galvanise the hopeless Home Office into action.’ – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

Hannan: Harry and Meghan have got it wrong – we should be worrying about depopulation

‘Today, in rich countries, most of us live as if in Eden, enjoying distractions and luxuries beyond the imagination of previous generations. Sure enough, the birth rate in developed states is far below replacement level: Chile 1.7, Germany 1.6, Canada 1.5, Luxembourg 1.4, Japan 1.3, Singapore 1.2, South Korea 1.1. Even those figures are often pushed up by immigrant mothers, who retain the cultural habits of poorer societies. One in three babies in Britain is born to a woman from overseas. There are plenty of arguments against having children. No one should feel pressured one way or the other. But it no longer makes sense to present small families as a wholly altruistic choice. The challenges the next generation will face have to do with depopulation: unfunded pensions, decaying towns and intergenerational tensions.’ – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph

Hong Kong enters third day of mass protests

‘Demonstrators in Hong Kong have clashed with riot police as the city entered its third consecutive day of mass protests. On Sunday, the police said they had arrested 20 people during Saturday’s clashes for offences including unlawful assembly and assault. Police fired teargas and pepper spray, and pinned protesters to the ground after tense standoffs in at least four locations throughout the city on Saturday evening, following a peaceful march earlier in the day. Thousands of protesters attending an anti-government march in Mong Kok deviated from a pre-approved route and occupied main roads in Kowloon, where they built barricades out of dismantled metal traffic barriers, handed out gas masks and helmets, and prepared to face off against police.’ – The Observer

Dozens killed or injured in latest US gun attack by ‘white supremacist’

‘At least 20 people were slaughtered and a further 26 injured after a twisted gunman opened fire at a Texas supermarket last night. The “white supremacist” attacker – reportedly identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius – mowed down adults and children aisle-by-aisle in a packed Walmart in El Paso using an AK47-type weapon. The suspect, from Allen, Texas – 20 miles north of Dallas – did not put up a fight as he was arrested. He is suspected of posting a sick race-hate manifesto online hours earlier that railed against “race mixing” and called on the deportation of immigrants – urging authorities to “send them back”.’ – The Sun on Sunday

Read More

Newslinks for Saturday 3rd August 2019

Patel pledges a return to zero tolerance policing

“Priti Patel today signals the return of zero-tolerance policing to make criminals ‘feel terror’ on the streets. In her first interview as Home Secretary she pledges to restore flagging public confidence in law and order by ‘empowering’ officers to go after thugs. ‘Offenders should be fearful of committing any criminal activities on our streets,’ she tells the Daily Mail. ‘Quite frankly, with more police officers out there and greater police presence, I want them to literally feel terror at the thought of committing offences.’ Miss Patel also warns chief constables not to ‘turn a blind eye’ to cannabis offences…Figures released last month showed 5.9million crimes were recorded in the past year – a 15-year high. Violent offences in England and Wales rose 20 per cent to 1.6million, the highest total since 2002. Only one in 12 crimes leads to a charge or summons, leading to claims that officers have ‘given up’.” – Daily Mail

  • A pledge to “empower” the police – BBC
  • Home Secretary demands answers after Carl Beech VIP paedophile abuse ring inquiry – The Times

Brexit 1) Trade deal with Australia could be “as soon as next year”

“Australia could do a trade deal with Britain as soon as next year, according to its man in London. In a big boost to Boris, High Commissioner George Brandis declared himself a big fan of the “optimism” of the new PM as well as his “quirky” side. And he is hopeful that a post-Brexit agreement can be signed Down Under by the end of 2020, possibly leading to cheaper wines on our shelves. Mr Brandis also revealed he is an “old friend” of Boris’s election guru Lynton Crosby, in another sign of good relations between the two governments even as their cricket teams battle for the Ashes.” – The Sun

Brexit 2) Jenrick tells councils to step up “no deal” preparations

“Councils across England have been ordered by the government to appoint no-deal tsars to lead local preparations for Britain’s departure from the European Union. In a letter to all local authorities Robert Jenrick, the communities and local government secretary, said it was imperative that councils “step up vital preparations” ahead of October 31. He announced that local authorities would share an additional £20 million to pay for the extra work preparing for no deal on top of the £58 million allocated by the Treasury in January. Council leaders welcomed the money but said extra help would be needed in parts of the country likely to be most affected by a no-deal. These include port areas where council staff will be responsible for many of the new regulatory checks that will be needed. This has involved hiring vets and environmental health officers as well as ensuring that the local roads network can cope with any disruption.” – The Times

  • Remainers urge Ruth Davidson to lead the resistance – The Sun

Brexit 3) Cummings “not expecting a deal”

“So now he is in Downing Street what is the Cummings strategy? Unlike Mr Johnson’s public pronouncements he does not think that the EU will offer an acceptable deal, even at the 11th hour. He is also not afraid of the disruption of no-deal. To him, if Britain leaves on October 31, even if it is disastrous, the chances of ever going back in are much less than if it never left in the first place. Leaving is the first and only objective — nothing else matters. He sees Brexit as a way of rebuilding the country outside the shackles of protectionist European bureaucracy. He also sees it as a once-in-a-generation chance to reshape the British state that he railed against in government… Mr Cummings is the ultimate risk-taking, conviction campaigner prepared to lose it all. Mr Johnson, despite recent pronouncements, is perhaps his antithesis, caring much more about power itself and being liked.” – The Times

  • Direct and decisive, but he’s not the devil – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph
  • He is a genius – Kevan Christe, The Scotsman
  • The EU has most to fear – Leader, The Sun

>Today:

Brexit 4) Forsyth: A serious offer from the EU could destabilise the Government

“When Boris told Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, a willingness to drop the backstop was a prerequisite for talks, Juncker made very clear they weren’t willing to negotiate on that basis. If the EU did make an offer, though, it would cause divisions in Downing Street and the Cabinet. Some think talks should begin only if the EU offers to drop the backstop. Others argue that a willingness to reopen the withdrawal agreement would be a suitable basis on which to resume negotiations. There are Cabinet ministers who would be cross if Boris Johnson rejected such an offer. When I put this scenario to one Secretary of State, they replied: “I’m going to have to take every day as it comes.” One of Boris’s allies admits that “if the EU did make a serious offer, that would destabilise things”. There is little sign of the EU adopting such a strategy, though.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Brexit 5) Baker set to become new ERG Chairman

“Steve Baker who refused to accept a job in the Brexit department is set to be made chairman of the hardline European Research Group next month. Mr Baker – who held the job before Mr Rees-Mogg – said that he will seek to replace him next month when MPs return to Parliament after their summer break. Mr Baker’s likely election to the role could be a headache for Boris Johnson if he seeks to bring back Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement before Oct 31. Mr Rees-Mogg insisted that there was “no conflict of interest” in him staying on as ERG chairman for a few weeks because the policies of the ERG and Government were aligned.” – Daily Telegraph

Plan to speed up extra NHS funding

“Boris Johnson’s team is planning to fast-track billions of pounds of extra funds to the NHS to fulfil early the central pledge of the Leave campaign. Downing Street aides are looking at bringing forward Theresa May’s commitment to give the NHS an additional £20 billion by 2023. During the EU referendum campaign Mr Johnson controversially pledged to spend on the NHS the £350 million a week he said would be saved by EU membership fees, a figure that was emblazoned on the Vote Leave bus. That would equate to £18.2 billion a year. But under existing government plans the health service will only see £7.3 billion extra this year and £11 billion the year after. Even by the time of the next scheduled general election in 2022 the NHS will only have seen three quarters of the promised money and less than the prime minister’s original pledge.” – The Times

Johnson visits Whaley Bridge

“The prime minister has visited the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge, where at least a thousand residents were forced to flee their homes amid fears a dam could collapse, engulfing the community of 6,500 people. Boris Johnson met a number of families affected by the evacuation. He told them he had flown over the dam twice and it was “dodgy but stable”, but police warned there was still “a substantial threat to life” if the dam wall fails. Water levels at the Toddbrook reservoir have been reduced by half a metre following extensive pumping but engineers remain “very concerned” about the integrity of the damaged 180-year-old structure, which contains around 1.3m tonnes of water.” – The Guardian

  • No sense of panic – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail

Farage urges the Conservatives to agree to an electoral pact

“Nigel Farage has urged Boris Johnson to do a deal with him to let his Brexit party win seats in Labour heartlands. The politician, 55, declared “we’re here to stay” despite claims that his new party could stop the Prime Minister from winning an election. Polling suggests the pro-Leave vote is now split between the Tories and the Brexit Party, meaning Boris could struggle to get enough MPs to form a Government. Some commentators blamed the Brexit Party after a Lib Dem Remainer MP nabbed a Tory-held seat in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election on Friday. But Farage pointed out his party did to the Tories in Brecon what the Tories did to them in the Peterborough by-election in June, where the Brexit Party came second to Labour.” – The Sun

  • Forget liquid lunches. I’m so bloody busy now, I only have time for yoga – Interview with Nigel Farage, The Times
  • Trump’s ‘Go Back’ remarks were ‘genius’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson has to knit the Leave coalition back together – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Lib Dems aiming to raise £10 million for a snap election

“The new leader of the Liberal Democrats said that she would not put any limit on her party’s ambitions. Jo Swinson, who is preparing to embark on a tour of the UK, revealed that she wanted to raise a war chest of £10 million to fight a potential snap general election. The Lib Dems spent £6.8 million fighting the 2017 general election, compared with the £18.5 million spent by the Conservatives and £11 million by Labour, official figures show. Ms Swinson claimed that the party’s polling showed it had the potential to be the biggest at Westminster after the next election.” – The Times

  • Lee is still thinking about defecting – The Guardian
  • By-election victory offers a route to their resurgence – Sean Kemp, The Guardian
  • Corbyn’s silence as Labour comes fourth – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Phillip Taylor on Comment: CCHQ cannot be complacent about the resurgent threat of the Liberal Democrats

Field to stand as a social justice candidate

“Veteran MP Frank Field, who resigned the Labour whip last year, is to stand for a new party at the next General Election. Mr Field, 77, who has been MP for Birkenhead for 40 years, said he would defend his seat as the Birkenhead Social Justice Party candidate. Announcing his plans at Birkenhead town hall, he said: “Reports of my political death have been wildly exaggerated.” He quit Labour in August saying it had become “a force for anti-Semitism”. The MP also blamed a “culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation” in local parties.” – BBC

Oborne: The Conservatives would easily win an early election

“Last week, I took soundings with a respected politician who has reason to understand the mind of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage. I was told that, despite all Farage says, he is ready to order Brexit Party candidates not to stand because he thinks they would have scant chance of victory with Johnson having successfully rebranded the Tories as the dominant anti-EU party and the only one with a chance of being in government… Johnson would — unimpaired by a rival Brexit Party — lead the Tories into battle as sole representatives of the Brexit cause. This means he ought to be able to rely on more than 40 per cent of the national vote — which in normal circumstances is easily enough to win a General Election. But these are not normal circumstances. I believe the Tories ought to reach more than 40 per cent, as the parties that still favour the UK staying in the EU are hopelessly split.”- Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

  • Johnson is clinging on by his fingertips – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times

Parris: By-election shows that pacts are the future

“Ooh Boris, how tempting — but not quite! The Brecon and Radnorshire by-election has taught Tory Brexiteers the hard truth they must face as they contemplate a snap general election. And taught us too, the ragged band of out-and-out Remainers, People’s Vote campaigners and seasick no-Brexit-without-a-deal stragglers. And the lesson? It’s a pact, stupid. Neither side can be confident of winning a general election without some kind of alliance. Prepare for months of fantasy coalition-making because the next election looks set to see Leavers and Remainers trying to restitch the all-party coalitions they put together for the 2016 referendum campaign. Some would call it a coupon election, as candidates bid for the “Brexit-approved” or “Remainer-recommended” ticket. In Brecon on Thursday a huge turnout of nearly 60 per cent makes the result a useful telltale for a general election. The Lib Dems squeaked through thanks to a non-aggression pact with two other minority, anti-Brexit parties. Without the extra votes this brought them from supporters of Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, the Tories would probably have won.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • The Boris Bounce is real, but the lesson from Brecon is: ‘Vote Farage, Get Swinson’ – John Curtice, Daily Telegraph
  • Result was “frustrating” says Cleverly – Daily Telegraph
  • Grief-stricken Remainers have unforgivably poisoned our politics with their Brexit despair – Douglas Murray, Daily Telegraph

Moore: The presumption of innocence must be restored

“In 2014, pursued by Tom Watson and co, the then home secretary, Theresa May, set up an ever more absurdly wide-ranging and over-powered inquiry (IICSA), which is free to accuse individuals with impunity and can cut across legal processes. Then she repeatedly allowed her proposed appointments to its chairmanship to be rejected because they were too “establishment” – e.g. one nominated chairman had given dinner to the Brittans, and was chucked out, although, as it still seems necessary to repeat, they were never shown to be guilty of anything. The victims of this weakness are not unjustly accused individuals alone, but entire institutions – schools, churches, council homes – which are supposed to care for children. Who, ultimately will want to work in these vital areas if the authorities indiscriminately tarnish the people who do so? Behind these trends lies a twisting of the real problem that victims of sexual abuse have often found it hard to win a hearing. This is the modern doctrine that “the victim must be believed”. It is the opposite of justice, because it overturns the presumption of innocence. From that, only evil can flow.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • Met is trying to ruin me, claims Harvey Proctor – The Times

Trump withdraws intelligence pick

“US President Donald Trump has withdrawn his choice for director of national intelligence amid criticism that the Texas congressman was under-qualified. Mr Trump tweeted that he told Texas Republican John Ratcliffe that the nomination process would be “miserable” for him due to unfair media coverage. Mr Ratcliffe thanked Mr Trump and said he did not want the job to become “a purely political and partisan issue”. Critics have accused Mr Ratcliffe of padding his intelligence credentials.” – BBC

Power sharing deal agreed in Sudan

“Sudan’s ruling military council and main opposition coalition have agreed on a constitutional declaration which will pave the way for a new period of transitional government. African Union mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt made the announcement early on Saturday, without giving any details. Sudan has been in turmoil since the military ousted President Omar al-Bashir in April. Protracted talks over the declaration have been held amid much violence.” – BBC

News in Brief

  • The gig economy is working – Annabel Denham, CapX
  • A global, free trading Britain should back freeports – Madsen Pirie, The Spectator
  • Tackling plastic waste in the oceans – John Redwood
  • The opposition in Russia can defeat Putin, but only if its message chimes with an impoverished country – Alexander Titov, Independent
  • What should we take home from the Brecon by-election? – Olivia Utley, The Article
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