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"News from the Brexit Cliff Edge" 18th Mar 2019

News Highlights

Welcome to the Brexit Cliff Edge

UK Economy, visas, investment, No Deal tariffs, Stockpiling and Road Protests

  • British companies generating most of their revenues in their home market are experiencing their worst share price performance since they were first hit by the UK`s decision to leave the EU 3 years ago, The FTSE Local UK Index, which measures performance of listed companies generating at least 70% of their revenue in the UK, is more than 20% lower than it was on Brexit referendum day
  • A survey by New Financial indicates that 269 UK financial companies have relocated parts of their business, moved staff or set up fresh legal entitites in the EU since Brexit. New Financial also identified a further 100 more financial groups that will need to act but have not done so yet
  • The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, conceded the no-deal Brexit catastrophe that many predict may be slightly exaggerated. But he also confirmed leaving without a deal would be harmful economically and Brexit had already knocked 2% off UK GDP. It has also hit business investment, our hi-tech production capacity is weaker now than it was 10 years ago
  • EU Ag Commissioner, Phil Hogan, mused that the UK government`s no deal tariff plan would be illegal under WTO rules. The plan sees no duties placed on goods, entering Northern Ireland across the border, which he said this was little more than a political stunt, as the government needs to get agreements and approvals from other governments under WTO rules
  • Finance provider Premium Credit published a survey which said 17% of the country has begun hoarding food, drink and medicine in advance of Brexit, with about 2.4m people having spent more than £500 on stockpiling
  • A group of lorry drivers calling themselves `The Brexit Protest and Direct Action Group` has threatened to stage a UK-wide blockade of roads and motorways if Brexit is delayed. It has already planned a go slow on March 22nd on the A494 in protest
  • Irish passport applications from Britons stand at 250,000 applications, in less than 3 months, with more than 3,000 per day applying this year so far. The Irish foreign minister said this figure is 30% higher on the same time last year
  • Overseas students will be given visa extensions of 1 year, instead of 4 months as they get now, at the end of their courses, to allow them to look for work or apply to study
  • A Brexit delay will cost the government millions of pounds more in extra payments to ferry companies, who are planning to run Brexit ferries in the event of a No Deal Brexit. The cost of the delay could be as high as £28m according to the Financial Times
  • The Farmers` Union of Wales called for Article 50 to be revoked at the end of last week, `as it better reflected the votes that took place in Parliament`
  • Ford said the new UK tariffs hit it twice, in the event of a No Deal Brexit. It only makes engines in the UK, so Ford would be taxed on exporting them to assembly plants in mainland Europe. It would then face import duties again when bringing the finished vehicles back to the UK for sale

Political Shenanigans

  • Theresa May wrote an opinion article, in the Sunday Telegraph, calling on MPs to back her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement at the third time of asking. She issued a stark warning to them to back her deal or `we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever`
  • Speaking on political talk shows over the weekend, Theresa May`s ministers admitted that the government would only submit Theresa May`s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to a third vote this coming week if they believed they could win it
  • Boris Johnson had been expected to call on fellow Eurosceptics to back Mrs May`s Brexit deal. Instead, he wrote a more nuanced opinion piece, for the Telegraph, in which he called on the government to show `proof that the next stage of Brexit talks will be radically different`` before he would consider backing the deal
  • ITV`s Robert Peston surveyed the possibilities in Parliament this week. One pathway led to Mrs May`s Withdrawal Agreement winning a 3rd meaningful vote. If it fell or was not submitted, then there would likely be a series of indicative votes to gauge the will of Parliament, which would need the Labour Party`s full backing to be successful. Thirdly, there was the possibility that the Speaker of the House of Commons could rule that holding a meaningful vote for a third time was an unacceptable breach of parliamentary convention - so it was prohibited
  • The Labour Party touted its Wilson-Kyle Amendment plan. MPs would vote for `some form of Brexit` conditional on it being confirmed by the people of the UK in a new referendum. On the ballot paper there`d be a choice between this `new final Brexit withdrawal plan` and remain - No Deal Brexit would be binned forever
  • Theresa May`s lobbying of her MPs for support, in a series of telephone calls to MPs. seems to have triggered many telling her she has to step down from No10 and resign as Prime Minister, before they will back her Withdrawal Agreement. 
  • With a future leadership contest now being openly discussed, the rumour mill as to who the Conservative Party candidates would be is in full swing. Several articles named names and said these hopefuls were already lobbying colleagues and considering options
  • Theresa May  has to keep the DUP sweet for her deal to pass. So the Northern Irish parliamentarians were seen meeting up with Phillip Hammond in the Treasury, leading many to think they would soone recieved another `favourable cash settlement` for the province
  • The DUP were also promised that if the Irish Backstop were ever triggered, the UK would adopt any new food and business rules that the EU forced on Northern Ireland as well. An offer which seems to have whet the appetite of the DUP, even though, it has little legal force in reality.
  • The DUP was also seeking a `seat at any future negotiating table` after Brexit. This means at the next stage, when the future trading relationship with the EU bloc is worked out over the coming years
  • There has been a surge of support in favour of holding a People`s Vote, according to a new YouGov poll. The margin has moved from roughly neck-and-neck (yes/no) six weeks ago, to 57% to 43%, in favour of a new vote
  • Theresa May emphasised that if her 3rd meaningful vote was lost she`d ask the EU for a two year delay to Brexit. If her plan was approved she`d seek a delay until the end of June, so all technical and legislative tasks could be completed before departure
  • Nigel Farage`s Brexit March started in Sunderland with the mainstream press reporting on it in generic terms. Social media was far less flattering. The criticism focussed on the very low numbers of people on the march and the fact Farage disappeared on Day 2, telling the press he was only going to walk bits of it
  • Theresa May saw another one of her moderate Conservative MPs, Nick Boles, resign from his local Conservative Party. He said he would take the Tory whip, if they wished to do so, but his displeasure on Brexit - where he was a leading light in seeking a compromise solution in Parliament - was apparent in his comments
  • Conservative Party Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, who is at the very heart of the Brexit negotiations for the government, was warned by Parliamentary authorites for mistating his expenses. Cox failed to declare thousands of pounds in rent paid to him on his London flat
Jobs at Risk
Domestically focused UK stocks are mired in gloom
British companies that generate most of their revenues in their home market are experiencing their worst share price performance since they were first hit by the UK’s decision to leave the EU nearly three years ago. The FTSE Local UK index — which measures the performance of listed companies generating at least 70 per cent of their revenue in the UK — is more than 20 per cent lower than it was on referendum day relative to the FTSE 100, which is dominated by companies that operate worldwide. The FTSE 100 index tends to move inversely to sterling, as weakness in the pound helps to boost the value of its members’ overseas revenues. Meanwhile, the FTSE Local UK is more exposed to the nation’s economic prospects.
Brexit moves ‘will reduce UK tax base, influence and jobs’
To date, 269 UK financial companies have relocated parts of their business, moved staff or set up legal entities in the EU, according to New Financial, a London consultancy. New Financial has also identified almost 100 more financial groups that will need to act at some point but have not yet done so. Asset managers have been among the most active movers with 69 expanding their presence in the EU, mainly in Dublin and Luxembourg. William Wright, co-founder of New Financial, said the available data “significantly understated the real picture” as many companies have not disclosed their Brexit response. “The final tally is likely to be much higher, which will reduce the UK’s tax base, supervisory influence and ultimately have an impact on jobs,” said Mr Wright. The UK’s trade surplus in financial services with the EU will also shrink as more business shifts from London.
Economic Impact
Brexit: EU says UK no-deal tariff plan is ‘illegal’ under WTO rules
The UK government’s no-deal Brexit tariff plan would be “illegal” under World Trade Organisation rules, the EU commissioner in charge of agriculture has said. Phil Hogan characterised the British plan, which would see no duties levied on goods entering Northern Ireland across the border, as “a political stunt, pure and simple”. “Our initial assessment is that the proposal is illegal. It is not compatible with WTO rules and it’s the start of a process where they’ll have to get approvals,” he told reporters in Dublin.
Brexit or no Brexit, our real problem is failure to invest
The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, who says a no-deal Brexit is not the catastrophe many believed it would be when forecasts were made last year. In Carney’s considered opinion, the negative economic effects of leaving the European Union without a deal are lower following the considerable efforts of banks and businesses to minimise the impact. However, the referendum vote has already knocked 2% off GDP and, worse, it has hit business investment to the extent that Britain’s capacity to produce hi-tech, 21st-century goods as efficiently as Germany, France, the US and Japan the UK is even weaker than it was 10 years ago. That shortcoming undermines Britain’s ability to grow smoothly and without debilitating side effects well into the next decade, whichever of the central bank’s scenarios you pick.
Administrative Fall Out
Brits spend over £4.6 billion as Brexit stockpiling peaks
Britons have spent over £4.6 billion stockpiling household goods in preparation for a hard Brexit, according to new research. A survey carried out by finance provider Premium Credit shows that 17% of the country has started hoarding food, drink and medicine – with about 2.4 million people having spent more than £500 stockpiling. A further 6.1 million have spent up to £500 while one in five, or 19%, have spent over £1,000 on hoarding. Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union in less than two weeks, but with Parliament in a deadlock over Brexit, the country is at acute risk of crashing out without a deal, causing havoc to supply chains. Of those stockpiling, 80% of people surveyed said they have done this with food, 63% with medicine and 43% with drinks
Lorry drivers threaten to stage UK-wide blockades if Brexit is delayed
Truck drivers are reportedly planning to stage UK-wide blockades on highways if the country does not leave the EU on March 29. Brexit Direct Action, an anti-EU group, claims it has received lorry-loads of requests from Brexiteers to put on mass blockades of Britain’s major transport links, reports The Express. Brexit Direct Action wrote on Twitter: “Several social media groups have been in contact to ask if we’ll help gather support for a national truck drivers protest if #Brexit is delayed.” Another tweet said: “Brexiteers all over the country are planning to bring this country to its knees by blocking the main arterial routes - M1, M6 M25, M62, A1, A55, M5, M4, M42, M55, M61, A66 etc.
Brexit protesters reveal when and where North Wales go-slow will take place
A go-slow on the A494 in protest at the Government's handling of Brexit will take place next week. The Brexit Protest and Direct Action Group has revealed it will be held on Friday, March 22, at 7pm.
BREXIT BLOCK: Lorry drivers threaten to CLOSE UK transport links if exit is delayed
Truck drivers are planning to stage UK-wide blockades on highways if the country does not leave the EU on March 29, which they would see as a “Brexit betrayal”.
Brexit’s most disturbing aspect is the casual adoption of extremist views
Brexit Britain has gone from the promises of sunny uplands to sounding like Gloria Gaynor – ‘we will survive’
Irish passport applications averaged 3,000 every day this year ahead of Brexit
There has been almost a quarter of a million applications for Irish passports in less than three months, with more than 3,000 people on average applying every day so far this year. Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said more than 230,000 applications have been received to date this year. The figures mean there have been two applications every minute on average. Mr Coveney said the figures represent a 30 per cent increase on the same period last year. It comes after 2018 proved to be a record year with the highest number (860,000) of Irish passports ever issued.
Visa extension to boost numbers of overseas students in UK after Brexit
International students will be given visa extensions of up to a year to look for work in the UK as part of a package of government measures to boost numbers of overseas students after Brexit. The move represents a break with current policy, where students are allowed to stay for just four months after graduation. Announcing the strategy, the Department for Education (DfE) said: “There is no limit on the number of international students that can study in the UK, and to ensure the UK continues to attract and welcome them, the post-study leave period will be extended to six months for undergraduate and master’s students, and a year for doctoral students.”
Edinburgh tram extension is no Brexit insurance policy – John McLellan
It would be a fool who would predict that all the issues about Britain’s relationship with Europe will be resolved by Spring 2023, the latest date for the introduction of the new service, but even for supporters of the £207m project it is surely fanciful to claim that three miles of track is somehow an insurance policy against the worst vagaries of international relations. But we are, as they say, where we are. Brexit is in the hands of 650 people in Westminster, each seemingly with their own agenda which the Government has been powerless to control, but 36 people in the City Chambers have decided the tram completion should go ahead no matter what it costs or how long it takes.
Brexit delay could cost millions in extra payments to ferry firms
Any delay to the UK leaving the EU could cost the government tens of millions in extra payments to keep its no-deal ferry contracts in place. The extra costs will be a fresh political blow to the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, after the collapse of one contract with an operator that had no ferries and a lawsuit by Eurotunnel that was settled out of court at a cost of £33m. It seems unlikely the contracts will now be realised after MPs voted to instruct Theresa May to seek an extension to article 50, which would delay Brexit beyond 29 March. According to the Financial Times, the cost of the delay could reach £28m. Brittany Ferries, which has contracts worth £46.6m under the deal, said the terms “included fair and proportionate compensation in a deal scenario, taking account of the significant preparatory work and concomitant costs incurred”.
Sweden 'cannot guarantee Brits' future in no-deal Brexit', EU minister tells The Local - The Local
In an interview with The Local, Sweden's EU minister said he was currently unable to guarantee what the status of Brits in Sweden would be one year after a no-deal Brexit, but said he was confident that "any problems will be sorted out". "We don't really want [a no-deal Brexit] to happen. But if it does, and there is a serious risk that it might, then we feel that we are pretty well prepared for that situation," Hans Dahlgren told The Local. "It doesn't mean that would be without problems."
Doctors claim ‘Brexit is costing us lives’
Signatories claim that along with the funding issues the NHS is currently facing, the service is also overstretched due to the loss of thousands of European staff. “As doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals from the South East, we see the damage Brexit is already inflicting on our treasured National Health Service,” they added. “Make no mistake about it. Brexit is costing us lives. “No one voted to leave the NHS overstretched and underfunded. We were promised an extra £350 million a week. But today, our NHS is facing a nightmare.
Brexit: Welsh farmers’ union calls for Article 50 to be revoked
One of the UK’s leading farmer representative bodies is calling for Article 50 – which set the original deadline for the country to leave the EU – to be revoked altogether. The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) says that the article should be revoked to better reflect the votes that took place in the UK parliament this week.
Ford Fears Double-Whammy From May's No-Deal Brexit Tariffs
Ford Motor Co. said it will be hit twice by U.K. tariffs to be imposed in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The U.S. company, which only makes engines in Britain, would be taxed on exporting them to assembly plants in mainland Europe and then face import duties for bringing finished vehicles back to the U.K. for sale, it said in a statement Wednesday. Competitors that manufacture engines elsewhere and then ship them to the U.K. for assembly, by contrast, would incur no charges thanks to a tariff-free regime that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government plans to offer for auto-component imports.
Political Shenanigans
Theresa May asks MPs for 'honourable compromise' on Brexit
Theresa May has asked MPs to make an "honourable compromise" as she seeks to persuade them to back her Brexit deal at the third time of asking. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the prime minister said failure to support the deal would mean "we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever". Mrs May is expected to bring her withdrawal agreement back to the Commons next week for a third vote. It comes after MPs this week rejected her deal and voted to delay Brexit.
Brexit: Ministers admit government might pull third vote on Theresa May's deal
Admitting MPs would “not definitely” get a vote this week, Mr Hammond said: “We will only bring the deal back if we are confident that enough of our colleagues and the DUP are prepared to support it so that we can get it through Parliament. “We’re not just going to keep presenting it if we haven’t moved the dial.” International Trade Secretary Liam Fox agreed saying whether a vote was staged “would be determined by whether we can succeed in getting that vote through the House of Commons” It would be “difficult to justify having a vote if you knew we were going to lose it”, he added.
To back the PM's deal, we need proof that the next stage of Brexit talks will be radically different
Sometimes in politics you can face a dilemma so painful that the best thing can be to lay it out before your own constituency association, and ask for their advice. Last Friday I had the chance to do just that. By way of background, the Uxbridge and South Ruislip Conservative Association could not be remotely described as hardline. We are a diverse, thoughtful, metropolitan bunch of One Nation Tories. There are probably as many Remainers as Leavers. In consulting my association, I tried to frame the choice as neutrally as I could. There was a chance, I said, that the Government would ask parliament to vote for a third time on the Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Agreement. If such a vote took place, how should I proceed, said Boris Johnson to his members
Don't bet there'll be a third vote on Theresa May's deal
If May gets her deal approved next week, the ERG Brexiters could still secure their cherished no-deal Brexit at the end of May by talking out the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill that would turn the meaningful vote into Brexit reality. Second, if her deal is squelched, the process of turning indicative votes into a deliverable Brexit deal would only be effective if Labour cooperated in an institutional sense, and that could not be guaranteed. Third, everything I’ve written is redundant if the Speaker were to rule that the PM’s desire to hold the meaningful vote for a third time is a blatant and unacceptable breach of parliamentary convention – and therefore prohibits it.
Only our compromise can break the Brexit impasse
Our plan would mean MPs voting for some form of Brexit deal conditional on it being confirmed by the people of the United Kingdom in a new referendum. On the ballot paper would be a straight choice: a real form of Brexit – rather than some fantasy idea that cannot be delivered – which could be debated, warts and all, against the proposition of staying in the EU. We would not be asking MPs to vote for Brexit but to withhold support for any deal until the public has had their say in a confirmatory ballot. We would be taking the prospect of no deal off the table forever. And we would be giving pro-Brexit MPs who talk so much about the “will of the people” the chance to check back in with those same people.
The battle to be Theresa May's successor heats up in Westminster
The race to succeed Theresa May as Conservative leader is hotting up with more than six high profile Tories canvassing the support of MPs. It is understood that senior Tories believe Theresa May will have to step aside in order to get her Brexit deal through Parliament. Even aides in the PM’s team believe she will be gone by the summer and prospective candidates are already busy building alliances and promises in the tea rooms of Westminster.
Brexit: Labour set to endorse a plan to put May's deal to a public vote
Labour is preparing to offer its most strident support yet for a second referendum by voting for a plan to put Theresa May’s Brexit deal to a public vote. The Observer understands that the proposal, drawn up by two backbenchers, will be put to parliament when May launches her third attempt to pass her Brexit deal. She is expected to do so this week, before heading to a summit with EU leaders on Thursday.
What the PM offered the DUP
The prime minister’s frantic last attempt to persuade Northern Ireland’s DUP to back her third meaningful vote on Tuesday involves a promise that if the controversial backstop is ever triggered, Great Britain would adopt any new food and business rules that could be forced by the EU on Northern Ireland. As a minister told me, for the DUP to accept the offer it would have to trust that a future prime minister and government would honour the pledge - which cannot be guaranteed even if May legislates for such alignment (because any law can always be repealed). So logically the regulatory alignment offer should not pacify and win over the DUP. But sources close to the DUP tell me that - to their surprise - it may have done. If so they would announce this entente as soon as tomorrow.
Support for a People's Vote surges as public reject Brexit alternatives
Support for a new public vote on Brexit has surged in the days since Theresa May’s Brexit deal was decisively rejected by MPs for a second time, according to a new YouGov poll. The poll shows that the public, which was more or less evenly divided on this question six weeks ago, would now back the people being given the final say on Britain’s future relationship with the EU by a margin of 57% to 43% when excluding the “don’t know” responses.
Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement is now our only guaranteed route out of the EU
I'd urge Brexit-backing MPs to vote for the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement on its third go. I hate the deal. It threatens to trap us in the backstop; it grants too many concessions. Up to this point, were I an MP, I’d have voted against it. But circumstances have changed dramatically and, as a consequence, it has become our only guaranteed route out of the EU.
John Bercow should block a third vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal
Not for the first time the Speaker of the House of Commons appears to hold the Brexit process in his hands. There has been speculation this week that John Bercow has the power to prevent a third vote on Theresa May’s deal by resorting to a parliamentary convention which prevents a motion being debated in the Commons if it is substantially unchanged from a motion already brought before the House during the same session of parliament. Given that a third vote on May’s deal – likely to be called on Tuesday – would be essentially the same motion as was defeated by 149 votes last Tuesday (and not all that much different from the one defeated by 230 votes in January) there would appear to be a good case for Bercow to act.
Brexit: Conservative leadership hopefuls ‘step up a gear’ as demands grow for Theresa May to resign
Tory leadership hopefuls have “stepped up a gear” in making their pitches to replace Theresa May as pressure mounts on the prime minister to set a date for leaving Downing Street. Rivals have undertaken a flurry of activity both behind the scenes and in the media as speculation grows that Ms May will announce her departure in the coming weeks. The expectation has been fuelled by signals that Conservative MPs whose votes the prime minister desperately needs to pass her Brexit deal would back her plan if she sets out her departure schedule.
Nigel Dodds speaks out. But is the DUP's uncompromising stance any more than cover for living with the backstop?
After the chaos of last week, leading media reflect sharply differing views on the prospects for a third meaningful vote on Tuesday. The Leave – supporting Telegraph newspapers have emerged as the unlikely cheerleaders for Mrs May’s battered deal. If the deal passes, No 10 officials say the necessary legislation will have cleared the Commons by April 25, paving the way for a new Brexit Day in the final week of May or first week of June, according to the Sunday Times.
Dominic Raab and Esther McVey tipped to be Brexit candidate in future Tory leadership election as Boris Johnson's chances wane
Former Cabinet ministers Dominic Raab and Esther McVey are being tipped by MPs to be the 'Brexiteer' candidate in a future Tory leadership election amid fears Boris Johnson's chances may be waning. Speculation is rife in Westminster that Theresa May will be asked to stand down by a group of senior Conservative MPs led by 1922 chairman Sir Graham Brady in April or May if Britain leaves the European Union in the next few months. This would allow time for a leadership election over the summer and the next leader to be crowned at the party's conference in Manchester in October. The new Prime Minister would then negotiate the future trade deal with the EU.
DUP demands seat at the table in future EU trade talks as price for backing May's deal
Theresa May has appealed to MPs' "patriotism" and urged them to cast aside their differences by voting for her Brexit deal to save her premiership. In a bid to stave off a third heavy defeat, the Prime Minister writes in the Sunday Telegraph that MPs must "stand together as democrats and patriots" and support her Withdrawal deal. MPs are likely to vote on the deal for the third time on Tuesday or Wednesday. However, remainers are also plotting to scupper her Brexit plan with Labour planning to back a backbench amendment calling for a referendum on Mrs May's deal.
Brexit: UK needs to reset approach to justify extension – Coveney
Mr Coveney said that if the British government is “asking for longer extension, there will need to be a plan to go with that … Presumably that will mean seeking time to build a new consensus.” The Tánaiste was clearly hinting that Mrs May must indicate that she intends reach out to the opposition if she wants to get approval for a long extension from EU heads of state. “More of the same” will not suffice, observers in Brussels have warned.
Brexit: DUP says issues remain over deal
The Democratic Unionist Party has said there are "still issues to be discussed" with the government as Theresa May continues to try to win support for her Brexit deal. Mrs May is expected to bring her withdrawal agreement back to the Commons next week for a third vote. It comes after MPs this week rejected her deal and voted to delay Brexit. The DUP, which has twice voted against the agreement, said it remained in discussions with the government. It has been reported by the Spectator magazine that there is a "better than 50:50 chance" the party will support the deal next week.
McDonnell: MPs will 'move heaven and earth' to prevent no-deal Brexit
Politicians will move heaven and earth to prevent the country leaving the EU with no deal, John McDonnell has said, adding that such an outcome would be catastrophic for the economy. Speaking before an event in Gravesend, Kent, the shadow chancellor also indicated that Labour might support a compromise proposed by two of the party’s MPs which would see Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement put to a public vote after being passed in the House of Commons.
No-deal Brexit ‘now very unlikely’, says Coveney
He said if the British parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement negotiated by prime minister Theresa May next week he expected the EU would extend the Brexit deadline until the end of June, to enable the UK to wrap up technicalities. But if parliament rejected the accord a third time, Mr Coveney thought the EU might refuse to grant a longer extension. He based his prediction on the strength of this week’s vote in the House of Commons to avoid a no-deal Brexit. “But having said that, just because you vote against something doesn’t make it happen the way you want it to,” he continued. “The British parliament has to take a course of action to avoid the current default position in law, which is that they leave on the 29th of March.
Parliament could end up ‘cancelling Brexit’ if deal rejected again
Parliament may end up “cancelling Brexit” if an exit deal is not finalised in the next two weeks, according to Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable. Sir Vince, speaking to the Press and Journal, said that if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rejected for a third time next week, MPs could start taking steps to revoke Article 50 and effectively cancel the referendum result. The Lib Dem leader said he believed the only route from the current impasse was to hold a second referendum and dismissed the notion that it would cause a backlash from the public and diminish trust in politics.
Theresa May ready to ditch her Brexit deal and trigger two-year exit delay if defeated for a third time
Theresa May is ready to ditch her Brexit deal rather than face a third humiliating defeat. The PM will not force a vote this week unless she is convinced she has the support to get it through. In a stark message to dithering Tory MPs, she vowed there will be no fourth attempt if she fails this time. She warned it will almost certainly lead to a two-year delay and declared bluntly: “It hardly bears thinking about.” With just 12 days until departure day, it would mean going back to square one – handing over billions to the EU and fighting the European elections.
Boris Johnson to boost his hopes of becoming PM by backing Theresa May’s Brexit deal
One minister told The Sun on Sunday: “There’s a tremendous opportunity for Boris here – bigger than when he decided to support the Leave campaign three years ago. “In the next few days he can become the man who saves Brexit and be in a great position to mount a leadership challenge.” Another admirer added: “If he backs the deal and it gets through Parliament at the third attempt, he can claim to be the man who saved Brexit. “He’s already stolen a march on his two biggest rivals so it would put him in pole position. Win or lose, Theresa can’t cling on to the job much longer so it would be his for the taking.”
EU Creates New Cliff-Edge as Wrangling Over Brexit Delay Begins
The European Union will tell the U.K. that if it wants the option of delaying Brexit for more than three months it must hold European Parliament elections, or risk a perilous new cliff-edge in July. A draft document discussed by ambassadors Friday opens the door to a long extension of membership beyond the March 29 exit day. But if Britain wants to extend beyond June, it has to take part in the election, which could be politically toxic. Otherwise, it will be ejected from the club.
Brexit: DUP denies ‘cash for votes’ suggestions after meeting chancellor over backing for deal
The Democratic Unionist Party has denied “cash for votes” suggestions after the chancellor was sent into talks designed to win its support for the Brexit deal. “We are not discussing cash in these discussions,” Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s Westminster leader, insisted – amid government pressure on the party to switch sides in next week’s repeat “meaningful vote”. Instead, Mr Dodds said Theresa May must do more to convince the party that the deal would not breach its “red line” that Northern Ireland must not be treated differently from the rest of the UK.
Robert Armstrong: Worse than Suez –Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet secretary on how he would reform Brexit relations with the EU
It is nearly 70 years since I joined the Civil Service. In all that time, I do not think that I have ever felt, even at the time of Suez, a stronger sense of shame at the spectacle which we are presenting to an astonished world. As one journal put it, Brexit is breaking British politics. A country once envied for its political stability, steadiness and maturity has descended into a chaos of division and indecision.
Corbyn launches effort to find a cross-party Brexit compromise
Jeremy Corbyn has written to MPs backing soft Brexit plans as well as supporters of a second referendum, inviting them for talks to find a cross-party compromise.
BREXIT BETRAYAL? Jeremy Corbyn plans talks with SNP with a second referendum on agenda
Jeremy Corbyn will hold a summit with the SNP and other opposition parties to discuss backing a second EU referendum to break the Brexit deadlock, it has emerged. It comes after Labour’s divisions were exposed during the Commons vote on Wednesday. The Labour leader wrote to the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford to offer talks “at the earliest opportunity” with aims to break the Brexit stalemate, according to The Telegraph. Mr Corbyn said he would first examine Labour’s proposals for a softer Brexit which include a permanent customs union and a second EU referendum. He said: “We would obviously use that position as a starting point for any discussions but we would like to hear about the plans you are advocating and we are keen to see if there is scope to find common ground between our respective proposals and to work together to break the impasse.”
Britain split over prospect of second Brexit vote, poll finds
Exactly the same proportion of voters believe there should be a second referendum on Brexit as think the UK should leave the EU without a deal, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer. The survey shows the country split down the middle, with 43% supporting a delay to Brexit in order to hold a second public vote and 43% believing the UK should simply quit without any agreement with Brussels.
Nigel Dodds: “We will not waver on our Brexit red line"
As the leader of the DUP at Westminster, Nigel Dodds could hold the key to unlocking the Brexit impasse. If Theresa May can secure the support of his party for her deal, it could be enough to pass this week. With the public at large growing tired of the fractious debate, is he feeling the pressure to act? He talks to Sebastian Whale
Scots Tory MP may not vote for PM's deal even if DUP do
A Scottish Conservative MP has said if Theresa May's Brexit deal comes back to parliament that he will not necessarily support it - even if the DUP do. Ross Thomson, MP for Aberdeen South, told Sunday Politics Scotland that he will make up his own mind on the deal. He said he had a lot of the same concerns as the Democratic Unionists. He said the PM's withdrawal agreement is "not the greatest" but he could "suck up" some issues if concerns on the backstop could be addressed.
Political Setbacks
Brexit: Theresa May should make 'dignified exit' to get deal through says Esther McVey
Conservative MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke said there needs to be "a change of leadership" in order for him to support the deal, telling BBC Sunday Politics South East we need "a new face and a new team to take us forward to the future relationship". His comments come after fellow Tory Andrew Bridgen told The Sunday Times that he was informed by party whips that Mrs May was willing to announce her resignation to get her Withdrawal Agreement approved when it returns to the Commons for a third meaningful vote potentially this week.
Jeremy Corbyn says he could vote to leave EU in second Brexit referendum
The Labour leader said an agreement with Brussels that would allow for a “dynamic relationship” with the bloc could pose a way to unite the country. Meanwhile, he said Labour will demand a no-confidence vote in the Government if Theresa May loses a crucial vote on her Brexit deal next week. Asked if he was enthusiastic about the prospect of a second referendum he would only say: “I’m enthusiastic about getting a deal with Europe.” His comments are likely to anger campaigners for a fresh vote - many of whom are Labour members. However Mr Corbyn did suggest Labour would whip to support a backbench amendment this week that will demand a final say on the deal.
I still won't back Mrs May's deal – because it's not Brexit
Despite the turbulence of last week’s votes, the law remains that the UK will leave the EU at 11pm on March 29. The Remainer plots – supported on some votes by certain unruly ministers – to seize control of the parliamentary timetable or force a second referendum were all defeated. But the Commons did resolve that a short extension to June 30 2019 should be sought on the condition that “the House has passed a resolution approving the negotiated withdrawal agreement.” The Prime Minister will, therefore, present her deal to the Commons again. Without substantial changes, I will vote against it again and I cannot see how the House – having already emphatically rejected it twice – will change its mind
Brexit is really about escaping the emotional ordeal of Europe
Britain has always seen the EU as something to be endured rather than embraced.
There can be no good Brexit for Scotland and we can do so much better
The UK Parliament has not worked in Scotland’s national interest for a very long time, if indeed it ever did. But this was the week in which that was utterly exposed and plain for all to see. The madcap antics of the so-called Mother of Parliaments, as it grappled with the ­conundrum of Brexit, were perhaps best summed up by one political sketch writer who observed: “The House of ­Commons was a Benny Hill chase on acid, running through a Salvador Dali painting in a spaceship on its way to infinity.
Why Brexit chaos CANNOT be solved! May under attack from former US Ambassador
Theresa May came under the attack of former US Ambassador Anthony Gardner who claimed her Government had "wasted two years" trying to solve three Brexit issues which "can't be solved at the same time". "First, leave the customs union and the single market; second, to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and the third is to avoid a hard border in the Irish Sea. "All three things can’t be solved at the same time. You can solve two of the three."
‘The damage is done’: Disbelief in Europe at another lost Brexit week
For all the forlorn hopes that things might be different this time, leaders across Europe and senior EU officials in their offices in Brussels, watched on with a sinking heart as Theresa May’s deal was rejected again on Tuesday evening, this time by 149 votes, the fourth largest defeat for a sitting government. The Commons subsequently voted to delay Brexit by at least three months. Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, who has described himself as Britain’s best friend among the 27 EU heads of state and government, was left asking reporters: “What’s the point of whining on for months on end while we have been going around in circles for two years?”
Theresa May Phoned Round Tory Rebels To Ask Them To Back Her Deal. They Told Her To Resign
May was told in direct terms by several MPs in one-on-one phone calls on Sunday that she should make a pact to resign as prime minister to get her deal through. The race to succeed Theresa May as Conservative leader is hotting up with more than six high profile Tories canvassing the support of MPs. It is understood that senior Tories believe Theresa May will have to step aside in order to get her Brexit deal through Parliament. Even aides in the PM’s team believe she will be gone by the summer and prospective candidates are already busy building alliances and promises in the tea rooms of Westminster
A long delay is now the only way out of this Brexit quagmire
If the government’s managers do not think they have a chance of winning – or at least of significantly reducing the margin of defeat – they will not subject the prime minister to yet another humiliation on Tuesday. The case for trying is the remarkable speed with which a number of previously hardline Brexiteers are discovering the merits of pragmatism and reconciliation. It is amazing how quickly non-negotiable objections can melt away as the clock ticks, reality bites and careerism trumps principle.
@ByDonkeys Day two of the #MarchToLeave. 77 people including photographers. @Nigel_farage should apologise to those marchers for this farce. But of course he’s disappeared. Shameful.
@ByDonkeys Day two of the #MarchToLeave. 77 people including photographers. @Nigel_farage should apologise to those marchers for this farce. But of course he’s disappeared. Shameful.
Theresa May told by 50 Tory associations she will be 'personally' held responsible for any Brexit betrayal
Theresa May has been told by the leaders of dozens of local Conservative grassroots associations that she will be "personally" held responsible for any "betrayal" of Brexit. Nearly 40 local party chairmen and longtime activists have told the Prime Minister that they are in an "absolute state of despair as to what is happening to democracy in this once great country of ours". They add in an open letter, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, that if Mrs May cannot ensure that Britain leaves the EU as planned at the end of next week she should resign.
They feel betrayed over Brexit - and are not just crying about it from afar
Nigel Farage's pro-Brexit march started in Sunderland on Saturday and is aiming to finish in Westminster later in the month.
Nick Boles resigns from local Conservative association over Brexit
Nick Boles, the Tory MP for Grantham and Stamford, has resigned from his local Conservative association after public disagreements regarding his stance on Brexit. Boles, who has represented the constituency since 2010, has been at the head of efforts in parliament to deliver a softer exit from the EU, co-sponsoring an amendment with Labour’s Yvette Cooper in January that would have given parliament control over the Brexit process.
'The damage is done': Disbelief in Europe at another lost Brexit week
By Wednesday the French daily Le Monde had concluded that the hoarseness of the prime minister’s throat “symbolised the state of a supposedly pragmatic country left voiceless by its incapacity to accept compromise with its neighbours”.
‘Just get OUT NOW!’ Brexiteer says no deal Brexit is ESSENTIAL for future of democracy
Brexiteer and Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has called for Britain to "get out of the EU now" as he vowed to bring down the price of beer in the event of a no deal exit Brexit.
Protesters gather as Nigel Farage prepares to lead Brexit march
A group of protesters has gathered in Sunderland ahead of a 14-day march to London in a bid to avert perceived attempts to betray the public over Brexit. The March to Leave, which has been organised by the Leave Means Leave campaign, is being led by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage. Around 100 people assembled in Sunderland, the first city to vote in favour of exiting the European Union on the night of the 2016 referendum, in order to start the event.
Theresa May is wreaking havoc with the British constitution - thankfully, her days are numbered
Shortly after she and three cabinet colleagues had dynamited the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility last Wednesday, by abstaining in the Commons vote on a no-deal Brexit, Amber Rudd sought to justify herself. Leaving without a deal “would, in my view, do generational damage to our economy and our security”. She is entitled to her opinion, and the few who still listen to her are used to her risibly defective judgment. However, the luxury of holding a view contrary to the Prime Minister’s and the Cabinet’s has always only been available to those choosing not to hold the office and collect the salary of a minister. The four abstainers patently care less about behaving correctly than they do about the interests of the Conservative Party and the country
Theresa May: Long Brexit delay would be sign of collective political failure by MPs
Theresa May has warned MPs that if they fail to back her Brexit deal at the third time of asking then Brussels might insist on a lengthy delay, potentially scuppering chances of leaving the European Union altogether. The Prime Minister said it would be a “potent symbol of Parliament’s collective political failure” if a delay to Brexit meant the UK was forced to take part in May’s European elections almost three years after voting to leave.
The Prime Minister of humilation
Matthew Parris began hearing from a growing number of officials, lawmakers and ministers the extent to which May had isolated herself, how unreachable she had become, and the levels of frustration among those surrounding her. "She is mean. She is rude. She is cruel. She is stupid. I have heard that from almost everyone who has dealt with her," Parris says. He said he had never expected this much hatred, "and that is not a word I use lightly." The worst thing, though, he says, is May's inability to win over others to her position, to compromise and to lead. "It's crazy," says Parris. "That someone like her would end up in a job where the most important thing is to communicate, answer questions, make decisions. That is, I believe, more of a psychological than a political problem."
Brexit delay cannot lead to 'rolling cliff edges' – Irish minister
Ireland will want to avoid a series of “rolling cliff edges” if the UK requests a delay to its exit from the EU, the country’s finance minister has said. Paschal Donohoe said London would need to convince the EU27 that an extension to article 50 would not further risk economic disruption. “I believe it is highly important that we do all we can to avoid being in a scenario of rolling cliff edges … particularly from a financial market stability perspective and economic stability, we need to be aware of that,” he said.
Brexit: Ian Paisley warns over no-deal direct rule comments
A DUP MP has described comments by Michael Gove that a no-deal Brexit could lead to Dublin having more involvement in NI as "insulting". Mr Gove said the UK would have to engage with the Irish government about more decision-making for NI in the event of no deal. Northern Ireland has been without a government since January 2017 after a row between the power-sharing parties.
Justine Greening: Another meaningful vote on Brexit will be meaningless – it will be just another charade
I’d made the mistake of pointing out to them that the state we have got the country into on Brexit was totally predictable and highly probable. Common sense that for millions who voted leave and were told “Brexit means Brexit”, the Prime Minister’s deal, with our country continuing to follow EU rules but now without any say, was the exact opposite of taking back control.
Tory Minister Geoffrey Cox warned after failing to declare thousands of pounds in rent
Mr Cox admitted failing to register six months of income in a letter to Parliamentary authorities. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was forced to apologise after he failed to declare thousands of pounds in rent on his London flat. Mr Cox admitted failing to register the income in a letter to Parliamentary authorities. The senior Tory minister was once the highest paid MP when he earned £800,000 in a single year for his work as a criminal barrister - but he still claimed 49p in expenses to pay for a pint of milk. Mr Cox admitted that he failed to register rent from tenants on his Battersea flat for six months between August and January this year, according to reports in the Sunday Telegraph .