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"News from the Brexit Cliff Edge" 4th Apr 2019

News Highlights

Welcome to the Brexit Cliff Edge

Tone down the rhetoric say police

No Deal Police Squad Ready and Primed

Civil Servants working on No Deal get counselling

BBC accused of normalizing white supremacy

Ministers have the power to control your prescriptions

BBC to set up office in Amsterdam?

EU anti-trust regulators target sweetheart tax deals

EU Commission rejects a further short Brexit delay

Jobs at Risk
Brexit still pushing financial jobs from UK to EU - think tank
Financial firms in Britain continue to shift business to new European Union hubs and won’t stop unless Brexit is cancelled, a think tank told British lawmakers on Wednesday. William Wright, head of New Financial, said its study published on March 11 showed that 275 financial firms were moving some of their business, staff or assets from Britain to hubs in the EU to avoid Brexit disruption. “Since the report was published we have found another 14 firms have set up new entities,” Wright told a House of Lords committee.
Economic Impact
Bank of England governor Mark Carney: Risk of no-deal Brexit now 'alarmingly high'
Mark Carney has told Sky News the risk of a no-deal Brexit is now "alarmingly high", branding suggestions such a scenario could be managed as "absolute nonsense". In an exclusive interview with Sky News, the governor of the Bank of England defended its gloomy forecasts for what a cliff-edge Brexit would mean and denied they amounted to scaremongering. He said the Bank's thinking on the issue - which included predictions of an economic shock - had been demanded by a committee of MPs and involved the work of hundreds of staff, including its economists.
@SkyNews "Forget the fiction… it's absolute nonsense. It needs to be called out." Mark Carney says it's a "myth" that the UK could maintain zero tariffs in a Brexit on WTO rules.
"Forget the fiction… it's absolute nonsense. It needs to be called out." Mark Carney says it's a "myth" that the UK could maintain zero tariffs in a Brexit on WTO rules.
Pound rises on May-Corbyn Brexit talks
The pound rose to $1.3184 this morning after the announcement last night by Prime Minister Theresa May that she would work with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over Brexit. The pound, which rose sharply on the news, had fallen as low as $1.2997 in the past week.
Administrative Fall Out
Civil servants offered counselling for no-deal Brexit stress
British civil servants were offered specialised support to deal with the strain of preparing for a no-deal Brexit, the BBC has learned. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spent £40,000 on counselling services in London, York and Bristol. The surgeries were primarily for those working on "emergency preparedness in case of a no deal scenario". The government said the wellbeing of its staff was "always a priority". The three-month contract, which was awarded to Gloucester-based employee assistance firm Care First, was brought to the BBC's attention by the data firm Tussell. It was designed to bolster Defra's in-house mental health services while the department made changes to its support programmes, and ended on the 31 January.
Brexit: Police warn MPs and campaigners not to inflame tensions
Politicians and campaigners should take care not to "inflame" tensions in the UK caused by Brexit, a senior police chief has warned. The Metropolitan Police Service's Assistant Commissioner, Martin Hewitt, said people should think carefully to avoid inciting others to violence. The warning follows increased concern about intimidation of MPs. Police have 10,000 officers ready to deploy at 24 hours' notice as part of possible no-deal Brexit preparations.
Police amass 10,000 officers in preparation for no-deal unrest
Police chiefs have voiced fears that inflammatory rhetoric from politicians and activists could fuel Brexit tensions as they revealed they have amassed their biggest ever peacetime reserve of 10,000 officers to deal with potential unrest in the event of no deal. The chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, Martin Hewitt, warned “prominent individuals” involved in the protracted Brexit debate should avoid inciting anger given the “febrile” and “emotive” atmosphere, amid concerns of violence and disorder.
EU orders UK to recover illegal tax aid from multinationals
Britain will have to recover millions of euros from some multinationals after EU antitrust regulators ruled on Tuesday that an exemption in a UK tax scheme was illegal. The European Commission’s decision, following a 16-month investigation, is part of an ongoing crackdown against multinationals benefiting from sweetheart tax deals offered by EU countries. The EU investigation focussed on Britain’s Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules, which are aimed at attracting companies to set up headquarters in Britain and discourage UK companies moving offshore.
UK immigration rules ‘deny’ NI-born Irish citizens access to EU rights
The UK government is under pressure to clarify immigration rules that human rights activists say undermine the rights of Northern Ireland-born Irish citizens under the Belfast Agreement. Les Allamby, chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, said changes in UK immigration laws treating people in Northern Ireland automatically as British citizens (or British subjects) “goes against the grain” of the 1998 agreement underpinning the Northern Irish peace process. He was referring to the changes to immigration rules published on March 7th but highlighted this week by citizens’ rights campaigner Emma DeSouza, a Northern Ireland-born Irish citizen embroiled in a lengthy appeals process after her US-born husband’s application for residence was rejected.
Brexit: BBC to move channels to Amsterdam so it can keep broadcasting in no-deal
The BBC is moving some of its TV channels to Amsterdam so it can keep broadcasting to the EU if there’s a no-deal Brexit . Auntie’s director-general confirmed reports it was examining creating a European office so it can carry on providing services within the bloc. Lord Hall told the Commons Public Accounts Committee today: “It’s simply us being cautious and saying we have channels that we run, a market in the rest of Europe that we want to make sure we can continue doing. “If we were to move somewhere - and it depends entirely on what happens with the negotiations over Brexit - it would be a handful of people, four or five people.
MEPs denounce BBC’s use of ‘white supremacist’ language
A cross-party group of European Parliament lawmakers has accused the BBC of normalizing "white supremacist language" in its Brexit coverage. In a letter addressed to the BBC's director of news and current affairs on Thursday, 14 British MEPs called for journalists to receive advice on the use of "extreme right dog-whistles," the Independent reported.
Ministers’ “Power Grab” from Doctors over Brexit Medicine Shortages
In what MP Jonathan Ashworth calls ‘an extraordinary power grab’ from doctors, the Government passed its ‘Serious Medicine Shortages Protocol’ in February, without parliamentary debate. A legal challenge to overturn the new law was refused permission in the High Court last Friday, with lawyers planning to appeal. The law, designed for emergencies, lets Ministers direct pharmacists to prescribe different drugs to patients if there is a serious shortage. Pharmacists could then alter patients’ prescriptions in line with that guidance, without calling their GP. Doctors received letters about the plan last month. One GP explained her worries on receiving the Government letter: “Pharmacists will be able to override and change prescriptions in event of shortages. This may sound OK, but could in fact be dangerous because they aren’t currently party to the patient’s records.” She added: “I do feel worried because in my 26 years as a GP, I have never received a mailing from the Government about something that could willfully endanger patients.”
'We’re not being given a viable future': how Brexit will hurt British music
From customs holding up CD and vinyl deliveries to visa issues putting roadies out of work, the UK music industry is nervous about what Brexit may bring
May seeks to reassure bosses over shifting Brexit plan
The prime minister has tried to reassure the bosses of some of the UK’s biggest companies about her undulating Brexit strategy amid efforts to persuade corporate Britain to publicly endorse her latest change of tack. Sky News understands that Mrs May held a call with the co-chairs of her business councils on Tuesday night, shortly after announcing that she would seek a further extension to Article 50 and hold talks with the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn aimed at forging a parliamentary consensus. A source close to the discussion said that Mrs May was keen to gauge support among the heads of companies such as BT Group, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Rolls-Royce for her sudden shift toward a softer Brexit.
Political Shenanigans
Labour's Corbyn says Theresa May has not moved enough on Brexit
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Theresa May had not moved far enough in a first round of crisis talks aimed at breaking the domestic deadlock over Britain’s exit from the European Union. The United Kingdom was supposed to leave the EU last Friday but, nearly three years after it voted by 52 percent to 48 for Brexit in a referendum, it is still unclear how, when or even whether it will quit the bloc it joined in 1973. After her EU withdrawal deal was rejected three times by lawmakers, the Conservative prime minister invited Corbyn, a veteran socialist, to talks in parliament to try to plot a way out of the crisis.
UK legislates to avert chaotic Brexit as May seeks new plan
Britain's Brexit drama went into overtime Wednesday as Prime Minister Theresa May and the country's main opposition sought a compromise deal to prevent an abrupt British departure from the European Union at the end of next week. In an about-face that left pro-Brexit members of May's Conservative Party howling with outrage, the prime minister sought to forge an agreement with left-wing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn after failing three times to win Parliament's backing for her Brexit deal. May also said she would ask the EU for a further delay to Britain's departure date - postponed once already - to avert a chaotic and economically damaging no-deal Brexit on April 12. Skeptical lawmakers, reluctant to take her word for it, approved a hastily crafted law that compels May to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline if a no-deal departure is looming.
Sir Lynton Crosby staff ‘covertly run hard Brexit Facebook ads’
A lobbying company run by the Conservatives’ election guru Sir Lynton Crosby has been linked to a covert “grassroots” Facebook advertising campaign pushing for a hard Brexit. Two supposedly independent groups, Britain’s Future and the Mainstream Network, have spent nearly £1 million on a targeted campaign encouraging people to write to their MPs with a call to reject Theresa May’s agreement and support a no-deal Brexit. Documents seen by The Guardian have linked the groups with employees of CTF Partners, Sir Lynton’s lobbying outfit which also ran Boris Johnson’s campaign to become mayor of London.
Juncker rejects May appeal for a further short Brexit delay
Theresa May’s appeal for a short Brexit extension has been rejected by Jean-Claude Juncker, who said that unless the withdrawal deal was passed within nine days the UK would crash out of the EU or have to sign up to a long delay. Less than 24 hours after May had spelled out her new strategy from Downing Street, the European commission president dismissed her request for an extension of article 50 to 22 May. Speaking to the European parliament, Juncker instead set an “ultimate deadline” of 12 April for the Commons to approve the withdrawal agreement. “If it has not done so by then, no further short extension will be possible,” he said. “After 12 April, we risk jeopardising the European parliament elections, and so threaten the functioning of the European Union.”
Brexit vote TIED in House of Commons for first time in 26 years
A crunch vote on Brexit was tied in extraordinary scenes, the like of which have not been seen in the House of Commons in 26 years. And the last vote to be tied in the Chamber was, ironically, in a vote on the Maastricht Treaty with the European Union. The vote was on Labour MP Hilary Benn's bid to bring forward a third set of indicative votes to find a way forward on Brexit , which would have taken place on Monday. After MPs voted on the plan, exactly 310 of them voted for and against it. In the case of a tie, the Speaker has the casting vote. Speaker John Bercow voted no, complying with the convention that when there is no majority in the House, the chair should not create one. As such, the amendment was defeated by 311 votes to 310.
Brexit: Corbyn should walk out of talks with Theresa May if she refuses to discuss fresh referendum, says senior Labour MP
Jeremy Corbyn should walk out of cross-party talks with Theresa May if she refuses to discuss a second referendum, the senior Labour MP Margaret Beckett has said. The remarks from the party's former foreign secretary come as talks between the prime minister and the Labour leader are set to commence in an effort to break to Brexit logjam at Westminster. Appearing at a press conference organised by the People's Vote campaign for a fresh referendum, Dame Margaret said Mr Corbyn is now in "a very powerful position". She said that if any new proposal is to command Labour's support and a stable majority in parliament, "it cannot, must not, and will not preclude the idea of any Brexit deal is put to the people".
EU says it would not open talks with UK after no-deal Brexit until it agrees to divorce bill and Irish backstop
The EU would refuse to open trade talks with Britain after a no-deal Brexit until the UK decided to sign up to the main elements of the withdrawal agreement anyway, the European Commission has said. Speaking in the European parliament on Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker said the Irish border, citizens’ rights and the divorce bill would need to be agreed before any other negotiations could begin. He also warned that no further short Article 50 extension would be possible, and that the UK would have to commit to European parliament elections and a longer delay if it wanted to put back its deadline again.
Brexit: Emily Thornberry says Corbyn's deal with Theresa May must include referendum
The Shadow Foreign Secretary wrote to all Labour MPs after the Leader of the Opposition met with the Prime Minister. Emily Thornberry has insisted that any deal with Theresa May to save her Brexit plan signed off by Jeremy Corbyn MUST include a referendum. Ms Thornberry today warned that any agreement that did not include a public vote would be "in breach of the decision made unanimously by Conference in Liverpool and overwhelmingly supported by our members". The Labour MP, who had to miss a vote today on holding indicative Brexit votes because her daughter was ill in hospital, said in the letter: "Any deal agreed by Parliament must be subject to a confirmatory public vote, and yes, the other option on the ballot must be Remain".
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox: 'We must leave the EU'
It is an "article of faith" that the UK must leave the EU to honour the referendum result, Geoffrey Cox says. The attorney general told the BBC a customs union was "not desirable" but if that was the only way of leaving the EU, he would take it. He suggested the government's only option was to "seek with Labour some common ground" for a "swift exit". And he suggested that the UK could not be bound into a customs arrangement permanently. It comes as the Brexit secretary says rejection of the PM's deal would mean a "soft Brexit or no Brexit at all". Meanwhile, the PM has responded to criticism from her own party over talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by saying all MPs had a responsibility to deliver Brexit.
DUP lawmaker hints at supporting a customs union post-Brexit: BBC correspondent
A lawmaker from the Northern Irish party which props up Prime Minister Theresa May’s government appeared to hold out the prospect of the party supporting Britain’s membership of a post-Brexit customs union, a BBC correspondent said. “We would have preferred a form of Brexit that enables the UK to negotiate new trade agreements with other countries,” Jeffrey Donaldson, a Democratic Unionist Party lawmaker, was quoted as saying by BBC Northern Ireland Political Correspondent Enda McClafferty. “That is part of the reason for Brexit and maybe a customs union might be a temporary staging post toward that objective,” Donaldson was quoted as saying.
Brexit news latest: MPs back bill that rules out no-deal and delays withdrawal in knife-edge vote
MPs have narrowly backed a bill by a majority of just one to force Theresa May to ask for an extension to the Brexit process to avoid a no-deal outcome. The cross-party Cooper-Boles Bill, which was fast-tracked through Parliament in one day, was approved by MPs by 315 to 310 votes after its second reading. It was later passed in the Commons by just one vote, with 313 votes for and 312 votes against. The third-reading vote just before midnight on Wednesday means the Prime Minister has a mandate to ask for an Article 50 extension.
Brexit: Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn hold 'constructive' talks
Talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to break the Brexit deadlock have been called "constructive". The two leaders met on Wednesday afternoon and agreed a "programme of work" to try to find a way forward to put to MPs for a vote. It is understood that each party has appointed a negotiating team, which are meeting tonight before a full day of discussions on Thursday. A spokesman for No 10 said both sides were "showing flexibility". And he added that the two parties gave "a commitment to bring the current Brexit uncertainty to a close". Speaking after the meeting, Mr Corbyn said there had not been "as much change as [he] had expected" in the PM's position. He said the meeting was "useful, but inconclusive", and talks would continue. Meanwhile, Chancellor Philip Hammond has said a confirmatory referendum on a Brexit deal was a "perfectly credible" idea. He told ITV's Peston programme he was not sure if the majority of MPs would back it, but "it deserves to be tested in Parliament".
MPs back delay bill by just one vote to rule out 12 April no-deal Brexit
The House of Commons have narrowly approved a bill in the commons this evening, that will compel Theresa May to seek a further extension on Article 50, to prevent a no-deal exit on 12 April. The bill, laid by Labour's Yvette Cooper, requires the government to bring a legally binding vote to the Commons, seeking an extension to Article 50, where MPs will be able to determine the length of the extension. 313 MPs voted for the bill, and 312 voted against - a majority of one. However, this does not bind the European Union to the decision, who could reject the outcome of the vote and not offer an extension. The bill raced through parliament in under six hours, as backbench MPs took control of the parliamentary agenda from the government.
Theresa May extends a squeamish hand to Jeremy Corbyn with fate of the nation at stake
Strictly speaking, this is not the first time that Theresa May has tried to break free of the malign grip of the Eurosceptic Right. Her decision to hold a snap general election in June 2017 was generally interpreted as a bid to secure a personal mandate and the right to negotiate with Brussels on her own terms. “Crush the saboteurs” boomed the Daily Mail after she announced her plan. This was indeed the Prime Minister’s intention. But, according to those who worked with her at the time, the prospective “saboteurs” were not Tory Remainers but the much larger number of Brexiteer hardliners: the PM knew that they would never be happy with the deal that she was likely to deliver, and sought a thumping Commons majority to liberate her from their veto.
Corbyn and May agree to more talks after 'constructive' first day
Jeremy Corbyn will resume Brexit talks with the prime minister on Thursday, after Labour tensions over a second referendum burst into the open, with the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, writing to colleagues to insist any pact must be put to a public vote. Both Labour and Downing Street described the discussions as “constructive” and said they would hold technical talks, facilitated by civil servants, on Thursday. “We have had constructive exploratory discussions about how to break the Brexit deadlock,” a Labour spokesperson said. “We have agreed a programme of work between our teams to explore the scope for agreement.” An emergency shadow cabinet meeting was convened in the aftermath of the discussions to consider how Labour should proceed.
A Brexit Expert on Just How Badly Things Are Going in the U.K.
Benjamin Hart interviews Ian Dunt on the Brexit chaos in the UK
MPs opt by majority of 1 to seek long delay to Brexit
MPs have voted in favour of a parliamentary manoeuvre to try to avert a no-deal Brexit on April 12 with a majority of one vote. The bill, tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and the Conservative Oliver Letwin, requires Theresa May to negotiate a long delay to Brexit with all 27 EU leaders. The legislation, which passed by 313 votes to 312, was rushed though the House of Commons on Wednesday. The bill will now move to the House of Lords for approval before it can become law. The bill was tabled before the prime minister said she intended to seek an extension of Article 50 at next Wednesday’s emergency meeting of EU heads of government. The UK is set to leave the EU on April 12 without a deal unless an extension to the Article 50 divorce process is approved by EU member states.
Brexit: British MPs reject no-deal Brexit Bill
Proposed legislation to further delay the date of Brexit has cleared the House of Commons by one vote. MPs passed the Bill instructing British prime minister Theresa May to seek an extension to article 50 and avoid a no-deal Brexit on a third reading by 313 votes to 312. The Bill now has to pass the upper chamber, the House of Lords. The plan, spearheaded by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and the Conservative Oliver Letwin, was almost scuppered during a frenzied day in parliament after MPs voted by a majority of just one to let the snap Bill proceed. After MPs voted 312 to 311 to allow the Bill to proceed, Ms Cooper and Mr Letwin then had four hours to pass the Bill’s second reading, committee stage and third reading through the Commons.
Brexit vote tied in Commons
A vote in the House of Commons has been defeated by one vote after the Speaker John Bercow cast the deciding ballot. MPs were voting on a motion to hold more indicative votes on alternative plans for Brexit but the result was tied with 310 votes for and 310 against. Mr Bercow then voted "no" in accordance with precedent.
Spanish PM: Brexit and Catalan independence bid both based on lies
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has compared Brexit to the failed push for Catalan independence, warning that “engaging in campaigns or political projects based on lies eventually leads societies down a blind alley”. Renewing his appeal for the UK to accept the EU’s withdrawal deal, Sánchez said he saw clear parallels between the rhetoric that drove the Brexit debate and the arguments used in the regional independence campaign that plunged Spain into its worst crisis in four decades. “The techniques of the Catalan independence movement are very similar to those of [Nigel] Farage and other ultra-conservative leaders who have defended Brexit,” he said.
@ChhCalling After much contemplation, I have decided to leave Theresa May's Government. I'm grateful to the PM for giving me the opportunity to serve the UK and I will continue to represent my constituents as the MP for Daventry.
After much contemplation, I have decided to leave Theresa May's Government. I'm grateful to the PM for giving me the opportunity to serve the UK and I will continue to represent my constituents as the MP for Daventry.
Brexit talks must start 'without red lines'
Former Conservative MP Nick Boles, who resigned the party whip on Monday, has asked the prime minister for reassurance that she will enter cross-party talks "without the red lines that have bedevilled the Brexit process so far".
The Guardian view on Brexit radicalisation: take time, lower the temperature
Brexiters may well be frustrated but their rhetoric of betrayal, sabotage and treason is fuelling a dangerously febrile atmosphere
Juncker draws hard line on April 12 deadline for Brexit
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday there would be no short extension for Brexit once the April 12 deadline hits and reaffirmed that the Withdrawal Agreement is the best way forward. "If the House of Commons does not adopt a stance by that date, no extension, no short-term extension will be possible," Juncker told the European Parliament. "After April 12, we run the risk to jeopardize the correct running of the European elections and function of the European Union." Juncker added a no-deal scenario on April 12 is "more and more likely."
Brexit deal between May and Corbyn would 'satisfy nobody' and 'make country poorer', Nicola Sturgeon says
Scottish first minister warns against 'cobbled together least bad option' and calls for long delay to Brexit instead. Any Brexit deal agreed between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn would "make the country poorer", Nicola Sturgeon has said. The Scottish first minister said a cross-party compromise plan would be a "cobbled together least bad option" that "satisfies nobody" and could be "unpicked" by a future Eurosceptic prime minister such as Boris Johnson.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay says ‘remorseless logic’ could drive UK to softer Brexit or none at all
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the “remorseless logic” of the House of Commons was pushing the UK towards either a softer Brexit or no Brexit at all. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he also claimed it meant the Tories now had to seek support from the opposition. “The Prime Minister’s deal won’t go through and no deal in law is taken off the table, then the consequence of that is either a soft Brexit or no Brexit at all”, he said, “It’s regrettable that what we have been saying for several months now is coming to pass but that is the remorseless logic of not backing the Prime Minister’s deal.
Any Brexit deal should be put to the country
Commenting on the meeting today (Wednesday) between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Theresa May should have been reaching out across Westminster to find a Brexit solution a long time ago, not just at the tail end of her premiership when she’s little else to lose. “With just nine days to go every effort must be made to avoid a catastrophic no-deal Brexit and protect public services, jobs, wages, the economy and peace in Northern Ireland. “A general election is our preferred option, but until that time, the so-called Norway+ plan, allowing the UK to remain in the customs union and the single market is the next best bet. “Whatever deal emerges in the coming days should be put to the country. We cannot allow the UK’s future to be dashed on the rocks of a no-deal Brexit.”
@BBCPolitics Vote by MPs on whether to hold fresh round of votes on #Brexit options ends in a tie - with Speaker John Bercow using casting vote to reject the plan
Vote by MPs on whether to hold fresh round of votes on #Brexit options ends in a tie - with Speaker John Bercow using casting vote to reject the plan
As the Tories self-destruct over Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn’s new stance has been vindicated
By backing a confirmatory referendum and opposing Theresa May’s deal, the Labour leader has pulled his party back from the brink.
Political Setbacks
Brexit: Theresa May’s party is in a rage that she’s negotiating with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn
May’s dramatic swerve across her own red lines threatens to tear her beloved Conservative Party apart, as fellow Tories on Wednesday heaped scorn upon their leader for sitting down with an opponent they daily excoriate as a leftist menace. Hard-line Brexiteers on May’s right are not only enraged that she seeks compromise with Corbyn, but they also fear she will agree with the Labour Party’s vision for an ultrasoft version of Brexit.
Labour at war over Corbyn's Brexit meeting with May after leader fudges demands for a second referendum despite shadow cabinet's demands
Jeremy Corbyn has risked the wrath of his shadow Cabinet by making a lukewarm appeal for a second referendum in his meeting with Theresa May. The Labour leader has faced pressure to back a People's Vote but said he had merely 'put it there as one of the issues' in his Brexit summit with the PM today. He said there had been no agreement on a new referendum, which ministers have insisted is not on the table. It puts Mr Corbyn on collision course with his shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, who earlier demanded that any deal reached must be put to a public vote.
The United Kingdom Has Gone Mad
The problem with holding out for a perfect Brexit plan is that you can’t fix stupid.
Sam Gyimah: I’m still a Tory — it’s the party I joined that’s changed
He’s faced repeated deselections and a no-confidence vote — but Sam Gyimah won’t give up. Here, the MP talks about being ‘thrown to the wolves’ and how toxic Brexiteer infighting is threatening to tear the Conservatives apart
Brexit party official removed after antisemitic posts
A senior official from Nigel Farage’s pro-Brexit party has been removed after the Guardian uncovered antisemitic and other offensive Facebook posts he made, two weeks after the party leader quit her role for similar reasons. The party said Michael McGough, its treasurer, had made “unacceptable statements” and would no longer have any role in the organisation. In some messages, McGough refers to Ed and David Miliband and Peter Mandelson as having “shallow UK roots” or being “devoid of UK roots” – seen as a common antisemitic trope about Jewish people. A Facebook post saw McGough refer to a foreigner as “someone from a bingo bongo land”. In another, he said many survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire were “illegal aliens enjoying an amnesty”.
Theresa May says Tory and DUP MPs to blame as she asks Jeremy Corbyn to help save Brexit
Theresa May has risked igniting a fresh Tory civil war after she blamed her own MPs and the DUP for the fact she is now seeking Jeremy Corbyn's help to deliver Brexit. The Prime Minister has written a letter to every Conservative MP explaining why she will hold talks with the Labour leader in an attempt to break the Parliamentary deadlock. Parliament has rejected Mrs May's own deal on three occasions, with Tory Brexiteers and the DUP - whose 10 MPs she relies on to prop up her government - repeatedly refusing to back it.
Michael Gove: 'I wasn't made aware of law-breaking measures' | Latest Brexit news and top stories
Michael Gove has denied any knowledge of Vote Leave’s wrong-doing during the referendum campaign, claiming as a co-convenor he was too busy on the campaign trail.
Brexit: Theresa May chooses a deal over party unity
For so long, Theresa May has been derided by her rivals, inside and outside, for cleaving to the idea that she can get the country and her party through this process intact. But after her deal was defeated at the hands of Eurosceptics, in the words of one cabinet minister in the room during that marathon session today, she tried delivering Brexit with Tory votes - Tory Brexiteers said "No". Now she's going to try to deliver Brexit with Labour votes. In a way, it is as simple as that.
Jacob Rees-Mogg boils over in live BBC interview after questions over his promotion of far-right German AfD leader
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg lost his customary cool during a live BBC interview after being confronted over his promotion of a far-right German leader. The anti-EU Conservative had prompted anger after approvingly quoting the leader of the AfD, senior figures from which have called for refugees to be shot. Asked on the BBC’s Today programme about his decision to shine attention on the AfD remarks, he replied: “Well I think this is typical of the BBC’s obsession – dare I say it the Today programme obsession.” Challenged again, he told presenter Mishal Husain: “Hold on. You must be patient and not interrupt because the answer needs to be given properly. The BBC does have this obsession.” Referring to what he said was a “slur” made by another BBC presenter about the European Research Group, which Mr Rees-Mogg chairs in the Conservative Party, he continued: “When I quote someone and it’s not my view, that’s a great shock, and that seems to be typical of the Today programme’s leftie approach.”
Labour confirms it wants to end freedom of movement
Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson has confirmed that it is Labour policy to end freedom of movement once the UK leaves the EU. The 2017 manifesto, For the Many Not the Few, began its section on immigration with the statement: “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union.” It added: “Labour will develop and implement fair immigration rules.” After PMQs today, in which the Prime Minister cited ending free movement as an area of agreement, the Labour leader’s office said that this pledge remains party policy and that Labour supports “fair rules and reasonable management of migration”.
Facebook Brexit ads secretly run by staff of Lynton Crosby firm
A series of hugely influential Facebook advertising campaigns that appear to be separate grassroots movements for a no-deal Brexit are secretly overseen by employees of Sir Lynton Crosby’s lobbying company and a former adviser to Boris Johnson, documents seen by the Guardian reveal. The mysterious groups, which have names such as Mainstream Network and Britain’s Future, appear to be run independently by members of the public and give no hint that they are connected. But in reality they share an administrator who works for Crosby’s CTF Partners and have spent as much as £1m promoting sophisticated targeted adverts aimed at heaping pressure on individual MPs to vote for a hard Brexit.
I am a Party loyalist, but I can no longer support our reckless PM and this watered-down Brexit
Theresa May’s response to Brexit has resulted in falling opinion polls, a drop in donations to the Tory Party, and collapsing membership. I am über loyal to Conservative Prime Ministers. I have been über loyal to Theresa May. But no longer. I have become exasperated with this decent, kind, hardworking, but stubborn Prime Minister who is cursed with a political tin ear. On Tuesday, the Cabinet met for a tortuous 7 hour session. As they entered No 10, their phones were confiscated and put in the little pigeon holes to the left of the door. During the course of the meeting, 14 Cabinet members argued hard to Leave on April 12th, without a Deal and were not listened to
Another Brexit minister bites the dust as Chris Heaton-Harris resigns
The government has lost another Brexit minister following the resignation of Chris Heaton-Harris. In a letter to the prime minister Heaton-Harris wrote: “I simply cannot support any further extension to Article 50”. He continued: “I have constantly voted in Parliament for us to leave the European Union on March 29th, 2019. I truly believe we should have honoured the result of the 2016 referendum and left on that date. Indeed every time we seek an extension to this process we diminish faith in our political system and the good people, from all political parties, who serve within it. I simply cannot support any further extension to Article 50 and this obviously means I cannot stay in government.” Heaton-Harris was previously condemned for demanding that university lecturers reveal details of their lessons plans that reference Brexit.
Jeremy Corbyn faces shadow cabinet backlash after resisting calls to push for second Brexit referendum
Jeremy Corbyn is facing a backlash from his shadow cabinet after resisting calls to demand a second referendum during his talks with Theresa May. The Labour leader was told by Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, and Tom Watson, the party's Deputy Leader, that any deal agreed must be subject "confirmatory" public vote. However Mr Corbyn said that he will only pursue a second referendum to "prevent crashing out" or "prevent leaving without a deal". Both Labour and Downing Street described the talks as "constructive" and will continue with further technical talks today.
By allying with Corbyn, our kamikaze PM has declared war on her own party
Are we really stuck with a Tory Prime Minister who believes Jeremy Corbyn to be the country’s last hope of salvation? Is this just a nightmare from which we are all about to awake, or is Theresa May actually for real? Corbyn, for those who are now so afflicted with Brexit Derangement Syndrome that they need reminding, is the most dangerous leader in Labour’s history, a hard-core socialist desperate to tax, nationalise and control, a man who has allowed his party to be infected by a posse of despicable anti-Semites and who is soft on national security.
Three quarters of Corbyn’s constituents back Final Say on Brexit, poll reveals, with Labour leader under pressure from party to secure new referendum
Three quarters of Jeremy Corbyn’s own constituents back a Final Say referendum on Brexit, new polling has revealed, as the Labour leader faces pressure from within his parliamentary party to back a second vote. A nationwide survey of 9,500 people conducted by campaign group Right to Vote found 58.1 per cent who expressed a view, now want another public vote on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Polling found high levels of support for the idea in London, including in Mr Corbyn’s Islington North seat, where 75 per cent of those polled backed a Final Say. In Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency, 59 per cent of voters also supported the idea.
Jez not going to work - Theresa May struggles to hold her Government together as 15 ministers ready to jump ship over Brexit talks with Jeremy Corbyn
Theresa May was last night struggling to hold her Government together as two ministers quit in protest at her “national unity” Brexit talks with Jeremy Corbyn - with 15 more ready to go. The PM’s decision to compromise with Labour for a softer Brexit that will pass the Commons split the Conservative Party down the middle yesterday.
How Brexit Britain can repair its battered reputation
The first challenge is to restore economic growth. The second is to produce a migration and visa regime that does not seek in spirit or in application to shut out the world, as part of a foreign policy that does the same. The third challenge is not to lose Northern Ireland and Scotland from the union. If there is any event that would diminish the UK further in its international standing, it would be the radical shrinking of its physical territory (a sign, too, that it could not contain the diverging views within its society)
Brexit: Good Friday Agreement 'hard to protect' in a no deal
It will be difficult to protect both the Good Friday Agreement and the European single market in a no-deal Brexit, Leo Varadkar has said. The taoiseach (Irish prime minister) said the Republic of Ireland and the EU will do everything possible to avoid the emergence of a hard border. He said "reasonable questions" are being asked about the protection of the single market and the customs union. Mr Varadkar described this as the basis for the Irish economic model.
Conservatives cut up membership cards after PM agrees to Brexit talks with Corbyn
Angry Conservative Party members are slicing up their membership cards and sharing the results on social media in protest at Theresa May looking to Jeremy Corbyn to get her Brexit deal done. Members have decried the prime minister's move to hold talks with Labour leader Mr Corbyn as the “final straw”. Pub owner Adam Brooks, from Essex, was one of many to share a photo of his chopped up card. Mr Brooks said the leader of the Opposition “has no right to be involved” in Brexit talks and Mrs May has “killed” the Conservative Party.
EXCL Jeremy Corbyn refused to accept Ian Lavery's resignation after Brexit vote rebellion
Ian Lavery offered to resign from Labour's frontbench for rebelling in a key Brexit vote but was turned down, PoliticsHome has learned. One source said: "Jeremy's office hassled them for their resignation letters yet don’t say anything about Shadow Cabinet people. These are people who sit on the discussions and contribute to the debate, yet still get special treatment." It has also emerged that the row sparked angry scenes at Tuesday's meeting of the Shadow Cabinet. Diane Abbott, Nia Griffith and Angela Rayner all made clear their unhappiness at Mr Lavery, as well as shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett, breaking the Labour whip.
Almost three in five voters want a final say on Brexit, claims new poll
The new nationwide poll conducted for the campaign group Right to Vote - involving 9,500 adults across Britain - reveals that 58.1% of voters who expressed a view now want a final say on Brexit, with 41.9% against. Overall, voters in nine out of 10 of Great Britain’s 632 constituencies support a final say.
@NAAdams Following yesterday’s cabinet, this morning I’ve been to Downing Street & resigned my position as UK Govt Minister for Wales & Govt Whip.
Following yesterday’s cabinet, this morning I’ve been to Downing Street & resigned my position as UK Govt Minister for Wales & Govt Whip. I’m grateful to the PM for the opportunity to serve as a Minister since 2017 & will continue to serve my constituents from the backbenches.
Trade Deals/Negotiations
Blow to UK global trade as new watchdog chief quits before launch
Liam Fox’s international trade department has faced further criticism for its lack of Brexit readiness after it emerged that the creation of the watchdog tasked with protecting UK companies from unfair global trading practices was behind schedule. The government said on Wednesday that the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) would not be established in time for a no-deal Brexit. The organisation exists in shadow form only, as a part of the Department for International Trade, and is without a chairman after the person designated unexpectedly quit last week for personal reasons.
EU would begin customs controls right after no-deal Brexit
The European Union will immediately introduce customs checks and import duties in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, erecting barriers to British exports ranging from cars to farm produce and preventing consumers bringing in British cheese or meats.