Monday, April 22, 2019
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DUP backing will not secure May’s Brexit deal, says Jim Wells

Amid a final scramble by the prime minister to bring her informal coalition partners onboard before a probable vote this week, Jim Wells, a DUP member of the Northern Ireland assembly, said he believed up to 30 Tories would still vote against the plan. “So even with the DUP support I think it’s inevitable that Theresa May, if she pushes a third vote, will go to yet another defeat,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. While the DUP have an important role it’s not utterly crucial.” Several prominent Brexiters, including the former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, have said they are willing to switch their vote and support the deal, with government sources saying they hope DUP backing could create “a sense of momentum”. “No deal is better than a bad deal but a bad deal is better than remaining in the European Union,” he told LBC radio. “Mrs May’s deal, however bad it is, means that we are legally outside the European Union.” A number of prominent Conservative Brexiters were still holding out against May’s deal, including Boris Johnson. In an article for the Daily Telegraph on Monday, he wrote: “If we agree this deal – and unless we have a radical change in our approach to the negotiations – we face an even greater humiliation in the second phase. “We have not found a convincing unilateral way out of the backstop. Unless we discover some willingness to resist, the diet of capitulation seems set to continue for at least two years.” Another sign of continued Conservative opposition came in a letter to the Telegraph from 23 backbenchers calling for a no-deal exit. “A widespread war-weariness on all sides is a significant factor.” However, Wells said the DUP remained undecided on whether the government had secured enough changes on the border insurance policy for the party’s MPs to back the deal. “We still have a huge difficulty with the backstop because we see it as a waiting room for constitutional change.

Jacob Rees-Mogg deported to the US after discovery he was born in West Philadelphia

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been deported back to the USA after immigration officials discovered he was actually born and raised in West Philadelphia. Investigators are claiming that Jacob Rees-Mogg was actually born ‘Jay Reezy’ on the mean streets on West Philly. After getting in one particularly scary fight when a hoodlum gave him an aeroplane spin, Reezy was sent to live with his more affluent auntie and uncle in Britain. It was at this time that Jay Reezy developed his Jacob Rees-Mogg persona and created a fictional background for himself. While the original move from the US to the UK was done legally, Rees-Mogg failed to obtain a permanent visa for himself which has resulted in his deportation. Rees-Mogg will return to his old stomping grounds in West Philadelphia and will spend his time chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool and shooting some b-ball outside of the school while he contemplates his next move. It’s thought that some within the Conservative Party knew of Rees-Mogg’s illegal status as several members repeatedly referred to him as the ‘Fresh Prince of Bellend’.

‘Brextinct’: front pages on Wednesday after May’s Brexit vote defeat

“Brextinct”, is its headline and they have pasted May’s face onto a dodo. Presumably the headline intends to speak to the prime minister’s tenure as much as her deal. The Sun (@TheSun) Tomorrow's front page: Theresa May's EU deal is dead after she suffered the largest Commons defeat in history https://t.co/v42ielZThE pic.twitter.com/T7o7VoQKgS January 15, 2019 The Guardian features a rare picture of the No lobby, which is packed with MPs walking through it to vote against May’s Brexit deal. The headline is “May suffers historic defeat as Tories turn against her” and the paper paints a picture of how the remarkable day unfolded, saying: “On a day of extraordinary drama at Westminster, the House of Commons delivered a devastating verdict on May’s deal, voting against it by 432 to 202. The scale of the defeat, by a majority of 230, was unprecedented in the modern parliamentary era and saw ardent Brexiters such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson walk through a packed division lobby cheek-by-jowl with passionate remainers.” (@guardian) The Guardian front page, Wednesday 16 January 2019: May suffers historic defeat as Tories turn against her pic.twitter.com/CFcSyQeL4k January 15, 2019 The Daily Mirror focuses on the no-confidence motion launched by Jeremy Corbyn, with the splash: “No deal, no hope, no clue, no confidence.” Allie Hodgkins-Brown (@AllieHBNews) Wednesday’s Daily MIRROR: “No deal.. No hope.. No clue.. No confidence “ #bbcpapers #tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/Lf5tUGh3jU January 15, 2019 “A complete humiliation,” says the Telegraph, which reports her Brexit deal has “turned to dust”. (@Telegraph) The front page of tomorrow's Daily Telegraph 'A complete humiliation' #tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/KiMQDCy2Xa January 15, 2019 “May suffers historic defeat,” is the Times’ headline. But the paper, which is pro-Brexit, is not angry with May, whom the paper says “valiantly fought for her deal”. Now it’s time for the MPs to do their duty and work with Theresa May for a deal that satisfies the 17.4m who voted Brexit … Don’t fail us!” (@Daily_Express) After a day of Brexit chaos, here's tomorrow's Daily Express front page. pic.twitter.com/NknHcyHzYQ January 15, 2019 Even the Daily Mail, which is usually incredibly supportive of the prime minister, can only muster: “Fighting for her life”. Another defeat could trigger an election and put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.” Allie Hodgkins-Brown (@AllieHBNews) Wednesday’s Daily MAIL: “Fighting For Her Life” #bbcpapers #tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/1UNiCOj8dC January 15, 2019 The Financial Times’ headline is “May’s Brexit deal crushed by Commons” and its story tries to convey the scale of the defeat, saying “Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the product of two years of torturous negotiations in Brussels, was last night overwhelmingly rejected by the House of Commons.” (@FinancialTimes) Just published: front page of the Financial Times, UK edition, Wednesday 16 January https://t.co/UOUnhWap6i pic.twitter.com/xYLndUCO3H January 15, 2019 The i calls the day’s events a “historic humiliation”, pointing out that Tory backbenchers voted “six to one against her Brexit deal” and the Scotsman runs the simple headline “Crushed”.

Briefing battle begins over meaning of May’s victory

“It’s a victory, and not a close victory,” the justice secretary, David Gauke, said. “It’s a comfortable victory. We’ve had an election and a majority backing the prime minister. This has been hanging over her for months and months. There has been an attempt, and it’s failed.” Play Video 2:00 Immediately afterwards, and 10 yards down the corridor, Mark Francois, the deputy leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG), was giving the 200 to 117 margin a very different perspective. Asked if the ERG had failed in its mission to oust May, Francois said: “I wouldn’t call 117 votes a busted flush. But if you’re a PM and a third of your MPs vote against you, that is very bad news.” Theresa May survives. Things are so bad we have to be grateful for that | Polly Toynbee Read more Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the ERG, said the result was terrible for Theresa May and called on her to resign. He told the BBC: “It’s a terrible result for the prime minister, it really is.” With the “payroll vote” of ministers, parliamentary aides and trade envoys all likely to have backed Mrs May, a majority of the remaining 160-170 backbenchers voted no confidence in her, he said. “Now it’s time for everyone in the party to unite behind the prime minister and allow her to get on with what is a hugely important job for this country,” said Damian Green, her former deputy and still a close ally.

Desperate Theresa May reveals her Brexit plan B: buy more time

An interim prime minister would have to be chosen while the Tory party plans a leadership contest. She asks for concessions over the Irish backstop, and then puts whatever she can secure to a second vote in the Commons. If Labour officially backs the idea, a second referendum –as suggested by Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary – could happen. With more than 100 Conservative MPs lining up to vote against the Brexit deal, May made the humiliating admission to the Commons that “if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin”. As well as meeting Merkel, May will fly out to meet Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, in the Hague, on Tuesday morning and is expected to meet Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, in Brussels. Tusk said he would allow May to discuss Brexit at the end of the week, but made clear that there were limits to what the EU was willing to do. Quick guide Brexit and backstops: an explainer A backstop is required to ensure there is no hard border in Ireland if a comprehensive free trade deal cannot be signed before the end of 2020. As a result, the EU insists on having its own backstop - the backstop to the backstop - which would mean Northern Ireland would remain in the single market and customs union in the absence of a free trade deal, prompting fierce objections from Conservative hard Brexiters and the DUP, which props up her government. “I have no difficulty with statements that clarify what’s in the withdrawal agreement [like Gibraltar], but no statement of clarification can contradict what’s in it,” Varadkar said. A backstop is deemed necessary to avoid a hard border in Ireland if the UK and the EU cannot agree a free trade agreement by the end of the Brexit transition period in 2020.

Britain’s youth will never forgive us for Brexit, says Lord Heseltine

Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine will warn politicians that Britain’s youth will “never forgive us” unless they are offered the chance to reverse Brexit. The Conservative veteran, 85, will address a rally calling for a second referendum ahead of Tuesday’s crunch Commons vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Remain leaders and rivals gear up for second referendum campaign, with new pledge on NHS funding Read more He will claim that the government appears to have “lost control” and there were signs that MPs were prepared to take action to “assert the authority” of parliament. Quick guide Vote on Brexit deal: what could happen next? An interim prime minister would have to be chosen while the Tory party plans a leadership contest. Brexit is dropped without a second referendum If there is no agreement on anything, and “no deal” has been blocked off as an option by parliament, the other choice available is no Brexit. At the rally in London’s ExCel centre, which will also be addressed by politicians including Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, Tory former ministers Anna Soubry and Philip Lee, and celebrities including Charles Dance and Jason Isaacs, Heseltine will claim that those campaigning for a second vote are “British patriots” who are “proud of our Commonwealth and empire”. We want a Britain at the heart of Europe because we want the voice of Britain, the tolerance of Britain, the culture of Britain, at the heart of Europe. ‘I certainly won’t be here.’ But neither will my generation. “Trying to negotiate trade deals on behalf of the United Kingdom in competition with a European Union six times our size offering bigger, better deals behind closed doors.” Heseltine will add: “No one can predict the events of next week.

May tries to woo Brexit MPs with Irish backstop ‘parliamentary lock’

Theresa May has stepped up last-ditch efforts to try to win over Brexit-backing MPs after government legal advice warned the Irish backstop could leave the UK trapped in “protracted and repeated rounds of negotiations” for years to come. But Brexiters immediately rejected one idea mooted by Downing Street, of promising a “parliamentary lock” – giving MPs a vote before the backstop could be implemented. With just six days to go until the vote on her controversial deal, which May is expected to lose heavily, Downing Street confirmed the prime minister was keen to find ways to offer MPs extra reassurance about the backstop, in the hope they will support her. May brings it back to MPs Perhaps with minor tweaks after a dash to Brussels. Labour tries to force an election The opposition tables a vote of no confidence. A second referendum gathers support This is most likely if Labour makes a last-ditch decision to back it. However, a Downing Street spokesman dismissed the suggestion. The advice confirmed that, as Cox conceded in his Commons statement on Monday, the UK could remain “indefinitely” in the backstop. This is a political decision for the government.” Cox’s advice, which hardened the resolve of some Brexiters to vote against May’s deal, was published as the debate about the deal in the House of Commons entered the second of five scheduled days. But Sam Gyimah, who resigned as a junior education minister on Friday, joined Fallon and Greening in explaining why he could not support the government.

Second referendum campaigners split over parliamentary tactics

A row has broken out among campaigners for a second referendum about when to push the issue to a vote in parliament, with the Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston resisting pressure not to table her amendment demanding a “people’s vote”. With the Labour leadership withholding its support, some campaigners fear forcing the issue to a vote on 11 December would undermine their cause. They believe once it has been shown that there is no majority for a second referendum – and achieving one is likely to be impossible without Labour backing – it will be difficult to return to the question again if May’s deal is rejected. Wollaston said she remained a “passionate supporter” of a people’s vote, but would wait until after the weekend before deciding whether she would table her “doctors’ amendment”. If MPs reject the deal, there are seven possible paths the country could go down next. Labour tries to force an election The opposition tables a vote of no confidence. Some MPs fear the government could then say parliament had definitively rejected a second referendum. The government’s announcement that it will accept amendments to the motion approving May’s Brexit deal – with up to six to be voted on, before the deal itself – has sparked a scramble to decide which questions to press. Meanwhile the Conservative former minister Jo Johnson warned on Thursday that May’s Brexit deal could lead to electoral Armageddon for his party. Johnson described the package their party leader had agreed with the EU as a “botched deal” that would put British firms at a competitive disadvantage and fail the services sector, which he said had been “scandalously” neglected during negotiations on Brexit.

DfT criticised over secretive preparations for no-deal Brexit

Theresa May rejects Donald Trump's criticism of Brexit deal Read more In a damning report released on Wednesday, MPs said businesses and members of the public had not been given adequate information about what might happen. They highlighted the department’s use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) while negotiating with the transport industry as hampering the spread of information. Quick guide What happens next if May's Brexit deal is voted down? MPs knuckle under and vote it through. A new leader then tries to assemble a majority behind a tweaked deal. Labour tries to force an election The opposition tables a vote of no confidence. If May lost, the opposition (or a new Conservative leader) would have two weeks to form an alternative government that could win a second confidence vote. Transport department officials have called the £35m project Operation Brock. “The slow progress and poor communication around work to avoid this through schemes such as Project Brock concerns us,” it said. The department on Monday opened applications from hauliers for internal road haulage permits, known as ECMT permits, which will be needed for British lorries to travel across the Channel in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Report reveals Foreign Office shortage of trained Brexit trade negotiators

The UK’s capacity to secure the best free trade deals after Brexit has been thrown into doubt by figures showing only around 30 civil servants attended a session on how to negotiate a trade agreement. The revelation came in a report by MPs on the foreign affairs select committee, in which the body responsible for training free trade negotiators said it had intended to train 240 staff up to expert standard by Brexit day on March next year, but so far only 90 were at that level. The head of the Diplomatic Academy, Jon Benjamin, told the committee the targets were challenging, adding: “We will be dealing with counterpart officials in other countries who may have been doing this for many years,perhaps exclusively so.” May's Brexit deal sounds like a 'great deal for the EU', says Donald Trump Read more Some have claimed that the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May severely hampers the UK’s ability to negotiate free trade deals independent of the EU. Donald Trump implied on Monday that the EU had negotiated a Brexit deal with the UK that left it unable to strike free trade deals with the US, a point strongly contested by Downing Street. MPs knuckle under and vote it through. A new leader then tries to assemble a majority behind a tweaked deal. Labour tries to force an election The opposition tables a vote of no confidence. It was not clear why there had been such slow progress in building a body of expert trade negotiators, but the report highlighted a problem of low pay. Brexit deal explained: backstops, trade and citizens' rights Read more The committee described the problem of relative low pay inside the Foreign Office as alarming, unsustainable and deep rooted. The committee urged the government to look at options for improving the pay offer at the Foreign Office, both for centrally contracted staff and for local hires abroad.