"News from the Brexit Cliff Edge" 12th Apr 2019
Welcome to the Brexit Cliff Edge
Time on her hands
- 'Please do not waste (Brexit extension) this time,' President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, told the European media, in a message clearly directed at Britain
- Tusk went on to say to the Polish Press Agency 'maybe we can avoid the UK leaving - it's my quiet dream'
- In Parliament on Thursday, Theresa May got a loud cheer when she agreed to send MPs on an 11-day Easter break. She urged them to reflect on how to break the Brexit impasse, adding hyperbolically, 'nothing is more vital'
- In Parliament Theresa May stressed her determination to plough ahead with cross-party talks, aimed at striking a Brexit consensus, meanwhile, she shrugged off calls for her resignation from furious Tory backbenchers
- May also stressed her belief that the UK can still exit the EU by the end of May, despite calls in newspapers such as The Evening Standard: 'We must go back to the people'
- Sky News said it believed Theresa May was afraid of dropping her Brexit red lines. In talks with the Labour Party the PM spoke of additions and clarifications to the political declaration that could encompass some form of customs union. But non-legally binding changes may not be enough to calm a Labour leader worried about a future Brexiteer PM ripping up the promises of their predecessor
- May's Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, did his best to reassure that the government is prepared to listen to the option of a second confirmatory referendum. This is despite Theresa May ruling it out during PMQs. Cox said there were no preconditions to the negotiations, so it is safe to assume it is just May's Red Lines which are now the only obstacle to progress
- The 'June mid-term report' to the EU Council, will be significant for Theresa May's future. She's already told Parliament that she could not delay the UK's departure beyond June 30th as Prime Minister, as the newly elected European Parliament sits on July 1st. If May fails to get her Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons to stop the European Elections and hustle the UK out of Europe by the end of June, every option will be back in play
Tory Leadership Knives are being sharpened
- The Daily Telegraph reports the Conservatives are now polling at a similar level to John Major's doomed government in 1997.
- The calls for Theresa May to resign resonated in the House of Commons from Brexiteer quarters, as they felt a second Brexit extension was a betrayal
- The Daily Mail said 'Tory chiefs are preparing for a summer leadership contest.' Senior officials have drawn up detailed plans for hustings between leadership candidates and have scouted locations to hold them across the country
- The Guardian said 'cut the pretence, something is happening to the Tories, it is becoming the new home for hardliners, catastrophists and those wishing to take up residence in la-la land'
- ITV observered that not only a Tory leadership election is now in play, there could also be a General Election, adding the Tories could become the No Deal Brexit Party and Labour might morph into the Referendum Party
No Deal - Operation Brock civil servants told to stand down
- Sky News reported it had seen leaked emails from the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, calling on all civil servants in a frontline Brexit department to stand down from emergency No Deal Brexit preparations with immediate effect
Brexit is driving Brits mad
- A new survey said 1-in-3 of all UK adults said the UK's departure from the EU has had a negative effect on their wellbeing. 'The political uncertainty has left people powerless,' the survey said, 'this is directly affecting their mental health by increasing the stress levels that already exist in their lives'
Property prices in London and the South East edge down due to Brexit
- RICS reports that demand from house buyers is falling, with the number of new inquiries also down for the eighth consecutive month. The average time for a house to sell has now risen to 19 weeks, the longest since RICS surveys of this question began
Nightmare Brexit uncertainty is harming UK firms
- Bloomberg reported companies spending vast sums on stockpiling only to find the EU exit date moves and they are stuck with the stock as well as the loans used to buy the extra stock
Liverpool Pro-Brexit Protest Ends in a 5-man Farce
- A group of five people used their cars to block the entrance to an Aldi in Neston in a futile protest
Home Office admit EU citizens personal data breach
- The Home Office apologised to hundreds of EU citizens seeking settled status after it accidentally shared their details. Around 240 personal email addresses, a likely breach of the data protection act, were publicly shared
Brexit is like a slow puncture for the UK economy
- Business investment has fallen for four quarters in a row, few companies are launching any kind of risk-based investment venture and this uncertainty is likely to continue for the next few months
UK car production could halve in a No Deal Brexit scenario - study
- Matthias Holweg, an automotive expert at Oxford University, authored a new study which concluded car production in Britain could collapse by almost half by the mid 2020's in a No Deal Brexit scenario, with plant closures triggering job losses across the country
Investors flee UK stock funds on the back of Brexit worries
- Unease over Brexit has sent investors fleeing from UK stock funds for the fourth consecutive week. The total drained from these funds now stands at nearly $25bn since the 2016 vote on leaving the EU
David Cameron memoirs set to launch this autumn, despite the Brexit extension
- Despite a reported agreement between Cameron and Theresa May to hold the memoirs back until the UK had left the EU, publisher William Collins has now taken the steps required to ensure his book will launch before the new proposed Brexit deadline
UK car production could halve in no-deal Brexit scenario – study
Car production in Britain could collapse by almost half by the mid-2020s in a no-deal Brexit scenario, with plant closures triggering job losses across the country, according to an Oxford University study. Matthias Holweg, an automotive expert at Oxford, said Britain leaving the EU without a deal and trading on World Trade Organization terms would trigger a big fall in output. According to the study, car production has already slipped by about 9% since the EU referendum in 2016. Production volumes have fallen from more than 1.7m cars per year to less than 1.5m, but could drop further to about 900,000 a year in 2026 if Britain leaves without a deal.
Investors flee UK stock funds on Brexit worries
Unease over Brexit has sent investors fleeing from UK stock funds for a fourth consecutive week, bringing the total drained from such funds to nearly $25bn since the 2016 vote on leaving the EU. Investors withdrew $304.5m from funds that invest in UK shares for the week ending Wednesday, extending the total for the year past $1bn and to $24.8bn since the vote three years ago, according to EPFR Global data. “The continued uncertainty and a cloudy road map on Brexit and what it will mean for trade relationships and corporate earnings are leading to outflows,” said David Donabedian, chief investment officer from Atlantic Trust. “Investors, both domestic and international, are looking for other places to grow their money.”
Brexit is like a slow puncture for the UK economy
Business investment has fallen for the past four quarters and the new Brexit date is likely to prolong the uncertainty. Few companies have ceased replacing worn-out capital equipment — for example, van sales were 10.6 per cent up on an annual basis in March — but many sectors are exposed. This is not the time to install a new car production line in Britain or start building a speculative office development.
IMF's Lagarde says further Brexit delay will 'hinder' UK growth
Further uncertainty over Brexit will hinder growth in the UK economy, the head of IMF has told the BBC. Speaking ahead of the agreement of an extension to Article 50, Christine Lagarde warned that businesses and investors will remain hesitant in the coming months. She said any prolonged uncertainty would have a "negative impact". Ms Lagarde, a former French finance minister, said she hoped a deal could be struck quickly
Brexit a major drag on UK housing market, say surveyors
Average stock levels on estate agents’ books close to a record low while enquiries from buyers fall for eighth month in a row
Brexit: Home Office sorry for EU citizen data breach
The Home Office has apologised to hundreds of EU citizens seeking settled status in the UK after accidentally sharing their details. It blamed an "administrative error" for sending an email that revealed 240 personal email addresses - a likely breach of the Data Protection Act. The department may now have to make an apology in Parliament. In a statement to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, it said it had since improved its systems and procedures.
'This is Brexit at its best' claim five protesters who blocked off an Aldi
The group of around five people parked their vehicles across the road so delivery trucks could not pass...A small group of Brexiters blocked a main road into an Aldi supermarket depot - because they want Brexit to happen now. The group of around five supporters came in cars and camper vans and blocked Chester High Road, in Neston, last night. In a video taken by a passerby members of the group can be seen brandishing placards and wearing British flags around themselves. Meanwhile a man with a microphone shouts 'this is Brexit at its best' as another woman, with a flag wrapped around her head, shouts 'we are here'.
IMF says Brexit delay means businesses face more uncertainty
The decision to extend the UK’s Brexit deadline will mean another six months of uncertainty for business, the head of the International Monetary Fund has warned. Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said that while she welcomed the fact that Britain would not leave the EU without a deal on Friday, nothing had been resolved. The decision gave more time for discussions between the political parties and for companies to prepare for all options, Lagarde said. “On the other hand, it is obvious it is continued uncertainty. And it does not resolve, other than by postponing what would have been a terrible outcome.” The IMF said earlier this week that leaving the EU without a deal risked pushing the UK into a two-year recession.
Operation Brock 'deactivated' on M20 after Brexit delays
A no-deal Brexit plan in which one side of a motorway was reserved for lorries is to be removed after Britain's departure from the EU was delayed. Operation Brock, intended to tackle queues created by delays at the border, had been in place since 25 March. One side of the M20 was used only by HGVs heading to Dover, with all other traffic restricted to a contraflow system on the opposite carriageway. Highways England said work would begin overnight to "deactivate" the system. The UK's departure from the EU had been set for 29 March, but has now been extended until 31 October.
Anger as ‘Nightmare’ Brexit Delay ‘Screws’ U.K. Firms
For Pooch & Mutt, the U.K.’s hesitation by the Brexit door is more than an annoyance; it’s costing real money. The British maker of superfoods for pets built up about 400,000 pounds ($520,000) worth of extra product as it prepared for the potential disruption of a no-deal Brexit on March 29 and April 12. Now that the split has been delayed a second time, the supplier to Waitrose supermarkets, grocer J Sainsbury Plc and Pets at Home Group Plc needs a loan to cover the cost of its stockpile. “It just screws us,’’ said founder Guy Blaskey, saying the storage expense means less money to hire staff. “Until we know what’s going on, we need to keep our stock levels high.’’
Property prices in London and South East hit by Brexit, surveyors say
Brexit is being blamed for continuing uncertainty in the housing market, with prices expected to edge downwards over the coming months. Demand from buyers is falling, with the number of new inquiries down for the eighth consecutive month, according to The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). And the average time for a home to sell - 19 weeks - is the longest since 2017, which is the joint lowest since the institution started recording this.
Germany's Mittelstand are hardly prepared for Brexit
Germany’s mid-sized manufacturers, collectively known as the Mittelstand, form the backbone of the world’s fourth-largest economy. The fifth-biggest export market for their precision-engineered machinery and components is Britain, especially its car industry. Brexit, then, should be a worry. Yet according to bvwm, their trade association, only 17.6% of Mittelständler surveyed at the end of 2018 said they were “well prepared” for Brexit. Fully 77% thought Brexit would not affect them.
'Please do not waste this time,' EU council chief tells UK after another Brexit extension
The latest Brexit extension “is as flexible as I expected and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it’s still enough to find the best possible solution,” said Donald Tusk, president of the European Council. EU leaders and the U.K. government have agreed to a “flexible extension” of the Brexit deadline until Oct. 31. Many EU leaders had wanted a much longer extension possibly until March 2020, but French President Emmanuel Macron said he took responsibility for blocking such a long delay.
Brexit uncertainty affecting mental health of 1 in 3 UK adults, study shows
Uncertainty about the future of Brexit is affecting the mental health of a third of UK adults, a new survey has found. Around 33 per cent of people said Britain's departure from the European Union has had a negative effect on their wellbeing, according to a poll by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Older people were more likely to be affected by anxieties over Brexit with 37 per cent of over-65s saying it had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing, compared with just 28 per cent of 16-24 year-olds. Louise Taylor, a counsellor based in Cheshire, said the UK's uncertain future had left people feeling powerless, which was directly impacting their mental health. “While some people may be genuinely worried about their job, some people may have uncertainty in life anyway,” Ms Taylor said. “Brexit just adds to it by making the stress in their lives worse.”
Thieves blowing up cash machines 'to buy guns and bombs for Brexit'
Footage has emerged of the moment a cash machine was ripped from a wall in Northern Ireland. It comes after police warned of similar incidents involving ATM machines in North Wales over the past few months, the latest just a few weeks ago in Llanrwst. The raid in Londonderry however is the eighth in its region so far this year, with fears growing that its of political significance, as reported by Belfast Live . The shocking CCTV footage, of the incident early Sunday morning, shows a republican gang member operating a digger as it smashes into a shop - while two accomplices watch on. Once the safe was removed from the wall, the thieves loaded the ATM into their van and drove away - yet to be officially identified.
Brexit: May insists UK can still exit EU by end of next month
Theresa May has dispatched shattered MPs for a 10-day Easter recess, and urged them to use the time away from Westminster to “reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return,” after European Union leaders set 31 October as the new Brexit deadline. The prime minister addressed the House of Commons after her return from the late-night summit in Brussels at which EU27 leaders thrashed out an extension to article 50. She stressed her determination to plough ahead with cross-party talks aimed at striking a Brexit consensus; and shrugged off calls for her resignation from backbenchers furious at the fresh delay. “Let us use the opportunity of the recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter. And let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse. So that we can leave the EU with a deal as soon as possible,” May told MPs.
A general election is (probably) coming – and that will unlock Brexit
All things being equal, however, the clever money must now be on the 31 October deadline. It’s not as if the sound of a ticking clock has inspired parliament to decisive action to date. May failed to convince wavering MPs to back her deal even with the real prospect of no deal looming, so it’s hard to see how she can do so now. If she stays, it is hard to see how this ends.
'TIME'S UP!' May warned of shock Cabinet plot which could REMOVE her from No10
Theresa May secured her survival in Number 10 after two attempts to bring her down in December over discontent with her Brexit withdrawal agreement within her own party. While Conservative Party regulation rules out a new confidence vote within a year from the last poll cast, public policy expert James Crabtree suggested Tory MPs may be able to oust her as fury grows over her acceptance of a new delay to Brexit. Speaking to CNBC, Prof Crabtree said: "In theory, they can’t have another leadership campaign until December but if half the Cabinet resigns en masse, or if half her parliamentary party say they want her to go, which they do, then her position becomes untenable.
Labour considers automatic voter registration to add millions to electoral roll
All British adults could be automatically registered to vote under radical plans being considered by Jeremy Corbyn‘s Labour Party. The move could see around seven million voters being added to the electoral register, with huge numbers of young and low income individuals automatically enrolled for the first time. Mr Corbyn's party believes the current system of individual registration has so far failed to give a voice to huge swathes of the UK public, and Labour will now examine various models around the world. According to the most up-to-date analysis by the Electoral Commission, between 7.6 and 8.3 million eligible people were not correctly registered to vote across Great Britain in 2015, including one in three under the age of 34.
SNP split over referendum priority in Brexit delay
A split has emerged at the top of the SNP over how to use the six-month delay to Brexit. Nicola Sturgeon said the time should be used to hold a second EU referendum. However senior members of her party responded by saying the priority should be a second vote on independence instead. Western Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil said the SNP should not be "kicking the Indyref2 can" down the road. He suggested on Twitter that a referendum could be held as soon as August “but Scot Gov would need to campaign on that and not Euroref2 to be a reality”.
There’s an upside to our Brexit humiliation – a second referendum is more likely
Even EU council president Donald Tusk, who has been heroic in standing up for the UK, could not conceal the sense of frustration that yet again, Europe is having to listen to Theresa May tell it that she could find an approach to get MPs behind a way forward. Leaders who have been subject to her direct lobbying see her as the anti-diplomat. President Macron appeared more aggressive towards the British after her pre-summit visit to Paris than he was before. Other European leaders watching her press conference would have been shaking their heads once again.
The EU has given us the gift of time. Soon we must go back to the people
As Theresa May awaited her call into the EU summit last night, there was no mistaking the humiliating mess that has been made of Brexit — one that few foresaw following the 2016 referendum. I was disappointed by the result but felt it had to be respected. The public had voted, the majority went for Leave and that was an end to the matter. Three years later, the argument is not about who won but what has gone wrong since.
@SkyNewsBreak Sky Sources say civil servants have been told to stand down no deal Brexit operational planning with immediate effect
Sky Sources say civil servants have been told to stand down no deal Brexit operational planning with immediate effect
‘No vision, robotic and bland’ - Telegraph readers on the Conservative party’s youth problem
New findings were published this week from the Onward think-tank which revealed that the Conservatives’ popularity among younger votes, and in particular millennials, was moving backwards. The think-tank concluded that the average age at which a voter typically begins to vote Tory has increased from 47 in 2017 to 51 in 2019. Furthermore, the gap between younger and older voters is now 50 percentage points larger than the 1945 average. Considering that wartime leader Winston Churchill once proclaimed those who weren’t Conservative by 35 “had no brain”, it is perhaps of no surprise that Prime Ministerial hopeful, Penny Mordaunt, called the findings a “kick up the ****” for her party.
The next Tory leader can still win big by reaching out to working-class voters
There is only one catch in the coming Tory leadership election, and that is a Catch-22. Whoever succeeds Theresa May will need to work out how to build a new coalition of voters and supporters to win in future, but before that they cannot afford to lose their existing coalition of MPs. Yet divisions among Tories in the House of Commons risk making it impossible to build any future, winning coalition. The facts are as follows. The Conservatives, even with DUP support, no longer have a working majority. Their MPs are split between those who want no deal, those who want to leave with a deal, and those who want to stop Brexit
Brexit: EU Council president Donald Tusk says 'maybe we can avoid the UK leaving - it's my quiet dream'
European Council president Donald Tusk has said it is his “quiet dream” for the UK to stay in the EU after the bloc’s leaders offered to delay Brexit until Halloween. In a dramatic night in Brussels, European leaders rebuffed Theresa May’s calls for a short extension to 30 June, instead offering the prime minister a longer extension to 31 October to find a way through the Brexit deadlock. Mr Tusk appeared to confirm Brexiteer fears that Britain's departure from the EU was being kicked into the long grass, telling Polish media that Brexit could be avoided. "Maybe we can avoid the UK leaving the EU - this is obviously not my role, but it's my personal, quiet dream," he told the Polish Press Agency.
I know about public inquiries. The Brexiteers face a reckoning
I have considerable experience of public inquiries. As a journalist covering them; think Franks and the Falklands. As a government official involved in establishing them, such as the Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings. As a witness having to appear at them. Hutton. Leveson. Chilcot. Even today I can’t hear the first and third of those names without a certain level of anxiety – especially Hutton. Had the judge not found as he did (thank heavens he got to the truth not the media lies that led us to the tragedy of David Kelly’s death in the first place) it would have led not just to my demise but more importantly that of the government.
Emergency £4billion plans for a no-deal Brexit are halted
The Government is standing down emergency preparations for a no-deal Brexit following the latest delay to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it has been reported. The decision to halt no-deal operational planning by officials was taken at a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, according to a leaked email seen by Sky News. The email, which was said to have been sent to all civil servants in an unnamed “front line Brexit department”, says the suspension was taking place with “immediate effect”.
Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May hold more talks as hopes rise over possible customs deal
Mrs May said: "I think there is actually more agreement in relation to a customs union than is often given credit for when different language is used. "We’ve been very clear that we want to obtain the benefits of a customs union - no tariffs, no rules of origin checks and no quotas - while being able to operate our own independent trade policy. "The Labour Party has said they want a say in trade policy - the question is how we ensure we can provide for this country to be in charge of its trade policy in the future." Mr Corbyn described the cross-party talks - which began last week - as "serious and detailed" and added: "If these talks are to be a success, the Government will have to compromise." He also hit out at International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who described a customs union as "the worst of both worlds" in a letter to Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee. The Labour leader said that was "an attempt to scupper" the negotiations between his party and the Government.
I’ve got the best job in British politics: being an MEP
As a single MEP you have an enormous amount of potential influence that a backbench MP in Westminster could only dream of. Whereas many criticise the European parliament for not being able to initiate legislation, the reality is that the parliament has a huge amount of scope to change and shape proposals that come from the commission. There is no government and no opposition. So you are not immediately locked out from the action if “your side” is not in power. The result is that in five short years, you can directly influence the course of hundreds of bits of legislation that shape lives in the UK and across the whole of Europe.
@BBCHelenCatt Work will start TONIGHT to remove the #operationbrock contra-flow on the M20 #kent. The metal barrier will stay in place though .
work will start TONIGHT to remove the #operationbrock contra-flow on the M20 #kent. The metal barrier will stay in place though .
Why Theresa May fears dropping her Brexit red lines
Brexiteer nerves will not be settled by Jeremy Corbyn's welcoming of "indications" from the government that they may compromise in "key areas". That will be read as code for caving in on a customs union, something that is fiercely opposed by many on the front and backbenches of the Tory party. The prime minister spoke of "additions and clarifications" to the political declaration - the shorter of the two Brexit deal documents that outlines the UK's future relationship with the EU. But non-legally binding changes may not be enough to calm a Labour leader worried about a future Brexiteer prime minister ripping up the promises of their predecessor. "Red lines must move", said Jeremy Corbyn.
Meet the man who interrupts Ranvir Singh on Good Morning Britain by shouting 'Stop Brexit'
The "Stop Brexit guy" can regularly be heard shouting in the background while Preston's Ranvir Singh presents on Good Morning Britain. The man has become known as the "man who shouts stop Brexit" and can often be heard on news reports. Ranvir even joked after the Brexit deadline was extended to October 31 that she'd have to put up with him for another six months. She also took extreme measures and covered her ears with ear muffs while reporting from parliament on Wednesday (April 10) morning, reports WalesOnline.
WATCH: Geoffrey Cox says a second referendum WILL be considered
Attorney general Geoffrey Cox has signalled the government will “listen” to the option of a second referendum if it leads to a Brexit deal with Labour. This is despite Theresa May still appearing to rule out the suggestion in answers to MPs in the House of Commons. Speaking in the Commons, Cox said there are “no preconditions” to the ongoing discussions. The MP for Edinburgh South West said he had touched on the issue during a recent BBC podcast, and asked him to “tell us what recent discussions the Cabinet have had about a second EU referendum”. Cox said he could not reveal what was said around the cabinet table, but added: “What I can say is this; the discussions that are currently going forward, with the Labour Party, with the opposition, are being pursued in good faith, there are no preconditions to it.
Theresa May refuses to answer questions on Vote Leave fraud
Theresa May has been accused of running away from questions about the legitimacy of 2016’s Brexit referendum. In a written Parliamentary question, the SNP’s Stewart McDonald asked the Prime Minister if the Government would “set up a judge-led public inquiry to investigate the alleged fraud committed by Vote Leave”. The MP’s question came after Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign, dropped an appeal against a £61,000 fine for breaking the EU referendum spending limit by donating £680,000 to BeLeave, a youth Brexit group
@YouGov Do you think we will have left the EU by, or on, the 31st October? Yes: 14% No: 55%
Do you think we will have left the EU by, or on, the 31st October? Yes: 14% No: 55%
My Brexit Party will give people the chance to change politics for good
Three years after the British people voted decisively to take back their independence, they have a chance to speak again. The new Brexit Party will ask the electorate not only to support a clean break from the European Union, but also to begin a political revolution in the UK. No Brexiteer – least of all me – wanted to contest the European elections on 23 May. But from disaster springs opportunity. Next month’s enforced ballot will allow us to bring about a far wider change in our broken political system.
@MJKIndependent No need for Scotland to re-apply for EU membership if it votes for Independence before the conclusion of #brexit
No need for Scotland to re-apply for EU membership if it votes for Independence before the conclusion of #brexit | Instead it would be allowed to re-negotiate its membership as an independent country without leaving! Whoaaa! | Told you so! #scotref #indyref2
New EU Brexit deadline sets up Tory leadership election and even general election
Under pressure from France's president Macron, the Brexit delay to 31 October is shorter than Donald Tusk, the EU's president, and many government heads thought desirable - though still considerably longer than Theresa May consistently said was acceptable. Its impact may well be to turn the Tories into the no-deal Brexit party and Labour into the referendum party, via a change of Tory leader and even a general election.
MPs go on 11-day Easter break hours after EU warned Britain ‘don’t waste Brexit extension’
Theresa May finally got a cheer today after sending MPs on an 11-day Easter break. She urged MPs to use their time off to "reflect" on how to break the Brexit impasse. But she risked ridicule after announcing the holiday despite telling MPs that "nothing today is more pressing or more vital". And she announced the Easter holiday just hours after EU Council President Donald Tusk warned Britain not to "waste" the Brexit extension granted at the mammoth Brussels summit on Wednesday night.
UK stands down 6,000 no-deal Brexit staff - after spending £1.5bn
The government has stood down an army of 6,000 civil servants who had been preparing for a no-deal Brexit, at an estimated cost of £1.5bn. The civil servants who had been seconded from elsewhere will now return to their normal duties, but there is no clear role for an estimated 4,500 new recruits after article 50 was extended until Halloween. More than 16,000 civil servants in total have been working on Brexit. The Labour party’s Hilary Benn said it was a “costly price” to pay for Theresa May’s belligerent insistence of keeping a no-deal on the table. “It was important to plan for all contingencies, but this is the huge cost of the prime minister repeatedly saying: ‘My deal or no deal’ when she knew that leaving without a deal was not in the national interest. This is one example of how Brexit is proving to be very costly for our country,” said Benn, chair of the influential Brexit select committee.
Whatever happens next, the nationalist right has lost the battle for Brexit
It is now nearly five months since May signed the EU-UK agreement on Brexit. Since then, the Conservative party’s rightwing nationalists have repeatedly tried to defeat the deal and to oust May. They have dominated the airwaves and won some famous victories along the way, but in the end, they have decisively lost the war. For the right, the aim was to bend the Tory party to their obsessional will. They have failed to do that. Instead they may have wrecked their party. Their aim too was to drive the UK out of the EU without a deal of the kind signed by May or any of the economic safeguards Labour and other opponents demand. That is not now going to happen. Wednesday’s agreement in Brussels makes that clear.
Brexit: CBI boss says agree deal or hold second referendum
The president of business organisation, the CBI, has said if politicians cannot "get their act together" on Brexit, then the only other option is to "go back to the people". John Allan stressed this was his personal view, not that of the CBI. Speaking to the BBC Mr Allan said it was "astonishing" that 27 European countries could agree a "lot more readily" than UK politicians. MPs should "take a lesson" from European solidarity, he said. Mr Allan, who is also chairman of Tesco and house builder Barrett, said the CBI did not have a position on a second or confirmatory referendum.
Brexit extension : NI business groups 'breathe sigh of relief'
Northern Ireland business groups said they breathed a "sigh of relief" after the EU granted the UK a six-month extension to Brexit. The Brexit deadline has been pushed back to 31 October. Stephen Kelly from Manufacturing NI said the UK parliament now had to "make its mind up about what it wants to do around Brexit". "Only at that point will our businesses feel fully relieved," added Mr Kelly. Theresa May said the UK would still aim to leave the EU with a deal as soon as possible. Mr Kelly told BBC Radio Ulster that last week he spoke to one business which invested £10m a week in stock. "They now have three months worth of stock sitting there," he said. "That's £30m that would have been better used in developing new markets or investing in their staff."
Halloween Brexit delay could mean a summer nightmare for Theresa May
Europe has done it again. Despite French President's Emmanuel Macron's reluctance to give the UK a long Brexit extension, the EU leaders have agreed the apparently interminable process can be delayed until October 31, with a school report on Britain's behavior in June. And while everyone is focusing on that Halloween deadline, it's really the June date that's the more significant. Just three weeks ago, May told lawmakers in the House of Commons that she could not "as Prime Minister" delay Britain's departure from the European Union beyond June 30. After that, Britain would be obliged to send representatives to the European Parliament, where a new session begins on July 1. If May can't get her Withdrawal Agreement, battered and bruised, through the House of Commons in time to put a stop to those European elections and hustle the UK out of the EU by the end of June, everything will be back in play.
Polls show Theresa May's Tories now at similar level of support to John Major in 1997 as voters 'ditch party'
Theresa May’s failure to deliver Brexit has caused the Conservatives to haemorrhage support, with the Tories now polling at a similar level to John Major in 1997, new data suggests. Opinion polls showed support for the Conservatives had crashed eight points in the space of a month as voters seemed to swing behind Nigel Farage’s new party and Ukip. Polling conducted by BMG Research in March had the Tories on 37 per cent but the latest data for April had the party on 29 per cent. The Tories were polling in the high twenties in the run up to the 1997 election which saw the party win just 165 seats and secure 31 per cent of the vote as Tony Blair’s New Labour crushed the Conservatives.
Why Labour looks set to become the referendum party
Enough of the referendum doubters are close to folding, partly because the advantages of Labour rebranding as the people's vote vanguard in the forthcoming European parliamentary and council elections would be very significant. Labour would pick up the votes of almost all of the 48% who voted to remain in 2016, while the Tories would face a humiliating wipe out, with so much of the leave vote likely to gravitate to Farage's new Brexit party and to a somewhat resurgent UKIP. According to senior Labour figures, what might clinch the deal for McDonnell, Thornberry, Starmer and Abbott, the leading proponents of a referendum, would be a decision by the shadow Cabinet to follow the approach of Harold Wilson's Labour Party in the 1975 referendum: namely for Corbyn himself to largely stand back from the campaign, and to allow any Labour MP or shadow minister to campaign for remain or leave, according to conscience.
A customs union won’t solve the Irish border issue
With a new final date now set for October 31st, the idea that we are in for a ‘trick or treat’ Brexit has been widely expressed in various pictures, memes and suggestions for who gets dibs on dressing up as the backstop. For those living in Northern Ireland, Brexit is neither trick, nor treat. It has become a divisionary force that has called into question what our lives are going to be. We are staring into the same abyss of uncertainty that we have faced for the last three years; and farmers, business owners, and young people living on the border are still stuck in limbo while the elites in Westminster try to fumble their way out of this self-styled mess.
The Tories once had a radical fringe. Now it is the whole party
Let’s drop the niceties. Cut the pretence. Something is happening to the Tories, obvious even to that vast majority of the public who ignore politics. The Conservative party is becoming the natural party of extremists. It is the new home for hardliners, catastrophists and those wishing to take up permanent residence in la-la land. Evidence of this mutation is in every day’s headlines, and borne on a never-ending stream of tweets. It is Jacob Rees-Mogg, coolly suggesting that British representatives should run amok and cause chaos throughout the EU. It is openly acknowledged when the chancellor, Philip Hammond, utters a prayer to “flush out the extremists” in the party. And of course it is Mark Francois, doing Mark Francois. Forever auditioning to be lance corporal in a war that ended 20 years before he was born. Ripping up a letter from the CEO of Airbus, saying it was “German bullying”. Barking about “perfidious Albion on speed”, as if they were headlining Glastonbury.
Labour takes poll lead as Tory support plummets by nine points amid Brexit chaos
The Kantar survey put the Tories in 32% - a staggering nine points lower than in March. At the same time, backing for Labour has increased by four points to 35%, giving them a three-point lead over Theresa May's party. The findings are a huge boost for Jeremy Corbyn ahead of next month's local council elections. Elsewhere, the poll shows the pro-EU Lib Dems have also seen their support rise by three points since March to 11%, Ukip is up one point to 7% and the SNP is unchanged on 5%.
Furious Tory MPs demand Theresa May resign over 'abject surrender' as she faces Commons onslaught over latest delay to EU departure
The prime minister insisted she would not resign after European leaders agreed to delay Brexit until 31 October in late-night talks in Brussels. The second delay to the Brexit process - initially intended to conclude on 29 March - averted a no-deal withdrawal on Friday with less than 48 hours to go. However, it infuriated anti-EU Conservative MPs, who insisted the UK should have instead left the EU without a deal. As she updated MPs in the Commons, Ms May faced calls from veteran Tory Sir Bill Cash to step down. He accused her of an “abject surrender” and asked if she would resign. Ms May replied: “I think you know the answer to that”. Another Brexiteer, Peter Bone, asked the prime minister if she planned to “honour” her vow not to delay Brexit beyond 30 June.
Tories turn up pressure on Theresa may to quit within weeks after EU exit postponed to Halloween
Tory MPs today turned up pressure on Theresa May to quit within weeks to allow a new leader after Brexit was postponed to Halloween. As a string of MPs called for an early contest, former Brexit secretary David Davis warned that there was a desire among many MPs for a “reset in the negotiations” under new leadership. “Pressure on her to go will increase dramatically, I suspect now,” he said. Former international trade minister Greg Hands told the Evening Standard: “It’s time that we had new leadership for both the party and the country.
Brexit: Government 'halts no-deal planning' after committing £4bn to preparations
Leaked email shows preparations suspended with 'immediate effect' after deadline for Britain's departure from EU extended to 31 October. The government has halted all emergency planning for a no-deal Brexit despite committing £4bn to preparations, according to reports. A leaked email reportedly sent to all civil servants in an unnamed “front line Brexit department” said no-deal operational planning had been suspended with “immediate effect”. The decision was made by cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill, according to the email seen by Sky News. Downing Street said departments were taking “sensible decisions” about the timing of their no-deal preparations following the agreement by EU leaders to extend the Article 50 withdrawal process to 31 October.
David Cameron memoir still set for autumn, despite Brexit extension
Despite a reported agreement between Cameron and Theresa May, publisher William Collins confirms it will be published before latest Brexit deadline
"Brexit MPs Have Been So Wrong, They'd Have Been Sacked From Any Other Job"
Brexit-backing MPs have been proved so wrong - that in any other line of work they would have been sacked, James O'Brien said. His remarks came as the Prime Minister accepted a delay to Brexit until Halloween after EU leaders offered her another extension to Article 50.
UK stands down 6,000 no-deal Brexit staff - after spending £1.5bn
The government has stood down an army of 6,000 civil servants who had been preparing for a no-deal Brexit, at an estimated cost of £1.5bn. The civil servants who had been seconded from elsewhere will now return to their normal duties, but there is no clear role for an estimated 4,500 new recruits after article 50 was extended until Halloween. More than 16,000 civil servants in total have been working on Brexit.
The toll of Brexit: Photos reveal strain Theresa May has been put under after three years of trying and failing to get a deal done to leave the EU
Since becoming Britain's prime minister nearly three years ago, Theresa May has overseen some of the most chaotic political times in UK history. And these photographs show the strain that the turmoil has put the Sussex-born politician under since she took over from David Cameron in July 2016.
Tory chiefs are 'preparing for a summer leadership contest'
Tory Party chiefs are gearing up for a summer leadership contest in preparation for Theresa May quitting, the Daily Mail has learned. Senior officials have drawn up detailed plans for hustings between leadership candidates, including scouting locations across the country, sources said. Details of the preparations come as a string of Eurosceptic Tory MPs called for Mrs May to resign after she agreed to delay Brexit further.
Brexit: Theresa May laughs off resignation calls as Tories face ballot box punishment
Theresa May laughed off calls to quit today after agreeing to delay Brexit until Halloween. Outraged rebel Tories attacked the Prime Minister after she accepted the fresh extension from EU leaders. Speaking in the Commons, veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash said: “Does the Prime Minister appreciate the anger that her abject surrender last night has generated across the country, having broken promises 100 times not to extend the time?” The Stone MP asked: “Will you resign?” But Mrs May laughed: “I think you know the answer to that.”