The Press Room

20 May 2019   

Brexit: What happens now? (BBC)
Cross-party talks to try to find a compromise have ended. The government will now bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) to the House of Commons in early June.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill

Everything you need to know about the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill (Prospect)
The government must bring forward legislation to ratify its deal—but the prospect of another parliamentary defeat looms large.

Iain Watson: Does collapse of Labour talks spell end for Theresa May’s hopes? (BBC)
It will be challenging, to say the least, for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to get through the Commons. But reports of its demise may well have been exaggerated. It may not go down to immediate defeat.

Theresa May: My Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be a bold new offer to MPs (The Sunday Times)
The cabinet will consider whether holding votes in parliament to test support for possible solutions would be a useful prelude to MPs considering the legislation.

Theresa May makes final Brexit push amid Tory sense of doom (Financial Times)
“There’s nothing new in it, it’s all the stuff we know about already,” said one Conservative official briefed on the UK prime minister’s fourth attempt to win House of Commons backing for a Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s ‘bold Brexit offer’ is just a ‘retread’ of old ideas, leaked document suggests (Telegraph)
The Prime Minister claims she has a “bold offer” to put to MPs next month, but The Telegraph has learnt that it contains nothing new on customs arrangements and retains the controversial Northern Irish backstop.

MPs have a duty to pass Theresa May’s Brexit deal, says Hancock (The Guardian)
Minister insists withdrawal agreement bill is only way to deliver on referendum result.

Drop support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal if you want a general election pact, Nigel Farage tells Boris Johnson (Telegraph)
Tory MPs are openly speculating on whether a future Conservative leader would come to a deal over contesting seats if a general election is called to deal with the Brexit impasse in Parliament.

Conservative Party leadership

Dashing and dangerous Boris divides the Tory ranks (Financial Times)
Many see former foreign secretary as frivolous and unreliable, but he is the favourite.

Tory remainers launch bid to block no-deal Brexit leadership candidates (The Sunday Telegraph)
A 60-strong group of Tories led by Amber Rudd and Damian Green will launch a bid to block leadership candidates backing a no-deal Brexit, as they urge MPs to reject “narrow nationalism”  and the “comfort blanket of populism.” 

EU will not renegotiate withdrawal agreement with May’s successor, warns Irish deputy PM (Independent)
Delivering a scathing assessment of the political logjam at Westminster, Simon Coveney said he was concerned Britain will “fail to get its act together over the summer”.

Planning for a No Deal Brexit

Brexit secretary warns no-deal preparations must be sped up (Sky News)
The Brexit secretary says if MPs don’t pass the withdrawal deal in parliament, a no-deal situation will become more likely.

Cabinet in no-deal Brexit row as Tories face election drubbing (Financial Times)
Theresa May’s allies warn that leaving EU without agreement could lead to UK break-up.

Cabinet split over ramping up plans for no-deal Brexit (The Times)
Cabinet divisions re-emerged yesterday when the Brexit secretary called for planning for no-deal to be stepped up minutes before a colleague said that it should be ruled out in law.

European elections

Disinformation war shifts ground ahead of EU elections (Financial Times)
No evidence of malicious campaigns, but plenty of propaganda from nationalist parties.

Researchers Say Many Of The Brexit Party’s Twitter Followers Aren’t Behaving Like Genuine Voters BuzzFeed)
High volumes. Short intervals. Odd times of day. Twitter thinks this is the online behaviour of regular British voters, but researchers have raised doubts.

Nigel Farage’s startup politics (Politico)
The Brexit Party’s company structure makes its leader uniquely powerful in British politics.

Rage, rapture and pure populism: on the road with Nigel Farage (The Guardian)
The Brexit party leader has eschewed policies, in favour of a persistent message pitting politicians against ‘the people’

Brexit Party now pulling in £100,000 donations a day as Nigel Farage mulls historic European election victory (The Sunday Telegraph)
The leader of the Brexit Party told The Sunday Telegraph he was talking to “one or two” Conservative MPs about defecting. But he scotched talk of a pact with the Tories to deliver Brexit.

Leave.EU founder confirms he funded Nigel Farage in year after referendum (BBC)
Speaking at the launch of the Brexit party campaign in Scotland, Mr Farage said he did not declare the it to the European Parliament because he was about to leave politics and had been seeking a new life in the US.

Brexit party’s funding must be investigated, says Gordon Brown (The Guardian)
Former PM is concerned ‘dirty money’ from foreign donors could reach Nigel Farage’s party.

‘Dirty money’ claims are ‘ridiculous,’ says Brexit Party chair (Politico)
The Brexit Party accepts donations made in foreign currency, its chair Richard Tice told the BBC’s Today Programme on Monday, while dismissing claims that the party was funnelling “dirty money.”

Glum faces, a speech to an empty room and a hurried exit as Theresa May’s campaign turns into a wake (Telegraph)
The glum look on the candidates’ faces appeared to suggest that they would rather the Prime Minister was anywhere else but in their constituency on Friday.

Populist surge sinks Tories and squeezes Labour as European elections loom (The Sunday Times)
Tory heavyweights today demand an end to the “virus of extremism” that has divided the country and left the Conservative Party trailing in fourth place in two opinion polls for the European elections.

Labour panics as remain voters switch to Liberal Democrats (The Observer)
Polls make Vince Cable’s party the favourite for remainers and put it in first place in London.

Vote for a pro-EU party, not mine, says Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge (The Sunday Times)
Jeremy Corbyn’s row with Dame Margaret Hodge escalated last night after the MP said party members should vote for pro-EU candidates in the European elections, even if it means not voting for Labour.

Corbyn defends Labour’s bid for both leavers and remainers (The Guardian)
Polls suggest his party could be squeezed into third place in the European elections.

Jeremy Corbyn shifts on free movement and second referendum (The Times)
“I’m not staunchly against freedom of movement. Our manifesto said the European system would not apply if you’re not in the European Union — but I quite clearly recognise there has to be a lot of movement of workers.”

Labour seeks to reframe the European elections as a fight against the far right (New Statesman)
MPs have been urged to use the spectre of Tommy Robinson MEP to motivate activists.

European elections: EU27 voters in UK seek to escape Brexit limbo (Financial Times)
Thursday’s poll is chance to vote for Europeans who lacked a say in 2016 referendum.

UKIP leader Gerard Batten: My position ‘untenable’ if I lose seat (Sky News)
Gerard Batten tells Sky News he doesn’t “actually believe the polls” and claims Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is being “bigged up”.

Fresh Remainer split as Lib Dems reject Change UK call to revoke Article 50 (Politics Home)
A fresh split has opened up between pro-EU Change UK and the Liberal Democrats as Chuka Umunna called for campaigners to revoke Article 50 instead of pushing for a second Brexit referendum.

Change UK leader Heidi Allen hints at Lib Dem alliance (The Sunday Times)
Change UK’s interim leader has denied speculation that she is defecting to the Liberal Democrats after a bruising week in which the party lost one candidate and sank to the lowest poll numbers since its launch.


Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party surges into second place in Scotland (The Scotsman)
Just one in five Scottish voters said they will back Labour or the Tories, with the parties languishing in joint fourth place, according to a new YouGov poll.

Nigel Farage says Scotland cannot be independent while still in the EU (Politics Home)
Nigel Farage branded Nicola Sturgeon’s bid for an independent Scotland inside the EU as “the most dishonest political discourse anywhere in the world” as he took his European elections campaign north of the border.

Indyref2 on the cards even if UK remains in EU, suggests Sturgeon (The National)
Nicola Sturgeon argued that the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming prime minister and “all of the experience of the last three years” mean Scotland should hold another independence vote.

Brexit impacts

The brief holiday from Brexit is over (Financial Times)
The mood in the business community has turned gloomy again.

U.K. Plc Counts Cost of Brexit as Politicians ‘Chase Rainbows’ (Bloomberg)
U.K. companies have already had to adjust to two delays to Brexit day, which has been postponed to Oct. 31. Now May has agreed to put a date on her departure, they face months of more drama.

David Henig: Would a customs union with the EU really be so terrible? (Prospect)
On both sides of the Brexit divide there are fundamental misunderstandings about what a customs union would actually entail

‘Site checks’ warning as Ireland and Luxembourg probe local entities (Financial Times)
Brexit ‘winners’ will put UK and US asset managers under high level of scrutiny.

Theresa May’s Economic Legacy Dominated by Brexit Fallout (Bloomberg)
Though the Brexit recession predicted by some economists back in 2016 never materialized, and the economy kept growing, there are scars, notably the weakness of investment.


Michael Heseltine: Until the Tories see sense on a people’s vote, I will give mine to the Lib Dems (The Sunday Times)
The Conservatives, who were once known as the sensible party of the national interest, can yet respond to these elections in a way that is neither complacent nor panicked. As many have concluded, the solution to this crisis is to put any final deal back to the people.

Tony Connelly: The EU looks on in ‘suspended disbelief’ (RTE)
A rhetorical arms race will catapult a Boris Johnson or a Dominic Raab into Number 10 on the promise of a showdown with Brussels.

Peter Foster: Are we on the verge of committing an extraordinary act of self-harm? (Telegraph)
It’s hard to know where to begin on the levels of political mis-selling currently surrounding a ‘no deal’, but we are locked in an escalating rhetorical arms race where ‘no deal’ purportedly leads to certainty, control and ultimately leverage over the EU.

Caroline Spelman and Jack Dromey: The threat of no deal is far from over (The Times)
The collapse of the Brexit negotiations and the wilful disregard, by some in parliament, of increasingly desperate warnings from industry and the world of work has brought the spectre of no deal back.

Camilla Cavendish: Voters want to move on but Brexit Britain is stuck (Financial Times)
Politicians still owe the electorate an honest appraisal of the costs of leaving the EU.

Stephen Bush: Jeremy Corbyn quits the Brexit talks – and opens the way to no Brexit at all (New Statesman)
Extended deadlock, at least as long as this parliament sits, looks likely.

James Kirkup: The truth about David Cameron and the ‘mad, swivel-eyed loons’ (Spectator)
The Conservative members fixated on Europe above all else have won. They got their referendum, got their Brexit and soon they’ll quite likely get their prime minister.

Andrew Rawnsley: The middle ground no longer exists over Brexit. It’s all or nothing now (The Observer)
Advocates of Brexit who once said they’d be content to be out of the EU but stay within the single market have transmogrified into adamantine no-dealers. Remainers who might have settled for a halfway house will now accept nothing other than a second referendum.

John Rentoul: Don’t listen to Nigel Farage. Our politics may be utterly confusing, but it certainly isn’t ‘broken’ (Independent)
Of course he would say that. But why are those in the centre and on the left joining in? Anti-politics sentiment can easily turn anti-democratic, and Farage’s opponents should be careful about feeding it.

Members of the One Nation caucus: One Nation conservatism can make a success of Brexit (The Observer)
All candidates for the Conservative party leadership should endorse our declaration of values reframing the UK’s role in the world as a force for good.

Wolfgang Münchau: Brexit wrangles intrude on EU job allocation (Financial Times)
Victory for Nigel Farage in the European elections could complicate appointments.

Mujtaba Rahman: Fed up with election mess, EU may only offer UK one more chance (Twitter)
If another extension is granted beyond 31 October, it’s getting more likely EU leaders will make clear that by the time in concludes, the UK will need to have made a choice: between deal (WA/backstop), revoke or no deal.

Dominic Lawson: St Theresa took up her cross - and got nowhere (The Sunday Times)
Her successor, however talented, will be no better placed.

Paul Goodman: The Johnson hype is here. Don’t fall for it (ConservativeHome)
The way in which the leadership election works means that we must all take nothing for granted. In a field this fractured, anything could happen.

Matthew d’Ancona: If I were Jeremy Corbyn I’d be praying for a Boris Johnson victory (The Guardian)
The Tory party is in trouble. Having a rightwing populist incompetent as leader would quickly trigger an election.

Clare Foges: A vote for Johnson is a vote to break up the UK (The Times)
Many think that after May things can only get better, but Johnson is a tartan-wrapped gift for Scottish independence.

Chris Johns: Tory leadership contenders sacrifice principles at the altar of Brexit (The Irish Times)
Is the prospect of Nigel Farage as future British prime minister any more fanciful than a Trump presidency?

‘Future of Britain is in Europe,’ the Queen told Germany in 1988 (The Guardian)
Diplomatic cables reveal the monarch also appeared to back the creation of a single market.

Chris Grey: Deal or no deal? There’s still no end in sight (The Brexit Blog)
If none of this makes sense, don’t worry. In fact, congratulations. You’ve understood what is going on.