The Press Room

19 March 2019  

Time is running out as talks begin on Article 50 extension (Financial Times)
Questions are being asked about the procedure Brussels and London must go through to ensure the UK does not crash out of the EU at the end of the month.

Third Brexit vote must be different – Speaker (BBC)
Speaker John Bercow has thrown the UK’s Brexit plans into further confusion by ruling out another vote on the PM’s deal unless MPs are given a new motion.

Bercow is sabotaging Brexit deal, says No 10 (The Times)
Speaker accused of scuppering third Commons vote on May’s plan.

John Bercow’s brief intervention may mean a long journey lies ahead before we get to a Brexit deal (Telegraph)
The Speaker’s move came as a soft consensus was starting to emerge that EU leaders would try to help Theresa May get her deal over the line next week by offering the UK a clear-cut choice between a short and long extension to Article 50.

May weighing third Commons Brexit vote despite Speaker’s ruling (Financial Times)
Brexit secretary insists prime minister’s plan remains ‘the only deal on the table’.

EU could hand May lifeline with formal offer of new Brexit date (The Guardian)
Move might convince Commons Speaker John Bercow that deal before MPs has changed.

Nikki da Costa: Sorry, Mr Bercow, the PM’s deal is not dead yet (Telegraph)
The Speaker has therefore made it harder, but not impossible, for the Government to facilitate a further vote on the deal.

Take chance to get off the hook, Labour tells Theresa May (The Times)
Members of the opposition argued that John Bercow had given Mrs May a ladder to climb down when he said yesterday that her deal would have to be substantially altered before it could be put to a third vote.

Tom McTague: Brexit delay shreds Theresa May’s strategy (Politico)
Say goodbye to any significance to the March 29 Brexit date.

Hardline Brexiteers get behind Bercow’s bid to block May’s deal (The Times)
Senior figures in the ERG believe they stand more chance of dictating the direction of Brexit if the exit day is pushed back by nine months or more.

Sebastian Payne: Johnson and Raab jockey for position over May’s Brexit deal (Financial Times)
Tory leadership contenders need backing of Eurosceptic and mainstream MPs.

Robert Peston: Can the prime minister find out what Brexit MPs want, next week? (ITV News)
When Theresa May asks the EU’s 27 government heads for a Brexit delay on Thursday, they will reply “what’s it for, Mme Prime Minister?” And the problem she’s got - we’ve got - is she doesn’t know.

DUP unlikely to back May’s Brexit deal before EU meeting (The Guardian)
PM had hoped to win unionist party’s support before Thursday.

Brexit: Ministers pulling out all the stops to win over DUP (The Times)
Government ministers have offered concessions in a last-minute attempt to persuade the Democratic Unionist Party to back Theresa May’s deal.

Nicola Sturgeon: Theresa May is ‘shortchanging’ Scots for DUP deal (The Scotsman)
Nicola Sturgeon has accused Theresa May of undermining the Scottish Parliament and “shortchanging” Scots public spending over Brexit in a damning letter to the Prime Minister.

Labour steps up backing for second Brexit referendum (Financial Times)
Corbyn move attempts to mollify pro-EU members, but party’s stance remains unclear.

Opposition party leaders tell Jeremy Corbyn second referendum is ‘best way forward’ (Politics Home)
Leaders of the smaller opposition parties are to pile pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to explicitly support a second referedum with the option of staying in the EU on the ballot paper.

ICO fines Vote Leave £40,000 for sending unlawful text messages (ICO)
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Vote Leave Limited £40,000 for sending out thousands of unsolicited text messages in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum.

Anger as EU citizens forced to pay call charges for post-Brexit rights hotline (Politics Home)
More than 1 million EU citizens are set to be hit by call charges as they try to work out whether they can stay in the UK after Brexit, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Church of England backs tea parties to heal divide (The Times)
The Church of England is to host thousands of post-Brexit tea parties to heal divisions between Brexiteers and Remainers, complete with a set of “conversation starters” designed to break the ice.

In the EU27

Brexit makes the EU see (Irish) green (Politico)
Solidarity with Dublin has never been stronger as EU stands behind backstop provision in Withdrawal Agreement.

Katya Adler: EU wary of divisions over UK delay (BBC)
The EU has almost given up understanding what’s going on in UK politics. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte compared Theresa May to the Monty Python knight whose limbs get cut off in a duel, but insists to his opponent that the fight was a draw.

Exit Brussels? The UK civil servants under a fog of uncertainty (The Guardian)
A dwindling band will stay at the EU for years, but many fear their influence will fade.

Trade deals and tariffs

Post-Brexit tariffs will ‘wipe out businesses’ near Irish border (The Guardian)
Local firms worry border closure and duties will lead to smuggling and chaos.

UK reaches post-Brexit trade agreement with Iceland and Norway (Reuters)
Britain on Monday reached an a deal with Iceland and Norway to allow trade to continue unchanged if it leaves the European Union without a deal, trade secretary Liam Fox said.

David Henig: Some confusion about the contents of the UK-Norway / Iceland deal announced today (Twitter)
More information is here - essentially this is mostly about tariffs, not services or regulations.

A No Deal Brexit

Ivor Ferguson: For Northern Irish farmers, no-deal Brexit would be a calamity (The Guardian)
Without an exit deal with the EU, the whole NI agricultural industry will be destroyed. The DUP must take note.

Government ‘Gagging Orders’ Have ‘Undermined Business Preparation For No-Deal Brexit’ (HuffPost)
Major trade bodies say they have been stopped from telling member companies about plans for customs and trade.

No-deal Brexit could mean £130m hit to research budgets (The Guardian)
Universities say vital projects are ‘days from stalling’ as EU grants could be lost.

Drug companies warn of ‘hard Brexit’ risk to medicines in EU (The Irish Times)
Pharma chief says 45 million packs of medicines a month move from UK to EU.

Dutch prepare for ‘Millennium bug’ Brexit (Politico)
‘There is no alternative but to hope for the best but prepare for the worst,’ says Foreign Minister Stef Blok.

Hundreds of Scottish police on standby for Brexit fallout (The Guardian)
Plans include 360 extra officers ready to step in if civil unrest or logistical issues arise.

Germany raises alarm about small businesses’ Brexit exposure (Financial Times)
Central bank becomes increasingly concerned by slow pace of ‘repapering’ process.

After Brexit

How big is Philip Hammond’s Brexit dividend? (Financial Times)
Economists say the UK chancellor may not have as much extra money as he thinks.

‘A riskier place to go’: academics avoid conferences in Brexit Britain (The Guardian)
Visa uncertainty and worries about research funding mean overseas delegates are wary of UK venues.

Brexit hits ability of UK fintech to lure top talent – report (RTE)
Brexit is threatening to slam the brakes on a £7 billion growth sector just as EU states step up competition.

Citi sets post-Brexit Frankfurt trading hub in motion (Financial Times)
Broker-dealer for EU exchanges is operational as US bank finalises contingency plans.

‘Faster’ Indicators for U.K. Economy to Be Published in April (Bloomberg)
The figures will potentially help provide an early warning sign for the U.K. economy as it adjusts to life outside of the European Union.


Ross Clark: John Bercow is right to block a third vote on May’s deal (The Spectator)
In trying repeatedly to get her bill through the Commons, the Prime Minister has descended to one of the very worst practices of the EU: keeping on holding votes until they get the right answer.

Raphael Hogarth: Bercow’s dramatic intervention is a distraction from the government’s real challenge: the search for a working majority (Prospect)
None of this really matters unless either the government can secure a majority for its deal, or someone else can secure a majority for something else.

William Hague: Leave MPs must take responsibility for the horrors of a long Brexit delay (Telegraph)
In a letter published in the Daily Telegraph, 23 Conservative MPs explained why they still wouldn’t vote for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, despite the alternative before them of a potentially lengthy delay to the whole idea.

Alastair Campbell: If Mrs May gets her deal over the line, even Leavers will be asking for a People’s Vote  (Telegraph)
Far from a vote for her deal ending the divisions and the drama, it sets us up for years more of the same.

Brendan Donnelly: “No Deal” is still on the table (The Federal Trust)
If Parliament wishes to be sure that “no deal” is off the table, it must adopt a clearer strategy for preventing it than it has until now; and it must find a way of imposing that strategy on the government that goes beyond the merely procedural and aspirational.

Stephen Bush: Without a third meaningful vote, are we headed for a no-deal Brexit or no Brexit? (New Statesman)
Something has to happen, which means that one of the outcomes that currently looks impossible – whether that be no deal, May’s deal, Norway or no Brexit – will have to happen. And the answer to that won’t be found in the pages of Erskine May.

Robert Shrimsley: Theresa May’s Brexit struggles have resolved nothing (Financial Times)
In her early months as PM, Mrs May was widely mocked for saying “Brexit means Brexit”. Nearly three years on, she has still not managed to elucidate. That is the full scope of her failure.

Rachel Sylvester: Blame May, not Bercow, for this catastrophe (The Times)
MPs are deadlocked, parliament is at loggerheads with the executive, the different forms of democracy are straining against one another and hate crimes are on the rise. Instead of bringing harmony, Mrs May has entrenched division.

Paul Goodman: What will the EU do now? (ConservativeHome)
The EU has a choice to make on Thursday – assuming that the third “meaningful vote” (MV3) has not been tabled, debated and passed by then.  It could decide whether Theresa May is still Prime Minister this coming autumn.

Gideon Rachman: Why Emmanuel Macron should have mercy on Theresa May over Brexit (Financial Times)
A rapid withdrawal by the UK would only strengthen the EU’s enemies.

Nicola Chelotti: Pessimistic, confused and frustrated – how the EU views Westminster’s mess (The Times)
If for a long time the EU has stressed that the EU membership is still very much open for the UK, the impression that I got from Brussels this week is that the EU has slowly but progressively learnt how to get along with the UK’s departure.

Alex Massie: Brexit fiasco has lessons for the Nationalists (The Times)
Crisis highlights the difficulties of extricating Scotland from the UK – and how not to do it.

Fintan O’Toole: Are the English ready for self-government? (The Irish Times)
Westminster chaos affords preview of Britain standing alone with its demons.

Simon Wren-Lewis: Brexiteers are stopping Brexit because they believe in the fantasy of “Global Britain” (New Statesman)
The delusion that the UK can strike valuable trade deals with the rest of the world has driven Leavers to repeatedly reject Theresa May’s deal.

Jill Rutter: Dumping Olly Robbins would be cowardly, damaging and shortsighted (The Times)
Instead of sacrificing her own job to get her Brexit deal through, the prime minister is reported to have proposed that her loyal adviser, Olly Robbins, should go. Greater love hath no prime minister than they lay down their staff for their jobs.

Andrew Gwynne: It’s very easy for people to demand that their MP vote as they want on a particular issue like Brexit (Twitter)
My constituents voted 61% to Leave the EU in the referendum – here’s a sample of emails received today.

18 March 2019  

In Westminster

Brexit digest (House of Commons)
Where have we got to?

Theresa May woos Brexiteers but still faces defeat in third vote on deal (The Times)
Prime minister wins fresh support for her deal with personal appeals.

Brexit: No new vote on May’s deal without DUP support - chancellor (BBC)
Philip Hammond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that it would only be put to MPs if “enough of our colleagues and the DUP are prepared to support it”.

Theresa May will cancel Brexit deal vote if she does not believe she can win it, ministers reveal (Telegraph)
Downing Street is understood to be discussing an alternative strategy of holding the vote the week after, cranking up the pressure on MPs to back the deal or accept the blame for a lengthy delay.

Around 40 Tory Rebels Told Theresa May: We’ll Vote For Your Brexit Deal If You Quit (BuzzFeed)
May was told in direct terms by several MPs in one-on-one phone calls on Sunday that she should make a pact to resign as prime minister to get her deal through.

Blocking May deal will alienate voters, Liam Fox tells Brexiteers (The Times)
Liam Fox has warned his fellow Brexiteers that failing to back Theresa May’s deal would alienate voters because it would bring a lengthy delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Brexit: Labour Leaver MPs demand say on future talks as price for backing Theresa May’s deal (Independent)
Theresa May’s team are in behind-closed-door talks in a bid to secure the support of up to 20 Labour MPs for the prime minister’s troubled Brexit deal.

Northern Ireland’s farmers urge DUP to back Brexit deal (Financial Times)
Business fears mount over unionist opposition to withdrawal agreement.

Robert Peston: What the PM offered the DUP (ITV News)
Mrs May’s frantic last attempt to persuade the DUP to back her meaningful vote involves a promise that if the backstop is ever triggered, Great Britain would adopt any new food and business rules that could be forced by the EU on Northern Ireland.

James Forsyth: Better than 50:50 chance that the government can get the DUP on board for meaningful vote 3 (The Spectator)
What is winning the DUP round is the promise of putting into the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which puts the deal into UK law, a requirement that there be no divergence between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Tim Shipman and Caroline Wheeler: Eurosceptics start to crack as May steps up search for 75 switchers (The Sunday Times)
The PM will put her deal to the vote again this week amid fury in the party.

John Rentoul: The success of Brexit is now in the hands of a small group of MPs – and not the ones you might think (Independent)
It looks as if the DUP will finally back Theresa May’s deal on Tuesday, along with large numbers of Tory rebels – but the prime minister still needs Labour support.

Brexit: McVey backing for May’s deal raises hopes for approval (The Observer)
Former minister’s stance hints last week’s votes may have shifted terrain in parliament.

Philip Hammond says it is ‘physically impossible’ for UK to leave EU on 29 March (City AM)
“If the Prime Minister’s deal is able to muster a majority this week and get through, then we will need a short extension,” Hammond said. “It is physically impossible to leave on 29 March, but we would be able to leave very soon.

Brexit: Labour likely to back public vote on May’s deal, says Corbyn (The Observer)
However, Labour leader also says he is determined to continue pressing for party’s softer-Brexit policy.

Jeremy Corbyn launches bid to get cross-party support for Labour’s soft Brexit plan (Politics Home)
Jeremy Corbyn is seeking talks with cross-party MPs in a bid to secure backing for Labour’s plans for a soft Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn might back Leave if there is a second referendum (The Times)
Mr Corbyn said how he voted would depend on the choices on the ballot paper. “It depends what the choice is in front of us. If we have got a good deal . . . then that might be a good way forward that unites the country.”

Prepare to fight European elections, parties told as Brexit delay fears grow (The Sunday Telegraph)
Britain’s political parties have been formally told by the electoral regulator to prepare to fight the European Parliament elections in two months’ time as fears of a lengthy delay to Brexit grow.

Nick Boles resigns from local Conservative association over Brexit (The Observer)
MP who co-sponsored Cooper amendment says ‘a politician without principles is worthless’.

In Brussels

EU sets out July 1 deadline in Brexit delay plans (Financial Times)
Draft document says UK must hold European elections if it takes longer than 3 months to leave.

EU leaders warn no-deal Brexit not ruled out despite MPs’ vote for delay (Sky News)
The House of Commons is told a vote in favour of extending Article 50 does not necessarily rule out a no-deal Brexit.

Revealed: EU war-gaming for fall of May’s government (The Observer)
Leak shows Brussels planning for PM’s defeat and making efforts to prevent her deal being unpicked.

Jennifer Rankin: With Brexit approaching UK’s voice in Brussels grows quiet (The Guardian)
MEPs and officials have to think hard about how to preserve British influence, while facing unnerving uncertainty.

Brexit: UK needs to reset approach to justify extension – Coveney (The Irish Times)
Tánaiste hints May must signal she will reach out to opposition if she wants EU approval.

In retrospect

Tony Connelly: How the backstop deal was done - and why Cox blew it apart (RTE)
The problem was, the man Theresa May had entrusted to spearhead the UK’s mission, and on whose delphic utterances success would hinge, was on a different legal track.

Fiach Kelly: Dublin could only watch on as Westminster lurched from one crisis to another (The Irish Times)
Juncker wanted a ‘verbal handshake’ with Varadkar before any sign-off with May.

Sam Coates and Henry Zeffman: How Theresa May survived her wild week of smoke and mirrors (The Times)
It is a mark of the times that Mrs May survives on the assistance of the people she has tried in the past to take down.

‘The damage is done’: Disbelief in Europe at another lost Brexit week (The Observer)
May’s last-gasp dash to Strasbourg, the midnight press conference with Juncker … EU officials and politicians looked on with growing incredulity.

In the Vienna Woods

Theresa May turns to Vienna for Brexit help (Politico)
The U.K. government hopes Brexiteers will close their eyes to what many experts and EU officials believe is the dubious legal basis of the Vienna Convention option in a bid to get the deal done.

The Irish Backstop: Nothing has changed? It has actually (Policy Exchange)
While the Withdrawal Agreement itself has not changed, the UK Government is now correct in asserting the right, in extremis, to appeal to international law under the Vienna Convention.

Can the Backstop be Beaten? (David Anderson QC)
This opinion addresses the novel suggestion that the UK could pull out of the Northern Ireland Backstop either unilaterally, via Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, or through the arbitration mechanism established by the Withdrawal Agreement.

Philippe Sands: Geoffrey Cox has no grounds to change his mind on the Northern Ireland backstop (The Guardian)
Breaking international treaties unilaterally is seldom possible – as I know from personal experience.

Professor Marko Milanovic: Brexit, the Northern Irish Backstop, and Fundamental Change of Circumstances (EJIL)
With all due respect to both the Attorney and Lord Pannick, relying prospectively on the fundamental change of circumstances rule in the context of the Northern Irish backstop is an obvious, exam-failing non-starter.

In business

Brexit moves ‘will reduce UK tax base, influence and jobs’ (Financial Times)
Chart of the week: tally of UK financial companies to increase EU presence hits 269.

UK bankers on standby as City readies no-deal contingency plans (The Guardian)
JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and others poised to move staff to EU offices by 29 March.

Moving abroad in mind for car parts suppliers (The Times)
Two thirds of suppliers to carmakers are thinking about relocating overseas, according to a study of 300 manufacturers by KPMG.

Brexit crisis tipped for British asparagus as EU seasonal workers stay away (Reuters)
“U.K. agriculture is definitely entering into a crisis. No labor means no harvesting, which means no fruit and no vegetables on shelves in British supermarkets.”

Car and holiday sales held back by Brexit uncertainty, says report (Sky News)
Separate figures from the British Chambers of Commerce also suggested that business investment was set for its biggest decline in a decade this year as firms “hit the brakes”.

Anxious small companies seek port in Brexit storm (The Times)
Whether leaving the EU ends with no-deal or not, businesses are already reporting problems with trade across the Channel,

‘A waste of money’: Dublin port reluctantly prepares for Brexit (The Guardian)
Docks’ boss laments need for new infrastructure but says it can cope even under no deal.

Britain faces hefty bill from ferry companies if Brexit date changed (Financial Times)
Contract applies only to March departure of block but Theresa May is seeking delay.

Britain warned over legality of border plan (The Times)
Plans to waive checks on goods crossing the Irish border under a no-deal Brexit would violate international law, according to the World Trade Organisation’s former chief judge.

Douglas Fraser: Trading insults (BBC)
The UK is indeed “taking back control” – not so much to make the rules and regulations for its own economy, but enough control to decide which foreign power’s rules to take.

In my opinion…

Theresa May: The patriotic thing for MPs to do is vote for my Brexit deal (The Sunday Telegraph)
Amidst the Parliamentary drama at Westminster last week, a greater clarity emerged about the choices we face as a country.

Boris Johnson: To back the PM’s deal, we need proof that the next stage of the Brexit talks will be radically different (Telegraph)
The UK will enter the second phase of the talks - if this deal goes through - in a position of almost unbearable weakness.

Graham Brady: The public is losing patience – MPs must vote for May’s Brexit deal (Financial Times)
The bottom line is that the withdrawal agreement is better than it was but remains seriously flawed. So why did I decide to vote for it?

Daniel Hannan: This is the Tories’ last chance to reject May’s deal, press reset and undo her appalling mistakes (The Sunday Telegraph)
In Brussels, they are looking on with incredulous joy. Never did they imagine that Britain would so deliberately and publicly weaken itself.

Matthew Elliott: I’ve led us to the exit. It’s Theresa May’s Brexit deal or nothing (The Sunday Times)
The prize, though far from perfect, is within reach if MPs hold their nerve.

A warning for Brexiteers supporting the Deal this week (David Allen Green)
UK politicians and the media have been preoccupied with the “backstop” arrangements. Very little else of the Deal has been discussed, let alone scrutinised. And once the Deal is approved and executed, it will be too late for Brexiteers to change their mind.

Michael Howard: Why, with a heavy heart, Brexiteers should now back Theresa May’s deal (The Sunday Telegraph)
I have been a critic of the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement right from the start. I have spoken against it, twice, in the House of Lords. Had I still been a Member of the House of Commons I would have voted against it twice.

Brian Monteith: We need to shut down the Withdrawl Agreement and reboot Brexit (The Scotsman)
Theresa May’s agreement is so bad it is actually worse than remaining an EU member under current membership terms.

David Henig: It is widely accepted that the UK Government and Parliament made a major mistake in invoking Article 50 without a plan (Twitter)
Rather than learn from this Government and many MPs now suggest we need to support the Withdrawal Agreement without a plan for the future.

Juliet Samuel : Brexiteers should stop fretting and learn to love the backstop (Telegraph)
Is this how it ends? Sir Christopher Chope MP and a band of brothers on a hill, deciding bravely to knife their own side in the back.

Paul Goodman: Enter – or rather exit – the Spartans (ConservativeHome)
If the Prime Minister’s deal gets through, among the corpses of MPs slain in the pass should be those of: Peter Bone, Bill Cash, Christoper Chope, Mark Francois, Andrea Jenkyns, John Redwood and, we believe, Steve Baker.

Matthew d’Ancona: A long delay is now the only way out of this Brexit quagmire (The Guardian)
More Tories may back Theresa May’s deal, but it is still unlikely to pass. A pause for reflection is in the nation’s best interest.

Stop the Brexit Countdown and Think Again (Bloomberg)
With time almost up, Britain teeters between making a disastrous mistake and admitting what most MPs, ministers and the prime minister herself now surely understand — that the Brexit project has gone irretrievably wrong.

EU could prolong Brexit political pain for economic gain (Financial News)
Europeans don’t seem ready to trade the political gain of a fast break for the certain economic pain that a no-deal Brexit would impose.

Wolfgang Münchau: A long Brexit delay spells danger for the EU (Financial Times)
Extended UK divorce will suck up union’s resources and distract it from more pressing business.

Phil Wilson and Peter Kyle: Only our compromise can break the Brexit impasse (The Guardian)
The people of this country deserve a final say on any deal in a confirmatory ballot.

Magnus Linklater: Seeing through the Brexit madness (The Times)
Pollster John Curtice says politicians are wrong about what the public wants.

Andrew Rawnsley: Well done, Brexit ultras – the EU has never had more power over Britain (The Observer)
European leaders now get to dictate terms to a supplicant Britain.

Sean Whelan: London – the Athens of the north (RTE)
The last time I witnessed the kind of febrile, panicked, chaotic political meltdown we have seen in Westminster last week was in the long hot summer of 2015, in Greece.

Matthew Parris: It’s not too late for MPs to do the right thing (The Times)
I’m going to stick up for cowardly Tory MPs: backbenchers and ministers who have within themselves the potential to be brave when they are sure, but who have not been sure; and have kept mouths shut and heads below the parapet. I could have been one of them.

Chris Johns: Brexit’s most disturbing aspect is the casual adoption of extremist views (The Irish Times)
Brexit Britain has gone from the promises of sunny uplands to sounding like Gloria Gaynor – ‘we will survive’

Edward Lucas: Brexiteers ignore the US-Irish lobby at their peril (The Times)
A congressional delegation is heading for London to catch up on the latest news about Brexit. But London is only the senators’ first stop. Next is Belfast, then Dublin. That should send a shiver down the Brexiteers’ spines.

Adam Boulton : This ‘shower’ of MPs is actually giving the way parliament works a spring clean (The Sunday Times)
The balance of power shifted last week, and so did the way parliament transacts business. The system is not broken. It is adapting slowly to post-two-party rule.

Fintan O’Toole: Don’t even feel a bit sorry for Theresa May (The Irish Times)
Her prioritisation of her own grip on office has shaped the whole Brexit debacle.

Lord Ashcroft: How the United Kingdom voted on EU referendum day – and why (ConservativeHome)
On referendum day I surveyed 12,369 people after they had voted to help explain the result – who voted for which outcome, and what lay behind their decision.