15 october weekly news

MINISTERS HAVE BEEN TOLD TO START IMPLEMENTING PLANS FOR A NO-DEAL BREXIT WITHIN WEEKS

Ministers have been told to start implementing plans for a no-deal Brexit within weeks as last-ditch talks in Brussels between Britain and the EU broke up after little more than an hour. Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, travelled to Brussels yesterday for an unscheduled meeting with his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, amid speculation that officials on both sides had reached agreement over the so-called Irish backstop. But Theresa May’s hopes of sealing a deal at the summit in Brussels that starts on Wednesday were left on a knife-edge when both sides declared that there had been no consensus. The Times has learnt that senior civil servants have warned ministers that whatever happens this week, the government’s contingency plans for Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal agreed must start being put into effect by the end of the month. Rather than wait for the conclusion of talks in Brussels, or the ratification of any deal by MPs, the work of stockpiling medicines and telling businesses to begin registering for new customs processes must begin shortly, ministers have concluded.Those involved in the discussions said that if the government delayed taking action to prepare for a no-deal Brexit beyond this month, it faced being under-prepared by March 29 next year, when Britain officially leaves the EU. – The Times (£)

LABOUR DEMAND THE GOVERNMENT PUBLISH ITS IRISH BORDER BACKSTOP PLAN

Labour is pressing the government to give MPs the chance to debate Theresa May’s plans for the Irish border backstop before she flies to a crunch summit with EU leaders this week. Brexit secretary Dominic Raab returned from Brussels on Sunday night without agreement, after face-to-face talks with his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier. Disagreement centres on the backstop – the legally enforceable protocol insisted upon by the EU27 to prevent a hard border arising in Ireland. Keir Starmer said it was “deeply disappointing” that no deal had been reached. The shadow Brexit secretary said: “The details of any proposed backstop agreement need full and searching scrutiny in parliament, not least because the final deal will need parliamentary approval. “I would therefore urge the prime minister to publish the latest backstop proposal today – alongside an oral statement – to provide sufficient time to scrutinise and debate it.” – Guardian

Ruth+Davidson+Nicola+Sturgeon+Answers+First+XwNzJSGdtxClRUTH DAVIDSON AND DAVID MUNDELL THREATEN TO QUIT IF BREXIT DEAL UNDERMINES ‘INTEGRITY’ OF THE UK

Ruth Davidson and David Mundell have warned Theresa May they are prepared to resign if a Brexit compromise creates a “new border down the Irish Sea”. The Scottish Conservative leader and the Scottish Secretary fear any special status that keeps Northern Ireland in the single market could “undermine the integrity of the UK” and boost the SNP’s ambition to break-up Britain. Under a so-called “backstop” plan – which would come into play if a wider trade agreement cannot be agreed – the UK would remain subject to EU customs rules for a limited period.Tory Brexiteers fear this could turn into a permanent arrangement, while the senior Scottish Tories are concerned Northern Ireland would face new controls separating it from the rest of the UK. – Telegraph (£)

LABOUR’S CAROLINE FLINT BREAKS RANKS TO SAY SHE WOULD BACK THERESA MAY’S BREXIT DEAL

Labour’s Caroline Flint yesterday broke ranks to declare she would back Theresa May’s Brexit deal – and urged colleagues to follow suit. Risking outrage from ‘Corbynistas’, the former Europe Minister said she didn’t view the decision as a vote of confidence in the Tory Government, but a choice about whether or not Britain crashes out of the EU with No Deal. Ms Flint told Sky News: “I think if a deal like that comes back it cannot be called a hard Brexit. “And I would have to very much weigh up what my decision is and, to be honest, if it’s a reasonable deal that meets all those requirements that I’ve put forward to support a deal then I think I would.” She added: “The question I think for some of my Labour colleagues is why wouldn’t you support a deal? Why would you stand along Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees Mogg who wants us to crash out without a deal and that’s the choice behind us.” – The Sun

Peter Robinson Appointed Leader of the DUP and Northern Ireland First MinisterNIGEL DODDS: WE ARE NOT BLUFFING – WE WOULD NEVER GAMBLE WITH THE UNION

From day one, we have been crystal clear about our red line in the Brexit negotiations, both publicly and privately. The UK joined the Common Market together and we must leave the EU together. One part of the UK cannot be left behind, bound to rules set in Brussels. The constitutional and economic consequences of such an approach would be catastrophic in the long run. The importance of what is decided on the backstop issue cannot be understated. This backstop is going to be legally operational and binding, unlike the political declaration on any future trading relationship. And what is being proposed would bind the UK and Northern Ireland into a trap whereby Northern Ireland remains subject to certain Single Market rules and the UK including Northern Ireland remains in the Custom Union unless and until the EU decides that something better comes along that they can agree with. That is why the issue of a time limit is so important. How can we hand over the decision on our future trading and economic future to the EU? Nigel Dodds for the Telegraph (£)

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