17dec weekly news template

10 DENIES MAKING PLANS FOR A SECOND BREXIT REFERENDUM

Theresa May will summon EU27 ambassadors to No 10 this week as she continues to seek reassurances over the Irish backstop, with Downing Street vehemently denying drawing up contingency plans for a second referendum. The education secretary, Damian Hinds, said on Sunday: “Government policy couldn’t be clearer. We are here to act on the will of the people clearly expressed in the referendum.” He added: “A second referendum would be divisive. We had the people’s vote, we had the referendum, and now we’ve got to get on with implementing it. Any idea that having a second referendum now would break through an impasse is wrong. It might postpone the impasse, but then it would extend it.” May attacked the former Labour prime minister Tony Blair this weekend for advocating a second vote, saying: “There are too many people who want to subvert the process for their own political interests rather than acting in the national interest. – Guardian

LIAM FOX WARNS A SECOND BREXIT REFERENDUM WOULD GIVE NICOLA STURGEON THE GREEN LIGHT FOR ANOTHER SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE VOTE

Liam Fox has echoed a chorus of senior Scottish Tory warnings that staging a second EU referendum would give Nicola Sturgeon the leverage she needs for another independence vote. The International Trade Secretary questioned how the UK Government could deny Ms Sturgeon a rerun of the 2014 independence referendum while organising a second Brexit vote. His intervention came after several senior Tory figures last week expressed major reservations about the growing calls for another EU vote, including giving the First Minister a powerful precedent. David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, and Jackson Carlaw, the interim Scottish Tory leader,  both told the Telegraph last week that the proposal would play into Ms Sturgeon’s hands. But former universities minister Sam Gyimah, who quit his post last month over Mrs May’s Brexit deal, said there was “nothing inherently undemocratic” about a second referendum, which he added could “break the deadlock”. – Telegraph (£)

LABOUR WILL TRY TO FORCE BREXIT VOTE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Labour will try to force a Brexit vote before Christmas, shadow communities minister Andrew Gwynne has said. A confidence vote could quickly follow MPs making a decision on whether or not to accept Theresa May’s Brexit deal, Mr Gwynne told the Andrew Marr show, but would not come before. Mr Gwynne, who is also the party’s election co-ordinator, denied Mrs May would be safe until Christmas – leaving the door open to a confidence vote before the festive break. He said: “The main thing we want next week is to have that meaningful vote on the Withdrawal Agreement… We want that before Christmas. “We will assess our tactics on a day-to-day basis but fundamentally until we secure that meaningful vote from the Parliament we can’t move to the next stage. Mr Gwynne added Labour would “assess our tactics on a day-to-day basis”, but refused to elaborate on how Labour could force a confidence vote. He said: “We will be using whatever mechanisms we have at our disposal next week to try and force the Government to bring forward that deal for a vote before Christmas.There are a number of mechanisms we can use and i am not going to explain parliamentary tactics on live TV but we will be using everything at our disposal next week to try and force the Government to bring that deal before Parliament before we rise for Christmas.” – Belfast Telegraph

SCOTTISH FISHING INDUSTRY BOSSES WARN OVER ‘EU RETRIBUTION’

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) will publish its first ever annual State of the Industry Report on Sunday, with less than four months to go until the UK leaves the EU. The document backs exiting the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and calls for the UK to be able to negotiate access and quota rights as an independent coastal state by the end of 2020. Industry bosses in Scotland have said that it is not in the interests of the EU-27 to adopt “hardline positions” on talks over future agreements on fishing. Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, said: “We are getting close to the point where Britain leaves the EU, and this will be the last December Fisheries Council that we attend before we begin the transition to coastal state in our own right. “Sensible management of fish stocks is extremely difficult when you are facing the double whammy of an unworkable discard ban that takes little account of the mixed fishery in Scottish waters and therefore the issue of choke species and significant cuts to key stocks such as cod and haddock that will exacerbate this problem. “If further evidence were required that the Common Fisheries Policy is a disastrous tool for fisheries management, this is it. But given that we have a fisheries agreement to negotiate, it would be utter folly for the EU to try to exact retribution on the UK by further punishing our hard-working fishermen instead of analysing the situation dispassionately and looking for a series of sensible, practical solutions to these problems.” – Belfast Telegraph

Jeremy Hunt warns Iran against using Britons as political prisoners

STOP PROJECT FEAR AND PREPARE FOR ‘NO DEAL’ WITH PROJECT READY

No one should want a no-deal Brexit as their first option: it would come with many (entirely avoidable) costs and would be the result of a disastrous failure of diplomacy. But we are fast running out of options and could soon be faced with the choice of either no Brexit or a departure without a wide-ranging formal deal with the EU. The former course of action, which is being advocated increasingly hysterically by Remainers inside and outside the Conservative Party, would be a political catastrophe for Britain and would confirm to millions that democracy is a sham in this country. Hence preparing for no-deal must become Britain’s number one priority. While the Government has started to do more behind the scenes, its efforts to date remain little short of scandalous, largely because of Philip Hammond’s refusal to fund and equip the effort properly. It’s time to drop Project Fear and embrace Project Manage. Preparing for a no-deal Brexit should become the Government’s biggest, best‑publicised mission. – Telegraph(£)

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