22oct weekly news template

BREXIT WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT ‘95% COMPLETE’, THERESA MAY TO TELL MPS

Theresa May is to say 95 per cent of the Brexit deal is settled as she seeks to quell mounting frustration at her handling of EU divorce negotiations. In a Commons statement on Monday following talks with European leaders in Brussels, the prime minister will insist the “shape of the deal across the vast majority” of the withdrawal agreement is now clear. But she will also reiterate her refusal to compromise over the Irish border, one of the key issues yet to be resolved with just over five months until Britain leaves the EU.Ms May’s statement to parliament comes as she faces growing anger among Eurosceptic rebels in her own party as well as calls for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal. In an attempt to highlight “important progress” since a fractious EU summit in Salzburg last month, the prime minister will tell MPs that agreements have been reached on security, transport and services. She is expected to confirm that protocols have been developed on how Brexit will impact Gibraltar and the UK’s military base in Cyprus.“Taking all of this together, 95 per cent of the withdrawal agreement and its protocols are now settled,” Ms May will tell the Commons. – Independent

STEVE BAKER TABLES AMENDMENTS TO GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION TO STOP NORTHERN IRELAND BEING PLACED IN A DIFFERENT REGULATORY AND CUSTOMS TERRITORY

Theresa May is facing a rebellion by more than 40 of her MPs if she does not bow to fresh demands from Brexiteers in the next 48 hours. Downing Street has commissioned urgent legal advice to determine whether the prime minister must face down new demands by the European Research Group that could scupper a key part of the Brexit negotiations. Steve Baker, a leading officer for the group, has put down amendments to government legislation that would stop Northern Ireland being placed in a different regulatory and customs territory from the rest of Britain without a vote in the Stormont assembly.The Democratic Unionist Party would be unlikely to vote for this, even if the parliament were not suspended, which it is at present. Sources in the research group said that the move was a conscious attempt to see off the backstop, the insurance policy demanded by the EU to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. It will be pushed to a vote on Wednesday unless Mrs May gives way — allowing the Brexiteers to show their strength in the Commons. The manoeuvre comes at the start of another challenging week for the prime minister, which will begin with her pleading with her party for more time to finish the Brexit negotiations by claiming that she has concluded 95 per cent of the deal. The backstop is the biggest sticking point. – The Times (£)

ccelebritiesfoto5087732-0-image-a-27_1539686355667OLLY ROBBINS IS BEING HEADHUNTED BY CITY FIRMS WILLING TO PAY HIM £1M TO ADVISE THEM ON WHAT QUITTING THE EU WILL MEAN TO THEM

Britain’s top Brexit negotiator is being head hunted by City firms willing to pay him £1million to advise them on quitting the EU. Olly Robbins is the Prime Minister’s personal EU adviser and is leading the details negotiations in Brussels. He has been harshly criticised by Brexiteers who believe he is using his senior role in the talks and influence over the PM to force a soft exit from the bloc. But his role has also made him a desirable hire to financial firms desperate for intelligence on the Brexit deal following exit day next year. Mr Robbins has long been seen as a leading candidate to be Britain’s top Civil Servant, the Cabinet Secretary – a powerful post in Downing Street. His high profile role negotiating Brexit may have left him too controversial for the job. Working for a merchant bank or other City firm would also be vastly more profitable. The Cabinet Secretary earns about than £200,000. A source told the Sunday Times: ‘Olly has his exit strategy.’Every man and his dog in the City wants him.’ – Daily Mail

TIMES EDITORIAL: DEAL OR BUST

Mrs May’s ability to avoid either a collapse in talks or defenestration by her own party has, over the past two years, surprised many. She has done this by prioritising political triangulation over realism. Three times, in writing, the prime minister has insisted that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland. This can happen only if Northern Ireland alone remains in the customs union, or if the entire UK does, or if some hitherto unimagined technology is swiftly invented to permit frictionless trade from one side to the other. The first two options involve political battles she has not yet deigned to fight. The third is fantasy. If the prime minister believes that a good deal with the EU is still possible, she must cease her appeasements of colleagues who she thinks are hindering that prospect. If she does not, she should say so and prepare the public for a no-deal Brexit with consequences that her own government’s impact assessments suggest could be dire. What she cannot do is keep kicking the can down the road. Parliament, and the public, are running out of patience. Mrs May, meanwhile, is running out of road. – Editorial in The Times (£)

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