Media Hub

Media Hub

Momentum vows not to block ‘inevitable’ second Brexit vote debate at Labour conference

3 hours 28 minutes ago
Labour conference
The pro-Jeremy Corbyn group will not stand in the way of a discussion of Brexit at the party's annual conference

Momentum have vowed not to block an 'inevitable' debate on a second Brexit vote at this year's Labour conference.

The left-wing campaign group said it will not stand in the way of a debate after local Labour groups pushed for members to be given a say on the issue.

Momentum was instrumental in helping the Labour leadership avoid a difficult discussion on Brexit at last year’s conference by encouraging delegates to involve themselves in votes around other topics, such as the NHS and housing.

But Momentum’s national co-ordinator Laura Parker has said that it was now “inevitable” that delegates would be given time to debate the party’s stance on Brexit in Liverpool next week.

“Last year, the context was very different”, she said.

“Now, it is absolutely inevitable there will be a discussion on conference floor, I can’t conceive there won’t be – we’re 200 days away.”

She added: “Without a doubt, there has to be a debate.”

Over 150 Brexit focussed motions have been filed by local Labour branches with dozens giving their support to a second public vote on the final deal.

And several pro-Remain Labour pressure groups are now planning to lobby delegates with briefing packs and drop-in sessions in a bid to strong-arm the Labour leadership into a rethink.

Official Labour party policy is against a second referendum, but there have been mixed signals from the Labour frontbench on the issue in recent months, with Shadow Brexit spokesperson Keir Starmer saying that the party was "not ruling out" the option.

Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, the co-founder of student group For Future’s Sake, said that pro-Remain factions would be coming up with a co-ordinated plan ahead of the debate, adding: “The one cast-iron agreement across all the groups is that a people’s vote is the way to solve the crisis.

But Ms Parker refused to reveal how it would instruct Momentum members on the final vote, saying: “We are waiting to see what motions come to conference floor.”

john.johnston_25922

Blow for Theresa May as ally declares Chequers Brexit plan 'dead as a dodo'

3 hours 46 minutes ago
Mike Penning
Mike Penning accused Theresa May of putting her critics on the "naughty step"

Theresa May's Chequers Brexit plan is "dead as a dodo", according to one of her allies.

Sir Mike Penning - who worked with the Prime Minister at the Home Office and helped orchestrate her 2016 leadership campaign - accused the Prime Minister of a "massive insult" by asking Tory MPs to back it.

He told The Telegraph: "She is playing a game of Russian Roulette with the country which is frankly an insult to the referendum result and all those people who voted,  no matter how they voted.

"To say to the likes of myself: 'It’s Chequers or a hard Brexit'. It’s like making us sit on the naughty step at school."

His intervention is significant because he has previously resisted the temptation to publicly criticise Mrs May, despite being angered at her decision to sack him from the frontbench in a reshuffle last year.

The intervention from the previously-loyal backbencher - who also confirmed he was joining the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers - came as the Prime Minister tried to convince EU leaders to swing behind her proposals over dinner in Salzburg.

Dining on wiener schnitzel with potatoes ahead of sit-down meetings today, Mrs May called on the 27 EU leaders to "respond in kind" to what she called the "serious and workable" Chequers proposals.

And she tried to scotch speculation in Brussels that the UK could hold a second referendum, saying: "We all recognise that time is short but delaying or extending these negotiations is not an option.

"I know that for many of you Brexit is not something you want - but it is important to be clear there will be no second referendum."

But Sir Mike urged the Prime Minister to call EU's bluff, saying the bloc would "make a deal at the last minute - that’s how they’ve always operated".

He said: "We’re just seeing this all from one end of a telescope and she needs to immediately now turn that telescope around. Because if she comes back with Chequers it’s dead as a dodo.”

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab last night conceded that the Chequers proposals - which have enraged Eurosceptics with calls for a free-trade area for goods governed by a "common rulebook" - were not "perfect".

He told LBC: "It may not be perfect, but it’s the most credible plan."

EU Council President Donald Tusk meanwhile called for Mrs May's Brexit pitch to be "reworked and further negotiated" before a final deal can be agreed, but welcomed a "positive evolution" in the UK's stance in recent months.

Announcing an emergency summit on the UK's departure for mid-November, he warned: "There is more hope but there is surely less and less time, every day left we must use for talks."

Matt Foster

Peers attack Theresa May's post-Brexit customs plan over lack of clarity

4 hours 26 minutes ago
Irish border
The UK is trying to reach agreement on keeping an open border in Ireland while controlling its own customs policy

Peers have laid into the customs plan Theresa May wants to sell to Brussels and warned that time is running out to find a solution.

The Lords EU External Affairs Sub-Committee said the so-called Facilitated Customs Arrangement (FCA), proposed by the Prime Minister in her Chequers plan, poses more questions than it answers.

And it warned that failing to reach an agreement with Brussels and crashing out of the bloc without a future trade deal would be "disruptive and costly" for the country.

It comes amid heightened pressure to reach agreement in the coming weeks on keeping an open land border with Ireland after Brexit, while allowing the UK to set its own trade policy outside of the customs union.

Part of the FCA plan involves the UK collecting tariffs on behalf of Brussels where the final destination of goods is unknown, to prevent a hardening of the frontier.

For the remaining goods the Government suggests using technological solutions to ensure the correct rates are paid before courriers reach the border. 

In a new report, the committee said ministers have yet to outline in detail how goods could be "reliably tracked" as well as how system would be enforced.

It said the repayment mechanism - which would allow pre-paid tariffs to be re-adjusted at a later date - was “untested and will take several years to be developed and implemented".

Chair of the committee Baroness Verma said: “The Government must, as a matter of urgency, provide answers to questions on the Facilitated Customs Arrangement, such as how goods would be tracked, how revenue would be collected and how the repayment mechanism would work.

“With only six months to go until Brexit the clock really is ticking on a mutually acceptable customs agreement."

NO DEAL 'DISRUPTIVE AND COSTLY'

The Government has been ramping up preparations for crashing out of the EU without a deal, in the event talks with Brussels break down or MPs reject the final Brexit plan.

But the peers warned against a no-deal outcome, highlighting HMRC analysis that said it would cost business £18bn a year - rather than just £700m a year under the FCA plan. 

They noted that the use of technology would not prevent the need for any checks at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and said trade would be disrupted by a swamp of regulation.

“The Government would face a ‘trilemma’ between keeping trade moving, ensuring security of the border, and the collection of revenue,” the report said.

“Its position that, in the event of ‘no deal’, customs checks of EU goods could be unilaterally suspended may be in breach of WTO rules.

“The Committee calls on the Government to set out its plans to ensure fair and equal treatment of all imported goods coming in on most-favoured nation terms.”

Baroness Verma added: “A ‘no deal’ Brexit will cause disruption – mitigation options are limited and no technology currently exists, which would eliminate border checks completely.

“Even if the UK waived customs checks on goods arriving from the EU, the EU has said that it will not reciprocate.”

Nicholas Mairs

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab accused of wasting time with 'silly' letter to Labour

18 hours 29 minutes ago
Dominic Raab
Dominic Raab said Labour wanted to "frustrate" Brexit

Labour has blasted Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab for “wasting time” when he should be negotiating with Brussels.

The Cabinet minister was mocked after he wrote a letter to Keir Starmer demanding Labour lay out its position on quitting the bloc.

He demanded “urgent clarification” on reports Labour could call for the suspension of the two-year Article 50 process with a view to calling another referendum.

Mr Raab said: “More than two years on from the referendum, with the right deal within our reach, the vast majority of British people will see that instead of trying to make Brexit a success, Labour are only interested in trying to frustrate the process.”

But a Labour source shot back: “Labour respects the result of the referendum and is not calling for a second referendum.

“With only weeks of Brexit negotiating time to go and no progress in sight, people would expect Dominic Raab to be getting on with the job of negotiating for Britain, not wasting time writing letters to the opposition.”

Meanwhile Labour MP Ben Bradshaw ridiculed the Brexit Secretary for writing “silly letters”.

Sir Keir has said Labour should keep all options - including a referendum on the final Brexit deal - “on the table”.

At the weekend London mayor Sadiq Khan called for a second Brexit vote and said quitting the bloc would have to be delayed in order to hold one.

In his letter, Mr Raab said: “The Government has made clear that we will not hold a second referendum. It would be wrong on principle, and in practice...

“While we work to deliver the instruction of the British people and get the right Brexit deal, people across the United Kingdom will be rightly concerned that Labour’s approach would invite the worst deal and take the country back to square one.”

emilio.casalicchio

EU chief Donald Tusk demands Theresa May ‘reworks’ her Brexit plan at crunch talks

19 hours 41 minutes ago
Donald Tusk
European Council President addressed reporters in Salzburg

Theresa May’s Brexit proposals must be "reworked and further negotiated" before a final deal can be agreed, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.

Appearing ahead of a crunch summit in Salzburg, the Brussels chief urged the Prime Minister to tweak her current proposals on the contentious Northern Irish border issue and confirmed that an emergency Brexit summit will take place in mid-November.

While he welcomed a "positive evolution" in the UK's stance in recent months, Mr Tusk warned: "On other issues, such as the Irish question, or the framework for economic co-operation, where the UK proposals will need to be reworked and further negotiated.

"There is more hope but there is surely less and less time, every day left we must use for talks."

The intervention is a blow for Mrs May as she prepares to urge the EU to drop its "unacceptable demands" on Northern Ireland.

Ministers are concerned that the EU's "backstop" proposal - which is intended only to be used if Britain's own plans are deemed unworkable - would jeopardise the UK by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market after Brexit.

The Prime Minister’s alternative Chequers plan seeks to allow "frictionless" trade across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, but it has met with opposition from Brussels as well as her own backenchers.

David Davis, who dramatically quit the Cabinet over the summer in opposition to the Chequers plan, is meanwhile braced to brand the Prime Minister's negotiating gambit "devoid of democracy".

In a speech in Munich the ex-Brexit Secretary will say: "We have been told that the Chequers proposal fulfils what the British people voted for. Well, I am afraid I simply do not buy that.

"52% of British voters oppose the proposals. Only 18% approve. It is quite remarkable for a government policy to be that unpopular."

According to extracts released in advance, the Tory big beast also promise that the Brexiteers' "more ambitious vision" for leaving the EU will be unveiled "shortly".

Speaking on Tuesday ahead of the two-day Salzburg gathering, Michele Barnier - the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator - meanwhile said he wanted to "de-dramatise" the Northern Ireland border issue and vowed to "respect the territorial integrity" of the UK.

He said: "We are ready to improve this proposal. Work on the EU side is ongoing.”

Elizabeth.Bates_30914

WATCH: Chequers deal collapse could trigger second Brexit referendum, warns Tory minister

20 hours 56 minutes ago
Mel Stride
Treasury Minister Mel Stride warned Tory MPs of the consequences of a Chequers deal collapse

Tory MPs planning to torpedo Theresa May’s Chequers deal could be paving the way for a second Brexit referendum, a Conservative minister has warned.

Treasury Minister Mel Stride told Sky News that voting down the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan in the Commons could prompt a second vote and risk the UK “not leaving the EU altogether”.

Hardline Tory MPs have condemnded the blueprint - arguing it leaves Britain too closely tied to the bloc - with some vowing to reject it when it comes before the Commons. 

But Mr Stride said: “When we have a firm deal on the table I suspect that those to the right of the party, the pro-Brexit wing, will be very concerned that if that deal doesn’t prevail then we’ll end up in a situation where we could end up with a second referendum and we could end up not leaving the EU altogether.

“So, there’s a danger of that happening if Chequers doesn’t prevail.”

Just today former Brexit Secretary David Davis reiterated that he would vote against the deal when MPs get the chance to accept or reject it.

Elsewhere, Mr Stride also warned pro-EU MPs who are hostile to the Chequers plan that voting against it could mean the UK crashes out of the bloc without a deal.

“I think those on the other end of the spectrum will equally be very concerned that if Chequers doesn’t prevail we could end up in a no-deal situation,” he said.

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, speaking on behalf of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said: "This is one small step for the minister but a giant stride for our campaign to deliver a people's vote.

"After weeks of denying the obvious, a senior minister has let the cat out of the bag. The government know that if their deal is voted down the only way out of this mess is a people's vote. 

"Mel Stride is the first minister to admit a fresh referendum is possible and it is now clear that the public deserve a final say on the Brexit deal."

It comes as Mrs May prepares to hash out the terms of the final Brexit agreement with EU chiefs in Salzburg today.

The Prime Minister will call on European leaders to drop their "unacceptable demands" as she seeks to defuse the ongoing standoff over the Northern Ireland border.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier last night hinted at a compromise as he said the bloc was "ready to improve" its offer on a Northern Ireland backstop.

Brussels had previously Northern Ireland would have to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union if a new arrangement breaks down - but the UK said that would not be acceptable.

Elizabeth.Bates_30914

Theresa May to urge EU leaders to drop 'unacceptable Brexit demands' at crunch meeting

1 day 4 hours ago
Theresa May leaves Downing Street
The Prime Minister also heaped fresh scorn on calls for a second Brexit referendum

Theresa May will today call on European leaders to drop their "unacceptable demands" as she seeks to defuse the ongoing Brexit row over the Northern Ireland border.

The Prime Minister will head to Salzburg for a crunch meeting with her EU counterparts as the two sides continue to lock horns over Brussels's"backstop" plan to effectively keep Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market after Brexit.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier last night hinted at a compromise as he said: "We are ready to improve this proposal."

Mrs May - whose own Chequers plan for a "frictionless" border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has been given a frosty reception in Brussels - will urge leaders to "evolve" their stance and insist that the UK's proposals are workable.

She is expected to say: "What we are proposing is a fair arrangement that will work for the EU’s economy as well as for the UK’s without undermining the single market.

"This would be balanced by a strong security relationship to keep all our citizens safe from threats at home and abroad."

Speaking on Tuesday ahead of the two-day gathering, Mr Barnier - the top EU negotiator - said he wanted to "de-dramatise" the Northern Ireland border issue and vowed to "respect the territorial integrity" of the UK.

He said: "We are ready to improve this proposal. Work on the EU side is ongoing...

"What we're talking about is not a border, not a land border, not a sea border. It's a set of technical checks and controls, just about all of which cannot be put other than in a physical place in Northern Ireland.

"So I hope that on the basis of simple, practical, objective provisions we'll be able to find a position whereby this improved backstop can be acceptable.

"It will not in any case take the form of a border because we respect the territorial integrity of the UK, and we respect the constitutional order of the UK."

The EU will next month revise its backstop proposal - which is intended only to be used if the UK's own plans are deemed unworkable - in a bid to break the deadlock.

MAY SLAMS 'PEOPLE'S VOTE'

Mrs May, who is facing intense pressure from Conservative Brexiteers to ditch her Chequers plan, meanwhile struck an upbeat tone in an interview with the Express, insisting that Britain's withdrawal agreement with the EU was "virtually agreed".

She said: "What I hear from other EU leaders is a recognition of that timetable and a recognition of the importance of showing we can sit down and come to an agreement.

"I’m not going to be pushed away from doing what is necessary to get the right deal for Britain."

The Prime Minister also heaped fresh scorn on calls for a second Brexit referendum - dubbed a 'People's Vote' by campaigners.

She told the Express: "People weren’t saying, 'it’s the choice of the public except if we disagree with the answer we’ll ask them again'.

"It was the public’s choice. My answer to the People’s Vote is that we’ve had the people’s vote – it was the referendum – and now we should deliver on it."

Matt Foster

EXCL Labour frontbencher: businesses will be worse off after Brexit

1 day 4 hours ago
Brexit
Shadow Small Business Minister Bill Esterson said firms were 'clearly going to be worse off outside the European Union'

Businesses will be "worse off outside the European Union", a Labour frontbencher has said - despite the party backing Brexit.

Labour has vowed to respect the result of the 2016 referendum, tearing into the Government's handling of the negotiations and promising an alternative 'Jobs First Brexit' vision.

But Bill Esterson, who has served as Jeremy Corbyn's Shadow Small Business Minister since 2015, acknowledged that Brexit in any form would hit businesses.

He made the comments in an interview with PoliticsHome’s sister title The House.

Asked whether there were any upsides for small businesses in leaving the EU, Mr Esterson said: “Look, I voted to Remain in the European Union. I don’t want us to leave the European Union.

“But, you know, we’ve accepted the result. I don’t think it particularly gets us anywhere to be visiting questions of whether we’re going to be better off. We’re clearly going to be worse off outside the European Union, and businesses are.”

The frontbencher added: "I’m not hearing business saying they are going to be better off outside the European Union.

“I’ve got some saying, 'I don’t think we’re going to be affected by it' - and they mean directly.

“But of course, if the economy does fall by 11%... or even a fraction of that, it will affect all businesses because the economy is an organic operation that connects everybody and every business."

The frank admission from the shadow minister comes as Labour heads into its annual conference under increasing pressure from activists to shift its stance on leaving the EU.

More than 150 Brexit-related motions have been submitted to its conference by local Labour parties, with a particular focus on calls for the party to consider backing a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the bloc.

'FULL-FRONTAL ATTACK'

Elsewhere in his House magazine interview, Mr Esterson - who also holds the international trade portfolio for his party - blasted the Conservatives’ handling of Brexit, and claimed that Labour’s alternative plan would soften the impact on smaller firms and stop the economy “falling off a cliff”.

He said: “If you look at the alternatives that we’re offering - you know, a new, comprehensive customs union, maintaining the regulatory environment that we have now, ensuring we have common standards - those are all guaranteed to avoid disruption post-Brexit.

"I think that’s where is the business community is. People have accepted the result of the referendum in the business community by and large, as has the Labour Party, but it doesn’t mean... that we shouldn’t be arguing for arrangements that look after the economy, business and jobs. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

The Shadow Small Business Minister also revealed that Labour is considering setting up a new “one stop shop” for small firms to seek advice and funding in a bid to claim the Conservatives’ traditional mantle as the party of business.

Matt Foster

Bill Esterson: “We’re clearly going to be worse off outside the European Union”

1 day 10 hours ago
Bill Esterson is the shadow minister for small business
Bill Esterson is the shadow minister for small business

As some high-profile Tory MPs change their tone towards industry, Bill Esterson says Labour is now “the true party of small business”. But does he have the policies to back up the claim? Matt Foster speaks to the Shadow Minister.

Firstly, an apology. This interview is not accompanied by snaps of Bill Esterson in “a very stylish pink top hat, a pair of glasses and a pink jacket” – but the pictures are out there somewhere. As we pull up a chair in his Portcullis House office, the Shadow Business Minister reveals that he’s just undergone a speedy change of clothes after donning the snazzy gear for a breast cancer charity’s flagship ‘Wear It Pink’ campaign. Sadly, the riotous headgear is long gone as we sit down to dig into the detail of his party’s pitch to business - but thanks to Tory heavyweight Boris Johnson, Esterson’s brief is hardly lacking a flash of colour at the moment.

The ex-foreign secretary made headlines over the summer with reports of a foul-mouthed tirade against firms warning about the impact of a hard Brexit – and it’s a broadside Esterson and his colleagues on the Labour frontbench are keen to exploit as the party gears up for its annual conference. “The Tories have, in the immortal words of Boris Johnson, told business to f*** off,” he smiles. “Which rather leaves a space open for us.”

The Shadow Small Business Minister, who also has the Brexit-dominated international trade portfolio in his brief, argues that Conservative eurosceptics have launched “a pretty full-frontal attack on businesses large and small” in recent months, by directly hitting out at firms who question Britain’s departure from the EU. It’s a charge strengthened, Esterson says, when Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab chooses to lay into retailer John Lewis’ claim that Brexit is partly to blame for a sharp slump in profits. The Labour frontbencher says Raab’s decision to start “attacking a great British brand for their honesty” shows that Boris Johnson’s “F*** business” attitude hasn’t left the cabinet with him.

As well as blasting the Conservatives on Brexit, the Labour frontbencher has even gone so far as to claim that Labour is now “the true party of small business” - an audacious bid for ground traditionally occupied by the Tories. The shadow minister clearly believes his party has done enough heavy-lifting to justify the bold claim, however. “The policies that we’ve been developing now for a number of years are wholly on the side of businesses who want to do the right thing,” he says. “We support businesses who want to play by the rules, who want to get on by treating their staff properly, by paying their suppliers on time, by taking a responsible attitude to the environment, by employing people on the basis of ability rather than who they know.”

Esterson says he has a “very, very healthy relationship” with the Federation of Small Businesses, while the Institute for Directors and the CBI – lobby groups representing bosses and big firms respectively – are now starting to take the party seriously, despite the fiery rhetoric that comes from a party that’s vowed to radically alter the balance of power in Britain. There has, Esterson claims, been a “sea change in the attitudes of the business community towards Labour” since last year’s general election, and he says it makes “perfect sense that the party of the worker should be the party of business too”.

“If you look at the most successful economies in the world - the IMF and the OECD both say this - they are characterised by being highly paid, by being unionised,” he says. “If you pay your workers well it means they’ve got more money to go on the goods and services produced by business. It’s actually common sense - and I think increasingly businesses can see a sense in what we’re saying.”

Esterson – who enjoys a thumping majority in his Sefton Central seat and has loyally served Jeremy Corbyn in the same job ever since the left-wing leader first seized the reins of power in 2015 – has also had plenty of time to get stuck into his brief, and he says he wants to make sure Labour is in a position “to support, encourage and put in place the conditions for businesses in this country to thrive” in the event of another snap election. The party has tried to woo smaller firms by promising a crackdown on unscrupulous business giants who fail to pay their subcontractors on time, while it’s also pledged to help them access capital more easily with a National Investment Bank and exempt them from the hike to corporation tax that Labour is planning for big companies.

The Shadow Business Minister also reveals for the first time that Labour is working on plans to emulate the United States’ Small Business Administration (SBA), a self-funding federal agency that has helped to incubate big American success stories like Apple and Nike. Although the proposals are some way off completion, Esterson says “a one-stop shop for business start-ups and for growth is really important”, and he wants an SBA-style agency to offer British firms the kind of accounting advice, help accessing finance, and mentoring that the SBA provides across the pond. “I’d love to see something like that in this country,” he says. “If we can develop our small business sector, make it much stronger, see far more of them succeed and continue to grow and thrive, we can create more of our own medium-sized firms and give greater stability and strength to the UK economy.”

While it’s clear Labour is working hard to build bridges with the small business community, then, the party’s own stance on Brexit means it’s hardly immune from some of the same criticisms currently being levelled at the Tories. Esterson deftly ducks the question when asked to name a single upside of leaving the European Union for small firms. “Look, I voted to Remain in the European Union,” he says. “I don’t want us to leave the European Union. But, you know, we’ve accepted the result. I don’t think it particularly gets us anywhere to be visiting questions of whether we’re going to be better off – we’re clearly going to be worse off outside the European Union – and businesses are.”

He argues that Labour’s so-called ‘Jobs First’ Brexit – backing membership of the EU’s customs union through the two-year transition period before seeking a fresh customs deal after that – will soften the impact on smaller firms and avoid “falling off a cliff” under the no-deal scenario being talked up by some Brexiteers. There are, however, no signs that Labour’s vision of Brexit would necessarily be any more palatable to the EU, which has repeatedly said its four freedoms are “indivisible” and warned Britain against trying to “cherry-pick” the bits of membership it likes. Isn’t there a risk that Labour – pledging to secure full access to the single market while also ending the free movement of people – risks overpromising its pitch to small business?

Again, the Labour frontbencher parries the question. “If you look at the alternatives that we’re offering – you know, a new, comprehensive customs union, maintaining the regulatory environment that we have now, ensuring we have common standards – those are all guaranteed to avoid disruption post-Brexit. I think that’s where the business community is. People have accepted the result of the referendum in the business community by and large, as has the Labour party, but it doesn’t mean we have to be – that we shouldn’t be arguing for arrangements that look after the economy, business and jobs. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

It’s fair to say Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow team has chopped and changed during his sometimes-tumultuous leadership of Labour, with rebellions, a vote of no confidence and sharp ideological differences resulting in frequent reshuffles of the party’s frontbenchers. Esterson, however, has stayed firmly put. Even so, he pulls no punches when asked whether the party’s summer-long row over anti-Semitism has overshadowed the kind of issues he’s keen to talk about. “It’s entirely self-inflicted by the Labour party,” he says of the split with Jewish groups.

Esterson speaks to The House in the week Labour’s ruling body finally agrees to fully incorporate an internationally-recognised definition of anti-Jewish abuse in the party’s code of conduct. “We could have dealt with the concerns the Jewish community had about our approach to anti-Semitism months ago, and we should have done,” he says. “I’m glad that we have now, and we’ve got to move on from it. But yeah, it’s been frustrating.” He agrees that the party’s “excellent” ‘Build it in Britain’ campaign – aiming to flaunt its support for domestic manufacturing – was a “missed opportunity” that become overshadowed by the row. But he vows that Labour will return to the theme in the coming months and says the party is offering “a fresh start, hope and optimism at a highly uncertain, and potentially very dangerous, time”.

“It’s really important people hear that message of hope,” he says. “I want them to be optimistic about the future, and I’m hoping we can get back on with delivering that message.”

ESTERSON ON…

LABOUR AS A BROAD CHURCH
There are many proud traditions within the party, and it’s extremely important that we retain all of them. We shouldn’t make the mistake of misunderstanding the difference between debate and division. There are healthy debates going on in the party about what the right policies are, about what the right agenda is, about what the right approach might be. To have that debate is a thoroughly good thing… The party of Corbyn and the party of Blair are the same party. That was true when Blair was leader, it’s true now that Corbyn’s leader. What we’ve got to do is use the talents of all of us in getting it right for the people of this country, and delivering a more prosperous future.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Spending time with my two children is incredibly important to me. It’s a really tough life for families and I haven’t always got that right. I re-evaluate this all the time. I have a very busy schedule down here and in the constituency as well. But if you don’t get your family life right and the balance of life right, and you don’t look after those closest to you, there’s actually not much point doing the other things.

WHAT HE WISHES HE’D KNOWN IN 2010
The importance of really properly being briefed and understanding the subject before commenting on it - because you get asked to go and speak in all sorts of debates and ask questions about all sorts of topics that you don’t really know inside out and upside down. And there’s no substitute for proper preparation and planning and putting aside the time to get it right. The people who do that are probably most effective at this job.

Sebastian Whale

Sir Vince Cable: Jeremy Corbyn must quit if he refuses to back second Brexit vote

1 day 20 hours ago
Vince Cable
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable at the Brighton party conference

Jeremy Corbyn should quit as Labour leader if he refuses to back for a second referendum on leaving the EU, Sir Vince Cable declared today.

The Liberal Democrat boss said the veteran left-winger was “letting down the many people in Labour heartlands who now see Brexit for what it is”.

And he blasted Mr Corbyn for allowing others to “do his dirty work” - including "bullying" colleagues and “indulging anti-Semitic bigots”.

In his keynote address to the annual Lib Dem conference, Sir Vince also took aim at Boris Johnson - saying his “treatment of women” was akin to that of US president Donald Trump.

And he lamented that the rise of “crap” jobs brought about by the ills of unregulated capitalism had contributed to the Brexit vote.

Addressing the party faithful on the final day of their get-together in Brighton, Sir Vince reiterated the Lib Dem call for a referendum on the final Brexit deal Theresa May strikes with Brussels.

He urged the Prime Minister to “shock us all” and commit to a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ so the nation has the chance to back out.

But he reserved his most damning criticism for Mr Corbyn - who he argued would find it “far easier” to “be brave on Brexit” than the Tory leader.

“This is his big chance. He used to be the campaigning backbencher who joined us in opposing the Iraq War and defending civil liberties,” Sir Vince told the seafront conference hall.

“Next week hundreds, thousands, of Labour members and MPs will demand he changes course and backs a public vote on the final deal.

“If Jeremy Corbyn will not say 'I will support a People’s Vote and I will fight Brexit,' Labour members should wave him goodbye.

“He is currently letting down the many people in Labour’s heartlands who now see Brexit for what it is.”

Sir Vince added: “In his new role [Mr Corbyn] has kept his hands clean and his image polished by hiring hard left boot boys and girls to do his dirty work.

“They do the bullying and the intimidation of colleagues and he claims not to know.

“He indulges anti-Semitic bigots and pleads ignorance. But the nastiness shouldn’t be allowed to obscure his abstention from the biggest issue of the day.”

A Labour spokesperson refused to comment - but a source noted that the Lib Dems were polling at around 8%.

'BORIS A REAL DANGER TO BRITAIN'

Elsewhere, Sir Vince took aim at Tory bigwig Mr Johnson, who he branded a Brexit “chancer” and “a real danger to Britain”.

“He doesn’t just resemble Trump – large, loud and blonde – he behaves more like him by the day,” the Richmond MP said.

“Their cynical disregard for the truth, their treatment of women, and their inflammatory divisive language make Boris and Donald the Terrible Twins of the Rabid Right.”

Mr Johnson is currently going through a divorce process after alleged fresh infidelities reportedly led to the breakdown of his marriage.

Sir Vince said other pro-Brexit figures were willing to inflict “years of economic pain” on Britain in pursuit of the “erotic spasm of leaving the European Union”.

But he called on the EU to reform - arguing the ills of unregulated globalisation, competition and liberalisation it had embraced had led to “crap jobs” in the UK which had in turn fuelled the referendum.

'RACISM'

Elsewhere in the speech, Sir Vince said it would be “simply wrong and utterly counterproductive” to label all Brexit voters racist - despite having suggested just that last year.

He recounted the personal ordeal of being thrown out of his family home when he married his late first wife, Olympia Rebelo - a woman of Indian descent - when "racism was rife" in the UK. 

But the address to party conference could be his last as Lib Dem leader, after he laid out his intention to stand down once Brexit is “resolved or stopped” - possibly as early as next year.

emilio.casalicchio

Michel Barnier warns Theresa May that Brexit deal cannot be ‘unpicked’ by future Prime Minister

2 days 3 hours ago
Theresa May
Theresa May is under mounting pressure to unblock talks with Brussels and reach a final Brexit deal

The EU is set to warn Theresa May that the final Brexit deal will be binding and cannot be "altered" by a future Prime Minister.

According to the Times, chief Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier is preparing to demand the UK provides assurances that it will not seek to change the terms of any withdrawal agreement struck by the Prime Minister.

This follows comments made by Michael Gove at the weekend that a future government could “choose to alter the terms” of any deal.    

A spokesman for the Prime Minister yesterday insisted that the Environment Secretary "was simply setting out a matter of fact, which is that no Parliament can bind the hands of its successor".

But The Times reports that Mr Barnier is planning to demand that any agreement made with Mrs May also binds her successor.

According to the newspaper, a diplomatic note handed out at a recent meeting of senior EU officials warned that the UK’s legal system could leave room for post-deal changes.

It stated: “The Commission said to be careful because it was not clear what ‘miracles’ UK constitutional law could allow.

“It would be possible that [the EU] accepted painful compromises to avoid a failure and then the UK would want to continue negotiating because suddenly it’s possible again.”

Sabine Weyand, a senior German European Commission official and Mr Barnier’s deputy, reportedly added: “We [the EU] will need credible political promises from the UK.”

Mr Gove told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday: "A future Prime Minister could always choose to alter the relationship between Britain and the European Union.

"But the Chequers approach is the right one for now because we have got to make sure that we respect that vote and take advantage of the opportunities of being outside the European Union."

A senior European diplomat said: “Regarding the future relationship [the EU] will have to keep in mind that the UK’s internal discussion is very controversial and very divided on ideas about the economic partnership.

“Statements about a future relationship cannot be too precise. [Donald] Tusk thinks it is important that the ongoing discussion in the UK is taken into account.”

The row comes as EU leaders prepare for a crunch summit in Salzburg this week, with the Northern Irish border dispute set to dominate discussions.  

Ahead of the meeting, Brussels diplomats reportedly warned that Mrs May will need to shift her stance on the contentious issue in order to unblock negotiations and reach a final agreement.

According to the Guardian, one senior diplomat said: “A lot of movement is needed by the UK side before we can actually reach agreement.”

A second source added: “It seems that the UK needs to have a ‘darkest hour’ moment before they will shift position. But they will have to shift their position.”

Elizabeth.Bates_30914

Theresa May must secure Brexit deal or risk ‘chaotic and damaging’ EU departure, say MPs

2 days 4 hours ago
UK and EU flags
The Committee noted that the time left to secure a deal was "extremely limited"

The UK faces a “chaotic and damaging” Brexit if it fails to secure a withdrawal deal with the EU, an influential group of MPs has warned.

The Brexit Select Committee argued crashing out of the bloc without a deal would damage the UK economy and leave businesses facing “huge uncertainty".

In a hard-hitting report, the MPs warned the Prime Minister that her Chequers Deal would not break the deadlock between the UK and the rest of the bloc.

The report highlighted how key parts of Mrs May's proposal, including the customs strategy and the plan to share goods regulations, had already been rejected by the European Union, and it urged the Government to urgently adapt its blueprint.

The warning comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond sounded the alarm over the economic consequences of a no-deal departure, saying it would “put at risk the substantial progress the British people have made over the last 10 years in repairing our economy".

Mrs May has so far refused to back away from her Chequers plan, telling MPs they must support it or face a disorderly exit from the bloc. 

Brexit Select Committee chair Hilary Benn said: “Time is now running out to secure a Withdrawal Agreement. Without one, there would be no transitional period, and this would leave businesses and citizens facing great uncertainty in just seven months’ time. There are, however, significant problems yet to be resolved."

The report also urged ministers to prioritise the creation of a "workable" backstop to the Irish border issue, saying it was the key stumbling block to securing a deal with the EU.

Mr Benn said: “The need for a backstop to keep open the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland was agreed last December by both sides and is therefore fundamental to any Withdrawal Agreement. The EU has now said it has no objection to a UK-wide backstop ‘in principle’ and this is to be welcomed.

“But the Government has not yet set out how it will maintain an open border without imposing customs and regulatory checks. It must now do so.

“We’re urging the Government to concentrate on getting a deal to ensure the continuation of tariff and friction free trade which is so important to the future of our economy. If the Chequers plan is not acceptable as a basis for that, then the Government will need to find a different approach urgently."

The Chequers proposal includes plans for a 'Facilitated Customs Arrangement' which would use technology to work out import tariffs in advance and see the UK collecting some payments on behalf of the EU.

It also suggests the UK and EU share a single market for goods - to ensure friction free trade and to ensure the Northern Irish border remains open. 

john.johnston_25922

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable to blast 'erotic spasm' of Brexit in keynote speech

2 days 12 hours ago
Vince Cable
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable will address his party conference in Brighton tomorrow

Vince Cable is set to accuse anti-EU MPs of putting Britain at risk in pursuit of the “erotic spasm” of Brexit.

In a speech to the Liberal Democrat faithful, the party leader will condemn those who want to realise their “dreams” for the country at the risk of creating “nightmares for the rest of us”.

He will also urge Theresa May to back a referendum on her final Brexit deal, and lament: “When we feel sorry for the country’s Prime Minister, something is seriously wrong.”

Mr Cable will make the comments in his speech closing the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton - at which the party pitched to centre-ground voters who want to stop Brexit.

He will blast: “For the ‘True Believers’ – the fundamentalists – the costs of Brexit have always been irrelevant.

“Years of economic pain justified by the erotic spasm of leaving the European Union. Economic pain felt – of course – not by them but by those least able to afford it.”

He will add: “The public don’t mind what these people dream about behind closed doors – so long as their dreams don’t become nightmares for the rest of us.

“It really beggars belief that the army and the police are now being asked to prepare for riots in the chaotic aftermath of a botched Brexit.

“And billions – billions – of taxpayers’ money spent preparing for disaster.”

And he will say: “I would go so far as to say that some of us are starting to feel sorry for the Prime Minister…

“She is dutifully delivering a policy she doesn’t really believe in; failing in negotiations; losing public support; and all to appease a dwindling group of angry people in her party who will denounce her as a traitor, whatever she comes up with.

“But when we feel sorry for the country’s Prime Minister, something is seriously wrong.”

Mr Cable will urge Mrs May to “shock us all” by displaying “true leadership” and backing a so-called People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.

The speech could be the last for Mr Cable as Lib Dem leader, after he announced his intention to stand down when Brexit is either stopped or resolved.

emilio.casalicchio

No-deal Brexit will undo entire economic recovery since financial crash, says Philip Hammond

2 days 23 hours ago
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde with Chancellor Philip Hammond
The Chancellor seized on a fresh warning from IMF chief Christine Lagarde

Leaving the European Union without a deal would put the entire economic recovery since the 2008 financial crash at risk, Philip Hammond has claimed.

The Chancellor risked the fury of Tory eurosceptics as he seized on a prediction by the International Monetary Fund that the UK would face a "significantly worse" outlook under a no-deal Brexit than if Theresa May reaches agreement with the EU.

He said: "Leaving without a deal would put at risk the substantial progress the British people have made over the last 10 years in repairing our economy.

"We must lock in economic progress we’ve made. We must heed IMF warnings about consequences that not making a deal will have for jobs and the economy."

Unveiling its annual predictions for the UK economy, the IMF said it expected growth of 1.5% a year in 2018 and 2019 if the Government managed to strike a Brexit agreement.

But, speaking to reporters at the Treasury on Monday, the body's managing director Christine Lagarde said: "Those projections assume a timely deal with the EU on a broad free trade agreement and a relatively orderly Brexit process after that."

She added: "The larger the impediments to trade in the new relationship, the costlier it will be.

"This should be fairly obvious, but it seems that sometimes it is not."

Ms Lagarde's warning has already sparked the ire of Brexiteers, with Tory MP Nadine Dorries branding her a "prophet of doom".

But Mr Hammond - who eurosceptics have frequently accused of mounting a 'Project Fear' campaign to undermine Brexit - said the IMF had been "clear" that a 'No Deal' outcome "would be extremely costly for the UK".

He added: "That is why it is so important for people up and down this country, that we reach a negotiated agreement on our future relationship over the coming weeks."

Anti-Brexit campaigners were meanwhile quick to pounce on the IMF's forecast.

Labour MP Owen Smith of the People's Vote campaign said: "The IMF’s verdict is that Brexit has already made us less well-off and will damage our future prospects for years to come.

"The IMF say that before we have even left Brexit is putting up prices in the shops and driving away business investment.

"Whether it is Theresa May’s Chequers Car Crash or Jacob Rees-Mogg’s No Deal Disaster the IMF can find nothing positive in Brexit."

The gloomy prediction came as Theresa May challenged Tory MPs to back her controversial Chequers Brexit plan or see the UK leave the European Union without a deal.

Some MPs hope that killing off Chequers will force the government to renegotiate. But, asked what would happen if MPs voted down her deal in Parliament, a defiant Mrs May told the BBC: "I think that the alternative to that will be having no deal."

BEST

Labour MP David Lammy of the anti-Brexit Best for Britain campaign said: "The IMF report proves beyond doubt that the Tories' plans would act as a sledgehammer to the UK economy. The substantial costs would weigh disproportionately on those with the least."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister distanced himself from Mr Hammond's gloomy prediction.

He said: "In relation to our own position, we have set out that we’re confident of reaching a deal with the European Union, that we’re making progress to achieve that goal.

"But you also heard from the Prime Minister this morning, she said very clearly ‘Brexit gives us an opportunity to deliver a sovereign, independent Britain and that our best days are ahead of us. We are putting in place plans which will allow the UK to succeed in all scenarios’."

Matt Foster

Jacob Rees-Mogg savages 'wailing banshee' Mark Carney after house prices Brexit warning

3 days ago
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Pro-Brexit Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg

Bank of England governor Mark Carney is a “wailing banshee” whose warnings about Brexit cannot be taken seriously, according to Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The leading Tory Brexiteer said the top economist - who last week warned Cabinet that house prices could plummet by more than a third under a no-deal Brexit - was “quite hysterical” about the UK’s departure from the bloc.

Mr Rees-Mogg - who chairs the European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs - told LBC Radio: "That was suggested by the governor of the Bank of England, who is quite hysterical about Brexit and can’t be taken seriously..

“He’s a political apparatchik and has taken the governorship of the Bank of England from one where the odd movement of the eyebrows was influencing markets to one where he's a wailing banshee.”

The North East Somerset MP added: “I don’t think it’s at all distinguished.”

His comments came after fellow Brexiteer and Cabinet minister Michael Gove said Mr Carney was “truly independent” and a “first-rate public servant who’s doing an excellent job”.

In an interview with the BBC yesterday, Mr Gove also said the Brexit deal the Government strikes with Brussels could be altered by a future prime minister.

The comment was expected to rally pro-Brexit Tory backbenchers who are dissatisfied with the Chequers plan Theresa May has put to the European Union.

But Mr Rees-Mogg dismissed the idea, saying: "Michael Gove's suggestion that you have an agreement now and you re-open it immediately afterwards is something that nobody is going to have any appetite for."

Pro-EU campaigners fighting for another Brexit referendum were also unimpressed - arguing the Chequers plan “could be unstitched as soon as the Prime Minister is dumped by the Conservative party”.

Best for Britain CEO Eloise Todd told PoliticsHome: “MPs should not trust the promises the Government are giving right now they could only last only a couple of weeks.”

emilio.casalicchio

Theresa May warns it's Chequers or no deal as Boris Johnson launches fresh attack

3 days 3 hours ago
Theresa May
The Prime Minister challenged Brexiteer MPs - as Boris Johnson savaged her plans for Northern Ireland

Theresa May has warned Tory MPs to back her Brexit plan or see Britain crash out of the EU without a deal - as Boris Johnson accused her of "deliberately acquiescing in foreign rule".

The Prime Minister threw down the gauntlet to Brexiteers in an interview with BBC Panorama.

Asked what would happen if MPs voted down a deal with the EU in Parliament, she said: "I think that the alternative to that will be having no deal."

The defiant message from the PM came as Boris Johnson branded her plans to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland a "monstrosity" which would "effectively" keep the entire UK in the EU.

Eurosceptics warn that the Chequers plans for a "combined customs territory" and "continued harmonisation" with EU rules on goods will hand too much power to Brussels.

Writing in the Telegraph, the ex-Foreign Secretary said the proposals were a "constitutional abomination" that would result in a "total write-off of Brexit".

He said: "If Chequers were adopted it would mean that for the first time since 1066 our leaders were deliberately acquiescing in foreign rule."

But Mrs May rubbished alternative Eurosceptic plans for the Northern Ireland border.

The European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs last week insisted that “co-operative data sharing” and technology could cut the need for customs checks on goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson today said "extra checks" could be done "away from the border" through so-called trusted trader and self-assessment schemes.

But the Prime Minister heaped scorn on those plans, saying: "You don't solve the issue of no hard border by having a hard border 20km inside Ireland."

She added: "The people of Northern Ireland deserve to be listened to in these negotiations by the UK government as people elsewhere in this country...

"They don't want a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The only proposal that has been put forward that delivers on them not having that hard border and ensures that we don't carve up the United Kingdom is the Chequers plan."

'UNSOLVED PROBLEM'

The latest war of words over Chequers comes amid reports the EU is drawing up plans to accept a frictionless border in Northern Ireland in what would be a major boost for Mrs May.

According to the Times, EU negotiators are planning to agree to use technology to keep customs checks at the Northern Ireland border to a minimum, with officials fleshing out a a new “protocol” text acknowledging key elements of the UK's position.

"The biggest unsolved problem is Northern Ireland," a confidential note seen by the paper says.

"There is a political mobilisation in the UK in this regard. Therefore, we are trying to clarify the EU position."

Sabine Weyand, deputy to chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, is quoted as saying that checks at the Northern Ireland border would "only have to be organised in a way that would not endanger the EU single market".

The paper also reports that the EU will try to phrase its plans to acknowledge UK "concern" that any solution for Northern Ireland could be seized on by the Scottish Government in an attempt to gain fresh powers.

Matt Foster

Former government minister blasts CCHQ for banning pro-Remain campaign group from Tory conference

5 days 19 hours ago
Conservative conference
The group has been refused security passes by party organisers

A Tory former minister has accused party bosses of setting a "dangerous precedent" after they banned a pro-Remain group from attending the annual Conservative conference.

Ex-justice minister Phillip Lee hit out at the decision to refuse security passes to the Best for Britain campaign group, claiming the move amounted to an attack on freedom of expression.

Three campaigners from the anti-Brexit group were told they had been refused security passes for the party’s Birmingham conference later this month, just weeks after the removal of a Best for Britain fringe event from the conference guide.

An email from the Conservative conference team informed them: “Having considered your application for a security pass to attend then Conservative Party Conference, I write to inform you that your application for accreditation has not been granted.”

The group is set to hold an event calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal in a venue outside the secure zone, but will now not be able to enter the main conference hall.

Theresa May has repeatedly insisted a second referendum of any kind is not Government policy and will not happen under her watch.

But Dr Phillip Lee, who resigned from the Government to fight against Brexit and who is set to speak at the Best for Britain event, said the decision set a “dangerous precedent”.

“The party has already censored the group Conservatives for a People’s Vote, which is arranging a fringe meeting during Conference, to be addressed by myself, Justine Greening, and Anna Soubry,” he told PoliticsHome.

“Other meetings and groups relating to Europe – Brexit Central, the Bruges Group, the CGE – are all welcomed to the conference, but CCHQ seem to view Best for Britain and Conservatives for a People’s Vote as so dangerous that they must be banned."

He added: “This further action is starting to look not just like an attack on those who question the government’s approach to Brexit, but an attack on the right to freedom of expression.

“It also sets a dangerous precedent as it gives support to those who make threats, often physical, towards MPs who speak out for giving the British people a final say on the Brexit deal."

He added: “I suggest that if CCHQ is worried about external influences, it should, as a matter of urgency, start looking at, and taking steps to counter, the entryism from far-right groups, who are openly bragging about their aim to take over the Conservative party.”

Best for Britain chief Eloise Todd branded the decision “unbelievable” and claimed the Brexit debate was being "stifled".

She added: “The Conservative party can put their heads in the sand but it doesn’t change the fundamental and unavoidable truth that public opinion is shifting away from Brexit.

"People want to have a final say on the Brexit deal and compare the deal the Government brings back with the current British deal we have.

“A party of government should always be listening – even to voices it may disagree with.”

CCHQ has been approached for comment.

john.johnston_25922

Tory bosses defend their MEPs for voting against motion of censure against Hungarian government

6 days 3 hours ago
Viktor Orban and Theresa May
Viktor Orban and Theresa May in Downing Street.

Conservative Party chiefs have defended their MEPs' decision to vote against a European Parliament motion condemning Hungary's right-wing government.

The party's representatives in Brussels have come in for severe criticism for opposing the attempt to sanction Viktor Orban's authoritarian regime, which has been accused of racism, anti-Semitism, restricting press freedom and undermining judicial independence.

Tory bosses have denied they did it in order to win Hungary's support in the Brexit negotiations.

A call for disciplinary action against the country - which needed a two-thirds majority in the European Parliament to be imposed - was carried by 448 votes to 197 in a vote on Wednesday morning.

But most of the Tory MEPs voted against the move, leading to condemnation from Jewish and Muslim groups.

Mafrie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: "It is very concerning that Conservative Party MEPs chose to defend Hungary's appalling track record, rather than supporting a motion to protect the rule of law."

A Conservative spokesman finally issued a statement last night in response to the row.

He said: "Victor Orban has a track record of responding to legal moves not political threats.

"Politicising the issue at this early stage simply undermines any future legal action, while boosting Orban's domestic support."

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn had urged Theresa May to personally speak out against her MEPs.

"Viktor Orban's government in Hungary has clearly attacked judicial and media independence, denied refugee rights and pandered to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia," he said.

"And it was absolutely right that a motion of censure and an investigation under the disciplinary processes of the European Union was launched and voted on…

"Theresa May should condemn the Hungarian government and should support this investigation and action."

kevin.schofield

House prices would fall by a third if there is a no-deal Brexit, Mark Carney warns Cabinet

6 days 4 hours ago
Mark Carney
Mark Carney leaves yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

House prices in the UK would collapse by one-third if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, Mark Carney has warned.

The Bank of England governor delivered the grim assessment at a special meeting of the Cabinet yesterday.

Mr Carney attended the start of the three-and-a-half-hour session in 10 Downing Street, which came amid growing fears that Theresa May will fail to reach an agreement with her Brussels counterparts.

According to The Times, he told the Prime Minister's top team that soaring interest rates would cause house prices to fall by 35% in the worst case scenario.

The value of the pound would also plummet, while inflation would rocket, he said.

And he warned that the Bank of England's options for dealing with such a crisis were limited, as interest rates had already been slashed in the wake of the financial crash 10 years ago.

One source told the paper: "Carney was very spicy. You saw a few eyebrows going up around the room but nobody challenged him.”

But The Sun claims Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both challenged the governor over his warning.

A source said: "Matt and Sajid took Carney on to demand to know what he planned to do about all his doom and gloom.

"It got quite tasty, but it was all perfectly fair questioning."

A Downing Street source told PoliticsHome: "The governor was outlining the worst-case scenario, not what we are planning for."

TATTERS

But Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign group, said: "It is clear that the mantra that no deal is better than a bad deal is just hogwash with this sledgehammer of an announcement. We are facing a Brexit no-deal house price collapse.

"The Conservatives used to be the party of the property owning democracy; now that epithet lies in tatters as they are the party of Hard Brexit and economic disaster.

"We are now six months away from Brexit and people up and down the country are fearful for what the future brings. No-deal Brexit or even the Prime Minister's potential deal will leave Britain poorer, weaker and more isolated.

"The people she is now hurting are her own voters - she will rue this day and her decisions on Brexit  threaten to tear the Tories asunder."

kevin.schofield

Brits urged to renew old passports in case of a no-deal Brexit

6 days 19 hours ago
Passport
UK nationals will have 'third country' status in the Shengen zone after a no-deal Brexit

Brits who are planning to head to the EU with less than six months left on their passport must renew them or face being turned away at the border if there is a no-deal Brexit, the Government has warned.

Ministers said the UK would have ‘third country’ status if it crashes out of the EU next year without a Brexit deal - and will only be able to spend 90 days on the continent without a special visa.

However they warned that the criteria could be that Brits need up to six months on their passports to travel to the EU's border control-free Schengen area - and urged them to act quickly as passport offices get busy in the spring.

The warning came as the Department for Exiting the European Union released the second batch of papers advising what to do if the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal.

The paper on travel documents said the borderless Schengen zone would only accept third country visitors who hold passports that are less than ten years old and have at least three - or possibly six - months validity.

“If your passport does not meet these criteria, you may be denied entry to any of the Schengen area countries, and you should renew your passport before you travel,” the document said.

“If you are planning travel after 29 March 2019, and your passport will be affected by the new validity rules, we recommend you consider renewing your passport soon to avoid any delay, as the passport issuing service can get busy, especially in the spring.”

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are not in the Schengen zone - so UK nationals would have to check the rules for those countries as usual.

Ireland is also not part of the Schengen agreement either, but UK nationals can currently travel there without a passport.

Meanwhile, another ‘technical notice’ warned that UK driving licenses will no longer be automatically valid in EU countries in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Drivers planning a short trip to the continent would need a £5.50 permit, available from Post Offices on demand.

But those looking to move abroad would need to trade their UK licence in for one from their host country and may need to take another test.

Elsewhere, the no-deal papers warned that car manufacturers faced a swamp of fresh regulations over safety certificates for new and existing products if they want to maintain trade with the continent after a no-deal Brexit.

And they said the UK would be booted out of the EU Space Surveillance and Tracking programme, meaning it would not have access to information about space debris colliding with satellites or falling back down to earth.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said: “A no deal Brexit would be catastrophic for people’s jobs, the economy and for the border in Northern Ireland. 

“We are less than 200 days until we leave the European Union and the Government still has no credible plan for Brexit.

"The Cabinet should be planning to negotiate a good deal for Britain, not planning for failure or blaming businesses for the Government’s chaos. 

“The only reason the Government is talking about no deal is because the Tory civil war on Europe prevents the Prime Minister from negotiating a good deal.

“With the clock ticking, Ministers should drop the irresponsible rhetoric and start putting jobs and the economy first.”

emilio.casalicchio
Submitted by itops on Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:47