Newslinks for Friday 23rd August 2019

Johnson orders ministers to come up with fresh Irish proposal…

“Boris Johnson returned to London on Thursday evening and ordered ministers to draw up a new Irish border policy to ensure the UK leaves the European Union with a deal in 10 weeks’ time. The Prime Minister appeared to punch the air in triumph as he entered Downing Street after a Paris meeting with Emmanuel Macron, in which the French president said the Withdrawal Agreement could be amended. Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, and his officials will now be ordered to “turbocharge” work on how to find alternative arrangements to the Northern Ireland backstop. Their work is expected to focus on examining proposals in a 270-page report drawn up by Greg Hands, the former Tory minister, and Nicky Morgan, now the Culture Secretary.” – Daily Telegraph

  • EU is also ‘brainstorming’ alternatives, apparently – The Sun
  • Prime Minister ‘punched the air’ as resistance ‘crumbled’ – Daily Express
  • Brexiteers warn that stripping out the backstop is ‘not enough’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Hard border will ‘fuel extremism’, says Ulster police chief – The Times
  • Ellwood gives Johnson ‘shock vote of approval’ – Daily Express

EU leaders:

  • Merkel ‘backtracks’ on 30 days comment – Daily Express
  • ‘New hope’ as Macron says deal is ‘possible’… – The Times
  • …or has he ‘dashed Johnson’s deal hopes’? – FT
  • Apparently he said the backstop was ‘indispensable’ – The Guardian
  • Paris won’t permit a ‘total reshuffling’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Brexit, Johnson, Merkel, Macron – and 30 days in the wilderness

>Yesterday:

…as Hammond’s rebels to hold their own talks with Brussels

“Tory Remainers who are intent on stopping no-deal are preparing to hold their own talks with Brussels in an attempt to delay Brexit, The Times has been told. The rebels, who are described as the “Remain alliance” and are led by Philip Hammond, have been working on plans to push through laws that will force Boris Johnson to request an extension of the Article 50 process. However, Downing Street sources have pointed out that Brussels could simply reject any request for an extension, even if Mr Johnson is legally bound to ask for one. One Tory rebel said that the group would hold its own discussions with Brussels and European leaders about the length and terms of any proposed extension to ensure it was accepted.” – The Times

  • Pro-EU Tories delay their plot to thwart No Deal – The Sun
  • Rebels ‘sceptical’ of current plans – The Guardian

More:

  • Soubry u-turns on collaborating with Corbyn – Daily Express
  • Opposition MPs to hijack his talks to demand he backs another interim Prime Minister – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Is Patel’s pledge to “end freedom of movement” merely smoke and mirrors?

Greg Hands: We already have workable proposals to avoid the Backstop

“When I heard German Chancellor Angela Merkel had invited Boris Johnson to put forward new proposals to solve the Northern Ireland backstop in the next 30 days, I was delighted. This might seem a tall order, to produce in just one month a Brexit solution that has eluded others for the past three years. But in recent months, I have been working closely with international technical experts – practitioners in borders, customs, logistics, transit and so on – to produce precisely that: a workable set of ‘alternative arrangements’ to prevent a hard border between the UK and Ireland.” – Daily Mail

  • Brussels’ stand-off with Johnson borders on the absurd – Daniel Hannan MEP, The Sun
  • Parliament has no right to plot a Brexit coup – Robert Tombs, The Times
  • The EU cannot afford No Deal… but has a parachute handy – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • The Prime Minister deserves a chance – The Times
  • Varadkar’s intransigence has made No Deal more likely – The Sun
  • Despite the tough love, a relative success – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: GERS Day – Scottish Government’s own statistics punch fresh hole in the case for independence

Letwin says he will stand down at next election

“Tory rebel leader Sir Oliver Letwin has announced he will stand down as an MP before the next general election. Remainer Sir Oliver has sparked outrage from his West Dorest constituency, which voted to leave the EU with a result of 51 percent to 46 with an 81 percent turnout in 2016. Regardless of his constituents, he has led a continuous and relentless plot to block Brexit and keep the UK shackled to the EU indefinitely. However, he has now announced he will not fight the next general election, which is expected to take place immediately after the October 31 deadline.” – Daily Express

Trump and Johnson to set out trade deal roadmap ‘within weeks’

“Trump and Boris Johnson will agree a roadmap to a trade deal when they meet at the G7 summit in France at the weekend, it has been reported. The pair will agree to start work immediately on drawing up a timetable for negotiations, which will be finalised in the coming weeks and is the first step in getting a post-Brexit trade deal. The timetable will set out a series of deadlines for how trade talks should progress in the next 12 months. Mr Johnson and the US President will then shake hands on the plan when they meet in New York in the last week of September at the UN General Assembly.” – The Sun

  • My deal with South Korea is great news for global Britain – Liz Truss MP, Daily Telegraph

Johnson could prioritise northern elements of HS2

“Boris Johnson is considering building the northern stretch of HS2 first as part of an overhaul of the project, The Times has learnt. The prime minister has announced a review into the multibillion-pound project amid concerns about spiralling costs after it emerged that Dominic Cummings, his most senior adviser, referred to it as a “disaster zone”. The review will also consider whether the line should be “reprioritised”. Mr Johnson is understood to have shown personal interest in the idea of bringing forward the second phase from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds. The move, which would postpone the first phase of the project, would be in keeping with Mr Johnson’s previous pledge to “level the playing field” between the north and the south.” – The Times

  • Britain has a troubled history with railways – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Were the Prime Minister to pull the plug on HS2, would he call time on Heathrow expansion too?

Downing Street hits out at Channel 4 boss after criticism

“Downing Street has expressed anger towards Channel 4 News after their boss labelled Boris Johnson a “known liar” and likened him to the Russian president. Government sources have branded comments made by Dorothy Bryne, Channel 4’s head of News and Current Affairs, as “disappointing”, considering the supposed impartial nature of the channel. During the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival Ms Bryne said broadcasters should be more direct in calling politicians liars. “What we all need to decide: what do we do when a known liar becomes our Prime Minister?”, she said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister ‘aping Putin’s media strategy’, claims TV chief – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Jonny Piper in Comment: Personal, unfiltered – and in your own voice. How politicians can use social media to speak to millions.

Collins says Cummings ought to have been barred from Number Ten

“Boris Johnson’s chief strategist Dominic Cummings should not have been allowed to take up his Downing Street post after being found in contempt of parliament, a leading Conservative MP and Johnson supporter has suggested. Cummings, who is shaping the government’s Brexit strategy in his role as the prime minister’s special adviser, repeatedly declined to appear in front of the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee select committee, chaired by Damian Collins. The committee’s long-running investigation into data misuse on social media platforms helped expose the Cambridge Analytica scandal.” – The Guardian

McDonnell defends Extinction Rebellion protesters

“A judge has expressed surprise as shadow chancellor John McDonnell gave a statement in court in support of three Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists charged with public order offences. The three activists were convicted by Judge Richard Blake of the offences committed during XR’s protests which brought central London to a standstill in April. In the statement read out at City of London magistrates court, Mr McDonnell defended the protests – claimed to be the biggest act of civil disobedience in recent British history – in that they helped to persuade MPs to debate and declare a formal climate and environment emergency. He said he and others had been inspired by the action taken by XR in April, and noted that the Labour party’s policy programme had developed quickly and substantially as a result.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Huge cost of Corbyn’s house sale plans revealed – Daily Express

GCSEs: Gender gaps close in English, maths, and physics

“Teenagers overturned gender expectations in GCSE results yesterday, with girls performing better in maths and physics than in previous years and boys getting more top grades in English. Prominent campaigns led to a jump in entries from girls who wanted to study computing. Boys overtook female classmates in achieving top grades in performing arts and also closed in on girls’ dominance in biology. The significant rise in girls taking computing comes after years of concern that boys dominate the subject… Efforts to break down gender barriers are already paying off across many subjects. The proportion of boys achieving at least a grade 7 in maths fell by 0.1 percentage points to 16.7 per cent, while for girls it increased by 0.6 percentage points to 15.5 per cent.” – The Times

  • Results highlight persistent regional differences – FT
  • Pupils caught with knives ‘doubles’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Ignore the propagandists, the Army offers great opportunities to the young – Colonel Richard Kemp, Daily Telegraph
  • Building jobs are great, and all is not lost if you’ve flunked your exams – Tommy Walsh, The Sun

Royal Mail to ballot 100,000 workers on strike action

“Royal Mail’s main trade union is to ballot more than 100,000 workers on industrial action, as a labour dispute threatens to erupt into the first nationwide strikes since the postal service was privatised. The Communication Workers Union has set out plans to consult its members over a disagreement that it said relates to issues including employment terms and conditions and job security. The move marks a dramatic deterioration of industrial relations at the FTSE 250 company, which averted nationwide walkouts in 2017 over the closure of a retirement fund.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • Free schools are flourishing, but there’s no room for complacency – Daniel Zealander, CapX
  • Sturgeon goes AWOL as GERS report discredits independence – Gerald Warner, Reaction
  • Johnson’s Brain: the Downing Street Policy Unit – The Economist
  • It’s time to talk about what no deal really means – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • How I found God on Twitter – Darren Grimes, UnHerd

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