Newslinks for Sunday 25th August 2019

Bercow accused of plotting to pressure the Queen into sacking Johnson…

“John Bercow has been accused of plotting to pressure the Queen to oust Boris Johnson as prime minister. The Commons Speaker has told MPs who want to delay or prevent Brexit that he would help them to install a government of national unity if they pass a vote of no confidence in Johnson. Downing Street officials are so concerned about the prospect they have sought legal advice on whether the Queen’s decisions can be challenged in court. Under the rules of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, Johnson would have 14 days to fight on and win another vote if he lost a confidence vote…. Multiple remainer sources say Bercow has privately committed to help pile pressure on the Queen to call someone else to Buckingham Palace to ask them to replace Johnson.” – Sunday Times

  • Tusk says Prime Minister won’t want to go down in history as ‘Mr No Deal’… – Sunday Telegraph
  • …but Johnson hits back – Mail on Sunday
  • Ex-ambassadors say such an exit would shrink Britain’s global role – The Observer

Comment:

  • Johnson’s 30-day reprieve to foil the plotters – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

…who has reportedly sought advice from Cox on suspending Parliament…

“Boris Johnson has asked the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, whether parliament can be shut down for five weeks from 9 September in what appears to be a concerted plan to stop MPs forcing a further extension to Brexit, according to leaked government correspondence. An email from senior government advisers to an adviser in No 10 – written within the last 10 days and seen by the Observer – makes clear that the prime minister has recently requested guidance on the legality of such a move, known as prorogation. The initial legal guidance given in the email is that shutting parliament may well be possible, unless action being taken in the courts to block such a move by anti-Brexit campaigners succeeds in the meantime.” – The Observer

>Today: ToryDiary: Mr No Deal versus Mr No Brexit

…and threatened to cut the divorce bill in the event of No Deal

“Boris Johnson will today throw down the gauntlet to Brussels by vowing to withhold £30 billion of our ‘divorce bill’ to punish the EU for refusing to rip up their Brexit deal. The Prime Minister – making a combative first appearance on the international stage since entering Downing Street – is expected to tell EU leaders at the G7 summit in Biarritz that the £39 billion bill agreed by Theresa May will be cut to £9 billion – or even as little as £7 billion – by the UK… Mr Johnson’s threat over the divorce bill – which was agreed by former Chancellor Philip Hammond, an avowed enemy of the Prime Minister’s Brexit policy – came after No 10’s lawyers concluded that, in a No Deal scenario, the £39 billion bill should be slashed to as little as £7 billion because there would not be any of the costs associated with the transition period agreed as part of the deal.” – Mail on Sunday

  • He puts party on ‘election footing’ with threat to divorce bill – Sunday Times
  • Speculation mounts as he plans first cut in fuel duty for eight years – Sun on Sunday

Comment:

  • Climb aboard Johnson’s white-knuckle election ride – Tim Shipman, Sunday Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Johnson won’t scrap HS2, but his review could make a big offer to the North

Business Secretary says British companies want ‘end to uncertainty’

British companies want the UK to “end the current uncertainty” and “crack on” with leaving the EU, the new Business Secretary has declared. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Andrea Leadsom says that firms she has met across the country are “overwhelmingly positive” about Britain’s post-Brexit future. Distancing herself from the pro-EU outlook of her predecessor, Greg Clark, Mrs Leadsom describes herself as a “truly Brexit-backing Business Secretary” and says the country’s “best years for business” lie ahead. Mrs Leadsom’s intervention is likely to rankle with business lobby groups such as the  Confederation of British Industry which campaigned against leaving the EU and whose director general, Caroline Fairbairn, has likened Mr Johnson’s pledge to leave “deal or no deal”, to threatening to “shoot my foot off”.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Davis claims EU officials still don’t believe Brexit will happen – Sunday Express

More:

  • Mandarin bans Brexit countdown clock from Downing Street… – Sunday Times
  • …whilst Javid uses calendar to spur officials on – Sun on Sunday

Andrea Leadsom: We’ll do all we can to help business grasp the opportunities of Brexit

“It’s clear that business wants us to crack on, leave the European Union and end the current uncertainty. But it should also be very reassuring to business to see that the whole machinery of government is stepping up a gear and accelerating the pace of our preparations. I have been hugely impressed by the work I’ve seen going on here at the Business Department and across Whitehall. More than anything, I want businesses to see a team in the heart of Government that’s helping them to get the best out of Brexit – talking up their trade at every opportunity. The CBI themselves have recently acknowledged that the extent of the UK’s readiness is high.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • No Deal would be an act of vandalism by the Conservatives – Tony Blair, Sunday Times
  • Why I no longer fear No Deal – Lord Wolfson, Mail on Sunday
  • Eurocrats are determined to punish British ‘deserters’ – Daniel Hannan MEP, Sunday Telegraph
  • Opinions polarised over Berlin and Paris responses to Johnson – Jeremy Cliffe, The Observer
  • When Brexit isn’t a disaster, Remainer rage will be awesome – Douglas Murray, Sunday Telegraph
  • Political folly is boosting the New IRA – Leo McKinstry, Sun on Sunday

>Yesterday: Sir Julian Brazier MP in Comment: How Johnson should try to get the backstop dropped

Labour aim to force the Government to publish up-to-date no-deal reports…

“Ministers may be forced to publish up-to-date reports on the expected aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit when parliament returns in September, after last week’s bombshell revelations about gaps in the government’s contingency planning. A document, compiled by the government this month and leaked to The Sunday Times, revealed that the UK faces shortages of food, fuel and medicines, a three-month meltdown at its ports and a hard border in Ireland if it crashes out of the EU on October 31. In response, Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, has revealed that the Labour Party would “not hesitate to use all parliamentary devices available” to compel ministers to publish all the Operation Yellowhammer documents if the government does not do so voluntarily.” – Sunday Times

  • Brexiteers urge Johnson to do ‘mini-deals’ with the EU – Sun on Sunday
  • English police could patrol the Northern Irish border – Sunday Times

…as McDonnell urges the Opposition to block Brexit

“John McDonnell has privately argued that Labour should campaign to prevent Brexit, opening up a new front in Labour’s civil war on Europe. The shadow chancellor has held private conversations with shadow cabinet colleagues in recent weeks in which he has argued that Labour’s position should be to revoke article 50 and stop Brexit in its tracks. McDonnell has been a vocal advocate of Labour backing a second EU referendum. But his private remarks go much further and will put him on a collision course with Jeremy Corbyn’s team, who are still resisting full-blown support for another referendum.” – Sunday Times

  • Labour delay motion of confidence as support from Tory rebels falls – Sunday Telegraph

Comment:

  • Corbyn wants any Brexit deal… except the Tories’ one – Stephen Bush, Sunday Times

Johnson says US tech firms must pay ‘fair’ taxes in Britain

“Big US tech firms must pay a “fair” amount of tax on their UK revenues, Boris Johnson insisted yesterday. Online giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook are all due to pay a two per cent rate from next April, leaving the US furious. America is demanding the so-called digital services tax is ditched — if the UK wants a free trade deal. The levy could raise £400million by 2022, but the White House sees it as a “tax grab” against big US firms.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Prime Minister tells Trump it’s time to help British firms – Sunday Telegraph
  • He adds that Britain won’t be ‘rushed’ into a trade deal – Sun on Sunday
  • Johnson tries to sell President on ‘traditional British produce’ – Sunday Times
  • Call for the removal of US-China trade tariffs – The Observer
  • He praises ‘fantastic’ Trump meeting – Sun on Sunday
  • Trump insists Johnson is ‘right man’ to deliver Brexit – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: Gareth Lyon in Comment: Post-Boris. The Prime Minister is more Lyndon Johnson than his jokey former self.

Rudd accuses Labour of jeopardising benefit payments

Amber Rudd has accused Labour of jeopardising hundreds of millions of pounds worth of benefit payments to severely disabled people. The Work and Pensions Secretary claimed that Jeremy Corbyn was playing politics with the incomes of voters he “claims to represent” after Labour indicated that it will oppose key welfare reforms. In a letter to Margaret Greenwood, her Labour opposite number, and copied to Mr Corbyn, Ms Rudd accused the Opposition of “threatening to take money out of the pockets of benefits claimants with severe disabilities”. Her intervention came after Labour said it was planning to oppose a regulation introducing payments of up to £405 per month for Universal Credit claimants who were previously entitled to the severe disability premium, a benefit for individuals including the registered blind.” – Sunday Telegraph

Wallace announces third warship despatched to the Gulf

“Britain has sent a third Royal Navy ship to the Gulf to protect ships from Iranian attacks. The HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer based in Portsmouth, set sail for the troubled region earlier this month. It will escort British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz, where the Stena Impero was seized by Iranian forces in July. The Royal Navy has already sent HMS Kent and HMS Montrose, both type 23 frigates, on the mission. Confirming the news, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Wherever the red ensign flies around the world, the UK stands by to protect freedom of navigation whenever is it tested. The men and women of HMS Defender will contribute to the International Maritime Security Construct alongside international partners.”” – Sunday Telegraph

O’Mara ‘arrested on suspicion of fraud’

“Jared O’Mara has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, it’s been reported. The ex-Labour politician’s offices in Sheffield are believed to have been raided last week. Police arrested the MP along with his office manager Gareth Arnold last week, the Mirror claims. The paper reported that officers took documents and computers for investigation. The two men were released on Saturday evening pending further investigation. And it claims that concerns were raised about Parliamentary expense claims made by the MP. Mr O’Mara was suspended by Labour in 2017 after a series of offensive comments he made online were revealed.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Suspended activists using fringe union to re-infiltrate Labour – Sunday Times

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