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The UK Prime Minister is under increasing pressure over her Chequers based Brexit proposals, with warnings that ministers will revolt if she accepts a 'Chequers-minus'.
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The Brexiteers are looking for the full withdrawal of the UK from the EU, whether or not it ends up with the UK having a deal with the EU. But their worry is that we end up with Theresa May signing up to a watered down 'Chequers-minus' instead of a Canada plus plus plus.
Now that Jean Claude Juncker has trashed Chequers saying that the UK will have to give even more ground to get any deal, one Brexiteeer told the Evening Standard:
“Juncker is offering her a poisoned cup of ‘Chequers-minus’, which she needs to turn away. It would depend what the ‘minus’ is, but a Chequers-minus proposal would probably be very hard for Brexiteers in Government to accept, so you could then see resignations in the autumn.”
'Could be hard for Brexiteers to accept'? What was that source smoking – Chequers itself is unacceptable, let alone a watered down version!
And the paper also quotes a senior Tory MP as saying that Chequers was a dead dog and that:
"The Government is in the bunker. There is only one thing that will go through the Commons — a free trade deal."
But a Number Ten official said that the signals were good and that the PM was confident of getting deal.
I do have to say that if I was handing over huge amounts of someone else's money to buy them a wreck but was assured of getting my commission anyway, I'd be convinced I could get a deal too.
Either that or Mrs May really is stuck in a bunker – marshalling battalions of illusionary Chequers benefits mixed in with delusions of national support about the Brexit battlefield, while her ministers and officials watch on and feed her fantasy.
Ah well! We can but hope her administration is put out of its misery pretty sharpish. And UKIP leader Gerard Batten Tweeted: "With UKIP on 7-8% and rising across the polls, they know that we will cause havoc in key marginals if they don't depose her."
Tory backbenchers know their time is up if they don't depose Theresa May
"With UKIP on 7-8% and rising across the polls, they know that we will cause havoc in key marginals if they don't depose her." – UKIP Leader @GerardBattenMEP https://t.co/cqQPXFNknA pic.twitter.com/7yW8skrjev
— UKIP (@UKIP) September 12, 2018
Now, the UK Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab has been ticked off by the EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, for the UK going behind the back of Brussels and approaching the EU27 member states direct to talk about transport issues in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
"The Brexit secretary was confronted by Barnier during their most recent meeting in Brussels over correspondence sent in recent days to EU capitals by the Department for Transport." Reports the Guardian.
As far as I'm concerned, if Brussels won't talk about it then we should do what we need to do.
Now to the Northern Irish border. The Tory Brexiteers of the European Research Group have put forward their proposals to get over the Irish border question.
And, as they rightly point out, this is solvable using technology and current, well-established practices.
The former Northern Ireland minister, Owen Patterson, said there was nothing new in what the group was putting forward as everything was in place to deliver an ordered border.
Just as I and others have continually pointed out, he said that there was already a tax, VAT and currency border between the two managed by 'administrative and technical tools' that caused no problems. I would add that there is also a civil and criminal legal border between the two as well.
"We absolutely believe there is no need for new physical infrastructure at the border and it can be handled by current means," he said.
The main points are that:
- Any extra customs declarations needed, should be incorporated into the existing VAT returns structure.
- There should be simplified customs procedures for most of the cross border trade.
- There should be trusted trader schemes for large companies.
- There should be equivalence of UK and EU regulations for agricultural produce
- And, the whole island of Ireland should be declared a Common Biosecurity Zone with the EU and UK agreeing equivalence, which would ensure current smooth movement of agricultural products across the Irish border can be continued, without the need for border inspection posts.
Well, well, – no deal, no £39 billion, hints Theresa May during today's PMQs.
Brexiteers will be happy with one of the responses that Theresa May gave during Prime Minister's Questions today. She was asked by Tory MP Chris Philp, what would happen with the £39 billion so called Brexit divorce bill, should no deal be reached with the EU. To which she said that the UK abides by its international obligations, but in the case of a no-deal 'the position changes'.
But of course, that Remainer the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already said in evidence to the Lords yesterday that we would still have an obligation to pay some money over, but the amount would only be decided after "a complex and time-consuming process of arbitration".
My arbitration is simple – zero.
Back to PMQs, when asked by Labour MP Wayne Davis about staying inside the European Arrest Warrant scheme if there is no deal, the PM said that:
"The EAW is one of those instruments which we have identified in our Chequers plan as one we wish to discuss with the EU with a view to being able to continue to use it."
Presumably that means without a deal we would no longer be a part of it, but would have to go to the EU afterwards to be reinstated? Why not just co-operate with the EU and its members states? Why do we have to be part of an EU scheme that is at odds with our own legal system? Are we joined to the US, or India, or Japan, or China, or Russia etc in the same way?
Anyway, you have to wonder how long the EU will last after its parliament voted by 448 votes to 197 to start a punishment procedure against Hungary for breaking its democratic norms. The former UKIP leader Nigel Farage Tweeted:
European Parliament votes to remove Hungary’s voting rights, the authoritarian grip of the EU gets even tighter.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 12, 2018
On the other side, writing for CNN, Belgian MEP and EU superstate backer, Guy Verhofstadt said:
"In the coming weeks and months, the international community – and the United States in particular – must heed our warning and act: Hungary's government is a threat to the rules-based international order.
"European governments and the US have a moral obligation to intervene. We cannot stand aside and let populist, far-right governments drag democratic European states into Vladimir Putin's orbit and undermine the postwar international norms."
Is this a call by a worried EU machine, asking for the mighty USA to come across to Europe and knock Hungary back fully, into the EU?
Finally, it looked yesterday like the next UKIP conference would see a debate on whether the party's NEC should be asked to consider allowing Tommy Robinson membership. However, it transpires that under the rules, because the motion was proposed by individuals in the party and not a branch, then it cannot be put to conference.
Now there is talk of a conspiracy to block his membership as well as emergency motions and the like. So, if it didn't qualify as an emergency motion before, in my opinion it does now.
I would personally like this matter to be taken head on at conference, but that's just my view,