Brexit LIVE: Britain's future hinges on May's cabinet meeting RIGHT NOW

Posted on May 20 2019 - 4:10pm by admin

Theresa May Amber Rudd Philip Hammond

Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond are among those meeting Theresa May (Image: GETTY)

Mrs May is meeting with her ministers in a last-ditch attempt to sell her withdrawal agreement amid rumours of a Remainer rebellion and leadership hopeful Boris Johnson pondering the idea of an electoral pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. A Downing Street spokesman said ministers would consider the merits of whether lawmakers should hold indicative votes on Brexit options when Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet meets on Tuesday – even though this failed to break the deadlock last time. Mrs May is due to bring a European Union Withdrawal Agreement Bill before parliament in the week beginning June 3, but the spokesman said on Monday he was unable to say when details of this would be published.

The weekly meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday is expected to sign off on a package of measures to be included in the forthcoming Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) aimed at winning cross-party support – but there was widespread scepticism at Westminster that it will fare any better than her three previous failed attempts to get the Commons to pass the deal.

Seven Tory Ministers including former Home Secretary Amber Rudd are also ready to block Boris Johnson’s bid to take the UK out of the EU without a Brexit divorce deal if he becomes Conservative Party leader, in a move which could ignite civil war in the Conservative Party.

A 60-strong caucus of “One-nation” Conservative MPs is poised to publish a “declaration of values” in which they will rejecting “narrow nationalism”.

Ms Rudd, who last month hinted that she, like Mr Johnson, might throw her hat into the ring once Mrs May confirms the date of her resignation, is spearheading the move, along with former education secretary Nicky Morgan, who wrote on the Conservative Home website: “I am clear that if the Party decides to focus its appeal mainly towards Brexit Party supporters, our demise will be swift.”

Rory Stewart Amber Rudd Boris Johnson

The move is being spearheaded by former Home Secretary Amber Rudd (Image: GETTY)

Meanwhile International Development secretary Mr Stewart, who has already confirmed his plans to seek the Tory leadership, yesterday told BBC’s Andrew Mary the no deal option would be “damaging and unnecessary”.

He added: “If you go down the path of No Deal Brexit you’re going to lose 4 million Remain voters who voted for the Conservatives last time, so you won’t win an election, and No Deal Brexit is a vote for Jeremy Corbyn.”

The Mail cited Tory supporters of Mr Johnson as denying the former London Mayor was ready to form an electoral pact with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.

One said: “Of course he won’t do a deal with Farage – he’s the man to beat Farage.”


Nigel Farage Boris Johnson

Nigel Farage has asked Boris Johnson: (Image: GETTY)

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage has been hit by a milkshake (Image: GETTY)

1.22pm update: Farage hit by milkshake

Nigel Farage has had milkshake thrown at him during a walkabout in Newcastle city centre.

The Brexit Party leader was led away by security as a person was dragged away by a Police Community Support Officer.

Footage shows the Brexit Party leader drenched in white milkshake as he is ecorted by his security.

Mr Farage is said to have told his security “it’s a failure” and “how did that happen?” before being whisked away in a car. He is said to be “furious,” according to reports in the Newcastle Chronicle. 

1.11pm update: Allen pushes for Article 50 debate

Change UK’s nominal leader Heidi Allen is trying to persuade House of Commons speaker John Bercow to allow a Parliamentary debate on the revocation of Article 50.

The new party is campaigning for Thursday’s European elections on a platform of cancelling Brexit.

Ms Allen tweeted: “The Speaker of @HouseofCommons has agreed to hear my application today for an SO24 emergency debate on the need to consider revoking Article 50 as I believe there is now a heightened risk of no deal.”

1.03pm update: Hunt refuses to be drawn on leadership bid plans

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt declined to say on Monday whether he would run for Prime Minister Theresa May’s job, adding that the focus had to be on delivering Brexit.

When asked by reporters in Geneva if he would confirm he was going to run to succeed May, he said: “We have to see what happens and they’ll be a time to discuss all those decisions that people make but right now the focus that people want from me and from everyone else in the Conservative Party is to get on and deliver Brexit.”

Asked if he would advocate a no-deal Brexit, Hunt said: “I would never advocate a no-deal Brexit, I think it would be immensely disruptive economically.

“And the truth is, no one quite knows what would happen in that scenario. But I think in a negotiation, you can’t take these options off the table.”

12.50pm update: UK “must respect our principles”, storms Barnier

EU chief Michel Barnier angrily rejected any chance of the UK being able to renegotiate the Brexit deal agreed with Brussels, fuming: “They must respect our principles”.

Last month, Theresa May was granted a new Brexit extension by the EU until October, as she struggled to gain majority support for her deal from MPs in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister has seen her Brexit agreement suffer three separate crushing defeats in Westminster as MPs refuse to get behind her deal.

She also sparked further fury among her feuding Government by opening cross-party talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier this month, but these negotiations collapsed last week without any positive outcome.

The Prime Minister will now bring her Withdrawal Bill Agreement to Parliament next week, promising to make a “bold offer” to MPs.

Mrs May has been continuously urged to seek further concessions from Brussels but despite the chaos engulfing the UK and the bloc as a whole, the EU is refusing to budge on its hardline stance.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag: “We have negotiated this agreement with the British and respected all their red lines, but they must also respect our principles.

“They are the ones who are leaving us – not the other way around – we are now waiting for them to take responsibility for their decision.”

12.32: “It’s Brexit’s fault,” says Eurovision loser Rice

Eurovision hopeful Michael Rice says not even Sir Elton John would have been able to turn the tide as he blamed antipathy towards Britain in the wake of Brexit for his disastrous showing as he finished last with a measly 16 points.

Rice had hoped his song, Bigger Than Us, might break the UK’s losing streak in the competition.

However, after receiving just 13 points from the European juries, and a shockingly bad three points from the public vote (all of them from Ireland), he was in no doubt who – or what – to blame.

He told the Sun: “I always knew I was going to come in this position because of Brexit.

“Do you know what? If it was Gary Barlow or Elton John, they still probably would have come last too.”

Michael Rice Elton John

Michael Rice has blamed Brexit for his Eurovision humbling (Image: GETTY)

12.18pm update: Brexit Party “not a party in the ordinary sense”, says Gordon Brown

Former Labour leader has hit out at both Leave.EU donor Banks and Nigel Farage.

Speaking in Glasgow, he said of Mr Banks: “We don’t know where his money comes from.”

On the new Brexit Party that has been formed by Mr Farage, he stated: “The Brexit Party that has been formed is not a party, it is a company.

“You pay money not to become a supporter, but to become a member. This is not a party in the ordinary sense, it is a private company.”

And on the former Ukip leader he said: “He won’t be remembered as a man of the people, he’ll be remembered as a man of the PayPal.”

11.53am: Ministers discuss holding further round of indicative votes

Senior ministers will consider the merits of whether lawmakers should hold indicative votes on Brexit options when Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet meets on Tuesday, her spokesman said.

May is due to bring a European Union Withdrawal Agreement Bill before parliament in the week beginning June 3, but the spokesman said on Monday he was unable to say when details of this would be published.

Officials say the Bill will try to offer “sweeteners” to both Conservative and opposition Labour lawmakers to try to encourage them to vote in favour of it, but after months of deadlock, many positions have hardened and few believe parliament is ready to back it.

11.20am update: Tory leadership hopeful McVey heads to the pub

Tory leadership hopeful Esther McVey will today launching her campaign trail focusing on countryside pubs in an effort to attract the blue collar vote and have an “ordinary conversation” beyond Brexit.

Ms McVey, Conservative MP for Tatton, is launching an initiative called Blue Collar Conservatism, a group dedicated to set out a domestic policy agenda able to entice the working class and land her the top job.

The 51-year-old Brexiteer will then tour the country to discuss her plans with voters, kicking off her campaign trail at the end of May at the Brown Cow in Bingley, Yorkshire.

Claiming Westminster politicians have grown too distant from Britons living outside of London and their problems, the MP said: “Never have the politicians in Westminster seemed so remote from ordinary conversations in the pub.”

10.59am update: Farage lambasts Labour and Tories

Mr Farage, who was surrounded by Brexit Party supporters as he spoke to the media outside Exeter Cathedral, said his party had a “clear” manifesto policy to honour the 2016 referendum and leave the EU.

He said: “What’s the Labour Party’s policy on Brexit? Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t answer that seven times on Sunday.

“What’s the Tory Party policy? Depends who you ask.

“Our policy platform for this election is dead simple – we want the democratic vote of the British people honoured.

“We have a new date now of October 31. We must leave on that date. If we win these elections representatives of the Brexit Party should be part of the Government negotiating team to make sure we do leave on that date.”

10.53am update: Tories have spent less than Friends of the Earth

The Conservatives Party has spent just £23,218 on its European elections campaign, less than the Electoral Commission, European Parliament and environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth.

The Tories are widely predicted to be on course for a drubbing in Thursday’s vote, with one poll putting them on just nine percent.

10.51am update: Change UK and Brexit Party the biggest European elections spenders, figures show

Change UK and the Brexit Party have spent more on Facebook advertising than any other party in the lead-up to the European elections, new figures show.

Data from the social media network showed Change UK – formerly known as The Independent Group – spent a total of £107,442 on the platform in the 30 days from April 19.

Nigel Farage’s party – currently leading in several polls – spent £95,222 over the same period, which ran until May 18.

The Liberal Democrats were the fourth biggest spenders with £76,102 spent over the period on mostly anti-Brexit ads.

The party was behind Facebook itself, which spent £86,457 on adverts assuring the public that it was taking action on misinformation.

The two biggest political parties both spent significantly less on Facebook adverts during the 30-day period, with Labour in sixth position with £46,516 spent.

10.39am update: “How can I trust Boris?” says Farage

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has rubbished claims of a deal with Boris Johnson, should he become the next prime minister, saying he could not trust him.

Speaking during a campaign visit to Exeter, he said: “When this appalling worst deal in history, new European treaty honed into view Boris wrote in the Daily Telegraph, quite rightly in my view, that it would lead to vassalage and we would become a slave state.

“And then what did he do? Ah, yes, he voted for it. He tells us it is appalling and he votes for it and I worry that Boris puts party loyalty above his own conscience and what is good for the country.

“And even if Boris says, ‘It’s OK Nigel, I didn’t really mean to vote for it…’, how can I trust what he says, how can I believe anything any of these two mainstream parties tell us after three years of, frankly, open lies and deceit?”

10.35am update: Brown calls for “answers” as Brexit Party surges

Mr Brown added: “Given what we know of the Brexit campaign of 2016, it is important that American and Russian techniques of election manipulation are not imported into the UK.

“And that, instead of waiting years to discover the true sources of funding and whether campaign finance is being legitimately received and used, we ask and answer these questions that are vital to the health of our democracy.”

Mr Brown is expected to attack Nigel Farage’s party for possible “under-the-counter and underhand” campaign financing ahead of the European elections on Thursday, when the Brexit Party is expected to sweep up the largest amount of votes.

He will highlight that the electoral watchdog had “warned of the dangers” of large amounts of cash being funnelled to parties in multiple small donations and linked this to the Brexit Party’s funding model.

10.33am update: Former PM Gordon Brown calls for investigation into Brexit Party funding

Gordon Brown has called for an urgent investigation into Brexit Party funding.

The former Labour prime minister asked, in a speech in Glasgow, whether sufficient safeguards are in place to protect against “dirty money” donated by foreign actors attempting to influence UK politics.

Mr Brown claimed “American and Russian techniques of election manipulation” could be being “imported” as he suggested they had been during the original EU referendum.

He will say: “I have written to the Electoral Commission, who have a duty to monitor every UK party’s election finance and spending, demanding Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party be investigated, and I am asking the European Parliament to investigate his failure to declare income where there are potential conflicts of interest.”

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown is questioning the funding of the Brexit Party (Image: GETTY)

9.59am update: Brexit Party “won’t last”, claim experts

The Brexit Party will dominate the Conservative Party in this week’s European elections but, despite surging ahead in polls, Nigel Farage’s success won’t last political experts have said.
The newly-launched political party, led by former Ukip leader, have made an immediate impact as Britons head to the polls to vote MEPs into the European Parliament.

In the latest poll by YouGov of 7,192 British adults from May 12-16, the Brexit Party continues to take full advantage of the carnage engulfing the Conservatives and Labour, with 35 percent intending to vote for them.

Labour is back in third position with 15 percent and behind the Liberal Democrats on 16 percent, with the Conservatives languishing in fifth with just nine percent – shifting them behind the Green Party (10 percent).

Theresa May’s struggles to get Britain out of the European Union have continued to blow a huge hole in voter confidence, with 62 percent of Conservative voters from 2017 now opting for the Brexit Party.

Political experts have warned the Brexit Party will almost certainly be a “huge threat” to the Tories at this week’s European elections.

9.38am update: Barbados or Brussels? Free holiday for May (but Brits vote where to)

A travel firm is offering beleaguered PM Theresa May a FREE HOLIDAY…although it’s up to voters where she goes.

Bosses at online travel agent Travel Republic have set aside a pile of cash to hand over to the Tory PM – who earns around £150,000-a-year – to go on a ‘well deserved’ break away from the hubbub of Parliament.

The firm has launched a ‘People’s Vote’ to determine where the 62-year-old goes on hols, with Brits able to choose from seven destinations.

Among those Brits can choose include Barbados, Benidorm, Bodrum, Bali, Bangkok and Brussels – with a seventh option of ‘remaining’ in Westminster to sort out Brexit.

Disgruntled voter Steve Simpson, 45, of Hackney, east London said: “I’d have chosen Basra to be honest.”

Guy Verhofstadt

Guy Verhofstadt retweeted the Lib Dem campaign slogan (Image: Twitter)

9.32am update: Tory Party risks destroying itself by appealing to Brexit Party, claims Morgan

Tory Remainer Nicky Morgan has claimed the Conservative Party risks destroying itself, and possibly even the United Kingdom, if it gears its message towards supporters of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

Writing for the Conservative Home website, she said: “I am clear that if the Party decides to focus its appeal mainly towards Brexit Party supporters, our demise will be swift. 

“It is a party that thrives on exploiting divisions and wants to pursue a hard No Deal Brexit deliberately, and with no regard for the damaging consequences for the United Kingdom, including to the very fabric of our Union.

“Those who have always wanted a No Deal outcome to Brexit can at least say that is what they always preferred, and should be asked to explain what their version looks like and how they think they’d prepare for it.  

“But there are those for whom a No Deal outcome is now a strategic leadership campaign choice. The One Nation caucus will be asking them to explain their decision to us, and how they’ve weighed up the risks involved to our nation.”

9.09am update: May’s last throw of the dice

Theresa May is hosting a crunch cabinet meeting this in a last throw of the dice as she tries to rally support for her latest bid to get her Brexit withdrawal agreement through the Commons.

But Mrs May is likely to wade into a row over plans for a no deal Brexit, with some ministers claiming it could lead to the disintegration of the UK and resultant serious economic harm, the Financial Times reported.

Downing Street is setting an ultimatum for Tory MPs in advance of the vote, scheduled for the first week of June, warning them if the plan is voted down a fourth time, it will be a choice between no deal and a general election as a result of which may will lose their seats.

The Conservative Party is on track for a drubbing in Thursday’s European Parliamentary elections, with a YouGOve polls putting support at just nine percent.

8.58am update: Hancock refuses to be drawn on leadership ambitions

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has turned down an opportunity to throw his hat into the Tory leadership race.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s flattering that lots of people have asked me to put my name forward and proposed to support me if I do but that isn’t the point, which is we still have to get this legislation to deliver Brexit through.”

When asked if he didn’t want to because he had one percent grassroots support in a recent poll he said: “No, because the contest hasn’t started yet.

“I have a strong view about the sort of leader that we need – we need a leader not just for now but also for the future, we need to be absolutely four-square in the centre-ground of British politics.”

8.47am update: “A new PM changes nothing,” warns Ireland’s Coveney

The EU will not renegotiate Theresa May’s Brexit deal, even if the UK has a new Prime Minister, Ireland’s deputy Prime Minister has warned.

Simon Coveney, who is also Ireland’s foreign minister, has described the political events at Westminster as “extraordinary”, as he questioned the logic of politicians who believed a change in leader would deliver changes to the deal struck by Theresa May.

He also said time is of the essence for the UK to get a Brexit deal through Parliament, warning that another extension to Article 50 may not be granted by the EU if a deal is not agreed by the latest October deadline.

As a result, Britain could trigger a no deal Brexit by “default”, if its MPs failed to get their act together.

8.14am update: Sales hit by Brexit uncertainty, Foxtons suggests

London-focused real estate agent Foxtons Group Plc said on Monday the property market had seen record low sales volumes in the first quarter, hurting revenue as ongoing Brexit uncertainty hurt consumer confidence.

The warning comes months after one of Britain’s best-known property names scrapped its dividend for 2018 and reported a fall in core earnings, hurt by weaker sales and higher costs in a tough market.

Shares of Foxtons are expected to trade 2-5 percent lower at open, according to premarket indicators, with the company also saying that conditions had remained unchanged in April.

London’s long-bullish property market has been sluggish in many areas over the past year hit by the uncertainty generated by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and a rise in stamp duty property tax.

8.07am update: “******* to Brexit,” says Verhofstadt

The European Parliament’s Guy Verhofstadt has tweeted a picture of him campaigning with Liberal Democrat leader Guy Verhofstadt – alongside the party’s controversial campaign slogan, “******** to Brexit”.

Mr Verhofstadt posted: “Support the @LibDems, the only pro-European party in the UK!”

His declaration failed to impress Tory MP Lucy Allan, who responded: “The British people voted to leave the EU – for good reason.

“You do not get a say in that decision. @guyverhofstadt It is not for you to decide otherwise -we trust in democracy.”

7.54am update: EU standards are old-fashioned, implies Isley 

Mr Isley added: “Chlorinated chicken is an example. That practice and processing is very, very limited in the US now and is being phased out, not for food safety reasons but because newer technologies become available.”

Asked what new technology exists, he responded: “There’s acetic acid, is one of them.”

Mr Isley criticised the current standards in the EU, and by extension the UK, as he defended those in the States.

He added: “It’s not lower food safety standards, it’s different and more advanced and more modern than what you find in Europe.

“I think the concerns and fear are unfounded. I would stack US food safety and our food safety record against anywhere in the world.”

7.52am update: US agriculture chief dismisses chlorinated chicken concerns

Concerns over chlorinated chicken entering the UK after Brexit have been dismissed as “unfounded” by a senior US official.

Foreign Agricultural Service administrator Ken Isley defended using the chemical to wash poultry, a practice banned in the EU, and said it is being replaced by the use of acetic acid.

Critics of using chlorine to strip bacteria from chicken say it leads to poorer hygiene standards elsewhere in the production process.

Donald Trump’s administration wishes to eliminate or reduce the barrier to exporting agricultural products to the UK in a trade deal to be brokered after Brexit.

The US Department of Agriculture official said fears about standards in the States, which are held by people including Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, are based on “myths”.

7.45am update: Brexit a fact in profits outcome, admits Ryanair’s O’Leary

Ryanair is expecting “broadly flat group profits” into the financial year ending in 2020, when their reporting will include Lauda in the consolidated Ryanair Group – although chief executive Michael O’Leary admitted Brexit would be a factor.

A copany statement said: “Assuming revenue per passenger (RPP) growth of three percent, we are guiding broadly flat Group profits.

“This will range from 750 million euros (£660 million) if RPP rises two percent, up to 950 million euros (£830 million) if RPP rises four percent.

“This guidance is heavily dependent on close-in peak summer fares, H2 prices, the absence of security events, and no negative Brexit developments.”

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