Skip to content

Tag: The Times

Theresa May begged Brexiteer Tories and the Democratic Unionist Party to take a “second look” at her agreement FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA

Theresa May braced for historic defeat on Brexit D-Day (The Times)

Theresa May begged Brexiteer Tories and the Democratic Unionist Party to take a “second look” at her agreement

Francis Elliott, Political Editor | Oliver Wright, Policy Editor | Sam Coates | Henry Zeffman. January 15 2019, 12:01am.

MPs expected to reject EU withdrawal agreement despite prime minister’s last-minute plea

Theresa May warned Tory rebels last night that they will risk a Jeremy Corbyn government if they vote against her Brexit deal amid fears of the heaviest defeat suffered by a government in modern politics.

Downing Street is braced for a no-confidence vote as soon as tomorrow as Mr Corbyn tries to force an election he claims would break the Brexit logjam.

The prime minister begged Brexiteer Tories and the Democratic Unionist Party to take a “second look” at her agreement in the light of further European Union assurances over the Irish backstop.

However, only half the Conservative parliamentary party turned up to hear her eve-of-vote pitch in which she urged them to unite around two tasks: achieving Brexit and keeping the Labour leader out of Downing Street. The best way to secure those aims, she said, was to vote for her deal.

In a quietly damning verdict of her attempt to secure converts to her cause, one MP present — who is voting for the deal — said that it was a “competent but not transformative” performance. They said the prime minister “mostly rehearsed the arguments she has been rehearsing for months”.

A Brexit-supporting MP who left the Westminster meeting early said that Mrs May’s appeal had not changed his mind over how to vote.

The DUP, the prime minister’s parliamentary ally, also delivered a withering rejection of her entreaties. Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader, said that letters from Brussels attempting to offer support on the backstop increased the party’s concerns.

The Conservatives’ hardline Brexit faction has plotted to ensure that Mrs May’s deal goes down to the heaviest possible defeat today. The scale of a loss that No 10 privately concedes is inevitable will depend on which amendments John Bercow, the Speaker, selects. The first votes are expected after 7pm.

Continued on


Theresa May said after a five-hour cabinet meeting yesterday that she believed her draft deal to withdraw from the EU was the best that could be negotiated VICTORIA JONES/PA

May papers over the cracks as cabinet back Brexit deal (The Times)

Theresa May said after a five-hour cabinet meeting yesterday that she believed her draft deal to withdraw from the EU was the best that could be negotiated

Francis Elliott, Political Editor | Sam Coates | Oliver Wright | Bruno Waterfield, Brussels
November 14 2018, 8:30pm

Theresa May confronted her mutinous party with the threat of “no Brexit at all” after she forced her draft deal with the EU through a divided cabinet.

Esther McVey, the welfare secretary, was believed to be on the verge of quitting last night after clashes at the end of a marathon five-hour meeting. She was shouted down by the chief whip and cabinet secretary after she demanded a vote by ministers on the deal.

Although Ms McVey was one of nine senior ministers to criticise the deal, Mrs May emerged claiming to have secured cabinet backing for a “decisive step” towards finalising Brexit at a special summit on November 25.

The prime minister admitted, however, that she faced “difficult days ahead” as Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the Brexiteer Tory backbenchers, rejected the draft agreement, saying that it would make Britain “a permanent rule-taker” and warned that it could trigger a vote of no confidence.

Mrs May will face a hostile reception from Tory Brexiteers when she makes a Commons statement today as they decide whether to trigger a leadership contest. If she wins, she cannot be challenged as leader for another year.

Continued on



Theresa May’s Brexit deal crashes as EU ‘turns off life support’ (The Times)

Theresa May’s plan for avoiding a hard border with Ireland has been rejected by the EU

Brussels rejects her key compromise as four ‘remain’ ministers on verge of quitting

Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor
November 11 2018, 12:01am

Theresa May has been plunged into a deeper crisis after Brussels rejected her key Brexit proposal, which was intended to avoid the UK being trapped in an indefinite customs union.

The prime minister had hoped to unite her cabinet and overcome the final hurdle in negotiations with the EU by offering to create an “independent mechanism” to oversee how the UK might leave a temporary customs arrangement if Brexit talks collapsed.

But this weekend senior EU officials sent shockwaves through No 10 by rejecting May’s plan, sparking fears that negotiations have broken down days before “no-deal” preparations costing billions need to be implemented.

The mechanism was seen by key members of the cabinet, including the attorney-general, Geoffrey Cox, as crucial to preventing the so-called Northern Irish “backstop” being used to force the UK into being a “never-ending rule-taker from Brussels”.

A Whitehall source described the plan as the government’s “life-support machine”, adding: “By rejecting the proposal, the EU has just turned off the oxygen.” A senior cabinet minister said: “This is the moment she has to face down Brussels and make it clear to them that they need to compromise, or we will leave without a deal.”

Continued on



Brexit has plenty of unexpected bonuses (The Times)

We’re tackling problems like poor productivity thanks to our imminent departure from the EU.

November 9 2018, 12:01am, The Times

Why does Brexit make so many people so cross? The more you think about it, the odder it is. Leaving the EU is not Iraq or Vietnam. Nobody will be killed by Brexit, except perhaps those who are bored to death by it.

For all the adjectives you could use to describe Brexit — confounding, frustrating, momentous and historic — it is, above all, desperately boring. I’m talking not just about the endless soap opera of negotiations, though that’s up there with the collected works of Thomas Hardy in the boredom stakes. Brexit is boring because it turns out the European Union itself is mostly boring.

Consider the powers that will be returned to Westminster after we finally leave: to negotiate trade deals with other countries; to impose tariffs; to introduce new regulations on employment and product standards; to set quotas for migration and visas. For the past four decades the EU has functioned in large part as a legislative black hole into which we have outsourced some of the more tedious levers of the state.

Yes this stuff matters, in much the same boring but worthy way that it matters what diameter of sewage pipes we use. In some sectors, such as agriculture, Brexit has the potential for exciting innovations. But consider the most important powers at the government’s disposal: defence of the realm, fixing levels of tax and public spending, managing the welfare state and deciding interest rate policy. Set against this it is hard not to find the powers returned from Brussels rather piffling.

True: you can make the case that big constitutional decisions should be taken at home. You can argue that throwing sand into the wheels of trade between Britain and Europe will only make both of us poorer. You can point to the possibility that Britain leaves without a deal, something that would not be boring in the slightest, at least for a few months. Except that the likelihood of it happening is far smaller than you might assume. It suits everyone concerned, for all sorts of reasons, to ramp up the drama.

Continued on




No-deal plan ‘will include new border in Irish Sea’. DUP accuses May after leaked letter from No 10. (The Times)

A letter from Theresa May has led DUP leaders to fear she will renege on a promise to prevent any division between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor
November 8 2018, 10:00pm

The five-page letter, leaked to The Times, was sent on Tuesday from Mrs May to Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, and Nigel Dodds, her deputy.

In it, the prime minister says that the EU is still pushing for the “backstop to the backstop” but insists that she would never allow a divide between Ulster and Great Britain to “come into force”.

A Brussels plan to put a customs border in the Irish Sea if there is no Brexit agreement will be included in a divorce deal, a leaked letter from Theresa May suggests.

The prime minister was accused last night of breaking her promise to the Democratic Unionist Party that she would never sign up to a deal that could allow Northern Ireland to be divided from the rest of the United Kingdom.

The European plan, known as the “backstop to the backstop”, would leave Northern Ireland tied to the single market and customs union if Brexit talks collapse. Brussels wants this insurance policy to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Mrs May has previously said that no UK prime minister could ever agree to such a plan.

This wording has been interpreted by the DUP to mean that the clause will nevertheless be inserted into the legally binding agreement.

Mrs Foster said: “The prime minister’s letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious Union and for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole of the UK. It appears the prime minister is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with Northern Ireland in the EU single market regulatory regime.”

The letter also says that the government does “not expect regulations to diverge between Great Britain and Northern Ireland” during the backstop, meaning the whole of the UK will be tied closely to European rules.

Continued on


Theresa May

Revealed: Theresa May’s secret Brexit deal (The Times)

The PM’s preparations for a final deal are believed to be far more advanced than previously disclosed

Tim Shipman, Political Editor
November 4 2018, 12:01am,
The Sunday Times

Breakthrough on Irish border as PM woos Tory rebels

Theresa May’s secret plan to secure a Brexit deal and win the backing of parliament can be revealed today.

Senior sources say the prime minister has secured private concessions from Brussels that will allow her to keep the whole of Britain in a customs union, avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland. They expect this to placate remainer Tories and win over some Labour MPs.

And in a move that will appeal to Eurosceptics, May is also said to be on course to secure a political deal on a “future economic partnership” (FEP) with the European Union that will allow Britain to keep open the prospect of a free trade deal resembling that enjoyed by Canada.

The Sunday Times has been told that preparations for a final deal are far more advanced than previously disclosed and will lead to a document of 50 pages or more when it is published — not the vague, five-page plan many expect.

Cabinet sources say parts of it “could have been written by Jacob Rees-Mogg”, the leader of the hardline Eurosceptics.

A close aide of Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, revealed a major concession on the Irish border during a private meeting in London last week. The EU now accepts that regulatory checks on goods can take place “in the market” by British officials, meaning they can be conducted at factories and shops rather than at the border.

Downing Street officials are desperate to see enough progress this week for the EU to announce a special summit later in November to agree the final details. May will discuss the proposals with her cabinet on Tuesday.

Continued on


A protester outside parliament makes his feelings on Brexit quite plain SIMON DAWSON/REUTERS

Million job loss alert from no-deal Brexit (The Times)

A protester outside parliament makes his feelings on Brexit quite plain

A disorderly no-deal Brexit would plunge the UK into recession, cost a million Britons their jobs and leave households an average of £2,700 a year out of pocket, according to a leading global credit rating agency.

Standard & Poor’s said that the UK’s AA sovereign rating, the third highest grade, would be cut if Theresa May failed to secure a deal.

It forecast that this would shrink the economy by 1.2 per cent next year and 1.5 per cent in 2020. The resulting recession would push debt as a share of GDP close to 100 per cent by 2021 as borrowing soared, compared with its baseline forecast of 85 per cent, S&P said.

It forecast a jump in unemployment from 4 per cent to 7 per cent, equivalent to one million additional people out of work, and a drop in house prices of 10 per cent, while inflation would hit 4.7 per cent by mid-2019.

Mrs May claims that an agreement on leaving the EU is almost complete, but the Northern Ireland border issue remains unresolved. She has rejected calls from Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator, for a backstop that would keep the Irish border open to trade by creating a border in the Irish Sea — an option that is unpalatable to her allies in the DUP.

Continued on

S&P’s worst case scenario sounds familiar? Read “Brexit XXL! Visit

Johnny Mercer, right, is one of the PM’s most vocal critics DYLAN MARTINEZ/PRESS ASSOCIATION

Theresa May enters ‘killing zone’ (The Times)

Johnny Mercer, right, is one of the PM’s most vocal critics

Tories tell PM she has 72 hours to save her job

A Tory rising star today issues a call to arms for MPs to oust Theresa May, saying Britain cannot be led by someone guilty of an “abject failure to govern” at such a defining moment in our history.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Johnny Mercer says he “cannot continue to support an administration that cannot function” on issues from Brexit to the Grenfell Tower disaster and the Windrush scandal.

He spoke out as numerous Tory MPs said May was on course to face a vote of no confidence this week as all wings of the party united against her.

An ally of David Davis, the former Brexit secretary who is tipped as an interim leader, said May was entering “the killing zone”. One who hopes to succeed added: “Assassination is in the air.”

The prime minister has been summoned to plead for her job before the back-bench 1922 committee on Wednesday — a process dubbed “a show trial” by one Tory.

She is now under attack from her MPs on five fronts as it was claimed that:

● Up to 46 MPs have sent a letter demanding a contest, two short of the number needed

● A “handful” of cabinet members would vote against May in a secret ballot

● Organisers of the People’s Vote march are talking to 50 Tories, including five frontbenchers, who might back a second referendum

● Allies of Davis are encouraging the coup and have sounded out Boris Johnson’s friends to see if the former foreign secretary would stand aside

● Brexit secretary Dominic Raab is expected to use a BBC interview today to insist that May cannot sign up to membership of a customs union without an end date.

Continued on



May’s carefully crafted Brexit fudge on a collision course with Westminster (The Times)

Oliver Wright, October 18 2018, 5:00pm, The Times

The trouble with summits is that no matter how much you plan they have a tendency to throw up unintended consequences.

So it was in Salzburg and so it is in Brussels.

Briefings yesterday evening by EU officials revealed that Theresa May had told other leaders during her 15-minute address that she was prepared to consider extending the 21-month transition period to break the impasse over the Irish border.

Downing Street had spent the day desperately trying not to address the issue, knowing that it would be political dynamite at home.

Once the other side had let the cat out of the bag, however, they had no choice but to engage and the revelation has set off a firestorm in London.

Nick Boles, a former skills minister, said that Conservatives were “close to despair” and feared that Mrs May was conspiring with the EU to force MPs to accept a “humiliating” compromise to avoid a chaotic Brexit.

The backbench Eurosceptic Nadine Dorries called for David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, to take over as caretaker leader.

Despite the hysteria, all is not quite as it seems. That doesn’t mean that it is good news for the prime minister, merely that her problems are not quite as caricatured.

Under the complicated deal being cobbled together between British and European negotiators to get around the backstop issue a consensus is forming on a legal and political deal that will allow all sides to claim partial victory.

Continued on



Brexit deal on Irish border is in sight, says EU (The Times)

Britain would stay in an EU-wide customs regime until the technology exists to ensure no hard border in Ireland

Oliver Wright, Policy Editor
October 5 2018, 12:00pm

North would diverge and follow single market regulations

European Union Brexit negotiators have told national diplomats in Brussels that a deal to solve the Irish border issue is now “very close”.

After talks yesterday between Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, sources in the commission told Reuters that both sides were closing in on an agreement.

The basis of a deal was understood to centre around proposals, revealed by The Times on Tuesday, that are due to be formally tabled by the British side imminently. Under the plan the whole of the UK would remain within an EU-wide single customs regime until the technology exists to ensure no hard border in Ireland.

Northern Ireland would diverge from Britain and follow single market regulations that cover the sale of goods crossing the border. The government is insisting that this would have to be agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, if and when it is reinstated.

Sterling rose to a ten-week high of 88.19 pence against the euro on news of the deal being close. The pound also hit a five-day high against the US dollar of $1.3053.

Continued on


The view of the Republic of Ireland from a bridge over the Dublin to Belfast motorway CRISPIN RODWELL FOR THE TIMES

Brexit and the Irish border (The Times)

The view of the Republic of Ireland from a bridge over the Dublin to Belfast motorway

The Times, April 6 2018

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is one of the biggest obstacles to a Brexit deal. Reporting from Ireland and six other European countries, Raphael Hogarth, Adam Sage, Hannah Lucinda Smith and Ryan Watts investigate possible solutions.

the Irish government have said that Britain has until June to come up with a workable plan to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Without a “legally operable” proposal, Brussels has warned, the entire deal could be in doubt.

Theresa May promised in December that the UK would avoid “any physical infrastructure or related checks” at the Irish border. Yet it is still not clear how the government can square this with its pledge to take the UK out of the single market and the customs union, which the EU says will inevitably lead to frictions in trade.

The cabinet is divided down the middle. Some ministers favour an innovative “customs partnership” with the EU, under which goods are electronically tracked to their destination in order to determine which businesses need to pay which duties.

Others prefer the “maximum facilitation” option, which would use advanced customs technology from around the world to minimise checks. Both have been attacked as unworkable by the EU.

The Democratic Unionist Party, on which the prime minister depends for her majority in parliament, remains fiercely opposed to any deal that would subject Northern Ireland to different rules from Great Britain.

So what will the Irish border look like after Brexit? The Times investigates how Irish communities along the border live now, how other countries manage their borders with the EU and what a new regime could mean for the peace process.

Table comparing checks and applicable regulations at various European borders
Table comparing checks and applicable regulations at various European borders


Continued on


Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove AFP

Theresa May losing cabinet support for no-deal Brexit if EU talks fail (The Times)

Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove are said to favour a Canada-style deal. AFP.

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor | Bruno Waterfield, Brussels
September 27 2018

Theresa May is losing cabinet support for her plan to revert to a no-deal Brexit if Europe rejects the Chequers proposals, sources have told The Times.

Senior ministers are increasingly worried that the prime minister will stick to her promise to force a no-deal Brexit if Europe rejects her plan again next month. Mrs May said on Tuesday: “I’ve always said no deal is better than a bad deal, and I think a bad deal, for example, would be something that broke up the United Kingdom.”

Cabinet ministers are said to be looking at how to prevent Mrs May from locking Britain into a no-deal Brexit. Sources say that those opposed to her strategy include Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, Michael Gove, the environment secretary, and Sajid Javid, the home secretary.

They want her to consider a Canada-style free-trade deal if the EU rejects her proposals again at a summit on October 18, giving her a Plan B to avoid a no-deal. Their private concerns come after they backed Mrs May’s negotiating position at a recent cabinet meeting.

“We don’t want a no-deal and lots of people think her tactic means we can get there by accident,” one source said. “We think that a Canada deal is better than no deal.”

The group is not thought, however, to have presented any clear solution to the issue of the Northern Ireland border. Mrs May said this week that a Canada-type agreement that would, in effect, leave Northern Ireland in the single market and customs union, was not an option. This key group of cabinet “swing voters” insist that they will remain loyal and back Mrs May’s Chequers plan through the conference season.

Continued on



Drapeau britannique

There is little sign of the banking industry exodus many critics had feared (The Times)

Katherine Griffiths

September 26 2018, 12:01am, The Times

There may be all-out war among MPs over a possible second referendum on Brexit and whether to tear up Theresa May’s Chequers plan, but ministers should feel quite comforted about one outcome. Banks have begun to move staff to the Continent to prepare for life after Britain leaves the European Union, but at this stage the numbers are lower than anyone thought likely and — crucially — many of those employees are going on short-term contracts.

According to Iain McCluskey, a partner at PWC, the movers fall into three categories: those going to a new permanent contract, usually for roles required by the local regulator to be carried out by someone fully accountable under its laws; commuters, that is people who will fly out on a Monday and back to London on a Thursday or Friday, while their families remain in the UK; and finally “secondees”, bankers agreeing to move for two years (and in some cases as little as one) with the strong probability that they can come back to a good job in London. As Mr McCluskey notes, the smallest group is the first one, the permanent movers.

Admittedly, those numbers will get bigger. Rumours suggest that Bank of America Merrill Lynch is planning to shift more jobs to Paris than it had earmarked originally, while Jamie Dimon, the boss of JP Morgan Chase, has said repeatedly that the bank may shift 4,000 of its 16,000 British roles inside the EU if the eventual Brexit deal is poor.

Yet the fact is that the number of banking employees prepared to move permanently to Frankfurt, Luxembourg or even Paris is small, made up either of people from those countries who wanted to be in London for only a while anyway, or younger employees without the complications of family members with their own jobs or children at school.

Most continue to believe that if you want to have a career in banking in Europe, the place to be is London. So some will go to another city for a while, but they want to come back to the City or Canary Wharf, despite its lack of obvious charms, because they think that is where the best chances of career advancement and good jobs will be in future.

Continued on



Theresa May and Boris Johnson LEON NEAL/REUTERS

New threat to Chequers plan as Brexiteers push ‘Canada’ deal (The Times)

Leading Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson have backed an alternative to Theresa May’s proposal

Oliver Wright, Policy Editor
September 25 2018, 12:01am

A Canada-style trade deal would enable Britain to dump “anti-competitive” European Union laws and embrace the “opportunities” of Brexit, senior Conservatives said yesterday.

Setting out an alternative to Theresa May’s Chequers plan, leading Brexiteers backed a report that called for the EU to have no say over British laws on the environment, food standards and workers’ rights. They instead called for Britain to strike free-trade deals with countries such as the United States by opening up its markets to exports currently banned by the EU.

The report, by the free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), was given the backing of both David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, and Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary.

It calls for the government to drop the proposal made at Chequers to maintain close regulatory alignment with the EU and instead sign a more limited trade deal with the bloc.

Such a deal would be similar to the Canada trade deal concluded last year and would enable Britain to escape EU rules on environmental, social, data and food safety legislation.

Brussels has claimed that without agreeing to abide by such rules, British access to EU markets would be severely restricted. The report says that new deals with countries such as America, India and parts of Asia could offset any losses. It also argues that if Britain began trade talks with the EU while concurrently negotiating with other countries it could leverage one side against the other.

Continued on



Theresa May’s team plot snap election to save Brexit (The Times)

PM faces new cabinet battle over immigration

Tim Shipman and Caroline Wheeler
September 23 2018, 12:01am

Theresa May’s aides have secretly begun contingency planning for a snap election in November to save the Brexit talks and her job after EU leaders rebuffed the prime minister’s Chequers plan.

Two senior members of May’s Downing Street political operation responded to her summit humiliation in Salzburg last week by “war-gaming” an autumn vote to win public backing for a new plan.

In a telephone conversation on Thursday evening one of them said to another Tory strategist: “What are you doing in November — because I think we are going to need an election.”

With May’s position in peril, The Sunday Times can also reveal that another member of her inner circle has told cabinet ministers she is likely to stand down next summer — a move designed to stop them resigning now to replace her.

The plans to shore up May’s position were revealed as the prime minister is braced for a cabinet row over Britain’s post-Brexit immigration policy tomorrow.

Continued on