Morning briefing: Tough choices at Chequers - Banks and Russia - Corbyn
Chaos and confusion reign in advance of Friday’s Cabinet meeting at Chequers. Ministers are fighting like ferrets in a sack. According to the Sunday Times, no fewer than 20 Tory MPs are positioning to take over from Theresa May if she’s ousted as prime minister.
With only 15 weeks left until the October summit where a final deal was originally supposed to be agreed, is the Cabinet finally going to to face up to some of the realities of Brexit? The BBC says the prime minister has come up with a new customs plan after the government’s previous two versions were both found wanting - but the broadcaster doesn’t know what it is.
Meanwhile, Oliver Robbins, the top civil servant on Brexit, is telling the Cabinet there is “no chance” of a bespoke red, white and blue Brexit because time has virtually run out.. Instead, the choice for a future trade deal will be effectively the Canada or Norway model.
The splits within the Cabinet are becoming spectacularly public. Michael Gove physically ripped up a paper on future customs options.
The MPs who would be PM are in an awkward spot; a challenge would use up valuable time, but if May knows she won’t face a challenge until after Brexit she will be relatively free to chart her own course. What’s more, her friends have briefed she intends to fight any attempt to oust her.
Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs, is one of those appealing for calm, warning that continued public divisions could derail Brexit talks - or worse, by giving “an impression of division to the country”, lead to a Corbyn government. That’s like saying “not in front of the children”, after the parents have already had a screaming row at the dinner table.
There is, of course, a chance that in the pursuit of continued cohesion May decides to keep on fudging it. The two sides in the Cabinet face a choice between two bad Brexits; damaging the economy; or following the EU’s rules without a vote on them- or perhaps even some middle road where we damage both our prosperity and our power.
With all possible Brexit deals riddled with flaws, and the Cabinet unable to unite behind any, all the more reason for a People’s Vote on whatever the outcome.
HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION FOR A PEOPLE'S VOTE? NEXT STOP 200,000!
Quote of the day
"I came out of the meeting and thought we were even more screwed than we were before. I was surprised he admitted how bad it was. If I had to gauge where we are, I would say Downing Street is moving towards the Norwegian model."
- An anonymous source discusses Oliver Robbins briefing on the state of negotiations (Times)
Video of the day
WATCH: NHS England chief executive discusses plans for a no-deal Brexit.
State of negotiations
Even if the Cabinet can decide which model they would like to ask the EU for, we will still be a long way from a deal. Some have already been ‘ruled out’ by the bloc, including any arrangement where the UK is in the single market for goods without signing up to free movement or the single market for services.
Mind you, we won’t know for sure the EU’s position until our government actually says what it wants. It should stop wasting time and get on with the job of governing.
Tweet of the day
It turns out that David Davis has held just four hours of face-to-face talks with Barnier this year. We're not impressed:
Crime squad examines Banks’ Russian links
The National Crime Agency, the UK’s elite crime-fighting squad, is examining evidence of new Russian links to Arron Banks after receiving a cache of his emails, according to The Sunday Times. The Leave.EU boss was offered three Russian business deals during the Brexit campaign including a gold mine venture in Guinea, west Africa, and a stake in Russia’s state-controlled diamond miner, the paper says.
Banks, who bankrolled the Brexit campaign fronted by Nigel Farage, told The Sunday Times he had not taken part in any of the deals. “Let [the National Crime Agency] investigate. All of this just makes me look like an international man of mystery.”
Graphic of the day
SHARE: May's botched Brexit is driving up costs for us all.
Corbyn and Labour
A YouGov survey carried out for the People's Vote campaign has found that a majority of Unite members now support a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal: news that comes just as the biggest union in Britain and Ireland is about to decide its policy on Brexit at its Brighton conference. A clear majority of Unite members also believecontinued smooth trade is more important than reducing migration.
Elsewhere on the left, a Momentum petition to support a People’s Vote is gaining support, and its adoption as policy may soon be voted on inside the Labour pressure group.
With pressure growing among his supporters, it’s in Corbyn’s interest to back giving voters the final say on Brexit. There is, of course, a democractic case for doing so too: the people’s party should be in favour of a People’s Vote.
More Brexit news…
NHS preparing for disruption to supplies from no-deal Brexit (Guardian)
Brexit almost derailed as Theresa May aide Oliver Robbins' briefings left on Eurostar train (Times)
David Davis has spent just 4 hours in talks with Michel Barnier this year (FT)
Cabinet anarchy as Chequers summit looms (Guardian)
Top Brexit comment
Jacob Rees-Mogg: Theresa May must keep her Brexit customs union promise or face revolt by Tory MPs (Telegraph)
Theresa May: Our mission goes beyond Brexit - to comprehensively renew politics in this country (Telegraph)
Martin Wolf: The irremediable folly of a 'no deal' Brexit (FT)
Today, Monday 01 July
|15:30||Simon Stevens answers health committee questions on NHS funding plans|
Tomorrow, Saturday 30 June
|10:15||Scottish Affairs committee hears evidence on future Scotland-EU trade|
|14:15||Trade Minister Hollingbery addresses EU scrutiny commission about post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal|