Morning briefing: Holidaying with Macron - no deal piles up - 'loyal' Boris
When Theresa May sees Emmanuel Macron on his island in the south of France on Friday, will fudge be on the menu? Her aim is to get the French president to soften his stance on Brexit and lean on the European Commission to do the same. But the prime minister is unlikely to achieve much. “He will stand firm with the Commission,” a senior adviser to the president told The Times.
But the Commission seems willing to ease the passage of May’s Brexit plans anyway, according to the FT. EU officials are apparently willing to “fudge” the Withdrawal Agreement to help May get it past rebellious MPs, turning it into an aspirational statement rather than a blueprint for a future trading negotiation. Their only sticking point is a hard-and-fast “backstop” guaranteeing no hard border in Ireland.
“As long as you have the backstop, then you say in the new partnership declaration we will strive for a customs partnership that will make the backstop irrelevant,” a senior EU diplomat told the FT. “You can strive for many things.” The diplomat added: “You can talk about many things because the backstop is the insurance if all these nice perspectives don't work out.”
Such fudge would hide the truth of how badly our power and prosperity was being damaged until it was too late. It would amount to writing a blank cheque for the EU to push its own interests in the negotiations after Brexit. It wouldn’t satisfy anyone - neither hardline Brexiters nor patriotic pro-Europeans.
Although fudge might taste good, it is ultimately bad for your health. If such sickly fudge emerges from the talks, it’s essential that the people are given the vote on whatever deal May brings back.
HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION FOR A PEOPLE'S VOTE?
Video of the day
30 years? 50 years? 100 years? When will we get the so-called 'Brexit benefits'?
No deal warnings pile up
One of the arguments May is expected to use to persuade Macron to soften his Brexit stance is the threat that “no deal” is bad for the EU. However, her threat to crash out without a deal would look stronger if the UK’s own no-deal preparations weren’t looking so chaotic.
A giant 13-mile “lorry park” on the M20 in Kent could “last years”, an assessment by Dover council has found. The report criticised the slow pace of work and warned there “does not appear to be a Plan B”.
Meanwhile food retailers are demanding a crisis meeting with government over the prospect of food shortages after a no-deal Brexit. The Food and Drink Federation is worried about rising prices, less choice and shortages in some areas such as tea and coffee. All this would be felt in the run-up to leaving the EU as suppliers and households start stockpiling ahead of time.
Tweet of the day
This demand on government from former health minister Ben Bradshaw deserves retweeting.
Quote of the day
“Brexit is shaping up to be the stuff of nightmares and it’s essential the government begins to explain a. to businesses and b. the public exactly what the implications of a no deal brexit are.”
Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright warns of Brexit food shortages
Johnson “promises” loyalty
Boris Johnson’s resignation has benefited at least one person: Boris Johnson. His popularity among Tory party faithful has soared at the same time that a record number of the party’s members want Theresa May to quit now, according to a survey by Conservative Home. 29% want the former foreign secretary as leader, up from 8% last month.
Meanwhile, 45% of party members want May to resign now, more than double the 21% who wanted her to go last month. A further 36% want her out before the next election. Johnson will “flesh out his alternative to Chequers in coming weeks” and is also expected to visit local Conservative associations, according to The Times. His supporters tell the paper he will be loyal to the prime minister. With loyalty like this, who needs disloyalty?
Tweet of the day 2
Wales won’t lose out - for now
There’s been a Brexit respite for Wales as the Treasury has agreed to underwrite the costs of lost EU “structural funds” until 2020. Wales currently qualifies for £2.1 billion in EU funding to boost economic performance, infrastructure such as roads and the skills of the population. Celebrations will be hollow, however, as it remains unclear where this funding boost will come from. Ministers are proposing a “shared prosperity fund” to replace the EU scheme. But whereas the EU is dedicated to supporting less prosperous European regions over the long term, any Westminster-based fund would be subject to the whims of the current UK government.
More Brexit news…
Top Brexit comment
Gina Miller: People want a proper say on Brexit. Let them have it (Guardian)
Will Clothier: The public are watching Brexit and their minds can change (Times £)
Bashir Ibrahim: Whilst the Establishment are away, people power takes a lead on Brexit (Islam21C)
Today, Wednesday 1 August
|-||Parliament in recess|
|-||Trade secretary Liam Fox meets Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Tokyo|
|10:30||Decision on Tommy Robinson's legal challenge to his 13-month prison sentence|
Tomorrow, Thursday 2 August
|-||Parliament in recess|