This article titled “Stephen Barclay made Brexit secretary as Amber Rudd gets DWP – as it happened” was written by Andrew Sparrow, Kate Lyons and Kevin Rawlinson, for theguardian.com on Friday 16th November 2018 19.36 UTC
We’re going to close down this live blog now. Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend. We’ll leave you with a summary of the latest events:
- Theresa May survived the latest crisis in her leadership and plugged the holes below the waterline of her cabinet. The prime minister appointed Stephen Barclay as Brexit secretary, replacing Dominic Raab, and Amber Rudd as work and pensions secretary, replacing Esther McVey. Stephen Hammond, John Penrose and Kwasi Kwarteng were all made junior ministers.
- Rudd backed the prime minister in her first public comments since her appointment. She told colleagues it was not the time for a change.
- Labour attacked the appointments, saying Barclay’s would “change absolutely nothing” and Rudd’s was the sign of a weak prime minister. Rudd, who resigned as home secretary in April after misleading a parliamentary select committee, was labeled a “disgraced former minister”.
- One cabinet minister not to resign was Michael Gove, who had been the object of speculation after reportedly turning down the Brexit secretary job. He felt May’s deal will not get through parliament as-is and had been expected to walk after refusing the opportunity to take on the responsibility of trying to force it through. But sources close to him said he felt he would have more influence within the cabinet room than without.
And you can read our full round-up of the day’s news here:
Steve Barclay, the newly-appointed Brexit secretary, has said he is delighted to accept the job.
We now need to keep up the momentum to finalise the withdrawal agreement and outline political declaration and deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK. Looking forward to working with a talented team of ministers and officials to do just that.
Updated at 7.18pm GMT
A member of the House of Lords has condemned fellow peers for “misogynistic, victim-blaming” attitudes after they cast doubt on the claims of a woman found to have been sexually harassed by a Lib Dem peer, because she was friendly to him on later occasions.
Jenny Jones, a Green peer, said she was so shocked at the attitudes in Thursday’s debate that she walked out of the chamber. At the end, the Lords voted to block the punishment imposed on Antony Lester following a year-long series of inquiries.
The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, says the appointment of Stephen Barclay as the secretary of state “changes absolutely nothing”.
After two years of negotiation, the prime minister has failed to deliver a Brexit deal that can command the support of parliament. A new face in the Brexit department will do nothing to bring this divided government back together.
In an interview with broadcasters, Amber Rudd urged Tory colleagues sending in letters of no confidence in Theresa May to “think again”.
This is not a time for changing our leader. This is a time for pulling together, for making sure we remember who we are here to serve, who we are here to help: that’s the whole of the country.
As we noted earlier, Rudd declared herself confident May will survive as prime minister, saying: “I think she (May) has demonstrated this week her complete commitment to making sure she serves the people she was elected to so do.”
Asked whether responsibility for Universal Credit was a “poisoned chalice”, the new work and pensions secretary said:
I have seen Universal Credit do some fantastic things. In my constituency in Hastings and Rye it really has transformed lives.
But I also recognise that there have been some issues with it, some problems with it. I see it very much as my job, my role, to make sure that I try to iron out those difficulties so it becomes a force wholly for good.
Britain’s leading employers’ organisation has sought to bolster support for Theresa May with a warning to MPs that rejecting the prime minister’s Brexit deal would lead to shortages and prevent vital supplies reaching the public.
In a show of support for May, the CBI said the agreement reached between London and Brussels represented hard-won progress and added that going backwards would damage Britain’s prosperity.
Amber Rudd has been speaking publicly for the first time since it emerged she was to be appointed work and pensions secretary. This via ITV News’ Daniel Hewitt:
The Ulster Unionist leader, Robin Swann, has said his party will not support the withdrawal agreement, claiming it will destabilise the United Kingdom.
This week’s withdrawal agreement was the inevitable consequence of the government and the DUP allowing the inclusion of the backstop in last December’s agreement between the EU and the UK.
It was a monumental error of judgment. We cannot and will not support the withdrawal agreement because it will be a longterm challenge to the integrity of the United Kingdom. In the unlikely event that the agreement makes its way through parliament, its impact will be felt for decades to come.
The impact may not necessarily happen immediately but, as the months and years pass, the implementation of the disastrous backstop will see Northern Ireland potentially drift farther away from the rest of the United Kingdom unless action is taken to reverse its effects.
It will act as an incentive for Scottish Nationalists who will use every excuse under the sun to destabilise another part of the United Kingdom.
He blamed the Democratic Unionist party, saying this was “happening on the DUP’s watch”, and claiming the party has “failed in their primary duty to protect the integrity of the union and its people”.
Swann has also criticised the Irish government just hours before he is due to attend the annual conference of Fine Gael, Ireland’s governing party.
The Irish government should also be careful what it wishes for. Despite repeated warnings to tone down the language and act like good neighbours, the brash behaviour of the Irish government led by Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney may yet lead to a place where none of us want to go.
A no-deal Brexit isn’t in anyone’s interests but, if they continue to pursue an aggressive stance in future negotiations, they will continue to raise the hackles of even the most mild mannered of unionists across the United Kingdom.
For us, the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland comes first.
Updated at 5.37pm GMT
The shadow cabinet office minister, Jon Trickett, is attacking the reappointment as a minister of Amber Rudd, who resigned as home secretary after misleading a parliamentary select committee less than seven months ago.
After enforcing Theresa May’s hostile environment in the Home Office, Amber Rudd will now be in charge of the DWP’s hostile environment for disabled people and the poorest in society.
With universal credit in absolute shambles, appointing a disgraced former minister who was only recently forced to resign for her role in another scandal is a desperate choice by a weak prime minister.
Updated at 5.27pm GMT
Stephen Hammond, John Penrose and Kwasi Kwarteng made ministers
And here are three more appointments from Number 10.
Stephen Hammond will be minister of state at the health department. Hammond is a pro-European former transport minister who rebelled against the government over the Brexit “meaningful vote” amendment last year.
John Penrose will be a minister of state atthe Northern Ireland Office. Penrose held various ministerial posts under David Cameron and voted remain.
Kwasi Kwarteng has been made a parliamentary under secretary (ie, junior minister) in the Brexit department. Kwarteng, who voted leave, was parliamentary private secretary to Philip Hammond, the chancellor. This is is first ministerial job.
That’s all from me. My colleague Kevin Rawlinson is now taking over.
Here is one Brexiter who is happy about Stephen Barclay’s appointment as Brexit secretary: Stewart Jackson, the former MP and chief of staff to David Davis when Davis was Brexit secretary
And here is one Brexiter who seems less pleased: the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
This is from Sky’s Beth Rigby.
Stephen who? What journalists and commentators are saying about new Brexit secretary
Here is some Twitter comment on the new Brexit secretary from journalists and commentators.
From the FT’s Jim Pickard
From the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg
From Sky’s Lewis Goodall
From the Politico Europe’s Tom McTague
From Guido Fawkes’ Tom Harwood
From the Telegraph’s James Rothwell
From the Jewish Chronicle’s Stephen Pollard
From British Future’s Sunder Katwala
Updated at 4.57pm GMT
This is from a July 2017 Financial Times article, headed: “Stephen Barclay impresses with his Brexit nous.”
Barclay, a former banker and regulator and a key interlocutor in crucial Brexit planning, was a magnet for the top bankers, asset managers and insurers represented on the panel. Discussion was highly technical, focusing on euro clearing, regulatory equivalence, mutual recognition and the Brexit transition timetable. “He was onside with us on everything, but cautious about whether it could be delivered,” one participant reported.
John McFarlane, CityUK’s chairman, described Barclay as “impressive”. Another bigwig attendee, was rather more direct about the contrast between Barclay and his predecessor Simon Kirby, the now ex-MP who was stripped of responsibility for the City and Brexit after complaints about his competence. “It was night and day,” the bigwig told City Insider. “Barclay made a good impression, but relative to his predecessor, it was a brilliant impression.”
Stephen Barclay appointed new Brexit secretary
Stephen Barclay, a health minister, has been appointed Brexit secretary, replacing Dominic Raab.
Barclay, who is not exactly one of better known members of the government, is a former Barclays Bank director who was elected MP for North East Cambridgeshire in 2010. He voted leave.
Updated at 4.34pm GMT
Steve Baker suggests Brexiters like Gove who haven’t resigned from cabinet won’t get ERG backing in future leadership contest
Here are some more lines from the interviews given this afternoon by Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group, which represents hardcore Tory Brexiters.
- Baker said Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee, would probably not get the 48 letters required to trigger a no confidence vote in Theresa May until next week. Asked if he thought the letters would go in by the end of today, Baker replied:
I think it’s much more likely next week, because many of my colleagues, on a decision this big, will want to see their association chairmen, presidents, deputy chairmen (political), key members in their associations, and ask their opinion. This is a democracy. It is our choice, but they will want to test opinion.
- He said, in a future leadership contest, only one Brexiter candidate should stand.
What I want is for one Eurosceptic who has been in the cabinet to be our candidate that we back. I was closely involved in the last leadership election. We cannot afford to tumble forwards with multiple candidates. So I will be strongly encouraging, if it comes to it, the plausible candidates to get in a room and decide amongst themselves who the candidate is going to be.
- He said Jacob Rees-Mogg, the ERG chair, could not be the Brexiter candidate for party leader because he does not have government experience.
It’s not going to be Jacob. I admire Jacob enormously. We’ve worked very closely together. But however popular Jacob is, there’s no getting away from it; he’s got no experience in government.
- He said that the Brexiters in cabinet who have not resigned over Theresa May’s deal would not be able to stand for the leadership with the support of the ERG.
I certainly can’t live with this deal and will vote against it. There are others, clearly, who feel the same. What I would say is, for those people who are in cabinet today, it’s perfectly reasonable for them to prioritise the stability of the government, to prioritise, particularly for Michael [Gove] no deal prep, because Defra is one of the more affected departments. That’s perfectly reasonable and noble. But it does, I think, mean that they will not be one of the plausible candidates should a vacancy arise.
That suggests Baker, and others in the ERG who share his view (they don’t all agree on everything, so Baker on his own probably can’t deliver the 50-odd ERG votes) would be voting for Boris Johnson or David Davis. There are other Brexiters with cabinet experience, like Iain Duncan Smith, but Johnson and Davis are the most prominent.
Updated at 4.20pm GMT
Amber Rudd’s appointment as work and pensions secretary has been confirmed by the Press Association, although not officially announced yet by Number 10.
Amber Rudd ‘to replace Esther McVey as work and pensions secretary’
Amber Rudd, who resigned as home secretary after wrongly telling the home affairs committee that the government did not have targets for migration removals (after being wrongly briefed), is to return to cabinet as the work and pensions secretary, according to the Sunday Times’s Tim Shipman. She will replace Esther McVey.
Updated at 4.13pm GMT
Why Gove didn’t resign
A bit more background from friends of Michael Gove about his reasons for turning down the job of Brexit secretary, and the change of course he would have demanded in exchange for accepting it.
Gove gave the withdrawal agreement his guarded backing in that five-hour cabinet meeting, we’re told; but the hostile reaction of the DUP and many Conservative MPs subsequently convinced him the deal could not get through parliament unaltered.
He has three reservations, all specifically with the backstop:
- The fact Northern Ireland would remain under the influence of the European court of justice and the European commission for key policies without any representation.
- The promise of “dynamic alignment”, which would oblige the UK to follow EU rules.
- The lack of an exit mechanism.
When May refused to budge, he turned down the job, feeling he couldn’t try to put the deal through parliament as Brexit secretary when he believed it was doomed to fail. He told May he would have to consider his position.
But after a dark night of the soul, he decided he would have more influence inside her cabinet, than out. All of which suggests Gove’s decision to stay is something of a double-edged sword for Downing Street.
Updated at 4.15pm GMT
This is from the BBC’s Iain Watson.
Margot James, a culture minister, won’t be incurring the wrath of Nicholas Soames. (See 2.44pm.)
According to a story (paywall) by the Financial Times’s Mehreen Khan, at his meeting with EU ambassadors today Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said the EU was going to take a tough line with the UK on security in the next stage of the talks (ie, the ones firming up the future relationship, after the UK leaves in March 2019). Khan said:
Mr Barnier dismissed the UK’s demand to maintain access to the EU’s internal security system, including its passenger name recognition database, Europol and Eurojust. He said no other country outside the Schengen free travel area enjoyed such a level of access. ‘The UK does not accept all the consequences of its status as a third country,’ Mr Barnier said, according to the note.
Updated at 3.39pm GMT
Grant Shapps, the former Conservative party chairman who led a doomed attempt to get rid of Theresa May as leader after last year’s party conference, has told Sky he is not submitting a letter calling for a no confidence vote “for now”. This is from Sky’s Aubrey Allegretti.
Updated at 3.40pm GMT
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told EU ambassadors today that the EU should not compromise its principles just because the UK government is in difficulties, the BBC’s Adam Fleming reports.
Soames accuses Tory Brexiters of ‘vulgar and pathetic display of inferior virtue signalling’
Sir Nicholas Soames, the Conservative former minister and one of the unlikely Twitter maestros on the Tory backbenches, has hit out at those MPs who have been publicising their letters calling for a no confidence vote in Theresa May.
In an interview with BBC2’s Politics Live, Steve Baker, the deputy chair of the European Research Group, which represents Tory MPs pushing for a harder Brexit, admitted he had sent a WhatsApp message to colleagues earlier saying that by his count more than 48 letters had been submitted demanding a no confidence vote in Theresa May, with around a dozen probables. But he conceded the number was probably inaccurate. He said:
People have been ringing me and they are telling me that they are putting letters in. I have spoken to colleagues as well and I think we are probably not far off. I think it is probably imminent.
But only Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, knew the true number, Baker said.
My number will be inaccurate because people will withdraw letters, they will tell me they have put letters in when they haven’t, they will take them out and not tell you they have taken them out.
Updated at 3.41pm GMT
Liam Fox, the Brexiter international trade secretary, has urged Tory MPs to take a “rational and reasonable” view of the PM’s deal with Brussels. He said:
I hope that we all take a rational and reasonable view of this.
We are not elected to do what we want. We are elected to do what’s in the national interest.
Ultimately I hope that across parliament we’ll recognise that a deal is better than no deal.
Businesses do require certainty and confidence as they go forward for their planning and there are those around the world who are waiting to get certainty also to begin to discuss trade agreements with the UK. It is in our national interest.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg says Theresa May could appoint a remain voter as the new Brexit secretary (which would mean I was wrong about it being a leaver fiefdom – see 12.25pm.)
Updated at 3.42pm GMT
The Conservative MP Marcus Fysh has submitted a letter calling for a no confidence vote in Theresa May, the Telegraph’s Christopher Hope reports.
Fysh voted leave, and has signed the #StandUp4Brexit pledge.
David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, has reportedly complained about Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister refusing to meet him in Edinburgh today.
She has described the accusation as “outrageous”, saying she was only offered a meeting at the last minute.
Updated at 3.42pm GMT
Mark Field, the Foreign Office minister, has appealed for MPs to stop “squabbling” and get behind Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Speaking on the World at One, he said:
I think just to watch MPs squabbling is not a very edifying scene.
I would also say, not just to my own party but across the political divide to Labour MPs, please, please put the national interest first.
The idea of playing politics on such an important issue when the option is a no deal which would be pretty calamitous, not just for us but the rest of Europe as well, this is not a sensible way forward and I can well understand why business despairs.
Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister and deputy chair of the European Research Group, has just told the BBC that he thinks Sir Graham Brady will probably not receive the 48 letters needed to trigger a vote of no confidence until next week. He says he thinks he and his fellow Brexiters who want a vote are close to getting that number, but that some MPs will want to reflect over the weekend before they take the final decision to sign a letter.
Tom Watson says second referendum on Brexit now ‘more likely’
In the Commons yesterday, when Theresa May was giving her statement on the Brexit deal, many Labour MPs explicitly called for a second referendum on Brexit, or a “people’s vote” as they put it. In his interview on the Today programme this morning John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, was asked if this meant that the party leadership, which is much less enthusiastic about a second referendum, was out of touch with the views of its MPs. McDonnell dismissed this claim, and said the backbenchers were just articulating Labour policy. He told the programme:
They were properly reflecting Labour party policy as it stands, because of a conference decision. They were literally voicing what party conference decision took place which was; yes, we want to respect the referendum; if we can’t get a deal that does reflect and at the same time protect jobs and the economy, our priority is for a general election; if we can’t get that, yes, a people’s vote remains on the table. They were reflecting that quite properly.
In fact, Labour’s policy is much less specific than McDonnell implied. The motion agreed at Labour conference just says: “If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.” Retaining a second referendum as an option is not the same as actively committing to one as policy. The “all options” wording is non-committal. (Funnily enought, it is so non-committal that it could even cover Labour MP Laura Smith’s call for a general strike, although after she proposed this in a controversial speech, no one in the party defended her on the grounds that her plan was consistent with party policy.)
There is also an implied contradiction in the Labour stance. If there were an election, it is assumed that the party would go into it promising to implement Brexit. But if there were a second referendum, many of those in the party backing this option hope that this could be an opportunity to stop Brexit. (The Times columnist and Tory peer Daniel Finkelstein put this argument well in a column here.)
Nevertheless, Tom Watson, the deputy Labour leader, does think recent events have made a second referendum more likely. This is what he said in an interview for the House magazine that has just been published.
We’ve been saying [a second referendum] is on the table for a year-and-a-half. At that time, it seemed very unlikely that there would be a people’s vote, that was the insurance option at the end of a series of unlikely events.
It seems to me that it is more likely given the weakness of Theresa May’s position. She leads a government without a majority, it now looks like she leads a cabinet without a majority as well. Given the weakness of her own government, I think it is more likely that we could get there.
Updated at 5.28pm GMT
Cabinet Brexiters hope to get May to renegotiate backstop, source reveals
Having opted to remain in the government, Michael Gove will work with other Brexit-backing cabinet ministers to urge the prime minister to seek to go back to Brussels and renegotiate – in particular over the Irish backstop, Whitehall sources say.
The Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, is expected to convene a meeting early next week with Gove, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt and Chris Grayling, and potentially others who share their views. They are then expected to press Theresa May to try to improve the details of the withdrawal agreement that deal with exiting the backstop.
Asked if pizza would be served, one source said: “Maybe less pizza, more getting down to business.”
May conceded in her three-hour Commons grilling on Thursday that she shared some of her colleagues’ concerns about the backstop. But negotiators on both sides are adamant it is the best Britain could have got.
UPDATE: This is from Jeremy Cliffe, the Economist’s Charlemagne columnist (covering Europe), on this story.
Updated at 5.24pm GMT
It appears there is a group of (mainly) loyal ministers which has formed in May’s cabinet. Some reports have suggested that the now-staying Michael Gove, along with Andrea Leadson, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt and Chris Grayling have decided to not quit and push ahead with getting a workable Brexit deal. This is correct, we are told.
For all the potential worries of a group-within-a-group working together in cabinet, this should help ensure May doesn’t suffer more high-profile resignations.
Chris Green, the Conservative MP for Bolton West and Atherton, has announced that he has also submitted a letter demanding a vote of no confidence in Theresa May.
Green voted leave in the EU referendum and he is one of the 52 Tories who has signed the #StandUp4Brexit pledge to oppose the Chequers plan.
Updated at 2.26pm GMT
The Spanish government made very clear its support for May’s troubled Brexit deal during its weekly press conference on Friday afternoon. Isabel Celaá, the education minister who also serves as the spokeswoman for the governing socialist party, said:
After very, very long negotiations, it seems that we have the beginnings of a deal on the table when it comes to Brexit. Like any deal, it’s obviously not perfect, but it still represents a success for the European Union and for the United Kingdom – if it comes off. The Spanish government would much rather have seen the UK stay inside the EU, but putting aside that regret, it’s far better to end up with a deal than with a split.
The Spanish government is also very satisfied with the inclusion of the protocol on Gibraltar, which is the result of bilateral negotiations between the UK and Spain, together with EU negotiators. We see it as a positive result when it comes to both the national interest and the Spanish citizens and workers in the Campo de Gibraltar area.
In an interview on Sunday, the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, had called for Theresa May to hold a second Brexit referendum. “If I was Theresa May, I would call a second referendum – no doubt,” Sánchez told Politico in an interview.
Sánchez said the UK’s exit from the EU would be a mutually painful affair and urged May’s government to hold another vote to enable re-entry in the future. He said:
It’s true that we’re now on the verge of signing a transition deal.
[But] I’d like to see the British government calling a second referendum. I don’t mean now, but in the future, so that it can come back to the EU. In another way, but back into the EU.
Updated at 1.10pm GMT
A few media rumours heading into the weekend. Theresa May has seen the Daily Mail; expect an interview in Saturday’s edition in what has become the prime minister’s most reliable supporter in Fleet Street, following the recent change of editor. Dominic Raab is giving an interview to the Sunday Times, which is likely to be eagerly read, although the former Brexit secretary has said previously that he does not want May to go.
Meanwhile, the beleaguered prime minister is likely to do some TV interviews on Sunday, including possibly Andrew Marr, although Downing Street sources said the situation with broadcasters “is a bit fluid at the moment”.
Updated at 1.11pm GMT
UK and EU determined to ensure backstop ‘remains in the filing cabinet’ unused, says Lidington
Theresa May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, is in Edinburgh today, talking to Scottish business leaders about the proposed Brexit deal, insisting that the package offers “really good prospects” and making clear that EU leaders, such as the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French prime minister, Edouard Philippe, “are not going to go back after the months that have been spent negotiating this compromise to reopen this and start again”.
Here are the main points.
- Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon should “put the interests of Scottish business and of living standards and prosperity in Scotland first and support this deal”, Lidington said.
- May’s deal was no threat to the union because there were already regulatory differences between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, Lidington said. He also said people recognised that Scotland and Northern Ireland were different, because NI has the UK’s only land border with the EU and because of its history of conflict. He was responding to SNP claims that it was unfair for NI to be able to stay in the single market under the backstop, but not Scotland.
- And, anyway, the answer to complaints about the backstop was to ensure that it never gets used, Lidington said. “There’s a real determination on all sides to ensure that it remains in the filing cabinet,” he said.
- He has been reassuring businesses that there are contingency plans in place should the deal be voted down in the Commons. He said:
As a government we are doing everything we are able to do within our jurisdiction. What we cannot do is to be certain how other governments will act. We can say at Dover, in the event of that crisis, we would apply a continuity principle and say we know that EU goods meet the same standards as ours, so for the time being we will let things through as if we were still an EU member.
But he said the government could not rely on the EU27 to do likewise.
We can’t guarantee the same thing will happen at Calais. And at the moment the commission is saying to member state governments: ‘Don’t talk to the British about this.’
- He said he was amazed by Theresa May’s personal resilience.
I sometimes wonder what it is that makes her get up in the morning and face the disobliging headlines and cartoons, and what it is is a very old-fashioned sense of public service.
- He urged the Tory MPs plotting against May to support her. He said:
I would say to people who are plotting against her: this is a woman who is intensely patriotic and dutiful, who is doing her utmost for families and businesses across the country. They haven’t got a better alternative plan available, and they should rally behind her because that’s in the national interest.
Updated at 1.16pm GMT
Katarina Barley, the German justice minister, has called for a second referendum in the UK. She told the German broadcaster ARD.
If … the government falls apart, if the lower house doesn’t consent, I would think it right to give the people the chance to speak again.
No one could have guessed it would turn out like this.
Liam Fox, the Brexiter international development secretary, has also expressed his support for the prime minister. Speaking in Bristol, he said:
I have full confidence in the prime minister. I think she is taking us forward with confidence and – I have to say – with resilience, and I very much agree with Michael Gove that what we need now is stability.
Liam Fox must be a strong candidate to replace Dominic Raab as Brexit secretary – assuming that Theresa May does replace him, and doesn’t decide instead to wind down the Brexit department (which was only meant to be temporary anyway) on the grounds that the deal has been negotiated.
In certain countries posts in government are allocated along religious or tribal lines. (Lebanon is the most commonly cited example, but Northern Ireland is not entirely dissimilar.) The same principle now seems to apply, unofficially, in the Tory cabinet, where DExEU is a leaver fiefdom. With Michael Gove turning the post down, Fox is the next most senior member of the Brexiter tribe in government, so the job could be his.
Updated at 1.17pm GMT
Anushka Asthana, who presents the Guardian’s new Today in Focus podcast, was in Westminster yesterday to cover the latest developments in the Brexit crisis. You can hear her “Day of Brexit Chaos” episode here.
Katya Adler, the BBC’s Europe editor, has posted a very good thread on Twitter explaining what the EU thinks about the Brexit deal. It starts here.
It is well worth reading the whole thing, but this is probably her most important point.
This is very awkward for Brexiters like David Davis, who want to renegotiate the Brexit deal (see 7.47am), but also for Labour, which is claiming that it could go back to Brussels and get a better deal too (see 10.27am).
Of course, the Brexiter and Labour definitions of a “better deal” are not the same …
Updated at 1.18pm GMT
The government has applied to the country’s highest court for permission to appeal against a cross-party legal challenge on Brexit, the Press Association reports. It has applied to the supreme court seeking permission to appeal against a court ruling that politicians can ask the European court of justice if the UK can unilaterally revoke its article 50 request to leave the European Union. The court of session in Edinburgh ruled in September to refer the question to the European court of justice (CJEU) after a case brought by a cross-party group of politicians. The CJEU applied its expedited procedure, as requested by the court of session, to the case and an oral hearing is fixed for 27 November.
The UK government applied to the court of session for permission to appeal against the ruling to the supreme court. This was refused by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge and lord president of the court of session, last week. However the Brexit department has now applied to the supreme court for permission to appeal, the Press Association reports. A statement issued by the supreme court said:
The supreme court has received an application for permission to appeal in the matter of secretary of state for exiting the European Union (Appellant) v Wightman and others (respondents). The application has been referred to three supreme court justices – Lady Hale (president), Lord Reed (deputy president) and Lord Hodge – who will form the decision panel. The court is aware of the urgency of this matter.
Updated at 1.25pm GMT
And here is a clip of Michael Gove speaking about his confidence in the PM.
Michael Gove, who is staying as environment secretary, was asked as he left his office this morning if he had confidence in the prime minister. He replied: “I absolutely do.” And he went on:
I am looking forward to continuing to work with all colleagues in government and in parliament to get the best future for Britain.
Asked at the lobby briefing for Theresa May’s response to Gove’s decision to remain in cabinet, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “She is very pleased that he will continue doing the important work he is doing there.”
Updated at 1.25pm GMT
Austrian chancellor says no-deal Brexit would hit UK ‘significantly more severely’ than EU
Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has voiced his hope that MPs will back Theresa May’s Brexit deal to avoid the UK crashing out of the European Union, saying that “nobody has been cheated”.
Arriving at a meeting in Brussels, Kurz said:
It is a good deal for both sides, nobody has been cheated. This deal prevents a hard Brexit [meaning a no-deal Brexit]. Therefore it helps us in Europe, but even more so it helps Great Britain because a hard Brexit would hit Great Britain significantly more severely.
I very much hope that there will be the necessary agreement in the British parliament for this deal.
The intervention follows warnings from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, that the EU will not go back to the negotiating table now a document has been agreed.
The EU is organising a Brexit summit of EU leaders on Sunday 25 November. Ambassadors from the EU27 countries will meet this Sunday, followed by a ministerial meeting on Monday to prepare for the summit, it was confirmed.
Austria holds the EU rotating presidency until the end of the year and Kurz is meeting the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, in Brussels to prepare the ground for those meetings.
Diplomats in European capitals are still ploughing through the 585-page text of the draft Brexit withdrawal treaty, but so far no one has raised serious objections.
At a meeting of EU ambassadors on Friday morning, France and Germany agreed that the contested issue of fishing rights could be moved into talks on the future relationship. This is a significant move, as several member states had wanted fish quotas tied to the compromise on the Irish backstop, which allows the UK to stay in a customs union. “The deal will not be brought down by fish,” one EU diplomat said.
Spain’s ambassador voiced disappointment about arrangements on Gibraltar, but did not threaten to vote down the deal. The agreement on the Rock is a win for British diplomacy, as Spain had wanted an open-ended say on the British overseas territory.
Some problem issues have not been discussed thoroughly by the EU – notably the politically fraught question of extending the UK’s 21-month Brexit transition. Under the current text the UK will stay subject to EU rules, but with no voting rights, until the end of 2020. That transition period can be extended once, but negotiators have not specified for how long.
The issue has to be resolved before the Brexit treaty can be signed.
Updated at 1.30pm GMT
The Tory Brexiter Mark Francois has released the text of the letter that he has sent calling for a no confidence vote in Theresa May.
I am writing to ask for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May as prime minister and leader of the Conservative party. This is something I thought I would never do.
That claim may come as a surprise to colleagues, because Francois has been one of the most prominent European Research Group (ERG) Brexiters speaking out against May’s Brexit strategy.
My colleague Lisa O’Carroll has an interesting snippet that might say something about what Brexit is doing for relations between the Republic of Ireland and the UK.
Here is Simon Fraser, the permanent secretary at the Foreign Office between 2010 and 2015, responding to David Davis’s claim this morning (see 7.47am) that the UK should go back to Brussels and renegotiate the Brexit deal.
Updated at 11.01am GMT
Here is John Whittingdale, the Brexiter former culture secretary, explaining why he has submitted a letter calling for a no confidence vote in Theresa May. Whittingdale told the Press Association:
I believe that the agreement that is being proposed does not deliver Brexit in the way that I and many others want to see.
It leaves us locked in indefinitely into the customs union. I also don’t think it can get through the House of Commons.
I want the government to pursue a proper free trade agreement which does deliver the Brexit objectives but which keeps us as close to Europe as possible.
I believe that is on offer from the European Union but it is clear that the prime minister is unwilling to move from her existing position.
Therefore I felt there is no alternative but to seek a vote of confidence.
Updated at 11.02am GMT
My colleague Dan Sabbagh has an updated list of the Tory MPs who have said publicly that they have submitted a letter calling for a no confidence vote in Theresa May.
MPs can also submit letters anonymously, and it is assumed that that is what many have done. If there is a no confidence motion, it’s a secret ballot, and MPs can choose not to reveal how they voted.
This is from the Sunday Times’ Tim Shipman.
When asked if 48 letters of no confidence had been received by the 1922 Committee as he left his Westminster home on Friday morning, according to the Press Association the Tory Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “We’ll see” and raised his eyebrows.
The PA reporter is right about the eyebrows. Take a look …
Labour could secure Commons majority for compromise Brexit, McDonnell says
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, told the Today programme this morning that Labour could secure a Commons majority for a compromise Brexit plan. As the Press Association reports, he said that when the government of the day was unable to command a Commons majority, the constitutional convention was that the opposition should be invited to form an administration. He also suggested Labour could seek support for an alternative agreement with the EU based on a permanent customs union and a “close collaborative relationship” with the single market.
McDonnell told the programme:
I think we can secure a majority. What is absolutely certain is that the government’s proposal won’t command a majority in the House of Commons.
Anyone having seen what happened in the House of Commons yesterday realises that the proposals that the prime minister brought forward will not command a majority and therefore there has to be some discussions. There has to be some movement.
You saw in the debate yesterday, and certainly some of the discussions that have taken place around the House of Commons, people have looked over the edge of a no-deal Brexit and realised it could be catastrophic for our economy.
I think our European partners also have looked over the edge of a no-deal Brexit and seen what an impact it could have on their economies.
So I think what is emerging within the House of Commons now is almost a unity platform to avoid a no deal, and therefore get down to serious discussions about what could construct a deal which would enable us to protect jobs and the economy.
I think that is beginning to emerge around the permanency of the customs union, the relationship with the single market.
He also rejected claims that it was too late to re-open negotiations with Brussels on the terms of the withdrawal agreement.
We have met [EU chief negotiator] Michel Barnier and others. If you can create the right atmosphere and relationship, there can be negotiations that are constructive.
I think everyone realises the dangers that there are of a no-deal Brexit, both for the UK but also for Europe itself. I think there is a sense of urgency now about getting on with a proper negotiation.
Updated at 10.49am GMT
Gove rules out resigning and decides to stay in cabinet to work for best Brexit outcome
Michael Gove is not resigning, sources close to him have announced.
James Forsyth, the Spectator’s political editor, has written a good blog setting out Gove’s thinking in more detail. Here is an extract:
So, why is he staying? Well, I understand that he didn’t see what would be achieved by going. It might doom this deal, but there would be nothing to put in its place. He felt it would be a nihilistic act, not a constructive one. With fewer and fewer Brexiteers around the Cabinet table, government policy might drift even further with more softening to try and gain support from opposition parties.
Updated at 9.58am GMT
Theresa May’s LBC phone-in – Summary
Here are the main points from Theresa May’s LBC phone-in.
- May was unable to say that the DUP would vote for her Brexit deal. Under the confidence and supply agreement, the DUP are supposed to vote with the Tories on Brexit legislation. But when asked if they would vote for the deal, she replied:
When this vote comes back every individual MP will decide how they will vote, whether they are DUP, Conservative, Labour, all parties within the House of Commons.
My job is to persuade first and foremost my Conservative benches, those who are working with us – the DUP are working with us, obviously, confidence and supply – but I want to be able to say to every MP I believe this is the best deal for the UK.
- She suggested a new Brexit secretary might not be announced today, saying she would make an appointment, “over the next day or so.”
- She would not deny reports that she offered to make Michael Gove Brexit secretary. Asked how important it was to keep him in the cabinet, in the light of reports that he is considering resigning, she said:
Michael has done a really important job at Defra. Often people don’t think about how individual Government departments are having to prepare for leaving the EU. Actually, Michael’s department is the one that has, in terms of legislation, probably more than anybody else. He’s been doing a great job and particularly doing a great job … on the fishing industry.
- May faced strong criticism from some callers over her Brexit deal. One accused her of being like Neville Chamberlain, saying she “came back having appeased that foreign power and not stood up for our country”. Another suggested Jacob Rees-Mogg would make a better leader. And another said she should “do the right thing in the national interest”. May responded to the criticism calmly, and repeatedly defended the deal, making the arguments she made in the Commons yesterday. She told one caller:
What we are doing is negotiating a deal that means we can take back control of our borders, free movement will end once and for all. We take back control of our money, we won’t be sending vast sums of money to the EU every year.
- She said that there were “questions” about the Vote Leave claim that leaving the EU would free up £350m a week for the NHS, but she said the point Boris Johnson and the Vote Leave campaign were making in the campaign was that “if we don’t send vast amounts of money to the EU we can spend it on our priorities back home.”
Updated at 11.49am GMT
This is from Sky News.
And here is some footage of Michael Gove leaving home, from the BBC’s Joey D’Urso.
Michael Gove has arrived for work at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Westminster. But he did not comment to reporters as he went in, the Press Association reports.
According to the Times, Gove is “tortured” about whether or not to resign. Sam Coates says in his story (paywall):
Many around Mr Gove expect him to quit by the end of the weekend. Friends said that he was in a “tortured” position, having rejected a deal that he had reluctantly endorsed the day before.
The Vote Leave veteran wants to make Brexit happen but believes the consequence of “no deal” could be disastrous. Some friends also believe that his wife, Sarah Vine, is not enthusiastic about him resigning and pointed to tweets she sent on Wednesday implicitly backing Mrs May’s deal. “Michael finds himself in these situations where he’s pulled in conflicting directions,” an ally said. “It’s clear he doesn’t enjoy the moment.”
Here are three journalists on Theresa May’s LBC performance, with alternative interpretations.
From the Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh
From the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush
From BuzzFeed’s Stuart Millar
This is from Jonathan Isaby, editor of BrexitCentral, who, as you would expect, has good links with Tory Brexiters.
Tory MPs won’t get free vote on Brexit deal, No 10 insists
It turns out that I and other colleagues have been reading too much into how Theresa May answered the question about MPs having a free vote. “It’s not going to be a free vote,” a No 10 source says. In her answer May did talk about “collective responsibility”, that applies to ministers, not backbenchers. She did not give a clear no to Nick Ferrari on the free vote question, which is what set the alarm bells going.
This is from HuffPost’s Paul Waugh.
The final caller tells May she is like Neville Chamberlain. May rejects the comparison.
And that’s it. The phone-in is over.
I will post a summary soon.
Nick Ferrari asks May about her enthusiasms for Geoffrey Boycott. Does May know what happened on his last first-class innings?
May does not know (or says she doesn’t).
Ferrari says he was run out by someone on his team. That player was Jim Love, a Yorkshireman. Is Michael Gove her Jim Love?
May says Gove is Scottish.
UPDATE: A reader has been in touch to say that, although it is true to say that Jim Love was from Yorkshire, he ended up playing for and coaching Scotland at cricket.
Updated at 11.35am GMT
May refuses to rule out allowing Tory MPs free vote on Brexit deal
Q: Will the cabinet get a free vote?
May says they will be looking at the deal when it comes back. There is collective responsibility on this.
Q: So they won’t get a free vote?
May says Nick Ferrari is asking about a voting matter. She will bring a deal back to parliament. Then MPs will have to decide what to do.
Q: So there could be a free vote.
May says there is collective responsibility. The government will put its position to the House of Commons.
- May refuses to rule out allowing Tory MPs a free vote on her Brexit deal.
These questions were prompted by reports that Penny Mordaunt, the Brexiter international development secretary, has been pushing May to allow Tory MPs (and some ministers, apparently) a free vote.
Updated at 9.53am GMT
Q: The EU has got the best out of this deal. Shouldn’t you stand aside and let Jacob Rees-Mogg take over.
May says on some issues the EU has given in.
But this is a negotiation. In any negotiation, there are compromises.
Q: Which resignation annoyed you more – Dominic Raab or Esther McVey?
May says she feels sorry when anyone feels they have to leave.
Q: How important is it to keep Michael Gove on the team sheet?
May says he has been doing a really great job. His department, environment, probably has more Brexit planning to do than any other. He has also done a good job on fishing.
Q: So you can’t afford to lose him?
May says she hopes he carries on.
Updated at 9.27am GMT
Q: Do the police need more resources?
We are putting more resources in, says May.
Q: Weren’t you the home secretary who accused the police of crying wolf over police numbers?
May says she is not sure she did say that. The point she has always made to the police is that there is more to stopping crime than just police numbers.
Q: And you told them to stop using stop-and-search.
May says her argument was that it has to be used properly. She says one quarter of stop-and-searchs were being conducted unlawfully.
Q: I work in the NHS. Many people voted for Brexit to get the £350m a week for the NHS. But we don’t hear about that now.
Nick Ferrari, as a supplementary, asks if the figure was correct.
May says there were debates about that figure. But that is not the one to focus on now. She says the government will be putting more money into the NHS.
Q: Was Boris Johnson right to stand by that bus during the campaign?
May says the figure for extra money going into the NHS will be £394m a week.
Q: So was Boris right?
May says Johnson was highlighting how, if the UK left the EU, there would be money that could be diverted to the NHS.
Updated at 8.35am GMT
Q: At cabinet on Wednesday, Matthew Hancock, the health secretary, said he could not guarantee no one would die in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
May says she does not comment on cabinet discussions, but she is not sure that is what Hancock did say.
She feels this personally, she says. She says, as a diabetic, she relies on insulin. Her insulin comes from Denmark.
Q: How does the stress of your job affect it?
May says if you are stressed, or have adrenalin in your system, your blood sugar level tends to go up.
Updated at 9.28am GMT
Q: It has been reported, from sources close to the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, that they will withdraw support from the government unless there is a new leader.
May says she is aware of lots of reports.
Q: So you have still got their support?
Yes, says May.
Q: So will they back the deal?
May says she hopes to persuade all MPs to back the deal.
Updated at 9.28am GMT
May says that when the deal is finalised she hopes all MPs will consider the need to deliver on the result of the referendum, and what is best for their constituents and those constituents’ jobs.
Q: Northern Ireland will be treated differently, won’t it?
May says she needs to give a lengthy explanation.
One bit of the deal is about what happens as the UK leaves, the withdrawal agreement.
Q: Will the EU be able to impose a different VAT rate on Northern Ireland?
No, says May.
Coming back to her main argument, she says the backstop is about ensuring that the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic stays open.
She says she has negotiated to ensure there will be no customs border down the Irish Sea.
The EU wanted to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. They wanted a customs border down the Irish Sea. They proposed that in February. May says she rejected that. She says eventually, in October, the EU backed down.
Updated at 9.30am GMT
May is now taking a question from a caller.
Q: The deal will commit the UK to a never-ending backstop. We will keep having to pay the EU, and we will have to accept free movement. Why would the EU agree to a new deal when they can keep us in the backstop forever. You are going to struggle to get this through the Commons. So you should stand down as PM and let a Brexiter take the lead.
May says the caller raised a lot of points.
She says the deal will end free movement. There will be no free movement in the backstop, she says. And when the future relationship is in place, free movement will end.
Q: But we don’t know when that will be?
May says everything in the deal is intended to ensure that is in place on 1 January 2021.
Q: What can you achieve in 21 months that you have not been able to negotiate in two years?
May says the negotiation will build on what has been decided already. Parliament will be able to decide, under the future relationship, who comes in and how we spend our money.
Updated at 8.40am GMT
Theresa May’s LBC phone-in
Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Kate Lyons.
Theresa May is on LBC now, doing a phone-in.
Q: When did you last see Michael Gove?
May says she had a good conversation with him yesterday.
Q: Did you offer him the role of Brexit secretary?
May says she won’t discuss that.
Updated at 8.20am GMT
John Whittingdale, the former culture secretary, confirms to the BBC that he has sent a letter of no confidence in Theresa May to the 1922 Committee chairman, Graham Brady.
Updated at 9.32am GMT
Michael Gove has left his home, got into his car and said nothing.
Where is he heading? To Downing St to deliver a letter perhaps? We’ll keep you posted.
David Davis says May will have to renegotiate ‘dreadful deal’ but refuses to call for her resignation
The former Brexit secretary David Davis spoke to the Today programme from the US, calling the agreement a “dreadful deal” that is “very, very favourable to [the EU]”.
It really does not fly by any measure, it doesn’t meet the requirements of the people, it’s not what they voted for, it doesn’t meet the requirements of the Conservative manifesto.
Davis disagrees with May’s assertion that it is this deal or no deal on Brexit, saying that negotiations are not over, that the UK could reopen the discussion and the EU has “spun this [process] out” to pressure the UK into accepting a bad deal.
Asked what he thinks should happen to Theresa May, Davis says: “I do not get into criticism of the prime minister” because he is “sitting in a room in Washington” and a refusal to criticise the PM while out of the country is a “long-standing convention”, something disputed by the BBC interviewer.
From the beginning I’ve said I want to deal with policy on this matter. The policy is going to be rejected by the House of Commons, then we have to come up with an alternative. We all of us have to accept the House of Commons decision. When they reject it, and they will, she will have to go back to renegotiate. We want a deal that gives us back control of our country and this deal doesn’t do that.
Davis says that throughout the negotiation process the UK was too willing to accept the EU’s conditions. He doesn’t include himself in this, despite being in charge of the UK negotiating team as Brexit secretary for all but a few months of the process, citing his resignation letter as proof.
The EU has things to lose by not having a deal at the end of this. Simply rolling over and being supine, rolling over and saying we’re frightened of the outcome, is not going to get the outcomes we want.
Updated at 10.56am GMT
A key Scottish Conservative figure has played down fears that Theresa May’s Brexit deal poses a significant threat to the union.
Writing for the Scotsman, the MSP Adam Tomkins, a close ally of Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is currently on maternity leave, warns against “rushing to judge” whether the differentiated deal for Northern Ireland will play into Scottish nationalist hands and undermine the integrity of the union, as the likes of Raab, McVey and Rees-Mogg suggested in their resignation letters on Thursday.
Tomkins writes: “How much further differentiation between the home nations the Union can accommodate is a question of political judgement,” and urges colleagues: “Let it be taken to the European Council, and let it be subject now to the intense parliamentary and external scrutiny that, among other matters, will draw out precisely where it will leave Northern Ireland and the Union as a whole.”
At First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish parliament on Thursday , Nicola Sturgeon referred to Raab and McVey’s concerns, asking where that left Mundell and Davidson, who wrote to the prime minster in October, warning that “any deal that threatens the integrity of the UK’s internal market” was a red line issue for them.
Mundell later dismissed Raab as a “carpetbagger”, telling the BBC: “I’m not impressed by his latter-day commitment to the union. I’m sure this is more about manoeuvring and leadership.”
While it’s clear that there remains deep unease amongst Scottish Tory ranks about the impact of the Northern Ireland deal on the constitutional debate, Tomkins’ call for a cool head may head off any potential rebellion for now.
And if you wanted to call LBC and see if you can get a question in to the prime minister (who is appearing at 8am), the number to call is: 0345 60 60 973
A reader has shared this cartoon from the front page of Italys’ Corriere della Sera.
Katie Perrior, Theresa May’s former director of communications, is speaking on the Today programme and says she thinks May will face a vote of no confidence in the next few days.
Perrior said May’s performance yesterday, particularly in her press conference last night was far more personal than usual, which shows that she is giving everything she can in order to keep her job.
“This talk of ‘head and heart’, ‘every fibre of my being’, she is throwing everything at it, this is not the usual Theresa May.”
Updated at 7.18am GMT
More tweets coming in from readers (thanks everyone), with reportage from around the world.
And, ding, ding, ding, I think we have a winner from Jornal de Negócios in Portugal, which runs the headline “Mayday, Mayday”.
The Irish Times has: “Embattled May fights on in bid to deliver Brexit deal”
And Copenhagen’s free daily metro paper takes a similar line to Norway’s Aftenposten, saying “Theresa May fights for her political life”.
Updated at 7.01am GMT
A commenter, Abhishek Mallik, has pointed out that Daily Mail readers are NOT HAPPY with the newspaper’s about-face on Brexit.
As Mallik points out, it’s not as if the Mail has become a remain paper, but its strong support for May today, and fury at those critical of her (a group that includes hard-line Brexiters) is a big shift from the paper’s tone under Paul Dacre. Under the previous editor, one imagines the Mail would not have been so supportive of a “soft” Brexit deal like this one.
The comments are worth a read, some of them are pretty funny. Click on the timestamp of the below tweet (the bit that says 9:33am – 16 Nov 2018) to see the comments.
A Norwegian reader has been in touch with the front page of Aftenposten, Norway’s largest printed newspaper by circulation.
The headline reads: “Heavily weakened May fighting for her political life”
Thanks to the reader, please get in touch if you’re seeing interesting coverage of Brexit where you live on Twitter.
My colleague Rajeev Syal has published this piece analysing six possible scenarios we could see in light of the draft agreement.
The six scenarios are:
- Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations
- May withdraws the current draft agreement
- Extend article 50
- Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister
- General election – three possible routes
- Second referendum
The wizards on the Guardian’s interactives team have built this simulator to show you what happens when each of the various voting blocs chooses to back the prime minister, to reject her bill or to abstain.
Apart from being quite fun, it shows the absolute uphill slog May has of getting this deal through parliament, even if nothing else goes wrong for her.
And this is how it looks:
Updated at 6.17am GMT
A reminder that the prime minister will be on LBC this morning at 8am and will be taking calls from the public.
You’ve got two hours to plan your questions folks.
As for the foreign papers, many of them were quite straight with their reporting. The Austrian paper Die Presse described May’s “struggle for survival”, and Spain’s El Pais reported that a day of resignations had “muddied” the Brexit deal.
Der Spiegel went with a football analogy: “Theresa May in Brexit finals: The thrashed prime minister”. Meanwhile Bild Zeitung summed the drama up like this: “Government crisis in London: Resign? No way! May defends her Brexit deal”.
To the papers now, which have all led with yesterday’s Brexit chaos, the resignation of Dominic Raab and Esther McVey and Theresa May’s leadership troubles.
Chief among May’s champions is the Daily Mail, which continues its eye-watering about face in the wake of Paul Dacre’s exit. The Mail is furious with those seeking to undermine the prime minister, running the headline: “Have they lost the plot?”
The Daily Express is also supportive of the PM, splashing on: “Defiant May: I’ll fight to the end”.
The Daily Telegraph uses May’s speech for its headline: “Am I going to see this through? Yes I am.”
Also on the front page is commentary from Allison Pearson on why the Prime Minister should resign immediately saying she is not the “chess grandmaster” they need to negotiate with Brussels, she is merely “the runner-up in the 1973 Towcester tiddlywinks competition”.
If anyone can explain that reference to me, please do so (I’m probably more likely to see it on Twitter, so get in touch).
The Times paints a sorry picture of May and her fortunes: “Lonely May staggers on”.
Other papers play things with a straighter bat:
The Sun and the Mirror continue with the rather tortured cricket analogy used by a journalist at May’s press conference – “She’s on a sticky wicket” says the Sun, “Stumped”, reports the Mirror.
Our full papers wrap is here.
Good morning and welcome back to Politics live.
I’m Kate Lyons, bringing you the Brexit news for the next few hours. I’ll be handing over to the esteemed Andrew Sparrow at about 8am, but will be shepherding us through the early morning news. You can get in contact in the comments or on Twitter (@mskatelyons).
Well, Theresa May survived the night as prime minister, and there were no reports of overnight resignations from cabinet ministers.
But who knows how many ministers spent the night pacing their lounge rooms deciding whether to quit or stay, and whether any of them will be having an uncomfortable conversation with the prime minister this morning. Michael Gove is top of the list of those to watch here.
Yesterday’s cabinet resignations weakened May, and there is a question of whether May herself will survive the week as prime minister. As we know, leading Brexit Jacob Rees Mogg called for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May yesterday, claiming she had broken her own red lines on Brexit. Up to a dozen other Tory backbenchers have confirmed they have submitted letters calling for May to step down over her Brexit proposal.
Here’s a reminder of how that process works: Conservative MPs can submit formal letters of no confidence in the leader of the party to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
If Brady receives 48 such letters, he is obliged to trigger a confidence vote. Downing Street confirmed on Thursday that May would contest such a vote and expected to remain prime minister until the Brexit process is complete.
She would need the backing of 158 Tory MPs to see off the Brexiters’ challenge, and her position would then be safe for 12 months.
All clear? Let’s get this show on the road.
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