Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal appears on the verge of collapse after German chancellor Angela Merkel told him over the phone this morning than an agreement is “overwhelmingly unlikely”, according to Downing Street.
Asked if talks with the EU were close to breaking down, a No 10 source told The Independent: “That is what the prime minister told Merkel. They aren’t negotiating or engaging in Brussels.”
A No 10 source has also claimed there were ways to “scupper” the Brexit delay required by the Benn Act. Amber Rudd said Downing Street sounds “angry and desperate”, while EU Council president Donald Tusk accused the prime minister of playing a “stupid blame game”.
We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.
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Boris Johnson has failed to meet the deadline to give his response to allegations he failed to declare a conflict of interest over his relationship with Jennifer Arcuri.
The prime minister was given until 6pm today to give details of his contact with the US businesswoman while he was London Mayor, after it was reported she received £126,000 of public money and was invited to accompany Mr Johnson on overseas trade trips.
The London Assembly says it is will consider what action to take at a meeting next week.
Opinion: The latest dose of Brexit reality should be a huge boost for Jeremy Corbyn, writes James Moore
Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, has insisted that the UK government must uphold its “responsibilities” in Northern Ireland.
Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, he said:
“There is a lot of misinformation going around today, so let me say this loud and clear to everybody – the Irish government and the EU is working flat out to achieve a deal that sees an orderly Brexit at the end of this month.
“However, that deal cannot come at any cost. The British government has responsibilities on the island of Ireland.”
“The taoiseach wants to find a compromise here that works but he is not willing to be boxed into a corner and to accept proposals that are not consistent with the current Withdrawal Agreement or the outcomes of the backstop.
“He’s been very clear about that and I expect an element of that briefing was to try to put pressure on Ireland and put pressure on the taoiseach and for us, this isn’t about pressure or personalities, it’s about solving a problem.”
Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of staff, Karie Murphy, has moved to a new role at the party’s headquarters to oversee general election planning, it is understood.
The controversial but highly influential figure had alienated a number of senior shadow cabinet ministers, who had urged Mr Corbyn to move her.
A Labour source said: “As we ramp up campaigning ahead of a general election, we are maximising the use of the resources we have to ensure we are successful.
“Karie will drive this crucial work from HQ, as she did during the last election.”
Businesses would be hit with a £15bn bill for filling out customs forms if there is a no-deal Brexit, HMRC assessment finds
NEW: Here’s the official Privy Council “Order in Council” that will see Parliament prorogued at the end of today to allow for a Queen’s Speech next Monday.
Pro-Brexit group Leave.EU has been condemned for its “racist” and “xenophobic” tweet about Angela Merkel. Here’s Lizzy Buchan’s full story:
MPs have been condemning a poster tweeted by the Leave.EU group earlier today, which branded German chancellor Angela Merkel “a kraut”.
Independent Group for Change MP Chris Leslie raised the issue in the Commons, claiming the offensive image was a result of Downing Street’s “deliberate dog whistle briefing” about a phone call between Ms Merkel and Boris Johnson this morning. This had “sparked a series of frankly racist attacks against the Germans from Leave.EU and others”, he said.
He added: “This is an extremely dangerous course for the Government to embark on, and I want to hear right now the minister condemn it and distance himself from it.”
In response, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, said:
“The first thing to say is I wasn’t in on that telephone call. The second thing I want to affirm is that the Bundeskanzler and the Federal Republic’s Government are good friends of this country.”
“And I take this opportunity at this despatch box to entirely disassociate myself from any sort of racist or demeaning language towards Germany – they are our friends, our allies, they are a great country.”
Michael Gove has told the Commons that he has not met a single business representative who would prefer a Jeremy Corbyn government to a no-deal Brexit.
The Cabinet Office minister was responding to a question from Labour MP Clive Betts, who said the economy had returned to the levels of growth of ten years ago and asked: “Would any other government consider a no-deal Brexit with the finances in that state?”
Mr Gove replied:
“Business takes a variety of views on Brexit and indeed on no-deal Brexit, but I’ve yet to meet a single businessman, woman or organisation that thinks a no-deal Brexit would be worse than a Jeremy Corbyn government.”
Labour MP Yvette Cooper has asked Michael Gove about the remarks made by an unnamed No 10 source who suggested to The Spectator that the UK could use border security cooperation as leverage with the Irish government and the EU.
Does he agree such threats are “extremely irresponsible and dangerous”? She suggests any No 10 official who could say such things is “unfit” to be there.
Gove said security cooperation with the EU was vital.
No 10 has made sure the “blame game” is well under way.
A new ComRes poll for The Telegraph shows a majority of voters – 56 per cent – would blame Boris Johnson for the failure of the UK to leave the EU on 31 October.
Yet an even higher proportion would blame the Europeans Commission (63 per cent) and parliament (83 per cent). So plenty of blame to go around.
The Irish government has announced a budget with a 1.2bn euro fund to help absorb the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
The package includes 650m euro to support the agri-food and tourism sectors. There will also be 200m euro made available to government departments to increase staffing levels and upgrade airports and ports.
Finance minister Paschal Donohoe said the budget was “without precedent”.
“This is a budget developed in the shadow of Brexit and the context for Brexit has shifted to no deal as our central assumption, this does not mean no deal is inevitable, but equally we stand ready if it does happen,” he told the Dail parliament in Dublin.
The spending plan is based on the anticipated gloomy financial outlook if the UK leaves without an agreement on 31 October.
“A no deal is unpredictable,” said Donohoe. “Our response will demand flexibility.”
Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more on the no-deal readiness report – which confirms Britain will be at greater risk from terrorism and organised crime if it crashes out of the EU without a deal.
Michael Gove is now taking questions on the government’s no-deal readiness report. But it’s turned into a general bun-fight over Brexit.
“There are people in this parliament who do not want to do a deal, who do not want to leave by October 31 and who want to delay,” says Gove.
“We in this government have compromised, we in this government are showing flexibility … faced with the delaying, disruptive and denying tactics of the opposition – we say on behalf of the 17.4 million [Leave voters] enough, enough, enough, we need to leave.”
The British government said it would oppose any Turkish incursion into Syria and rejected a claim by Donald Trump that the UK was “thrilled” with his decision to withdraw troops from the Turkey-Syria border.
“We have been consistently clear with Turkey that unilateral military action must be avoided as it would destabilise the region and threaten efforts to secure the lasting defeat of Daesh (Isis),” foreign office minister Andrew Murrison told parliament.
Downing Street confirmed foreign secretary Dominic Raab had spoken to his US counterpart Mike Pompeo to warn the Turkish action warranted “serious concern”.
“We are deeply concerned by reports that Turkey intends to launch a military operation in north-east Syria,” said the PM’s spokesman.
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said a no-deal Brexit would create an “avalanche of paperwork” which will harm British businesses.
Speaking in the Commons, McDonnell said: “The government’s own assessment shows that their no-deal Brexit policy would introduce, and I quote from the assessment, ‘significant ongoing administrative costs impacting on the UK and the EU business of all sectors’.
“It’s an avalanche of paperwork descending on British businesses in the form of import, export, safety and security declarations. The burden will cost our business sector an annual £15bn in administrative costs.”
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, meanwhile, has been talking about an early general election. “We have said that we won’t have an election until that extension is secured.
“As soon as it is secured, obviously, we will come back to this question and address it.”
He added: “I think it’s inevitable.”
Earlier Starmer said No 10 were “collapsing the talks and engaging in a reckless blame game”.
The Telegraph’s Europe correspondent Peter Foster just one of many condemning this awful, awful poster by Leave.EU.
Labour MP David Lammy said: “Dear Germany and the EU, please accept our apologies and do not be fooled into thinking Leave EU’s xenophobic bile is representative of the UK.”
MEP Seb Dance said: “Leave.EU is a sewer so I’m not sure why anyone is surprised they’ve gone full on anti-German foreigner-bashing mode.”
More than one in 20 people has fallen out with or stopped speaking to a family member, and more than one in 10 has fallen out with a friend because of rows over Brexit.
It’s just one of the grime findings by BMG Research in a new survey for The Independent.
Read more here.
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