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“EU leaders handed a six-month Hallowe’en Brexit extension to Theresa May last night with a stark warning not to “waste this time”. After more than six hours of late-night talks in Brussels that saw France clash with Germany over the length and terms of the extension, the European Council agreed that Britain’s membership of the bloc could continue until October 31. In a press conference in the early hours of this morning Mrs May claimed that the new extension still meant the UK could leave the bloc earlier as long as the withdrawal agreement was ratified.” – The Times
“As midnight came and went in Brussels, weary EU leaders were ready to agree a nine-month extension of Article 50. But one man was keeping them all from their beds: a highly worked-up Emmanuel Macron. The French President was adamant that Britain should be ejected from the EU in less than a month’s time, deal or no deal. Four hours later, the leaders had spoken and a compromise was reached – October 31. Seventeen EU member states had argued for a long extension, three were “open-minded”, four wanted a short extension but were happy to go with the majority, while one – Mr Macron – insisted it should be a short delay or no deal.” – Daily Telegraph
>Today: MPs Etc.: “Such an extension should last…no longer than 31 October 2019.” The EU’s statement. Link to text.
“The Brexit secretary has confirmed the government could try to turn indicative votes into binding decisions in a possible last-ditch attempt to break the Commons deadlock on leaving the EU. The Guardian had revealed such a proposal was being considered as a plan B if talks with Labour failed to reach a compromise on Brexit. Steve Barclay confirmed the move in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “If [the talks with Labour] fail the prime minister has said that we will come back to parliament… and seek to get a consensus on various options,” he said… Under the plan, cross-party groups of MPs would be able to amend Theresa May’s withdrawal bill to bind the government into elements such as remaining in a customs union, which could then potentially gain a parliamentary majority for the deal.” – The Guardian
>Today: Antoinette Sandbach MP in Comment: Duplicitous and disloyal. That’s the Britain that those who praise a Perfidious Albion would bring into being.
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: PMQs sketch: If the Prime Minister is so lifeless in the House, how can she carry conviction in Brussels?
“Tory MPs are plotting to oust Theresa May by changing a party rule which states that a Prime Minister cannot be kicked out within 12 months of winning a no confidence vote. With the Tories plunged into civil war following Mrs May’s attempted customs union compromise with Jeremy Corbyn, a number of unnamed MPs have called on their association chairmen to gather signatures to push through the rule change under schedule 9 of the Conservative Party Constitution. It states that party rules can be changed with a petition signed by 10,000 Tory members. The move came after a group of senior backbench MPs informally agreed not to challenge Mrs May until after the May 2 local elections and May 23 European Parliament elections, if held, so as no to ‘taint’ her successor.” – Daily Telegraph
>Today: Local Government: “We’re doomed”: The mood of Conservative councillors facing the electorate varies from nervousness to despair
“Theresa May has been forced to abandon plans to try to engineer a Brexit breakthrough in parliament this week because of slow progress in talks with the Labour party. Discussions between the Conservatives and Labour are set to resume on Thursday, amid increasing scepticism over whether the two parties can strike a compromise Brexit deal after MPs rejected the prime minister’s divorce agreement three times. Downing Street had hoped to make enough progress in the talks to have another big push on Brexit this week with the introduction in the House of Commons of the withdrawal agreement bill — the legislation to put Britain’s EU departure into effect.” – FT
>Yesterday: Robert Halfon MP’s column: Labour, Corbyn – Kim Jong-un, for that matter. I’ll talk to anyone, anywhere to ensure that Brexit takes place.
“Arlene Foster has accused the Prime Minister of trying to force people into backing her Brexit deal. The Democratic Unionist leader described Theresa May’s approach to Brexit as “weak” and damaging to the UK. She made the comments ahead of her meeting with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. She will be joined by Northern Ireland MEP Diane Dodds as well as Conservative MPs Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson at Thursday’s meeting… The DUP’s 10 MPs had been supporting the minority Government in key decisions but have voted against Mrs May’s proposed deal. They adamantly oppose the backstop insurance policy which they believe would redraw the border with the EU down the Irish Sea and threaten the integrity of the UK and Northern Ireland’s place in it.” – News Letter
>Yesterday: Priti Patel MP in Comment: It’s time to stand up for Britain, spurn this dire deal – and trust our members
“Tory splitter Heidi Allen has named seven Conservative MPs she is desperately trying to recruit to her new party. The Remainer rebel said she is in talks with ex ministers Justine Greening, Guto Bebb, Sam Gyimah and Philip Lee to join her new group, Change UK. She is also trying to woo Antoinette Sandbach, Huw Merriman and Alberto Costa. Ms Allen admitted that if all seven quit the Conservatives it would send Theresa May’s government crashing down. She told LBC: “All of us are talking to our ex colleagues who are very sympathetic and agree with what we have done.” Challenged to name names, she rattled off the seven Tory MPs.” – The Sun
“Parliament needs a minister to oversee its refurbishment, a former Tory minister has said. Dame Caroline Spelman, who chairs the joint committee on the restoration, suggested a “political figurehead of the stature that the late Dame Tessa Jowell became in respect of the Olympics”. She proposed Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, as one candidate. “It needs someone who gets the vision of how a renewed parliament can recapture the enthusiasm for a vibrant democracy which has been dealt a severe blow by Brexit,” Dame Caroline said, writing in The Times Red Box. She warned that without such an intervention there would be more incidents of the type last week when the Commons had to finish early because water poured through the ceiling.” – The Times
“Culture secretary Jeremy Wright has dismissed concerns that a new online regulator would harm press freedom, saying that the new rules would not affect “journalistic and editorial content”. Companies that allow users to publish content are to be made responsible for removing “online harms” such as terrorist posts and child sexual exploitation, as well as content deemed to be disinformation or extremist, the government announced on Monday. But this has been criticised by advocates of press freedom. Ian Murray, director of Society of Editors, said he had written to Mr Wright expressing concerns that the new measures would amount to a new form of press regulation or restrict “the public’s right to freedom of expression and their right to know”.” – FT
“The UK government is investing £170m in 12 Institutes of Technology to open from this autumn in partnership with business as it seeks to strengthen the provision of technical education in England. The funding of the institutes, which were developed with companies including Nissan, Siemens and Microsoft, follows calls for more higher-level technical education and training. However, it has come in for swift criticism from the education sector, which has argued it is insufficient. Prime minister Theresa May said the institutes would “help end outdated perceptions that going to university is the only desirable route and build a system which harnesses the talents of our young people”.” – FT
“Millions of people work hard day and night, yet come home to brown envelopes with yet more demands to pay. Given all this, you would think the Government would be doing everything possible to cut the cost of living, rather than increase it. Inexplicably, though, the out-of-touch political elite at Westminster – who may have chauffeurs to drive them about – are now talking about raising fuel duty. This would not only hit motorists but businesses, supermarket prices and public services, all of which depend on cars, vans and lorries as part of their daily work.” – The Sun
“Liz Truss has given her strongest hint yet she could axe the troubled HS2 rail link. The Chancellor’s deputy confirmed the £60billion project will be part of a crucial Government spending review. She insisted that local transport matters most to businesses – suggesting she does not see the value of the high-speed link from London to Birmingham. Her comments will also be seen as evidence of her desire to be Tory leader, as the project is hugely unpopular among members in areas it will cut through. Miss Truss, in charge of the upcoming spending review, was asked if she would scrap HS2 in an interview with The Spectator.” – The Sun
>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hannan – “The surest way to eliminate poverty in the world is through freer trade”
“The philosopher Sir Roger Scruton should be stripped of his knighthood, Labour said last night, after he was sacked as a government adviser for claiming that there was a “Soros empire” and that Islamophobia was an invented term. The 75-year-old writer was appointed as a housing adviser less than six months ago. He was fired after giving a magazine interview… He was sacked yesterday as chairman of the Building Better, Building Beautiful commission to advise on new homes after calls from Tory MPs. Calling for Sir Roger to be stripped of his knighthood, Dawn Butler, 49, the shadow women and equalities minister, said that his comments had invoked “the language of white supremacists”.” – The Times
>Today: ToryDiary: Screwing Scruton
“British children have returned to the UK from Syria, the Home Office has admitted, as lawyers for Isil bride Shamima Begum attempt to bring back more survivors. Home Office minister Baroness Williams disclosed yesterday that a “small number” of British children had left Syria and returned to Britain via third countries. It follows the death of Ms Begum’s newborn baby son. He was a British national even though she had been stripped of her citizenship and banned from the UK. He could have come to Britain if he had been taken to a British consul in a third country, according to the Home Office. Baroness Williams made clear Britain would not risk the lives of British officials in Syria trying to help those had left the UK to join a proscribed terrorist organisation.” – Daily Telegraph
“British bailiffs should be independently regulated and forced to wear body cameras when visiting debtors’ homes, say MPs. Members of the cross-party House of Commons justice committee said debt enforcement was “under-regulated” because reforms introduced in 2014 to ensure bailiffs were not acting aggressively were not legally binding and there was no independent body enforcing them. “There should be a regulator, which should be able to stop unfit enforcement agents and companies from practising,” the justice committee said in a report. It added that because bailiffs are paid by debtors, who are “some of the poorest people in society”, it is “vital that [they] are proportionate”.” – FT