There have been reports this week that Theresa May has been trying to ‘sell’ the idea of an indefinite Customs Union backstop to her Cabinet. Mrs. May had previously described alignment with EU customs rules as ‘betraying the British people’ and will, no doubt, face criticism from both the left and right should she choose to adopt this as Government policy. The Prime Minister will be hoping that she can garner enough support to ensure that a backstop does not lead to a full stop in her premiership. Loyal backbencher, Mark Pritchard, rather unhelpfully reminded colleagues in a tweet that a Conservative Party Leadership contest: ‘need not take more than 2 working weeks – 4 days in Commons (if needed) and 6 days with membership – does not need to be an overly long process’.
Foster Forecasts Budget Block?
The Democratic Unionist Party has issued a stark warning to Government this week, with murmurings that they could block the Budget if they are unhappy with the Government’s final Brexit deal.
Reports last weekend noted that Theresa May’s charm offensive on ‘moderate’ Labour MPs to construct a majority for her ‘Chequers Deal’ were ongoing, which would potentially mean that she might be able to see a deal through the House of Commons without the backing of the DUP. However, Labour’s MPs would almost certainly not back the PM on any subsequent budget, meaning she would be reliant on the DUP for it to pass – and, traditionally, losing a budget vote would trigger a vote of confidence in the Government, potentially leading to a General Election. This could, therefore, become a key bargaining chip for the DUP, who have a reputation for being expert negotiators. DUP Leader, Arlene Foster, refused to rule out blocking the Budget if the DUP’s Brexit demands were not met.
Signed, Sealed, DEALivered?
Much speculation has come from media outlets this week as to whether a final deal between the UK and EU is imminent, with some suggesting we are merely weeks away from a final resolution.
However, the BBC asserts that ‘all the noise right now is coming from UK media outlets’, with little to no speculation from European press and Brussels bureaucrats bunkering in what they describe as a ‘tunnel’, as talks intensify. The silence from the EU is thought to be a counter to what they believe to be ‘meddlesome media’, with Commission President Juncker recently proposing limits on the freedom of the press.
The Times reported this week that ‘between 30 to 40’ Labour rebels could be prepared to defy their Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and back an ‘eleventh hour’ Chequers-style deal to prevent a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. The rebels reportedly come from those open to the possibility of taking a more pragmatic approach than the Shadow Foreign Secretary and Corbyn ally, Emily Thornberry, who suggested that Labour would vote down any deal proposed by the Government in order to force a General Election.
Knowing Me, Knowing EU
Controversial EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, made headlines this week as he appeared to mock Prime Minister, Theresa May. The PM overjoyed Conservative Party Conference delegates as she danced onto the stage before her keynote Leader’s Speech to ABBA’s Dancing Queen – a nod to her much-reported dancing during her trip to Africa last month. Mr. Juncker appeared to mimic the Prime Minister during a speech in Brussels. Hardly the ‘respect’, the PM had called upon the EU to reciprocate!