Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023
Brexit deal won’t happen tonight, government sources confirm – as it happened | Brexit
Brexit deal won’t happen tonight, government sources confirm – as it happened | Brexit

Key events

We’re going to wrap up this liveblog now and summarise an eventful day in Brexit history.

Senior government figures have said there will be “no deal” on Wednesday night.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, attempted to secure backing from Tory Brexiters and the DUP as EU leaders spearheaded talks in Brussels, awaiting the green light to approve a deal before Thursday’s summit.

However, the DUP objected to several points in Johnson’s agreement.

In addition, an issue over VAT was said to be an obstacle in talks as Michel Barnier briefed EU27 ambassadors this evening.

Johnson won the favour of hardline Eurosceptics, including MP Steve Baker.

It is thought the prime minister could travel to Brussels early Thursday morning to secure his deal with EU leaders.

Johnson is expected to try to pass the deal through parliament on Saturday.

Jeremy Corbyn has been dealt a blow as veteran MP Dame Louise Ellman quit Labour accusing him of being a danger to Britain.

Dame Louise, 73, who is Jewish, said she had been “deeply troubled” by the “growth of anti-Semitism” in Labour in recent years.

She tweeted: “I have made the truly agonising decision to leave the Labour Party after 55 years.

“I can no longer advocate voting Labour when it risks Corbyn becoming PM.”

The Liverpool Riverside MP, who has been in the Party 55 years, added: “I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is not fit to serve as our Prime Minister.

“With a looming general election and the possibility of him becoming Prime Minister, I feel I have to take a stand.”

And she told the Times newspaper that if he became prime minister “I believe that Jeremy Corbyn would be a danger to the country, a danger to the Jewish community as well, but a danger to the country too”.

I have made the truly agonising decision to leave the Labour Party after 55 years. I can no longer advocate voting Labour when it risks Corbyn becoming PM. I will continue to serve the people of Liverpool Riverside as I have had the honour to do since 1997.

— Louise Ellman MP (@LouiseEllman) October 16, 2019

With Tory Eurosceptics now on the Prime Minister’s side, Mr Johnson is in a race against time to gain support from the DUP and get his deal through to the EU, as explained by Daniel Boffey.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has raised suspicions that the DUP are striking a Brexit bargain with the government that will include an attempt to stop expected abortion rights in Northern Ireland.

So that’s deal government has done to get @DUPleader support this week- they are going to wash their hands of responsibility to regulate abortion in Northern Ireland. It’s not in law they can whatever they say. Shameful using women as bargaining chips! #brexithaos #trustwomen

— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) October 16, 2019

Now in parliament to try to find out why all of a sudden government trying to get Northern Ireland assembly up and running and using the possibility of stopping equal abortion access in Northern Ireland as bargaining chip…. #brexithaos #trustwomen

— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) October 16, 2019

Boris Johnson’s senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, was seen leaving No 10 shortly before 9pm.

In need of a little light relief? Read John Crace’s sketch on the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay: “Calming to the point of comatose, each word more meaningless than the one before.

“By the end of a sentence, you are far worse informed than if he had said nothing.”

The Leader of the Independent Group for Change and former Conservative Anna Soubry has described the amount of time MPs would have to scrutinise Boris Johnson’s prospective deal on Saturday as “plain wrong”.

It is increasingly clear Johnson’s “new” deal is worse than May’s. Parliament will get 5 hours debate on Saturday without any independent assessments, analysis or select committee scrutiny of the most important set of decisions we will make in generations. That’s plain wrong.

— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) October 16, 2019

While the ERG appear to be rallying behind Johnson and his deal, the PM has to convince the 21 MPs he expelled from the party.

If Boris Johnson manages to bring back a deal from Brussels, shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said she expects Labour would support any amendment put forward in the Commons to attach a confirmatory referendum to that deal.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Neil Show, she added: “The expectation would be that should a deal be tabled on Saturday, and we don’t know that is going to happen, I am as sure as you can be that there will be an amendment tabled that would want to see a referendum attached to the deal.”

Asked if Labour would support this, she said: “I would expect us to support that, yes.”

She added: “I’d rather have a general election but we are not in control of this unfortunately.

“So should that opportunity come, on Saturday, to have that referendum on the deal – the deal that we don’t know yet is going to be there.

“But should that happen … in the circumstance I think there is an opportunity there and the pragmatic, sensible thing for the Labour party to do, given that we’ve been asking for this, would be to take that opportunity.”

Even if Boris Johnson managed to pull off a Brexit deal, he would still have other problems on his plate as this story on the latest developments on the Arcuri saga by Matthew Weaver shows.

Here’s our take on how ERG chair Steve Baker and his allies are warming to a deal after Boris Johnson promised them the UK would leave the customs union and secure a quick free trade deal with the EU.

Asked whether there could be a Brexit extension, MP Steve Baker said Boris Johnson confirmed the UK will leave the EU on 31 October.

Baker said: “My sense is we really must see the text, time is becoming very short for everybody.”

“The prime minister has been absolutely clear – we are leaving on the 31st of October.”

Chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) Steve Baker said “great progress” has been made in talks with No 10.

Speaking to Sky News after a meeting in Downing Street, Baker said: “We have made great progress in our discussions with No 10,” adding: “Really at this point, it just remains to wish the prime minister every possible success as he goes to negotiate for our country.”

Asked if he would back a deal, he said: “I know everybody is desperate for us to say whether we can vote for it but until we can see it, we can’t say.”

He added: “We really must see the text in time to read it in order to vote on Saturday.

“Time is becoming very short for everyone now. As Michel Barnier famously said, ‘the clock is ticking’.

“We need to get through this (European) council, have the text of the deal, have the implementing legislation ready, and we need to be voting on that on Saturday.”

Government sources say there will be no deal tonight

Two government sources said there would not be a deal on Wednesday night, although talks will continue.

No 10 refused to confirm Boris Johnson’s travel plans for the summit on Thursday, but he could go earlier than usual if it were felt his presence could help move stalled talks along.

The anti-Brexit campaigner Jo Maugham QC has announced plans to launch a legal action in an attempt to ban the government from putting the withdrawal agreement before parliament.

I intend to lodge an immediate petition for an injunction in the Court of Session preventing the Government from placing the Withdrawal Agreement before Parliament for approval. We expect that petition to be lodged tomorrow and to be heard on Friday.

— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) October 16, 2019

Quoting a source from No 10, the Sun’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, has said there will be no deal tonight as government talks are still taking place.

Govt source says no Brexit deal tonight, because of unresolved issues with both the DUP and EU: “Everyone will be working into the night but there won’t be a deal this evening”.

— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) October 16, 2019

Michel Barnier has arrived at a meeting of EU ambassadors in the Europa building in Brussels to brief them on the latest developments in London, reports the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey in Brussels.

“He said nothing to reporters. The deal is done. And all depends on London giving the green light. All that stands in the way of leaders signing off on Thursday are the DUP’s objections,” his report said.

At the same time, Downing Street is playing down expectations of a deal being done tonight.

Just as Barnier arrives to see ambassadors, government source has just told me there will not be a deal tonight

— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) October 16, 2019

Talk of hundreds of millions, if not billions, going the way of Northern Ireland as part of a sweetener for the DUP has piqued the interest of many, though the SNP’s Joanna Cherry vents the anger of Scottish nationalists here.

And one view – from Irish economist and commentator David Williams – of the so-called bung that might be headed Northern Ireland’s way …

Angela Merkel says Brexit negotiations are in ‘final sprint’ phase

Angelique Chrisafis

Angelique Chrisafis

In Toulouse, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said this evening that she believed it was the “final sprint” for negotiations and she was “increasingly of the belief” that an agreement would be reached with the UK.

Merkel said she wanted every success for the agreement and paid tribute to Michel Barnier’s negotiations. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said: “I share everything the chancellor has said.

“It’s our hope and will to be able to endorse an agreement, and I hope that agreement will be found in the coming hours.”

He said he had heard positive things today. “I thank Michel Barnier for negotiating with a great deal of seriousness and in respect of our member states,” Macron said.

“I hope we succeed in getting an agreement on withdrawal and on the political declaration on the future relationship.

“We’re determined that that agreement can be endorsed at the European council.”

Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel in Toulouse, France
Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel arrive for a Franco-German cabinet meeting in Toulouse. Photograph: Régis Duvignau/Reuters


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