Number 10 could refuse to cooperate with other EU countries and fight a general election on an immediate, no-deal Brexit, if the EU agrees to the PM’s request to delay Brexit, warns an unofficial government briefing to the Spectator.
The Spectator has published a lengthy update from a “contact in Number 10″ that outlines the government’s tactics to “scupper” parliament’s legislation requiring the PM to ask the EU for a Brexit delayed to find a deal with the EU.
“The Act imposes narrow duties,” says the “Number 10 source,” adding: “Our legal advice is clear that we can do all sorts of things to scupper delay which for obvious reasons we aren’t going into details about. Different lawyers see the “frustration principle” very differently especially on a case like this where there is no precedent for primary legislation directing how the PM conducts international discussions.”
“Angry and desperate”
Former cabinet Amber Rudd said the memo was “angry and desperate and should not be the language of Number 10” at a time when it is becoming clear that negotiations with the EU are predictably failing as Johnson refuses to budge on Irish border issues. She said she was certain Boris Johnson’s controversial adviser Dominic Cummings was behind it.
The memo intimates that EU countries that are willing to grant the UK a request by Boris Johnson for a delay to negotiate Brexit will be at the back of the queue for cooperation with the UK post-Brexit.
“Countries which oppose delay will go to the front of the queue for future cooperation” says the briefing. “Supporting delay will be seen by this government as hostile interference in domestic politics.”
Amber Rudd said the memo showed the Johnson administration had no plan and was desperately trying to divide EU countries – a tactic that had proved utterly fruitless during negotiations back when Johnson was Foreign Minister.
“Our policy has often been to see if we can divide them [EU nations] but they have stuck together,” she said, “the government has no plan.”
The leak appeared via the right wing Spectator, possibly a calculated attempt to distract from a devastating point-by-point dissection of the terminal flaws in Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals leaked by the EU hours earlier.
IFS warns no-deal Brexit borrowing will be higher than recession
The leak came as the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned that a no-deal Brexit would mean eye-watering government borrowing of £100 billion.
The respected economic think tank warned leaving the EU with no deal would mean Britain’s government borrowing would skyrocket to the highest in 30 years.
According to the IFS, the no-deal war chest previous chancellor Philip Hammond had been building has been spent by the new Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, plus the economy is performing poorer than expected.
Amber Rudd accused her former colleagues of concentrating on preparing for a no-deal Brexit rather than trying to negotiate a deal with the EU.
Though clearly the government have failed to prepare the country enough. According to the new IFS figures, the government deficit of a no-deal Brexit would render the damage to society of a decade of Conservative austerity utterly pointless.
The Customs Office has also today issued a warning about the devastation to British businesses of a no-deal Brexit.
The aggressive government memo leaked by the Spectator threatened repercussions for EU countries if they agree to Boris Johnson’s increasingly inevitable request for a Brexit extension.
“Cooperation will be in the toilet”
“Everything to do with sincere duty of cooperation will be in the toilet” said one line of the memo.
The tactics of frustrating the Benn Act that compels Boris Johnson to avoid a no-deal Brexit are hinted at in aggressive language in the briefing to The Spectator:
“We will also make clear that this government will not negotiate further so any delay would be totally pointless. They think now that if there is another delay we will keep coming back with new proposals. This won’t happen. We’ll either leave with no deal on 31 October or there will be an election and then we will leave with no deal.
“‘When they say ‘so what is the point of delay?’, we will say “This is not our delay, the government is not asking for a delay — Parliament is sending you a letter and Parliament is asking for a delay but official government policy remains that delay is an atrocious idea that everyone should dismiss. Any delay will in effect be negotiated between you, Parliament, and the courts — we will wash our hands of it, we won’t engage in further talks, we obviously won’t given any undertakings about cooperative behaviour, everything to do with ‘duty of sincere cooperation’ will be in the toilet, we will focus on winning the election on a manifesto of immediately revoking the entire EU legal order without further talks, and then we will leave.”
Amber Rudd who resigned from the cabinet and the Tory party in September, citing Johnson’s ruthless treatment of Tory colleagues and lack of intention to negotiate Brexit deal, despite what he was assuring the public, said Dominic Cummings fingerprints were all over the memo.
The Hastings and Rye MP who quit her post as work and pensions secretary in September told the BBC: “it reveals there is no plan at all… instead they are angrily begging the EU.”
She said Boris Johnson needed to show the EU “some clarity and some dignity.”
The memo also warned that if the EU accepts Johnson’s request for a delay to Brexit, the Tory party would fight a general election from an extreme position calling for an immediate no-deal Brexit.
“If this deal dies in the next few days, then it won’t be revived. To marginalise the Brexit Party, we will have to fight the election on the basis of ‘no more delays, get Brexit done immediately’. They thought that if May went then Brexit would get softer. It seems few have learned from this mistake,” the “Number 10 source” warns.
Amber Rudd said her former party embracing the “extremism of the Brexit Party.”
Jo Maugham QC who has lodged an appeal to ensure a request to the EU for a Brexit delay is submitted to avoid no-deal if Johnson tries to frustrate the legislation that compels him to, said he would be submitting the Spectator memo as evidence of government intent.
Boris Johnson out in the cold as EU ask about mistake in his Brexit proposal
Boris Johnson’s doomed lacklustre attempt to secure a deal with Brussels has been met with frostiness by EU leaders whose objections are beginning to become clearer.
The EU’s main concern is an aspect of the Ireland protocol which commits both sides to never introducing checks on the Irish border, according to the BBC.
The EU would see it as an unacceptable loss of control if the Stormont Assembly is given a veto and there were no guarantees over what checks the UK would carry out on goods going to Ireland.
The BBC reported that the EU Commission even asked if this was a mistake in the text.
The broadcaster also reported that the UK is insisting on access to continued access to EU databases for cross-border trade, and that small business be excluded from customs checks.
According to a leak to the Guardian, the EU rebuffed Johnson’s proposals on Monday, telling the PM’s negotiator David Frost that there were “fundamental flaws.”
According to the paper, the EU have said there is a lack of explanation of how the customs and border proposals could work, and a major threat to the economies of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland from the vaguely outlined border proposals.
Johnson has repeatedly said that, while he will abide by the law, Britain is leaving on October 31 come what may – although he has yet to explain how that can be achieved.