Scottish Tory Leader Reportedly Poised to Quit: Brexit Update

Scottish Tory Leader Reportedly Poised to Quit: Brexit Update

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The U.K. Parliament will be suspended for almost five weeks ahead of Brexit. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move sets up a showdown with lawmakers who want to block him from taking the U.K. out of the European Union without a deal. The Sun newspaper reported Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is set to resign over differences with Johnson on Brexit. The pound fell.

Key Developments:

Privy Council said Queen approved Johnson’s request to prorogue — suspend — ParliamentJohnson’s office said suspension would last from Sept. 12 until a new session of Parliament begins With Queen’s Speech on Oct. 14Prime minister said government will put forward “very exciting” domestic agenda, said MPs will have “ample time” to debate BrexitJohnson said he’s not preparing for a general electionTimetable puts Queen’s Speech days before key EU summitSpeaker John Bercow calls move a “constitutional outrage”Pound fell as much as 1.1% before paring losses

Suspension Might Not Damage Deal: EU Officials (5:45 p.m.)

While several of Europe’s elected politicians reacted with disdain to Johnson’s prorogation move (see 1 p.m.), behind the scenes some officials think it might not increase the chances of a no-deal Brexit — and could even lessen them.

There’s a long way to go and there’s been no proposal presented that’s acceptable to both sides, but officials in Brussels — speaking on condition of anonymity — don’t rule out an agreement in the coming weeks.

It’s possible the suspension will mean that when lawmakers return with so little time before Brexit day, they will feel under more pressure to approve a new deal, one official said. That could mean Johnson gets away with a deal that doesn’t include as many radical changes as he wants, the official said.

Davidson Set to Quit as Scottish Tory Leader: Sun (5:25 p.m.)

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative Party leader, is set to resign because of her opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit position and pressures as a new mother, the Sun reported, citing people in the party it didn’t identify.

This would be a huge blow to the Scottish Tories, and English ones too. Theresa May only survived the 2017 election — and Johnson is only prime minister now — because of Davidson’s campaigning in Scotland that delivered 13 seats.

A spokesman for Davidson said she would make her position clear “in due course” and said there would be no further comment on Wednesday evening.

U.K., EU Agree to Step Up Brexit Negotiations (5:20 p.m.)

The U.K. and EU will hold Brexit talks more regularly from next week, a British government spokesman said following a meeting between David Frost, the U.K.’s EU envoy, and European Commission officials in Brussels on Wednesday.

The two sides agreed to “intensify discussions,” the spokesperson said. Frost and members of the commission’s Brexit taskforce discussed the contentious Irish border backstop, the spokesperson said.

Corbyn Doubles Down in Response to Trump (5:15 p.m.)

Jeremy Corbyn has responded to U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted earlier (see 2:50 p.m.) that the Labour leader would find it “hard” to call a no-confidence vote in the government given that Boris Johnson “is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for.”

“I think what the U.S. president is saying, is that Boris Johnson is exactly what he has been looking for, a compliant prime minister who will hand Britain’s public services and protections over to U.S. corporations in a free trade deal,” Corbyn replied.

Corbyn, Swinson Both Seek Meeting With Queen (3:50 p.m.)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his Liberal Democrat counterpart Jo Swinson have both requested meetings with the Queen to raise concerns about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament.

Corbyn asked for a meeting along with other privy councilors, and said in his letter that there is a danger the royal prerogative is being set directly against the wishes of a majority of the House of Commons.

Johnson “is outrageously stifling the voices of both the people and their representatives,” Swinson said in a statement. “I’ve written to the Queen to express my concern at Boris Johnson’s anti-democratic plan to shut down Parliament, and to request an urgent meeting.”

Barclay Reiterates U.K. Leaving EU on Oct. 31 (3:30 p.m.)

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay followed Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney onto the stage in Paris (see 3:15 p.m.), telling the audience of entrepreneurs the U.K. would be leaving the EU on Oct. 31 “whatever the circumstances.”

He also repeated the government’s demand that arrangements for the post-Brexit Irish border — the key sticking point between the two sides — should be dealt with in negotiations on the future relationship rather than as part of the withdrawal agreement. It’s a demand the EU has repeatedly rejected.

Coveney: Backstop Only Viable Solution ‘Currently’ (3:15 p.m.)

The backstop is “currently” the only viable solution to the post-Brexit border issue, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said at a conference in Paris. While the withdrawal agreement can’t be renegotiated, Coveney said it is too late anyway to do so ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline for the U.K. to leave.

“Even if we wanted to do that, which we don’t, we can’t do it in six or 10 weeks,” he said. While the EU is open to exploring alternative arrangements, they must achieve the same objectives as the backstop, he said.

The EU regards the backstop, a fallback mechanism meant to keep the Irish border free of checks after Brexit, as vital to protecting its single market and ensuring the peace process in Northern Ireland isn’t jeopardized. But it’s despised by Brexiteers, who say it will keep the U.K. tied to the bloc long after it’s supposed to have left.

Queen Approves Johnson Suspension Request (3 p.m.)

The Queen approved Boris Johnson’s request for Parliament to be suspended “on a day no earlier than Monday the 9th day of September and no later than Thursday the 12th day of September 2019 to Monday the 14th day of October 2019.”

The privy council — senior politicians who advise the monarch — issued a statement saying the Queen had given her approval after she met with Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, Chief Whip Mark Spencer and Leader of the House of Lords Natalie Evans at her holiday home in Scotland.

U.K. Firms Fret for Economy (2:55 p.m.)

A no-deal Brexit is the worst case for British companies and they’ve been warning against it for years. The Confederation of British Industry said only a deal could protect the economy. Bloomberg Economics analyst Dan Hanson said a disruptive break could cause a recession.

Trump: Johnson ‘Exactly What U.K. Looking For’ (2:50 p.m.)

U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in on British politics again, saying it would be “very hard” for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to call a vote of confidence in Boris Johnson’s government. “Boris is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for,” Trump said on Twitter.

Earlier on Wednesday, Corbyn accused Johnson of running “headlong into the arms of Donald Trump with more determination than I’ve ever seen anyone else before.”

Rees-Mogg Says Suspension is ‘Completely Proper’ (2:30 p.m.)

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg told the BBC that Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament is “a completely proper constitutional procedure.”

Asked by a BBC reporter at Aberdeen airport, the nearest airport to Queen Elizabeth II’s vacation home in Balmoral, northern Scotland, if the government is trying to avoid parliamentary scrutiny, he said “certainly not.”

Rees-Mogg traveled with Chief Whip Mark Spencer to relay Johnson’s request to the Queen, and declined to be drawn on how the monarch responded. “Anything the Queen says is private, as you know,” he said.

Barclay Wants Bilateral Talks With France on Brexit (2 p.m.)

In a speech in Paris on Wednesday, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will urge the French government to start bilateral talks with the U.K. on how to mitigate the worst impact of a no-deal Brexit.

According to an emailed statement from his department, Barclay will also call for France to match the U.K. government’s offer to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K., adding that it is more generous than the French government’s offer to British citizens living in the country.

President Emmanuel Macron’s administration said last week that a no-deal Brexit is now its central planning scenario. Barclay will say both sides should work to keep the “exceptional fluidity” of cross-Channel trade.

No-Deal Brexit Now Irish Govt’s Main Scenario (1:45 p.m.)

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe gave the clearest signal yet that a no-deal Brexit is now his government’s central scenario. In an interview with broadcaster RTE, he repeated his warning that the risk of a no-deal split is rising and that he needed to take that into consideration as he formulates next year’s budget.

He also said Wednesday’s events in London won’t prompt any concessions from the EU on the backstop, the fallback mechanism for the post-Brexit Irish border which lies at the heart of the impasse with the U.K.

Corbyn: ‘Will Do Everything We Can’ to Block Govt (1:20 p.m.)

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said he and lawmakers opposed to a no-deal Brexit will do everything they can to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson from suspending Parliament, laying out his strategy for when MPs return from summer recess next week.

In a pooled TV clip, Corbyn said his first priority would be to find a way to use legislation to block the government from taking the U.K. out of the EU without a deal and to seek a Brexit extension. After that, the opposition leader said he would seek a confidence vote in the government “at some point.”

“What the prime minister is doing is a sort of smash and grab on our democracy in order to force through a no-deal exit from the European Union,” he said, adding that the majority in Parliament was against that scenario.

Verhofstadt Adds to Johnson Criticism (1 p.m.)

Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament, said Britain’s campaign to leave the European Union under the ‘take back control’ slogan has “never looked so sinister.”

“Suppressing debate on profound choices is unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU-U.K. relationship,” Verhofstadt wrote on Twitter, adding that he stood by lawmakers in Britain “fighting for their voices to be heard.”

EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva declined to comment on the U.K. government’s plans, and it’s unlikely that either EU Council President Donald Tusk or EU President Jean-Claude Juncker will comment on what the bloc regards as a domestic political matter.

But Norbert Roettgen, a lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat Union party, said on Twitter that suspending Parliament was incompatible with democracy.

Petition to Stop Suspension Soars (12:50 p.m.)

An online petition to stop the government suspending Parliament has received more than 125,000 signatures, passing the threshold for it to be considered for debate in Parliament — though it’s not clear how much weight it will carry given the government’s plans.

The petition demands: “Parliament must not be prorogued or dissolved unless and until the Article 50 period has been sufficiently extended or the U.K.’s intention to withdraw from the EU has been canceled.”

MPs Ask Court to Block Parliament Suspension (12:45 p.m.)

A cross-party group of MPs and peers filed a motion asking the Court of Session in Edinburgh to block Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament.

“Legal action to prevent the prime minister suspending Parliament has already been fast-tracked through the courts and we are now seeking an emergency hearing to prevent this undemocratic action,” Labour MP Ian Murray said in an emailed statement from the group.

The motion was filed by attorney Jolyon Maugham, who spearheaded a landmark case that led the EU’s top court to rule that Britain can reverse the Brexit case if it chooses. According to Sam Fowles, an attorney at Cornerstone Barristers who is working with Maugham on the case, suspending Parliament “arguably” goes against legislation demanding Parliament scrutinize any agreement between the U.K. and EU — even if that deal was limited in scope.

Even an agreement to keep planes flying “would arguably be an agreement Parliament would have to scrutinize, and Parliament can’t do that if it’s prorogued,” he said in an interview.

Johnson Gives City of London New Headache (12:20 p.m.)

The U.K. government has been working for months to make sure financial regulations are enshrined in domestic law in the event of a no-deal Brexit. But Boris Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament puts this process into limbo, adding extra uncertainty before the Oct. 31 deadline for the U.K. to leave the European Union.

Legislation is pending in Parliament to give policy makers more time to make changes post-Brexit, but the measure hasn’t yet been enacted. The end of session usually sees uncontentious bills in their final stages rushed through by mutual agreement, a process known as “wash-up.” It remains to be seen whether Johnson has the goodwill to get that done this time.

DUP to Negotiate New Support Deal With Govt (12:10 p.m.)

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Boris Johnson’s minority government, said it welcomed his decision to have a new Queen’s Speech and said it would renegotiate the support deal it agreed with the Conservative administration in 2017.

“This will be an opportunity to ensure our priorities align with those of the government,” DUP Leader Arlene Foster said in an emailed statement.

The original so-called confidence and supply agreement that former Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the DUP, which included 1.5 billion pounds of spending for Northern Ireland, stipulated that its terms would be renewed at the start of a new parliamentary session.

It’s a not-so-subtle warning that the DUP will be seeking more funds and concessions in exchange for its votes in Parliament.

Gauke, Hammond Warn Johnson Over Plan (12 p.m.)

Former Justice Secretary David Gauke, a prominent Conservative opponent of a no-deal divorce, said Johnson’s plan sets a “dangerous precedent” for future governments.

“Put to one side your views of a no-deal Brexit,’’ Gauke said on Twitter, invoking the leader of the opposition Labour Party. “Imagine that Jeremy Corbyn is PM, pursuing a policy that is unpopular in Parliament & in the country. At a crucial moment he finds a way to evade parliamentary scrutiny for several weeks. This is a dangerous precedent.’’

Philip Hammond, who was chancellor of the exchequer in Theresa May’s government and has also said he is working to oppose a no-deal split from the EU, said it would be “profoundly undemocratic’’ if Parliament was stopped from scrutinizing government “at a time of national crisis.’’

Both men are still on the Tory backbenches and could be a thorn in Johnson’s side when Parliament returns next week.

Corbyn Accuses Johnson of Dodging Scrutiny (11:50 a.m.)

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Johnson of suspending Parliament to avoid scrutiny of his plans for a no-deal Brexit.

“I am appalled at the recklessness of Johnson’s government, which talks about sovereignty and yet is seeking to suspend Parliament to avoid scrutiny of its plans for a reckless No Deal Brexit,’’ Corbyn said in an emailed statement. “This is an outrage and a threat to our democracy.’’

“If Johnson has confidence in his plans he should put them to the people in a general election or public vote,” Corbyn said.

Bercow: Suspension Is ‘Constitutional Outrage’ (Earlier)

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, who has previously said he would fight any attempt to suspend Parliament, called the government’s move a “constitutional outrage” in a statement cited by the Press Association.

“However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country,” Bercow said, according to the PA. “At this time, it is vital that our elected Parliament has its say. After all, we live in a parliamentary democracy.”

Grieve: Decision Is ‘Deeply Questionable’ (Earlier)

Dominic Grieve, one of the Conservative rebels trying to stop a no-deal Brexit, told the BBC Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision was “deeply questionable and frankly pretty outrageous.”

“It’s a deliberate attempt to make sure that Parliament doesn’t sit for a five-week period,” he said.

Johnson’s opponents in Parliament on Tuesday appeared to be uniting around a strategy to pass a law compelling the government to seek a Brexit extension, rather than use a no-confidence vote to try to oust the prime minister. But Grieve said they might now have no choice, and that Parliament’s return next week would see moves to stop the government, probably including a vote of no confidence.


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–With assistance from Silla Brush, Kaye Wiggins, Jonathan Browning, Jill Ward, Eddie Spence, Neil Callanan and Dara Doyle.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jessica Shankleman in London at;Robert Hutton in London at;Ian Wishart in Biarritz, France at

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