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5 THINGS TO KNOW
1. BACK TO SCHOOL, THERESA: Politics is back (did it ever leave?). MPs return to Westminster after the summer break Tuesday with both the main parties embroiled in existential crises. For Theresa May’s Conservatives it’s all about — you guessed it — Brexit.
DD’s revenge: David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, was first out of the blocks on the Andrew Marr Show and confirmed what many could have guessed: That he will vote against any Brexit deal founded on May’s Chequers proposals. The plan, which would see the U.K. bound to much of the EU rulebook, was “almost worse than being in,” Davis said. Watch.
Return of the Wizard of Oz: Davis is of course not the only restless Brexiteer out to destroy May’s Brexit plan this autumn. Both the Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday report that Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby is working behind the scenes to support Chequers wreckers like former Brexit Minister Steve Baker and Davis’ former chief of staff Stewart Jackson. The campaign looks set to revolve around a nexus of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group in parliament, and the Change Britain campaign group out in the country. David Canzini, of Crosby’s CTF Partners, is reportedly “revitalizing” the latter organization to give, you guessed it again, Boris Johnson a “personal a platform.”
Not backing Boris … Davis, who told Marr he doesn’t know what Johnson is “planning to do,” adding wryly: “We all know what he wants to do.”
Over by Christmas? But one anti-Chequers source told the Sunday Times’ Tim Shipman: “If we stop Chequers, there is no way [May will] survive. If Boris has the backing of the right, he’ll win. Boris is either in Downing Street by Christmas or is in Downing Street by the summer.”
2. NO COMPROMISE! UNLESS … May herself returns to the fray (after gamely dancing her way across the African continent) with a column in the Sunday Telegraph pledging “not be pushed into accepting compromises on the Chequers proposals,” which sounds very firm until you read the next clause: “that are not in our national interest.” Davis picked up on exactly this on Marr, calling it an “incredible open sesame” to further concessions. Watch.
Numbers game: The last of the “Three Brexiteers” remaining in May’s Cabinet, Liam Fox, was also on Marr and urged off leadership challengers with a warning that “changing the leader doesn’t change the parliamentary arithmetic.” Speaking of parliamentary arithmetic, Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn gave his latest assessment of the rebels’ numbers in a Twitter exchange with former MP Douglas Carswell and former minister Rob Wilson.
Boles on Brexit: It’s not just the Brexiteers who are out to get Chequers. Nick Boles, a former Remainer and ally of Environment Secretary Michael Gove, writes in the Sunday Telegraph he can no longer accept the plan, calling instead for a new transition deal, keeping the U.K. in the European Economic Area, like Norway, for three years, to give time to negotiate a more distant free trade agreement like Canada’s. “Sources close to Gove” tell the paper he doesn’t support Boles’ plan, but ITV political editor Robert Peston reckons they “largely agree.”
Don’t forget … Despite the warm words of recent days, the EU is no fan of the Chequers proposal either, as a Michel Barnier interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper today makes clear. He warns accepting it could be “the end of the single market and the European project,” but does repeat his belief that negotiations could be pushed beyond his original October deadline into November.
3. BACK TO SCHOOL, JEREMY: If you thought the prime minister had problems this autumn … well, she does. Huge ones. But so does Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who came under renewed and impassioned criticism from former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on Andrew Marr. The party’s ruling National Executive Committee meets Tuesday to discuss its definition of anti-Semitism, with Labour MPs set to make their own decision on adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition in full later in the week. It could be a pivotal week.
‘As great a danger as Enoch Powell:’ Sacks doubled down on his comparison, in a New Statesman interview, of Corbyn to Enoch “Rivers of Blood” Powell, insisting the Labour leader was just as great a danger to British society. “Anyone who befriends Hamas and Hezbollah, anyone who uses the term Zionist loosely, without great care, is in danger of engulfing Britain in the kind of flames of hatred that have reappeared throughout Europe and is massively irresponsible,” Sacks said. Watch.
McDonnell responds: Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was on hand to respond immediately to Sacks, thanking him for being “brutally honest” but telling him he’d “got it wrong” and inviting a discussion with Corbyn (Sacks has said he won’t sit down and talk till Corbyn “recants”). McDonnell signaled that the NEC this week would adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism “overall” but also a “commitment to freedom of speech.”
Corbyn speech? Asked by Marr if Corbyn would use Labour’s annual conference later this month to address anti-Semitism “speaking to the country, on a camera” to put the issue “to bed, personally,” McDonnell hinted this might be on the cards: “Jeremy is doing that all the time and he will do it in the coming weeks almost certainly.”
4. NO CONFIDENCE VOTE? The anti-Semitism crisis in Labour has, of course, led to deep disquiet on the backbenches, with veteran party maverick Frank Field the first to resign the Labour whip over the issue last week. Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer predicts he will not be the last and Tim Shipman counts 15 on “the brink of a breakaway.” Shipman also reports some MPs are contemplating a vote of no confidence in Corbyn. Such a rebellion in 2016 failed to dislodge him, and there isn’t much hope this time would be any different. Meanwhile, in an interview with the New Statesman, McDonnell (who is taking a far more public role than his leader of late) said he wants to avoid a split “at all costs.”
‘My party too:’ In the Sunday Mirror, Labour MP Luciana Berger effectively tells Corbyn it’s up to him whether she stays or goes. “It is my party as much as anyone else’s,” said Berger, one of the party’s leading Jewish figures. “But moderate Jewish activists or councilors are being made to feel there’s no place in the party for us any more. Now it’s up to the leadership to decide whether we should feel welcome, or have a place at all.”
5. PEOPLE’S VOTE: It’s the idea that just won’t go away — that out of the maelstrom of Brexit divisions in parliament could emerge a decision to hand responsibility back to the people. But May isn’t having it. In her Sunday Telegraph column, May delivered her firmest rejection of a second referendum yet: “In the Summer of 2016, millions came out to have their say. In many cases for the first time in decades, they trusted that their vote would count; that after years of feeling ignored by politics, their voices would be heard. To ask the question all over again would be a gross betrayal of our democracy — and a betrayal of that trust.” Which is pretty clear.
Not giving up: the People’s Vote campaign, which wins a new backer today in the shape of Conservative donor and former Rolls Royce chairman (just don’t call them elitists, OK?) Simon Robertson, who tells the Observer it’s “complete balderdash” to say the people have spoken and can’t revisit their decision.
Not changing their minds? That would be the British people, according to a new poll in the Sunday Express, which counters recent evidence of “Bregret.” Polling guru John Curtice writes for the paper: “No less than 93 per cent of [Leave voters] say they would vote exactly the same way again — as indeed do 94 per cent of those who backed Remain.”
THE ANDREW MARR SHOW
Guests: International Trade Secretary Liam Fox; former Brexit Secretary David Davis; Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell; former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks; and reviewing the papers: LBC presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer; BBC presenter Jo Coburn; Class think tank director Faiza Shaheen. Transcript.
DD’s BACK: The former Brexit secretary took the headlines with his return to the limelight. He told Andrew Marr that he had made the argument at the fateful Chequers summit in July that the EU “will not accept” May’s proposals (he’s more or less been proven right on that) and insisted the government had “overemphasized the problem on the Northern Ireland border.”
Existential crisis: Asked if he was ever actually Brexit secretary, Davis replied: “I was always the Brexit secretary. The question is whether I controlled events, which is another matter.” However, he tried to play down the rift between him and May’s Brexit adviser Olly Robbins. “He’s a patriotic man, he wants to get the best for Britain,” he said of the U.K.’s top Brexit official. He added that Dominic Raab was his “preferred option” as successor, which may or may not help Raab’s relations with No. 10.
ANTI-SEMITISM FEARS: Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks told Andrew Marr that Jews in the U.K. were considering leaving the country because of their fears of a Corbyn-led Labour government. Watch.
McDonnell responds: As well as responding to Sacks’ comments with a call for dialogue, McDonnell struck a conciliatory tone over Frank Field’s resignation of the Labour whip, insisting “he can continue to make a valuable contribution as a Labour party member.” McDonnell also, once again, refused to rule out the Labour party backing a second referendum — but appeared to suggest this could only happen if May’s Brexit plan fails and she does not call a general election.
FOX VERSUS HAMMOND: Summer has come and gone but some things never change, such as May’s Cabinet’s ability to fight like rats in a sack. Before parliament has even returned, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox signaled he doesn’t agree with Chancellor Philip Hammond’s recent warnings about the impact a no-deal Brexit would have on the U.K. economy. “I note [official forecaster] the OBR had to revise their GDP figures between the budget and the spring … can you think about in all your time in politics to a time the Treasury made a prediction 15 years out that was right?” he asked Andrew Marr.
RIDGE ON SUNDAY
Returns next week.
Guests: Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins; Conservative MP Robert Halfon; Labour MP Jon Cruddas; iNHouse Communications founder Jo Tanner; Huffington Post Deputy Political Editor Owen Bennett.
Blue Labour / Red Tories: Much discussion on John Pienaar’s show (live from Dagenham Sunday Market) about alliances between centrist-leaning Tories and Labour MPs — but little actual commitment to realignment from either Robert Halfon or Jon Cruddas. The latter also urged any other Labour MPs thinking about following Frank Field out of the door to stay with the party in parliament.
Unmarried mothers ruling: Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins was asked about the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing an unmarried mother entitlement to bereavement benefits. She said the government would “be looking very carefully at that judgment to see what action needs to be taken in the future.”
Backbencher of the week (from Dagenham market): Robert Halfon.
Political hero: Sophie Scholl, German resistance figure.
Market stall item: “I’d be selling watches. I’ve got about 30 watches.”
Is May a market stall asset? If she does her dancing moves.
Favorite movie: “Cinema Paradiso.”
Marooned on a desert island – Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn? Boris.
(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)
Sunday Express: PM: I’ll stop second vote
The Independent: Nazanin’s three-day release was ‘cruel game’
Mail on Sunday: PM rumbles Boris plot to oust her
Sunday Mirror: Colombia drug cartel’s £350m British ‘kingpin’
The Observer: Revealed: cash crisis pushing child services to tipping point
The Sunday Telegraph: May: I won’t surrender to Brussels
The Sunday Times: May and Corbyn face double coup
U.K. parliament still in recess.
Tech: Home Secretary Sajid Javid to announce plans to tackle online child sexual exploitation.
BBC: New politics show Politics Live, presented by Jo Coburn, launches on BBC2, 12.15 p.m., local time.
Foreign Affairs: Jeremy Hunt to appear in the House of Commons for Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions, 2.30 p.m. local time.
Brexit: Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union Philip Rycroft to give evidence to the Brexit select committee on progress in Brexit negotiations, 10.15 a.m. local time.
Economy: Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney will give evidence to the Treasury select committee on his inflation report, 1.15 p.m. local time.
Trade: Trade Minister George Hollingbery will give evidence to the international trade select committee on trade in developing countries, 2.30 p.m. local time.
Brexit: Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill to receive a second reading and its remaining stages in the House of Lords.
Labour: Ruling National Executive Committee meets amid anti-Semitism crisis.
Green Party: Result of the Green Party leadership election to be announced.
Brexit: Theresa May’s Europe adviser Olly Robbins to give evidence to the European scrutiny committee on EU withdrawal, 2.30 p.m local time.
PMQs: Weekly questions to Prime Minister Theresa May in the House of Commons, 12-noon local time.
Northern Ireland: Departmental questions in the House of Commons, 11.30 a.m. local time.
Fish: Fisheries Minister George Eustice to give evidence to the environment, food and rural affairs committee, 9.30 a.m. local time.
Foreign Affairs: Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan to give evidence to the foreign affairs committee on foreign office skills and “Global Britain,” 2.45 p.m. local time.
Foreign Affairs: Former Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Trade Martin Donnelly and former head of the Diplomatic Service Simon Fraser to give evidence to the Lords’ international relations committee, 10.40 a.m. local time.
Brexit: MEP Claude Moraes to give evidence to the Lords EU home affairs sub-committee on the U.K.’s opt-in mechanism during the transition phase, 3.30 p.m. local time.
Tech and culture: New Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright will have his first departmental questions in the House of Commons, 9.30 a.m. local time.
Brexit: Science and technology committee chairman Norman Lamb to hold backbench debate on Brexit, science and innovation, followed by a separate debate held by foreign affairs select committee chairman Tom Tugendhat on global Britain and the international rules-based order.
House of Commons will not be sitting
POLITICO‘s Michael Kruse in the U.S. takes the long view of Donald Trump’s legal battles. Spoiler: Very often when he’s fought the law, he’s won.
If that’s not enough Trump for your Sunday, Gwenda Blair for POLITICO takes a look, in the week of John McCain’s funeral, at the president’s difficult history with such ceremonies (leading to the conclusion: Thank God he wasn’t invited).
Heading back across the pond, the New Statesman‘s Helen Lewis analyses how and why the British political debate became so, well, angry.
Sunday Crunch is compiled by Tom McTague, Charlie Cooper and Annabelle Dickson. We’d love to hear what you think. Drop us a note at [email protected] | [email protected] | [email protected]
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