Politics update: Brexit talks crash again, leadership threats for May

Dominic Raab Michel Barnier

No Brexit deal yet reached despite ‘intense efforts’ in Brussels

The UK government and EU leaders failed to reach an agreement this weekend, after talks that many hoped would lead to progress over the Irish border issue.

The Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, headed for Brussels on Sunday, for a meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, which many believed would move talks forward. Instead, not long after the meeting, news broke that no further progress had been made, with EU leaders being told that key issues were still unresolved.

Raab is understood to have told Barnier that the prime minister, Theresa May, cannot currently strike a deal at home because of issues between members of her own party and the increased pressure from the DUP, both of which are currently threatening to vote down her Brexit proposals when they reach parliament.

Michel Barnier posted the following tweet on Sunday evening:

May has been invited to a dinner between EU leaders on Wednesday, which would potentially provide another opportunity for the PM to make her pitch. May is yet to confirm she will be attending the meeting.

Health, wealth and happiness: can Brexit really deliver on its promises?

Davis says May should face leadership challenge

David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, has told Conservative MPs that they should trigger a leadership contest unless Theresa May scraps her current Brexit plan this week, reports by The Independent claim.

In the latest in a series of attacks on May’s proposals by senior pro-Brexit Tories, Davis told his colleagues that the PM should be presented with an ultimatum, in order to put pressure on her ahead of Wednesday’s talks with EU leaders.

Last week Davis sent a letter to Tory MPs urging them to consider how May’s proposals would harm them in an election, writing: “If we stay on our current trajectory we will go into the next election with the government having delivered none of the benefits of Brexit, with the country reduced to being a rule-taker from Brussels, and having failed to deal with a number of promises in the manifesto and the Lancaster House speech,”

Starmer: May must publish backstop plan

Keir Starmer

The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, has demanded that Theresa May publishes the current plans for the Irish border backstop, and give MPs the chance to have a debate on the issue.

Starmer told fellow MPs: “The details of any proposed backstop agreement need full and searching scrutiny in parliament, not least because the final deal will need parliamentary approval. “I would therefore urge the prime minister to publish the latest backstop proposal today – alongside an oral statement – to provide sufficient time to scrutinise and debate it.”

Starmer later told Radio 4’s Today programme that parliament did not yet know what the proposals were that had been disagreed over on Sunday. Speaking to the Today programme Starmer added that the “politics around the cabinet table” was “holding the country back.”

DUP prepared for no deal, according to leaked letter

Arlene Foster DUP

Emails between senior UK officials, revealed by the Observer, have shown that the DUP leader Arlene Foster, believes a no-deal Brexit is now the “likeliest outcome”, after a “hostile and difficult” exchange with Michel Barnier.

Referring to talks with the EU’s chief negotiator, one email reads: “She described Barnier as being difficult and hostile in her meeting today…” the email continues: “AF [Arlene Foster] said the DUP were ready for a no-deal scenario, which she now believed was the likeliest one.”

Earlier this month, the DUP threatened to pull the plug on support for May if the deal reached with the EU meant that Northern Ireland was treated differently than the rest of the UK. DUP sources have claimed that their 10 MPs would vote down May’s proposals if the border issue was not resolved.

Like what you’re reading? Leave us your email and get the Politics Update straight to your inbox, every weekday.


Share this


Daniel Cody

Daniel Cody is SEO Editor at the New Statesman, and the creator of No Majesty. He is the host of the podcast Britain on the Rocks.