4 Sep 2018

Barnier on Chequers Deal: ‘Out of the question’

“Hors de question” was the phrase used by Michel Barnier yesterday when asked by MPs what his view was on the Single Market goods/services split proposed in the Chequers deal.

“He couldn’t have been more emphatic,” one MP at the Brussels meeting said.

Dominic Raab responding to some of those MPs in the Commons said this was merely “pushback” from the EU, the stuff of negotiations and there were other views available (he name checked Danish and Polish ministers who’d been more welcoming).

Mr Raab was also challenged (by former Brexit minister David Jones) on what the Prime Minister thought were acceptable concessions she might be willing to make to the Chequers deal. Mr Raab said Mr Jones was “perhaps over-reading” some of the Prime Minister’s language.

In other Brexit news, the GMB leader, Tim Roache has come out in support of a second referendum. Other names can be expected in what the People’s Vote campaign hope will be a push to influence Labour’s party conference.

They want the party to open the door to the idea of another popular vote in the hope that it becomes the panic button of choice if there is parliamentary deadlock later in the year. Some in the campaign are pained by how Labour’s anti-Semitism row has pushed their campaign out of the news in the critical weeks in the run up to Labour conference later this month.

On a different note, in the July meeting of Labour’s NEC – the last before today’s one dominated by the issue of anti-Semitism – I’m told that the idea was raised of developing closer ties to the Greek and Spanish breakaway parties of the Left, Syriza and Podemos. They’re natural ideological bedfellows for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party but, as David Cameron could testify, challenging links with your old European partner parties can upset longstanding allies more than you might think, even if the UK’s not in the European Parliament post-Brexit.

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