Tory Brexiters table amendments intended to sabotage May’s Chequers plan
Tory Brexiters have tabled amendments to the trade bill intended to sabotage Theresa May’s Chequers Brexit plan, the Sun reports.
The trade bill comes back to the Commons next week. Downing Street was worried about pro-European Tories lining up with the opposition to vote for an amendment designed to keep the UK in the customs union, although it now seems that the “rebels” will back off because May’s Chequers plan would guarantee frictionless trade for goods.
According to the Sun, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, and his allies have tabled their own amendments. An ERG source has confirmed the story, although he said the amendments could actually be to the customs bill, which is also back in the Commons next week. (The customs bill is officially called the taxation [cross-border trade] bill, so it is easy to see how people get confused.)
There are four amendments. The most important seems to be one that would stop the UK collecting taxes and tariffs on behalf of the EU unless the EU reciprocates. Rees-Mogg told the Sun this would make May’s facilitated customs arrangement (FCA – the new customs plan) impossible.
The other amendments would: prevent the UK ever having an effective border down the Irish Sea (ie, different regulations for Northern Ireland and for Britain); force the UK to have a different VAT regime from the EU; and force the government to pass a new bill if it wanted to stay in the customs union.
To succeed, the Brexiters would have to ensure that their amendments get put to a vote (likely, but not guaranteed) and that they have the support of all opposition parties. On most of these amendments the prospects of that are slim (Labour wants the UK to remain in a customs union with the EU). There might be majority Commons support for the Irish Sea border one, but this is government policy anyway.
But votes on these amendments would enable the Brexiters to put on a show of strength, and May would get to find out how many Tories might be minded to vote against the final Brexit agreement in the autumn.
As Nato meeting gets under way, Trump starts tweeting about soy bean farmers
President Trump is is now stuck in the first main meeting of the Nato summit, but he – or whoever tweets on his behalf – wants America to know that his mind is on more important matters.
Nato leaders in the room with Trump would be entitled to see that as something of a snub …
According to the Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn, Theresa May delivered a mini snub to President Trump at the start of the Nato summit.
Low-flying aircraft banned over parts of UK during Trump visit
Low-flying aircraft will be banned from parts of the UK being visited by Donald Trump., the Press Association reports. Restrictions will affect locations such as central London, Blenheim Palace, Sandhurst, Chequers, Windsor, and Turnberry in Ayrshire, as well as London Stansted and Glasgow Prestwick airports. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published the restrictions following a request by police forces on the grounds of security. The rules will be enforced at various times between noon on Thursday and 2pm on Sunday.
Aircraft will initially be banned from flying below 2,500ft above sea level in an area covering London Stansted and the centre of the capital. Drone operators and recreational pilots will be affected but commercial flights will not be disrupted by the restrictions.
Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, also got the chance to speak at the start of the meeting before the media were excluded. Referring to yesterday’s France-Belgium game at the World Cup, he said France were lucky to win. And then he said, with Nato as in football, teamwork and fair play were essential (half-echoing a line used by Emily Thornberry at PMQs – see 12.12pm.)
At the Nato summit Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general, is speaking at the opening of the meeting. (This bit is public, and there is a live stream here.)
He says fair burden-sharing is at the heart of everything Nato does.
And earlier President Trump posed for this photograph with Theresa May.
I’m speculating, but I would read that as Trump seeking to mend fences with Theresa May having been told by officials that heaping praise on Boris Johnson yesterday wasn’t hugely helpful to the woman who has secured him tea with the Queen.
Quite what May feels about getting a thumbs-up endorsement from Trump is another matter. The only other British politicians who have had this sort of reception from him have been Nigel Farage and Michael Gove – neither of whom are high on May’s list of role models.
Back at the Nato summit leaders are now taking part in the official opening ceremony. Theresa May gets one of the coveted slots next to Donald Trump.
Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, asked about Donald Trump in his questions at PMQs. Here is the PoliticsHome write-up of the exchanges from their live blog.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford asks for a debate to discuss measures to ensure a massacre like that at Srebrenica never happens again.
Lidington is quite emotional as he recalls the tragedy. He says Commons leader Andrea Leadsom will be listening to the calls for a debate.
Blackford segues around “bigotry” to the Donald Trump visit. He says the US president will get the red carpet treatment. And he urges the government to challenge him on human rights, his attitudes to women and his treatment of minorities.
Lidington says the relationship between the UK and US is “probably the closest between any two democracies in the West”. He argues that due to the security cooperation between the two nations “there are UK citizens who are alive today” who might well not be alive otherwise.
Labour’s Dennis Skinner says the government has taken £3.5m out of the miners’ pension fund. They are like Philip Green and Maxwell together. They should stop, he says.
Lidington says miners’ pensions have been paid in full.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, says rail services to her Brighton constituency have been awful. Will May sack Chris Grayling, the transport secretary?
Lidington says the government is reviewing Govia Thamelink Railway (GTR) services. They have not been good enough, he says. He says GTR will be held to account.
Amber Rudd, the Conservative former home secretary, says when May meets Trump, she should tell him about how British intelligence has helped to save lives in America.
Labour’s Nick Smith says the Treasury has racked in millions from the miners’ pension scheme. Will the government stop this?
Lidington says what matters is that the scheme pays out in full. He says his understanding is that it is doing that.
Sheryll Murray, a Conservative, says Cornish food producers currently get support from the government. Will that continue after Brexit?
Lidington says the government will be able to carry on providing the support it provides now.