Ministers Say Johnson Won’t Bend After Rudd Quits: Brexit Update
Amber Rudd, work and pensions secretary, arrives for a weekly meeting of cabinet ministers at number 10 Downing Street in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Ministers Say Johnson Won’t Bend After Rudd Quits: Brexit Update


(Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit on Twitter, join our Facebook group and sign up to our Brexit Bulletin.

Boris Johnson is facing open rebellion in his Conservative Party as he presses on with his “do-or-die” strategy to get the U.K. out of the European Union on Oct. 31. Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd quit in a blaze of fury on Saturday night and other Tory MPs have criticized his strategy.

After Parliament voted to block a no-deal split from the EU last week -- and against Johnson’s plan for a general election -- the prime minister is expected to press ahead with another motion on Monday calling for a national ballot. Opposition parties say they will vote against the move because they don’t trust Johnson and want Brexit delayed until January before an election is held.

Key Developments:

Varadkar Says Boris Overly Optimistic on Backstop Fix (3 p.m.)

Johnson’s view that the EU would consider dropping the Irish backstop as part of a Brexit divorce deal is “very optimistic,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told reporters in Dublin. Creating a single Irish food zone won’t be enough to break the impasse over how to prevent a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, as food only accounts for about 30% of cross-border trade. A no-deal Brexit would be a tragedy, and the Irish question would still need to be resolved, he said.

Buckland Says He Won’t Be Quitting (2 p.m.)

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said he won’t quit, after rumors spread that he was ready to follow Rudd out of the cabinet.

“Speculation about my future is wide of the mark,” he wrote on Twitter. ”I fully support the prime minister and will continue to serve in his Cabinet. We have spoken over the past 24 hours regarding the importance of the Rule of Law, which I as Lord Chancellor have taken an oath to uphold.”

Tory Party Taken Over, Hammond Says (10:45 a.m.)

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, who was expelled from the Conservative Party last week, said it has been “taken over” by extremists.

“I’m afraid the Conservative Party has been taken over by unelected advisers, entryists and usurpers who are trying to turn it from a broad church into an extreme right-wing faction. Sadly, it is not the party I joined,” Hammond wrote in response to a tweet from Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying the party has always been a coalition of different views.

Hancock’s predecessor, Jeremy Hunt, who was in the final two in the leadership campaign won by Johnson, also sent a tweet saying the party needs to “pause for thought.”

After saying that it’s right for the party not to rule-out a no-deal split from the EU, Hunt added it’s clear that to deliver Brexit “we also need to win an election.” To do that “means a cold shower of generosity and magnanimity from all. Divided parties don’t win elections and we’ll NEVER be forgiven if Corbyn gets in,” he wrote.

Johnson Must Obey Law, Labour Says (10:30 a.m.)

Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s shadow attorney general, said Johnson must obey the law over a no-deal Brexit.

“The legislation is crystal clear, if you don’t have a deal in the next few weeks you have to apply for the extension, it’s a duty that’s laid in the legislation on the prime minister personally,” she told Sky News.

“The idea there’s one law for Boris Johnson and his mates and another law for everyone else, it’s appalling,” she said. “Every tinpot dictator on the planet throughout history has used the excuse of having the people on their side to break the law to shut down Parliament and all the rest of it, it’s absolutely extraordinary and I think it’s very un-British.”

French Want Plan From U.K. Before Delay (9:50 a.m.)

France isn’t prepared to postpone the Oct. 31 deadline for the U.K.’s departure from the EU “in the current state of things” because the British government isn’t providing evidence that they’ll offer new solutions to end the Brexit deadlock, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

“They say they want to offer other solutions,” Le Drian said on Sunday in an interview with CNews television. “We haven’t seen them, so it’s no. We won’t start over again every three months. Let the British Parliament, let the British authorities tell us what’s the path.”

Javid Emphasizes Date in Anti No-Deal Law (9:30 a.m.)

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said Johnson won’t change his policy on leaving the EU on Oct. 31 and emphasized that the law passed by Parliament to block a no-deal Brexit gives the prime minister until Oct. 19 to reach a new agreement before he has to ask for an extension.

There is a meeting of the European Council on Oct. 17-18 and “he will absolutely not be asking for an extension in that meeting,” Javid told BBC TV. “Should we get to that point we will look at our options. We will not change our policy.”

“We will obey all laws, all governments should obey all laws absolutely,” Javid said. “We will be consistent with obeying the law but also sticking to our policy.”

Javid didn’t expand on how it would be possible to both leave on Oct. 31 and obey the law, which requires the prime minister to ask for an extension to Jan. 31 or a mandate from Parliament for a no-deal split if he can’t reach an agreement with the EU by Oct. 19. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government is examining ways around the legislation.

Javid Insists U.K. is Trying to Get Deal (9:20 a.m.)

Sajid Javid said there is a proposal on the controversial Irish border backstop that will be put to the EU, but refused to give further details. He insisted the U.K. government is focused on a getting a new agreement and intensive work is continuing, despite Amber Rudd saying it isn’t doing enough.

“I do know there’s a proposal and it would be madness to start talking about it in public,” Javid told BBC TV. “The prime minister set up a small group so we can move quickly and move at pace as the EU changes its position.”

Javid said the anti no-deal law passed by Parliament was “an attempt to kneecap the government” and had not helped the chances of getting a new agreement.

“We don’t want no-deal, but if we have to we will leave on Oct. 31 with no deal,” he said. “It’s the fact we’re willing to do that which is focusing minds.”

Labour Doesn’t Trust Johnson on No-Deal (9:05 a.m.)

John McDonnell, Treasury spokesman for the Labour Party, said opposition parties will not back a general election until they are sure that a no-deal Brexit has been taken off the table.

“We’ve got to use every mechanism we possibly can to rule out no-deal,” McDonnell told BBC TV. “If we vote for the motion he’s put forward, that retains in Boris Johnson’s hands the timing of the election.”

“If his own brother can’t trust him, how can we trust him?” McDonnell said.

Rudd: Not Enough Is Being Done for a Deal (8:50 a.m.)

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd -- who quit the cabinet and the Conservative Party on Saturday evening -- said not enough is being done to pursue a Brexit deal with the EU.

“I supported Boris Johnson in his approach and I believe I was right to do that,” she said in an interview with BBC TV. “It’s because of the consequences now, the 21 senior colleagues expelled and the lack of planning for actually getting a deal, which makes my position untenable.”

Johnson ‘Sticking to His Guns,’ Raab Says (8:35 a.m.)

Boris Johnson is “sticking to his guns” and continuing to pursue his commitment to leaving the EU on Oct. 31, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in an interview with Sky News.

Ministers and officials are “looking very carefully” at the law passed by Parliament last week to force a delay in Brexit until Jan. 31 if Johnson can’t get a deal, Raab said.

“This is such a bad piece of legislation that we will want to test to the limit what it actually does require,” Raab said. “We will test what it legally requires and what it doesn’t require,” he said, before adding that “of course he’s not going to break the law.”

Farage Offers Pact With Tory Brexiteers (Earlier)

Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K.’s Brexit Party, will offer a “non-aggression pact” to Johnson to boost his chances of securing a majority in a general election.

The Brexit Party would not stand candidates against committed Tory Brexiteers who opposed Theresa May’s Brexit deal, Farage said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

The pact could lead to a collective majority of up to 100, he said. Farage also has no intention of fighting cabinet Brexiteers such as Home Secretary Priti Patel, he said, nor would he seek a formal coalition with the Conservatives in the event of an election. Instead, he would push for a deal that allowed “extremely strong co-operation” on Brexit.


(An earlier version of this story was corrected to attribute a comment to Jeremy Hunt).

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.