The Prime Minister, Theresa May, will chair a meeting of the Cabinet this morning, where ministers are expected to consider the merits of holding “definitive votes” on different Brexit outcomes. The Cabinet is also expected to discuss details of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, and consider whether the Government should accept the Labour Party’s demands on the environment and workers’ rights. A Downing Street spokesman yesterday did not give further details of when the Bill would be published.
This comes as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will give a speech later today at the CBI where he is expected to say that “there is a real risk of a new prime minister abandoning the search for a deal, and shifting towards seeking a damaging No Deal exit as a matter of policy.” Meanwhile, the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, said this morning, “if we get to the end of October and it’s not possible to get a deal, leaving the EU is the most important thing.”
Elsewhere, the “One Nation Caucus” of moderate Conservative MPs, chaired by Nicky Morgan, met yesterday evening to discuss the direction of the party after May steps down. The group is expected to produce a list of demands for any future leadership candidate. One of the members of the group, former Cabinet minister Damian Green, told the BBC yesterday that the group agreed that “it would [be] massively better for this country to have a [Brexit] deal, so we don’t see No Deal as a good option for this country.”
This comes as the former Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey, said that the next leader of the Conservatives must be a “Brexiteer who believes in Brexit,” and announced she would be prepared to lead the UK out of the EU without a Brexit deal.
Separately, in an interview with Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias, Open Europe’s Dominic Walsh said that May’s potential departure “certainly complicates matters… Ultimately, a new leader will not change the parliamentary arithmetic.”
David Shiels: What to look for in Northern Ireland’s fiercely competitive European election
In an article for Conservative Home, Open Europe’s David Shiels looks at the upcoming European elections in Northern Ireland, and what the results might mean for Brexit and the backstop. He argues, “It is possible that the Remain majority in Northern Ireland could assert itself, but the Unionist parties could equally become entrenched in their pro-Brexit / anti-backstop message.”
Elsewhere, in a piece for The Spectator’s Coffee House blog, Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe assesses the record of the European Commission under the presidency of Jean-Claude Juncker. He argues, “There is very little introspection within the EU institutions as to why Brexit happened… In practice, the body has simply continued with business as usual, proposing to scrap national vetoes for foreign policy and taxation, while it pushes for European taxes.”