Donald Tusk, surely the most miserable man on earth, has said a deal is ready
but cautioned there are “certain doubts on the British side”. The President of the European Council said that while yesterday evening he “was ready to bet that it’s all set and agreed, today there are certain doubts on the British side. The basic foundations of an agreement are ready and theoretically tomorrow we could accept this deal with Great Britain” he said.
And then there was a sobering wake-up call for both the Government and the EU in the statement issued by DUP Leader and Deputy Leader Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds
at 6.45am this morning, which said of their ongoing discussions with the Government: “As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues, and there is a lack of clarity on VAT. We will continue to work with the Government to try and get a sensible deal that works for Northern Ireland and protects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.”
Boris Johnson is being urged by Cabinet allies to use EU law to try to dodge a new Brexit delay if no deal is agreed today. A law passed by MPs last month, dubbed the Benn Act, forces the PM to extend Britain’s membership by another three months if there is no formal agreement with Brussels by Saturday. But European law takes precedent over British law. And Mr Johnson has been told it’s possible he could get out of having to trigger the extension demand if he can persuade the EU’s leaders to help him at their crunch summit today. The allies argue that a formal declaration from all 28 national bosses today that there is no need for an extension yet as talks are still ongoing would be legally binding.
But, remainer MPs have pleaded with Brussels to push Britain into another extension to sabotage Boris Johnson’s deal and force a second referendum. A group led by arch-europhile Tory rebel Dominic Grieve held talks with senior French, Dutch and Irish diplomats plus EU Parliament negotiators.
They begged eurocrats not to help the PM speed a deal through the Commons before the 31st – claiming to do so would be “very dangerous”. Instead they said a technical extension should be provided so that Parliament can vote for a second referendum on staying in the bloc. Grieve said the agreement being thrashed out “bears no resemblance to what was being promoted in the 2016 referendum at all”. More bollocks, of course!
In respect of the looming Scottish court case “Perhaps the most absurd story to emerge over the last 24 hours is the news that anti-Brexit QC Jolyon Maugham is lodging a legal action to try and prevent the Government from putting a Withdrawal Agreement before Parliament on Saturday. Despite the fact that an agreement has not yet been agreed, let alone been seen and analysed, he claims that the Government is contravening legislation (passed through an ERG amendment to a government Bill last year) stating it is “unlawful for Her Majesty’s Government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain”. Maugham said yesterday he will today lodge a petition at Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session, and expects it to be heard on Friday. So having professed that he and his ilk were merely against a no-deal Brexit, as soon as there appears the prospect of a deal being secured to deliver Brexit, they are literally trying to prevent the deal from being put to Parliament. You couldn’t make it up”.
The barrister in question has tweeted today “We also need to consider the purpose of a challenge. Here, again, I try to act mindful of my perception of the role of the law in a democracy. I think this mandates an enquiry that extends beyond the technical point that the challenge seeks to uphold the 2018 Act”. Isn’t that interesting…”the role of the law in a democracy”…isn’t that what we used to have, a democracy?
But hope springs eternal. He now states “So I will pause and reflect and take soundings from those I trust this morning before issuing the petition (which we presently plan to do around midday)”. He’s been told “No parliament can bind future parliaments. It is a basic part of our constitution. If parliament makes a new law that “breaks” a previous law, the resolution is for parliament to amend the other law and the courts to accept the new law in the mean time”.
And, finally for now, one more tweeter said to Maugham “I am one of the 17.4M. I have been silenced. I had a vote in 2016 – they ignored me I had a vote in 2017 – they ignored me I had a vote in 2019 – they ignored me I could have had another vote in October – they denied me. Are you with me? #NoVoteNoVoice