19 July 2019 | UK NEWS
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has today said that he would do “everything in [his] power” to block a No Deal departure from the European Union in an interview with Le Monde and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Having said he did not believe it would be possible to renegotiate a deal with the EU prior to the scheduled Brexit date of Halloween, Mr Hammond added: “I will take steps to avoid an exit without agreement apart from an explicit parliamentary approval. There should be a new and sincere attempt to reach a consensus.”
The Chancellor also appeared not to rule out voting against the Government in a Confidence motion, saying: “I do not exclude anything for the moment.” Indeed, he did not appear to exclude the possibility of voting for another referendum on Britain’s EU membership, saying: “If we do not find a solution with the Members, we may have to ask the British [people] to give their opinion again, in one form or another.”
Mr Hammond’s comments have been interpreted as a sign of the difficulty that the next Prime Minister will face if he wishes to secure a No Deal exit from the EU, in the event that his renewed negotiations bear no fruit. They come following a rebellion among 17 Conservative MPs in the Commons yesterday, voting to back an amendment put down by Dominic Grieve designed to prevent the next PM from proroguing Parliament in the run-up to the end of October. Dozens more abstained instead, with Culture Minister Margot James even resigning from the Government in order to vote for the amendment.
This amendment means that regular updates must be made to Parliament on the progress of restoring the Northern Ireland assembly, which means it must be sitting. It attempts to use a technicality in order to ensure that Parliament must be sitting as Britain’s departure from the European Union approaches. It highlights once again that the Parliamentary situation facing the next Prime Minister will not be substantially different from that faced by the current incumbent.
Elsewhere on the Westminster scene today, a young pro-Brexit campaigner, Darren Grimes, has won his appeal against the Electoral Commission, which had fined him its maximum penalty of £20,000 for allegedly misreporting an expenses return during the 2016 EU referendum campaign. Mr Grimes, 25, who founded BeLeave – a pro-Brexit campaigning organisation targeting younger voters – was alleged to have reported his campaign’s spending improperly after receiving a sizeable donation from the official Vote Leave campaign.
Having been previously cleared of electoral fraud, Mr Grimes was subsequently re-investigated and hit with the substantial fine. His appeal was heard this week, and the judge today overturned the penalty in a ruling that lasted over two hours. Mr Grimes gave the following statement following the judgement:
In the newspapers today, we read in The Telegraph an opinion piece on how a Boris Johnson premiership could be irreparably damaged within 36 hours.
The Guardian also carries a story today commenting on the aftermath of a leaked draft of a disciplinary process, which has caused Jewish leaders to accuse the Labour Party of “letting off” anti-Semites.