It is a busy day, but there is one story this morning that is hogging all the attention at Westminster, eclipsing even another spate of warning about a no-deal Brexit (such as the IFS saying it would send government debt to its highest level for half a century, as the Guardian reports, or HM Revenue and Customs saying it would cost businesses £15bn in form-filling, as the FT reports). The zinger is James Forsyth’s publication on the Spectator website last night of a very long message from someone he describes as “a contact in No 10” setting out the inside Downing Street view on where the Brexit talks are going.
On the Today programme this morning Amber Rudd, the former Tory work and pensions secretary, said that she thought the author was Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s de facto chief of staff. Asked if she thought he had written it, she replied:
I think Dominic Cummings, yes, because otherwise it would have been heavily denied and heads would have rolled. So clearly it’s come from them, it’s in their style.
Rudd’s assumption is one that that will be widely shared – if not universally shared – in the Westminster ecosystem. I’ll come back to why later.
And I will post a full summary of the message soon. But here is the most incendiary paragraph, in which the No 10 source implies the UK would withhold cooperation from any EU countries that support a Brexit extension. The source says:
We will make clear privately and publicly that countries which oppose delay will go the front of the queue for future cooperation — cooperation on things both within and outside EU competences. Those who support delay will go to the bottom of the queue. [This source also made clear that defence and security cooperation will inevitably be affected if the EU tries to keep Britain in against the will of its government] Supporting delay will be seen by this government as hostile interference in domestic politics, and over half of the public will agree with us.
Given that at the moment there is an assumption that the EU27 will unanimously agree a Brexit extension, that would mean the whole of the EU going to the “bottom of the queue” for cooperation.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.
9.30am: The court of session in Edinburgh hears an appeal against the decision yesterday against a decision by the court not to issue an order compelling Johnson to comply with the Benn Act. The court will also hear a separate but related case, a “nobile officium” petition saying judges should take the the power to sign a letter to the EU requesting a Brexit instead in place of the PM.
9.30am: The Institute for Fiscal Studies holds a briefing on its green budget. As Richard Partington reports, it says emergency tax cuts and higher public spending to offset the impact of a no-deal Brexit would send government debt to its highest level in more than half a century.
9.30am: Representatives of the seafood industry, and the fishing minister George Eustice, give evidence to the international trade committee about a no-deal Brexit.
10am: Shanker Singham from the Alternative Arrangements Commission and other trade experts give evidence to the Commons home affairs committee about Brexit.
10am: Academics from the British Election Study hold a briefing on predicting the next election.
After 12.30pm: Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, is expected to make a Commons statement about Brexit no-deal planning.
1pm: Paschal Donohoe, the Irish finance minister, presents his budget for next year, including details of no-deal contingencies.
5pm: Johnson meets David Sassoli, president of the European parliament, in Downing Street.
Evening: Parliament prorogues.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web, although I will be focusing mostly on Brexit. I plan to publish a summary when I wrap up.
You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.
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