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Boris Johnson news: PM suffers fresh Brexit humiliation as EU systematically rubbishes plan, amid bizarre scheme to defy Queen

Follow how the day in Westminster unfolded

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The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has delivered a brutal verdict on Boris Johnson‘s Brexit plans, saying the UK and Brussels are ”not really in a position” to find agreement.

Ahead of a critical EU summit, it emerged that the prime minister was preparing a historic Saturday Commons sitting on 19 October, in a last-ditch bid to avoid asking the EU for a Brexit delay.

Mr Johnson and his advisers are reportedly ready to tell the Queen she cannot sack him, even if he loses a no-confidence vote in the Commons later this month – a plan ridiculed by lawyers and historians.

Scotland’s highest civil court has also delayed ruling on whether to order Mr Johnson to ask for a Brexit extension – or have an official sign the extension letter if he refuses to do so – until 21 October.


Good morning and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of events at Westminster, Brussels and beyond.

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 08:13

Boris Johnson also hosted European Parliament president David Sassoli in Downing Street on Tuesday evening, but the MEP left saying “no progress” had been made.

Sassoli later told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “Angela Merkel’s opinions must be taken seriously. We are all very worried because there are only a few days left. Because we understand that going out without an agreement leads to having a real problem, if not a real catastrophe.”

He also claimed Johnson told him he did not want any extension to Article 50.

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 08:24

Leo Varadkar said negotiating a new Brexit agreement by the crucial EU summit will be “very difficult” in his latest interview.

Varadkar said Ireland and the EU would not accept an agreement at “any cost”.

“There are some fundamental objectives that haven’t changed for the past three years and we need them guaranteed,” he told RTE news.

“I think it is going to be very difficult to secure an agreement by next week, quite frankly.

Essentially what the United Kingdom has done is repudiate the deal that we negotiated in good faith with Prime Minister (Theresa) May’s government over two years and sort of put half of that now back on the table and are saying, ‘That’s a concession’. And of course it isn’t really.”

Asked if the blame game language was turning “toxic”, Varadkar said: “I think it is, from some quarters, but you know I don’t play dirty.”

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 08:26

The Queen may need to prepare herself for more madness ahead. Boris Johnson and his advisers are reportedly ready to tell Her Majesty she cannot actually sack him even if he loses a no-confidence vote in the Commons later this month.

According to The Sun, the belief is based upon the “Lascelles Principles” that the monarch must follow the PM’s advice. Fans of Netflix’s The Crown will be well aware of the stern, moustachioed Tommy Lascelles – who drew up the principles back in 1950.

But lawyers and historians have already ridiculed the idea and claimed No 10 does not understand the principles, nor the constitution. Royal historian Professor Kate Williams said No 10 had “lost it”.

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 08:30

Leave.EU has made a rare apology for a tweet the organisation posted which showed a picture of Angela Merkel with the words: “We didn’t win two world wars to be pushed around by a Kraut.”

Co-founder Arron Banks admitted it “went too far”.

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 08:31

Boris Johnson spoke to his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar over the phone on Tuesday night and the pair are set to meet in person later this week, according to Downing Street.

The British prime minister may be keen to be seen trying to “rescue” his Brexit deal, but there doesn’t appear to be anything left to rescue after the mood music turned extremely sour in the past 24 hours.

While European Council president Donald Tusk accused Johnson of launching a “stupid blame game”, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said that any blame for a no-deal Brexit would lie “in the British camp”.

Juncker warned: “A Brexit without an agreement would lead to a collapse of the United Kingdom."

More details here.

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 08:43

Speaker John Bercow has dismissed what he called attacks on parliament “low grade and vulgar to the extreme”.

In a wide-ranging interview with CNN about his time as Speaker, he said he was “entirely unmoved by some of the more downmarket attacks on Parliament that have been launched in recent times.

“They are unworthy, they don’t amount to a row of beans and I’m not intimidated by them,” he added.

He also said of Brexiteers who have claimed bias on his part: “If you are losing the match, it’s quite bad form to blame the referee."

“I wouldn’t say I’m a Remainer enabler. I would say that I’m an enabler of all colleagues across the House who want to express their different points of view. I thought the Brexiteers were in favour of taking back control of parliament being in the driving seat? Well, they can’t have it both ways.”

Later in the interview, he came close to tears as he reflected on murdered MP Jo Cox.

The Buckingham MP was shown a video clip of him paying tribute to Ms Cox in the Commons following her death in 2016. Fighting back tears, Bercow told CNN that he remembered the moment “very keenly” and “the sentiment is very raw”.

He said: “Really, Jo was a great exponent of that principle of political difference, personal amiability. It should be possible for us as democrats for us to disagree agreeably.”

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 08:54

According to the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, the government will call an emergency sitting of parliament on Saturday, 19 October – the first Saturday sitting in the Commons since a debate over the Falklands War in 1982.

It appears the government could be set to force a showdown vote on a no-deal Brexit – or the extension demanded by the Benn Act.

The 19 October, remember, is the date that the prime minister must send a letter to the EU asking for an extension (if he hasn’t achieved a deal, which is looking increasingly unlikely).

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 09:05

Tuesday’s cabinet meeting was said to be pretty unpleasant for Boris Johnson.

Several ministers expressing their concerns about recent “No 10 source” briefings – and a memo thought to have been written by Dominic Cummings that said the Tory party would have to an election manifesto pledge an “immediate” withdrawal from the EU at the next election if talks collapsed.

According to The Times, Nicky Morgan, Julian Smith, Robert Buckland, Matt Hancock and Geoffrey Cox are all on a “resignation watch list”.

The Financial Times is reporting that up to 50 Tory MPs and three ministers could quit the party if the manifesto promised a no-deal Brexit.

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 09:16

Our deputy editor Rob Merrick has the details on the dramatic Saturday sitting of parliament set to take place later this month – Boris Johnson’s last-gasp attempt to avoid having to ask the EU for a Brexit delay.

MPs will be recalled on 19 October, even if there is no agreement to vote on – and forced instead to choose between crashing out of the EU or extending the Article 50 process.

Adam Forrest9 October 2019 09:28

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