- Raab suggested the government was willing to compromise on the Chequers plans set out in a recent white paper. (That is not the same as the white paper published today.) Addressing the committee, he said:
This is a far advanced, well thought-out, principled and pragmatic document and we expect to negotiate on the basis of it. Obviously, we will consider what Monsieur [Michel] Barnier and the EU27 come up with but this is an ambitious approach which takes into account some of the concerns the EU has expressed to us.
This is from Politico Europe’s Tom McTague.
Raab has just confirmed the obvious: The government is prepared to make further concessions to reach a final deal.
“Of course we will consider what Monsieur Barnier and the European Commission come up with.”
He did — though — warn there were limits to how much the UK could accept
July 24, 2018
- Raab confirmed that the UK wanted to ensure that the promise to pay £39bn to the EU in the withdrawal agreement would be conditional on the EU going ahead with the trade deal expected to be agreed in outline form at the same time.
- He said that he agreed with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, about wanting to “de-dramatise” the Irish border issue. (See 4.05pm.)
- Raab refused to rule out Northern Ireland having a different regulatory regime from the rest of the UK. This is from Bloomberg’s Ian Wishart.
Raab doesn’t rule out a regulatory border in the Irish seahttps://t.co/oXaUQc66Lm pic.twitter.com/XKT9ZUl7Yr
July 24, 2018
- Raab hinted that EU nationals could get a preferential immigration status after Brexit. (See 3.31pm.)
- He said the government would ensure that, in the event of a no deal Brexit, there were adequate food supplies. Asked about reports the government was planning to stockpile food, Raab said:
We will look at this issue in the round and make sure that there’s adequate food supplies. It would be wrong to describe it as the government doing the stockpiling.
- Olly Robbins, the prime minister’s chief Brexit adviser, told the same committee that Theresa May had not cleared her Chequers plan with other EU leaders in advance. Asked about this, he said:
Over months now, ministers, the prime minister and the official team supporting them have been sounding European partners out on all the issues the white paper takes on.
But even if we were to try to say ‘Does this package work for you?’ I doubt we would get a straight answer.
So what we have been trying to do is work out what is in the best interests of the UK and advise ministers on putting that position forward.
- Raab was accused of alarming EU nationals when he told MPs in a statement to the Commons that, in the event of a no deal Brexit, there would be “no wholesale removal of rights” from EU nationals living in the UK. The Green MP Caroline Lucas said Raab had “sent alarm bells clanging in the homes of around three million EU citizens living in this country”. Subsequently, in evidence to the committee, Raab said that he intended to say there would be no wholesale removal of EU nationals and that their rights would be respected. (See 3.07pm.)
- The House of Lords has voted down, by 130 votes to nine, a proposal from the anti-Brexit peer Lord Adonis for it to sit over the summer dealing with Brexit. He posted this on Twitter before the vote.
About to move my House of Lords motion to cut short the recess so that Parliament does its job in this national crisis rather than going on a 10 week holiday
July 24, 2018
That’s all from me for today.
Thanks for the comments.
The DUP MP Ian Paisley has been suspended by the Democratic Unionist party, the Press Association reports. The North Antrim MP will also be excluded from the House of Commons for 30 sitting days from September 4 following a major breach of parliamentary rules. Electoral authorities in Northern Ireland are to begin drawing up measures which could see him face a by-election if enough constituents demand it. He has vowed to fight for his seat if he faces the electorate over his failure to declare two luxury family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.
As the Press Association reports, in March 2014, the MP lobbied against a proposed United Nations resolution to investigate alleged human rights abuses during a civil war on the Indian Ocean island without citing his financial benefits.
If 10% of his constituents sign a petition, an election will be called.
A DUP statement said it took the matter very seriously. It said:
The party officers have decided to suspend Mr Ian Paisley MP from membership of the party pending further investigation into his conduct.
Ian Paisley Photograph: PA
Hilary Benn wraps up the Brexit committee hearing, saying he expects the committee to take evidence again from Dominic Raab and Olly Robbins after the October EU summit.
This is from Politico Europe’s Annabelle Dickson.
This is going well. DExEU and Cabinet Office press offices both claiming it is the responsibility of the other to respond to a question about negotiations lodged this afternoon.
July 24, 2018
Here is George Osborne, the former chancellor, on the news that Theresa May has taken charge of the Brexit negotiations.
News? Who was in charge before? https://t.co/oMTldtX5uG
July 24, 2018
Q: The final paper was very different from the one being drafted by DExEU.
Robbins says there was not “some sudden twist in the road”, when one white paper was replaced with another.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative Brexiter, goes next.
Q: [To Robbins] Congratulations. You must be very pleased with the PM’s statement. Where does your authority come from?
Robbins says he works for the goverment.
Q: Do you accept that advisers advise, and ministers decide.
Yes, says Robbins.
Q: Did David Davis receive all the advice you gave?
Robbins says in the past there were two teams of civil servants, working closely together, one advising the PM and one advising Davis. They worked more closely than other teams in Westminster. But now there will just be one stream of advice, he says.
Q: When did you start working on the Chequers plan?
Robbins says the civil service has been working for some time on how to deliver the plan set out in the Mansion House speech. So, from the day it was delivered, civil servants have been thinking hard about how to implement it.
Q: Papers were presented to the cabinet just before Chequers. When did you start to write those?
Robbins says he does not want to discuss that.
Q: I’m not asking what was in them. I’m asking about the timeline. It is important for knowing cabinet government is working.
Robbins says these papers have their origins in other papers. He says he had been working on them for some time.
Q: When did you start?
Robbins says the PM asked for first drafts about a fortnight before.
Rees-Mogg concludes by saying that he does not blame Robbins for any of this. Robbins works for the PM, he says – implying he finds May at fault.
UPDATE: This is from MLex’s Matthew Holehouse.
Rees-Mogg, after long questioning, gravely says Robbins/DExEU situation is “worrying”.
Chairman Benn, chirpily: “Well those of us who HAVE been Cabinet ministers would say that sounds fairly normal!”
July 24, 2018
Q: Places like Greece have dreadful unemployment. The EU has not helped. I’m worried we are accepting their rules.
Raab says he agrees with Mackinlay about the flaws with the EU.
Craig Mackinlay, a Conservative Brexiter, goes next.
Q: There was a plan that the public were happy with. But it was ripped up. When?
Robbins says he does not accept that characterisation. He says he was proud to work with David Davis and happy to work with him. The origins of the Chequers plan are well established.
Q: My mother had a good saying: “To yourself be true.” I have asked a lot of people about the Chequers deal, and they don’t like it. This “common rulebook” is not a common rulebook. It is their rulebook. If am making a pen for sale in the UK, why should I have to comply with an EU standard. It could make it harder to sell my pen in the US, where standards are slightly different.
Raab says, if the UK had full regulatory autonomy, that would be “an additional string to our bow” in trade talks.
But he says the common rulebook approach will avoid delays at the border, and addresses the Irish border issue.
Asked about his involvement in Vote Leave, Raab says he was proud to be involved in it. But he says he was not involved in how it allocated money. And he did not have dealings with BeLeave.
He suggests that Kinnock is raising this because he wants to reverse the referendum result.
Kinnock says this is bigger than the referendum. He says this is about the integrity of our democracy.
Q: It is hard to believe the campaign committee that you were on did not know about the BeLeave donation, the biggest you made.
Raab says Kinnock misunderstands the role of that committee.
And he says, if Kinnock is concerned about the “soul of our democracy”, he should not be backing a second referendum.
Kinnock says he agrees. He says he has never advocated a second referendum.
Labour’s Stephen Kinnock goes next.
Q: You are on the record as saying you do no support the Human Rights Act, that it is too difficult to hire and fire in this country, and that you do not support the working time directive. And you once complained about “obnoxious” feminist bigotry.
Raab says Kinnock is quoting from a book he wrote in the past. He says he point he was making about human rights was to query whether they deserved a higher status than other rights.
On the working time directive, he says the government has been clear it will maintain workers’ rights. He fully accepts that.
And he says, if you are serious about rights, why should you need to delegate that responsibility to an outside body.
And, on feminism, he say he fully supports equal rights. But he thinks you should call out double standards where you see them.