Government Backs Down and is to Waive £65 Settled Status Fee

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has confirmed that the Government is no longer going to charge EU residents a fee of £65 to apply for settled status in the UK.

The Prime Minister said in a statement in the House of Commons:

“I can confirm today that when we roll out the scheme in full on 30th March, the government will waive the application fee so that there is no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. And anyone who has or will apply during the pilot phase will have their fee reimbursed”.

Neil Gray, the SNP MP for Airdrie and Shotts, said during the debate:

“I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to waive fees for EU nationals, but once again, she is four months behind the Scottish Government. It is clear—I see it again today—that her pig-headed stubbornness and ridiculous red lines have brought us to this position; it is a mess of her making. Why was she not willing to have cross-party talks two and a half years ago?”

Jeremy Corbyn Refuses to Enter Brexit Talks Until No-Deal is Ruled Out

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has rejected the call from Theresa May, the Prime Minister, to take part in cross-party talks on Brexit until she rules out the possibility of a no deal. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Corbyn wrote:

“On behalf of the Labour party, I ask you to rule out ‘no deal’ and to immediately end the waste of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money preparing for a ‘no deal’ outcome. The £4.2bn currently allocated to ‘no deal’ planning could significantly improve many of cash-starved public services on which people rely and could transform the lives of those struggling on universal credit.”

The Prime Minister said that it was an “impossible condition” for the British negotiating team to entirely rule out a no deal Brexit. She also confirmed that she would not accept British membership of the customs union and she also wouldn’t support a second referendum.

Prime Minister Defeated in the House of Commons Over No Deal Arrangements

The Government has been defeated today in the House of Commons over arrangements should there be no Brexit deal. The vote is a set-back for Theresa May, the Prime Minister, who said that if her withdrawal agreement is voted down then there will be no Brexit deal. MPs backed a motion which would limit some of the Government’s financial options in the event of a no deal, with 303 in support and 296 against.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, said after the vote:

“This vote is an important step to prevent a no-deal Brexit. It shows that there is no majority in parliament, the cabinet or the country for crashing out of the EU without an agreement. That is why we are taking every opportunity possible in parliament to prevent no deal”.

During the debate today in the House of Commons, Sir Oliver Letwin, the Conservative MP for West Dorset said:

“My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames), who is sitting next to me, and I have calculated that we have been in the House, collectively, for 56 years, and we have only ever, either of us, voted once against the Conservative Whip. This will be the second time that we will both be voting against the Conservative Whip, and I want to explain why”.

He added:

“Some of my hon. Friends and others in the country believe they can assure that under circumstances where we wreck the deal, refuse to make all the payments that the EU is expecting and falsify its expectations of a reasonable departure, the EU will then reasonably set out to work with us in a calm and grown-up way to ensure a smooth departure. It may be so. I am in no position to deny that it will be. I do not make lurid projections. Anybody who believes that they know it will be so is deluded”.

Robert Jenrick, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, rejected the proposals in the House of Commons, saying:

“As I made clear, the Government do not want or expect a no-deal scenario. That was why we negotiated the withdrawal agreement, which will see us leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way on 29 March and sets the framework of our future relationship. As we heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) and my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), the best way of avoiding a no-deal scenario, if that is of grave concern to Members, is to support the withdrawal agreement next week.

Unless Parliament agrees a deal, the UK will leave the European Union on 29 March with no deal, as that was the agreement we all knew when we voted to trigger article 50. That is now the law, and amendment 7 does not change that simple truth”.

John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, Says that a Second Referendum May be Inevitable

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, has said in an interview with the BBC that a second vote on Brexit may now be “inevitable”. He said that the Labour Party would prefer a General Election, but said that in the event that the party couldn’t force an election, they would likely be in favour of a second referendum to clear the deadlock.

McDonnell said that he would vote to remain in any second vote, but that he didn’t feel that the outcome would be inevitable. He said to the BBC:

“So, the caution for them and for all of us, whichever argument you put, is the people will decide. As we saw in the last referendum, it’s very difficult to predict which way the people will decide on this. I’ve seen a lot of polls that have said there has been a shift from Leave to Remain. I’ve also seen other polls saying actually we’re just about the same as we were then”.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, criticised the plan saying that a second vote by the British electorate was “an attempt to overthrow the will of the people”.

Prime Minister Visits Scotland to Promote Brexit Deal

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has travelled to Scotland in a bid to promote her Brexit deal to the people. The visit is a part of a tour around the country to try and raise awareness of the deal and to explain the benefits and issues with it.

The Prime Minister said in a statement:

“It is a deal that is good for Scottish employers and which will protect jobs. It includes a new free trade area with no tariffs, fees, quantitative restrictions or rules of origin checks—an unprecedented economic relationship that no other major economy has.

At the same time, we will be free to strike our own trade deals around the world – providing even greater opportunity to Scottish exporters. I welcome the strong support which employers have given to the deal and the certainty which it provides.

Crucially, the deal also ensures that we will leave EU programmes that do not work in our interests. So we will be out of the common agricultural policy, which has failed our farmers, and out of the common fisheries policy, which has so tragically failed Scotland’s coastal communities.

At long last, we will be “an independent coastal state” again – taking back full sovereign control over our waters, and free to decide for ourselves who we allow to fish in our waters.

The EU maintained throughout the negotiation process that it wanted to link overall access to markets to access to fisheries. It failed in the withdrawal agreement and it failed again in the political declaration.

I have been robust in defending the interests of Scottish fisherman so far- and I will always be so”.

Prime Minister Pays Respect to War Dead in Belgium and France

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has paid respects on behalf of the nation to those who died in Belgium and France during the First World War. She attended ceremonies with Emmanuel Macron, the French President, and Charles Michel, the Belgian Prime Minister, to mark the event. She also laid wreaths at the graves of John Parr and George Ellison, the first and last soldiers to die in the conflict.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“A century ago British forces fought side by side with our allies in Europe on the Western Front. Today in France and Belgium we reflect on our shared history, but also look ahead to our shared future, built on peace, prosperity and friendship.

At St Symphorien I will have the honour of laying a wreath on behalf of a nation at the graves of both John Parr and George Ellison, the first and last UK soldiers to die during the War. That their graves lie opposite each other is a fitting and poignant symbol that brings home the eternal bond between them, and every member of the Armed Forces who gave their lives to protect what we hold so dear.

We remember the heroes who lost their lives in the horror of the trenches. As the sun sets on one hundred years of remembrance, we will never forget their sacrifice”.

Prime Minister Meets with Premier Li of China

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has met with Premier Li of China, in a meeting at Brussels. The two discussed the future economic ties between the two countries as well as the currently controversial matter of political activity in Hong Kong.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The two leaders began by discussing the Prime Minister’s successful visit to China earlier this year, when she had been joined by a UK trade delegation.

They discussed the opportunity to build further upon that visit, and the golden era in UK-China relations. Premier Li said he looked forward to ushering in a diamond era in the relationship.

The Prime Minister updated Premier Li on the Brexit negotiations. She said she looked forward to further strengthening our economic ties with China, including our trade relationship, in the future.

The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s firm commitment to the rules based international system, including the importance of freedom of navigation and maritime security, in line with international law.

On Hong Kong, they agreed on the continued importance of one country, two systems”.

Prime Ministers Speaks to Business Leaders on Brexit

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has met with 130 business leaders to put forwards her vision for Brexit. She discussed the progress which had been made in the negotiations and accepted that there were still numerous areas where agreement hadn’t been reached.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“First, she recognised the importance of these discussions for businesses, their supply chains and clients. She outlined that the Government’s proposed future relationship with the EU would preserve the UK’s and EU’s frictionless access to each other’s markets for goods, protecting jobs and livelihoods on both sides.

She set out the significant progress that has been made on the Withdrawal Agreement and on our future relationship with the EU. She acknowledged that there were a few significant issues that were still outstanding, but said that the very real sense she had from leaders around the table at the Council was that they wanted to reach a deal as soon as possible this autumn.

Second, the Prime Minister spoke about the Northern Irish backstop, which is intended to guarantee that – in the unlikely event that there is a delay in bringing into effect our future relationship by the end of the implementation period at the end of December 2020 – there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. If required, this would therefore only be necessary for a temporary period to act as a bridge to the future relationship.

The Prime Minister explained that the UK could not accept the EU’s proposal which included an arrangement in which Northern Ireland could be kept in a separate customs territory to the rest of the UK. She advised that our proposal included a UK-wide joint customs territory with the EU for the duration of the backstop, which would protect the integrity of the UK and deliver on the commitment to avoid a hard border with Ireland. She emphasised that both sides wanted to have our future relationship in place by the end of December 2020 so that the backstop never needed to be used, but that the negotiating teams would work intensively on this to find a way forward.

Finally, she urged businesses not to lose sight of the prize – that of a smooth trading relationship with the EU alongside the ability to seek new opportunities and open up new markets with trading partners around the world.

The Prime Minister took questions from businesses and representative bodies (Centrica, EY, Diageo, Enterprise Nation, RBS, Federation of Small Businesses, ITV, Aston Martin, Barratt Developments and Tesco) on topics such as the importance of frictionless trade, the implementation period and opportunities for the future.

A number of businesses thanked the Prime Minister for the opportunity to speak with her directly on the Brexit negotiations”.