1. ‘LEARN TO COUNT’
This morning’s Waugh Zone is by Ned Simons. Paul is in China.
Theresa May has signalled that new EU migrants coming to the UK after Brexit should not expect to be granted full citizens’ rights. Paul reports from China that the prime minister said those who arrived after March 2019 would have to be treated differently from their predecessors “because they will be coming to a UK that they know will be outside the EU”.
But speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, George Osborne questioned what would actually happen. “It’s not clear to me there are to be significant resections on the movement on European citizens,” he said.
The former chancellor said the sums “don’t stack up” for the UK to leave the customs union and said an “increasing number of Tory MPs” agreed with him. “The question is whether there really is a government majority for withdrawing from the customs union,” he said. “The first rule of politics is you’ve got to learn to count,” he added.
Liam Fox, speaking to Sky News in China, said post-Brexit trade deals could be “some time away” and appeared to suggest the UK could remain in a customs union. The trade secretary also suggested the idea of a implementation phase was not a done deal. “If we’ve got an implementation period,” he said.
The Sun reports this morning that a “senior minister” is set to quit the government “in a principled protest at the PM’s failing leadership”. The Spectator meanwhile declares: “Lead or go”. The magazine’s front cover depicts May, head down, shoulders hunched, walking away.
BuzzFeed UK’s Alberto Nardelli has another Brexit scoop. In a report published last night he says the government’s Brexit analysis shows the cost to the UK economy of cutting migration from the EU would be significantly greater than the benefits brought by a US trade deal.
Nick Timothy, May’s former chief off staff, uses his column in the Daily Telegraph today to warn Tory MPs that a leadership challenge would “destroy the Brexit negotiations”. Even though earlier this week he warned of “strategic confusion” at the top of government. James Cleverly, the new deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, last night said Timothy should “shut the f**k up”.
As one Conservative minister told HuffPost’s Owen Bennett last night when discussing the lack of a clear Brexit plan from the government: “It’s not going to get easier with time.”
May will meet China’s President Xi Jinping today and present him with a box set of the BBC’s Blue Planet II series, specially signed by Sir David Attenborough. The PM is due to take part in a tea ceremony with President Xi in Beijing, before they discuss foreign affairs including North Korea and other security threats.
2. VOTE LEAVE
MPs have paved the way to move out of the historic Houses of Parliament moving during a restoration programme that could cost at least £3.5bn. On Wednesday night they voted in support of a “full and timely decant” after deleting sections from a motion which would have allowed them to kick into the long grass the need for “comprehensive works” at the Unesco World Heritage Site. A body would also be established to provide up-to-date costings of the work and a “realistic” timetable for the repairs.
Carrie Gracie, the former BBC China editor, appeared before the culture committee yesterday afternoon. In front of MPs she said the BBC was guilty of “belittling” the work of its female journalists for decades.
Gracie broke down in tears as she told of her anger about how women had been treated by the broadcaster. As HuffPost’s Kate Forrester reports:
Visibly emotional, Gracie said she noted the BBC had thanked senior male presenters Huw Edwards, Nicky Campbell, John Humphrys, Jon Sopel, Nick Robinson and Jeremy Vine for agreeing to take pay cuts, after it was revealed two-thirds of BBC stars earning more than £150,000 were male. They have never said they are very grateful to me for not taking a pay rise at the time,” she said. “And they said at that point these are great broadcasters, great journalists who have a great connection with the public.I have 500 and more emails from the public here, in support of me, in support of my work as China editor and in support of my stand on equal pay. And I have more than 300 emails from members of staff who support that too.”
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR...
A Robin got trapped in the Commons chamber yesterday. It flew about a bit but was generally pretty chilled. Kate, despite having earlier this week rescued a pigeon and not shutting up about it, was of no use. So here’s a calming video detailing some facts about Robins.
4. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Peers were left stunned yesterday when development minister Lord Bates quit on the spot – for being late. The well respected peer had not been in his place in the chamber to respond to a question from a Labour member. Worth of an apology, but perhaps not a resignation. “I am thoroughly ashamed of not being in my place and therefore I shall be offering my resignation to the prime minister with immediate effect,” he said, before walking out of the chamber. Labour’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith insisted his resignation was not necessary. He was later persuaded to change his mind. But a Downing Street spokesperson later said: “With typical sincerity, Lord Bates today offered to tender his resignation after missing the start of an oral questions session in the House of Lords, but his resignation was refused as it was judged this was unnecessary.”
5. BULLYING HQ
Over at the NUS, its president Shakira Martin is under investigation after widespread, but disputed, allegations of bullying. The union’s management has now taken the extraordinary decision to order elected officials not to come into the office for the rest of this week, after reports people felt “unsafe”. Multiple sources have claimed to HuffPost UK that the situation within the NUS has become so “toxic” in recent weeks that staff have been seen crying at their desk.