POLITICS
19/09/2018 08:51 BST

The Waugh Zone Wednesday September 19, 2018

The five things you need to know on Wednesday September 19, 2018.

1. SALZBURG SALES PITCH

This morning’s Waugh Zone is from Ned Simons. Paul is away.

Theresa May will try to sell her Chequers plan to EU leaders in Salzburg this evening - with a ten minute speech.

The gathering comes as Michel Barnier said he is ready to make an “improved” proposal on the Irish border. But whether this is merely a softening in tone rather than in substance remains to be seen. With the October 18 EU summit fast approaching and an emergency meeting in November now expected, Barnier warned the “moment of truth” in the Brexit talks was at hand.

Writing in De Welt this morning, the prime minister again points to “compromises” made by the UK and calls on the EU to do the same. “No side can demand something totally unacceptable from the other, such as an external border between parts of the UK,” she says.

On the home front, May’s Brexiteer critics continue to trash her plan. David Davis used his interview on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme to dismiss suggestions the EU would compromise. Brussels was just offering “warm words” designed to prevent May being overthrown. “They will want to make her life possible,” he said. The former Brexit secretary confirmed he would try to sink Chequers in any Commons vote. “I resigned over this. I am not going to vote for it,” he said. And he had a pop at one fellow Brexiteer who did not quit in the summer. “Michael Gove is a clever man, sometimes clever men miss the obvious,” he said of the environment secretary. In the Daily Telegraph this morning Jacob Rees-Mogg repeats his call for the PM to “chuck” Chequers.

May took time in her interview with the Daily Express this morning to hit back at backbenchers plotting to oust her from office after March 29, 2019. “This isn’t just about Brexit,” she says. “There is more to do.”

To try and prove this is the case, the PM will this morning announce that £2bn of Government funds will be directed towards housing associationsto give them long-term certainty they need to build homes. But the announcement comes as figures revealed landowners pocketed a staggering £13bn in profit last year simply for securing planning permission while a housing crisis continues to grip the nation. 

 

2. STOPPING THE CLOCK

The People’s Vote campaign are pushing their new report this morning which they say sets out a “clear route” of how the Article 50 process can be paused to give the public the chance to vote on May’s final deal in a referendum. The cross-party group says its preference would be to give people a choice between Chequers or remaining a member of the EU. The PM says the only choice is for MPs to pick Chequers or no deal. And in her Express interview she says another vote would “destroy trust in politicians”.

Jeremy Corbyn will face further pressure in the run up to Labour’s conference to throw his weight behind another referendum. The Guardian has a long-read on Labour’s Brexit policy this morning. Pulled out from the piece and published last night was a report that Keir Starmer was on the “brink of resignation” earlier this year after Corbyn tried to shelve the shadow Brexit secretary’s plan for a customs union. 

 

3. NEC NERVES

Labour’s NEC last night kicked a many of the most radical proposals in its Democracy Review into the long grass. Ideas including allowing party members to elect council leaders will be set aside until next year. Talks on changes to how MPs are selected by local parties will resume at a meeting of the party’s ruling body on Saturday. But as Paul reports, one thing the NEC did agree was that the creation of a new independent procedure for harassment cases should be put to a vote at conference.

The Sun meanwhile has a story this morning of a face-to-face clash between Corbyn and Tom Watson. The paper reports the pair had a row during a recent shadow cabinet meeting over Watson being denied a prime time conference speaking slot.

But this week has made clear is the most interesting dynamic to watch Liverpool will be the shadow boxing between the leadership, Momentum and the unions. The Corbynista versus Centrist/Moderate/Blairite/Melt war is so 2017.

 

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR...

For some reason there’s a sudden lack of appetite among colleagues for HuffPost UK’s traditional weekly Mario Kart competition. So here’s the evolution of Toad. Look at the little fella. Cute.

 

4. PERFORMANCE ANXIETY

The Lib Dem decision to promise that Vince Cable would accuse eurosceptics of having an “erotic spasm” over Brexit in his conference speech was a shameless attempt to get their party leader in the headlines. And it worked. Good job everyone. But then he fluffed the climax and had an “exotic spresm”. Happens to the best of us. At least, cough, no slogans fell down behind him.

The Lib Dems have thrown their all into opposing Brexit. But they have been big footed by People’s Vote. A fact driven home by BBC Newsnight last night devoting its opening segment to prospects for a second referendum without featuring a single Lib Dem – despite Political Editor Nick Watt reporting the story from outside the party’s conference in Brighton. Cable is, slowly, on his way out. Jo Swinson and Layla Moran are the obvious frontrunners to succeed him - despite moves to allow a non-MP to take over. But it will probably take more than a change at the top to revivie the party’s fortunes.

 

5. AS ALWAYS, TOO MANY MEN

HuffPost Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel reports Republicans on the US Senate Judiciary Committee are considering having their aides question Christine Blasey Ford, who has made sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The reason? Every Republican senator on the committee is male. And they figure the sight of old white men conducting the grilling might not be a great look. If they use their aides, they would be able to rely on female staffers. President Donald Trump, naturally, feels “terribly” for his Supreme Court pick.

Also: The president offers his assessment of Hurricane Florence in this video message. “One of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water,” he concludes.

 

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Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Paul Waugh(paul.waugh@huffingtonpost.com), Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com), Rachel Wearmouth (rachel.wearmouth@huffpost.com) and Jasmin Gray (jasmin.gray@huffpost.com)