May suggests Brexiters’ customs plan could be Irish border solution

PM’s spokesman offers sop to rebellious Tories by discussing proposal No 10 earlier rejected

Theresa May has offered a sop to rebellious hard Brexiters by suggesting technological solutions previously dismissed by No 10 could ultimately be used to maintain an invisible border between the UK and Ireland.

The unexpected change of tack was discussed at a two-and-a-half hour cabinet meeting on Tuesday, when the prime minister’s spokesman said ministers had discussed “the potential for alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” in Ireland.

Continue reading...

Parliament is gridlocked. Only the people can solve the Brexit crisis | Justine Greening

Theresa May has laid out the three practical options. A second referendum on them is our best chance of consensus

No 10 has turned up the noise on the spin machine selling its “blind Brexit” deal, but that won’t change the simple fact that it’s playing a tune no one likes. This deal is the worst of all worlds. Taking EU rules without having a say and risking the break-up of the UK is not what people voted for.

We need to face facts. Parliament is gridlocked. There is no majority among MPs for the prime minister’s deal in parliament or for leaving with no deal. No matter how determined any one group is, the numbers just don’t add up.

Continue reading...

Why is populism suddenly all the rage?

In 1998, about 300 Guardian articles mentioned populism. In 2016, 2,000 did. What happened?
Revealed: how populists tripled their vote Europe

Populism is sexy. Particularly since 2016 – the year of the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump – it seems as if journalists just cannot get enough of it. In 1998, the Guardian published about 300 articles that included the terms “populism” or “populist”. In 2015, these terms were used in about 1,000 articles, and one year later this number had doubled to almost 2,000.

The increasing popularity of the term is no coincidence. Populist parties have tripled their vote in Europe over the past 20 years. They are in government in 11 European countries. More than a quarter of Europeans voted populist in their last elections.

Continue reading...

Brexiteers are subverting language to obscure the truth, Trump-style | Bobby McDonagh

It started with fake news, but now any unpalatable fact is fair game for the ‘thought incinerator’

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes,” Mark Twain is said to have warned. In this era of social media, let’s make that all the way round the world while the truth is still looking for its socks.

Every day, including in the present Brexit chaos, we witness a phenomenon that subverts the truth yet remains nameless. Since naming things can sometimes help, I suggest we call the phenomenon a “thought incinerator”. The phrase may sound a bit Orwellian but then sometimes it feels like we are living in his 1984. Let me offer a definition and then give you an example. My definition of a thought incinerator is a phrase that public figures use to dismiss – out of hand and without any need for reflection – ideas they don’t like. The most obvious example I can give you is the phrase “fake news”.

Continue reading...

Here’s what it would take to make Theresa May’s Brexit deal work | Henry Newman

Parliament will reject the current plan. But if the EU agrees to revise certain key aspects, a deal is definitely achievable

The draft Brexit agreement will be rubber-stamped by a special European council meeting this weekend. But the current deal has little chance of making it through the Commons. Without parliamentary approval there is no path to a negotiated UK-EU agreement. Yet, so far, neither the UK nor EU has a proper plan B, other than a messy no deal. Time is running out to make changes to the deal to help it pass parliament.

Related: PM's 'defeatist' Brexit deal 'based on lack of understanding'

Continue reading...

Brexit: court rejects attempt to derail legal action to revoke article 50

Government challenge against European court of justice referral dismissed by supreme court

The supreme court has dismissed an attempt by the Brexit secretary to derail a European court hearing into whether article 50 – which triggered the UK’s departure from the EU – could be reversed.

In a decision released on Tuesday, the justices refused the government permission to challenge a ruling by Scotland’s highest court that the issue should be referred to the European court of justice in Luxembourg.

The supreme court’s conclusion came after three justices, including the president of the court, Lady Hale, had considered the written request from the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The way now appears clear for the European court of justice to proceed with its emergency hearing, scheduled for 27 November.

The government has opposed the application by a number of Scottish politicians and the anti-Brexit campaigner, Jolyon Maugham QC. Ministers have insisted that since Brexit would go ahead the courts did not need to rule on the hypothetical question of whether article 50 could be reversed.

Continue reading...

The arts have a leading role to play in tackling climate change | Nicholas Serota

Cultural organisations are in a unique position to challenge, inform and engage audiences in conversations about the environment

If we are to avoid irreversible global warming that will have devastating economic and social consequences for the world, “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are required. This was the conclusion of a special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in October. We – the collective “we” – have been given 12 years to arrest climate change. The message is clear: everyone is responsible for creating a more environmentally sustainable world. And the arts and cultural sector is no exception.

We have been talking about these issues at the Arts Council for a long time, and over the past decade have worked with the climate change charity Julie’s Bicycle to help arts and cultural organisations reduce their environmental impact. In 2012 we became the first cultural body in the world to include environmental reporting and action in our long-term funding agreements with arts organisations. Recognising that we had to create the conditions for change to happen, the Arts Council buttressed these requirements with a programme of support from Julie’s Bicycle. Together we substantially increased understanding about the role of the sector in addressing environmental issues and associated social challenges.

Continue reading...

Brexit weekly briefing: May digs in after week of turmoil

Prime minister prepares to head to EU summit to seal the deal but it’s all still to play for

Welcome to the Guardian’s weekly Brexit briefing, bringing you the top stories of the week in Brexitland arranged in a way that might – with luck and a following wind – allow you to make some sense of them.

If you would like to receive the briefing as a weekly email, please sign up here. And you can catch up with our relaunched monthly Brexit Means … podcast right here.

Continue reading...

We know the price of beer and a pint of milk. Why not the cost of educating a child? | Laura McInerney

The underlying problem with the schools funding crisis is no one has calculated precisely how much schools need

Margaret Thatcher famously knew the price of milk. David Cameron had crib sheets showing the cost of beer in Sheffield and London. But does any politician know the price of a primary or secondary education?

School budgets are squeezed, with some headteachers so cash-strapped they have taken to closing at Friday lunchtime to help balance the books. Others have protested on the streets of London.

Continue reading...

MPs call for tribunal to bring ‘misbehaving banks’ to justice

Tribunal to ensure SME customers get a hearing in future disputes with banks

A cross-bench group of MPs is gaining traction in its fight for a financial services tribunal that would bring misbehaving banks to justice, ahead of a key meeting with the chancellor this week.

Tory MP and co-chair of the all party parliamentary group (APPG) on fair business banking, Kevin Hollinrake, is expected to meet Philip Hammond on Wednesday to exert more pressure on behalf of small business customers who say they have been wronged by UK lenders. TSB presented Hollinrake’s proposals last week by submitting a letter of support for the tribunal.

Continue reading...

Treasury promises to publish Brexit deal analysis

Government bows to pressure after cross-party amendment to finance bill

After a backbench rebellion, the Treasury will publish analysis comparing the impact of Theresa May’s Brexit deal with staying in the European Union before MPs vote on it next month, government sources have indicated.

The government was forced to promise the forecasts after a cross-party amendment to the finance bill, tabled by Labour’s Chuka Umunna and Conservative Anna Soubry, gained enough support to overturn May’s majority.

Continue reading...

Toppling PM risks ‘most appalling chaos’, says Jeremy Hunt

Foreign secretary chastises MPs for encouraging letters of no confidence in Theresa May

Rebels seeking to remove Theresa May risk bringing about “the most appalling chaos”, which could destabilise the country and damage Britain’s international reputation, Jeremy Hunt has said.

Hunt, the foreign secretary and one of the most ambitious of May’s cabinet ministers, chastised his Conservative colleagues for encouraging letters of no confidence in the prime minister.

Continue reading...

Spain threatens to reject May’s Brexit deal over Gibraltar

Madrid throws spanner in works by demanding veto on any trade deal covering Rock


Follow the latest Brexit news - live updates

Theresa May is facing a fresh threat to her Brexit deal after Spain warned it would reject it unless Madrid were granted a special veto to prevent any future EU trade agreement with Britain that covers Gibraltar.

As the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, sought to sell the withdrawal agreement to both its critics in the UK and member states who have expressed concerns, the Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, threw a spanner in the works.

Continue reading...

The Guardian view on Brexit chaos: a threat to break up Britain | Editorial

Leavers claim Britain’s future lies in going it alone. Not if the country ends up in bits

The United Kingdom has a sweet deal with the EU, enjoying more of the benefits and suffering less of the burdens of membership. This country is outside the euro, is not part of the Schengen border-free area and gets a hefty rebate from the EU budget. Britain’s influence and standing was the reason we have such a good bargain. That ended when this country voted to leave the EU in 2016. This was a self-inflicted blow of historic proportions, enabled by preening fantasists who peddled falsehoods. However, as the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU continue to be unveiled, deluded politicians face moments of pure clarity. Brexiters are shocked to discover what was obvious all along: there is no easy, cost-free way for the UK to leave the EU. Theresa May’s blueprint sees Britain being out of Europe but run by it for at least two years. This will be followed by a future partnership negotiated by trading immigration control for access to European markets. It was the prime minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, who nailed our predicament back in 2016: “Before, they were in and they had many opt-outs; now they want to be out with many opt-ins.”

The EU and UK must take a clear view of their near-term goals, but also of their long-run interests and interdependences. Brussels says Britain will not be allowed to pick and choose at will policies that it wants to participate in or abstain from. Yet it is clear that the EU cannot be too absolutist. Mrs May’s plans are unlikely to pass the Commons. Labour’s analysis of her proposal has the virtue of throwing into sharp relief its faults. But Jeremy Corbyn has no roadmap out of the impasse. Few things are certain in this process. However, it is likely that the next two years of Britain’s life outside the EU will see this country subject to the vast majority of EU laws, but with no say in Brussels. This is the “vassalage” that is a necessary stepping stone out of the EU. While in this state, it is worth asking: what if Donald Trump chose to restart trade wars with Brussels? The UK would have to follow the EU’s lead, applying sanctions and tariffs that might suit the continent’s economy, but leave ours exposed to retaliation. It might force Britain to choose between allies and friends. Given that the current occupant of the White House sees loyalty tests as a foreign policy tool, this is a plausible and disturbing scenario that renders laughable the proposition that with Brexit this country recovers a long-lost sovereignty.

Continue reading...

The Guardian view on toilet breaks: stop all the clocks | Editorial

Companies should cease behaving as though human bodies are a nuisance, and encourage workers to look after themselves

How many times a day do you use the loo? Around eight is normal. But most of us don’t count, because we don’t care. This is as it should be. While it’s good to have some awareness of what is going on with one’s bladder and bowel – along with the rest of one’s body, diet, sleep patterns and so on – preoccupation with bodily functions and waste products is generally the preserve (and favoured comedy source material) of toddlers.

But over the past few years, as concerns have grown around automation and surveillance in the workplace, some people have been obliged to pay much closer attention to their personal habits. Employers in the home delivery and online retail sectors especially have become known for intensive monitoring of performance, in their quest for efficiency, via specially designed apps and tracking devices. In Amazon’s UK warehouses, for example, as the writer James Bloodworth discovered when he worked in one undercover, managers inform workers if their shift records too much “idle time” – a category that includes minutes spent using the toilet or fetching a drink of water (Bloodworth thought such rules the likely explanation for a bottle of urine he found tucked away on a shelf).

Continue reading...

We don’t need May’s tortured Brexit to control migration | Rafael Behr

Ending the free movement of labour will not end a toxic debate

Much as pets and their owners develop uncanny likenesses, Theresa May’s Brexit deal conveys the prime minister’s character as well as her politics. It is narrow and brittle, all circumscription and conditional permission. If it were a book, the cover would show a door being closed with care; not slammed but still closed.

Related: Theresa May: how dare you say we EU nationals ‘jumped the queue’? | Mimi Mollica

Continue reading...

Energy minister Claire Perry accused of swearing and shouting at staff

Unions write to top official at BEIS department saying claims were raised by civil servants

Trade unions have written to the top official in the business department to raise concerns about claims that the energy minister, Claire Perry, has sworn and screamed at civil servants, the Guardian understands.

Representatives of three unions representing Whitehall officials wrote a joint letter to Alex Chisholm, permanent secretary at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), citing wider concerns about the behaviour of its ministers.

Continue reading...

Don’t blame the Irish: the Brexit chaos is all about England | Fintan O’Toole

The rise of English nationalism has left Britain deeply uncertain about its identity and place in the world

Brexit has been derailed, as it was always going to be, by the Irish question. And, amid the chaos, there is something oddly comfortable about this. Isn’t that what the bloody Irish always do – disrupt an otherwise placid British polity with their hopelessly convoluted and unresolvable feuds?

In 1922, reflecting on the way Ireland had dominated imperial politics even on the eve of the great catastrophe of the first world war, a rueful Winston Churchill told the House of Commons: “It says a great deal for the power which Ireland has, both nationalist and orange, to lay their hands upon the vital strings of British life and politics, and to hold, dominate, and convulse, year after year, generation after generation, the politics of this powerful country.”

Continue reading...

Theresa May: how dare you say we EU nationals ‘jumped the queue’? | Mimi Mollica

I used to love the fact I lived in a country that recognised how surreal Italian politics was. Now all I feel is disappointment

Britain is now in panic mode, held hostage by a foolish plan gone really really bad.

Theresa May has been cornered by her own party, which is plotting to get rid of her. She is mocked by the opposition and laughed at by the EU.

Continue reading...

May’s Brexit deal delivers on the main reason the UK voted to leave the EU | Craig Berry

The prime minister has a better grasp of political reality than either the hard Brexiters or Tory remainers

Forgive me, I may have missed something. There has, of course, been a lot to take in over the last few days. But despite what the latest former Brexit secretary believes, it seems to me that the Brexit withdrawal agreement delivers almost exactly what the UK voted for in June 2016.

The reasons 17.4m people voted to leave the EU were multiple, complex and, in part, contradictory. But it is beyond doubt that a desire to control immigration was the most important reason. The evidence in this regard is overwhelming.

Continue reading...

PM tells CBI: Brexit deal will set UK on path to prosperity

Theresa May attempts to seize initiative back from critics with speech emphasising positive aspects of Brexit
Follow the latest political news and reaction - live updates

Theresa May has told business leaders they must “play their part” in creating a successful post-Brexit Britain as she promised that her deal with the EU would set the UK on a path to a more prosperous future.

Related: What May should have said to business: where have all the remainers gone? | Simon Jenkins

Continue reading...