Rarely has the elaborately costumed pageant of the state opening of parliament looked less in keeping with the status of the legislative programme on offer. This was pomp in bizarre circumstances. From the off, the Queen’s speech struck a curiously provisional note, beginning with the statement that the government’s priority “has always been” to leave the EU on 31 October. That was some way short of a commitment that this is going to happen, which is understandable. No one knows what is going to happen between now and the end of the month. Given the Conservatives’ lack of a majority, and the showdown with MPs that is expected whether or not the government and EU are able to strike a deal before Thursday’s deadline, the contents of the speech are less pertinent to Britain’s immediate future than the continuing talks in Brussels. The nation on Monday suffered the unedifying spectacle of the Queen reading out a Boris Johnson wishlist. But even if … [Read more...] about The Guardian view on the Queen’s speech: show without substance
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Boris Johnson wanted to be prime minister long before he wanted to take Britain out of the EU. The novelty of Brexit among his ambitions prompts a thought experiment: imagine there was no referendum. By some other craft Johnson has reached Downing Street. Would he propose swapping full EU membership for the latest version of a deal being hammered out in Brussels today? Of course not. It would be a bizarre surrender of international status and economic leverage in the world’s largest trading bloc. He would see no wisdom in quitting the single market, erecting new borders and retreating from the rooms where big continental decisions are made. Even the fiercest Eurosceptics did not advocate that path before 2016. They thought there must be a way to leave the club without relinquishing members’ privileges. Seeing Brussels as a parasite on sovereignty, they did not understand that EU membership was a component of British power. That is the cardinal error of Brexit, but its … [Read more...] about Any Johnson Brexit deal sows seeds of future confrontation with the EU
Boris Johnson is fighting to get the DUP and Tory hardliners on board with a Brexit deal today as fraught talks continue in Brussels. UK and EU negotiators are reconvening this morning after working late into the night - getting tantalisingly close to the legal text of a settlement. But the delicate process seemed to be derailed by the intervention of the DUP, whose leader Arlene Foster emerged from a briefing in No10 to declare there were still issues to resolve. In an ominous sign, she also swiped that she did not 'trust' the PM to strike a deal that protects the union. 'I trust myself,' she said. Splits also emerged in the hardline Tory Eurosceptic ERG bloc. While chair Steve Baker came out from his own Downing Street chat saying he was ready to endorse a 'tolerable deal', former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson branded the package 'unacceptable'. Despite the EU's Michel Barnier setting a deadline of last night for a deal to be finalised in time for tomorrow's Brussels summit, it is … [Read more...] about Brexit deal today… or MORE delay until 2020: Boris Johnson fights to win over the DUP and Tory ‘Spartans’ to seal a deal – but Arlene Foster warns she doesn’t ‘trust’ the PM and ex-minister brands package ‘unacceptable’
Welcome to the Guardian’s weekly Brexit briefing. If you’d like to receive this as a weekly email, sign up here. You can also catch our latest Brexit Means … podcast here, and for daily updates, head to Andrew Sparrow’s politics live blog. Top stories It was another rollercoaster week, beginning with widespread predictions that Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan was all but dead as No 10 admitted there was little prospect of a deal before 31 October and bitter recriminations flew. But as the government set up a Westminster Brexit showdown by calling MPs to sit in an exceptional Saturday session on 19 October, the day after this week’s EU summit, the prime minister and the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, met on the Wirral. To most people’s surprise, the two men emerged from more than three hours of talks agreeing that there was a “pathway to a possible deal”, prompting the chief EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the Brexit secretary, … [Read more...] about Brexit weekly briefing: all eyes on EU summit as deadline looms
John Harris’s condemnation of the tabloid press for much of the hubris and nostalgia that underpins the Brexit “mood music” is well made (The fantasy of Britain at war could be nearing its last hurrah, 14 October) but does not go far enough. The wider establishment in the media, church and politics is deeply, if unwittingly, complicit in this. The BBC, for example, has never ceased to mine the second world war for facile drama and ceaseless how-we-won-the-war documentaries, its current drama series, World On Fire, being the latest offering. Our ceremonies and commemorations are unashamedly martial, nationalistic and even triumphalist. At the St Paul’s service commemorating the bicentenary of Waterloo, the bishop of London praised the “courage and resolution of the great Duke and those who fought with Wellington at Waterloo”. The flipside is an almost complete airbrushing of our colonial history. The remembrance culture and its twin, the victory … [Read more...] about Who is to blame for the wartime nostalgia that underpins Brexit?