Front Bench: The Brexit transition brings the brief Tory peace to an end

Daniel Capurro
Jacob Rees-Mogg - AFP

Today's Front Bench focuses on Jeremy Corbyn's response to the Salisbury poisoning.  A sample of the email is below. If you like what you see, sign up here. Don't forget to vote in the poll and leave your reasoning in the comments below. The best responses will feature in this afternoon's Brexit Briefing.

Front Bench

Well, the peace didn’t last long. The corks had barely left the bottles as David Davis and Co celebrated agreeing a transition deal with the EU before the rebels were decrying it over fishing rights. Downing Street will still be relatively happy with the deal. The March deadline for reaching an agreement came from the UK government, which is acutely aware that businesses’ have their own deadlines for activating Brexit contingency plans which are fast approaching.

Concessions and concessions

With that in mind, the UK was always going to make as many concessions as were necessary to get a transition deal over the line. As Front Bench never tires of pointing out, transition was only ever meant to be a technical and non-political measure. That it caused so much havoc in the Tory party last month was more than a little bizarre. This time around, lessons seem to have been learnt and the necessary concessions made to keep the Tory party on side.

Indeed, Downing Street can chalk up one significant victory with the UK able to negotiate and sign free trade deals during the transition. Of course the chances of the UK getting a deal all the way to the point of signing in just 21 months (the length of the transition) appear slim, but this is still a divergence from the EU’s usual strict legalism.

More importantly, domestically at least, it should allay the fears of Jacob Rees-Mogg and his hardline Brexiteers, who warned that Britain risked becoming a “joke nation” if it could not sign trade deals during the transition. Yet, as Theresa May has learnt again and again, a happy Brussels rarely means happy backbenchers.

Thanks for all the fish

Which brings us to fish. The deal agreed yesterday leaves the UK in the EU’s fishing set-up until the end of 2020. This has been branded an “abject, disgusting betrayal” by a spokesman for Fishing for Leave. And so the River Thames is now set to witness its second act of fishing based defiance in as many years, with Rees-Mogg planning to board a fishing boat on the Thames and throw a box of haddock skate and bass into the river near Parliament in protest.

What makes this more interesting than the usual hardline Brexiteer protests is that Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, and several Tory MPs in Scotland are also joining the criticism.

The party won several seats in northeast Scotland while campaigning on the basis of backing the fishing industry during Brexit. And while this may only be the transition, it raises fears that fishing rights will be bargained away to gain concessions for financial services or other large sectors of the UK economy.

Still no Irish solution

While fishing may grab the headlines today, the real worry at the heart of the transition deal is that it is built on fudge. It’s not a legally binding deal, but instead a political one.

And, constructed as it is on the principle of “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, it leaves much to the final Brexit agreement. Most obvious of which is the Irish border.

This is welcome in many ways. The EU has in effect agreed to leave the Irish border question to the final deal, thus allowing transition agreement to happen now. In a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, yesterday, the PM wrote that she still believed the final deal will provide “for such a deep trading relationship between the UK and the EU that specific measures in relation to Northern Ireland are not required.”

Finding a way of doing just that, while sticking to the UK’s redlines, is what everyone has been bickering over all along.

Like what you read? Want more? Sign up for the Front Bench newsletter direct to your inbox every weekday morning. It has all the best political analysis like that above and much more. Sign up here

  • The Chase's Shaun Wallace 'doesn't socialise' with Anne Hegerty
    News
    Digital Spy

    The Chase's Shaun Wallace 'doesn't socialise' with Anne Hegerty

    But he's still "proud" of her I'm A Celeb stint.

  • Strictly's Stacey Dooley limits her mum's visits on show
    News
    Digital Spy

    Strictly's Stacey Dooley limits her mum's visits on show

    Give someone else a go, Mama Dooley!

  • Stefani Chaglar: The 5-year-old recreating Meghan Markle, Princess Eugenie and Rihanna's best looks on Instagram
    News
    Evening Standard

    Stefani Chaglar: The 5-year-old recreating Meghan Markle, Princess Eugenie and Rihanna's best looks on Instagram

    We thought you should know there's a tiny style blogger recreating Meghan Markle, Princess Beatrice and Rihanna's looks on Instagram out of craft paper. Account @seasunstefunny features posts of micro-influencer (in the very literal sense) Stefani Chaglar, shared by her mother, Alya. The craftsmanship that goes into each look is impressive, with recreations of beaded ballgowns and ruffled two-pieces worn by royalty and Hollywood A Listers. ...

  • Grieving mum urges parents to discuss organ donation after son's tragic death
    News
    Sky News

    Grieving mum urges parents to discuss organ donation after son's tragic death

    A mother of a teenage boy who died after colliding with another player during a football match has told Sky News that parents must talk to their children about organ donation. Luca Campanaro, 14, from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, was airlifted to Royal London Hospital on Sunday after the incident during a match against Harefield United in Hillingdon, west London.

  • Ashley Graham opens up about how the #MeToo movement has affected the fashion industry
    News
    The Independent

    Ashley Graham opens up about how the #MeToo movement has affected the fashion industry

    Ashley Graham has opened up about how the growth of the #MeToo movement has impacted the fashion industry, expressing her wish that it has a positive effect on the careers of up-and-coming models. Now at 31 years old, Graham describes the changes that she’s witnessed within the fashion industry since the boom of the #MeToo movement, which was coined by Tarana Burke in 2006 and reignited following the Harvey Weinstein allegations in 2017. “I’ve seen a huge change on set,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter.

  • Man pleads guilty to manslaughter of National Gallery attack victim
    News
    PA Ready News UK

    Man pleads guilty to manslaughter of National Gallery attack victim

    Desmond O’Beirne died six months after he was assaulted outside the London landmark last year.

  • A toy exec explains the biggest reason why hot toys will be so hard to find this year
    News
    Business Insider UK

    A toy exec explains the biggest reason why hot toys will be so hard to find this year

    "Toys R Us, they were not afraid to buy merchandise in December because they could spread it to January, February, March, April," Isaac Larian, CEO of toy company MGA Entertainment, said to Business Insider.

  • Killing Eve's Jodie Comer reveals that season 2 filming is done
    News
    Digital Spy

    Killing Eve's Jodie Comer reveals that season 2 filming is done

    Hopefully it won't be long until it returns to TV soon.

  • Turkey will keep attacking PKK in Iraq, foreign ministry says
    News
    Business Insider UK

    Turkey will keep attacking PKK in Iraq, foreign ministry says

    Turkey will keep striking Kurdish PKK fighters in northern Iraq, the foreign ministry said on Saturday, a day after Baghdad formally complained that repeated Turkish air strikes violated its sovereignty and endangered civilians. The Turkish military said on Friday it killed eight Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, prompting Iraqi authorities to summon the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad. Turkey regularly hits PKK bases across its southern border, saying the militants use the remote and mountainous northern Iraqi region as a base for deadly attacks inside Turkey, where the outlawed group has waged an insurgency since the 1980s.

  • Brexit news latest: Amber Rudd urges MPs across parties to 'forge a consensus' to avoid no-deal.... as five Cabinet ministers 'consider second referendum'
    News
    Evening Standard

    Brexit news latest: Amber Rudd urges MPs across parties to 'forge a consensus' to avoid no-deal.... as five Cabinet ministers 'consider second referendum'

    MPs across the political divide should attempt to build a Brexit consensus, the Work and Pensions Secretary has said as she warned Britain's departure from the EU is "in danger of getting stuck". Amber Rudd said it is possible Theresa May will ultimately be unable to persuade enough of her own MPs to back her deal, suggesting it is time to "abandon outrage and accusations" and "try something different". Ms Rudd said a "practical, sensible and healing approach" was needed for MPs to coalesce around a deal to avert the danger of Britain crashing out of the EU.

  • Is Emma Coronel the devoted wife of El Chapo, or is she being used as a prop?
    News
    The Guardian

    Is Emma Coronel the devoted wife of El Chapo, or is she being used as a prop?

    Emma Coronel was born in Santa Clara, California, to Ines Coronel Barreras, a medium-ranking lieutenant in the Sinaloa cartel. There she is in the cafeteria at New York’s eastern district courthouse, when Judge Brian Cogan adjourns her husband’s trial: Emma Coronel Guzmán.

  • Moneysupermarket compares candidates to succeed chairman
    News
    Sky News

    Moneysupermarket compares candidates to succeed chairman

    The price comparison site Moneysupermarket Group has become the latest big British company to begin searching for fresh leadership as new rules loom that will curtail chairs' status as independent directors. Sky News has learnt that Moneysupermarket, which also owns the MoneySavingExpert operation set up by the entrepreneur Martin Lewis, has hired headhunters to identify a successor to Bruce Carnegie-Brown. Mr Carnegie-Brown has chaired the company since April 2014, but has served on the board for nearly nine years, including an earlier stint as a non-executive director.

  • News
    Business Insider UK

    Sign-up deadline is Saturday for ACA health law coverage

    Saturday is the last day to sign up for health insurance next year under the Affordable Care Act in most of the country. For 2019, premiums are stable, more plans are available, and millions of uninsured people can still get financial help. People can also sign up through approved community organizations, online insurance sellers, and insurance companies.

  • Lightning Storm Lights up the Sky Over New Zealand's Mount Maunganui
    Storyful

    Lightning Storm Lights up the Sky Over New Zealand's Mount Maunganui

    A thunderstorm in New Zealand’s North Island on Friday, December 14, saw thousands of lightning strikes brighten the skies. NZ Forecaster Metservice recorded 27,000 strikes in the region between Northlands and central North Island on Friday. In these videos taken by Mount Maunganui resident Ceara Prout, flashes of lightning can be seen arcing across the sky. More thunderstorms were forecast for Saturday. Credit: Ceara Prout via Storyful

  • All I want fir Christmas: driving a Volvo to West Sweden and back on the ultimate festive road trip
    News
    The Telegraph

    All I want fir Christmas: driving a Volvo to West Sweden and back on the ultimate festive road trip

    Ed is a small village in West Sweden at the southern end of Stora Le, a fifty-mile-long lake that stretches north into Norway. It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to go ever since absentmindedly typing my own name into Google Maps while visiting Oslo, though its location – over a thousand miles from London by road – makes it a difficult expedition to justify. Today, however, I’m already in West Sweden, and I’m reluctant to miss this chance.

  • News
    Business Insider UK

    German rail operator, union agree on new wage package

    BERLIN (AP) — Germany's rail operator says it has reached a new wage agreement with workers, averting the possibility of more strikes during the Christmas travel crunch.

  • AIDSfree: ‘Life doesn’t end with an HIV diagnosis - I live happily and healthily’ - Andrew Bates on Day 3 f our 12 Days of Christmas messages
    News
    Evening Standard

    AIDSfree: ‘Life doesn’t end with an HIV diagnosis - I live happily and healthily’ - Andrew Bates on Day 3 f our 12 Days of Christmas messages

    Mr Bates is speaking out in the third of the AIDSfree appeal's 12 Days of Christmas messages because he does not want the fear of a positive diagnosis preventing people from taking a test for HIV. The 25-year-old was diagnosed just over three years ago and he says in his message: "Even today there are a lot of misconceptions about HIV and this can lead to stigma. Mr Bates said he now belonged to a running club and competed in races.

  • News
    Business Insider UK

    AP Interview: Catalans on hunger strike speak before trial

    SANT JOAN DE VILATORRADA, Spain (AP) — Jailed Catalan separatist politicians on hunger strike for the past two weeks say their upcoming trial will be a platform to foster their cause for independence.

  • Parrot tries to order strawberries and watermelon from Amazon's Alexa
    News
    The Independent

    Parrot tries to order strawberries and watermelon from Amazon's Alexa

    A mischievous parrot was caught ordering strawberries, watermelons and ice-cream after ‘falling in love’ with Amazon’s voice-activated device Alexa. Rocco, a homeless African grey, keeps using the personal assistant to order his favourite treats, as well kites and light bulbs, and likes to set the mood by playing romantic music. The clever bird was taken in by the National Animal Welfare Trust’s Berkshire centre earlier this year after he was found as a stray.

  • Giant boulder smashes through wall into man's bedroom during rockfall
    News
    AOL.com

    Giant boulder smashes through wall into man's bedroom during rockfall

    A man had a lucky escape after a giant boulder weighing several tons smashed through the wall of his bedroom. The boulder was part of rockfall on in White Rock on the seafront in Hastings, East Sussex on Thursday afternoon. The man who lived in the property told East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) it had been a lucky escape because he would usually have been home at the time of the rockfall, but had been out for the day.

  • Hearing charity urges people to wear earplugs during Christmas party season
    News
    Yahoo News UK

    Hearing charity urges people to wear earplugs during Christmas party season

    Action on Hearing Loss is urging people to wear earplugs during the festive party season to help protect their hearing and prevent against noise-related tinnitus.

  • News
    Sky News

    Waitrose to take glitter out of Christmas for the environment

    Waitrose is to ban glitter from all its own products by Christmas 2020 in response to mounting concerns about plastic pollution. The move by the supermarket chain comes amid growing awareness of the harm it poses to the environment. Waitrose has announced that in two years time all its own-brand cards, wrap, crackers, tags, flowers and plants will be free of glitter.

  • News
    motor1

    This vintage video is 1960s Britain at its best

    Safe riding, the British way.

  • Watch Tiff Needell test the BMW 8 Series diesel
    News
    motor1

    Watch Tiff Needell test the BMW 8 Series diesel

    The 8 Series returns and Tiff Needell puts it through its paces.

  • Animals and visitors evacuated from Chester Zoo after fire breaks out
    News
    The Independent

    Animals and visitors evacuated from Chester Zoo after fire breaks out

    Chester Zoo was evacuated after a fire broke out in the Monsoon Forest habitat area. The popular tourist attraction was closed as fire crews attempted to bring the blaze under control on Saturday. The zoo's animal teams worked to move all animals away from the incident, and the fire brigade later confirmed all animals were accounted for.