By JACK BLANCHARD
Good Monday morning.
PANTS ON FIRE: Tonight is Guy Fawkes Night. Revelers in Kent celebrated this weekend in the traditional manner — by burning a 35-foot effigy of Boris Johnson. Watch the video.
DRIVING THE DAY
SCOOP — MAY’S DEAL DILEMMA: Britain is ready to compromise to secure a Brexit deal — but Conservative voters are not. That is the grim dilemma facing the prime minister this morning as Playbook publishes the results of our Brexit opinion poll, conducted for POLITICO by Hanbury Strategy. A survey of 3,000 voters found that by 47 percent to 35 percent, Brits would prefer the PM to compromise with the EU than walk away without a deal in March. But the figures show Conservative voters take a much harder line than the wider public, and by 48 percent to 41 percent would rather the PM walk away than strike a compromise.
It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to: The findings come amid fevered speculation in Westminster — fiercely denied in Downing Street and in Brussels — that a compromise deal has basically been agreed. No. 10 expects May to receive a significant boost in public support if she is seen to have succeeded against the odds, but quite how her own party’s supporters will react is another matter. This is the circle that May will have to square once the Brexit deal is done.
No deal … or no Brexit? Indeed such is the British public’s opposition to a no-deal Brexit that our poll shows — by a narrow margin of 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent — people would rather stay in the EU and abandon Article 50 than crash out without a deal. (The Remainiacs demanding a second referendum are going to love that one.) But Conservative voters again see things very differently, preferring a potentially disruptive no-deal scenario to remaining in the EU by 65 to 35 percent.
Delaying the inevitable? The poll also shows a surprising degree of public support for delaying Brexit if necessary to secure a better deal. The proposal is backed by 59 percent of voters, with only 26.5 percent opposed. Even a decent majority of Tory voters would support a delay “if it means we get a better deal.”
But but but: Frame the delay as an “extension to the transition period” — and point out the multi-billion-pound price tag that would likely come with it — and suddenly voters are split right down the middle as to whether they support a delay.
Just how Euroskeptic has Britain become? Finally, consider these three fascinating findings:
— By 65/35, Brits would rather the U.K. has flexibility to set its own laws and regulations than benefit from greater investment and trade with Europe.
— By 60/40, Brits would rather control immigration than maintain close ties with the EU.
— By 60/40, Brits would rather the U.K. be able to strike trade deals with nations around the world than — gulp — avoid recreating a hard border across Ireland.
Now read this: My POLITICO colleagues Tom McTague and Annabelle Dickson have the full story. And you can see the full data tables here.
DEAL OR NO DEAL?
THE WEEK AHEAD: It comes at the start of what is shaping up to be another pivotal week, with conflicting reports swirling over whether a Brexit deal is about to be struck. Certainly there has been enormous pushback from both Brussels and No. 10 to yesterday’s big Sunday Times front-pager declaring an outline deal ready to be confirmed at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting — just as there was to last week’s Times report that an agreement on financial services has been reached. But these stories were written by highly respected journos, and are not coming out of nowhere. Given this week is the informal deadline for securing that coveted Brexit summit in mid-November, it would be no surprise if things were to move very quickly over the coming days.
What the papers say: The Telegraph’s Peter Foster says a deal is not actually done, but could yet be agreed this week. “Theresa May’s top Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins [is preparing] to go to Brussels to clinch an in-principle Brexit divorce deal this week, triggering an extraordinary EU leaders summit later this month,” he writes. But he also quotes a negotiating source who fears things are currently “going backwards” after a heated meeting between Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney last week. Foster says Raab “stunned” the Irish by demanding the right to pull Britain out of the EU’s Irish backstop plan after just three months … which doesn’t sound very much like a backstop at all. Foster adds this position was then “contradicted” by May’s de-facto deputy David Lidington on his trip to Dublin a few days later.
And there’s more: The FT’s George Parker takes the story further this morning, revealing Raab has since written to May formally asking her to back the plan. He even told the PM he believes Brussels may go for it, Parker reports. Others sound less convinced. “There’s a bit of a view that Raab wrote the letter to give himself some cover with the Euroskeptics,” one person briefed on the note tells Parker. “It’s the sort of letter that could be leaked at a later stage to try to show that he was pushing for a tough stance, but that his advice was ignored.”
In the Times: Political Editor Francis Elliott reports that May spent yesterday frantically ringing round the Cabinet trying to reassure them the Sunday Times story of a done deal was not in fact true. “The prime minister will update the Cabinet [this week] on the state of talks, but allies insisted that she would not present ministers with a draft deal already agreed in outline,” Elliott writes. “She is understood to have stressed that reports to the contrary were wide of the mark, both in a conference call and in one-to-one conversations.”
In the Mail: Political Editor Jason Groves reckons May’s Cabinet briefing tomorrow will include new proposals to break the deadlock, including the U.K.’s long-awaited plan for regulatory checks between Britain and Northern Ireland. No. 10 has previously hinted this would only be made public once the EU had signaled its agreement — if May is now ready to brief the Cabinet, a deal may be one step closer. He also quotes a Cabinet source who reckons May is “desperate” to get the deal done this month and fears she will “be willing to give up anything” to do so.
And in the Guardian: The paper splashes on quotes from an EU official to Brussels correspondent Daniel Boffey that the prospect of a deal is still only 50/50. But there is plenty of detail too which suggests optimism in Whitehall that the breakthrough will come by the end of this week.“The reality is that we need a November summit more than the EU do,” a U.K. government source tells the Guardian. The paper goes on: “There is chance of progress being made in order for an emergency summit to be called on Friday, government insiders believe, suggesting it is possible the Cabinet will not be directly involved if it was last-minute. ‘It is high stakes,’ the source said.” The Guardian also floats Thursday, November 22 as a new possible date for the Brexit summit.
Here’s a guy who might know: The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is making a speech in Brussels tonight at Les Grandes Conférences Catholiques. He’s due on his feet at 7.30 p.m. U.K. time.
ELSEWHERE IN BREXIT
PHIL ME UP: Chancellor Philip Hammond is before the Commons Treasury committee at 4.30 p.m. The focus will be on last week’s budget, meaning you can expect plenty of questions on income tax cuts, minimum gambling stakes, spending forecasts and the new digital services tax. But given Britain is leaving the EU in exactly four months and 24 days, and we still don’t know what on earth is going to happen, you’d like to think they might get on to Brexit preparations too.
Also at select committee: Ministers will be watching through their fingers today as another raft of senior officials face a grilling on Brexit and the U.K.’s borders. HMRC boss Jon Thompson, Border Force Director Paul Lincoln and DEFRA Permanent Secretary Clare Moriarty are among the Whitehall bigwigs facing the Commons public accounts committee at 4 p.m. They can console themselves that a) at least they’re not having to face Yvette Cooper, who seems to eat Home Office high-flyers for lunch these days, and b) they surely can’t fare as badly as Caroline Nokes last week. But it should still be worth a watch.
Tonight’s TV: Channel 4 has a big live show on Brexit this evening where its own mega-poll on Brexit attitudes will be unveiled. Channel 4 has teamed up with Survation to poll 20,000 people across every constituency in the U.K. for their views on Brexit. Polling experts Prof John Curtice and Dr. Chris Hanretty will be on hand to give their verdicts, with producers promising data on which parliamentary constituencies have switched from Leave to Remain, or vice-versa. The show also features a debate with prominent politicians including Justice Secretary David Gauke, Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas representing the “People’s Vote” campaign and UKIP’s Nigel Farage representing “Leave Means Leave.”
Speaking of Channel 4: Lots of Remainiacs were enjoying Channel 4’s persistent double-doorstep of Arron Banks last night. Banks gives every bit as good as he gets. Watch the clip.
Less impressed: The BBC’s Andrew Marr, who spent most of the day fending off the usual oddball criticism from the likes of Andrew Adonis for having the gall to interview Banks on his TV show. “BBC, this is introducing you to a JOURNALIST. You used to have some,” the Labour peer tweeted unpleasantly at Marr and his BBC colleague Laura Kuenssberg, while referring to the Channel 4 clip. Marr’s reply (at 11.18 p.m. last night) suggests he is not a fan of aggressive doorsteps, nor indeed of Andrew Adonis: “Theatre not journalism. Not a shred of new fact,” Marr wrote back dismissively. “Andrew, you wouldn’t know the difference if it crept up your tummy & flossed you.”
Back in the real world: No. 10 will have been delighted to hear Wigan MP Lisa Nandy’s suggestion on the Westminster Hour last night that Labour should consider backing Theresa May’s Brexit deal if it does indeed contain a U.K.-wide customs deal as the backstop. “I think all MPs owe it to the country to try and find a way through this and to look at whichever deal comes back with an open mind about what’s in the best interests of our constituents,” she said. “Having a U.K.-wide customs arrangement … would be a really big piece of the jigsaw for Labour, and something that we ought to consider.”
And on Planet Brexit: Boris Johnson — remember him? — is raging against the prospect of a Brexit compromise via a big article for the Sun today. “If we accept this appalling deal, we must realize it is forever — not just for Christmas,” he writes gloomily.
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REST IN PEACE
WHITEHALL IN MOURNING: Much shock and sadness across Whitehall today at the death of Britain’s most powerful and respected civil servant, Jeremy Heywood. We can expect to hear tributes in the Commons and in the Lords this afternoon following Heywood’s sudden death from lung cancer, just a couple of weeks after he was forced to retire as Cabinet secretary.
Tributes: You no doubt saw the heartfelt tributes yesterday from the four prime ministers under whom Heywood served during his many years at the very heart of government. PA has the story here if you didn’t. Playbook has this morning pulled together a few more of the more moving messages from ministers, journalists and colleagues who worked alongside Heywood in No. 10.
Carrie Gracie, BBC journalist: “Hard to write about Jeremy Heywood in the past tense. Friends since uni, I have no words for how I will miss him. Can only echo all the tributes. J was super-smart, kind, funny, radical, loyal, brave. Committed public servant to the last. Salute you, Jeremy, today as every day.”
Ameet Gill, director of strategy to David Cameron: “Jeremy was truly one of a kind. He had a brain the size of a planet and was a real do-er. He was hugely kind too, especially with his time. And — something not mentioned enough — he was a real personality and at times genuinely hilarious. RIP Jeremy. And say hi to Chris [Martin, the late No. 10 civil servant], from all of us.’
Zoe Conway, Martin’s widow: “Sir Jeremy Heywood was my husband’s boss for many years. When Chris died, Sir Jeremy’s humanity and compassion shone through. He wrote the most beautiful condolence letter of all.”
David Miliband, political adviser under Tony Blair: “It is 20 yrs since Jeremy Heywood & I worked in Downing St for the Labour govt. I was political; he was civil service; his commitment to democratic will complete. He was ingenious, unflinching, human. A big loss to Britain but above all to his family. So sorry for them.”
Jeremy Hunt, current foreign secretary, former health secretary: “Few doctors and nurses will know this, but there would absolutely not have been an extra £20bn for the NHS without Jeremy Heywood’s tireless working behind the scenes. One of many examples of his extraordinary service to us all. Smart, loyal and decent, we will sorely miss him.”
Ben Gummer, No. 10 policy adviser under Theresa May: “This is desperately sad news for JJH’s family, who lose a most wonderful man. Jeremy put his piercing intellect at the service of our country. It was a privilege to be inspired by his kindness, decency and wry humour. RIP.”
Charlie Falconer, Cabinet minister under Tony Blair: “The best and brightest who retained trust and respect of whole of govt through crisis after crisis. More than anyone over last 20 years, made civil servants work effectively with ministers and ministers with each other. He is such a huge loss.”
Antonia Romeo, permanent secretary at the DIT: “Incredibly sad day. RIP Sir Jeremy Heywood. Mentor, boss, inspiration, unparalleled public servant, leader & champion of @UKCivilService, friend. Proud to have served on his permanent secretary team. We will miss him hugely.”
Now read this: There are some lovely obits in the papers this morning, including pieces by David Hencke (in the Guardian), Bob Kerslake (in the Telegraph), Andrew Adonis (in the FT) and a remorseful Peter Oborne (in the Mail).
TODAY IN WESTMINSTER
PARLIAMENT: Sits today at 2.30 p.m. with an hour of housing, community and local government questions.
TORY LAUNCH: Right-wing think tank the Centre for Policy Studies has bagged the prime minister herself to address the launch of its big new post-Brexit policy pamphlet this evening, which is pretty good going. The Daily Mail carries a preview via an op-ed from CPS Chairman Maurice Saatchi … though his big idea seems to be, erm, a load more income tax cuts.
BULLY FOR YOU: MPs will today debate the devastating report into Commons bullying by lawyer Laura Cox. Proceedings kick off late this afternoon and will be a general debate on the report and its findings — though keep an eye on Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom for any new policy on how the House operates. In the meantime, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show this morning features a bleak interview with a former Commons staffer who tells her how “dealing with the abuse is just part of the job.”
IN THE ARMY NOW: Soldiers who were born abroad and have never lived in the U.K. will be allowed to join the British army for the first time, the Telegraph reports. The change in rules is a response to the recruitment crisis and will be announced by ministers today. Presumably there will be a statement or a UQ in the Commons this afternoon.
NOT BITTER: Former Mail Editor Paul Dacre spent fully 15 minutes of his valedictory speech at the Society of Editors conference last night slagging off former Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger, the Graun’s Jim Waterson reports. Dacre also complained a lot about Leveson, and backed Theresa May to lead the Tories into the next election. But he made no mention whatsoever of his successor George Greig, nor of the fact his old paper is (politically) barely recognizable from the one that he left this summer.
Next up: Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright is among the speakers at Day 2 of the conference today.
LITTLE EXTRAS: Education Secretary Damian Hinds uses an interview with the Mail today to lobby for extra funding for schools … and visibly winces when asked about Philip Hammond’s promise of some cash to buy “little extras.” “Asked if he would use the phrase himself he laughed nervously and replied: ‘No, the phrase I use is for additional small capital projects,’” Political Editor Jason Groves writes. Labour will continue to pile on the pressure today as Hinds’ counterpart Angela Eagle visits schools in Yorkshire to highlight funding cuts.
HANCOCK’S (WEEKLY) HALF-HOUR: Health Secretary Matt Hancock embarks on his third morning broadcast round in a week today as he launches the NHS’ new “prevention” strategy to keep people fit and healthy. As the BBC reports, he will use a speech to urge people to smoke and drink less and eat more healthily. However the Guardian has found a senior academic who says Hancock’s approach is “hopelessly naive.”
INBOX WARS: How many unopened emails do you have in your inbox? Lobby colleagues are swapping numbers on Twitter. The Times’ Sam Coates grabbed an early lead with over a quarter of a million, but City A.M.’s Deputy Editor Julian Harris is now out in front with more than 370,000. Please direct your entries in the direction of the Indy’s John Rentoul. Playbook is on a dismally low 15,067. Must do better.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: Former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe has been signed up for the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special, the Sun reports.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: The railways were privatized 25 years ago today. The RMT trade union is celebrating with an angry protest at Old Palace Yard, while Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald is out on the airwaves to demand renationalization.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock broadcast round: ITV Good Morning Britain (6.45 a.m.) … Today program (7.10 a.m.) … BBC Breakfast (7.40 a.m.) … LBC Radio (7.50 a.m.) … TalkRADIO (8.05 a.m.).
Also on the Today program: Damian Collins, head of the U.K. parliament’s digital, culture, media and sport committee (6.50 a.m.) … London Mayor Sadiq Khan (7.30 a.m.) … Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins (8.10 a.m.) … Former U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal (8.30 a.m.) … Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald (8.40 a.m.).
Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast (LBC Radio): Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald (7.40 a.m.) … Former U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal (8.20 a.m.) … Tory MP Mike Penning, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on medical cannabis (8.35 a.m.).
TalkRADIO: Commons European scrutiny committee Chairman Bill Cash (7.05 a.m.) … Commons education committee Chairman Robert Halfon (7.20 a.m.).
Politics Live (BBC2, 12.15 p.m.): Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth … Conservative MP Gillian Keegan … author Michael Lewis … the Adam Smith Institute’s Sophie Jarvis … and barrister and author Jamie Susskind.
Iain Dale in the Evening (LBC Radio): Panel discussion on U.S. midterm elections (8 p.m.) featuring Chairwoman of Democrats Abroad U.K. Inge Kjemtrup … Republicans Overseas’ Greg Swenson … U.S. political historian James Boys … and former Bush adviser Pippa Malmgren.
Reviewing the papers tonight: BBC News (10.45 p.m. & 11.30 p.m.) Guardian columnist Dawn Foster and Telegraph columnist Liam Halligan … Sky News (10.30 p.m. & 11.30 p.m.): Editor of politics.co.uk Ian Dunt and the Telegraph’s Brexit Editor Dia Chakravarty.
TODAY’S FRONT PAGES
(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)
City A.M.: Blame the bosses for bad audits.
Daily Express: Victory for hunger strike hero.
Daily Mail: Ablaze with 10,000 torches, haunting tribute that says — We will remember.
Daily Mirror: We’ll pay more to care for the elderly.
Daily Star: Rip-off poppies flood Britain.
Financial Times: Italy’s recipe for growth will work for whole of Europe, says Di Maio.
Metro: Fourth fatal knife attack in five days.
The Daily Telegraph: Forces open door to foreigners who have never lived in Britain.
The Guardian: Chance of May striking Brexit deal is 50-50, say EU officials.
The Independent: Half of councils excluded from May housing pledge.
The Sun: Cop makes £350k from Maddie.
The Times (not online): Firms cash in on care crisis.
On the Continent: Read what the rest of Europe’s papers are saying in POLITICO’s EU press review blog here (updated daily at around 8 a.m.).
BEYOND THE M25
From Paris and Madrid
MAC ON THE MARCH: Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party will make its pitch for an alliance with European liberals at their congress in Madrid this week, POLITICO’s Maïa De La Baume reports. His aim is to transform the Continent’s political landscape and grab second place in next year’s European Parliament election.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: Angela Merkel’s archenemy Friedrich Merz has emerged as one of the favorites to succeed her as head of the Christian Democrats. POLITICO’s Matthew Karnitschnig takes a closer look at the extraordinary race for power developing in Berlin. And if you want more Merkel, the Wall Street Journal’s Bojan Pancevski takes a long look here at how Merkel foiled an imminent backroom coup by taking herself out of the running to lead the CDU.
DIGITAL POLITICS: Leading politicians and tech executives will be in Lisbon this week at the annual WebSummit conference. Guest speakers include former PM Tony Blair, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager and Slack co-founder Cal Henderson. POLITICO’s chief tech correspondent Mark Scott will be joining them in the Portuguese capital and is running an open WhatsApp group to keep you updated throughout the week. To stay up to speed with the goings-on, the gossip and a good dose of snark, sign up here.
ONE DAY TO GO: The U.S. midterm elections take place tomorrow, and House Republicans are in panic mode. POLITICO’s White House team have the story.
THE DARK ARTS: Essential reading in the Atlantic on the Democrats’ one-time rising star Gary Hart, who was expected to run for the presidency in 1988 but dropped out amid political scandal. Now a death-bed confession suggests the whole affair was set up by his opponents.
Westminster weather: ⛅️🌤☀️ Pleasant day with plenty of sunshine and highs of 16C.
Travel: London Overground suspended between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction.
Lancashire Mills: Departing Labour aide James Mills has landed a government relations job with regional transport body Transport for the North, Playbook can report. The Manchester-based quango was set up last year to coordinate the development of northern England’s woeful transport networks, and Mills will have a role lobbying the Treasury for better funding. He is certainly a well-known figure in Westminster, having worked on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign before spending three years as John McDonnell’s head of comms from 2015. He left this summer to work behind the scenes in Corbyn’s office, before quitting the party last week.
Also moving on: Irish embassy press officer Nora Delaney is headed back to Dublin to join the department of foreign affairs and trade. The embassy’s new head of comms, Fionnuala Callanan, has been in place since the summer.
Tech-ing over politics — weekly update: Another day, another Big Tech giant hoovering up an SW1 comms veteran. Theo Lomas, a former parliamentary researcher and Crosby Textor staffer, has left his current role with McKinsey to join AirBnB as head of public policy and campaigns for U.K. and Ireland. He previously worked for Facebook. He starts the new gig this week.
Big job at the Beeb: BBC Newsnight is advertising for a policy editor to replace Chris Cook, who is joining James Harding’s new media startup Tortoise. See the job ad here … Expect plenty of interest, both internal and from the Westminster lobby. The pay grade is “Band E,” whatever that means, and interviewing commences at the end of the month.
Trouble at Victoria: Playbook hears the Telegraph’s financial services business is in trouble, and may even face being wound up. (Yep, it turns out daily newspaper groups have sizeable financial services arms. They recruited the former boss of confused.com to oversee the business last year.) A spokeswoman confirmed it is now under review. “The Telegraph vision is for subscriptions to be our No. 1 business priority,” she said. “As such we need to make sure we are focused on this area. We are conducting a review into our financial solutions to see where our resource can be best placed.”
Happy birthday to: Work and Pensions Minister Justin Tomlinson … Tory Party Vice Chairman Tom Pursglove, who turns 30 … Labour peer John Morris … NHS Confederation boss Niall Dickson.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich.
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