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The fifth and final ballot of Conservative MPs was held yesterday, with former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt moving forward to the final stage of the leadership race. Johnson topped the poll with 160 votes, followed by Hunt on 77 and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who was eliminated from the contest, on 75.
Around 160,000 party members will be eligible to vote in the next round of the election, and they are expected to receive their ballot papers around 6-8 July. The result of the election is expected to be announced in the week beginning 22 July.
This comes as Home Secretary Sajid Javid was earlier eliminated in the fourth round of voting which took place yesterday morning.
Separately, the Leader of the House of Commons, Mel Stride, has confirmed that the Commons will rise for the summer recess on Thursday 25 July and will return on Tuesday 3 September.
Conservative Home Guardian UK Parliament The Telegraph Guardian II
Arriving at the European Council summit in Brussels yesterday, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said there is a “strong view across the EU that there shouldn’t be any more extensions” to Brexit, adding, “While I have endless patience, some of my colleagues have lost patience, quite frankly, with the UK, and there is enormous hostility to any further extension.” He added that another delay “could only happen if it were to facilitate something like a general election in the UK or perhaps even something like a second referendum if they decided to have one. What won’t be entertained is an extension for further negotiations or further indicative votes.” Varadkar also said, “There is no Withdrawal Agreement without a backstop and there is no implementation period without a Withdrawal Agreement,” adding, “Negotiations can only happen between the UK and EU. We are not going to allow negotiations to move to an intergovernmental level in any way.”
Elsewhere, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told the BBC yesterday that if the new UK Prime Minister would seek an extension to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement, the EU27 “have to learn what his plan will be in terms of new elections, new referendum, making changes to the red lines the UK is currently holding,” adding, “If there is no change on all those positions I cannot see why it makes any sense to negotiate longer.”
Separately, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said this morning that there needs to be a reason for another Brexit delay, adding, “It’s not possible that because you change a leader in the UK that we need to postpone [Brexit] decisions.”
At yesterday’s European Council summit, EU heads of state and government did not reach an agreement about who should be the next leaders of EU institutions, including the European Commission President. Another summit will take place on 30 June to continue the discussion and agree on candidates before the new European Parliament sits on 2 July. European Council President Donald Tusk said, “We need more time to discuss the whole landscape. This is why we go back to the issue at the end of June and today is too early to prejudge names.”
Meanwhile, the Council adopted conclusions in relation to the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and external relations, and prolonged sanctions against Russia for another six months. Leaders adopted a new Strategic Agenda for the EU for 2019-2024, focusing on “protecting citizens and freedoms; developing our economic base; building a climate-neutral, green, fair and Social Europe; and promoting Europe’s interests and values in the world.”
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EU Council II
A previously confidential UK Government account of the ‘mapping exercise’ from 2017, which was conducted by UK and EU officials and detailed areas of cross-border co-operation on the island of Ireland, was released yesterday. The document was obtained by a Freedom of Information request and then published by the Commons Brexit select committee. It details 142 areas of North-South co-operation underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement and by EU legal and policy frameworks, of which 96 are categorised as either “directly” or “partially” underpinned by the EU. The areas listed include cross-border co-operation on policing, energy, healthcare, telecommunications, agriculture, and the environment. 20 of the areas are specifically listed in relation to “avoiding a hard border,” including customs, checks on live animals, and road haulage.
This comes after RTE reported yesterday that the European Commission will soon publish its own version of the ‘mapping exercise,’ which has already been distributed to the 27 EU governments.
Brexit Select Committee
The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said in his Mansion House speech yesterday that around 150,000 businesses still do not have the necessary paper work to export to the EU in a No Deal Brexit. He further told the the Today programme, “Business will be reliant on what the governments are able to do in order to keep the ports open, the trade flowing.” Carney also said that the financial system was prepared for a No Deal scenario.
The leader of the Greens in the European Parliament Philippe Lamberts said at a conference yesterday, “The liberal and social democratic group heads formally told the [centre-right European People’s Party] leader Manfred Weber that he will not get their votes,” adding that his party had yet to decide whether to support Weber’s bid for the presidency of the European Commission. This comes as Dacian Cioloș, the leader of the liberal Renew Europe group said, “For now there is no majority for Weber’s candidacy.”
Elsewhere, European Commission Vice-President for Financial Services and Capital Market Union, Valdis Dombrovskis, announced yesterday that he would not take up his European Parliament seat won last month in order to continue in his role in the Commission. Dombrovskis said his decision would “ensure continuity at the EU Commission for Latvia as well as for ongoing work on the EU’s economic and financial files.” Valdis’ seat will be allocated to fellow Latvian politician Inese Vaidere.
An EU target for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 was blocked by Poland, Hungary, Estonia, and the Czech Republic at yesterday’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels. The other 24 member states had supported the plan. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters yesterday, “Poland is one of those countries that must first have a very detailed compensation package. We must know how much we can get for modernisation.” Meanwhile, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said, “Why should we decide 31 years ahead of time what will happen in 2050?”
President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, also said EU leaders “discussed how to ensure a climate-neutral EU in line with the Paris Agreement,” adding, “A vast majority of member states has committed to climate neutrality by 2050. But reaching unanimity was not possible today.” The conclusions on climate change say that the Council calls the Commission to further work to ensure a transition to a “climate neutral EU in line with the Paris Agreement that will preserve European competitiveness, be just and socially balanced, take account of Member States’ national circumstances and respect their right to decide on their own energy mix.”
Responding to the failure to agree a 2050 target, environmental organisation Greenpeace called on the EU to hold an emergency summit ahead of the UN climate summit in September.
The Financial Times
In a new blog, Open Europe’s Anna Nadibaidze looks at how the composition of the newly elected European Parliament and its political groups will change once the UK’s MEPs leave, arguing, “Whether it is with UK MEPs or without, the European Parliament is more fragmented than it was in the last five years, and it will be difficult to reach compromises on crucial decisions.”