Henry Newman Profile picture
Special Adviser @10downingstreet || was @cabinetoffice; Director @OpenEurope || "My new role model" - Toby Young || see also @Henry4FrogFitz
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Mar 10, 2019 22 tweets 5 min read
One of the strange things about the Brexit debate at the moment is the persistence of certain idées fixes about the PM's Brexit deal & its alternatives which are repeated by critics

Here's a Sunday afternoon mythbusting thread


A) Myth 1 - the deal isn't Brexit

This is often repeated; yet it is simply preposterous

Deal would take us out EU - no commissioner, no MEPs, no compulsory financial contributions (once exit bill settled), no voting rights, basically out EU legal order

It literally is Brexit

Mar 6, 2019 24 tweets 7 min read
A good Brexit deal is within grasp but MPs risk throwing that away in hope that by leaving with no deal, we might be able to improve our position

That's a HUGE brave gamble

It's time we took some deep breaths & went back to look at what's actually on the table

A thread 👇 Theresa May's Brexit deal remains the only actual deal on table

"Managed No Deal" or the Malthouse Compromise or whatever else are just ideas - not anything the EU has agreed to or shown any real interest in

I am yet to meet a single EU or European figure saying otherwise

Jan 24, 2019 19 tweets 6 min read
Something quite important has shifted in last few days

Labour are now more explicitly admitting that they are not seeking real changes to the backstop but to the political declaration on our future relationship (rather than our divorce)

This matters A LOT. Here's why 👇

DUP are so far pretty implacably opposed to Backstop in its current form as my colleague @dcshiels has documented in various ways ( eg 👇)

[Although there seems some nuance between comments by Geoffrey Donaldson vs @eastantrimmp or @NigelDoddsDUP]


Jan 22, 2019 21 tweets 7 min read
One of the things about working around politics now (especially on Brexit) is that I have friends on all sides of debate

@NickBoles has put forward a Norway Plus plan to try to deliver referendum result in a divided commons

A thread on why I respect it but think it's flawed 👇 1/ Although I think it's flawed I recognise Nick & Oliver put it forward in a genuine spirit of compromise and not to obfuscate the referendum

(It's depressing how other MPs less committed to Referendum are happy to trash this soft Brexit plan because they want to stop Brexit)
Jan 13, 2019 23 tweets 7 min read
On Tuesday @theresa_may will lose the vote, badly. Then what?

She'll make a statement that night & has 3 sitting days to introduce new motion. There are then 7 days to amend it

Thread on what comes next 👇

Subtitle - Brexit risks being killed by those who claim to ❤️ it most 2/ I don't think that we are close to a majority in favour of a second referendum. Luckily

Jeremy Corbyn remains luke warm & remain-backing Tories such as @NickyMorgan01 @nickherbertmp etc are still opposed

Many Labour MPs are in favour but far from all of them
Jan 12, 2019 22 tweets 4 min read
My @OpenEurope colleague Stephen Booth has taken a look at claims made by former Mi6 head Sir Richard Dearlove & ex-CDS Lord Guthrie

There are reasons to be sceptical about the PM’s Brexit deal, but the ones they raise are both implausible & misplaced

Here's why -

A thread 👇 2/ In the debate on the proposed Brexit deal, the implications for UK security & foreign policy have come a distant second to economic and institutional considerations.
Jan 10, 2019 4 tweets 2 min read
Listening to another excellent Brexitcast. @adamfleming makes the important point that the Political Declaration is signed off at Head of Government/State level. It's locked down and changes are very hard

Sorry Norway-backers/Single Market 2.0ers .@BBCkatyaadler tells us Brussels contact of hers sees our Parliamentary "mayhem as the deaththrows of magical thinking". I'm tempted to LMFAO as - if anything - magical thinking seems to be getting worse from hard-line Remainers & extreme Brexiteers, as well as Labour frontbench
Jan 9, 2019 14 tweets 3 min read
The DUP are right that a Stormont lock wouldn't resolve all concerns about Backstop but it would improve it and should be welcomed as such.

I've set out previously how I think such a mechanism could work, building on the commitment in the December 2017 Joint Report

Thread 👇 2/ In December 2017 both the UK and EU agreed a Joint Report, paragraph 50 of which noted that in the backstop “the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless...
Jan 6, 2019 6 tweets 2 min read
It's unclear when this piece by Sir Bill Cash is from (Telegraph website a *nightmare* to use so can't find it there) but - although I agree with some parts - it's inaccurate in a couple of key places

Quick thread👇

2/ This bit is specifically wrong

Article 132 no longer says what Cash suggests it says.
Dec 22, 2018 18 tweets 6 min read
Just listened to @steverichards14 say on the Week in Westminster that Labour do have a policy on Brexit.



A thread on Labour’s Brexit mess 👇

Could anyone sum it up Labour's policy in a sentence or two? Do they back leaving EU or not? Are they for ending free movement & leaving Single Market? With fewer than 100 days to go, it’s getting rather late for their position to still be so nebulous, as @JunckerEU might say

Dec 17, 2018 22 tweets 7 min read
I understand why some are pushing an indicative vote but I think it's misguided & messy

The best thing is head off for a Christmas break & encourage MPs to spend the time thinking carefully

Meanwhile reports of the death of May's deal are greatly exaggerated

A thread 👇

It's obvious there are only now three real options -

✖️Leave with No Deal

✖️Leave with May's Deal

✖️Don't Leave

There are special cases of each of these but every possible path falls into one of these three boxes.

Dec 11, 2018 24 tweets 6 min read
By delaying the vote on the Brexit Deal, the Prime Minister has reverted to her favourite political tactic – kicking the can down the road. Her advisers feared that if the vote had been held today, the size of the defeat would have sunk her entire prime ministership.

A thread👇 2/ But at some point the music will have to be faced. There are already, according to @ConHome over 70 Conservative MPs opposed to her deal. So, before the vote is re-introduced, the Government will need to secure meaningful changes. But how?
Dec 10, 2018 4 tweets 2 min read
What can the PM do to clarify the operation of the exit mechanism in the backstop?

I outlined one suggestion in a piece here a few weeks back



1/ I also spoke to @rosschawkins on the Today Programme last week about the possibility of using interpretive declarations to the Withdrawal Agreement to clarify what the UK could consider as material breaches of the treaty.

Listen here -


Dec 5, 2018 22 tweets 5 min read
The problem we are facing is that there are no easy Brexit solutions left if the deal fails in Parliament

An often cited so-called Plan B, Norway Plus, is not the simple off-the-shelf option it is often presented as

Now a deal is on table I'm not convinced it works

A thread 👇 2/ Its main parliamentary proponents suggest we would sign up to the current withdrawal agreement including backstop

[Note this is evolution from previous option of seeking to replace backstop with EEA]

They would seek to amend Political Declaration to set path to Norway Plus
Nov 24, 2018 20 tweets 6 min read
So I once heard a brilliant ancedote from a senior official in the Israeli negotiation team

It applies to what has just happened on Gibraltar

People need to be more Israeli here and less like the Palestinians - see below

A few thoughts [thread] 👇 2/ This Gibraltar row is about politics not substance

The Spanish PM Sanchez leads a minority Government facing important elections in Andalusia in early December

His Socialist party only has 84 of 350 seats in Spanish Parliament. He has weaker domestic position that Theresa
Nov 15, 2018 11 tweets 2 min read
1) I just can't get over how bad @10DowningStreet's handling of all this is.

Of course - putting aside merits or not of deal - it's good to get agreement but by desperately pushing this, she lost Brexit Secretary (+ others) so ensuring a) she's at risk b) deal's at risk 2) there was no actual urgent need to do at this this week - or certainly not at any cost. Remember lessons of Cameron rush to February Council deal in 2016. Even from a theatrical point of view refusing this offer would have been smart.
Nov 14, 2018 11 tweets 2 min read
Thoughts on this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting and the possible Brexit deal.

The parameters for all this were set long time ago.

A thread 👇

[fuller thoughts to come once we see actual details] 1/ Article 50 is designed to penalise departing members. But more importantly, the UK triggered that exit mechanism without first deciding where it wanted to end up.
Oct 19, 2018 15 tweets 3 min read
A thread 👇 on the backstop which highlights the absurdity of the current impasse.

Plus a thought experiment which shows how the EU might accidentally give the UK a goods-only Single Market because of the backstop - precisely what they dismissed at Salzburg 🤯 1/ It’s often argued that Northern Ireland was barely discussed during the 2016 referendum. Well, we are certainly making up for that now. The backstop is 1 & only issue blocking an orderly Brexit. Unless a way through can be found, we may be at No Deal.
Oct 13, 2018 18 tweets 5 min read
Why Macron sees himself as a Jedi warrior fighting the forces of populism across Europe and why this means France is proving the biggest block to a negotiated Brexit deal and therefore the biggest risk of No Deal - a thread 👇 1/ A Paris-based friend told me recently that Macron sees himself as a Jedi warrior, fighting the forces of darkness across Europe. He was explaining why France was proving the biggest block to a Brexit deal.
Sep 21, 2018 8 tweets 4 min read
All day we have heard spin from EU sources repeated on BBC and Sky that the reaction May got in Salzburg was somehow because of something that May did at that summit or because of something they read about. Few thoughts on this: 👇 1) people have said it was May's uncompromising Welt op-ed that went down badly. But I've re-read it & honestly struggle to see that. In fact in some respects it was as honest as the Government has ever been - saying Brexit will mean fewer rights & less access to single market
Sep 20, 2018 6 tweets 2 min read
a) Suspect there will be some rather rapid re-drafting of May's Conference speech given the Salzburg set back.

Lots of red pen through those passages on Chequers

If I was advising her I'd suggest owning this rejection by @eucopresident in her speech to Conference. b) She should level with Conference and say that she made the difficult decision to back a compromise Brexit which she thought was in the national interest & took account of the Parliamentary arithmetic. She needs to acknowledge how unpopular her Chequers plan is/was with party.