Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen
The most important event today will almost certainly be Boris Johnson’s private meeting with Leo Varadkar, his Irish opposite number, where the two leaders will make one final attempt to reach agreement on an alternative to the backstop, which is the key that would unlock a Brexit deal. But it is also the event that may be hardest to report. Yesterday No 10 just said the meeting would place at lunchtime somewhere in the north west of England. “There are no media opportunities and this will not be open to the media or the pool,” the Downing Street operational note said. Obviously that won’t stop journalists trying to find out where the meeting is taking place, and doorstepping the two PMs, but they may not succeed.
In the meantime, we had a fresh warning about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit this morning. As the Evening Standard’s Joe Murphy has pointed out, in the Commons last month the Labour MP Tracy Brabin asked Michael Gove if he could give her an assurance that “no one in this country will suffer in their health because of a no-deal Brexit”. Gove, the Cabinet Office minister in charge of no-deal planning, replied with a single word: “Yes.”
The health service and everyone has worked very hard to prepare. But I say what I’ve said before – that we cannot guarantee that there will not be shortages, not only in medicines but technology and gadgets and things. And there may be deaths, we can’t guarantee there won’t.