BORIS Johnson will today try to persuade his Irish counterpart that he is genuinely trying to secure a Brexit deal and so preserve the peace after a former minister said there was “little evidence” he was serious about it.

Amber Rudd, who resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary on Saturday night, also said the Cabinet was being kept in the dark about key developments and she no longer knew who was running the country.

She said UK officials were not genuinely negotiating in Brussels, and that when she had asked for evidence of the Government’s negotiations she was sent a “one-page summary”.

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Ms Rudd also said when she asked for the Government’s legal advice on suspending Parliament for five weeks, she was given nothing at all.

Adding to distrust in the Prime Minister in the UK and in the EU, she said 80-90 per cent of Government effort was spent on no-deal preparations, rather than getting a deal, despite the PM insisting his priority was an orderly exit on October 31.

The stinging criticism came ahead of Mr Johnson flying to Dublin for a tense first face-to-face meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, whose Cabinet was reportedly left “shocked” last week after a briefing about the severity of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Varadkar yesterday admitted some checks on goods and live animals may have taken place “near the border” with Northern Ireland, despite the risk of customs infrastructure undermining the Good Friday Agreement and becoming a target for paramilitaries.

Mr Varadkar said he was not hopeful of a breakthrough with Mr Johnson. 

He said: “The situation in the UK is very fluid at the moment. 

“Prime Minister May, with a parliamentary majority, was not able to get a deal through the House of Commons.

“Prime Minister Johnson doesn’t have a majority, so I’ll be asking him how can he convince us that he is actually capable or has the votes to get a deal through.”

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “There have been disturbing briefings coming out of Government about its intention to backtrack on the solemn commitments made to the people of Northern Ireland two years ago.

“Those commitments were the foundation of an agreement with the EU that would protect the peace process and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. 

“When Boris Johnson meets the Irish Prime Minister, he must make absolutely clear there will be no rowing back and the Government will not take the negotiations down such a reckless path.”

Mr Johnson faces a fifth consecutive defeat in the Commons today when he asks MPs for a second time to back a snap general election on October 15.

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Emergency legislation passed last week to avoid a no-deal Brexit is expected to receive Royal Assent today and become law.

Under the legislation, Mr Johnson would be forced to ask the EU27 for a Brexit extension until at least January 31 if no deal is agreed by MPs by October 19.

France’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said yesterday that his country would not agree to an extension in the current circumstances.

He told Europe 1 radio the situation was “very worrying”, adding: “We are not going to [extend] this every three months. The British must tell us what they want.”

Mr Johnson’s Commons rivals want to make him break his “do or die”vow to leave by Hallowe’en, softening him up for an election in November of December. 

Chancellor Sajid Javid yesterday refused to rule out an electoral alliance pact with the Brexit party, after Nigel Farage offered a “non-aggression pact” to maximise Leave MP numbers.

One Tory MSP told the Herald a pact appeared “almost inevitable”, despite the damage it would do to the Scottish party.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also said ministers would test the emergency law “to the limit”, and only do the minimum required by it, raising the prospect of a showdown in the UK Supreme Court.

Amid fears Mr Johnson might flout the law rather than ask for a Brexit delay, the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC revealed he had reminded the Prime Minister about “the importance of the Rule of Law” over the weekend.

Former Chancellor Philip Hammond, one of the sacked 21, said the Tories had been “taken over by unelected advisors, entryists and usurpers”.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the PM should resign as he had “no support or credibility left”.

But it was Ms Rudd’s inside account of government inaction on a Brexit deal that had the most impact yesterday, teeing up another torrid week for the PM.

In her resignation letter, Ms Rudd excoriated Mr Johnson for removing the Tory whip from 21 MPs who helped pass last week’s Brexit delay law. 

The Hastings & Rye MP, a prominent Remain campaigner in 2016, said sacking “talented, loyal One Nation Conservatives” had been an “assault on decency and democracy” and an “act of political vandalism”, and so she had also surrendered the Tory whip in protest.

She told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “If we become a party which has no place for the type of moderates that I am, the centre-right Conservatives, then we will not win.”


On the government’s efforts to get a Brexit deal and avoid a crash-out, she said: “I have not seen enough work going in to actually trying to get a deal. When I asked Number 10 for a summary of what the plan was for actually getting a deal, I was sent a one-page summary.

“I believe he [the PM] is trying to get a deal with the EU, I am just saying what I have seen in government is that there is this huge machine preparing for no-dea. 

“You might expect in the balance between getting a deal and no-deal 50/50 in terms of work but it’s not that. It’s like 80 to 90% of government time going into preparing for no-deal. Ad the absence of trying to get a deal has driven 21 of my colleagues to rebel, and I need to join them.”

Asked who was running the country, she replied: “If I knew that, I would perhaps have had further conversations with the prime minister, or them.”

Ms Rudd, who is now considering standing as an Independent at the election, was replaced in cabinet by former environment minister Therese Coffey.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Ms Rudd’s exit was “desperately sad”, calling her one of the “most principled and capable ministers”.

Labour Party chair Ian Lavery said it was a sign “no one trusts” Mr Johnson, and his Brexit plan stood was “a sham”.

Mr Raab told Sky News he was sorry to see Ms Rudd go, but said the PM had been “right to restore some discipline” and had a right to expect it from his top team.

On the opening day of the TUC annual congress in Brighton, general secretary Frances O’Grady urged MPs to “hold their nerve” and block no-deal until after October 31.

Former Labour MP Angela Smith, an Independent since February, became the third MP to join the LibDems in a week.

Labour MP John Mann, who is standing down to work as the Government’s anti-Semitism tsar, used his resignation to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s “useless leadership” and said he was the only obstacle to Labour winning an election landslide. 

He told the Sunday Times he could not campaign for Mr Corbyn knowing he could become prime minister, and would never forgive him for allowing the party to be “hijacked” by anti-Semites.

He told the paper: “Corbyn has given the green light to the anti-Semites and, having done so, has sat there and done nothing to turn that round.”