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May 25, 2018

Olly Robbins bites back at Brussels - May 25,2012: Brexit Bulletin | The Telegraph.

Brexit Bulletin
The best news and analysis from the Telegraph's unrivalled Brexit team in London, Brussels and beyond.
Olly Robbins fires back at Brussels after British negotiators accused of 'chasing the fantasy'
By Asa Bennett Brexit commissioning editor
Good afternoon.
As Theresa May’s right-hand man for the Brexit negotiations, Oliver Robbins tends to operate below the radar. Sir Bill Cash has been trying for a while to get him to answer questions before his European Scrutiny Committee, even resorting to asking the prime minister in the Commons to use her “charm” to persuade him to appear. The mandarin has since responded to the arch-Eurosceptic’s invitation to say he won’t actually attend, but will go and talk to Hilary Benn’s Brexit committee instead in July.
Confirmation about Mr Robbins’ public scrutiny comes as he has stepped up to defend British negotiators after they were accused by their European counterparts of “chasing the fantasy” in their approach to the talks. British proposals had been “calmly and professionally presented”, he wrote in a second ever message on Twitter.
Britain’s negotiating effort may get the Robbins seal of approval, but it gets a worse review from Eurosceptics. Jeremy Hosking, a major Brexit-backing Tory donor, has told my colleague Christopher Hope on his latest edition of his eponymous podcast that he fears the talks “resemble a Greek tragedy and it only ends when everyone is dead”. Mrs May needs to be replaced “as soon as possible”, he warned, adding that “the strategy is not working”. Brexiteers may be surprised to find themselves agreeing with the EU on how British negotiators are doing then.
Main story
Nigel Farage catches up with Jean-Claude Juncker in the European Parliament
British MEPs learn they'll have more work, but Ukip plans a party
In the meantime, British MEPs are learning that they will not be able to quit on Brexit day, as a report commissioned by the European Parliament found that they will be “legally required” to complete their mandates and work for about eight weeks after the UK leaves the EU next March. Nigel Farage thought it was a joke at first, and insisted he will not staying after the UK leaves.
My colleague James Crisp has found that the former Ukip leader might make his final appearance in Brussels by joining Ukippers in cheering and pop champagne in front of the TV cameras when MEPs gather to haul down the UK flag from outside the European Parliament. Most MEPs will treat it as a solemn moment, but a Ukip spokesman said “it will be, certainly for Ukip MEPs, a day of celebration".
Sajid Javid could be the leader-in-waiting the Tories need to restore purpose to the party
By Fraser Nelson Spectator editor and Telegraph columnist
This time last year, it all seemed to be over for Sajid Javid. Hailed as one of David Cameron’s rising stars, he had fallen foul of Theresa May’s new regime and her shift away from free markets. Hers was a world where government set “industrial strategies” for businesses to follow: he had came into politics to fight such ideas, so he was clearly doomed. He was being heavily briefed against by No 10 to the effect that, when Mrs May won her inevitable strong majority, she would celebrate by sacking him.
But things changed and Mr Javid is now the 82nd Home Secretary and perhaps the first to be appointed through the gritted teeth of a Prime Minister. Her way of doing business – robotic, target-driven, efficient but often uncaring – had led to the Windrush scandal. He had seen the disaster coming so, when Amber Rudd resigned, was the obvious choice to succeed her. Mrs May’s party would not have tolerated her appointing a yes-man (or woman) to clean up her mess, so she ended up promoting the man she had been all set to bury.
Now barely a month into the job, Mr Javid is warming to this second chance at political life. In his speech to the Police Federation this week he praised officers rather than upbraiding them as Mrs May had tended to do. While she had insinuated that officers were racially discriminating with stop-and-search powers, he urged them to use such powers as much as is necessary. As for racial abuse, he pointed out that policemen – like his brother – are also likely to be victims of it. And from his brother he knows how policemen can be assaulted, even hospitalised, for doing their job.

The EU and Britain's free trade interests are the same
It’s a big change of tone, not just for the government but Mr Javid himself. He has been in the Cabinet for four years but only now has he really started to talk about his family, his upbringing and how it shapes his politics. He grew up in poverty with a bus driver father in a Muslim household – just like Sadiq Khan. But unlike the Mayor of London, Mr Javid seldom talks about his background, which seemed not so much bashful as just plain daft. Being able to explain what drives you is a basic skill of politics – and one that Mr Javid has been slow to master. He is quite uninterested in himself, which is a shame when so many might be interested in him.
His friends say he can’t bring himself to spin a hard-luck story because he feels nothing but gratitude for his upbringing. A mother who, though illiterate, supervised his study every day. Then Exeter University, where he met his wife. A vice president of Chase Manhattan bank at the age of 25, and a close relationship with four brothers whose lives are – like his – a case study in what Michael Howard famously called the “British dream”.
He’s also a case study of the type of Tory who dislikes identity politics and, as a result, seldom talks about who he is. Now, he’s starting to – and with some effect. The Windrush debacle, he said, could have affected his parents as they arrived in Britain at around the same time. When he expresses disgust at the way immigrants and their families were treated by the government, his anger is palpable and credible. If his personal glasnost continues, it will raise questions as to what might come next.
The idea of Sajid Javid as Prime Minister would have been seen as a joke until fairly recently. He’s made his fair share of missteps. He’s a Eurosceptic who ended up backing Remain, deciding at an embarrassingly late stage that the cost of leaving would outweigh the benefits. As Business Secretary he was seen to have mishandled the Tata Steel plant drama, having to be dragged back from a trip to Australia while the factory fought for its life. He once said the words “industrial” and “strategy” should not appear in the same sentence, only to serve a Prime Minister who created a Department for Industrial Strategy.
He isn’t disliked, which counts for a lot at a time when Tory leadership elections are won by whoever has the fewest enemies
A less principled politician would then have gone along with Mrs May’s dirigisme, to keep his career afloat. Instead he fought her, and expected to pay for it with his career. Even his last job, as Housing Secretary, was heading towards a dead end: he had come up with fairly radical plan for a mass housebuilding programme that sacrificed some green belt and required a lot of government borrowing. It was vetoed by No 10, so he ended up stymied yet again – until he ended up Home Secretary with quite a free hand. And a chance to show his colleagues what he can do.
His first change – rhetorical style – is relatively easy. The bigger test will be if he can win the battle that his predecessor kept losing: creating a more sensible immigration regime with more Tier 2 visas for highly-skilled workers. Ms Rudd wanted to let in a lot more doctors, engineers and computer programmers. Mrs May wanted no deviation from the overall target – and she won. This, of course, is the inflexibility that led to the Windrush debacle. If Mr Javid can replace this with a more liberal system – which can easily be introduced after Brexit – he’ll have won the gratitude of his party.
He isn’t disliked, which counts for a lot at a time when Tory leadership elections are won by whoever has the fewest enemies. When he ran for the leadership two years ago, the junior partner on a joint ticket with the now-forgotten Stephen Crabb, they presented themselves as the “nice guy” duo. That was the biggest boast either could make, having not achieved much or made clear what they stood for. As Home Secretary, Mr Javid is making it clearer now: he’s a reformer, someone who wants to change the tone of the party and is impatient for radical change. Someone who’s sure of himself and his form of conservatism.
Of course, it could all end horribly. He might end up stepping on one of the Home Office landmines, as Ms Rudd did. But if he survives, he might end up being seen as the best chance of restoring purpose and direction to a party in dire need of both.
In the news
Hammond battles over Galileo: The UK will build its own "competing" satellite navigation system if frozen out of the European Union's Galileo project, Philip Hammond has said. The European commission has threatened to shut British firms out of the €10 billion (£8.8bn) programme, citing legal issues about sharing sensitive information with a non-member state.  The UK cannot accept such a decision, Mr Hammond told reporters while arriving in Brussels for a meeting of finance ministers on Friday. “We need access to a satellite system of this kind,"  the Chancellor said. "A plan has always been to work as a core member of the Galileo project, contributing financially and technically to the project. [Telegraph]
Cringeworthy consistent claim: A Labour frontbencher was ridiculed by the Question Time audience after claiming her party’s Brexit policy had been “consistent from the beginning”. Anneliese Dodds, a shadow treasury minister, prompted laughter as she made the claim during a clash with Anna Soubry, the leading Tory Remain MP. Ms Dodds responded to the laughter by challenging audience members to identify any of Labour’s inconsistencies and “shout it out”. [Telegraph]
Carney anticipates Brexit boom: Mark Carney has claimed that progress in Brexit negotiations towards a "deep and special" relationship with the EU could unleash a "boom in investment" as cautious bosses dust off growth plans that have been on hold. Consumer spending could also rocket, the Governor of the Bank of England said, in a significant boost for the economy’s prospects. Earlier this week he said Brexit had hit economic growth by 2pc and reduced household incomes by £900 relative to the outcome of a Remain vote in the referendum. [Telegraph]
Evening, 25 May, 2018

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