Showing posts with label Brexit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brexit. Show all posts

Feb 11, 2021

News | |Brexit: London Lose out it's Europe Trade Primacy.

Brexit: London loses out as Europe's top share trading hub

BBC News

Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of Englandimage copyrightGetty Images

image captionAndrew Bailey said the UK would not accept being "dictated" to by Brussels.

Amsterdam ousted London as the largest financial trading centre in Europe last month as Brexit-related changes to finance rules came into force.

About €9.2bn (£8.1bn) worth of shares were traded on Amsterdam exchanges each day, against €8.6bn in London.

Following new Brexit rules, EU-based banks wanting to buy European shares currently cannot trade via London, meaning a loss of fees for City firms.

Bank of England chief Andrew Bailey has warned the EU not to cut off London.

On Wednesday, Mr Bailey said there were signs that the EU planned to cut the UK off from its financial markets.

The EU does not recognise UK exchanges as having the same levels of supervisory status as its counterparts in the Netherlands, France and Germany.

Both sides are working towards a March deadline to agree an "equivalence" regime under which each would recognise the other's regulation.

Lost income

Mr Bailey said the City wanted to reach an agreement on financial rules, but would not accept being "dictated" to by Brussels. He said EU demands had so far been unreasonable.

"I'm afraid a world in which the EU dictates and determines which rules and standards we have in the UK isn't going to work," the governor said in his annual Mansion House speech to the City, this year held virtually.

"Is the EU going to cut the UK off from itself? There are signs of an intention to do so at the moment but I think that would be a mistake," he added.

"We have to state the argument for global standards and markets and openness and if we all sign up to that then there's no need to go in that direction."

Financial services - a key driver of the UK economy - were largely omitted from the last-minute Brexit trade deal agreed in December.

The City generates about £135bn in business annually, with financial institutions earning big fees from trading stocks and shares. But London's financial centre has been cut off from EU markets since 1 January.

But Brussels says it will not be rushed into decisions on granting access for UK financial firms, as it wants to see how far UK rules will diverge from its own.

It follows fears the UK will adopt a low-regulation Singapore-style model that would undercut the EU.

head officeimage copyrightGetty Images

Mr Bailey said the EU was holding the UK to unrealistically high standards on the issue of divergence, saying it would in effect make the City a "rule taker".

However, he said that while some UK rules would change post-Brexit, sudden deregulation was not in the cards.

"Let me be clear, none of this means that the UK should or will create a low-regulation, high-risk, anything-goes financial centre and system," he said.

"We have an overwhelming body of evidence that such an approach is not in our own interests, let alone anyone else's."

Despite the current situation, Mr Bailey said that London would "undoubtedly continue as one of the world's leading if not the leading financial centre".

Last month Mr Bailey said up to 7,000 finance jobs had so far been relocated from London to rival centres in the EU - well down on predictions of as many as 50,000 losses.

Sep 6, 2019

Opinion | Brexit: Johnson thinks a ‘culture war’ will win crucial working-class votes. He’s wrong | Lynsey Hanley

Lynsey Hanley

Not long after the referendum in 2016, some neighbours suddenly erected a big wooden fence around their front garden. Well, it seemed sudden. Our postman jokingly called it “the Brexit wall”, and although the two events may have been entirely unconnected, the fence took on a symbolism it was probably never intended to have.
Whether it was there for reasons of privacy, security, or simply to have something for the ivy to grow on, we’ll never know. I don’t like to ask. But the fence reinforced my belief that community life has never been, and never will be, as straightforward as some dewy-eyed nostalgics would like to present it. That thought recurred this week, as the country staggers towards a general election. Whenever it does finally take place, both the Tories and Labour will make a pitch – in the Midlands and the north of England particularly – on the presumption that the leave vote represented a desire to take things back to how they supposedly once were.
The fence incident, and the sense of privacy and desire for individual space it seemed to suggest, reminds me of many of the interviewees featured in the historian Jon Lawrence’s new book, Me, Me, Me? The Search for Community in Postwar England. In it, Lawrence rescues dozens of voices from dusty transcripts buried in university libraries to build a picture of how British people have felt about their lives and the places they live in over many decades.
These are not vox pops. In successive studies people were interviewed at length, over many months, at work and at home, and encouraged to put across their side of the extraordinarily complex story of postwar society. What they reveal, unsurprisingly, is that people hate being told what to do: whether by family members, neighbours, bosses, colleagues or politicians.
But at the same time they do want to feel supported. When government fails and basic needs go unmet, people turn in on themselves and try to look after their own as best they can. The idea that community is bolstered by character-building hardship is a myth. An unemployed Sheppey couple interviewed by the sociologist Ray Pahl in 1982 told him that when it was a struggle to maintain family life, it made you “sort of more narrow”. In Lawrence’s words, “the outside world ceased to matter when they were struggling to survive”.
Lawrence reminds us of what we should never forget: that to experience class at the “wrong” end of the scale – the economically difficult, culturally denigrated, politically marginalised end – is a constant struggle against visible and invisible forces. People’s ambitions for themselves, their families and their neighbourhoods are vulnerable to attack from a combination of wilful inaction and deliberate destructiveness from government.
It was undoubtedly resentment at such malign neglect over past decades that drove much of the Brexit vote in 2016, among traditionally Labour working-class communities in the north of England and the Midlands.
But the result has been a series of tired popular narratives about the role of place in forming our identity, the most common being the idea that certain places have been “left behind” – a term that conjures up a vision of areas filled with people who are bewildered and marooned in a changing world. Those places haven’t been left behind, but deliberately held back. The people in them are desperate to vote for a party that is fundamentally optimistic about our ability to cope with change and knows what it has to do to make it possible. Labour’s 2017 election manifesto did this. It boosted the turnout and won the party over 40% of the vote. That will not stop the Conservatives attempting to mount a land-grab of supposedly “left-behind” Brexit voters. (It was no accident that Boris Johnson chose Wakefield as the backdrop for his rambling speech yesterday.)
A recent report by the right-leaning thinktank Onward entreated Tories to place more emphasis on “the politics of belonging”, suggesting that “voters do not want more autonomy, choice and mobility. They want a government that … protects them, their families and British businesses from the modern world.”
Do they mean the same modern world in which the British use smartphones, social media and cashless payments more than anyone else? The problem is not modernity, or nostalgia for an idealised close-knit “community”. People desperately want the feeling of autonomy, but are intelligent enough to recognise that autonomy isn’t possible without an underpinning of material security. And they are not going to get that under the Tories, whatever guise the party takes under the shape-shifting Johnson, and whatever pre-election bungs are cynically tossed their way by Sajid Javid.
The Labour party too – and for a longer period of time – has been misreading the politics of community. When Ed Miliband was leader at the start of this decade he convened a lot of workshops and roundtables with advisers and MPs, asking: “What should Labour conserve?” In 2011 was invited to one of them, and I once got into a barney with two MPs who insisted that Miliband’s emphasis on universal benefits would lose Labour “the white working class” for ever if they felt that migrants and recent arrivals in communities were given equal treatment to longstanding residents. “It’s about community, and social cohesion, and values,” they blustered. What right had I to challenge the idea that the white working class – as they chose to define it – were right about all things at all times?
Their approach was to paint Labour’s problem as cultural – an inability to understand “how the working class thinks” – rather than one of policy. Labour spent decades accepting the policies that left deindustrialised England battered, bruised and angry. In the 1990s and 2000s it believed that if it spent enough money on welfare and education it would cover the cracks. When the cracks widened and working-class voters began to desert the party, they went for the “culture” explanation.
Successful community life is not about who chats to whom on the doorstep or about mystical working-class values. It is about whether the essential needs of everyone in that community are met to the extent that they can look beyond that day’s survival and outwards towards others. In Lawrence’s wise words, “the task for politicians is to imagine the conditions which will enable people most fully to reconcile self and society in their daily lives”.
So when the Conservative party sends their representatives to court the working-class vote, they should be asked a few questions. Have they ever tried to apply for benefits to which they are entitled, or sought help from Citizens Advice? Have their local branch library and children’s centre been closed? Have they ever tried to get a bus on a Sunday, or after 8pm, outside London? Have they noticed that children no longer play out on the street? Have they ever peeled “Free Tommy Robinson” stickers off the bus shelter and the playground gates? What did they feel on visiting any city centre and seeing the lines of destitute people trying to keep their tents pegged to the pavement and their sleeping bags clean?
The very idea of a culture war, invoking supposed working-class values, is empty. What we are really talking about is quality of life. The problem of our times and our communities is that a full, rich life, free of avoidable stresses, in which the right to stay and the right to move are equally taken for granted, now feels so hard to achieve for so many people.
• Lynsey Hanley is a writer and the author of Estates: an Intimate History and Respectable: Crossing the Class Divide

Apr 2, 2019

Latest on Brexit | Brexit weekly briefing: cabinet showdown after MPs reject all options

Jon Henley

Welcome to the Guardian’s weekly Brexit briefing, trying to make sense of the nonsensical since June 2016. If you would like to receive this as a weekly email, please sign up here. And catch our monthly Brexit Means podcast here.

Top stories

Another eventful week, but we’re no further forward. Which, with the EU having demanded a decision from Britain one way or another by 12 April – less than a fortnight away – is just the tiniest bit alarming.
So what happened? After backing an amendment allowing indicative votes in a bid to to find parliament’s preferred Brexit solution, MPs rejected all eight options before them last Wednesday (though one, committing the government to negotiate a UK-wide customs union with the EU in any Brexit deal, nearly made it).
True to form, the government took this as an invitation to bring Theresa May’s twice-defeated deal back to the Commons, albeit in slightly different form: to get round John Bercow’s ban on another vote on the same matter, this was just the withdrawal agreement, shorn of its accompanying political declaration.
It made no difference. Despite the prime minister’s offer to resign before the next phase of Brexit if her MPs voted for the deal (opening up the prospect of a hardline Brexiter leading the talks on the UK’s future relationship with the EU), parliament rejected it a third time, by 344 votes to 286.
The EU responded rapidly, with the European council president, Donald Tusk, calling an emergency summit for 10 April and giving the British government until then to find a solution, or it would crash out of the bloc two days later. The EU27 also began setting its terms for talks with the UK on avoiding economic meltdown after a no-deal Brexit.
As parliament prepared for a second round of indicative votes on Monday, May’s divided cabinet appeared on the verge of meltdown as ministers clashed over whether to back plans for a possible lengthy delay and softer Brexit based on some form of customs union.
The justice secretary, David Gauke, said the prime minister would have to “look closely” at a customs union if MPs voted for it; Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, described the idea as “incredibly problematic”. The EU did not hide its preferred option, saying if Britain opted for a customs union it could be out by 22 May.
To add to the excitement, Labour said it was considering calling another vote of no confidence in the government. And the Democratic Unionist party again swore there was no way it would support May’s deal in any future meaningful vote, making it highly unlikely it would pass.
Then, in a second round of indicative votes in the Commons on Monday, MPs once again failed to coalesce behind any one alternative to the prime minister’s rejected Brexit deal, rejecting a common market, a customs union and a second referendum.
MPs backing a soft Brexit were furious at second-referendum campaigners, blaming colleagues demanding a people’s vote for parliament’s failure to reach a consensus. And the Conservative MP Nick Boles dramatically announced his departure from the party over its refusal to compromise.

What next?

The prime minister has summoned her warring cabinet to Downing Street for a five-hour showdown during which it will have to find a way forward.
Ministers must decide whether to shift course towards a closer future relationship with the EU in an attempt to build a majority; head for a no-deal Brexit on 12 April; or give May’s thrice-rejected deal a final shot this week.
The first option would put May in conflict with a significant group of ministers who would prefer no deal, and risk splitting the Tory party. The second would see her lose a string of different ministers – some of whom might even be ready to back a Labour motion of no confidence.
One Downing Street adviser said a snap election fronted by May was being “tested” and that it was viewed by some in No 10 as “the least worst option”.
If the deal does return, it is likely to be tabled with an an amendment submitted last week by the Labour MPs Gareth Snell and Lisa Nandy allowing parliament a greater say in the next stage of the Brexit negotiations.
Then the last chance of avoiding a no-deal exit would be Eurosceptic MPs finally dropping their resistance to the plan rather than risking an early election, a second referendum or a softer Brexit.

Best of the rest

Top comment

In the Guardian, Charles Grant writes of the despair in Brussels at the “incompetence, ignorance and irresponsibility” of the UK political class over Brexit:The EU expects no deal because it does not trust British politicians not to screw up … Key officials despair at the inability of many leading British commentators and politicians to learn about how the EU works or what it wants from the negotiations. Remainers should not assume everyone in the EU wants another British referendum. Many senior figures worry that if the UK prevaricates or stays it will distract the EU from other pressing challenges, contaminate European politics with its weird Eurosceptic attitudes and block further integration. Donald Tusk, the European council president, argues that doors should be left open to the UK, lest it reconsider Brexit. The Dutch, Germans, Irish, Poles and Swedes lean in that direction. But many other governments, and senior figures in the commission, are keen to excise the British cancer from the European body politic.
And Zoe Williams rejoiced that, aside from May’s Commons defeat, the main event of Brexit Day, 29 March 2019, was Nigel Farage causing a slight traffic jam:Nobody could have seen Theresa May’s learning strategies unfold in the way that they have. If you’d said in advance that a prime minister would behave like this, it would have been more than Project Fear. This is basically “strong point” strategy in the first world war: attack the strongest point and see what happens. Then in 1917 it was found that bad things happen, and it hasn’t been tried since … It was obviously never going to be easy, Brexit. The people with the competence didn’t have the enthusiasm, and the people with the enthusiasm didn’t have the competence. But seriously, in all of our defence, who could possibly have seen any of this coming?

Source: The Guardian

Feb 25, 2019

Brexit | Facing threat of Brexit delay, May renews efforts for deal change

Elizabeth Piper

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May faces a growing threat that she will be forced to delay Brexit, a move that risks a showdown with eurosceptics in her Conservative Party just weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May poses with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during a summit between Arab league and European Union member states, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 25, 2019. Francisco Seco/Pool via REUTERS
With Britain’s Brexit crisis going down to the wire, May is struggling to get the kind of changes from the EU she says she needs to get her divorce deal through a divided parliament and smooth the country’s biggest policy shift in more than 40 years.
In Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh for an EU/Arab League summit, she met the bloc’s leaders to try to win support for her efforts to make her deal more attractive to parliament, where frustrated lawmakers are gearing up to try to wrest control of Brexit from the government.
While an official said extending Brexit talks was raised only briefly at a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, there were other indications that the government was looking at options if her deal fails, including a possible delay.
May has so far stuck to her line that she intends to lead Britain out of the EU on March 29.
She has said repeatedly that any delay would simply postpone a decision on how Britain leaves the EU, something she argues parliament needs to address by March 12, when she has promised to bring back a vote on the divorce settlement.
But a UK official said ministers were “considering what to do if parliament makes that decision” (does not pass the deal), when asked about a possible extension.
Tobias Ellwood, a defence minister, also told BBC radio: “If we cannot get this deal across the line, we are facing the prospect of having to extend.”
While sterling rallied on the suggestion of a delay, May has to tread carefully, with eurosceptics poised to leap on anything they see as part of attempts to thwart Brexit.
“I think it would be disastrous if we had a delay,” said Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative pro-Brexit lawmaker. “I think that faith in our politics - what faith is left in it - would evaporate.”


May’s decision to push back a vote on her deal into March has prompted lawmakers to step up attempts to stop a no-deal Brexit, a scenario many businesses say could damage the world’s fifth largest economy.
Several of their plans would involve extending Article 50, which triggered the two-year Brexit negotiating period, delaying Britain’s departure beyond March 29.
The EU has said it will consider an extension to the Brexit process, but only if Britain can offer evidence that such a delay would break the deadlock in parliament, which resoundingly voted down the deal last month in the biggest government defeat in modern British history.
Slideshow (3 Images)
At the EU/Arab League summit, May met Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the first of several meetings on Monday.
“What you’re getting from European leaders ... is a genuine shared determination to get this over the line,” a UK government official said.
But May faces increasing frustration in Brussels, which has rebuffed her attempts to reopen the withdrawal agreement so far.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Sunday when asked if he was running out of things to give: “I have a certain Brexit fatigue.”
Real concessions needed at US-NK summit -Markey
May’s officials will return there on Tuesday to build on talks on ways to ease the concerns of parliament over the Northern Irish “backstop”, an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border, and possible focus for renewed violence, between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.
Lawmakers in May’s Conservative Party and those in the main opposition Labour Party are stepping up efforts to try to ensure May cannot take Britain out of the EU without a deal at a vote which is due on Wednesday on the government’s next steps.
Yvette Cooper, a Labour lawmaker, has called on parliament to back her bid to seek to force the government to hand power to parliament if no deal has been approved by March 13 and to offer lawmakers the option of requesting an extension.
“The prime minister’s remarks today make it even more vital that the House of Commons votes for our bill to try to restore some common sense to this process,” Cooper said.
But there is another, perhaps more attractive, proposal to the government, from two Conservatives, which would delay Brexit to May 23, the start of the European Parliament elections, if lawmakers have not approved a deal by March 12.
A government official said the proposal could be considered “helpful”.
Additional reporting by William James in London, Editing by Janet Lawrence

Source: Reuters

Feb 13, 2019

It's May's deal or long Brexit delay, UK's chief negotiator...

Guy Faulconbridge

LONDON (Reuters) - British lawmakers will face a stark choice between Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal or a long extension to the March 29 deadline for leaving the bloc, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator was overheard saying in a Brussels bar.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Parliament, London, Britain, February 13, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERS
Unless May can get a Brexit deal approved by the British parliament, she will have to decide whether to delay Brexit or thrust the world’s fifth largest economy into chaos by leaving without a deal.
May has repeatedly said the United Kingdom will leave on schedule, with or without a deal, as she tries to get the EU to reopen the divorce agreement she reached in November.
But her chief Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, was overheard by an ITV correspondent at a hotel bar in Brussels saying lawmakers would have to choose whether to accept a reworked Brexit deal or a potentially significant delay.
“Got to make them believe that the week beginning end of March... Extension is possible but if they don’t vote for the deal then the extension is a long one,” ITV quoted Robbins as saying in the hotel bar on Monday during a private conversation.
Robbins made clear that he felt the fear of a long extension to Article 50 - the process of leaving the EU - might focus lawmakers’ minds, ITV said.
The spectacle of one of May’s most senior officials undermining her negotiating position in a hotel bar in Brussels indicates the scale of the United Kingdom’s Brexit crisis that has shocked both investors and allies.
It is unclear why Robbins, an experienced civil servant, would make such comments in a hotel bar. His remarks will deepen the concerns of Brexit-supporting lawmakers that May could ultimately delay leaving the bloc.
Amid the labyrinthine plots and counterplots of Brexit, the United Kingdom’s most significant political and economic move since World War Two, some major investors, such as Ford Motor Co, are trying to work out whether to shutter UK production.
The British pound, which rose as high as $1.50 on the day of the 2016 Brexit referendum, was trading at $1.2890 on Wednesday.
Robbins’ comments appear to undermine May’s central threat of a no-deal Brexit - a scenario that supporters of EU membership say would threaten the United Kingdom’s unity, spook investors and create possible chaos at major ports.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said he did not want to comment on conversations heard second hand in a noisy bar but the government’s position was that the United Kingdom would leave on March 29 but wanted to do so with a deal.
“If the PM decides we are leaving on 29 March, deal or no deal, that will happen,” Brexit-supporting Conservative Party lawmaker Steve Baker said. “Officials advise. Ministers decide.”
Slideshow (4 Images)
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he believed the EU would strike a deal, even as Dublin continued its preparations for all outcomes, including a no deal.
The British parliament will debate Brexit on Thursday followed by votes on proposals by lawmakers. The opposition Labour Party will back a proposal to try to force the government to take decisions on its Brexit plans by the middle of March.
On a call with business leaders on Tuesday, May gave the impression she was determined to avoid a no-deal Brexit if she can.
“She’s determined to try and avoid a no-deal Brexit if she can, because she recognises in talking to business that this could be very damaging for the UK economy and ergo jobs,” Tony Smurfit, chief executive of Irish packaging group Smurfit Kappa, told Reuters.
May to parliament: We need to 'hold our nerve' over Brexit
Britain’s economy will barely grow in the run-up to Brexit but if there is a deal there will be a modest post-divorce upturn, according to economists polled by Reuters.
Ford Motor Co told May that it is stepping up preparations to move production out of Britain, The Times reported on Tuesday.
Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Janet Lawrence

Source: Reuters

Feb 5, 2019

Brexit latest news: Theresa May rules out scrapping backstop ahead of showdown talks with Jean-Claude Juncker

Jack Maidment, Political Correspondent 5 February 2019 • 5:52pm

Theresa May has ruled out scrapping the backstop but insisted the “insurance policy” will have to change if MPs are to back her Brexit deal.
Speaking in Belfast, the Prime Minister said she would not be asking the House of Commons to accept a Withdrawal Agreement “that does not contain” the backstop.
It is the first time Mrs May has explicitly said the controversial protocol would not be removed in comments which are likely to anger hardline Brexiteers and appear to narrow her options for breaking the impasse with the EU.
Mrs May is due to meet with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, on Thursday for showdown talks as she tries to salvage her deal.
Ruling out removing the backstop potentially means there are now just two options available to her which could be capable of securing the support of a majority of MPs for her deal.
The first would be adding a backstop expiry date to the Withdrawal Agreement and the second would be a unilateral backstop exit mechanism for the UK.
Asked how she intended to persuade people to accept a Brexit deal that does not contain a backstop, Mrs May replied: "I am not proposing to persuade people to accept a deal that does not contain that insurance policy for the future.
"What Parliament has said is that they believe there should be changes made to the backstop.
"It is in that vein, in that light, that we are working with politicians across Westminster of course, across the House of Commons, but also we will be working with others... to find a way that enables us to maintain our commitments that we have set very clearly for no hard border.
"But to do it in a way that provides a Withdrawal Agreement and a political declaration for the future that can command support across the House of Commons and therefore that we will be able to ratify with the European Union such that we leave on the 29th of March with a deal."
MPs voted last week to say they would only back Mrs May's Brexit deal if the backstop was replaced by "alternative arrangements".
Brussels has long maintained that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be reopened and that the backstop contained within it cannot be changed.
"While the commission's position is clear, we are waiting to see what the Prime Minister has to say," European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters on Tuesday morning.
Mrs May is expected to meet with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, and other political parties in Northern Ireland on Wednesday before then heading to Brussels on Thursday.
It came as Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, insisted “there is still time” to find a solution to the Brexit impasse as she said it should be “humanly possible” to resolve the backstop issue.
Speaking at an economic conference in Tokyo, Ms Merkel said: "From a political point of view, there is still time. That should be used, used by all sides.
“But for this it would be very important to know what exactly the British side envisages in terms of its relationship with the EU."
Ms Merkel said the “special” problem remained the Irish border and the backstop agreement but added: "It should be humanly possible to find a solution to such a precise problem.
“But this depends... on the kind of trade deal that we forge with each other.”

World Cup boost for UK and Ireland

A joint UK and Ireland bid to host the football World Cup would help strengthen relations across the Irish Sea post-Brexit, the Prime Minister has said.
Theresa May described the "tantalising" prospect of hosting the 2030 tournament as she outlined ways to bolster the bilateral relationship with the Irish Republic when the UK leaves the EU.
Diplomatic ties between London and Dublin, which have improved markedly in recent decades, have been put under renewed strain during the Brexit process.
On a visit to Belfast on Tuesday, Mrs May said people on both islands "yearned" for a "close and trusting" relationship.
Mrs May said recent joint UK and Irish commemorations to mark the sacrifices of the First World War demonstrated the strength of the bilateral links.
"Today those ties of family and friendship between our countries are more important than they have ever been," she added.

'I implore you from the bowels of Christ' 

Deputy political editor Steven Swinford has some colourful insight into the May loyalists' attempts to win over MPs.
Hearing Geoffrey Cox, in an attempt to win support for his 'joint interpretative instrument' solution to the backstop, told one member of the ERG that he implored them 'from the bowels of Christ' to back it.
Does not sound like ERG are convinced...
— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) February 5, 2019

Theresa May rules out deleting backstop from Withdrawal Agreement

The Prime Minister has just answered questions from members of the press.
She was asked how she intends to persuade people to accept a Brexit deal that does not contain the backstop.
She replied: "I am not proposing to persuade people to accept a deal that does not contain that insurance policy for the future.
"What Parliament has said is that they believe there should be changes made to the backstop and it is in that vain, in that light, that we are working with politicians across Westminster of course, across the House of Commons, but also we will be working with others, with the Irish government and with the EU, to find a way that enables us to maintain  our commitments that we have set very clearly for no hard border but to do it in a way that provides a Withdrawal Agreement and a political declaration for the future that can command support across the House of Commons and therefore that we will be able to ratify with the European Union such that we leave on the 29th of March with a deal."

Theresa May vows never to compromise on Northern Ireland's 'integral place' in UK

The Prime Minister says "I understand what a hard border would mean" for the island of Ireland both in terms of people's daily life but also for trade.
She vows never to compromise on protecting Northern Ireland's "integral place" within the United Kingdom and says there will be no new regulatory barriers put up without the sign off of Stormont.
Mrs May says it is "more important than ever" that all voices are heard in Northern Ireland as she announces she will tomorrow meet with members of every political party for Brexit talks.
She says the UK Government will not allow the return of a hard border and adds: "I will not let that happen."
The Prime Minister is also stressing the importance of the UK/Ireland relationship which she describes as "deeper than with any of the other" 27 EU countries.

Theresa May reiterates need for legal changes to Brexit backstop

Speaking in Belfast, the Prime Minister says the UK has "come a long way" over the last two and half years towards finding a post-Brexit solution to ensuring there is not a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Mrs Mays says she wants to "reaffirm her commitment" to avoiding a hard border and to the Good Friday Agreement.
Mrs May says her commitment to unionism will "never change" and the United Kingdom "I stand for is an open and tolerant" collection of nations.
The Prime Minister says she "accepted the need for an insurance policy" to protect against a hard border and that was why she agreed to the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement.
Mrs May says she "fought hard" to persuade MPs to support her original deal but now accepted that it needed to change.
She says she can only get a Brexit deal through Parliament if "legal changes" are made to her deal.

Nick Clegg summoned by MPs to give evidence on social media abuse

Two pieces of news relating to two former heavyweight members of the House of Commons this lunch time:

1. Tony Blair 

The Labour former prime minister "spent most of the time looking out the window" during meetings with Scottish government leaders, a peer has claimed.
Giving evidence to Westminster's Scottish Affairs Committee on the relationship between the UK and Scottish Governments, Lord Wallace said the alleged daydreaming occurred during Joint Ministerial Committees (JMCs).
The Liberal Democrat peer, who was Scotland's deputy first minister from Scottish devolution until 2005, with short spells as interim first minister, said: "The Joint Ministerial Committee as it were at the top level of Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, First Minister, Deputy First Minister.
"I remember meeting in Edinburgh, in Cardiff and by the time it came to the third meeting in Downing Street, I don't think I'm exaggerating to say that Tony Blair spent most of the time looking out the window."

2. Nick Clegg 

The former deputy prime minister who is now a senior Facebook executive has been summoned to give evidence to a parliamentary committee about abuse of MPs on social media.
Sir Nick, who was appointed the social media platform's head of global affairs in October, will be quizzed by the Joint Human Rights Committee over concerns that online abuse is inhibiting MPs' ability to serve their constituents and undermining the effective functioning of democracy.
The committee of MPs and peers has also invited Twitter to send a representative to a hearing in Westminster, expected in March.
In a letter to Sir Nick, the committee's chairwoman Harriet Harman said members had been "disturbed" to hear evidence from MPs about "significant" levels of abuse, threats and intimidation they receive on social media.

Downing Street confirms Thursday talks with EU

Christopher Hope, the Telegraph's chief political correspondent, has been at the morning lobby briefing with Number 10 and was given a run down of today's Cabinet meeting.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “Cabinet agreed that it was positive that for the first time Parliament had indicated that it could support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to changes to the backstop and that it had reiterated its commitment to both avoiding a hard border and leaving the EU with a deal.
“The Prime Minister said that our objective now is to secure a legally-binding way of guaranteeing we cannot be trapped indefinitely in the backstop.
“To achieve this we have launched urgent pieces of work examining alternative arrangements to the backstop and considering legal changes that could provide a unilateral exit mechanism or a time limit to the backstop.
“The PM said the discussions with the EU will not be easy but Parliament has sent a clear message that a change to the backstop is the only way to get a deal approved.
“The PM added that last week showed that a second referendum does not have the support of the House. She said that while Labour did not whip for the Brady amendment Jeremy Corbyn said he also has concerns about the backstop, so this is an issue that needs to be resolved not just for our [Conservative] colleagues and the DUP but for MPs across the House.”
The spokesman added that there was no discussion, apart from a brief mention, of the UK delaying its exit from the EU.
He said: “If there was any at all it was reiterating the determination to leave on March 29th. It only came up very fleetingly.”
The spokesman also confirmed that Gavin Barwell, Mrs May’s chief of staff, went to Brussels yesterday for talks “with EU politicians”.
He confirmed that Mrs May will go to Brussels on Thursday for talks with Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU President.
Mrs May is expected to travel alone to Brussels without any ministers from her team, The Telegraph understands.

Theresa May set for Thursday morning meeting in Brussels

The Prime Minister's crunch meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday is expected to take place at 11am Brussels' time.
It is also thought Mrs May will meet separately with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, although that is yet to be confirmed.

EU: Backstop a 'central piece' of Brexit deal 

Asked if Theresa May would present an alternative to the backstop at her meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said: "Let's see how the meeting develops on Thursday."
He added the backstop was a "central piece" of the Withdrawal Agreement and of "fundamental importance" to addressing the issues around the Irish border.

Theresa May to visit Brussels on Thursday

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, will meet Mrs May on Thursday, an EU spokesman said.
"While the commission's position is clear, we are waiting to see what the prime minister has to say," European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters on Tuesday.
The spokesman said Mrs May would come to the commission's Berlaymont headquarters a day after Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar's talks on Wednesday with EU leaders.

People's Vote campaigners: Backstop or no backstop, Brexit deal still bad news for Northern Ireland

Anna McMorrin, a Labour MP and supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said that regardless of the backstop, Theresa May's deal was "still bad news for Northern Ireland".
“Backstop or no backstop, the deal will deepen divides in Northern Ireland. Today whether a resident of Northern Ireland holds an Irish or a British passport makes no difference to their rights and their status.
"That is the very foundational principle of the Good Friday Agreement. Backstop or no backstop that will change after Brexit.
“Northern Ireland voted against Brexit and all the polling shows that opposition to leaving the EU has only grown. Yet the voice of those in Northern Ireland who oppose Brexit goes unheard in our Parliament and so the majority of citizens of Northern Ireland are left unrepresented on this crucial matter.
“Instead of playing another round of fantasy Brexit, the Prime Minister should hand this decision back to the public in a People’s Vote.”

Liam Fox 'planning to cut import tariffs to zero in no-deal Brexit' 

The International Trade Secretary is reportedly working on a no-deal contingency plan which would see tariffs on all imports to the UK cut to zero.
The Huffington Post website said Dr Fox is contemplating using ministerial powers to make a last minute change to the Trade Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, which would allow the Government to make sweeping changes to the tariff schedule if inflation increased dramatically after a disorderly Brexit.
The plan has sparked fears in the manufacturing industry that the UK market could be flooded with cheap foreign goods.
Perhaps most interestingly a spokesman for Dr Fox apparently did not shoot the story down, saying: “No decision has been taken and the Government is currently considering all options in the event of a no-deal with the EU.”

Chris Grayling: Brussels to blame if no Brexit deal agreed

The Transport Secretary told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview that the EU would have to "take responsibility" if the UK leaves the bloc without an agreement.
“We have taken to our parliament the deal reached in November and our parliament has said no,” he said.
“We want to work with the EU to reach a deal but if they are not prepared to do that – they will have to take responsibility that we are heading towards a no-deal exit.
“If they are not willing to compromise, if they’re not willing to work with us to find common ground – it will be down to them if there is no deal.”
Mr Grayling also discussed Nissan's U-turn and dismissed suggestions Article 50 could be extended.
You can read the interview in full here.

DExEU runs up £45,000 bill for printing Withdrawal Agreement

The Department for Exiting the European Union printed some 1,300 copies of the Withdrawal Agreement at an overall cost of £45,637.
Each document runs to almost 600 pages and, according to the BBC, which obtained the figures using Freedom of Information laws, many of them remain uncollected in Parliament.
Theresa May is currently trying to change the Withdrawal Agreement which will mean the document will likely have to be reprinted in its entirety if and when the time comes for MPs to vote on a new version.
DExEU said the cost included "secure deliver and handling of the document".

Angela Merkel: Still time to fix Brexit deal

The German Chancellor is in Japan on an official visit and she has told an economic conference in Tokyo that there is still time to find a way forward on Brexit.
She said: "From a political point of view, there is still time.
"That should be used, used by all sides. But for this it would be very important to know what exactly the British side envisages in terms of its relationship with the EU."
Acknowledging that the tight timeframe was difficult for businesses desperate for certainty given "just-in-time" production systems, Ms Merkel said the "special" problem was the Irish border and the backstop agreement.
"It should be humanly possible to find a solution to such a precise problem. But this depends ... on the kind of trade deal that we forge with each other," she said.

Arlene Foster: Backstop would lead to break up of United Kingdom

The DUP leader is due to meet with Theresa May in the coming days when she is expected to reiterate her party's opposition to the backstop.
Ms Foster said that if the backstop issue is resolved then her party would back the Prime Minister's Brexit deal.
But she would not be drawn on what solution to the backstop would be acceptable to her when she spoke to the BBC's Today programme this morning.
Removing the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement, inserting an expiry date or creating a unilateral exit mechanism for the UK have all been floated as potential solutions.
But Ms Foster said: "I think it is for the Prime Minister obviously to negotiate in relation to these matters. I am not certainly going to get caught up in the semantics of all of that this morning.
"I think Brussels has been asking for a clear ask from the United Kingdom Government and they now have that clear ask.
"They have known all along that the backstop causes great difficulties, particularly for those of us who are unionists in Northern Ireland."
Ms Foster said the backstop as currently designed ultimately risked the break up of the United Kingdom.
Arlene Foster, the DUP leader  Credit: Yui Mok/PA
She said: "The current backstop as I have said all along is toxic to those of us living in Northern Ireland and indeed for unionists across the United Kingdom because it would cause the break up of the United Kingdom into the medium and longer term and I think that is something that people are very concerned about."
Ms Foster said creating a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland was not an acceptable price for avoiding a hard border.
She said: "We cannot have a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to replace a border on the island of Ireland.
"That just would be madness for the economy of Northern Ireland."
She also said the DUP would support the Prime Minister's deal if the backstop issue was resolved.
“We have been very clear on all occasions that if the backstop is dealt with in the Withdrawal Agreement then despite the fact that we may have misgivings around other parts of the Withdrawal Agreement we will support the Prime Minister because we do want Brexit to happen in an orderly and sustained fashion,” she said.

Government to pay law firm £800,000 for Brexit legal advice over potential Eurotunnel row

The Government has awarded an £800,000 contract to a law firm for advice in case Eurotunnel takes legal action over the impact of Brexit.
Lawyers at Slaughter and May will provide support to the Department for Transport (DfT) in the "highly likely" event that Eurotunnel pursues litigation.
In January, Eurotunnel, part of the Getlink group, accused the Government of "distortionary and anti-competitive" behaviour over the award of contracts worth more than £100 million to provide additional cross-Channel capacity in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling defended giving a contract worth almost £14 million to Seaborne Freight - a firm with no ships.
Getlink chief executive Jacques Gounon wrote to Mr Grayling to voice "serious concern" about the decision to award contracts to three ferry companies.
Mr Gounon said Getlink "reserve all our rights to challenge such a measure both in the UK and France".
He argued that Eurotunnel's Le Shuttle service was the "most efficient way" to supply vital goods to the UK and would remain so even if new border procedures were introduced after Brexit.
Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary Credit: Toby Melville/Reuters
A description of the contract awarded to Slaughter and May on a Government website says it is "to obtain an external legal resource to provide advice and assistance to DfT on the Cross-Channel Rail Services".
But the BBC said the wording had been changed and had previously said that Getlink had "expressed concern that their business may be disturbed or interfered with... and that this will in turn hit their profits".
It added: "It is highly likely that they would seek to protect their business and profits through litigation against the department."
A spokesman for the DfT said the Government routinely sought legal advice.
He added: "This multi-annual contract is to provide advice on a wide range of areas relating to the Channel Tunnel and EU exit."
Seaborne aims to operate freight ferries from Ramsgate in Kent to the Belgian port of Ostend, beginning with two ships in late March and increasing to four by the end of the summer. Eurotunnel declined to comment.

Sir Keir Starmer opens door to free movement of workers after Brexit

The shadow Brexit secretary was on the BBC's Newsnight programme last night and he suggested he would be happy with free movement of workers after the UK has left the European Union.
Sir Keir was asked if he could live with the idea of a “Norway Plus” Brexit in which you would not have free movement of citizens but you would have free movement of workers.
He replied: “Well, that would have to be explored, and the precise, detail of this, but before I was shadow Brexit secretary, I was shadow immigration secretary and I went round the country talking about immigration.
"From these discussions, although there are obviously different views, I think most people would agree that if somebody is coming to do a job and it needs to be done and it has been advertised locally beforehand with nobody able to do it, then most people say ‘I would accept that’.
Sir Keir Starmer Credit: David Young/PA
“Most people say that if this is about family reunification, if you are coming to join your family, that is something I can accept.
“And most people I think would say, if somebody wants to come here to study, and is genuine, then of course please come and study. In fact, let’s celebrate that.
“So I actually think we get stuck on the freedom of movement discussion too early without saying ‘well, what does a principled, effective and fair immigration policy look like?’
“Now I am not setting one out here, I’m just saying that needs to be the debate and when we get into that debate, we may find we can make better progress than we think.”

Lord Trimble accuses EU and UK of 'breaking promise' to protect Belfast Agreement

The former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has accused the EU and UK of breaking promises made in the Good Friday Agreement as he confirmed he is exploring legal action over the terms of the Brexit deal.
Lord Trimble, one of the architects of the Northern Ireland peace process who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the agreement, is working on the plans to challenge the deal in the High Court in London.
He told the BBC: "In the agreement, both British and Irish governments undertook to support the agreement and what they have done, both of them, they have broken that promise."
Lord Trimble also accused the EU of a "raid" on the Belfast Agreement.
He said: "What Brussels is worried about is that Ireland could become a backdoor whereby goods that don't meet their regulatory standards come in.
"That can be solved by putting ion place undertakings on businessmen to ensure goods coming in have the requisite regulatory provisions.
"That is where Brussels has a good case. What it doesn't have a good case for is having this raid on the Belfast Agreement's provisions and to hold out for something that is going to do serious damage to Northern Ireland and indeed to Northern Ireland's place inside the United Kingdom which is always going to be a huge problem for us."

Source: The Telegraph

Jan 17, 2019

Calls for a second Brexit referendum grow as Theresa May fights for a new deal

Holly Ellyatt

Premium: People's Vote Brexit Deal Rally, Parliament Square, London
A People’s Vote rally in Parliament Square. People assemble to watch the debate in Parliament and the final vote on the Brexit deal.
Barcroft Media | Barcroft Media | Getty Images
In one of the more dramatic weeks in British politics, following the defeat of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement and her government’s survival of a no-confidence vote, calls are now growing for a second Brexit referendum.
Political leaders from the Scottish National Party (SNP), Wales’ Plaid Cymru, the Green party and Liberal Democrats are calling on their fellow opposition party, Labour, to join them in calling for a second referendum on Brexit, known now as a “People’s Vote.”
In an open letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn following the unsuccessful vote of no confidence which he called, and which the other opposition parties had supported, the party leaders said they were writing to “implore” him to now support their calls for “a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.”
Pascal Lamy, former World Trade Organization chief, told CNBC Thursday that he too believed a second referendum “is now an option.”
“I would not have said that six months ago and I was among those who believed that the odds of a new referendum were extremely low but I think they’re clearly higher now. But of course for such a scenario to appear there has to be a ‘stop the clock’ between the U.K. and EU.”
“I think everyone knows that either organizing a second referendum, or taking the time to reconcile the various positions which haven’t been done over the last two and a half years (on Brexit) is not going to be done in one week.”
Following her near-defeat Wednesday evening, Theresa May invited other parties to work with her to find a way out of the impasse over Brexit. Labour said it would only do so if a no-deal scenario was ruled out.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland and leader of the SNP, also called on the prime minister to rule out no-deal and to consider a second referendum.
Business leaders call for a second vote
Influential industry leaders from the U.K. retail, media and telecommunications world, among others, have also called for a second referendum on Thursday.
In a letter to The Times newspaper, 130 execs said that “businesses backed the prime minister’s Brexit deal despite knowing that it was far from perfect. But it is no longer an option … We urge the political leadership of both the main parties to support a People’s Vote.”
“The only feasible way to do this is by asking the people whether they still want to leave the EU. With the clock now ticking rapidly before we are due to quit, politicians must not waste any more time on fantasies.”
The calls for a second Brexit referendum are now coming from current political leaders, business chiefs and former prime ministers, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Major, from across the political spectrum.
Pro-Brexit groups argue that holding another referendum would be undemocratic, arguing that the government should work to deliver the result of the 2016 referendum instead.
The prime minister has also repeatedly refused to consider a second Brexit referendum. Labour too has sat on the fence when it comes to supporting another vote on the Brexit deal, or Withdrawal Agreement, that was reached by May’s government and the EU.
On Tuesday, May lost a crucial parliamentary vote when the Brexit deal was voted down by a majority of the U.K. Parliament (432 votes against it and only 202 for it). Following that historic defeat, Labour then called a no-confidence in the government which was also voted down, but only just.
May’s government survived by 325 votes to 306 as May was backed by members of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Brexiteer lawmakers who had just 24 hours earlier voted against her Brexit deal.
All the while the U.K.’s departure date from the EU, March 29, is fast approaching. The government has until Monday to come up with a “plan B” but it’s unlikely that the EU will make any amendments to the deal on offer to the U.K. As such, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, no Brexit at all, or a second referendum or an extension to the departure date, are all seen as possible options now.
A no-deal Brexit, in which the U.K. abruptly leaves the EU overnight on March 29 with neither a 21-month transitionary period nor trading relationship in place is seen as the most potentially damaging option for the U.K.

Source: CNBC

Oct 30, 2018

No-deal Brexit would trigger lengthy UK recession, warns S&P: Opinion I Brexit I The Guardian

Phillip Inman

Britain’s economy will suffer rising unemployment and falling household incomes that would trigger a recession should Theresa May fail to secure a deal to prevent the UK crashing out of the European Union next year, according to analysis by the global rating agency Standard & Poor’s.
Property prices would slump and inflation would spike to more than 5% in a scenario that S&P said had become more likely in recent months following deadlock with Brussels over a post-Brexit deal.
In a warning that included a possible downgrade to the UK’s credit rating, which would bring with it an increase in the Treasury’s borrowing costs, S&P said it still expected both sides in the Brexit talks to come to an agreement before next March, when the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.
But it warned that the chance of a “no-deal” Brexit had risen in recent months to such an extent that it needed to warn international investors about the potential challenges ahead.
The S&P report said:
  • Unemployment would rise from current all-time low of 4% to 7.4% by 2020 – a rate last seen in the aftermath of the financial crisis;
  • house prices would likely fall by 10% over two years;
  • household incomes would be £2,700 lower a year after leaving without a deal;
  • inflation would rise, peaking at 4.7% in mid-2019;
  • London office prices could fall by 20% over two to three years, similar to the decline following the 2008 financial crash.
Negotiations with the EU are about to enter the final few weeks, and while May has said an agreement is 95% complete, crucial areas, including the fate of the Northern Ireland border, remain unresolved.
A demand by EU negotiator Michel Barnier for a backstop that would keep the Irish border open to trade, even if that meant separating the province from the mainland and creating a border in the Irish sea, has been rejected by the prime minister.
The impasse has fuelled doubts that a deal can ever be agreed in what time is left before each side must seek ratification.
S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Paul Watters, said: “Our base-case scenario is that the UK and the EU will agree and ratify a Brexit deal, leading to a transition phase lasting through 2020, followed by a free trade agreement.
“But we believe the risk of no deal has increased sufficiently to become a relevant rating consideration. This reflects the inability thus far of the UK and EU to reach agreement on the Northern Irish border issue, the critical outstanding component of the proposed withdrawal treaty.”
Coming only a day after the chancellor said the failure to secure a deal would force him to hold an emergency budget, S&P’s analysis joins a welter of independent reports that forecast that a split from the EU without a deal will deala serious blow to the prospects of the UK economy. Last month rival agency Moody’s said the risks to the British economy had “risen materially” in recent months.
Failure to agree a deal with Brussels would lead to a sharp fall in the value of the pound, triggering higher inflation and a squeeze on real wages lasting for as long as three years, it warned.
Adding to the weight of opinion, the International Monetary Fund and and the OECD have also said that crashing out of the EU without a deal was a material risk to the UK, the EU and the global economy.
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The warnings are likely to be dismissed by leading Brexiteers as an extension of the Treasury’s “project fear”, which predicted steep falls in household incomes, house prices and inflation.
Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Duncan Smith told the chancellor ahead of the budget that he was being too gloomy about Britain’s economic prospects outside the EU, even if it meant coping with trade barriers at EU border posts.
Rees-Mogg argued that Britain’s economy would be set free by leaving the EU, and though he preferred a deal to secure frictionless trade, this would be counterproductive if it tied the UK to EU rules for many years.
But Britain’s national income has already grown more slowly this year than expected prior to the EU referendum, with GDP growth below its previous trend of 2% to 2.5% and with wages only just inching ahead of inflation this year.
S&P said leaving the EU without a deal would make matters much worse, pushing the UK into a moderate recession lasting between a year and 15 months, with GDP contracting by 1.2% in 2019 and 1.5% in 2020. After that, the economy would return to growth, it said, though the pace of growth would be moderate.
“By 2021, economic output would still be 5.5% less than what would have been achieved in a scenario with an orderly exit and transition period for the UK,” it said in its report, Countdown To Brexit: No Deal Moving Into Sight.
S&P said high street banks would be caught up in the downturn, though efforts to shore up their reserves over the last eight years would provide protection against rising corporate insolvencies and weaker house price values.
Housing associations would also come under financial pressure from a fall in house values. Meanwhile, insurers would need to plan for a downgrade in the UK’s credit rating, which would increase their borrowing costs.

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