16 January 2017

Theresa May’s Brexit speech expected to answer issues of EU customs union and single market

The Telegraph reports that Prime Minister Theresa May, in her Brexit address tomorrow, is expected say that Britain must be prepared to withdraw from the EU customs union in order to strike free trade deals with other countries. She is also expected to outline her commitments to regaining control of British borders – even if that requires withdrawing from the European single market – and ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Finally, the address is expected to call for an end to the division between Leave and Remain supporters. Sky News quoted a No 10 source as saying, “The issue of the single market and the customs union will be answered on Tuesday when the Prime Minister sets out her negotiations.”

As Downing Street sources briefed The Sunday Times that they expected a “market correction” as a result of the Prime Minister’s intervention, the pound fell below the $1.20 threshold not seen since October last year.

Separately, in an opinion piece for the Sunday Times, Brexit Secretary David Davis wrote, “Our broad aims for our new place in the world should already be clear: we will respect the views of the British people, we will bring back control over our laws and make our own decisions on immigration, we will aim to maintain co-operation on security as it is now, if not enhance it further, and we will seek the most open possible market with the EU while furthering trade links with the rest of the world.”

Elsewhere, in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Chancellor Philip Hammond has said, “If we have no access to the European market, if we are closed off, if Britain were to leave the European Union without an agreement on market access, then we could suffer from economic damage at least in the short-term. In this case, we could be forced to change our economic model and we will have to change our model to regain competitiveness. And you can be sure we will do whatever we have to do.”

Meanwhile, The Guardian reported that Lodewijk Asscher, leader of the Dutch Labour party (PvdA), which is currently a partner in the ruling coalition government, has said “I propose to come to a new trade agreement with Great Britain, but only if we can agree firmly upon tackling tax avoidance and stopping the fiscal race to the bottom.” In a letter to other social democrat leaders, Asscher also warned that radical reform of the current EU rules on immigration are needed. “Wage-lowering labour migration in Europe nowadays leads to unequal competition between workers,” he writes.

Source: The Guardian The Sunday Telegraph The Sunday Times Press Association The Sunday Times Bloomberg Sky News

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US president-elect Trump says he will move “very quickly” to set up a trade deal with the UK

In an interview with the Times and German newspaper Bild, US president-elect Donald Trump said he would look to establish a trade deal with the UK “very quickly,” adding, “I’m a big fan of the UK, we’re going to work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly…[Theresa May] is requesting a meeting and we’ll have a meeting right after I get into the White House…we’re going to get something done very quickly.” He also said, “I think Brexit is going to end up being a great thing,” adding, “You look at the European Union and it’s Germany. Basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out.”

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Jeremy Corbyn calls government’s Brexit approach “a recipe for some kind of trade war with Europe”

Responding to speculation that the Prime Minister will use her Brexit speech to announce Britain’s departure from the European single market, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, “It seems to me a recipe for some kind of trade war with Europe in the future.” He added, “She appears to be heading us in the direction of a bargain basement economy on the shores of Europe where we have low levels of corporate taxation, we will lose access to half our export market.” On the topic of EU immigration post-Brexit, he said, “If we are going to have access to a single market then there is going to be an issue surrounding that…It will involve people from Europe working here just as much as there are two million British people living and working in the European Union. Are we going to cut ourselves off completely? I don’t think so.”

Speaking on the same programme, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire said that Brexit will not be delayed by a potential Stormont election campaign following Martin McGuinness’ resignation. He said, “We are not delaying the (Brexit) timetable. We still remain absolutely committed to triggering the Article 50 process by the end of March.”

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Barclays’ chief says maintaining status quo for UK financial sector post-Brexit is “unrealistic”

John McFarlane, the chairman of Barclays, has said, “Retaining the passport is obviously the most attractive option [for the UK’s financial sector], but not necessarily the easiest to achieve.” He added, “We’re not looking for the status quo, because we think it’s unrealistic, but for what’s sensible.”

This comes as the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, reportedly said in a private meeting of MEPs, “Some very specific work has to be done in this area [the City of London]…There will be a special/specific relationship. There will need to be work outside of the negotiation box … in order to avoid financial instability.” However, Barnier denied calling for a special deal, clarifying, “When asked on equivalence I said: EU would need special vigilance on financial stability risk, not special deal to access the City.”

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‘Brexit Together’ group calls for vision that addresses concerns of both sides

In a letter to The Times, figures from all sides of the EU referendum campaign, including Labour MPs Stephen Kinnock and Caroline Flint, who supported a Remain referendum vote, and Conservatives Nadhim Zahawi MP and Daniel Hannan MEP, “welcome the publication today of the ‘Brexit Together’ manifesto, a vision for a Brexit settlement that addresses the central concerns of voters on both sides.” They argue that “Getting this right cannot be the sole property of the 52% or the 48% alone, so in 2017 we must leave the referendum trenches behind.”

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Rolls Royce CEO denies Brexit planning and says “it’s currently business as normal”

Chief executive of Rolls Royce Motor Cars, Torsten Müller-Ötvös has told the Press Association that his company is not pursuing assurances from the government if Britain leaves the single market. He said, “We don’t have any agreements with the Government so far, and there is currently no intention to structure any deals with the Government, and we are also not threatening the Government that we would withdraw here from the country.” He also denied that Rolls Royce is drawing up contingency plans or considering establishing an EU subsidiary to maintain access to the single market, saying, “If we’re doing maths and lots of calculations and whatever, this is for me a waste of time…For us, it’s currently business as normal.”

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