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The House of Lords yesterday voted by 366 to 268 in favour of an amendment to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill calling for parliament to be given a meaningful vote on the final exit deal negotiated with the EU. The amendment calls for parliament’s vote on the final deal to take place early enough in the process to be able to require government renegotiate with the EU.The vote hands government their second defeat on the Article 50 Bill, after peers last week voted in favour of guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in the UK.
The Secretary for Exiting the EU, David Davis, has called yesterday’s vote “disappointing,” adding, “It is clear that some in the Lords would seek to frustrate [the Article 50] process, and it is the government’s intention to ensure that does not happen. We will now aim to overturn these amendments in the House of Commons.”
Meanwhile Lord Heseltine was sacked from his government advisory roles following his rebellion on yesterday’s amendment for a meaningful vote. Lord Heseltine said, “This is entirely the right of the Prime Minister and I’m sorry that the expertise which I have put at the Government’s disposal over the last six years has now come to an end.” On the amendment, he said, this “secures in law the government’s commitment to ensure parliament is the custodian of our national sovereignty.”
Separately, peers also voted yesterday by 336 votes to 131 against a Liberal Democrat amendment to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill that called for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.
Meanwhile, in a report released yesterday, the House of Lords constitutional committee has recommended “limiting the scope of the delegated powers granted [to the government] under the Great Repeal Bill” and “putting in place processes to ensure that parliament has on-going control over the exercise of those powers.”
The Financial Times Press Association
The Guardian Politico
UK Chancellor Philip Hammond will today present his first Spring Budget and is expected to deliver an “upbeat assessment” of Britain’s economic future after Brexit. He is also expected to say he is ready to take “difficult decisions” on tax rises and spending cuts. The Chancellor will stress that his economic programme is laying the groundwork for “building a stronger, fairer, better Britain, outside the EU.” This comes as The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) upgraded UK economic growth to 1.6% this year, up from the 1.2% that was predicted in November. Speaking over the weekend, the Chancellor insisted that his priority is “making sure that our economy is resilient, that we’ve got reserves in the tank” for the coming years to deal with Brexit-related uncertainties.
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Express
A Downing Street spokesman yesterday rejected calls from the former Conservative leader Lord Hague to abandon fixed-term parliaments in order to ease Brexit negotiations and legislation. Number 10 sources said, “The Prime Minister has been very clear and consistent on her position on an early election. She does not think there should be one – and it is not in the interests of the country to have one. She is focused on delivering the Government’s agenda.”
The Evening Standard
India’s Minister of State for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, has said, “We’re looking at the UK for its strength, for its strategic location as the gateway to Europe. I still think Britain will have that strength [after Brexit]. There are lots of possibilities and therefore I don’t think that the Brexit negotiation or a hard deal matters.” However she urged the UK to “differentiate between [unskilled] migration and immigrant workers who come with high professional qualifications.” Sitharaman also confirmed that a London-Delhi working group had been established to prepare for formal trade negotiations once Brexit is completed.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Poland’s conservative government is demanding UK support in its bid to stop Donald Tusk being confirmed for a second term as European Council President. The vote is due to take place at the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels tomorrow. Tusk is understood to have the support of the overwhelming majority of member states, but Poland is refusing to back him and has put forward Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski as an alternative candidate. Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told the newspaper in a text message that “Saryusz-Wolski will be better for Brexit negotiations.”
The Daily Telegraph
The chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover, Ralf Speth, has warned that British-built cars will not increase use of domestic components for “a very long time, if at all it can be managed.” Around 40% of components used in the average British-built car are sourced domestically, while some trade deals require around 50-55% domestic content in order for cars to qualify for lower tariffs. Speth added, “Jaguar Land Rover is the biggest automotive company in the UK and the only one which really designs, engineers and also produces in the UK. The volume is still too small to really attract a huge Tier 1 supplier.” This comes after the vice-president of Nissan called for government investment to develop its domestic supply chain.
A spokesperson for the Home Office yesterday said, “EU citizens will not be removed from the UK or refused entry solely because they do not have comprehensive sickness insurance.” This comes amid concern that EU students would have to produce proof of private health insurance, as well as five years residence and education in the UK, to qualify for UK residency. The Home Office have insisted that the comprehensive sickness insurance requirement is “just a technicality.”