7 March 2017

Theresa May warns peers against “incentivising” EU to give UK a bad deal

The House of Lords today will vote on an amendment to the European Union (Notification Of Withdrawal) Bill that calls for Parliament to be given a “meaningful” vote on the withdrawal agreement secured by Prime Minister Theresa May during Article 50 negotiations. May’s spokesman said, “On the issue of the meaningful vote we shouldn’t commit to any process that would incentivise the EU to offer us a bad deal. If we are in a position where any deal negotiated by the Prime Minister could be rejected by MPs, that gives strength potentially to other parties in the negotiation.” He continued, “Our view is that this should be a simple bill in relation to triggering Article 50. It will be a meaningful vote. But what we don’t want to do is commit to anything that would weaken our hand in negotiations.” Separately, former Chancellor Lord Lamont said, “Amendments should not be used as a cover by those who are seeking to oppose the results of the referendum…I hope that my colleagues in the House of Lords will see sense and I look forward to Article 50 being triggered as soon as possible.”

This comes as internal documents from the Department for Exiting the EU were revealed as reading, “You agreed to take a power in the Great Repeal Bill to implement the agreement via secondary legislation, but that any important changes should be implemented via primary legislation.” These comments are taken to refer to the government’s suggestion that, outside the remit of the Great Repeal Bill, there would be full parliamentary debate and scrutiny of major policy changes that resulted from the UK’s exit from the EU via primary legislation.

Source: The Press Association The Daily Telegraph

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Home Secretary: European Arrest Warrant participation a “priority” for Brexit

Speaking at Home Office questions, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said, “The European Arrest Warrant is an effective tool and is absolutely essential to delivering effective judgment to the murderers, rapists and paedophiles that we have managed to seek judgment on. It is a priority to ensure that we do remain part of it and I can also reassure honourable colleagues throughout the House that this is something that our European partners would like to achieve as well.”

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Lord Hague calls for an end to fixed-term parliaments to ease Brexit

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague writes, “It is time to question whether a fixed parliamentary term is in the interests of the country as we withdraw from the European Union… There is no doubt that [the Government] would be in a stronger position to take the country through these challenges successfully if they had a large and decisive majority in the Commons and a new full term ahead of them.” He continues, “As British law needs to be amended countless times to take account of leaving the EU treaties, the Government could face many close votes, concessions or defeats as it tries to implement Brexit. That prospect will embolden the EU negotiators, and makes an agreement that is good for the UK harder to achieve.”

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PSA Group buys Vauxhall and highlights “export potential opportunity” of “Hard Brexit”

French automaker, PSA Group, which owns the Peugeot and Citroën car brands, has closed a deal with General Motors (GM) to buy Vauxhall-Opel, which owns plants in the UK. Downing Street commented, “The Prime Minister set out to Ms Barra (CEO of GM) the importance of the Vauxhall brand to the UK and reiterated her desire for the jobs at both plants to be secured for the long term. Ms Barra made clear that Vauxhall would remain a British brand and that the deal would recognise and respect all agreements regarding the workforce.” Downing Street also stressed that “In terms of specific assurances none sought, none given. We have a stated position that we will ensure the competitiveness of this country when it comes to the supply chain, research and development and trade.” Mike Hawes, chief executive of The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said, “We have been encouraged by the active role government has played reassuring investors of its determination to safeguard our competitiveness despite the uncertainty of Brexit. The UK is a competitive player in the automotive industry thanks to its rich heritage, record levels of productivity, skilled workforce and strong collaboration with government.” CEO of the PSA Group, Carlos Tavares, also suggested a “Hard Brexit” would present “an export potential opportunity” for the automaker.

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Former French presidential hopeful rejects calls to replace François Fillon

Alain Juppé, runner-up in France’s centre-right primaries to nominate a presidential candidate, yesterday formally ruled himself out of the running. Juppé was considered a natural replacement for the official centre-right candidate, François FIllon, who has lost the support of key members of his party after he announced he was under formal investigation for abuse of public funds. In a press statement yesterday, Juppé said, “I am not able, today, to achieve the necessary unity around a unifying project and that is why I am confirming, once and for all, that I will not stand as a candidate for the French Presidency.” He added that Fillon’s candidacy was at an impasse.

This comes as President of the Senate, Gerard Larcher, yesterday confirmed the Republican party’s political committee “unanimously renewed their support” for François Fillon’s candidacy. General Secretary of the Republican party, Bernard Accoyer, added, “[Achieving] unity is the unanimous will of the Republican political committee.” He also confirmed a meeting between François Fillon, Alain Juppé and former President Nicolas Sarkozy will take place today.

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Chancellor prepares to raise taxes in Spring Budget

The Times reports that Chancellor Philip Hammond is preparing to raise taxes in this Wednesday’s Spring Budget. The Treasury is reportedly considering raising taxes on self-employed workers to bring them closer to the PAYE system model. The Chancellor is also expected to allocate £23bn to the national productivity investment fund, and £500m to support electric vehicles, robotics and artificial intelligence.

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OE’s Director quoted by The Daily Telegraph and Head of Brussels office discusses Dutch elections

Discussing options contained within Jean-Claude Juncker’s White Paper on the future of the European Union after Brexit, Open Europe’s director Henry Newman was quoted by Juliet Samuel in The Daily Telegraph saying “Two-speed Europe was one of the many things we were told was a British obsession,” on which Samuel said, “It’s gone from British obsession to EU policy in just one year.” In a separate article in The Daily Telegraph, Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe discussed the upcoming Dutch elections, writing, “The popularity of anti-system forces in the Netherlands and beyond can probably be explained through a multitude of factors: uncontrolled mass immigration, problematic integration of existing minorities and Islamic terrorism, a welfare state struggling to cope with an ageing population, supranational overreach and, last but not least, technological disruption challenging the status quo in many ways. In terms of the EU debate, a more modest EU, focused on scrapping trade barriers without organizing mass financial transfers and micromanaging national or local issues, could fit very well in today’s mood.”

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