17 July 2017

UK cabinet accepts that a Brexit transitional period is needed says Chancellor, as second round of negotiations begin

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the majority of cabinet recognises that there would have to be a period of transition when the UK leaves the EU, so long as it is of a limited duration “in order to avoid a hard landing.” Speaking on the BBC Andrew Marr show, Hammond added that during the transitional period the UK would be outside the EU’s single market. Hammond stressed that Brexit must “meet the concerns and requirements of both people who want a softer version of Brexit and those who campaigned hard to leave the EU.”

Elsewhere, speaking to BBC Sunday Politics, Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, has said the UK should be allowed to negotiate free trade deals during any Brexit transitional period. Asked if it is clear whether the UK could sign free trade deals during a transition period, Fox replied, “No, that’s to be negotiated, that’s one of the elements we will want to see.” Fox also stressed that there are “contingency plans across Whitehall” if there was to be a ‘no-deal’ scenario.

Meanwhile, Brexit Secretary David Davis will travel to Brussels today to begin the second round of Brexit negotiations to discuss possible financial obligations the UK has towards the EU. This comes as Brexit minister Baroness Anelay said last week that the government “will work with the EU to determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of our continuing partnership.” Davis will also warn the EU it cannot “pick the referee,” following the EU’s proposal to have the European Court of Justice (ECJ) arbitrate disputes. Davis will instead propose that where different industries require regulation, Britain and the ECJ should nominate judges to sit on a panel with an independent chairman.

Source: Press Association BBC Andrew Marr Show: Hammond transcript Financial Times The Times The Daily Telegraph

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We want to have our cake and eat it on Brexit, says Shadow Business Secretary

Speaking on the BBC Sunday Politics show, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, has said the option of staying in the single market should remain open and has called for “a more flexible approach that maintains the benefits that we currently have in the single market whilst perhaps not being a member.” On the customs union, Long-Bailey said, “Again, the position is very similar. We want to maintain the benefits that we currently have within the customs union – we want to have our cake and eat it, as do most parties in Westminster.” Asked if such an approach was untenable, she replied, “That’s the whole point of negotiations. Not to be untenable, but to negotiate the position. Our end goal is to maintain the benefits we currently have as part of the customs union and the single market.

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France wants to use Brexit to weaken City of London even if Paris is not the beneficiary, warns Brexit envoy

In a leaked memo, City of London’s Brexit envoy, Jeremy Browne, has warned that France “[is] in favour of the hardest Brexit. They want disruption. They actively seek disaggregation of financial services provision.” Browne stated that his meeting with the French Central Bank was “the worst I have had anywhere in the EU” and they are clear about their underlying objective; “the weakening of Britain, the on-going degradation of the City of London.” Browne argued that France is happy to see “outcomes detrimental to the City of London even if Paris is not the beneficiary.” He added that France had become “more giddy and more assertive” following the election of French President Emmanuel Macron.

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UK will not strike a trade deal with EU if it does not include Gibraltar

Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, has said Brexit Secretary David Davis has offered “cast-iron assurances” that the UK will not strike a trade deal with the EU if it does not include Gibraltar. He added, “This is a fluid moment, it’s a moment of aspiration when we try and do the best possible deal for the whole of the UK, including Gibraltar, and success will mean Gibraltar is included in those trade arrangements where they are relevant. Picardo warned that, “If we [Gibraltar] are not included because Spain, and therefore the EU, have managed to exclude us, then that will mean failure on the part of the British negotiating team.”

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Tony Blair says “it’s possible that Brexit doesn’t happen”, but Labour Chancellor dismisses him as “out of touch”

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair told Sophy Ridge on Sunday, “I think it’s possible now that Brexit doesn’t happen…I think it’s absolutely necessary that it doesn’t happen because I think every day is bringing us fresh evidence that it’s doing us damage.”

The followed his piece for the Institute of Global Change on Saturday where he wrote, “The [election of French President Emmanuel Macron] changes the political dynamics of Europe. The members of the Eurozone will integrate economic decision-making. Inevitably, therefore, Europe will comprise an inner and outer circle. Reform is now on Europe’s agenda. The European leaders, certainly from my discussions, are willing to consider changes to accommodate Britain, including around freedom of movement.” He added, “Rational consideration of the options would sensibly include the option of negotiating for Britain to stay within a Europe itself prepared to reform and meet us half way.”

However, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell criticised Blair on the comments, branding him “out of touch.” He added, “To be frank, Mr Blair hasn’t really listened to the nature of the debate that is going on in the pubs, the clubs and school gates etc.”

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Lord O’Donnell: Brexit will require a long transition phase

Former head of the civil service, Lord O’Donnell, has warned that “there is no chance that all the details [of Brexit] will be hammered out in 20 months,” and has called on ministers to be honest about the “complexity of the challenge.” Writing in the Observer, Lord O’Donnell said, “The EU has clear negotiating guidelines, while it appears that cabinet members haven’t yet finished negotiating with each other, never mind the EU.” He added, “We will need a long transition phase and the time needed does not diminish by pretending that this phase is just about ‘implementing’ agreed policies as they will not all be agreed.” Meanwhile, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Britain’s former ambassador to the EU, has said there is a “one-in-three chance” that Brexit negotiations could break down if the talks “don’t move more in the direction of common sense and economic sense.”

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UK should consider EFTA says Iceland’s foreign minister

Iceland’s foreign minister, Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, has revealed he has spoken to his British counterpart, Boris Johnson about the UK joining European Free Trade Assocation (EFTA). Thórdarson added, “In my view, Iceland could also somehow take advantage of the free trade agreements the UK is going to have in the near future because it’s quite obvious that countries are going to want to strike a trade deal with the UK which is one of the largest economies in the world.”

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