6 February 2017

27 Tory MPs said to be ready to back amendments to Withdrawal Bill

The Financial Times reports that the Prime Minister could face a revolt by rebel Conservative MPs who are considering supporting an amendment to give parliament a say in the event that no Brexit deal is reached. Chair of the Conservative European Research Group, Steve Baker, has said, “I understand 27 Conservative MPs plan to support wrecking amendments to the Withdrawal Bill, weakening the Prime Minister’s hand and exposing the bill to damage in the Lords.”

Meanwhile, The Times reports that Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry yesterday said that Labour “will not frustrate Brexit” even if it fails to secure amendments to the Withdrawal Bill. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, she added, “There are going to be negotiations going on in the next week…There will need to be back channels, private conversations…We are speaking to government, we are speaking to Tory backbenchers and we are trying to get a compromise that will work.”

The three-day Commons’ committee stage of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill begins today.

Source: The Financial Times The Times The Independent BBC News

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Schäuble: London’s financial centre “serves the European economy as a whole”

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told Tagesspiegel in an interview published yesterday, “We want to keep Britain close to us. London’s financial centre, for instance, serves the European economy as a whole. London offers financial services in a quality that one doesn’t find on the continent. That would indeed change a bit after a separation, but we must find reasonable rules here with Britain.” He also stressed, “We don’t want to punish the Brits for their decision” to leave the EU.

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Merkel confirms future “multi-speed EU”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the European Council summit in Malta last Friday, “The history of recent years has shown that there will be multi-speed EU, and not all members will participate in the same steps of integration.”

This comes as MEP Daniel Hannan wrote in the Telegraph, “Let’s use Brexit to set a precedent, creating an outer tier linked to the EU by free trade, military alliance, and intergovernmental co-operation…Such a status could then be extended to any other nearby state – not just Iceland and Switzerland but, in time, Morocco, Israel, Ukraine and, more pertinently, other EU countries that wanted to swap full membership for something looser.”

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Latvian PM says member states are seeking “the best possible trading relationship with the UK”

Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis told Sky News from the EU Malta summit last week that a reasonable solution should be sought with the UK and any differences could be overcome. “Every member state is looking to build the best possible trading relationship with the UK and I think that the whole union will also benefit from a strong trading relationship with the UK,” he said.

However, EU leaders also used to the summit to reject the possibility of Prime Minister Theresa May acting as a ‘bridge to [US President] Donald Trump.’ French President François Hollande said, “Of course it is not about asking one particular country, be it the UK or any other, to represent Europe in its relationship with the United States.”

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UK to draft contingency legislation for corporation tax cuts as a negotiation fallback option

The Sunday Telegraph reports that ministers will draft legislation to enable cuts in corporation tax should negotiations with the EU not yield a good deal for the UK. The Brexit White Paper published by the government last week outlines the government’s readiness to “ensure that our economic and other functions can continue, including by passing legislation as necessary to mitigate the effects of failing to reach a deal.”

Separately, a poll of business leaders conducted by Ipsos MORI found that 58 per cent felt the vote to leave the EU was negatively impacting their business, while 11 per cent saw the vote positively and 31 said it had had no effect. Ben Page, Ipsos MORI chief executive, said, “Business in this country is already feeling the pain of the economic upheaval of leaving the EU. There is no sign that this is likely to ease this year.”

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High Court dismisses second Brexit challenge

On Friday the High Court rejected a second Brexit challenge over whether the government must give parliament a separate vote on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Economic Area. Lord Justice Lloyd Jones said in his ruling, “In our judgment, these present claims are premature. The relevant situations against which the claims might be assessed have not yet occurred.” A government spokesperson said, “We are glad to see this attempt to seek a judicial review dismissed. As the Prime Minister has said, we will not be a member of the single market and we will be seeking a broad new partnership with the EU including a bold and ambitious free trade agreement.”

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Marine Le Pen launches presidential bid on an anti-Eurozone platform

Marine Le Pen, leader of the French Front National, launched her presidential campaign this weekend in Lyon, in which she promised to pull France out of the Eurozone if elected. She said, “By staying in the Euro, they are sinking our economy, they are sustaining mass unemployment and they are giving the European Union the force to impose its views, its inept directives and its millions of migrants.”

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