2 July 2019

Conservative leadership candidates to attend party hustings in Belfast

The two candidates for the Conservative Party leadership, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, will attend a party hustings in Belfast this morning.

This comes as Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, used a speech at Policy Exchange yesterday to set out a “ten point plan” for delivering Brexit if he wins the Conservative leadership election and becomes Prime Minister. Hunt’s proposals include the “immediate ramping up of No Deal preparation,” the establishment of a No Deal Cabinet Task Force, and the appointment of a new negotiating team convened drawn from the Conservative Party and representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). A Government under his leadership would prepare for a “No Deal Brexit Budget” to be delivered in September, and the Treasury would prepare a “No Deal Relief Programme” including a £6bn fund for the fishing and farming sectors.

Meanwhile, Hunt said he would put a new plan before the House of Commons and would “allow three weeks for negotiations with the EU,” before deciding by 30 September whether there would be a “realistic chance” that a Brexit deal would be passed by the House of Commons. He also said he would “reconfirm” that the rights of EU citizens living in the UK “will be protected whatever the outcome.” Hunt was endorsed for the leadership by the former Foreign Secretary and former Conservative leader, William Hague.

Elsewhere, Open Europe’s Director, Henry Newman, told Sky News last night that “The Conservative Party membership, which is the selectorate that matters now – those are the 160,000 people who will actually vote to make the decision – they are very, very concerned about the Brexit credentials of the candidates, that is where Boris Johnson has an enormous advantage.” He added, “The Parliamentary maths isn’t changing, there is a very, very narrow path through for any sort of Brexit deal.”

Source: Brexit Central Sky News Henry Newman Telegraph ITV

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EU leaders to resume top jobs discussion today after failing to reach agreement

The European Council summit ended with an impasse yesterday as EU leaders failed to reach an agreement on the candidates for the next leaders of EU institutions, including the post of European Commission President. The meeting was suspended by Council President Donald Tusk, and will resume today at 10AM London time.

Following the meeting French President Emmanuel Macron said, “Our credibility is profoundly tainted with these meetings that last for too long and lead to nothing. We give an image of Europe which is not serious,” adding that “a simplification of our procedures” was needed.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said “about 10 to 11 countries” are opposed to the ‘package’ reportedly agreed between France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last weekend, in which Socialist lead candidate Frans Timmermans would be put forward as the new Commission President. Conte added, “The problem … a pre-established ‘package’ decided somewhere else and Italy cannot accept this: the proposal must come from the European Council.”

Elsewhere, the new European Parliament will sit for the first time in Strasbourg today.

Source: Politico EurActiv Reuters

Chancellor: No Deal Brexit would eliminate Treasury’s fiscal reserves

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, warned yesterday, “The ‘fiscal firepower’ we have built up in case of a No Deal Brexit will only be available if we leave with an orderly transition. If not, it will all be needed to plug a hole a No Deal Brexit will make in the public finances.” This comes after both Conservative Party leadership contenders, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, promised in the last few days to use some of the £26.6bn allocated for a No Deal Brexit in the last budget for additional public spending.

Open Europe’s Henry Newman told BBC Radio London yesterday, “The Chancellor has kept a fiscal headroom… in the event of No Deal, but it will be up to the next Chancellor to decide how they balance the books. In a No Deal scenario, it will always be open to the Government to fund emergency spending through borrowing.”

Source: Guardian

Liberal Democrat leadership candidates rule out coalition with Labour under Corbyn

In a debate on Sky News yesterday, the two candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson and Ed Davey, ruled out entering a coalition with the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. In an interview with the Scottish Herald newspaper, Swinson clarified that the Lib Dems would not support the current Labour or Conservative parties in government, as both are “led by Brexiters,” but that she would “not say never” in the future. She added, “We need to stop Brexit and work with people who agree with us on that, and that’s not the leadership of the Conservatives or the Labour Party.” Both Swinson and Davey also ruled out a second Scottish independence referendum.

Source: Sky News Herald Scotland

UK manufacturing output falls to lowest level since 2013

The UK manufacturing’s level of output has fallen in June to a score of 48 on IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), its lowest level since February 2013.  IHS Director Rob Dobson commented, “The downturn in UK manufacturing deepened during June, as the impact of firms unwinding stockpiles built before the original Brexit date continued to reverberate through the sector and exacerbate weak demand,” adding, “There will need to be a substantial improvement in economic conditions at home and overseas, alongside reductions in both Brexit and domestic political uncertainties, if manufacturing is to see a sustained revival in the coming quarters.”

Elsewhere, the US Trade Representative yesterday announced the country could impose $4 billion (€3.5 billion) worth of tariffs on “additional products for tariff countermeasures in response to harm caused by EU aircraft subsidies.” The products include sausages, hams, pasta, olives and cheeses.

Source: City AM Deutsche Welle

Speaker blocks amendment aimed at preventing government funding in No Deal Brexit

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, said yesterday that he has not selected an amendment which threatened to block government funding in the event of a No Deal Brexit. The amendment to today’s financial legislation, known as “estimates,” was tabled by Conservative MP Dominic Grieve and Labour MP Margaret Beckett. It would have denied funding to four government departments – the Department for International Development, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Education, and the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government – in the event that a No Deal Brexit happened without explicit parliamentary approval. Grieve and Beckett have re-submitted their amendment today.

Elsewhere, the Labour MP and Chair of the Brexit Select Committee, Hilary Benn, told the BBC last night that “Parliament is basically in a state of suspended animation at the moment awaiting the outcome of the Tory leadership contest… but there will come a moment when we face a very, very stark choice, if the Prime Minister decides, whoever that is, that they want to propose to Parliament that we leave with No Deal.”

Source: Daily Mirror BBC Newsnight

Anna Nadibaidze: Why the EU can't decide on Jean-Claude Juncker's replacement

Writing for the Spectator’s Coffee House, Open Europe’s Anna Nadibaidze looks at yesterday’s European Council summit, where leaders were due to agree candidates for the next leadership of EU institutions. She argues that the “impasse in which EU leaders find themselves after a long night of failed discussions is just another example of the complex and politicised decision-making process that will characterise the dynamics in EU institutions for the next five years.”