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Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Brexit Secretary David Davis said that despite the significant progress seen since June, many of the outstanding issues in the Brexit negotiations could not be addressed without discussions on the future relationship. Davis argued that the UK is “reaching the limits of what we can achieve” without moving on to discussions about the future trading relationship. He said, “Our aim remains to provide as much certainty to business and citizens on both sides. To provide that certainty, we must be able to talk about the future.”
On citizens’ rights, one of the key sticking points of the negotiations, Davis suggested that the UK’s efforts had in fact surpassed those of their EU counterparts, saying, “our proposals go further and provide more certainty than those of the Commission.” On the possibility of a no deal scenario, Davis said, “in a negotiation you always have to have the right to walk away – if you don’t, you get a terrible deal.”
Regarding the financial settlement, Davis reiterated the UK’s stance that it was too early to talk about agreeing any specific commitment, adding, “We’ve been clear that this must come later.” He said that, despite the claims made by the EU’s negotiators, the UK is not to blame for the stalled Brexit talks, and argued that the EU is “using time pressure to get more money out of us.” He added, “Bluntly, that is what’s going on. It’s obvious to anybody.”
Davis’ claims have been countered from the EU side, speaking ahead of a meeting of Europe ministers yesterday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said, “It takes two to accelerate [progress in Brexit talks]…It’s very important to maintain this constructive dynamic in the coming two months.” Meanwhile, Speaking on BBC Newsnight on Tuesday, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani dismissed Theresa May’s €20bn Brexit bill offer as “peanuts”, and said, “I’m not against the UK. But please, help us to help you.” Tajani argued that the true figure should be closer to 50 or 60 billion, and in reference to Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote he said, “We need our money back.”
Open Europe’s Director, Henry Newman, is quoted in the Financial Times, saying “One of the things that I was told by the Polish foreign minister [Witold Waszczykowski] is that the EU27 may disagree on all kinds of things, but there’s one thing that they agree on, and that’s that the UK should pay as much as possible for as long as possible.”
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Ahead of the European Council summit tomorrow, Council President Donald Tusk sent a letter to leaders calling on them to “preserve the unity that we have managed to develop over the past year” in order “to limit the damage caused by Brexit.” Tusk also wrote that Prime Minister Theresa May will “share her reflections about the current state of the Brexit talks” during the working dinner.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU coalition in the German parliament Michael Fuchs said that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is preventing the Brexit negotiations from moving forward with his stance on the divorce bill. Fuchs said, “You have to accept that there are a lot of things to be paid. Let me just say, pensions, which is not solved. This problem has to be solved and the UK has to come up with decent proposals.” On Prime Minister Theresa May’s offer in Florence he added, “It’s not a decent proposal, it’s a proposal but it’s not enough.” Fuchs argued that disputes within the Conservative Party were holding back progress, saying, “Boris Johnson is saying it’s too much. I don’t know what his influence [is], it seems to be pretty strong because otherwise she would come up with other proposals.”
Meanwhile, speaking at Foreign Office questions Johnson said on the issue, “It is up to our friends and partners in the EU now to look seriously at the offer we are making, particularly on citizens, and to make progress. Everybody wants to make progress. Everybody wants to give the 3.2m EU citizens in this country the maximum possible reassurance and security. That can only happen once our friends and partners decide to get serious in these negotiations.”
The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) yesterday forecast that if the UK and EU fail to reach a Brexit deal and the UK was to trade on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules it “would cut UK growth by 1.5 percentage points” until 2019. The report warns, “Business investment would seize up, and heightened price pressures would choke off private consumption. The current account deficit could be harder to finance, although its size would likely be reduced.” It admits, however, that “the outcome of Brexit negotiations is difficult to foresee. It could prove more favourable than assumed here, which would boost trade, investment and growth substantially”. In case Brexit was reversed, “The positive impact on growth would be significant”.
Meanwhile, inflation in the UK has risen to its highest level in more than five years, with consumer prices rising by 3 percent between September 2016 and 2017. According to Reuters, “a majority of economists” expect the Bank of England to increase interest rates “at its next meeting in November.”
Following the imprisonment of two separatist leaders, the Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull asked the EU to intervene. According to Turull, “This is not a question of independence yes or no, but of democracy, of having political prisoners in the 21st century,” stressing that “It is an attack on fundamental rights which Europe must protect.” On Monday he had already pointed out that “Giving in forms no part of this government’s scenarios”, and that “on Thursday, we won’t give anything different than what we gave on Monday.” Meanwhile, the Spanish Constitutional Court unanimously declared the unconstitutionality and therefore invalidity of the referendum.
The Home Office has said there has been an increase in hate crime in 2016/17. The number of offences rose to 80,393, a rise of 29% from the year before in 2015/16. The Home Office statement said, “The increase over the last year is thought to reflect both a genuine rise in hate crime around the time of the EU referendum and also due to ongoing improvements in crime recording by the police.”
The prospect of Brexit happening without any deal being reached between the UK and the EU is “unthinkable”, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said yesterday.
Asked whether, if there was “no deal of any form”, Britain would be as safe and secure as it currently is, she replied: “I think it is unthinkable there would be no deal. It is so much in their interests as well as ours – in their communities’, families’, tourists’ interests to have something in place.”
Ms Rudd also said it was “unthinkable” EU citizens would be asked to leave the UK after Brexit, but was unable to offer guarantees while negotiations continue.
Ms Rudd’s comments came as her Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, Philip Rutman, admitted that he could not rule out deploying the military to assist with border protection in the event of no UK-EU agreement on security and intelligence.
A year since Open Europe published its seminal report, How the UK’s financial services sector can continue thriving after Brexit, Open Europe is bringing together leading figures from the City to discuss what Brexit will mean for the financial services sector and what its priorities are in the Brexit negotiations. Speakers include chair of the House of Commons Treasury select committee, Nicky Morgan MP, chief executive officer for TheCityUK, Miles Celic, Editor of City A.M. Christian May. The discussion will be chaired by former trade minister Lord Maude. Places are limited and will allocated on a first come first served, register here to attend.