11 September 2017

David Davis: A vote against the Repeal Bill is a vote for a chaotic Brexit

Ahead of a vote tonight at second reading of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, also known as the Repeal Bill, Brexit Secretary David Davis said in a statement, “A vote against this bill is a vote for a chaotic exit from the European Union. Businesses and individuals need reassurance that there will be no unexpected changes to our laws after exit day and that is exactly what the repeal bill provides.” Separately, writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he argues, “Without this Bill the country’s statute book simply would not work after Brexit…The Repeal Bill offers legal continuity.” Criticising the Labour party’s decision to vote against the Repeal Bill today, he writes, “This is not about government ministers watering down people’s rights or changing EU laws that they don’t like. So any broad attempt to block the Bill, without any sense of viable alternative is simply an attempt to thwart the democratic process.”

In an interview with Politico, Labour chair of the House of Commons’ Brexit Select Committee, Hilary Benn, said, “Ministers are proposing to take it almost entirely to themselves with the Henry VIII powers in the Bill. We have seen criticism not only from Labour but from a number of Conservatives who see that this cannot be squared with the argument that Brexit is about ‘taking back control’.”

Separately, Labour MP Caroline Flint told BBC Radio 4 this morning that she would not be voting against the Bill, adding, “If this Bill did not pass its second reading today, it would kill the Bill, and that would affect the way in which we organise ourselves to transfer very important legislation into UK law.”

Source: Reuters The Sunday Telegraph Politico

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Financial Times: Theresa May to set out transition plan in Brexit update this month

The Financial Times reports that Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to set out the UK’s proposals for a Brexit transition period at a speech in Europe later this month. The speech is reportedly scheduled for 22 September, although the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, previously suggested May’s “important intervention” would take place on 21 September. The Financial Times adds that the Prime Minister will subsequently deliver a “robust” speech at Conservative party conference on 4 October to reassure party activists that she is committed to delivering Brexit. Her speech is expected to focus on domestic politics, but on Brexit, she will confirm that Britain’s departure will ultimately mean the UK taking control of its laws, money and borders, according to the FT.

Separately, speaking at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) annual conference today, general secretary Frances O’Grady will urge parliament, “Don’t box yourselves in. Don’t rule anything out. Keep all options on the table,” when it comes to the Brexit negotiations. She will also warn, “The clock is ticking and the government still hasn’t come up with a proper plan.” She will add, “We have set out our tests for the Brexit deal working people need. Staying in the single market and customs union would deliver it.”

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Tony Blair calls for 'emergency brake' on EU free movement

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change yesterday published a paper on EU migration that recommends that “the government seek to negotiate a strengthened ’emergency brake’ to implement temporary controls on free movement in particular sectors during peoples of high EU inflows.” It argues, “This would enable the UK to exercise greater control over immigration, whilst leaving open the option of the UK remaining within the EU.”

Separately, in a piece for The Sunday Times, former Prime Minister Tony Blair argues, “We can curtail the things that people feel are damaging about European immigration, both by domestic policy change, and by agreeing change within Europe to the Freedom of Movement principle, including supporting the campaign of [French] President Emmanuel Macron on the ‘posted workers directive’. This is precisely the territory that the Labour party should camp upon.” On his decision not to implement transitional arrangement following the Eastern European accession in 2004, he writes, “Back then the economy was strong, the workers were needed and actually the biggest annual numbers cam post-2011. But the real point is that the times were different; the sentiment was different; and intelligent politics takes account of such change.”

Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said, “It’s a bit late now, this epiphany…The country has decided we’re leaving – we’ve got to get on with that.”

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City envoy warns EU is spending "little energy" on long-term Brexit solutions

The Sunday Telegraph reports a leaked memo from the City of London’s special representative to the EU, Jeremy Browne, which reads, “Such a virtue is made of intransigence and ensuring that Britain learns lessons from the EU. The [EU’s] restricted mandate means little energy is expended on the imaginative search for long-term solutions…The EU machinery is going to make a show of ‘hanging tough’ at this stage. Even so, it is still sobering for anyone who hopes for a mutually beneficial post-Brexit partnership between the EU and Britain.” Browne also added, “It was stated again that the voice of businesses in the EU will not sway the political decision makers…Trade with Britain is, of course, significant, but there is little obvious sign of ranks being broken.” He also warned that “nobody seems to think an agreement is likely at the October [European] Council [summit] that ‘sufficient progress’ has been made on stage one of the negotiations.”

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Juncker to call for a “European renaissance” in State of the Union speech

The Times reports that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will set out plans for a “European renaissance” at his State of the Union address this week. He will encourage the EU to strike new trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, at a time when the US is becoming more protectionist. He is also expected to outline plans for a Eurozone finance minister and treasury, and an EU-wide framework to screen foreign investments. He will avoid the topic of the UK’s departure from the EU. However, Belgium Finance Minister Johan van Overtveldt has warned that the reform process laid out in Juncker’s speech risks a “boomerang effect,” with Eurosceptic parties capitalising on referendums for treaty revision.

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London ranked as world's most attractive financial centre

London was ranked first as the world’s most attractive financial centre, according to the Z/Yen global financial centres index (GFCI), which ranks financial centres on factors such as infrastructure and access to high quality staff. London was followed by New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. Financial lobby group TheCityUK warned against complacency and called for clarity over Britain’s Brexit transitional arrangements. Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer of TheCityUK, said, “Absent this, many firms have already started to activate their contingency plans and others will undoubtedly follow suit if these aren’t confirmed as soon as possible – and by the end of this year at the very latest.”

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Leopold Traugott: How the German elections may affect Brexit

In a blog on how the upcoming German elections might affect Brexit, Open Europe’s Leopold Traugott writes, “Whomever [Merkel] picks, her coalition partner(s) will inevitably influence her government, including its stance on Europe and Brexit negotiations. So far, the CDU has kept a strict line on Brexit. It has prioritised the integrity of the single market, the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and the continued unity of the remaining EU27. It is unlikely to abandon these goals. Once the terms of British departure are sufficiently clarified, however, the CDU will need to establish more concrete positions on how it sees the future relationship between Europe, Germany and the UK. It will need to agree these positions with its coalition partner. Between free trade-sceptical Greens, Euro-federalist SPD, and business-friendly FDP, the UK should carefully watch the election results and the coalition building process.” He continues, “The best likely outcome the UK can hope for would be a coalition of the CDU/CSU and Free Democrats (FDP).” He adds, “The possible outcome which would make Germany the most difficult negotiation partner for the UK is, fortunately, also the least likely: an entirely leftist coalition of the SPD, Greens and Die Linke…This scenario would only be possible if the CDU fails to form a government.” He concludes, “Germany’s role in shaping the agreement between the UK and EU will be crucial. While different coalition partners may tip the balance in favour or against the UK, ultimately it’s unlikely to shift the general direction of Brexit negotiations significantly, unless there’s a major upset.”

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