2 October 2018

Dominic Raab: “If the EU want a deal, they need to get serious”

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday in Birmingham, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government could deliver on its Brexit proposals “If the EU match our ambition and pragmatism… Unfortunately, that wasn’t on display in [last month’s informal] Salzburg [Summit].” Raab criticised the actions of EU leaders saying, “Our Prime Minister has been constructive and respectful. In return we heard jibes from senior leaders.” He added “Where the EU’s theological approach allows no room for serious compromise. And yet we are expected to cast aside the territorial integrity of our own country. If the EU want a deal, they need to get serious. And they need to do it now.” Meanwhile, Raab told the audience that the UK Government was prepared to “listen to alternative ways of delivering on the strategic criteria we have set out” as a “good deal would be the best outcome for everyone,” stressing that the UK’s “willingness to compromise is not without limits.” He also said that a deal that failed to deliver on the Conservative Party’s Brexit commitments would leave the UK with “no choice but to leave [the EU] with no deal,” adding that the UK could not “be bullied by the threat of some kind of economic embargo, into signing a one-sided deal against our country’s interests.”

Meanwhile, The Times reports that Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing “significant concessions” to the EU to break the deadlock in negotiations. The concessions reportedly would keep the UK bound to EU customs rules on goods beyond the end of the transition period in December 2020, and allow for checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Source: BBC Spectator Times

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Theresa May: Post-Brexit immigration policy to be based on skills

Prime Minister Theresa May announced that under a new post-Brexit immigration system, high-skilled migration will be given priority over low-skilled migration and that the same rules will apply for EU and non-EU migrants. May said, “The new skills-based system will make sure low-skilled immigration is brought down and set the UK on the path to reduce immigration to sustainable levels, as we promised. At the same time we are training up British people for the skilled jobs of the future.” In an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, May said that reducing the levels of migration below 100,000 per year remains the Government’s target.

Elsewhere, Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the Daily Mail, “We want the talent and skill that [migrants] are going to bring so it shouldn’t matter if that high-skilled person is coming from India, Australia or France. What matters is the skill that they are going to bring to the UK.” He also said that the new policies would result in unskilled immigration from Europe becoming “much lower than it is today.”

This comes as Javid will today set out the new immigration policy at the Conservative Party Conference.  In a statement, the Party said, “A white paper detailing how the new system will work will be published this autumn, ahead of an Immigration Bill next year.”

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Philip Hammond: No deal Brexit would mean checks at Irish border

Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said that the UK would be obliged to impose border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic in the event of a no deal Brexit. Hammond explained that a “WTO compliant border” would require checks, adding that “we will have to comply with the rest of  WTO regulations or we will find we can’t enforce our WTO rights against others.” Hammond’s comments seemed to contradict the Prime Minister’s earlier commitment to avoiding a hard border even if the UK left the EU without a deal.

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Poll: Majority of Northern Ireland voters not confident in May’s Brexit promise

A LucidTalk poll for The Times has found that 60 percent of voters in Northern Ireland do not believe the Prime Minister’s promise that Brexit will avoid a border in the Irish Sea. One third of DUP voters took this view while only 12 percent of the party’s supporters expressed full confidence in Theresa May’s pledge. The poll also shows that Northern Ireland voters are divided on holding a second referendum, with 50 percent in favour, 45 percent opposed and 5 percent undecided. If another referendum is held, 56 percent said they would vote Remain, 41 percent Leave and 3 percent are undecided.

Meanwhile, Sky News reports that the DUP are “pushing back hard” against further compromises on the backstop, as the Government looks at proposals involving UK-wide alignment on EU customs rules but regulatory alignment for Northern Ireland only. Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, has said in a Telegraph interview that she would not rule out a Canada-style deal if Chequers fails.  Foster said, “I’d have to see what that means for Northern Ireland in reality”, adding, “All I can say to you is that whatever is proposed, we will look at our red line, we will judge it against that red line.” She said that there had been “misinterpretation” around the Good Friday Agreement.

Elsewhere, speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, the Ulster Unionist Party leader, Robin Swann, said that “the EU needs to understand that Northern Ireland will not be used as a sacrificial lamb in Brexit negotiations.”

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Eurozone experiences lowest rate of unemployment since 2008

The Eurozone in August experienced its lowest rate of joblessness since 2008, at 8.1 percent, according to the European Commission’s statistics bureau Eurostat. Germany has the lowest unemployment number of all Eurozone members, at 3.4 percent, and Greece the highest, at 19.1 percent.

Elsewhere, economists warn that the Eurozone is facing an economic slowdown, as growth in money supply, a key indicator for future GDP growth, dropped from 4 percent in July to 3.5 percent in August. Claus Vistesen, chief Eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said, “We recently nudged our projection [for GDP growth in 2019 ] down to 1.6 percent, from 1.7 percent, a number which will fall to 1.5 percent in due course if this trend continues.”

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The Sun: Boris Johnson would delay Brexit by six months if he becomes Prime Minister

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has told senior Conservatives that he would delay Brexit by at least six months if he replaces Theresa May as Prime Minister, the Sun reports. The delay would reportedly be aimed at recalibrating negotiations with the EU, with Johnson convinced that the UK needs more time to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario. This comes ahead of Johnson’s speech at Conservative Party Conference today, which he will reportedly use to attack the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan for the future UK-EU relationship.

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Some EU military activities to be open to UK and US

Politico reports that the European Union will allow third-party countries, including the US and the UK, to participate in joint military cooperation project, the Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco). The EU intends to implement Pesco, in order to strengthen its military self-reliance and to improve competition among the defence industries of its member states.

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Open Europe Event TODAY: Discussing Brexit with Dominic Raab at the Conservative Party Conference

Open Europe is holding a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, where the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, will discuss Brexit negotiations with Henry Newman, Director of Open Europe. The debate will take place today (October 2) at 3:45 PM, in the Media Suite, ICC Birmingham. Please note that the event is held in the secure zone and you will need a security pass to attend. Tickets are available on Eventbrite. We will be live streaming the event on our Twitter page.