9 July 2019

EU leaders would be reluctant to grant another Brexit extension, says Irish PM

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday said there would be a “great deal of reluctance among European prime ministers to grant another [Brexit] extension beyond 31 October,” adding, “We certainly wouldn’t rule it, and from Ireland’s point of view we would be as facilitative to the UK as is possible, but I think a lot of other countries have become very frustrated at these rolling extension so if there was another extension I think it would really have to be for a particular purpose.”

Varadkar also told the Global Ireland Forum that in a No Deal Brexit, reconciling Ireland’s aims of both keeping the border with Northern Ireland open and respecting the EU’s single market rules would be challenging.

Elsewhere, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney yesterday warned, “The chances of a disorderly Brexit have never been higher and the Government now considers the risk of this outcome on October 31st as ‘significant’.” Writing for The Irish Times, Coveney said, “Our No Deal planning work with the European Commission will continue in the weeks ahead to achieve the shared twin goals of preventing a hard Border while also protecting the EU’s single market,” adding, “However, No Deal means we lose the [Irish] backstop and elements of the all-island economy are particularly vulnerable in this scenario.” This comes as the Irish Government will launch another series of No Deal Brexit contingency plans this week. Coveney will today present updates about No Deal preparations to the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, in a letter to the Irish Times, the DUP’s Chief Whip, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, said that “the case for interventions under the [Irish backstop] protocol to support North-South co-operation is falling apart.” He added, “The alternative to the protocol is further and deeper North-South co-operation between Belfast and Dublin – agriculture and animal health are devolved powers – and between London and Dublin to avoid a hard border.”

This comes as the newly-elected Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Simon Hoare, told the House of Commons last night that while nobody “should in any way undervalue the difficulties and challenges of sealing the border… I am convinced that the Republic will do everything it believes to be necessary to maintain its credentials as an active and proud member of the European Union and to preserve the integrity of the Republic of Ireland.”

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will be in Brussels today to hold talks with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. They will reportedly discuss the issue of the Irish backstop.

Source: RTE News The Independent Reuters The Irish Times I The Irish Times II The Irish Times III UK Parliament

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Anti-No Deal amendment tabled to Northern Ireland Executive Bill

MPs will debate and vote today on the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, which seeks to delay elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly until 21 October in order to extend the window for the restoration of power-sharing. The Conservative MP Dominic Grieve has tabled an amendment to the Bill, which would require the Government to report back to the Commons on its progress on 4 September, with additional fortnightly reports from 9 October until 18 December unless an Executive in Northern Ireland is formed. It would also provide opportunities for amendable motions to ministerial reports, and seek to ensure that Parliament can be recalled if regulations are made under the Act or a report is laid. Grieve told ITV News yesterday that the amendment is designed to prevent the Prime Minister from proroguing Parliament in October in order to force through a No Deal Brexit.

This comes as The Times reports that the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has told the Prime Minister, Theresa May, that he is prepared to agree to an extra £5 billion of funding for education on the condition that Conservative MPs are given a free vote on cross-party efforts to find a way to prevent a No Deal Brexit.

Elsewhere, Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale yesterday said that if Boris Johnson becomes Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, he could lose a no confidence vote in October if he did not deliver on his promise to negotiate a new Brexit deal with the EU. Gale added that if Johnson “can’t deliver [on Brexit], he will be very vulnerable indeed.”

Source: ITV News Sky News BBC News The Times The Times II PoliticsHome

Trade unions agree support for second referendum

Labour-affiliated trade unions yesterday reached a common position on Brexit, under which Labour would campaign for a second referendum in all circumstances, including for the option to Remain to be on the ballot paper. In a scenario where a Brexit deal is negotiated by a Conservative Government, union leaders said Labour should campaign to Remain in the EU. They have also agreed that in a General Election, Labour’s position should be to negotiate their own Brexit deal with the EU. A Labour Brexit deal would also have to be put to a “confirmatory public vote” with Remain on the ballot paper. Labour’s position in such a referendum would depend on the deal they had negotiated.

Source: The Guardian BBC News

British-Irish Chamber of Commerce criticises plans for “alternative arrangements” to the backstop

The British-Irish Chamber of Commerce has criticised proposals by the Alternative Arrangements Commission (AAC) for solutions to the Irish border issue. The Chamber’s report concluded, “While the [AAC] report most certainly does not rely on the unicorns of untested technology and blue sky ideas, it still asks a lot of EU negotiators for an outcome that would ultimately be worse for businesses on the island of Ireland. The British Irish Chamber’s view of these proposals, no matter how genuine the initiative, is that they lack credibility in the reality of how all-island trade actually works.” The Chamber highlighted concerns surrounding the cost of the implementation of the AAC’s proposals for businesses, as well as the their proposed UK-Ireland zone for sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements.

This comes as the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) also warned that the proposals fell short. Director Aodhan Connolly said, “The solutions proffered add complexity and costs that will make business in NI less competitive and in some cases unviable. Our tests for any alternative arrangements remain the same. They must add to the backstop not take away from it… Currently these proposals do not come close to meeting these tests.”

Elsewhere, Senator Neale Richmond, the chair of the Irish Senate’s Brexit committee, described the AAC’s proposals as “a complete non-starter… uncosted and unproven, with no real timeline.”

Source: The Daily Telegraph British-Irish Chambers of Commerce Northern Ireland Retail Consortium

ComRes Poll: 64% believe Boris Johnson would "deliver Brexit" by 31 October

A new ComRes poll for the Daily Telegraph reveals that 64% of respondents believe Boris Johnson is more likely to “deliver Brexit by 31 October,” and 36% thought Jeremy Hunt would be more likely to do so. Moreover, 22% of respondents would vote Conservative if Boris Johnson was the party leader, with 18% saying they would do so if Jeremy Hunt became the leader. In terms of Westminster voting intentions, the survey put Labour at 28% of the vote, the Conservatives in second place with 25% and the Brexit Party at 19%.

This comes as Hunt and Johnson will engage in a televised debate on ITV at 8PM tonight.

Source: The Daily Telegraph

Pro-Brexit Labour MP Kate Hoey to stand down at next election

The pro-Brexit Labour MP for Vauxhall, Kate Hoey, announced yesterday that she will stand down as an MP at the next general election. Hoey, who had previously lost a vote of no confidence from her local party over her voting record on Brexit, said, “Now that the national Labour Party has started the process [of selecting candidates] for the 2022 election I have decided that after 30 years as the MP for Vauxhall I will not seek re-election as a Labour candidate.”

Elsewhere, three other Labour MPs, Stephen Twigg, Stephen Pound, and Geoffrey Robinson, also announced yesterday that they will not be seeking re-election. In total, seven Labour MPs have now said they will not be standing, following similar announcements by Ronnie Campbell, Kevin Barron and Jim Fitzpatrick.

Source: Sky News Liverpool Echo Ealing Labour

CBI: UK investment set to decline by 1.3% due to Brexit uncertainty

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned that business investment in the UK economy is set to decline by 1.3% in 2019, the sharpest drop since the 2009 recession. Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI, said, “For any business, it’s hard to take spending decisions now. When the risk of a No Deal Brexit feels very real at the moment, why would you take a big decision now? You would wait and see until the end of October.” The CBI also said that UK economic growth would continue to grow if the UK left with a deal, forecasting GDP growth of 1.4% in 2019 and 1.5% in 2020 in this scenario.

Separately, a report from the EY Item Club economic forecaster found that delaying Brexit beyond 31 October could result in GDP growth shrinking to 1.3% in 2020, while a No Deal Brexit could cause growth to fall to 0.3%.

Elsewhere, Ulster Bank’s Northern Ireland Purchasing Managers’ Index survey was released yesterday, showing that economic output in the region had fallen for the fourth consecutive month in June.

Source: The Guardian BBC News

Henry Newman: To deliver Brexit, the next Prime Minister will need to work with the whole Conservative Party

In his column for ConservativeHome, Open Europe’s Henry Newman writes, “The new occupant of 10 Downing Street will face a bumpy few months ahead… There’s a path through to delivering Brexit. It’s painfully narrow. It can be reached… just. But only if Conservative MPs and the new Prime Minister all work together.”