24 July 2018

Foreign Secretary calls for “a real change in approach from EU negotiators” to avoid no deal scenario

During a trip to Germany yesterday, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned, “There is now a very real threat of a Brexit no deal by accident, and this is because many people in the EU are thinking that they just have to wait long enough and Britain will blink.” He urged “a real change in approach from the EU negotiators” to avoid this outcome, and argued that “the only person rejoicing [from a no deal Brexit] would be [Russian President] Putin.” However, Hunt also said that while the UK would find a no deal scenario “incredibly challenging economically…In the end we would find a way not just to survive but to thrive economically,” adding, “My real concern is that it would change British public attitudes to Europe for a generation.”

Speaking alongside Hunt, German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas said, “We greatly regret the fact that Great Britain is leaving the European Union. But it’s a fact, and one that has to be accepted. The consequences will be noticeable on both sides of the Channel, which is why it’s very important that Britain and the European Commission are currently talking about ways for an orderly exit to take place.”

Separately, the parliamentary leader of the Bavarian CSU party, Alexander Dobrindt, has warned the EU that Britain shouldn’t be punished as “we have a great interest that there won’t be a hard Brexit”, adding the relationship with the UK must “be as close as no other.”

Elsewhere, Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday, “What I see is people focusing their minds now on the impact the future relationship will have on their economies as well as ours,” adding that there have be “some constructive responses so far” to the UK’s Brexit White Paper.

Source: Press Association The Guardian Politico ZDF

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The Daily Telegraph: UK Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill will allow EU to decide financial settlement payments

The government will today publish the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill, which will give legal effect to the UK’s withdrawal deal with the EU. According to The Daily Telegraph, the Bill states, “The EU will inform the UK of the required payment amounts [of the Brexit financial settlement] during the transition process.” Former Brexit Minister David Jones has accused the government of preparing to write “a series of blank cheques that the EU can continue presenting at their own discretion.” However, a government spokesperson has noted that the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement “includes clear provisions to ensure that the UK pays no more than it owes, including through the UK appointing auditors.” This comes after Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said last weekend that the UK would seek to make the financial settlement contingent on agreeing the future deal.


The Times: Brexit White Paper puts ball in EU court, say five European and American academics and politicians

In a comment piece for The Times, five international academics and politicians, including German CDU MP Norbert Röttgen, and former programme director for Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign Jean Pisani-Ferry, have argued that “the [UK Brexit] White Paper puts the ball in the EU court,” adding, “Until now, the EU has not produced anything similar.” They urge the EU to “neither stick to rigid positions nor hide behind red lines,” adding, “They should not pretend that only off-the-shelves solutions are available for building a relationship with Britain.” They also warn, “Europe (of which the UK will obviously remain part) is at crossroads. It faces much bigger economic, diplomatic and security challenges than most imagined even two years ago…So it’s no time for Europe to inflict wounds on itself.”


UK to seek EU member states support for post-Brexit financial services proposal

The UK plans to lobby EU member states in order to gather support for its proposals for regulating the financial services industry based on an “enhanced equivalence” regime after Brexit, the Financial Times reports. City of London financiers are reportedly hopeful that Germany, Belgium and Spain would back the plan outlined in the UK’s Brexit White Paper and convince the other EU27 of its merits. This comes after recent reports of the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier dismissing the UK’s plan to enhance the EU’s equivalence regime as it would threaten the EU’s “decision-making autonomy.” The UK Treasury yesterday commented, “We have set out our proposals for a pragmatic new arrangement for financial services after we leave the EU. It recognises the EU’s desire to have control over its own decision making but it also reflects the deeply integrated nature of UK and EU financial markets.”


Corbyn: UK manufacturers should take advantage of post-referendum competitive pound to “build things here that for too long have been built abroad”

Launching Labour’s “Build it in Britain” campaign today, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will say, “Our exporters should be able to take proper advantage of the one benefit to them that Brexit has already brought – a more competitive pound…But they are being sold out by a lack of a Conservative government industrial plan, which has left our economy far too reliant on imports.” He will say, “We’ve been told that it’s good – advanced even – for our country to manufacture less and less and instead rely on cheap labour from abroad to produce imports, while we focus on the City of London and the finance sector.” And he will argue that a Labour government would ensure “we will build things here again that for too long have been built abroad because we have failed to invest.”


Ireland’s EU Commissioner warns “very high probability” of no deal Brexit

Ireland’s EU Commissioner, Phil Hogan, yesterday warned of a “very high probability” of a no deal outcome in Brexit negotiations, adding “It’s certainly the view of the European Commission that we should prepare for a no deal Brexit.” He said, “The turmoil in the House of Commons is a perfect example of [this] recently. Even if we do a deal, will it ultimately be accepted by the House of Commons?” However, he also said that the October deadline for reaching an agreement in negotiations is “realistic”, and noted that the government’s Brexit White Paper publication meant “we now know for the first time the British position on something.”

In the same statement, Hogan said he backed a “hardline approach” in EU negotiations with the US to prevent the imposition of new punitive tariffs on EU cars, saying, “You can only deal with someone who is trying to bully you in an irresponsible way by bullying them back.” He added, “Everyone, every nation, no matter how great, needs friends and allies. After all, Europeans built America. The US has always been able to count on Europe and vice versa. It is utter folly to test these bonds to their limits, and potentially beyond.”


US banking executives urge UK to cut corporate taxes post-Brexit

According to the Financial Times, US banks have called on the UK Government to reduce corporate taxes in order to maintain a competitive advantage after Brexit, warning that the City of London risks becoming less competitive than the US, where corporate taxation rates are lower. The paper reports that top US banking executives warned that the UK could lose business with the “rest of world” after Brexit. An official from a US bank is quoted saying that the UK “is not a cheap place to do business any more from a tax perspective,” adding, “If I have a loan book here versus somewhere else, why wouldn’t I look at moving that?”


Le Figaro: European Parliament President urges EU to “invest heavily in the African economy” to control migration flows

In an interview with Le Figaro, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, has said, “Migration flows [from North Africa to the EU] will not stop simply by erecting police barricades and holding people hostage in camps…We need to establish a real development strategy [in Africa].” He called for the EU to “invest heavily in the African economy,” adding, “Europe has the means to put this in place. It should add €40 billion to its 2021-27 budget for Africa. It could even go to €50 billion.” Tajani argued, “This is a problem that cannot be solved by national aid alone. We need a real collective effort from all European countries.” Tajani also called for Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who leads the anti-immigrant party the League, to “shift alliances” saying, “Salvini sides with the Visegrad countries, who refuse all European solidarity.”