17 October 2016

Poll: Voters think Government should prioritise trade over immigration

A ComRes poll for The Independent has found that 49% of the British public think “the Government should prioritise getting favourable trade deals with EU countries when negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU,” whereas only 39% said the Government should “prioritise reducing immigration”. However, twice as many older Britons than younger Britons believe Prime Minister Theresa May should focus on reducing immigration – 48% to 25%.

The Sunday Times reported that May will tell EU leaders at this week’s Brussels summit that she would like “close links” but has to put immigration control first. Over the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her view that “if Britain says no” to the principle of free movement, “it can’t get full access to the European single market.” Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said, “They have decided to leave. I think the worst attitude would be to contest their choice or call into question the very foundations of the EU.” “So we have to see these negotiations to the end, while maintaining the principles of the European Union, notably that of free movement.”

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph quoted a senior EU diplomat as saying May’s Conservative Party Conference speech “was very clear. May excluded the UK from jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which is necessary for any kind Free Trade Agreement [. . .] If this is May’s position, then we can only focus on doing this break quickly and cleanly. There will be a Brexit agreement and nothing else.” However, EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici seemed to distance himself from European Council President Donald Tusk’s hard line on Brexit. He said, “Personally, I prefer a ‘clean Brexit’, that is we continue to have friendly relations with the UK, a major power and a very major partner which will no longer be in the EU but which will remain a European country.”

Source: The Independent The Sunday Times Reuters Reuters 2 The Daily Telegraph

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UK government considers continuing EU budget payments post-Brexit

The Financial Times reports that Prime Minister Theresa May has not ruled out continuing the UK’s contribution to the EU budget in order to secure greater access to the single market. Oliver Letwin, former chief policy advisor to David Cameron, is quoted as saying, “If we have to buy this market access by making continuing contributions to EU budgets, that may well be a price worth paying, given the number of UK jobs that are involved.” According to the Financial Times, UK payments into the EU budget are being considered for the transitional period between Britain’s expected withdrawal in 2019 and the conclusion of a free trade agreement, but may continue after this point.

Source: The Financial Times

MPs seek to force Government White Paper on EU talks

The Sunday Times noted that former Liberal Democrat and Labour party leaders Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, plus Brexiteer and Conservative MP Stephen Phillips, will table a motion for a backbench debate and a substantive vote to force the Government to publish an outline of its negotiation plan — the equivalent of a white paper — and for this to be agreed by the House of Commons prior to Article 50 talks with the EU.  Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Brexit, said he will endorse the plans, making it possible that the government would be defeated if enough Conservative MPs rebel.

Source: The Sunday Times

May to launch India trade mission

Theresa May will visit India on her first ever trade mission as Prime Minister next month in a move designed to show that Britain will “look beyond” Europe after Brexit. Speaking ahead of the visit, she said, “As we leave the European Union, we have the chance to forge a new global role for the UK – to look beyond our continent and towards the economic and diplomatic opportunities in the wider world.”

Source: The Daily Telegraph

Sturgeon: “Scotland must have the ability to choose a better future”

Giving her keynote speech at the Scottish National Party conference on Saturday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared herself ready to hold a vote on Scottish independence, should the UK Government reject an initiative to keep Scotland in the single market. She said, “If [the Conservative government] insists on taking Scotland down a path that hurts our economy, costs jobs, lowers our living standards and damages our reputation as an open, welcoming, diverse country, then be in no doubt Scotland must have the ability to choose a better future.”

The First Minister stated her intention to improve Scottish trade links, primarily through establishing a permanent representation in Berlin. Deputy First Minister, Jon Swinney, also announced that Scotland would continue to offer free university tuition to EU students.

Source: The Guardian Reuters

Ireland to hold cross-border talks over fears of Brexit impact, as Irish leaders warn of “incalculable consequences”

Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny will chair an All-Ireland civic forum in Dublin on November 2. “I believe that it is really important that we have all of the voices reflective of Ireland over a series of meetings,” he said. In an opinion piece for The Guardian, Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan writes, “Brexit has been referred to as the biggest foreign policy issue facing the UK since EEC accession in 1973. In many ways, the same is true of Ireland.” Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First minister and Sinn Féin leader, warned, “As things sit at the moment we are going to suffer big time,” adding “Theresa May says ‘Brexit means Brexit’, but so far as we are concerned Brexit means disaster for the people of Ireland.”

Source: The Guardian The Guardian: Flanagan

Former Trade Minister: UK should seek interim deal before leaving single market

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, former Trade Minister Lord Livingston says Britain should seek an interim agreement with the EU that maintains the UK’s single market status for three years. He writes that the long-term aim “should be to make a clean break from the single market, because to do otherwise would leave the UK subject to rules it cannot control. But it must be done in a way that gives us some chance of avoiding a chasm of uncertainty into which many jobs will fall.”

Source: The Daily Telegraph: Livingston

Carney-May spat intensifies as Governor says he will not “take instruction” from politicians

The Times reported that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney hit back at Prime Minister Theresa May’s criticism of the Bank’s monetary policy for failing to protect “ordinary, working class people”. Speaking at a BoE Future Forum event last Friday, Carney said, “The objectives are what are set by the politicians. The policies are done by technocrats. We are not going to take instruction on our policies from the political side.”

He added that the BoE was “not indifferent” to the level of sterling, but the governor ruled out targeting the exchange rate: “Our job is not to target the exchange rate; our job is to target inflation.” Carney also confirmed an expected inflation rate “a bit” above the target 2 per cent in order to boost employment levels and economic growth. Meanwhile, the EY Item Club expects the economy to grow by only 0.8% next year and 1.4% in 2018 with exports climbing by 4.5% next year, and 5.6% in 2018 due to the weaker pound.

Source: The Times The Guardian

PM offers assurances to Nissan over Brexit

In a meeting with Nissan’s Chief Executive, Carlos Ghosn, Prime Minister Theresa May offered assurances that the car-making firm will not be affected by Britain’s exit from the EU, The Times reported. This comes at a time when Nissan is considering whether to build its new Qashqi model at its Sunderland site. Downing Street denied yesterday that Mrs May had offered “compensation” to the company, but did not comment on the private assurances.

Source: The Times

Austria gives green light for CETA

Following a meeting of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) in Vienna on Friday, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said, “We in Austria will not hinder the signing of CETA or the broader process.” Thereby the EU-Canada free trade deal has cleared another major hurdle as the SPÖ has been previously very critical of the agreement and threatened to block it.

Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Brexit cabinet committee to be a balance of Leave and Remain ministers

Last Friday, Theresa May announced the members of her ‘European Union Exit and Trade Committee’. These include a balance of six key Leave figures, including Brexit Secretary David Davis, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, as well as six Remain figures, such as Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd. The range of opinion represented on the committee was in evidence at a meeting last week which saw Hammond express concern that migration controls as proposed by Rudd should not come at the expense of business need.

Source: The Times

New Open Europe report: How the UK’s financial services sector can continue thriving after Brexit

Open Europe has today published a new report, ‘How the UK’s financial services sector can continue thriving after Brexit’. The study offers a comprehensive, independent assessment by unpicking the true value of the EU financial services ‘passport’ – the ability to provide services across the EU from a base in London – and considering what alternative arrangements the UK should pursue as part of the upcoming Brexit talks with the EU-27.

The report finds that the significance of the passport depends on the industry – it is important to business in some sectors, notably wholesale banking, but has much less value in others, such as insurance. Hence, the UK Government needs to focus its efforts on retaining or replicating a passport-like relationship in those sectors where it is most valuable.

The study also concludes that regulatory ‘equivalence’ with the EU could only work as a partial solution for the UK after Brexit, and would therefore need to be complemented with bespoke agreements in those sectors where equivalence is not available under existing EU regulations.

The report recommends that the UK Government avoid a cliff-edge situation and offer the financial services industry maximum certainty on future trade arrangements with the EU as early on as possible in the Brexit negotiations.

The publication of the study has been trailed by numerous news outlets. The report is cited by the Financial Times, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Reuters, Bloomberg, City AM, and the Press Association.