1 October 2018

Theresa May: EU should come forward with counter-proposals to Chequers

Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday said her Chequers proposal for the post-Brexit UK-EU relationship was not yet dead, adding that it was “the only proposal on the table at the moment” that guaranteed no hard border on the island of Ireland. May also said she had told EU leaders, “If you have counter-proposals [to Chequers], come forward with those counter-proposals.” On the idea of a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU after Brexit, she said it was “not on the table.”

Meanwhile, a new poll by the research group GQR suggests 58 percent of Conservative voters support May’s Chequers proposal, against 32 percent who don’t. It also found that 59 percent of Conservative voters would disapprove of Conservative MPs voting down whatever Brexit deal May secured. Responding to the survey results, Chancellor Philip Hammond this morning said,  “If I may say so, I don’t think that everybody who has expressed an opinion on it really understands what Chequers is about. So let’s let the Prime Minister and her team negotiate the details of this plan with the EU, let’s bring it back so Parliament can scrutinise it, have the meaningful vote that we have promised and then it’s time for Parliament to decide.”

Elsewhere, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson yesterday told the Sunday Times, “There will be economic and political damage to the UK if we go with Chequers. It surrenders control.”

Source: The Sunday Times I The Sunday Times II Politico Press Association

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‘No deal’ better than staying in the single market and customs union – Raab

The Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, will say at the Conservative Party Conference later that any attempt by the EU to keep the UK in the single market and customs union “via the back door” will be met by the UK walking away without a deal. Raab will say, “We are leaving the European Union in fact, not just in name. If an attempt is made to lock us in via the back door of the EEA [European Economic Area] and customs union… or if the only offer from the EU threatens the integrity of our union, then we will be left with no choice but to leave without a deal.” Raab, who backs the Prime Minister’s ‘Chequers’ plan for the future UK-EU relationship, will add that the UK’s willingness to compromise is “not without limits.”

Source: BBC

UK economy will boost after Brexit deal with EU is agreed, says Philip Hammond

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told BBC Breakfast this morning that while the UK economy has been affected by uncertainty related to Brexit, it is likely to recover once the UK and the EU reach a withdrawal deal. He said, “Clearly there has been a hit to our economy through the uncertainty that the Brexit process has caused,” adding, “I believe that when the Prime Minister lands this [Brexit] deal and brings it back, there will actually be a boost to the economy, as businesses start making those investments that they’ve deferred over the last year or so, consumers start spending on big-ticket items as they feel more confident knowing where we are going in the future.  Hammond also said while a ‘no deal’ would “not be a good outcome for Britain,” the UK would have the fiscal capacity to cope with this scenario.

Source: Reuters Press Association

Jeremy Hunt: EU is wrong to punish members who leave

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday said about the EU, “At the moment you seem to think the way to keep the club together is to punish a member who leaves. Not just with economic disruption. But even by breaking up the United Kingdom with a border down the Irish Sea,” adding, “The EU was set up to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving.” He warned, “The lesson from history is clear: if you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won’t diminish it will grow, and we won’t be the only prisoner that will want to escape.”

Source: The Telegraph

Sajid Javid proposes EU-UK security treaty

Home Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday told German newspaper FAZ that the UK aimed at concluding a post-Brexit security treaty with the EU. He said the UK was keen to continue cooperation under, for example, the European Arrest Warrant and Europol, and that the UK would accept “the control functions of the European Court of Justice over these EU instruments.” He also said this would be separate from their economic relationship, arguing, “The discussion over the Brexit agreement is about economic questions, security is something completely different.”

Source: DPA

Banks consider closing derivatives positions in London over fears of no-deal Brexit

According to the Financial Times, several European banks are considering closing their derivatives positions in London over fears of a no-deal Brexit. The newspaper cites an unnamed chief executive of an EU bank active in London, “The financial markets are usually ahead of the political debate. If there is no transition period agreed in December, you will see the derivative market reacting already . . . it does not happen on April 1 [the day the UK will have formally left the EU].” Banks are particularly concerned over the loss of access to UK clearing houses, with clearing house LCH reportedly having told its customer that after a no-deal Brexit it would have to close EU customers’ positions within 90 days.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times also reports that JPMorgan Chase and asset manager BlackRock are considering moving EU operations from London to Paris.

Source: Financial Times I Financial Times II

French official warns about 'no deal' Brexit challenges for Northern France

In a letter seen by French newspaper Le Monde, the prefect of the Hauts-de-France region, Michel Lalande, warns French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would have considerable impact on public order in regions in the north of France, such as the port of Calais. The letter reportedly states that rules for the movement of people and goods would have to be completely reviewed, which will involve additional human resources and equipment at the border, and if there are few effective solutions to the problems, “the management of public order will be permanently affected.” Lalande also writes that “further reflection is underway” in order to develop a new management plan that would “limit the effects from the new [post-Brexit] procedures.”

Source: Le Monde

US and Canada Agree Trade Deal to supplant Nafta

The US and Canada have reached a new free trade deal, The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will replace the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) settling fears that Canada could be barred from the new agreement. In a joint statement, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “[USMCA] will give our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region.”

Source: BBC Bloomberg

Group of 16 EU member states call on European Commission to complete single market

A group of 16 member states are calling on the European Commission to complete the single market, according to a letter seen by the Financial Times. The Hanseatic League countries – representing the Netherlands, Ireland, the Baltic and Nordic states – have been joined by several Eastern European states and countries like Portugal and Malta in urging reforms. According to Rasmus Jarlov, Denmark’s Business minister, the EU has an obligation to complete ‘the things we’ve already decided’ rather than working on new projects such as monetary union. The Hansa countries are also expected to raise their concerns about budgetary discipline at the Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg today.

Source: Financial Times

Insufficient turnout in Macedonia name-change referendum

A referendum held in Macedonia yesterday on a solution to a historic dispute with Greece over the country’s name has received a turnout of just 36.9% – well short of the 50% required to make it legally binding. Voters were asked whether they approved of a deal struck between Macedonia and Greece which would have changed the country’s name to “The Republic of North Macedonia”, and which in time would have enabled its introduction to the EU and NATO. Partly due to a boycott of the vote by political enemies reducing the turnout, over 91% of those who did vote voted in favour of the deal.

Source: Politico