2 October 2017

Theresa May says government is preparing for all Brexit eventualities, as Conservative party conference begins

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Prime Minister Theresa May said, “Obviously we’re working to get a good deal, we’re working to get the right deal for the UK, but we are making preparations for all eventualities and that includes for no deal.” She reiterated her plan for a two-year “implementation period” following withdrawal, but stressed, “It’s not delaying EU exit in all but name…we will exit the EU in March 2019.” She stated the government’s intention to be able to negotiate new trade deals during a transition, but suggested it was still to be agreed whether the UK would be able to sign and conclude these. When asked whether the UK could adopt different rules and regulations from the EU in certain areas during a transition, she said “yes.” However, on The Andrew Marr Show, May refused to answer whether the UK would accept new EU rules during this time, suggesting this would be a matter for negotiations.

Source: The Sunday Telegraph The Times Guardian

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Boris Johnson outlines four Brexit red lines

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson outlined four red lines in a piece in The Sun this weekend. These include not adopting new EU or ECJ rules during a transition, no payments for single market access after the end of a transition, no agreement to shadow EU rules in order to gain market access, and no transition period for longer than two years. In particular, he said, “There is no point in coming out of the EU and then remaining in  rotational orbit around it. That is the worst of both worlds. You have  to be able to have control of your regulatory framework.” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised Johnson’s message, saying, “That sounds to me like a threat to have a trade policy that undermines Europe. Therein lies the basis of a trade war of the future, therein lies a threat to thousands and thousands of jobs in Britain.”


Separately, speaking to ITV at the Conservative Party’s conference in Manchester, Chancellor Philip Hammond said, “We’re all frustrated by the slow progress that we’ve made over the last few months with the European Union negotiations, that’s why the prime minister went to Florence 10 days ago and made a key speech which was designed specifically to unstick the logjam in the negotiations and move them forward.” He added, “Boris’ position on these issues are well known. I back the prime minister in what is a very complex and delicate negotiation with our European Union partners to deliver Britain’s exit in the way the British people have mandated us to do.”


Elsewhere, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, criticised Brexit “over-optimism” as “selling people short.” Asked about Johnson’s positive vision of Brexit, she called for “serious people to do a lot of legwork and scanning the detail to make sure we do get to a place where it will all be OK.”


Catalonia’s separatists claim victory after violent referendum

Catalan separatist leaders will press ahead with plans to declare independence following Sunday’s referendum which the Spanish government has declared illegal. The Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, said “With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form a (sic) republic” and that “police brutality will shame the Spanish state for ever.” 850 people were hurt yesterday when Spanish riot police stormed polling stations in Barcelona to halt voting. According to Catalan authorities, riot police bludgeoned, kicked and fired rubber bullets at voters taking part in the referendum. One protestor lost an eye to a rubber bullet and many elderly people taking part in the vote had suffered injuries. Speaking afterwards, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, “Today there has not been a self-determination referendum in Catalonia. The rule of law remains in force with all its strength. We are the government of Spain and I am the head of the government of Spain and I accepted my responsibility…We have acted, as I have said from the beginning, according to the law and only according to the law. And we have shown that our democratic state has the resources to defend itself from an attack as serious as the one that was perpetrated with this illegal referendum. Today, democracy has prevailed because we have obeyed the constitution.”


Juncker: No sufficient progress from now until October unless miracles happen

Speaking on Friday at the EU’s digital summit in Tallinn, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, “By the end of October we will not have sufficient progress [in Brexit talks]…I’m saying that there will be no sufficient progress from now until October unless miracles would happen.”


Ahead of the same conference, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there was a better “mood” coming from Brexit negotiations, but added, “We’re not yet at a stage where sufficient progress has been made to allow us to talk about the new relationship in trade…I don’t think we’ll be able to make that call until much later in the month.”


Estonian deputy PM suggests length of transition should be "beneficial to the EU" and not just "British domestic interests"

In an interview with The Observer, Estonian Deputy Prime Minister Matti Maasikas suggested that UK’s proposal for a transition period to last around two years “[has] more to do with  British domestic considerations.” He suggested that the length should instead be determined by the time taken to ensure new systems are in place, and whether it is “beneficial to the EU.” He added, if “the single market arrangement” is included in a Brexit transition, “It is the whole package, with the acquis [EU laws]…I expect the EU to be very rigid about this.” Maasikas also said that the transition would not be discussed at the upcoming October summit. Estonia holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.


New report: 'No deal' scenario would mean 40% drop in exports to the EU in key sectors

A new report by Baker McKenzie and Oxford Economics finds that UK exports to the EU in automotive, consumer products, healthcare and technology sectors would fall by 40% if the UK and EU fail to secure a deal post-Brexit. The report suggests that the losses to these industries from a ‘no deal’ scenario would equal nearly 20% of their worldwide exports, with the car industry hardest hit. UK industries would need to increase their exports to America, China, Japan, Canada and South Korea by 60% to fully replace the loss to business from lower EU exports.


Monarch Airlines placed into administration

On Sunday night the company, which was founded in 1968, was placed into administration, in what is UK’s biggest airline collapse ever. Monarch is the fifth largest airline company in the UK, employing about 2,750 staff, most of whom are based in the UK. The Civil Aviation Authority has announced a plan to repatriate Monarch’s customers currently on holiday, a figure amounting to approximately 110,000 people. Andrew Haines, the CAA chief executive, commented: “We know that Monarch’s decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees. This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.” On a similar line, the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad – and my first priority is to help them get back to the UK. That is why I have immediately ordered the country’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation to fly about 110,000 passengers who could otherwise have been left stranded abroad.”