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Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday, “We said we would no longer be members of the single market because we will no longer be members of the European Union…When we have, at the end of the two years, negotiated the end-state deal [between the UK and the EU], there will then be an implementation period for that deal. But we’re very clear that at the point at which we reach the end of those negotiations we will be out of the European Union.” This came in response to a question from Labour MP Pat McFadden on whether the Prime Minister’s decision for the UK to leave the single market would also apply to a transitional deal at the end of the two-year negotiations. Downing Street aides have refused to comment on the details of transitional arrangements, saying that these will be a matter for negotiation.
Separately, in an interview with LBC yesterday, May said, “I think the UK’s negotiating position is as good as it was [before last month’s general election result] precisely because this is not just about the UK’s position – it’s about the interests of the EU as well. If you look at the issue of co-operation on security matters, if you look at the issue of trade agreement with the European Union, this isn’t just about what’s going to be good for the UK.”
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Brexit Secretary David Davis and the EU’s Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier are due to give a press conference this afternoon to “take stock” of this round of Brexit discussions. The Times reports senior officials who said that no breakthrough has been reached in the past three days of talks, despite both sides now having a better understanding of the other’s position.
According to The Times, the biggest obstacle remains the financial settlement, with French Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, yesterday saying, “I will say what Margaret Thatcher used to say: ‘We want our money back.’ The United Kingdom must pay what it owes…it is a non-negotiable prerequisite at the start of the [Brexit] discussions.” The Times adds that talks on a citizens’ right deal went more smoothly, but differences still remain as to the details of when, how and to whom residency rights should apply, as well who should be governing court in such an agreement.
Former Brexit Minister, David Jones, has warned that it would be “very dangerous” if the EU delayed Brexit talks. This comes following reports that the EU is ready to “stall” negotiations over the UK’s unwillingness to submit proposals for calculating the UK’s financial obligations to the EU. Commenting on the House of Lords committee report from March that concluded the UK could legally walk away without paying anything, he said, “In terms of strict legality it may well be that the House of Lords report conclusion is correct. But I think that there are a wider range of considerations you have to bring into the equation, such as what kind of relationship do you want to have [with the EU] after we’ve completed our withdrawal.” He added, “I think people tend to overlook that it’s as much in the EU’s interest as it is in the British interest to get this matter resolved.”
First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans said the EU is “coming very close to triggering Article 7 [of the Lisbon Treaty]” against Poland, which could see Poland’s voting rights suspended. This comes as the ruling Law and Justice party has proposed draft laws which would allow parliament greater control over the body that picks judges, and gives the justice minister the right to replace the head of any ordinary court. This move has triggered a series of public protests in Poland, who took to the streets to rally against the government’s reforms. Speaking at a press conference, Timmermans warned that the measures “greatly amplify the threat to the Rule of Law” and “would abolish any remaining judicial independence and put the judiciary under full political control of the government.”
According to a Reuters government source, the UK will require fewer than ten new regulators after it leaves the European Union. Reuters also cites a source close to Prime Minister Theresa May as saying that the number would most likely be in single figures. This comes as businesses have expressed concerns over regulatory uncertainty after Brexit, with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggesting that 34 EU regulators will no longer have jurisdiction in the UK. A spokesman from the EEF manufacturing body said, “Ideally existing parallel regulators would take over the role of EU bodies but, in the end, it is not about the number but about how easy it is for businesses to operate and deal with the bodies.”
A delegation of 30 representatives of the German Foundation for Family Businesses visited London yesterday to discuss the progress of the Brexit negotiations. According to Nikolas Stihl, Chairman of the Board of Directors of chainsaw manufacturer Stihl, Brexit will hit British consumers the hardest because of sterling’s fall and the potential introduction of tariffs and other trade barriers. Tobias Bachmüller, managing partner of sweets manufacturer Katjes, said that the service-oriented British economy does not offer credible alternatives to high-quality German goods, adding, “We don’t face competitors of equal value.” However, the delegation also stressed that the insecurity surrounding the negotiations is harming their business, forcing them to put off investments and expansion plans. Stihl added, “As long as there is a transition period, there will be insecurity.” Managing partner of Otto Fuchs, a business in the metal industry, Hinrich Mählmann said that the end of free movement would harm businesses, adding, “We can see in the USA how difficult it is to attract good businesspeople there.” According to Die Welt, the London meeting did not bring the desired clarity, with Chairman of the Foundation Alfons Schneider saying, “There is no masterplan yet.”
Nostra culpa: In yesterday’s Daily Shakeup, Open Europe referred to Hans-Olaf Henkel as a member of Germany’s far-right AfD party. We would like to clarify he in fact left the party a few years ago.
France’s armed forces Chief Pierre de Villiers resigned yesterday owing to a row with President Emmanuel Macron over a planned £752 million defence budget cut. In a statement, de Villiers said, “In the current circumstances I see myself as no longer able to guarantee the robust defence force I believe is necessary to guarantee the protection of France and the French people, today and tomorrow, and to sustain the aims of our country.” Macron has replaced de Villiers with General François Lecointre.
According to the Financial Times, Secretary of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove refused to back the UK’s position paper on the future of cases pending at the European Court of Justice post-Brexit. The paper states, “The UK recognises that beyond a certain point in proceedings, where considerable time and resources have been invested in the [ECJ] proceedings, it may be right that such cases continue to a [ECJ] decision.”
Speaking to BBC’s Radio 4, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said a post-Brexit trade deal with EU should be “one of the easiest in human history.” He added, “We’re already beginning with zero tariffs and maximum regulatory equivalence. The only reason we wouldn’t come to a deal is if politics gets in the way of economics.”