19 December 2018

UK Government preparing for No Deal in full

Downing Street has announced that the Government will implement plans for a No Deal Brexit “in full,” following a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that “Cabinet agreed … we have now reached the point where we need to ramp up these preparations,” adding “This means we will now set in motion the remaining elements of our No Deal plans.” The Government is urging businesses to implement No Deal action plans, and will send 80,000 emails to businesses and business groups advising on contingency planning. Information packs will be distributed later this week. Downing Street said that “citizens should also prepare” for a No Deal Brexit. The Government has also announced that £2 billion will be made available to departments in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Meanwhile, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said that “preparing for a No Deal will be an operational priority within government but our overall priority is to secure a deal.” Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday said, “What we will do is have 3,500 service personnel held at readiness, including regulars and reserves, in order to support any Government department on any contingencies they may need.”

Elsewhere, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, said “Talking of No Deal has always been misguided and, in my view, deeply irresponsible,” while the Liberal Democrat Leader, Sir Vince Cable, said “The decision to ramp up the No Deal pressure is psychological warfare.” Nick Boles, a prominent Conservative MP who backs the Government Brexit deal, said yesterday, “I accept that it is prudent for the government to get ready for all eventualities… [But] If at any point between now and 29 March the government were to announce that ‘no deal’ Brexit had become its policy, I would immediately resign the Conservative whip and vote in any way necessary to stop it from happening.”

Separately, writing in The Daily Telegraph, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said that in a No Deal scenario, the Government should focus on “managing the risk that EU border checks add costs to UK businesses” and on “interim tariff liberalisation to protect UK consumers,” and “prepare a Brexit budget to identify businesses – including ‘just in time’ manufacturers – most at risk from a departure on WTO terms.” Raab argued,” We should cut business taxes to boost them as they transition, and offset the cost from the £39 billion the UK would have paid the EU.”

This comes as the European College of Commissioners will today discuss “the implementation of an emergency action plan” to prepare for No Deal, with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier updating the Commission on “the latest developments.”

Open Europe’s Henry Newman will be giving evidence to the Exiting the EU select committee on the options facing Government and Parliament following last week’s European Council, this morning starting from 9:15am.

Source: BBC The Guardian The Guardian II Reuters The Daily Telegraph

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Government’s immigration White Paper due to be published today

The Government is due to publish its White Paper on post-Brexit immigration policy today, after Cabinet disagreements led to several delays to the timetable. The White Paper, to be announced by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, is expected to call for an end to preferential treatment for EU migrants, with sources telling the Sun the new system will be based on “what people contribute rather than where they come from.” The Financial Times also reports that the Paper would see an end to the Government’s longstanding commitment to reduce net immigration to under 100,000, although Prime Minister Theresa May is said to be reluctant to eliminate the cap.

Elsewhere, Javid told BBC Radio 4 Today this morning that there would be “no specific target” to annual net migration after Brexit, adding, “It will be a system that will bring net migration down to more sustainable levels,” and explaining, “What we want to do is bring it to a level where it is sustainable, in the sense that it meets first our economic need and at the same time, though, it is not too high a burden on our communities or on our infrastructure.”

Source: Financial Times The Sun Press Association

Theresa May to call for devolved administrations to support Brexit deal

Prime Minister Theresa May will today urge the leaders of devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, as well as representatives of the Northern Ireland Civil Service to “pull together” and support the Government’s Brexit deal agreed with the EU. This comes as ministers from around the UK will today meet in Downing Street. Ahead of the meeting May said, “This deal honours the result of the referendum – taking back control of our money, laws and borders, protecting jobs and livelihoods, and freeing the UK to strike new trade deals with countries around the world. That’s why it is more important than ever that the devolved administrations get behind this deal and listen to businesses and industry bodies across all four nations who have been clear that it provides the certainty they need.”

Elsewhere, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “It would be unforgiveable if Theresa May was trying to run down the clock to Brexit day. She must immediately inform the EU that she will seek their approval for an extension of Article 50 if MPs reject her deal in January…With 100 days to go before the UK is due to leave the EU, the UK government must stop threatening the disaster of No Deal, and start putting people’s jobs and living standards first.”

Separately, Senior Ministers believe that the Government would be within 20 votes of winning a meaningful vote on the Brexit Deal if the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) can be persuaded to support it, according to The Guardian. One Cabinet Minister said the Government could “unlock huge numbers of Tory MPs” if the DUP can accept the deal, adding “There’s no point at all in holding a vote until you win back the DUP. That is the absolute priority.” Meanwhile, one official told the newspaper that “You cannot get this deal through only on the back of Labour votes because it would split the Tory party…That means one thing – bringing the DUP back on board.”

Source: BBC News The Daily Telegraph The Guardian

Motion of no confidence in Government tabled by opposition parties

A group of opposition parties, including the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party, yesterday tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government. The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said in a statement, “Labour has failed to hold the UK government to account over their shambolic Brexit negotiations. Their motion of no-confidence in the prime minister on Monday was a gimmick.” He added, “ By tabling our motion on Tuesday evening, we hope to be afforded time by the UK government to debate it before parliament closes for the Christmas recess.” The Government is only obliged to give debating time to motions tabled by the Leader of the Opposition.

Source: The Independent

UK economic growth falls to lowest levels in a decade, says BCC

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has said that the UK’s economic growth in the coming year will be the slowest since the financial crisis of 2008, falling to 1.2% by the end of the 2018 and only rising to 1.3% in 2019. This slowdown has been attributed to a reduction in investment and consumer demand in advance of the UK’s impending departure from the EU. BCC Director Adam Marshall said, “While Brexit isn’t the only factor affecting businesses and trade, it is hugely important – and the lack of certainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU has led to many firms hitting the pause button on their growth plans.”

Source: Reuters

Poland reinstates Supreme Court judges forced to resign after EU court ruling

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday signed a bill to reinstate the judges who had to resign due to new legislation forcing the retirement of Supreme Court judges aged over 65. The law was reversed in November following a ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Source: Euractiv EU Observer European Court of Justice

Belgian Prime Minister resigns over migration dispute

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has resigned after failing to secure a parliamentary majority. This follows the disagreements with the Flemish Nationalist Party over signing the UN Migration Pact. The government is likely to remain in caretaker mode until the May 26 elections.

Source: Politico EU