Brexit News for Friday 16 June

Brexit News for Friday 16 June
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Start of formal Brexit talks confirmed for Monday

The first round of talks that will see Britain leave the European Union will start on Monday June 19, officials have confirmed. Following discussions in Brussels today, both sides agreed that the formal negotiations under the Article 50 process can now start. In a joint statement issued today, officials said: “Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator and David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, agreed today to launch Article 50 negotiations on Monday June 19.” – GOV.UK

The agenda for Monday’s talks is yet to be finalised, according to an EU source familiar with the preparations. The meeting is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — “Brussels time, of course,” the source said. Barnier will speak English but wants the option of switching to French, so translation will be provided, the source said… European Commission First President Frans Timmermans told a Prague event that the EU would be happy to see the U.K. change its mind and stay in the bloc. Asked if he supported statements by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble that the EU’s door remained open, Timmermans said: “By all means; we didn’t ask the U.K. to leave.” – Politico

  • Brexit negotiations will not be delayed, says David Davis – Spectator
  • Government yet to submit opening positions despite EU negotiations being days away – Independent
  • Jeremy Hunt promises EU NHS workers top of list in Brexit negotiations – Express
  • EU reveals detailed Brexit bill demands in secret diplomatic briefing – FT (£)

Number of voters wanting the Government to get on with delivering Brexit rises to 70%

Although the country is split down the middle over whether leaving the EU was the right or wrong decision, there is still a majority who think Brexit should happen. Overall, 70% think that the government should go ahead with Brexit, with this group being split between those that actually support it (44%) and those who don’t personally back it but it but think the government has a duty to go ahead with it regardless (26%). – Anthony Wells for YouGov

Theresa May receives Brexit boost as DUP reveal they will back her plans, not Philip Hammond’s, ahead of Queen’s speech on Wednesday

Ulster unionists’ deputy Nigel Dodds says the party’s ten MPs will side with the Prime Minister to refuse any bid to stay in the Customs Union and single market… The PM had earlier decided to press ahead with the speech next Wednesday — despite being yet to agree a final deal with the hardline unionists, who she is relying on to prop up her minority government. Mrs May made the high-stakes move after the DUP agreed “four broad principles”: delivering Brexit; fighting terrorism; strengthening the union; and spreading prosperity across the UK. – The Sun

There is a double bonus for May in the deal [with the DUP], which is that a DUP source told me – and was very keen to be quoted on this – that his party completely backs her vision of Brexit. He wanted to knock down speculation that the DUP would like the UK to stay in the customs union, the arrangement that obviates the need for border checks on goods leaving the country. He said the DUP was 100% committed to the UK leaving the single market AND the customs union – which is music to the ears of May and her Brexit minister David Davis, and a slap to the Chancellor Philip Hammond. – Robert Peston for ITV News

  • May calls the DUP’s bluff and sets a date for Queen’s Speech – Katy Balls for the Spectator
  • Gerry Adams jokes he means ‘no harm’ to the Queen as he warns Theresa May a deal with the DUP would ‘breach the Good Friday Agreement’ – Telegraph (£)
  • Far from destroying the peace process, a Tory-DUP deal will be good for Northern Ireland – Laurence Robertson MP for the Telegraph (£)
  • No, bringing in the DUP will not shatter peace in Northern Ireland – Ruth Dudley Edwards for the Telegraph (£)

Emily Thornberry slammed on Question Time for Labour’s Brexit plans

Seconds after she accused the Tories of not knowing how they will assemble Brexit negotiations, the Shadow Foreign Secretary was left red-faced as she could not explain how her own party would handle the important talks… Stumbling over her words and muttering phrases in a bid to remember her party’s manifesto, the audience began to laugh at her, applauding Mr Dimbleby for embarrassing the frontbencher. Eventually, Ms Thornberry managed to regain her composure, saying: “The Labour position is this. We leave the European Union, which means we need to leave the single market.” – Express

  • Defence minister Tobias Ellwood hails Britain’s Brexit prospects – Express

EU nations want border controls, trade deals and referendums to leave… but won’t follow Brexit

The majority of the public in the European Union want their governments to have more control over trade and immigration policy, a major new survey on EU attitudes has found… Asked if the EU or their own governments should make decisions about migration, an overwhelming majority in the ten countries surveyed said they wanted their own governments to have control – led by 82% of Hungarians and 77% of Poles… The EU’s controversial record on trade deals has also dented confidence, with only the Germans and Dutch showing a preference for the EU to continue to negotiate trade agreements, as it has since 1957… The desire for greater control was reflected in apparently contradictory findings which showed widespread support for referendums on EU membership – even when the same people were clear they did not want to leave. – Telegraph (£)

Eurozone ministers strike deal to release funds to Greece

Eurozone ministers have struck a deal to unlock the latest tranche of Greece’s bailout cash. The bailout fund will disburse €8.5bn (£7.4bn) to Greece, eurozone ministers said in a statement. The latest tranche of the international bailout will help avert a fresh debt crisis in July when the next €7bn euro repayment of loans becomes due. The payment is still subject to parliamentary approvals in some countries. International Monetary Fund (IMF) director Christine Lagarde said she would propose an approval in principle to her executive board. The IMF wants clarity on longer-term debt relief for Greece once the current funding scheme, worth up to €86bn, runs out next year. – BBC News

  • Greece gets more money, Europe hopes for better days – Politico
  • The eurozone must reform or die – Kenneth Rogoff for the Guardian
  • European Commission shies away from nuclear option in its euro clearing reform plans – Vincenzo Scarpetta for Open Europe

Returning Scottish MP Jo Swinson favourite to become new Lib Dem boss after gaining backing from Tim Farron

Punters have flocked to back the 37 year old ex-Minister as it emerged Mr Farron had originally hoped to stay on for a year after only making a tiny gain in seats at last week’s Election. Ms Swinson lost her seat in 2015 but made a Commons comeback last week in a rare good result for the troubled pro-EU party. Ex-Ministers Norman Lamb and Sir Ed Davey were last night also tipped to throw their hats in the race. Former Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable also refused to rule out a tilt at the job. But last night party sources said while Tim Farron was officially neutral, he was fully backing Ms Swinson behind the scenes. – The Sun

  • Vince Cable considers run at the top job as he sizes up ‘next best step’ – Independent
  • Norman Lamb considering running to replace Tim Farron – Express
  • The Lib Dems need to be free of the baggage of the Coalition. Vince Cable cannot help them – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)
  • It wasn’t Tim Farron’s faith – the Lib Dems’ results were what did for him – Polly Toynbee for the Guardian
  • Tim Farron is a political failure, not a martyr – Oliver Kamm for The Times (£)
  • Tim Farron’s religion wasn’t a problem – his leadership was – Rachel Cunliffe for City A.M.

Ed Conway: Europe needs to learn a lesson from Brexit

It’s like the bad old days all over again. Greece is back on the brink and within a few weeks of missing crucial debt repayments. European leaders are meeting behind closed doors, haggling over its fate. Yesterday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg was a timely reminder that Europe’s fundamental problems and paradoxes are as real as ever… The great worry is that rather than using the next few years of relative economic stability to address such problems, Europe’s leaders will do what they have always done, and sweep them under the carpet until the next crisis. This would be a catastrophe. Most of all, they must be careful not to mismanage Brexit… Brexit was yet another sign that Europe isn’t working. Its leaders should pay attention rather than sticking their heads in the sand. – Ed Conway for The Times (£)

Christian May: Despite May’s shocker at the polls, Britain is still leaving the EU

Staying in the Single Market seems a popular option among the continuity Remain campaign, but advocates of such a move are being disingenuous. It is simply not possible to leave the EU but remain in the Single Market. May knows this, which is why she committed to leaving it. EU leaders know this, too, which is why they’ve said it can’t happen. What might soften (as indeed it ought to) is the language and approach of the British government. In the words of top City wonk William Wright, Brexit “might soften round the edges” as a result of “a more collaborative approach”. This would be welcome, but the fact is that Brexit still means Brexit. – Christian May for City A.M.

Juliet Samuel: The lady is not for turning as Tories aim to ‘plough on’ with Brexit plans despite election result

There is no sign of retreat. Perhaps that will change but, for now, the Government position on Brexit appears to be “plough on”. There is an inexorable logic to this decision. The staunch Brexiteers in office are afraid of opening a can of worms by triggering any kind of leadership contest. They won the argument in Cabinet before the election and their best hope for executing it is to seize the initiative now, before their opponents can get organised. The problem with this strategy should be obvious… Brexit cannot be implemented properly without passing laws. And whereas the definitive result of the referendum had pushed both chambers of parliament into a quiescent state, making them ready to fall into line in spite of their strong pro-Remain tendencies, the inconclusive election result has reawakened the spirit of rebellion. – Juliet Samuel for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit comment in brief

  • Philip Hammond’s ‘soft-Brexit’ Treasury is manoeuvring to take back control from No 10 – Jeremy Warner for the Telegraph (£)
  • Philip Hammond’s ‘soft Brexit’ is really ‘hard Brexit’ delayed – Tom McTague for Politico
  • Forget ‘Hard’ or ‘Soft’ Brexit: It’s Scrambled Brexit – Maggie Pagano for Reaction
  • A short spell in the EEA would give Britain time and space to adjust to Brexit – Crispin Blunt MP for The Times (£)
  • EEA membership: viable in the short-term, but an unsuitable long-term solution – Aarti Shankar for Open Europe
  • Ruth Davidson still has to tell us what she thinks about Brexit – Alan Cochrane for the Telegraph (£)
  • Unemployment is at its lowest since 1975. Can someone tell the Tories? – Fraser Nelson for the Spectator
  • Britain must stay in the customs union, at least for the time being – The Times (£) leader
  • Britain should stay in the customs union – Evening Standard editorial

Brexit news in brief

  • Tech developer numbers are on the rise in London despite Brexit – City A.M.
  • EU jihadist arrests rise for third year – Europol – BBC News
  • Wife Swap: Brexit Special is a rollicking reminder of why the series was so addictive: review – Telegraph