Brexit News for Friday 21 April

Brexit News for Friday 21 April
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Corbyn will not back second EU referendum after confusion on stance

Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out backing a second referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal, after earlier refusing to do so when questioned by Sky News. Asked by Sky News correspondent Tamara Cohen whether the party would give voters a say on the final Brexit agreement, Mr Corbyn failed to give a straight answer. When asked afterwards to clarify the Labour leadership’s position, shadow chancellor John McDonnell refused to answer the question 10 times. But a spokesman for Mr Corbyn later said: “A second referendum is not our policy and it won’t be in our manifesto.” …A Labour spokeswoman earlier said the party would lay out its position on Brexit in its election manifesto but said the “position hadn’t changed”. She said: “We have consistently demanded a meaningful vote in Parliament and, as the government, will bring the deal we negotiate to Parliament before it is finalised to ensure democratic accountability.” – Sky News

  • Jeremy Corbyn vows to ‘overturn the rigged system’ – BBC News
  • Labour is not trying to win the general election, senior MP admits, as at least 13 MPs resign – Daily Telegraph
  • All the MPs who have said they are stepping down so far – The Independent
  • Surrey Labour could defy national party and stand down candidate to back ‘progressive alliance’ – The Guardian
  • Does Corbyn or Blair better understand what British people want? – Robert Peston for ITV News

Theresa May restates pledge to cut net migration to tens of thousands

Theresa May has repeated her commitment to cutting net migration to the tens of thousands amid speculation the pledge could be ditched. Doubt had been cast over whether the controversial target would feature in the Conservative election manifesto after a Cabinet minister told Sky News that immigration policy was “not about numbers”. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley insisted it was about ensuring the UK had the skilled workforce it needed. However, speaking on the campaign trail in Enfield, in north London, Mrs May said: “We want to see sustainable net migration in this country. “I believe that sustainable net migration is in the tens of thousands. Leaving the European Union enables us to control our borders in relation to people coming from the EU, as well as those who are coming from outside.” – Sky News

  • Immigration issue is ‘not about putting number on it’, says Cabinet minister Karen Bradley – Sky News
  • Business groups and economists push back as May doubles down on net migration target – City A.M.
  • Theresa May wants Conservative MPs to help write manifesto – The Guardian
  • This will be a Tory manifesto worth reading – Ed Conway for Sky News

The Sun: Setting a low, rigid figure for immigration is pointless if it leaves employers short of workers

The “tens of thousands” a year target for net migration should be binned. It is a nonsense figure plucked from thin air. This is not The Sun going “soft” on immigration. The total HAS been far too high. We want to see it at a level our communities and infrastructure can cope with. We want our elected Government to control it, and Brexit will secure that power. But setting a rigid, low figure — as the Tories intend in their manifesto — is counter-productive if it leaves employers short of workers, as in some areas and industries they already are. Yes, firms should prioritise training Brits, paying decent wages and not relying on cheap foreign staff. But our Government must be flexible in regulating the influx, not bound by a limit dreamed up by David Cameron. We also think foreign students, who pay to be temporarily ­educated at our universities, should be taken out of the total. – The Sun says

> Steven Woolfe MEP on BrexitCentral today: Theresa May must stick to her existing immigration pledge if she wants people to have confidence in her Brexit strategy

Douglas Carswell announces that he will not stand for re-election…

Former UKIP – and now independent – MP Douglas Carswell says he thinks he will be “the first and the last UKIP MP”. The Clacton MP says he will not be standing in the UK general election – but would be backing the Conservative candidate instead. The 45-year-old was the only UKIP candidate to be elected as an MP at the 2015 poll. He quit the party last month after falling out with its leadership. UKIP donor Arron Banks had vowed to stand against him in Clacton. Mr Carswell defected from the Conservatives to UKIP three years ago but clashed with then leader Nigel Farage and other senior figures over the direction the party was taking. UKIP leader Paul Nuttall said at the time that Mr Carswell was “committed to Brexit, but was never a comfortable Ukipper”. – BBC News

…as his former party leader Nigel Farage announces he will not be standing either

Nigel Farage will not stand as a candidate in the general election and has admitted that Theresa May is on course for a landslide, The Telegraph can disclose. The former UK independence Party leader said in an article for The Daily Telegraph: “I have decided that I will not stand in this election but fight for Brexit in Europe.” …Mr Farage, 53, said he had been tempted to stand for Ukip in Clacton after the former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell said today he would not stand in the June 8 general election… But he had finally come to the conclusion that he could better influence Britain’s exit from the European Union as an MEP in Strasbourg. – Daily Telegraph

  • Why I’m not standing in the 2017 election: I’m staying in Europe to fight on for Brexit – Nigel Farage MEP for the Daily Telegraph (£)
  • Ukip has won its anti-EU push. Can it escape the ‘yesterday’s party’ label? – Alan Travis for The Guardian

Leaked European Commission guidelines insist that UK submits indefinitely to ECJ rulings on EU citizens…

Brussels is demanding lifelong rights for EU citizens and their families in a move that would overturn Theresa May’s pledge to end the power of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Britain. Leaked European Commission negotiating guidelines reveal that the EU is demanding that Mrs May indefinitely submit to rulings by the ECJ on the pensions, employment and welfare rights of the three million EU citizens living in the UK. It will raise concerns that Britain will be held to account by the Luxembourg court over benefits for EU citizens and their right to bring relatives, including non-Europeans, to live with them. If a deal were struck, the 900,000 British citizens living in Europe would have the same rights. – The Times (£)

…as it demands Britain pays the costs for relocating EU agencies after Brexit – in euros

The hard line for the Brexit talks, laid out in a draft of the Commission’s detailed negotiating directives obtained by POLITICO, also includes tight protections for EU citizens and the EU budget, robust legal controls for any transitional phase for U.K. withdrawal, and clear guarantees for businesses whose goods go on the market before the “divorce” is finalized. But it is the Commission’s approach to the U.K.’s ongoing financial obligations to the EU that stands out in the document, suggesting that Brussels wants to make it very clear that leaving the bloc doesn’t come cheap. “The United Kingdom should fully cover the specific costs related to the withdrawal process such as the relocation of the agencies or other Union bodies,” the Commission wrote, adding that the U.K.’s financial obligations to the EU “should be defined in euro” rather than sterling. – Politico

General Election good for Brexit talks, says EU chief

Antonio Tajani, the new President of the European Parliament, has told Sky News that Theresa May’s decision to call a snap General Election could help the Brexit negotiations. After meeting the Prime Minister in Downing Street, Mr Tajani said: “To have stability in the UK is better for us.” …He believes the new UK Parliamentary timetable now fits well with the European Council’s timetable of a two-year exit deal negotiation followed by a three-year transition phase. But he stressed that the issue of reciprocal EU citizen rights should be negotiated “immediately” with a view to getting an agreement by the end of the year. He did not say that Britain should act unilaterally as suggested by some UK political parties. Only if a deal on rights was not available would the Parliament consider using its veto, he said. – Sky News

  • EU Parliament chief says ‘UK would be welcomed back if country abandons Brexit’ – ITV News

Europe will pay if it punishes Britain in Brexit talks, warns Iceland Foreign Minister

Europe should give Britain a trade deal that closely replicates current EU-UK trading relations and not seek to punish the UK after Brexit by erecting trade barriers, the Icelandic foreign minister has told the Telegraph. Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson said it was in the interests of both sides to have unfettered trade in Europe “as it was before” Brexit, and that European attempts to punish Britain would rebound badly on the 27 remaining member states… “What does erecting trade barriers mean?” he added, “It simply means that the politicians in the remaining 27 EU countries will have to explain to the people who could lose their jobs, that they are doing it because they are so ‘tough’ on the Brits.” – Daily Telegraph

Mark Carney says Brexit is a chance to set a new regulatory agenda

Brexit presents “tremendous opportunities” to set a new regulatory agenda that is dynamic, flexible and protects the global system against another financial crisis, according to the Governor of the Bank of England. Mark Carney urged global and national regulators to adopt a financial framework that meant the system was resilient enough to withstand another financial shock but based on rules that respected national laws… Speaking ahead of the International Monetary Fund Spring meetings in Washington, Mr Carney also welcomed the Fund’s upgrade to UK and global growth but said there remained a “substantial gap between the soft and hard data” that suggested that the global recovery was far from secured. – Daily Telegraph

Rupert Myers: Brexit is about to become unstoppable: Theresa May is killing off Remain for good

The general election is a master stroke from a Prime Minister who is adopting a tone not of overconfidence but quiet resilience. The Conservatives look set to demolish Labour, giving the Prime Minister the freedom she needs to deliver Brexit. A vastly increased majority strengthens the PM’s hand, removes the threat of re-election at the crunch point of EU negotiations, and binds the deal for Brexiteers concerned that at some point in the next two years Remainers might just get their act together. As someone who voted Remain, it has been remarkable to see how poorly Remainers have organised themselves following the election. In the face of the inevitable, it is time for everyone to make peace with Brexit. – Rupert Myers for the Daily Telegraph

The Times: Tim Farron has a chance to turn his party into the Brexit opposition

Opportunity knocks for the Liberal Democrats. In the forthcoming general election they find themselves well placed as the natural opposition to the sitting government on the subject of Brexit. Just under half of the electorate voted Remain in last year’s referendum. A significant proportion of them could well be attracted by a party proposing a clear and coherent alternative to the government’s plans for leaving the European Union. The only drawback is that the Liberal Democrats don’t have one. – The Times (£) editorial

  • Liberal Democrats raise half a million pounds in election fundraising push – City A.M.
  • Lib Dems must wash away old fears to ride the wave of anti-Brexitism – Jane Merrick for the Times Red Box (£)

Brexit comment in brief

  • We must invest in skills and training to get the most out of Brexit – Julian Knight MP for ConservativeHome
  • Theresa May can now play Elizabeth I in a new buccaneering age of Drake – John C Hulsman for City A.M.
  • If you want a soft Brexit, you need to vote for Theresa May – Sean O’Grady for The Independent
  • Theresa May is naive to think a clear Tory win is the answer to Brexit – Nick Clegg MP for the Evening Standard
  • Buying things from the EU – John Redwood’s Diary
  • The French presidential candidates’ very different views on the EU and France’s place in it – Maïa de La Baume and Quentin Ariès for Politico
  • Emmanuel Macron: Is this the man who can radically change France? – Lucy Williamson for BBC Magazine
  • Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the far-left candidate shaking up the French election – Paul Smith for Reaction
  • The most important election for Britain is the one in France – Martin Kettle for The Guardian
  • Options market shows insider alarm on ‘Frexit’ upset – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Daily Telegraph (£)
  • Why Europe might yet have a golden future – Ed Conway for The Times (£)

Brexit news in brief

  • Francois Fillon calls for French election campaigning to be suspended: how leaders in France and around the world reacted to Paris terror attack – Daily Telegraph
  • Gina Miller plans anti-Brexit tour – The Times (£)
  • More than 500,000 Scottish jobs linked to trade in UK compared to 125,000 for EU – Daily Telegraph
  • Export of sheep and cows to foreign abattoirs may be banned after Brexit – The Times (£)
  • Argentina claims Brexit could end Europe’s support for UK control of Falklands – The Guardian