Brexit News for Saturday 15 July

Brexit News for Saturday 15 July
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Tony Blair says Brexit can be stopped if UK leaders realise the EU will ‘meet us halfway’…

​Brexit can still be stopped if Britain’s leaders realise EU officials are prepared to “meet us halfway” on restricting the free movement of people, Tony Blair has said in his first intervention since the general election. While the former Labour Prime Minister admitted there is “no groundswell” for a second referendum on membership of the EU, Mr Blair said it is possible that the will of the British people could change as the public becomes more aware of the potential economic damage of hard Brexit. He also appeared sceptical of a “soft Brexit”, which would mean Britain remaining in the single market and the customs union, adding the political difficulties are evident. “It would lead in short order to a scratch of the British collective head and feeling of ‘oh well, in that case, what’s the point of leaving?”. – Independent

  • EU could be flexible over movement, Blair says – BBC News
  • EU leaders willing to give UK control over immigration to prevent Brexit, claims Blair – Telegraph (£)
  • Brexit followed by Corbyn in No 10 would put UK flat on its back – Tony Blair – Guardian
  • Of course Brexit can be stopped, but it requires leadership from Labour – Tony Blair in the Independent

…as Nick Clegg calls for a second Brexit referendum where votes of the under-30s are counted twice

Calling for a second referendum, Mr Clegg, who lost his Sheffield Hallam seat to Labour last month, said: ‘It’s only in a very weird world that June 23 (referendum day last year) is a year zero… Surely the public are entitled to say we want to have another look at this. We should reclaim our right, we should take back control of our destiny, we should be free to say whether we think (the outcome) measures up to what was promised.’ He added: ‘We should give every youngster under 30 a weighted vote of twice the value of everybody else, because it’s their future.’ … Mr Clegg, speaking at the Buxton International Festival in Derbyshire, made the comments about Brexit during a public question and answer session – minutes after saying he planned to retire from politics. – Mail

  • Nick Clegg ‘begs for second Brexit referendum and says young people should have two votes’ – Express
  • Nick Clegg reveals even his own family didn’t vote for his Lib Dems with all his young relatives backing Jeremy Corbyn – The Sun

Theresa May considers asking Labour to join a cross-party Brexit commission

Theresa May is considering setting up a cross-party Brexit commission and ask senior Labour MPs to join it as part of her attempts to reach a consensus on the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union. Downing Street sources said the Prime Minister was looking at asking senior Labour MPs like Hilary Benn or Yvette Cooper to sit on the commission. The new commission would “shadow the work of the Brexit department”, Number 10 sources said… Mrs May’s friends said the commission would allow ministers and officials to try to win cross-party support for her Brexit negotiating strategy. – Telegraph (£)

PM banned by Commons bosses from calling Brexit law ‘Great Repeal Bill’ – because it doesn’t repeal enough

House of Commons clerks stood firm against the No10 request to insist the law is instead named the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, The Sun can reveal. The name change was revealed on Thursday when the landmark bill was given its first reading. The PM wanted the original grander name to mark the significance of the flagship new legislation, which officially takes Britain out of the EU. But the only specific thing that the bill repeals is the European Communities Act 1972, the law which initially took Britain into Europe. Instead of scrapping huge swathes of Brussels red tape – which some Tory MPs have called for – the jumbo law actually just transfers 12,000 EU regulations built up over 40 years onto UK statute. – The Sun

Spain’s King Felipe calls for minimal trade barriers after UK departs EU…

Addressing business leaders in London, Felipe hailed the close ties between Britain and Spain… “It is extremely important that the future framework of our relations establishes the conditions for a close economic relationship trying to minimise future obstacles and barriers.” Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told the event that Spain wanted a Britain that continued to be “bound together” with the rest of Europe. Bilateral trade between the two countries was worth £40bn in 2015 and more than 400 Spanish companies are registered in Britain, the UK government said. – Independent

…as Irish finance minister says EU won’t punish UK for Brexit…

“There is no intent whatsoever within the European Union to be engaged in a process of punishing the United Kingdom,” Paschal Donohoe said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The EU respected the Brexit referendum result, he added. While the Brexit bill has been speculated as being as high as 100 billion euros ($114 billion), Donohoe said both sides will “engage in a process that will yield a figure at the end of it.” – Bloomberg

…and Merkel to host Brexit ‘secret weapon’ royals William and Kate

Chancellor Angela Merkel will host Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, in Berlin next week during their first official visit to Germany… While the British royal family does not intervene in politics, the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is seen in Germany as an effort to reach out given the U.K.’s impending departure from the European Union… In Berlin on Wednesday, topics for discussion with the chancellor will include “European and global politics” as well as community service projects, Merkel’s chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in the release. – Bloomberg

Brexit will help create a ‘greener, cleaner, better’ planet, says Michael Gove

In a speech to a reception held by the Green Alliance think tank, Mr Gove stressed he was in “listening mode” following his appointment to the post after last month’s general election… He said Brexit was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the UK to help make the world “greener, cleaner, better, richer” and take a lead in the fight against climate change. “The Repeal Bill will be scrutinised and I’m in listening mode and I want to hear all of the concerns and hopes that people have for that legislation,” he told the audience of environmental groups. – Independent

Brexit means ‘small’ EU budget cuts, says EU’s Oettinger

The U.K.’s departure from the European Union will force “small cuts” to the bloc’s budget from 2019, European Commission budget chief Günther Oettinger said on Thursday, signalling that farm subsidies won’t be immune… Although the impact of Brexit will not be felt on the budget until 2019, the commissioner confirmed discussions are already under way about how to fill the shortfall left by the U.K.’s departure. The Council of the EU agreed Wednesday to its budget position for 2018, worth €158.9 billion… While he didn’t give specific details, he suggested they might be “a middle way” involving some cuts to the budget, for example to the Common Agricultural Policy, and a “little more money” from the remaining EU27. – Politico

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Labour should ditch the EU’s despotic Charter of Fundamental Rights

The EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights is an authoritarian document. It subverts rights. It is a Hegelian monstrosity. Labour’s demand that it be integrated into domestic law is shockingly myopic. Such a bizarre position raises serious questions about the intellectual and political judgment of the party leadership… Britain is already a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. This excellent (non-EU) document was drafted after the Second World War by British lawyers, inspired by liberal principles and the defence of freedom. The ECHR was intended to protect pluralism and to check executive power. It was to be a bulwark against totalitarian ideologies of Left and Right. The Charter is a different animal… Contrary to its benign name, the Charter was always a stalking horse to extend the jurisdiction of the ECJ into almost any area that it chooses, and this is exactly what has happened since the document became legally binding with the Lisbon Treaty. – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph (£)

  • Where Britain should yield on the European Court, and where resist – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph (£)

Martin Howe: Hypocritical opponents of the Great Repeal Bill want to turn Britain into the EU’s serf

The powers in the Bill are much narrower than the wide Henry VIII powers in the 1972 Act, since they can be used only to iron out deficiencies in how EU-derived laws would work after exit… So a strong stink of hypocrisy arises from this and other objections to the Bill. They are not to do with the Bill’s obviously sensible purpose – to maintain continuity in the law after Brexit. Rather, the objectors do not want to leave the EU at all, or want to create a post-Brexit serf-like relationship with the EU under which we are subject to as much of their beloved EU law as possible without even any longer being able to vote on it or have British judges in Luxembourg… Despite all the hype about this so-called Repeal Bill, there is actually no need for Parliament to pass this Bill in order for the UK to leave the European Union on 30 March 2019. – Martin Howe QC for the Telegraph (£)

  • Without her own majority, Theresa May is vulnerable to Remainers binding her hands on Brexit – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)
  • The Great Repeal Bill: May’s toughest fight yet – Rachel Cunliffe for City A.M.
  • The vital importance of the Great Repeal Bill – Joseph Hackett for Get Britain Out
  • Blood, sweat and toil will overcome the ambitions of the Brexit wreckers – Charles Moore for the Telegraph (£)

James Kirkup: Jeremy Corbyn is Britain’s first truly post-modern politician

Does Labour want to leave the Single Market? Maybes aye, maybes naw, as we used to say in North Britain. Corbyn isn’t saying. It might be one of the biggest questions of public policy of this decade, but the man who now has at least a non-trivial chance of being PM one day isn’t saying where he stands on it… At a short-term tactical level, the Corbyn ambiguity is perfectly astute. After all, he owes that 40 per cent vote share to a lot of degree-educated urban liberal pro Europeans who would not want Britain to leave the single market and might one day start to wonder why they cast their vote for a man who wants that very thing. It’s understandable that he wants to keep quiet in the hope of keeping his electoral coalition together a little while longer – even if this means the sort of triangulating cynicism that he and his friends always decried when Tony Blair did it. – James Kirkup for the Spectator

John Redwood: Brexit and sloppy journalism

Some newspapers and BBC commentators, led by the Evening Standard seem to think everything revolves around Brexit if it is negative. They either avoid the positive or dismiss it as happening despite Brexit. It has become a lazy habit of mind. Since Brexit, if the pound goes down, it is because of Brexit. When the pound goes up they tend to ignore it. After Brexit they delighted in the short sharp markdown of the Stock Market. When the strong upwards move commenced in the FTSE100 they said they had not meant the FTSE 100, the larger stocks, but had meant the FTSE250 which more accurately captures the domestic economy. When that too surged they switched to another topic. They quietly dropped their recession forecasts for last winter, and tiptoe round the excellent jobs figures which have continued to show good new job generation throughout the post Brexit vote year. Instead they shifted their forecasts from recession to slowdown, and shifted the date from soon to later. – John Redwood’s Diary

The Sun: It’s time for all Remoaners still hysterically trying to inflict Project Fear 2.0 to accept that Brexit must happen

It’s deafening: the din of ­leading Remainers hysterically whipping up fear again to terrify us into bottling out of Brexit. All Tory Cabinet Ministers, they scream, are thick chancers clueless about the complexities of leaving and hopelessly ill-equipped to negotiate. All their EU counterparts have ­brilliant minds, wily cunning and vast experience. It’s like they are superior at a genetic level. And the EU is a magnificent, noble, wholly benevolent institution without which we face Third World poverty. Only a full retreat will save us, they bleat. Or an indefinite transition period during which we must beg for mercy. – The Sun says

  • Remoaners plotting against Brexit threaten to undermine our democracy – Express editorial
  • The Guardian view on Brexit policy: time for Britain to get real – Guardian editorial

Brexit comment in brief

  • Should we worry about leaving Euratom? – Kit Malthouse MP for Reaction
  • A transitional deal is urgent — and not to be taken lightly – Bruno Waterfield for The Times (£)
  • For how long can Nicola Sturgeon get away with ignoring and disrespecting the views of Scottish Leave voters? – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)
  • Happy holidays. Here’s to Brexit – Iain Martin for Reaction
  • Brexit boom for Britain’s lobbyists – Tom McTague for Politico
  • Brexit Britain must court Donald Trump – Telegraph editorial (£)
  • Stronger economic and security ties will secure the US and UK’s special relationship – Eric Cantor for the Telegraph (£)
  • Macron scolds Germany for profiting from Europe’s distress – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph (£)
  • EU’s import quota conundrum – Simon Marks and Guilia Paravicini for Politico

Brexit news in brief

  • The agenda for the first full round of Brexit negotiations – Politico
  • Lord Adonis’s Brexit comments not a sackable offence, says No 10 – Guardian
  • Toyota ‘received Government assurances’ over £240m investment – Sky News
  • Nicky Morgan wants Treasury Committee to widen its scope – BBC News
  • EU struggles to attract tech talent even as US closes doors – Politico
  • BAE Systems dismisses concerns about its lack of involvement in a new French-German fighter jet – Telegraph
  • Businesses putting off hiring decisions amid Brexit uncertainty, recruiter claims – Telegraph
  • Italy plots ‘nuclear option’ to send migrants north – The Times (£)
  • Ed’s Balls on single market – Guido Fawkes

And finally… David Davis using Faraday briefcase ‘to stop foreign spies snooping on Brexit secrets’

David Davis is carrying his Brexit documents and electronic equipment in a briefcase which has been fitted with a Faraday cage to protect them from being accessed by foreign spies. The Brexit secretary has also swapped his i-watch for a Garmin watch amid concerns that foreign spies could activate the microphone on the device and listen in to meetings… Friends of Mr Davis, a former special forces soldier, disclosed the security arrangements as he prepares to fly to Brussels for substantive talks about Britain’s exit from the European Union next week. – Telegraph (£)