Brexit News for Sunday 11 June

Brexit News for Sunday 11 June
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Theresa May confirms Brexit negotiations will start this month…

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Saturday that she would push ahead with the start of Britain’s Brexit negotiations with Brussels this month despite political turmoil in London following Thursday’s inconclusive general election. In a phone call with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, May said the talks on Britain exiting the EU would begin “as planned” on June 19. – Politico

…even urging the EU to get the ball rolling earlier than planned…

Theresa May has urged the EU to start Brexit talks early, in an attempt to show resolve, after her election debacle left Brussels doubting that she could be trusted to negotiate Britain’s divorce. May instructed aides to send a note to EU counterparts on Friday evening to signal that her government was operational and negotiations should begin before the agreed date of June 19. Oliver Robbins, May’s EU adviser, told his European counterparts: “The prime minister has directed that the procedures for preparing the negotiations for the formal withdrawal from the European Union should start as soon as possible.” – Sunday Times (£)

…as Merkel says the EU is ‘ready to start Brexit negotiations’

Angela Merkel has said she sees no obstacles in the way of beginning Brexit talks as scheduled after Theresa May failed to win a majority in Thursday’s UK election. The German chancellor said she believed Britain would stick to the timetable, adding the European Union was “ready”. Mrs Merkel added she hoped Britain would remain a good partner following the talks, due to begin on 19 June. – BBC News

‘Drop “hard” Brexit plans’, plead some Remain-backing MPs

Senior Tory and Labour MPs called on Theresa May to forge a new cross-party approach to Brexit as fears grew that the prime minister’s weakness could lead to the imminent collapse of talks on the UK’s exit from the European Union. In a dramatic demonstration of May’s loss of authority, as a result of Thursday’s general election – which stripped her of a Commons majority – the MPs demanded that she in effect drop her own Tory “hard Brexit” plans in favour of a new “national” consensus, that would be endorsed by members from all sides of the House of Commons. – Observer

  • Bernard Jenkin calls on Conservatives to back Theresa May for the sake of Brexit – Express

…as Ruth Davidson says the Tories need to listen to other parties on Brexit

Ruth Davidson has told Sky News the Conservatives need to “listen” to other parties when it comes to Brexit. The Scottish Tory leader, who many see as wielding considerable influence in her party post-election, did not rule out pursuing a softer exit from the European Union after Theresa May lost her majority in the snap poll. – Sky News

Ruth Davidson dismisses talk she’ll break Scottish Conservatives away from UK party as ‘b****cks’ – The Sun on Sunday

Confused Europe scents hard Brexit – or Breturn

Many in Brussels believe that the Brexit doomsday clock has moved closer to midnight with a greater chance of Britain crashing out of the bloc without a deal. “The chances of a crash have actually gone up considerably as May is now much less likely to be able to sign up to any compromise,” the negotiator said. Not everyone was gloomy. A few Eurocrats coined a new term, Breturn, for the unlikely scenario of Britain abandoning article 50, the divorce clause that the UK has triggered to withdraw from the EU. – Sunday Times (£)

DUP’s ‘positive talks’ over Tory deal

The Democratic Unionist Party says it has held “positive talks” over a possible deal to support a Conservative minority government. Tory chief whip Gavin Williamson met DUP chiefs in Belfast on Saturday. The DUP said talks would continue to “work on the details” and “reach agreement”, after No 10 had suggested a deal had been agreed in principle. Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has dismissed reports of a Tory party leadership bid as “tripe”. The Mail on Sunday reported a “close ally” of Mr Johnson as saying it was “go-go-go” to get him to take over the party from Theresa May. But Mr Johnson tweeted: “Mail on Sunday tripe – I am backing Theresa May. Let’s get on with the job.” – BBC News

  • Downing Street made statement on DUP deal in error – Sky News
  • In office, but not in power: Enemies circle Theresa May as she becomes a sitting duck – Sunday Telegraph

Senior Nationalist warns Sturgeon to drop demand for referendum

A former Scottish Government Minister who served in Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet yesterday warned her to immediately withdraw her demand for an independence referendum or face further punishment from voters if there is a second General Election this year. Alex Neil said the main lesson from a disastrous election for Ms Sturgeon is not to push for another vote on breaking up Britain unless there is more than 50 per cent support among Scots for independence itself. – Telegraph

Youth vote and Brexit tipped the electoral scales

A surge in the number of young people turning out to support Labour and a successful Brexit tactical voting campaign helped to deprive the Conservatives of an overall majority. In addition, swathes of former Ukip voters defied predictions and switched their allegiance to Jeremy Corbyn, rather than Theresa May, helping to stop the Tories winning in dozens of seats around the country. The changes upset the polls, with only YouGov’s early model predicting a hung parliament and the final exit poll getting the final result right. – Sunday Times

Stop being so hostile to us about Brexit, says senior Brussels MEP

Britain should stop being so hostile towards the EU over Brexit, an influential Brussels MEP has said, as she called for both sides to behave like “adults” to ensure a smooth transition. Sophie in ‘t Veld, the deputy of EU parliament negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, said officials in Brussels were struggling to grasp why Britain viewed them as “the enemy” after weeks of hostile rhetoric on the campaign trail. – Telegraph

Jacob Rees-Mogg MP: This election created no mandate for watering down Brexit. There must be no backsliding

Brexit negotiations are about to start, and the nation cannot afford to show weakness across the channel. Already, people who never wanted to leave the European Union are calling for a change of tune, by which they mean a reversal of the referendum. “Hard” and “soft” Brexit are code words for leaving or staying in the EU, rather than for the terms of our departure. No such denial of the people’s will can be permitted. – Jacob Rees-Mogg MP for the Sunday Telegraph

Stephen Booth: The argument that Brexit would inevitably lead to dissolution of the UK now looks far weaker

There are only losers from this election, with one exception: the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. So what does it want, and how will this change Brexit? The objectives of the incoming Conservative-led Government for a negotiated settlement with the EU are unlikely to change fundamentally. The UK still looks on course to leave the customs union and single market, but Conservative reliance on the DUP will bring Northern Irish issues, such as how to effectively manage the land border with the Republic in the south, to the fore. – Stephen Booth for the Sunday Telegraph

Iain Duncan Smith: Conservatives calling for a new leader are inviting Brexit chaos. We must get behind Theresa May

What went wrong? Well, how long have you got? Rudy Giuliani once said that politicians “campaign in poetry and govern in prose”, and in this election we seemed mired in prose. We were unable to convince people who aspire to do better that we were on their side and that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of setting out a bold and inspiring vision for the country the way the Prime Minister did on the steps of Downing Street just one year ago, we were trapped on the defensive. – Iain Duncan Smith MP for the Sunday Telegraph

James Kirkup: This was not the revenge of the Remainers: it was a cry for change by a generation who feel frozen out

Was Theresa May undone by a collective act of vengeance by Remain voters keen to thwart her plans for a “hard” Brexit that would take Britain out of the Single Market and possibly even out of the EU without an EU-UK trade deal? It’s a tempting analysis, but it’s not borne out by the facts. One thing is true. Mrs May picked up lots of voters who had (unlike her) backed Leave in the referendum: former Ukip voters propelled the Tories to more than 42 per cent of the vote, a figure David Cameron believed impossible for his party ever to reach (he never passed 37 per cent). – Sunday Telegraph

Sunday Times: Is the way clear for a soft Brexit?

“Theresa May called this election to get a blank cheque from the electorate to do a Brexit deal,” said another FTSE 100 chairman. “She does not have that. She is going to have to take that on board. People will not just go along with leaving the single market, leaving the customs union and ending the free movement of people without understanding what all of that means.” Business leaders are betting the straitjacket of a minority government will force the prime minister — or whoever replaces her — to take a more conciliatory approach. That means less chance of the “no deal” Brexit they fear most, with disruptive tariffs and customs checks springing up between the UK and EU once the two-year period of Article 50 talks expires in spring 2019. – Sunday Times (£)

John Rentoul: The election was supposed to clear the way for leaving the EU, but Theresa May’s failure has put Brexit in doubt

One of the reasons Theresa May decided to go for an early election was her anxiety over what would happen if she couldn’t achieve her aims in the Brexit deal, or if she failed to get a deal at all. She has promised Parliament a vote on the terms of our exit from the EU. She thought she could probably get those terms through the House of Commons. She had a working majority of 16, after all, plus a cushion of Labour Eurosceptics and the DUP. It was the House of Lords she was worried about. – The Independent

Brexit in brief:

  • Theresa May failed to learn lessons from Donald Trump and Brexit – Tim Newark for the Express
  • I am astonished: the British voters might just have saved us from a crazy hard Brexit – Christopher Booker for the Sunday Telegraph
  • Theresa May is finished. Her successor must heed the price she paid – Simon Heffer for the Sunday Telegraph
  • Britain’s voters played a blinder. Democracy, Parliament and the Union are stronger than ever – Tim Stanley for the Telegraph
  • Rejection of Theresa May’s little Englander ‘Brexit’ is splendid news – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph
  • As the clock ticks on Brexit, we need to accelerate economic growth – Carolyn Fairbairn for the Telegraph
  • LSE boss: It wasn’t Brexit that killed the Deutsche Boerse dream – Telegraph
  • Can buoyant global trade help Britain get back on an even keel? – Telegraph
  • How Theresa May lost it – Politico