Brexit News for Wednesday 14 June

Brexit News for Wednesday 14 June
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Theresa May signals she will not compromise on the clean Brexit of the pre-election White Paper…

Theresa May has signalled she will not compromise over Brexit despite growing demands for a change in approach in the wake of last week’s election result. The Prime Minister is understood still to be determined to enter talks in Brussels next week with a threat that Britain is prepared to leave the EU without a future trading deal. She also wishes to stick to the pre-election Conservative plan for this country to leave the single market and customs union to allow the UK to negotiate free-trade deals around the world, and control immigration. – Telegraph (£)

  • Gove says Britain will leave EU customs union after Brexit – Reuters
  • Brexit talks remain on course for next week, Theresa May confirms – PA
  • May: UK needs unity for challenges of Brexit and security – Reuters

…as Philip Hammond reportedly leads battle to drop Brexit trade plan

Philip Hammond is preparing to lead a battle within the government to soften Brexit by keeping Britain inside the EU customs union, The Times has learnt. The chancellor believes that ministers must rethink their decision to pursue an entirely independent trade policy, according to several sources. One said that the Treasury was in “street-fighting mode” and another predicted that Mr Hammond would win support for his position from Damian Green, the prime minister’s newly appointed deputy. A senior Tory Brexiteer added that there was a push by some in the cabinet to “secure a very different relationship with the EU” after the Tories’ disastrous election result, adding: “There is a great deal of concern that they are changing Brexit.” – The Times (£)  

The customs union is a protectionist barrier to free trade with the 162 countries outside the EU. Don’t fall for the hype that it reduces trade barriers. Garlic has a 200% external tariff to protect French farmers, some US jeans face a 26% tariff, shoes face 17% tariffs to protect Italian cobblers. Some agricultural products, e.g. beef and dairy, have very substantial tariff rates, 54 dairy products alone have tariff rates of more than 75%. The customs union only liberalises internal trade within the EU. – Guido Fawkes

  • A soft Brexit means no Brexit – Stephen Glover for the Daily Mail
  • If Theresa May dilutes Brexit to please Labour, get set for another huge Tory civil war over Europe – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

David Davis loses half his ministerial team…

David Davis will go into Brexit negotiations next week with half his old ministerial team missing after one was sacked and the other resigned in a post-election reshuffle. In a move to reassure the Conservative right that their views will be represented in the new administration, Steve Baker, head of the influential European Research Group (ERG) of Tory MPs, was brought in as a junior minister in the department. The appointment comes after David Jones, another Brexiteer, was sacked by Mrs May as minister of state on Monday night and Lord Bridges of Headley resigned. He was credited with being the Department for Exiting the European Union’s (Dexeu) “intellectual driving force”. – The Times (£)

…but arch-Brexiteer Steve Baker joins the Brexit Department

Theresa May appointed an influential Tory backbencher as a junior Brexit minister yesterday as the department was cleared out just days before crucial talks with Europe begin. Leading Brexiteer Steve Baker, who led a backbench group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs, was promoted during the reshuffle in a signal the PM does not intend to back down from her uncompromising Brexit strategy. He was handed the role as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the EU as two ministers were either sacked or resigned a week before EU negotiations get underway. – Daily Mail

Steve Baker was seen as a key Brexiteer on the backbenchers and was chair of the European Research Group.  In a signal from the Prime Minister that she does not intend to back down on a hard Brexit, she appointed Mr Baker as parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Exiting the EU.  Since last year’s vote to leave the EU, Mr Baker has played an influential role in organising a group of eurosceptics within the Conservative Party opposed to any attempt to water down the terms of Britain’s departure from the bloc.  Earlier this year, Mr Baker said in an article posted on his website that Britain must seek a new and independent partnership with the EU, rejecting any kind of “associate membership, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.” – Express

  • May appoints Brexit campaigner Steve Baker as junior minister – Reuters
  • Theresa May calms fears over ‘soft Brexit’ by hiring hardline Eurosceptic Steve Baker – The Sun
  • Baker’s appointment restores some balance to DExEU – ConservativeHome

Ruth Davidson draws her Brexit red line over fishing rights

Ruth Davidson has told Theresa May that the government must not trade away any fishing rights in the Brexit negotiations. The Scottish Conservative leader made the protection of fishing one of her red-line issues as far as Brexit is concerned. She has insisted that the UK leave the common fisheries policy completely, that Britain have a rigorously enforced 200-mile fishing limit and that no fishing rights be traded away for concessions elsewhere. Ms Davidson is acutely aware that her party’s biggest advances last week came in the northeast of Scotland, home to the bulk of its fishing fleet, which is still the largest in the UK.  She also knows that she will lose all credibility in that region if the government trades away fishing rights for movement in other areas of the Brexit negotiations. – The Times (£)

Cameron calls for deal with Labour on taking ‘softer’ approach to talks

David Cameron yesterday made a dramatic bid to hijack the PM’s Brexit plans – calling for her to talk to Labour about a ‘softer’ approach. As Theresa May prepares to begin Brussels negotiations, the former prime minister intervened to say she had to ‘listen to other parties’. It follows calls by Tory figures such as former leader William Hague for Mrs May to reach out to Labour, possibly through a cross-party commission. Yesterday, it also emerged Chancellor Philip Hammond had told his German counterpart that Britain’s Brexit policy could change following last week’s election setback.  – Daily Mail

Labour rules out working with May

Labour rules out working with Theresa May on Brexit until she dumps ‘no deal’ rhetoric. There will be no cross-party British approach to Brexit while Theresa May refuses to be “honest” about the devastating impact of leaving the EU without a deal, The Independent has learnt. Labour will not agree a Brexit consensus with the Conservatives until the Prime Minister ditches her “no deal is better than a bad deal” rhetoric and agrees bulletproof guarantees for workers’ rights and environmental protections. In the wake of their poor election performance, top Conservatives have called for a cross-party approach to withdrawal negotiations. But in a sign of deepening Tory splits, Brexit-backing cabinet ministers warn it will not mean any softening of Ms May’s tough stance. – Independent

PM facing ‘war’ to get Brexit deal through Parliament

Theresa May yesterday vowed to listen to “cross-party views” on Brexit after ministers said trying to pass EU exit laws now will be “our Passchendaele”. A host of Tory grandees bombarded the Prime Minister with demands that she soften her Brexit plans with Labour’s help. Former PM Sir John Major said the disastrous General Election had “changed a very great deal”. And Mrs May’s own ministers issued dire warnings on the consequences of her throwing away the party’s majority. Referring to the World War One battle, one told The Sun: “Make no mistake, this will be our Passchendaele. “Labour and all the others will fight us line by line, in committees, on the floor and in the Lords, for months and months on end. It will be utterly bitter, trench warfare. – The Sun

The door is still open for Britain to remain in the EU, Macron tells May

The door is still open for Britain to remain in the European Union, Emmanuel Macron has said after talks with Theresa May in Paris. At a joint press conference with the French president, Mrs May did not clarify if she was softening her position on Brexit. She said the timetable for negotiations “remains on course and will begin next week”. Mrs May said that following the election there is “a unity of purpose in the UK that the government gets on and delivers it.” – Telegraph

  • Brexit: EU ‘open’ to change of heart, say France and Germany – BBC
  • Macron: UK can change its mind on Brexit – SkyNews
  • EU door ‘remains open’, Macron tells May –  Guardian
  • Lady Brexit meets Monsieur Europe: May, Macron hold talks – AP
  • Europe would ‘open doors’ to UK if it changed mind on EU withdrawal, says German finance minister – Independent
  • Wolfgang Schäuble: EU door remains open to UK – Politico

British Ambassador angry at Dane’s ‘small nation’ jibe

A Danish official’s comments about the U.K.’s place in the world elicited an angry response from Britain’s ambassador to Copenhagen. At a conference called Road To Brexit in Copenhagen on Tuesday, Danish Finance Minister Kristian Jensen said Britain was not in a position to bully Denmark or other members of the European Union during the Brexit negotiation process, Politiken reported. Jensen added: “There are two kinds of European nations. There are small nations and there are countries that have not yet realized they are small nations.” Britain’s ambassador to Denmark, Dominic Schroeder, hit back, saying he saw no indications “of a diminished or diminishing power.” – Politico

Guy Verhofstadt takes swipe at Tories over Brexit

Guy Verhofstadt has attacked Britain’s decision to leave the EU once again – this time insisting the divorce is an “internal dispute in the Tory party”. After joining chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in urging Mrs May not to “waste time” and begin talks, Mr Verhofstadt went one step further and attacked the Conservative party for Britain’s “unclear” Brexit position. He told reporters: “I continue to believe… [Brexit] started, and it’s still, an internal dispute in the Tory party. “And it’s time now to understand that it’s not about the Tories leaving the European Union, it’s about the UK leaving the European Union. – Express

 

Paul Marshall: Inspire the young vote with an upbeat vision of Brexit

Of all the failings of Theresa May’s election campaign, perhaps the most dismal was the absence of an optimistic vision of a post-Brexit economy. It was as if all the mood music of George Osborne’s “Project Fear” had been grafted from the Remain campaign to the 2017 general election. Mrs May’s campaign was built on the language of defence (“strong and stable”). At no stage did she argue the benefits of global free trade. At no stage did she use the language of prosperity. And at no stage did she talk about what a successful 21st-century economy needs to look like — global, networked, knowledge-based, free to innovate. – Paul Marshall for the FT (£)

Iain Duncan Smith: Brexit can’t be negotiated by committee

The clock is ticking, and as we settle how the Government will run and what arrangement the Conservatives will make with the DUP to navigate crucial parliamentary votes, one issue in particular hangs over us: the need to get on with the Brexit negotiations. The question of what kind of relationship we want with the EU has been dominated by some of the most facile commentary imaginable. As a result, we have lurched between talking of hard Brexits and soft Brexits with no real idea of what is meant. Some say a soft Brexit entails remaining in the single market, or the customs union or both. Now we have a new term, an open Brexit, although perhaps this is more about tone than substance. – Iain Duncan Smith MP for the Telegraph (£)

Laura Kuenssberg: Will Theresa May now have to change Brexit plans?

Enthusiastic Remainers have been quick to jump on the election result as their latest opportunity to mould the UK’s departure from the EU.The various lobby groups, including former ministers still close to some in government, have been whirring with chatter and tactical planning about how to get their voices heard. There are ideas about commissions or ‘neddies’ – groups of advisers from business and all political parties that met in years gone by. Even senior Tories like the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, one of their few success stories at the moment, told us yesterday “it can’t just be a Tory Brexit”. – Laura Kuenssberg for the BBC

Daily Mail: David Cameron’s call to dilute Brexit will risk a Tory civil war

Is he devoid of any shame? Yesterday David Cameron – the man who ruined his legacy with Project Fear – joined the anti-Brexit clamour gripping Tory Remoaners. Mr Cameron claimed, treacherously, there would now be ‘pressure for a softer Brexit’. Sadly he is not alone. Even before we knew the full results of the election, cynical Europhiles were risibly claiming that voters had rejected the government’s approach. In the following days, when the BBC wasn’t treating the outcome as a victory for Jeremy Corbyn, the corporation wholeheartedly embraced this perverse narrative, with presenters demanding from ministers how the UK’s negotiating stance would change. – Daily Mail editorial

Allison Pearson: Forget the nursing crisis. Here’s how Brexit can save the NHS

One of the most plaintive and persuasive bleats about Brexit is that it puts the National Health Service at risk. Thousands of staff from other EU countries might decide to lay down their stethoscopes and go home and, so, where would that leave the sick and the injured? Corroborating evidence for this view emerged this week with the news that European nurses are abandoning the NHS. There has been a reported staggering 96 per cent fall in post-referendum arrivals. Last July, 1304 nurses from Europe joined The Nursing and Midwifery Council. By April, that number was pretty much down to Magda from Riga. – Allison Pearson for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit comment in brief

  • May must reassemble the Brexit team in a grand, all-party coalition – Thom Brooks for the TImes (£)
  • Theresa May’s only Brexit option is dodging the cliff edge – Daniel Finkelstein for the Times (£)
  • There’s a plausible legal argument that Britain has not actually invoked Article 50 – Matthew Scott for the Telegraph (£)
  • Britain is in a mess and it needs a national leader. Theresa May is simply not that person – Philip Johnson for the Telegraph (£)
  • Business must get off the fence and stop Brexit – Anthony Hilton: for the Evening Standard
  • Theresa May is unfit to drive Brexit through. Take away her keys – Rafael Behr for the Guardian
  • You should never take British voters for granted – Fergus Kelly for the Express
  • General election 2017 and the Brexit conspiracy – David Sedgwick for CommentCentral

Brexit News in Brief

  • Fishermen, farmers and greens brace for Michael Gove – Politico
  • Barnier tries to reassure MEPs worried about Brexit countdown – Politico
  • Number of Britons seeking German citizenship leaps in 2016 as Brexit vote takes toll – Reuters
  • UK employers plan to keep hiring despite Brexit – Guardian
  • Reality Check: Has the election changed EU views of Brexit? – BBC
  • Brussels makes euro clearing a Brexit battleground – Politico
  • May’s obsession with ECJ over Brexit ‘daft’, says former senior judge – Guardian
  • China’s Huawei remains committed to Britain despite election result – Reuters
  • John Major says Tory-DUP deal could threaten Northern Irish peace process – Politico
  • William and Kate Middleton to go on Brexit charm offensive – Daily Mail