Brexit News for Friday 19 May

Brexit News for Friday 19 May
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Britain faces ‘dire consequences’ without a clean Brexit, says Theresa May at Tory manifesto launch…

The Prime Minister said that if the Tories win the general election her Government would “not seek to fudge this issue – to be half-in and half-out of the EU”. She committed the Tories to taking Britain completely out of both the single market and the customs’ union, and cutting net immigration into the UK to fewer than 100,000 a year, something she failed to do in her six years as home secretary. The strength of the commitment in the manifesto will make it very hard for the House of Lords, where the Tories do not have a majority, to frustrate her Brexit plans when they are voted on by peers. Mrs May said that securing the best deal for Britain outside the EU was the single most important challenge facing her Government over the next five years. – Telegraph

  • Conservative manifesto: hiring foreign workers to cost more – The Times (£)
  • What did Theresa May say at the Conservative manifesto launch, and what did she really mean? – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)
  • Theresa May’s manifesto plan for Brexit amounts to a single principle: trust me – Juliet Samuel for the Telegraph (£)
  • How Brexit haunts May’s Conservative manifesto – Tom McTague and Charlie Cooper for Politico
  • This election isn’t about getting a better Brexit deal – and the Conservative manifesto proves it – Stephen Bush for the New Statesman
  • The Conservative manifesto is economically cautious but politically bold – The Times (£) editorial
  • Never in our history has a UK election thrown up such a clear-cut and obvious choice for Sun readers – The Sun says

> Hugh Bennett on BrexitCentral: What the Conservative manifesto says about Brexit

…as Brexit takes centre stage in leaders’ TV debate without Corbyn or May

UKIP’s leader Paul Nuttall found himself outnumbered by 4-1 on Brexit and other issues in a party leaders’ TV debate that was snubbed by Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Nuttall was also isolated on immigration and grammar schools as he battled against the Lib Dems’ Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas of the Greens, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru… The two-hour debate, staged by ITV at its studios in Salford, began with a clash on Brexit, then covered the NHS, social care, living standards, education and university tuition fees. – Sky News

  • Parties clash with UKIP over Brexit in live debate – BBC News
  • Party leaders go head-to-head ahead of election – ITV News
  • Nicola Sturgeon defends free movement in clash with Paul Nuttall – Express
  • ITV leaders debate: what you missed if you were down the pub – John Rentoul for the Independent

Barnier warns Juncker that Brexit talks could collapse if member states fail to back down on UK divorce bill…

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, fears the refusal of member states to soften their demands over the size of Britain’s “divorce bill” could lead to a collapse in talks and the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal, minutes of a meeting of the European commission reveal. Barnier has told the commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, and other senior officials that the stakes are so high because Berlin and Paris are refusing to pay more to cover the UK’s departure, while those governments who receive the most from EU funds are opposed to any cuts in spending… As positions have hardened on the continent, with estimates of the size of the bill now reaching as much as €100bn, Juncker noted that Theresa May appeared to be softening up the British public for failure to strike a deal. – Guardian

  • Theresa May risks Brexiteers’ wrath with pledge for huge Brussels payout to smooth trade deal – The Sun

…as David Davis reveals preparations for walking away with no Brexit deal

The Prime Minister’s no-nonsense approach to negotiations had proved we will not be bullied into accepting a bad Brexit deal and put European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and his allies “back in their box”, he said. Mr Davis also revealed half his time at the Department for Exiting the EU is spent preparing for the possibility of the Government walking away from Brexit talks without a deal. “We’ve shown we mean business. We won’t engage in silly games but neither will we put up with silly games,” Mr Davis said… “Anybody who has to do any negotiation in any aspect of their lives knows you can’t just say, ‘We will take any deal rather than walk away’, which is what Labour is prepared to do. Half of my work is preparing the ‘walk away’ option. I don’t expect it will ever be used but it has got to be there as an available option if we absolutely need it.” – Express

  • Brexit Secretary David Davis is ready to face down EU bureaucrat – Express editorial

Britain to be bound by European human rights laws for at least another five years even if Tories win election

The party’s manifesto commits the Tories to remaining signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights for the entirety of the next parliament. Mrs May, who served as home secretary from 2010 to 2016, said last year she wanted to quit the ECHR, which for a time frustrated her plans to extradite the hate preacher Abu Qatada. The Prime Minister had been expected to write the commitment into the Conservative manifesto meaning that Britain would be committed to withdrawing by the end of the next parliament, in 2022. However the 84-page document says Britain will remain subject to European human rights laws “while the process of Brexit is underway”. – Telegraph

Violent protests as Greece adopts more austerity measures in new bailout bid

Greece’s parliament has approved a new package of austerity measures needed to release the next instalment of its multi-billion-dollar bailout… As MPs voted, anti-austerity protesters clashed with police in central Athens. Eurozone finance ministers meet on Monday to decide if Greece has done enough to receive a €7.5bn (£6.4bn; $8.3bn) loan plus debt relief… Speaking after the vote, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece had met its commitments on reforms and now expected lenders to agree to debt relief… “We deserve and we expect from Monday’s Eurogroup a decision regulating debt relief which will correspond to the sacrifices of the Greek people.” About 10,000 people took part in the protests outside parliament, with a small group breaking away to confront police. Hooded youths threw petrol bombs at officers who responded with tear gas. – BBC News

  • Greek MPs pass further austerity measures amidst violent protests – Politico

Daniel Hannan: Theresa May has unveiled the internationalist Brexit of my dreams

It is the Conservatives who are delivering Brexit, and they are doing so on internationalist principles. A large chunk of the manifesto is called “Global Britain”, and sets out how “the United Kingdom will be a global champion for an open economy, free trade, and the free flow of investment, ideas and information.” … Nothing could be further from the nativist, protectionist Brexit that some feared. Here, in short, is a plan for a competitive Britain, interested and involved in the affairs of every continent, including Europe. I’ve waited a long time to vote for a manifesto like this. – Daniel Hannan MEP for the Telegraph (£)

Iain Martin: Imagine Britain begging Brussels to get back into the EU

If talks are handled sensibly on both sides of the Channel then relations can be cordial and warm between the UK and the EU as soon as the new settlement emerges. Britain is leaving the EU, not Europe, and these are are our neighbours and friends, and partners in Nato. But we are leaving the EU and wishing for re-entry is a waste of time. After this election the more sensible ultra-Remainers will ‎have to face up to the deep shift, or, rather, I hope they do. British politics without them, without their energy and ideas, and drive on public service reform, or markets and competition, or constitutional reform, will be dull indeed. – Iain Martin for Reaction

Brexit comment in brief

  • Britain is still paying for EU propaganda – Joseph Hackett for CapX
  • Why the vaping industry is ready to send Brussels’ ill- conceived red tape up in smoke – Doug Mutter for City A.M.

Brexit news in brief

  • Gina Miller targets voters with tailored Facebook ads – Guardian
  • Sterling above $1.30 as retail sales net Easter boost – Sky News
  • EU insists trade deals including Brexit deal must meet its labour and competition standards – Guardian
  • Price rises caused by Brexit a big worry for UK consumers, survey finds – Guardian
  • EU fines Facebook over ‘misleading’ WhatsApp data claim – BBC News