Brexit News for Friday 8 September

Brexit News for Friday 8 September
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David Davis slams ‘cynical’ Labour attempt to block the Brexit bill…

The Commons has begun debating the EU Withdrawal Bill, with David Davis calling the legislation vital to ensuring an orderly EU divorce and Labour lamenting that it gives unprecedented powers to the Government. Mr Davis urged all MPs to back the bill, saying that a Labour attempt to block “the only viable option” for Brexit was “cynical and unprincipled”. “The British people will not forgive them if the end of their process is to delay or destroy the process by which we leave the European Union,” he told MPs. – Sky News

  • EU (Withdrawal) Bill: who said what during the debate – The Times (£)
  • Theresa May push to ease Brexit law through House of Commons – Politico
  • If Remainers derail the Repeal Bill, they will send Britain tumbling into a Brexit abyss – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)
  • The Withdrawal Bill is a necessity for UK – Telegraph editorial (£)

> Professor David Campbell on BrexitCentral: Hypocritical Remainers are misleading the public with their new-found opposition to secondary legislation

> WATCH: Highlights from day one of the EU Withdrawal Bill debate

…with furious Labour MPs accusing Jeremy Corbyn of taking voters ‘for fools’ as fresh civil war erupts over Brexit…

Two dozen backbenchers warned Labour’s decision to vote against the EU Withdrawal bill would be a “breach of trust” with Brits who wanted to leave the EU. The MPs, mostly from northern constituencies, confronted Shadow Brexit boss Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday evening at a heated showdown over a three line whip imposed for the vote next week. Labour whips are braced for an embarrassing rebellion on Monday evening, with one Labour MP claiming up to 50 backbenchers, many from the leave voting seats, could defy Mr Corbyn by abstaining. – The Sun

  • Corbyn facing rebellion over vote: Group of Labour MPs accuse leader of ‘trying to scupper Brexit’ by blocking vital new legislation – Daily Mail
  • Shadow Cabinet to attend anti-Brexit conference events – Guido Fawkes

> Kate Hoey MP on BrexitCentral yesterday: Labour has no mandate to block the EU Withdrawal Bill

…while Damian Green says Government ‘willing to make EU Withdrawal Bill concessions’

Theresa May’s deputy has signalled that the government is prepared to make concessions on its EU withdrawal bill to head off a Tory revolt over concerns it gives ministers too much power. The first secretary of state, Damian Green, also sought to reassure businesses that have reacted with alarm to a leaked draft of immigration plans proposing time-limited visas and fingerprinting for new arrivals… Asked whether the government would give ground to avoid defeat, he said: “People who make reasonable points, we will listen to them and hear what they have to say … What I’m saying is we will obviously listen. It’s very important the bill will get passed. It’s very surprising Labour is voting against it and they have questions to answer about that.” – Guardian

  • Davis seeks to head off party rebels with Brexit oversight offer – FT (£)
  • Theresa May gets a Brexit lesson from Parliament – James Forsyth for the Spectator
  • What can ministers do to calm the EU withdrawal bill row? – Isabel Hardman for the Spectator

Tory Eurosceptics warn Theresa May she must not keep Britain in EU ‘by stealth’…

More than 40 Eurosceptic Tory MPs have signed a letter warning the Government that it must not try to keep Britain in the EU by “stealth” during a transition period after Brexit. The letter, from Tories on the European Research Group, says that it would be an “historic mistake” to stay in the single market after March 2019… The MPs call for a series of clauses to be added to any transitional deal, including a clear timetable for the UK’s departure from the single market and the customs union. – Telegraph

  • Brexiteer letter demands Brexit – Guido Fawkes
  • Pro-Remain Conservatives put pressure on Minister and Treasury aide over letter – The Times (£)
  • Important intervention from Brexit-backing MPs – Express editorial
  • Let Brussels rage but ‘hard Brexit’ is simply ‘Brexit’ and that’s what the UK voted for – The Sun says

…as David Davis says transition deal keeping UK in EEA is worst of all worlds

Speaking ahead of the debate on the EU withdrawal bill on Thursday afternoon, Davis said the government had considered the benefits of retaining membership of the European Free Trade Association (Efta). “The simple truth is membership of Efta would keep us within the acquis [EU law] and it would keep us in requirements for free movement, albeit with some restrictions, but none have worked so far,” the Brexit secretary said. “In many ways it’s the worst of possible worlds. We did consider it, maybe as an interim measure. But it would be more complicated and less beneficial.” – Guardian

Michel Barnier rejects plans for open Irish border after Brexit…

The EU’s negotiator says proposals for no border posts or monitoring require the EU to suspend its own laws and “will not happen”… [UK] Proposals published in August suggested no border posts or physical monitoring would be installed at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland… The proposals were broadly welcomed by politicians on both sides of the border but critics have said the absence of a hard border with the Irish Republic – an EU member which accepts the free movement of people from the bloc – would effectively offer a “back door” into the UK for immigrants after Brexit… [Barnier] said: “Creativity and flexibility cannot be at the expense of the integrity of the single market and the customs union.” – Sky News

  • UK cannot use Northern Ireland as post-Brexit ‘test case,’ says Michel Barnier – Politico

…while also ruling out non-stop Brexit talks because he needs to brief EU leaders between talks

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier ruled out Thursday the possibility of nonstop talks with the U.K. in Brussels, an idea floated by London to speed up the pace of the negotiations… In rejecting the idea of nonstop talks, Barnier said he needed to spend time between negotiating rounds briefing heads of state and government, ambassadors from the EU27, members of the European Parliament and other leaders in Brussels. But he was also clearly intent on denying U.K. negotiators any advantage from having just one master, Prime Minister Theresa May — a fact that theoretically, at least, allows British negotiators to be far more nimble than their EU counterparts. – Politico

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker sparks fresh outrage after it emerges he branded David Davis ‘lazy’ and questioned his ‘stability’…

Explosive minutes from a Commission meeting two months ago reveal Mr Juncker said Mr Davis’ ‘apparent lack of involvement’ was “jeopardising the success of negotiations”. And the same notes of July’s meeting of EU commissioners reveal chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier mocking Theresa May for her election blunder… The latest outbursts in Brussels overshadowed the publication of EU position papers on the EU. Senior Tories reacted furiously to Mr Juncker’s personal attack on Mr Davis – and said their “bar room insults” exposed Brussels was on the defensive. – The Sun

  • Tensions rise over Junker’s ‘bar room’ insults at David Davis – Express
  • Barnier eats his words – Guido Fawkes
  • Fury over Juncker’s personal attack on Brexit secretary Davis – Express
  • Brexit must not be allowed to overshadow Jean-Claude Juncker’s flagship speech, insist MEPs – Telegraph (£)

…as Damian Green hits back at European Parliament President over claims about Brexit timetable

British First Secretary of State Damian Green rejected remarks by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani that the U.K. would have to wait until nearly Christmas to start discussing its future relationship with the EU… Green told BBC Radio 4 Thursday morning that this deadline “is not set by the European Parliament.” … “These are complex negotiations, and there are several rounds to go,” Green said. “We want to increase the pace, but there have been some significant agreements made already. Talks will be tough — let’s see what happens between now and October.” – Politico

  • Brexit trade talks deadline to slip to December, says European Parliament chief – Telegraph
  • May refuses invitation to address European parliament in public – Guardian

Brexit will allow UK to offer shipping firms better tax regime than EU, says Maritime UK chairman

Brexit could provide a boost for the UK shipping industry as it will allow the government to impose a more competitive tax regime than its European neighbours, industry leaders have said. David Dingle, the chairman of Maritime UK, said it was vital that the government used Brexit as an opportunity to reform its tonnage tax, which allows ship owners to pay rates based on tonnage capacity rather than operating profits… Mr Dingle suggested the UK could emulate the success of Singapore if it offered more flexibility and competitive rates on tonnage tax than those imposed by the EU. – Telegraph

MPs to probe whether new customs system is ready for Brexit

MPs are to conduct an inquiry into how prepared Whitehall is for a spike in customs checks after Brexit, amid fears a new £71m customs computer system could collapse. The Treasury select committee, chaired by arch-Remainer and former education secretary Nicky Morgan, is expected to summon ministers and bosses at HM Revenue & Customs this autumn as questions mount over whether the new system will cope with a hard Brexit… The new system, which was signed off before the referendum vote, is expected to be completed just two months before Brexit. But it has been given an “amber/red” status to highlight concerns within Whitehall over progress. – Sky News

Syed Kamall: Don’t be scared by the EU’s Brexit haka: both sides will soon calm down and work towards a deal

Before we get too excited or exercised by the latest pronouncements on either side we should reach for these triple touchstones. Firstly, these are early days. Secondly, tough talk is part of the ritual. Thirdly, the EU side’s apparent inflexibility over scheduling is all part of that game. Last week, highly paid commentators managed to sound genuinely shocked and dismayed when both sides acknowledged they were quite a way apart and progress was slow. Well, of course they are. We are in for a negotiation that will go the distance, not one decided by an early knockout… Remember that often in EU negotiations, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Red lines stay red until they turn pink and get blurred. Monsieur Barnier knows that and we know that. He says we are asking for the impossible. That’s what happens in negotiations. Both sides ask for more than they actually want and both sides dismiss the other’s initial demands. – Syed Kamall MEP for the Telegraph (£)

Peter Lilley: Don’t lose your head over ‘Henry VIII powers’

One happy consequence of ‘taking back control of our laws’ is that it puts the focus back on our own democratic processes which for so long have been side-lined. In other cases, not least the Labour Front Bench, the motives for raising Henry VIII clauses are more cynical. It is difficult to see how concern for Parliamentary scrutiny can be reconciled with a desire to remain in the so-called Single Market. That would mean we would be subject, via a power that would have embarrassed even King Henry VIII, to a continuous flow of new laws over which neither Parliament nor the executive had any influence, let alone control. – Peter Lilley for ConservativeHome

Steven Woolfe: A soft Brexit would shatter trust in politicians

Let’s make no bones about it: the objective of those championing a soft Brexit is to undermine the negotiation process. They hope that they can keep the UK in the exit foyer for long enough for public sentiment or circumstances to change so that we can stay in, or rerun the referendum. But what they fail to recognise is that the biggest opposition for a “soft” Brexit comes from the side we’re negotiating against: the EU… Remainers know the position is flawed. But they want the process to fail… If there is one thing we can surely agree on, it is that the referendum re-engaged swathes of the electorate who have never voted before… A failure to deliver the Brexit that people voted for will shatter this new found political engagement. – Steven Woolfe MEP for CapX

Brexit comment in brief

  • If Brussels forces a no-deal Brexit, EU exporters could give Britain’s economy a boost – Andrew Lilico for the Telegraph (£)
  • Science cooperation will continue post-Brexit, but ministers should be wise to the EU’s tricks – Angus Dalgleish and Gwythian Prins for the Telegraph (£)
  • Do we really want restriction on German immigration? – Ed West for the Spectator
  • The days of cheap labour are numbered – businesses should be preparing for change – Matthew Lynn for the Telegraph (£)
  • Why Berlin won’t come to UK’s rescue on Brexit – Christian Odendahl for Politico
  • Frankfurt wins post-Brexit prize to become EU financial centre, much to the horror of France – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph (£)
  • Why Merkel will win a fourth term – Nicholas Bloom for CapX

Brexit news in brief

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg elected to Brexit Select Committee as Anna Soubry is unsuccessful again – BrexitCentral
  • Bankers meet Davis at last as ministers woo business – The Times (£)
  • Vince Cable urges PM to lift lid on EU immigration reports – Guardian
  • Campaign group to give Last Night of the Proms audience members 10,000 free EU flags in bid ‘to turn Proms blue and yellow’ – Telegraph (£)
  • David Davis slaps down former colleague George Osborne during Brexit debate – Express