Brexit News for Thursday 11 January

Brexit News for Thursday 11 January
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Philip Hammond presses Brussels to show willing on Brexit

Philip Hammond has called on the EU to behave more like Australia or the US in showing eagerness for shaping a post-Brexit trade deal, telling a business audience in Berlin: “It takes two to tango.” The UK chancellor accused EU leaders of appearing intransigent and unenthusiastic on a future deal, pleading indirectly with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to signal areas of potential compromise to help pro-EU voices in the British cabinet. – FT (£)

“They say ‘it takes two to tango’. Both sides need to be clear about what they want from a future relationship. I know the repeated complaint from Brussels has been that the UK ‘hasn’t made up its mind what type of relationship it wants’. But in London, many feel that we have little, if any, signal of what future relationship the EU27 would like to have with a post-Brexit Britain.” – Philip Hammond’s speech quoted in The Independent

  • Hammond and Davis should expect strong headwinds from Berlin during pursuit of bespoke Brexit deal – ITV News

UK manufacturing output at its highest for 10 years…

UK manufacturing output is expanding at its fastest rate since early 2008 after recording a seventh consecutive month of growth in November. Renewable energy projects, boats, aeroplanes and cars for export helped make output 3.9% higher in the three months to November than in 2016. Official figures also show industrial output rose by 0.4% in November. – BBC News

…helping reduce the UK trade deficit by billions as exports boom

The total difference between imports and exports has been reduced by £2.1billion to £6.2billion in the three months to November 2017. This figure has been reduced due to an increase of non-EU country exports rising by 5.3 percent (£2.3billion). Exports of works of art and cars, and a £0.9billion widening of the trade services surplus all helped to increase exports, new figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed today. Ole Black, Office for National Statistics senior statistician said: “The trade deficit narrowed in the last three months, due mainly to increased exports of services, shipments of works of art and cars. – Express

  • UK growth forecast raised as manufacturers power ahead – Telegraph

Britain lines up post-Brexit trade deals with dozens of non-EU countries, ex-minister reveals

Britain has already agreed free trade deals in principle with dozens of non-EU countries – ready to take effect the day after Brexit Day in March 2019, an ex-minister has revealed. Lord Price, who resigned as an international trade minister in September, said Britain had exchanged letters with 36 countries agreeing to roll-over existing EU free trade agreements after we leave. He told the Commons International Trade Committee that the department was offering countries three options: to cut and paste existing EU FTAs; an agreement to continue on the same basis until a new deal can be reached, and a brand new FTA. – The Sun

New Conservative Party Chairman says he would now vote to Leave the EU in another referendum

Brandon Lewis, who campaigned to Remain in the European Union in the lead up to the Brexit vote insisted he would now vote to leave the bloc. Mr Lewis, who was this week appointed as the new Conservative party chairman, said the vote to leave the EU had to be respected. He said: “I don’t think that there should be another referendum and I don’t work in hypotheticals. I think there was a vote, we respect the vote and we get on with it.”- Express

Theresa May says ‘Government is doing well’ on Brexit

The Prime Minister has defended her performance in Brexit talks, claiming “this is a Government that knows what it’s doing and is getting on with the job and is doing well”. Asked by an SNP MP to rate her progress when it came to Brexit, Theresa May made an impassioned case to the Commons this afternoon. Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) earned a rebuke from Commons Speaker John Bercow that “he can do better than that” after attempting to put Ms May on the spot during Prime Minister’s Questions over Britain’s talks with leaving the European Union. – Scotsman

  • Downing Street calls City chiefs in for latest Brexit meeting – City A.M.

Holyrood prepares contingency Brexit laws in stand-off with UK Government

The Scottish government said on Wednesday it was preparing legislation that would ensure legal continuity in Scotland after Brexit as a fallback option in case it fails to reach agreement with Prime Minister Theresa May on her exit plan. Scottish ministers are unhappy with several elements of May’s approach to legally enacting Britain’s exit from the European Union, including the way that powers reclaimed from Brussels will be distributed back to Scotland. – Reuters

  • Scottish Brexit bill ‘likely next month’ – BBC News

Brexit bill probed over ‘reasonableness’ concern by spending watchdog

Britain’s multi-billion pound Brexit bill will be investigated by a watchdog over whether it represents good value for taxpayers. Public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) announced it will deliver a final verdict on the estimated £39bn divorce sum in March. It comes after a direct intervention by Nicky Morgan, a senior rebel Tory MP who chairs the Commons’ Treasury Select Committee. Ms Morgan called on the NAO to probe “the reasonableness of the payment” so MPs could better scrutinise the Government’s Brexit deal. – Sky News

Britons won’t change their minds about Brexit, says respected pollster

Britons are highly unlikely to change their minds about Brexit even though they are angry with how it is going, according to a highly-respected pollster. Sir John Curtice said those fighting to stop the UK leaving the EU were ‘probably wrong’ to hope people would think again in the face of fraught negotiations. Even if they believe the government is making a ‘balls up’ of the process the conclusion will not be that the decision should be reversed. – Daily Mail

Germany to demand UK pay for post-Brexit bank access

Germany will demand the U.K. pay for the privilege of its financial firms having access to European Union markets after Brexit as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government maintains a hard-line stance against a bespoke trade deal. The U.K. cannot hope for a trade agreement that includes financial services unless Britain agrees to make substantial contributions to the EU budget and adheres to European law, according to German officials from two key government departments in Berlin. Both asked not to be named discussing internal government strategy. – Bloomberg

Philip Hammond last night refused to rule out making substantial payments to the EU after Brexit in order to secure market access for British-based financial service firms. Asked during a trip to Berlin whether the UK would be prepared to pay for access to the EU markets for City firms, the Chancellor was pointedly non-committal. “We will talk about all of these things,” he said. – Telegraph (£)

No Brexit exodus from London, Page Group says as it chalks up record profit

Recruiter Page Group enjoyed record profit in 2017, boosted by strong international operations, despite concerns about Brexit dragging down the company’s UK business. The London-listed recruitment group enjoyed a 14.6pc rise in gross profits last year, reaching £711.6m, mostly driven by growth in continental Europe. But gross profit for the same period in the UK declined 3.8pc to £140.8m, the company said in a trading update on Wednesday. Gross profit in the UK contracted 2.8pc in the fourth quarter; nonetheless this was an improvement on the 7.6pc fall it recorded in the third quarter last year. – Telegraph

Brexit could see UK economy lose £54 billion by 2030, claims Sadiq Khan

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan commissioned a set of economic studies of the impact of different Brexit outcomes on regions and nine key sectors… Mr Khan said: “This independent analysis should help guide the Government to the best outcome for London and the UK. If the Government continue to mishandle the negotiations we could be heading for a lost decade of lower growth and lower employment.” – Sky News

  • UK could lose half a million jobs with no deal, says Sadiq Khan – Guardian

Theresa May pledges Brexit Britain will lead global fight against plastic pollution…

The U.K. will be a global leader against the “scourge” of plastic pollution, Theresa May will promise in a speech on the environment Thursday. The prime minister will set out a series of policy measures aimed at curbing plastic waste that will form part of the government’s 25-year Environment Plan, published the same day. Environment Secretary and leading Brexiteer Michael Gove has promised a “Green Brexit” once the U.K. leaves the EU. – Politico

…as the EU considers plastic tax to plug gap in post-Brexit budget

The EU could adopt a tax on plastic packaging to reduce waste and to plug the gap in its budget left by Brexit. The European Commission – the EU executive – will consider whether the tax should be levied when the packaging is produced, used or disposed of, the budget commissioner says. It will also analyse whether there should be exemptions for packaging that is necessary for hygiene or safety. The ideas were floated in talks about the next budget period from 2020-2026. – BBC News

  • EU uses Brexit to bust budget – Politico

Poland wants out of the EU, warns Donald Tusk

Poland’s nationalist government aims to take the country out of the EU, the European Council president has said. Donald Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland who now presides over the regular meetings of European Union leaders, predicted that his country’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) would follow Britain’s lead. “I have no doubt that for PiS one of the goals is to ‘free’ Polish politics from the burden of the EU,” he told Tygodnik Powszecnhy magazine yesterday. – Times (£)

  • Poland is racist for turning away refugees, says Juncker – Times (£)

Allister Heath: A failure to leave the customs union would destroy the Tories

It is conceivable that Mrs May could, with Labour support, push such a half-baked Brexit though Parliament. But her party would be finished. For most of its advocates on the Government benches, Brexit is about global free trade or it is nothing. Leaving the single market is not enough; Britain must also regain the power to trade freely with the rest of the world. Anything less would not just be a monumental betrayal but would tear the Conservatives apart. The party split in 1846 after the Corn Laws were repealed; it would surely do so again if Mrs May sells out her Brexiteers. – Allister Heath for the Telegraph (£)

Ross Murray: Brexit will allow the UK to value its countryside again

RIP the CAP. As Britain leaves the EU and we abandon the current system of farm subsidies, organised around the bloc’s Common Agricultural policy, the umbilical cord between farmers and the nation’s exchequer will be stretched, if not severed. And as Theresa May, the prime minister, unveils her environment policy it is clear that her and environment secretary Michael Gove’s green agenda will deeply affect farming. More than 40 years of relying on constant income support have left UK agriculture feeling fragile. Profitability is highly variable, as is productivity. Investment is also random. Many family farms need significant investment of financial and human capital. – Ross Murray for the FT (£)

Dennis de Jong: Does the continued boom in UK manufacturing prove the Brexit doomsayers wrong?

It may be too early for the government to claim that Brexit will be plain sailing for UK industry, but the current signs seem to suggest that companies are operating smart, flexible plans which can mitigate for reasonable turbulence in demand and the strength of the pound. Provided this continues, there’s no reason why the UK can’t continue to attract significant foreign investment, cementing the sector as a key manufacturing hub on the edge of Europe, but at the centre of something far bigger. It might seem easy to brush these figures aside, but though it currently accounts for just a tenth of GDP, who’s to say this isn’t British manufacturing reshaping itself as a key pillar of the future economy? – Dennis de Jong for City A.M.

Brexit in brief

  • Shops full of pies await Britain after Brexit – Iain Martin for Reaction
  • The ambiguity cannot last – Labour must either back or block a Tory Brexit – Gavin Pearson for LabourList
  • Let’s stop debating leave or remain and think about how to do Brexit right – Anand Menon for the Times (£)
  • Opinions differ on Brexit – but could we at least agree on facts where facts exist? – Tim Worstall for the ASI
  • Labour Remainer Chuka Umunna was left with his argument in tatters after he argued Britain didn’t vote to leave the European Union’s customs union and single market – Daily Express
  • Inquiry into post-Brexit fishing rules – BBC News
  • ‘Are you changing again?’ Andrew Neil grills Labour MP over party’s confused Brexit stance – Express
  • Overseas students add £20bn boost to UK economy during stay – FT (£)

And finally… Cheese, Marmite and PG Tips: Barnier’s hamper treat from Brexiteers

Brexit campaigners have given EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier a hamper of British products during a meeting at the European Commission in Brussels. The delegation was made up of the Euro MP Steven Woolfe, Lord Jones, the chair of the Leave Means Leave campaign John Longworth and Labour donor John Mills. The hamper included the complete works of Shakespeare, cheddar cheese, marmite, PG Tips and some English wine. Lord Jones said the aim was to show the UK had little to fear from no deal. – BBC News