Philip Hammond to give brighter outlook for UK's Brexit-bound economy today: Brexit News for Tuesday 13 March

Philip Hammond to give brighter outlook for UK's Brexit-bound economy today: Brexit News for Tuesday 13 March
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

Philip Hammond to give brighter outlook for UK’s Brexit-bound economy today

The Chancellor is expected to announce on Tuesday a modest improvement in the country’s slow economic growth outlook in the run-up to Brexit, raising the prospect that he might relax his grip on public spending later this year. But Philip Hammond will use a half-yearly update on the public finances to stress that his priority remains to ease the burden of Britain’s 1.7 trillion pounds in public debt. Britain has cut its annual borrowing from 10 percent of gross domestic product in 2010, when it was reeling from the global financial crisis, to around 2 percent now. Encouraged by the fall in the deficit, some MPs in Hammond’s Conservative Party have urged him to spend more on an over-stretched health system, the military and other services. – Reuters

  • Britain will weather the Brexit storm after upturn in nation’s finances, insists Philip Hammond – The Sun
  • How big is Hammond’s Brexit war chest? – Joe Owen for the Times (£)

> Neil MacKinnon on BrexitCentral today: Let’s stick to the facts on the economy: the Treasury, Bank of England and IMF were wrong

British negotiators close in on Brexit transition period deal

British Brexit negotiators are closing in on securing a deal on the transition period and have surprised their European Union counterparts with their “strong will” to strike an agreement to effectively prolong Britain’s membership of the single market and customs union for about two years after March 29 2019. London is targeting the March 22 European Council summit to secure agreement on the transition period, which is needed to give valuable time for the government and businesses to prepare for Brexit.  During transition, Britain will lose all EU voting rights but will have to implement all new and existing EU laws. – Telegraph (£)

  • EU and UK prepare to open talks on post-Brexit trade ties – FT (£)

Maltese Prime Minister says Britain and EU will reach accord on post-Brexit trade in services

The biggest risk to Britain’s post-Brexit economy is a disruption to trade in services, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Monday, but he thought London and Brussels would reach agreement on the issue. Muscat said he feared leaving the EU single market would reduce Britain’s comparative advantage in services although he said predictions of a mass exodus from the City of London after Brexit were overdone. He added though that he expected London and Brussels would find a solution on trade in services post-Brexit. – Reuters

EU firms would suffer a bigger hit from a no-deal Brexit than British ones, Brussels is warned

European businesses have more to lose from a no-deal Brexit than British ones, a bombshell report revealed today. Companies in the EU are set to be hit with £31billion of extra red tape, compared to £27billion for those based in the UK, if we leave without a trade deal. German manufacturers are especially badly exposed to increased costs with the company’s industrial heartlands facing a hammering. And in Britain it is London that will be worst affected as the lucrative financial services sector loses out. – The Sun

Leo Varadkar rules out post-Brexit pre-registration of vehicles crossing the Irish border

Irish Prime Minister Leo Vardakar has ruled out suggestions that those crossing the Irish border after Brexit might need to pre-register. The taoiseach was reacting to reports that this was one idea being considered by the UK government. “It is not a solution that we envisage,” he told an audience in Austin, Texas. The future operation of the Irish border has been a sticking point in the negotiations between the UK and the EU. – BBC News

  • MEPs to call for no reduction in NI ‘democratic rights’ – BBC News

Cost of Brexit preparation ‘could reach £2 billion by official date of leaving EU’

Preparations for Brexit have cost taxpayers at least £400 million in this financial year, with the bill expected to jump to £900 million or more in 2018/19, according to a new report. And the total spent across government could reach £2 billion over the two years running up to Brexit day on March 29 2019, said the Institute for Government (IfG) think tank. The IfG said it was too soon to estimate the final bill for Brexit preparations. A further £1.5 billion set aside for the year after March 2019 “could prove to be a fairly comprehensive slush fund, or just the beginning”, the think tank warned. The report found that half of the money spent on Brexit so far has gone on staff, with the six Whitehall departments most affected by the UK’s EU withdrawal expecting to recruit almost 10,000 extra personnel. – Belfast Telegraph

  • Theresa May will have spent £2billion on Brexit preparations by the time UK leaves EU, think tank claims – The Sun

Sir Vince Cable reported to police over ‘hate crime’ speech attacking Brexit voters

The police have been asked to investigate allegations that Sir Vince Cable committed a hate crime after he appeared to accuse Brexit voters of being driven by racism in his speech to the Lib Dem spring conference over the weekend. London Assembly member David Kurten, a leading mixed race Brexit campaigner, has made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police after the Lib Dem leader claimed that Brexit supporters were older voters “driven by nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white.” – Express

> Damien Moore MP on BrexitCentral today: How dare Vince Cable come to my constituency to insult older voters

Brexit bill changes tabled by ministers amidst power row with Edinburgh and Cardiff

The UK government has put forward proposed changes to the Brexit bill, despite a row with Welsh ministers. The Welsh and Scottish governments have claimed the EU (Withdrawal) Bill amounts to a Whitehall “power grab”. After months of talks UK ministers have tabled amendments to the proposed law. The UK government said the changes would strengthen devolution, but Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said the amendments were simply a “fall back option” to protect Whitehall. – BBC News

  • AMs debate plans to by-pass ‘power grab’ Brexit bill – ITV News
  • Marathon Brexit Bill debate sees peers push through until early hours – Belfast Telegraph

New immigration bill ‘won’t contain policy to reduce numbers’

The Government’s immigration bill will not contain a new policy to bring down the numbers of people coming into Britain, a minister has revealed. The revelation has come amid reports that that the bill will be delayed a year because of cabinet in-fighting over its contents… Despite the Government sticking to its pledge to bring the net migration figure down to less than 100,000 it is set to delay working out a new policy until after Brexit. A minister has revealed that the bill will be aimed at “taking back control” of immigration from the EU but will leave new policy details for future legislation. The minister said that the bill will be “like building a set of bookshelves without the books”. – Express

Exports to emerging states could bring in £12bn a year after Brexit

Leaving the European Union could boost British exports to emerging markets such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan by more than £12 billion a year, according to analysis. As the world’s advanced economic powers try to strengthen trade links with developing nations, a report by Standard Chartered says that the UK is “struggling most”. The bank believes that Britain has more opportunity to increase trade with countries such as India and China than any other G7 nation. Its research suggests that Brexit would lift the value of UK exports to seven emerging markets by $16.9 billion (£12.2 billion) each year. – Times (£)

London office space is still hot property, says Colliers

Would-be occupiers are still scouring the capital for office space despite Brexit uncertainty, experts said today. The latest snapshot from commercial property agent Colliers International come as the property world decamps for the annual Mipim festival in Cannes, underlining the capital’s attraction despite uncertainty over the UK’s relationship with the EU. – Evening Standard

Brendan O’Neill: Vince Cable, not Brexit voters, is the one stuck in the past

Everyone, understandably, is focusing on the white ‘nostalgia’ bit of Vince Cable’s speech to the Lib Dem conference. His slur against older Brexit voters, whom he thinks voted against the EU because they want to go back to a world where ‘passports were blue, faces were white and the map was coloured imperial pink’, has caused a stink, and rightly so. But there was something else in the speech too that ought to send shivers down the spine of all of us who believe in democracy.- Brendan O’Neill for The Spectator

Asa Bennett: After one last vast sum, Theresa May will have to justify every penny Brussels gets post-Brexit

After Brexit, Theresa May declared at Lancaster House that “the days of Britain making vast contributions to the European Union every year will end”. Ministers have stuck to that line studiously since then, with Liz Truss reminding MPs of it just last month. Brussels reportedly wanted as much as £80 billion gross to tie up Britain’s membership of the club, leading to the Prime Minister last December agreeing to pay around £39 billion (a suitably smaller sounding figure, helped by it being in net, rather than gross, terms). On top of this, Mrs May indicated earlier this month at Mansion House that she was happy to make “an appropriate financial contribution” in order to ensure the British can continue to play a part in various EU agencies and programmes. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Alastair Benn: Hard Remainers don’t know a thing about Europe

Over the last week, we have been told repeatedly that European politics is consensus-based, reasonable, respects ‘complexity’ (never mind the unfolding nightmare in Italian politics or the disastrous elections in Germany, where different brands of European fascism are very much back on the scene), while British politics is uniquely fractured and simplistic. Spare us the lectures. Over the weekend, pro-Remain campaigners have signalled a potential legal challenge to the government over Brexit. They argue that legislation introduced by David Cameron in 2011, the ‘Referendum Lock’ Act, which means that any change in Britain’s place in the European constitution must be put to the people in a referendum, makes the Brexit negotiations illegal under UK law. – Alastair Benn for Reaction

Lloyd Dorfman: The Commonwealth won’t replace the EU, but it can offer real support

Yesterday was Commonwealth Day, the annual celebration of the organisation that brings together 53 countries with the Queen as its head. Among the many events that took place was a multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey, which the Queen and other members of the Royal family attended. All this may have escaped the notice of many in the business community, but the Commonwealth can, and should, be relevant for business. Mostly comprising former British colonies, the Commonwealth has a combined population of 2.3 billion (well over 90pc is in India and African countries), as well as 20pc of the land mass of the world. – LLoyd Dorfman for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in brief

  • EU trade hypocrisy –  John Redwood MP for The Commentator
  • The Brexit generation will never forgive our parties if we fail – Anna Soubry MP and Chuka Umunna MP for the Evening Standard
  • Rise in those saying Theresa May is doing a good job at handling Brexit – Ipsos
  • Theresa May’s choices are limited by the EU’s fixed menu – Philippe Legrain for CapX
  • Minutes of an EU coup: How Martin Selmayr made his move – Spectator
  • The Italian electorate’s message to the pro-EU political establishment is clear and blunt – Salvatore Murtas for ConservativeHome
  • What should our post-Brexit immigration policy look like? – Paul Goodman for ConservativeHome
  • Six pro-EU groups move to new shared office for ‘Brexit fightback’ – Huffington Post
  • Brexit threatens to undo Mifid II dark pool rules – FT (£)