Brexit News for Tuesday 5 December

Brexit News for Tuesday 5 December
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Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker fail to strike Brexit deal…

Brexit talks between Theresa May and the European Union broke down without agreement yesterday amid a row about British concessions over the Irish border. Mrs May had been due to sign up to a 15-page declaration paving the way for an agreement to move Brexit talks on to trade and transition at next week’s European summit. But after details of Britain’s concessions to resolve the question of the Irish border leaked yesterday morning Mrs May was forced to interrupt her lunch with the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to hold emergency talks with the DUP leader Arlene Foster. – The Times (£)

  • Theresa May’s smoke and mirrors Brexit gambit didn’t even last an afternoon – it’s not difficult to see why – Peter Foster for the Telegraph
  • Border agreement caves in, tweet by tweet – The Times (£)
  • What on earth happened? – Laura Kuenssberg for the BBC
  • May’s most perilous moment yet – Paul Goodman for ConservativeHome
  • Theresa May is right not to agree to any Brexit divorce deal and meet a made-up deadline – The Sun editorial

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s Youtube Channel: May and Juncker’s joint press conference

…after the DUP insisted regulation in Northern Ireland should not diverge from the rest of the UK…

The problems started when Mr Juncker decided to brief the final deal to MEPs in the European Parliament around mid-morning UK time. The document set out plans to quell Irish fears about a hard border, stating there would be “continued regulatory alignment from those rules of the internal market and the customs union which now or in the future support north south cooperation and protection of the Good Friday Agreement”… Fearing a classic fudge by a Government desperate to get on with trade talks, Arlene Foster hastily arranged a televised statement for 2pm. Mrs Foster warned: “We have been very clear. Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom. – Telegraph (£)

  • May fights to save Brexit deal after DUP veto – The Times (£)
  • Theresa May must find a way to get the DUP back onsideThe Times editorial (£)
  • The DUP fear and loathe something more than Jeremy Corbyn – Robert Peston for the Spectator

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s Youtube Channel: Arlene Foster says Irish government are trying to unilaterally change the Belfast agreement

…and found support for their position among Tory MPs

Brexit-backing Conservative MPs have lined up to echo the warning of Democratic Unionist party leader, Arlene Foster, that “any form of regulatory divergence” between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would be an unacceptable concession in Brexit negotiations. Several Tory politicians were quick to swing behind their Northern Irish allies on whom they depend for a parliamentary majority after the DUP intervention appeared to scupper any hopes held by Theresa May of completing the first stage of talks with the EU27 on Monday. Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, told the Guardian: “The prime minister is fully aware that when it comes to the border issue Northern Ireland remains an integral part of the UK and therefore there cannot be any regulatory divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.” Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “The Conservative and Unionist party has a similar view of the union to that of the DUP.” – Guardian

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s Youtube Channel: Jonathan Isaby on Sky News

Irish PM Varadkar “surprised and disappointed” that agreement wasn’t reached

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he was “surprised and disappointed” that an anticipated deal on Brexit was not reached on Monday. He said Ireland could not go into a second phase of Brexit talks without “firm guarantees that there will not be a hard border in Ireland”. Mr Varadkar said the UK had agreed a text that met Irish concerns. However, he was then later told that the British government was not in a position to conclude “what was agreed”. – BBC

  • Varadkar ‘surprised and disappointed’ at Brexit talks failure – Politico
  • Irish border dispute threatens Brexit talks – City A.M.
  • Hard Brexiters have just discovered Britain is weaker than Ireland – Fintan O’Toole for the Guardian

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s Youtube Channel: Irish PM is ‘surprised and disappointed’ that agreement wasn’t reached

Brexit deal also derailed after EU refuses to accept May’s ECJ demands…

Theresa May dramatically pulled out of a Brexit divorce deal after the EU also refused to accept her demand to time limit euro judges’ say over EU citizens. The Sun can reveal the Prime Minister wanted to attach a sunset clause of less than five years to the compromise arrangement to break a deadlock. Under it, the European Court of Justice would be able to rule on disputes for Europeans living in the UK. Legal cases about their rights would be referred to the Luxembourg court by Britain’s Supreme Court, on the advice of an independent ombudsman. – The Sun

…although Theresa May says a deal will still be struck this week

Theresa May vowed to get a Brexit deal before the end of the week after Ireland’s leader was last night blamed for the UK and Brussels failing to reach an agreement. Sources at No 10 branded Taoiseach Leo Varadkar “foolish” for claiming victory over the PM prematurely. After a day of talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, two sticking points remain — how long Euro judges can oversee EU citizens’ rights in the UK, and how to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. – The Sun

Nicola Sturgeon calls for Scotland to get whatever deal is offered to Northern Ireland

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there is “no good reason” why Scotland should not get a similar Brexit deal to Northern Ireland. It has been suggested that the UK might be prepared to accept that NI effectively remain in the EU single market after Brexit. Talks between UK and EU leaders have not yet resulted in an agreement. Theresa May said “differences” remained between the two sides but said she was “confident” a deal could be struck. Amid speculation that Northern Ireland could be given a special deal, Ms Sturgeon questioned why other parts of the UK should not – a position echoed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones. Mr Khan said such a move would have “huge ramifications”, while Mr Jones said different parts of the UK could not be treated “more favourably” than others. – BBC

  • Sturgeon and Khan are dreaming if they think they can keep Scotland and London in the Single Market – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

London attracts more visitors than any other European destination

The pound’s Brexit-induced weakness has helped London attract more visitors than any other European destination this year, despite a spate of terror attacks in the capital. The number of European visitors to London rose by 24pc this year, according to data from online travel agent eDreams, helping the city become the most visited destination in Europe. The weakness of sterling against the euro is thought to have been a significant driver in the spike in visitors from across the Channel. The pound remains 13pc weaker against the euro than the day before the EU referendum in June last year and has failed to gain ground in the past 12 months, currently sitting at €1.13. Domestic holidaymakers are also increasingly visiting the capital rather than going overseas to places where their spending money doesn’t go as far as it did last year. – Telegraph

Shanker Singham: A narrow-minded Brexit is doomed to fail

While absence of a trade deal will of course damage UK industries, the cost to EU industries is also very significant. Beef and dairy in Ireland, cars and dairy in Bavaria, cars in Catalonia, textiles and dairy in Northern Italy – all over Europe (and in politically sensitive areas), industries stands to lose billions of Euros and thousands of jobs. This is without considering the impact of no financial services deal, which would increase the cost of capital in the EU, aborting corporate transactions and raising the cost of the supply chain. The EU has chosen a mandate that risks neither party getting what it wants. The notion that the EU is a masterful negotiator, while the UK’s negotiators are hopeless is not the global view of the EU and the UK. Far from it. The EU in international trade negotiations has a reputation for being slow moving, lacking in creative vision, and unable to conclude agreements. Indeed, others have generally gone to the UK when they have been met with intransigence in Brussels. – Shanker Singham for CapX

Iain Martin: Brexit negotiations farce shows Britain right to leave the EU

Thank goodness we are leaving the EU. It will be much better for the EU, for a start, to be unencumbered by the UK. And the process of the talks – the EU’s ridiculous sequencing, the strict (almost Napoleonic) adherence to legal code, the inability of the EU to improvise a relaxed solution even on a constitutional fault-line over which thousands were murdered within living memory – demonstrates the incompatibility of the UK with the integrationist EU project. – Iain Martin for Reaction

Chloe Westley: Brexit divorce bill – let’s prepare for a no-deal

For many who voted Leave, the EU’s insistence that we stump up eye-watering sums of taxpayers’ cash before moving on to trade talks will only vindicate their decision. For too long Eurocrats have relied on the generosity of British taxpayers and they have not shown much gratitude or respect in return. We have not been politely asked to honour financial commitments but have been blackmailed into agreeing a financial settlement before any trade talks can commence. We have not been thanked for our contributions to the EU but have been made to feel as though we are enemies for having the audacity to decide that this political project does not work for us. I really believe that spending £1-3billion on preparing for a no deal scenario now could be better than spending £50-100billion on a Brexit Bill because we have to sign a last-minute agreement to avoid catastrophe. – Chloe Westley for the Express

Brian Monteith: UK must be ready for a joker card in game of bluff over Brexit

International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, was entirely right to point out that it is only once trade negotiations clarify there is no need for any tariffs between the two countries that Irish fears about Border posts can be alleviated – and so Dublin should be backing the UK in urging EU negotiators and the Council of Ministers to move on to that phase. Were those trade negotiations never to happen, or to break down once they commence, and the UK decides it must therefore rely on World Trade Organisation rules and tariffs, even then the UK has said it does not believe a border should be necessary. The impetus for a hard border comes not from the UK – but from the EU. For it is the EU that is arguing it would have to check goods coming from Northern Ireland into the EU’s Single Market via the Republic. – Scotsman

Brexit in brief

  • No, voters have not changed their minds on Brexit – Peter Lyon for Get Britain Out
  • We are running out of time to have an immigration debate – Willie Rennie for the Times (£)
  • It’s absurd to suggest we’ll starve after Brexit – Tim Worstall for CapX
  • If there’s a spare £40 billion going, we should spend it in the UK, not hand it to Brussels – Robert Halfon for ConservativeHome
  • Hard border worries reach the Caribbean as Anguilla warns of economic disaster – The Times (£)