Brexit News for Tuesday 9 January

Brexit News for Tuesday 9 January
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Cabinet Brexiteers untouched as May conducts Cabinet reshuffle

Prime Minister Theresa May’s reshuffle of her top ministers is aimed at strengthening her reform agenda and to press on with Britain’s departure from the European Union, her spokesman said on Monday. “It’s an opportunity to refresh the government and just to give added impetus to the prime minister’s reform agenda while continuing to deliver on Brexit,” the spokesman told reporters. – Reuters

David Lidington, the former Europe minister, will chair key Brexit cabinet committees and deputise for May at prime minister’s questions, but he was not given the title of first secretary of state. Many other positions remained unchanged with Philip Hammond staying as chancellor, Amber Rudd as home secretary, David Davis in charge of Brexit, Boris Johnson as foreign secretary and Liam Fox at trade. – Guardian

  • Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis is the new chairman of the Conservative Party while pro-Brexit MP James Cleverly has been confirmed as the new deputy chairman. – Euronews
  • Northern Ireland secretary Brokenshire resigns on health grounds – Reuters
  • Who’s who in the new Cabinet – BBC News

Jean-Claude Juncker declares: “Don’t believe Brexit won’t happen”…

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker says he believes Brexit will happen and the EU should tackle its looming budget shortfall. “Don’t believe those who say that it’s not going to happen and that people in the UK have realised their error… I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” he told a Brussels conference. The EU budget commissioner said the UK’s departure would leave a hole of about €12-13bn (£11-12bn; $14-$16bn). The UK’s exit is set for March 2019. Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger said the budget gap would have to be closed with 50% spending cuts and 50% fresh money. He suggested a Europe-wide tax on plastic products as a source of extra revenue. – BBC News

  • Jean-Claude Juncker: There will be no second EU referendum – PoliticsHome

…as he calls for higher payments to post-Brexit EU budget

EU countries should pay more into the bloc’s long-term budget, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a high-level conference on Monday. With the U.K.’s departure expected to leave a gap of at least €9 billion per year, Juncker said the remaining EU members would have to pay more to finance existing and new priorities. While he did not peg a specific amount for the increase, Juncker called for abandoning the EU’s longstanding benchmark of 1 percent of economic output. – Politico

  • With gaffes in the past, Günther Oettinger makes case for post-Brexit budget boost – Politico

Jeremy Corbyn insists the UK cannot remain in the single market after Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted the UK cannot be a member of the single market after Brexit, disappointing some of his pro-European Union MPs. The Labour leader told colleagues that it was not possible to stay in the single market, as he set out his Brexit policy to the parliamentary party on Monday night. Some within Labour have been increasing calls for Corbyn to listen to the party’s pro-EU membership and commit to staying in the trading bloc. But Corbyn stressed that this was not an option, as he addressed the reasons why he would not attend a single market summit convened by the Scottish National party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford. – Guardian

  • Labour MPs hit out at Jeremy Corbyn for ‘taking single market membership off table’ – PoliticsHome

David Davis attacks EU’s ‘damaging’ no-deal Brexit planning

David Davis has consulted lawyers over the EU’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit, claiming Brussels’ planning is harming British business and breaching the UK’s rights as a member state. In a letter sent to Theresa May, UK prime minister, last month and seen by the Financial Times, the Brexit secretary pointed to EU “measures” that could jeopardise existing contracts or force British companies to decamp to the continent if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. – FT (£)

UK should have ‘Canada plus plus plus’ Brexit deal, says Italian minister…

Britain should be granted the “Canada plus plus plus” trade deal that Brexit Secretary David Davis has called for, Italian Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda said in an interview. Calenda, a politically independent figure in the center-left government of Premier Paolo Gentiloni, told Bloomberg Television at his Rome ministry: “I think Canada plus plus plus will be the minimum that we need to achieve.” The European Union’s free-trade accord with Canada is the bloc’s most ambitious commercial deal to date. – Bloomberg

…as Spanish bank eyes post-Brexit HQ in London

Spain’s Alantra Partners SA is considering moving its headquarters from Madrid to London in a bet the U.K. capital will remain the center of European business and finance even after Brexit, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The investment bank and money manager, which oversees 3.7 billion euros ($4.4 billion) of assets and employs about 350 staff in 21 countries, is weighing how many workers it might deploy in London if it completes the move, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plan is private. A spokeswoman for Alantra declined to comment. – Bloomberg

Farage meets Barnier: Brexit talks will continue to be ‘difficult’

Nigel Farage has warned that the UK still faces a tough road ahead in Brexit talks, following a meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator. Mr Farage, a UKIP MEP, had offered the public the chance to suggest questions to be asked of Michel Barnier when the two met in Brussels earlier. The questions were: Does Michel Barnier understand why Britain voted for Brexit? What happens to the EU’s economy if there’s no trade deal with Britain? How does Michel Barnier view mass immigration into the EU coming across the Mediterranean and elsewhere? After his meeting, Mr Farage told Sky News that the most “illuminating” question had been the first, saying: “(Mr Barnier) rather takes the view… it was because people had been promised a lot of money for the health service.” – Sky News

  • Nigel Farage gives brilliant reason why EU reform plans would never work – Express
  • Farage reveals how Verhofstadt’s anti-Brexit attitude could rip EU apart – Express
  • What I learned from finally meeting with Michel Barnier: The EU is happy to play for time and see Britain sweat – Nigel Farage MEP for the Telegraph (£)

MPs to debate taking back anti-dumping powers from EU under Trade Bill…

MPs are set to debate whether the UK should establish its own regulatory body to protect British companies from unfair play, such as steel dumping, later today. Setting up a new independent trade watchdog is just one proposal being put forward under the Trade Bill, which also includes plans to replicate existing EU trade arrangements, transitioning them across into UK law to prevent a “cliff-edge” Brexit.  International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who is laying out the Bill during its second reading today, said it will “provide maximum certainty and continuity for business and consumers”. – Telegraph

> Mark Hoban on BrexitCentral today: Post-Brexit free trade deals should cover services as well as goods

…as ministers pledge to ease business fears over Brexit import tax

The British government pledged on Monday to ease the potential harm to more than 100,000 companies that may have to pay sales tax upfront on goods imported from the European Union for the first time after Brexit. The changes included in a new taxation bill, one of many Brexit laws passing through parliament, have alarmed company bosses, who said the move would create cashflow problems and increase the cost of doing business. – Reuters

> Treasury Minister Mel Stride on BrexitCentral’s YouTube channel: We’ll improve trade with old allies and new friends

Scottish Parliament committee unable to recommend Holyrood backing for Brexit legislation

MSPs on Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee have unanimously agreed that clause 11 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill “represents a fundamental shift in the structure of devolution” and could damage “the integrity of the devolution settlement in Scotland”. In a highly unusual move, the committee, which includes three Conservative MSPs, made clear it cannot recommend the Scottish Parliament gives formal consent to the Bill as it currently stands – calling for the controversial clause to either be replaced or removed. – Evening Telegraph

  • Nicola Sturgeon: ‘A no Brexit deal is unthinkable’ – BBC News
  • SNP using Brexit to turn focus away from devolved issues, Scottish Labour says – Evening Telegraph
  • Lidington takes over Cabinet Office Brexit role with Scottish Government – The Herald

Lidl accelerates UK expansion with Luton warehouse plan

Lidl UK, the British arm of the German discount supermarket, said on Monday it would create up to 1,000 jobs with a new distribution centre in Luton, south east England, as it steps up expansion in the country. The firm, owned by Germany’s Schwarz Group, said the one million square feet warehouse would be its 16th and largest in Britain and would service its growing estate of London stores. Lidl UK said it had exchanged contracts with the Houghton Regis Management Co, a consortium of Aviva Investors, LIH and the Diocese of St Albans, on a 58-acre site in Luton. The new regional distribution centre forms part of Lidl’s plan to invest 1.45 billion pounds ($1.96 billion) in Britain in 2017-18. – Reuters

Business confidence holds up amid Brexit uncertainty

The latest Deloitte survey of UK Chief Financial Officers, released this morning, shows the CFOs enter 2018 more focussed on controlling costs than at any time in the last eight years. CFOs seem to be reacting to slower UK growth and Brexit uncertainties with a renewed focus on costs. In a world of accelerating growth, UK-related risks loom large. CFOs’ concerns about Brexit have mounted in the last three months despite December’s agreement between the UK and the EU to proceed to trade talks. Brexit tops the list of risks for businesses in 2018 with weak UK growth in second place and productivity in third. – Reuters

Howard Flight: Brexit offers the chance of a renaissance for the City

The outlook for the City of London post-Brexit should be extremely positive. The City will become, even more, the largest global, financial centre in the world; not part of Europe and, for that matter, virtually a city state within the UK. As a financial centre, London has long had global, wholesale characteristics; post-Brexit these are likely to strengthen with implications for the UK’s regulation regime, taxes and infrastructure. London’s focus is, already, predominantly on sophisticated, wholesale markets, with a transatlantic orientation outside the Single Market – which is largely retail. I expect London’s business to be driven by regulatory developments, a fully global outlook and increased entrepreneurialism. – Lord Flight for ConservativeHome

Charlie Elphicke: Keeping order at the border – to prepare for a smooth Brexit

My latest paper on how we can be Ready on Day One for Brexit – ‘Order at the Border’ – makes the case for one government at the border, with a single department responsible for everything. This reform would increase border security, cut tax fraud, slash bureaucracy, boost the economy and save British business over £2 billion a year. A single department – the Department for Security and Border Taxes – would assume responsibilities that are currently scattered among 38 different arms of Government and 57 separate systems. – Charlie Elphicke MP for ConservativeHome

Asa Bennett: The ‘no deal’ Brexit minister could show the EU it shouldn’t mess Britain around

Theresa May is busy reshuffling her cabinet in the hope of proving there is more to her Government than Brexit. A worthy aim, but let’s be honest: the terms of Britain’s departure will decide how her premiership is remembered. The fact Britain’s future relationship with the European Union still has to be worked out means that those in relevant jobs, like the Chancellor, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Brexit Secretary, need not fear for their jobs. “It would be wrong to change those intimately involved in the economic and security decisions,” a source explained to ITV’s Robert Peston. Understandably so. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in brief

  • Ireland may be the UK’s best Brexit ally – not a stumbling block – William Davison for CapX
  • Recently, a Cabinet minister for ‘No Deal’ might have been helpful. Now, it would risk looking crass – Henry Newman for ConservativeHome
  • Cameron’s ‘bromance’ with Obama a myth, claims ex-adviser Steve Hilton – Guardian
  • Labour leadership’s Brexit fudge has “run out of time” – Liberal Democrats
  • EU let Dutch use banned pulse fishing method – Times (£)
  • European Banking Authority staff in London to be given extra time to move after Brexit – City A.M.
  • DUP MEP welcomes Gove’s vision for British agriculture post-Brexit – Farming Life