UK and South Korea reach agreement on post-Brexit trade deal: Brexit News for Monday 10 June

UK and South Korea reach agreement on post-Brexit trade deal: Brexit News for Monday 10 June
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UK and South Korea agree on post-Brexit trade deal

The UK on Monday signed a preliminary free trade agreement with South Korea, securing its first post-Brexit deal in Asia. The agreement, which was signed in principle between Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, and Yoo Myung-hee, his South Korean counterpart, seeks to maintain existing trade arrangements between the two countries, even in the event of a “no deal” Brexit. The deal mirrors preferential terms Britain and South Korea enjoy through the Korea-European Union FTA, and is expected to be fully ratified by the end of October. “This means that whatever happens with #Brexit, there will be total continuity in trade between our two countries AND the basis for an ambitious future FTA when we leave the EU,” tweeted Dr Fox following a morning signing ceremony in the South Korean capital, Seoul. – Telegraph (£)

Tory leadership candidates clash over Brexit strategies…

Two Tory leadership candidates have clashed over whether they would shut down Parliament early to force through a no-deal Brexit. Esther McVey said the measure was part of a “toolkit” that could be used to ensure Brexit is delivered on time. But Michael Gove said such a move would be “wrong” and contradict “the best traditions of British democracy”. Eleven Conservative MPs are vying to replace Theresa May as party leader and, ultimately, prime minister. The candidates have been laying out their policies on Brexit and other issues before nominations close at 17:00 BST on Monday. They need eight MPs to back them or they are eliminated from the contest. Jeremy Hunt, another leadership contender, said the EU would be “willing to negotiate” on the Brexit deal if the UK takes the “right approach”. Speaking on Sky News on Sunday, the foreign secretary said he had spoken with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and suggested she was open to looking at new solutions for the Irish border issue in talks. “She said that […] with a new British prime minister, we would want to look at any solutions you have,” he added. – BBC News

…as numerous rivals take aim at frontrunner Boris Johnson…

Conservative Party leadership rivals battling for Number 10 will take aim at Boris Johnson by stressing the need for a “serious” leader as the contest to replace Theresa May officially starts. Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to replace Theresa May, and the main focus is now on who will challenge him when the candidates are reduced to the final two next week. The Conservative Party is aiming to have a new party leader in place before the end of July, while Mrs May will continue as Prime Minister until then. Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt, who are seen as two of the top contenders rivalling Mr Johnson for the job, both launch their leadership campaigns today. Environment Secretary Mr Gove, who admitted to taking cocaine more than 20 years ago, will attempt to persuade Conservative MPs he can be the “serious leader” the country needs. The Cabinet minister faced a bruising interview on BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday following his drugs admission over the weekend,and will try to portray his willingness to face scrutiny as a strength. At his launch event, Mr Gove will say: “This moment right here right now is a serious time in the life of our nation, and it requires a serious leader. – Express

…but Johnson hardens his Brexit rhetoric as opponents start launching their campaigns…

Boris Johnson, the front-runner to succeed Theresa May as U.K. prime minister, hardened his rhetoric on Brexit and unveiled a tax-cut plan as the other leading candidates prepared to start their campaigns on Monday. Johnson, who quit May’s cabinet last year over her deal with the European Union, said he would scrap the Irish border backstop, withhold 39 billion pounds ($50 billion) owed to the bloc until an agreement is reached and leave on Oct. 31 — even if it means doing so without a deal. The pledges won the former foreign secretary the support of leading Brexiteers and his campaign was boosted further when the candidacy of Environment Secretary Michael Gove, like Johnson a leading figure in the 2016 Vote Leave campaign, was overwhelmed by revelations over his use of cocaine. While Gove pleaded on TV for a chance to prove himself, Johnson, who set out his ideas in an interview in the Sunday Times, was enjoying the support of self-styled “Brexit hard man” Steve Baker, a key member of the anti-EU caucus of Tory MPs, and Priti Patel, another prominent pro-Brexit Tory. – Bloomberg

…and he promises to cut tax for high earners using no-deal Brexit cash

Boris Johnson is drawing up plans to raise the 40p income tax threshold to £80,000 at a cost of almost £10 billion. The higher rate of income tax currently applies on earnings over £50,000 in England and the move could benefit more than three million people. The former foreign secretary believes the cost of the policy could be met through some of the cash set aside for no-deal Brexit planning. In his regular Daily Telegraph column, he said: ‘We should be cutting corporation tax and other business taxes. ‘We should be raising thresholds of income tax – so that we help the huge numbers that have been captured in the higher rate by fiscal drag. ‘We can go for much greater economic growth – and still be the cleanest, greenest society on earth.’ Under the plans someone earning £60,000 is estimated to see their tax bill fall by £1,000, the newspaper reported. The move will cost an estimated £9.6 billion a year and will be funded from the £26.6 billion of ‘fiscal headroom’ currently set aside by the Treasury for no-deal preparations. It will also be partly offset by increased National Insurance contributions. – Metro

Sajid Javid says alternative arrangements for the Irish border could be in place in a ‘couple of years’

Tory leadership hopeful Sajid Javid today predicted it could take just ‘a couple of years’ for alternative arrangements to be put in place on the Irish border as he suggested his status as an ‘outsider’ made him the best candidate for PM. Mr Javid said he would offer to pay for the cost of technological solutions to prevent a hard border to convince the Irish government back the plan. ‘The solution insists, we’ve done the homework,’ he told Sophy Ridge on Sunday. ‘Most people would understand you need cooperation on both sides of the border for this to happen.’ Many Tory MPs opposed Theresa May’s Brexit deal because it included the Irish backstop – which would involve Northern Ireland staying in some parts of the customs union and single market to prevent a return to a hard border. Mr Javid insisted he could succeed where Mrs May had failed, despite warnings that no technological solution to the Irish border was available and Brussels’ refusal to put a time limit on the ‘insurance policy’ of the backstop. ‘You don’t need a magic solution for this, the solution exists. We’ve done the homework on this,’ the Home Secretary, who has ministerial responsibility for the UK’s borders, said. – MailOnline

> WATCH: Tory leadership contender Sajid Javid discusses his Brexit policy

Jeremy Hunt claims Angela Merkel said the EU would be ‘willing to negotiate’ with a new PM

Jeremy Hunt has claimed German Chancellor Angela Merkel told him the EU “would be willing to negotiate” on the Brexit deal with a new prime minister. He is one of a number of candidates in the Tory leadership race insisting they could somehow succeed where Theresa May failed in striking a better Brexit deal with Brussels. The European Union has repeatedly said it would not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, but Michael Gove – seeking to get his campaign back on course after revelations over his past cocaine use – said “changing the prime minister changes everything”. Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier has stressed that the deal struck with Mrs May remained the only one on the table and “a new prime minister will not change the problem”. Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt claimed the German Chancellor told him Brussels “would look at any solutions” the UK puts forward to solve the Northern Irish border issue. Asked on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday whether he was confident of renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement, he said: “If you’re asking me as someone who has done deals all their life ‘is there a deal here?’, yes, there is. “Finding that deal is going to mean approaching the EU with the right kind of person. If we go in with an ultra hardline approach, we will get an ultra hardline response.” – Mirror

> WATCH: Conservative leadership contender Jeremy Hunt discusses his Brexit Policy

Esther McVey tells Marr ‘we won’t pay EU £39billion unless they deal’…

Andrew Marr and Tory leadership contestant Esther McVey locked horns over legal advice claiming the United Kingdom would have to pay £39 billion to the European Union after Brexit. Esther McVey insisted the United Kingdom would not have to pay a £39 billion Brexit divorce deal if the country left the United Kingdom without a formal agreement with the European Union. A 2017 House of Lords’ report on the potential contribution the UK would still have to pay Brussels after leaving claimed the Government would still have to pay a hefty sum to meet the commitments made during membership of the bloc. When Ms McVey suggested Britain could use the estimated £39 billion to pressure Brussels into agreeing to a trade deal, BBC host Andrew Marr hit back saying the sum is “legally owed,” and added: “We don’t have £39 billion back on the table. “We don’t have it back on the table because the legal advice is absolutely clear that most of that money is money that we legally owe. “The Chancellor disagrees, the Treasury says it’s more like £20-£25 billion, probably higher. And he says that is clear, legal advice to the Government.” But Ms McVey insisted a no deal Brexit would help Britain save money as the country would not have to pay to access the customs union and single market during an implementation period. The former Work and Pensions Secretary said: “We got £39 billion back on the table. We have no deal back on the table. – Express

> WATCH: Tory leadership contender Esther McVey discusses her Brexit policy

…and says she will sack all Remainers from the Cabinet to ensure Britain leaves the EU by October 31st

Tory leadership hopeful Esther McVey has accused MPs trying to prevent Brexit of ‘tearing up 400 years of history’, as she defended her right to prorogue Parliament to leave the EU without a deal if she became Prime Minister. The former work and pensions secretary said it would not be her ‘priority’ to suspend sittings in the House of Commons in the run-up to the October 31 deadline, but said she would be willing to ‘use all the tools at our disposal’ if she won the race to replace Theresa May. Speaking to The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, she defended her plans to have a Cabinet full of only Brexiteers, saying there is limited time until October 31 and she cannot have people who are not ‘committed’ to leaving on that date in her top team, even if that means sacking numerous senior ministers. – MailOnline

Michael Gove suffers new blow as Amber Rudd endorses Jeremy Hunt

Michael Gove’s leadership campaign has suffered a further blow in the wake of his admission that he snorted cocaine after it emerged that Amber Rudd is backing Jeremy Hunt for Conservative leader. Ms Rudd, whom Mr Gove had been attempting to win round as part of his bid to appeal to One Nation Tories, will instead endorse Mr Hunt on Monday and attend the official launch of his leadership campaign. The Telegraph understands that Mr Hunt is on the brink of securing the support of two other prominent Cabinet ministers – Penny Mordaunt, the Eurosceptic Defence Secretary, and Greg Clark, the Business Secretary.  Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, is also understood to be giving serious consideration to endorsing Mr Hunt. Four candidates – Mr Hunt, Mr Gove, Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock – will officially launch their leadership campaigns on Monday as the race for support from Tory MPs enters the final phase. Ms Rudd’s endorsement represents a coup for Mr Hunt. She had previously been expected to support either Mr Johnson or Mr Gove, and has held meetings with both of them. However Ms Rudd, who is implacably opposed to leaving the EU without a deal, has opted to back Mr Hunt. She is a leading figure in the 60-strong One Nation group of Tory MPs. “I’m backing Jeremy Hunt,” she tweeted on Sunday night. “These are serious times and we need a respected statesman who Brussels will listen to, not more bluster.” – Telegraph (£)

  • Amber Rudd backs Jeremy Hunt in blow to Boris Johnson’s campaign – The Times (£)

Cross party group of MPs plotting to scupper Brexit whoever wins the Tory leadership

A cross-party group of MPs have already held advanced discussions to stop Brexit in a damning blow to the next Prime Minister. The group including leading Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, are confident of taking control of Parliament and preventing Theresa May’s successor from pursuing a no deal Brexit. Yvette Cooper, Nick Boles and Sir Oliver Letwin are prominent figures in the group, who are plotting a series of measures to ensure the next Prime Minister cannot railroad Britain out of the EU without an agreement on October 31. Leading contenders in the Tory leadership contest including as Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey have already signalled their intention to leave the EU, deal or no deal, once the deadline is reached. However the powerful group of Europhiles has warned the hardline Brexiteers, they risk being the shortest reigning Prime Minister in history if they press ahead with their plan. One Tory MP told The Sunday Times: “We are now confident we have the numbers to bring down any new Prime Minister who tries to pursue no deal Brexit. Express

Barry Gardiner denies Labour’s official Brexit policy is a second referendum

A senior Labour frontbencher has denied that the party’s official Brexit policy is to push for a second referendum despite a host of senior colleagues backing a new public vote. Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, said Jeremy Corbyn’s number one aim was to force a general election if a deal that “would be acceptable to the broad majority within Parliament” cannot be found. Speaking to BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, he said their position was originally “remain and reform” the EU, but switched to help to try and “secure the referendum result and to get a deal and to make sure that we left the EU”. He said the Government “failed to do that through their own incompetence and the intransigence of the red lines that they laid down”. Mr Gardiner explained: “Now we are in the position where our party conference set out very clearly that if we could not get a deal that was acceptable, if we were facing a disastrous no deal situation, then we would do everything we could to stop that, and that means a second public vote, either through a general election or through a second referendum.” Pressed on whether “the official Labour Party position now is for a second referendum”, Mr Gardiner replied: “It’s exactly the same as it was at the party conference, which is that if we could not get that, then of course we would oppose no deal. “We would look either for a public vote or, indeed, for a general election to do that.” – Mirror

> WATCH: Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner on The Andrew Marr Show

France hits back as Boris Johnson threatens to pull plug on Brexit divorce bill

Boris Johnson is pulling ahead in the Conservative leadership race after a series of senior MPs publicly backed his campaign for the top job. The former Foreign Secretary is well ahead of his nearest rival and has more than half the endorsements to guarantee a place in the run-off between the top two candidates. In his first major intervention of the campaign, he declared that he would deliver Brexit by refusing to pay the £39bn exit payment agreed by Theresa May until Brussels agrees a better deal. On Brexit, he said he would scrap the backstop – which the EU has refused to agree – and would settle the Irish border issue only when Brussels is ready to agree to a future relationship. The £39bn settlement would only be paid when there is “greater clarity” about the way forward, he told the Sunday Times. Reuters quoted a source close to President Emmanuel Macron saying: “Not honouring your payment obligations is a failure of international commitments equivalent to a sovereign debt default, whose consequences are well known.” The inference was that Britain’s credit rating on international markets – as well as its general credibility – would be affected by such a step. Formally launching his campaign today, the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will deliver a jibe at the front-runner by saying the country needs a leader who offers more than “empty rhetoric”. He will argue an “experienced, serious leader” is required to cope with the constitutional crisis caused by Brexit. – iNews

  • Emmanuel Macron warns Boris Johnson UK economy will be plunged into turmoil if he withholds £39bn divorce payment – Telegraph (£)

EU to warn business not to expect help over a no-deal Brexit

The EU will warn business not to expect any more help to cushion the impact of a no-deal Brexit, urging companies to prepare for Britain to crash out of the union on October 31. The European Commission on Wednesday will tell business to “take advantage of the extra time” to prepare following EU leaders’ decision this year to delay Britain’s departure. According to a paper seen by the Financial Times, Brussels will say that changes to EU law and other “contingency measures” it has taken over recent months would only “mitigate the most serious disruptions of a withdrawal without an agreement”. Brussels’ faith in prospects for a negotiated Brexit has dwindled amid the insistence of Boris Johnson and other Conservative party leadership contenders that they would accept a no-deal exit if the EU refused to renegotiate the conditions of Britain’s withdrawal. Such rhetoric is expected to rise as the leadership campaign gathers pace and candidates try to reassure party activists shocked by the rise of Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. The commission told a closed-door meeting of national officials last week that the probability of a no-deal exit had increased given the announcements made in the Tory leadership contest. There is also tension in the EU about how much longer the Brexit saga should be allowed to go on. France’s Emmanuel Macron has taken a sharply different line from the likes of Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and German chancellor Angela Merkel, by insisting that the UK cannot count on further extensions. – FT(£)

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party starts drawing up its manifesto

The Brexit Party has put former British Chambers of Commerce boss John Longworth in charge of drawing up a manifesto as it gears up to fight the next general election. In the six weeks since it was set up under Nigel Farage’s leadership, the party has redefined British politics and hopes to keep up that momentum. Mr Longworth, a newly-elected MEP for Yorkshire, was forced to resign from the BCC because of his support for Brexit. He said the manifesto would be used to shape a post-Brexit future for Britain. Mr Longworth said yesterday: “Nothing is decided yet but my personal view is that we need to have a country that has a dynamic economy with low business and personal taxation.” He insisted the party would continue “to take on the vested interests” that have supported EU membership.  Meanwhile, fellow Brexit Party MEP and businessman Richard Tice has said the party will pressure Whitehall to be involved in Brexit preparations. Mr Tice, who founded the campaign group Leave Means Leave with Mr Longworth, said: “From a standing start, we won the European election so the Government has a moral duty to allow us to be involved as soon as possible.” Brexit Party sources believe that if they had another week of campaigning in this week’s Peterborough by-election, they could have pulled off another victory. – Express

Amber Rudd: Belief alone isn’t enough — serious times require a serious leader

I am supporting Jeremy Hunt to be the next leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party and our next prime minister. In my role as co-leader of the One Nation Conservatives I listened last week to each of the main candidates being put through their paces in front of up to 100 members of parliament and Jeremy stands out above everyone. I was encouraged by the methodical way in which he approached the inescapable facts of the Brexit impasse and sought to provide solutions to them. He is approaching this seismic challenge with confidence, craft, vision and attention to detail. And most importantly Jeremy is committed to respecting the Good Friday agreement and the Irish border and, crucially, to agreeing a deal with the European Union that parliament will agree to. Our politics has become angrier, our discourse polluted with “alternative facts” and people chastised if they don’t conform to the world view of a minor subset. Just because you don’t subscribe to no-deal at all costs by dictatorially threatening to prorogue parliament, without any room for reasonable debate, it does not mean you are not a Conservative. This has to change. And not only has Jeremy risen above playground politics, he has the ability to bring all wings of the party together in a way that no other candidate can. Because the impasse is not only with the European Union, but just as much with our own MPs. – Amber Rudd MP for The Times (£)

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