EU 'won't be rushed' on trade deal, says Simon Coveney: Brexit News for Monday 13 January

EU 'won't be rushed' on trade deal, says Simon Coveney: Brexit News for Monday 13 January
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EU ‘won’t be rushed’ on trade deal, says Irish Deputy PM Simon Coveney

The EU “will not be rushed” on a trade deal with the UK after Brexit, according to Ireland’s deputy PM. Boris Johnson says a deal can be agreed by the end of 2020 and has included a pledge in his Brexit bill not to extend any transition period to secure one. But Simon Coveney says it is “probably going to take longer than a year”. Security Minister Brandon Lewis defended Mr Johnson’s deadline, saying he had a “strong record of getting things done”. After the UK leaves the EU on 31 January, it will enter an 11-month transition period, where it will largely follow EU rules but will not have any representation in the bloc’s institutions. This period will come to an end on 31 December and Mr Johnson has ruled out extending it any further if a deal on the future relationship between the UK and EU has not been agreed. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, Mr Coveney said he accepted the UK was leaving the EU at the end of January, and he hoped for the future deal to “achieve the closest possible relationship” between the two sides. But he warned there was “no way of the UK… maintaining the same relationship we have today while outside the European Union,” adding: “That is the reality of Brexit, I’m afraid.” – BBC News

> WATCH: Simon Coveney on The Andrew Marr Show

Brexiteers erupt in fury after Labour leadership contender Clive Lewis claims there was racism ‘at the heart of the Brexit campaign’

Labour leadership contender Clive Lewis sparked a fiery backlash after he claimed that the Brexit campaign “had racism at its core” and suggested that racism is integral to the Brexit project. Clive Lewis’ outburst against Brexiteers this morning saw the Labour leadership candidate claim Brexit was racist “at its heart”. Speaking to Sophy Ridge, the outspoken Remainer and Labour MP clarified that “not all Brexit voters are racist” but said there was absolutely “an element of racism in the Brexit project”. This drew a backlash among viewers who suggested the attack on Brexiteers proved “Labour had not learned anything” from their crushing electoral defeat. Clive Lewis’ outburst against Brexiteers this morning saw the Labour leadership candidate claim Brexit was racist “at its heart”. Speaking to Sophy Ridge, the outspoken Remainer and Labour MP clarified that “not all Brexit voters are racist” but said there was absolutely “an element of racism in the Brexit project”. This drew a backlash among viewers who suggested the attack on Brexiteers proved “Labour had not learned anything” from their crushing electoral defeat. – Express

> WATCH: Clive Lewis MP talks Brexit on Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Andrew Marr lambasts Emily Thornberry on failed anti-Brexit stance

Emily Thornberry suffered an intense grilling by BBC’s Andrew Marr as he confronted the Labour leadership candidate on her failed anti-Brexit stance throughout the last three years of negotiations with the EU. The shadow foreign secretary appears to be struggling to reach the number of nominations she needs to go through to the next stage of the Labour leadership race. So BBC’s Andrew Marr confronted the Labour frontbencher on her anti-Brexit position, suggesting it might be the reason why she is struggling to get support. He said: “Let me put to you a theory as to why you might have been in some trouble which is that you were, above everybody else, probably most associated with the Remain campaign around Brexit. You were the person who said this is a Remain party and we’re going to prove that Britain is a Remain country. And, of course, exactly the reverse happened. Perhaps on this issue, you’re just out of touch.” Ms Thornberry replied: “I think that it was disastrous for us to go into a general election in those circumstances, I accept that. – Express

> WATCH: Emily Thornberry on The Andrew Marr Show

Brussels to threaten ‘blocking’ London access if UK refuses to bow to EU law

Brussels is set to use London’s access to European markets as a bargaining chip in trade deal talks with Boris Johnson. The EU will be unashamedly “political” in Brexit talks Croatia’s prime minister, Andrej Plenković, whose country is taking over the presidency of the EU, has revealed. Asked whether the EU would use its power to switch off London’s ability to access European clients, Mr Plenković said: “I wouldn’t go into the vocabulary of weapons but what I have learned in international and European negotiations is that all arguments and considerations are treated as political.” Meanwhile, a Brussels insider said the EU’s demands would be unprecedented adding: “We have to go well beyond the baseline provided in US cooperation or the more recent Swiss practice.” The senior EU diplomat said: “Financial stability requires both sides to quickly agree an equivalence framework. “And whilst the preference of the industry to continue on the same basis EU member states will need to be absolutely sure there is a level playing field with appropriate governance.” – Express

PM ‘trying to seize the legal system from Parliament’, claims Gina Miller’s lawyer

Boris Johnson is trying to take control over a “fundamental aspect” of Britain’s independent legal system that will damage the integrity of the courts, a senior lawyer has warned. Under new powers in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, after Brexit ministers will be able to rule which British courts are no longer bound by previous European Court of Justice rulings. A previous version of the legislation, introduced by Mr Johnson last year, said that only the Supreme Court could overrule ECJ precedence. Opponents of the change fear it will create legal uncertainty and reverse established decisions in areas such as competition law, environmental protections and equal pay. Writing in The Times, Lord Pannick, QC, who led the action against the prime minister’s prorogation of parliament, said Mr Johnson was proposing to give ministers powers that belonged only to parliament. He said he would try to undo the change when the bill comes before the House of Lords tomorrow. “Ministers should not be giving themselves power to regulate a fundamental aspect of our legal system,” he writes. “Deciding which of our courts should no longer be bound by these precedents, and what test judges should apply, is a matter of principle for parliament to determine, after full debate, especially in a system that values the separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive.” – The Times (£)

  • We are leaving the EU but European law remains – Lord Pannick for The Times (£)

CBI urges the Government to include business in post-Brexit trade talks

Businesses need to be brought into the UK’s post-Brexit trade talks with the EU and US, according to Britain’s largest employers group, which has drawn up a series of recommendations to try to influence upcoming negotiations. In a report published on Monday, the CBI calls on the UK government to ensure it works with businesses “closely, comprehensively and transparently throughout every stage of negotiations, from mandate setting through to implementation”. Business leaders are concerned that the UK will not move fast enough to secure a deal with the EU, its largest trading partner, before the expiry of the Brexit transition period due to end in December 2020. Failure to do so could leave businesses facing a no-deal Brexit involving border disruption and costly tariffs, as well as uncertainty over transfer of data. The UK is also aiming to secure a trade deal with the US when it leaves the EU, alongside agreements with other countries that are critical markets for many British companies. “As the UK looks afresh at its post-Brexit international relationships with the EU and the rest of the world, this is the moment for government and business to work in partnership,” it added. – FT(£)

Brexit Day celebrations to include flying Union flag from buildings

The Government is set to encourage councils and community groups to fly the Union flag to celebrate Brexit on 31 January. Ministers are preparing a package of announcements to mark the moment Britain leaves the EU at the end of this month, which could include a commemorative coin and Big Ben ringing out. One of the items is likely to be a fund from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to help local councils and other groups buy and display the Union flag, i understands. A Westminster source said: “It’s prompted by Brexit but is also meant to celebrate national identity more broadly.” The move has been promoted by senior Tory backbencher Sir John Hayes, who said in the House of Commons last week that flying the UK flag from public buildings “would be a fitting tribute to the decision the British people made to leave the European Union”. Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay replied: “Any opportunity to do so is one that he and I would always celebrate.” – iNews

Ireland’s Prime Minister heads for election with Brexit win in hand

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar set the stage for a general election within weeks, gambling that a strong economy and his success toward shaping a Brexit deal will strengthen his hold on power. Seeking to seize the political moment, Varadkar said on Sunday he had decided on a date and would reveal it publicly after briefing colleagues. A vote is likely on Feb. 7, the Sunday Times reported. The son of an Indian immigrant father and an Irish nurse, Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as premier in 2017. On his watch, unemployment has continued to fall and the economy is among the European Union‘s strongest. A breakthrough with UK leader Boris Johnson helped clinch a deal that will keep the Irish border invisible after Britain leaves the bloc — and raised his profile. For Varadkar, 40, it might be about cashing in his chips while he is on a high. “We have a deal on Brexit — in many ways, that was the big job for this government,” he said in an interview with broadcaster RTE in Dublin. The UK is set to leave the bloc at the end of the month and begin talks on trade right after. Johnson wants that part concluded by the end of the year. The EU’s executive arm, the commission, is skeptical that can be achieved in 11 months. This delicate phase of talks will affect Ireland, which has strong commercial links with the UK across the sea. The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland dogged the divorce talks between the UK and the EU for two years before Johnson agreed to keep Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union and large parts of its single market. Momentum has recently built behind Varadkar. – Bloomberg

Owen Paterson: Act now! Boris must secure trade deal with Trump or Brussels will snare UK in its trap

With the Withdrawal Agreement Bill having safely passed the Commons this week, we can be sure that the UK will finally leave the EU on 31st January. We can now move on, at long last, to negotiate the comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU that is in the best interests of both sides. But as we do so, it is vital that we also accelerate negotiations with other countries around the world, and especially the United States. If our negotiations with the US and the EU are not concurrent, we run the risk that the EU will drag its heels in order to keep the UK snared up in European regulations. If that occurs, the UK and the US will have lost a significant opportunity to show the world that we are serious about doing things differently. The US has been one of the strongest forces for liberalised trade on Earth. A deal with the UK – a country at a similar socio-economic level so there can be no race to the bottom, a country where there is a balanced trade relationship – is the ideal candidate for its bilateral agenda, and vice versa. We are each other’s largest source of foreign direct investment. We both employ over 1 million of each other’s citizens. These strong economic ties are founded upon a deep, enduring bond between our two countries.These strong economic ties are founded upon a deep, enduring bond between our two countries. – Owen Paterson MP for the Express

Steve Baker: Why Britain should prioritise American trade talks over the EU

All our ambitions to solve domestic and global problems are underpinned by the need for a strong market economy. Yet all economies are vulnerable to threats to the global trading system. That’s why our manifesto commitments on trade must be a pre-eminent strategic priority for this empowered Conservative government. Our manifesto pledged parallel trade talks with the EU, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, aiming to cover 80 per cent of UK trade with free trade deals in the next three years. This whole-UK, whole-world policy is exactly the right approach and Liz Truss has done brilliantly to secure it. But deep dangers are ahead. By linking access to its markets with demands for regulatory harmonisation, the EU makes itself a global outlier. We need immediately to end the UK’s timid Eurocentrism by negotiating simultaneously with independent, free-trading partners. Accepting the export of EU power would deepen our recent humiliation as we succumbed to be a mere regulatory satellite, unable to join old friends as equal partners. In meeting ambassadors and their teams, I have found categorical differences of approach. Our European partners regard our decision to leave the EU with bewilderment. It has been necessary to reassure them that, overwhelmingly, Tory Eurosceptics are free traders with an expansive view of prosperity and our friendship with the world, that we reject technocracy and have faith in the collective wisdom of the people, expressed in the markets for products, services, culture, ideas and public policy. In contrast, our friends in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US are fearless in accepting our commitment to civilised values, impatient in their desire to see us become international equals and, if they are bewildered, it is only because we have been hesitant in reorienting ourselves to the global outlook we have chosen. These old friends outside the EU are those we need most right now. – Steve Baker MP for the Telegraph (£)

Lord Callanan: Peers can start to finally put Brexit to bed

As a lifelong Newcastle United fan I have learnt the hard way to manage expectations and deal with disappointment. The wrangling and gridlock in Westminster has been endless and there have been times when I have found myself questioning whether parliament would be able to deliver on the result of a simple referendum within my lifetime. But much like Sir Bobby Robson in his prime, the PM has pulled off a masterstroke. Against all the odds, he has negotiated a great new deal with the EU, which gives certainty to individuals and business and keeps the Union together. In the general election last month his deal received a resounding seal of approval from the British people. As a result, the withdrawal agreement bill passed the Commons by a majority of 99 last week. Today, in another historic first, it begins its journey through the Lords. I urge my colleagues to listen to the public and give the bill a smooth passage. The bill delivers Brexit; it means that we can leave the EU on January 31 and finally take control over our laws, borders, money and trade policy. This is good news for all of us, regardless of the team we support. At long last we will be able to move on and focus on the other things that people care about, such as improving our NHS and investing in infrastructure and technology to put the nation on an equal footing. – Lord Callanan for The Times (£)

Wolfgang Münchau: A narrow EU trade deal is the most likely way forward

It is worth reflecting on Mark Carney’s call for the British government not to make any compromises on financial services in post-Brexit trade talks with the EU. The outgoing governor of the Bank of England argued that the City of London had a lot to gain from a regulatory divergence. This way, it could exploit new commercial opportunities, including those arising from the transition to a low-carbon economy. Just consider for a moment how far the debate has come since the referendum in 2016. Back then, Mr Carney delivered scary forecasts. The City of London was desperate to keep passporting, which allows financial companies to trade from anywhere and to anywhere in the EU. Now Mr Carney actively encourages divergence. His line of argument applies to other sectors too. If the UK wanted to become a global leader in artificial intelligence, it would be constrained by EU regulations. There are also concerns about the impact of the new General Data Protection Regulation, on the grounds that it restricts the collection of data for commercial use and increases compliance costs. There are business opportunities to be exploited if the UK manages to extricate itself from GDPR. I expect this to become a big issue in the trade talks. One of the policy challenges of Brexit is to balance the new opportunities that might arise out of regulatory divergence with the interests of businesses that benefit from EU membership. Divergence is costly in the short run. Longer-term there is more money to be made in artificial intelligence than to be lost by, say, reduced production of diesel cars, which are soon to be extinct anyway. But even in the motor industry, there are opportunities in divergence. EU car prices are kept artificially high by requirements to make cars capable of speed on the German autobahn — plus an EU-wide 10 per cent import tariff. So where does all this leave the trade talks? During her visit to London last week, Ursula von der Leyen, the new European Commission president, linked the degree of preferential single market access to regulatory convergence. She still appears to be working from the assumption that the UK would seek deep market access in areas like financial services. But Mr Carney’s comments suggest that the EU may overestimate the UK’s appetite — and the price it is ready to pay for it. – Wolfgang Münchau for the FT(£)

Madeline Grant: The Erasmus scheme was always more about European empire-building than education

The apparent rejection of the EU’s student exchange programme, Erasmus+, in parliamentary votes last week, has triggered predictable howls of fury. But don’t be fooled by the missives lamenting this “catastrophic” loss to UK academia. The aims of Erasmus+ were always more imperial than educational. For all the rhetoric, rumours of the scheme’s demise seem exaggerated – the government insists it remains committed and merely wished to avoid tying its negotiating hands ahead of EU talks. Yet the reaction betrays the Europhiles’ self-absorption. Since its inception in 1987, Erasmus+ has gained iconic status among euro-fanatics, whose use of the term “Erasmus generation” betrays a hope that young Europeans will prove more eager integrationists than their parents or grandparents. How does one breed a generation of compliant europhiles? Through subsidised travel and the prospect of foreign romance. The writer Umberto Eco sums up the sentiment; “I call it a sexual revolution. A young Catalan man meets a Flemish girl – they fall in love, they get married and they become European, as do their children.” But universities are not dating services or travel agents. The programme is named after Desiderius Erasmus, the Dutch travelling scholar and philosopher who taught at Cambridge and co-founded St Paul’s School in 1509. While the real Erasmus lauded overseas study, I suspect he would be appalled by the lack of rigour and the less-than-scholarly aims. Under Erasmus+, students enrolled in their home countries receive travel grants and assurances that work completed abroad will contribute to their degree. But with little statutory guidance, much depends on the host’s discretion. Experiences vary dramatically; those travelling to perpetually striking French universities, for example, often enjoy something nearer a subsidised holiday or booze-up than a serious course of study. A recent EU Commission audit does not mention educational value at all, concentrating on participants’ feelings towards the EU. Predictably, it ends by demanding a “Bigger, more inclusive Erasmus” (read: more dosh). – Madeline Grant for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Senior MEP left speechless after BBC host explains how UK has ‘upper hand’ over Brussels – Express
  • ‘Festival of Brexit’ boss says £120m event will prove cynics wrong – Guardian
  • Australian government wages wine war with European bureaucrats who want us to stop describing bubbly as Prosecco – Daily Mail
  • Nigel Farage set for £150,000 payday when Britain quits the EU at the end of the month because of his long career in Brussels – MailOnline