Brexit News for Monday 15 May

Brexit News for Monday 15 May
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Brexit opens door for EU military technology fund

Brussels is finalising plans to deploy the EU budget for the first time for military purposes, as Britain’s looming departure removes a significant obstacle to increased defence co-operation among its members. The proposed European Defence Fund would finance the development of prototype military kit such as drones, robots and cyber defence technology. The European Commission will in the coming weeks ask member states and MEPs to back the plans, which appear to stretch EU law to its limits. – FT (£)

David Davis blasts the EU’s “illogical” stance on Brexit negotiations

Brexit secretary David Davis has branded the EU’s refusal to hold simultaneous divorce talks and trade negotiations as “illogical”, and risked a new row over protections for the rights of European nationals. EU leaders have repeatedly insisted that the UK must complete an initial phase of dialogue before debate can be opened on a future trading relationship, raising the difficulty of reaching a deal before the end of the two-year Article 50 process. Earlier this month, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the second part of talks could begin as soon as the autumn. But speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday Davis today signalled the government is still hoping to change the plan. – City A.M.

> On BrexitCentral’s YouTube channel: David Davis: ‘Hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit are ‘propaganda terms’

  • David Davis voices concern over EU border plan – BBC
  • David Davis signals clash with EU over Brexit talks and citizens’ rights deal – BT
  • Britain is gearing up for EU rows, says Brexit minister – Reuters

Theresa May vows to expand workers’ rights post-Brexit

Theresa May has promised the “greatest extension of rights and protections for employees by any Conservative government in history”, as the prime minister seeks to consolidate her grip on the centreground of British politics. The Conservative manifesto, which is set to be published this week, will commit to more rights for “gig economy” workers, and signal tougher rules to protect employees’ pensions from “unsustainable dividends and takeovers” — a source of political concern following the collapse of BHS, the retailer formerly owned by Sir Philip Green. – FT

Jeremy Corbyn backs managed but ‘fair’ migration after Brexit

There will be “fair immigration” to the UK after free movement ends when the country leaves the European Union, Jeremy Corbyn has said. The Labour leader refused to put any figures on the level he would like to see but promised there would be “managed migration” after Brexit. With immigration a key electoral battleground, Theresa May has said she remains committed to the Tory target of cutting net migration to the tens of thousands, a pledge she has so far failed to meet as home secretary or Prime Minister. – Telegraph

Nicola Sturgeon admits an independent Scotland might not seek immediate membership of the EU

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted for the first time that an independent Scotland might not immediately seek to rejoin the European Union. Despite calling for a new independence referendum over Brexit, the First Minister confirmed Scotland may need a “phased” approach to becoming a full EU member. She said that “by necessity”, in the event of a vote to break-up the UK, Scotland might have to pursue membership of the European Free Trade Association (Efta), whose members include Norway and Iceland, before achieving full EU membership. – Telegraph

  • Sturgeon to urge voters to grant SNP top seat in Brexit talks – The Scotsman

Paul Nuttall: ‘I won’t resign if I don’t become an MP at election’

Paul Nuttall has declared he will remain Ukip leader even if he fails to win a seat in order to fundamentally rebrand of the party. Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Nuttall said he will not match his predecessor Nigel Farage and stand down if he fails to become an MP. Instead he promises to drive through a “whole image change” that will see the yellow in the party’s distinctive colour scheme ditched because it is “garish”. – Telegraph

Europhile Tim Farron seen as the last hope for voters who want to stop Brexit

Mr Farron is now the last hope of many British voters trying to resist the Eurosceptic tide. The Lib Dems, the party he has led since 2015, are the only main national political party calling for the UK to stay in the EU, despite last year’s Brexit vote. An approachable 46-year-old from Lancashire, he is distinguished by his energy, or what one former colleague refers to as a “Tigger bounce”. Yet with less than four weeks until the general election, Mr Farron has yet to win over voters. – FT (£)

Theresa May must include pledge to oppose all Spanish meddling with Gibraltar in election manifesto, demands the Rock’s Chief Minister

Theresa May must include a pledge to block all Spanish meddling with Gibraltar in her general election manifesto, its leader today declares. The Rock’s First Minister Fabian Picardo’s issue the plea via The Sun after it emerged Spain is drawing up Brexit negotiation demands that could ruin its thriving economy. Leaked documents revealed Madrid wants to force the British territory to ratchet up its tax rates. The PM has made already promised to protect Gib’s sovereignty after the EU controversially allowed Spain a veto on its future status after our EU exit. But Mr Picardo wants the Tory leader to go further and also commit to preserving all its current laws and legal status. – The Sun

Ulster Bank reports that Northern Ireland firms are ‘confident, despite Brexit’

Northern Ireland firms remain confident about the economy, despite continuing Brexit uncertainty, says a new report. April had the strongest rise in business activity of 2017, according to the study for Ulster Bank. New orders increased and job creation accelerated, according to the bank’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a detailed monthly survey of companies. The private sector had an “encouraging start” to the second quarter of the year, said the bank’s chief economist. – BBC News

Business activity booms even as cost pressures accelerate to pre-recession highs

Business activity in England grew at its fastest rate so far in 2017 last month, with growth expected to continue into the summer, even as cost pressures accelerate to pre-recession levels. The latest regional Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) report from Lloyds Bank found activity in the manufacturing and service sectors in England rose to a four-month high last month, with job creation also picking up speed. – Telegraph

Emmanuel Macron says EU will be ‘rejuvenated’ in inauguration speech

Emmanuel Macron took power on Sunday after an inauguration ceremony with the outgoing Socialist president, François Hollande, at the Elysée Palace. Mr Macron, 39, a pro-European centrist, became the youngest president in French history after walking up the red carpet to the palace steps and exchanging a ceremonial handshake with Mr Hollande. – Telegraph

Report confirms BBC was ‘strongly biased against Brexit’ in run-up to referendum

The analysis by monitoring group News-Watch looked at Radio 4’s flagship morning news programme Today and concluded that there was “overwhelming negativity” about Leaving the EU. During the six three-hour morning shows from Monday 29 March to Saturday 4 April, Today fielded 124 guests on Article 50 but only eight, 6.5 per cent, were “given the space to make substantive arguments that the future for the UK outside the EU would yield significant benefits”. It also claimed that in the survey period BBC correspondents “displayed what can only be described as a strong common editorial bias against Brexit”. – Express

Lord Rogers and leading UK architects call for clarity on EU nationals

A group of the country’s leading architects including Richard Rogers have said they are “appalled” by how EU staff in their offices are being treated since the Brexit vote. They have called on Theresa May to give immediate clarity on their future, saying architecture will suffer from a brain drain unless this is given soon. In an open letter, published in the Guardian, they say Brexit will have “deeply negative consequences” for architecture if practices in the UK cannot continue to employ EU citizens. – Guardian

IoD calls for extra runways as UK lags ‘well behind’ EU competitors

Britain’s bosses will call on the next Government to add two new runways to South East airports, reigniting a politically sensitive debate over how much capacity the UK has. Whoever wins the upcoming General Election faces a “serious challenge in upgrading the UK’s transport and communications network”, the Institute of Directors said. Dan Lewis, IoD’s senior infrastructure adviser, warned that “years of dawdling on new airport capacity have left us lagging well behind European competitors.” – Telegraph

French TV company behind Versailles to invest in UK drama

The French maker of the lavish TV period drama Versailles is launching a €50m (£42.4m) fund to make English-language dramas with UK production companies, in a move influenced by the weakening of the pound since the Brexit vote. Newen Group aims to capitalise on the success of Versailles, described as the sexiest TV drama ever, by setting up a London office and will look to tap the UK market for talent and drama projects in the high-end €1.5m-€3m per episode range. – Guardian

Theresa May: We will use Brexit as an opportunity to strengthen workers’ rights

When the British people voted to leave the EU last summer, they did so in pursuit of a stronger, brighter future for our country. My government is determined to answer that call by backing the businesses that provide growth, and ensuring the benefits are spread across the country. In the fast-changing world of work, that means being an evangelist for the entrepreneurs who invent and create, and the hardworking employees who turn those sparks of inspiration into the tangible outputs of a dynamic economy. – Theresa May for the FT (£)

Camilla Tominey: Brussels is an advert for why Britain voted Brexit

My visit started badly when, having got up at 4am, I missed the first Eurostar of the day, despite having 26 minutes to spare. Apparently I should have been there a minimum of half an hour before the ticket scanner said “Non”. Thirty quid, two hours and several fibs later (“Of course I won’t be late for the press conference, Ed”), I alighted to find someone quite unnecessarily marshalling people into taxis. – Camilla Tominey for the Express

Ed West: Are Remainers brighter than Brexiteers?

Are Leavers thicker than Remainers? The short answer is: yes. At least, on average. That’s according to a paper analysing voters on both sides of the godawful Brexit referendum, which says that: ‘When compared with Remain voters, Leave voters displayed significantly lower levels of numeracy, reasoning and appeared more reliant on impulsive ‘System 1’ thinking.’ – Ed West for The Spectator

What the 27 other EU member states really think about Brexit and the City of London

A good place to start in understanding what they think is to listen to what they say. So here’s a 10-point summary of what politicians and regulators in the EU27 really think – based on an analysis of hundreds of speeches, articles and reports over the past few months. Not all of it makes for happy reading for the City of London: while most of the EU are as keen to do a trade deal with the UK as the UK is with the EU, the UK should not expect any special favours when it comes to the City. – City A.M.

Jonathan Ford: We must quickly cut a deal to protect rights of EU and UK expats

Cutting a deal is shaping up to be an extremely arduous undertaking. The European Commission has indicated that it not only wants a detailed agreement locking in the accrued rights of “affected” EU citizens. It wants this to be overseen by the European Court of Justice — meaning the EU’s domestic courts would decide whether the resulting arrangement was upheld or not. This raises a host of legally contentious questions. – Jonathan Ford for the FT (£)

Brexit in brief

  • How the London Stock Exchange has retained its international allure after Brexit – William Turvill for City A.M.
  • Don’t rejoice in Brexit failings. We remoaners must shape the future – Zoe Williams for The Guardian
  • Did your personality determine whether you voted for Brexit? Research suggests so – Julia Rampen for The New Statesman
  • Forget 52%. The rise of the “Re-Leavers” mean the pro-Brexit electorate is 68% – YouGov
  • ‘I backed Brexit – and it’s cost me my shirt price’: Four for £100? Not any more, says Charles Tyrwhitt founder – This is Money
  • Dyson prepares to restart legal battle with Bosch after EU court win – Telegraph
  • Luxembourg: More UK insurers are coming, but EU talent battle ‘not a Pokemon game’ – Telegraph
  • Even Britain’s youngsters have a cynical view of the EU – Economist