Boris Johnson announces plans to mark Brexit day, including a countdown clock projected onto Number 10 and flags in Parliament Square: Brexit News for Saturday 18 January

Boris Johnson announces plans to mark Brexit day, including a countdown clock projected onto Number 10 and flags in Parliament Square: Brexit News for Saturday 18 January

Boris Johnson announces plans to mark Brexit day, including a countdown clock projected onto Number 10 and flags in Parliament Square…

Boris Johnson will project a clock face onto the walls of 10 Downing Street on Brexit night to count down the minutes to the UK’s exit from the European Union after his attempt to get Big Ben to bong failed. The Prime Minister will also deliver an evening television address to the nation, hold a Cabinet in the north of England and ensure Parliament Square will be lined with union flags to mark leaving the European Union on Jan 31. Number 10 also confirmed that the long-planned special 50p Brexit coin will enter circulation that day for the first time, stamped with the date of Brexit and the message: “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.” Downing Street said the light display will include “a clock counting down to 11pm projected on to the black bricks of Downing Street. Buildings around Whitehall will also be lit up”. – Telegraph (£)

  • Boris Johnson announces Brexit day celebrations to distract from failure to make Big Ben bong – Independent
  • UK to celebrate Brexit with flags and ‘light display’ – Politico

…as questions are raised about the real cost of getting Big Ben to bong, which parliamentary authorities appear to have blocked

The MPs’ £500,000 estimate of allowing Big Ben to bong on Brexit night is more than 30 times more than the bill for sounding Parliament’s Great Bell on New Year’s Eve, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. The news risks undermining the House of Commons’s Commission decision not to allow Big Ben to chime at 11pm on Jan 31 on grounds of cost. It will put further pressure on Parliament to allow the bongs to sound. By lunchtime today £220,000 had been raised by members of the public to cover the cost of the Brexit night bongs. The Commission formally rejected a request to allow the Great Bell to chime on Monday saying that contractors had said it would cost £500,000. – Telegraph (£)

  • Big Ben bong for Brexit bill ‘more than 30 times more than cost for New Year’s Eve chime’ – ITV News

Forget staying close to the EU after Brexit, Sajid Javid tells business

Sajid Javid, the UK chancellor, has delivered a tough message to business leaders to end their campaign for Britain to stay in lock-step with Brussels rules after Brexit, telling them they have already had three years to prepare for a new trading relationship. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Javid quashed any prospect of the Treasury lending its support to big manufacturing sectors — which include cars, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and food and drink — that favour alignment with EU regulations. “There will not be alignment, we will not be a ruletaker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union — and we will do this by the end of the year,” Mr Javid said, urging companies to “adjust” to the new reality. – FT (£)

  • No EU regulation alignment post-Brexit, warns Sajid Javid – ITV News

Boris Johnson expected to open trade talks with the US before negotiating with the EU

Boris Johnson is expected to formally open trade talks with the US before he begins discussions with the European Union, the Telegraph has learned. US diplomats believe the Prime Minister is poised to seek Cabinet authorisation to open trade talks directly with America on a visit to Washington next month. British civil servants have drawn up advice for ministers on the “pros and cons” of starting trade talks with America before beginning them with the European Union, the Telegraph understands. A UK government source who has seen the advice said the argument for going to the US first is to show: “We mean business and we’re not messing around.” – Telegraph (£)

Guy Verhofstadt claims Britain will in time rejoin the EU…

EU boss Guy Verhofstadt has insisted the next generation of Brits WILL rejoin the bloc again after Brexit. The Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament, who is in town for talks with Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, claimed there will be a group who “want to come back” into the EU after leaving. He told Radio 4 this morning: “I think that will happen. There will be a generation who will say ‘what have we done?’ and want to come back. Maybe I will not see it in my life, but it will happen.” – The Sun

…as he is reassured over ‘settled status’ deadline breakers…

EU citizens living in Britain who miss the deadline for applying for “settled status” by mid-2021 will not face automatic deportation, the government said on Friday. The statement came after Guy Verhofstadt, European Parliament co-ordinator on Brexit, said he had been reassured that the UK would be lenient with any EU national who missed the deadline with a reasonable cause. “The impression had been given that anyone who missed the deadline would be out,” the former Belgian prime minister told the Financial Times at the end of a two-day visit to London. – FT (£)

  • UK has ruled out automatic deportation of EU citizens, says Verhofstadt – Guardian

…with the Home Office rejecting his claim that EU citizens could be deported from Britain after Brexit

EU citizens who fail to apply for the right to stay in Britain after Brexit will not be deported, according to The EU’s Brexit co-ordinator. Earlier on Fridaym Guy Verhofstadt said he had been assured by the UK Government that people who fail to apply for settled status will be permitted to continue living in the UK if they can explain why they did not make an application. But later in the day, the Home Office has rejected comments from the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator on EU citizens who remain in the UK, and warned against “misconceptions”. – Yahoo News 

Nigel Farage hails Brexit Day as ‘victory for ordinary determined Sun readers’ who won against the odds

Nigel Farage has hailed Brexit Day as a “victory for Sun readers” and “ordinary people” who finally got Britain out against all the odds. The Brexit Party boss praised the determined nature of millions of ordinary Brits across the country who fought to get us out. He told The Sun Online today: “Brexit is a victory of ordinary people against the establishment. It’s a victory for people like Sun readers. They had a feeling the European thing was going wrong – that we should be independent, controlling our borders, that we shouldn’t be wasting all this money.” He added: “Now, it’s happening. This is a real victory for ordinary folk who stood up to be counted.” – The Sun

EU politicians form ‘friendship group’ to keep ‘close ties’ with UK

European MEPs have set up a “friendship group” to ensure the UK and the EU maintain “close ties” after Brexit. Following a series of emotional farewells by British MEPs on Tuesday, one German politician in the European Parliament set up the UK-EU Friendship Group. The purpose of the small club is to forge closer links with the UK as it leaves the bloc. This week’s session was the last time UK representatives participated in the EU’s elected chamber before Brexit on 31 January. More than 70 members make up the “friendship group” which equates to roughly 10 per cent of the European Parliament. – LBC News

Asa Bennett: Boris can make up for Big Ben Brexit bongs by giving Leavers other reasons to cheer

Big Ben might have bonged for New Year’s Eve,  but it is turning out to be surprisingly tricky to get it to bong again for what Brexiteers will see as New Year’s Leave. Just over a year ago, Theresa May was on the receiving end of the worst ever Commons defeat a Prime Minister has suffered in modern history after her Brexit deal was rejected by a whopping majority of 230. But now Boris Johnson has won a majority of his own and settled the question of whether Brexit will happen, Brexiteers need only focus on how to mark it happening.  After inviting Leavers live on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday to “bung a bob for a Big Ben bong”, their decision to bung over 160,000 bob into a special crowdfunder has left the Prime Minister in a sudden spot of bother. He now finds himself locked in a bizarre blame game with the House of Commons, in which both sides are desperate to avoid being seen as Brexit killjoys. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

James Forsyth: It’s time the nation is brought to heal after the great Brexit blockage is removed

At the end of this month, the great blockage that has been backing up British ­politics will be removed. The 2016 referendum result will be delivered on and we will leave the European Union. Boris Johnson’s election ­victory has been the political equivalent of Dyno-Rod unblocking the drains of ­Westminster. In 2019, our politics began to smell as if everything was stuck and nothing was moving. But the arrival of a majority government has changed all that. Not only is Brexit now sailing through Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly is back up and running after years in abeyance. Number 10 is now keen to get on with delivery. Ministers and advisers have been personally reminded that running their departments is far more important than appearing on television or ­talking to the media. – James Forsyth for The Sun

Charles Moore: Big Ben must bong for Brexit – and show Britain isn’t ruled by bureaucrats 

If, a month ago, you had asked me whether it was important that the currently disabled bongs of Big Ben should be restored for Brexit night, I would probably have said no. If you asked me now, I would probably say yes. I suspect many others feel the same. To get one thing out of the way quickly: this is not a matter of triumphalism. On the night of January 31, there will be lots of lovely private parties (of which I shall attend as many as possible) to celebrate the long-awaited victory of the cause. They can be as joyous as they like. But the symbolism of the Big Ben bongs bonging once more should not be as a gloat by the winners. It is a powerful, public statement of a plain constitutional fact. Our status as a country is changing as it has done only once before (when we entered the European Economic Community (EEC) on January 1 1973). We are regaining our independence because we voted to do so. If that exact moment is captured by the world’s most famous clock striking 11 times, it will mark the change for Parliament and people, right round the globe. It will show that the deed is done. – Charles Moore for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Dream on, Guy Verhofstadt: Brexit won’t be reversed – Brendan O’Neill for The Spectator
  • A new Royal Yacht Britannia is needed to ‘project Britain’s image around the world’ proposes Henry Jackson Society – Telegraph (£)
  • Lib Dems set to wait until the summer to name Jo Swinson’s successor – Independent