Boris Johnson hails Britain’s future as a nation of trail-blazers as the final countdown to Brexit begins: Brexit News for Sunday 26 January

Boris Johnson hails Britain’s future as a nation of trail-blazers as the final countdown to Brexit begins: Brexit News for Sunday 26 January

Boris Johnson hails Britain’s future as a nation of trail-blazers as the final countdown to Brexit begins

Boris Johnson hailed Britain’s future as a nation of trail-blazers as the countdown to Brexit began. The PM said his team was ready to hit the ground running the minute we leave the EU at 11pm on Friday. Officials will launch a new “Ready to Trade” campaign in 13 countries in a drive to forge new links with future global partners. Mr Johnson urged maximum effort to end 3½ years of division since the referendum and seize opportunities ahead. He said: “Friday marks an important moment in the history of our United Kingdom. No matter how you voted in 2016, it is time to look ahead with confidence to the global trail-blazing country we will become over the next decade and heal past divisions. That is what I shall be doing on January 31. I urge everyone across the UK to do the same.” – The Sun

Britain will use the threat of high tariffs to ramp up pressure in the Brussels trade talks…

Boris Johnson is preparing to use the threat of high tariffs to put pressure on the EU, US and other nations to strike trade deals with Britain. The Times understands that the prime minister and cabinet ministers discussed using tariffs as “leverage” in an effort to accelerate trade negotiations at a meeting this week. The tariffs could result in taxes of 30 per cent on some types of French cheese and 10 per cent on German cars. Ministers agreed at a meeting of the EU exit strategy (XS) committee on Thursday that the tariffs should be put out for consultation. The move is designed to put pressure on the EU to agree to a complete tariff and quota-free trade agreement without forcing the UK to follow Brussels’ rules. – The Times (£)

  • Boris Johnson ‘will threaten the US and EU with sky high tariffs to speed up post-Brexit trade deals’ – The Sun

…while the EU is seeking power to sanction the UK over any breaches of the Brexit deal

The EU will demand the right to rapidly sanction the UK for breaching any deal on a future relationship as it seeks to prevent “competitive undercutting or freeriding” by British companies after Brexit, according to an internal document seen by the FT. EU governments want to be able to take “flexible” and “interim” measures against Britain if it breaks commitments given as part of any future trade agreement. The EU’s tough negotiating position, set out in a series of slides discussed by diplomats in Brussels on Friday, is that the UK must agree to stick closely to the bloc’s rules in areas such as labour rights and environmental protection in exchange for a trade deal with few restrictions on trade in goods. – FT (£)

US Trade Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he is ‘focused’ on clinching a UK trade deal this year

The United States is “focused” on striking a trade deal with the U.K. by the end of the year, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday. “The U.K. is our most important relationship … it’s a very strategic relationship,” Mnuchin said in an interview at a Chatham House event, where he reiterated that the U.K. remained “top of the list” with President Donald Trump when it comes to a potential trade agreement. Mnuchin acknowledged the U.K. may have to “resolve some issues” with the European Union first, but said he did not anticipate those to impede talks with Washington. – Politico

UK flags could be lowered under cover of darkness as Brussels plans muted Brexit Day events

London may be preparing to host raucous celebrations in Parliament Square for Brexit Day but in Brussels, the capital of the EU, January 31 is set to be a far more muted and solemn affair.  The EU institutions are at pains to keep the historic event as “low key” as possible. There is even expectation the British Union flag outside the European Parliament could be hauled down under cover of darkness. Brexit night poses a headache for officials keen not to over-emphasise the importance of Brexit but not minimise the British contribution to the bloc.  “This is not an occasion for celebration,” one parliament source said before confirming the UK flag would be “administratively transferred” to a nearby museum of EU history. – Telegraph (£)

Millions of commemorative 50p Brexit coins to enter banks and shops across Britain on Friday

Three million commemorative 50p Brexit coins will enter banks, Post Offices and shops across the country from Friday morning. A further seven million will enter circulation in the months ahead. The coin bears the inscription: “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” and the date that Britain is leaving the EU. As Master of the Mint, Sajid Javid was given the very first batch of Brexit coins one of which he will present to the Prime Minister this week. More than 13,000 people have already registered their interest in a commemorative version of the coin which is available to buy from the Royal Mint. – The Sun

Brexit celebrations ‘rub our noses in it’, moans Lord Heseltine

The Tory peer and former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has accused Boris Johnson of trying to “rub the noses of Remainers in their defeat”, after the prime minister announced events to commemorate the UK’s departure from the EU this coming Friday at 11pm. Downing Street said that 3m special 50p coins bearing the words “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” will enter shops, banks and restaurants from Friday with a further 7m coming into circulation by the end of the year. Union Jack flags will also line Parliament Square and the Mall on Friday and the public will see government buildings in Whitehall lit up in red, white and blue. – Observer

Steve Baker: Dread threats from the EU will not stop us from returning power to the British people

On 24 October 2011, David Nuttall MP rose in the Commons to lead a backbench debate triggered by a petition of over 100,000 voters. The motion called for a referendum on whether we should remain a member of the EU, leave, or re-negotiate terms for a new relationship based on trade and co-operation. It resulted in the Tories’ largest post-war rebellion, as 81 Conservatives voted in favour and 15 abstained: despite the usual dire threats, over half of David Cameron’s back-benchers were in open revolt. I whipped the rebels for ringleader Douglas Carswell, earning the moniker “rebel commander” from the Guido Fawkes website. The debate and division list repay close reading. I find myself intervening on William Hague in the company of Gisela Stuart and Kate Hoey. Conservatives rebelled who went on both to high office and to eventually lose the whip on the pro-EU side. Nigel Dodds explained how the DUP was the only party united in favour of a referendum. In the debate, much the same people made much the same arguments they had been articulating for years. – Steve Baker MP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Simon Jenkins: Why our European Union marriage was troubled from the start

The marriage was unhappy from the start. Britain’s flirtation with Europe began with two rejections in the 1960s. Even after the union was consummated, passion was soon spent, followed by arguments, acrimony and eventual divorce. With one partner tugging for ever-closer union and the other tugging against, it was never popular. As tempers rose towards the end, observers worried about the offspring, the millions of beneficiaries of the world’s most successful single market. Over the half-century of Britain’s latest affair with Europe, I have traced my own responses. They range from ardent enthusiasm, through ardent scepticism, to possible leave and reluctant remain. I sense I was not the only one. – Simon Jenkins for The Sunday Times (£)

Alexander Von Schoenburg: Ja, we Germans are jealous of Brexit

Even at events where the Champagne flows freely, the mood in the German capital is subdued these days. On Tuesday I attended one of these glamorous Berlin functions, at which our Chancellor Angela Merkel was awarded the American Academy’s Henry Kissinger Prize for her contribution to transatlantic relations. Merkel was lauded for her ‘steadfast’ leadership, which had provided ‘thoughtful, decent and long government’. But all that praise could not disguise the profound sense of apprehension that hung in the air. In Germany, fears are growing that the ship of Europe is sailing troubled waters. Soon it could be dashed on the rocks. Why the anxiety? The looming impact of Brexit, as politicians and policy-makers across the continent begin to recognise that Britain’s departure represents a daunting challenge to the European project. – Alexander Von Schoenburg for the Daily Mail

Brexit in Brief

  • Free Exchange: Brendan Simms on a tale of two Unions – CapX
  • Donald Tusk accused of ‘insulting’ Bath after describing architecture as ‘a circle of boring identical facades’ – Telegraph (£)
  • The 17,197 days of Britain being throttled by Europeans as we break free on Friday – The Sun