Brexit News for Thursday 18 May

Brexit News for Thursday 18 May
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

Theresa May to launch Tory manifesto signalling that Brexit will define the UK’s future…

Launching her election plans, she will say the next five years are the most challenging for a lifetime. “Brexit will define us: our place in the world, our economic security and our future prosperity,” May will say, declaring that the manifesto, branded “Forward, Together” will serve as a statement her intent to grapple with great challenges. “People are rightly sceptical of politicians who claim to have easy answers to deeply complex problems. It is the responsibility of leaders to be straight with people about the challenges ahead and the hard work required to overcome them,” she will say. – City A.M.

The big message on Brexit of May’s programme for government is that the principles she listed in her Lancaster House speech for exiting the EU – no future role for the European Court of Justice in Britain, departure from the single market and customs union, and control of immigration – will not be modified in any way. It may well be seen as a rebuke to pro-European Tories not to expect a more understanding hearing from her if she increases the Tory majority in the way opinion polls suggest she will. – ITV News

…as she repeats pledge to reduce immigration and announces plans to force firms to pay £2,000 to hire immigrants

Theresa May will promise further curbs on migrants, forcing firms to pay £2,000 to hire them and the NHS to charge more to treat them. The Prime Minister will announce the measures in the upcoming Tory manifesto in a continued effort to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands. Mrs May will deliver an ‘uncompromising’ message and ‘bear down on immigration from outside the EU’ across all visa routes. – Daily Mail

  • Osborne ridicules May’s pledge to reduce immigration to tens of thousands – Sky News
  • Don’t allow Brexit to eclipse the Conservative social justice agenda – Joshua O’Connor for ConservativeHome

EU offers ‘fairness’ to Britain in Brexit talks, says Donald Tusk

European Council President Donald Tusk, who will oversee the negotiations that will take Britain out of the EU, said on Wednesday he wanted other member states to be fair towards London, while retaining their unity. “What was and remains most important for me, is that our conduct in these talks will show the European Union at its best: in terms of unity, political solidarity and fairness towards the United Kingdom,” he told the European Parliament. – Reuters

> On BrexitCentral’s YouTube channel: Michel Barnier: I certainly don’t intend to have no deal 

  • EU negotiator Michel Barnier insists Brexit talks will begin hours after General Election result – Evening Standard
  • Get ready now for Brexit, EU’s Barnier tells business – Reuters
  • “No deal or bad deal” not our aim in Brexit talks, says EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier – City A.M.
  • Donald Tusk talks tough on future trade negotiations between EU and UK – City A.M.
  • Politics takes back seat in Brexit talks, Juncker warns UK – Bloomberg
  • ‘Bloody rude’ Juncker could force UK to quit Brexit talks, claims Farage – BT

Tim Farron under mounting pressure from senior Lib Dems amid concerns his anti-Brexit message isn’t working

Tim Farron is under mounting pressure after senior Liberal Democrats accused him failing to win over the public with the party’s anti-Brexit message and controversies over his views on abortion and gay sex. Senior figures warned that if the Lib Dems fail to make a breakthrough Mr Farron must consider his position, with polls suggesting that the party’s support has fallen to 8 per cent. It came as the Lib Dem leader launched a programme for opposition as he effectively conceded that the Lib Dems will not be in Government because Theresa May will win the election comfortably. – Telegraph

> On BrexitCentral’s YouTube channel: Lib Dem peer Dick Newby: “All the lawyers” say we can stop Brexit

  • Lib Dems stick to pledge for second Brexit referendum – FT (£)
  • Andrew Grice: The Lib Dem manifesto has put too many eggs in the Brexit basket – The Independent
  • The Lib Dems’ defence of the 48% is starting to look like rubbish politics – Anne Perkins for The Guardian
  • Nigel Farage: Why it’s wrong to call the Lib Dems opportunists over Brexit – LBC
  • The Lib Dems want what remains of the Remain vote – Katy Balls for The Spectator
  • The Liberal Democrats’ far out policy agenda may delight students, but the rest of Britain won’t feel the buzz – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph

> On BrexitCentral today: What the Lib Dem manifesto says about Brexit

Number of EU workers recovers after Brexit vote slump

The number of EU-born migrants working in the UK has risen after a post-Brexit referendum slump and is back to the level of six months ago, according to figures published yesterday. The number of Romanian and Bulgarian-born workers reached a record 311,000 between January and March, up 80,000 in a year, according to the Office for National Statistics’ labour force survey. – The Times (£)

IKEA is creating 1,300 new jobs in Britain

Furniture retailer IKEA Group said it would create more than 1,300 new jobs in Britain, a major investment in the UK as the country prepares to exit the European Union amid signs that the market for home improvement is showing resilience. Ikea said it would open new stores in Sheffield in northern England later this year and Exeter in the south west and Greenwich in London in 2018. – Business Insider

Vodafone CEO is optimistic about Brexit deal

Vodafone (VOD.L) Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said he was optimistic Britain would secure a Brexit deal that works for both sides because there was so much at stake for over 500 million European citizens. Colao, the Italian boss of the world’s second biggest mobile company, said he expected politicians in Britain and the European Union to ultimately adopt a pragmatic approach to Brexit despite recent signs of brinkmanship. – Reuters

Britain can leave the EU by paying £5billion, says Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Britain could pay as little as £5billion to leave the European Union in two years’ time, analysis by chartered accountants has found. The estimate is a boost for Theresa May, the Prime Minister, and her Brexit secretary David Davis, who have been pushing back against claims the final bill could be as high as Eur100billion. Brussels officials are demanding that Britain agrees to pay a ‘divorce’ bill to cover the cost of outstanding commitments when it leaves the EU. – Telegraph

Brexit-backing JD Wetherspoon boss calls for EU citizens to be allowed to stay in UK

The Brexit-backing chairman of JD Wetherspoon has urged the Government to unilaterally grant EU citizens living in Britain the right to remain when Britain quits the bloc in 2019. Tim Martin said such a move would give Theresa May – if the Tories wins the general election – the “moral high ground” from which to create an immigration system similar to that of Australia, Singapore or New Zealand. – Insider

Byron burger boss supports plans for ‘barista visas’ to avert staff shortages after EU withdrawal

The new managing director of popular burger chain Byron has thrown his support behind the introduction of “barista visas” to avoid labour shortages in café and restaurants following Brexit. The Home Office is reportedly looking at plans to introduce the special visas to ensure the hospitality sector is fully staffed after Brexit. – The Independent

Nigel Farage would ‘pick up a rifle’ if Brexit is not delivered

Nigel Farage has said he would, “don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines” if Theresa May fails to deliver Brexit in the fashion he wants. Addressing an audience at a £63 a head event in Southampton on Sunday, the former Ukip leader said that if Brexit was not delivered properly, “there will be widespread public anger in this country on a scale and in a way we have never seen before.” – The Independent

From carmakers to cats, all face Brexit disruption, Merkel claims

Everything from just-in-time supply chains in the auto industry to the free movement of workers and even their pet cats and dogs will be thrown into question by negotiations on Britain’s exit from the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. Speaking at a G20 trade union event on Wednesday, Merkel said that, while Britain would be free to change rules to its own advantage after leaving the bloc, it would pay a price if the EU had to take steps in response to preserve a level playing field. – Reuters

  • Angela Merkel says UK will ‘pay a price’ if EU immigration is restricted – Telegraph

EU looks to build alternative to London for capital market

Brexit has forced the European Union to rethink its flagship capital markets union (CMU) project and urgently look for ways to create an alternative financial market to London, according to a draft EU document seen by Reuters on Wednesday. London is the bloc’s biggest financial market by far, but will be outside the EU from 2019, posing a challenge to the CMU project that had already begun to flag before last year’s referendum in Britain. – Reuters

Emmanuel Macron builds a cabinet to reform EU

Emmanuel Macron put two reform-minded conservatives in charge of the French economy yesterday in a cross-party cabinet shaped for the new president’s push to “relaunch” the European Union. Bruno Le Maire, 48, a former agriculture minister and presidential contender for the conservative Republicans party, was appointed as economy minister, with Gérald Darmanin, 34, a fellow Republican, as budget minister. – The Times (£)

Victoria Hewson and Shanker Singham: Why the EU’s Singapore trade ruling is good news for Brexit

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) yesterday delivered its opinion in a case that could have profound implications for the EU’s future trade policy, and set an important precedent ahead of Brexit negotiations. Ruling on the process for concluding the EU’s free trade agreement with Singapore, the court decided that the deal includes elements that are not within the EU’s exclusive competence, and must therefore be entered into by the EU and each member state jointly, rather than by the EU alone (making it a so-called “mixed agreement”). – Victoria Hewson and Shanker Singham for CapX

Patrick Minford: Being a contrarian is tough, but on Brexit – as on Thatcherism – I’m sure I’m right

What makes someone a contrarian? This week I was lucky enough to be awarded a prize for being just that. As an economist, not a whistle-blower or campaigner, I was surprised to win. But I came to realise that you are not born a contrarian, or even decide to become one. Contrarianism chooses you. A situation emerges where you have to act in a certain way, even in the face of overwhelming opposition, or you lose your bearings. This first happened for me while I was one of several academics advising Margaret Thatcher on her monetarist policies. – Telegraph

Iain Martin: Time for Blair and Co to stop fighting Brexit

I say this as a Brexiteer not to provoke my grieving ultra-Remainer friends, but simply to point out helpfully that they can waste their time for the next ten years or so if they want but the chances of success are tiny. Such energy would be better directed towards national renewal. There is masses to do. The Tories, considering what looks likely to emerge from their manifesto, seem particularly ill-equipped in policy terms. None of the parties yet seem ready to take advantage of the opportunity (as well as deal with difficulties) that flows from Brexit. – Iain Martin for The Times (£)

Georgina Wright and Richard G Whitman: Planning for post-Brexit Britain’s place on the global stage

The UK is not having the foreign policy debate that it desperately needs in this general election campaign. EU membership helped to shape the UK’s international priorities for more than 40 years, and Brexit will require the new government to think carefully about its role on the global stage. Yet, the party manifestos published this week do not spill much ink on broader ambitions for the UK. On the contrary, they suggest that Britain’s political parties have yet to figure out what British foreign policy should look like post-Brexit. – Georgina Wright and Richard G Whitman for The Times (£)

Brexit in brief

  • Macron’s victory means May’s Brexit strategy must change fast – Garvan Walshe for ConservativeHome 
  • Tory candidate slammed for refusing to reveal what she thinks about Brexit – Huffington Post
  • London is still a global draw despite Brexit, says British Land – Guardian
  • SNP “shackled” to failed EU fisheries policy, claim Tories – The Herald
  • Enda Kenny quits after Irish police whistleblower scandal – The Times (£)