Brexit News for Tuesday 16 May

Brexit News for Tuesday 16 May
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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hints he would pay £85bn Brexit ‘divorce bill’ as PM…

Jeremy Corbyn has hinted he would pay the multi-billion pound Brexit “divorce bill” which the UK legally owes the EU if he wins power next month. The Labour leader said the UK “must honour” its legal obligations on “long-term investment projects” but said any other demands from the EU would be open to negotiation… The so-called divorce bill is now potentially as high as 100 billion euro, which is equal to £85 billion… Asked again if he would agree to the EU’s desire for a phased approach to talks, Mr Corbyn went on: “I would ask them to discuss all of the issues – day one, Labour government, we will discuss all of those issues, agree a programme for it.” – Evening Standard

  • Jeremy Corbyn hints he would surrender to EU’s outrageous demand for a €100bn Brexit ‘divorce bill’ if he becomes Prime Minister – The Sun

…as Corbyn says today’s Labour manifesto of ‘hope’ will ‘reverse national priorities’…

Jeremy Corbyn says he will “reverse national priorities” and put hope over fear as he formally launches his manifesto in Bradford… The Labour leader will say: “It’s a programme that will reverse our national priorities to put the interests of the many first. It will change our country while managing within our means. And it will lead us through Brexit while putting the preservation of jobs first.” …However, the leaked draft reportedly set no target for cutting immigration. For the Conservatives, Treasury Chief Secretary David Gauke said Mr Corbyn’s plans were a “shambles”. He said: “His economic ideas are nonsensical, his views on national security indefensible and he’d make a total mess of the Brexit negotiations.” – Sky News

  • Jeremy Corbyn backing managed but ‘fair’ migration after Brexit – PA/Mail
  • Labour promises to give Scotland a federal future after Brexit – The Times (£)

…while Theresa May pledges to serve a full five-year term to “make sure Brexit happens”

Theresa May pledged to serve a full five-year term if she wins the U.K. general election on June 8 in order to “make sure Brexit happens.” Taking questions submitted by an audience on the social media platform Facebook Live, the prime minister said she was “pretty certain” Brexit negotiations “can be done” in two years… May said: “I think we can do it in two years. That is what the Lisbon Treaty says is the time that is set to do it.” Answering a question about whether she would see through Brexit, May said: “If I am elected I will certainly serve my full term … the two years of Brexit negotiations are due to finish in 2019. I have always said there may be an implementation period. I want to make sure Brexit happens and it is a good deal for the UK.” – Politico

Conservative candidates ‘making electoral pacts’ with Ukip over Brexit

Conservative candidates have been giving Ukip members private assurances that they will push for a decisive Brexit in order to get the party not to field a candidate in their constituency, a senior Ukip spokesman has said. Patrick O’Flynn, the party’s economics spokesman, said Ukip could have managed to field candidates across the country but chose to stand only 377 because of promises made to its local branches by many pro-Brexit Conservative candidates and two Labour candidates. – Guardian

  • Poll shows surge in Tory support in Labour heartlands as Ukip voters shift to the Conservatives – Telegraph
  • Tories set to become more Eurosceptic, campaign group says – Guardian
  • UKIP accuses Theresa May of stealing the party’s policies – Sky News
  • Voters get fewer choices under political alliances – ITV News
  • Ukip and the Greens have abandoned hundreds of seats. Who benefits? – Martin Baxter for the Telegraph (£)
  • Theresa May is following the great Tory tradition of killing off Britain’s minor parties – William Hague for the Telegraph (£)

Boris Johnson says UK won’t ‘stand in way’ of EU defence co-operation

Boris Johnson has denied claims Britain is seeking to block closer EU military co-operation despite reports of a row. The Foreign Secretary insisted the UK is “not going to stand in their way” as EU member states prepared to discuss moves to enhance the bloc’s collaboration on defence. EU foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels on Monday to push forward plans for a military headquarters in the Belgian capital… Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has previously warned the EU against undermining NATO with its defence plans while critics have branded the moves, pushed by France and Germany, as the first step towards an EU army. – Sky News

  • Boris Johnson says Britain won’t ‘stand in the way’ of EU army in bid to win over Brussels in Brexit talks – The Sun

Plaid Cymru to launch manifesto calling for devolved nation endorsement of any post-Brexit trade deal

Plaid Cymru is to launch its general election manifesto later, promising to “overcome threats and seize opportunities” from Brexit… The document – the first Welsh general election manifesto to be published and which Plaid Cymru claims is fully costed – is expected to pledge a “free trade deal shield” for Wales to protect the country’s core industries and agriculture. The plan would require the UK government to seek the endorsement of each UK nation before a post-Brexit trade deal is signed… Plaid is expected to pledge in the manifesto that it will “not rest” until every single penny Wales loses from Europe is replaced by Westminster. – BBC

>Havard Hughes on BrexitCentral: Brexit has shattered the Welsh Nationalist illusion of “Independence in Europe”

Nicola Sturgeon demands seat at Brexit talks table…

Nicola Sturgeon has said a vote for the SNP would strengthen Scotland’s hand over Brexit and allow her to argue for a seat at the negotiating table… She said: “by voting for the SNP, to give me the ability to strengthen Scotland’s hands in those [Brexit] negotiations, get a seat at the negotiating table and argue for Scotland’s place in the single market.” Scotland’s first minister went on to reiterate that if Scotland became independent then she would want the country to be a member of the EU. However, Ms Sturgeon accepted that it was “possible, not necessarily desirable” that for “a period” an independent Scotland would be in the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and European Economic Area (EEA). – BBC

  • Sturgeon has ‘gone through the looking glass’ with Brexit ‘top table’ demand, say Scottish Conservatives – Telegraph

…as it is revealed she praised ‘extremely good’ report savaging her plan to join EFTA

Nicola Sturgeon’s independence blueprint is in chaos, it has been claimed after it emerged she praised as “extremely good” a government report that savaged her latest plan to keep a separate Scotland in the single market. The Telegraph can disclose that Ms Sturgeon heaped praise on a Scottish Government assessment published before the last independence referendum that concluded joining the European Free Trade Association (Efta) was “not attractive.” In an email released under Freedom of Information laws, her office told senior SNP ministers and civil servants that the then Deputy First Minister (DFM) that she thought it was a “very good, extremely well-written paper.” Among its conclusions was that a warning that countries that follow the Efta route to accessing the single market are known as “fax democracies” because “a substantial proportion of their domestic laws appear by fax from Brussels.” – Telegraph

Landmark European court case could allow states to overrule EU law on freedom of movement for dual nationals

Judges at the European court of justice have gathered to rule on a landmark case that could have widespread implications for all EU citizens applying for British passports. The court in Luxembourg will consider whether the British government has breached the family rights of a dual British-Spanish citizen seeking to have her Algerian husband live with her in the UK… While British nationals can bring in family members from non-EU countries provided they meet certain UK immigration law criteria such as having a minimum amount of wealth, this case is not challenging those laws. Instead it is focused on EU laws that allow any individual who moves to a different EU country to do so with their family including adult dependents. Parminder Saini, an immigration barrister and counsel for Lounes, said the case would be a “milestone in the interplay between EU law and European case law on free movement and the UK’s domestic interpretation of that law”. He said it would have wider implications for every EU state as it concerns the ability of any EU member state to curtail freedom of movement rights under their domestic law. – Guardian

Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel pledge to draw up ‘common road map’ for Europe

New French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to draw up a “common road map” for Europe, on Monday, insisting that neither saw treaty change as “taboo”. Mr Macron, 39, who promised to “relaunch” Europe at his inauguration on Sunday, indicated he wants a joint budget, parliament and finance minister for the eurozone before heading to Berlin for his first foreign trip. That sent alarm bells ringing in Germany, whose austere foreign minister, Wolfgang Schauble, said that such radical EU reforms requiring treaty changes were “not realistic”. He also shot down the idea of a eurozone finance minister for the same reasons. However, after bilateral talks, Mrs Merkel was more open, saying: “From a German perspective, it is possible to change the European treaties.” – Telegraph

  • Macron and Merkel set new course for Europe – The Times (£)
  • France’s Macron names Republican Philippe as PM – BBC
  • Macron broadens appeal with centre‑right PM – The Times (£)
  • Who’s who in the French president’s team? – BBC
  • Is Macron the man who can twist Merkel’s arm on EU reform? – Peter Foster for the Telegraph (£)
  • Merkel is in Macron’s debt. He is rescuing her vision of Europe – Natalie Nougayrède for the Guardian
  • The Franco-German axis is far from dying. Without Britain, it will grow even stronger – Daniel Hannan for the Telegraph (£)
  • President Macron: Does he have what it takes to reform France? – Alexis Vintray for BBC News
  • Emmanuel Macron’s grand Franco-German bargain – Janan Ganesh for the FT (£)

Wolfgang Münchau: A Brexit Plan B to convince the doubters

The biggest category of risk in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations is political miscalculation — but not of the variety you would think. Yes, it is always possible, indeed probable, that a bombastic UK politician fails to understand the intricacies of EU politics. Far more likely and more dangerous is the possibility that the EU misjudges British politics… If you read the German newspapers, and nothing else, you would think that the decision of whether Brexit happens or not has yet to be taken. This is extraordinarily dangerous. If EU negotiators believe that Brexit may not happen, why offer the UK a good deal? They may even think that a lousy deal could become a self-fulfilling prophesy. They might think that the harder they negotiate, the bigger they can make the Brexit bill and the greater the chances of the UK not leaving… What London needs instead is a detailed plan B, to be triggered if there is no agreement or if an exit plan is vetoed either by the European Parliament or the House of Commons. – Wolfgang Münchau for the FT (£)

Ross Clark: Euro collapse will prove Brexit was a wise decision

In July Greece faces another day of destiny with its long-suffering creditors… Many blame Germany and the European Central Bank for Greece’s problems… While there has been some recovery in Greece since 2010, unemployment is still at 23 per cent… Spain, too, has yet to recover from the last recession with unemployment still at 19 per cent…The fundamental problem with the euro is that very different economies have been forced to adopt the same interest rate and have been deprived of the ability to devalue their currencies… The euro’s problems will persist as long as the euro does. The idea that different economies would converge once they adopted a common currency has proved to be false. If anything they seem to be growing apart with a powerful German economy running an ever-larger trade surplus and southern European countries trapped in a cycle of low growth… EU leaders cannot see the problems because they cannot bring themselves to accept that there is anything wrong with the currency union. – Ross Clark for the Express

  • Despite Emmanuel Macron’s election, the eurozone isn’t out of the woods – Roger Bootle for the Telegraph (£)

Barnabas Reynolds: EU-managed control of euro clearing is not viable

Some European politicians have asserted that the eurozone needs to control euro clearing, which is the process by which a clearing house stands in the middle of two counterparties to a euro-denominated derivatives trade, as buyer to every seller and seller to every buyer. They say that eurozone states need the ability to control the amount of margin — collateral — that clearing houses hold against the possibility of default by each party. The idea of state-based control of central clearing should alarm the markets. It is quite different from a reasonable request for information-sharing between UK clearing houses and EU regulators after Brexit. It instead represents a serious attempt at a “managed” economic treatment of eurozone instruments… The markets cannot be influenced by political considerations without inserting huge risk into the system. – Barnabas Reynolds for the FT (£)

Brexit comment in brief

  • The Conservative manifesto must convince Leavers – and lock in our escape from the EU – Christopher Howarth for ConservativeHome
  • Brexit won’t save Britain from the EU’s looming crisis – Dan Jarvis and George Robertson for the Independent
  • Chuka Umunna was wise to break with Labour’s Brexit line – Denis MacShane for the Independent
  • There is a new consensus in Germany – Brexit should be clean, and Britain should pay for it – Jeremy Cliffe for the New Statesman
  • Why Brexit Britain should root for a Merkel landslide – William Cook for the Spectator Coffee House
  • 3 takeaways from Martin Schulz’s election disaster – Janosch Delcker for Politico

Brexit news in brief

  • Report on UK economic performance post-Brexit – Bruegel
  • Eastern Europe turns back on single market – Politico
  • Guy Verhofstadt says Britain must end up worse off or else there’s ‘no point to the EU’ – Express
  • UK infrastructure projects could be hit by European Investment Bank concerns – Guardian
  • EU plans to move external border to Africa as Brussels moves to stop new migrant crisis – Express
  • Dutch four-way coalition talks collapse over migration – BBC